Monday, October 31, 2016

November 2016 Grocery Budget Challenge

   It's that time of year again where I challenge myself to keep within a tight grocery budget.  We had some extra medical expenses last month and more coming in November so I need to cut back in other areas.  We also need to buy a ton of wood pellets to heat our home with (we are working on some right now that are leftover from last year's heating season).   I am setting a cash budget of $150 and supplementing it with Walmart Gift Cards that I earn through Swagbucks.  I should have about $50 in Walmart gift cards by about the middle of November.

   Here is my plan for the month.  We celebrate Thanksgiving with our Heather's side of the family.  My cousin Jeremy has been adopted into Heather's side of the family as well so that works out great! :)  Jaysn and Rachel spend Thanksgiving with her side of the family since the roads are usually still good so they can make the 3 hour drive down to see them.  The dinner is done potluck style and after the "mashed potato disaster" one year when someone, who shall remain nameless, really messed them up to the point where they were gummy, I have been asked to take over with those. ;)  I also have a large  stash of wine here, so I shall be bringing a nice bottle of wine and possibly another side dish.  

   Another way I will be saving is that mid month Heather, Rachel and I will be having a girl's shopping day (already planned for about 2 months ago) where we are hitting various thrift stores in a large town up north of us.  That town also has a Big Lots and a Grocery Outlet.  We will be stopping there and I'll be searching for bargains. You never know what they will have in stock but sometimes I hit the jackpot and come away with phenomenal deals.

   The last way I am saving is that I am planning most of our meals around what we already have on hand.  I will have to pick up some fresh produce, dairy and a few other items that we need, but for the most part, we will just concentrate on what we have on hand.  Jeff and I have already got the first week's menu planned.  Here is what we are having for dinner this week:

~Sweet Italian sausages baked with sweet potatoes, sliced pears, green salad
~Chicken and green chili enchiladas, green salad
~Teriyaki venison meatloaf, brown rice, green salad, carrot sticks
~Tilapia cooked with lemon, green beans, brown rice (leftover from the night before), sliced apples, tomato slices (from our garden)
~Homemade soup and crackers (whatever sounds good at the moment and I pull out of the freezer since I have quite an assortment in there)

   I realize the menu above is heavy on the green salads but that is because we have a large container of mixed greens to use up before they go bad.  It is healthy for us and is one of the things that my husband really enjoys so who am I to argue. ;)  We have the grandkids spending the night this Saturday so I may just grab a pizza from the Walmart deli and serve that with apple slices.  They love pizza!  I also have lots of yogurt and some of those mixed berry muffins (that I also froze) for breakfast while they are here.  Next week Jeff and I will sit down again and make out another menu together.  I find that my husband has wonderful suggestions about different side dishes especially and if he helps with the planning he looks forward to those meals all week.  Win Win! ;)

   Is anyone else challenging themselves to a certain budget this month?  I'll try to post updates on how mine is going throughout the month and am praying that I don't go over budget.  Wish me luck please!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 10/22-10/28 2016

Fried rice made with leftover rice, leftover ham, squash from the garden, green onions from the garden, grated carrots and some Bragg's Liquid Aminos.

   Hello again!  This has been a "recovery" week for me from all the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks.  I received an email saying that my work for this week and next week are cancelled and although the money would have been nice, I was grateful to be able to stay home Tuesday and rest a bit more.  My husband has had a very long week with long hours as he is pulling double duty doing not only his deliveries, but another driver's route as well.  Hopefully tonight is the last night for that since he was working on training a new driver for the other route.  I'd like to let you know right up front that the batteries in my camera died and I can't find the battery charger at the moment so all you are going to get picture wise is some of the food I made (or froze) this week.  I usually try to take photos of my thrift finds on Friday night to add them to the post.  Sorry about that.  Onto the savings...

~Jeff, my parents and I went to see the new Jack Reacher movie on Sunday.  We hit the matinee and used gift cards so it did not cost us anything. My parents treated us to popcorn and a drink.
~We celebrated Jaysn's birthday with a potluck at Chris and Heather's house.  We then headed down to Jeremy's for a visit there so that my parents could see his new place.
~I cooked up a ham for the weekend and we had lots of leftovers.  We love ham so it quickly found it's way into many things.
~The ham bone was cooked along with some split peas to make a delicious soup.  Some of that went into the freezer along with some of the ham slices and the leftover potato cheese soup.
~Caesar was the happy recipient of the larger ham bone after I was done making the split pea soup.
~My mom and I took a long walk on Sunday.  Caesar enjoyed getting out and my mom and I had a really nice talk and got some exercise in the process.
~Sunday night was had leftover potato cheese soup.  I had made a huge crockpot full on Friday thinking that my brother Fritz was also coming over for the weekend.  He decided to stay home and take care of the animals so we had a lot to finish.  My cousin Jeremy came over that night to have more time with my parents.  The rest of the family was not feeling well and could not make it.
~I sent home some dvds and prints with my parents and an antique table that has been in my mom's line of the family for generations.  One of my cousins had stripped it down but never refinished it.  I came into possession of it via another cousin.  I gave it to my mother and she is going to refinish it and then give it to my "baby" brother.  I wanted him to have it since it is a family piece and he will have room for it in his new home.

Leftover potato cheese soup, split pea soup and ham all packaged up and ready for the freezer.

