Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Work, Home and Family - "God, our maker, Does Provide...."

One of the things that is very frightening to me about our upcoming Internship Year is how on earth we're going to make ends meet financially.  We are SO VERY GRATEFUL for this season of "practice" and getting ready and being prepared. 

I have always believed that God really and truly does provide for what we need. 

This summer I have redoubled my efforts as a homemaker as well as a wife, mother and all the other hats I wear to make sure that we are truly good stewards of what we have been provided with.  This year that includes making sure we eat, preserve or otherwise use all the fresh food that we are granted, no matter how it comes to us.  I know that I will need to do this so we have enough to eat in the future and I want to make my mistakes now, while I have wiggle room, rather than when I don't have an extra nickel to spare!

As I was shredding zucchini by hand this week to make zucchini bread (I don't have a whole lot of kitchen gadgets and strong arms are a good thing!), I started singing this hymn:

 
Come, You Thankful People, Come
Text by Henry Alford
Tune by George J. Elvey
 
Come, you thankful people, come;
Raise the song of harvest home.
All is safely gathered in
Ere the winter storms begin.
God, our maker, does provide
For our wants to be supplied.
Come to God's own temple, come,
Raise the song of harvest home.
 
All the world is God's own field,
Fruit unto His praise to yield.
Wheat and tares together sown,
Unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade, and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear.
Lord of harvest, grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.
 
For the Lord our God shall come
And shall take His harvest home.
From His field shall in that day
All offenses purge away.
Give His angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast,
But the fruitful ears to store
In His garner ever more.
 
Even so, Lord, quickly come
To Your final harvest home.
Gather all Your people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified,
In Your garner to abide.
Come, with all Your angels, come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
 
 
What a wonderful reminder that our Heavenly Father provides everything we need - not always what we want, though He does provide us with some of that too!  I am so very, very blessed by what I have.  And in turn, I need to respond by being a good steward.   A steward is a caretaker - someone who cares for the things owned by another.  Since the Lord is the owner of everything, it means we are the stewards of what we "own" in this earthly life.
 
In trying to be a good steward of what we have been given, I have been making more of an effort to blanch and freeze what we won't eat in a week and cook with what we have, rather than what just sounds good that day.  
 
 So far this summer I've frozen:
 
* 4 meals of cabbage rolls
* 4 meals of peas
* 3 meals of broccoli
* 2 meals of zucchini-potato pancakes
* 2 meals of green beans
 
I have also this summer:
 
* dried basil, oregano, sage, dill, and cilantro for cooking with during the year
* dried mint leaves for herbal tea
* made mango salsa (we ate some, but some went in the freezer for later)
* made mango Popsicles
* made mango sorbet
* made 2 jars of pickled beets (for my dad!)
 
I have also made arrangements to borrow a canner and hope to can tomato sauce later this summer. 
 
I often hear from Mom's who work outside of the home that they don't have time to cook and preserve.  I usually tell them that they need to change what they're cooking if that's the case. 
 
Meals don't have to be elaborate and the crock pot is often my best friend during the school year!  I usually blanch and freeze when I'm making dinner, when I'm already using the stove and working in the kitchen. The longest part of blanching and freezing is boiling the water so it works out well.  Canning takes more time but you don't have to do it every day and you don't have to do a lot at one time either. 
 
I usually make soup, stew or roasts in the crock pot and freeze the leftovers for both lunches and future dinners (if you have a larger family, this might not work as well, but for our family of 4 it works great!).  I can usually get dinner that night, two lunches and another dinner out of one crock pot meal.  Sometimes I can get even more meals, depending on what a pair things with.
 
Remember you don't have to cook a Thanksgiving style dinner every night and using your resources that you have already been provided with may just be a healthier and cheaper option too!
 
The Lord really and truly does provide for us and we just need to respond accordingly. 
 
How are you wisely using all that the Lord has provided for you this summer?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Goals for the Week of July 28th, 2013

Last week was definitely NOT the week I had envisioned it would be.  So here I am with a partially working new computer and a very frustrated self!  Blech.

Here's what's on tap for this week:

Work:
* Finish assignments for Unit 1.
* Finalize hiring of my Teaching Assistant.

School:
* Meet with my advisor.
* Do one thing on my dissertation to-do list.
* Finally finish the proposal I've been working on.

Jazzercise:
* Teach 3 classes this week.
* Learn 3 new routines.
* Submit my July paperwork.

