Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

Joy to the World
by Isaac Watts
Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
Let earth receive it's King;
Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heav'n and heav'n and nature sing.
Joy to the earth, the Savoir reigns!
Let all their songs employ,
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains,
Repeat the sounds joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.
No more let sin and sorrow grow
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the course is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

It's really hard for me to believe we're already here....
But I guess we are .....
The krumkaka has been made....
So is the lefse....
We put up the decorations....

Decorated the tree....

Put up the Nativity....
 Now we wait....
And the waiting is nearly over...
Wishing you a Merry Christmas filled with joy and love and family.
 ~ Lea

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Menu Plan Monday (or, rather, Tuesday) - Week of December 14, 2014

The picture-less version of my menu this week!   I'm writing from my work computer while pretending to eat my lunch at a leisurely pace.  I'm so ready to be done with my grading so I can just stay home for a few days!  We do get a two-week holiday but I'd love to have an extra day or two because I am completely finished with all the grading. 

My parents are here this week and will be here for a few weeks.  We did almost all of our grocery shopping ahead of time, though there are a few things my parents will buy us. We are so blessed that they are willing to do that when they come - when we asked about it, they said we give them a nice, comfortable place to stay for free so they can buy a few groceries.  We do have almost everything but there were a couple of things my parents will want to buy so they will.  Those things are for Christmas or treats that they like to have in the house and are things we wouldn't have in the house on a normal basis.

This week we finished off the December grocery budget by buying a gallon of milk and a bag of oranges.

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, December 14:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Raspberries from the freezer
   Lunch: Waffles with pecans and Craisins
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Venison Gravy, Roasted Potatoes, Apple-Banana Salad

Monday, December 15:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Peppers and Onions
    Lunch: At work for all (John and I had free lunch at work today and the children ate hot lunch at school)
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Shrimp and Veggie Stir Fry, Rice, Orange Wedges

Tuesday, December 16:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Craisins
     Lunch: Leftover Stir Fry
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: Venison Barley Soup (like Beef Barley), Homemade French Bread

Wednesday, December 17:
    Breakfast: Vegetarian Omelets
    Lunch: Leftover Soup, PB&J Sandwiches
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: At Church (the youth group provides soup supper during Advent before Wednesday night Worship)

Thursday, December 18:
    Breakfast: Waffles and Raspberries from the freezer, Pecans
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Out to eat after the School Christmas Program (my parents are treating us!)

Friday, December 19:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast, Bananas
    Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches, Orange Wedges
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Wild Rice Casserole, Steamed Carrots, Baked Apples

Saturday, December 20:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
    Lunch: Veggie Fried Rice
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

We have everything in the house for all of these meals.  And, yes, we are totally spoiled that my parents want to take us out to dinner after the school program. 

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Frugal Friday on a Saturday

We're getting ready for company, trying to finish up the Christmas shopping and present making, and all of that is interspersed with pageant rehearsals, two funerals, final exams, numerous Christmas concerts and the Sunday school pageant, some really sick friends and head colds all around our house.  I'm officially ready for a break and almost able to take one!  Hurray!

These last few weeks haven't felt very frugal - we've been fighting head colds and there's been more canned soup eaten than I would have liked but there are a few things that we did for frugality over the last week or two:

* We finished making gifts and handmade ornaments for the teachers.  We will make cookies for other friends and colleagues as well (hopefully tomorrow).

* I finally got all my information back from my dead computer so I don't have to refile all my paperwork!  I can't tell you how happy I am about that!

* We were gifted quite a bit of food this week:  a congregation member gifted us a jar of homemade blackberry jam (yummy!). A friend who is moving gave us lots of canned soup, boxes of crackers and spices.  John brought home another box of crackers plus a meat and cheese plate from a church staff party this week.  A coworker gave all of us a gift of chocolates for St. Nicholas Day.

* I made homemade cinnamon rolls, biscuits, pancakes, waffles and pizza and breadsticks.

* We were also gifted two beautiful decorative pillow covers from a congregation member in green and gold.  She thought they'd be perfect for holiday decor but I think they'll look great in our living room year round!
* We've been doing a lot of sorting and cleaning out and we have four big bags of outgrown, no-longer-used clothing, smaller household items and such to take to the thrift store on Monday.  We also have a very full recycle bin for this week's pickup.

* We needed to repair and repaint the upstairs bathroom wall and we took advantage of the "warm" weather the end of this week to do that.  We then picked up a new curtain for the window (we had some mildew problems and I didn't feel the curtain was worth saving) for less than $10 off a clearance rack.  I printed a free online picture and used a frame we had for artwork to replace the artwork I had to throw away.

* We continued to take our lunches to work and wash and re-used containers and plastic bags.

* We have $7 in our grocery budget left this week so John went to the store and bought 1 gallon of milk and a bag of oranges.  Money done for the month!

* The children and I attended a free community event for the holidays and enjoyed free live music and the children each received a large glow stick.

What did you do this week that is frugal?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of December 7 Menu and our Groceries from the last week ($7 left in Dec budget now!)

We've been so busy here - getting ready for company, extra Worship services for Advent, wrapping up the semester here both at work and at school for all four of us, Christmas program rehearsals at both school and church for the children and all the other things that go into this time of year makes me feel like I'm chasing myself sometimes!  We did the grocery shopping this last week in between everything else and I promptly recycled the receipt! Opps.  And, sorry, I'm not digging through our giant orange recycle bin outside to retrieve it.

We spent just under $25 of the $32 we had left - so now we have $7, enough for some bananas and milk next week. We're pretty well stocked for when my parents are visiting so we *should* be okay.

I can't remember the exact prices but here's what we got at 2 stores:
Smart Balance
White Sugar (4lbs)
Sweet Potatoes (5lbs) - these were on huge sale!
Shrimp (2 bags/ $10) - the reason we spent so much money this week
10lbs Gala Apples (these were on clearance)
1 bunch bananas
Honey Roasted Peanuts
Pears (these were on sale for $0.99/lb)

We also received from friends:
1 loaf of cranberry orange bread (this was a fundraiser item that a friend knows we like very much!)
2 loaves of whole wheat sandwich bread
1 quart canning jar of white chicken chili (super tasty!)

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, December 7:
    Breakfast: Sliced Apples with Peanut Butter
    Lunch: Pancake "Breakfast" at church
    Snack: Orange Cranberry Bread
    Dinner:  Tuna Wrap Sandwiches, Cut Veggies, Apple Slices

Monday, December 8:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins or Orange Cranberry Bread
    Lunch: Leftover Soup and Bread
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Puff Pastry Stuffed with Potatoes, Spinach and Onions; Baked Sweet Potatoes

Tuesday, December 9:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
    Lunch: Leftover Puff Pastry
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Biscuits, Sliced Apples and Pears

Wednesday, December 10:
    Breakfast: Breakfast Biscuits
    Lunch: PB&J, Cut Veggies, Bananas
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner: Chicken Fried Rice, Apples

Thursday, December 11:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Cut Veggies, Bananas
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Toasted Sandwich Bread, Bananas

Friday, December 12:
     Breakfast: PB Toast, Smoothies
     Lunch: Leftover Soup, Tossed Salad
     Snack: Cookie
     Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Tossed Salad

Saturday, December 13:
     Breakfast: Cinnamon Breakfast Biscuits
     Lunch: Tuna Wrap Sandwiches, Cut Veggies
     Snack: Leftover Biscuits
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?   

