Monday, June 24, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Our Summer "Vacation" Edition!

Salad with grapes, strawberries and imitation crab meat.  Yummy!

We have been taking advantage of beautiful weather outside on the non-rainy days here - it's either been absolutely fantastically beautiful outside or pouring rain (go figure) - and eating on our patio as we can.  We tend to use our patio as a second living room in the summer months, which is wonderful and it really makes sure that we all get some "sunshine time".  Somehow, it just makes the meals that much more special. Not sure why, it just does!

We're looking forward for a few days away from the wild race here this week, with no huge deadlines and few things going on, and some time just spent together as a family. We decided to take the entire week off from work and school for everyone and just be for a while.  Personally, I'm hoping that helps my stress level go down, since it's far higher than I'd like right now. Honestly, we're eating rather weird for us this week with a lot of hot dogs and sandwiches on the menu, but hey, sometimes you just have to do that and it fits well with the schedule this week!

Sunday, June 23:
   Breakfast: Leftover Cranberry Orange Walnut Bread
   Lunch: Hot Dogs in Buns, Peaches
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner:  Seafood Chowder, Biscuits, Spinach Salad with Grapes

Monday, June 24:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Pretzels
   Dinner: Kielbasa, Potatoes, Zucchini, and Strawberry-Peach-Banana Salad

Tuesday, June 25:
    Breakfast: Pancakes, Bacon, Strawberries
    Lunch: PB&J, Potato Chips,  Cut Veggies
   Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Pork Ribs, Potatoes, Zucchini, and Peaches

Wednesday, June 26:
   Breakfast: Peanut Butter Toast and Bananas
   Lunch: Hot Dogs in Buns, Peaches
   Snack: Pretzels
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza, Rhubarb Crisp

Thursday, June 27:
   Breakfast:  Pancakes, Bacon and Peaches
   Lunch: PB&J, Potato Chips, Cut Veggies
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Steak, Potatoes, Zucchini, Sliced Apples and Strawberries

Friday, June 28:
   Breakfast: Peanut Butter Toast and Bananas
   Lunch;  Hot Dogs in Buns, Apples
   Snack: Pretzels
   Dinner: Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Pasta Salad, Sliced Apples

Saturday, June 29:
   Breakfast: Waffles with Applesauce
   Lunch: Leftover Pasta Salad with Turkey
   Snack: Popcorn, Pretzels, etc.
   Dinner: At a Friend's House

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Frugal, er, Sunday - Frugal Things I Did Last Week

It seems like most of the things that we do that count as "frugal" each week are things that are so routine for us, it's almost silly to write them down.  You know, things like eating at home, taking a lunch to work/school and sticking to a grocery budget.  We do them anyway, and they certainly help!  Maybe that's why we should mention them.

Either way, here's a few things we did this week that aren't in the "normal" list of things we do each and every week:

* Took the children to the local splash pad near our house for a fun Father's Day afternoon.  We only got to stay for about 20 minutes due to bad weather, but we all had fun anyway.

* Bought 24 bags of mulch for our flower beds on sale this week.  Need a lot more, but this is a start!

* Baked chocolate chip cookies using a cake mix rather than flour since I had a cake mix I had gotten for free that needed to be used up and was almost out of white flour anyway.  They turned out good. :)

* Met with a more experienced Jazzercise instructor about some strength training moves - I wanted to make sure I was doing some moves correctly before I taught them in class.  I love how we are one big Jazzercise family that is so willing to help each other out!

* Was able to get the rest of my son's school uniforms from the uniform swap at school! Whoot!  Now I only need to buy shoes and socks for both children and tights for my girl for this fall.  Love that!

* Scheduled a make-up piano lesson to replace one we'll miss later this summer.  Ditto for a swimming lesson.  No money lost on missed lessons!

* Worked from home or the public library (which is walking distance from our house) 4 days this week -saved on both distractions and gas use!

* Returned several books to the library before we had to pay for them. :)  Checked out several books on CD for our driving around over the next couple of weeks.