Family:
* Swimming Lessons.
* Piano Lessons.
* Send in registration for fall swimming lessons, dance lessons and Sunday school.
* Family Night: Movie in the Park (our local parks and recreational service shows an outdoor movie a couple times a summer for free).
* At Home Date Night: We're hoping to do a bonfire in our fire pit. If it's raining, we'll put together a puzzle together.
* Mail a box of goodies to my parents.
* Mail birthday cards to my MIL.
* Work on our afternoon and evening routines again - we let these fall by the way again.

Home:
* Finish cleaning out the children's bedrooms (we had made good progress and then stopped).
* Finish weeding and mulching the bed around the patio.
* Finish setting up my new computer (this has been a trick and a half!)
* Blanch and freeze cabbage.
* Blanch and freeze green beans.
* Make and freeze 2 loaves of zucchini bread.
* Make granola.

Faith/Church/Ministry:
* Proofread John's sermon for this week.
* Visit the congregation John will be preaching at in 2 weeks.
* Update prayer book again.
* Select new scripture to memorize.
* Final return of items to our former congregation.

Personal:
* Get my hair cut.
* Get to bed on time!!!! (This has been a read struggle for me of late.)
* Use my free coffee coupon for a free cup of coffee on my Birthday.
* Finalize my goals for this coming year (starting with my Birthday on Friday).

What are you up to this week? Visit Money Saving Mom to share!

Menu Plan, er, Tuesday - Week of July 28th 2013

No photo to start out this week since my other computer died and I haven't managed to upload my photos to the new one yet. Bummer that, since I even took some nice new photos now that my camera has a new battery and all that.  Next week...Lord willing, of course!
You're going to see a lot of two things this week: Zucchini and Yogurt. 

I got a really good deal on yogurt this last week at the store (and I'm going to try my hand at making homemade yogurt in the crock-pot).  Our zucchini plant is going bananas - we have picked 14 zucchini in the last week or so - and we got 4 more through our CSA last week.  The two from the CSA were HUGE so we stuffed those and I'm working on more zucchini bread (some to freeze) and a few other things to do with the zucchini (bars and a few other things are on the menu too).  Too bad that frozen zucchini gets mushy or I'd slice a bunch and freeze it. 

We also got a LOT of cabbage - apparently a number of our fellow CSA members don't like it - so we got two heads of cabbage this week.  Since we have plenty of cabbage rolls in the freezer now from previous weeks, I'm shredding and blanching those to freeze for stir fry and soups this winter.  I will make coleslaw to take to the pot luck at church on Wednesday too.

So, without further ado, here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, July 28:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes and Fruit
   Snack: Zucchini Bread
   Dinner: Leftovers

Monday, July 29:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Zucchini Bread
   Snack: Zucchini Bread
   Dinner: Stuffed Zucchini, Cornbread, Apple-Plum-Banana Salad

Tuesday, July 30:
   Breakfast: Zucchini Bread and Yogurt
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Veggie Stir Fry, Rice, Cantaloupe

Wednesday, July 31:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Banana-Peanut Butter Smoothies, No-Bake Energy Bites
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Pot Luck at Church: Bring Pineapple Cole Slaw and Sliced Cantaloupe

Thursday, August 1 (My MIL's Birthday!):
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Apples
   Lunch: Leftover Coleslaw, Zucchini Bread
   Snack: Yogurt and No-Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: Minestrone Soup, Irish Soda Bread, Cantaloupe-Plum-Banana Salad

Friday, August 2: My Birthday!
  Breakfast: Pancakes with Applesauce and Raspberries
  Lunch: Leftover Minestrone Soup, Cantaloupe
  Snack: Yogurt and No-Bake Energy Bites
  Dinner: Salad with Steak, Mandarin Oranges and Craisins
  Movie in the Park Snack: Popcorn, Zucchini Bars

Saturday, August 3:
   Breakfast: Raspberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Baked Eggs (my best friend is coming over)
   Lunch: Salad with Salmon
   Snack: Zucchini Bars
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks
   Date Night Dessert: Rhubarb Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

What are you eating this week?

Of new computers, locked thigh muscles and other "fun" things

Well, it's been quite the week... and I totally did not mean to leave you all hanging for over a week!

My week (and slightly more) in a nutshell:

* My computer completely bit the dust.

* I managed to do something that locked a rather important muscle in my right thigh.

* I somehow managed to develop sciatica (directly related to the locked muscle).

* Our daycare lady had to have a cyst removed from her foot and then be off of it for an entire week.

* It rained for 5 straight days.

* John strained his hamstring to the point where it swelled up like a softball.

* A local Pastor had a family emergency and John had to fill in at the last minute for two services.  While we were so thankful we could help, there went our one "free" weekend all summer!

* Our clothes washer decided to over-fill itself, spilling water everywhere (fortunately the laundry room isn't finished and has a floor drain).

