Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Menu Plan Tuesday - Week of January 15, 2017

John's Red Velvet Cake from his birthday.  I dusted it with powdered sugar rather than frosting and it was delicious! 
I'm having a hard time believing that January is half over already.  Where on earth does the time go these days?  After putting together our budget last week, John and I are going to be extra careful to stick to the grocery and miscellaneous (clothes, household items, etc.) budgets for the next few months.  If we stick to the budget we should have a new van purchased and all the outstanding medical bills paid off in about 18 months.  We're pretty excited about that!   But that means battening down the hatches and preparing for the ride!

I inventoried the deep freeze yesterday and, after meals this week, we have very little meat left - a package and half of chicken, several turkey carcasses and a beef bone, lake fish (from a parishioner - about 2lbs), a single venison steak (from my cousin) and a package of shrimp that my parents bought us over Christmas.  We're good for vegetables - green beans, kohlrabi, corn, spinach, and tomato sauce.  I even have a few loaves of sweet bread, raspberries, cherries and a few things of leftover soup and a couple packages of mixed berries.  Canned goods are also keeping us well - lots of homemade jam and jelly (Thank you Eric at work!), canned beans, tomatoes, corn, mandarin oranges and a bit of tuna.  I have a several other things in the pantry too but it seems we're going to have to purchase bread flour and rolled oats fairly soon as we used up quite a bit of our stash in Christmas baking.

Anyway, this week we're mostly eating from the freezers and pantry this week. I did buy a pound of beef stew meat for beef-barley stew this week.  John had specifically requested this so I was happy to oblige!    Here's the rest of the menu this week:

Sunday, January 15:
    Breakfast: Yogurt with Frozen Strawberries, Buttermilk Biscuits
    Lunch: At Brother-in-Law's House - we brought chicken from our freezer for grilling
    Snack: Brownies and Vanilla Ice Cream (at brother-in-law's house)
    Dinner: Snacky Dinner in the Car on the Way Home

Monday, January 16:
    Breakfast: Bagels with Peanut Butter and Jelly
    Lunch: Tomato Soup, Toast
    Snack: Apple or Pear
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza with Chicken and Onion, Breadsticks

Tuesday, January 17:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Dates
    Lunch: Tortillas filled with Rice-Black Bean-Chicken and Tomato mixture with Cheddar Cheese (I pulled this out of the freezer for lunches this week)
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Kielbasa, Cabbage and Noodles,  Apple-Mandarin Orange-Pineapple Salad

Wednesday, January 18:
     Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
     Lunch: Same as Tuesday
     Snack: No-Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: Waffles with Raspberry Jam, Bananas and Walnuts, Sausages

Thursday, January 19:
     Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
     Lunch: Same as Tuesday
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: Beef Barley Stew, Cornbread

Friday, January 20:
     Breakfast: Eggs, Raspberry Smoothies
     Lunch: Leftover Beef Stew
     Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: PB&J, Cut Veggies and a treat at the School Dance for the Children, Date Night Out with a Gift Card for Mom and Dad

Saturday, January 21:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothies
     Lunch: PB&J, Cut Veggies, Apples, Oatmeal-Butterscotch Cookies (Brown-bag at a Basketball Tournament)
     Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: At a Wedding

What are you eating this week? 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Super Savings Saturday - A $38.76 Shop

We did a quick shop Friday morning between running around for other things.  I hadn't planned on buying the pizzas, since we were driving to my brother-in-law's house to visit for the afternoon and evening.  Instead, John got called to a deathbed and we had to wait to leave.  The pizza then took the place of the lunch we had planned to eat at my brother-in-law's house.    That added an unplanned $10 onto the shop for this week.  We managed to stay within the planned $40/wk budget anyway.

