Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

What am I thankful for today?
So very much... husband...
...our children...
...all the rest of our family...
...having a nice, warm, safe place to call home...
...having plenty to eat and wear...
...having good health... with jobs and a pretty good income...
...having transportation available to us...
...all our many friends...
...the grace of God Almighty...
...and all of you out there in cyberspace...

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 24, 2013

Nacho chips with refried beans and salsa with mango slices.  From this summer.
So we're trying to stay warm this week - we've been stuck in the low teens with wind chills dropping them down to low single digits.  Brrrr. As a gentleman at church responded this morning when I asked him how he was doing "I haven't frozen solid yet!"   We have Thanksgiving at a friend's house this week - John has to work both Friday and Sunday so traveling is out - and we're looking forward to time with friends - cuddling new babies, eating good food and visiting. 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, November 24:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Vegetable Pasty, Orange Wedges
   Snack: Apple Oat Bars
   Dinner: Chicken Flavored Rice, Carrots and Green Beans, Pineapple-Orange-Apple Salad

Monday, November 25:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Apple Wheat Berry Salad for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Apple Oat Bars
   Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie, Tossed Salad, Apple-Orange-Pineapple Salad

Tuesday, November 26:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Apples and Craisins
   Lunch: Apple Wheat Berry Salad for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Potato Pancakes with Blueberries

Wednesday, November 27:
   Breakfast: Leftover Potato Pancakes with Applesauce
   Lunch: Macaroni and Cheese, Sliced Apples
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Easy Black Bean Soup, Cornbread, Orange Wedges

Thursday, November 28, Thanksgiving Day:
   Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls, Bananas
   Lunch/Snack/Early Dinner: At a Friend's House: Bring Pumpkin Bars and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
   Dinner/Late Snack: Leftovers

Friday, November 29:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, Matzo, Oranges
   Snack: Pumpkin Bars
   Dinner: Pan Fried White Fish, Steamed Carrots, Apple-Pear-Banana Salad

Saturday, November 30:
   Breakfast: Out for All - Bible Study
   Lunch: Pumpkin Bars, Apple-Oat Bars, Yogurt, Fruit (we're usually really full after breakfast so we don't eat much!)
   Snack: Same as lunch

What are you eating this week?
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Sunday, November 24, 2013

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - So Grateful

So our week didn't really turn out the way we'd hoped. 

I was sick with some kind of virus/stomach bug Wednesday and Thursday.  I slept all day Wednesday and kind of limped along through what I had to do on Thursday.

But Friday was the kicker.

My Thankful List at the end of the day went something like this:

Today's Blessings:
* The ER
* Aspirin
* John not having a heart attack

Yep - we spent Friday in the ER with John having chest pain, radiating down his arm no less.  Fortunately all of his tests came back negative so he did NOT have a heart attack, but he does have to follow up with a cardiologist on either Monday or Tuesday.  His heart rate and his blood pressure were terribly high - something that is extremely odd for him - and they definitely want to check him out and make sure everything is okay.

I am so very grateful.

Grateful for immediate care for my husband.
Grateful for simple things like Aspirin that are easy preventive medicine.
Grateful for my husband coming home with us on Friday rather than having to stay overnight in the hospital.
Grateful for God's mercy that John did not have a heart attack.
Grateful that we have good medical care available and that we have both insurance and a flex spend account to pay for it.
Grateful that I have more time with my husband.

What are you grateful for today?

Super Savings - Spent $20.72

It was a week that had things happen that we really didn't want to have happen (I'll hopefully write more about that later) so I only went to one store this weekend for grocery shopping.   We had $20.75 this week to spend on groceries and we just squeaked under with 3 cents to spare! Whew!  It's weeks like this that I'm grateful for my stockpile and our freezer!

I have no idea what happened to the receipt but everything except the bananas, TP and cotton swabs were on sale.  The two expensive things were the cotton swabs (just under $3) and the TP (almost $4 - yep, totally ridiculous price for a 4-pack of TP but that was the best price I could find; everything cheaper was sold out).  The Dole pineapple was $0.89 per can and the Campbell's soup was $0.77 each.  The oranges were under $3 for 4lbs, the eggs were $1.98 for 18 and the milk was $2.50.  We're enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with friends - I'm bringing dessert so we didn't have to worry about cooking a Thanksgiving meal this week.
I'm probably going to hit up the sales this week - most likely early Thursday AM (our grocery stores are open until 3pm here) - since the sale prices all end on Thursday for groceries here this week.  I'm excited to see on really good prices on some things we're out of as well as good deals on things like body wash and TP.  I'm looking forward to seeing how well I can do with $30 this coming week!
In the meantime we still have lots of veggies and some meat in the freezer as well as apples, pears, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, potatoes and tomatoes left from earlier weeks and several squash from the garden still.  I had purchased some wheat berries earlier this month on clearance sale and I'm going to try making a salad that can be eaten hot or cold for us to take for lunch this week.  The children have three days off and so do I so I'm looking forward to some time with them - hopefully making some Christmas gifts for the Grandparents and teachers!
We have lots of company in December but we're thinking of starting off January with a no-spend month of some sort.  I'm hoping to do our "usual" $50 for the month for groceries in January - but first I need to see where we're at in December!
Come back tomorrow (Monday) to see what we're eating this week.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Goals - Week of November 17, 2013

We're busy here with the semester winding up and heading into Advent.  We've been cleaning out like fiends and I'm loving the "empty" space! 

