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Goals - Week of December 15, 2013

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It's a busy week heading into the last little bit a Advent for us.  The kids have their last week of school before break this week, we had the Church Christmas Program and the Fall Piano Recital this Sunday already and we have the school Christmas Concert this week too.  Whew!   John has a final to finish and I have grading coming out of my ears that needs to be done ASAP.   With my folks coming we also have some deeper than normal house cleaning to do and we need to bring 4-dozen bars or cookies to the concert this week.

I'm trying to keep it simple - some days that works better than others!

Here's my goals list for the week:

Work:
* Grading
* Proposal

School:
* Email Advisor again
* Proposal (final draft)

Jazzercise:
* Teach two classes
* Learn two new routines
* Review new routines DVD

Family:
* Piano Recital
* Piano Lessons
* Pick up my parents from the Airport
* School Christmas Program
* Dance Lessons
* Swimming Lessons
* Attend a play followed by dinner out (we pa…

Menu Plan Monday - Menu for the Week of December 15, 2013

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I've been trying some new recipes - yum!  So many good recipes out there!   I'm so glad that I have so many options for wonderful food for my family and the opportunity to find recipes for us to try and enjoy (or eliminate depending on the recipe!).

We have company coming for a whole month starting on Wednesday this week and we are SO excited.  My parents are braving the cold and joining us for Christmas, New Year's and John's 40th Birthday.  I can't believe John is turning 40 - and just around the corner too!  We're hoping his parents can come visit for that too. We'll see. 

Anyway, we did some stock up shopping this last week and a quick run to Sam's Club the week before to get some things that we were low on - spices for Christmas baking, bread flour, canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and a few other things.  We stayed within out budget and were very happy with the holiday grocery deals the last few weeks.  I picked up a turkey for 59-cents/poun…

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Little Things for December

We have been soooo busy these last few weeks and doctor appointments for John added to the mix just made things more chaotic.   We are diligently trying to celebrate Advent here and my photos are carefully ensconced on my iPod.  So, sorry, no photos with this post!  Hope to have some up later this week!

Here are some of my favorite little things this last week or two:

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day. The Advent wreath. Our fun fabric Nativity (a wedding gift from friends of my parents). The children playing Christmas carols on the piano. Cookies!!!!  YUM! Starting to wrap the gifts. Decorating the china hutch and the kitchen shelf. Getting ready for company. Finishing up the semester - for John and I. Making Christmas gifts. Hot Cocoa. Marshmallows. Hot Tea. Hot Coffee. Trying new recipes. Christmas lights! (One of our neighbors has the best display this year!) Seeing friends while running errands. Advent music at church. New Christmas dresses for me and Missy. New dress clothes for Budd…

Frugal Things We Did This Last Week

I'm hoping to get back to more regular posting about our little life in here in frozen Minnesota (our high yesterday was a balmy +3F - Brrrr!).  We'll see how that goes because we always know that something will come up!  That's the plan anyway.  Thanks so much for sticking with me!

So we'll start by sharing frugality!  Here are the things that we did this last week that were frugal:

* We watched a Christmas movie on Netflix with the children.

* I used the turkey carcass I brought home from Thanksgiving dinner at our friends' house to make Turkey Noodle Soup.  We ate some for dinner one night, took some for lunch at work and froze the rest for later use.

* I worked from home several days either to avoid paying for childcare or to avoid driving on our super-icky roads this week (rain-snow mix anyone? no thank you).

* I mended a pair of pants, three camisoles, a pair of pajamas and I took in the waist on a pair of snow pants.

* John returned a four sets of window bli…

Happy Thanksgiving!

What am I thankful for today? So very much... ...my husband... ...our children... ...all the rest of our family... ...having a nice, warm, safe place to call home... ...having plenty to eat and wear... ...having good health... ...careers with jobs and a pretty good income... ...having transportation available to us... ...all our many friends... ...sunshine... ...the grace of God Almighty... ...and all of you out there in cyberspace... Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful day!

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 24, 2013

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So we're trying to stay warm this week - we've been stuck in the low teens with wind chills dropping them down to low single digits.  Brrrr. As a gentleman at church responded this morning when I asked him how he was doing "I haven't frozen solid yet!"   We have Thanksgiving at a friend's house this week - John has to work both Friday and Sunday so traveling is out - and we're looking forward to time with friends - cuddling new babies, eating good food and visiting. 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, November 24:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Vegetable Pasty, Orange Wedges
   Snack: Apple Oat Bars
   Dinner: Chicken Flavored Rice, Carrots and Green Beans, Pineapple-Orange-Apple Salad

Monday, November 25:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Apple Wheat Berry Salad for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Apple Oat Bars
   Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie, Tossed Salad, Apple-Orange-Pineapple Salad

Tuesday, November 26:
   Break…

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - So Grateful

So our week didn't really turn out the way we'd hoped. 

