One step forward, two steps back??

Sometimes it feels like I’m just treading water, making no progress. Or that I may even be going down.

I’m tired of feeling crummy ALL. THE. TIME. I understand that this phase won’t last forever but I am exhausted. I wake up exhausted. During all this, saving money can seem impossible some days. But we have to keep trying. One foot in front of the other. It WILL get better. And to that point I would like to acknowledge that I am beyond privileged to be in this position. I have a safe home. I have family that love me and are more than willing to help me through this difficult time. I have incredible friends who have given incredible emotional and mental support. I have food to eat, a bed to sleep in, and so much more.

So now that we got that out of the way, onto some frugal happenings lately!

  • I make treats from scratch on a regular basis so I never feel like I’m lacking. Today I made rice krispy treats and peach tea with home canned peach slices! There is a delicious Vietnamese tea shop down the road that makes incredible peach tea that I just love. It does however cost upwards of $6 for one tea! So I decided today to attempt my own version. Is it perfect? No. But I suspect it will be quite tasty once it is properly cooled. And rice krispy treats are always a favorite that I am happy to have on hand.
  • A dear neighbor’s birthday was last week and I made a double batch of my famous carrot cake cupcakes from scratch for them! Bonus: I got to keep a dozen to enjoy myself.
  • I made some awesome improvements in my garden for the upcoming season! (The initial cost was not exactly cheap, but I believe it will be worth it in the long run. ) I determined that in order to get the most out of my growing space I was going to need to grow more vertically, necessitating a trellis or arch of some sort. Last year I grew peas up my fence and that was pretty successful so I am hoping to build on that. A friend let me borrow their truck and offered to assist me with the set up. I got four 16 foot cattle panels, and sixteen 5 foot tall t posts, plus wire to secure them in place. Total for the supplies was just around $200 but that is still far cheaper than four garden “kits” would have cost (each of them ran anywhere from $150 to $200!) My friend helped me carry them out to my garden and set it all up! I am SO excited to see how it works this season because it looks AWESOME! If I do say so myself. (Also, I paid my friend in baked goods and we both felt we got the better end of the deal!)
  • Continuing the garden theme, I got my first seeds in the ground! It’s still quite early in the season, but some plants like our cool wet Spring weather including peas and lettuce. It feels wonderful to get the garden started! Like everyone else I am watching food prices soar higher and higher and feel strongly that I want to produce as much of my own produce as possible. What I can’t grow myself I will purchase from local farmers. My parents have been working on their garden as well and I was the lucky recipient of 3 extra blueberry bushes, 2 strawberry plants, and some raspberry bushes! I will find extra places to tuck them all in.
  • Borrowing lots of library books, and listening to library audio books. Returning everything on time though my library doesn’t have late fees anymore.
  • Doing my best to eat from the freezer/pantry and do as little grocery shopping as possible. I did go to the market this weekend for some produce as I had exactly NO vegetables or fruit in the house! I’ve done a good job using up frozen produce but didn’t realize I was totally out! So I got lettuce, carrots, Persian cucumbers, and two apples. That should hold me for a while.

I’m sure there were other things but my brain is fuzzy due to my mistakenly taking drowsy allergy meds! I’m going to take a mini snooze before getting to work on dinner. I hope you are all having a lovely day!

Hello friends

Like I said, the most inconsistent blogger!

Apparently I took a year off. But, it was quite a year. I think we can all acknowledge that the past two years have been……..wild. I remember December 2020 thinking “I can’t wait for the new year. Everything will go back to normal.” How naive we all were! How silly to think that things would be different just because it was a new year. I feel like 2020 and 2021 were one big blur, almost like nothing happened and everything happened all at the same time.

