Wednesday, May 29, 2013

AWOL - and catching up! (And what I've been doing.)

Wow!

I really went AWOL there for a while didn't I?  I really didn't mean to.

It's been busy - both last week and this week we have something every single day plus we were at my in-laws all weekend, which was lovely but it involved 8 hours total in the car, lots of time with a ton of people, and sleeping in a really wretched hotel bed for 3 nights.  I'm still trying to catch up on sleep! LOL!!  May is always hectic with the end of school for all of us, the children's dance recital, and usually a trip to my in-laws.  This year seems to be worse for some reason. Maybe because I feel like we've been running at full speed for so very long now and I'm ready to slow down.

Anyway, it's been fun and wild and I'm very excited to look at June and see a whole lot of, well, nothing.

Blank, empty squares and open space on that calendar page is something I'm really looking forward to!  We're still doing piano lessons, swimming lessons and church "stuff", but at a much slower pace than we have.  Thank the good Lord for that!  Our weekends are more full - John is on call at work a lot and he's preaching at 5 different churches for a total of 7 services.  We have two "open" weekends we're still waiting to hear about but that's okay.  A couple of "open" weekends would be okay too.

I went shopping Friday before we left.  Here's what I bought:


Sorry for the poor lighting, my camera battery will not hold a charge for anything right now (I need to buy a new one!) but at least it's a photo this time.  I spent $39 and change at two stores and there was a bunch of bananas that didn't make it into the photo too.  We're good for a while again!

I'm doing a pantry challenge in June so we can have a completely empty freezer for our produce and bulk meat purchase. I'm so excited about that!  And I'm excited that, Lord willing, our CSA will start delivering mid-to-late June too.  I'm ready for some fresh veggies!

Here's our menu for the week:

Breakfasts: Waffles or Oatmeal. And I'm making a Blueberry Buckle for Saturday morning.

Lunches: Hot lunch for children and leftovers or pot lucks for John and I (we're sending fruit to each potluck).  Saturday lunch will be Broccoli-Cauliflower Salad with Tuna.

Dinners:

Sunday:  Tacos at my in-laws
Monday: Snack-y dinner in the car (apples, pretzels, carrot sticks, and snack mix)
Tuesday: Pork Roast, Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, Golden Beets, Strawberry-Banana Salad
Wednesday: Salad with Chicken, Strawberries and Oranges
Thursday: Macaroni and Cheese, Strawberries
Friday: Baked Salmon, Couscous, Purple Beets, Strawberry-Pear-Banana Salad
Saturday: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Strawberries

I've also been loosely trying to keep up with Money Saving Mom's cleaning out challenge. I haven't been very good about keep up (I'm going to keep going through June and July so we can get this house cleaned out!) but here's some of things I have cleaned out:

Several skirts and a couple pairs of pants from Missy's drawer and a package of socks that Buddy never wore.

Outgrown or falling apart shoes and an outgrown pair of boots.   Most of these ended up the trash can, the rest we'll donate to our local thrift store.
I also have a stack of photo frames that we haven't used for a few years, an over-the-car-seat "stuff" holder that we've outgrown, a few baby things we had laying around, some organizers that we don't use anymore and a few books that are going to the thrift store  We've recycled a ton of stuff - most of our "clutter" is paper clutter.  And threw away a bunch of almost completely burned down candles that I meant to someday melt down into new candles - that "someday" won't come any time soon, so in the trash they went!

Grades are done for the semester and the semester is over (Whoot!) and now I can concentrate on my Dissertation and some course prep. I'm very excited about that - especially since I'm so close to being done with my Dissertation. Lord willing, I'll be done before 2014 (and hopefully this summer!).

We've been rainy and wet, wet, wet and I'm ready for some sunshine but in the meantime, we're starting to settle into a summer routine. The children are done with school for the year next week and then we'll have third graders in our house!  Yikes!

