Saturday, August 31, 2013

Super Savings Saturday - September, Here We Come!!!

We have been having a couple of full and busy weeks here - the twins started 3rd grade, my parents are visiting, three of us caught some kind of fever bug (thankfully, short-lived!), and the semester starts for John and I next week.  Wheee!!!

The good thing about having a CSA this time of year is that we've gotten a TON of veggies.  Here is our CSA two weeks ago:


There was (clockwise from bottom left): two HUGE tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, corn, potatoes, onions, garlic, cherry, grape and pear tomatoes, green beans and in the middle we had spaghetti squash, green and yellow bell peppers and chili peppers.

This week was another BIG box - big enough that we needed two photos! - with the following inside:

 
This photo clockwise from bottom left: kale, spaghetti squash, mint, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, parsley and, in the middle, onions.

 
This photo was what didn't fit on the stove the first time around. :)   Here we have, left to right, broccoli, yellow bell peppers, chili peppers, and Swiss chard.
 
 
We also have at the moment 12 full-sized tomatoes, 12 yellow zucchini, and 4 green bell peppers from our garden.  Whew.  That doesn't include what we've eaten from the tomatoes, peppers and zucchini that we've eaten in the last two weeks!  My zucchini plant can quit any time it likes now!
As far as groceries, I have bought 3 gallons of milk, a pint of raspberries, a bag of buns, and a tub of butter.  And a dozen doughnuts for the first day of school. That's it.  Yes, I'm a bad Mom and load my children up on sugar before sending them to their first day of school! Teachers love me. :)  I spent right around $25 for all of that.
 
My parents have taken us out to eat several times - my Dad likes to go out to eat since he hadn't been able to for so long and we're happy to go along!   

My parents bought us cherries, grapes, some oranges and English muffins.  Dad also bought summer sausage, which he loves (and so does John).   

With 4 adults in the house, you would think we'd have to buy way more groceries.  I think this is just an indication that we have LOTS of food and that the gardens are going gangbusters.   We are truly very blessed!

Now that we're heading into September, we're looking forward to more produce - our pumpkins are just starting to turn, the butternut squash is almost ready to pick and the acorn squash are not too far behind.   I planted more lettuce for fall and hopefully it will do well and we'll have lettuce for a while this fall - I'm hoping our weird spring and summer means that we have a longer fall.

Once my parents leave, we'll move into starting our stockpile for the next two years with paper products and looking for long-keeping toiletries and cleaning supplies.   In the spring we'll start working on food storage for while we're in internship. 

September is a time of new beginnings again as school starts for all of us and we get back into a routine.  We're looking forward to it! 

It may be quiet around here for the next week or so as we get into our new routine and my parents visit.  If so, please hang tight and I'll be back soon.

Have a great start to your September!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Menu Plan Monday and Our Weekly Shopping Trip

We're getting ready for company here - and we're SO excited!  My Dad is healthy enough that my parents can come for a visit and we're absolutely thrilled that they're coming up for the first day of 3rd grade - which is next week already.   I know some places have already started school, but we live in a "vacation and farming" state, where school typically doesn't start until after Labor Day.  Between the my folks coming and school starting, I feel like we have a very full plate this week!

We got our CSA this week and have a few "new" things this week.  Here's the photo:

Clockwise from upper left: mint, broccoli, green beans, cucumbers, cauliflower, corn, onions, garlic, turnips, cabbage and, in the middle: potatoes and tomatoes.  Bounty for sure!
I spent $16 and change at the grocery store this week.  I had $14 and change from last week and then had two extra dollars in my purse from something (no idea what!) so I splurged on two limes and a bit of ginger root for a recipe I wanted to try this week.  Here's the photo of what I bought:
 
 
I bought 3lbs of apples, a pound and a half of plums, one large bunch romaine lettuce, two limes, a bit of ginger root, brown sugar, flour, two pints of blueberries and a bag of ground coriander seed.  The pasta was a damaged box on way markdown so that was a deal and will be perfect in Minestrone soup next week while our company is here.
 
