Monday, April 29, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 28, 2013

A calzone and fruit - yummy!!!!

We finally have spring - whoot!  I am so excited! The weather was still winter-jacket weather at the beginning of last week, complete with boots and snow pants, but by the end of the week it was 70F+ outside!  We ate dinner outside on Friday and even grilled. The kids asked for hot dogs so we used about $7 of our "entertainment/recreation" money to buy hot dogs and buns and grilled out on Friday.  I think everyone else had the same idea - our whole neighborhood smelled like burgers!  We've spent a lot of time outside the last few days cleaning up the yard and just enjoying the weather after being stuck inside for soooo long.

We have a lot of food in our freezer, pantry and fridge still.  Since we're saving for a bulk meat purchase and our CSA starts again in about a month, we're still trying to eat from the freezer in particular.  We have a lot of meat - chicken, shrimp, pork, a bit of ground beef, a whole turkey, a large ham and some white fish. (No wonder we have very little room in our freezer!) We also have several packages of golden beets and snow peas that I blanched and froze last summer.  When I did an inventory earlier this week I also discovered several packages of frozen spinach, strawberries, blueberries, diced and peeled apples, a single stir fry packet, 2 packages of cabbage rolls and some lunch meat.   I think it's safe to say that we'll eat well for quite a while without having to buy much!    We were also given some animal crackers by a friend, so the kids are having those for snacks a few times this week.

We have to rush to both a dance competition and a piano recital (both of which our children are participating in) on Sunday - after we had been assured that they would not have to dance on Sunday! - so we decided to try a new recipe for crock pot fried rice on Sunday just to make dinner easy.  A friend of ours, whose daughter danced for the studio our children dance for, is bringing us lunch at the competition on Sunday - isn't that sweet of her?  I'm doing a fair amount of baking - we're trying to avoid store-bought bread here since it's so much cheaper to make it and we just like the taste so much better.

Here's our menu for this week, which includes a trip to the park for a picnic:

Sunday, April 28:
      Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
      Lunch: At the Dance Competition
      Snack: Animal Crackers
      Dinner:  Shrimp and Spinach Saute, Crock Pot Fried Rice, Orange Wedges and Melon
      Baking: Whole Wheat Buns

Monday, April 29:
     Breakfast:  Oatmeal with Apples and Cinnamon
     Lunch: Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for the Adults
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: Pulled BBQ Chicken, Whole Wheat Buns, Green Beans, Melon-Banana-Apple Salad
     Baking:  Easy Oatmeal Cookies, Matzo

Tuesday, April 30:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Walnuts
    Lunch: Turkey and Cheese Sandwiches, Carrots, Oranges
    Snack: Animal Crackers
    Dinner: Picnic at the Park:  Wrap Turkey Sandwiches, Carrots, Celery and Cherry Tomatoes, Oranges, Cookies

Wednesday, May 1:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Bananas
     Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Matzo, Carrot Sticks, Cookie
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: Ground Beef Tomato Sauce with Spaghetti, Melon-Pineapple-Banana Salad

Thursday, May 2:
    Breakfast:  Pancakes with Bananas and Walnuts
    Lunch: PB&J on Pancakes, Yogurt, Oranges, Cookie
    Snack: Animal Crackers
    Dinner:  Scrambled Eggs, Waffles, Pineapple and Melon
    Baking:  Apple Cinnamon Bars for a school event

Friday, May 3:  
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal with Walnuts
    Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches, Apples, Carrot Sticks, Cookie
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Baked Chicken, Golden Beets, Roasted Potatoes, Pineapple-Melon-Apple Salad

Saturday, May 4:
    Breakfast: Blueberry Buckle
    Lunch: Triple Ginger Pancakes or Gingerbread Pancakes, Bananas, Walnuts
    Snack: At a Birthday Party
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Oranges
    At-home Date Night Desert: Apple Crisp

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Watching God at Work in Our Lives

These last few years have seemed so very long.

We've had so many emotional upheavals, health problems, household projects, and school, school, and more school.

Friends have betrayed us, our financial situation changed, John's work situation changed drastically recently, and I am still trying to finish this darn dissertation.

In the last few weeks, it seems like so much of this work is coming to fruition.

Our budget is getting to a point where we can say we're comfortable for internship without having to panic. (Okay, I'm the only one who was starting to panic!)

We've stabilized our church situation and friends who are true friends have apologized and are friends again or stayed friends in the first place.