Hopefully I can get back to some "regular" blogging (or at least something more regular) with our less frantic summer schedule.  Thanks for sticking with me - I appreciate it so very much!

What have you been up to lately?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Healthy Habits in 2013 - Wear a Pedometer

We all think we're active - and many of us are to a certain extent.  But one of the most humbling things I ever did was strap on a pedometer. Yikes.

Habit #5: Wear a Pedometer

Honestly, I did this several years ago when I wasn't able to attend my beloved Jazzercise a whole lot and it was a shock.  Yes, a real, honest to goodness shock! 

Experts recommend that we get approximately 10,000 steps per day. I was averaging somewhere around 1000.  No, I'm not missing a zero.   A mere 1/10 of what I should be getting.

Not surprisingly, most of us are in that boat, especially if we have a job or a lifestyle where we sit quite a bit, at a desk or on the couch or behind a sewing machine or whatever. 

I thought I was active:  I walked 6 blocks each way from the parking lot to my office, I pottered around in my garden, occasionally I walked to the grocery store.  I turns out I sat a lot more than I thought!

Walking is without fail the easiest way to improve your health.  Strapping on a pedometer is both humbling and encouraging.  

It's humbling because we're almost always at a far lower count than we'd like to be.  

It's encouraging because it's very easy to track improvement.

Honestly, one of the easiest things you can do for your health is to wear that pedometer daily and try to beat your total number of steps per day by certain minimum of steps per day.  What I've seen work well is between 10 and 100 steps.  More than that can be daunting and is difficult to do in your house before bed at night when you look at your pedometer and say "Rats. I need X number of steps to meet my goal today!"  

It's such an easy way to meet our health goals - our bodies are made to move (yes, even yours!) and getting moving has so many health benefits.  And unlike running, there's no intimidation factor in walking for most of us. Most of us know to do it properly and have the equipment to do it.  You don't have to race or complete, just try to beat your daily total.

Me? I'm working on adding 50 steps per day to my current total with a goal of reaching my recommended 10,000 steps per day by the time Christmas rolls around.  Care to join me?

I'm going to follow up next week with a few comments on an important piece of this part of the puzzle - shoes!

What are you doing to walk more in your daily life? I'd love to hear!

Note: I am not a doctor and I don't play one on TV.  This article and others in this series are not intended to be medical advice but to simply share things that I have found helpful in creating healthy habits in my life.  Please consult a qualified medical professional about concerns you have for your particular lifestyle and needs. Thanks.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Goals for the Week of May 19, 2013

Well, the semester is DONE for me at work, so now it's just prepping for fall - I'm revamping another course so it will be a lot of work to get ready for that - and my dissertation work.  Honestly, I'm excited to have the time to just get-'er-done, as they say around here.  Looking forward to graduating this year and not having that huge weight hanging over my head all the time.

Here's my goals for this week:

Work:
   * Clean up my desk
   * Finalize Grades for this semester and Books for fall classes

School:
    * Complete 3 things on my to-do list  (I have a separate, long list of individual things to do for this and for the most part pick and choose depending on my schedule and the time I have available.)

Jazzercise:
    * Teach 4 classes
    * Attend one specialty class
    * Learn 3 new routines

Family:
   * Piano Lessons x 2
   * Swimming Lessons x 2
   * Dance Recital Practice
   * Time with my in-laws
   * Date night

Home:
   * Birthday party thank you notes mailed
   * Clean out a total of 35 things this week (7 items each day M-F)
   * Take donations to the thrift store
   * Wash the living room curtains
   * Wash the inside of the windows upstairs
   * Hem the curtain in my son's room
   * Update the budget book and make visual representation of our savings still needed for Internship Year

Faith/Ministry/Church:
   * Finish the paperwork for our church transfer and turn it in
   * Prayer for our now former congregation
   * Update our prayer journal
   * Write our Compassion International Child

Personal:
   * Repaint my toenails
   * Get to sleep on time or early every night this week
   * Pick up my new eye glasses


I'm super excited to spend some time with my in-laws this weekend - we haven't seen them since Thanksgiving and the cousins are growing up so fast!  If the weather cooperates, we'll head to the water park and have a picnic there otherwise we'll just hang out and chat and play board games! :)

What are you up to this week?