On the up side:

* A physical therapist friend helped me unlock the muscle for free and in about 15 minutes too.  Now it's just SUPER sore.

* I now have a new computer (which is apparently incompatible with our modem, sigh).

* We got to meet some lovely people at the church John filled in at.  And they have a beautiful Sanctuary and a wonderful accompanist.

* I don't think our laundry room floor has ever been this clean.

* Friends welcomed a brand new baby girl to their family on Wednesday last week (and dang, is she a cutie!).  She has LOTS of dark hair and her older brother (age 2) is completely smitten!

* Another friend announced her engagement - we're SO happy for her (they're a great couple and so happy together).

* And our zucchini and tomato plants are going gangbusters.

* I finally caught up on my "for fun" reading.

* And I get to spend some extra time with the kiddos.

* Another friend celebrated her 60th Birthday with a surprise party - super fun!

* We have Vacation Bible School coming up next week and the kids are super excited.

Either way, I'm ready for a slightly calmer week this week!

I'm hoping to get a couple of posts up today or tomorrow and then back to something resembling a regular schedule soon. 

Thanks for your patience!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Super Savings Saturday - $17.33 Shopping Trip, Garden Produce and our CSA Share

We're still trying to figure out this grocery budget thing.  We decided to do $2000 for the entire year for groceries/toiletries/paper products - or $400 for the CSA and $1600 for everything else - or $30.75 per week.  We have 5 1/2 months left this year to try it out so we decided that's what we'd for the rest of the year.  We also put together a list of things we'd like to stockpile before our internship year - things we use regularly and often run out of.  We're hoping to save up the "extras" after shopping each week and stock up of those things.  I'm hoping to do a separate post on those items and our "buy" prices for those items later this week.  We get paid every 2 weeks so we decided to implement this this week (the beginning of a 2 week cycle) and see how we do with it.

I'm hoping to have this grocery budget thing worked out by the end of the 2013 year so we have 4 months of full "practice" before we have to do this "for real".  I'm so grateful we have that practice time! I'm not sure how we'd manage if we didn't!  I'm also concerned about how my illnesses will pan out with this so we'll see about that too. Hopefully we can make all this work without major incident.

Last week (when I totally forgot to post!) we got 10 mangoes for $3.99 (or 39 cents each), 2.3 lbs of peaches for $0.99/lb, 1.6lbs of nectarines for $0.99/lb and a peck of new potatoes at the farmer's market for $3.  That was our shopping for a total of $10.86.  With that and our CSA we had plenty to eat!

Here's our CSA box for this week:



We received (clockwise from top left): Kale, garlic, golden beets, broccoli, 2 zucchini, raspberries, mixed lettuce, cucumber, green onions, one kholrhabi and (in the middle) green beans and peas.  

We also picked 3 of these from our own garden this week:


That's a yellow zucchini! And we have LOTS more where that came from that will be coming soon!

Our grocery trip netted us this (please ignore my messy table in the background!):


John was a sweetie since I was having some very nasty medical issues and went to one store for us this week:

Here's the run-down:

All 4x Ultra Free Laundry Detergent $3.99 - $1 - $1 (doubled coupon) = $1.99
Clear Value 48oz Vegetable Oil $2.59
Kellogg's Crispix Cereal $2.50 - $1(half of doubled coupon) - $0.50(store coupon) = $1.00
Kellogg's Froot Loops Cereal  $2.50 - $1(half of doubled coupon) - $0.50 (store coupon) = $1.00
Kellogg's Scooby Doo Cereal $2.50 - $0.70 - $0.70 (doubled coupon) - $0.50 (store coupon) = $0.60
Kellogg's Crispix Cereal $2.50 - $0.50 (store coupon) = $2
Scott Bath Tissue 8 count Double Roll $6.49 - $1.01 - $0.75 - $0.75(doubled coupon) = $3.98
1.32lbs Peaches @ $0.88/lb = $1.16
1.67lbs Nectarines @ $0.88/lb = $1.47
1 dozen Large Grade A Eggs $1.99 - $0.50 - $0.50 (doubled coupon) = $0.99

Total including $0.55 cents in sales tax on the TP and the laundry detergent: $17.33
Total Saved According to the receipt: $23.69 (58%)

So with our budget of $30.75 for the week we have $13.42 toward a stock-up trip at some time in the future.

Come back on Monday to see what we're eating! And I'm hoping to post on Wednesday about how we're hoping to stock up and what things we'll be stock up on.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Goals - Week of July 14, 2013

Wow, did that week go fast!  Zip - gone. 

We had a fabulous weekend.  It was filled with friends, good food and relaxation.  Why can't every weekend be like that?  Something to work on I guess.

