Friday, December 30, 2016

Frugal Friday - The End of 2016

Another spectacular sunrise - we were so very spoiled by these this year!  I enjoyed every one of them!

Nothing like completely forgetting I had a blog for month, right?  I didn't forget about everyone - I promise.   December ended up being ridiculously busy and very spare moment was spent with family and friends and on grading, as the term ended not that long ago.    My parents were visiting for 3 weeks (they returned home to sunny and slightly warmer Texas yesterday) and the children had their Sunday school program, their school Christmas program, and a school fun-day to end the term and John had 3 funerals and two graveside burials.  Then there's always the rush of Christmas and all the services that comes with being a Pastor's family.  I am very, very ready for a quiet start to the new year!

I have some New Year's posts already planned and partially written, so look for those next week.  In the meantime, here are some frugal things we did in the month of December:

* We made bread, cookies (LOTS of cookies), chicken wild-rice soup, taco soup, fish chowder, Swedish meatballs, lefse (potato flatbread), shrimp pasta, and a variety of other things at home this month.

* We attended a concert and a museum exhibition in celebration of my Mother's 80th birthday, which was the end of November.  My parents paid for these tickets as Mom's "birthday gift to myself".  We all really enjoyed the time together and really enjoyed both the concert and the exhibit.   We paid for parking and then made dinner afterward.

* I used candles and Christmas decorations we already owned to decorate the house for the Christmas holiday.  We will leave the decorations up until Epiphany, January 6th.

* We received several gifts from parishioners that we greatly appreciated:  a tray of cookies very different from what we would bake ourselves, a jar of local honey and a jar of local maple syrup, a loaf of banana bread and a loaf of walnut bread, home-candied pecans, and one soul who gave us a card with $20 in it and told us to buy some Christmas treat ourselves because she didn't feel like baking this year! We all got a good laugh out of that one and bought sparkling juice to enjoy with our Christmas dinner.  John also received a Martin Luther Playmobile figure!  He was so excited - he's wanted one for a while!

* We had been having some issues with the humidifier on our furnace, so we had service come and check things.  We have a monthly payment plan so we rarely pay out of pocket.  We end up saving about half price by having the monthly payment plan.  And the humidifier is fixed and working well again!   With the super cold, our home becomes very dry, which is hard on both our bodies and our musical instruments (piano, guitar, and clarinet in particular).  We definitely appreciate the added humidity.  In the extreme cold, our humidity can plummet to almost 0%. We like to keep it at roughly 35%.

* Our children made or bought Christmas presents for their friends using their own money. 

* We ate lots of leftovers.

* My Mom and I sewed buttons back on two shirts, tacked up three fallen hems, and altered two dresses - one my Mom had made me that was too big in the torso and one that my daughter received as a hand-me-down that didn't fit across the back (we think they sewed two fronts together for that one rather than a front and a back when the dress was made at the factory).  

* I spent an afternoon cleaning out reorganizing our furnace room.

* We took three bags and box of donations to the local second hand store and donated two pairs of outgrown boots, a pair of outgrown snow pants and several hats and mittens to a local winter clothing drive.

* While, I didn't get all the gifts made that I wanted to make, we had a lovely Christmas with plenty of gifts - everyone received something they wanted and there wasn't a lot of miscellaneous "junk".  The children proclaimed it was the "Best Christmas Ever!"

* We had family photos taken by a professional.  While not necessarily frugal, we decided we needed photos with my parents and the children since my parents are aging.  We had a terrific time and I can't wait to see the final pictures!  The person we employed is very reasonably priced and a terrific joy to work with.

I think that's it.  January will be off to a slow start for us as church activities slow down for a while and I am off from classes for a couple of weeks.  The children jump back into activities in full force but it's rather nice to ease back into everything else.

Wishing you a blessed and happy New Year!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 27, 2016

How about a super dark photo of our dinner the other night?   Pulled pork and pan fried butternut squash with spinach.  It was delicious, even if the photo is really dark!

I can't believe December starts this week!  I am so totally not ready for Christmas to come but Advent is here so I guess I better get ready quickly. 

We have a busy month and guests will be arriving in 2 weeks again to stay through New Years.  I have a lot of gifts I'd like to sew or make and then all the holiday baking, which is truly a favorite part of my holiday.  In the meantime, we have something happening every single night this week except Friday!