So, with everything we have in our refrigerator, freezer and cupboards, here's what we're eating this week:
 
 
Sunday, August 18:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Ham Sandwiches, Carrot sticks, Tomatoes, and Plums
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Thai Crab Cakes, Corn on the Cob, Apple-Watermelon-Blueberry Salad
 
Monday, August 19:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Waffles with Blueberries and Almonds
   Snack: No-Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: Spaghetti with Vegetable-Tomato Sauce, Minty Watermelon Cucumber Salad
 
Tuesday, August 20:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Blueberries
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Baked White Fish, Kohlrabi, Couscous, Watermelon-Plum-Blueberry Salad
 
 
Wednesday, August 21:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Blueberries
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: No-Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: Ham Sandwiches, Cut Veggies, Sliced Apples
 
Thursday, August 22:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Applesauce
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner:  Baked Chicken, Broccoli-Cauliflower Salad, Apple-Blueberry-Plum Salad
 
Friday, August 23:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: No-Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: Easy Mediterranean Chicken, Rice, Sliced Apples and Plums
 
Saturday, August 24:
   Breakfast: Buttermilk Coffee Cake
   Lunch: Soup from the Freezer, Tossed Salad
   Snack: Leftover Coffee Cake
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks
   Dessert: Rhubarb Crisp
 
What are you eating this week?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Frugal Things We Did These Last Two Weeks


Okay, so not the best photo - very blurry, ugh - but you can see how big our zucchini are.  The day before they're too small to pick and then - zip! - they're huge!  We've been picking zucchini and tomatoes in abundance these last two weeks.  Good thing there are a lot of zucchini recipes and that zucchini bread and minestrone soup freeze well! :)  And good thing that Buddy loves tomatoes!

Additionally, we've been making sure we're cooking and eating or blanching and freezing what we have from our CSA so we don't waste the food.  We've blanched and frozen green beans, peas, and cabbage these last two weeks.  We also had blueberries that were starting to look a little iffy so I froze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then bagged them to use in smoothies and baking later this fall and winter.

We weeded and weeded and watered and watered.  We don't water the grass but we have lots of flower beds and the vegetables.   We also moved rock from one flower bed to along the side of the house for better drainage and keeping the weeds down in that tiny part of the yard.

I mended two pairs of pants for my son.

I worked from home for two weeks to save on gas and distractions and to save from paying the babysitter to pick up the children from Vacation Bible School, which would have been difficult for her anyway since she had just had foot surgery.

I taught some extra Jazzercise classes - not only earned some extra money but helped out a friend who was unable to teach for a few days due to a family emergency.

Re-did the current budget to get us closer to our savings needs for Internship - we are currently at 15% of what we need for our first savings goal and 10% of what we need total.

We have worked harder at turning off the lights when we're not needing them, unplugging electronics when they're not going to be used, and line drying the clothes.  I'm not too happy with our current line-drying situation but I'm hoping to work on that this week.  I'm hoping to cut our electricity bill by 50% by the time we get to Internship.

Did some research about turning some work I do on the side into a real business.  If this pans out, I'll write more at that point.

Checked several books and movies out of the library.

Downloaded several free books for my free Kindle for PC app.

Used back-to-school sales to finish purchasing school items for the children.  We're all set and I'm astounded that I spent less on school supplies than I was planning to spend!  I even bought extra crayons, markers and glue sticks for second semester, when the stuff from first semester seems to have run out.

Picked flowers from my yard for decorating our house - my zinnias and my roses are going gangbusters right now!

Had an at-home date night with a bonfire in the backyard and marshmallows.  We had a great time talking and enjoying the lovely evening.

Our biggest thing these last two weeks isn't exactly frugal, except that we paid cash.  We bought a new-to-us car!  My old sedan is 14 years old and was getting close to needing some major and expensive repairs.  We got an awesome deal and now I don't have to worry about my car breaking down on the way to and from work each day.  We did this by paying ourselves the car payments each month after our last car was paid off 5 years ago.  Since we already had the payments in the budget, it was already a planned expense and it gave us enough to pay cash for a new-to-us car this weekend.  We pick up our car on Tuesday this week and we're very excited about it! 

What have you done this week?  Check out The Prudent Homemaker's Blog and Web site for more ideas and inspiration!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Goals - Week of August 11th, 2013

Sorry this is up so late - we got home from VBS waaaayyyy later last night than I thought, and I had to finish the post! 

