Monday, December 28, 2015

Frugal Friday - On a Monday

Well, welcome to the last few days of 2015!
Is anyone else just complete befuddled as me as to where this last year went?  I feel like I blinked and the year was over! 

It's been a year of change at our house and a year of medical issues and several other things as well. The children are growing up, our parents and John's siblings are getting older, and I guess that means we're getting older too. 

John and I have all sorts of plans for 2016 that I'll be sharing with you in a few days but for now, we're going to work on frugal things from the last couple of weeks:

*  Ate most of the meals at home.  My parents have treated us to a couple of meals out and we each had a free meal at work - me for a co-worker's retirement party and John for the annual holiday meal.

* We made all of the following things at home food-wise: French Bread, Lesfe, Swedish Meatballs and Mashed potatoes, cream of chicken wild rice soup, seafood chowder (this is my Dad's specialty!), and cookies.

* I sewed my daughter a "dance bag" - a fabric bag with straps and specialized holders inside for her tap and jazz shoes.  I gave this to her for a Christmas present.

* My Mom used a $50 rebate card to buy us a set of medium mixing/serving bowls and some glass food storage containers.  She had it leftover from something else and didn't need it so she offered to get us some things on our "To Purchase" list.

* My children made figures for a new board game they received for Christmas with clay they also received for Christmas.

* We drove around our neighborhood after Christmas Eve worship and looked at Christmas lights.  Minimal cost for a little bit of entertainment.

* I finished another present for my son - I had hoped to finish it for Christmas but now it will be either an Easter gift or a Birthday gift.

* My parents bought us groceries to replace some things they'd eaten while visiting - fruit, milk and a little meat and coffee.  We were so blessed!

* Our children took the sleds that we already owned to a neighborhood sledding hill with some friends for an afternoon of fun after the little bit of snow we finally received.  They had a blast and came home wanting hot chocolate!

* I spent $8 on after-Christmas sales to get two strands of 100-LED lights to replace to strands of broken non-LED lights that we were using inside the house for decorating. We should be set for a good long while now!
* I made a list of gifts we'd like to give in 2016 - almost all of them homemade.  I will start working on these in January and continue working through the year so that we have all of them.  We have almost everything we need to make all of these gifts so it means we will be able to bless many others while spending very little out of pocket. 

* We received several seed and plan catalogs in the mail this week and I started dreaming about my garden this coming summer!  It's been fun and in January we'll have to get serious about what we want if we want to take advantage of early bird deals.

I *think* that's about it.  What have you been doing on the frugal font the last few weeks?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Joy to the World!


Joy to the World!

Test: Isaac Watts
Tune: George F. Handel, adapted
Joy to the World!
The Lord has come!
Let earth receive her 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 Savior reigns!
Let all their songs employ,
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding 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 curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse if 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.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel

Oh, come, oh, come Emmanuel

Text: Psalteriolum Cantoinum Catholicarum
Translated: John M. Neale
Tune: French Processional, 15th Century
Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel
And rasom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O, Israel!
Oh, come, oh, come great Lord of might,
Who to your tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O, Israel!
Oh, come, strong Branch of Jesse,
Free Your own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell your people save
And give them vict'ry o'er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O, Israel!
Oh, come, blest Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by your advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O, Israel!
Wishing you a blessed and peaceful night!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of December 13th, 2015

I added the above photo because potato soup is the closest thing I have in my photo arsenal to Chicken Wild Rice Soup, which is on the menu this week.  I think I need to take more photos!

We have company for three weeks starting on Tuesday and we are EXCITED!!!!  We also have events Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings this week so we have to make sure that we have enough leftovers for lunches this week too.  So, Chicken Wild Rice Soup in the crockpot to the rescue!  Yum!

John made one trip to the store this weekend and bought eggs ($1.79/doz), grapes ($1.88/lb), apples ($1.29/lb) and a whole chicken ($1.29/lb) to round out our $100 for the two weeks.  A co-worker gave us 5lbs of Halo Clementine's after realizing that he was the only one in the family that was going to eat them (he had bought two boxes 5lb boxes) and another co-worker gave me a 1lb bag of carob powder.  I think I'm ready for baking and for company!  We'll have to buy potatoes with this week's money if we want to have our traditional Lefse, but we won't make that until Wednesday, December 23rd so I think we have some time to get those.

We did buy 3lbs of Christmas cookies for $10 at church Sunday morning.  Our women's group does this every year as a fundraiser for the Missions our congregation support and we had the money in our giving fund so we bought cookies.  Some are more complicated than I will make so it's nice to have the variety!
Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, December 13:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Clementine's
   Lunch: Scrambled Eggs, Diced Fried Potatoes, Sausage
   Snack: Christmas Cookies
   Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Sliced Apples

Monday, December 14:
   Breakfast; Scrambled Eggs, Toast
   Lunch: Leftover Turkey Pot Pie
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Waffles, Sausage, Applesauce

Tuesday, December 15:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Pecans
    Lunch: Leftover Pot Pie
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Chicken Wild Rice Soup, Homemade Bread, Apple-Grape-Orange Salad

Wednesday, December 16:
    Breakfast:  Oatmeal Muffins, Blueberry Smoothies
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: At a Scouting Event: Bring a Fruit Salad

Thursday, December 17:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Out after the Children's Christmas Program at School (treat from my parents)

Friday, December 18:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Split Pea with Ham Soup in the Crockpot
    Snack: Christmas Cookies
    Dinner: At a School Function

Saturday, December 19:
   Breakfast: Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Blueberry Smoothies
   Lunch: Salad with Leftover Soup
   Snack: Christmas Cookies
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Frugal Friday - Getting Ready for Company Edition!

I feel like 2015 is just flying by - it's hard for me to realize that December is almost halfway done!  Yikes!  Where has the time gone?

We have company coming for Christmas starting next week for three weeks and then we're into 2016 and John's Birthday.  The semester is ending and I need to get grades done and all the other paperwork "stuff" that comes with end of the semester.   John is super busy with all the Advent and Christmas "stuff" and ministering to several ill and dying people and their families. I'm very grateful that the semester is almost over and the children and I can rest for a few days!  I'm hoping that John gets a few days too.
Frugal is still the name of the game here so here's what we've been doing the last week:

*  Ate all meals at home or brown-bagged except for one meal that was provided during a work meeting and another that was at a church event.

* Picked up a free loaf of bread with a punch card from a local bakery.

* A friend gave us a bag of carob powder.  She had ordered some online and didn't realize it came in a four pack!  She gave away two and we were the recipients of one of those two.

* A secret Santa event I'm participating in has been really fun - I've been using gifts from my "stash" and I've received a bottle of body wash, hair elastics and a bag of chocolates!  I needed the first two and I am definitely going to enjoy the third!

* Enjoyed free entertainment with the children's sporting events.  I have to say 5th grade basketball is hilarious!
* Put up all the greenery and lights from our Christmas decorations.  All were items we had purchased in the past.

* I spent $1.07 on a silver bell garland to add to our greenery this year. 

* I bought two boxes of tea at Target for $0.69 per box using coupons and a Cartwheel.  I also used coupons and a Cartwheel to get new underclothes for the children.  Those will go under the Christmas tree. Yep - we're exciting like that around here.

* We've been doing a huge amount of cleaning out - we've given away so many things that we've outgrown or don't use anymore.  I'm feeling lighter because of it.   There have been a few things going on that have been really wearing on me and I've been lightened by making progress with cleaning out.  It also makes me feel good to know that we will have the house looking great for our company this next week!

* While cleaning out we found two cans of paint that we didn't realize we had!  I was so excited since now I don't have to buy paint to re-paint my living room and upstairs hallway. The weather has been warmer so we're hoping to get this done over the weekend before our company comes.  I had bought paint last summer and absolutely hated the color once it was up on the walls.  Now I can remedy that.

* Worked on a few small house projects that we had all the things to work on.  Again, I'm so excited to have these done before our company comes!
* I put together a menu plan for the entire rest of the month using what we have in the house so we can use our grocery money for stocking our pantry and freezer and the "treats" we'd like to buy for Christmas. We are going to feed our company well and we could do it without purchasing any groceries! Yay!

* Re-arranged some furniture to make better study spaces for the children.  Their homework is getting more time-consuming and having the right space is getting to be important.  Our daughter really wanted to get a bean-bag chair but we used a chair we had in the house instead.  We told her she could put the bean-bag on her birthday gift wish-list instead. 