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, November 27, 2016
    Breakfast: Toast and Strawberry-Bananas Smoothies
    Lunch: Pizza Twists, Tossed Salad
    Dinner: At a friend's house

Monday, November 28, 2016
    Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Leftover Turkey in Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Apples
    Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
    Dinner: Hamburger Gravy, Rice, Apple-Pineapple-Clementine Salad

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
   Lunch: Leftover Hamburger Gravy and Rice
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Sausage, Corn and Potato Stew, Cornbread, Tossed Salad

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Banana-Peanut Butter Smoothies
    Lunch: Leftover Stew
    Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
    Dinner: At Church for Advent

Thursday, December 1, 2016:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Stew
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce, Garlic Bread, Clementine's

Friday, December 2, 2016:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer with Peach Jam
    Lunch: Leftover Spaghetti
    Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?
Saturday, December 3, 2016:
    Brunch: Raspberry Buckle, Sausage, Clementine's
    Snack: Soft Pretzels
    Dinner: Best Ever Potato Soup, Homemade French Bread, Tossed Salad

Baking this week: French Bread, Finnish Ribbon Cookies, Lefse

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Super Savings Saturday - A $54.15 stock up shop

Sorry, no photo today - it was a rush in, rush out, hurry home, put it away and sit down for supper kind of day!

Buddy and I ran out and grabbed groceries while Missy and John were ringing bells for the Salvation Army Red Kettles.  We had dinner in the crockpot and planned to eat right when we got home because John had one more thing on the agenda today.  We succeeded, and now the children are washing up and getting their things ready for tomorrow, I have one more load of laundry in the clothes washer and Buddy and I will wash up the dishes here as soon as we're all done with showers.  We have dinner tomorrow night with friends, so I get to stay up tonight and grade all the things that were turned in before the holiday and the children plan to snuggle up with some books for a bit before heading to bed.  Lovely evening!

Here's what Buddy and I bought at the store - with commentary:

2 56oz bottles of cranberry juice @ $1.99ea = $3.98 (one for now, one for over Christmas)
Red Velvet Cake Mix $1.99 (to make for John for Christmas - this is his favorite!)
Mandarin Oranges 2 @ $0.89 = $1.78 (both for over Christmas)
Olive Oil 56oz $4.19 (I was totally out)
Sandwich Bread $2.50 (I haven't had time to bake this weekend at all)
Rope Sausage 1lb $3.49 (I thought I had one but I didn't and John specifically asked me to make something that uses this this week)
3.25lbs McIntosh Apples @ $1.39/lb = $4.53
1.98lbs Golden Yams @ $0.59/lb = $1.17
Salad Greens and Spinach B1G1 $2.99
2lbs Onions $1.59 (these should last us several weeks)
3lbs Clementine's $3.88
2.69lbs Yellow Bananas @ $0.59/lb = $1.59
1 gallon milk $3.89
Smart Balance (the huge tub) $6.79 (this should last us several weeks)
2lbs Butter @ $3/lb = $6 (this is to refill my freezer - butter hasn't dropped below this price or I would have bought more)
32oz Yogurt $3.79

Total Spent: $54.15
Total Saved (According to store receipt) $2.99 - though more than that was on sale

We have plenty of vegetables right now - carrots, celery, potatoes, winter squash.  I processed the last three pumpkins from the garden today so we have a total of about 20 cups of pureed pumpkin in the freezer for the rest of winter here.  We also have lots of blanched and frozen vegetables - zucchini, beans, peas, beets, tomatoes, kohlrabi and corn - in the freezer.  We also have tons of chicken, pork and fish in the freezer right now as well as canned chicken and tuna in the pantry.  So, long story short, we have plenty to eat!

Come back Monday to see what we're eating - I actually have the post already written this week!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Frugal Sunday - So Much to be Thankful For!


I was going through our photos from this summer to order some prints and was reminded all over again how much I love the early, quiet mornings at the cabin we rent!   Here is the field across from the cabin all foggy in the morning sun.  Just beautiful!  The photo doesn't even begin to do it justice but I'll take the reminder.

We've had such crazy week and it really didn't feel very frugal.  In some ways it was - we didn't spend a ton of money and all that we did spend was planned.  Still, I felt like all I did this week was run places and spend money.  Here's what we did this week:

* I made calzones, spaghetti sauce, coffee cake, cornbread and vegetable soup at home this week.

* I attended a meeting that had a dinner with it and I received a free meal another day at work.