I was sick with some kind of virus/stomach bug Wednesday and Thursday.  I slept all day Wednesday and kind of limped along through what I had to do on Thursday.

But Friday was the kicker.

My Thankful List at the end of the day went something like this:

Today's Blessings:
* The ER
* Aspirin
* John not having a heart attack

Yep - we spent Friday in the ER with John having chest pain, radiating down his arm no less.  Fortunately all of his tests came back negative so he did NOT have a heart attack, but he does have to follow up with a cardiologist on either Monday or Tuesday.  His heart rate and his blood pressure were terribly high - something that is extremely odd for him - and they definitely want to check him out and make sure everything is okay.

I am so very grateful.

Grateful for immediate care for my husband.
Grateful for simple things like Aspirin that are easy preventive medicine.
Grateful for my husband coming…

Super Savings - Spent $20.72

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It was a week that had things happen that we really didn't want to have happen (I'll hopefully write more about that later) so I only went to one store this weekend for grocery shopping.   We had $20.75 this week to spend on groceries and we just squeaked under with 3 cents to spare! Whew!  It's weeks like this that I'm grateful for my stockpile and our freezer!

I have no idea what happened to the receipt but everything except the bananas, TP and cotton swabs were on sale.  The two expensive things were the cotton swabs (just under $3) and the TP (almost $4 - yep, totally ridiculous price for a 4-pack of TP but that was the best price I could find; everything cheaper was sold out).  The Dole pineapple was $0.89 per can and the Campbell's soup was $0.77 each.  The oranges were under $3 for 4lbs, the eggs were $1.98 for 18 and the milk was $2.50.  We're enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with friends - I'm bringing dessert so we didn't have to worry about cook…

Goals - Week of November 17, 2013

We're busy here with the semester winding up and heading into Advent.  We've been cleaning out like fiends and I'm loving the "empty" space! 

We finally finished cleaning out our bedroom, which seems to be a catch-all for so many things since the children aren't allowed in, with the delivery of our new mattress this weekend. We took the opportunity to clean out everything in the room, sweep, mop, dust and wash the walls down. Since we had to move the whole bed anyway, it seemed like a good time to do it.   I'm loving having the space!  Up next - finishing up the last couple of problem spots in the living room!  We tend to have specific spots where clutter collects and usually the clutter is things that don't have a true "home".  So we've been working on having homes for everything and getting rid of the excess.  Loving that!

Here's my goals for this week:

Work:
Grading
Lessons for this week and next
Finishing up some paperwork

Schoo…

Super Savings Saturday - $39.26 spent this week

Wow - nothing like going AWOL for two whole weeks!  We've had colds, some kind of virus and a huge attack of my shingles, complete with locked up muscles.  Yuck. 

John went shopping this week. Last week we all went as a family and we spent our $30 budget right on the nose - it made me laugh when the cashier had to look again to make sure we didn't owe any change!  This week we went over - which is okay, it just means we have $20.74 for next week since we do our budget in two week chunks.  We decided that it was okay to go over this week since there was a really good deal on steak at one of our local stores. 

So, today, while I was teaching Jazzercise, John and the children ran to the store.  He didn't get a photo but here's what he bought:

Store #1:
Hunts' Tomato Sauce 2 @ $0.88 = $1.76
3.56lbs Beef Sirloin Steak @ $2.99/lb = $10.64
Crystal Farms Shredded Cheddar Cheese 2 @ $1.98 = $3.96
Crystal Farms Shredded Mozzarella Cheese 2 @ $1.98 = $3.96
Yoplait Yogurt 10…

Goals Week of November 3, 2013

It's Monday and that means it's time to review our goals again.  I had a pretty ambitious goals list for last week but I got several things done.  I didn't get everything done but I'm pretty pleased with what I did get done, so I'll just go with that.

Work:
Submit mid-term grades.
Write, solve and edit a test.
Lessons for the week.
Post solutions from the last unit online.

School:
Turn in paperwork.
Reading (in prep for meeting with my committee).  Did some of this but not as much as I would like.
Finish going through my data one last time.
Jazzercise:
Teach 2 classes.
Learn 3 new routines.  I learned two.
Update my iTunes.

