Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Menu Plan Monday (or, rather, Tuesday) - Week of December 14, 2014

The picture-less version of my menu this week!   I'm writing from my work computer while pretending to eat my lunch at a leisurely pace.  I'm so ready to be done with my grading so I can just stay home for a few days!  We do get a two-week holiday but I'd love to have an extra day or two because I am completely finished with all the grading. 

My parents are here this week and will be here for a few weeks.  We did almost all of our grocery shopping ahead of time, though there are a few things my parents will buy us. We are so blessed that they are willing to do that when they come - when we asked about it, they said we give them a nice, comfortable place to stay for free so they can buy a few groceries.  We do have almost everything but there were a couple of things my parents will want to buy so they will.  Those things are for Christmas or treats that they like to have in the house and are things we wouldn't have in the house on a normal basis.

This week we finished off the December grocery budget by buying a gallon of milk and a bag of oranges.

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, December 14:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Raspberries from the freezer
   Lunch: Waffles with pecans and Craisins
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Venison Gravy, Roasted Potatoes, Apple-Banana Salad

Monday, December 15:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Peppers and Onions
    Lunch: At work for all (John and I had free lunch at work today and the children ate hot lunch at school)
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Shrimp and Veggie Stir Fry, Rice, Orange Wedges

Tuesday, December 16:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Craisins
     Lunch: Leftover Stir Fry
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: Venison Barley Soup (like Beef Barley), Homemade French Bread

Wednesday, December 17:
    Breakfast: Vegetarian Omelets
    Lunch: Leftover Soup, PB&J Sandwiches
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: At Church (the youth group provides soup supper during Advent before Wednesday night Worship)

Thursday, December 18:
    Breakfast: Waffles and Raspberries from the freezer, Pecans
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Out to eat after the School Christmas Program (my parents are treating us!)

Friday, December 19:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast, Bananas
    Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches, Orange Wedges
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Wild Rice Casserole, Steamed Carrots, Baked Apples

Saturday, December 20:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
    Lunch: Veggie Fried Rice
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

We have everything in the house for all of these meals.  And, yes, we are totally spoiled that my parents want to take us out to dinner after the school program. 

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Frugal Friday on a Saturday

We're getting ready for company, trying to finish up the Christmas shopping and present making, and all of that is interspersed with pageant rehearsals, two funerals, final exams, numerous Christmas concerts and the Sunday school pageant, some really sick friends and head colds all around our house.  I'm officially ready for a break and almost able to take one!  Hurray!

These last few weeks haven't felt very frugal - we've been fighting head colds and there's been more canned soup eaten than I would have liked but there are a few things that we did for frugality over the last week or two:

* We finished making gifts and handmade ornaments for the teachers.  We will make cookies for other friends and colleagues as well (hopefully tomorrow).

* I finally got all my information back from my dead computer so I don't have to refile all my paperwork!  I can't tell you how happy I am about that!

* We were gifted quite a bit of food this week:  a congregation member gifted us a jar of homemade blackberry jam (yummy!). A friend who is moving gave us lots of canned soup, boxes of crackers and spices.  John brought home another box of crackers plus a meat and cheese plate from a church staff party this week.  A coworker gave all of us a gift of chocolates for St. Nicholas Day.

* I made homemade cinnamon rolls, biscuits, pancakes, waffles and pizza and breadsticks.

* We were also gifted two beautiful decorative pillow covers from a congregation member in green and gold.  She thought they'd be perfect for holiday decor but I think they'll look great in our living room year round!
* We've been doing a lot of sorting and cleaning out and we have four big bags of outgrown, no-longer-used clothing, smaller household items and such to take to the thrift store on Monday.  We also have a very full recycle bin for this week's pickup.

* We needed to repair and repaint the upstairs bathroom wall and we took advantage of the "warm" weather the end of this week to do that.  We then picked up a new curtain for the window (we had some mildew problems and I didn't feel the curtain was worth saving) for less than $10 off a clearance rack.  I printed a free online picture and used a frame we had for artwork to replace the artwork I had to throw away.