Here was my to-do list for last week and what I actually got done"

Work:
* Clean out 1 drawer in my filing cabinet  only partly got this done
* Outline course for fall
* Put together equipment list and turn in for order
* Clean out and answer my email in-box


School:
* Meet with my committee
* Draft of proposal  didn't even look at this!
* Finish draft of paper with a colleague

Jazzercise:
* Teach 3 classes this week
* Learn 2 new routines

* Sign up for CPR renewal  I'm struggling to find a class that meets at a time I can actually go.

Family:
* Missy Doctor Appointment Monday
* Swimming Lessons Monday
* Piano Lessons Wednesday

* Write Thank You Notes to my in-laws for their trip up here
* At-home Date Night Thursday
* Family Night Friday
* Have John's Seminary Colleagues over for dinner Saturday


Home:
* Clean out our furnace room  We finally took the huge pile of things to be donated to the thrift store which cleaned up a huge part of that room but we have a loooong way to go!
* Finish cleaning out our bedroom
* Write a thank you note to our friends who hosted the 4th of July BBQ we attended
* Weed around the patio and the walkway between the house and garage

* Catch up my ironing (why does this always seem to be on the list!???!)  made some progress but not much. Why can't everything just be perma-press? Sigh.

Faith/Church/Ministry
* Write our Compassion International Child  Got a letter half done but I need to finish it.
* Update my prayer journal
* Proofread John's sermon for Sunday
* Iron John's Ecclesiastical robes for Sunday
* Pray for our former congregation and the congregation John is preaching at on Sunday


Personal:
* Go to bed on time each night this week  I only did this about half the time.
* Soak my feet and paint my toenails

It was a rather quiet week so I actually got quite a bit done. I also decided that I was going to focus on doing one thing at work or school and one thing at home per day rather than trying to get a zillion and one things done at a time.  That seemed to work really well!
Here's this week's list:

Work:
* Activities plan for Unit 1
* Finish cleaning out the drawer
* Finalize arrangements for a TA

School:
* Send off the paper draft
* Bug my adviser :)
* Attack that proposal

Jazzercise:
* Teach 2 times
* Learn 2 new routines
* Finally get signed up for CPR Renewal

Family:
* Swimming Monday
* Piano Lessons Wednesday
* Family Night:
* Date Night at Home: Bonfire and Dessert

Household:
* Clean out 25 things
* Mulch the flower bed around the patio
* Write thank you notes
* Finish catching up the ironing

Faith/Church/Ministry:
* Finish the letter to our Compassion child
* Proofread John's Sermon for Wednesday night
* Make sure that everything that belonged to our former congregation has been returned (keys, choir folders, etc.)
* Pray for the congregation John is preaching at this week
* Order John 3 more clerical shirts

Personal:
* GET TO BED ON TIME!!! Ugh.
* Soak my feet and paint my toenails

What are you up to this week?   Visit to Money Saving Mom to share.

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 14, 2013

Cheese Pizza from the campfire a few weeks ago. Yummy!
We started off this week with a busy, fun, and generally relaxing Sunday - if busy and relaxing can go together Sunday was definitely the day!   It was a wonderful day and I'm so glad we had a chance to have that day in the middle of what seems like another frantic race to somewhere.    Good memories for sure!

We have a huge abundance of veggies this week and peaches, plums, and mangoes were on sale and with the pineapple we had from last week we have lots of fruit and veggies for our meals this week!

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, July 14:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: At Church and then at a City function
   Snack: Snow Cones at the City Function
   Dinner:  Leftovers
   Dessert: Pie at a Church Event

Monday, July 15:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Peaches and Almonds
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Chicken Divan, Fruit Salad

Tuesday, July 16:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Peaches
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Veggie Fried Rice, Fruit Salad

Wednesday, July 17:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Yogurt
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner; Pot Luck at Church: Bring a Fruit Salad  or a Tossed Salad

Thursday, July 18:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Salad with Salmon and Peaches

Friday, July 19:
   Breakfast: Pancake Sandwiches
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Grilled Chicken, Couscous, Purple Beets, Fruit Salad

Saturday, July 20:
   Breakfast: Peaches and Cream Coffee Cake
   Lunch: Salad with Chicken and Craisins
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
   Dessert: Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango

What are you eating this week?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Goals - Week of July 7, 2013

Since we're back to our "normal' routine around here - at least as much as we can be! - I thought I'd get back to posting my weekly goals.  I'm still hoping to graduate before summer is over, so that's on the agenda as well as writing a few other things.  Cleaning out and organizing and just plain getting things crossed off the to-do list - no matter what the "category" it's in -  is also on the list for this summer.

