Sunday, August 28, 2016

We Have a Call!

We got the very, very exciting news today that John has been offered and accepted First Call!
We'd gratefully and humbly appreciate your prayers as we head into this new phase of our life.
By John L. Bell
Music: Scottish Traditional
"Will you come and follow me if I I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known,
Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?"
"Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile sale, should your life attract or scare,
Will you let me answer pray'r in you and you in me?"
"Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the pris'ners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean, and do such as this unseen,
And admit to what I mean in you and you in me?
"Will you love the you you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around,
Through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?"
Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In your company I'll go where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.
Ordination and installation into his congregation will take place sometime in the next month or so.  That means we'll be very, very busy over the next few weeks! So, if it's a bit quiet here, please forgive me.  I'll catch you up as much as I can when I have time and I hope to be back to my usual patchy blogging schedule by the end of October. 
Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Frugal Friday - The past week

A rather blurry photo my daughter took of "Butterbeer" (the label reads Butterscotch Beer).  A favorite treat in the Harry Potter universe, the children saw this at Minnesota's Largest Candy Store this last week and decided they needed to try it.  It's basically butter-scotch flavored cream soda.  The kids thought it was great!
We had a pretty slow week this week - I am grateful.  I had some very strange things happen with my body this week and now the doctors are thinking that some of the symptoms that we've been attributing to my PHN may be a slipped disk in my back or something like that instead.  *Sigh*  It's been a wearying week in that way and I haven't had much energy for anything that wasn't absolutely necessary.   I'm going in this next week for tests (MRI, etc.) so hopefully we can get to the bottom of things fairly quickly.   I'm so very tired of being in pain all the time!

I did get the rest of my school/work related things done, which is good because school is starting fairly soon (we start after Labor Day here in Minnesota) and I really hate starting the year without being ahead. 

Here are some of the frugal things we've done this week:

* Blanched and froze green beans again.

* Ate most meals at home. We had two potlucks to attend this week - we brought a roasted veggie casserole to one and shredded cheese to another (that one we signed up for something on the list to bring).  I also ate one meal at a work event.

* We took the kids to Minnesota's Largest Candy Store.  We gave them each a set amount they could spend and we all stayed within our allotted budget, including two presents.  While there we stocked up on popcorn and taffy.  Yum!

* We picked tomatoes, red sweet peppers, green beans and a single pie pumpkin from the garden this week. 

* We watched several movies online and three we had checked out from the library.

* Picked flowers for the kitchen table from the garden.

* Used a citronella candle we already owned to keep the bugs at bay while eating dinner outside in the beautiful weather we had this week.

* Read several books we already had on hand. 

* Went through several items we had in the bedroom that I wasn't sure we needed.  Most we donated and the rest we found new locations keep them within the house.

* I used a heating pad, ibuprofen and a tennis ball to treat the pain I have bee having.

I think that's it for this week.  How did your week go?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - Week of August 21, 2016

I tried something I saw on Pinterest this week - the cinnamon roll waffles above!  It uses purchased cinnamon roll dough (the kind you get in the tube in the refrigerated case). You flatten them and put them in your waffle iron!  So easy and really delicious!   They were a really nice treat one day last week.

We did almost no grocery shopping last week - two tubes of mini-cinnamon rolls (on clearance sale!), a gallon of milk and a pack of hamburger.  We'll probably have to pick up some more milk and a dozen eggs (on sale for 69-cents this week!) before the week is over but that's it.  We definitely have enough produce in the house to keep us well fed!

Putting together a menu this week was actually pretty tricky because we have lots of veggies we need to use up.  We had to come up with several things that used up a lot of veggies without creating a lot of leftovers or waste that won't be used later.  John doesn't eat cheese so many of the recipes that we can find for the veggie we have are out - we do make Eggplant Parmesan but only sprinkle a little Mozzarella on the top, rather than including cheese in the layers (does that still make it Eggplant Parmesan?).  I do make the full-blown version when we have company and John gets a small dish all to himself.  Anyway, it does make the menu a bit repetitive at times.

Here's what we came up with:

Sunday, August 21:
     Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
     Lunch: BLTs, Sweet Potato Fries
     Snack: Popcorn
     Dinner: Perfect Potato Soup, Grape-Apple Salad

Monday, August 22:
    Breakfast: Eggs, Toast
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Sliced Apples, Cherry Tomatoes
    Dinner: Eggplant Parmesan, Cornbread, Sliced Apples

Tuesday, August 23:
    Breakfast: Smoothies
    Lunch: Leftover Soup or Eggplant Parmesan
    Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
    Dinner: Veggie and Pepperoni Calzones, Grapes

Wednesday, August 24:
    Breakfast: Smoothies and Oatmeal Muffins
    Lunch: Leftover Soup or Eggplant Parmesan
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Potluck at Church: Bring Zucchini-Eggplant-Potato Bake, Sliced Melon

Thursday, August 25:
    Breakfast: Pancakes and Fruit
    Lunch: Leftover Bake
    Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
    Dinner: Leftovers (the recipes we have make a HUGE amount and we have leftover pulled pork in the freezer from last week), Sliced Melon

Friday, August 26:
    Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, Melon
    Snack: Celery, Carrots, and Cherry Tomatoes
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, August 27:
    Breakfast: Lemon Scones, Sliced Apples
    Lunch: Salad with Chicken and Sliced Apples
    Snack: Soft Pretzels
    Dinner: Stuffed Zucchini, Apple-Melon-Grape Salad

We didn't get the Perfect Potato Soup or the Stuffed Zucchini made last week, so they ended up on the menu for this week.  The Eggplant Parmesan we made had loads of leftovers so we ended up eating those almost every night last week - good thing we all like it!  I made loads of tomato sauce and froze several bags of shredded zucchini last week so the tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant on the menu this week are all fresh this week.

