Friday, December 6, 2019

Frugal Friday Wrap Up (a hodgepodge of several weeks)

Apple slices with warm caramel dip.

   I have been awful about keeping track of all my frugal doings lately.  I mean to get them typed out each day, but I get distracted and then "poof" that thought is out of my head.  Luckily I have been taking pictures of some things, so hopefully that will help jog my memory a bit...we can hope right? 😁  I'm still in a flare after all the fun we had with my sister's visit recently so Jeff and I have been playing lots of charades since I can't get the word from my brain to my mouth and sometimes, I can't even think of the word.  At least life is never boring for my hubby since he never knows when he will be playing "guess what I am thinking or trying to say" with me.

   Anyway, here are some of the things that I can and do remember:  *All of the pictures in  this post are of food...yes, we like to eat!  😉

Fast and easy dinner of spaghetti, meatballs and garlic bread.

~My sister's flight was cancelled on her way here and she had to be rebooked on another flight.  That meant Jeff and I had to stay in Spokane for another 10 hours before her next flight arrived.  Jeff and I took advantage of the time by going to thrift stores and out to dinner.  We found some great deals.  Isaiah had been wanting a "puffy vest" as he calls it and we found him a red one that fit perfectly.  We also found some much needed pants and jeans for Steven.  I got 2 pairs of brand new Lularoe leggings, a Lularoe dress and Jeff found some shirts.  I had also been on the search for those body pillows shaped like a huge elongated "C" that are marketed as pregnancy pillows.  I heard that they might also be helpful to people who have fibromyalgia.  At one of the thrift stores we went to they had brand new ones, some in boxes and one "store display" model (which did not have a price tag).  I talked to the manager there and told her what I wanted to try to use it for so she gave it to me for $9.99 as opposed to the ones that were in the boxes marked for $29.99. God bless that lady for that amazing deal!  And yes, there are some nights where it really does help me sleep and others where I still need to stretch out more.
~Jeff found a bicycle seat cover at Goodwill.  I also found a brand new dress shirt for Bradley, a brand new Brighton brand purse ($7.99 and retails for over $300) and 2 shirts for myself.  Jeff found some tire chains that should fit my car so he can take the brand new ones that we have not used yet back to the Les Swab where we spent way too much money on them. It was Senior discount day so we got everything for 20% off and one of the shirts was a half off colored tag also.

Spinach, apple and feta salad with homemade dressing.

~I used a $25 gift card at Walmart to help stock up on a few things that we needed there.  I also found a summer pajama gown on clearance for $3, so I put that away for warmer weather to come.  We are now stocked up on cat food, dog food, kitty litter, and a few personal care items.  Jeff also picked up oil and a filter for my car and I found the last of the Christmas gifts that I needed for the grandboys.
~Jeff changed the oil and filter in my car.  It was overdue!
~We have been watching Christmas movies that I borrowed from the library.
~I made a chicken Shepard's pie with some pot pie filling that I had previously made and thrown in the freezer.  I added some leftover green beans, some French fried onions and another can of cream of mushroom soup to the filling.  I then made some red mashed potatoes, spread those over the top and added a layer of freshly grated cheddar cheese to the top and popped it into the oven.  It was so good!

Chicken Shepard's Pot Pie.

~Many good meals have been made with things that we have in the pantry, freezer and refrigerator and we have not had to pick up a ton of things from the grocery store lately.
~I'm so enjoying all the Christmas decorations that we have put up this year along with listening to Christmas music that I listen to via YouTube.  It is peaceful and pretty and really does help calm my soul.  It lifts my spirits too on the many darker days we are having now.
~While doing my big grocery stock up trip about 3 weeks ago, I was able to get a free turkey and put that away for a future family dinner.
~My sister brought me a bag full of vanilla bean pods that she grew in her garden in Tahiti so I will be using some of them to make homemade vanilla extract with.  I'll do some with rum, as she says that is the best, and try some with vodka, which is how I have always been done.  I have both rum and vodka on hand.
~Jeff was able to fix a strand of Christmas lights and the lights on a Christmas garland for me.
~I've been baking breads, pancakes and making us hearty meals.
~I have gotten into the habit of keeping a sweater on the back on my recliner to grab when I get a bit chilly.  I also have throw that I snuggle up under.  This way I can keep the heat down around 60F and still be very comfortable.
~As the weather is now colder, I have been raiding my tea stash and use each tea bag twice.  I have a huge assortment of teas and lots of apple cider mixes too.  These should keep me going for the entire season.
~Since sleep tends to elude me until the early morning hours, I have started watching the tv series "The Gilmore Girls" that I had bought previously at the thrift store.  It is nice to be able to lay in bed and watch something to help my mind calm down.

