Monday, March 25, 2024

Money Saving Weekly Recap

This blog post was delayed until today due to the fact that my weekend was super busy.  We had OT appointments to get to, Special Olympics swimming program kicking off this last weekend and just tons of stuff to do.  I kept trying to find time to post up a blog post, but there always seemed to be something else to do (I’m sure you all relate), so enjoy two blog posts this week as a result!

So, let’s get to the frugal stuff I did this last week.

1. Combined old and new to make dessert.

I decided to make cobbler for dessert one night, so I pulled out the  home made pear pie filling I had made out of the freezer.  Then, I went to the fridge and pulled out about a 1/2 pint of blackberry pie filling I had left from making a trifle for dessert one night and added that to the fruit mixture.  Gave the cobbler a nice flavor (albeit out the ordinary for something I’d make) and used up some pie filling that would have gone bad otherwise.  Worked well.

2. Paid a bill and didn't forget about it.

I paid our insurance bill online for our policy that only renews once a year and paid it as soon as the bill came through online.  Main way that saved us money was that I got it done and didn’t forget about it, which is always a good feeling.

3. Stretched laundry detergent.

I found some odds and ends of laundry detergent in my laundry room when I was organizing it.  I have been using those up to stretch our other laundry detergent as far as I can (that stuff has gotten expensive!).  I am making sure to rinse the clothes with an extra rinse cycle just to make sure it doesn’t flare up the kid’s eczema, but so far it is working well.

4.  Used things I had to do some organization.

I organized my den freezer.  I found some heavy duty boxes we had fit perfectly into the space and were decently tall boxes at that, so I used those to organize the freezer.  When we get some more I’m going to cut down the boxes height for the top layer and stack them on top of the bottom layer.  This way things won’t get buried in the freezer and we will know where everything is.  Total win-win and it didn’t cost me anything (okay, maybe a few blisters having to cut the boxes tops off as those boxes are heavy duty for sure) but my time and energy.

5.  Used up freezer burned meat, so it didn't need to be thrown out later.

I found a pork roast while organizing the freezer that had lost part of its seal and was getting pretty freezer burned.  I threw it into the crock pot this morning with two jars of sauerkraut and am going to cook it low and slow all day until it falls apart.  Makes a wonderfully flavored pork roast, a nice moist texture and, most importantly, saves the pork roast from possibly getting wasted because it tastes like freezer.

6.  Did some mending.

I mended another couple pairs of pants for my son and husband.  I’ll share a quick tutorial later on about how I make patches out of old clothing and how I’ve found works best to mend actual holes in jeans  (versus tears) here, hopefully next week.

7. Used up things that needed to be used up.

I used up a bunch of home canned goods this week in meals.  I took a jar of canned French fried potato pieces (Alvah does NOT like those when I fry them, unfortunately), drained them and then just cut them into bite sized pieces, added a can of carrots and  a jar of pork chunks and then added some curry blocks to make a big pan of Japanese style curry.  I love that stuff, so I’ve been eating it for lunches this week and been greatly enjoying it :).

8.  Bought used clothing instead of paying new prices.

I had some jeans that were beyond worn out and a couple of more pairs of my jeans were really starting to show wear.  I went to the used store on Friday and got two pairs of jeans and was happy I was able to find some Gap jeans cheap.  I’ve only had a couple of pairs of Gap jeans I’ve been able to find at the used stores over the years, but the few pairs I’ve had have lasted for YEARS of hard wear and were super comfortable.  I’m not sure about the new pair I got as they seem like they are cheaper quality than the other ones I’ve owned, but I guess time will tell.  

While at the used store, I looked up and found they were having a sock sale on brand new bunches of socks (like still in the package socks) and they had 6 pairs of men’s socks for 2.29 each.  I got two packages of six as Alvah can always use more socks (he’s hard on them with his eczema and sensory issues).  For 4.58, getting 12 pairs of nice, heavy duty, cushion crew socks, was totally worth it to me.  If he is good on socks, for now, I’ll put them aside for his birthday or Christmas (I haven't had a chance to check yet, honestly).