So with all that in mind, here's my to-do list for the week:

Work:
* Clean out 1 drawer in my filing cabinet
* Outline course for fall
* Put together equipment list and turn in for order
* Clean out and answer my email in-box

School:
* Meet with my committee
* Draft of proposal
* Finish draft of paper with a colleague

Jazzercise:
* Teach 3 classes this week
* Learn 2 new routines
* Sign up for CPR renewal

Family:
* Missy Doctor Appointment Monday
* Swimming Lessons Monday
* Piano Lessons Wednesday
* Write Thank You Notes to my in-laws for their trip up here
* At-home Date Night Thursday
* Family Night Friday
* Have John's Seminary Colleagues over for dinner Saturday

Home:
* Clean out our furnace room
* Finish cleaning out our bedroom
* Write a thank you note to our friends who hosted the 4th of July BBQ we attended
* Weed around the patio and the walkway between the house and garage
* Catch up my ironing (why does this always seem to be on the list!???!)

Faith/Church/Ministry
* Write our Compassion International Child
* Update my prayer journal
* Proofread John's sermon for Sunday
* Iron John's Ecclesiastical robes for Sunday
* Pray for our former congregation and the congregation John is preaching at on Sunday

Personal:
* Go to bed on time each night this week
* Soak my feet and paint my toenails

I'm not sure what we're doing this week for Family Night or our Date Night but we'll do something! :)   And we're definitely looking forward to having John's seminary classmates over for dinner.  They're great people and we're so glad we can bless them with a bit of "family" time while they're here at school alone a long way from their families.

What are you up to this week?  Visit Money Saving Mom to share and be inspired!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 7, 2013

Snacks from our camping trip - chips and popcorn! YUM!
With being on "vacation" and our 4th of July celebrating, I feel like all I've done the last two weeks is eat snack food!  I know we've eaten "real" food in there too, but that's what it feels like.  We're back to a more "normal" food pattern this week and our "normal" summer schedule.  Whew. I'm looking forward to that.

I'm blanching and freezing some peas this week - we have too many to eat at one time and we'll get more in our CSA box this week.  So, into the freezer they go!   We're planning our menu to use up broccoli, peas, purple beets and salad greens so that we make good use of what we have and eat healthy too.  We're having a couple of John's Seminary classmates over for dinner on Saturday so I'm making rhubarb cake and homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert and French bread for dinner to share with them. Yummy!  We'll probably send a loaf of French bread home with each of them as a gift because the recipe I use makes 4 loaves and we really have trouble eating 4 loaves before they start to mold, especially in the heat and humidity we currently have.  We'll eat two for dinner and then I'll send the other two home with our two guests.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, July 7:
   Breakfast: Leftover Rhubarb Crisp
   Lunch: Breakfast Tacos
   Snack: Leftover Rhubarb Crisp
   Dinner:  Chicken Divan, Melon-Strawberry-Blueberry Salad
   Baking: Sugar Cookies (to mail to Grandpa and Grandma), Granola

Monday, July 8:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Strawberries
   Lunch: Leftover Chicken Divan
   Snack: Yogurt with Blueberries and Granola
   Dinner: Pork Ribs, Purple Beets, Melon-Pineapple-Strawberry Salad

Tuesday, July 9:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Strawberries
   Lunch: Leftovers from the Freezer
   Snack: Cheese Stick
   Dinner:  Cabbage Rolls, Pineapple-Blueberry-Melon Salad

Wednesday, July 10:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Banana Peanut Butter Smoothies
   Lunch: Leftover Cabbage Rolls
   Snack: Yogurt with Blueberries and Granola
   Dinner: Potluck at Church: Bring Homemade Coleslaw

Thursday, July 11:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Pecans
   Lunch: Leftovers from the Freezer
   Snack: Cheese Stick
   Dinner: Shrimp Fried Rice, Melon and Pineapple

Friday, July 12:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Leftover Fried Rice
   Snack: Yogurt with Pineapple and Granola
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Tossed Salad
   Baking: French Bread

Saturday, July 13, Company for Dinner Tonight:
  Breakfast: Blueberry Buckle
  Lunch: Pasta Salad with Chicken and Craisins
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Roasted Whole Chicken, French Bread, Tossed Salad, Fruit Salad
  Dessert: Rhubarb Cake with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Frugal Things I Did the Last Two Weeks

While my roses really don't have anything to do with "frugal" (except that they are very easy to care for!), they make me very happy.  Enjoy!
Nothing like having to catch up again after being out of the ordinary for the last two weeks!

We're still working at cutting back our budget and ramping up our savings for Internship year and the following 6-12 months until Call.  We're currently at 10% of what we need. John started clapping when I told him that and I realized that I was getting pretty down about the whole thing - we have 11 more months to get the other 90% and it seems very daunting at best to me.  I'm so grateful that he shows me that we need to celebrate even the little victories!