John's work is still rough but we only have to survive one more year there!

The ducks are starting to line up in a row for me to finish this dissertation and my degree soon. (Happy dance!)

Some of the many things we desperately need to get done around the house are actually getting done.

And we have the wonderful opportunity that I mentioned on Thursday coming up for us as well.

God works in mysterious ways.

And sometimes I honestly don't care for it - I want it all solved now, done with now, and I want to know how it will all work out in the end.  On days when I can sit back and really think about it, I know that I'm happy I don't know the end and all that we will have to go through to get there.  And I'm grateful that the Lord has a wonderful plan for us that will be fulfilled in His time and not ours.

I have to say one of the things that I've learned so much over the last few years is that it's so much fun to watch God at work in large and small ways:

* Exact amounts of money appearing when we needed them the most.
* A pot of soup delivered just when we needed it.
* The children getting excited over free entertainment - a trip to the park, time with a friend, a free event at the public library....
* A friend giving us some much-needed clothes for my daughter
* Finding the perfect recipe online to go with the ingredients we have in our kitchen/pantry/freezer at the time
* The time to nap or rest when we're sick
* The ability to learn and the opportunity to learn specific things at just the right time

It definitely hasn't always been fun in the traditional sense but it's been a true joy to look back and see how God has provided for us and has been at work in our lives, even when we didn't expect it.

Truly, God's work in our lives is one of my very favorite things!
Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Super Savings Saturday - $27.72 shopping trip

So, we're all dragging with head colds thanks to two children at my children's school and one of my co-workers who kindly shared.  We've been trying to get things done and yet lay low at the same time.  Today I had meetings for a large chunk of the day - 7:30 am - 2 pm - while John took the children first to Bible Study and then to dance class. We all took a nap after that!

As far as grocery shopping, he did half the grocery shopping while the children were at dance class and I did the rest on my way home.  Again - no photo this week - I actually took out the camera to take a photo and realized the battery was dead!  Now I can't find the charger. Such has been this week. :P

Anyway, we went to two stores and spent $27.72 on groceries this week.

Store #1 (John's stop):
Jumbo Cantaloupe $2.50
8oz block of Kraft Cheese 2 @ 2/$4

Total Store #1: $6.50

Store #2 (My stop):
2.25oz Chopped Walnuts $1.57
5lbs Gold Medal Best for Bread Flour $3.29
20ct Mission Tortillas $2.99
2.89lbs Bananas @$0.59/lb = $1.71
2.34lbs Gala Apples @ $0.99/lb = $2.32
3.75lbs Red Grapefruit @ $0.99/lb = $3.71
2lb Carrots $1.29
3.5oz Hormel Pepperoni $1.99
59oz Pink Lemonade $1.29

Total Store #2: $21.22  (including 16 cents tax on the lemonade)
Total Saved According to Store Receipt: $3.25 (13%)

Total Spent Both Stores: $27.72
Total Saved According to Store Receipts $3.25 (10%)

I didn't use any coupons this week and I bought the Pink Lemonade because we need the paper carton for a project for school.  The kids are looking forward to that treat!

We put $12.28 into our bulk meat purchase fund this week.  I'll total up how much we now have in there next week.  We still have a freezer full of food and our CSA starts in about a month (give or take depending on the weather), so between the CSA and the bulk meat purchase we have a lot of freezer eating to do!

How did you do with your shopping this week?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

In the Refiner's Fire - Just when you think....

So my husband is going through this little journey called Seminary.  As in, "I want to be a Pastor when I grow up" Seminary.

In our church denomination this is usually a 2 year full-time student plus 1 year full-time internship plus another 1/2 year full-time student journey - so 3 1/2 years total.  In our family it has been a 5 year journey so far because he's only going part-time and working full-time while doing so (and yes, he does sleep occasionally!).  We have one more year of classes until he does his internship.  We have everything set up so that we don't have to come back as a student after that unless he's really lacking something (which we hope he isn't!).  He'll be quitting his job to do the internship, which is both scary and exciting and we're (okay, I'M) very nervous about how all of that is going to work out.

Recently John met with a Pastor of a church to talk about summer Pulpit Supply for their congregation over the summer.  We were thinking something on the order of him preaching a couple of Sundays so the current Pastor can go on vacation - which is what the others churches have asked for.  That was part of what the conversation was.  Additionally.....

...Well, let's just say that the conversation was so much more than that.  

