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... husband... children... career.... 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... beautiful garden... children's smiles... husbands kisses...
...time spent with friends...
...Jesus Christ...
...the gift of eternal Salvation.
What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Goals for this week - Week of November 23, 2014

I'm hoping for a quieter week this week and I decided I am going to take Thursday and Friday completely off from anything work or school related.  We have Thanksgiving Day here on Thursday and in theory at least we're all off on Friday.  I say in theory because John is the on-call person for the church over the weekend.  While real emergencies are few and far between they are very real and severe - usually involving life and death and things surrounding potential life and death.  That means he needs to be available to go right away.

I started keeping track of my weekly to do list in a little different way and I found I'm much more productive!  I write out the goals for the week and then each day I write out the days goals with a priority marking next to each item.  I focus on only the high priority items - one of today's was being ready for class tomorrow! - and ignore the items I can postpone until after all the more important stuff is done.  It's been so helpful to be able to look at my to do list and rather than just starting at the top, focus on what needs to be done!  One resource I read said to also mark by how well something had to be done - can you just do it (for instance, picking up something from the store) or do you have to spend some time and concentration on it (your homework or that homemade gift, for example).  I haven't really had to do that but just seeing at a glance that reminder of what is more important sure does help me!

Keeping a quieter week in mind for this week, here are my goals for this week:

* write test and give it
* prep for a review and a class session
* Grade!  (A lot)
* Update both course webpages

* Reading and more reading - hoping to finish one book and start the next

* Teach 2 classes this week
* Attend at least one other class this week, preferably two
* Learn 2 new routines this week
* Purchase a new power cord for my microphone receiver

* Clean off the guest room bed
* Mend 4 items (hoping for more than that!)
* Sew 3 gifts - two with Missy plus one other
* Make at least one other Christmas gift
* Have the oven coil replaced  (John is taking care of this one for me!)
* Go through the budget with John to figure out a better way of keeping track of our longer-term finance goals

* Attend Thanksgiving dinner with friends - bring fruit and dessert
* Play at least two games with the children
* Have an at home date night with John
* Phone my Mom - it's her birthday this week too!
* Phone my in-laws and my parents on Thanksgiving
* Get the children's hair cuts (I have a coupon!)

* Thanksgiving Eve worship - bring Krumkaka for the tea afterward
* Proofread John's sermon's this week (yes, sermons - there are two of them this week)
* Write two letters
* Frame artwork for John's office - we had the artwork and the frame for weeks but haven't framed it yet.  And find an Advent decoration or two for John's office. 
* Pray for our sister/partner parishes
* Update my prayer list
* Bring out the Advent items and get them set up around the house

* Paint my toenails
* Spend 30 minutes completely alone
* Spend 1 hour doing embroidery

What are you up to this week? 

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 23, 2014

I realized I haven't taken any new food photos lately so I'll leave you with a bit of summer - our red, white and blue salad from the 4th of July (apples, strawberries and blueberries).  Yum!

This week is Thanksgiving here in the US and I'm so grateful for a couple of days off from our busy routine!  We get to enjoy Thanksgiving Day with friends and a quiet Friday and Saturday too.  I'm hoping to get a few Christmas gifts sewn and catch up some grading for work.  We'll see how it goes!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, November 23:
    Breakfast: Smoothies (fruit from the freezer)
    Lunch: Baked Eggs, Cinnamon Biscuit Twists, Raspberry-Apple-Orange Salad
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Tossed Salad, Apple-Raspberry-Banana Salad

Monday, November 24:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the freezer with Raspberries and Pecans
    Lunch: Leftover Pot Pie
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner: Venison Stir Fry, Rice, Orange Wedges

Tuesday, November 25:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Craisins
    Lunch: Yogurt, Apples with Peanut Butter, Carrot Sticks, Cookie
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner: Potato Pancakes with Raspberries and Applesauce

Wednesday, November 26:
    Breakfast: Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs
    Lunch: PB&J, Apples, Yogurt, Cookie
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner:  Soup from the Freezer, Bread, Tossed Salad

Thursday, November 27, Thanksgiving Day:
    Breakfast: Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Raspberry Banana Smoothies (raspberries from the freezer)
    Lunch/Dinner: At a friend's house. Bring: Fruit and Dessert

Friday, November 28:
    Breakfast: Gingerbread Pancakes with Applesauce
    Lunch: Chicken  Flavored Rice, Carrots, Apple Slices
    Snack: Cookie, Leftover Thanksgiving Dessert
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Biscuits, Orange Wedges

Saturday, November 29:
    Breakfast: Orange Cranberry Scones
    Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, Salad
    Snack: Leftover Scones
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Super Savings Saturday - The rest of my November Grocery Money

We're at the end of November - December starts next week - and this week is Thanksgiving here in the US, so holiday it is!   I took advantage of a turkey special and bought a 14.77lb turkey for $13.15 or 89-cents per pound.  Sometimes they drop lower the week of Thanksgiving but in the preview for the sales this week, this was lowest price and I'm glad I bought the bird!  We are with friends this year and I'm bringing fruit and dessert so we'll save the turkey for Christmas or sometime next year.