We ate most of our meals at home with a few treats - two meals at my cousin's house, a lunch out with my in-laws (they paid) and two really yummy potluck dinners.  We were also treated to snacks after two different church services last week - lemon poppy seed bread at one place and chocolate-covered crisp rice treats at another.  Some of that cooking was at a campsite but we count that as "home" cooking anyway.  We've continued to water our garden and brown bag lunches.  All our "normal" stuff!

Here are some additional things we did in the last two weeks to help ramp up our frugal activities:

* Accepted a blouse for me from my cousin. She can't wear it anymore so she thought she'd pass it along.

* We were "paid" 5 quart jars of canned venison from the church John did pulpit supply at this last week.

* Took the children to the splash pad and the pool at the hotel my in-laws were staying at.

* Had my niece sleep over for a treat for my daughter.

* Worked from home 2 days to save on gas and distractions.

* Accepted free snacks (licorice, animal crackers, gummy candies, oyster crackers and Oreos) from my in-laws.

* Accepted a small bag of coffee beans from my mother-in-law - she had received them as a gift but doesn't have a coffee grinder and prefers to buy her coffee out rather than making it at home. I offered to grind the beans for her but she declined.  So I have a 1/2 lb bag of lovely gourmet coffee beans!

* Celebrated the 4th of July at a friend's house: they have a potluck bar-b-que each year and sparklers for the children.  We brought sliced watermelon.  Their house is across the street from the park where the city fireworks display is, so we all line up our lawn chairs and watch from there! Wonderful evening!

* Started experimenting with using a drying rack for drying some of our clothes.  We have an ordinance against a clothesline and I've never been fond of them anyway so a drying rack it is!   We'll see how it goes.  I'm trying to figure out if running the clothes through an extra spin cycle and rack drying is cheaper than using the dryer.

* Cleaned out the refrigerator and the pantry.  Made up my weekly menu based on what we have to use up!

* Downloaded several free books for my Kindle for PC

* Checked books on CD out from the library for the children to listen to while we were driving all over in the car.

* Visited a local attraction with my cousins when we were at their place.  We brought a picnic lunch and snacks and parking was free so we only had to pay admission.  Well worth the price and we had a great time!

* Dried herbs for the year - basil and dill this week.

* Added several things to our compost pile and worked on moving the white rock from our front flowerbeds to the side yard, where we use it as the yard itself - it gets almost no sun and is a large mass of weeds. Since it's such a small space - 24ft by 1 1/2 ft - it works fine and it's free.

* Went for hikes at the park, played board games and on the playground, and blew a lot of bubbles these last two weeks!

What frugal things did you do this week?

Check out Frugal Friday at Life As Mom and The Prudent Homemaker's Blog and Web Site for more inspiration!

Super Savings Saturday - $13.85 Shopping Trip

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July!   We certainly did!  Our celebration included time with my in-laws, who were visiting from out of state, a visit to the local splash pad, a bar-b-que with friends, sparklers, watching the city fireworks display (it was wonderful), swimming at the hotel pool where my in-laws were staying, lunch out and ice cream!  Whew!  My munchkins even had matching red-white-and-blue clothes from Grandma and our niece, who was also visiting, was able to wear one of my daughter's older dresses from Grandma so we had a red-white-and-blue trio!  Really nice!

I even have groceries left over from last week because my father-in-law decided to treat us to lunch out on Friday and their visit was shorter than we had originally planned.  Not so good that their visit was shorter but wonderful that we have food left. And wonderful that we got to visit for the time we did!  The watermelon we bought was bigger than we thought so it worked for both potlucks without having to use any of the other fruit!  I like that too.

Since I promised my grocery shopping photo from last week, here it is:


That was our shopping trip last week after our vacation (the $40-something one that ate up half our grocery budget for this month) but the photo doesn't include a can of olives, two gallons of milk and a container of heavy whipping cream (that I bought for making homemade ice cream this next week).

So what about this week?   Our CSA was wonderful this week and we received a cabbage, purple beets, kale, chives, peas, a single zucchini, radishes, cilantro, and bib lettuce. YUM!  I ended up not making the coleslaw this last week (we pick up our box on Thursday, so it was Wednesday this last week), so we'll make that this next week.  I'm loving this fresh produce!  We have fresh lettuce and rhubarb still in our garden to add to this.