* Were gifted a dozen gourmet cupcakes from a classmate of my husband's.  He routinely drives people around when they're in town for class at the Seminary (many come from out of state), so one of them gave us a dozen gourmet cupcakes to say thank you.  YUM!

* Accepted free apples and zucchini from a friend who wasn't going to eat them before they went bad.

* Saw a free movie at a local park put on by our local parks and recreation department - and we brought our own popcorn and drinks from home.  It was super fun and the children even got to play with some friends while we were there. Double bonus!

* Got the children's hair cut with a coupon. They look great and right around $20 for two hair cuts including tip!

* My daughter has been reading to Grandpa via video.  It's free and is a great way to stay connected with Grandpa (and Grandma too) and practice her reading skills all at the same time!

* Both children have been writing stories with Grandma - back and forth.  They each write a paragraph and them mail it to the other and then back and forth.  At the end of the summer the children are going to draw illustrations and then we'll have them made into a "real" book.  For the price of a postage stamp every week it's a great way to practice writing. And who doesn't love getting real old-fashioned mail?

That's all I can think of right now.  What have you been doing that's frugal this week?

Check out Life as Mom for more Frugal Friday and check out The Prudent Homemaker's Blog and Web Site for more frugal ideas than you can shake a stick at!

One Last Shopping Trip - June 2013 Pantry Challenge, Week 4

So this is the last week of our June 2013 pantry challenge here in the Stormhammer house.

Not sure how much of a challenge I can call it since we're staying with the $20 for a while now - practice for Internship year! - but we'll see how that goes.

We got our CSA box this last week:

It contained the following goodies: Flowering sage (I put this in a jar on my kitchen table since it was so pretty!), sweet basil, dill, spinach, lettuce, rhubarb, radishes and strawberries.

Just to make you all jealous, here's a photo of the luscious strawberries - we ate them in almost one sitting!  I had totally forgotten how sweet really fresh strawberries are.  The children were astounded by that!

We really need to go strawberry picking this year! (Hopefully next week.)

When I cleaned out the "groceries" envelope of our cash system here I was elated to find $10.31 in the envelope - I had been putting the bills and coins I'd gotten in change back into it as we went and this week was so very grateful for that!

I don't have a photo of groceries this week - John went to the store while I was frantically working on things at the public library (I'll tell that story later).  For some odd reason photos of groceries aren't high on his list, he he! He went to two stores and here's what he bought:

Store #1:
1 English Cucumber: $0.98
3.04 lbs Peaches @ $0.99/lb = $3.01
Total Store #1: $3.99

Store #2:
5 lbs Store Brand All-Purpose Flour $2.45
3.52 lbs Bananas @ $0.59/lb = $2.08
1.10 lbs Green Bell Peppers @ $1.50/lb = $1.09
Total Store #2: $5.62

Total Both Stores: $9.61
Total Remaining: $0.70

How about that?!!!  I'm pretty pleased that we made it through with a hair bit of change left.  We didn't have to buy laundry detergent or TP or anything like that, so we'll see how this all holds up in the future.  We still have strawberries (store bought ones) and grapes in the fridge from last week and a friend gave us some apples that her family didn't like (!!!!).  We still have loads of meat in the freezer and several other things too.  We're still eating fine!

Honestly, doing this $20 a week (or less) for food for a month or two in a row is fine with me and it's fun figuring out what to make and use up and all that jazz.  Doing it semi-permanently (30-32 months is what we're looking at right now, if we start in July 2013) is terrifying to me!  I like to know exactly how things are going to play out and all this lack of fore knowledge is driving me straight up a tree!

In spite of that, I'm looking forward to seeing how the Lord uses this to bless us over the next almost 3 years worth of months.  We're starting to see glimpses of this - the apples from a friend are just one example.  Our veggies in our garden are doing well, though not producing at the moment except the rhubarb, raspberries, chives and lettuce. So, Lord willing, we should have plenty from the garden and our CSA as well as some things for later in the year.  I'll let you know what surprises and blessings we have in this way as we go through the next few months.