* We moved some things around to make the guest room more usable.  In August we tore out some shelves and things and made an office in a closet in there. The moving things around we did means that we have space for company to be in there comfortably, and space for the office to still work.

I'm really looking forward to our company and all the Advent and Christmas things coming up!  I'm really excited about finishing the Christmas gifts and celebrating with our family. 

What are you looking forward to in the next week or two?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Meal plan for this week + Groceries!

Bagel Pizzas, Salad and Sliced Apples from a few weeks ago
I've been remiss about taking photos lately - of everything.  So, I may have posted that photo earlier - it was a tasty dinner and a bit of a surprise since John brought the bagels home from a breakfast at work. 

I sat down on Saturday morning and put together a menu plan for the rest of the month.  I only have a couple of things to buy to finish off the menu for the month - bacon, potatoes, yogurt, eggs and milk are the things that I anticipate needing before the end of the month.  I'm happy with that!

I spent $61.93 of my $100 for the two weeks at one store this last weekend on a whole bunch of things - many of which are on sale right now and will last us until January at the very least.  Here's what we bought:

5lbs Yellow Cornmeal $3.69
5lbs Unbleached Flour $1.77
3lbs Dark Brown Sugar $1.29
3lbs Light Brown Sugar $1.29
1lb Coffee $5.99
32oz Vegetable Oil $2.39
4 cans Whole Kernel Corn 4/$3
Crisco Sticks $3.49
2 packages Nestle Butterscotch Morsels 2 @ $1.99 = $3.98
3lbs Ground Beef $8.97
5lbs Yellow Onions $2.99
2 bags Fresh Spinach 2/$4 = $4
2 Green Bell Peppers @ $0.75ea = $1.50
Baby Portobello Mushrooms $1.55
1.8lbs Bananas @ $0.29/lb = $0.52
3lbs Red Delicious Apples $3.49
2.78lbs D'Anjou Pears $2.75
1 Gallon Kemp's Milk $3
Smart Balance Spread $2.99
32oz Dannon Yogurt $2.79

Total including tax: $61.93
Total Savings (according to the receipt) $6.42 (10%)

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, December 6, St. Nicholas Day:
     Breakfast:  At a pancake fundraiser
     Lunch: Snacky: Homemade Chex Mix, Fruit, Yogurt
     Snack: Homemade Bread
     Dinner: Beef and Mushroom Gravy, Rice, Apple-Pear-Banana Salad

Monday, December 7:
    Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Leftover Gravy and Rice
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Applesauce Chicken, Noodles, Apple-Banana-Mandarin Orange Salad

Tuesday, December 8:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Walnuts
    Lunch: Leftover Chicken and Noodles
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Shrimp, Tossed Salad, Sliced Apples

Wednesday, December 9:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Oranges
    Lunch: Salad with Chicken
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Pulled Chicken Sandwiches, Cut Veggies, Fruit

Thursday, December 10:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Pulled Chicken
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Bread, Sliced Apples or Pears

Friday, December 11:
   Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
   Lunch: Salad with Chicken
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Chicken Flavored Rice, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Apple-Banana-Pear Salad

Saturday, December 12:
    Breakfast: Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Applesauce
    Lunch: Soup from the Freezer, Tossed Salad
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Frugal Saturday - Two weeks again!

Happy Advent everyone!

It's that wonderful season of waiting and preparation for our Savior's birth and I'm super excited for this season to be here!  Why?


We only have three more weeks until Christmas.
We only have two more weeks until my parents are here to visit.
We only have a few days until the semester is done!

I'm ready for some family time, a break from work and a chance to slow down and rest a bit for a while.  

Honestly, taking this season of Advent and slowly decorating the house for Christmas as we usually do (so far, we only have the Advent wreath and the Nativity sets up so far) has been really therapeutic for me.

I've been trying to figure out how to purchase gifts for my husband's family (we draw names, but now we have 4 more people we need to buy gifts for!) and not go over our non-existent Christmas budget, have all the delicious goodies we usually have while feeding more people than usual and make it through all my other anxieties and the painful days without going completely crazy. 

Digging out all the decorations we have, making a meal plan with all the food we have in the pantry, cupboards, refrigerator and freezers, and slowing down to actually make gifts this year has really helped me refocus and remind me how much we truly have!  We are so blessed!

We have continued to be as frugal as we can, which helps with my peace of mind right now too.   It's a relief to know that we're going to be truly find even if our budget has zero room for anything that isn't non-essential.

Frugal things we've done the last two weeks:

* Used points stay a hotel while visiting my in-laws over Thanksgiving.  It was nice to have our own space and a bit of time just to ourselves in the midst of my husband's large family.  We also didn't have to worry about pushing other people out into the living room floor or sleeping there ourselves which meant we all got a good night's sleep.

* Used the grocery store while on our trip for snacks and other food items we needed rather than going out to eat. It helped keep costs down rather than spending so much on food!

* Exercised for free in spite of the really icky outside weather while at my in-laws by using the pool and exercise room at the hotel and attending Jazzercise classes in the neighboring town for free with my current "membership" (I'm an instructor so membership comes with my instructor position).  My MIL, who got me started years ago, was able to attend with me - which was so much fun!

* Ate meals at home, at my in-laws house, at the hotel or brown-bagged to work. 

* Worked on making Christmas gifts here at home for my parents, my children and my husband.  Our daughter worked on making a gift for my mother.  Both children worked on making gifts for their teachers. All gifts are made with items we already owned.

* I used a gift card to buy a gift for one of husband's family members and some new underclothes for myself that were desperately needed.

* I used another gift card to buy the rest of the Christmas presents we needed to actually purchase.  No matter how talented I am, right now I can't make the diabetic crew socks that one family member asked for!

* We used items we already own to decorate for Christmas. I do  have material from last year to make a new set of placemats for Christmas. I'm going to finish the gifts first and then see how much time I have!   I'm hoping I get to them this year as I didn't last year and they've kind of been hanging over my head for the whole year!
* We continue to clean out and my husband listed a couple of additional things online for sale.  We also took a large load of donated things to the local thrift store.  Our recycle bin is usually full each week as well.

* I was able to buy a turkey this week on clearance after Thanksgiving for $0.79/lb.  That is 20-cents cheaper per pound than the sale price for Thanksgiving!  That will the only turkey I buy this year unless they come down that low again after Christmas (which they might).

* I searched through my cookbooks and online for new recipes that use the ingredients we already have on hand rather than spending on new ingredients. 

* I came home early from work two days this week and took a long nap to stave off a virus that was traveling through our office.  I also went to bed early, drank lots of liquids and took extra Vitamin C.  It worked!  Other than feeling tired for a  day or two, I've been fine.

* I repotted indoor plants using pots and extra potting soil I already owned.

* We checked out books and audiobooks from the public library and watched a few videos for free online.  I greatly appreciate that!

* Our office at work has also been passing around books to share - I've gotten to read some things I couldn't find at our library!

* We updated the budget book and revamped a few things.  I think we're going to be in better shape going forward than we have been the last few months while we've been figuring these things out!

* I scored the very last pair of boy's snow pants at Target this week and they were only $20!  I was ecstatic!  They're a good brand, a size too big and I'm hoping he can wear them next year too.  I had expected them to be either completely out or for all the pairs left to be $50 and up in price.

* Our children had a day off school and we signed them up for a day out through the community Parks and Rec department.  They had a great time and the cost was less than the other options we had and included lunch.

* We've baked oatmeal cookies, cornbread, oatmeal muffins, cinnamon rolls, chili, two types of soup and sandwich bread from scratch at home in these last two weeks.

What have you done lately in the frugal realm?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Frugal Friday - Two weeks of frugal "stuff"!

These are from our Christmas Day Tea from last year.  Since Advent starts in just over a week, we're doing a little planning around here!

We've been pretty busy the last two weeks. I still feel that I haven't "caught up" yet and I probably won't until the semester is over.  I did put together a calendar with all the things that I want and need to do before Christmas Eve all planned out.  I'm not sure how it will work, but I'm giving it a try, anyway!
We redid our budget a couple weeks ago at the beginning of November and basically found out that things are far tighter than we had initially planned. Some expenses have been higher, some income has been lower, and there are some unanticipated expenses that have popped up. So I scrapped any plans to buy anything other than food and gasoline for the cars between now and at least January (probably longer) unless we have gift card.  I have plenty to keep myself busy so it should be perfectly do-able.