Anyway, here's the recap from last week:

Work:
* Edit the packet for major project 1.
* Optional: Start outlining Unit 2

School:
* Schedule meeting with my committee
* Do one thing on my dissertation to-do list
* Finally finish this proposal (REALLY)


Jazzercise:
* Teach 3 times this week
* Learn 2 new routines
* Attend CPR Renewal class and send in my paperwork afterward


Family:
* Swimming Lessons
* Family Night
* Our 15th Wedding Anniversary!  (I can't believe it's been that long already!)
* Date out on Friday night to celebrate our 15th Anniversary


Home:
* Finally finish up those kids bedrooms  Almost done - not quite, but really close.
* Weed and remove rock from the rest of the front flower bed (won't get this completely done but I'm going to work on it).  I got a bit done but not much.
* Blanch and freeze produce as necessary
* Make granola
* Clean out 7 things from the house


Worship/Church/Faith:
* Vacation Bible School
* Redo my daily devotional time
* Write our Compassion International Child


Personal:
* Get to bed on time!!! (I desperately need to work on this one!)  No comment on this one. :)
* Get my hair cut
* Eliminate my right-before-bed snack (I got in this habit when I was pregnant 9 years ago and definitely don't need it anymore - especially if I get to bed on time!!!)  Did okay a couple of days this week but not overall.


It was a pretty good week but I still feel really behind after all the computer issues.  This week's list is really ambitious. Here it is:

Work:
* Finish daily outlines for Units 1 and 2

School:
* Continue to bug my advisor :)
* Submit proposal
* Do a "final" edit on the paper I'm writing with a colleague

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

Family:
* Swimming Lessons
* Project with Missy
* Project with Buddy
* Family Night
* At Home Date Night

Home:
* Finalize plans to buy a new-to-us car (I'll share this whole saga at a later date)
* Clean off my dresser
* Clean all the junk out from under our bed  (we have stuffed a few things under there that I don't think we need anymore!)
* Finish cleaning out the kids rooms
* Clean out the guest room so that my parents can visit (YAY!)
* Install at least one more roll of edging in the back yard
* Continue to work on that front flower bed

Faith/Ministry/Church:
* Vacation Bible School again - different church this week
* Proofread John's sermon (I love doing this!)

Personal:
* Get to bed on time
* No snacking right before bed
* Write a letter to Great Aunt Lily

Like I said, it's an ambitious list - I'm hoping to get most of it done and so far this week has been really productive. I'm hoping the rest of the week is too. 

My Dad is finding out today when they can come up to visit - we're all hoping it's soon!  We miss them so much!   I'm trying to get a whole bunch of stuff crossed off my to-do list before they come so I can just spend as much time as I can with them, even though the semester is just starting for all of us. The start and end of the semester are the busiest times, so I'm hoping to have things at least caught up at home so I can coast with that for a while.

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

Monday, August 12, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of August 11, 2013

I'm still trying to type "July" at the top of these posts. Sheesh.

Our little garden in the backyard is starting to produce in full force now - tomatoes and peppers and it even looks like we might have a butternut squash sometime soon too. YUM!!!

Here was my new-to-us recipe for last week.  You can find the recipe here.  It was SUPER tasty and we all just loved it.  Into the recipe box it went!  I used crumbled, dried rosemary rather than fresh since that was what I had on hand and I ended up sprinkling a little bit of cheddar in with the Parmesan since I didn't have quite enough of the Parmesan.  Next time, we'll try it with just the Parmesan. I'm guessing it will be even better!


We will definitely be making that again sometime!  I think I'm going to try a flourless zucchini brownie for some variety this week, though.

We had so many leftovers in the fridge - from our meal out and an unexpected 2nd meal at church this week that after getting home way later than we'd planned on Saturday evening we decided to push pizza back to Sunday.  The kids had learned about stuffed crust pizza and asked if I could make it for them so I splurged on whole-mozzarella cheese sticks so I could make them stuffed crust pizza this week.  YUM. 

I'm hoping to do a little baking since we have flour this week. John gave me a bag of really nice bread flour for an anniversary gift this week (love you honey!).  Since it came out of our "recreational" spending, you didn't see it in the grocery budget.  I do have white flour again, and I'm hoping to get some cookies and bread baked this week. We'll see how that goes. I don't have it on the menu (expect the French Bread), since I'm not sure when that will happen.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, August 11:
   Breakfast:  Cold Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Scrambled Eggs, Ham, Cinnamon Biscuit Twists, Blackberries and Blueberries
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Stuffed Crust Pizza, Melon

Monday, August 12:
   Breakfast:  Yogurt with Blackberries
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner:  At VBS