I'm not going to say anything more at this point, but - Lord willing - it's a great opportunity and will be the perfect stepping stone to things after Seminary.  We'll finalize everything starting the weekend of May 5th and I'll post more after that.

We're completely reeling from all of this - bowled over and sideswiped, as it is.  In a very, very good way of course.

And, even if this particular opportunity doesn't come to pass the way we think it will right now, it has been the most amazing glimpse into how the Lord is planning for our future without our knowledge.  

I'm probably going to be on pins and needles for the next two weeks - we're so terribly excited and we're so  overwhelmingly amazed!  And everything looks so much better than it was.  I can't wait to share the full story - only God could come up with something this amazing!

In the meantime, could you please say a prayer or two for us?   I'm not quite sure for what - we so want to do the Lord's will in all of this.  So maybe for that?  For peace in our hearts, certainly (we're awfully excited).   And for this congregation.  There. That's it.  Thanks!

Just when you think you know what the future has in store, everything changes!  And the Lord is so very, very good!

Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Goals - Week of April 21, 2013

Wow, it's been a while since I've been posting consistently.   I started the year with such great blogging plans and, well, then, life happens.  **SIGH**

Same thing with goals - I mean to post every week, and even though I've been doing quite well with making my lists and getting through them, nothing much happens here on line.  Now that I'm finally feeling better again, I'm hoping to get back to more of a regular blogging schedule.   I guess the down side of having two chronic illnesses and battling shingles too is that some things just don't get done!

Anyway, here's the goals lists for the week:

* Notes for the rest of the semester - I can't believe we only have a few weeks left already.
* Catch up my grading again.
* Submit updated current grades for my students

* Meet with my adviser
* Put finished on a paper I'm writing

* Teach 4 classes this week
* Learn 3 new routines
* Attend one additional class this week
* Email my class owner about a couple of things

* Attend a friend's birthday party - Sunday
* Piano lessons x2 - Monday
* Swimming lessons x2 - Monday
* Dance Lessons x2 - Thursday
* Family Night - Friday - Celebrating Mark, The Evangelist
* Dance Lessons x2 - Saturday
* At home Date night with John - Saturday - play a board game, dessert
* Write out and send out invitations for the children's birthday parties (we're doing two parties this year - one for boys and one for girls)

* Daily Chores
* Do one thing per day to get our house "in shape" (I have a list of things to do, so I'll do one per day)
* Finish all the Ironing again
* Mend 3 things

* Fill out the paperwork for our church transfer
* Drop off Sunday school teacher gifts (we have to miss Sunday School this next week)
* Daily Devotions and Memory Work
* Write our Compassion International Child

* Lunch with a friend on Tuesday
* Coffee with a different friend on Thursday
* Have Missy paint my toenails (the last batch peeled off)
* Soak my feet once
* Get to bed on time every night

What are your goals this week?  Visit Money Saving Mom to share and be inspired.

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 21, 2013

A very dark photo of Southwest Veggie Couscous.  We enjoy this with tortilla chips.
We have had ICKY weather here this last week - we got about 5 more inches of heavy wet snow mixed with sleet and rain on Thursday and then Sunday is was raining again, with a few more snowflakes early in the morning.  That was after having 50F earlier last week and then the temperature dropping like a roller coaster and staying there.  This past weekend it was theoretically warm - but the wind was brutal.

All of that leaves me in the mood for soup, stew and casseroles - we rarely eat casseroles but it was definitely on my mind this last week!   Comfort food time.  The twin's birthday is coming up the beginning of May and Missy keeps asking if we'll have snow on their birthday. I keep saying "I hope not!" :)

In light of all of that, here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, April 21:
  Breakfast:  Cereal with Milk
  Lunch:  At a Birthday Party
  Snack:  Potato chips (we were given some after a luncheon at church on Saturday)
  Dinner: Salad with Craisins and Pecans, French Bread, Strawberry-Blackberry-Banana Salad

Monday, April 22:
  Breakfast; Oatmeal with Apples and Cinnamon
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Oriental Chicken Wraps, Orange Wedges

Tuesday, April 23:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Craisins
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Pork Loin, Rice, Tossed Salad, Melon-Strawberry-Blackberry Salad

Wednesday, April 24:
  Breakfast: Maple-Oatmeal Scones, Bananas
  Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Carrots and/or Tomatoes, Oyster Crackers, Cookie
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Soft Shell Ground Beef Tacos, Melon-Pineapple-Strawberry Salad