What are you eating this week?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Frugal Friday - Week of August 14 2016

The photos is part of our frugal things this week - I'll tell you more about it below!

It's been kind of a long week in some ways and a quiet one overall.   I feel like I'm terribly behind but I'm not ready to push my body to it's limits again yet - that time will come.     This week has been all about the produce from the CSA and the garden and spending time with the children.

Here's the "frugal stuff" we've done this week:

* I blanched and froze all of the following: green beans, purple cabbage, green cabbage, corn, and kohlrabi.

* I made tomato sauce and froze what we couldn't use this week. 

* I made and canned pickled beets.

* I shredded and froze zucchini. 

* I spent a lot of time weeding the garden.  I *think* I'm caught up again.  *laugh*

* We brought home several ears of corn leftover from the church potluck this week.

* I used the flowers that were still left from my anniversary bouquet to make a new arrangement for our kitchen table with some zinnias from our garden.

* The children and I went through all of our clothes.  We donated a TON, threw away a few things that were beyond repair, and reorganized everything.  Now we know what we need to purchase and what just plain doesn't work anymore, as well as what we have to wear.

* I spent quite a bit of time this week watching free videos online and working on The Big Embroidery Project. 

* I finished some sewing that I wanted to complete - gifts mostly.

* The children and I went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) for a field trip this week.  The museum's collection is free to the public so we just paid for parking and a light lunch.  The photo at the top of the page is from their Early American collection.  We had a great time and the children got to see so many things that they were really excited about.  It was a really hot and humid day, so it was a good day to be inside.   We decided we're going to have to return sometime soon because we didn't see half of the exhibits!

*  I read two books aloud to the children this week.

* John brought home a giant bag of baby carrots from an event at work this week. He also brought home several 2" binders and 2 staplers and 2 boxes of staples from an office clean out at work.  He will use the office supplies for his Ministry work.

* We attended a free back-to-school gathering at our children's school one evening - games, food, and friends!  It was a great time!

* We returned several items to the library this week but didn't check anything out since we have several things here at home to read and watch plus several other things we need to do.

* We used the wood from our yard to have a bonfire one night for an at-home date night this week.

What did you do this week?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Goals Update - Mid-August 2016

A rather blurry picture of my silver candle holder, filled with zinnias and pincushions from my garden.  I picked this up a few years ago at a garage sale for $5.  It's beautiful!

I think I'm making progress.  I feel like things are moving SLOWLY right now.  The weather is beautiful, the garden is going crazy (both veggies and flowers) and we have had several unexpected things rolling around in the background, some of which are really exciting.  It's been busy but this list hasn't gotten too much crossed off.  Still, I'm happy with what's been going on.

* Prep Unit 1 & 2 for both of my fall classes (one class is done and the other half done)
* Finish research summary

Work things are going along slowly right now since I'm trying to keep up with the yard and garden and get the children ready for the start of school.  We've had so much rain that the weeds are crazy and the tomatoes are going gangbusters (I had no idea clover could grow that big!).  Making progress - just  more slowly that I'd like.

* Read 2-3 books aloud to the children I've read two so far.
* Attend two meeting with John (for his call process)
* Attend one more meeting with John  (This is scheduled for next week.)
* Host a birthday party for our daughter (her birthday was in May but she wanted her party in July)
* Host a birthday party for our son Our son decided that he wanted to go to a movie with Dad and one friend rather than have a birthday party so that's what we did! Better yet - the movie he wanted to see was at the bargain theater so it was a relatively inexpensive day for John, Buddy and his friend.
* Play 4 board games with the children
* One date out with John
* Visit three free or nearly free events/museums/locations with the children We went to the Minnesota Zoo (we have a membership), the Minnesota History Center, and the Minneapolis Museum of Art.
* Complete the one project I promised my Dad I would do for the family tree work he's doing
* One more family tree project that I want to do

* Clean out and reorganize both children's bedrooms
* Wash the children's curtains
* Clean out and reorganize the family room
* Scrub the kitchen cabinets
* Prime and paint the stairwell
* Prime and paint the kitchen, living room and hallway (these are all open to each other)

John and I are planning on doing the painting next week when John has some time off.  I'm excited about the adult help and we're planning on finally pulling up our icky upstairs carpet after we're done.

