Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Menu Plan Monday - Week of May 21, 2017

My flowers are blooming again!  I'm super excited!   Spring is one of my favorite times of year with all the green and fresh and the beautiful flowers!   I don't have a lot of pictures uploaded, but, boy I have a lot taken!  More on that later.

My Mom and Dad are still here and bought us groceries this week.  They didn't buy much - spinach, tomatoes, milk, English Muffins, cantaloupe and grapes.  That was about it!
We're starting to wind down on happenings here.  We have something every weekend but the weeknight evenings are calming down.  Hurray!  This week we just have a band concert on Wednesday night and then a graduation for the local high school on Saturday.  That's it!  It feels like a "lazy week" after everything else that's been going on. 

I'm in summer session now, the children have a few more weeks of school left (three) and Mom and Dad are here for another week.  This past week we had two evenings of school plays, our final dance competition of the season, and my youngest sister-in-law's wedding.  It was a wonderful, busy week and I am so grateful for all the time with family!

Here's the menu this week:

Sunday, May 21, 2017:
     Brunch: Post-wedding at my brother-in-law's house
     Snack: Leftover Wedding Cake
     Dinner: Beef Stew in the crockpot, Bread

Monday, May 22, 2017:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
     Lunch: Leftover Beef Stew
     Snack: Peanuts
     Dinner: Noodles with Tomato-Meat Sauce, Cantaloupe, Strawberries

Tuesday, May 23, 2017:
      Breakfast: English Muffins with Peanut Butter and Jelly
      Lunch: Leftover Beef Stew
      Snack: Peanuts
      Dinner: Chicken Gravy over Biscuits, Spinach Salad

Wednesday, May 24, 2017:
     Breakfast: Breakfast Sandwiches
     Lunch: Spinach Salad with Tuna
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: Sandwiches, Cut Veggies
     Dessert: Ice Cream with Rhubarb Sauce

Thursday, May 25, 2017:
      Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Raspberries
     Lunch: Spinach Salad with Salmon
      Snack: Peanuts
      Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup in the Crockpot, Bread

Friday, May 26, 2017:
     Breakfast: Breakfast Sandwiches
      Lunch: Leftover Soup
     Snack: Peanuts
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, May 27, 2017, My In-Law's 44th Wedding Anniversary:
      Brunch: Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Bacon, Fruit Salad
      Snack: Soft Pretzels
      Dinner: Wild Rice Casserole, Spinach Salad, Cantaloupe

What are you eating this week?


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Frugalities of May - Friday "Friday" or Saturday, whichever You Prefer!

No special significance for the photo - just a pretty one of the few that I've managed to upload!  And it reminds me of the beauty of the flowers all around us right now - the tulips are almost done, my rhododendron is finished, and the lilacs are in full swing!  I hav buds on the peonies and several other things popping up.  My patio table is full of seedlings and the seeds are ready to plant.  I guess that means it's officially spring!

I have several posts partially done but haven't finished any.  We have had company for almost two weeks and we have one, yes, one free weekend day between the last weekend in April and the 4th of July.  That was last Saturday.  Our weekdays have been just as busy and I've chosen to spend my time with my family and on urgent matters (grades for my students, laundry that is immediately needed, anything else that must be done now).  My twins turned 12, we have had two dance recitals, two dance competitions, and a piano recital since I last posted.  I think tomorrow (Mother's Day) will be one of rest for me!

Anyway, we've been trying to be frugal here too.  Eating meals in, taking lunches, doing our own mending and all those things.  Here's some "extra" stuff that we've done since May 1.

* I spent a lot of time working on an embroidery for a Wedding gift.  I won't finish it for the wedding, unfortunately, but I will be able to send it about the time they move into their newly purchased home later this summer. 

* We checked out several books from the library and returned others.  We also watched a few videos online.

* The children asked to go see a movie at the movie theater for their birthday present.  We went to the $5 theater and were able to buy popcorn and drinks for 5 along with the tickets for less than $40!

* My mother altered a dress for me.

* We took another load of donations to the thrift store.