Thursday, April 25:
  Breakfast: Maple Oatmeal Scones, Strawberries
  Lunch:  Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Shrimp and Spinach Saute, French Bread, Melon and Pineapple

Friday, April 26:
  Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
  Lunch:  Chicken Noodle Soup, French Bread, Oranges
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Fried White Fish, Green Beans, Pineapple-Melon-Banana Salad

Saturday, April 27:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
  Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches, Carrots and Celery, Oranges
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread Sticks, Oranges

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Little Things Abound

Well, spring seems to have decided to wait a while  - even though it's the end of April. 
What's up with that?
I'm blaming it on a coworker who showed up to work in sandals a couple of weeks ago! :)

In spite of the icky weather, (which a cousin of mine decided to label "springter" - spring + winter) there are so many little things to be thankful for!

A few years ago I started writing down one thing per day that I was thankful for with each of my family members.  Then about a year and a half ago, I decided to write down 20 things I was thankful for each day. WOW!
It was such a good reminder of how very, very blessed I am - even when things seem downright lousy.

These last few weeks I've had shingles, on top of my two chronic illnesses. 
Then last week I pulled a muscle that pushed on my tailbone - ouch!  There was no position that was comfortable and at times the pain was so bad all I could do was try to sleep - I just couldn't even think.  It was a very frustrating week.  

I still had so much to be thankful for. Dad being over halfway done with chemo treatments...

...the children decorating cookies to send to him as a "Whoot - you're over halfway done!" present...

...having so much food in the house - we really wouldn't have to go grocery shopping at all!...

...having a hubby who likes to cook and is pretty good at it too...

  ... Irish Soda bread, which goes together fast and cooks up in a flash...

....Buddy calling my French Bread "Mommy's Good Bread" **SMILE**.... cocoa and a good book when the weather is icky out... daughter's joy at kneading bread dough - I love doing that too... driving on slick roads... beautiful things look outside - even if the weather really is nasty to be out in....

...hats and coats and boots and snow pants and clothes washing machines and dryers.... cheeked children who smell like snow...

...wet mittens, hats and socks drying on the heat register...

...a well loved stuffed bunny who now has new stuffing...

...knowing how to sew so I can give the stuffed bunny new stuffing... son's delight at his bunny being re-stuffed and "extra squishy" (as he put it)....

...stuffing that can be machine washed - whoever invented that is brilliant in my book...

...watching my children play together...

...and practice their piano duet for their recital this next weekend...

...going to piano performance festival and having my son beg to wear his suit so he looks "dapper".... children's excitement at seeing their friends at piano performance festival....

...long distance telephone calls with my parents...

...long distance telephone calls with my in-laws...

...Skype... children enjoying school so much....

...the tower my son built at after school care the other day... that build creativity...

...unexpectedly running into friends while out and about...

...tucking my children into bed each night....

...having a body that moves, even if I don't feel the greatest...

...comfortable furniture to sit and lay on...

...central heating.... wonderful family...

...and the grace of God Almighty.

What are some of your favorite things this week?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Super Savings Saturday - $36.95 Shopping Trip

Alas, no picture again this week but I did send John out to the stores today.  He did a great job and we got plenty of things to round out what we have in our cupboards and freezers as well as what we have in the fridge.

He went to two stores and here's what he got:

Store #1:
Braeburn Apples 2.51lbs @ $1/lb = $2.51
Whole White Mushrooms $0.98
English Cucumber 1 @ $1 = $1
Blackberries 8oz $1.88
Strawberries 1lb $1.88

Total Spent Store #1; $8.25

Store #2:
Quaker Yellow Cornmeal 24oz $2.15
Store Brand Oyster Crackers 2 @ $1.19 = $2.38
Crisco Vegetable Oil 48oz $3.49
Crisco Butter-flavored Sticks $3.49
Bananas 2.98lbs @ $0.59/lb = $1.76
Whole Pineapple $2.98
3lbs Sweet White Onions $3.49
Fresh Express Salad $1.98
Smart Balance Spread 2 @ $3.49 = $6.98

Total Spent Store #2: $28.70
Total Saved Store #2 According to Store Receipt: $3.32

Total Spent Both Stores: $36.95
Total Saved According to Store Receipts: $3.32 (8%)

Come back Monday to see what we're eating this week!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 14, 2013

Pork loin, asparagus, fruit, and couscous! Yummy!
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I started feeling in a bit of a rut when it comes to cooking around here.  I've been trying some new baking recipes and pulling out some old favorites we haven't had for quite a while.   We still have very busy weeks - though they are slightly less busy since we don't have Lenten worship anymore during the week - and we're trying to keep things simple.  It doesn't always work but that's the plan!