Monday, December 1, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 30, 2014

So it was a high temperature of +2F with a wind chill of  -23F.  I'm dreaming of summer and my flowers today!

It's the 1st of December, and I'm already sick of winter. Is that bad?   I think it's because it went from being really nice to super cold just overnight - quite literally - and it was such a shock.  I guess it's a good thing we have so much soup in the freezer to eat up!  I'm also grateful for hot coffee and oatmeal first thing in the morning.  Aren't we blessed to have such good, warm food and a warm house as well?  I sure do think so!  I listen to my parents telling of having to get up and light the stove to warm the house in temperatures colder than this and I am so grateful that I don't have to do that!

After topping off our stockpile this weekend, we are still eating well.  I have $32 for the rest of the month and I am pretty sure we can do it.  We're already low on fruit for the week but we have fruit in the freezer if need be as well as canned pears and mandarin oranges, even if they're not favorites.

We have a pretty quiet week this week and we're all happy for that since next week is really busy and it continues that way through Christmas and New Year's. Such is the life in the church this time of year!  Throw in the end of semester and company and it just is really busy.  Any way, here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, November 30:
    Breakfast:  Peanut Butter Toast, Sliced Apples
    Lunch: Leftovers
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce, Sausages, Sliced Apples

Monday, December 1:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Sliced Almonds and Craisins
    Lunch: Leftover Spaghetti
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Fried White Fish, Rice, Banana-Apple-Grape Salad

Tuesday, December 2:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Spaghetti
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Biscuits, Orange Wedges

Wednesday, December 3:
     Breakfast:  Breakfast Biscuits - biscuits with eggs, bacon, and tomato
     Lunch:  Peanut Butter and Jelly Tortillas, Yogurt, Cut Veggies, Cookie
     Snack: Cookie
     Dinner:  Waffles, Scrambled Eggs, Applesauce

Thursday, December 4:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Diced Apples, Cinnamon, and Pecans
    Lunch: Cut Veggies with Yogurt/Peanut Butter Dip, Chicken Noodle Soup
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, French Bread, Sliced Apples

Friday, December 5:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer with Pecans and Chokecherry Jelly
    Lunch: Leftover Soup, Bread
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Tossed Salad, Apple-Pomegranate-Mandarin Orange Salad

Saturday, December 6:
    Breakfast: Cinnamon Breakfast Biscuits
    Lunch: Tossed Salad with Turkey, Craisins and Mandarin Oranges
    Snack: Cookies
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
    At Home Date Dessert: Apple Crisp (using apples from the freezer)

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things - November Roundup

It's the last day of November. It's hard to believe that it's already here.  Today is the first day of Advent and I am ready for a slower pace and am hoping that pushing myself like I have been the last few months will make that happen.  The children have been such a big help in getting the house cleaned and ready.  I still feel we have a long way to go for it to be where I want it to be by the time company comes but I'm enjoying the progress in the meantime.

Here are some of my favorite things from the month of November this year - light on photos this month, I realized I really hadn't taken any this past month:

Reformation Sunday
The birth of the Protestant Church and our beloved Lutheran Church.
All Saint's Day
A day to remember all those who have gone before us.  So blessed are we!
My sister-in-law Gabrielle - she turned 20 this month!
She was a baby when my husband and I got engaged and she was the flower girl at our wedding - 16 1/2 years ago.  Yes, she was 3 1/2 when we were married!
Finding out that they were able to pull all of my dissertation data as well as my dissertation and my final presentation off my old hard drive.  (And, yes, I totally learned my lesson about backing things up properly!)
Going shopping for blanket fabric with my daughter and then sewing blankets for Christmas gifts with her.
My son earning 4 Cub Scout badges this month - good job Buddy!
My Mom turning 77!  Hard to believe she is that old already - she seems far younger.  I am so blessed to have her as my Mom and I will be forever grateful for having her in my life.  If you could say a prayer or two for her health that would be great - she's been having heart issues since July and we're not quite sure exactly what's going on yet.  Should have some answers later this week though.
Friends coming to hear my husband preach on Thanksgiving Eve.  We miss these friends from our home church dearly and it was so good to see them!  And it was a complete surprise that they were coming, which made it even more fun!
Pumpkin Pie.
Thanksgiving dinner and dessert with friends.  My best friend has battled demons from her past for a very long time and it was so good to see her enjoying her grandbabies on Thanksgiving day.  I am so blessed by her friendship.
Getting to hold my best friend's grandbabies on Thanksgiving day.  They are so sweet!  And little 10-month-old Raymond is so cuddly!
My son cleaning out some old toys and setting aside all his old Matchbox cars for my best friend's 3-year-old grandson, Joe.  My son came out with the cars in this hands and said, "Mom, I want to give these to Joe since I know he'd like them so much."  Made my heart smile, it did! 
Being invited to a Messiah sing-along with friends coming up in December. 
Snuggles with my son first thing in the morning.
Laughter as we play board games as a family.
Christmas carols - in piano, trumpet and clarinet - in my living room, no less!.
My best friend's pecan caramel pie - oh so good!
Pumpkin cheesecake.
A new tunic top, skirt and blouse plus a matching earring and necklace set from my favorite consignment store - all for under $10 on sale for Support Local Stores Saturday. 
Clearing the fall clutter from the house.
Digging out the Advent calendars and putting them up. 
Assembling the Advent wreath.
The lovely blue table runner given to us from a member at my husband's church - perfect for Advent.
Soup for supper on cold winter days.
Hats, mittens, warm coats and boots.
My clothes washer and dryer - so grateful I don't have to wash clothes by hand!
My children being so helpful without fussing.
Making Christmas gift surprises for my children, my husband, my parents, and other family and friends.
Being able to spoil my parents when they visit with things they can't get to eat where they currently live - like wild rice and good-tasting winter squash. 
Planning for Advent and the upcoming Christmas Season.  We are so blessed and I can't wait to share that blessing with others.
The congregation we are at with for John's Vicarage - they bless us so very much!   And his mentor Pastor - such a good role model and mentor for him.
Snow on the ground to make things beautiful but clear roads for driving - how spoiled am I?
What have been your blessings in November?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Super Savings Saturday - A $27.13 shop and an $80 top off

No photos again this week - John bought groceries while I was at Jazzercise this morning and he didn't take a photo.   We're into a new month for grocery budget - $140 for the month - so I'm trying to fit in all the good things we need for us to spoil my parents when they come for Christmas. 