Here's what we bought:

1.02lb Beef Stew Meat @ $5.99/lb = $6.11
2.45lb Chicken Thighs @ $0.99/lb = $2.43
3.12lb D'Anjou Pears @ $0.99/lb = $3.09
3lbs Pink Lady Apples $4.99
Pineapple $2.99
Pizzas 2 @ $4.88ea = $9.76
Sour Cream $1.39
Butter Quarters 2 @ 2/$5 = $5
Yoplait Yogurt 6 @ 20/$10 = $3

Total Spent: $38.76
Total Saved (According to Receipt): $5.22 (12%)

We still have a lot of vegetables in the pantry and the freezer and some meat as well.

Come back Monday to see what we're eating!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Frugal Friday - The Second Week of 2017

John's Birthday gifts last week.  The album I made is under the striped package, which was a gift from my parents.  The two in polk-a-dot wrapping are from the children.  The rectangle with the pink bow is the nuts we purchased on clearance after Christmas.  The other package is homemade by our daughter.

It's been a week of getting back into the swing of things.  We're all back at work or school, though I'm not back in class yet.  John didn't have anything extra this week (weddings, funerals, etc.) and even had one fewer nights of meetings this week.  We loved the extra time at home this week! 

Here are some things we did this week that count as frugal:

* Made vegetable barley soup, biscuits, soft pretzels, waffles, crustless quiche, and tacos at home this week.

* I worked on making two birthday gifts.  Unfortunately, I didn't finish either.

* John attended an all-day meeting that included lunch.  A parishioner invited him over for dinner one night when he had meetings.  

* We finally came up with a perfect for us budget for 2017.  I'm super excited about what we should be able to with this budget.

* I planned meals for the next several weeks using an inventory of our freezers and pantry.  We should be able to eat very well and not have to waste food.  I like that!
* I taught an extra Jazzercise class this week and I will get paid for that.  It will make up one of the days I missed last week with my PHN flare. 

* We used vitamin C and extra sleep and fluids to head off head colds before they took real hold.  I'm hoping we'd succeeded.

I think that's it that I can think of for this week.  How about you?  What have you done this week?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

January Goals Update - Starting Week Two

This week was back-to-work week for me and, honestly, it was good to get back into a routine.  We're dealing with "winter weather" here - something normal for us in Minnesota this time of year.  Messy roads, slow commutes and shoveling/snow plowing are all the order of the day.  Keeps us on our toes!  

Last week was a slow week since I had a bad PHN flare and need to rest and recover. I didn't get much done.  I was totally okay with that since I was technically on vacation last week and didn't need to get anything done!  So, my completed tasks aren't very many from last week. This week will be better!

Work:
* Clean up my desk at work  Did this Monday this week.
* Do the shredding at work
* Clean out and organize my notebooks for both of my classes Got one class almost finished.
* Be completely ready for classes to start
* Redo a section of my T/Th class curriculum
* Meet with a research colleague
* Put together a Power Point presentation

Family:
* Celebrate John's Birthday
* Make two gifts for John for his Birthday
Made an album and baked a cake and crab legs for dinner.  I had hoped to sew a gift as well but ran our of time.  That will be his Father's Day gift.
* Visit my in-laws
* Volunteer at the children's school
* Date out with my husband
* Attend an appointment with my husband
* Meet my cousin and her husband for lunch

Jazzercise:
* Learn 12 new routines Learned 3 routines.
* Attend/teach at least 16 classes Only 1 due to my PHN last week
* Paperwork  Got this done! YAY!

Home/Yard:
* Clean out and reorganize the furnace room
* Finish the wall painting in our bedroom (just a small finish work to do)
* Patch, prime and paint repairs in the kitchen
* Have the piano tuned
* Order seeds/plants for the yard
* Go through all clothes - donate what we don't need, write a list of what we need to buy  Got through my clothes and my husband did his.  Just need to do the children's!