My version of a favorite Chipotle Pasta Salad from a favorite restaurant.

~For dinner on Thursday I recreated one of my favorite salads from a local restaurant.  I took one box of Suddenly Salad Chipotle Ranch, cooked that up, and added 1 stalk of cut up celery, 1/4 of a yellow pepper (diced) and a drained and rinsed can of black beans.  I also added some Cajun Turkey sliced up that I had gotten at the deli to boost the protein and also to make it more enticing to my hubby. 😉 ~I cut up the rest of the yellow pepper and froze it for future use.
~Safeway's Just4U deals have been pretty good lately and I have been taking advantage of them. I got a gallon of milk for $1.69, 2 cooking oils for $1.29 a bottle, 2 boxes of Cheerios for .99 each, free trash bags, free dishwashing liquid, and 2 dozen eggs for .99 a dozen.
~We were in need of more pancake mix, so I whipped up another container full.  I love this mix and it only takes me about a minute to whip a bunch of pancake batter when needed.
~I worked my points programs.

Homemade pancake mix.


   That is about it for now.  I'm currently listening to one of our little town's church bells playing Christmas carols.  It is something that I look forward to every year.  Tomorrow and Sunday is the big Christmas celebration here in town in the middle of the rolling hills of Palouse.  The towns all around us are doing the same.  It really is a wonderful time of the year!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

When You Are Craving Arby's But Can't Go

   Jeff and I love Arby's roast beef sandwiches but, for us, they can be quite spendy when you consider that we have to drive about 28 miles to even get to the restaurant.  When you factor that in, along with the time it takes to drive there, eat, and drive back home and that we rarely get out of there for under $20, we had to come up with a different way to do things.  I decided that I could make them at home for a fraction of the price and it would be healthier too.

   I had bought hamburger buns on sale and a package of roast beef that was marked down at the Walmart deli.  I had both cheddar and swiss cheese at home, along with all the condiments needed.  In addition to this, there were sweet potatoes in the pantry that needed to be used along with an abundance of apples since we had recently stocked up on them when they were on sale.

   A large sweet potato was washed and sliced into thin rounds and then I used some salt and chipotle seasoning on them after praying them with some oil.  These were baked at 425F for 25 minutes.  About 10 minutes before they were finished baking, I got to work on the sandwiches.  I made Jeff's sandwiches with Miracle Whip, honey mustard, 2 slices of the roast beef for each sandwich and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese per sandwich.  Mine were made with honey mustard, 2 slices of roast beef per sandwich and some shredded swiss cheese.  I cooked them in the microwave, covered, for 1 minute so that they would be warmed up and the cheese would be melted.  I also cut up an apple into slices and Jeff and I shared that.

   When I broke down how much our meal cost. I came up with the figure of about $4.50 for everything.  We got better quality meat and cheese, the potato rounds were not deep fried and we had some healthy fruit to go with it all.  Our meal also tasted much better than anything we could have gotten at Arby's.  I know that some may question why I had 2 sandwiches also but that was the first meal I had eaten all day and I later had some cottage cheese around 10:30 at night.  I usually only eat 2 meals a day.