We're still also trying to eat what we have in the freezers so we can empty them for our bulk meat purchase and the summer CSA veggies.  Making progress but I still feel like we have a LONG way to go!  Slow and steady wins the race, right, and it's such a blessing to have so much food in the house!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, April 14:
   Breakfast:  At church
   Lunch:  Turkey Sandwiches with Oranges
   Snack:  Popcorn
   Dinner: Chili, Cornbread, Tossed Salad, Strawberry-Pineapple-Pear Salad

Monday, April 15, Tax Day:
   Breakfast:  Oatmeal Maple Scones, Oranges
   Lunch:  Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Oatmeal Maple Scones
   Dinner:  Crepes with Turkey and Mozzarella, Tossed Salad, Strawberries and Oranges

Tuesday, April 16:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Maple Scones
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Salmon, Couscous, Asparagus, Strawberry-Melon-Pear Salad

Wednesday, April 17:
  Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Venison Gravy, Noodles, Tossed Salad, Melon-Banana-Apple Salad

Thursday, April 18:
  Breakfast: Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Turkey Sandwiches, Carrots, Tomatoes, and Celery, Orange Wedges

Friday, April 19:
  Breakfast:  Leftover Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Chicken Devon, French Bread, Melon-Banana-Orange Salad

Saturday, April 20:
   Breakfast: Leftover Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
   Lunch: Pasta Salad with Tuna
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Orange Wedges

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Super Savings, er, Sunday - $37.59 shopping trip

No picture again this week - sorry!  My shingles have been acting up and digging out the camera just seemed like too much work!  Yes, it's a lame excuse, but that's the way life is right now around here.  :)   Our trip to the grocery stores also happened later on Saturday, which for us is odd, so I felt like I was scrambling to get things put away and dinner made after we got the shopping trip done.

We went to two stores this week and bought several fresh veggies and fruits and a few fun things as well.  We're pretty well stocked for meat right now and we're trying to eat down our freezer so we can buy our bulk meat.  The only meat we bought this week was two packages of hot dogs for our camping trip this summer.  The kids like to drink apple juice with dinner so we bought some of that too.

Here's what we bought:

Store #1:
10 ct Mission Tortillas 10" $0.99 store coupon
Store Brand 56oz Apple Juice $1.99 store coupon
2 Nature Sweet Cherub Tomatoes B1G1 $3.99 store coupon

Total Store #1: $6.97
Total Saved According to Receipt: $5.65 (45%)

Store #2:
Mott's Apple Juice 64oz $1.99 store coupon
12 oz Store Brand Oyster Crackers $1.19
Store Brand Neapolitan Ice Cream $1.98 store coupon
16oz Ball Park Franks 1 @ 1.48 store coupon + 1 @ $2 sale price - $1.50 doubled coupon = $1.98
Purt Plus Shampoo 40oz $2.99 - $2 doubled coupon = $0.99
Bananas 2.79lbs @ $0.59/lb = $1.65
Braeburn Apples 1.90lbs @ $1.29/lb = $2.45
1lb Carrots $0.99
8lbs Navel Oranges $5.99 store coupon
1lb Strawberries $2
Fresh Express Bagged Coleslaw $0.79 store coupon
2 Gallons Store Brand Skim Milk 2/$5 = $5
Mountain High Vanilla Yogurt 32oz $2.50 - $1 doubled coupon = $1.50
Unsalted Butter Quarter $1.98 store coupon

Total Store #2: $30.62 (including $0.14 tax)
Total Saved According to Store Receipt: $28.15 (48%)

Total Spent Both Stores: $37.59
Total Saved According to Store Receipts: $33.80 (47%)

We also spent $10.28 on items for a special date night dinner for us - we've been going through some rough things lately in our relationship and decided to treat ourselves to a special dinner at home rather than paying for take out.  This money came from our recreational part of our budget (where our eating out comes from) rather than our grocery budget.  An easy way to have an inexpensive date after the children are in bed!

