Monday, December 16, 2013

Goals - Week of December 15, 2013

It's a busy week heading into the last little bit a Advent for us.  The kids have their last week of school before break this week, we had the Church Christmas Program and the Fall Piano Recital this Sunday already and we have the school Christmas Concert this week too.  Whew!   John has a final to finish and I have grading coming out of my ears that needs to be done ASAP.   With my folks coming we also have some deeper than normal house cleaning to do and we need to bring 4-dozen bars or cookies to the concert this week.

I'm trying to keep it simple - some days that works better than others!

Here's my goals list for the week:

* Grading
* Proposal

* Email Advisor again
* Proposal (final draft)

* Teach two classes
* Learn two new routines
* Review new routines DVD

* Piano Recital
* Piano Lessons
* Pick up my parents from the Airport
* School Christmas Program
* Dance Lessons
* Swimming Lessons
* Attend a play followed by dinner out (we paid for the play tickets, my parents pay for dinner as part of our Christmas present to each other)

* Deep clean the bathrooms
* Get the guest room ready for company
* Have the furnace serviced
* Get the rest of the Christmas Decorations up
* Have the children tidy their rooms
* Catch up the ironing

* Church Christmas Program
* Send a note to a friend who had hip surgery
* Finalize John's preaching schedule for January and February

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

Menu Plan Monday - Menu for the Week of December 15, 2013

I've been trying some new recipes - yum!  So many good recipes out there!   I'm so glad that I have so many options for wonderful food for my family and the opportunity to find recipes for us to try and enjoy (or eliminate depending on the recipe!).

We have company coming for a whole month starting on Wednesday this week and we are SO excited.  My parents are braving the cold and joining us for Christmas, New Year's and John's 40th Birthday.  I can't believe John is turning 40 - and just around the corner too!  We're hoping his parents can come visit for that too. We'll see. 

Anyway, we did some stock up shopping this last week and a quick run to Sam's Club the week before to get some things that we were low on - spices for Christmas baking, bread flour, canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and a few other things.  We stayed within out budget and were very happy with the holiday grocery deals the last few weeks.  I picked up a turkey for 59-cents/pound and a couple of whole roasting chicken for 98-cents/pound.  We also bought oranges and grapefruit at 89-cents/pound.  My refrigerator, freezer and pantry are full to overflowing right now with everything we had and everything we bought!  We are planning on doing a challenge in part of January and February after our company leaves.  Partly to see how long we can eat from our stockpile and partly to use up what we have.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, December 15:
  Breakfast: Leftover Coffee Cake, Bananas
  Lunch: Apples and Peanut Butter, Cut Veggies
  Snack (After Piano Recital): Christmas Cookies at the Reception
  Dinner:  Butternut Squash Soup, Irish Soda Bread, Orange Wedges

Monday, December 16:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Bananas
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Fish Tacos, Orange and Grapefruit Wedges

Tuesday, December 17:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Craisins
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Tossed Salad with Chicken, Mandarin Oranges and Craisins

Wednesday, December 18:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Chicken Wild Rice Soup, Homemade French Bread, Orange and Grapefruit Wedges
   Dessert: Cookies and Bars after the Christmas Program at the Reception

Thursday, December 19:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Peach Jam and Pecans
   Lunch: Leftover Chicken Wild Rice Soup and Bread
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Split Pea Soup, Homemade French Bread, Orange Wedges

Friday, December 20:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Craisins
   Lunch: Leftover Split Pea Soup and Bread
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Cracker Backed Chicken, Baked Squash, Tossed Salad, Fruit Salad

Saturday, December 21:
   Breakfast:  Waffles with Pecans and Peach Jam
   Lunch: Leftover Soup, Bread and Oranges
   Snack: Christmas Cookies
   Dinner: Out after a play (my parents will treat us to this as part of our Christmas gift)
What are you eating this week?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Little Things for December

We have been soooo busy these last few weeks and doctor appointments for John added to the mix just made things more chaotic.   We are diligently trying to celebrate Advent here and my photos are carefully ensconced on my iPod.  So, sorry, no photos with this post!  Hope to have some up later this week!