Next week we will be getting oatmeal (we're almost out after months of having more than plenty), honey (from our local farmer's market in bulk at a great price) and maybe some canned goods, depending on what's on sale.  Maple Syrup is also on sale, and we're out of that too so I'm hoping we have enough to buy a jar of that too - I've been using it for cooking instead of sugar (maple-oat scones anyone?) and it's been getting used up fast!

Come back on Monday for our menu!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Groceries and Menus and Summer Busy-ness - Pantry Challenge June 2013 Week 3

Initially I was so frustrated that this summer was so not turning out the way I wanted it to be!  This last weekend I was laid low with a huge flair up of one of my chronic illnesses - I was in an enormous amount of pain and nothing we did for 3 days helped in the least.

Sunday we went to worship and John preached.  We had several friends there and the folks at the church we were at were so very, very welcoming that I started to perk up a bit.  I still felt terrible, but at least I perked up.

John is in classes 12 hours a day this week, I have until Friday to turn everything (and I mean everything!) in for my degree, and one thing after another, after another, after another has happened on top of all of that.

I decided that my bad attitude needed to run away permanently so I decided to focus on the stuff that I can do - not what I can't.  It's very difficult to concentrate on anything when you're in terrible pain but at least I can concentrate on thing for 10 minute intervals and I can have my children help with things and I can enjoy the beautiful flowers that are finally blooming in my yard!

We had $40 for the rest of the month for groceries and John and I spent a little more than 2/3 of that this weekend for groceries.  I managed to make it to one store and then he hit the other one.   We also got our first CSA box - herbs, radishes, two kinds of lettuce, spinach and rhubarb.  We have plenty of rhubarb from our own garden but this is a different kind so it was fun to have some of that!  Here's a photo of what we got:

Our first trip to the store we did two transactions and got the following:

2 boxes of Capri Sun Fruit Drink (10 ct each) = $4 - $1 - $1 = $2
Clear Value Oyster Crackers: $1.09
2 packages Oscar Meyer Hot Dogs (10ct each) = $0.98 + $1.50 - $1 - $1 = $0.48
Cherries 2lbs @ $2.99/lb = $5.98
Cream of Potato Soup $1.19
Dole Pineapple Chunks 2 @ $0.75 = $1.50 - $0.75 - $0.75 = FREE
Smart Balance Spreadable Butter $1.99 - $1 - $0.99 = FREE
Yoplait Yogurt 10 @ 10/$5 - $0.55 - $0.55 = $3.90
Pillsbury Biscuits  2 @ $1.19 = $2.38 - $1 - $1 = $0.38
Strawberries 2 @ $2 = $4

Total Store #1: $19.02

Here's a photo of what we got in that first trip:

The second trip to the store included:
Grapes 2.13lbs @ $0.99/lb = $2.11
Raspberries 2 pints @ 2/$4 = $4
Ronzoni Garden Delight Pasta 2 @ $0.88 - $1 = $0.76
Lay's Potato Chips 2 @ $1.50 = $3
Pint Grape Tomatoes B1G1 $3.99

Total Store #2 = $13.86

Unfortunately John put away that trip before I could get a photo.  :(

Total for both stores: $32.88
Leaving us just $7.12 for next week.  Fortunately the bulk of our menu for next week has already been purchased so we have just a couple of things to get.   We'll also have another CSA box so that will help stretch our money a bit.  