~There was some leftover rice in the refrigerator.  I sauteed up some squash, onions from the garden, grated carrot, cabbage from the garden and added thin small slices of leftover ham to that.  I then threw the rice in and seasoned it with some Bragg's Liquid Aminos.  Healthy fried rice!  This was my dinner on Monday night.
~My husband and I continue to enjoy the "Columbo" series of DVDs that I bought at a thrift store over a year ago.
~My husband had me look up a tutorial for him on how to fix something on his car.  Thank you YouTube!
~My husband was recently diagnosed as being in the prediabetic range.  The man loves his sugar and his carbs.  I am having to remind him that he cannot eat 2 bagels, 3 hot dogs on buns, 2 sandwiches and a piece of pie all in one day.  I am looking for more high protein foods that will fill him up and not mess with his blood sugar.  I boiled up some eggs for him to take with him to work or to snack on at home.  He does not like yogurt or cottage cheese, which are my go to foods for low fat high protein for myself.  He also has to eat every 4 hours when he is awake without snacking in between so that his blood sugar levels stay even and had to eat 3 of these meals while driving his truck.  Any suggestions would be very appreciated.  Thank you in advance. :)
~Our windows in the guest bedroom have there cardboard put back up in them now that my parents have returned home.  Jeff and I have found that the cardboard is a great insulator when combined with the curtains and it helps keep the room cooler in the Summer and warmer in the Winter.
~My cousin gave me a beautiful hand tatted tablecloth and some runners that had been passed down on his mother's side of the family.  Neither he nor his brother have any heirs and they are the last of that family line.  He gave it to me because he knows that I love these kinds of treasures and it still stays in the family and can be passed down through his paternal side of the family.
~My mother was having a connectivity problem with her tablet and despite friends trying, no one could fix it.  She handed it over to my son Jaysn and he had it fixed for her within a matter of minutes. :)  He saved her a having to take it in to get it fixed professionally.
~I continue to try and run Swagbucks autorun ncraves in the background while I read blogs or do housework.  The point really do add up and I don't have to be clicking constantly.
~Jeff and I watched the movie "Mother's Day" on Wednesday night before he had to go to work.  We shared a bowl of popcorn because you have to have popcorn with a movie.  We had about 1 quarts worth between us since we are trying hard to cut back on carbs and we did not put butter on it. ;)  Oh, and the movie, we borrowed it from the library.

Cod (reduced to half price at Safeway), brown rice and squash from our garden for my veggie.  My husband had the cod, brown rice and carrot sticks along with a green salad.

~Our son Chris got a deer on Tuesday up on his in law's land.  He is butchering it and giving all of it to us.  We are very blessed as this will take care of us for burger and steaks for the year.
~Wednesday I made a run into town to pick up some groceries and I stopped at one of my favorite thrifts stores.  I was surprised to see that their clearance rack had clothing marked down to .10 each.  I found a Style and Co Sweater that originally retailed for around $50 and a pair of maternity slacks (for someone I know that is expecting) for .10 each.  On the regular priced shirt rack  ($2.49 each), I found a cute little shirt and a Livi Activewear shirt (retails for $49.50).  Some other finds were books, brand new Christmas ornaments (.99 each), 3 smaller Oneida bowls (.49 each), and some new canning supplies.
~I scored big at Safeway too.  I found shrimp and cod marked down to half price, got coffee for $4.99 a can (I bought the limit of 4), apple juice for .49 (limit of 1), 2 huge bags of low far cheese sticks ($4.99 each after my discount), crackers, brown rice, and some other items.
~I divided the packages of shrimp into smaller bags that will be just the right size for salads.
~Dissmore's IGA had their large boxes of their house brand of Cheerios for .99 a box.  I bought 2 and am going to have my husband pick up more tomorrow.
~Thursday was our volunteer work day.  We brought home a large box of groceries that included huge bags of raisins and dried cranberries, cereal, bread, canned goods, frozen salmon steaks, a large rolled  pork roast, rice, instant potatoes, crackers and some other items.  This really helps offset our grocery bill.
~Thursday night I made an Asian inspired cabbage and shrimp salad.  I had half of it for dinner and the other half the next day when I added some lettuce to it to make it stretch even farther.

Asian inspired salad made with a package of coleslaw mix cabbage (sale at .89), a package of dry Ramen noodles, green onions from the garden, pepperoncini, salad shrimp (marked down to half price), sunflower seeds and a homemade dressing.  I had half of it the first night and then added some lettuce to it the second day to stretch it even further.

~I set a bucket out to collect rain water and used that to water the plants that are still surviving in the hot tub area.
~While putting some things in the freezer, I pulled out a previously made  and frozen venison stew and rice casserole so we could have that Jeff had for dinner on Friday.
~I took Caesar for a long walk on Friday.  We needed to pick up another Voter's Guide since I could not find our's (we have mail in ballots here) and get the mail.  The we took the long way home and visited with friends and neighbors on this beautiful day!  Great exercise, fun visits and beautiful sunshine...perfect way to recharge. :)
~With the weather being cooler and damp, I have been enjoying a cup (or two) of green tea in the afternoon or evening.  It helps warm me from the inside out, has no calories or sugar and since I buy big boxes of the tea at the Dollar Tree, it is a very frugal treat for me.
~I spent a good hour reading over our Voters Guide pamphlet and am so glad I did.  There are a number of things on the ballot here in Washington state that are going to directly impact our budget.  I'm all for supporting good things but not for wasteful spending.  Some of those things we are voting on were written in ways that sneak things in that do not need to be there.
~With health insurance premiums and deductibles going up for so many people, I decided to play it safe and get all my medical stuff done now.  I have appointments for a mammogram next week and a physical the week after that.  My husband just did his physical and has other medical appointments set up as well.  I checked online to make sure that the specialist he needs to see in in our healthcare network so that our costs are less.

   So that is our semi frugal week.  We really need to buckle down and be very careful with our spending since we have more medical costs coming in that will need to be paid.  We also need to buy some wood pellets for our pellet stove here soon so that is an additional expense.  Thank goodness most of our Christmas stuff is done.  I only have a few more gifts to get and I am hoping to earn enough points via Swagbucks to get a gift card for one of the families that I have left to buy for.  Be blessed, be frugal and have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mixed Berry Muffins

I thought I would share the recipe that I adapted to make my mixed berry muffins.  This is my absolute favorite recipe for muffins and is found in Mennonite Country Style Recipes by Ester H. Shank.  I have used this cookbook for years and have had to reinforce the spine with packing tape.  I substituted raspberries and blackberries from my garden in place of the blueberries.

You first mix all of your dry ingredients together.

Then you add your wet ingredients and give that a good gentle stir just enough to combine the ingredients.  You do not want to over mix or you will get a tough muffin.