Family:
Visit the Apple Orchard (Family Night)
Piano Lessons x2
Swimming Lessons
Friends over on Friday
Trick or Treating

Home:  I got part of all of these done but only finished the two Christmas gifts.
Ironing - I have four tablecloths that need to be pressed right now and it's weighing on me!
Update Our Budget Book.
Shred Papers in Living Room…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 3, 2013

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Okay, so I just had to share the krumkake photo again - they're so very yummy!   Cookies like this are part of what I love about this time of year - though I could definitely be persuaded to make these just about any time of the year! LOL

We have a relatively "normal" week here for us this week and I'm going to try a new recipe or two, depending on how things actually work out this week.  I've been feeling pretty icky these last few days with a migraine-like headache, so hopefully I won't end up down and out for the count! The weather is beautiful so I'm hoping to be up and about outside this week - hopefully that will help!

We had lots of apples left in the fridge after our trip to the Apple Orchard last week and we have a whole pineapple that we bought last week but wasn't ripe yet too.  I looked through the freezer and realized we had all the "stuff" to make jambalaya, so we're going to try making that this week - haven't done th…

Super Savings - $31.51 Shopping Trip

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Sorry for the poor quality photo!  You can cringe all you like - my camera completely bit the dust (Sigh) and my poor iPod was dropped and the glass cracked. It's still working (mostly) but taking photos is hit or miss - but it's the only "camera" I have right now!  Yep - exciting times at the Stormhammer household! Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled grocery shopping this week.  We decided to not quite start our stocking up for Internship yet - we have extra and unexpected bills pop up with the van and our appliances that we want to take care of first, not to mention that don't want food products to expire before we need them or that the space to store paper products (mostly TP, dental floss, etc) isn't quite ready yet.  Either way, we have a number assigned to what we'd like to have in the house for Internship and we'll keep you posted as we go along - when we get to that point! For right now, here's our shopping trip for this week: Store …

Frugal Things We've Done the Last Two Weeks

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* I made krumkakke for a fundraiser (that's what's in the photo) using what I had on hand. I'm always amazed at how easy it is to make even if it is time consuming!

* Downloaded several free books for my free Kindle for PC.  Also checked out several books and a couple of movies from the Library.

* My Mom taught my daughter how to use the sewing machine - I'd previously been working on hand sewing with her - and she has been completely enthralled!  She's started making lots of pillows from my scrap bag - two for herself and a matching one for her best friend, then one for each Grandma for Christmas.  Now she's making burp clothes for my best friend for her new Grandbaby that's due in March.  I'm hoping to move on to simple clothes next!

* Enjoyed two Halloween parties that included dinner!  Mom makes my children costumes (she loves to sew and is very good and very creative so this is something she really enjoys) and we use the nice homemade felt Trick-o…

Goals Week of October 27, 2013

It's been a few weeks since I posted my weekly goals here.  I feel like I've gotten more efficient in my work during the day or maybe it's that I'm finally starting to get in some sort of rhythm and know how much I really can accomplish each day.  I do want to make sure that I'm available for my family in the evenings so that is definitely motivation too!  My list is rather long this week but many of the things are small things that take very little time - in fact, I already have 5 of these things completed and it's only Monday!  We'll see how the week goes but I'm cautiously optimistic!

Here's the goals for the week:

Work:
Submit mid-term grades.
Write, solve and edit a test.
Lessons for the week.
Post solutions from the last unit online.

School:
Turn in paperwork.
Reading (in prep for meeting with my committee).
Finish going through my data one last time.

Jazzercise:
Teach 2 classes.
Learn 3 new routines.
Update my iTunes.

Family:
Visit the Apple …

Menu Plan Monday - Week of October 27, 2013

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Did I show you these yet? They're my attempt at Cranberry-Orange scones and, my, were they good! I went a little overboard with the glaze so I think a dusting of powdered sugar would be better next time.  Anyway, yum, yum, yum!!!  I used to think scones were a fancy, hard to make thing. Not so! Easy and yummy and even better as leftovers!
 I'm feeling like were FINALLY getting back to a more restful pace around here - John isn't doing quite as much time on-call for work now and his preaching schedule is lightening up going into the Christmas holiday as well. We don't have any in-house company until right before Christmas either. I'm looking forward to a few weeks of our own crazy "normal" rather than trying to fit a lot of "extra" stuff on top of it all. We're on revamp number umpteen of the grocery budget and it seems to be working okay.  I'm getting a little concerned about meat but we aren't anywhere near a danger zone yet and we…

Super Savings "Saturday" - $39.28 Shopping Trip

It's been a very busy two weeks - company, school events, MEA weekend (with the children off school for two days), fall and Halloween events, our first really hard frost (which means we need to get the yard cleaned up big time), a fundraiser, mid-term or end-of-quarter for everyone at school, and all the usual craziness around here! 