Tuesday, August 13:
    Breakfast: Blackberry Smoothies with Peanut Butter on Matzo
    Lunch: Sliced Apples, Cheese Sticks, Cut Veggies
    Snack: Yogurt with Granola
    Dinner: At VBS

Wednesday, August 14:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Blueberries and Almonds
   Lunch: Matzo with Cheese, Cut Veggies, Yogurt
   Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: At VBS

Thursday, August 15:
   Breakfast: Blueberry Pancakes
   Lunch: Carrot Sticks or Tomatoes, Yogurt with Granola, Sliced Apples
   Snack: Cheese stick
   Dinner: Grilled Chicken, Zucchini and Potatoes, Blueberry-Banana-Apple Salad

Friday, August 16:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: Eggplant Parmesan, Homemade French Bread, Blueberry-Banana-Mandarin Orange Salad

Saturday, August 17:
   Breakfast: Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothies
   Lunch: Barley Salad with Vegetables, French Bread
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza, Breadsticks, Fruit
   At home date night dessert: Rhubarb Crisp

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - 15 Years of (Happy) Marriage

So, this last week John and I celebrated 15 years of marriage.

I've known John for 20 years now.  Since we started "dating" a month after we met, we have been a couple now for 20 years.

It truly seems like it was just yesterday that we met at college and I was calling my friend and saying "There's this guy.  And he's so cute!"  :)

We've been through so much together and I'm so very, very grateful that I have had him to go through all these difficult things with.

A friend of mine who has now been divorced for a few years asked me what we were doing over Memorial Day 2012 and I said going to visit my in-laws and getting family photos taken to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.  She asked, in all seriousness, "How do people stay married that long? Do they just put up with a lot of s&$t?"

After a bit of discussion, since I was truly puzzled by what she meant, it was revealed that her ex-husband was mentally, verbally and emotionally abusive to her and their children.  She had put up with a lot that she never, ever should have and to put up with.  And I told her so.  I also told her that I told her that since I didn't know what it was like not to be happy in my marriage, I didn't know anything else, and it made it relatively easy to stay married..

It breaks my heart that so many people today do not know a good relationship from a bad one. 

John and I have been really and truly blessed to have parents who have been married through thick and thin for "eons" now - my parents for 55 years and his parents for 41 years  now.   We have seen how to make a good marriage continue working through thick and thin.  We have been so very blessed to never have been in abusive situations - physical or emotionally - nor have we watched our parents be in a relationship where that occurs. 

I love John with all my heart - really and truly - far, far more than I did the day I married him.

He has such a servant heart.

He works so very hard.

He really cares about those around him.

He loves me.

He loves our children.

He loves the Lord.

John making my coffee for me while we were camping.
Every morning while camping he gets up early-early to make my coffee for me.  He knows I "need" my morning coffee and is willing to make it for me.  He says he loves making it. I think he loves not having a cranky caffeine-deprived wife more! :)

Walking together with Buddy and Missy - hand in hand with the Buddy.
 He has always enjoyed being a Dad so very much.  And he is a "Daddy" in the full sense of the word!  The children are just as comfortable with him as with me and he is willing to run the children around, feed them dinner and all that "stuff" that Mom's usually do so I can work my odd ours.  He even chose to get up nights when the children were babies - partly since he knows now much sleep I need, and partly because he loved that uninterrupted snuggle time with the kiddos. Watching him be such a hands-on Dad has made me love him so much more than I did before.

Preparing for worship at one of the churches this summer.
These last few years have been painful, stretching years in so many ways and John has grown so well into his role as a soon-to-be-Pastor. I'm so excited to watch him accept and thrive in this calling from God!  He is so "natural" at this role and it has been a true privilege and honor walking through this Seminary journey to Ordination with him.  I get to read his papers and sermons, iron his robes and make sure he knows how to pronounce all the names on the prayer list.  I get to greet people on Sunday morning, pray with him for our precious church family (all of it!) and their needs, and learn right along with him about our Church.    And I do mean "get to" - it is something I don't "have to" - it is nothing short of a privilege!

We've been through so very much in these 15 years.

And truly, my marriage - all 15 years of it - is one of my favorite things.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Super Savings Saturday - I spent $45.36 ($14.64 left of 2 week budget)

I hope you all have the lovely weather today that we have had.  Even more fortunate we were able to spend some of it out-of-doors, which was lovely!  I think the weather has officially moved into the "fall-ish" category - mid to high 70's F - but we're loving it and enjoying our patio, yard, and various outdoor events.