Anyway, on to the stuff that we did do these last two weeks:

Ate at home or brought meals from home.  Two exceptions: two free meals at work for me and two free breakfasts for John at work.  They were a nice break!

John brought home leftover bagels, yogurt and Clementine's from those breakfasts.  If he'd had a bag of some type he'd have brought home far more bagels, since they were just going to throw them away if no one took them.  Another person, who did have a bag, took the rest.

We brought home leftover cranberry bread and blueberry muffins after coffee hour at church on Sunday.  YUM!

I used items we already owned to make two Christmas gifts and half of a third.  Once the paint is dry on the third, I'll finish that one too.  I'm hoping to have three more gifts and a few more stocking stuffers made in time for Christmas.  I'm planning on posting photos on those in December.

My son had a friend sleep over last Friday evening.  We made homemade pizza, played board games we already owned and watched movies we already owned.  They had a blast and asked if they could do it again really soon!

Baked two loaves of homemade sandwich bread, oatmeal cookies, cornbread, pizza and breadsticks and two kinds of soup from scratch.

 Stopped at a new-to-us grocery store on the way home from work one day.  I bought four dozen eggs at $0.99/dozen, 2lbs of carrots for $0.99, and 10lbs of potatoes for $1.99.  I did a bunch of looking since I had not been in there before and ended up spending $28 on all of the above plus baking powder, corn starch, three boxes of tea bags (two are for birthday gifts) and 4lbs of apples at $0.99/lb. 

We spent the rest of our $100 for two weeks grocery budget on several stock up items including canned goods and meat.  I don't plan on buying groceries again until after Thanksgiving unless I can scrape together the money to buy a $0.99/lb turkey.  So far I haven't succeeded in finding that money, so we may have to wait for Christmas or not get one at all.

Wore first a blouse and then a dress that I hadn't worn in quite a while to work to see if I wanted to keep them or donate them.  The blouse will be donated and the elastic taken out of the sleeves on the dress so I can keep it and wear it.

Used the leaves from the trees in the yard to mulch the flower and vegetable beds this fall.  We do this every year, but this year we had fewer leaves since a neighbor took down a tree that really needed to go and so did we.  We had just enough.  Yay!

Saved seeds from my zinneas and my snapdragons for next year. 

Instead of buying new rose cones for our rose bushes, I upended the large foam pots that I fill with geraniums in the summer and place on either side of the garage door.  They have four large drainage holes that will work well for air holes and the foam insulates just like the rose cone would.  No cost for a new rose cone!  And my roses are safe for another winter.

My husband broke down and listed a few items on Craigslist and a specialty item on eBay.  He had sworn that he never would do this again (he used to sell on eBay years ago) but we decided that it would be worth it for a the extra cash to pay some medical bills from my shingles from the last few months. 

I polished four pairs of leather shoes and sprayed them with waterproofing spray to ready them for winter.  I also washed all the winter coats, hats, mittens and snow pants so they are ready before the snow flies.  I had washed them in the spring but another doesn't hurt!

We finally defrosted the deep freeze.  It wasn't hard, I just don't enjoy doing it.  So glad that's done!

I think that's it. What have you done in the last few weeks?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 15, 2015

Another week!   Here we go!

The last week has been crazy busy - I spent the entire weekend resting and trying to catch up.  I'm glad and feel blessed that I can do that occasionally without huge penalties in other areas of my life.

We have a quiet week and I'm grateful that this week is slow before the week of Thanksgiving, which is always so full. 

We spent our entire two-week grocery budget this week and stocked up on several things this week.  I'm hoping to find the money to purchase a turkey or two this week but I'm not planning on buying more groceries between now and Thanksgiving unless I can find that money.  We have plenty of everything so I'm hoping that's not a problem.  Some of the things we stocked up on: Potatoes, carrots, canned beans and fruit, ground beef, soda crackers, and baking supplies.  I also bought some tea and nuts, which I don't buy very often but are on great sale around here right now.

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, Nov 15:
   Breakfast: Banana-Orange Smoothies
   Lunch: Bacon, Onion and Potato Frittata, Tossed Salad, and Sliced Apples
   Snack: Cranberry Bread (brought home from church)
   Dinner: Baked Potatoes with Chili and Cheddar Cheese

Monday, Nov. 16:
   Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
   Lunch: Leftover Chili or Frittata
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Biscuits, Sliced Apples

Tuesday, Nov. 17:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Almonds
   Lunch: Leftover Chili
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Pork and Mushrooms over Rice, Apple-Pear-Banana Salad

Wednesday, Nov. 18:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Leftover Pork and Mushroom and Rice
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Tossed Salad, Sliced Apples or Pears

Thursday, Nov.19:
   Breakfast; Blueberry Oatmeal
   Lunch: Leftover Pasta and Sauce
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Taco Soup, Tortilla Chips, Tossed Salad

Friday, Nov. 20:
   Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Sliced Apples
   Lunch; Leftover Soup and Chips
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Fried Fish, Tossed Salad, Pear-Mandarin Orange-Bananas Salad

Saturday, Nov. 21:
   Breakfast: Blueberry Buckle
   Lunch: Salad with Tuna
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
   Dessert: Apple Crisp

What are you eating this week?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 8, 2015

A full rainbow arc a few weeks ago - food for the soul!

We're supposed to have beautiful weather this week - I'm so excited!  I feel like we've had rain for the last month.  My head knows we haven't, though we have had quite a bit.  I'm hoping to get some more yard work done this week even though we have gotten enough done that we would be just fine if the rest didn't get done.  I'm amazed at how much quicker things go now that the children are old enough to be a real help.  Time to rake the giant amount of leaves we get in our front yard: 1 1/2 hours.  Unbelievable.  When they were toddlers, we had to take turns or "work together" while the children "helped" and it would take a day or two.  I think I'm going to be totally spoiled by their help in the next few years!
We have another quiet week this week.  My son is having a friend sleep over on Friday and John is on call on Friday also but that's it for "excitement" this week.  I may be meeting a friend for coffee on Saturday afternoon also (with one of my gift cards) but that really doesn't effect the meals. Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, November 8:
   Breakfast: Banana Bread and Banana-Peanut Butter Smoothies
   Lunch: Egg Casserole Bake, Apple-Grape-Pineapple Salad
   Snack: Banana Bread
   Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Spinach Salad, Apple-Pear-Pineapple Salad
   Dessert: Apple Crisp

Monday, November 9:
   Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Toast
   Lunch: Leftover Pot Pie
   Snack: Apple Crisp
   Dinner: Noodles with Vegetable Marinara Sauce, Garlic Bread, Sliced Apples

Tuesday, November 10:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Almonds
   Lunch: Leftover Noodles and Sauce
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Homemade Bread, Sliced Apples and Pears

Wednesday, November 11:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Leftover Soup
   Snack: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
   Dinner: Scalloped Potatoes with Ham, Spinach Salad, Pineapple-Mandarin Orange-Banana Salad

Thursday, November 12:
    Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Pulled Pork on Homemade Rolls, Carrot and Celery Sticks, Sliced Apples and Pears

Friday, November 13:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast and Applesauce
    Lunch: PB&J, Yogurt, Apple, Cookie
    Snack: Homemade Granola
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
     Dessert: Cookies

Saturday, November 14:
    Breakfast: Waffles with Bacon and Applesauce
    Lunch: Spinach Salad with Chicken, Cranberries and Mandarin Oranges
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Crockpot Fried Rice, Spinach Salad, Oranges

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Frugal Friday - the Sunday Edition!

My son took this photo of a lone little red tree a few weeks ago out of our rainy car window.  I'm already missing the fall colors - our weather is glorious and being outside is fun but I feel like I missed the "real" fall!

Friday was a bit of whirlwind and so was Saturday so this got written WAY too late on a Saturday evening.  We had a thankfully quiet week and I'm hoping for another quiet week before a couple of busy weekends and weeks ahead and the rush of the holidays.

Here's what we did this week in the frugal realm:

* Redid the budget for the next 10 months. Ouch.  We had some sort of misunderstanding or miscommunication about what John would be earning while in residency this year and needed to revamp everything.  It was really difficult and more than slightly disheartening to see those numbers in black and white. We have several costly things that we really need to complete this year and now we're not sure how we're going to be able to do them.  Time to get creative!

* Picked the last two winter squash from our garden - an acorn and a butternut.  I wasn't sure they survived the freeze we had a few weeks ago, but they did and they're now in the pantry for later use.