We went to Sam's Club and bought the following for just under $80 (of course, I can't find the receipt now - if I find it I'll update prices):

Toilet Paper
Yeast 2lb
Canned diced tomatoes
Canned chicken noodle soup (the children like this for lunch at school)
Frozen Tilapia Fillets
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Red Grapes 3lbs
Gallon Milk (this was over $1 cheaper than our local store)

Total: Just under $80

At our local store John bought the following:

1 15oz can Store brand black olives $1
2 15oz cans Geisha Mandarin Oranges 2 @ $1 = $2
Carnation Evaporated Milk 4 @ 4/$5 = $5 (we use this in place of cream in cooking)
Store Brand Sliced Bacon 1lb $2.99 (he bought this for making soup for church later this week)
2 bags salad greens B1G1  $2.99
Acorn Squash 4.42lbs @ $1.39/lb (I had no idea they were this expensive!) $6.15
Butter Quarters 2 @ 2/$5 = $5 (store coupon)
1lb Ocean Spray Fresh Cranberries $2

Total: $27.13
Total Saved According to Store Receipt: $7.77 (22%)

This leaves me with right around $32 for the rest of the month.  I already have most of the items I need for the menu plan when my parents are here - I still need ground beef (which is on sale this next week - yay!), ground pork, and shrimp but everything else we have on hand already.  The meat I need is for our traditional Christmas meals so I want to make sure we have those things on hand.  I'm pretty sure I can do it!   My parents will be here in two weeks and we're very, very excited.  My Mom has been having heart issues so I'm trying to keep things low-stress with us staying home most of the time (or as much as possible anyway). Having the majority of our food here in the house will be helpful indeed!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Thanksgiving Day here in the US and we are taking the time to celebrate and remind ourselves all we have to be thankful for.  And we have so very much!

Echinacea flowers - growing in my garden this summer.
Today I am thankful for... husband... children... career.... health...
...our home...
...our parents...
...our extended families...
....our church families...
...John's mentor Pastor...
...the power of prayer...
...good medical care...
...plenty to eat...
...plenty to wear...
...reliable transportation...
...a warm place to live in cold weather... beautiful garden... children's smiles... husbands kisses...
...time spent with friends...
...Jesus Christ...
...the gift of eternal Salvation.
What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Goals for this week - Week of November 23, 2014

I'm hoping for a quieter week this week and I decided I am going to take Thursday and Friday completely off from anything work or school related.  We have Thanksgiving Day here on Thursday and in theory at least we're all off on Friday.  I say in theory because John is the on-call person for the church over the weekend.  While real emergencies are few and far between they are very real and severe - usually involving life and death and things surrounding potential life and death.  That means he needs to be available to go right away.

I started keeping track of my weekly to do list in a little different way and I found I'm much more productive!  I write out the goals for the week and then each day I write out the days goals with a priority marking next to each item.  I focus on only the high priority items - one of today's was being ready for class tomorrow! - and ignore the items I can postpone until after all the more important stuff is done.  It's been so helpful to be able to look at my to do list and rather than just starting at the top, focus on what needs to be done!  One resource I read said to also mark by how well something had to be done - can you just do it (for instance, picking up something from the store) or do you have to spend some time and concentration on it (your homework or that homemade gift, for example).  I haven't really had to do that but just seeing at a glance that reminder of what is more important sure does help me!

Keeping a quieter week in mind for this week, here are my goals for this week:

* write test and give it
* prep for a review and a class session
* Grade!  (A lot)
* Update both course webpages

* Reading and more reading - hoping to finish one book and start the next

* Teach 2 classes this week
* Attend at least one other class this week, preferably two
* Learn 2 new routines this week
* Purchase a new power cord for my microphone receiver

* Clean off the guest room bed
* Mend 4 items (hoping for more than that!)
* Sew 3 gifts - two with Missy plus one other
* Make at least one other Christmas gift
* Have the oven coil replaced  (John is taking care of this one for me!)
* Go through the budget with John to figure out a better way of keeping track of our longer-term finance goals

* Attend Thanksgiving dinner with friends - bring fruit and dessert
* Play at least two games with the children
* Have an at home date night with John
* Phone my Mom - it's her birthday this week too!
* Phone my in-laws and my parents on Thanksgiving
* Get the children's hair cuts (I have a coupon!)

* Thanksgiving Eve worship - bring Krumkaka for the tea afterward
* Proofread John's sermon's this week (yes, sermons - there are two of them this week)
* Write two letters
* Frame artwork for John's office - we had the artwork and the frame for weeks but haven't framed it yet.  And find an Advent decoration or two for John's office. 
* Pray for our sister/partner parishes
* Update my prayer list
* Bring out the Advent items and get them set up around the house

* Paint my toenails
* Spend 30 minutes completely alone
* Spend 1 hour doing embroidery

What are you up to this week? 

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 23, 2014

I realized I haven't taken any new food photos lately so I'll leave you with a bit of summer - our red, white and blue salad from the 4th of July (apples, strawberries and blueberries).  Yum!

This week is Thanksgiving here in the US and I'm so grateful for a couple of days off from our busy routine!  We get to enjoy Thanksgiving Day with friends and a quiet Friday and Saturday too.  I'm hoping to get a few Christmas gifts sewn and catch up some grading for work.  We'll see how it goes!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, November 23:
    Breakfast: Smoothies (fruit from the freezer)
    Lunch: Baked Eggs, Cinnamon Biscuit Twists, Raspberry-Apple-Orange Salad
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Tossed Salad, Apple-Raspberry-Banana Salad

Monday, November 24:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the freezer with Raspberries and Pecans
    Lunch: Leftover Pot Pie
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner: Venison Stir Fry, Rice, Orange Wedges

Tuesday, November 25:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Craisins
    Lunch: Yogurt, Apples with Peanut Butter, Carrot Sticks, Cookie
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner: Potato Pancakes with Raspberries and Applesauce

Wednesday, November 26:
    Breakfast: Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs
    Lunch: PB&J, Apples, Yogurt, Cookie
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner:  Soup from the Freezer, Bread, Tossed Salad

Thursday, November 27, Thanksgiving Day:
    Breakfast: Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Raspberry Banana Smoothies (raspberries from the freezer)
    Lunch/Dinner: At a friend's house. Bring: Fruit and Dessert

Friday, November 28:
    Breakfast: Gingerbread Pancakes with Applesauce
    Lunch: Chicken  Flavored Rice, Carrots, Apple Slices
    Snack: Cookie, Leftover Thanksgiving Dessert
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Biscuits, Orange Wedges

Saturday, November 29:
    Breakfast: Orange Cranberry Scones
    Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, Salad
    Snack: Leftover Scones
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Super Savings Saturday - The rest of my November Grocery Money

We're at the end of November - December starts next week - and this week is Thanksgiving here in the US, so holiday it is!   I took advantage of a turkey special and bought a 14.77lb turkey for $13.15 or 89-cents per pound.  Sometimes they drop lower the week of Thanksgiving but in the preview for the sales this week, this was lowest price and I'm glad I bought the bird!  We are with friends this year and I'm bringing fruit and dessert so we'll save the turkey for Christmas or sometime next year.

No photo this week - the battery was charging - but here's what I bought:

14.77lb turkey @ $0.89/lb = $13.15
Jimmy Dean Natural Sausage 2lbs @ 1lb/$3.99 = $7.98
Mixed Fruit 3lb Bag (Red Delicious Apples, Granny Smith Apples & Naval Oranges) 2bags x $3.29 = $6.58
Large Pomegranate $1.99 (this is super cheap for here and we love these so I splurged!)
Bananas 2.26lbs @ $0.59/lb = $1.33
10lbs Russet Potatoes $3
5lbs Whole Carrots $2.49 (I will probably have to blanch and freeze some of these)
Celery Bunch $0.99
Dry Pint Red Raspberries 2 @ $2.50 ea = $5
Gallon Skim Milk $3.99

Total: $46.50
Savings (according to store receipt): $14.35 (19%)

This is about $4 over the total I had left for the month.  Since gasoline prices have been far, far lower than anticipated, we agreed I could take $4 from the gasoline cash and buy groceries, particularly the turkey.  The price will drop again around Christmas but they typically do not go as low as they do at Thanksgiving. 