* My husband lead a worship service for a church with an ill Pastor.  He was paid, even though he offered to lead worship for free.

* We have done all of our spring yard clean up, garden prep, etc., with the exception of having the lawn mower serviced, ourselves.  We are so thankful to have both our own compost bin and curbside pickup of yard waste (goes to the city compost site)!

* We sent cupcakes to school with the children for their birthday.  We did by cupcakes ($14.99 for 30 frosted cupcakes) but we added cocktail umbrellas we had left from something years ago with homemade candy shells (molds and melting candy we already owned) and candy pearls, also leftover from something else.  They turned out really cute and their classmates really liked the "beach theme"!

* The children had their spring "formal" dance at school.  They wore clothes they already had and really enjoyed their time.  "Formal" for their school's definition is no jeans, shirt + tie for the boys (my son wore his blazer too) and dresses or skirt with a nice blouse for the girls. 

* My CSA lady called and asked if I wanted her extra broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage seedlings.  I said yes!  I have 15 plants total (3 sprouts, and 4 of each of the others) and passed on two broccoli to a friend. 

* I purchased plants at my work as a fundraiser for summer scholarships - tomatoes, peppers, squash and bush beans plus several annuals and perennial for a total of $30 for two flats of plants!  I need to plant my pea seeds and transplant the lettuce and tomato seedlings that are coming up but I only need to buy a couple of things before my garden will be complete now!  It will be completed for under $100 total including the grass seed we need for our yard!  I'm super excited about that!

* My Dad patched and painted a portion of my kitchen wall where we had taken down a chair rail and it left a huge dent in the wall.  He also touched up the paint in our main bathroom for me.  We had all the supplies leftover from other projects but hadn't had time to get that done.

* I hemmed a pair of pajamas for our son.  He received them for a birthday gift and were too long but otherwise fit fine.

* I reattached a lot of sequins that had come loose on our daughter's dance costume.  Easy but time consuming! 

* I cut off the legs on a pair of pants that had a hole in the knee and turned them into shorts for our son.

I think that's it! 

What have you done lately that is frugal?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Menu Plan - Week of April 23, 2017

I have to admit I was a bit shocked to see that it's been over a month since I posted something here.  I truly didn't think it had been that long.  Then I looked at my calendar. 

That's our Easter morning table up there. Easter baskets we've had for quite a while now (John's and mine - the two in the front - for almost 20 years now!) and are filled with an array of "needed" items (socks, belts, gloves) to finish off the Easter outfits and, of course, some goodies.  The bag of jelly beans in the middle was for everyone.  John had to be out the door at 445am for Sonrise worship so I went back to bed for an hour or so after he left and then got myself and the kiddos up for worship at our normal time. Just over 300 souls joined us for Easter worship between the two services; almost double our usual attendance.  It was a lovely day!

My Mom made Missy one last little girl Easter dress with the big net and taffeta skirt and taffeta bodice.  She is definitely growing up so the cut was more mature but she loved the dress.  Buddy looked quite dapper in his jacket and tie and I had a new outfit too.  We enjoyed a huge Easter dinner at a friend's house and took a nap.  Perfect Easter day!

I have just a couple of weeks of the semester left and then jump right into summer session.  The children's birthday is next week and my parents will be here visiting for a month again.  I'm looking forward to it.  Along with the end of the year, we have something big every single week between now and Independence Day in July.  Two dance competitions, the recitals, spring band concert, the spring school play, the children's birthday, a family wedding, two weeks of church camp and two of archery camp.  I'm grateful for all the opportunities we have and for the ability to do all these things.  I just wish they weren't all crammed into the same 8 weeks!

Anyway, we're heading into spring here too.  My daffodils and tulips are blooming and my two rhododendrons are making me ridiculously happy.  We're hoping it is warm enough and dry enough to start eating outside again soon.   I'm also looking at what needs to be done in my garden.  So exciting!

We've been doing really good at keeping under our grocery budget.  Planning meals from the freezer and pantry first and replacing things as we run out rather than just shopping sales as I usually do.  I'm getting ready for spring and summer produce and we should be harvesting rhubarb soon.  Yum!