If your berries have been frozen, as mine were, drain them first before putting them into the batter.  If fresh, wash them and let them drain so you don't add a bunch of water to your mixture along with the berries.

Gently fold in the berries and then put fill your greased muffin tin cups about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake at 375 F for 15-20 minutes.

Your reward for that little bit of effort are these delicious muffins which have become a favorite with most of our family.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Thoughts on the Passing of Loved Ones

My MIL's favorite flower.

   A dear friend lost her mother in law about 2 weeks ago.  I knew that her mother in law had been having health struggles for the last few years and that they had recently gotten worse.  Her memory had been stolen from her by such a cruel disease and her care become more and more intense.  Her mother in law passed away having had the chance to see her children together again and being able to have them hold her hand, kiss her cheek, and hear them tell her that they loved her.  I am so thankful that they had that special was a wonderful gift.

   As I looked at the pictures my friend shared of her husband and his sister together with their mother, I thought about what a comfort it must have been to all of them to be able to share just being together and being there for one another.  In those last precious days, my friend's husband and his sister had the privilege of being able to be there for their dying mother.

   With the situation with my husband's family having gotten so much worse, I am afraid that my husband will not have the privilege of being there for his parents when it is their time to go home to God.  His parents will not be able to gaze upon all of their children together in one room, something that my mother in law wants more than anything.  As my husband's parents health declines, he has been totally shut out due to no fault of his own.  In some ways it feels like a "death" already.  He is hurting deeply and is mourning the loss of the relationship with his parents in particular.  After what his siblings have put him through, he no longer even wants a relationship with them...there is no coming back from the devastation they have caused.

   My parents came for a visit over the weekend.  They love and adore my husband, and he them.  They have always stood by him, appreciated him for the wonderful man that he is, made sure that he knows just how much he means to them and how very loved and cherished he is.  As my parents left to head home, my husband thanked them for their love, support and for always being there for him.  My mother hugged him tight and told him that they love him and they always will.  I am so grateful for that and for the unconditional love they share.  He takes great comfort in knowing that he is part of the family and has been since day one. But his heart still aches because while my side of the family envelopes him in love, part of his rejects him and that is just so hurtful to a man who has always been there for all of those who have turned their backs and shut him out him.

   May anyone reading this heed this lesson...hug your parents extra tight and spend time with them if they are still with you if it is at all possible.  Try to put differences aside and just be there for them.  Cherish those moments and store them up in your heart and memory.  All too soon you may not have the privilege of being able to do so again.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 10/15-10/21 2016

   Busy, Busy, Busy...that has been the story of our lives this week.  My parents came for a visit on Friday for a long weekend and we have been having fun!  Onto the savings!

~Saturday my husband and I went to see a car he was interested in buying.  It is the son or one of his longtime friend's car.  Well he liked it and bought it on the spot for $500.  It is a 2002 Chevy Cavalier and he can take parts off his old car to put on this newer car.  So he now has a little commuter car again.   Funny thing is that the newer car is the same color as my car.  We seem to have a habit of buying matching cars.
~Sunday we helped my cousin Jeremy move into his new home.  He gave me a really nice bottle of gin and he fixed all of us dinner that night.  His new place has an apple tree with the sweetest apples on it.  Yum!
~Jeff installed a new deadbolt lock on one of the exterior doors at Jeremy's place.
~Jeff and I were really sore after helping Jeremy move so we hot tubbed when we got home, crawled into bed and watched a movie.
~Monday we had to go and get the new car licensed and get some oil and a new filter for it.  We picked up a few more items at Walmart while picking up the oil and used one of my gift cards to help pay for it.
~Over the weekend, we stopped at one of the thrift stores that I love and found a nice warm winter coat that fits m well.  It was the color tag that was on special for 25% off.  Jeff also found 2 more seasons of "How I Met Your Mother". Another great find was a pair of leather boots for $3.98 for me.  I had been looking for 2 years for another pair to replace some that are wearing out.  I looked them up and they retail for over $100. I rubbed some leather conditioner and cleaner on them and they look really good!  We found a few other things there also.
~Jeff and I recently started watching the first season of "Columbo" and love it.  I was pretty young when it first aired on TV but I remember watching it with my parents. :)  Those are good memories for me.
~Jeff went through all the sheets that we have here and now we know that we do not need any more full sized sheets.  Oh my goodness...I had no idea how many we had.
~We rearranged some furniture and now have a bedside table in the back guest bedroom with a lamp on it so that my father can read in bed if he wants to when he visits us.
~Wednesday morning I went over to Chris and Heather's to wrap up Elk burger.  It took 1 1/2 hours to package and wrap up all the burger with 3 adults and 2 little helpers.  Chris sent me home with lots of burger, a few roasts and some steaks.  He also told me that if he gets a deer, the whole thing is our's. They still have lots of deer burger from last year. We are very blessed with all the meat they give us, we usually help butcher and also split the cost of the grinding of the burger at the butchers.
~ I harvested some sunchokes from the garden.
~The tomato cages were all put away while I worked on phase 1 of cleaning out the garden.  Jeff and I also got the hoses unhooked and drained and then drained the rain barrel and got everything put away.
~I dug a trench and put one of the longer blackberry branches in it and then covered it back up.  This should give us more blackberry plants next year that I can give to Heather's mom for her garden.
~The library had 3 movies and a book in for me.
~Jeff realized that the snow tires from his old car will fit his new car.  No need to buy more tires for awhile for his newer commuter car. :)
~Thursday morning found me in the kitchen making a double batch of mixed raspberry and blackberry muffins.  My brother loves these and since he is coming for a visit, I wanted to spoil him a bit. :)  The blackberries and raspberries are from our garden.  I had harvested and froze them just for this delicious treat!
~After filling the muffin tins with the mixed berry muffin batter, I had some leftover.  I pulled out a mini loaf pan and filled it with the batter.  It took about 5 more minutes to bake than the muffins did.  It looked so pretty and gave me the idea to make some mini loaves of this as Christmas gifts this year. :)  I think I will sprinkle the tops with some sugar before baking them though to give it just a little more sparkle and shine.
~I used baking soda and my homemade citrus vinegar to clean my oven.  I did this while it was still warm from baking to give it just a little more "oomph".
~The mail brought a free magazine and a free gratitude journal along with my Victorio machine from my cousin Marisa.
~I got in on a free magazine subscription to Family Fun.  This will go to my DIL Heather.
~The local bowling alley sent me a coupon for a free appetizer.  I printed it off and Jeff will use it while he is there at his bowling league.
~My parents brought us over wine, jams and jellies.
~I wrapped the Christmas gifts for my parents and my brother Fritz and will be sending them home with them.