* We continued to take our lunches to work and wash and re-used containers and plastic bags.

* We have $7 in our grocery budget left this week so John went to the store and bought 1 gallon of milk and a bag of oranges.  Money done for the month!

* The children and I attended a free community event for the holidays and enjoyed free live music and the children each received a large glow stick.

What did you do this week that is frugal?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of December 7 Menu and our Groceries from the last week ($7 left in Dec budget now!)

We've been so busy here - getting ready for company, extra Worship services for Advent, wrapping up the semester here both at work and at school for all four of us, Christmas program rehearsals at both school and church for the children and all the other things that go into this time of year makes me feel like I'm chasing myself sometimes!  We did the grocery shopping this last week in between everything else and I promptly recycled the receipt! Opps.  And, sorry, I'm not digging through our giant orange recycle bin outside to retrieve it.

We spent just under $25 of the $32 we had left - so now we have $7, enough for some bananas and milk next week. We're pretty well stocked for when my parents are visiting so we *should* be okay.

I can't remember the exact prices but here's what we got at 2 stores:
Smart Balance
White Sugar (4lbs)
Sweet Potatoes (5lbs) - these were on huge sale!
Shrimp (2 bags/ $10) - the reason we spent so much money this week
10lbs Gala Apples (these were on clearance)
1 bunch bananas
Honey Roasted Peanuts
Pears (these were on sale for $0.99/lb)

We also received from friends:
1 loaf of cranberry orange bread (this was a fundraiser item that a friend knows we like very much!)
2 loaves of whole wheat sandwich bread
1 quart canning jar of white chicken chili (super tasty!)

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, December 7:
    Breakfast: Sliced Apples with Peanut Butter
    Lunch: Pancake "Breakfast" at church
    Snack: Orange Cranberry Bread
    Dinner:  Tuna Wrap Sandwiches, Cut Veggies, Apple Slices

Monday, December 8:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins or Orange Cranberry Bread
    Lunch: Leftover Soup and Bread
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Puff Pastry Stuffed with Potatoes, Spinach and Onions; Baked Sweet Potatoes

Tuesday, December 9:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
    Lunch: Leftover Puff Pastry
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Biscuits, Sliced Apples and Pears

Wednesday, December 10:
    Breakfast: Breakfast Biscuits
    Lunch: PB&J, Cut Veggies, Bananas
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner: Chicken Fried Rice, Apples

Thursday, December 11:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Cut Veggies, Bananas
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Toasted Sandwich Bread, Bananas

Friday, December 12:
     Breakfast: PB Toast, Smoothies
     Lunch: Leftover Soup, Tossed Salad
     Snack: Cookie
     Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Tossed Salad

Saturday, December 13:
     Breakfast: Cinnamon Breakfast Biscuits
     Lunch: Tuna Wrap Sandwiches, Cut Veggies
     Snack: Leftover Biscuits
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?   

Monday, December 1, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 30, 2014

So it was a high temperature of +2F with a wind chill of  -23F.  I'm dreaming of summer and my flowers today!

It's the 1st of December, and I'm already sick of winter. Is that bad?   I think it's because it went from being really nice to super cold just overnight - quite literally - and it was such a shock.  I guess it's a good thing we have so much soup in the freezer to eat up!  I'm also grateful for hot coffee and oatmeal first thing in the morning.  Aren't we blessed to have such good, warm food and a warm house as well?  I sure do think so!  I listen to my parents telling of having to get up and light the stove to warm the house in temperatures colder than this and I am so grateful that I don't have to do that!

After topping off our stockpile this weekend, we are still eating well.  I have $32 for the rest of the month and I am pretty sure we can do it.  We're already low on fruit for the week but we have fruit in the freezer if need be as well as canned pears and mandarin oranges, even if they're not favorites.