After all that, here's our menu for the week:

Sunday, April 23:
     Breakfast: Yogurt and Toast
     Lunch: Sandwiches, Cut Veggies
     Snack: At the Piano Recital
     Dinner: Beef Stew and French Bread (leftover from a church event - the person who did the cooking sent home a container with us)

Monday, April 24:
      Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Toast
      Lunch: Leftover Beef Stew
      Snack: Baby Carrots
      Dinner: Kielbasa, Cabbage, Flatbread, and Cantaloupe

Tuesday, April 25:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Dates
     Lunch: Leftover Cabbage with leftover noodles
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: Roasted Yam and Butternut Squash, Chicken Flavored Rice, Cantaloupe-Pineapple-Mandarin Orange Salad

Wednesday, April 26:
      Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Toast
      Lunch: Leftover Roasted Yam and Squash and Rice
      Snack: Raspberry Banana Smoothie
      Dinner: Rice Bowl with Egg, Spinach and Tomatoes

Thursday, April 27:
      Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Raspberry Banana Smoothies
      Lunch: Sandwiches, Apples and Yogurt
      Snack: Bananas
      Dinner: Baked Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Pineapple and Cantaloupe

Friday, April 28:
      Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
      Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt with Granola
      Snack: Walnuts
      Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup for the Children, Out on a Date with a Gift Card for Mom and Dad

Saturday, April 29:
      Brunch: Maple Oat Scones, Sausages, Pineapple-Banana-Apple Salad
      Snack: Soft Pretzels
      Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Frugal Saturday - Mid-March

Our "King Cake" - Uncut Cinnamon Rolls - for Fat Tuesday!

I've been trying to keep up with everything around here, so I've been spending less time online - thus the quiet here. My apologies. We hit mid-terms at school and I've had the worst head cold and we've been working on projects around the house... well, Internet time just has just been the things that dropped.  You all know how it goes.

In between all that, here's some of the frugal things we've been doing this last week:

* We made stew, soup, cornbread (twice), and waffles (I made extra for the freezer) this week.

* The children were on spring break and we either stayed home (John's day off work, the days I didn't teach class) or the children went to work with John and played in the youth room or on the lawn behind the church.  No childcare needed!
* The children attended a babysitting class through our local school district.  They received CPR and first aid training as well as basic child rearing and other skills.  They received a certificate and are now eligible to babysit in our county or the neighboring counties.  We did pay a fee for this, but it was nominal for an entire day of useful instruction.

* I spent quite a bit of time sleeping and doing quiet activities to recover from my head cold. 

* John attended three events for our church Synod and received lunch or dinner at all of them.

* I attended an evening event for work and was fed dinner while I there and got to visit with some colleagues I hadn't seen in quite a while.

* We froze leftover stew, soup and overripe bananas for later use.

* We inventoried the pantry and updated the freezer inventory and put together a menu all the way through May.

* John brought home a leftover loaf of French bread from the church dinner on Wednesday night and some leftover donuts from Sunday morning.

* Since the children were home this week, did a lot of cleaning out, scrubbing, and rearranging in their rooms this week. 

* I also spent quite a bit of time cleaning out files and the like - we, like many, have way, way, wayyyyy too much paper around and I was really pleased that we made some really good headway on getting through the excess in spite of feeling awful most of the week!  I filled up our shredding box and our recycle bin and have more to add for next week's pickup too. 

I think that's about it for this week. How about you?  What have you done that's been frugal lately?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Frugal.... What day of the week is it?

More of my beautiful Valentine's tulips.  They lasted a whole two weeks!
These last few weeks I have felt that the days just run together - most of the time I have to double check what day of the week it is.  Oh, wait, it's still Tuesday?  Oh, yikes, it's already Friday?  That's pretty much how the year has gone.  I've been teaching a lot of Jazzercise classes and the semester is rolling along.  Buddy's basketball season is over but dance competitions are ramping up.  Then there is band and piano, confirmation and Lent.  It really never ends, doesn't it?