We had a lot going on this last week, though less than we've had the past few weeks.  We had VBS and John and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary!  It's really hard to believe that 15 years have flown by (and I do mean flown) and now we're here. 

We are still working to figure out this whole grocery budget thing - mainly in preparation for internship starting in May 2014 - and right now we are using $30 and change each week for groceries or $1600 for groceries, toiletries, and paper products.  We decided to drop the change from our weekly cash grocery month to make the math (and the envelope) easier for the cash part.  Yesterday started a new pay cycle, so we had $60 in the cash envelope when I went out today.  I spent $45.36 today, leaving me just $14.64 for next week.  Perfectly do-able!
Here's our CSA for the week this week:

 
Compared to our previously over-crowded weeks, this doesn't seem like much.  Back row: 4 Beets; Middle Row: Green and Purple Beans, Peas, 5 Carrots; Front Row: Red Potatoes, 2 Green Peppers, Cucumbers (4 regular and 2 English), one clove Garlic, 2 chili peppers, and 3 Eggplants.
  
We have enough here to have beets, carrots, peppers, and chilies for this week. We have enough of everything else to last us at more than a week! My plan is to blanch and freeze at least one meal each of the peas and beans and dice and freeze one of the green peppers.  The cukes and eggplant will keep for at least week in the fridge.  The garlic sits on the counter with the onions and will get used as we need it.  We love garlic at our house so we can use this up pretty fast!
 
From our own garden we picked one purple pepper, 3 yellow zucchini, and a handful of red grape tomatoes and a handful of yellow pear tomatoes.

 
Here's my grocery store trip minus two gallons of skim milk that ended up in the fridge before the photo was taken.  The bag in front of the watermelon contains 6 ears of corn.
 
Here's the breakdown for the week:
 
Store #1:
Coffee $4.99 with store coupon = $4.99
Hunt's Tomato Sauce 3 @ $0.88 = $2.64
6 ears corn @ $0.17 each with store coupon = $1.02
Blueberries 2 pints @ $3.99/ea use store coupon for B1G1 = $3.99
Braeburn Apples 3lbs @ $2.98 with store coupon = $2.98
Seedless Personal Size Watermelon $2.88
Fancy Smoked String Cheese $5.98 (Yes, I totally splurged!)
Crystal Farms Shredded Cheese 3 @ $1.77 with store coupon = $5.11
 
Total Store #1: $29.20 
Total Saved (According to store receipt): $16.03
 
Store #2:
Always 18ct Maxi $4 - $1 - $1 (doubled coupon) = $2
Always 24ct Maxi $2.98 with store coupon = $2.98
Bananas 1.9lbs @ 0.39/lb = $0.74
Baby Bella Mushrooms $1.48 with store coupon = $1.48
Blackberries 6oz 2 @ $1.99 = $3.98
1lb Store Brand Salted Sweet Cream Butter $1.98 with store coupon = $1.98
2 Gallons Store Brand Skim Milk @ 2/$5 = $5
 
Total Store #2: $16.16
Total Saved (According to store receipt): $12.26 
 
Total Spent Both Stores: $45.36 (38%)
 
As I mentioned, earlier, this leaves us with just $14.64 for next week. I'm not worried at all about that - we will have plenty of food to eat!
 
This week the tomato sauce, coffee, 1 pint of blueberries and 2 of the corn ears will go into our stockpile.  Two of the packets of cheese and the butter went into the freezer as well.  I'll freeze the blueberries and will blanch and freeze the two ears of corn.  The mushrooms, apples and milk should last us into next week too, especially since we're eating dinner at church 3 nights in a row this week without having to bring a dish to share, though I might make cookies or something just because it feels weird not bringing anything. 
 
Come back Monday to see what we're eating. 
 
And how did you do with your shopping this week?


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Goals - Week of August 4, 2013

Uff-da! I am just plain tired of computer stuff! I've almost got it finished, but there are a few more things that I need to get done. SIGH. 

We're already in the first week of August. How on earth did that happen?  The children will be back in school in 2 more weeks and John and I will be back in school in three!  WOW.  I keep looking at all the things we need to do and what we had hoped to do over the summer and...*Sigh*.  That's about it.