Menu Plan Monday - Week of May 19, 2013

Baked Fish, Rice, Zucchini, and Fruit - Yum!
Wow, I really didn't meant to drop off the radar like that.  Can I blame the flu, the end of the semester, company, and general busy-ness happening all at once?   Ugh.  It never rains but it pours, I guess, and at least I'm not my cousin, who has had 2 surgeries in her immediate family plus 3 others in her extended family in the last week alone.  Yikes!

We're still eating well and working on cleaning out those freezers.   We only did a little shopping this past week - ketchup was on sale at Menard's of all places so we got two bottles for 88cents each and we went to Sam's Club to get toilet paper and bought mango salsa, strawberries, pears, salmon and mixed greens too.  That was about it for shopping this week!

We have lots of fruit left from the last few weeks - apples, blueberries, and a pineapple; as well as half a gallon of milk, cheese, and a few random vegetables floating around the fridge.  Combine that with the meat in the freezer and the dry goods in the cupboard, we are well set!   We received word this week that our CSA will start delivering in about a month - God willing and weather permitting, of course - and we are excited about that!

We have several evening things this week and John is working both Monday and Tuesday evenings so we have to scramble, eat and get to where we need to go.  Thankfully, my semester at work is DONE (WHOO HOO!) and I just have to work on prepping for fall and my schoolwork (just, hah!).  While it does mean a decrease in commitments, the actual workload doesn't change much other than becoming more flexible so I have a little more time to bake and such. I like that.  We get to spend part of Saturday with my in-laws - I'm so excited about that! - and we'll bring some food with too.  The kids asked to bake cookies so we're doing that twice this week - so we have enough to take over to Grammie and PopPop's  house as well as some to eat here at home.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, May 19:
   Breakfast:  Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Waffles, Baked Eggs, Strawberries and Blueberries
   Snack: Mango Salsa and Tortilla Chips
   Dinner: Soft Shell Ground Beef Tacos, Sliced Apples and Pears
   Baking: Croutons, Soft Ginger Cookies, Soft Sugar Cookies

Monday, May 20:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Walnuts
   Lunch: Leftovers for All
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Shrimp Stir Fry, Rice, Pineapple

Tuesday, May 21:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Walnuts
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Mango Salsa and Tortilla Chips
   Dinner: Salad with Chicken and Strawberries

Wednesday, May 22:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Applesauce
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Tuna Wrap Sandwiches, Sliced Apples and Pears

Thursday, May 23:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Strawberries and Almonds
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Fried White Fish with Mango Salsa, Couscous, Golden Beets, Pineapple

Friday, May 24:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Snacky Dinner: Crackers with Cheese or Peanut Butter, Sliced Apples and Pears, Carrot Sticks, etc.
    Baking: Soft Sugar Cookies

Saturday, May 25:
   Breakfast: Waffles and Yogurt
   Lunch - Dinner (Lunner?):  At my in-laws (we'll bring a Fruit Salad and Cookies!).

What are you eating this week?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of May 5, 2013

A cake that Missy baked for her teacher's birthday!  She did a great job! (And it was all her idea too.)

In our family, the week of the twins birthday is always hectic - maybe because we have two children and one birthday, maybe because we usually have company and maybe because the birthday is in May, when everything is wrapping up for the school year.  Who knows?  This year is no exception.

We started out the week with Missy having an allergic reaction to something she ate - so Buddy, Missy and I stayed home from church on Sunday morning to take care of her and John went to preach by himself at a brand new to us church.  I felt so much like we were abandoning him, but we needed to take care of Missy and didn't want to have to leave in the middle of the service is something went south.  So we prayed and cared and it sounds like things went well (they asked him to come back!).