9.  Made my own seasoning.

When I ran out of fajita seasoning, I just made my own instead of having to go to the store and buy some.

10.   Took a shortcut to making creamy limeade, aka Brazilian Lemonade

We usually really start getting into drinking creamy limeade this time of year and into the summer, but citrus up here right now is ridiculously expensive.  I found the “Simply Juice” line of juices at our local store go on sale pretty darned cheap regularly, so I have been picking up 4 at a time the last couple of weeks (two fruit punch and two limeade) on sale because if you buy 4 you save 1.00 per container.  I add the limeade to the blender and add 1/2 of a container of sweetened condensed milk and blend it all really well together.  It makes a pretty darned good creamy limeade to go with taco nights and things, but for a fraction of the cost of what making the limeade would cost me.

11. Been working on trying to get the electric bill down.  

I have been working hard on turning off the electric heat during the day the last bit as our temps have been in the 40s the last few weeks on and off.  Between that and the sun coming back our upstairs is actually getting pretty toasty by the afternoon.  So I’ve been having a good time opening the deck door (after putting the screens back in) and letting in some fresh air again and was even able to grill out on our deck yesterday.  It was wonderful.  We are all looking really forward to Spring and days like the last couple of weeks make you realize that it is, indeed, coming.

12. I made some new curtains for my kitchen.

I received a tablecloth as a gift a while back, but it was a really awkward size and just wasn’t going to work for any tabletop I had.  It was also pretty stained up, but I held onto it because it was good material.

Finally this week, I decided I wanted to hang some curtains in my kitchen window so that I could open the window and let in a breeze, but still block some of the afternoon sunlight from cooking the kitchen (the blinds I hung are great, but they are so thick they actually block fresh air from coming into the kitchen).  I had an epiphany and took out the tablecloth from the closet and found it was the perfect sized material to make the curtains from.  So, I made some curtains.

First I threw the tablecloth into the laundry with some bleach to try and bleach out the stains as much as I could.  I managed to at least fade a bunch of them and I figure while the curtains hang in the window the sun will bleach out the rest of the stains better than any synthetic bleach can.

I used a tension rod to hang the curtains so I didn’t have to drill anymore holes in my window frame and this way too I can hem the curtains shorter and move the curtains down the window if I want (I’m tempted as I keep clanking pans whenever I close or open the curtains right now) and I can just take them down if we need to put in the air conditioner in the window this summer.  So far I’m really liking the curtain and think it helps to brighten up the kitchen a bit :).

13.  I took out my wheat grinder yesterday and ground a bunch of wheat into flour.  

I took some to use as whole wheat flour and put it into the freezer, ground up some more wheat and put it through my Bosch sifter and made it into more of an all purpose flour consistency and I then went and ground up some of the hull-less barley I had bought and turned it into barley flour to use in baking as well.  I do a lot of baking anymore, so I’ll definitely use it.

14.   Made breakfast items for the freezer.

I made my husband some more pancake sausage wraps for his work breakfasts.  He really likes them and it saves me money from him going out and getting breakfast at some drive through.

15.  Shredded/grated my own cheese.

We had a big block of Tilamook cheddar in the fridge that I was slowly cutting chunks off of to use in meals or to feed to Alvah shredded.  I was in the fridge and noticed some green showing through the end of the wrapping on the block, so I decided it was time to just shred up what was left of the cheese.  Using the food processor makes this SO much easier by the way.  I put the cheese into freezer bag and froze it for future use.  And now Alvah has shredded cheese ready to go for a while.