We are blessed with lovely weather and hopefully rain, though I could do without the projected strong storms.  Here's hoping we have lovely weather and nice rain overnight, when we can still work out in the yard! :)

Here's last week's goals:

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.   I learned two.
* 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.   I finished weeding and put down the mulch we had - I need to buy more mulch, but this is done until I buy more.
* Finish setting up my new computer (this has been a trick and a half!)  Still working on this - almost done though.
* Blanch and freeze cabbage.
* Blanch and freeze green beans.

* Make and freeze 2 loaves of zucchini bread. I made one loaf and froze it.
* Make granola.  Moved this to this week instead.

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.  We didn't get to that part of town this week.

Personal:
* Get my hair cut.  My stylist was on vacation - so I'm getting it cut this week! :)
* Get to bed on time!!!! (This has been a read struggle for me of late.)  Well......
* 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).


All in all, it was a MUCH better week than the previous one all the way around and my birthday on Friday was really, really nice.  

This week is a bit simpler, since we have Vacation Bible School (VBS) and I am either helping with that or working from home this week.  We celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary this week and are going to enjoy our first date out since December by hiring a babysitter, buying tickets to an event here in town and making dinner reservations.  I'm really looking forward to it!

Here's what on my list this week:

Work:
* Edit the packet for major project 1.
* Optional: Start outlining Unit 2

School:
* Schedule meeting with my committee
* Do one thing on my dissertation to-do list
* Finally finish this proposal (REALLY)

Jazzercise:
* Teach 3 times this week
* Learn 2 new routines
* Attend CPR Renewal class and send in my paperwork afterward

Family:
* Swimming Lessons
* Family Night
* Our 15th Wedding Anniversary!  (I can't believe it's been that long already!)
* Date out on Friday night to celebrate our 15th Anniversary

Home:
* Finally finish up those kids bedrooms
* Weed and remove rock from the rest of the front flower bed (won't get this completely done but I'm going to work on it).
* Blanch and freeze produce as necessary
* Make granola
* Clean out 7 things from the house

Worship/Church/Faith:
* Vacation Bible School
* Redo my daily devotional time
* Write our Compassion International Child

Personal:
* Get to bed on time!!! (I desperately need to work on this one!)
* Get my hair cut
* Eliminate my right-before-bed snack (I got in this habit when I was pregnant 9 years ago and definitely don't need it anymore - especially if I get to bed on time!!!)

My habit for the month of August that I'm trying to change is that snack before bedtime, so you will see it on the "docket" for the whole month.   I'm hoping by the end of the month, it's a habit not to have one instead of a habit to have one!

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


Monday, August 5, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of August 4th, 2013

Another week!  Is anyone else just puzzled as to where July went?  I keep wondering where the time goes.  It just seems like - zip - one day were in January, the next we're in August!   Ah, well, I guess that just means we have to enjoy each day as it comes, right?

We are still definitely enjoying the bounty of the Lord's creation, with both the harvest from our yard and from our CSA.  We still have lots of zucchini and I got another great deal on yogurt this week so we still have a lot of those in the menu.  I totally missed that I was almost out of white flour - oops - so I won't be doing the baking I had planned until next week.  I knew I was getting low on sugar but not white flour.  I have lots of wheat flour and rye flour too but no white. 

With all of that in mind, here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, August 4:
   Breakfast: Rhubarb Cake
   Lunch: Baked Eggs, Bacon, Strawberries and Peaches
   Snack: Rhubarb Cake
   Dinner: Ham, Lemon Kholrhabi, Melon-Strawberry-Peach Salad

Monday, August 5:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Almonds
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Rhubarb Cake
   Dinner: Grilled Chicken, Grilled Zucchini, Couscous, Melon

Tuesday, August 6:
   Breakfast: Peanut Butter Banana Smoothies, Granola
   Lunch; Leftovers
   Snack: No-Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: White Fish, Roasted Potatoes, Parmesan Zucchini, Melon-Peach-Strawberry Salad

Wednesday, August 7:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Peaches
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Pot Luck at Church: Bring Sliced Fruit

Thursday, August 8, Our 15th Wedding Anniversary:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Peaches
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup and Sliced Peaches

Friday, August 9:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Out for Adults (to celebrate our Anniversary), Macaroni and Cheese and Fruit for the children.

Saturday, August 10:
   Breakfast: Smoothies with whatever fruit is leftover, Granola
   Lunch: Salad with Salmon and Craisins
   Snack: No-Bake Energy Bites
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Super Savings - $30.75 budget plus some stocking up!