   Meals like this are easy for me to make and satisfy those cravings for "fast foods" that we love.  Considering that I never know how my health will be from day to day and that I don't have to get myself ready and dressed, in and out of the car, etc., and then come home exhausted, it is also an energy saver for me.  I was able to be in my jammies and rest between getting the sweet potatoes ready and in the oven for about 10 minutes before I needed to get started on the sandwiches and cut up the apple.  It may not seem like much, but for me, that can be the difference between me being able to get dinner made or having to have Jeff do it.  I do enjoy cooking and seeing how happy my hubby is to have some of his favorite meals, so this is a win-win all the way around. 🍔

Monday, December 2, 2019

Update on my Sister's Visit and Some Thoughts


   My sister is now home after a very busy but fun visit.  It is funny how after almost 37 years apart, we just seemed to pick right back up again and it was so easy just to be with each other.  All those inside jokes and memories came flooding back.  What I did find amazing though was how differently we saw and experienced things for the 3 years that we actually lived together.  My sister came to live with us during our Sophomore year of high school.  It's a long and complicated story and one that I finally was able to hear in full and fill in some blanks.  It was kind of like an international foster situation and was very stressful at times trying to blend her culture and ours.  I think we all grew from it though and the bonds between my sister, my brothers and I remain tight to this day.  I love her with all my heart and she will always be my sister no matter what.  I am so very thankful that she came up for a visit and got to experience snow, Christmas lights over the lake in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, a big family Thanksgiving, meeting most of my kids and grandkids, along with our cousin Jeremy and she got to see a mother moose and 2 baby moose walking around our town. 😁

   She and I also spent time decorating our home for Christmas whiole listening to Christmas music.  It was something that we really enjoyed doing together in our teens and it was so nice to do it with her once more.  We went shopping and got her a few more warm items that she could wear here and on her upcoming trip buying trip to China (she is now in real estate development in Tahiti and doing very well at it) and some gifts for friends back home.  We ate way too much good and rich food (which I am paying for now) but most of all, we talked helped each other work through some things in our lives from our pasts and current situations.  There was laughter, tears, lots of hugs and reassurances and it was wonderful to know that no matter how many years had passed, she and I were, still are and will always be there for one another no matter what.  Taking her to the airport and saying goodbye was so hard to do and I tried to remain strong for both of us when she broke down in tears.  We shared one last long and tight hug and kissed each other goodbye knowing that we would make sure to spend more time together now that we really have reconnected and realized just how much we really do need each other in our lives.  We are not getting any younger and have both had some pretty serious health issues so time is of the essence.

   While she was here, I pushed myself way too much even though she kept telling me to rest.  She has always been extremely protective of me. 😊  I was going on sheer addrenalin most of the time and I am glad I was able to keep going for as long as I did.  I did not want to miss out on a single moment with her.

   Now that she is gone, I am in crash and hopefully recovery mode.  My stomach issues are really bad with my IBS acting way up after all that rich food and running around so much.  My body is sore and I did have to use my cane while she was here one of the days when were were out and about.  Most of all, I am simply exhausted.  I have decided to just be good to myself and allow myself to nap when needed and not try to stay on a strict schedule right now.  Let's be real, I could not stay awake even if I wanted to at times.  I have needed lots of alone time too and have found myself retreating to our bedroom on a daily basis to escape the noise, light and yes, even my sweet hubby.  I required total peace, quiet and dark so I could rest and not be overwhelmed.

   The plan for the remainder of the week is to rest as much as possible, doing things that need to be done slowly and take lots of breaks between tasks.  So far this is working out well with me being able to keep up on the laundry, make some good meals, watch some movies and take lots of naps.  This is what my body and my soul needs at the moment, so that is what I am doing so that I will be ready for the next round of holiday festivities.

   Be blessed my friends!


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Answered Prayers!

There is a reason why I have not been sister Leonie came for a visit from Tahiti!!!  I have not seen her for almost 37 years.  We celebrated Thanksgiving early with most of the family (Josh and Lauren were in Vegas).  We've been so busy enjoying our time together and building lots of new memories.  Thank you God for answered prayers ad bringing my sister to me.  In the picture above, she is the one holding my oldest grandson Bradley on her lap.  The baby, Steven, especially has really taken to her and loves to cuddle with his great auntie. :)  My heart is full!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 11/1-11/7 2019

Portuguese Sausage and Potato Hash


~Jeff and I did the grocery shopping and stocked up on baking supplies that were on sale that we needed.  We also stocked up on basics and used coupons and sales to further save money.  Our shopping was done at Winco, Rosauers and Dollar Tree.  We spent about $100 total including HBA items.  That should get us through for at least 3 weeks with only picking up fresh fruit, milk and a few items that I forgot even though they were on the list. Fibro fog was bad that day!
~At the Dollar Tree we also picked up toothbrushes (2 pack), antiperspirant, and some half off Halloween candy (candy corn).  I want to try a recipe for making Butterfinger candy with the candy corn.  I had everything else needed for the recipe at home.
~I watched a movie on YouTube.