What did you buy this week?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 7, 2013

We had waffles one night instead of our planned menu last week - mine fell apart as it came out of the iron , so this was the result!  YUM!
 Well, we spent $37.39 on groceries this week, so here's what we're doing with that and what we have in the house!   We have a busy week this week - especially Thursday (because, everything is scheduled on Thursday, you know!), so we have a couple of crock pot meals this week that will yield lots of leftovers for lunch!

Here we go:

Sunday, April 7:
  Breakfast: Cold Cereal with Milk
  Lunch: At Church for a Sunday School Forum
  Snack:  Leftover French Bread
  Dinner: Ground Turkey Hard-Shell Tacos, Pineapple-Mandarin Orange- Strawberry Salad

Monday, April 8:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Apples and Cinnamon
  Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Carrots and/or Tomatoes, Cookie
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Lentil and Black Bean Soup in the crock pot, Honey Whole Wheat Biscuits, Orange Wedges

Tuesday, April 9:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Orange Wedges
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Pineapple-Strawberry-Melon Salad

Wednesday, April 10:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack:  Popcorn
   Dinner:  Pork with Green Onions and Mushrooms in the crock pot, Rice, Orange Wedges

Thursday, April 11:
  Breakfast: Pancakes with Strawberries and Pecans
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: At the Scout's Meeting - Bring a Fruit Salad

Friday, April 12:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Craisins
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner:  Roasted Mixed Potatoes, Asparagus, Melon-Pear-Orange Salad

Saturday, April 13:
   Breakfast:  Cranberry Orange Bread, Orange Wedges
   Lunch:  Tuna Pitas, Orange Wedges
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Melon

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Little Things Continued.....

As we s...l...o...w...l...y...   make our way into spring here in Minnesota, I am continually reminded that it's the little things that make me so very grateful and fill my days with wonder!

....The new buds on the lilacs after a winter of dormant hiding...

...Buds on the rhododendron too...

...Green grass starting to peek out...

...Getting itchy to be out the yard and garden again...

...The lovely new watering can and garden gloves John bought me for Easter....

....The final leftovers of this wonderful, salvaged dessert...

...An abundance of cookbooks at the local library to check out and browse....

....Online recipes to browse too....

...Learning how to make my Dad's signature "Fish Chowder" with him last week....

...Eating the chowder with my folks and their lovely blue dishes that I remember so well...

...Adapting the recipe for the crock pot when I cam home...

...Morning water coloring by my resident artist - before breakfast too!....

....That my children's teacher loves arts and crafts projects as much as they do...

...Having artwork by our children displayed all over our house...

...Teaching our children to be responsible with their money...

...Counting allowance and birthday and holiday money before a trip to the store...

...My daughter buying her own doll with her own money...

....My daughter having the same doll as her friend....

....My son looking forward to a play date next weekend....

....Our children getting to be such good helpers....

...My son actually enjoying cleaning the bathroom (yes, I know, that's weird!)...

...My daughter loving to help in the kitchen....

...and asking for Cake Decorating lessons for her upcoming 8th birthday....

....Finally getting some long-not-done things crossed off my to-do list...


...Rain (instead of snow)...

...Warm(er) air....

...Spring coats....

...Spring dresses....

...The beautiful blue hydrangeas from the Easter garden at church that are still living on my piano....

...Dinner by candlelight...

...Tired children after a birthday party...

...Freshly popped popcorn...

...Homemade cookies...

...The smell of baking in the house...

...A cup of hot tea on a blustery, cool day...

...Served with a cookie or two...

...And a good book to read, loaned from a friend....

...Birthday Parties scheduled for the children (separate ones this year) for next month...

...Anticipation of being out in the spring weather...

...Summer plans afoot...

Truly, it is the little things that fill me with such wonder and joy.
Truly, these are a few of my favorite things!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Super Savings Saturday - Our $37.39 Shopping Trip

Our Shopping Trip Displayed on Our Stove!
I finally remembered to take a photo this week - it's from my iPod in really bad light but at least it *is* a photo!

