Thursday, July 30, 2020

Let's Make This Into A Game

   As you know, if you read my last post, that Jeff's last paycheck (that hopefully comes in the mail tomorrow) is way less than normal because he has used up all his sick leave and vacation time for his knee replacement surgery.  We have about 3 1/2 weeks before he goes back in to see the doctor and hopefully will be signed off to go back to work again.  Jeff is doing everything he can to get his strength back and is doing the exercises that they sent him home with to do.  They did not have him do physical therapy but are having him do things here at home.  I'm not sure if this is a Covid-19 thing or the fact that his surgeon knows Jeff well and that he also knows how determined he is to do everything he can here at home to be ready to go back to work.  Hopefully it is the latter part of that statement. 😉

   Be that as it may, and the fact that we will wipe out our savings to cover our bills, even after having made phone calls to cut some expenses, I am determined NOT to have to put much on the credit card. I would feel even better if we did not have to put anything on there if at all possible. It is not going to be easy, but instead of doing the whole damsel in distress, woe is me routine, I am going to challenge myself and make this into a game that I am determined to win!

   To this end, Jeff and I sat down and discussed how we were going to accomplish this. So here is our plan for your viewing pleasure.

    We took advantage of our food commodities giveaway in town today and we blessed with 2 HUGE boxes full of food including meats, breads, fresh fruits and potatoes, canned and packaged meals, juices and lots of canned goods along with some treats.  There is not room in the budget at this point for us to spend much on groceries at this point and I realize that even after Jeff returns to work that it may be another few weeks before he gets a paycheck.  We still have berries and apples coming in from the garden and the tomatoes are starting, so we are good there. I'm going to see if Jaysn and Rachel can pick me up a big bag of potting soil so that I can do some container gardening for lettuce and a few other things.  I will pay them for that and it should not be that expensive.  I have a bit of cash on hand at this point.

   The statements from the health insurance company are coming in now and can I just say how thankful I am for good insurance?  Oh my goodness, we would be sunk financially without it!  Our regular doctor's office is now part of the hospital and our surgeon is also connected to it.  Luckily they have all been more than willing to work with us in the past on payments.  Jeff will be calling again tomorrow to make sure that this is still the case.  When all is said and done we think we will be paying between around $6000 for everything.  When Jeff is able to return to work, we will be upping the payment amounts to get it paid off ASAP.

   The heat has cranked up here and we were over 100F today and will be there tomorrow also.  We have the swamp cooler going and we put a oscillating fan in our bedroom to move the cooler air around and bring the air temperature even further down.  I am spending most of my time in our bedroom now since it is the only room in the house where I am able to stay cool enough and not get sick during the day and most of the evening.  Fibromyalgia makes it impossible for me to regulate my body temperature on my own, so I have to rely on external factors to do that.  I am also taking lukewarm showers, followed by cool water at the end to help and am wearing the lightest and coolest clothing that I can find.

   The library is not open to walk ins, but they are doing curbside pick up.  I still have some books and movies here that are not due until mid August and I have a few more on order.  They will either mail them to me directly or to our library and I can pick them up.  I'm thinking tomorrow may be a good day to watch the movie "Abominable" since it is a "cool" movie. 😁  Just watching movies based in cold weather help cool me down.  It's a mind game I suppose, but hey, it works.

   I'm gathering up all my frugal living type books again and rereading them for inspiration along with going through my depression era and basic type cookbooks.  I find this helpful.  Some of my books are highlighted like mad and are reread over and over.  They are like trusted old friends who I know are there for me in my time of need.  I'm also watching movies and videos about back to basics skills and living.  I gain so much from them and find them totally enjoyable.

   The clothes line is going to be used almost exclusively for drying our laundry.  Our electric bill was way down, but our water bill was up due to me watering the garden so much.  I need to bring the electric bill down further to make up for the rise in the water bill.  I am praying for some rain to help fill my rain barrel that I am using for watering the pear trees, but I'm not seeing much of that in the weather forecast. I also want to take advantage of the heat and get all the screens washed, dried and back up on the windows soon.  They are in dire need of it.