We finally finished cleaning out our bedroom, which seems to be a catch-all for so many things since the children aren't allowed in, with the delivery of our new mattress this weekend. We took the opportunity to clean out everything in the room, sweep, mop, dust and wash the walls down. Since we had to move the whole bed anyway, it seemed like a good time to do it.   I'm loving having the space!  Up next - finishing up the last couple of problem spots in the living room!  We tend to have specific spots where clutter collects and usually the clutter is things that don't have a true "home".  So we've been working on having homes for everything and getting rid of the excess.  Loving that!

Here's my goals for this week:

Lessons for this week and next
Finishing up some paperwork

Email my advisor again
Finish 3 things on my list

Teach 2 classes
Learn 2 new routines
Attend 2 classes

Piano Lessons
Dance Lessons
Swimming Lessons
Show Missy how to sew on a button
Missy has a birthday party to go to
Family Night: Play a board game
Date Night: Put together a puzzle

Update the budget book
Problem spots in the Living Room
Clean out the guest room closet
3 things on my Christmas gift list
Mend 3 items

Deliver the Operation Christmas Child Boxes
Update my prayer book again
Finish prep for Advent observations
Listen to Sunday's sermon online again

What are you up to this week?
Visit Money Saving Mom to see what others are up to and for some inspiration.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Super Savings Saturday - $39.26 spent this week

Wow - nothing like going AWOL for two whole weeks!  We've had colds, some kind of virus and a huge attack of my shingles, complete with locked up muscles.  Yuck. 

John went shopping this week. Last week we all went as a family and we spent our $30 budget right on the nose - it made me laugh when the cashier had to look again to make sure we didn't owe any change!  This week we went over - which is okay, it just means we have $20.74 for next week since we do our budget in two week chunks.  We decided that it was okay to go over this week since there was a really good deal on steak at one of our local stores. 

So, today, while I was teaching Jazzercise, John and the children ran to the store.  He didn't get a photo but here's what he bought:

Store #1:
Hunts' Tomato Sauce 2 @ $0.88 = $1.76
3.56lbs Beef Sirloin Steak @ $2.99/lb = $10.64
Crystal Farms Shredded Cheddar Cheese 2 @ $1.98 = $3.96
Crystal Farms Shredded Mozzarella Cheese 2 @ $1.98 = $3.96
Yoplait Yogurt 10 @ $0.55 each = $5.55
Total Spent Store #1: $25.82

Store #2:
Pert Plus $2
2.85lbs Bartlet Pears @ $1.69/lb = 4.81
3lbs Gala Apples $3.49
Gallon Skim Milk $2.98
Total including tax Store #2: $13.44

Total Spent Both Stores: $39.26
Total Saved According to Receipts: $4.27 (actual saved is way higher than this!)

We really didn't need much this week but we're getting low on meat so we decided we probably should buy some and with steak at $2.99 - which is a price we almost never see here - we decided to buy some.  We'll use most of it in stir fry or sandwiches or on top of salads so stretch it out a bit and enjoy it for a while.  We had apples, pineapple and a watermelon plus some mandarin oranges from the previous weeks and have lots of other things in the freezer, cupboards and the veggie drawer of the refrigerator so we will be eating fine.

Our big purchase this week was a new queen size mattress - I'd been getting hip, neck and thigh pain from our old one plus neither of us were sleeping well so we decided it was time.  There was  a really good sale so we bought a new mattress and had it delivered today.  I'm excited to get a good night's sleep tonight! Don't even ask about cleaning out under the bed, though - yikes!

How did you do with your shopping this week?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Goals Week of November 3, 2013

It's Monday and that means it's time to review our goals again.  I had a pretty ambitious goals list for last week but I got several things done.  I didn't get everything done but I'm pretty pleased with what I did get done, so I'll just go with that.

Submit mid-term grades.
Write, solve and edit a test.
Lessons for the week.
Post solutions from the last unit online.

Turn in paperwork.
Reading (in prep for meeting with my committee).  Did some of this but not as much as I would like.
Finish going through my data one last time.
Teach 2 classes.
Learn 3 new routines.  I learned two.
Update my iTunes.