Apparently there has been a turkey shortage here in the US so the price is higher than normal. In the past I've seen turkeys here for anywhere from $0.49/lb to $0.69/lb so the $0.89 was a bit hard to swallow.  Either way, now we have a bird in the freezer so it's all good! 

The sausage is for when our company is here at the end of December and I'm sure we'll still have carrots left over then too.  We'll probably go through all that fruit this week as well as the milk.  The potatoes and celery will last a few weeks but maybe not all the way to the end of December.

We're starting off December's shopping with a trip to Sam's Club to buy toilet paper and a few other items we're either low on or out of completely.  I'll let you know how that goes next week - hopefully with photos!

How did you do with your shopping this week?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Frugal Friday - Frugal Things We've Done the Last Few Weeks

It's been quiet around this blog lately - I've been fighting a lot of pain (sometimes bad enough that I am actively and obviously limping) and we've been super busy at work lately.  I was chatting with a couple of co-workers and we all agreed that this semester seems very taxing for no definite reason.  Not sure what that means in terms of work things, but it means I've been going to bed early and not doing a whole lot other than work and family. My Mom has also been struggling with some health issues that are not resolving themselves well.  If you have a minute, could you say a prayer or two for her?  Thank you so much!

We've been pretty quiet here since I haven't been able to do much and John has had church events - confirmation, committee meetings, and a junior high youth lock-in.  So the children and I have been enjoying evenings with playing, making Christmas presents (Missy is way on the ball with that one!) and watching movies.  I've been doing some grading and course prep work too. It's been very cold here (below 0F wind chill!) so we've been trying not to go outside if we don't have to.  Even with all our winter gear, that's cold!

With the quietness I feel like I don't have much to report on the frugal front, other than our usual daily stuff (cooking mostly at home, washing and reusing plastic baggies, using cloth napkins, etc.).  So this list may be shorter than normal.  Anyway, here goes - our frugal things from the last couple of weeks:

* Baked Snickerdoodle cookies once at my husband's request and once at my daughter's.

* Popped and bagged popcorn for my children to take to school for their snack.

* Made and froze waffles for the freezer.  Also made whole wheat sandwich bread (2 loaves) and white sandwich bread (2 loaves), homemade pizza (2 times) and baking biscuits several times.  One of the nights I made pizza I let the children put the toppings on since I was in so much pain and standing was difficult.  They did a great job!

* Brought home a loaf of bread, a container chili powder, and a bag of chocolate chip cookies after church events.

* Bought honey from a friend who has bee hives - we bought a small container for $10.  We used money leftover from our gas budget to buy this.

* Used some heirloom handkerchiefs to make a Christmas decoration for my Mom for Christmas this year - she loves Christmas and decorates literally every room in the house except the garage.  We have a tradition of giving her a decoration every year.  This one is one that she could leave up year round if she likes.  It cost me $6 to make.

* My daughter and I used a gift card to buy material to make blankets for her grandparents and her teacher at school.  We're hoping to have a sewing day either this weekend or next to make them.  We will have gifts for all four grandparents and her teacher for $0 out of pocket.

* I made two necklaces for gifts from items I already had on hand.  Cost was $0 out of pocket since I had all the items on hand.  I will give these to the children's piano teacher and their Sunday School teacher.  I am planning on making three more for their after-school care teacher, their art teacher and their music teacher.

* Checked several books out of the library and downloaded a couple of free ebooks for my Kindle for PC.  My son checked out several books as well.

* Bought a jar of jelly at a youth group fundraiser and got one free after the person who made it found out that I love crab apple jelly.  I guess there aren't to many people at church who like it!

* Inventoried our freezers and put together a menu for the next month so we can use our grocery money to stock up with food for the company we will have over Christmas.  I didn't realize we had that much soup in the freezer!  It will be a regular feature on our menu for the next month.

* I enjoyed a really good meal at work with our department meeting.  John has been enjoying meals at work this month. The staff and a few parishioners are taking turns cooking lunch for the entire staff during November and December.  I sent pasta salad and my husband made chili using what we have on hand.  Another day we sent homemade turkey noodle soup in the crockpot using things we had on hand and a parishioner had dropped off two loaves of bread that they ate with that.  They will do the same thing during Lent and Easter in the spring 

* My parents sent us a box of coffee and a box of cocoa from their free trade coffee source through church.  My Dad is the person that orders the coffee through the free trade organization and he decided to order us a box of coffee (6 bags of beans) and a box of cocoa (6 cans of cocoa mix).  They needed to order an extra box of coffee to meet their free shipping quota since someone had moved and wouldn't be ordering coffee through their church anymore.  The coffee is whole bean and should last us quite a while.  John is enjoying the cocoa at work since Lutheran churches are known for having lots of coffee on hand and he doesn't drink coffee!   I saved two of the containers of cocoa mix to give to the children's band and PE teachers as Christmas gifts.

* Our top oven coil went out (we have an electric oven) and we were wondering how we were going to pay to repair it.  We received a good sized rebate check this last week and the repair man comes on Wednesday this next week (just in time for Thanksgiving!).  I'm hoping to have a little left over to get a couple of clothing items for John for Christmas.  

* We had to cancel our trip to my in-laws for Thanksgiving and were able to transfer our pre-paid hotel room to another date.  Happy we had pre-paid otherwise we would not have been able to do that!   We will be spending Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house and enjoying a very quiet weekend at home, which I am very grateful for.  We had reserved our hotel room last spring and pre-paid since we didn't know what type of finances we would have at this point in the fall.  I'm just happy we can go spend some time with them even if it isn't over Thanksgiving!

* Buddy and Missy have been doing a lot of cleaning out of the toys and other items in their rooms that they don't play with or wear anymore.  We donated three  trash bags of items to the local thrift store in exchange for store credit.

I think that's it. How have you been frugal lately?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of Novembet 16, 2014

The sunset out our front window last week - this photo does NOT do it justice!  It was amazing.
It's Monday, and that means I get to share what we're eating again!   I hope you are eating well.  John mentioned one day that even though the fruit drawer and some of the shelves in the fridge are empty by the end of the week, we so fortunate to have so much good food to eat!   I totally agree! 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, November 16:
    Breakfast: Smoothies (using frozen fruit)
    Lunch: Scrambled Eggs, Fried Diced Potatoes, Grapefruit
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Tossed Salad, Apple-Banana-Mandarin Orange Salad

Monday, November 17:
    Breakfast: Pancakes with Applesauce and Diced Apples
    Lunch: Leftover Pot Pie
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Potato Soup, Biscuits, Apple Wedges

Tuesday, November 18:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Apples and Cinnamon
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Vegetarian Chili, Cornbread, Grapefruit

Wednesday, November 19:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch; Apples with PB, Cut Veggies, Yogurt
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Baked Potatoes with Leftover Chili, Tossed Salad, Apple-Banana-Mandarin Orange Salad

Thursday, November 20:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Pecans
    Lunch: Leftover Potatoes and Chili
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Vegetable Barley Soup in the Crockpot, French Bread, Apple Slices

Friday, November 21:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Scrambled Eggs, Waffles, Grapefruit

Saturday, November 22:
    Breakfast: Maple Oat Scones
    Lunch; Something yummy - Missy and I are home alone today while Buddy and John are at scouts, so we'll come up with something good to eat for just the two of us!
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
    Dessert: Apple-Pear Crisp

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Super Savings Saturday - $32.69 Shopping Trip

Our groceries this week.