That brings us to our $13.85 grocery trip today.  I went to one store and here is what I bought:


In one 10 minute shopping trip purchased:

10ct Mission Flour Tortilla 2 @ 2/$3 (store coupon) = $3
8oz Mixed Sweet Peppers 1 @ 2/$4 (store coupon) = $2
1.91lbs Red Plums @ $0.99/lb = $1.98
Smart Balance Butter Spread 2 @ $1.99 - $1 (coupon) = $2.98
32oz Store Brand Light Plain Yogurt $2.49 - $0.51 (store coupon) = $1.98

Total Spent = $13.85
Savings According to the Store Receipt: $8.78

I have a total of $21.81 for the rest of the month!

The only real problem I'm having with this tighter grocery budget is that I need to have a total of $25 before coupons in order to have my favorite store double coupons.  I had totally forgotten this today and I was hoping that I would get the Smart Balance for $1.98 for two (or basically one for free) with doubling my $1 off coupon.  No go. My "before" total was only $15.41 so that didn't work. I'm still doing okay but I was kind of counting on using double coupons to store free or close to free toiletries, laundry soap and a few other things so I need to re-think how I'm going to make this work. I guess that's my challenge going forward!

How was your shopping this week?

Come back on Monday to see what we're eating this week!  Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 5, 2013

In the Refiner's Fire - Pulpit Supply and My "New" Job

One of the most interesting things (in my opinion) about John being a part-time Seminary student is that he spends much more time eligible for Pulpit Supply before ordination than the average candidate does.

For the last 3 years we've had the privilege and blessing of going "up North" to my cousin's little country church on the Iron Range and leading worship.  We've had the privilege of him preaching at several churches here in the metro area during that same time frame - usually during summer when the regular Pastor wants time off and many of the retired clergy in the area (and there are a ton of those!) are also on vacation.  There are also several "seminary friendly" congregations that ask seminary students to come in and lead worship or preach from time to time to let them have practice, so to speak.  And as part of the preaching and worship classes at the seminary they are required to do a certain amount of Pulpit Supply.

For classes they are typically required 6 or so (I forget the actually number but it's less than 10) days.  In the last 3 years John has preached 18 times, including 2 funeral eulogies, and lead worship 7 times.  He will have 4 more opportunities this summer alone to preach and lead worship as well as another to just preach.  And before he heads into internship he will have a minimum of 18 more opportunities to preach and 4 to lead worship.

Now, he can't absolve sins or preside at communion yet but he can bless people and distribute communion.  And if he is with a dying person who wishes to be baptized (or, in the case of a child, who's parents with them to be baptized) he can do that too - if there is no access to an ordained clergy member.

They encourage him to wear his collar when he is out and about on seminary duties, so he can get used to having people react differently to him. And yes, they do!.

I love all the opportunities he receives, and by default our family receives too.  While it's nerve-wracking to attend worship at a different church where you know no one, it can be such a great blessing too.

I especially appreciate attending the small churches with the older congregations.

They are so excited to see the children - and often marvel at how "well behaved" they are.
They are so pleased that a "young 'Pastor'" would be interested in their congregation.
They have so many stories to share and histories to tell and skills and ideas.
I love watching the few "young" people in the congregation step up and take over - in one case a high school student who learned to play the organ specifically so there would be someone to play at worship!

The first one of these always  makes me grin inwardly - they don't know the "practice" we do at home, the repeated admonishments in the car on the way to worship, the pause before we leave the car to pray over Daddy and for the children's behavior.  And never mind the day we were doing Pulpit Supply and the children two pews behind us were literally screaming and throwing toy cars at each other - any children would seem "well behaved" in comparison! :)

This last weekend there was a single "younger" couple at one of the churches John led worship at.  They were about our age - more middle age than really young - with a young son who quickly rounded our children up after worship for a game of hop scotch on the sidewalk in front of the building.  The mom was the organist and pianist (not at the same time, of course) for the service, doing a marvelous job!

After worship she came up to me and gave me a hug.  She said "He did a great job - you must be so proud of him!" I get that often when we're "out and about" so I smiled and nodded. Then she said, "I'll pray for you too!  You're doing a great job too."

That caught me short.
And I thanked her for the prayers but honestly didn't know how to respond.

Prayers for me too?  Really?

This has always been John's gig.

He's the one in the spotlight and, in all honesty, he does do a great job of ministering.  He is a fantastic listener, is great at showing compassion and care to others and never relies on his own wisdom and strength for his sermons or anything else really.

This woman's comment made me realize that his "new" job as a soon-to-be Pastor means I have a "new" job too.

To minister to him so that he can minister to others.

I guess I've always known that, but I didn't really feel it until now.

He's always done such a good job of ministering to me through all my bouts of illness and stress and joy.  Now I need to step it up for him.  My meager efforts in the last few years just aren't going to cut it anymore.  I need to quit feeling so sorry for myself and step up to what God has called me to do right here in my own life, in my own family and in my own home.  