   We are going to cut back on our running around in our car too.  I know that we will need to take Jeff's check to the bank, but I am hoping we can put that off until Monday.  I really would like to be able to go down to the river that day and take Caesar with us so he can go swimming.  He loves to swim and it will help him cool off too.  Since it will be a Monday, there should not be too many people down there so social distancing should not be a problem.  I'll pack a picnic lunch or dinner to take with us.  I made Jeff promise we could go down this summer as we have not gone for the last two summers and I miss it.   That will be our outing for the week.

   Other than that, I am just going to try and carry on as usual and find more ways to save around here.  I know I can do it.  We have lived on very little before, so it is not a new concept to me.  It's time to use all those skills I have learned in the past and maybe even learn a few new ones.  Wish me luck!






Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Babies, Berries and Budgets

     Do you see our glowing girl Lauren above?  Do you see our little man Tate (bump) growing quickly safely tucked away in his mommy's womb?  He is at the halfway point (20 weeks) before he makes his expected grand entrance into the world!  Lauren and Josh have been busy getting their home ready for their new little arrival.  Josh has lost his man cave, which has now become the nursery, but he is not complaining.  He is so excited to be a daddy!  Lauren is nesting big time and with how creative she is, I can't wait to see the finished nursery when they get it done.

   We have been harvesting lots of juicy raspberries off of our bushes.  I have given lots away, made raspberry gin, frozen some, eaten a lot fresh from the garden and have been adding them to yogurt.  They are delicious!  My oldest two grandsons even made a trail under the bushes so they could get the berries from "inside".  Steven, the youngest grandson, enjoys finding and picking them but does not enjoy eating them at this point.  His older cousins, Bradley and Isaiah, are more than willing to eat his share though so problem solved. ;)  The strawberries are just finishing up and I have dehydrated most of them although I have used some as a topping for pancakes and pound cake along with eating some fresh.  The blueberries only gave me a few berries this year, but the blackberry bush is loaded with tiny green berries at this point, so we will have plenty of those.


   Now for the budget...oh my, has that taken a hit!  Jeff is getting his last paycheck before he is able to return to work and it is going to be much less than we had counted on since it still had all the deductions, including my health insurance, but was for half the usual amount since he is using the last of this vacation time and then was out of paid days.  Luckily we do have some money in savings to help cover the first half of August and IF congress comes through with the stimulus checks, we will be covered.  If not, we will have to rely on our credit card to get us through and I do not want to have to do that.  We have slashed our expenses to the core.  Luckily we are 2 months ahead on our car payment and we are able to skip a payment on our personal loan through our credit union.  Our pantry, freezers, fridge and HBA cupboards are stocked up and I made sure that we stocked up ahead of time on pet supplies, so the fur babies are good for another 2 months at least and to be honest, Jeff and I could live off our pantry, etc. for a long bit also.  No one is going to go hungry around here. ;)  Between Covid-19 and Jeff's recovery from his surgery, we are not going out much anyway.

    Speaking of Jeff's recovery, he is doing great!  He has been out mowing the lawn again and trying to rebuild his stamina after having to be off his leg for the most part for a few weeks.  He even hauled a 50 pound bag of dog food that we had delivered to us out from the post office and into our home.  I've been trying to feed him well with lots of good meals that have a good amount of protein.  Lasagna is one of his favorites so I made a large one that lasted us for 3 meals and another to put in the freezer.  We've worked on projects around our home, watched lots of movies, and had the family over a few times.  We even had Steven stay with us this last Saturday so his parents could have an afternoon all to themselves.  They and we enjoyed that time so much!