We have company Monday through Wednesday this week and we need to bring treats to the children's school program and scouts this week plus something for the pot luck at church on Wednesday.  So, we have lots  going on in the kitchen too!

I didn't buy any  meat at the store this week so all our meat this week is coming from the freezer.  We're still working on cleaning that out for our bulk meat purchase - which we're slowly getting closer to purchasing! I'm excited about cleaning out the freezer and the meat purchase. Maybe I'm just weird that way.... :)

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, May 5:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with almonds and Craisins
   Lunch:  Leftovers
   Snack: S'mores
   Dinner: Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheese*, Pineapple-Melon-Strawberry Salad

Monday, May 6:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Honey
   Lunch; Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for the Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: BBQ Ribs and Spring Potatoes on the Grill, Pineapple-Strawberry-Blackberry-Blueberry Salad

Tuesday, May 7, The Twin's 8th Birthday:
   Breakfast: Doughnuts, Strawberries and Bananas
   Lunch: Crackers with Cheese and Turkey, Strawberries, Carrots or Tomatoes,  Cookie
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Out after the Program at School (Bring cookies)
   Desert: Birthday Cake

Wednesday, May 8:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Sliced Apples
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for the Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Soup and Fruit Salad for the Pot Luck at Church

Thursday, May 9:
   Breakfast Waffles with Blackberries
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for the Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner:  Turkey Wrap Sandwiches, Carrots and Celery, Apple Slices
   Desert: Cookies (Scouts)

Friday, May 10:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Fried Cod, Golden Beets, Rice, Blackberry-Blueberry-Apple Salad

Saturday, May 11;
   Breakfast: Blueberry Buckle
   Lunch: Tuna Wraps, Apple Slices
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Apple Slices

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Super Savings...er...Sunday - $33.62 Grocery Trip

Our weekend has been super crazy - long story that I'll tell later - and I barely managed to get to the store this weekend!  It was necessary because we have company for part of this week, our children have their birthday and we have 3 different activities we're supposed to bring food to! Yikes.

I ran to the store very late Saturday night - at almost 11 pm (which is when our grocery stores close around here). Fortunately, we didn't need a whole lot so I was able to get in and out quickly!  Then quickly put things away and off to bed I went.  My photo taking skills have been less than stellar lately and I still have to find the charger for the camera anyway, so maybe it's better that I didn't take a photo!

We have plenty of meat in the freezers still and a few vegetables and fruits left over from last week so I was focusing on more fruit and a few staples to round out our menu.

Here's what we got:

Store #1:
Butter Kernel Canned Corn 3 @ $0.49 = $1.47
Butter Kernel Canned Cut Green Beans 3 @ 0.49 = $1.47
4.92lbs Braeburn Apples @ $0.88/lb = $4.33
0.75lbs Roma Tomatoes @ $0.98/lb = $0.74
10lbs Baking Potatoes $1.98
1 dozen large eggs $0.98

Total Store #1: $10.97
Total Saved (according to Store Receipt): $5.56 (33%)

Store #2:
Ronzoni Pasta 2@$1/ea = $2 - $1 - $1 (doubled coupon) = FREE
Limes 2 @ 3/$1 = $0.66
Whole Fresh Pineapple $2.99
Blackberries 6oz 2 @ $2 = $4
Blueberries 9oz 2 @ $2 = $4
Strawberries 1lb 2 @ $2 = $4
Mini Colored Sweet Peppers 8oz = $2
Gallon Skim Milk 2 @ 2/$5 = $5

Total Store #2: = $22.65
Total Saved (according to Store Receipt) = $15.41 (40%)

Total Spent at Both Stores: $33.62
Total Saved (according to store receipts): $20.97 (39%)

Total moved to meat bulk purchase fund: $6.38
Total in meat bulk purchase fund at this time: $26.73

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