16. Made bread crumbs.

I had odds and ends of sourdough loaves sitting in my freezer that needed to be used up, so I cut them into chunks, put them in a 250 degree oven for an hour (sourdough is so dense, I've found it can take a while to dry out), waited for the bread cubes to cool and then put them through the food processor to make bread crumbs.  I've found I LOVE sourdough bread crumbs as for some odd reason they come out perfectly seasoned and with just the right hint of salt in them.  I'm going to use some of the ones I made this time to make schnitzel a bit later in the week for dinner :).

And there you go folks.  Ways I saved money the last week.  Hope money saving endeavors are going well for you.  


Friday, March 15, 2024

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Money is tight.   I think everyone can agree with that statement.  So, this is definitely one of those posts I'm going to try and do every week to, if for no other reason, to make myself feel good about that I'm doing things to save money.  I've got so many things to pay for and our budget is down to brass tacks and there really isn't anything else to cut out, so now it's going to be a matter of thinking outside the box to save the money I need to pay off bills and save up for things we need.  Wish me luck...I'm going to need it.

So, here is the list of things I've done this week.  Enjoy!

1.  Used points for car parts.  

We got a notice in the mail that we had a bunch of points toward parts at the car dealership that we could use for up to 100.00 worth of free parts.  My husband, while trying to replace the injectors in his car (already a REALLY spendy thing to replace), broke a small (but expensive, of course) part in the process (which, from what he was able to dig up online was a really common thing to happen when replacing the injectors).  He used the points that were accumulated to get the part for free.  He got it in and put into the car this last weekend and, finally, after being without a car for over a month, he was able to drive his car again.

2.  Used gift cards to eat out.

We got some gift cards to Red Robin for Christmas.  We are not eating out much, but when we do, we have been using the gift cards to save money.

3.  Mended holes in two pairs of pants, mended a broken seam in my son’s pants, replaced a button on my husband’s work shirt.

My husband managed to tear two pairs of jeans.  I went around the tear with thread to seal up the edges (to avoid the material just shredding and ripping out the mending I'd done) and then, after I had the edges of the material sealed up, I sewed the sides together.  Works well.  Does create a kind of ugly mend, but I've found it holds the best.  

4.  Reused an old patch to mend hole in a pair of my jeans.

This is a good frugal tip.  Patches you buy at like Jo-Ann Fabrics are expensive.  But, go ahead and get one for whatever hole you need to mend up.  Believe me, 9 times out of 10 that patch will actually outlive the thing you are mending., so don't waste it when the item is at the end of its lifespan!  I had a pair of jeans that I'd mended that finally died on me, hard, and I didn't want to waste the patch (I have a few frog patches I really like and will use on casual clothing repairs) as it was still in good shape.  I carefully seam ripped off the patch and have reused it three times now and it's still going.  Definitely have gotten my 3.00 out of that patch over the years.

5.  Moved exercise bike upstairs to get more exercise in.

I had moved our old, very beat, exercise bike out of storage last year to try and get in more exercise, but it was sitting down in the den where I just never got chances to use it.  So, I moved it into our living room to get more exercise on it.  It has worked really well so far and bonus is that my son is using it too and using a bike is one of his physical therapy goals, so I'm REALLY happy I moved the bike :).

6.  Ran out of sour cream.  Strained some plain yogurt to use instead.  No one noticed.

Place a wire mesh strainer over a bowl, line it with some paper towels and then pour in some plain yogurt.  Fold the paper towels lightly over the yogurt and then place the bowl in the fridge for a few hours or ever over night and just keep checking it until it is the right consistency you want.  You can make it into a kind of cheese if you let it sit long enough or you can strain it until thicker and use it as a sour cream substitute.   It works well.

7.  Made brown sugar instead of buying it.

This is way easier than you may think.  I was nearly out of brown sugar a while ago (if you look at the pic above you'll see vegetable stock, so I know this pic was from Thanksgiving) and I looked at the price to buy some more and went, "No way" as it was up to ridiculous amounts.  Instead I bought a 4 lb bag of sugar and used a bit of molasses I had around the house to make my own brown sugar.  