Visit the Apple Orchard (Family Night)
Piano Lessons x2
Swimming Lessons
Friends over on Friday
Trick or Treating

Home:  I got part of all of these done but only finished the two Christmas gifts.
Ironing - I have four tablecloths that need to be pressed right now and it's weighing on me!
Update Our Budget Book.
Shred Papers in Living Room.
Mending pile on Living Room Chair (don't ask!).
Finish Two Christmas Gifts.

Pray for and about the situation that came up with John's church work.
Pray about some other things that are happening in our life right now.
Update my prayer book and make sure I get in daily devotional time.

Paint my toenails.
Read novel loaned to me by a friend and return.
1 hour on my embroidery

Get to bed on time 5 nights this week.  I got to bed 4 times on time this last week.

So, here's what's on the docket here this week:

* Update midterm grades to include our second test
* Be ready for class each day
* Revise the term project
* Paperwork for next semester

* Finish reading
* Cross 2 more things off my to-do list

* Teach twice
* Attend at least one other class
* Learn 2 new routines
* Either get my iPod fixed or buy a new one

* Trip to the Library
* Piano Lessons
* Dance Lessons x 2
* Swimming Lessons
* Family Night: Review of All Saint's Day Lesson
* At-Home Date Night: Puzzle or a Bonfire and Pumpkin Cookies
* Have the children write letters to their Grandparents

* Ironing
* Mending
* Finish the shredding
* Finish updating the budget book
* Process the horseradish from our yard
* Finish deadheading the perennials
* Cross of three things from my Christmas gift to-do list
* Find a shirt for Buddy for family photos

* Pray about our family observing Advent and finish putting together the lessons for Family Night
* Continue making daily quiet time and family devotions a priority
* Pray about all the things on my mind and in our upcoming weeks

* Get to bed on time 5 days this week
* 1 hour of embroidery (this actually "counts double" since I'm making Christmas gifts, but I find it very, very relaxing as well so it's "me time" too!)

What are you up to this week?  Check out Money Saving Mom to be inspired!

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 3, 2013

Okay, so I just had to share the krumkake photo again - they're so very yummy!   Cookies like this are part of what I love about this time of year - though I could definitely be persuaded to make these just about any time of the year! LOL

We have a relatively "normal" week here for us this week and I'm going to try a new recipe or two, depending on how things actually work out this week.  I've been feeling pretty icky these last few days with a migraine-like headache, so hopefully I won't end up down and out for the count! The weather is beautiful so I'm hoping to be up and about outside this week - hopefully that will help!

We had lots of apples left in the fridge after our trip to the Apple Orchard last week and we have a whole pineapple that we bought last week but wasn't ripe yet too.  I looked through the freezer and realized we had all the "stuff" to make jambalaya, so we're going to try making that this week - haven't done that before!  I'm also trying an Asian recipe from my time in Thailand for what loosely translates as "corn fritters" - they're more like a small pancake with whole corn in it.  We'll see how they turn out too!
Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, November 3, All Saint's Sunday:
   Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Pecan Pie
   Dinner: Tomato Basil Soup, French Bread, Sliced Apples

Monday, November 4:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Sliced Apples
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Corn Fritters, Tossed Salad, Apple-Pear-Pineapple Salad

Tuesday, November 5:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Diced Apples and Cinnamon
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Jambalaya

Wednesday, November 6:
   Breakfast: Yogurt with Granola
   Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Cheerios with Milk, Carrot Sticks or Tomatoes
   Snack: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
   Dinner: Easy Black Bean Soup, Cornbread, Sliced Apples and Pears

Thursday, November 7:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Picnic dinner between dance classes

Friday, November 8:
   Breakfast: Waffles with Almonds and Applesauce
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie, Tossed Salad, Pineapple-Apple-Pear Salad

Saturday, November 9:
   Breakfast: At Bible Study
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks, Sliced Apples

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Super Savings - $31.51 Shopping Trip