No photo this week - the battery was charging - but here's what I bought:

14.77lb turkey @ $0.89/lb = $13.15
Jimmy Dean Natural Sausage 2lbs @ 1lb/$3.99 = $7.98
Mixed Fruit 3lb Bag (Red Delicious Apples, Granny Smith Apples & Naval Oranges) 2bags x $3.29 = $6.58
Large Pomegranate $1.99 (this is super cheap for here and we love these so I splurged!)
Bananas 2.26lbs @ $0.59/lb = $1.33
10lbs Russet Potatoes $3
5lbs Whole Carrots $2.49 (I will probably have to blanch and freeze some of these)
Celery Bunch $0.99
Dry Pint Red Raspberries 2 @ $2.50 ea = $5
Gallon Skim Milk $3.99

Total: $46.50
Savings (according to store receipt): $14.35 (19%)

This is about $4 over the total I had left for the month.  Since gasoline prices have been far, far lower than anticipated, we agreed I could take $4 from the gasoline cash and buy groceries, particularly the turkey.  The price will drop again around Christmas but they typically do not go as low as they do at Thanksgiving. 

Apparently there has been a turkey shortage here in the US so the price is higher than normal. In the past I've seen turkeys here for anywhere from $0.49/lb to $0.69/lb so the $0.89 was a bit hard to swallow.  Either way, now we have a bird in the freezer so it's all good! 

The sausage is for when our company is here at the end of December and I'm sure we'll still have carrots left over then too.  We'll probably go through all that fruit this week as well as the milk.  The potatoes and celery will last a few weeks but maybe not all the way to the end of December.

We're starting off December's shopping with a trip to Sam's Club to buy toilet paper and a few other items we're either low on or out of completely.  I'll let you know how that goes next week - hopefully with photos!

How did you do with your shopping this week?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Frugal Friday - Frugal Things We've Done the Last Few Weeks

It's been quiet around this blog lately - I've been fighting a lot of pain (sometimes bad enough that I am actively and obviously limping) and we've been super busy at work lately.  I was chatting with a couple of co-workers and we all agreed that this semester seems very taxing for no definite reason.  Not sure what that means in terms of work things, but it means I've been going to bed early and not doing a whole lot other than work and family. My Mom has also been struggling with some health issues that are not resolving themselves well.  If you have a minute, could you say a prayer or two for her?  Thank you so much!

We've been pretty quiet here since I haven't been able to do much and John has had church events - confirmation, committee meetings, and a junior high youth lock-in.  So the children and I have been enjoying evenings with playing, making Christmas presents (Missy is way on the ball with that one!) and watching movies.  I've been doing some grading and course prep work too. It's been very cold here (below 0F wind chill!) so we've been trying not to go outside if we don't have to.  Even with all our winter gear, that's cold!

With the quietness I feel like I don't have much to report on the frugal front, other than our usual daily stuff (cooking mostly at home, washing and reusing plastic baggies, using cloth napkins, etc.).  So this list may be shorter than normal.  Anyway, here goes - our frugal things from the last couple of weeks:

* Baked Snickerdoodle cookies once at my husband's request and once at my daughter's.

* Popped and bagged popcorn for my children to take to school for their snack.

* Made and froze waffles for the freezer.  Also made whole wheat sandwich bread (2 loaves) and white sandwich bread (2 loaves), homemade pizza (2 times) and baking biscuits several times.  One of the nights I made pizza I let the children put the toppings on since I was in so much pain and standing was difficult.  They did a great job!

* Brought home a loaf of bread, a container chili powder, and a bag of chocolate chip cookies after church events.

* Bought honey from a friend who has bee hives - we bought a small container for $10.  We used money leftover from our gas budget to buy this.

* Used some heirloom handkerchiefs to make a Christmas decoration for my Mom for Christmas this year - she loves Christmas and decorates literally every room in the house except the garage.  We have a tradition of giving her a decoration every year.  This one is one that she could leave up year round if she likes.  It cost me $6 to make.

* My daughter and I used a gift card to buy material to make blankets for her grandparents and her teacher at school.  We're hoping to have a sewing day either this weekend or next to make them.  We will have gifts for all four grandparents and her teacher for $0 out of pocket.

* I made two necklaces for gifts from items I already had on hand.  Cost was $0 out of pocket since I had all the items on hand.  I will give these to the children's piano teacher and their Sunday School teacher.  I am planning on making three more for their after-school care teacher, their art teacher and their music teacher.

* Checked several books out of the library and downloaded a couple of free ebooks for my Kindle for PC.  My son checked out several books as well.

* Bought a jar of jelly at a youth group fundraiser and got one free after the person who made it found out that I love crab apple jelly.  I guess there aren't to many people at church who like it!

* Inventoried our freezers and put together a menu for the next month so we can use our grocery money to stock up with food for the company we will have over Christmas.  I didn't realize we had that much soup in the freezer!  It will be a regular feature on our menu for the next month.