* John attended a 3 day workshop with our church and was treated to three meals a day while he was there.  Our congregation also paid for his hotel room and reimbursed us for mileage for travel there and back.  John did buy gas for the van and took some snacks with him but they were things we already had so the only expense was gas.

* We finished cleaning up the yard for winter ourselves.  It looks great ad we saved a ton of money.  I'm leaving my cone flowers standing to feed the birds this winter.  Seeing the birds from my kitchen window makes me happy and I'm sure the birds will appreciate the extra food.

* We hung our Christmas lights on the front of the house this week while we didn't have to deal with the snow.  The look nice and I'm happy to have that chore done!

* The children had several evening events while John was gone and we made dinner at home each evening even though I was very tired after long days.

* I taught an extra Jazzercise class this week and will be paid for that.

* We watched a video from the library and ate homemade pizza for Family Night this week.

* Saturday morning we drove to the Mall of America to see The Big Ring.  This was the kickoff event for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign this year and was intended to beak the Guinness Book of World Records Record for a Bell Choir.  They succeeded and it was really fun to hear the music and see the record broken!   There were several members of our congregation's bell choir participating so it was doubly fun to see them participate.  The different choirs then performed throughout the day.  The children each bought the other a planned Christmas present using their own money after we heard the music.

* I went to bed super early twice this week - I was so tired and I the sleep helped me from becoming ill.

* I cleaned out several decorations and other items that we don't need anymore from our storage/furnace room.  I'm so happy to have done at least a little bit of that!  Hoping to get much more done over Christmas break next month!

* I used a discount code to order our Christmas cards online.  They came in the mail yesterday and are wonderful!  We used a photo from John's Ordination and we'll get those addressed for mailing in the next week so we can send them out right after Thanksgiving.

* I roasted several pumpkins and then froze the meat to use later this winter.  I made roasted pumpkin seeds to snack on.

I think that's it!   We have a couple of days off this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, which makes me very happy.  I'm grateful that we will have a wonderful meal with friends and then have a full 24 hours with rest before the weekend is over.  So grateful!

What did you do that was frugal that was frugal this past week?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Super Saving Saturday - A $25.64 Thanksgiving Week Shop

This week is the week of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. and we have so much to be thankful for!   We are not hosting the meal or family this week and we have SO MUCH food in our freezer and cupboards, that we didn't do much shopping today.

My daughter and I went to two stores and bought what you see above:

Store #1:
52oz Vegetable Oil $2.19
1 dozen Eggs $0.79

Total from Store #1: $2.98

Store #2:
2 Carnation Evaporated Milk $1ea = $2
2 Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup $0.99ea = $1.98
15oz kidney beans  $0.89
15oz chili beans $0.89
2 15oz tomato sauce $0.89ea = $1.78
2lbs Low Sodium Bacon 2lbs/$6 = $6
3lbs Pink Lady Apples $4.99
1.94lbs Yellow Bananas $0.59/lb = $1.14
3.02lbs Red Delicious Apples $0.99/lb = $2.99

Total Store #2: $22.66

Total Spent Today: $25.64

We're spending Thanksgiving with friends this year since John has to lead Worship on both Wednesday and Sunday.  We will be bringing krumkaka (cookies) to add to the meal - my friend LOVES to cook so this is her gift to everyone attending. 

Come back and see what we're eating on Monday!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Frugal Friday - Is it already mid-November?

I don't have a photo for you today.  I guess that's okay once in a while, right?   And I guess it's not quite mid-November - that comes early next week.  I still can't believe it's November.  We're really, really enjoying the weather that we usually have in early October and we broke the record for latest frost here by 116 years!  Last time we had a frost this late?  1900.  Go figure. I'm still harvesting strawberries.  No complaints there!
Here's the frugal happenings for the last two weeks:

* Made soup, bread, cornbread, and several other foods at home.

* I had my best friend over for breakfast rather than going out to breakfast.  We had a great time and no one cared if we talked for hours! 

* My Mom made the children their Halloween costumes this year (she's done that every year but one since they were born) and I went as Rosie the Riveter.  I used jeans and a bandana I already owned and borrowed a blue button down shirt from my husband.  I wore a pair of brown boots I already owned and everyone said I totally nailed the costume! It was a fun costume and most people knew who I was!  My husband went as a "mild mannered pastor". LOL. 