   I'm looking forward to a calmer week ahead and am hoping to be able to finish things up in the garden.  I did decide to let some of the thing just go to seeds so it should be interesting to see what comes up in the Spring.  Be blessed!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

CFS and Foggy Brain Moment

  As I was drying myself off after getting out of the shower at 12:30 a.m. I noticed something strange.  I could not towel dry my hair.  Uh oh....

   Let me take you through my day and how I arrived at this point.  I woke up very tired after having a busy day on Tuesday helping take care of toddlers at the MOPS group and then did some quick shopping and headed home.  Once home on Tuesday, I proceeded to get busy cleaning like a mad woman since my parents and one of my brothers arrives on Friday.  I cleaned until my body could not take it any more and I was in a lot of pain.  I had strange dreams Tuesday night and woke up exhausted Wednesday morning with a long "to do" list in front of me.  It was supposed to be our only rain free day so I needed to get as much done in the garden as I could to get it ready for the cold weather.  

   While I was having my coffee and answering and commenting on a few facebook posts, my son Chris called me and asked me what my plans were for the day.  I told him about my garden to do list and he said "oh, well that answers my question".  I asked him what he needed and he told me that all the elk burger from the elk he got was ready to be packaged up and labeled and they needed help.  I asked him if it would work for me to come the next day and then he told me how long the burger had been sitting in the big coolers at the butcher's.  Yep, it needed to be done today so I quickly got dressed, without even getting a shower and headed over.  Between the 3 adults and 2 grandboys, we managed to get 2 huge coolers full packaged and labeled in about 1 1/2 hours.  They sent me home with elk burger, steaks and some roasts. :)

  Upon my arrival home, I got busy here.  I made a pizza for a late lunch for my hubby and I and then I took the dog for a walk. When we got back from our walk I then got hoses and sprinklers unhooked and laid out to drain.  I took out the tomato cages, ripped out all the tomato plants, beans, marigolds and a few other things.  I harvested some sunchokes and then dug a trench and buried a blackberry branch so that it would make new plants.  By then I was exhausted and collapsed on the couch.

   My hubby and I watched a few shows, he headed for work, and I had a late dinner.  I was too tired to sleep so I got a few more things done.  I finally headed to the shower and washed and conditioned my hair, washed my body, and rinsed off.  I wrapped a towel around my head, dried my body, put on my jammies, took my meds and supplements, brushed my teeth and then proceeded to towel dry my hair.   One problem...I rinsed off my body but apparently forgot to rinse the conditioner out of my hair.  Can you say foggy brain moment?  So I grabbed a load of laundry, got that started since I was behind on it yet again, and then headed to the guest bathroom when I got the sprayer attachment from the shower, leaned over the side of the bathtub and finally got my hair rinsed off.

   It is now 1:15 a.m. and my hair is towel dried, the laundry I started in the washer is now ready to be hung up to dry and I am still too exhausted to sleep.  Yes, I realize that it sounds odd, but seriously, with CFS, sometimes you can't sleep, even though your mind and body are screaming for it.  I overdid it and I am paying the price for it now.  I pushed myself far beyond my limit and I really should know better by now, but there is just so much to get done and so little time to get it done in.  

   I'm going to get up, hang the laundry to dry and then head back to bed and try this whole sleep thing again.  Hopefully I will be able to get to sleep before 3 a.m. but I am not counting on it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 10/8-10/14 2016


   I stayed home for the most part this week since I am still in recovery mode from that flu.  I did make a quick run down to the post office and bank, and we walked down to a friend's truck farm, but I did not leave our tiny town.  Being sick and being in recovery mode has saved us money because it has kept me out of the stores. ;)  Onto the savings...

~My cousin Marisa, who is a cookbook author, food blogger and canning expert, had 2 Victorio hand crank food strainers that she was giving away.  I was able to snag the more modern one with 4 different screens.  All I needed to do is pay for the shipping.  Woohoo!  My girls, cousin Jeremy and I will all get lots of use out of it. :)
~I worked on my points programs as my energy level allowed.
~Jeff and I watched some of the dvds I borrowed from the library along with some that we already owned.
~My grandsons loved all the shirts, a pair of boots, the Lego magazine and a pair of shorts that I sent over with my hubby for them on Saturday (I was home sick in bed).
~I made a green bean casserole and added some sliced turkey to it.  We also had some acorn squash from the garden.  This was our quick and easy dinner on Monday night.
~We had a hard frost heading in on Monday night.  I went out and salvaged everything I could from the garden.  I got squash, cabbage, tomatoes, beans and more blackberries and raspberries.

~I picked the last of the roses from the garden and made a mini bouquet with them.  Our cat knocked the hand blown vase over shattering it sending glass and water everywhere.  My sweet hubby cleaned that up while I saved the roses and got another vase out.  The flowers are now living in the kitchen where there is less chance of Rufus knocking them over.  I was sad to lose the vase but just happy that no one was hurt.
~Monday night I had some Cold Care PM tea to help ease my congestion. I repeated this on various nights throughout the week.
~Tuesday morning I woke up to a killing frost outside.  I took my camera out and tried to capture some of the beauty of the frost.  Silly me, I forgot to put shoes on so I had a cold crunchy walk across the grass. ;)

~Tuesday morning, as I thawed out from my barefoot picture taking, Josh and I had a lovely visit via SKYPE while I sipped on a hot cup of coffee. :)  SKYPE is a wonderful thing!
~Had our DIL Heather shop the pantry here.  We sent her home with tomatoes from the garden, pepperoni and pineapple for their homemade pizza that night (I'm so glad she mentioned that she was going to stop at the store to buy those things and that we were able to save her a trip) and some homemade raspberry syrup that my mom has us bring for the whole family here.
~One of our friends own's a truck garden and had a large pumpkin patch.  We took the grandboys down and they each picked out their own pumpkin and were thrilled to do so. :)  Isaiah picked a smaller one and Bradley got the biggest one he could find and had my hubby carry it back up to our house. :)  They only charge $5 per pumpkin.  I had some cash on me from some checks from Pinecone Research and used that.