I put about, I'd say, 3 lbs of sugar in my mixer (be sure to go lower with the amounts if you have a less powerful mixer than mine) and then just poured in a few tablespoons of molasses at a time and mixed it into the sugar until I got the color of brown sugar I wanted.  It was SO much more cost effective to do it this way.  I just made some more last week to see me through a bunch more baking in the future and the nice part?  It comes out moist and stays that way, if I store it in airtight container, WAY longer than the stuff I buy from the store.

8.  Shopped around way ahead of time for the prom for my daughter.  Got everything picked out and have been picking them up slowly but surely with credit card points and gift cards.  Got everything really cheap as a result, or free (in the case of her dress).

When we picked up the injectors for my husband's car, I was able to order them from Amazon on my Amazon credit card (not ideal, but I didn't have 800.00 to slap down on injectors otherwise) and so I used those credit card rewards to pick up a prom dress for her (on sale for 27.00 and it is really nice, actually...definitely happy with it), some shoes (20.00), a purse/bag (8.00 after coupon and sale) and a mask for her masquerade ball theme for the prom.  I do need to shell out money for tickets, which I've slowly budgeted for and then hopefully she can go and have fun with her boyfriend without anxiety.

9.  Doctored up canned soup to make things stretch further.

I've turned cream of mushroom soup into Beef Stroganoff via a recipe on the Campbell's site (not great, honestly) and have made it into mushroom sauce (just make the soup with 1/2 the milk called for on the well) to have over pork chops and things.  

Tomato soup I've doctored up to make into vegetable soup with frozen veggies and it has worked okay.  Add in grilled cheese sandwiches and no one complained.

10.  Made fish pancakes for a “fancy” breakfast item with the Christmas gift the son got for me years ago.

These were just regular sourdough pancakes and then I just made them in the fish mold my son got for me years ago for Christmas.  It is the only thing he's ever picked out for me for a Christmas gift, so it was kind of special for me to use it finally to make the shaped pancakes.  Alvah really got a kick out of watching me make them too :).  I just put them into the freezer for now and we'll eat them on the weekends.  I'm planning on making up some vanilla pudding to eat with them this weekend so we have kind of a deconstructed custard filled pancake.  That's about where my skill level lies right now *laugh*.

11.  Used left over beer that my husband drank a few sips of at dinner and made beer pancakes for the freezer out of it.

I made brats and some home made soft pretzels for a special dinner for my husband and he had a rare beer with dinner.  He drank, maybe, 1/4 of the bottle, so I saved the left overs (he had poured the beer into a glass to drink it, so don't be grossed out *laugh*) .  I added some sparkling water to the left over beer to make the proper amount I needed for the recipe (I used this recipe as it looked the easiest) and it came out pretty tasty.  No beer flavor to be had that we could detect, which was good.  I put these into the freezer to also eat on the weekends for my husband as he's always up before the rest of us.

12.  Used leftover bread and made some French toast to put into the freezer (see pic for #11 for visuals).

Some weeks we eat through two loaves of bread in five minutes, it seems, and some weeks it just kind of sits.  Last week was one of those weeks where a loaf of bread just sat.  I put it into the fridge to stop it from molding and as soon as I got the chance I sliced it up and made it into French toast and put that into the freezer.  I am feeling pretty good about putting up so much breakfast stuff as we were out of breakfast items in the freezer, pretty much.  This helps stop my husband from picking things up for a quick breakfast multiple times a week, which definitely saves money (especially as prices continue to rise).

13.  I have also been using more home milled flour and combining it with store bought to make bread.  It is still a learning curve for me as I'm trying to get rise times down and things, but I've gotten a TON of wheat berries over the years from Church members who were moving and things (LDS are big on wheat berries as a main food storage staple) and am determined to start working my way through the wheat to hopefully save money compared to buying it all from the store.  