* We balanced the budget book and figured out how to pay off the rest of the bills that we need to pay and purchase a new-to-us vehicle in the next 12 months.  My husband's vehicle is a 2000 year model with 300,000 miles on it.  It's been a terrific vehicle but it's starting to really show it's age and we definitely need a new vehicle.  We're pleased that we should be able to make that work out soon!

* We brought home a 1/4 sheet cake, an almond loaf, a partial loaf of bread and a partial package of lunch meat from church functions this week.  I took the sheet cake to work to share and we froze most of the almond loaf for later.

*   The children and I made Christmas ornaments for their teachers and Grandparents using things we already owned.  They turned out cute!  We'll work on a few more things this week.

* I have had a head cold this week so I went to bed early several nights to get the rest so I would heal.  So far it's been working!

* Now that we know roughly what my husband's schedule is like and how much he is getting paid as well as what it taken out of his paycheck (social security is, taxes are not, etc.) we were able to put together a budget and a schedule.  We're enjoying both!
* We used a gift card and some gift money to purchase a few things for my husband's office from Ikea.  We ate dinner there one night - less than $5 per person! 

* I washed all the furniture slipcovers this week.  It's a big job since they all have to hang to dry but with the warm weather that was easy!   Now they are fresh for the winter. 

That's all I can remember off the top of my head.  What did you do that was frugal this week?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 6, 2016

I may have posted that photo before (I can't remember and I'm way to lazy too look!) but these flowers are *still* blooming - on November 7th!   We usually have snow by now - at least a dusting - so I'm feeling terribly spoiled.  I picked snapdragons, roses, and a few of these for our kitchen table yesterday.    I'm pretty sure winter will come in with a roar sometime very soon, but for now I'm enjoying weather is shirtsleeves and fresh flowers from the garden. 

We bought no groceries this week.  We decided we had plenty in the fridge, freezer and cupboards and decided to see what we could do with what we have.   Sometimes it's a challenge but it gets us out of a rut and uses things up.

We were blessed this week with a 1/4 sheet cake and an almond cake from members of the congregation and we have lots of fresh fish also from a member of the congregation.    We definitely don't lack for sweets with the congregation we're in!  I think I'm going to end up bringing the sheet cake in to my work because I really don't think we're going to be able to eat it all before it goes bad.  The almond cake will freeze well so I'm not worried about that one!

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

Sunday, November 6, All Saint's Sunday:
    Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter
    Lunch: At the church
    Dinner: Out at Ikea (we had a gift card and decided to purchase some furniture for my husband's office with it so we bought dinner too.  Meals cost less than $5 for an adult entrĂ©e at our Ikea so it's a relatively inexpensive meal out.  Since we didn't buy groceries we decided it was worth it!)

Monday, November 7:
   Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls, Sliced Apples
   Lunch: Leftover Tacos
   Snack; Yogurt
   Dinner: Fried Fish, Couscous, Grape-Apple-Orange Salad

Tuesday, November 8:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
    Lunch: Leftover Fish as Fish Tacos
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Hashbrowned Potatoes, Sliced Apples

Wednesday, November 9:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
    Lunch: Salad with Chicken, Mandarin Oranges, and Craisins
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Leftover soup and garlic toast from the Freezer

Thursday, November 10:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Peanut Butter Crackers, Cut Veggies, Apple
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Vegetable Barley Soup, Homemade Bread

Friday, November 11:
    Breakfast: Eggs, Toast
    Lunch: Leftover Soup and Bread
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza for the kids, Date out for Mom and Dad

Saturday, November 12:
    Brunch: Cinnamon Roll Waffles, Scrambled Eggs, Raspberry Sauce (for the waffles)
    Snack: Soft Pretzels
    Dinner: Hamburger Gravy, Rice, Roasted Squash
    Dessert: Apple Crisp

What are you eating this week?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - Week of October 30, 2016

My brand new coffee pot!
I spent the weekend grading - mid-term grades were due and all that - and processing some very mentally draining things that happened this last week.  My brain is pretty much mush at this point.  In the middle of all that, my coffee pot decided to spring a leak and hot water went everywhere!  Couple that with no coffee and a trip to the store suddenly moved up to high priority on the list!   I came home with the black beauty in the photo above.  Ah, bliss.  Hot coffee - on a timer no less! - and no water all over the place.  Win-win in my book!