* Made ribbon headbands for my daughter's Christmas stocking (she asked for some to keep the hair out of her eyes in her dance class) and some decorated pony tail holders for our Operation Christmas Child boxes.

* Did a lot of cleaning up, tidying up and putting things away.  It's amazing how this just doesn't get done sometimes!

* Wore two skirts I wasn't sure I liked or if they fit anymore to work this week.  They both fit but I didn't like them, so they went in the donate basket.

* Made two meals in the crockpot this week so they would just be ready when we got home.  Love that!
* When we cleaned out the furnace room in August, we realized that we needed a second storage shelf in there.  We had hoped to save up for one but then we realized that if we rearranged some things in the garage, we could move the existing shelf out there and two of the shelves we have in the garage into the furnace room.  That works perfectly and no money spent!  Bonus: The shelves in the furnace room now match each other.  Storage that looks good counts for bonus points, doesn't it?

* Cleaned out the coupon file and reminded myself what gift cards we have that need to be used.  I looked up balances online and wrote them on the card with a permanent marker so we know what the balance is.

* We were gifted 3/4 of a tube pan of banana bread.  A friend baked it for a fundraiser and it didn't make it out of the pan in one piece.  She didn't want to sell it at the fundraiser, so she asked if we'd like it.  Yum!  It's made for a great breakfast the last couple of days.

* I ate one meal at a meeting at work this week.  I'm so glad that lunchtime meetings have a catered lunch so I don't have to figure out when to eat lunch on those days!

* With the focus on cleaning out the deep freeze in the basement, our upstairs freezer-over-the-refrigerator has become quite the mess.  We cleaned it out and were pleasantly surprised with what we found!  That included: frozen bananas and blueberries, a pork roast, lots of cooked turkey (we knew about that one but there was more than we thought), and a few other random things that we thought we had already eaten.  Now we can use those things!

*  Worked on two other Christmas gifts - one embroidered, one sewn.  Hope to complete those this week and move on to another gift or two this week.

* Returned a huge stack of library books.  The children have quite a bit of reading from school and I have several books at home already that I can read so we didn't check out any before coming home.

* We watched several online television shows and a movie on Netflix.  My husband and I watched a video we already owned and love for an at home date night this week.

What have you done this last week in the frugal things realm?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Super Savings Saturday - November 7, 2015 - $60.81 Shop

Hello everyone!
I have no photo this week either - mostly because I'm feeling TERRIFIC after weeks, and weeks, and weeks (literally 6 months) of being in constant, awful pain.   I'm feeling great and have spent the last few days tackling project after project of things that I've been putting off because I just haven't been feeling well enough to do them. 

I'm so glad to be feeling like myself again!  I'm not sure if it will last but I'm hoping that if it doesn't, the downturns are short-lived and rare.  In the meantime, I am going to enjoy it as much as I can.

We redid our overall budget as of November 1, and we're budgeting $200/month for all groceries, toiletries and paper products that we need. What that means on a day-to-day (week to week?) basis is that we'll have $80 in hand every two weeks for shopping and the other $20 set aside for our CSA and any bulk purchases we decide to make.  So, having spent $60.81 this week, we have $19.19 to spend next week.  The first week in December we're hoping to hit Sam's Club for TP and some other things - we'll have about $60 to take with us for that. 

We hit one store with our $60.81 and here's what we came home with:

Tide Laundry Detergent $5.99 - $2 coupon = $3.99
Yopliat Yogurt 10/$5 - $1 coupon = $4
Crisco Shortening Sticks 3pk 2 @ $2.99 = $5.98
2 lb Ground Pork $5 (store coupon)
1.2lb Pork Fillet $5.99 (store sale)
10lb Russet Potatoes $2.99
4.9lbs Apples @ $0.99/lb = $4.85
2.79lbs Yellow Bananas @ $0.67/lb = $1.87
2.64lbs Bartlett Pears @ $0.99/lb = $2.61
1 Gallon Skim Milk $3.79
Smart Balance Spread $2.50 (store sale)
2 Dozen Large Eggs $5.98
Mixed Dried Fruit $11.83 (7 large packages on clearance)
Tax $0.43 (on the Tide)

Total Spent: $60.81
Total Saved (according to store receipt): $4.98 (8%)

What did you buy this week?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 1, 2015

* Sooo, I totally wrote this post and saved it instead of publishing it!  It's only Tuesday but it's been that type of week around here already....   SIGH.

I was going through my photos and found this one of some of the last produce we picked from the garden - tomatoes and some very small peppers - I LOVE the colors!
We're into fall here - but we're supposed to have a warm week.  I'm hoping "they" are right and we can get some much needed yard work done.  It's always amazing to me how fast the yard fills up with leaves once the trees start to drop them.   I think lots of raking is on the agenda this week!
We don't have anything extra or special in our calendar this week - just our normal weekly activities - so we're pretty excited about having a more quiet week than the past few.  We tried three new recipes a little while ago for the crockpot and they were all delicious.  This week we're trying one more new one and resurrecting one we haven't used in quite a while.   I definitely am a HUGE fan of coming home to an already made or almost already made dinner! 

* Tuesday I came home, popped the cornbread in the oven, took a shower, set the table, pulled the cornbread out of the oven and we were ready to eat!  LOVE that! *

Sunday, November 1:
   Breakfast: Smoothies
   Lunch: Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Fruit Salad
   Snack: Popcorn and Halloween Candy
   Dinner: Ham Sandwiches, Chips and Sliced Apples

Monday, November 2:
    Breakfast: Fried Egg Sandwiches, Bananas
    Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Carrots or Celery, Leftover Coffee Cake
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Chicken Stir Fry, Rice, Grape-Banana-Apple Salad

Tuesday, November 3:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Crasins and Almonds
    Lunch: Leftover Stir Fry
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Three Sisters Stew, Cornbread, Apple-Grape-Banana Salad

Wednesday, November 4:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Leftover Stew and Cornbread
   Snack: Carrot and Celery Sticks
   Dinner: Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, Spinach Salad, Pineapple-Grape-Mandarin Orange Salad

Thursday, November 5:
    Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Pork Loin on Spinach Salad
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Crockpot Fried Rice with Turkey, Pineapple and Mandarin Oranges

Friday, November 6:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Sliced Apples
    Lunch: Leftover Fried Rice
   Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Salmon Cakes, Spinach Salad, Apple-Pineapple-Grape Salad

Saturday, November 7:
   Breakfast: Cinnamon Crumble Muffins with Bacon
   Lunch: Soup from the Freezer, Homemade Bread, Spinach Salad
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Super Savings - $40.95 shoppig trip

Living where we do, there aren't very many options for grocery shopping without going out of normal driving patterns or making a special trip somewhere.   This week was low for deals, so we did a little shopping and that was about it.

The side effects from my shingles have been really bad this week in some ways and far better than others.  Either way, I spent most of today (Saturday) at home with a foam roller and a heating pad.  So John went to the store for me (love that man!) and spent $40.95 today.

Here's what he purchased:

1 lb Bacon $3.99 (store coupon)
12oz Pork Loin $6.99 (store coupon)
3.99lbs Braeburn Apples @ $0.99 = $3.95
2.94lbs Bananas @ $0.67/lb = $1.97
Two bags fresh Spinach B1G1 = $3.29 (store coupon)
1.08lbs Red Delicious Apples @ $0.77/lb = $83
Two frozen Pizzas @ $2.88 ea = $5.76
1 Gallon Skim Milk $3.79
6 containers Greek Yogurt @ $0.88 = $5.28  (store coupon)

According to our receipt we saved $11.73 or 22%.

The kids went Trick or Treating tonight and brought home a huge collection of candy, granola bars, Halloween-themed jewelry, small bags of pretzels, and a few other random items.   I'll freeze some of the M&M's and other chocolate to use in baking later.

Come back Monday to see what we're eating this week!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Menu and Groceries - Week of October 25, 2015

Goodness - it's that time of the week again, isn't it?

Heave a big sigh of relief with me that we're threw midterms and on the home stretch for fall semester!  I know, I know; it seems like it's way too soon for all of that.  From here on out though, it will go FAST.  And then it's the holidays - and you all know how busy that is!  We only have about 8 more weeks to go until finals and then Christmas.

John and I stopped at one store after a rare dinner out on our second actual date out this month.  We're at an age where the children have events for church or school and parents don't need to attend with them. So we went out for dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall cheap cafĂ© we like and then stopped to buy groceries at the end of a Saturday afternoon and early evening event that the children had.  We were all home and tucked in for the evening by 815pm too!  Love that.