Here are some of my favorite little things this last week or two:

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day.
The Advent wreath.
Our fun fabric Nativity (a wedding gift from friends of my parents).
The children playing Christmas carols on the piano.
Cookies!!!!  YUM!
Starting to wrap the gifts.
Decorating the china hutch and the kitchen shelf.
Getting ready for company.
Finishing up the semester - for John and I.
Making Christmas gifts.
Hot Cocoa.
Hot Tea.
Hot Coffee.
Trying new recipes.
Christmas lights! (One of our neighbors has the best display this year!)
Seeing friends while running errands.
Advent music at church.
New Christmas dresses for me and Missy.
New dress clothes for Buddy that color-coordinate with the girls.
Not having to buy a thing for John to match all the rest of us.
St. Lucia Day.
Christmas cards.
Having time to read books for leisure again - so many books, so little time!
Hugs and smiles and laughter.
John doing much better (thank you for your prayers) health-wise.
What are your favorite things so far this December?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Frugal Things We Did This Last Week

I'm hoping to get back to more regular posting about our little life in here in frozen Minnesota (our high yesterday was a balmy +3F - Brrrr!).  We'll see how that goes because we always know that something will come up!  That's the plan anyway.  Thanks so much for sticking with me!

So we'll start by sharing frugality!  Here are the things that we did this last week that were frugal:

* We watched a Christmas movie on Netflix with the children.

* I used the turkey carcass I brought home from Thanksgiving dinner at our friends' house to make Turkey Noodle Soup.  We ate some for dinner one night, took some for lunch at work and froze the rest for later use.

* I worked from home several days either to avoid paying for childcare or to avoid driving on our super-icky roads this week (rain-snow mix anyone? no thank you).

* I mended a pair of pants, three camisoles, a pair of pajamas and I took in the waist on a pair of snow pants.

* John returned a four sets of window blinds that don't work with our window frames. This was a serious disappointment as we need new ones badly and these would have been inexpensive, nice and well-functioning but the hardware is made for windows with a deeper frame than we have.  Hanging them outside the frame isn't an option for a variety of reasons, so we need to keep looking.

* Made some small things to put in the children's shoes for St. Nicholas Day - coupons for dates with Mom and Dad and for cooking or sewing lessons (depending on the child), and bookmarks.  I used Brandy's printable bookmarks for the bookmarks with a ribbon rather than a tassel. 

* Had two at home date nights with my husband - one watching a movie together on Netflix and the other doing some daydreaming about the future. 

* I put away the fall decorations and started to get our Christmas decorations.  Since we're in Advent now and Christmas doesn't officially start until the 25th, we put up our decorations slowly, building up to the 25th.  So far I have the Jesse tree, the Nativity, and the Advent wreath as well as some Christmas table linens out.  Tomorrow we'll add some of the greenery and our Christmas card holders since we're starting to get Christmas cards.  Our tree doesn't go up until the 15th and then it will stay up until Epiphany (the 6th of January). 

* Bought bread flour at Sam's Club so I can get back to baking bread on a regular basis - I've been really bad about that lately.  Also working harder on turning off the lights in rooms that aren't in use and line drying the clothes that can be line dried easily inside.  We've also kept the heat at 67F during the day when someone is home and 58F at night and when no one is home.  I'm hoping this will drop our heating bill a tiny bit.

* Bought ourselves a really nice wooden cutting board so we don't need to replace our cutting board as often. 

* John's family draws names for Christmas and we sent our lists off with mostly needs - things like a new lunch box for both of us, dress socks for John, and pajamas for the children.  I also like to ask for things like candles and coffee beans, which we use regularly and love. 

* I've also been working on making a few Christmas gifts for the children and for my parents.  I made homemade bath salts for the children's teachers and a couple of girl friends (Epsom salts were on a sale a few weeks ago and I had essential oils and olive oil on hand).

* The children made homemade Christmas ornaments from pipe cleaners and leftover cardboard tubes (TP, paper towel and gift wrap) to give to their Grandparents, teachers and friends. 

* John and I made the commitment a few weeks ago to spend 30 minutes per day 5 days a week cleaning out our insane amount of stuff that we own.  We took a large load of items that we don't need to our local thrift store.  We have several slips for shopping credit in return for our past donations, so this time we took a tax deduction slip instead.  The house is shaping up nicely and I am thinking that by the time May comes we'll have a house that is mostly uncluttered and much easier to care for than it currently is! 

What have you done in the last few weeks to help you and your family be frugal?