~Jeff and I stayed home for the day so that we could get caught up on things around the house.
~Jeff worked in the yard finishing getting it ready for winter and sued some of the leaves that he raked up to put around our pear trees that have metal fencing around them.  This works as a great mulch to help protect the roots and also breaks down into compost as the Spring arrives.
~I baked two loaves of homemade bread, cooked a marked down pork roast in the crockpot and also piggy back backed some squash after the bread came out of the oven.
~In trying to get ready for the colder months where I do not venture out much, I took inventory of our HBA supplies so that I know where the gaps are that need to be filled in and started a list for them.
~Laundry was caught up and I finished unpacking some of the things that we had taken over for the kids to use in their wedding.
~Beautiful music soothes my soul and I have found myself listening to some of it via YouTube on a daily basis again.
~We used out hot tube to soak our sore muscles.
~Jeff and I were watching movies on YouTube and they had the Gilligan's Island "The Castaways" on.  I immediately recognized the flyover of the resort that the Howell's supposedly built and laughed at some of the things they modeled the resort after.  I can tell that the writers spent a lot of time down at Kona Village Resort and loosely modeled  the resort in the movie on that and used shots, hidden phones in the lobby, etc.  from KVR as part of the movie.  I had never seen the movie before but it brought back great memories for me because Kona Village Resort was my second home growing up since my father was the assistant manager and later manager there for 38 years.  All the buildings have now been torn down after damage from the tsunami and neglect, but it is being rebuilt by some of the same guests, who are now the new owners of it, who enjoyed it for so many years.
~We enjoyed munching on popcorn popped the old fashioned way while watching the movies.

Cookbooks I picked up at Goodwill

~Jeff worked some more on the garden beds getting them ready for Winter.
~Jeff and I went to Goodwill and found a shirt and leggings for me, pants for Steven, a cd for Jeff, brand new curtains for our guest room, a purse that I have wanted for years after having sold them when I was a teenager, and 2 cookbooks.
~We picked up more discounted candy at Winco since we had to go back there to get Canadian Bacon since I forgot it last time.  I had promised Isaiah and Bradley that we would make homemade pizzas this coming weekend and that was requested as one of the toppings.
~We hot tubbed again and it felt so good!
~I used up the last half of the bottle of red wine from my girl's night last week and made mulled red wine with it.  I cut a tangerine and put it in while it simmered.  So good!
~Jeff and I watched a Christmas movie on YouTube.  I am excited about Christmas this year.
~Chris called to tell us Heather got her doe.  They are giving us all the meat from it since Chris already got a buck and is going to try to get another doe.  Venison is my favorite red meat.  We are going to help them butcher and wrap but we are sending some of it to be made into ground venison and will pay for that and for it to be wrapped by the butcher.  Luckily we have a good family connection with the butcher so we get the family discount.
~Jeff and I both had coupons for a free item (up to $13.50) with any purchase at Bath and Body Works.  Their Fall fragrances were on sale so we got two of the small apple fragrances that I love and then got two of their full sized aromatherapy lotions for free.

~I borrowed a book and a movie from the library.
~Yaki Soba was on the menu for dinner.  I used some of the leftover pork roast in it.
~We got all the bedding washed on our bed.
~I had the last cup of the leftover hot mulled wine in the afternoon to help take the edge off my pain.
~Caesar and I went for a short walk.  Normally this would be a great thing to do on a beautiful Fall day but half way through my back went out and then my neck followed.  OUCH!
~I put in requests for some new movies that are currently in cataloging through the library.
~Bradley's Lego magazine came in so we will be taking that out to him on Tuesday when we go out to butcher the deer.
~My onions had all gone bad so I rehydrated some of my dehydrated ones to use in a potato and sausage fry for breakfast.
~I signed up for some free dog food samples.