We spent our last $24 that we had for this week and we bought the following (I think John recycled the receipt - I swear it was right on the table not 10 minutes ago!):

56oz roasted peanuts
3 15oz cans black beans
2 cans soup
Approx 3lbs Bartlett Pears
1 whole pineapple
5lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
5lbs all-purpose flour
5lbs yellow onions

Earlier this week we used about $10 from savings to stock up on toothpaste and laundry detergent since the prices were too good to pass up.  We should be set for about a year with both.  The laundry detergent was such a good deal that I would have been pretty upset if we'd missed it.  We now have 4 bottles of laundry detergent in the laundry room cupboard and 4 tubes of toothpaste.  We were almost out of both.

Missy and Buddy played in a Go Fish! Tournament at church this week and brought home the grand prize - a huge box of individual bags of Goldfish snack crackers!  We're definitely set for snacks for quite a while now!  And I had no idea they were such good Go Fish! players!  We all love card games at our house, but still....
We have loads of apples, carrots, spinach, yogurt and milk left from last week yet so we'll be eating through those too this week.  Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, October 25:
    Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter
    Lunch: At Church  - Reformation Party
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Kielbasa, Fried Potatoes and Onions, Applesauce

Monday, October 26
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Fried Potatoes
    Lunch: Soup from the Freezer
    Snack: Goldfish  Crackers
    Dinner: Chicken Flavored Rice, Butternut Squash, Green Beans, Apple-Pear-Mandarin Orange Salad

Tuesday, October 27:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Almonds
    Lunch: Leftover Rice and Squash with Almonds and Craisins
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Vegetarian Marinara, Pasta, Pineapple-Mandarin Orange -Pear Salad

Wednesday, October 28:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Scrambled Eggs
    Lunch: Leftover Pasta
    Snack: Goldfish Crackers
   Dinner: At a school event

Thursday, October 29:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Pasta
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Turkey Barley Soup in the Crockpot, Cornbread, Apple Slices

Friday, October 30:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack Goldfish Crackers
    Dinner: Snack-y Dinner before  a Birthday Party (there will be food at the party but we're not sure if it's a whole meal or just snacks)

Saturday, October 31, All Hallows Eve (or Halloween)
   Breakfast: Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Apples
   Lunch: Salads with Chicken, Almonds and Pineapple
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

On to a new grocery cycle this week and I'm hoping to stock up on some meat - we're quite low after this week.  Down to a bit of fish, a packet or two of lunch meat and leftover cooked turkey and salmon.  That's what happens when the freezer is empty!  I'm hoping to stock up some next week if the sales are good.  Either way we'll build up to the holidays for sure!

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Frugal Things from Last Week

We finally had a hard frost here so we're done with the veggies from outside now.  Whew!  I was starting to think we were getting overrun by tomatoes and crook-neck squash!   I dehydrated all the crook-neck you see here and made another large batch of salsa.  I *think* we're set!
Other frugal things this last week have been:

* I enjoyed a free meal at work during a faculty meeting. YUM!  Our chef at work has us so spoiled!
* A coworker brought in doughnuts one morning to celebrate her birthday. I enjoyed one gourmet doughnut - delicious.

* Went to the apple orchard and bought two carving pumpkins and a peck of apples.  I dehydrated the apples for snacks.  We had a great time - we enjoyed their large playground, a magic show and a hayride as well as the joy of the pumpkin hunt and apple picking.  This late in the season the prices for both pumpkins and apples are far cheaper than we could get in the stores.

* I cleaned out our roll top desk - boy, was that a mess! - and found several Forever stamps and Halloween cards that I had bought last year and promptly lost in the mess.  No need to buy cards or stamps this year!  Hurray!  Several years ago we got in the habit of sending Halloween cards to family with our children's school photos in them.  It works out well!

* Our daughter attended the playoff game for her school's Ladies' Volleyball teams.  She went with a friend who is a member of the 5th/6th grade team and then slept over at her house that night (the games didn't get done until after 10pm).  She had a blast and her friend will be coming over next weekend for Trick-or-Treating and a sleepover at our house.  Free entertainment!
* We tried three new crock pot recipes this week and all three were winners with leftovers for lunches!  Love that!  The meals reheated well and I think they even tasted better the second day.

* I finally got the chest freezer cleaned out so that we can defrost it.  Will do that this week - just in time for the Thanksgiving meat sales that are starting to pop up!

* I have been working on Christmas presents - mostly sewing but a couple of crafts as well.  I'm hoping to post one gift a week starting sometime in November and heading through Christmas.  Most are made with things that we already had on hand but I did have to buy a few pieces of fabric for some of them.  They're turning out great! Which makes me happy.  I will include approximate costs when I post.

* I had my one day off during the semester  - supposedly so we can calculate midterm grades without the pressure of class too - but I did absolutely nothing related to school or work or anything requiring much thought.   I had an acupuncture appointment (I am loving what that is doing for my shingles, by the way) and read a book.  Lovely!  I think my overall mental and physical health appreciated it so much more than trying to push through.  We do get two days for Thanksgiving break here but I really wish we had a whole week off like we do in the spring.  Fall gets to be very long sometimes.

* Made a batch of waffles to put in the freezer for quick breakfasts.

* Made a buttermilk coffee cake that we used for breakfast and snacks for a couple of days.

* I used the grocery money for two weeks to stock up on a few things this past week.  I have $24 left   to purchase things this week.

In addition to our usual frugal things (taking lunches, reusing containers, little shopping, etc.) I think that's it for this week.

What did you do in the frugal realm this week?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Four Song Tidy

Over the last year or two as it's become clear that I'm never going to always be healthy and able to do what I want or need to every single day, I realized that many of our household absolutely have to be delegated.

While I've always known that this needed to happen, especially as the children get older, it has been very hard to put into practice.  Partly because it's just easier to do it myself.  Partly because John comes from a family where Mother did very literally everything, so having me do things was "normal" for him.

One of the things we stated this fall that I am so pleased with is what we call "A Four Song Tidy".  The children have a playlist on my iPod so each evening sometime between dinner and bed we play four songs and everyone tidies up, starting with the main room(s) of the house - kitchen and living room, which are one open, L-shaped area.

Our pattern for these four song tidies is like this:

Put on the music
Everyone gets their bags/backpacks ready for the next day
Everyone lays out their clothes for the next day
Everyone puts any belongings that are left out in the kitchen and living room away
Everyone puts any belongings that are left in the family room away

After that we each tidy something else:
* Library book shelf
* Shoes
* Dressers/Nightstands
* Main bathroom
* Music books/instruments
* Any extra sweeping, mopping or dusting that need to be done

If there's extra time after that, the children may clean up some area of their bedrooms while John and I tackle some small household chore (washing the inside of a window or two, wiping out the inside of the medicine cabinet, dusting the ceiling fans, etc.).

Four songs is typically somewhere between 12 and 18 minutes in length - so roughly 15 minutes.  If we have a particularly busy day, it becomes a two song tidy rather than a four song tidy.  That's fine.  It's just enough time to get the first four things done. 

This means we wake up in the morning with a clean house and everything ready to go.

What do you do to make things easier around your house?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of October 17, 2015

I was sorting through the photos on my computer the other day, and this one just made me laugh!  It's my children's birthday cupcakes from this last May - complete with pop-up aliens!  Everyone loves the pop ups and they can actually play with them rather than having them lay around. 

Our trees here are going from colorful to bare, which is making me just a bit sad. I love the fall colors! It's cool enough that we've had frost a couple of times this week and we finally had to turn on the heat.  We'd hoped to hold off until November but it just gets too cold at night right now.  The heat really doesn't run during the day because it's warm enough but we do need it at night.

We're trying a few new-to-us recipes and reviving a few we haven't done in quite a while.  We were starting to feel like we were in a rut and wanted something new without breaking the bank.