We went grocery shopping in two pieces yesterday between all sorts of other things that we had to do (whoever said weekends were for relaxing never lived at our house!) so I didn't get a photo of either time.  Sigh.  Hopefully back to regularly scheduled programming this week so I can actually get a photo!

My parents were here last week and bought us groceries last weekend and I bought only light bulbs with our "grocery" money last week so we had an "extra" $12 to add to the grocery budget this week.  So we had a total of $42 to spend at the stores.  I spent $39.28 and here's what I got.

Store #1:
Fresh Express Salad 2 @ 2…

Super Savings "Saturday" - I saved more than I spent

Okay, so maybe I should say "John saved more than he spent" since I sent him out to the store since my cousin Diane was visiting and I wanted to stay home and visit with her. :)  Love that man for doing things like that for me!   And I didn't get a picture either - since we had company we just put the groceries away rather than setting them out to take a picture.

We spent $32 and change.  I "saved" $34 and change.  Of course, I put the receipt somewhere where I would remember where I put it and now I can't find it! :)

Here's the deals I remember:

5lb All Purpose Flour $1.77 (sale)
Westpac Mixed Veggies $0.77 - $0.35 - $0.35 = $0.07 (sale minus doubled coupon)
Cheerios 3 boxes at 3/$6 - $1 - $1 - $0.50 - $0.50 = $3 (sale minus two doubled coupons)
Quaker Oatmeal 2 @ $1.77 = $3.54  (sale)
Skippy Peanut Butter 2/$3 = $3 (sale)
5lb Potatoes $0.99 (sale)
3lb Yellow Onions $0.99 (sale)
2lb Carrots $0.99 (sale)
Yoplait Greek Yogurt 6oz 10/$10 - $1 - $1 - $0.6…

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

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We've had a very weird fall - lots of people in and out visiting and staying with us, lots of schedule "stuff" all over the place, and getting ready for a huge life change in the spring with John leaving his current job and heading into Internship.  I feel like we've been caught in the whirlwind and there hasn't been much of a pause.   I've finally realized that no matter what there's always going to be something "weird' or "unusual" going on - and that's just the way life is right now. We've been trying to work on being frugal in spite of the circumstances and trying to host more people for meals and fellowship time in our home.  That's been a challenge but it's been a good challenge! In that vein, here are some things that we've done over the last few weeks to be frugal: * Picked more veggies from our garden - green peppers and tomatoes. * We received an "extra" box of veggies from our CSA. * We enjoyed …

Menu Plan Monday - Week of October 6, 2013

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With our unusual shopping and our free CSA "box" this week, we're still eating super well. I feel so very blessed to have such a wonderful bounty to eat from each week!    It's fall weather here and was rainy all weekend to boot - ick.  Feels like soup weather here right now.

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, October 6:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Leftover Chili, Baked Potatoes, Fruit Salad
   Snack: Apple Crisp with Ice Cream
   Dinner: Eggplant Parmesan, Irish Soda Bread, Fruit Salad

Monday, October 7:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Leftovers or Hot Lunch at School
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Baked Salmon, Roasted Potatoes, Broccoli, Fruit Salad

Tuesday, October 8:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Walnuts
   Lunch: Leftovers or Hot Lunch at School
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Easy Black Bean Soup, Cut Veggies, Sliced Fruit

Wednesday, October 9:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Applesauce
   Lunch: Leftovers or Hot Lunch at S…

Super Savings Saturday - $33.07 Shopping Trip and an Extra CSA Box

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So this week was a very productive week in so many ways but the biggest surprise was getting an extra CSA box.  I had to return our last box - they had a harvest party at the farm last weekend complete with Hay rides and a bonfire and I totally forgot to bring them back - so I stopped by one day this week to do that.  The owner had been cleaning out the last bit of the garden produce before tilling the plants under for the winter and we were given two huge bags full of produce - including pears, which were not available during the year! SO EXCITING!  An no additional charge - just being in the right place at the right time!  Love that!
Here's that produce:


Clockwise from upper left: 2 watermelon, 9 eggplant, 2 types of cucumbers (English and burpless), 7 green peppers, tomatillos, grape tomatoes, 3 green chili, a cantaloupe, and 12 pears.  YUM!!!   And a totally unexpected blessing too! 