~Our backyard apple tree is large and had dropped a bunch of apples that were rotting on the ground.  I paid the oldest grandson to pick up a bunch of them for me.  He got $2 and a bonus of a candy that he picked out of the candy jar.  His little brother Isaiah did not want to work on the apples.  Bradley now has some spending money for his trip with his mommy and grandma later this week. ;)
~The grandboys found some of the bubbles that I had here and decided that they wanted to play with them which was fine with me.  They then went out and played football in the front yard with G-pa (my hubby).  The boys wore their G-pa out.  LOL!
~Jeff moved our potted basil, thyme and flat leaf parsley into the enclosed hot tub area.  That kept them safe from the killing frost on Monday night.  I am hoping we can eek out a bit more growing time with them by having them near the warm hot tub even during the freezing weather.
~We continue to enjoy watching old episodes of Northern Exposure.  I have no idea why I did not get into that show when it was being broadcast.  It's a great show!
~I looked at our calendar and realized I have one less week than I thought I did before my parents and brother come for a visit.  I got busy cleaning and also planning out a menu and a birthday party for our oldest son.  He will be 29 this year...just one year away from 30!  Where has the time gone?

~There were some over ripe bananas in the fruit bowl so I made 3 loaves of banana bread with them and then threw the peels around some of my rose bushes.  We will enjoy the bread and the roses will love the peels.
~Our weather report told us to expect some high winds and lots of rain for a few days so I took all the hanging plants that were still alive outside down and removed the wreath from the front of our walkway.  I also called my son Chris and let him know to get all the kids toys picked up out in their yard.  The boys would be heartbroken if they lost some of their toys, especially their playhouse.
~Since we were told we might lose power with the storm, I gathered up candles and flashlights to have ready just in case.
~My hubby moved more bags of pellets up onto the back porch so we would not have to go out and get them from their storage area in the old cover dog run.
~We were supposed to help my cousin move on Saturday but with that being one of the worst days rain wise for this storm, I got ahold of him and we rescheduled for Sunday.  There is no need for all this furniture and stuff to get soaked or pay for a moving van on a day when he can't use it.
~Since I was craving soup and Chinese food, I made some shrimp and miso soup with udon noodles.  I added some squash, green onion and swiss chard from our garden to it.  Really good stuff!

~Sometimes you just have to have cookies!  I found a Pumpkin Spice cookie mix that I had bought on clearance awhile back and made them up.  They were a nice change from our regular cookie choices of peanut butter or chocolate chip and perfect on a cold and rainy day.
~I had Jeff pick up another huge bag of dog food for Caesar since we were getting low.  Jeff was in town for his bowling league and right across from Walmart where we get it.  He used a gift card that I had earned to pay for it.
~Jeff had to go in for a mandatory meeting at work on Friday night and the company provided pizza for all the workers for dinner.  Since it was just me at home for dinner, I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich and finished up the acorn squash from our garden that I had cooked earlier in the week.

~Rufus has been getting into the kitchen cabinets looking for mice.  The cold weather has driven them indoors.  We have DCon out for them and I don't want him getting into the DCon or catching a mouse that has ingested it either.  I put some heavy duty rubber bands that I had saved from bunches of broccoli across the knobs and used them to keep him from being able to get those cabinet doors open.

   The first windstorm that I had been preparing for did not turn out to be as bad in our area as originally was forecasted for and I am so thankful for that.  We have round two hitting Saturday so we shall see how that blessed!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Preparing for the Storm

   The lights are already starting to flicker here and I will lose my internet if the power goes out so I am going to make this quick...just in case. ;)  We have a major windstorm complete with drenching rain headed out way.  It is supposed to hit us late tonight/early tomorrow morning.  The rain is already here ahead of schedule and the winds are picking up just a bit.  Our sustained winds are expected to be in the 30-40 MPH range with gusts of 50 MPH or more.  The west side of Washington state is going to be hit really hard and we have family over there that I am super concerned about.  

   I have been trying to get ready for this storm.  Jeff and I got all the hanging plants and wind chimes down and put in a safe area.  He used bungee cords to secure my big black iron plant stand that lives on the back porch to some support beams.  My car has been moved away from the big tree in the front.  I have 2 loaves of bread plus lots of sandwich fixings here.  I also have some fresh fruit and lots of canned goods.  I also have lots of juice, aseptic packs of milk, seltzer, soda and water.   There are lots of crackers and cereal.  I've charged the cell phones and my computer.  I have candles ready along with flashlights. If we lose power, I can go next door to our friend's house since she has a wood burning stove to stay warm if the power is out for more than a day.  Even if we still keep our power, the winds are going to be fierce, so I had my hubby stack bags of wood pellets for our stove up on the screened in porch next to the back door so we can both easily access them.  I have the laundry all caught up and am showered and dressed for the day.  Jeff will be picking up a huge bag of dog food tonight before he goes to his bowling league.  I figure we need it and it will add some extra weight to the car. ;) If we still have power later tonight, I will make another pot of coffee and put it in the thermal carafe (I have this mornings coffee in their now) and I will take another shower and blow dry my hair so that I at least look and smell decent tomorrow. ;)

   My hanai sister/neighbor, who just had a medical procedure done today and needs to keep the area iced, called to tell me how things went and I told her that frozen bags of peas worked really well for me after I had a breast biopsy done to keep the area chilled and less painful.  She and I got off the phone and she headed to the store to get some.  As our lights started to flicker, I realized that those peas were not going to stay frozen and would need to be refrozen again.  I  also realized that one of the things that I don't have in my medical supply stash is those chemical break away cold packs that do not need to be frozen and that she might need those too.  I quickly called her back and let her know about our lights flickering here and that she might want to pick some of those up as well.  She had not thought about that and to be honest, until the lights started flickering here, neither had I.  She is picking some up now before heading home. I need to remember to add those to my medical prep supplies as well.  My husband has to ice down his hand almost every day due to tendonitis and arthritis.