It's been quite the couple of weeks at our house - shingles, ice and snow, and some overwhelming stuff at work for me, lots of evenings and weekends for John and Buddy added the boy's basketball team at school to the mix just because he didn't have enough going on!   Much of it has been good but I am missing my quiet weekends.  We've also had some financial surprises - Missy's winter coat bit the dust and the oven needs a new heating coil.  We have the money for it but, honestly, it's so hard to see the savings we've worked for the last few years slowly creep down as expenses come up.  I know that that is why we have been saving, but it hurts in a way none-the-less.

Anyway, John went to the store today and bought $32.69 in groceries.  Here's what he got:

Crisco Oil 48oz 2 @ $1.99 (store coupon) = $3.98
Store Brand Canned Beans (1 Navy, 2 chili, 1 black) 4 @ $0.59 = $2.36
Pillsbury Bleached All-Purpose Flour 5lb 2 @ $1.99 (store coupon) = $3.98
Store Brand Premium Bacon 2 @ $1.99 = $3.98
Bananas 2.79lbs @ $0.59/lb = $1.65
3lbs Cortland Apples $2.49
White Mushrooms $0.99 (store coupon)
2lb Yellow Onions $1.29
Smart Balance Spread $2.49
1 gallon Skim Milk $3.99
1 dozen Grade A Eggs 2 @ $1.25ea (store coupon) = $2.50

Total $32.69
Savings (according to store receipt) $9.88 (23%)

For the rest of this month, November, we have $42 and change left for groceries/toiletries/paper products (we spent over $40 last week on stocking up on some things including some pork loin).   That means I have to watch and plan carefully for the rest of the month! 

Come back Monday to see what we're eating!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 2, 2014

Okay, so that's totally *not* edible food - but it was food for the soul!   That was the rainbow over our backyard back in September.  BEAUTIFUL!   The kids and I just stood on the back step in awe for a while. 

We have a rather lazy week this week - John only has one evening meeting and I have NOTHING.  Hurrah!  We are heading out of mid-terms at school and I feel like I just got done running a marathon.  The house looks like an explosion occurred and between all of that and the 5, yes five, Halloween/Harvest parties we had this last week, I'm ready for some peace and quiet!  

We found out our benefits are changing in January and we somehow have to squeeze $300 a month more out of our budget.  If we start saving now for that, it won't be as bad, so we shuffled some things around in the budget so we can do that.  Tight is the name of the game around here this fall (and all spring!) but we at least decided not to change the grocery budget.  After our huge disaster of a budget this past summer we decided that this is as low as we're willing to go - at least for now.

Anyway, I think the last of the garden produce is done this week.  We have three more green cherry tomatoes, our lone acorn squash and two the kohlrabi in the house and that's it from the garden produce from this summer.  We do have what I blanched and froze so we will be eating that and bit of bagged greens and carrots and a few other things as they are affordable from the store. 

After our $30.55 shop on Saturday, here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, November 2, 2014:
    Breakfast: Banana-Blueberry Smoothies
    Lunch: Waffles with Walnuts and Applesauce
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner:  Turkey, Tossed Salad, Plum-Pineapple-Pear Salad

Monday, November 3, 2014:
    Breakfast: Pancakes with Applesauce and Walnuts
    Lunch: Leftover Turkey and Salad
    Snack:   Yogurt
    Dinner: Meatball Soup, Cornbread, Plums

Tuesday, November 4, 2014:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Soup, Celery Sticks
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Stuffed Acorn Squash, Roasted Potatoes, Sliced Pineapple and Pears

Wednesday, November 5, 2014:
    Breakfast: Waffles with Applesauce and Walnuts
    Lunch: Turkey and Cheese Kabobs, Plums, Cookie
    Snack: Pretzels (from Trick-or-Treating)
    Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Tossed Salad, Plums

Thursday, November 6, 2014:
    Breakfast: Yogurt Parfaits with Blueberries
    Lunch: PB&J Waffle Sandwiches, Plums, Carrot and Celery Sticks
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner: Venison with Potatoes and Carrots, Biscuits, Plum-Pear-Mandarin Orange Salad

Friday, November 7, 2014:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Bananas
    Lunch: Leftover Venison or Pot Pie
    Snack: Cookie
    Dinner:  Veggie Stir Fry, Rice, Plums

Saturday, November 8, 2014:
    Breakfast: Cinnamon Breakfast Biscuits, Blueberry Smoothies
    Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches, Leftover Soups
    Dessert: Cookies
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

I'm also planning on baking sugar cookies and ginger cookies this week for snacks and lunches as well as well as making granola and homemade bread (I'll either make sandwich bread or French bread, I'm not sure which yet).   I'm planning on baking the cookies on Sunday afternoon and the bread on Tuesday evening but we'll see how things work themselves out.  That's the plan for now anyway!
What are you eating this week?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - October 2014

Wow, has the fall just flown by.... whiz!  I can't believe we're in November already.   I guess that is how the seasons change around here.  Here are a few of my favorite things from October this year:

The last of my flowers blooming before we started to get "cold".

Aren't they beautiful?  My roses are having one last hurrah right now - I love it!
We had amazing fall color here this year.  I took the long way to work most days just because it let me soak up that beautiful color longer.  Sadly, I don't have any photos.
My children playing their instruments have really made progress this month - it's super fun to hear them playing and I think they're enjoying it too.

My daughter was adamant that she saw something really cool in the clouds one day and had to take a photo of it. Now we have no memory of what that something really cool was but I love the photo anyway.
Having my children making pictures in the clouds. 
My children playing well together - Legos, catch, card games, etc. 

My son got these colorful glitter "tattoos" at a party he went to - Loki and Thor.  My son was Thor for Halloween with a super awesome, Grandma made costume and an even more awesome Grandpa made hammer!
My daughter going to a slumber party for a friend's birthday and having a great time.  Even more - she came home with a really beautiful tie dyed t-shirt she made herself!   That girl has awesome color sense!
John really getting settled in in his Internship church.  It's a great fit for him and we're so grateful for everything that has been happening there.  He's learning so much and having a great time doing it.
My parents purchasing their plane tickets to come up for Christmas - we weren't sure they were going to make it.  So glad that they can come!
My daughter decided that we had to make more Halloween decorations this year.  So we played around on the internet for a while.  We found this saying and she made a sign.

Here's what the area by our front door looked like.  The sign above, two "brooms" my daughter made with twigs from the yard and rubber bands, and a frog flower pot we've had for years.  The flower we had in there this summer was already done for the year, so it was perfect!  I think I'm going to tuck the brooms into the corner of the garage for use next year too.
She also made pom-pom jack-o-lanterns for the top of the roll top desk and ghost luminaries for the driveway.  Both using things we had on hand.