Pork Roast, Wild Rice Mix and Acorn Squash

~We went over to Chris and Heather's to butcher the dear Heather got.  Heather set me up in a chair to watch since I was in a bad flare. We brought home venison steaks and stew meat.
~Jeff and I picked up a reduced priced pizza, some chips and some cupcakes that were all on clearance when we dropped off some of the venison to be made into burger meat.  It made dinner so much easier and faster.
~Jeff picked up some freezer paper on his way to work so I can double wrap all the meat.  We already put them in ziplock bags that I got from the Dollar Tree but I like that extra layer of protection from frost and it keeps them from getting freezer burn.

~I found a sleep eye mask in my HBA stash and used it to help block out the light in the morning so I could sleep longer.  I am hyper sensitive to light so this helped.
~I worked my points programs.
~More shows were watched online.
~I cooked up some wild rice mix and had that with leftover pork roast, leftover acorn squash and some pears for dinner.

Cookbook and movie borrowed from the library.

~I again put some beautiful music on via YouTube.  I love calm piano really is soothing and reminds of the days in the past where I would sit at the piano and play for hours just making things up and letting the stress leave my body and soul.
~Jeff picked up an item that the consignment store decided not to sell and also picked up a check for things that had sold.  He did this on his way to his bowling league since he was going right by there anyway.
~I watched some videos on homemade Christmas gifts and make ahead meals.  It gave me great ideas!  There is a recipe on how to make vanilla extract in you Instantpot is life changing. How to make Vanilla Extract in your Instantpot.  The recipe comes near the end of the video.
~It's that time of year where I keep a cozy sweater on the back of my recliner that I can slip on when I feel a chill coming on.  I also have throws on all the chairs and couch so everyone can have one of those too.
~Jeff had bowling league so dinner for me was Easy Mac and some Spring Rolls from the Dollar Tree.  It may not have been the healthiest meal ever, but it was quick, easy and comfort food.
~I've been reading two cookbooks I picked up at Goodwill.  Both are amazing!

   I hope anyone reading this has a wonderful weekend!  Be blessed!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Just Some Late Night/Early Morning Ramblings

A screenshot of the peaceful video I was listening to of calming music on Youtube.  It is a bit off kilter, just like I am feeling at the moment.

   I've had a rough week both physically and emotionally.  I've been working through some things that resurfaced years after I had them safely tucked away in my mind and thought that these were some things that great progress had been made on in a certain relationship.  It's a strange thing how people can revert back to old patterns of behavior, even if they are destructive and certainly unhealthy, after having worked so hard to move past them and change.

   Stress plays a huge part in Fibromyalgia along with weather changes, overdoing things, lack of sleep, and so many other factors.  Coming off a very hectic time with our Josh and Lauren's wedding (which was beautiful and something I will treasure always) and meeting so many new people and being so social left me exhausted.  I was trying so hard to make sure that everyone felt loved, welcomed and included in everything and trying to put out "fires" before they arose.  In the process, I forgot to take care of myself when I really should have but I did not want to miss out on a single moment with family and friends that had traveled so far to share in this special time.

   I made it about a week after coming home before the collapse came.  I think the adrenalin was still going strong and I also had my hanai sister still in town visiting during that time and was trying to get my house back into order after being gone.  I hit my "Wall" and I hit it hard.  Walking became difficult most of the time and I felt my spine compressing when I took Caesar for a short walk around the block.  It seemed that any time I exerted myself in any way, I'd end up having to go to bed or to my recliner and I'd either be in tears or fighting to keep them at bay.  There was not a single part of my body that did not hurt, including the hair follicles on top of my head.

   My emotions got the best of me too.  I tried to stay upbeat and positive, but there were times of deep despair.  I am thankful for the medications that my doctor has me on to help with this or I would have been a total basket case.  Counseling has also helped me cope better that I did previously and for that I can say that I am proud of myself for learning and implementing the techniques that I was taught.

   I will admit that it has all gotten to be a bit too much at times and the pain has become overwhelming to the point of me wanting to ask my husband to just take me to the hospital so I could get some relief.  But I know deep down inside that would not be a good choice for me since I do build up tolerances to medications rather quickly and my doctor and I have agreed that we have to save the few pain meds that might still work for me to use in case of emergencies.