We had some good store sales this last week and we, after cleaning out all the change in the envelope, $20 and some change for stocking up!  Whoot!  We spent almost every single penny of it too, though we did have some change left.  Between the stock up and the CSA produce, you think we'd be all set for the week. Alas, I totally didn't realize that I was almost out of white flour - I noticed that we had a tiny amount of white sugar, but not the flour.  So making sugar cookies this week is out, but I do have quite a bit of whole wheat and rye flour as well as a few other things that I can bake with too, so we're all good!

Without further ado - here's what we got this week:

Our CSA bounty:

 Starting with the carrots and traveling clockwise we have: Carrots, loose-leaf lettuce, purple beets, kale, green beans, raspberries, kholrhabi, cucumbers, and cilantro.  In the middle sugar snap peas.  Quite the bounty! I made kale chips and will be blanching peas and beets this weekend.

We went to two grocery stores this weekend.  Here's what we got:

So, this is a wretched, overstuffed photo (next time I split up the stores) but we got quite the hall for just  over $50 total ($30.75 plus $20.47 in stock-up funds).

Store #1:
Canned Beans (3 kidney, 2 black) 5 cans @ $0.68/can with store coupon = $3.40
Canned diced tomatoes 6 cans @ $0.68/can with store coupon = $4.08
 Vanilla Hazelnut Whole Bean Coffee $4.99 with store coupon = $4.99
4lb Sugar $1.68 with store coupon = $1.68
1lb Strawberries 2 @ 2/$3 = $3
2lb Yellow Onions = $1.49
Crystal Farms Shredded Cheese 2 @ $1.77 = $3.54
Total Store #1: $22.18
Total Saved (according to store receipt): $15.56

Store #2:
23 Count Reynolds Baking Cup: $1.49 - $1 - $0.49 ("doubled" coupon) = FREE
Multigrain Cheerios $1.88 - $1 (coupon) = $0.88
Cheerios 2 @ $1.88 = $3.76 - $1 - $1 (doubled coupon) = $1.76
Honey Nut Cheerios $1.88 - $1 (doubled coupon) = $0.88
Frutare Popsicles $2.99 - $1 = $1.99
Stayfree Pads $2 - $1 - $1 (doubled coupon) = FREE
2.58lbs Yellow Peaches @ $0.69/lb = $1.78
1lb Butter = $1.98 with store coupon
Gallon Skim Milk 2 @ 2/$5 = $5
Dozen Large Eggs = $0.98
Smart Balance $3.49
Chobani Yogurt 10 @ 10/$8.80 - $1 - $1 = $6.80 (or $0.68 each)
Also used $1.50 off catalina from a previous trip.
Total spent at store #2 (including tax): $28.11
Total Saved (according to store receipt): $26.36

Total Spent at Both Stores: $50.22  ($1 leftover from what we had to spend).
Total Saved (according to store receipts): $41.92 (45.5%)

The cans of beans, tomatoes, the bag of coffee, sugar and the cereal are our "stock up" stuff.  We didn't separate it out really in price from the other items, but that's what we stocked up on.  We were completely out of onions and cheese. 

And next week I need to put flour on the list! 

What did you buy this week?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Frugal Friday - Frugal Things I Did These Last Two Weeks

It's been a while since I remember and was able to put up a Frugal Friday post!  So here's one!  I'm still working on a post about frugal gifts and I'll get to that once I have all my photos transferred to my new computer - which is mostly up and working right now - YAY!!!

In the meantime, here are some things we've done the last few weeks in the "frugal" end of things:

* Picked 15 (no kidding) zucchini.  Gave 5 of them away and made two loaves of zucchini bread, salad, grilled zucchini, stuffed zucchini and minestrone soup with the others.  Still have 3 in our fridge to do something with!

* Received a strawberry-rhubarb pie from the church pot-luck one night - they had one left over and sent it home with us!

* Used my birthday money and a 15% off my entire purchase coupon coupled with a killer sale to order two new dresses, two lovely shirts, and a new pair of jeans for under $100 including shipping from my favorite store!  LOVE that!

* Accepted purple beets from a co-worker of my husband's. She had received them in her CSA and doesn't like them - so she gave them to us!  Yum!

* Revamped the grocery budget so that hopefully we can make ends meet and stock up on what we need as well.  Have stayed in budget and have roughly $13 for stock up right now.