* Keep up with the weeding - spend 20-30minute/day 3-4x per week weeding and deadheading  This is ongoing too but I've been keeping up pretty well so far.
* Transplant peonies and some irises
* Pick produce and process it as necessary  This is ongoing....
* Reseed the east side yard - this is a high shade area and definitely needs it  We've scheduled this for Thursday this week since we're supposed to have lovely weather this weekend.
* Can tomato sauce and pickled beets  I actually froze the tomato sauce rather than canning it but I did can the pickled beets.

* Start the 2016 photo albums for my children  (I sorted materials but haven't done any work on these yet.)
* Hem a pair of slacks for me
* Sew myself a skirt
* Finish our niece's Graduation gift Finally finished this and I'm hoping to take photos and get it in the mail this week since she's starting school the week after!
* Finish at least two other gifts  Hoping to get photos of these up this week!

* Acupuncture x2
* Get to bed on time
* Read two books for fun
* Get my hair trimmed  (Scheduled for next week.)
* Paint my toenails x 2
* Acupuncture again (This is scheduled for this Thursday)
* Paint my toenails again

What have you been up to lately?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - Week of August 14, 2016

Part of the candy buffet from Missy's Birthday Party last month.  This is what the girls took home as a party favor at the end of the party along with the craft they made.  I used a coupon to buy some of the candy and the rest was purchased on clearance sale.
I have been really bad at taking photos of our food the last few months - I'm hoping to take at least one food photo each week starting this week so I can post some new photos with our Menu Plan Monday posts the rest of this year.  We have some delicious food on the menu this week.  I'm feeling quite good this week and I'm looking forward to cooking.  The weather has cooled down some as well, so baking is on the menu this week as well.

We're heavy on vegetables this week.  Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, August 14:
    Breakfast:  Banana-Blueberry Smoothies
    Lunch: Scrambled Eggs, Diced Potatoes, Toast, Watermelon
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Jambalaya (in the crockpot), Rice, Watermelon

Monday, August 15:
    Breakfast:  Scrambled Eggs, Zucchini Bread
    Lunch: Noodles with Butter and Cheese, Sliced Apples
    Snacks: No Bake Energy Bites
    Dinner: Eggplant Parmesan, Corn on the Cob, Apple-Blueberry-Watermelon Salad

Tuesday, August 16:
   Breakfast: Cinnamon Roll Waffles, Blueberries
   Lunch: BLT's, Corn on the Cob, Sliced Apples
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Crab Stuffed Zucchini, Biscuits, Grape-Blueberry Salad

Wednesday, August 17:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
    Lunch: Picnic while out (Cheese sticks, Apples, Peanut-Butter Crackers)
    Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
    Dinner: Pot Luck at Church:  Bring Pulled Pork and Homemade Buns (it's our turn to bring protein this week)

Thursday, August 18:
    Breakfast: Lemon Scones, Sliced Apples
    Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Sliced Apples
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Perfect Potato Soup, Cornbread, Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad

Friday, August 19:
    Breakfast: Zucchini-Potato Pancakes, Banana-Raspberry Smoothies
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, August 20:
    Breakfast: Banana Muffins, Sliced Apples
    Lunch: Leftovers
    Snack: Soft Pretzels
    Dinner: Pasta with Red Sauce, Garlic Bread, Cantaloupe

What are you eating this week? 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Super Savings Saturday - CSA, the Farmer's Market and a $32.05 shop this week

That's our CSA box from this week: clockwise from top left: corn on the cob, a HUGE watermelon, cucumbers, onions, green beans, beets, zucchini, kohlrabi and in the middle: garlic, potatoes and tomatoes.

We also ran to the Farmer's Market - the kids desperately wanted honey straws! - and we bought honey straws (I also use them in my tea at work), maple syrup, eggplant, carrots, and apples.  I have no idea how much we spent but we decided to stock up for a while - particularly on the honey and maple syrup.  Our income will be cut severely for about 6-10 weeks (not sure exactly how long yet) and we'll be doing very little, if any, grocery shopping during that time plus we like to stock up for the winter on both of those anyway.  We rarely make it to the Farmer's Market during the winter.  Our Farmer's Market is wonderful, the prices are fantastic and it runs all year round with produce, meat, baked goods, dairy, homemade condiments, honey, maple syrup, and soaps in the summer and all the non-produce items in the winter and Christmas trees in December. 

John and I went to the store on Saturday evening and bought the following:

1 loaf wheat bread $1.99
Two sausage ropes 2/$3 = $3 (store coupon)
Grapes 2.23lb @ $1.69/lb = $3.77
Yellow Bananas 4.82lb @ $0.59/lb = $2.84
24oz frozen fruit 2 @ $5.98 ea = $11.96  (store coupon)
Yogurt Cups 8 @ $5/10 = $4
32oz Greek Yogurt $2.99
1 Gallon Milk $3.49

Total Spent: $32.05
Saved (according to store receipt): $8.60

We are totally set for veggies for quite a while and I will be making tomato sauce and blanching beans and kohlrabi this week again. I'm also hoping to get back to making bread soon.  After several weeks of rest, I think my body can handle that. 

Come back Monday to see what we're eating this week - I'm really excited for some really delicious food this week! Yum!