Here's what we're eating today:

Sunday, October 18:
     Breakfast:  Cinnamon Rolls, Smoothies
     Lunch:  Scrambled Eggs, Cinnamon Biscuit Twists, Sliced Apples
     Snack: Popcorn
     Dinner: Crockpot Turkey Wild Rice Soup in a Homemade Bread Bowl, Apple-Banana Salad

Monday, October 19:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Apples
    Dinner: Waffles with Applesauce, Sausage

Tuesday, October 20:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Cinnamon
    Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Apples, GoGurt, Cookie
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Crockpot Beef Stroganoff, Noodles, Apple-Banana Salad

Wednesday, October 21:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
    Lunch: Leftover Stroganoff and Noodles
    Snack: Crackers and Peanut Butter
    Dinner: Baked Butternut Squash, Roasted Potatoes, Spinach Salad, Sliced Apples

Thursday, October 22:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Squash and Potatoes
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Crockpot Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya, Rice, Sliced Apples

Friday, October 23:
    Breakfast: Waffles with Bananas and Walnuts
    Lunch: Leftover Jambalaya
    Snack: Sliced Apples
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, October 24:
    Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
    Lunch: Soup from the Freezer and Spinach Salad
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: At a church event

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Super Savings Saturday - A $56-something shop this week

No photo again today - John put everything away before I could take a photo since I was in the middle of cleaning all the odds and ends out of the fridge and inventorying the freezer.    And now I can't find my receipt!   Yep, I guess it's one of those days around here.

I went to one store after spending about 1 1/2 hours at the dance supply store trying to find split-soled tap-shoes for my very large-footed tap-dancing 10-year-old boy.  We managed to find a pair but they have the wrong taps on them so we'll have to replace those.  At least we've got them!  I guess men's tap shoes don't have a split sole as a general rule. Who knew?  (And, yes, I had to ask what a split sole was, too! I didn't dance when I was younger and had no idea that there were a variety of types of tap shoes.)
Here's what we bought:

* 1 Gallon Skim Milk $2.50
* 1 Dozen Eggs $3-something
* 1 package Go-Gurt $2
* 1 Loaf White Bread $1.99
* 6 15oz cans corn @ $0.69ea
* 3 cans Evaporated Milk (I can't remember how much these were!)
* 4 15oz cans black beans @ $0.89ea
* Approx. 3lbs McIntosh Apples @ $0.99/lb
* 10oz Spinach $4.99
* 2 bunches bananas @ $0.69/lb
* 2lbs Carrots $0.99
* 1 bunch celery $1.29
* 10oz white mushrooms $1.79
* 2 packages rope sausage @ 2/$5

I spent $56 and change. 

I took the extra money over our $40 weekly budget from next week's budget - we run on a two-week cycle in our house here - so next week I'll have approximately $23 to spend. 

The evaporated milk, corn and sausage were on sale this week and we were completely out of the canned corn and black beans.  John specifically asked for spinach this week so I bought the largest package I could find.   I was hoping that other fruit would be on sale - other than just apples this week - but I didn't find anything else that I was willing to pay for.  The carrots and the celery will last us quite a while and, though the mushrooms were not on sale, we'll use all of them in the next week or so.   It feels good to have some of the holes in a pantry filled in again! 

Come back Monday to see what we're eating!
How did you do with your shopping this week?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Frugal Friday - Garage Sale, Christmas Presents and other happenings

I finally have a Frugal Friday post on a Friday!  YAY!   I think I'm finally getting back on track here (or something!).

We're still busy here - I think this fall is just going to be a busy one.  That's okay.  We've been getting into a routine and making sure things get done with a few new additions to our evening routine and I'm loving that!   I'm hoping to write about that one these weeks.

Anyway, here's what we've done the last week as far as "frugal" things go (I apologize for any overlap with last week - these days all seem to run together for m!).

* We had our garage sale and made $96. 

*  I used some of that $96 to order Christmas presents.  We now have at least one present for everyone we need a present for.  Now, I just need to get myself in gear and finish the homemade ones!
* I started the Christmas gift I'm making for my mother.  I'll finish it closer to Christmas since part of it can be easily damaged.

* I finished two stitching projects that will be gifts for family members.

* We donated the leftovers from our Garage Sale and will receive a tax credit.

* The children attended a school's out program at a local community center for two days this week while MEA Weekend had school out.  It was far less expensive than I expected and less expensive than the other options and a good option for us.  They got to swim, play games, and see a movie while they were there.

* I taught an extra Jazzercise class this last week and made some extra money doing that.

* We had signed out children up for Parent's Night Out through the local school district.  We get 3 hours of childcare plus dinner for $12 per child.  We used a gift card dinner after hike at a local park for a frugal 3 hour date!  Our children aren't quite old enough to stay home alone yet.

* We picked all the green tomatoes and laid them out ripen inside the house.  I then pulled out the dead cucumber, crookneck squash, pumpkin and watermelon plants from our yard as well as the now-empty tomato plants.  I also transplanted Shasta daisies that needed to be split.   

* I mended 4 items and set aside several that need more complicated mending to do at a single time later. 

* I ripped apart seams on several clothing items so I can repurpose the fabric.

*  Used a coupon to order shoes online for my son - he's growing fast and his current shoes almost don't fit.  He has double-wide feet so finding shoes is difficult.  I ordered two pairs of shoes on clearance for myself - since I only had tennis shoes currently to wear - with the same order, so we received free shipping.

*  My husband started swimming again with a "season pass" at the local school pool.  It ends up costing about $1.50 per swim with the pass, cheaper than the $3-$5 per swim at the door (depending on the day of the week).   He was a competition swimming in high school and college and has missed it so much!

We also cooked most of our meals at home and brown-bagged others, washed out and reused zipper-top baggies, and all of our daily "frugal" things.

What did you do this week?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of October 11, 2015

Kranskaka - I'm dreaming of Christmas baking right now! 

I probably shouldn't be thinking about Christmas baking when the weather is so lovely outside - very fall, beautiful color and just cold enough for soup and stew (we'll ignore the 40mph wind we had today - yikes).   Our church is starting the baking for the holiday fair which will happen in about a month - Krumkaka, Lefse and a few other Scandinavian goodies are in the works.  It got me thinking about what to make this year.  I'm thinking Kranskaka is definitely on the menu!  We haven't made one for a few years.

Fall foods abound here this week.   Here's what we're eating.

Sunday, October 11:
   Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter
   Lunch: PB&J, Potato Chips, and Cut Veggies (we were gifted a bag of chips leftover from a youth event)
   Snack: Apples
   Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Bread, Sliced Vegetables

Monday, October 12:
     Breakfast: Peanut Butter Banana Smoothies
     Lunch: Leftover Soup
     Snack: Cereal
     Dinner: Pork Loin, Roasted Potatoes, Lemon Kohlrabi, Apple-Raspberry-Pear Salad

Tuesday, October 13:
    Breakfast:  Oatmeal with Walnuts and Apples
    Lunch: Leftover Pork with Applesauce and Sliced Cucumbers
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup (in the crockpot), Bread, Apple-Raspberry-Grape Salad

Wednesday, October 14:
     Breakfast:  Scrambled Eggs and Toast
     Lunch: Leftover Soup
     Snack: Crackers with Peanut Butter
     Dinner:  Stuffed Acorn Squash, Apple-Grape-Pear Salad

Thursday, October 15:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Apples with Almond Butter, Cut Veggies, Yogurt
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Applesauce Chicken, Rice, Grape-Apple-Banana Salad

Friday, October 16:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer, Bananas
    Lunch: Leftover Chicken and Rice or Soup
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Date night out with a gift card, Children will eat at a church event

Saturday, October 17:
   Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
   Lunch: Autumn Spiced Pancakes, Sausage, Applesauce
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
   Family Night Dessert:  Apple Crisp, Hot Cocoa

What are you eating this week?

Frugal Friday - On a Monday!

What a week!
Lots of shingles pain, grading coming out my ears, parent-teacher conferences, running all over to find tap shoes for my now man-size-footed son, and then we had our garage sale this weekend too.  I'm really am ready for a nap this afternoon.

It seems like I didn't do much frugal this week, but here's what I did:

* Bought 1 yard of lace on sale to my make daughter a crown for her Halloween costume.  If it turns out well, I'll make sure I post about it.

* Used up leftovers to make dinner and/or lunch a couple of times this week.

* Enjoyed a lunch brought in by a co-worker this week.  Another co-worker brought in doughnuts for a treat one afternoon.

* Returned an overdue library book before the fine kicked in. YAY!

* My children went in for well-child checkups and we discovered that the pain in my daughter's foot that we thought was a pulled tendon is actually a bone spur.  The doctor gave us several ways to deal with it now so it doesn't become debilitating.  We only needed to buy a pair of over the counter insoles at this point!

* Taught an extra Jazzercise class this week.  Will get paid for that.