Not having to buy candy for a long while. *wink*

We've been on a board game kick for family nights this last month.  This one is "By Jove".  My husband used to play this all the time growing up, so when he had the chance to buy this at a garage sale a few years ago he snapped it up!  The board is similar to Monopoly but the game is very different (but also long!).  The children love it!
Getting started on Christmas gifts for family.  I have a couple of things for the children, something I want to make for my Operation Christmas Child boxes, and I'm going to help the children make gifts for their teachers and Grandparents and then I think we're done! I think buying ahead was a smart idea this year!
Skipping hand in hand with my son.
Watching my daughter dance - she is getting so good and she just loves it!
Finally getting caught up on my grading.
My mom's heart tests coming back good - her heart is very healthy! Hurray!
My friend and her newborn daughter being safe and healthy after a very long, difficult pregnancy and delivery.  Now praying for another friend and her unborn daughter who are going through a similar struggle.
Five super fun Halloween/Harvest parties with lots of good food, friends and conversation.  I'm so glad that we have such good friends!
Morning hugs from my children.
Holding hands with my husband.
Bonfires in the fire pit in the back yard.
Pumpkin chocolate-chip monster cookies - super yum!
Getting my children's artwork from school last year hung on the walls in the family room.  I've had the frames and artwork mostly together for the last month, but I really needed to get them hung.  Finally did it! Yay!  And it looks great.  (I should probably email a photo of it hanging up to their art teacher at school, don't you think?)
Having such delicious things to eat on a tight budget.
Being able to clean out and treat a friend who just bought his first Christmas Tree in almost 10 years to ornaments for that tree.  He is alone on the holidays and hasn't felt like decorating since his last family member passed on, so this is a huge deal!  He decorates early and I was so excited that I could bless him with our excess!
Homemade bread, warm from the oven with a little butter.
Finding the hand knit slippers that my grandma made me years ago.  The small ones fit the children, the "grown up" ones fit me. John doesn't like slippers so it all works out well.  An I get such and nice remember of my Grandma.  I had tucked the slippers away in the back of a dresser drawer and totally forgotten about them!
What have been your favorite things in October 2014?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Super Savings Saturday - $30.55 spent

Hurray!  I finally got my photos to sort of behave themselves So here you are....

I had a really good chuckle because the first thing it offered to upload for you was my gradebook for my T/Th class at school!   Too funny! I really don't think you need to see that!

Anyway, here was our shop for this week.

John and Buddy went to one store and bought the following:

1 Lysol toilet cleaner $1.99 (with coupon)
1 Tide Laundry detergent $5.99 (sale price) - $2/1 coupon = $3.99
2 Creamette Mini Shells Pasts $0.88 x 2 = $1.76 (sale price)
Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup $1.20 x 2 = $2.40 (totally not a good price, I know)
1 can Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas)  $0.89
2.78lbs Pears @ $0.99/lb = $2.75
2lbs Whole Carrots $0.99
2.62 lbs Large Black Plums @ $0.49/lb = $.1.28 (I should have had John get three times as many of these and forget the pears!)
Whole white Mushrooms $0.99 (with coupon)
2.90lbs Yellow Bananas @ $0.59/lb = $1.71
Kraft Shredded Cheese $1.99 x 2 = $3.98 (with coupon)
Kemp's Skim Milk 1 gallon $3.99
Secret Antiperspirant 2/$4 x 2 - $1/2 coupon = $3

Total: $30.55 (including $0.85 in sales tax on the toilet cleaner, detergent, and antiperspirant - Minnesota doesn't have sales tax on food or clothing)
Total savings according to receipt: $6.12 (17%)

I also received $0.05 off/gallon at my next trip to the gas station with my loyalty card.

What did you buy on your shopping trip this week?

And come back Monday to see what we're eating this week - we have a lazy week this week (only one evening meeting!) so we're cooking up a storm around here!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Menu Plan Monday and This Week's Groceries

Well, Hello there!

Thanks for sticking around and waiting for me to get my computer "issues" unraveled.  I now I have a very nice new laptop - one that is a higher quality and sturdier than I have bought in a few years.  Since we don't have a desktop computer anymore, this is the one that I will be using for work too.  I have been having difficulty getting the photos transferred from my iPod/camera so I don't have any photos for you.  Hopefully by next week, I will have that problem fixed!

The last few weeks we've been staying at $25/week give or take $1.50 from our $30/week budget for groceries.  That meant we had a few "extra" dollars in the envelope for this week's shop and we spent $42 this week for groceries and a couple of boxes of plastic zipper top bags, mostly used for lunches and snacks for the children.  I have some materials to make fabric, reusable versions but I haven't had the time yet!  Unfortunately, I misplaced the receipt so I can't give you exact dollar amounts (you know I'll find it after I post this - if so, then I'll update the list!) on some things.  I'll do the best I can.

Here's what we bought this last week:

Store #1:
2 boxes Zipper top sandwich bags approximately $3

Store #2:
10 Yoplait Greek Yogurt 8oz 10/$8 - $1/5 coupon  = $7 (or $0.70 each)
6 cans S&W beans (2 each black, kidney and chili) @ $0.69/can = $4.14
1 Gallon Kemp's Milk approx. $4
Grapes @ $1.89/lb
Bananas @ $0.59/lb
4 cans Progresso soups $1each - 2 x $0.50/2 coupons = $3 ($0.75/ea)
Smart Balance
3lbs Onions
2 x 5lbs Russet Potatoes @ 2/$3
Two bags salad greens B1G1 $2.99

I *think* that's it!
We paid just under $42 for all of the groceries. 
There was a whole saga with being overcharged for the grapes and John taking them back to the store very angry.  They were very kind and refunded us the price difference and sent him home with his bag of grapes.  He was somewhat mollified but he really doesn't like our grocery shopping options right now!

We also brought home several snack-size bags of tortilla chips left over from a church event on Saturday evenings (I still haven't decided if having food sent home from every event with us is a perk or not!).

We still have beets, kohlrabi, and carrots in the fridge from our CSA, though we're hitting the tail end of those (3 carrots, 2 kohlrabi and 2 beets).  The tomatoes I picked green a couple of weeks ago are now getting ready for eating.  And we have some apples, a quarter of a honeydew and a pineapple from last week too.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, October 26:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Bananas
   Lunch: PB&J Biscuits, Sliced Apples, Yogurt
   Snack: At a church event
   Dinner:  Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks (we didn't have these on Saturday so I made them here instead)

Monday, October 27:
    Breakfast: Breakfast Biscuit Sandwiches (Biscuits with Egg and Turkey and cheese if we want it)
    Lunch: Leftover Taco Soup, Chips, Yogurt
    Snack: Trail Mix (I had some left over from a work event last week)
    Dinner: Chicken Flavored Rice with Broccoli and Diced Chicken, Apple-Banana-Grape Salad

Tuesday, October 28:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Dried Cranberries
    Lunch: Leftover Rice and Broccoli, Yogurt
    Snack: Trail Mix
    Dinner: Venison Chops in the Crockpot with Potatoes and Carrots, Tossed Salad, Sliced Apples

Wednesday, October 29:
    Breakfast; Pancakes with Bananas and Pecans
    Lunch: Sliced Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Cut Veggies
    Snack: Trail Mix
    Dinner: At an event at the Children's School

Thursday, October 30:
     Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches, Cut Veggies, Sliced Apples or Pears
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Homemade Bread, Tossed Salad, Sliced Apples or Pears

Friday, October 31, Halloween (All Hallow's Eve):
    Breakfast: Waffles with Applesauce
    Lunch: Salad with Walnuts, Dried Cranberries and Sliced Pears
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Veggie Stir Fry, Rice, Sliced Pineapple

Saturday, November 1, All Saint's Day:
    Breakfast: Orange Cranberry Scones (frozen cranberries and OJ)
    Lunch: Salad with Chicken and Sliced Pears
    Snack: Leftover Scones
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks, Sliced Pineapple

That's it for us this week!  Hopefully next week I'll have photos for you too.