* Weeded and mulched more of our flower beds - mulch was on sale a few weeks ago so we used up the rest of that.  Helps keep the weeds under control.

* Blanched and froze 4 meals of peas, 3 meals of broccoli, and 2 meals of green beans.  Made and froze a loaf of zucchini bread and two containers of mango salsa.  Also made mango sorbet.

* Bought peaches at 69 cents/lb and sliced and froze many of them for smoothies and baking during the winter.

* Used some of the cash we'd saved up to buy my new laptop computer.  Used a back-to-school sale to get a better deal (though I haven't learned to like Windows  8 yet!).

* Utilized our local library - books for the children and my husband to read, cookbooks for me to browse and videos for all 4 of us!

* Picked up another skirt and a pair of pants at the Uniform Swap at school for my children for this next year at school.

* The children were given sidewalk chalk and a list of sidewalk games from their piano teacher for a good summer of lessons.  We have August off from now until school starts!

* My birthday is today (August 2) and my husband bought me an immersion blender - something I've been wanting for quite a while!  YAY!  The children bought me a new travel mug.  I needed one of those too.

* We haven't bought any meat for a while and instead have been eating down our freezer so that we can defrost it before filling it up again.  We're down to some lunch meat, fish, a ham and a turkey! :)  We do have cooked chicken, stew meat, pork ribs and salmon and some shrimp in our upstairs, over-the-fridge freezer too.  I think we're good for a while yet.

* Worked from home a few days and saved on gas and distractions. 

* Picked flowers from my garden for my house rather than buying any (though the flowers at the Farmer's Market are very, very pretty!).  Can't beat pretty and free - no matter how inexpensive the flowers at the Farmer's Market are!

* Cleaned out many unused toys and donated them or gave them to friends.  Cleaned out lots of outdated papers and recycled or shredded them.  Working on the kids with cleaning out more! :) 

* Started buying school supplies as the items we need go on sale.  So far we're about halfway through the list. 

That's all I can think of right now.  What have you done to live frugally lately? 

Visit Life as Mom for more Frugal Friday and The Prudent Homemaker's Blog or Website for more ideas!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

In the Refiner's Fire - Leaning On Him - Come and Share!

This past year I have been reminded time and again at how much we as a family, and me in particular, rely on our own worldly things, abilities, friendships, people and "stuff" to be able to function on a day-to-day basis.

One of the things that has really struck me is that I spend too much time worrying. 

I have a sneaking suspicion that it's at least partially a product of being chronically ill.

I worry about what will happen if I don't meet my obligations to my work.
I worry about what will happen if I don't meet my obligations to my family.
I worry about what will happen if I can't cook dinner on a particular night.
I worry about what will happen if I don't get the laundry or the ironing done this week.
I worry about what will happen if I become so ill that I need 24-hour care.
I worry about burdening my husband and my children with taking care of me.
I worry about burdening my husband and my children with things that "should" be my responsibility.
I worry about not having the finances to meet our financial obligations.
I worry about losing medical insurance.
I worry about losing a job and thus income.
I worry about my children not having shoes, or winter coats, or whatever they seem to be outgrowing at the moment.
I worry about appliances breaking and cars in need of repair and a whole host of things like that.

I could go on and on (and on and on...).

Often it really frustrates me because John worries about nothing.  I mean, nothing. I often feel that if he worried even just a little bit, that I would worry less. 

Not sure if that's actually the way it works, but in my mind it might be helpful.

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
 
Matthew 6:25-34
 
I have been reading again the writings of George Mueller again and I am repeatedly astounded by his faith and his willingness to rest in the Lord and His provision beyond all else.  How I wish I had that type of faith! I hope that as the years pass I can worry less and lean more on Him and His abundant provision.
 
When you're in the thick of things as it were, it's so very hard to see the whole picture or even the larger picture.  
 
Last night my husband received an email from a friend whose daughter "doesn't have enough money to eat" right now. I have no idea how true this statement is but I know that the grown, adult daughter isn't eating much at the moment.  We offered her cabbage and zucchini - which can both be eaten raw or cooked, depending on the circumstances.  She declined saying she didn't like those things. 
 
I was reminded again how much we want things our way, not the Lord's way and how much  we lean on our own abilities. 
 
As I work on worry, I'm trying to focus on the ways the Lord provides.  Even when it isn't my way!
 
Today I'd love to hear how the Lord provided for you at just the right time  - please share in the comments!  We can all use the reminder!

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.