John's pretty easy to handle - he doesn't need much, honestly.  But he does need a wife who does the things she says she's going to do and can pick up the slack when she needs to.  John's current job requires call time and I've always resented it.  I need to quit that.  I need to make sure that things get done when I say I'm going to do them - within my control of course.  And I need to cut out the complaining. With his work situation going south this spring and getting ready for internship, he really doesn't need that too!

I've known that I need to do those things (and many, many  more!) but it hasn't hit me as truly important enough until now.

Talk about a refining fire.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Menu Plan "Monday" - Week of June 30, 2013 - Continuing the Challenge!!!

My Buddy making muffins one day - he's doing a great job!
So we're back from our "vacation"  - which included a couple of days camping, a couple of days at home and a couple of days "up North" with John preaching and leading worship at my cousin's now 3-point perish this weekend for Pulpit Supply!  Why do I always feel I need a break when I get back from "vacation". I've also really decided that it's not a vacation if I have to cook - just sayin'! :)  

In any case, we had a WONDERFUL TIME and it was so nice to see my cousin and her family.

We are sticking with our $20/wk grocery budget for the month of July.  We had planned to go down to first $15 per week with $5 going toward our CSA share for next year and then calculated that it would actually be $12 per week with $8 to the CSA (the price is going up next year).  With grocery prices the way they are, I'm not quite comfortable doing that yet so we're sticking with the $20/wk for now and will take the remaining $80 budgeted for this month toward our CSA instead. With $40 from last month we have $120 toward our CSA.  Maybe after we've been at $20 for a while I can figure out how to get it even lower - since we have next year covered it's the following year we'll need to cover.

In our CSA last weekend we got kale, rhubarb, garlic scapes, strawberries, peas, lettuce, dill, cilantro, and broccoli.  I don't have enough of anything to blanch and freeze yet (unless we don't eat the broccoli before it starts to go limp) so I'm waiting to start that.  Last year we had an overabundance of beets and peas so we'll see what we get this year.  We'll probably have to buy a few things at the Farmer's Market to make it all work out - darn those kids that grow and eat more food! :)  - but we'll make it work!

So we started the month with $80 for groceries for the month and spent $18.12 at one store and $26.22 at the other, so we have $35.66 for the rest of the month, or approximately $11 per week.   Why did I spend so much this week?  Well, my in-laws are coming up for the 4th and that means feeding teenagers for 2 days!  I'm hoping that we have some food leftover, but I'm not very optimistic. :)  I also bought chicken for $0.79/lb so I stocked up on enough for at least 4 meals (or two while my in-laws are here!).    So we have chicken in the freezer again, a few staples and a ton of fruit!  Hopefully that will hold everyone.  I'll post a photo this weekend when I get a chance to upload all the photos from my camera for this last week (yep - I finally bought a new battery).

We were also "paid" with 5 quart jars of canned venison by one of the church members at my cousin's church this weekend.  We love venison and were very grateful for this gift!  Thank you Mr W!  We really appreciate it!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, June 30:
   Breakfast; Waffles with Oranges
   Lunch: At my Cousin's (Fish and Chips and Fruit - yum!)
   Snack: Leftover chips
   Dinner: PB&J Sandwiches, Plums

Monday, July 1:
   Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter and Bananas
   Lunch: Leftovers from the freezer
   Snack: Cheese sticks
   Dinner: Venison, Noodles, Strawberry-Raspberry-Apple Salad

Tuesday, July 2:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Cheese Sticks
   Dinner: Salad with Chicken, Strawberries and Blueberries

Wednesday, July 3:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
   Lunch: Sliced Apples with Peanut Butter, Carrot Sticks
   Snack: Cheese sticks
   Dinner: Pot Luck at Church: Bring Sliced Watermelon

Thursday, July 4:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Strawberries
   Late Lunch/Early Dinner:  BBQ Chicken Legs in the Crockpot, Chips, Pasta Salad, Homemade Coleslaw, Sliced Watermelon and Cantaloupe, Sugar Cookies with Sprinkles
   Late Dinner:  Ate a Friends for a 4th of July Party: Bring Popcorn Balls with 4th of July Sprinkles

Friday, July 5:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Strawberries and Bananas
   Lunch: Pulled Pork, Homemade Rolls, Leftover Pasta Salad and Coleslaw, Sliced Fruit
   Snack: Leftover Popcorn Balls
   Dinner: Oriental Chicken Wraps, Sliced Cantaloupe and Pineapple

Saturday, July 6:
   Breakfast: Buttermilk Crumble Coffeecake, Sliced Fruit
   Lunch: Salad with Salmon and Strawberries
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?