A couple of notes on what we bought:  the cherries were part of John's Father's Day gift - I normally would never buy fruit for that price!  The chips and drip boxes are for family camping trip we have coming up.  I usually buy the food we need on sale ahead of time as part of our regular food budget as much as I can.  These were really good deals, so I took advantage of them!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, June 16, Father's Day:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Chicken, Hot Dogs, Corn, and Fruit (meat and corn from the freezer)
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner:  Sandwiches and Fruit

Monday, June 17:
   Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Chicken, Veggie Fried Rice, Fruit  (meat from the freezer)

Tuesday, June 18:
   Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter, Strawberries
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Salad with Crab Meat, Strawberries and Raspberries  (meat from the freezer)

Wednesday, June 19:
   Breakfast: Waffles with Berries
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Pot Luck at Church: Bring a Tossed Salad

Thursday, June 20:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Walnuts
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Cabbage Rolls, Macaroni and Cheese, Strawberry-Pear-Orange Salad

Friday, June 21:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Pears
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Seafood Chowder, Whole Wheat Biscuits, Strawberry-Pear-Pineapple Salad

Saturday, June 22:
   Breakfast: Cranberry Orange Bread (from the freezer)
   Lunch: Pancakes with Applesauce
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread Sticks

What are you eating this week?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Goals - Week of June 9, 2013

I'm continually amazed at how quickly time flies by these days - it seems like time just speeds by and sometimes I just want to grab it by the tail and holler "stop!".  I doesn't work that way so I guess I just get to make the best of time I do have.  

Here were my goals from last week.

* Clean out my backpack and binders

* Cross 2 things off my to-do list

* Teach 4 classes
* Learn 2 new routines  I learned one.
* Submit my paperwork for May

* Swimming Lessons x 2
* Picnic at the park with friends 
* Family Night: Put together Summer "Bucket List", Bonfire
* At home date night with John: Bonfire and Apple Crisp

* Finish edging back flower bed
* Clean out children's rooms (supervise them doing this)  part way done with this
* Finish cleaning out our bedroom part way done with this
* Drop off old uniforms for the uniform swap at school
* Put together idea board for our "office in a closet" that we're going to install later this summer
* Update budget book and savings charts
* Purchase and put in rest of vegetables (the ones I don't start from seed, like tomatoes)

* Continue with my Memory Work - I'm so behind on this!
* Finish photo albums from our former church (these are almost done, I just need to finish)
* Update my prayer journal
* Finish the last of our church transfer paperwork
* Write letter to our Compassion child
* Bible Study Wednesday night and Saturday morning, Mid-Week Worship on Wednesday

* IKEA trip with my best friend (she's buying a few things and I'm gathering ideas!) after Bible Study
* Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night complete and utter epic fail. ICK.

We had a busy, productive week last week and very excited to have some things crossed off the to-do list.  We'll keep plugging away this week and hopefully this will be the summer I can cross several things off my to-do list for good!

Here's my goals this week:

* Answer questions for a few students
* Order some books 
* Clean out my desk
* Clean out my file cabinet
* Emails

* Cross 2 things off my to-do list

* Teach 3 classes this week
* Attend at least one other class this week
* Learn 2 new routines
* Meet with my mentor

* Swimming Lessons x 2
* Work at the Uniform Swap at the kids' school
* Buddy Dr. Appointment Friday
* Family Night (not sure what we're doing yet)
* At Home Date Night (not sure what we're doing yet)

* Get right of 7 things each day
* Settle into our summer routine
* 15 minutes per day cleaning out - all bedrooms
* 15 minutes per day of yard work (weather permitting)

* Finish those photo albums
* Continue with the memory work
* Worship + Pot Luck + Bible Study Wednesday
* Proof Read John's sermon (and pray for him while he's working on it)
* Finish that paperwork for our church transfer

* Get to bed on time at least 5x this week
* Tidy up my fingernails (they're very raged right now)

What are you up to this week?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week #2 of the June 2013 Pantry Challenge

Okay, so the photo has absolutely nothing to do with this week's menu - except that it's edible!  I was organizing my photos and found this ice cream snowman that my cousin Diane made with the kids on their birthday a couple of years ago - super cute and tasty too! (At least for those of us that like coconut!)