A few life updates from me. Most notably, I am on a medical leave of absence from work. I made the difficult but necessary decision back in November to step away from work temporarily to focus on my health. Crohn’s Disease is a lifelong illness that I have dealt with since I was a teenager. Chronic illness is no joke, and my body was screaming at me to pay attention. I wasn’t able to function like a normal person. I had lost about 20 pounds (which is a LOT when I only weighed 120 lbs to begin with), was nauseated daily, wasn’t sleeping, and couldn’t keep food down, among other symptoms. I was exhausted and my nerves were frayed. Trying to show up daily to work was giving me such stress and anxiety that I knew something needed to change. So I discussed with my doctors and we decided that I needed to step away to focus on my health. My medicine was clearly no longer working, and major changes needed to be made.

This would be difficult and time intensive under normal circumstances. But, as we all know, these are not normal times. Covid has made everything medically related take substantially longer. Offices are not doing in person visits, procedures are being put off unless absolutely emergent, medical providers are dealing with staffing shortages due to burnout and illness, and on and on and on. You get the idea. Nothing is going according to plan. And of course, my doctors were determined to keep me out of the hospital unless absolutely necessary. I did have one minor surgery a couple weeks ago, but even that was done as an outpatient procedure (which to me was WILD). But I must admit I was much happier recovering at home in my own bed.

Now onto the frugal things!

For the months of January and February I decided to participate in the Three Rivers Challenge! The challenge encourages you to use only the food in your freezer/pantry/that you have preserved and not buy groceries. The idea being, you put all this food away and often it goes unused. Why did I can all those peaches if not to eat them? Why did I freeze all those beans if not to eat them? I don’t live on a homestead, I don’t have chickens, my life looks very different than many of those who participate. But that’s the fun! Everyone gets to set their own rules as no two homes or families are the same. I allowed myself to spend less than $10 on fresh produce weekly if needed, and I allowed food gifts (ie if my mom made dinner and dropped off a serving for me, that was acceptable!) I definitely went through a lot of my baking supplies that I had stocked up on, and I made a good dent in my chest freezer! It definitely showed me what I need to preserve more of this year (peaches!) and where I was pretty on the mark (applesauce). I will definitely be doing the challenge again next year, and maybe even again late summer if I feel up to it. I have gone to the grocery store a couple of times so far this month but I’m going to try to get through til April now without going to the store. I still have plenty of food in the house and this will save money and time.

Sort of related but also not related at all, it’s almost garden planting time! I cannot wait to get my hands in the dirt and get those seeds in the ground. I still need to till the soil in my beds and add some perky soil to top them off but I am SO EXCITED. This year I am going to add garden trellises made from livestock panels. I have been watching all the YouTube videos and doing my reading homework. My neighbor was making a similar trellis of their own last week and has offered to go to the farm supply store with me to get supplies as well as assist me in construction of my tunnels. I think having some help bending the panels will be immensely helpful. Peas can apparently go in the ground as early as St Patrick’s Day (which happens to be tomorrow) so I need to get a wiggle on!

I have been working and reworking my garden plan and I think I have it all laid out the way that will work the best for me. Different plants require different plant neighbors, some require something to climb, some require more of less sun. The obsessive planner in my really likes the planning part.

Other frugal accomplishments:

  • My mom is teaching me to sew and I made my first tea towel! Baby steps but very exciting.
  • It’s my neighbor’s birthday today and I made my famous carrot cake cupcakes using all items I had on hand. The recipe makes 24 cupcakes so they got 12 and I got to keep 12 for myself. YUM
  • Reading library books
  • Driving as little as possible because holy moly gas prices! Happy to stay home as much as possible. And because I have been recovering from surgery for the past three weeks, I wasn’t even able to drive until a few days ago.
  • A local grocer offers a free item to club members occasionally. My dear friend picked up a dozen free eggs and delivered them to me today as she doesn’t eat them. I don’t either, but I do use them in baking.
  • I did a full load of laundry and hung everything to dry on a lovely sunny day.
  • Watched Netflix and Hulu to keep myself entertained as I don’t have cable.
  • Reading fellow frugal blogs daily as inspiration.

That’s all I can think of at the moment. It is easy to lose sight of the big picture when it feels like the world is falling down around us. My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine and all those affected by this horrible war. Focusing on the small tasks in front of me is helpful. So I will continue to love on my dogs, vacuum, water my plants, read my books. Take care lovelies.