* My children had a teacher in-service on Friday and they spent the day at a friend's house playing.  No sitter to pay! Yay!

* Picked several more tomatoes this week - we're getting down to the end of these now.  The squash is officially done (whew!).  I also picked another cucumber.  I think those are getting close to the end too. 

* Made $96 with the garage sale.  I was really hoping for more but we had very little interest.  Everything else will be donated and we will take the tax deduction.

What did you do that was frugal this last week?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Super Savings - $40.01 Grocery Shop

Sorry folks, no photo this week - I wasn't that on top of things!

My son and I ran to one store and bought the following with our $40 grocery budget - I definitely had the pennies in my purse so the one cent over wasn't going to break us!   We had a yard sale on Saturday, so the $10 in frozen pizza was for dinner that night since we were all wiped and nobody wanted to cook.   Everything else will last through the week. 

We had plenty of apples and pears and a whole package of grapes from last week that will be good through most of this week too and we have sausage, chicken and pork in the freezer as well as a couple of venison and bear steaks (Thanks cousin Bo!) so we're good to go for meat for a while. 

Here's what we bought:

42oz Vegetable Oil $2.49 (store coupon)
64oz Apple Juice $0.99 (sale)
6 10oz cans diced tomatoes @ 3/$2 = $4
3 10oz cans black beans @ 3/$2 = $2
5lb Russet Potatoes $2.49
3.37 lbs Yellow Bananas @$0.67/lb = $2.26
10oz Fresh Spinach $2
8oz Fresh Romaine Lettuce $2
2 Dry Pints Red Raspberries @ 2/$5 = $5
2 Frozen Pizzas @ 2/$10 = $10 (sale)
Smart Balance Spread $2.99
GG Plain Yogurt 32oz $3.79

Total: $40.01

Come back Monday to see what we're eating!  I'm going to enjoy the beautiful weather we've been having - it's mid-October and I'm not foolish enough to think that we'll have many more days of this.  We do live in Minnesota, after all! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Groceries, Our Menu and Shingles (not the kind on the roof!)

It's been a really long couple of weeks.  Our freezer is almost cleaned out for defrosting so we've been eating a LOT of soup - so much that we're getting tired of it, in fact (which I never thought would happen).  A good problem to have, I guess.

I also have postherpetic neuralgia, a complication of shingles, and I've had it for about 3 years now.  This last week I broke out in full blown shingles again (second time in three years) and this time in new places on my torso.  Needless to say, I've been miserable and had to miss several events because I just couldn't stand to be out and about.  I'm only 40 so this is discouraging to say the least.   Fortunately, I have some new strategies for managing going forward but it means we're going to have to make some big and hard changes around here.  Can you pray for us please?  It's going to be another emotional year here, I'm afraid.

On to better things....

The weather has been perfect after weeks of rain and we've finally settled into a good routine for fall.  I have my teaching assignments for spring semester and they'll fit perfectly with our current schedule and give me some time to physically recover from everything this fall.  I'm so grateful!
John ran to the store on Saturday and spent $42.01 on the following:

Soda Crackers 4 boxes @ $1 ea = $4
1 loaf wheat bread $1.99
Frozen cooked Shrimp 2lbs $5.99  (store coupon)
Pork Loin Short Ribs 3.64lbs @ $1.99/lb = $7.24 (store sale)
2lbs Mixed Salad Greens $3.99 (store sale)
4.73lbs + 5.46lbs Local Apples @ $0.99/lb = $10.09
2.02lbs yellow bananas @ $0.67/lb = $1.35
2.19lbs Red Seedless Grapes @ $1.49/lb = $3.26
2.22lbs Green Seedless Grapes @ $1.49/lb = $3.31
1 loaf French Bread $0.79

Total Spent $42.01
Total Saved (according to store receipt) $7.99 (16%)
(Note: In Minnesota we don't have tax on most food.)

We also received 6 green peppers, a butternut squash and 2 dozen yellow pears from our CSA this week.    I picked several tomatoes, 3 butternut squash and 3 acorn squash from our yard this week too.

So, here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, October 4, 2015:
    Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter
    Lunch: Fried Potatoes, Tossed Salad with Apples and Walnuts
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Baked White Fish, Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple-Grape-Pear Salad

Monday, October 5, 2015:
     Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast, and Sliced Apples
     Lunch: Leftover Fish and Squash
     Snack: Apple or Pear
     Dinner: Chili in Homemade Bread Bowl, Applesauce

Tuesday, October 6, 2015:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Craisins
    Lunch: Leftover Chili and Soda Crackers
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: Baked Potatoes topped with Leftover Chili and Cheddar Cheese, Grapes

Wednesday, October 7, 2015:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast, and Bananas
    Lunch: PB&J, Grapes, Yogurt
    Snack: Apple or Pear
    Dinner: Short Ribs, Zucchini-Potato Skillet, Apple-Grape-Pear Salad

Thursday, October 8, 2015:
     Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal with Walnuts
     Lunch: Leftover Ribs and Zucchini-Potato Skillet
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: Applesauce Chicken, Rice, Grapes

Friday, October 9, 2015:
     Breakfast; Waffles from the Freezer, Bananas
     Lunch: Leftover Chicken and Rice
     Snack: Apple or Pear
     Dinner: Taco Soup, Tortilla Chips, Sliced Apples and Grapes

Saturday, October 10, 2015:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Grapes
    Lunch: Salad with Tuna
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
    At home Date-Night Dessert: Apple Crisp

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Frugal, er, Sunday

I'm not sure what we'd do without Lego at our house - these provide hours of entertainment to all four of us and I'm so grateful that we have so much fun with something so simple!

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted a Frugal Friday post - I'm writing more on that tomorrow - but for now for the frugal things in the last couple of weeks.

*  Picked three butternut squash and three acorn squash plus a bunch of tomatoes from our yard this week.   I set the green tomatoes out to ripen indoors.  We have had frost a couple of nights and I don't want to loose that many tomatoes!

* Received a bonus box from our CSA containing green peppers, a butternut squash and pears.  YAY!

* Enjoyed a free lunch at work one day - delicious food!  We're so spoiled - the chef at work is fantastic.    A co-worker brought in a loaf of homemade zucchini bread for snacks a couple of days this week as well.

* The children have an hour a week at church for their classes this year at a time when John and I don't have anything else going on.  That gives John and I an hour each week where we have child-free time to have a short date at home.  We've enjoyed having the time to build an even stronger relationship!  We've gone for walks and spent some time just sitting at home with hot chocolate talking and dreaming and problem solving.
* Picked zinnias, snap dragons and Shasta daisies from our yard for our kitchen table and to give to our secretary at work.

* Other than groceries and gas, we have bought only a bottle of Advil and 3 bottles of stain stick, which gave us a $5 Target gift card back.  Having a 10-year-old boy, I consider stain stick a necessity!  And three bottles will last us a while. 

* Made turkey soup using a turkey carcass from the freezer. 

* Made vegetable stock which I then froze using leftover vegetables and then the celery leaves I had in the freezer. 

* Decorated for fall using decorations we already had and that my daughter made from our craft supplies.  She's so creative!  I love it. 

* Started working on the sewn Christmas gifts that I'm making this year.  I'm hoping to do a separate post on these later this fall. 

* Started deadheading the plants in the yard to get them ready for fall. 

* John and the children attended a friend's wedding and brought home chocolates and snack mix - both of which were the favors for the wedding.  They had a terrific time! 

* We have been doing a LOT of cleaning out in preparation for a garage sale later this month.  We're hoping to make enough money to pay off a couple of medical bills.  With the sheer volume of "stuff" we have, I'm hoping that will be the case.  And it means a cleaner and easier to care for house for us. Win-win all the way around!

What frugal things have you done the last few weeks?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Frugal Friday - On a Monday!

Produce from our back yard a few weeks ago.
It's been a couple of week since I posted a Frugal Friday post - I had the flu, including having to miss a day at work, and then, after catching up everything that didn't get done that day I missed, I have had a raging head cold. 

Thankfully, it appears we're all on the mend (Missy caught the head cold too - way worse than I had it, poor thing).

It's been a pretty quiet couple of weeks with me being sick and everyone getting into the swing of all things school around here.

We've done some frugal things:

* Ate most of our meals at home and brown-bagged almost all the lunches.  Enjoyed lunch at our church on Rally Sunday (last Sunday) with the rest of our congregation.  I had a free lunch at work one day too - I guess that's a perk of having to go to meetings...