   Right now we are in the middle of a heatwave, so staying indoors for most of the day where we can have the swamp cooler going has been a blessing.  Thankfully the nights are much cooler so we have been able to switch over to the vent to bring the cool night air in so that I am able to sleep better.  I can't sleep if I am hot.  It also keeps our home cool until mid day and then the swamp cooler is called back into duty.  Overall, we are doing well at this point and we hope to stay that way.  Going to keep a positive attitude and be thankful for everything that we have been blessed with.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 7/11-7/17 2020

   Sorry I am late in posting.  We had the family here on Saturday for a big family birthday party and I was totally and happily worn out!  The little boys had a blast playing together and picking berries.  It was wonderful to be able to hug and visit with some of my most loved people in the whole world again.  We had lots of good food, laughter and fun.  Sunday I spent part day in bed and then we ran into town to do some shopping.  Today was a total bed day.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get more accomplished around here.   

~We watched the movie "Swiss Family Robinson" on Disney Plus.
~I picked raspberries, strawberries, ground cherries and peas from the garden.
~Dinner Saturday was rotisserie chicken that I pulled out of the freezer and a pasta in pesto sauce with tomatoes.  It made lots of leftovers!
~I froze the chicken carcass  to make broth with.
~Dinner Sunday was  pork tamale pie with corn and black beans.  I made two casseroles and froze one for a future meal.
~I got about 1/2 gallon of homemade vanilla started with more of the vanilla beans my sister gave me.
~I also started a quart of raspberry infused gin with some of the berries from our raspberry patch.
~I dehydrated some over-ripe bananas.
~I also dehydrated more strawberries.
~I made some strawberry pancake topping.
~Found another now favorite YouTube channel "Frugal Money Saver".

~Two loaves of homemade bread were made.
~I called in a refill for my prescriptions, they will be mailed to me.
~I picked some berries,\.
~Leftovers for dinner.

~Picked more berries and some cherries.
~Watered the gardens in the evening.
~We were craving something sweet so I made an apple crisp using things we had on hand.  YUMMY!

~Pulled some Kalua pig out of the freezer and had that with rice for our main meal of the day.  I really am thankful for having cooked this ahead of time and frozen it since I was not in the mood to heat up the house much today.  We had leftovers enough for another meal.
~Picked lots of raspberries from our bushes.
~Jaysn picked up Jeff's paycheck from his employer and deposited it in the bank for us.
~Our hanai sister came over to pick raspberries and brought us some treats.  We had a lovely visit out on the back porch with her and her son late into the night.  It was so nice to just be able to visit with her without feeling rushed.

~I spent quite a lot of time comparing auto adjusting c-pap machines online for Jeff.  He needs a new machine and we were advised to get an auto adjusting one.
~We headed into town and got a manual for our spare c-pap machine to see if we can adjust that while we wait to see how much our insurance will cover for an auto adjusting one. We also picked up another chin strap for Jeff.
~We made a stop at Dollar Tree and got what we could there of things on our list.  Many items were out of stock and that has me hugely concerned.
~Safeway had 3 boxes of General Mills cereal on sale for .99 with the digital coupon.  I also got some marked down ziplock containers and a huge bag of cheese for $5.99
~We did manage to find some good deals on marked down items at Winco including two huge pork sirloin roasts.  I packaged each one up separately and froze them for future meals.  Other marked downs were salads, seafood alfredo, krab salad and some sweet chili chicken from the deli area.  It is too hot to cook much and after a long shopping trip for both Jeff and I, picking these things up was way cheaper that getting fast food through a drive through that would not taste all that great and is not good for us either.
~I watered the gardens in the evening.

~Apparently it was me who was congested and snoring last night and keeping my husband up.  Darn allergies.  I sent him back to bed in the morning after I found him dozing off in the recliner.  While he was sleeping I got the coffee going, fed the fur babies, and then had a quite start to the day out on the back porch while the temperatures were still cool and enjoyed my coffee.
~I placed an order at going through Swagbucks for the points.  I ordered pet foods, OTC medications and Scott brand toilet paper.  Scott brand toilet paper is one of the first kinds of TP to get bought out around here since it lasts so long.  Trying to find it even now is hard.  My order is going to be delivered to our home for free.  Saves us a trip to town and I can get what I need this way and limit my possible exposure to this horrible virus.
~Jeff placed an order and paid for a pillow that will help with his c-pap machine and hopefully stop his snoring.  Jaysn is going to pick it up on his way home from work today and bring it out to us tomorrow.
~Our wonderful neighbors came over in the evening and surprised us by mowing our lawn.  I was going to ask one of our kids to do it Saturday, but our neighbors wanted to bless us.  I thought that was just the sweetest thing.  I sent home some sweet chili chicken with them as a thank you.