We have a pretty quiet week this week and we're all happy for that since next week is really busy and it continues that way through Christmas and New Year's. Such is the life in the church this time of year!  Throw in the end of semester and company and it just is really busy.  Any way, here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, November 30:
    Breakfast:  Peanut Butter Toast, Sliced Apples
    Lunch: Leftovers
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce, Sausages, Sliced Apples

Monday, December 1:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Sliced Almonds and Craisins
    Lunch: Leftover Spaghetti
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Fried White Fish, Rice, Banana-Apple-Grape Salad

Tuesday, December 2:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Spaghetti
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Biscuits, Orange Wedges

Wednesday, December 3:
     Breakfast:  Breakfast Biscuits - biscuits with eggs, bacon, and tomato
     Lunch:  Peanut Butter and Jelly Tortillas, Yogurt, Cut Veggies, Cookie
     Snack: Cookie
     Dinner:  Waffles, Scrambled Eggs, Applesauce

Thursday, December 4:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Diced Apples, Cinnamon, and Pecans
    Lunch: Cut Veggies with Yogurt/Peanut Butter Dip, Chicken Noodle Soup
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, French Bread, Sliced Apples

Friday, December 5:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer with Pecans and Chokecherry Jelly
    Lunch: Leftover Soup, Bread
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Tossed Salad, Apple-Pomegranate-Mandarin Orange Salad

Saturday, December 6:
    Breakfast: Cinnamon Breakfast Biscuits
    Lunch: Tossed Salad with Turkey, Craisins and Mandarin Oranges
    Snack: Cookies
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
    At Home Date Dessert: Apple Crisp (using apples from the freezer)

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things - November Roundup

It's the last day of November. It's hard to believe that it's already here.  Today is the first day of Advent and I am ready for a slower pace and am hoping that pushing myself like I have been the last few months will make that happen.  The children have been such a big help in getting the house cleaned and ready.  I still feel we have a long way to go for it to be where I want it to be by the time company comes but I'm enjoying the progress in the meantime.

Here are some of my favorite things from the month of November this year - light on photos this month, I realized I really hadn't taken any this past month:

Reformation Sunday
The birth of the Protestant Church and our beloved Lutheran Church.
All Saint's Day
A day to remember all those who have gone before us.  So blessed are we!
My sister-in-law Gabrielle - she turned 20 this month!
She was a baby when my husband and I got engaged and she was the flower girl at our wedding - 16 1/2 years ago.  Yes, she was 3 1/2 when we were married!
Finding out that they were able to pull all of my dissertation data as well as my dissertation and my final presentation off my old hard drive.  (And, yes, I totally learned my lesson about backing things up properly!)
Going shopping for blanket fabric with my daughter and then sewing blankets for Christmas gifts with her.
My son earning 4 Cub Scout badges this month - good job Buddy!
My Mom turning 77!  Hard to believe she is that old already - she seems far younger.  I am so blessed to have her as my Mom and I will be forever grateful for having her in my life.  If you could say a prayer or two for her health that would be great - she's been having heart issues since July and we're not quite sure exactly what's going on yet.  Should have some answers later this week though.
Friends coming to hear my husband preach on Thanksgiving Eve.  We miss these friends from our home church dearly and it was so good to see them!  And it was a complete surprise that they were coming, which made it even more fun!
Pumpkin Pie.
Thanksgiving dinner and dessert with friends.  My best friend has battled demons from her past for a very long time and it was so good to see her enjoying her grandbabies on Thanksgiving day.  I am so blessed by her friendship.
Getting to hold my best friend's grandbabies on Thanksgiving day.  They are so sweet!  And little 10-month-old Raymond is so cuddly!
My son cleaning out some old toys and setting aside all his old Matchbox cars for my best friend's 3-year-old grandson, Joe.  My son came out with the cars in this hands and said, "Mom, I want to give these to Joe since I know he'd like them so much."  Made my heart smile, it did! 
Being invited to a Messiah sing-along with friends coming up in December. 
Snuggles with my son first thing in the morning.
Laughter as we play board games as a family.
Christmas carols - in piano, trumpet and clarinet - in my living room, no less!.
My best friend's pecan caramel pie - oh so good!
Pumpkin cheesecake.
A new tunic top, skirt and blouse plus a matching earring and necklace set from my favorite consignment store - all for under $10 on sale for Support Local Stores Saturday. 
Clearing the fall clutter from the house.
Digging out the Advent calendars and putting them up. 
Assembling the Advent wreath.
The lovely blue table runner given to us from a member at my husband's church - perfect for Advent.
Soup for supper on cold winter days.
Hats, mittens, warm coats and boots.
My clothes washer and dryer - so grateful I don't have to wash clothes by hand!
My children being so helpful without fussing.
Making Christmas gift surprises for my children, my husband, my parents, and other family and friends.
Being able to spoil my parents when they visit with things they can't get to eat where they currently live - like wild rice and good-tasting winter squash. 
Planning for Advent and the upcoming Christmas Season.  We are so blessed and I can't wait to share that blessing with others.
The congregation we are at with for John's Vicarage - they bless us so very much!   And his mentor Pastor - such a good role model and mentor for him.
Snow on the ground to make things beautiful but clear roads for driving - how spoiled am I?
What have been your blessings in November?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Super Savings Saturday - A $27.13 shop and an $80 top off