Sewing/Crafts:
* Lap quilt for Auntie Kay
* Graduation Quilt (start this so it's done for May/June)
* Finish sewing at least 8 birthday gifts for later in the year  Sewed 2.
* Sew a baby quilt for my sister-in-law (we're getting a new nephew or niece this summer!)
* Finish an Anniversary gift for my parents  Worked on this.
* Finish the embroidery on The Big Project  Worked on this too!
* Make at least three other gifts Made another gift this week - hope to post on this later this week.

What have you been up to so far this month?

Menu Plan Tuesday - Week of January 8, 2017

Cookies and milk for Santa as well as carrots and water for the reindeer.
Sorry this is a day late!  We had a super busy weekend and the weather here was first super cold and then yesterday my commute time took forever, so I ran out of time to get this up!  Thanks for your patience.

John and I did a shopping trip late in the day on Saturday and came home with the following:


We spent to $48 and change on 3 1/2 lbs of apples, a loaf of bread, bananas, two gallons of milk, laundry detergent, two bags of pretzels, a marked-down box of pasta, decaf coffee and filters, and two loops of sausage.  Yes, we bought a lot more "junk" than we usually do.  Either way, we have loads of good food in the pantry, fridge and freezer so we're fine.

We are also eating with extended family a couple of times this week, so we aren't going to need a ton of fresh veggies and fruit over what we already have.  We're pretty excited about spending some time with extended family since we don't do that often enough!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, January 8:
    Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
    Lunch: Egg Bake with Potatoes, Spinach, and Onions; Cinnamon Biscuit Twists; Sliced Apples
    Dinner: Leftovers

Monday, January 9:
    Breakfast: Roll with Eggs, Cheese and Sausage
    Lunch: Leftover Vegetable Barley Soup, Bread with Butter
    Snack: Apples
    Dinner: Kielbasa with Cabbage over Noodles, Banana-Apple-Blueberry Salad

Tuesday, January 10:
    Breakfast; Oatmeal with Walnuts and Dates
    Lunch: Leftover Cabbage with Meatballs from the Freezer
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Spinach Salad, Clementine's

Wednesday, January 11:
    Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Leftover soup from the Freezer
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Turkey Soft-Shell Tacos, Clementine's

Thursday, January 12:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer with Jam
    Lunch: Leftover Tacos
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Hot Turkey Sandwiches, Sliced Apples

Friday, January 13:
    Breakfast: Banana-Blueberry Smoothies
    Lunch: Snack-y
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner:  Pizza with Extended Family

Saturday, January 14:
    Brunch:  Biscuits, Eggs, Sausage
    Snack: Pretzels and Dip
    Dinner: With Extended Family (my husband's brother is hosting)

What are you eating this week?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Frugal Friday - First Week of 2017

A 1000 piece puzzle we put together over Christmas break.
I am seriously having a hard time believing we're in 2017.  Anyone else still want to write "2016" on dates and things?  Sheesh.  Hopefully I'll come to my senses and get over that soon. 

Honestly, 2016 was a pretty decent year for most things - John getting his first Call, finding a medication that actually helps my PHN, and the children having a seriously good year in school this fall.  I'm really happy that we can actually do some planning and budgeting and settle into a rhythm again after being pulled hither and yon for the last 2 and a bit years.

This year, 2017, has gotten off to a rough start.  After literally months of very low PHN flares I had a terrible flare this week - Monday and Tuesday were absolutely awful and Wednesday and Thursday were slowly better.  I'm still struggling today with pain but it's way better than it was earlier this week.  I seriously dislike weeks like this because I typically end up behind the following week on doing all the things that need to be completed.  This week, however, I was officially on vacation so my to-do list was short and I had already given myself permission to "do nothing" if I wanted or needed to. So, at least I'm not starting out next week behind!  I'm hoping that jumping back into exercising tomorrow will help work out any remaining issues and I'll be mostly back to normal next week.

We did do some stuff that was frugal this week - although weeks like this one almost never feel frugal.  Here's where some of what happened this last week (starting Saturday, December 31, 2017).

* We made vegetable soup, biscuits, sandwich bread, pizza, breadsticks, and waffles from scratch at home.