We went to two stores and spent $37.39 between the two stores.   Here's how we did it and what we got:

Store #1:
McCormick Grill Mates Seasoning $1 - $0.75 coupon = $0.25
Store Brand Organic Spring Mix Greens 2@ $3.99 B1G1 store coupon = $3.99
Large Melon $2.50
Ginger Root 0.12lbs @ $2.99/lb = $0.36
Bulk Cous Cous 1.54lbs @ $3.19/lb = $4.91

Total Store #1: $12.01
Total Saved According to Receipt: $4.74 (28%)

Store #2:
Mott's Apple Juice 64oz $2.50 Sale Price - $0.52 store coupon = $1.98
100 Ct Vanity Fair Napkins 2@ $1.66/ea - $1 - $1 doubled coupon = $1.32 ($0.006/napkin)
S&W Low Salt Black Beans 2 @ $0.75 - $1 - $0.50 "doubled" coupon = FREE
Edy's Fruit Bars $3.50 - $1.52 store coupon = $1.98
Colgate Sparkling White Toothpaste $1.39 - $0.51 store coupon = $0.88
Crest for Kids Toothpaste $2.49
52 ct Goody Clear Hair Elastics $2.49
Anjou Pears 2.34lbs @ $1.29/lb = $3.02
White Mushrooms $1
8lb bag Navel Oranges $5.99 - $2.01 store coupon = $3.98 ($0.50/lb)
1lb Strawberries $2.50
59oz Store Brand Orange Juice $2.50 - $0.52 store coupon = $1.98
Smart Balance Butter $1.50 - $1 - $0.50 "doubled" store coupon = FREE

Total Store #2: $25.38
Total Saved According to Receipt: $23.57 (48%)

Total For Both Stores: $37.39
Total Saved for Both Stores According to Receipts: $28.31 (43%)
Total Remaining from the Grocery Budget this Week: $2.61

We'll be saving the "leftover" in our budget toward our CSA this week.

We still have very full freezers plus a gallon of milk, asparagus, carrots, celery, tomatoes, a pineapple, a few apples and a pear left from last week, so we will have plenty to eat this week!  I did pay full price for the kids' toothpaste since we were completely out and our children refuse to use "grown up" toothpaste - we had room in the budget and didn't want to fight them on it right now!   I'll be using the ginger root in a new-to-us recipe this next week and I'm pretty excited about it - it's gotten rave reviews from several people who have tried it.

Come back on Monday to see what we're eating this week!

How did you do with your shopping this week?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Work, Home and Family - Saving Dessert - Step by Step Instructions

So, we spent Easter Dinner and most of Sunday afternoon with some very dear friends of ours.  My friend LOVES to cook and it is truly a ministry of hers - having people over for meals, teas, breakfast, snacks, taking meals to those who need it.  (She brought us the most amazing homemade sweet and sour chicken with sticky rice when our children were born!)  She has severe physical limitations for many things but, man, can she cook! I have long since given up on asking if I can bring anything to meals since I know how much she loves to cook and how good she is at it!

The thing is, I love to bake.

And she loves to cook.  And dislikes baking.

So I usually bring dessert.

For Easter it's a carrot cake.

I usually bake the cake on Saturday and then frost and decorate it on Sunday right before we go over to their house.  I even have a cross-shaped cake pan that I use for things like Easter - decorated with piped icing flowers or, even better, edible fresh flowers and fruit, or some combination of all those.

I didn't get my cake baked until very late at night Saturday.  I decided to do a double-layer cake with peach filling and cream cheese frosting, since I had peaches in the freezer to make a filling with and cream cheese for the frosting.  After letting it cool a bit in the pan, I tried to take it out of the pan so it could cool all the way on the cooling rack.

This is the result:

What followed went something like this:

Step By Step Instructions for How to Rescue a Failed Dessert

Step 1:  Sob hysterically (I'm blaming a case of shingles, and being overtired for that!).  Tell John that I will never make a good Pastor's wife because I can't even bake a simple cake.

Step 2:  Let John tuck me into bed with a kiss and tell me it will be all right tomorrow (Sniff.)   

Step 3: Tell John when he crawls into bed later that I have a plan but I need to buy two containers of whipped topping in the morning.  

Step 4:  John gets called into work at 1:30am.  He goes inside the storefront when he stops to buy gas on the way home at 3:30am just to check if our neighborhood gas station has whipped topping of any kind. They don't.  (This is part of why I love this man so much!)

Step 5:  Drive to Target after church Sunday (now at 12:15pm, we need to be at our friend's house at 2pm) to buy whipped topping.  Target is closed. All day.

Step 4:  Drive to both grocery stores.  Both are closed.  

Step 6: Start to panic!  Mentally try to figure out if  I have enough "stuff" to make a second cake and frost it!