No photos again this week - John bought groceries while I was at Jazzercise this morning and he didn't take a photo.   We're into a new month for grocery budget - $140 for the month - so I'm trying to fit in all the good things we need for us to spoil my parents when they come for Christmas. 

We went to Sam's Club and bought the following for just under $80 (of course, I can't find the receipt now - if I find it I'll update prices):

Toilet Paper
Yeast 2lb
Canned diced tomatoes
Canned chicken noodle soup (the children like this for lunch at school)
Frozen Tilapia Fillets
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Red Grapes 3lbs
Gallon Milk (this was over $1 cheaper than our local store)

Total: Just under $80

At our local store John bought the following:

1 15oz can Store brand black olives $1
2 15oz cans Geisha Mandarin Oranges 2 @ $1 = $2
Carnation Evaporated Milk 4 @ 4/$5 = $5 (we use this in place of cream in cooking)
Store Brand Sliced Bacon 1lb $2.99 (he bought this for making soup for church later this week)
2 bags salad greens B1G1  $2.99
Acorn Squash 4.42lbs @ $1.39/lb (I had no idea they were this expensive!) $6.15
Butter Quarters 2 @ 2/$5 = $5 (store coupon)
1lb Ocean Spray Fresh Cranberries $2

Total: $27.13
Total Saved According to Store Receipt: $7.77 (22%)

This leaves me with right around $32 for the rest of the month.  I already have most of the items I need for the menu plan when my parents are here - I still need ground beef (which is on sale this next week - yay!), ground pork, and shrimp but everything else we have on hand already.  The meat I need is for our traditional Christmas meals so I want to make sure we have those things on hand.  I'm pretty sure I can do it!   My parents will be here in two weeks and we're very, very excited.  My Mom has been having heart issues so I'm trying to keep things low-stress with us staying home most of the time (or as much as possible anyway). Having the majority of our food here in the house will be helpful indeed!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Thanksgiving Day here in the US and we are taking the time to celebrate and remind ourselves all we have to be thankful for.  And we have so very much!

Echinacea flowers - growing in my garden this summer.
Today I am thankful for...
....my husband...
...my children...
...my career....
...my health...
...our home...
...our parents...
...our extended families...
....our church families...
...John's mentor Pastor...
...the power of prayer...
...good medical care...
...plenty to eat...
...plenty to wear...
...reliable transportation...
...a warm place to live in cold weather...
...my beautiful garden...
...my children's smiles...
...my husbands kisses...
...time spent with friends...
...Jesus Christ...
...the gift of eternal Salvation.
What are you thankful for today?