   Unfortunately, my hubby will be on the road tonight driving through an area that is notorious for really bad cross winds on a good day.  He will be driving through the area right when things are supposed to get really bad and then the storm will be following him up on his drive back home.  I am having him take some emergency supplies with him in case he gets stuck somewhere due to flooding, closed roads or anything.  His work truck is a high profile one that the winds just slam and it concerns me deeply.  I wish they would cancel his run tonight, but I don't see that happening unless the roads are closed before he takes off which is very unlikely.  Prayers for his safety are really appreciated!

   Praying for everyone else that is dealing with storms and the aftermath of storms right now.  Be blessed!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 10/1-10/7 2016


   It that time again for another Frugal Friday Wrap Up.  The following is brought to you by Western Family Cold and Flu Meds. ;)  Yes, I got the dreaded flu this week and am so thankful for a well stocked medicine cabinet and having lots of boxes of tissues on hand.  Onto my savings for the week...

~Saturday we took Jaysn and Rachel out to an early dinner.  We went to one of our favorite places that serves wonderful homemade pasta, soups and salads at fast food prices.  So good and much healthier.  We had a wonderful time and it was nice to just spend time with them and be able to talk about all kinds of things and help them plan for some major changes in their lives. :)  We had budgeted for this time out.
~Jeff and I curled up Saturday night and watched one of the movies we bought at the Dollar Tree.  It was pretty good.  I sipped on some Peppermint tea since my stomach was acting up.  It always does that when I am in a crash and recovery mode.
~I stocked up on some loss leader items at Safeway.  We were able to combine some deals and restock our soy sauce supply for the next year or so.  We use a lot of it in some of our favorite dishes.
~Swagbucks has been good to me this month allowing me to rack up quite a bit of points.  I cashed in for a $25 Walmart gift card while it was on sale for 2,200 points at the first of the month.  I also cashed in for a $10 Walmart gift card once my September bonus points were posted. :)  That $35 in gifts cards will come in handy to buy things that we need. :)
~We got a frost Saturday night so Sunday I went out and harvested most of the tomatoes, beans and squash.  The tomatoes will ripen slowly in the house even though they are green now.
~We stopped at Goodwill on Monday.  It's Senior Discount day then and Jeff qualifies for it. ;)  I found a really cute poncho/wrap for $5.99, a new with tags basic white shirt for $1.99 (colored tag of the week), a book by one of my favorite authors for $1.99 and a cute sign about prayer that will be one of the White Elephant gifts for this Christmas.
~Jeff found a bonus pack of garbage bags at the Dollar Tree.
~Jeff needs some new bowling shoes.  He has had the same ones for over 30 years now and they have more than done their duty.  I looked at and we found some to replace them for way less than the bowling supply companies are charging.  I am now working my points programs like crazy to try and get enough in gift cards to pay for most of the cost if not all of it.
~The library got some new dvds in so I put in requests for some of them.
~The local college newspaper had a coupon in it for $10 off $50 at the local building supple company.  The coupon is good through December of this year.  Jeff shops there quit a bit and is needing something that he can use that coupon on to cut his cost down.  I cut it out of the paper and put it in his wallet.
~Monday I was able to harvest some blackberries and a little of the second crop of raspberries.  I have enough to make a batch of mixed berry muffins with now.  YUM!  I may just freeze the berries and then make the muffins before my parents and brother come for a visit later this month.  My brother is a vegetarian and loves these muffins.  I make them with soy flour instead of eggs so that he does not have to worry about that. :)
~Jeff filled the car up with gas when were in town on Monday...that town had the cheapest gas of any of the towns that we shop or he works out of.

~I made a huge stockpot full of Zuppa Toscana and used kale from our garden in it. :)  I served it the first night with some garlic bread.
~Tuesday was my day to work with the local MOPS group.  Since I was in town, I hit a thrift store that had .24 clearance racks on Tuesday.  This is a Christian Thrift store that benefits people in the community.  I found lots of shirts for the little boys and a few other items on that rack.  I also picked up 2 seasons of a old TV series I used to enjoy, a movie, some earrings and a nice soft leather wallet.
~I found some marked down BBQ chicken at the deli and brought that home for dinner Tuesday.
~I cooked up 2 large pork roasts in the crockpot and shredded them and then added BBQ sauce.  I package up and froze most of it for future meals.
~The Beauty Box that Walmart sent me had a bath soak for sore and achy muscles.  I tried it out and to be honest, it did not help.
~The library had 2 movies in for me so I went and picked them up on Wednesday. :)
~I was so thankful that I had lots of leftovers in the refrigerator on Wednesday.  My fibromyalgia, along with my chronic fatigue syndrome, flared up big time and it hurt to even move.  I did the bare minimum around the house and was so thankful that I could just pull things out of the refrigerator and reheat them.
~Jeff and I both enjoyed using our hot tub to soak away some aches and pains.  After our long soak, we curled up and watched some TV shows online.
~By Thursday I realized I had the flu (on top of everything else) and did the bare minimum around here.  I was in bed by 4:00 p.m. and woke up around 10:30 p.m., grabbed some leftover soup and then headed back to bed until 9:30 a.m. on Friday.
~Jeff cleaned out and inventoried our freezers.  We have 2 turkeys and 2 hams in there along with lots of other meats.  I think I will cook one of the turkeys when my parents and brother are here.  That should feed us all plus give us leftovers and I can make soup with it also.
~Friday Jeff froze most of the leftover soup for future meals and what he didn't freeze, he had for a late lunch.  I snacked on cheese and crackers and had some guacamole and chips.  Tea was my beverage of choice for the day.  I did watch some YouTube Videos and watched coverage of the hurricane via The Weather Channel online. I usually do my points programs each day but could not concentrate enough to do them.
~We have been watching the show "Northern Exposure".  I had found seasons 1 and 2 on DVD at a thrift store or yard sale awhile back.  We love it and I am now on the lookout for the other seasons at a great price.
~We needed more of our supplements.  We get them at Vitacost.  I went through the link at Mypoints so I will get 4 points per dollar there.  Swagbucks has not been crediting my orders when I go through them so back to Mypoints I go.  I found some buy1 get 1 half off sales on some of the items and I also had a $30 off $100 coupon.  I also got free shipping.  I stocked us up on things that we needed and added another product that I wanted to try to see if it helps my husband and I with our pain levels.  We shall see!
~Friday night's dinner was more soup...this time tomato in a mug for me.  Jeff ate something earlier before he had to head off to work.
~Pinecone Research sent me my checks for $13.  I will cash these next week at our local bank and that will be my spending money for the next few weeks.  I don't need much but it is nice to have it if I want to pick up something on a whim. :)