   I'm curious to know how things are going in your areas with this whole Covid-19 thing.  Our cases are ramping up quickly.  I read the latest numbers this morning and I have never since a jump like this before.  I am so glad I stocked up on things when I did.  


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Trouble Ahead

   Jeff has been going stir crazy here at home and decided to see if he was able to drive today while recovering from his knee replacement surgery.  Luckily the knee replaced was his left knee, so as long as he could get himself folded into the car, he could drive.  He was beyond thrilled to find that he could do it and proposed that we head into town to do some shopping and get some new supplies for his c-pap machine.  Off we went!

   We were able to find what we needed for his c-pap machine and also priced newer machines since his will have to be replaced soon.  We also were blessed with a manual for my father's c-pap machine that we were given as a back up machine in case Jeff's failed.  Hopefully we can figure out how to adjust the air pressure on that one so he can use it.

   Next stop was Dollar Tree.  This is where I started to see trouble ahead.  So many of the shelves were empty.  I noticed that the cleaning supplies, food storage products and things like medications along with shampoos and soaps were almost stripped bare.  There were no hand sanitizing wipes or liquids to be found.  Jeff and I picked up what we could find to restock our shelves and to up our supplies but there are still items left on our list that I am hoping we can find next time.  Just a month ago, I could find most of these things, but not now.  I am glad that I bought the wipes when they had them in stock before things starting ramping up with the covid-19 virus again.

   We stopped at several other places, including Winco.  You are required to wear a mask in Winco, which I am totally on board with.  There are signs everywhere telling you this.  Then I saw another sign that I had not see since things first started up with this virus and then disappeared for awhile..."due to limited supplies, please limit your purchase amounts of products" or something to that effect.   Yes we go again.   Things are about to get bad once more.  

   In my state we are required to wear masks whenever we are out in public and cannot social distance outside and must wear them at all times in businesses.  Businesses like bars and restaurants are fearing that they are going to have to go back to just doing curbside pickups or shut down all together again just after they have reopened with very limited seating capacity.  Our governor is saying he may roll back the opening phases due to the rapid uptick in cases.  We are right on the Washington/Idaho border and both our county and the neighboring county in Idaho are reporting cases daily.  They used to be sporadic, but not now.  The county to our north is reporting huge numbers of new cases a day...things are getting scary once more.  I know that many other areas are also experiencing huge upticks in numbers and it really is concerning considering how damaging this can be to your organs even if you are asymptomatic.  Add to that very limited immunity time and it is a recipe for disaster.  Yes, I do follow the latest information coming out from virologists and epidemiologists along with medical studies and trials from around the world.

   I am sharing this in hopes that anyone who reads this will take heed and stock up on things that you need now before things disappear completely or things are hard to find.  Please plan for shortages for months to come again.  From everything that I am seeing and reading, we are in for another tough go of it with this virus and I also am concerned about shortages caused by the civil unrest in this country along with the safety of us all.  Praying hard here. 

*I just saw that our governor has now cancelled all indoor and outdoor live entertainment and moved my county back for gatherings of 50 back to gatherings of 10 or less starting this coming Monday.  Other counties face even stricter measures and if the numbers don't go down, we may be back to our "stay home stay safe" order again which means only essential businesses and workers can be open and working.  We may have to make another run to town and stock up on things like pet foods and a few other things sooner than planned.