14.  I cut my son's and husband's hair.

During Covid and the lockdowns, I ended up having to cut my husband's hair for work, since...well...everything was closed.  I got myself a pair of hair scissors off of Amazon and this guide tool (associate link there) and it has been the most invaluable thing to saving money when it comes to my husband getting his hair cut.  It is easy to use and it comes with a nice handy, dandy guide to show you how to make various haircuts by showing you how short or long to cut hair in what sections.  Sure, it's not a professional barber hair cut when done, I know that, but it looks nice to non-professionals.  My husband has also been happy that he can get a trim whenever he needs one versus whenever he can find time to track down a barber to give him a haircut too :).

Saving money is definitely the name of the game this year, so here's hoping every little bit helps.

Hope you all are doing well and hanging in there.  


Monday, March 11, 2024

Our Trip to Seward, AK (a Few Pictures), October 2023

 Yikes, was I late sharing these.  Life getting in the way and all.  But, enjoy, however late they may be :).  This was actually scheduled to go up last week, but I was down all weekend with my back flared up really bad and ended up getting a migraine from it, sooooo this ended up being later than I wanted it to be.  But, hey, now you get a few posts this week.  Bonus!!  *Laugh*.


Our Trip to Seward, 2023

I know this is really late getting shared, but I thought I’d still post up a quick post with some of our pictures we got when we went to Seward last October.  Really, you guys are getting so see my pictures from the Sea Life Center, as that was the one indoor thing we did.  The rest of the trip it rained, a lot, so all of my outdoor pictures came out looking like rain and blurry stuff in the background.  So, enjoy the pictures of the fishies and other wildlife!

First, I’ll spam you with some pictures of the birds.

My younger sister has always loved puffins, she even had a stuffed one as a child, so I took a bunch of pictures of them to send to her.  

The birds were surprisingly friendly, although I had to try and get pictures of them from a few small angles as those were the places in the exhibit that had roof overhead to shield my phone from the rain.

One thing I wish I could have gotten a shot of was the baby seals.  They fell in love with Alvah and followed him around the tank, constantly watching him and acting like they wanted him to play with them.  It was so stinking cute!  Unfortunately, those were some of the blurry photos that came out looking like I took them under water, so that was disappointing.

This pretty neat looking fish was hard to get a shot of as he was more interested checking out the daughter than looking at me, but I got a few shots in.

This guy got jealous (it sure did seem that way) of the other fish getting its photo taken, so kept swimming right in front of my shot and staring at me.
  I laughed and took its picture and then it seemed to happily swim away.

We drove down to a boat launch on the other side of Seward, which ended up being a lot of fun as it’s out on a spit that you have to drive to, which ended up being a neat drive to take.   This was a side trip I wanted to take as I wanted to go and actually see the beach.  My husband then ran into an older gentleman who lived on that side of Seward who remembered an old friend of my husband’s family. They had a blast talking to each other about people who used to live in Seward and how it used to be
 set up and things.  While he talked to the older gentleman, the kids and I sat and watched a really amusing squirrel that was running all over the place, but I could never get it to sit still long enough to take a picture of it.

Once we got to the boat launch area we went down and walked on the beach briefly.  It was cold and rainy that day, so I didn’t get much in the way of awesome photos, but I did find a really neat bone on the shore, left over from some sea critter’s dinner I’m sure.


On the road trip back, I did manage to shoot a few photos from the road and was impressed those came out well.

Overall, it was a short trip, but it was a lot of fun.
  It was a shame that we managed to go about a week after the town had pretty much shut down for the winter, but we still got to see a decent amount of things and the kids had a lot of fun, especially Alvah.  He had a smile on his face the entire trip and pretty much laughed the entire drive down, which was wonderful :).

So, there you go folks.  My little photo tour of our trip to Seward.  It was a lot of fun and I hope that we can take some more road trips someday, hopefully soon as Alvah had SO much fun on that trip to Seward.