So with all this and bananas, apples, peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, and cabbage leftover from…

Work, Home and Family - Some New-to-us Recipes

I love to bake and I enjoy eating my own cooking more than the food at most restaurants plus with the savings, we almost always cook at home for breakfast and dinner and eat leftovers for lunch.  As someone who is not home most of any given day, that means finding ways to make dinner easier.

I love my slow cooker and one of my goals for this school year is to have dinner made using that anywhere from 2-3 nights each week.  That way we can toss a salad, slice bread or do something else simple and just sit down and eat when we get home.  No fuss, no hassle.  Love that!

Here are the links to a couple of new-to-us recipes that we've tried the last couple of weeks that we enjoyed and made our "eat this!" list:

Recipe #1: Crock Pot Honey Dijon Chicken Thighs

We actually made this with chicken legs, rather than thighs, since that's what we had in the freezer.  And we used fresh baby Portobello mushrooms since they were on sale, rather than white mushrooms or canned.   Even…

Healthy Habits in 2013 - Those Shoes

For most of us in the western world, shoes are seen as a necessity.  They are also one of the things that can make or break our health habits or our whole day.

Habit #6: Invest in Some Good Shoes
As women, many of us have a love-hate relationship with shoes.  We need them and if they fit well, they are great.  If you're like me, you dislike trying on shoes and some of those current styles - wow!  I don't have a clue who they are made for but they're definitely not made for me! :)

As a Jazzercise instructor, I often get asked about shoes and I go through about 4 pair of aerobic shoes each year.  As someone who is on my feet all day and has to look nice, I have my own preferences for "dress" shoes.  I know one thing I've discovered between those two things: Having the right shoes can make or break what I do in a day.

We've all had the pair of shoes that look great but make our feet hurt after about 10 minutes in them.  Or that give us blisters.  Or that flop…

Goals - Week of September 22, 2013

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So, the photo has NOTHING to do with my goals this week!  This was a tomato we got from our CSA end of August and we used it for BLT's for 6 (two adults and two children) one night for dinner.  It was huge (my hand is in the photo for comparison) but it was so tasty!  I think I might have to find out the type of tomato and see if we can grow some next year in our backyard.

My goals for this week are pretty straight forward.  I don't have a whole lot on the docket for things around the home right now - we're pretty swamped at work and I have been having medical issues again so I thought it would be better to just keep things relatively simple this week.

So here's what I'm hoping to get done:

Work:
* Course Prep for this week and next
* Keep my grading all caught up
* Order the rest of my equipment

School:
*  Meet with my advisor
* Work on the proposal with my colleague

Jazzercise:
* Learn 3 new routines
* Teach 3 classes
* Get my paperwork for October ready

Family:

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 22, 2013

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I think we're officially into fall - the weather is in the mid to upper 70'sF and I'm looking forward to soups and stews and chili!  Yum!  The sweaters have been dug out and we are ready for cooler weather.  I just have to sew the missing button back on my fall/spring jacket and we'll be all set!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, September 22:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch (with friends over): Ham, Corn on the Cob, Biscuits, Fruit Salad, and Caramel Apples
   Snack: Popcorn or Caramel Apples
   Dinner: 3 Bean Chili, Cornbread, Watermelon

Monday, September 23:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Bananas
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for the Children
   Snack: No-Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: Baked Potatoes with Leftover Chili, Cantaloupe

Tuesday, September 24:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Apples and Cinnamon
   Lunch;  Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for the Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Crockpot Beef Tips with Gravy, Rice, Grap…

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Little Things

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So many days feel so hard right now - between the multiple directions we're being pulled with school, work, activities, and all the church "stuff' going on, and my anxiety and living with two chronic illnesses, it is so easy to get bogged down in all that isn't going right. I have been working extra hard to enjoy the blessings - we have SO MANY! Here are some of the little things from the last two months: Zucchini bread in the freezer. Finding a recipe for chocolate-chocolate chip zucchini bread - super yummy! Yummy treats at the churches we've been at. Including a really yummy egg salad - and I don't normally like egg salad. This wonderful loaf of zucchini-nut bread from an elderly couple at one of the churches John preached at - their son-in-law is a pastor in another part of the state.  I love the blue bow! Stories, prayers and encouragement from the folks at the churches we get the privilege of worshiping and leading worship at. How the Holy Spirit speaks…