Thursday, July 9, 2020

Looking Ahead and Frugal Doings Now and for the Future

   Anybody following the latest updates not just in the USA and Canada, but around the world on the covid-19 situation, new plagues and flus popping up in China and other places, and civil unrest along with many natural disasters?  Who could have ever imagined that we would be facing ALL of this so far in 2020?  Is it any wonder that so many of us have been feeling the "nudgings" to get prepared all across the world?  The more I read from friends who are bloggers in this country and others, the more I realize that there are many of us who have and are taking this seriously.  The news stations, along with our world leaders and scientists, are warning us that things could become much, much worse before they get better.  I do watch news from all over the world and follow some scientists and epidemiologists on YouTube and so far, they have been spot on.  I trust their judgement over the WHO or even the United States CDC because they have been shown to be politically motivated in one way or another and I just want straight up facts.

   As many of you know, my husband Jeff is home recovering from a total knee replacement.  Since we are unable to go anywhere due to my not being able to drive out of this tiny little town with no real grocery store (we do have a convenience store that has been closed for remodeling), I have spent lots of time organizing our pantry and doing other things to try and keep us as frugal as possible.  At this point it looks like Jeff will be out from work for 6 weeks minimum.  We have our finances covered with money coming in from his employer for the month of July, and then we are in a bind.  Because of this, I am trying to put back as much money as I can to cover at least the first half of the bills in August and then praying he can go back to work.  We already have a small income, so this has proven to be a real challenge, but we are doing it.

   Most of our garden has been a bust this year except for the berry bushes and the apple tree.  Oh yes, the peas have done well also, but the squash, peppers, and most of the beans do not look good at all and I am praying the tomatoes will produce something.  We do have lots of kale and herbs though, so I am dehydrating a lot of them for future use.  Speaking of dehydrating, I am doing the same with strawberries and some sale priced bananas that Jeff did not get eaten in time before the got "too ripe" for him. The strawberries will be added to cereals and oatmeal in the Fall and Winter for me and the bananas can be eaten like chips or powdered and added to pancakes and muffins.  YUM!  The raspberries are putting on more fruit than I have ever seen them do before, much to the delight of my grandkids, daughters Rachel and Heather and my hanai sister Shannon.  Bradley and Isaiah discovered yesterday that if they crawled into the tunnel inside the raspberry patch, that there are loads of ripe berries that they can reach under the canopy of the upper bent over stalks.  I asked them if they wanted to pick more for their mom, who was mowing our lawn for us, and they said no and happily gorged themselves silly.  They are the same way when they go huckleberry picking.  Those boys love their fruit and the Grammie is not going to stop them from eating all they want. 😉 I will be picking some more for their mother though and I have asked if they would like to come over once a week to pick more on their own.  There is no way I can keep up with all the berry picking myself.  They were very happy about that plan!  Of course some of the berries will be frozen for future use, as will the blackberries which are just now blooming out.

   My plan at this point is to make applesauce, apple pie filling, etc. with the apples and even dehydrate some of them.  The berries will be used in muffins, breads, syrups and homemade fruit liquors.  I also am going to see if I can trade some of them for squash from other people in our town since my squash will most likely not produce this year.  I need to get more homemade vanilla going since some of it will be gifts this Christmas and I want a good supply on hand for us and the kids too.

   As for other frugal things being done around here I have been doing much less laundry with Jeff not working and going through two complete outfits a day.  I'm also hanging a lot of our laundry out on the line to dry.  Any fruit or veggie scraps, along with any non meat or dairy food waste, goes straight into the compost pile.  The grass from mowing the lawn is also added in.  I can already see some good broken down compost at the bottom of the pile when I turn it.  Yeah!!!!  I will be adding this to our gardens in the Spring to enrich the soil so that hopefully the gardens will again produce abundantly.  Grocery wise, I had Rachel and Jaysn pick us up some basics that we needed.  Milk, cheap bananas, celery, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage and a few other things were on the list and only came out to $15.  