We're still eating form the pantry this week. We have a relatively quiet week in terms of "doings" so I have a little more time to bake this week.  We have plenty of meat in the freezers so all the meat we're eating this week is coming from the freezer.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, June 9th:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch; Breakfast Tacos
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Turkey Potato Casserole, Purple Beets, Melon-Grape-Apple Salad
   Baking: Marshmallow Treats, Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Monday, June 10th:
   Breakfast: Toast, Banana-Strawberry Smoothies
   Lunch; Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt, Marshmallow Treats
   Dinner: Shrimp & Spinach Stir Fry, Rice, Melon-Mandarin Orange- Banana Salad

Tuesday, June 11th:
   Breakfast: Toast, Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothies
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Lentil Soup (from the Freezer), Cornbread Muffins, Apple-Grape-Banana Salad

Wednesday, June 12th:
   Breakfast: Waffles with Bananas
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: At Church: Bring Tossed Salad
   Desert: Gingerbread - Today is our Children's Baptism Anniversary!

Thursday, June 13th:
   Breakfast:  Leftover Gingerbread
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Ground Beef Soft Shell Tacos, Tossed Salad, Orange-Pineapple-Banana Salad

Friday, June 14th:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Cereal
    Dinner: Chicken Barley Soup (from the Freezer), French Bread, Pear-Grape-Banana Salad
   Baking: French Bread, No-Bake Energy Bites

Saturday, June 15th:
   Breakfast: Cranberry Orange Loaf
   Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches, Cut Veggies, Sliced Pears
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks
   Desert: Rhubarb Crisp

We planted the rest of our vegetables this weekend -they finally were big enough and it was dry enough to get them it.  It's been so wet, I've been afraid that we'd have rotted roots and it's been so gray that the plants were so little.  Well, they're in! I'm looking forward to home-grown tomatoes and peppers in a month or so. We also planted peas, beans, zucchini, 2 types of winter squash, and a pumpkin.  Our CSA should start by the end of this month too. I'm really looking forward to a whole bunch of garden-fresh vegetables this year!

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - My Garden

I think every single spring since I started this Blog I have written about my garden. I love my garden!  My little piece of green where I can potter about, dig in the dirt and enjoy God's creation.  Occasionally I foolishly think that I get to help Him along - well, at least in terms of what goes where - but we all know Who is really in charge!

I potter about, weed, dig, grumble, smile, water, dig some more and marvel at what happens without my help!

When we bought our house we had a tiny patio between the house and the garage and a whole lot of white rock in the two recognizable flower beds.  We moved into our home in the fall and wondered how much work we'd have to do in the spring to make the  yard "presentable".

Spring came and, low and behold!  The scraggly bushes in the back yard were lilacs - two whites and a purple, and there were scrubby lilies behind the garage - buried under piles of trash and old trash bags filled with leaves.  I gleaned some more lilies and some peonies as well as hostas and giant irises from family, friends and neighbors and dug in some flower beds.

The first summer we were in our house my Mom dug out four dead bush stumps and moved more of that white rock out of the flower bed along the back of that house than you can possibly imagine would be there. We got more flowers from my family members - heirloom peonies, rhubarb, and Asian lilies.

Over the years our beds have changed, the needs of our family have changed, we added two children and our neighbors cut down a big tree that was shading part of our yard.

Every single year I enjoy my time digging in the dirt and waiting for each bud to open, lamenting over the plants that don't "make it" and curse the creeping Charley that tries every year to take over my back flower beds.

Spring was late this year. Very late.  And we actually lost some grass this year because of that too. The lilacs weren't as robust as they could have been, my rhododendron had the blossoms knocked off of it that day I took pictures by a very heavy rain/sleet/hail combination, and my bleeding heart is only about 1/4 the size it was last year.  However, we do have plants, flowers and veggies in abundance!

My rhododendron this spring.

One of my dwarf irises

Another of my dwarf irises.
My giant irises are just starting to bloom and my peonies won't be far behind followed by the Asian lilies.  I added some cutting flowers this year so I hope to have cut flowers in the house all summer - we'll see how well I do!  I'm eagerly awaiting veggies from the garden and our CSA and we'll enjoy meals on our patio whenever the weather allows it.