What are you eating this week?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 28, 2014

Wow - this week ends September.  I don't think I'm ready for that yet.  Didn't we just start school?

Anyway, we have a fairly calm week this week for us.  John only has one evening meeting and I don't  have anything in the evening yet this week!  I am teaching an extra Jazzercise class but that's early enough I can still get the kids from school if I need to.   I'm hoping to use some of the time in the evenings to finish getting the furniture tidied up, the artwork hung and all that stuff.  We decided to completely re-arrange our family and living rooms this year using furniture we already had.  We did end up buying one new chair because one of ours was in pretty rough shape and fixing it was not worth is (it would cost way more to fix it than it's worth in any way, shape or form).  We had some IKEA credit from a returned purchase and used that to purchase a chair for the living room.   I'm excited to see how both rooms function now that we've basically got everything moved!

John is sermon writing this week and I have grading coming out of my ears.  Plus we get new Jazzercise routines this week.

And I totally forgot to mention yesterday with my shopping trip that I brought home two beets and four bell peppers from the Harvest Party at our CSA (where Buddy lost and then found his glasses) and we picked 18 tomatoes (most yellow pear, but some purple cherry) this week from our yard as well.  So we have some fresh veggies for "free" still! Yay.

With all of that in mind, here's what we're eating this week (until my computer gets fixed I don't have any photos - sorry):

Sunday, September 28:
     Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter
     Lunch:  At a friend's house
     Snack: Sugar Cookies
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Monday, September 29:
     Breakfast: Pancakes from the Freezer
     Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Cut Veggies
     Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
     Dinner: Fish Tacos (we ended up not having these last week), lemon-butter kohlrabi, Peach-Grape-Apple Salad

Tuesday, September 30:
      Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Craisins
      Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
      Snack:  Oatmeal Cookies
      Dinner: Veggie Marinara with Noodles, Tossed Salad, Grapes

Wednesday, October 1:
      Breakfast: Lemon Scones, Blueberry-Strawberry Smoothies
      Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
      Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
      Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup, Biscuits, Sliced Peaches

Thursday, October 2:
      Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Brown Sugar
      Lunch: PB&J Biscuits, Cut Veggies, Sliced Apples
      Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
      Dinner: Veggie Stir Fry, Rice, Sliced Peaches
Friday, October 3:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the freezer
    Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
    Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
    Dinner: Turkey Sandwiches, Cut Veggies

Saturday, October 4:
     Breakfast: At  a School Event
     Lunch: Tuna Wrap Sandwiches Cut Veggies
     Snack: Popcorn
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Super Savings - $25.47 shopping trip

Hello everyone!

We had a very good week shopping-wise and a week the rest of the way that John called "a very bad country-western song."  You know the kind - the car broke down, the dog died, and the guy's favorite girl won't give him the time of day.  Ours wasn't that stereotypical - it included car repairs with a four digit price tag, my computer completely dying (we don't know the price tag on that one yet), and John getting a scan to find out if he had kidney stones or not (thankfully he does not).   We ended the week with Buddy losing his glasses in the partly mowed wheat field we had a hay ride in last night - after dark of course.  By the time we went to bed last night, we were all about ready to call it quits - on what I don't know, but we were all ready for the week to be over!

Today started out much better with the children and I getting to sleep in and attend the second Worship service today and then actually finding Buddy's glasses when we went to walk the field in what we thought would be a fruitless attempt to find them in one piece!  I'll take it!

Anyway, John ran to the grocery store yesterday while I was moving furniture around in the house.  He went to one store and here's what he got:

1 pkg Crisco butter-flavored sticks $3.79
Store Brand granulated sugar 4lb $2.49
Fresh Express Salad 2 bags at 2/$4 (store coupon) $4
Peaches 2.68lb @ $1.69/lb = $4.53
1lb Baby Carrots $0.99 (sale price)
Red Seedless Grapes 2.86lbs @ $1.29/lb = $3.69
Kemp's Skim Milk Gallon $3.99
Store Brand Grade A Eggs 1 Dozen $1.99

Total Spent: $25.47
Store promotions saved me $1.58 according to my receipt.

Come back tomorrow to see what we're eating.  And I may be posting less often until we figure out my computer situation!

Thanks for your patience and have a wonderful rest of the day.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 21, 2014

Wheat Berry Salad - my lunch one day last week.  Wheat kernels, mixed greens, walnuts, dried cranberries and a vinaigrette dressing.  Tasty and filling!  This is my go-to when we don't have leftovers to take.

It's Monday again and that means it's time to share what we're eating this week!

We have a week where John has evening meetings Monday through Wednesday and I have something Thursday evening and then we have a pot luck on Saturday evening.   John will be home for dinner every night but Wednesday and I'll be home for dinner every night so we need things that are easy or already cooked (hello crockpot!) so we can eat quick and go to our evening things.  Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, September 21:
      Breakfast: Smoothies
      Lunch: Baked Eggs, Cinnamon Biscuit Twists, Sliced Peaches
      Snack: Rice Krispie Treats
      Dinner: Grilled Venison Steaks and Veggies, Sliced Apples
      Dessert: Grilled Pineapple with Brown Sugar

Monday, September 22:
      Breakfast: Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs
      Lunch: Leftovers, Hot Lunch for the Children
      Snack: Pretzels
      Dinner: Easy Black Bean Soup, Cornbread, Pineapple-Grape-Mandarin Orange Salad

Tuesday, September 23:
       Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Cranberries
       Lunch: Leftovers, Hot Lunch for the Children
       Snack: Pretzels
       Dinner: Apple-BBQ Chicken (in the crockpot), Rice, Apple-Pineapple-Pear Salad

Wednesday, September 24:
      Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
      Lunch: Turkey Wraps, Yogurt, Grapes
      Snack: Popcorn
      Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup (in the crockpot), Biscuits, Sliced Apples

Thursday, September 25:
      Breakfast: Oatmeal with Apples and Cinnamon
      Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Cut Veggies
      Snack: Yogurt for mom, Popcorn for everyone else
      Dinner: Sandwiches, Cut Veggies, Sliced Apples

Friday, September 26:
      Breakfast:  Breakfast Biscuits
      Lunch: Leftovers, Hot Lunch for the Children
      Snack: Apples with Peanut Butter
      Dinner: Fish Tacos, Grapes

Saturday, September 27:
      Breakfast:  Lemon Scones, Grapes
      Lunch: Tuna Wraps, Apples
      Snack: Leftover Scones
      Dinner: Pot Luck: Bring Apple Oatmeal Bars

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Super Savings Saturday - Restocking and Today's $35 Shopping Trip

Well, hello there!