* I enjoyed a really good meal at work with our department meeting.  John has been enjoying meals at work this month. The staff and a few parishioners are taking turns cooking lunch for the entire staff during November and December.  I sent pasta salad and my husband made chili using what we have on hand.  Another day we sent homemade turkey noodle soup in the crockpot using things we had on hand and a parishioner had dropped off two loaves of bread that they ate with that.  They will do the same thing during Lent and Easter in the spring 

* My parents sent us a box of coffee and a box of cocoa from their free trade coffee source through church.  My Dad is the person that orders the coffee through the free trade organization and he decided to order us a box of coffee (6 bags of beans) and a box of cocoa (6 cans of cocoa mix).  They needed to order an extra box of coffee to meet their free shipping quota since someone had moved and wouldn't be ordering coffee through their church anymore.  The coffee is whole bean and should last us quite a while.  John is enjoying the cocoa at work since Lutheran churches are known for having lots of coffee on hand and he doesn't drink coffee!   I saved two of the containers of cocoa mix to give to the children's band and PE teachers as Christmas gifts.

* Our top oven coil went out (we have an electric oven) and we were wondering how we were going to pay to repair it.  We received a good sized rebate check this last week and the repair man comes on Wednesday this next week (just in time for Thanksgiving!).  I'm hoping to have a little left over to get a couple of clothing items for John for Christmas.  

* We had to cancel our trip to my in-laws for Thanksgiving and were able to transfer our pre-paid hotel room to another date.  Happy we had pre-paid otherwise we would not have been able to do that!   We will be spending Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house and enjoying a very quiet weekend at home, which I am very grateful for.  We had reserved our hotel room last spring and pre-paid since we didn't know what type of finances we would have at this point in the fall.  I'm just happy we can go spend some time with them even if it isn't over Thanksgiving!

* Buddy and Missy have been doing a lot of cleaning out of the toys and other items in their rooms that they don't play with or wear anymore.  We donated three  trash bags of items to the local thrift store in exchange for store credit.

I think that's it. How have you been frugal lately?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of Novembet 16, 2014

The sunset out our front window last week - this photo does NOT do it justice!  It was amazing.
It's Monday, and that means I get to share what we're eating again!   I hope you are eating well.  John mentioned one day that even though the fruit drawer and some of the shelves in the fridge are empty by the end of the week, we so fortunate to have so much good food to eat!   I totally agree! 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, November 16:
    Breakfast: Smoothies (using frozen fruit)
    Lunch: Scrambled Eggs, Fried Diced Potatoes, Grapefruit
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Tossed Salad, Apple-Banana-Mandarin Orange Salad

Monday, November 17:
    Breakfast: Pancakes with Applesauce and Diced Apples
    Lunch: Leftover Pot Pie
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Potato Soup, Biscuits, Apple Wedges

Tuesday, November 18:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Apples and Cinnamon
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Vegetarian Chili, Cornbread, Grapefruit

Wednesday, November 19:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch; Apples with PB, Cut Veggies, Yogurt
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Baked Potatoes with Leftover Chili, Tossed Salad, Apple-Banana-Mandarin Orange Salad

Thursday, November 20:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Pecans
    Lunch: Leftover Potatoes and Chili
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Vegetable Barley Soup in the Crockpot, French Bread, Apple Slices

Friday, November 21:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Scrambled Eggs, Waffles, Grapefruit

Saturday, November 22:
    Breakfast: Maple Oat Scones
    Lunch; Something yummy - Missy and I are home alone today while Buddy and John are at scouts, so we'll come up with something good to eat for just the two of us!
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
    Dessert: Apple-Pear Crisp

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Super Savings Saturday - $32.69 Shopping Trip

Our groceries this week.

It's been quite the couple of weeks at our house - shingles, ice and snow, and some overwhelming stuff at work for me, lots of evenings and weekends for John and Buddy added the boy's basketball team at school to the mix just because he didn't have enough going on!   Much of it has been good but I am missing my quiet weekends.  We've also had some financial surprises - Missy's winter coat bit the dust and the oven needs a new heating coil.  We have the money for it but, honestly, it's so hard to see the savings we've worked for the last few years slowly creep down as expenses come up.  I know that that is why we have been saving, but it hurts in a way none-the-less.

Anyway, John went to the store today and bought $32.69 in groceries.  Here's what he got:

Crisco Oil 48oz 2 @ $1.99 (store coupon) = $3.98
Store Brand Canned Beans (1 Navy, 2 chili, 1 black) 4 @ $0.59 = $2.36
Pillsbury Bleached All-Purpose Flour 5lb 2 @ $1.99 (store coupon) = $3.98
Store Brand Premium Bacon 2 @ $1.99 = $3.98
Bananas 2.79lbs @ $0.59/lb = $1.65
3lbs Cortland Apples $2.49
White Mushrooms $0.99 (store coupon)
2lb Yellow Onions $1.29
Smart Balance Spread $2.49
1 gallon Skim Milk $3.99
1 dozen Grade A Eggs 2 @ $1.25ea (store coupon) = $2.50

Total $32.69
Savings (according to store receipt) $9.88 (23%)

For the rest of this month, November, we have $42 and change left for groceries/toiletries/paper products (we spent over $40 last week on stocking up on some things including some pork loin).   That means I have to watch and plan carefully for the rest of the month! 

Come back Monday to see what we're eating!