   After all these years and seeing this thing progress in me, my family is very aware that there are times that I honestly cannot do certain things.  We went over to help butcher a deer that Heather got hunting and that they are giving all the meat from to us.  Heather took one look at me, got me a chair and had me sit and rest.  She set me up where I could still be a part of the conversation and also watch my oldest grandson Bradley entertain me with all his cool tricks on his skateboard.  She, my son Chris, grandson Isaiah, and Jeff all worked on the deer and had it all trimmed out and butchered within a little over an hour.  Isaiah, at 6 years old, has some amazing knife skills since he spends a lot of his time helping Heather cook.  I think we have a future chef on our hands there! 

   It is now 1:45 in the morning and I am exhausted but still cannot sleep.  I feel cold and ache all over, and no, it is not the virus going around, this is normal for me when I am in a flare. I've got soothing and calming music on in the background, had some Gatorade because I felt dehydrated, and watched some calming videos a bit earlier to help slow down my overactive mind and nervous system.  I'm going to try to head to bed here again soon and see if I can get some sleep.  Praying that tomorrow will be a better and less painful day.



Friday, November 1, 2019

Frugal and Easy Girl's Night

   One of my dear friends, whom I consider my sister and was a second mom to my boys, came for Josh and Lauren's wedding (I will be doing another post on that when I have more pictures to share).  She came home with us to spend some time with her mom and rest of her family.  She ended up staying longer than planned due to a last minute job interview (praying she gets the job and moves home).  Huge blessing for me!  I decided at the last minute to have a girl's night with her, her mom and her sister.  Her sister was unable to make it, but her mom, who is also one of my dearest friends, came with her.  

   I was in a fibro flare after all the wedding festivities but was able to throw together a nice little spread due to having a stocked pantry.  It was not much work at all and we could all just sit, laugh, share stories and enjoy each other's company.

   My husband got out my great grandmother's small parlor table for me and I set it up with 2 bottles of wine, one red and one white.  I then got the appetizers ready.  I had some garlic stuffed green olives that I got from the Dollar Tree, snack crackers, also from the Dollar Tree and put these in pretty white dishes.  I used an antique silver pickle fork to serve the olives with.  I then added a cut glass bowl filled with artichoke tapenade that I had picked up at Ross, and a plate of cream cheese covered in mango and pepper jelly that I had picked up on one of my trips to Montana at my favorite specialty food and kitchenware shop.  I had individual little plates for each person along with a small spreader for each to load their toppings on the crackers. All of this was also laid out on my great grandmother's table along with cocktail sized cloth napkins.

   I had some beautiful music pulled up on YouTube playing in the background and set out soft fleece throws for each person to cuddle under.  The fire was going in the pellet stove and the lights were down low with a beautifully scented wax melt going in the bathroom down the hall just to add just a hint of the wonderful cold weather comforting scent.

   My friend Roni snuggled up with her throw and cuddled into the couch with a glass of red wine and a plate full of goodies.  Her mom, Char, cuddled into the corner of the other couch close to the fire burning in the pellet stove.  One of our cats, Midgy made her way over to Roni and got lots of lovies.  Midgy usually does not like strangers, but loved Roni.  Midgy is a great judge of character and knows who she can trust. ;)  I cuddled up under my throw with a glass of white wine and some goodies too.  

   We all had a wonderful visit and it was so good to have them here.  They know that I have Fibromyalgia and am not able to drive myself places other than just right here in town.  They also know that my energy is limited but that I love having them here in my home.  My "love tank" was once again filled by my time with these amazing women that have become family to me.  It did not take much money and I had everything here at the house that I needed to throw together a fun evening at the last minute with minimal effort.

   The time we had together is priceless to me though.  Roni now lives in Palm Springs, CA but is trying to find a job here in her field so she can return home to her sweet little house here in town and to help her mom.  Char lives in a tiny little town close to us, but because I am not able to drive out there, I do not see her much at all.  Char lost her husband Mel in a tragic car accident last year.  Mel was like another father to me and I loved him.  Char and Mel are like another set of grandparents to my boys.  These amazing women have been through a lot in their lives and I have been on the journey with them both for a good part of it.  It has created a strong bond that cannot be broken between us.  I am hoping that we can do many more of these girl's nights in the future because I know it means a lot to us and it just makes those bonds grow even stronger.