After two weeks of my parents buying groceries for us (Yep - totally spoiled!) and another of eating mostly leftovers and it was definitely time for a run to the store this weekend.  We spent just over $50 on lots of fruit (apples, bananas, grapes, a pomegranate), carrots, celery, a cucumber, yogurt, a gallon of milk, a roll of sausage, and three cans of our children's favorite soup for a  quick dinner a couple of nights coming up.  We were totally out of fruit, so I think the expense as well worth it!

This is a busy week with something happening every single night so the menu is easy and involves a couple of crockpot meals.

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, October 30, Reformation Sunday and Confirmation:
    Breakfast: Orange Poppy Seed Bread (gift from a parishioner), bananas
    Lunch:  At church for Confirmation
    Snacks: Confirmation open houses.....
    Dinner: Chili and Cornbread

Monday, October 31, Halloween, Reformation Day:
    Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls, Fruit Smoothies
    Lunch: Leftover Chili
    Snacks: Carrots and Celery
    Dinner: Turkey Sandwiches, Apples

Tuesday, November 1, All Saint's Day:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Almonds
    Lunch: Turkey on Spinach Salad
    Snacks: Yogurt
    Dinner: Fried White Fish, Couscous, Cantaloupe-Grape-Apple Salad

Wednesday, November 2:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Apples or Bananas
     Lunch: Fish Tacos
     Snacks: Yogurt
     Dinner: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Cut Veggies and Sliced Apples

Thursday, November 3:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Cut Veggies, Yogurt
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Vegetable Soup, Homemade Bread

Friday, November 4:
    Breakfast: Eggs, Toast
    Lunch: Leftover Vegetable Soup
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, November 5:
    Brunch: French Toast with Blueberry Jam, Blueberry-Banana Smoothies
    Snack: Homemade Soft Pretzels
    Dinner: Pork Roast, Potatoes, Pomegranate-Apple-Grape Salad

What are you eating this week?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Goals - The Last Week of October

Red for the Holy Spirit!  Plates, Cups and Napkins from the brunch for 35 we hosted at our home Saturday morning.

Now that we're through Ordination, we can settle once again into  routine.  I've definitely decided that there is never a week without something happening (John is at a church function 4 nights this week!) but that we can get into a routine and a rhythm.  This will change with the church seasons and the school year but I'm hoping to establish an ebb and flow that we can maintain for a while.

This week is mid-terms here where I'm at and basketball season is slowly ramping up.  We're eating up the leftovers in the fridge and planning for Advent - both at church and at home.  We have one more big day coming up - Installation at John's church - but that celebration is taken care of by the parish and we simply have to show up and enjoy ourselves.

We should receive our photos from the ordination later this week and I'm totally excited about that!  We had approximately 200 friends and family at the service and then another 150 or so that stayed for dinner after.  We have been truly blessed!   My only regret?  There were many I didn't get to talk to that day!

My goals for this week include getting a few things caught up now that we're through all of that.  Here's what's on my agenda this week:

* Complete and submit mid-term grades
* Write 1400 words on the writing that I need to do
* Learn 2 new Jazzercise routines
* Finish two Christmas gifts (and post about them!)
* Spend at least 1 hour on The Big Embroidery Project (still working on it!)
* Have a date out with my husband (the children are at a birthday party on Saturday so we're going to take advantage of the time for a date!)
* Have a movie marathon night for Family Night (we have three kids movies on the agenda)
* Finish reading the book I need to read for my research
* Make one last batch of pickled beets
* Compile my new set of research data
* Sign my children up for the county babysitting licensing class
* Mend 4 items
* Make gifts for Confirmation (and post about them!)

That's plenty! 

What are you up to this week?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - The Last Full Week in October

Caprice Skewers - a cherry tomato, a basil leaf and a cube of mozzarella on a toothpick.  Yum!

I'm really having a hard time believing that we're heading into the last full week in October! Things have been crazy busy around here and we're finally through Ordination (it was wonderful!) and settling into a new routine around here.  My parents have been here for almost 3 weeks and will be heading back to their home on Wednesday.  They will return mid-December to celebrate Christmas with us.

This is the week of leftovers from the Ordination - we had a ton of food leftover.  We still have a ton of veggies leftover from the garden and we're still picking tomatoes and strawberries - the two plants that shouldn't be doing well after the frost!   I'm not complaining, mind you.  Just a wee bit puzzled.

