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?