* We celebrated John's birthday with crab legs cooked at home (purchased as his birthday gift) and a red velvet cake that I made from a cake mix I got for 75-cents back in November.  I have never had good luck making red velvet cake from scratch (it ends up dry or weird or something else) and this was perfect!  

* I made John a scrapbook of his Ordination photos that I got through a penny-print order online with local pickup so I didn't have to pay postage, only sales tax.  I ordered those back in November and used things I had on hand, including an album my Mother-in-law gave me (she wasn't going to use it) to put together the scrapbook.  John loved it!  The crab legs, the album and a three-pack of mixed nuts that I bought on clearance right after Christmas for $2.99 were John's birthday presents this year.  He liked every one of them!

* I sewed one birthday gift and got a baby quilt half done, using items we already owned.

* I read four books that we already owned (one I'd read before) and one my daughter had checked out of the library.  I also watched several videos online for free through PBS and youtube and used our Netflix account for a few others.   I always seem to have several books running around the house that none of us have read.  I'm hoping to read several of those this year and clear them out if they aren't worth keeping. 

* My husband attended a church district meeting one day and was fed lunch and will be compensated mileage.  He met a number of new people and really enjoyed the chance to network and swap resources.

* I froze the leftover Christmas cookies to eat later this year. 

* My husband cleaned out his dresser drawers to make room for some new clothes he received for Christmas.  We now have another bag of donations to take to the local thrift store.    My dresser is on the agenda for this week so we can take everything all at once.

* We polished several pairs of leather shoes.

* It's been frigid here - well below zero at night and hovering around 0F in the daytime (or lower with the wind chill).  We didn't adjust the thermostat, but are wearing more layers and drinking hot drinks to stay warm.  The children wore extra layers to school and made sure they had sweatpants to pull on over shorts after sports activities.  We added blankets to the beds in our two cooler bedrooms and made sure to open the curtains during the day to warm up the rooms via sunshine.

* Since moving has been so painful, I cleaned out all of my email in-boxes, wrote thank you notes, and worked on embroidery rather than trying to do things that required movement. I had hoped to finish painting our bedroom this week but that requires warmer temperatures anyway and I'll have time later in the month to get it completed.

* We ate several meals out of the freezer for lunch and even for dinner one night and I'm enjoying having more space to organize things. 

I think that's it for this week.  What did you do this week in the land of frugal?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Work, Home and Family - Gifts 2017 - Gift #1


 
Gift #1 2017: Teacher Christmas Gifts
 
This was our teacher gifts for 2017 at Christmastime.   Our children are in Middle School now (6th grade), so they have a lot of teachers!   This year, it's as follows:
 
Homeroom/Language Arts
Science/Industrial Arts
Math/Faith Formation
Physical Education/Computers
Band
General Music/Choir
Before/After Care
3 confirmation guides 
 
If you're counting that's 10 teachers!   That's a lot of gifts!   We had a budget of $20 for all these gifts.  So here's what we gave:
 
A mug, cocoa mix, peppermint stirring sticks, and a Christmas tree ornament. 
 
We made the ornaments using Popsicle sticks, ribbon, pompoms, glue and embroidery floss that we had.  We also made the cocoa mix from items we had in the pantry and I packaged them in freezer canning jars that I've had for years but haven't used.  I used stick-on name tags to write ingredient labels that were then stuck on the jars. 
 
We purchased the mugs at a local dollar store for $1 per mug and the peppermint sticks at the grocery store for 50-cents/package.  That means each gift cost $1.50.   We did include a note asking that they pass on the cocoa mix if they can't use it.  So far, we've only received only kind comments about the gifts.  
 
For our children's homeroom teacher, we included a blank journal, thank you notes and some homemade cookies that we already owned.  Our children spend a lot of time in her classroom, so we wanted to say an extra thank you.
 
Total cost: $15 for 10 gifts.
 
What did you make this past Christmas season?