   Meals are becoming "creative".  I am digging deep into my freezers and finding things that I had forgotten I had.  The other day I found a package of 3 salmon fillets and some raw unseasoned sweet potato fries.  I seasoned the salmon fillets with lemon basil from the garden, salt and pepper, along with some lemon juice and butter and them encased it in foil.  I put this on the lower rack of the oven and then seasoned the fries with chipotle salt and put those on the top rack.  They both baked in there together and came out utterly delicious and gave us multiple meals.  I have also made yaki soba going super heavy on the veggies and light on the meat.  Tonight we will be having some reduced priced chicken I bought from the Walmart deli and had stuck in the freezer along with some pasta in a pesto sauce along with some kind of veggie.  That chicken will be stretched for a few more meals also.

   I'm making another stock up list on basics that I will be shopping for when Jeff is able to go back to work.  Right now I am working with about $100 for groceries to get us through the next 5 weeks (and possibly beyond), so no stocking up at this point...but I will ASAP.  I know this is doable since we are so well stocked at this point and I have extra bags of cat and dog food, along with more kitty litter, so that does not deplete the budget.  There is another $100 in there, but that has to be used for medications and co-pays at the doctor's office.  Thank goodness for Winco and their low prices because without them, we would not be able to do as well as we are.

   As for my stock up list for when we can afford to do it again I have the following in it (that I hope will keep us going for a few months):  dog and cat food, kitty litter, more TP and paper products, laundry detergent, foil pans with lids from the Dollar Tree so I can make more make ahead meals and freeze them, more OTC meds and 3 month supplies of my prescription meds, cheese, more flour to make breads, etc. with, coffee, hot cocoa mix, and more canned meats, fruits and veggies.  There are more items, but at the moment, the heat is getting to me and I can't think straight and my neck is burning and screaming at me for overdoing it yet again today.  I'll end this post here and will be updating on further things as I do them.  Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!




Sunday, July 5, 2020

Update of Jeff's Total Knee Replacement Surgery

   Thank you everyone for your good wishes, thought and prayers for Jeff.  He has his surgery on Tuesday and ended up staying that night due to nausea and having trouble with the lingering effects of the medication that put him out for his surgery.  Jaysn, our oldest son, had picked us up that morning to take us to the hospital and then picked me up again that evening from the hospital and stayed here with me that night.  He then took me back to the hospital the next morning and Rachel came and picked us up to bring us home once Jeff got released.  She also did our banking for us that day, which was a huge help!

   Our experience at the hospital was really good.  Several of the nurses and the CNA are people that we have known for years.  It was so good to get caught up with them on how their families are doing.  Our physical therapist was a hoot and we got along great with him.  He even did some additional work with Jeff on his own time so that he could be released earlier.  The respiratory therapists were also great and one of them even adjusted Jeff's C-pap machine for him so we would not have to make a long drive down to the company that we got it from.  Our surgeon stopped by twice to check on Jeff and our primary care doctor also stopped in to check on him.  Everyone, from the doctors to the cheerful kitchen staff that made and delivered our meals was wonderful to us.

   One of Jeff's bosses dropped his paycheck off at the hospital for us along with a sweet card and gift.  They have been so good about the last minute changes and trying to make sure that he knows that they do indeed really care about him.  What a blessing they have been to us throughout all of this!

   Jeff is doing really well overall and getting stronger every day.  He is able to do more things on his own now so that is taking some of the pressure off of me.  I still have to do his daily chores, along with mine, but I take things slowly and some days, things that don't need done right away, get put on the back burner.  Yesterday, since he is stronger and can get around on his own with his walker, I was able to spend most of the day in bed while in a really bad fibro flare.

   Today Jaysn, Rachel and Steven are coming for a visit.  They are doing our grocery shopping for us and bringing it out here.  I am going to have Jaysn get a few things done outside for me while they are here.  Chris, Heather and the boys are coming back from Montana today so we will see them later this week and Chris will mow the lawn for us.  Josh would love to be able to be here too, but Vegas is a bit far away and travel is restricted for the military right now due to Covid-19.

   Thank you again for all your prayers!