A couple of really non-frugal things that have happened lately (and I can't remember if I posted about them or not):

* More furnace repairs.  The repairman told us there wasn't anything else that could break at this point.  I'm hoping he's right!   Still cheaper than a new system!  We're still cold enough that a working furnace is a must so we can't wait on repairs until late summer. 

* Our van completely died.  After $5000 in repairs and then finding out it would need another $1600 at minimum to make it drivable, we decided to bite the bullet and buy a new to us van.  Our "old" van was a 2001 and had almost 300,000 miles on it.  We had planned on buying a new to us van sometime this year, just not this soon.  We're happy with our decision and hope to drive this van for at least the 11 years we drove the other one.  On the up side, they gave us $1500 in trade in value and didn't charge us for the repairs!  We had put the new car payment into the budget already, so we're good to go for now.

* We have had a mildew problem in one room of our house every time the temperature drops significantly below zero and discovered that the previous owners had just smashed spackle (yes, really) over the problem when they lived in the house.  So, now we have mold.  Mold that has had 16 years to grow, apparently.  Fortunately, it's not the dangerous kind.  We have had to replace all the drywall in two rooms of the house plus baseboards and trim.  Fortunately, I know how to do all that so we could do a lot of it ourselves.  Unfortunately, it's not covered by our homeowners insurance.  We added insulation (there was NO insulation behind the wall at all) so it shouldn't happen again.

Okay, now the frugal stuff:

* In the middle of all the things listed above, John's new cell phone completely died.  Fortunately, it was under warranty so they just sent us a new one for free! 

* We've made bread, biscuits, cornbread, tortillas, crackers, soup, chili, pizza, cookies, cinnamon rolls and probably other things I'm forgetting at home.

* I went through my sewing stash and sent my Mom material to make 3 dresses for our daughter, two skirts for me, and a pair of pajamas for my husband.  She had asked if I had any sewing projects she could work on for me, so I took advantage of it!   She has yarn to knit our son a sweater.  My Mom LOVES to sew - it's her main hobby - and she's very careful, so I always appreciate it when she can sew the more particular clothes patterns for me!

* I have used other material I already had to sew birthday gifts and a baby gift. 

* I taught extra Jazzercise classes, so I will be paid "extra" for those.

* We enjoyed several audio books from the library, as well as checking out regular books and a movie.  We also watched several shows on Netflix and YouTube.

* Our children have had two teacher in-service days in the last few weeks.  One day was my husband's day off and the other he worked from home so we did not have to pay for childcare.

* I went to a special class on how to do our daughter's hair and makeup for her dance competitions.  Now I don't have to pay the professional to do it!

* My husband brought home the following after meetings and meals at church the last few weeks: grapes, sandwich buns, lunch meat, a two-liter jug of root beer, popcorn, potato chips and tortilla chips.  All but the two-liter of root beer were partially eaten.  We didn't mind at all!
* I did buy girl scout cookies - in the budget and most were put in the freezer to enjoy later this year.

* Our daughter made decorations for a Confirmation event using art and craft supplies we already owned.

* My  husband gave our son two pair of shoes that he did not find comfortable.  Now our son has two "new" pairs of shoes and we don't have to order him shoes for a while. (Yes, they are currently the same shoe size, though I'm pretty sure our son will grow some more.)  Our son finds them very comfortable.

* I mended two nightgowns, two pairs of workout pants, two pillowcases, a pajama top and a tablecloth. 

That's all I can think of right now.  What have you done lately that's frugal?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Menu Plan Monday - Week of February 26, 2017

My Valentine's Day flowers from my dear husband.  There was enough for two vases!

Anyone else amazed that March is arriving this week?   I know I am.  So far 2017 has been a year of long, long days and super short weeks.  I'm hoping things slide into a rhythm soon and we can hop out of what feels very much like survival mode.  Not my favorite way to spend my days certainly, but I guess that happens sometimes.