I love watching John and the children work side-by-side in the garden.  We've been edging beds lately and they have been such a good help!   There is what seems like a permanent dirt ring around the bathtub and John has big black marks on the knees of his "work" jeans.  I love every bit of it!

Truly, I am so very blessed.
And truly, my garden is one of my very favorite things.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Super Savings Saturday - Shopping Trip Week 2 of the June Pantry Challenge 2013

I felt like I didn't buy much at the store today - most of the money in our $20 for the week went to cheese! - but we got almost everything we needed.  Unbeknownst to me, John and the children had used up all the Smart Balance at lunch so we were out.  I didn't know that so I didn't buy any.  I do have $1.77 left from this week's #20 so I will see what I can do on Wednesday, the next day that I can double a coupon at our grocery store.

We only went to one store this week.  Here's what we bought:

25oz Palmolive Dish Detergent with Aloe $2.00 (sale) - $0.12 (store coupon) - $0.50 - $0.50 (doubled coupon) = $0.88
60 ct Always Liners $3.49 (sale) - $0.51 (store coupon) - $0.50 - $0.50 (doubled coupon) = $1.98
2.62 lbs Bananas @ $0.59/lb = $1.55
2.03 lbs Red Grapes @ $1.29/lb = $2.62
1.81 lbs D'Anjou Pears @ $1.49/lb = $2.70
8oz Store Brand Sharp Cheddar Cheese $2.50 (sale) - $0.50 (store coupon) = $2
8oz Store Brand Mozzarella Cheese $2.50 (sale) - $0.50 (store coupon) = $2
8oz Store Brand Pizza Blend Cheese $2.50 (sale) - $0.50 (store coupon = $2
1 gallon Store Brand Skim Milk $2.50 (store coupon) = $2.50

Total Spent: $18.33
Total Saved (according to store receipt): $11.42 (38%)
Total Leftover: $1.77

We have lots of salad "stuff" left from last week as well as one orange, a pear, 2 limes, pineapple, melon and a few strawberries and half of a gallon of milk left from last week.  We still have lots of meat from the freezer and potatoes, pasta, rice, etc. in the cupboards too.  We are eating well!  Come back on Monday to see what we're eating this week - we're having a fairly slow week so I'm doing some baking too.

How did you do with your shopping this weekend?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Frugal Friday - Frugal Things I did This Week

We had a crazy-busy week here at our house with the children's last week of school, the two of them starting at a new-to-us daycare for the summer (with someone we know very well), rain, rain and more rain, a whole saga with the additional 2 Jazzercise classes I teach each week at another location, and a whole variety of other things. I am soooo glad that it's Friday!!!   And I'm looking forward to Bible Study tomorrow morning and then a trip to IKEA with my best friend to gather some ideas for a couple of projects we have coming up later this year.

I'm finally getting my ducks in a row (time at home in the evenings is a wonderful thing!) to put together a post on the homemade gifts I've been giving out this year.  I hope to have that post up next week.

In the meantime here are the frugal things we did this week:

* Picnic at the park with friends to celebrate the end of school.  After 5 1/2 hours the playing the children were good and TIRED Tuesday night!

* I put together summer "activity" bags for the children using items from the dollar store including: a bag for each, sidewalk chalk for each, bubbles for each, a sketch pad and colored pencils for each. I also used a gift card to buy a journal for each. Under $20 for two summer activity bags!

* My mother-in-law sent a box of goodies for the children, since we'd left Buddy's spring jacket there over Memorial day weekend and it's just too cold to go outside with it.  It included toys for both children and a whole load of candy!