Sorry for the poor quality photo!  You can cringe all you like - my camera completely bit the dust (Sigh) and my poor iPod was dropped and the glass cracked. It's still working (mostly) but taking photos is hit or miss - but it's the only "camera" I have right now!  Yep - exciting times at the Stormhammer household!
Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled grocery shopping this week.  We decided to not quite start our stocking up for Internship yet - we have extra and unexpected bills pop up with the van and our appliances that we want to take care of first, not to mention that don't want food products to expire before we need them or that the space to store paper products (mostly TP, dental floss, etc) isn't quite ready yet.  Either way, we have a number assigned to what we'd like to have in the house for Internship and we'll keep you posted as we go along - when we get to that point!
For right now, here's our shopping trip for this week:
Store #1:
Tide Detergent 50oz $5.99 - $2 = $3.99 (sale plus coupon)
2lb Light Brown Sugar $1.49 (store coupon)
2.24lb Bartlett Pears @ $0.98/lb = $2.20
Whole White Mushrooms $0.98 (store coupon)
Total Store #1: $9.09
Total Savings According to Receipt: $.3.17
Store #2:
 Quaker Quick Cooking Oatmeal 18oz 2 @ 2/$3 = $3 (Store Coupon)
Chicken of the Sea Chunk Tuna 2 @ $0.88  = $1.76 (sale)
Pert Plus Shampoo $2 (sale)
Carrots 1lb 2 @ $0.77 = $1.54
10oz Cherry Tomatoes $2 (store coupon)
8 oz Mini Peppers $2 (store coupon)
Smart Balance $3.49
Yoplait Yogurt 10 @ 10/$5 = $5 (store coupon)
Total Store #2: $22.42
Total Saved According to Store Receipt: $8.52
Total Both Stores: $31.51
Total Saved Both Stores: $11.69 (27%)
How did you do this week with your shopping?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Frugal Things We've Done the Last Two Weeks

* I made krumkakke for a fundraiser (that's what's in the photo) using what I had on hand. I'm always amazed at how easy it is to make even if it is time consuming!

* Downloaded several free books for my free Kindle for PC.  Also checked out several books and a couple of movies from the Library.

* My Mom taught my daughter how to use the sewing machine - I'd previously been working on hand sewing with her - and she has been completely enthralled!  She's started making lots of pillows from my scrap bag - two for herself and a matching one for her best friend, then one for each Grandma for Christmas.  Now she's making burp clothes for my best friend for her new Grandbaby that's due in March.  I'm hoping to move on to simple clothes next!

* Enjoyed two Halloween parties that included dinner!  Mom makes my children costumes (she loves to sew and is very good and very creative so this is something she really enjoys) and we use the nice homemade felt Trick-or-Treat bags she bought them when they were two.  The only expense we had was glow-in-the-dark bracelets from the dollar store for night time.

* The children attended a birthday party where they were fed lunch so John and I went on a "date" running errands we have a difficult time running with the children in tow and grabbed a quick bite ourselves using a coupon. 

* Accepted two free shirts for the children from a friend.

* Enjoyed a wonderful meal at church after services on Reformation Sunday, courtesy of the families of the Confirmands at the church John was preaching at.  Fantastic food!

* Went to the Apple Orchard and enjoyed a free hayride and petting zoo.  We purchased a half-bushel of apples for 30-cents less per pound than we could buy in the store. 

* I froze diced apples in two cup portions to make apple crisp with later this year. I also dried what seemed like a mountain of apples and made apple crisp.  We still have quite a few in the refrigerator to eat fresh.  And I want to make apple oat bars too - they are SOOO yummy!

* I also made whole wheat sandwich bread and toasted pumpkin seeds. 

* We cleaned up the front yard and part of the back yard for winter.  I saved seeds from my marigolds and my giant zinnias to use next year.  We moved a bunch of dirt from where we dug a hole to expand our patio to the vegetable garden box.  We turned the compost and deadheaded about half of the perennials.  We half about half the perennials left to do and we need put the patio furniture away yet.  I'm hoping for at least a couple more nice weekends to have a fall bonfire or two before winter really sets in.

* John hung our Christmas lights rather than hiring someone to do it.  We have a ranch-style house so there isn't much ladder climbing the our son handed things up to him so he didn't have to go up and down the ladder. (Maybe I shouldn't put this on here since we've never hired someone to put up the lights, but we've only put up lights for 2 years now anyway!)

* Accepted a free loaf of French Bread from a friend.

* Made several meals in the crock pot so we wouldn't be tempted to eat out.

* Got our flu shots for free from our clinic - just had to call ahead to make an appointment! Since it's classified under "preventive medicine" we had no co-pay at all!

* Started working on Christmas gifts.  I'm hoping to post some of those in the future and maybe some tutorials as well.

* I also started putting together some of the things that we're hoping to do to celebrate Advent. I'm looking forward to that this year!

* Mended a skirt for Missy, a cami for me, and a pair of pants for John.

* Went to a fundraiser lunch at church and came home with a pecan pie! I think I need to find out who made it - it was amazing (I'm very, very picky about my pecan pie). 

* I'm not sure if this is truly frugal but we thought it was: Our Pastor (and John's Mentor Pastor) is very, very creative and always had things for sale at the church's fall boutique. Everything is donated and the proceeds go back to the church.  Last year we bought a lovely pottery bowl. This year we bought two pottery Nativity sets - one for each of our children.  They were a complete steal at $15 each for the set - Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, two sheep, a Shepherd, and the Three Kings.  All handmade and signed. 

Okay, I think that's it, other than our usual eating at home, brown bagging lunches and the like.

What have you been up to?

Check out Frugal Friday at Life as Mom and The Prudent Homemaker's Blog and Website to share and be inspired!