   Sorry there are not a lot of pictures this week.  This flu has knocked me out and I have not taken many at all.  I hope you all can avoid this thing, it's miserable!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Safely Tucked In

   There is something wonderful about rainy days in the Fall.  The colors are still bright but are almost watercolor like when there is a screen of rain in front of them.  We have a metal roof so the sound of the rain is intensified and takes me back to my childhood where the rain was always welcome to cool off those tropical Hawaiian days.  Days like this are a blessing and make me feel safely tucked in and protected in my cozy little home.

   Our rain barrel in the backyard has been refilled and is over capacity so the raindrops are dancing on the surface of the water that pools in the lid.  In some ways the rain barrel is a reflection of my life at the moment.  There is a part of my heart that has been feeling empty inside.  The part that was once filled with a close and loving relationship with my mother in law and father in law.  All that has been stripped away with the ugliness that has happened and us being shut out of their lives through no fault of our own.  My husband and I have finally come to a place where we just have to step back and accept it for what it is.  There is nothing we can do to change a situation that we have not created.  When one door closes, God opens up a new one and He has done that for us.  God has sent us a precious gift and one that is filling my heart to overflowing. :)  

   As I am wrapped up in my fuzzy warm robe while eating some hot homemade soup that is soothing my scratchy and sore throat, I am so thankful.  I'm thankful for the life giving rain that is washing away the dirt and making everything clean again while nourishing the winter wheat that is laying dormant in the ground in the fields that surround us.  I am thankful to God for providing us a cozy home that will be paid off soon.  I am thankful for the amazing, kind and loving husband that I have been blessed with.  I am thankful for my children and grandchildren who are my true treasures here on earth and for the close relationship that we all have.  I am just so thankful for it all.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Paying the Price for Too Much Fun

   I overdid it yesterday.  I'm working with the local Mothers of Preschoolers group 3 days a month now providing childcare while the mothers get a much needed break and time of fellowship.  The little boy that I am paired up with to work one on one with was not feeling well so he and his momma stayed home.  I ended up helping in one of the toddlers rooms with all the kids since that will be the group that the little boy and I will be with when he is feeling better.  I had a wonderful time cuddling and playing with those little ones for 2 1/2 hours but boy am I paying for it now.  Picking up, rocking crying little ones, changing a multitude of diapers, building with Legos and blocks, holding 2 cuties on my lap while I read to a group all took a toll on this broken down body of mine.  When I am in a situation like that I give my absolute all and push through using up every bit of energy I have.  I then come home and crash.

   By the time I arrived home after MOPs and doing some shopping, I was spent.  I crawled into my pajamas, curled up in my recliner and fought off sleep because I knew if I took a nap, I would not be able to sleep later that night.  Around 8 p.m., I drew myself a nice hot bath with soaking salts in it, hoping it would ease some of the aches and pains and help me sleep.  No such luck but the cat did enjoy walking back and forth along the side of the bathtub. ;) Doofy (aka Rufus) likes to walk across me  and climb in and out of my lap when I am in my chair and in bed.  Last night and today him doing that is excruciating.

   Today I am exhausted and so sore.  I took a shower, and got ready for the day putting on the softest bra I had and then ran down to the library.  Even that hurt so that bra came off the minute I got back home.  If having my Fibromyalgia flaring was not enough, my Chronic Fatigue thought it would be a magnificent day to join the party.    Every move I make feels like I am lifting lead. My hands are aching as I type this.  I hurt, my brain is foggy, I'm tired and all I want to do is crawl back into bed and sleep and escape the pain.  But if you ask me if it was worth it, I will tell you without a doubt, YES!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 9/25-9/30 2016


   It's been a pretty good week frugality wise.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time with our son Josh being home and spending time with him and the rest of the family on Saturday night. Most of our meals were eaten here at home and I found some really good deals at the thrift store.  :)  Onto the savings for the last week of September 2016.

~Saturday we celebrated Heather, Chris and Josh's birthdays with a family bowling night at the local bowling alley.  Jeff and I bought pizzas and appetizers there for the our crew, my cousin Jeremy paid for the soda and Josh covered my hard cider as well as his drinks.  I had signed up to be on the email list so I got a $10 off $20 coupon for bowling, Jeff had $24 credit on his bowling rewards card and Heather had a $10 gift card that she won so after combining those, we only paid $3.06 for the actual bowling part for all of us. :)  It was so much fun and everyone had a great time!
~I had loaded some coupons onto my Safeway card so we stopped by the store on the way home from bowling.  We got butter for $1.99 a pound, 2 packages of imitation crab at $1.09 for 8 oz, 2 packages of breakfast sausage marked down to half price, milk and bananas.  The the coupon machine spit out a coupon for a free Starbucks drink upon checkout so I will use that at a future date. :)

~Sunday found me in "crash mode" and I could barely move.  My sciatic nerve decided to act up too so I was unable to go with my husband to drop out Josh off at the airport which is an hour's drive from our home.  My sweet hubby set me up on our couch later in the morning and made me a grilled pastrami and provolone cheese sandwich.  He also gave me orders to rest for the day and he took care of laundry and other things that needed to be done.  I am blessed!
~I watched quite a few videos on YouTube.  It is one of my favorite forms of entertainment.
~Josh bought some beer while he was here and only drank 1 bottle of it, leaving me the rest.  It is a beer that I had not tried before and it's really good!