* I purchased $40 of perennials, vegetables and fruit at the church plant sale.  The money goes to the landscaping at the church and the gardening club (which maintains the landscaping) donates the plants.  We purchased the following: 1 rose bush, 5 hostas, 7 daffodil bulbs, 3 grape hyacinth bulbs, 2 spirea, 1 coreopsis, 5 strawberry plants, and 1 horseradish plant.  Not bad if I do say so myself!  I had hoped for tomatoes but they were all gone by the time we got there.

* John dug in another flower bed and we staked our grape vine so it will grow vertically rather than taking over another bed.  John and the children also put in the rest of the edging we bought last summer.  Now we need to buy more for the other beds.

* Added several things to the compost bin, organized the wood pile and weeded like mad (drat that creeping charlie anyway!) to try to keep up with the growth from all our rain.

* Accepted 3 new tops from my sister-in-law who was cleaning out her closet.  One needs a small repair on a seem that pulled apart so she was just going to throw it out - so I now I have a new shirt!  *Smile*  They're very nice and things I probably would not have purchased for myself so it's a nice treat.

* Updated the budget book and our savings charts.  We are currently 4% of the way to our needed savings for Internship year - we had to increase the total amount we need for Internship year or we'd be closer.  It's nice to have a visual representation of progress and I'm looking forward to having more progress made as summer progresses!

* Downloaded several ebooks for my Kindle for PC

* Signed the kids up for the summer reading program at the library

* Signed up to work at the Uniform swap at my children's school - we get first dibs on uniform pieces that way.  Added perk - I can mend the pieces that are missing buttons or have torn seams so there are more things in the swap for everyone. I like that! Ordered two uniform skirts for my daughter (who needs a slim-extra-long size 12) on clearance for $10 each plus a jumper (also size slim-extra-long 12) for $15 with free shipping with both.  With those and a few pieces leftover from this year, I will only need to pick up pieces for my son at the swap. I think $35 for a year's worth of uniform pieces is a pretty good deal, don't you?

*  Inventoried my freezers (small chest freezer and the freezer above the fridge) and made up a menu through the first week in July.  Wow, do we have food in the house!

* We ate at home all three meals or brown-bagged every meal but the picnic in the park and pot-luck at church on Wednesday night (we brought fruit or salad or both to those).

We also did a lot of cleaning out and general yard work (sweeping, mowing, weed whipping, weeding, and raking).  It's nice to see the yard shaping up and to have things getting cleaned out around here finally. We've had way too much clutter for way too long!

Check out Frugal Friday for more ideas and The Prudent Homemaker's Blog or Web Site  for plenty of inspiration!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Goals - Week of June 2, 2013

It's officially summer here at our house this week - the children are off as of Tuesday (they came home with full backpacks today) and we're heading to park after school with friends to celebrate the end of the year with a picnic and playing. Fortunately, we have some nice indoor parks nearby if the weather is wet, which is what it looks like it will be.

I'm hoping to have more time in the evenings now that I'm not scrambling to meet daily deadlines at school and work to get things done around the house and I'm taking Friday's off to spend some time with the children and get bigger projects done as well as hopefully having some time for rest and relaxation too.

Here's my goal list for this week

* Clean out my backpack and binders

* Cross 2 things off my to-do list

* Teach 4 classes
* Learn 2 new routines
* Submit my paperwork for May

* Swimming Lessons x 2
* Picnic at the park with friends 
* Family Night: Put together Summer "Bucket List", Bonfire
* At home date night with John: Bonfire and Apple Crisp

* Finish edging back flower bed
* Clean out children's rooms (supervise them doing this)
* Finish cleaning out our bedroom
* Drop off old uniforms for the uniform swap at school
* Put together idea board for our "office in a closet" that we're going to install later this summer
* Update budget book and savings charts
* Purchase and put in rest of vegetables (the ones I don't start from seed, like tomatoes)

* Continue with my Memory Work - I'm so behind on this!
* Finish photo albums from our former church (these are almost done, I just need to finish)
* Update my prayer journal
* Finish the last of our church transfer paperwork
* Write letter to our Compassion child
* Bible Study Wednesday night and Saturday morning, Mid-Week Worship on Wednesday

* IKEA trip with my best friend (she's buying a few things and I'm gathering ideas!) after Bible Study
* Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night

What are you up to this week?