Step 7:  Drive to Walgreen's - my last hope and fortunately they are OPEN!!!!!!!

Step 8:  Everyone else in town who needed anything is also at Walgreen's.  Snag the last container of whipped topping out of the freezer case by standing on the little lip at the front of the case in my church heels, fancy Easter dress, and big spring hat to dig it out from the very back where I just barely spotted it.  

Step 9:  Straighten out my dress. Try to look like I hadn't just practically climbed into the freezer case. :)

Step 10:  Snag the last container of pre-made frosting on the shelf and the last box of yellow cake mix.  Just in case. Check out.  Drive home.  Share story with family.  Wonder how I'm going to make this work with container of  whipped topping.

Step 11: Put on apron, dig out pretty glass bowl we got at our wedding (almost 15 years ago now! WOW!)  And do this with the already crumbled cake: 

Step 12:  Attempt to whip still completely frozen whipped topping.  End up with this:

Step 13:  Set partially whipped, frozen mess aside.  Try not to cry. Again.   Drain two cans each of mandarin oranges and pineapple well on paper towels.  

Step 14:  Finally whip the now mostly thawed whipped topping.  Layer on top of cake pieces.

Step 15:  Top with half the pineapple and mandarin oranges.

Step 16:  Add another layer of cake crumbles.  

Step 17:  Place last glob of whipped topping in the middle of the cake pieces.  Stare at top of dessert and wonder what to do next.

Step 18:  Allow almost-8-year-old daughter to take over.   :)

Step 19:  Watch as daughter carefully arranges pineapple in two rings around the outside edge.  Smile.  Carefully cut giant strawberries in half so we have some "color".  Watch as daughter artfully arranges the strawberries and some of the mandarin oranges on top of the dessert.  

Step 20:  Hug daughter.  Take off apron. Cover desert with foil.  Wash hands. Put on coat.  Time:  1:45pm!

And of course take photos.  

Because this had to be a blog post, you know......  

So, that is how you save a failed dessert!  

Oh, and we used the box cake mix and frosting to make cookies to email to Grandpa.  Apparently anything made by the Grandchildren actually tastes good to him (his taste buds are out of whack from chemo) so we're sending anything we can think of!

What have you done to save a cooking or baking mishap lately?  I'd love to hear!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Easter Week 2013

Our crab cake dinner from two weeks ago - with oranges instead of blackberries! These turned out great!
This week, starting Sunday, begins the Easter Season in our church year!   I love Easter and I love spring!  We still have snow on the ground and I am so ready to be done with that but since I can't control the weather I just have to live with it!  We started some flower and vegetable seeds inside in both an old egg carton and halves of egg shells.  The children were really excited and I'm excited to be doing something that feels like spring!   Did a little more stocking up on the grocery shopping this weekend but we're still trying to clean out the freezers around here, which means I have to be creative with the cooking!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Easter Sunday, March 31:
   Breakfast:  At church (our church has a huge, hot breakfast each Easter Sunday)
   Lunch/Dinner (mid-afternoon): At a Friend's house
   Desert:  Carrot Cake (we brought this to our friend's house)
   Snack: Popcorn, Orange Wedges

Monday, April 1:
   Breakfast:  Resurrection Rolls, Grapefruit
   Lunch:  Macaroni and Cheese, Sliced Apples and Pears
   Snack: Popcorn or Carrot Cake
   Dinner:  Ham and Bean Soup in the Crockpot, French Bread, Apple-Strawberry-Pear Salad

Tuesday, April 2:
   Breakfast: Waffles with Bananas and Strawberries
   Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, French Bread, Orange Wedges
   Snack: Popcorn or Carrot Cake
   Dinner:  Salad with Salmon, Craisins, and Mandarin Oranges

Wednesday, April 3:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner:  Pork Loin, Couscous, Asparagus, Strawberry-Banana-Apple Salad

Thursday, April 4:
   Breakfast:  Oatmeal Muffins and Bananas
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Chicken Flavored Rice, Roasted Butternut Squash, Strawberry-Apple-Pear Salad

Friday, April 5:
   Breakfast:  Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Craisins
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup, Maple Cornbread, Orange and Grapefruit Wedges

Saturday, April 6:
   Breakfast: Cinnamon Breakfast Biscuits, Bananas
   Lunch: Triple Ginger Pancakes and/or Spiced Pancakes with Bananas and Almonds
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Orange Wedges

What are you eating this week?