* I paid cash for 3/4 tank of gas rather than getting a full tank with my credit card.

* Used a gift card to get ice cream after the first day of school and a punch card to get a free loaf of bread from a bakery.

* Tried on all of our clothes - man, do we have a lot of clothes!   Put some back into our closets, put some in the mend pile, put others aside for a garage sale and a few others to take to the consignment store (I'll take store credit rather than cash so I can get more bang for my buck there!).

* Made a mock apple crisp using zucchini.  It tasted good (John was really surprised!).

* Updated the budget book and budget.

* Slept a lot - went to bed early, came home early and took naps and have tried to stay home while I've been sick.  Hate being sick but I'm glad that I can do that! 

* Enjoyed cookies that a co-worker brought to share one day.  They were delicious!
* A friend gave us ornamental pumpkins - they had grown more than they wanted so they shared!
* Submitted the paperwork for a rebate.  Will use that rebate to buy a couple of Christmas gifts.

* Took advantage of a good sale and store credit to order Christmas gifts for my husband and my father. (My husband's family draws names - there are 26 of us so far - and we don't know who we have or I would have ordered for my father-in-law too.)

* Put together a list and schedule for making Christmas gifts this year - we only had $100 for Christmas this year (so far - that rebate will get a couple of additional things too) and I will end up making most of our Christmas gifts this year as a result.  If I'm really on the ball, I'll post about it as I make things this year!   I should be able to make most things using what we have on hand and a gift card or two that we already have.

* Picked a ton more squash, cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden. 

* The children enjoyed the return of fall programming at church.  They love the pre-confirmation program and I'm excited that they are enjoying it so much.  They get a treat while they are there and get to do several things during the year that we wouldn't do on our own. 

* Our pre-paid cell phones didn't ring up with the triple minute code my husband entered so he called and they credited our account with the triple minutes. 

*  FREE LAUGH:  One evening while I was making dinner, I looked out the window and saw a squirrel trying to steal the one cucumber that grew outside the chicken-wire garden fence.  It was hysterical, since the squirrel didn't realize the cucumber was still attached to the plant and he'd run and the cucumber would pull out of his hands and he'd go back and try again!  He eventually gave up and took several yellow pear tomatoes that had fallen to the ground and ran off. 

What have you been up to this week?

Menu Plan Monday - September 20, 2015

Heart-shaped potato!

I think we're officially starting to slide into fall here.  I'm excited - fall is my very favorite season and my daughter is getting all excited about fall decorations around here.  And, since she's 10, it's all about glitter too. (When I washed the throw rugs last week, my dryer's lint trap was FULL of glitter!  At least the decorations look good!)  I'll share some of the decorations with you as we go through the next few weeks but today it's all about what we're eating!
Saturday is BUSY for us this week - Missy and I have a girls' morning and John and Buddy have a Scouting event that will take most of the day and then we have the Harvest Party for our CSA in the evening.   Other than that, it's a "normal" week - if we can call any week normal that is!
I didn't get the freezer cleaned out and defrosted this summer, so I'm hoping to do that in the next few weeks so we're eating soup (I had four turkey carcasses in there!) and trying to eat the "stuff" out of the freezer so we can defrost it before it gets too cold outside.

I've also been picking more crookneck squash, cucumbers and tomatoes from the yard.  We're almost done and this week I can probably pick the winter squash too.  We'll see!   We have a cantaloupe and a watermelon left from last week and a few oranges as well as Patty Pan squash and zucchini coming out our ears.  That's the setting for this week's menu, I guess.

Here's what's on the menu this week:

Sunday, September 20:
    Breakfast:  Fruit Smoothies (fruit from the freezer)
    Lunch: BLT's on Homemade Biscuits, Sliced Peaches
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Turkey, Patty Pan Squash, Melon-Banana-Peach Salad

Monday, September 21:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Bananas
    Lunch:  Crackers with Peanut Butter, Apples, Yogurt, Cut Veggies
    Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Turkey Noodle Soup, Cornbread, Melon

Tuesday, September 22:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Craisins
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Sauteed Bear Meat with Onions, Zucchini-Potato Pancakes, Apple-Banana-Peach Salad

Wednesday, September 23:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Bananas
    Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Cut Veggies
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Waffles, Sausage, Peaches

Thursday, September 24:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Bear Sautee and Zucchini-Potato Pancakes
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Beef Barley Soup (made with bear meat), Biscuits, Apple Slices

Friday, September 25:
    Breakfast: Waffles (from the freezer), Peaches
    Lunch: Leftover Soup
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
    Dessert: Mock Apple Crisp (made with Zucchini)

Saturday, September 26:
    Breakfast/Lunch: At events out today
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Pot Luck: Bring Salsa and Chips and Ginger Cookies

What are you eating this week!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Super Savings Saturday - $39.23 mostly fruit and yogurt shop

HI everyone.

September is just speeding by and we've had the flu and head colds already here at our house.  I'm hoping that means we're done for the school year!   I can hope, can't I? 

One grocery shop this week.  We bought the following:

2 cans Butter Kernel Corn @ $0.59ea (Store Coupon)
3 cans Butter Kernel Peas @ $0.59ea  (Store Coupon)
2 cans Starkist Tuna @ $0.69 (Store Coupon)
Hormel Little Sizzler Sausage 4 @ 4/$5  (Store Coupon)
Yellow Bananas 5.45lbs @ $0.67/lb
Granny Smith Apples 2.19lbs @ $0.99/lb
Pink Lady Apples 2.77lbs @ $1. 49/lb
Peaches 3.32lbs @ $1.49/lb
Whole White Mushrooms $1.50 (Store coupon)
20 cartons Yoplait Yogurt @ 20/$10 ($0.50/carton)
1 Dozen Eggs $3.49

Total Today: $39.23
Saved (according to store receipt) $3.16 or 7%

No photo today because we had a saga with the eggs.  John accidentally left them in the cart at the store (we don't have employees bagging groceries at our store - we bag our own and then load them into our cars on our own as well).  He didn't realize this until he got back home and then went back to get them.  In the meantime someone stole them rather than turning them back in to the store, as they should.  Anyway, we gratefully didn't not have to purchase another dozen eggs - the store believed him - but, sheesh. 

Way more excitement than a family with head colds needs right now! 

We all took a nap this afternoon after that.

I hope you are well and I'm looking to get back to a somewhat more regular blogging schedule this week, writing some posts ahead.

Come back Monday to see what we're eating this week!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Frugal Friday September 4, 2015

Flowers from our camping trip.
This week has flown by so fast - I guess the last week of summer always does!  I *think* we're actually ready for the first week of school next week.  Hard to believe!  I'm never this ready.  That probably means I've forgotten something important or something like that but I'll take the "Wow! I've got this" feeling I have right now.

It's been a pretty frugal week this week, though I did hire a sitter one morning so I could go to work and get things together there.  That wasn't frugal but necessary.

Here's some of the frugal things we did:

* Blanched and froze both beans and peas.

* Collected seeds from my lettuce and basil for use later.

* I participated in a local parade and John and the children came to watch.  The children brought home a free Frisbee that a group was handing out.  I was also two hours of free entertainment!

* Made and froze zucchini bread again.  We have zucchini coming out of our ears here.

* I made four loaves of French Bread, biscuits, eggplant parmesan, chicken stir fry and stuffed zucchini from scratch this week.

* Shredded and froze zucchini to use in making zucchini bread later this year.

* Picked up our last CSA share of the year - it included watermelon and cantaloupe! YUM!

* Picked lots of yellow pear tomatoes, another crookneck squash, and three large cucumbers.

* My husband and I had an at-home date night watching a movie that I had gotten for a birthday gift back at the beginning of August.  I made individual apple crisps using diced apples from the freezer and other ingredients that we had on hand for a date-night dessert.

* We played UNO and Phase 10 card games for family night this week.

* We used a snow cone maker that my husband received as a gift several years ago and syrups we already had to make snow cones as a treat on an especially hot day we had.

* I froze celery leaves to make soup stock with later.

* Found a package of paper lunch sacks that I'd been looking for.  The children need to take lunch in a disposable sack when they have field trips at school so I put them where I can find them this time!   That saved me buying more.

* Inventoried the fabric that I had bought to make placemats and/or tablecloths in the past to see what I had and decided what I could make without buying anything.  I can make two tablecloths and matching napkins without buying anything.  So I will make those first. 

What did you do this week?