Menu Plan Monday - June Pantry Challenge 2013 Week 1

John and I decided that we needed to do another pantry challenge - especially if we're going to eat up everything in the freezers before we start having to re-stock!  I inventoried the freezers - the small chest freezer we have (it's about the size of a standard electric clothes dryer) and the one on top of our fridge - and heartily agreed!  We have a ton of meat - very little fruit and veg, but a few things - that needs to be eaten.

So, for the month of June we're dropping our grocery/toiletry/paper product/etc. budget to $20/wk or $80 for the whole month.  We're  putting the other $40 from these first two weeks toward our CSA for next year.  Starting in May 2014 our budget will have only $20/week for this part of our budget so we need to get into practice now.  Right now, the plan is to go to $15/wk in July with the other $5 of the $20 going to our CSA.  We'll see how we're doing and adjust then!

So I went to the store on Sunday instead of my usual Saturday with my $20, a few store coupons and a list of a few things that were on sale. I missed the $0.99/lb peaches the week before but there were a few deals to be had!  Here's what I bought:

Total spent at 2 stores: $18.46
Total into our bulk meat purchase fund: $1.54

Here's how I spent that $18.46:

Store #1:
Mission Tortillas Burrito Size 8ct  B1G1 w/store coupon: 2 @ $2.87
2.59lbs Fuji Apples (5 apples) @ $1.28/lb = $3.32
Bunch Radishes $0.50
2lbs Yellow Onions $1.79
Cantaloupe $2
Total Store #1: $10.48

Store #2:
Cucumber $0.50
2 Fresh Express Spinach @ 2/$3 = $3
1lb Strawberries @ $2.50
18ct Large Eggs $1.98 with store coupon
Total Store #2: $7.98

Here's our menu for this week - all of the meat and the soups are coming from our freezers:

Sunday, June 2:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: At Church
   Snack: Cut Veggies
   Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Crescent Rolls, and Strawberry-Apple-Banana Salad

Monday, June 3:
   Breakfast: Yogurt with Bananas
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Shrimp Stir Fry with Rice, Pineapple-Strawberry-Mandarin Orange Salad

Tuesday, June 4:
   Breakfast: Waffles with Strawberries and Walnuts
   Lunch: Picnic at the Park with Friends (last day of school): Bring Cut Veggies and Dip
   Snack: Pretzels
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread Sticks, Strawberry-Pineapple-Banana Salad

Wednesday, June 5:
   Breakfast: Leftover Waffles
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: At Church: Bring a Tossed Salad

Thursday, June 6:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Salad with Salmon, Strawberries and Mandarin Oranges

Friday, June 7:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Orange Wedges
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Chicken Barley Soup, Homemade French Bread, Apple-Pear-Melon Salad

Saturday, June 8:
   Breakfast: At Bible Study
   Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches, Cut Veggies
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Grilled Pork Chops and Potatoes, Golden Beets, Melon

I sat down this last weekend and made up a menu for all of June and part of July and only barely touched the meat in our deep freeze. I did manage to almost completely clean out the upstairs freezer with the menu so hopefully we'll have some room for things as we get our CSA and decide on a bulk meat purchase.  We're thinking our bulk meat purchase is going to be smaller - both due to quality of meat (we'll need less if it's good quality) and that we just can't store the sheer volume of meat that we had been contemplating buying.  I'm also thinking of delving into canning this summer - tomato sauce, salsa and pizza sauce mostly, which I've been freezing before but most likely won't have room for in the freezer this summer.  A friend offered to loan me her pressure canner until I decide if I want to buy my own, which will make it fairly inexpensive to try.  We'll just have to see what the summer brings!

My question for you all:  What do you do with extra zucchini and other summer squash?  I'm going to need some ideas!  Thanks!

What are you eating this week?