~Sunday night Jeff and I watch one of the old Pink Panther movies, A Shot in the Dark, starring Peter Sellers and had a snack dinner of Canadian Bacon, Swiss and Cheddar Cheese, crackers and sliced fresh pears.  We hot tubbed after the movie.  Date night at home! ;)
~Monday we dropped Chris' truck back off at his house and then joined Heather, Chris and the grandboys at Pizza Hut for lunch to celebrate Heather's birthday!  We ordered 2 of the box meals that have a pizza, breadsticks and cinnasticks for $10 per box.  We paid for 1 and they paid for 1.  There was plenty of food for everyone, including the growing grandboys that out eat Grammie! ;)
~While in town, we hit up Goodwill and found 2 like new pairs of pants and a nice shirt for Jeff, a pair of Not Your Daughter's Jeans, a sweater and brand new nightgown for me.  It was senior day so we saved $6 with Jeff's discount.
~We did not need much in the way of groceries so we kept that trip to about $18.
~I made turkey wraps for dinner with some of that sale priced turkey lunchmeat I got last week and tomatoes from our garden.

~More shows were watched online.
~I planned our menus around what we have in the freezers, refrigerator, pantry and garden to use up.
~The library got in 3 dvds and a cookbook for me that I had previously requested. :)
~Tuesday my husband was having trouble sleeping so he decided to come into town with me while I ran my errands.  I love spending all the time I can with him, so it was a nice treat to have him with me.  Our first stop was the thrift store that benefits the disabled in our community.  Tuesdays they have a .25 discount rack of clothing.  I was able to find 2 pairs of shorts for my hubby and I and a bunch of clothing for someone else in our family. :)  I also managed to find  pair of pants for my youngest grandson and some winter boots (Land's End) for my oldest grandson.  My husband and I got 2 books for our Rachel and another for my father..  While I was downstairs finding more clothing and a really neat purse, my hubby was upstairs in the cd section.  He found 2 amazing slack key guitar cds by some of Hawaii's leading of whom I was blessed to see in concert as a teen. He knows how much that music means to me and was very thrilled to show me his finds.  I did pick up a nice fall wreath for our breezy to our front door at the huge cost of $1.99.  It still had the original price tag on it of $39.95.  Our purchases got us 3 punches on our customer loyalty card.  I am now very close to a free shopping day there. ;)

~Jeff and I stopped at Walmart to get a few things and found some marked down Italian sausages with cheese, a crab salad from the deli, and garlic bread.  We got those things and picked up some Goo Gone so I can get some gummy thing off a quilt that my mother gave us.  She had no idea when she gave us the lovely quilt that she had made that something had gotten on it.  We did pick up a few things from the hot and ready case for lunch to eat on the way home.  Oh, I almost forgot.  Walmart takes competitors coupons so I was able to use my coupon for a free Starbucks Refresher drink  from Safeway there.
~I picked another 2 quarts of blackberries off our bush on Monday.
~More tomatoes and beans were also picked from our front garden area.
~I cut a box of dryer sheets in half.  Half a sheet does what I need it to do and stretches my budget.  I get my dryer sheets at the Dollar Tree to begin with.
~My oldest grandson's Lego magazine came in the mail.  I have a subscription for him and he loves it!

~I pulled out some of my Fall silk flowers and filled 2 vases up with them.  I love the homey feeling and color they add to the living room and in the dining room.
~Wednesday I could tell that I was heading into another big "crash" healthwise so I did my best to try and get as much done as possible.  One of the areas that suffers most when I crash is meals so that was my focus.  I cooked up a squash casserole (my comfort food), 2 loaves of bread and a Teriyaki meatloaf.  I also made a batch of Scrapple.  The bread should get us through the remainder of the week and weekend, the Teriyaki meatloaf will be served with rice and green beans from the garden tonight, the Scrapple can be for dinner tomorrow or the next night and the squash casserole was already dug into for my lunch.

~While I was watering the garden, I noticed that one of our soaker hoses somehow got a large hole in it.  I am guessing the dog got it.  Anyway, I stuck a bucket near where that water was coming out and collected that to use in other areas of the garden.
~I have been trying to use up the water in our rain barrel for watering the fruit trees in the backyard.  We have more rain coming next week that will refill them once more before I have to unhook it and put it away for the colder months.
~Pinecone Research sent me a survey to do.  That reminded me to check my payments balance there.  I cashed out for $13.  Every little bit counts!
~Thursday I picked more blackberries.  I only got about a quart this time.
~Thursday was also our volunteer day at the food commodities program.  We were given beautiful frozen salmon steaks, cereals, snack foods, crackers, juices, canned goods, bread and many other things.  My large apple box was completely filled!  We feel so blessed!

~Mercury magazines sent me a email saying I qualified for a free subscription to Family Fun magazine.  I went ahead and got it for Heather.  That magazine always had fun crafts and things to do in it and Heather is so good about doing crafts with our grandboys.
~Our zucchini plant surprised me with 2 small squashes. Our tomatoes and beans are still coming on, albeit a bit slower now.
~I  put in a lot of time on my points programs this week and really racked up the points.  I will cash some of them in for gift cards here soon.

~Does anyone else do deep Fall cleaning?  After the dirt of harvest (remember I love in farm country) everything in my house needs a really good washing.  I got the dining room and living rooms curtains down, washed and dried.  While they were drying, I cleaned all the curtain rods and walls around them.
~Leftovers were the main lunch items this week.  I am trying to be better about not wasting food.

   I'm hoping to do even better in the month of October on our savings.  I am trying to keep our eating out to just a few times this next month since that is where the biggest leak in our budget is.  Wish me luck. :)