We did a stock up on chicken this last week - our regular grocery store had whole chickens for 88-cents/pound.  We bought a few.  Roasted chicken is such an easy dinner and we always use the carcass and leftover meat so it's a great deal for us!  John also found ham on sale for $1.49/pound at the grocery store near his church so he bought one.  Over all, we spent $62 and change on groceries this last week but we had been a bit below our weekly budget for a couple of weeks and we're planning on doing a pantry challenge during Lent now so that should work out just fine. 

Speaking of Lent, we're Lutheran so we don't abstain from meat on Fridays but we do observe Lent and we decided a pantry challenge would be just the thing this year.  Not only is it a good idea to use up what we have, but we also have a parishioner who is spending this summer doing medical missionary work in Malawi.  We'd like to give generously to her mission, so that will be where the money we "save" will go.

We will also be eating more vegetarian meals this coming month.  We have a lot of veggies in our freezer to use up and several other things (barley, quinoa, etc.) that would be good to use.  I like to have the deep freezer basically empty when summer comes around.  That means we've eaten the vegetables from last year and we have room for the new harvest.  I know that many like to keep canned and frozen vegetables for a long time but I think the taste is better within that first year.  I also find that it means that overall we waste less food too.

This week we're eating a fairly large amount of eggs (we got a good deal on them this week), zucchini, tomato sauce, green beans, and potatoes.  The green beans, zucchini, and tomato sauce are in the freezer and the potatoes are in the pantry (another good deal from last week).

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, February 26:
   Breakfast: Toast and Strawberry-Banana Smoothies
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Breakfast Potatoes, Strawberries

Monday, February 27:
    Breakfast: Cold Cereal
    Lunch: Spinach Salad with Leftover Chicken, Walnuts and Strawberries
    Snack: String Cheese
    Dinner: Hamburger Gravy with onions and mushrooms, Rice, Apple-Strawberry-Cantaloupe Salad

Tuesday, February 28, Shrove Tuesday:
     Breakfast: King Cake
     Lunch: Leftover Hamburger Gravy
     Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: Zucchini-Potato Pancakes, Baked Eggs, Sliced Apples

Wednesday, March 1, Ash Wednesday:
    Breakfast: King Cake
    Lunch: Leftover Pancakes with Raspberry Jam
    Snack: String Cheese
    Dinner: At Church (Lent = Soup Suppers at Church on Wednesdays)

Thursday, March 2, My Dad's 85th Birthday!
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Dates and Walnuts
    Lunch: Rice Bowl with Egg and Spinach
    Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
    Dinner: Vegetable Barley Soup, Biscuits, Sliced Apples

Friday, March 3:
    Breakfast: Eggs, Breakfast Potatoes
    Lunch: Leftover Vegetable Barley Soup
    Snack: String Cheese
    Dinner: Tomato Sauce with Veggies and Pasta, Garlic Bread, Spinach Salad

Saturday, March 4:
     Brunch: Baked Eggs with Potatoes and Spinach
     Snack: Homemade Pretzels
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
     Dessert: Sugar Cookies

What are you eating this week? 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Playing Catch Up - Goals for the Last Full Week of February

Well,  right about now it feels like 2017 is kicking our backsides.

First, flu, head cold, head cold, more flu, more head colds. Then the furnace needed repairs.  The van died completely.  We discovered a problem in one of our bedrooms that requires removing three walls worth of drywall, baseboards, etc. in that bedroom and the adjoining room to fix.  And of course all those things need to be taken care of NOW, as in yesterday, no waiting.  SIGH. 

In any case, I feel like I've been playing catch up since the beginning of the year.  I'm ready to be caught up already!

With all of that, here's my goals for this week:

* Catch up schoolwork to current
* Learn 4 new routines for Jazzercise
* Teach 4 Jazzercise classes
* Register the children for church camp
* Sew one baby gift (good friends had a sweet baby girl the end of January)
* Sew spring placemats
* Mend 5 items
* Read 2 books for my research
* Schedule home repairs for next week

Upside for this week so far?  Warmer weather- it's been right around 50F for several days now.  And sunny.  Whoot!   Our new-to-us van is a dream compared to the one that died.  I *think* we're all on the mend from all the sickness. 

What are you up to this week?