Sorry for the time off!  We've had strep and various other illnesses running around our house and I've decided sleep, rather than things like blogging and grading papers, was the more important thing!   Thanks for your patience!
In spite of all the sickness, we're firmly settled into the "new" routine, at least for the most part.  John takes the children to school in the morning and I pick them up most days.  This is a complete switch from our previous years and it still feels just plain weird.   We're making it work and the children are enjoying the change!   Missy is now playing the trumpet and Buddy is playing the clarinet through their school.  Yes, our house gets loud but they are enjoying it and I firmly believe you can never have too many books or too much music in a house!  Between the trumpet, clarinet and piano it seems like there's always someone practicing something.  I have to say I absolutely love it!

Shopping is an adventure right now.  After a bit of a bummer for the summer when it came to shopping, we're going to be trying to keep our shopping budget low to make up for where we overspent.  So far I've used some of the money we got from John's first paycheck and my first paycheck to "stock up" a bit on some things.   John assisted at a funeral last week and we got an extra $50 that we coupled with some other grocery money and went to Sam's club to stock up on a few things we were either totally out of or running low on.   Here's the rundown from last week at Sam's Club last week (total was somewhere around $75 - I misplaced the receipt!):

*Toilet Paper (We were down to two rolls in the house - not good!  We decided to try a new brand with more sheets per roll.  So far so good!)
* 2 25lb bags of white bread flour (Totally out of this!)
* Ground Beef (we were down to turkey, a bit of chicken and little bit of fish that my parents had bought us)
* Lemonade Mix
* Salt (4lbs for $1.17 - this should last us a few years)
* Oregano (We were out and something ate my plant this year)
* Children's Motrin (We were out of this too.)
* One Whole Pineapple ($2.79, which is really cheap around here!)
* One Gallon Skim Milk $2.79 also

On Saturday last week we saw my cousin, Diane, and her husband, Bo, and they brought us about 10lbs of venison steaks and chops.   I was so excited!  We haven't had red meet in our freezer most of the summer so that was a blessing.  Bo hunts quite a bit and they were cleaning out their freezer getting ready for the arrival of hunting season.  We got blessed and so did their oldest son and his family.  No money out of pocket for us!

On Monday, John swung by the local grocery store on his way home and bought 6lbs of apples for 41-cents/lb and 10lbs of potatoes for 50-cents/lb.   Total Spent: $7.49.

On Thursday we picked up our fruit box.  This was already paid for so no money out of pocket.
We received a combination of apples, peaches, pears, plum and grapes this time.  We have two more of these boxes left.  Our mostly vegetable CSA is all done for the year.  We have bee picking tomatoes from our garden but that's all we have left at this point.  It's been cool at night so I may have to pick the rest of the tomatoes green one of these days.

My only photo this week - our fruit box - the plums are hiding on the other side of the grapes!  Yum!

Today John ran to the store again and bought the following:

* 1 box Rice Krispies Cereal $2.99 (my daughter volunteered to bring Rice Krispie treats for a bake sale at school on Monday - I have marshmallows and butter, so we just bought these)
* Store Brand Vegetable Oil 48oz $2.50
* 4lb Brown Sugar $1.69
* Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast 6.21lbs @ $1.88/lb =  $11.68
* 2lb Yellow Onions $1.69 (we were totally out of onions, including green onions)
* 250ct Coffee filters $1.79 (I usually wait for a $1 or B1G1 sale, but I was totally out!)
* 20 Yoplait Yogurts @ 20/$10 =  $10 (these make for easy lunches)
* Smart Balance $2.49

Total Spent today (including $0.13 tax on the coffee filters): $34.96

The receipt has stopped counting how much we've "saved" with the sale prices and I don't want to waste my time trying to figure it out.

Over the summer I learned that we use a lot more canned diced tomatoes, bread flour and vegetable oil than I thought we did.  I also learned that I really like to have something crunchy to snack on in the house (crackers, pretzels, cereal).  We also use quite a bit more honey and maple syrup (the real stuff) than I thought we did.   We bought a case each of corn and green beans before summer started and we have most of those left due to the fresh veggies from the garden.  We didn't get quite as much produce as we usually due this year so I know they will get used this fall.  We also really don't like canned fruit other than mandarin oranges and applesauce.  I think that's a texture thing.

We go through about 5lbs of flour per week - two or more loaves of bread or two loaves and a batch of biscuits; muffins or quick bread; waffles or pancakes; and the crust for two pizzas plus breadsticks each week.  That's a lot of baking I realized!   Anyway, at 5lbs a week the two 25lb bags of flour should last me until the holiday sales on flour start.  I've been trying to bake bread on either Saturday or Sunday, but sometimes that doesn't work out.  

I'm hoping at this point I can just start stocking up on things when they truly go on sale.  That's my plan so we'll see how that goes!
Come back Monday to see what we're eating!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of August 31, 2014

Aren't these cute?  A friend got them for us last week to celebrate John's first week of Internship!
This is a busy week - first week of the semester! I'm not sure who it's busier for, the teachers or the students!  Anyway, the children and I start this week and the church switches from summer programming to fall with Rally Sunday (our big kick-off for school-year programming) on the 7th.  Some of the children's activities start this week, some start next week.  I'm not sure if that's easing into things or not.  Either way, I *think* we've come up with a reasonable plan to get through the semester without overspending our grocery budget! 

A couple of quick notes about this week:   We have a tradition of serving doughnuts on the first day of school - this started when the children were 3 years old so I don't think we're going to quit any time soon!  We also meet some friends for ice cream after dinner that evening and we will be using a gift card to pay for that.  Both John and I are taking our lunches now and we both have refrigerators and microwaves at work - such a HUGE blessing!  John is also eating breakfast at home now - something he didn't do before so we have had to adjust our menus to accommodate his breakfast taste too! 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, August 31:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: BLT's, Cut Veggies, Tiger Melon
   Snack: Homemade Sugar Cookies
   Dinner: Lebanese Lentil and Rice Pilaf with Blackened Onions, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, and Orange Wedges

Monday, September 1, Labor Day:
     Breakfast: Buttermilk Coffee Cake
     Lunch:  Hot Dogs, Corn on the Cob, Potatoes (all on the grill), Grape-Plum-Pear Salad
     Snack: Leftover Coffee Cake
     Dinner; Eggplant Parmesan, Bread, Plums

Tuesday, September 2, First Day of 4th Grade:
    Breakfast: Doughnuts, Banana-Blueberry Smoothies
    Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for the Children
    Snack: Sugar Cookies, Goldfish Crackers
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
    Dessert: Ice Cream

Wednesday, September 3:
    Breakfast: Breakfast Sandwiches (Biscuits with Ham and Egg)
    Lunch: Turkey Sandwich, Cut Veggies, Plum
    Snack: Sugar Cookies, Goldfish Crackers
    Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup in the Crockpot, Bread, Sliced Pears

Thursday, September 4:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Orange Wedges
     Lunch: Leftover Soup, Bread, Cut Veggies
     Snack: Sugar Cookies, Goldfish Crackers
     Dinner: Veggie Stir Fry, Rice, Plums

Friday, September 5:
     Breakfast: Spiced Pancakes with Applesauce
     Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
     Snack: Sugar Cookies, Goldfish Crackers
     Dinner: Vegetarian Chili, Cornbread, Pears or Plums

Saturday, September 6:
     Breakfast: Maple Oat Scones
     Lunch: Baked Potatoes with Leftover Chili, Cut Veggies
     Snack: Sugar Cookies
     Dinner: Fried Tilapia, Couscous, Roasted Summer Squash

What are you eating this week?