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

Sunday, October 23:
   Breakfast: Leftover Coffee Cake and Fruit
   Lunch: Buns, Pulled leftover Chicken, Leftover Coleslaw and Sliced Veggies
   Snack: Leftover cheesecake
   Dinner: Whatever we scavenged from the fridge:  Leftover chicken and coleslaw, cut veggies, fruit, yogurt, and bread

Monday, October 24:
   Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, French Toast (made with leftover French bread)
   Lunch: Leftover chicken on leftover tossed salad
   Snack:  Crackers
   Dinner: Leftover Chicken, Coleslaw, Cucumbers, and Bread

Tuesday, October 25:
   Breakfast: Leftover Coffee Cake, Smoothies made with leftover fruit
   Lunch: Pulled leftover chicken, leftover buns and leftover coleslaw
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Out to celebrate the last night before Mom and Dad leave (Dad's treat)

Wednesday, October 26:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Leftover chicken on Tossed salad
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: At a church function

Thursday, October 27:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
    Lunch: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup and Bread
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry, Rice, Cantaloupe

Friday, October 28, 2016
   Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Smoothies
   Lunch: Leftover stir Fry
   Snack: Cantaloupe
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, October 29, 2016:
   Brunch:  Biscuit Twists, Bacon, Cantaloupe-Grape-Apple Salad
   Snack: Homemade Soft Pretzels
   Dinner: Perfect Potato Soup, Homemade Bread, Cantaloupe

I'm hoping we can eat all the leftovers we have in our fridge before things go bad.  We did freeze a ton of chicken for later use. 
What are you eating this week?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Twenty Things I Learned at My Husband's Ordination

Our corsages and boutonnieres from the Ordination
We're through Ordination and into daily ministry.  Whew!   What a wonderful, wonderful day and such a blessed time!

Here are 20 things I learned at my husband's ordination, some totally tongue-in-cheek and some quite serious.

1.  No one wants to sit next to the Bishop at dinner.
2. People have no idea what to give as gifts for an Ordination.
3. You can't find Ordination cards at Target.  Go figure. 
4. The greeting card holder on our kitchen wall holds 26 cards before they start falling out of the holder. 
5. If you're wearing and alb (clerical robe), no one really cares what you're wearing underneath.
6. Photographers know how to pin on corsages and boutonnieres.
7.  All sorts of people have been praying for us - some we had NO idea!
8. Ordering food for an unknown number of people is difficult.
9.  Finding out what to do with leftover tossed lettuce salad is even more difficult.
10.  Most children have at least a vague idea of how to behave at a worship service.
11. We have a ton of wonderful friends.
12.  My husband's immediate family takes up 2 whole rows of pews by themselves (and that was with 7 people unable to attend).
13. My family that was there took up a whole additional row of pews - but that included extended family.
14.  Beautiful weather in October is not to be taken for granted.
15.  We have several talented artists in our family - my husband received three paintings for his office and three handmade stoles - all beautiful!
16.  All the cousins and extended cousins in my husband's family get along really well - and we're talking 13 children under the age of 12!  And every one of them said "excuse me" when they ran through our tiny little house while playing afterward, so they didn't disturb the 14 adults trying to converse.
17.  Waiting to see the photographs is driving me nuts.
18.  Everyone that was there was so excited for my husband to officially become a Pastor!  And so many commented on how terrific he'll be at it.
19.  My husband has been blessed with amazing mentors and colleagues through this journey.
20.  God has blessed us so very richly!
Bonus #1: Our driveway can hold a 25foot motor home with ease, though parking it was a bear.  And they had 7 people staying in it comfortably.  
Bonus #2:  Planning an ordination is a lot like planning a wedding.
Bonus #3: And just like at a wedding, if you are the person being ordained or an immediate family member, you will not get to finish your dinner.
Bonus #4: Having cheesecake bites for dessert means that you will get to have dessert, however!
What types of things have you learned this week?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Frugal Friday - Middle of October

My husband and son hiking this summer.

We're heading toward Ordination and Installation this week - whee!  What a busy time this is!   My parents are here and I'm so grateful.  There are all sorts of things that they can help with and leave us free to do more pressing things.  It's also just lovely to have them here!  These visits are so precious.

Some frugal things from the last week:

* Made meatloaf, cornbread, vegetable-barley soup, and cookies at home this week.

* Mom did a bunch of yardwork for us - thanks Mom!

* Scrubbed the kitchen within an inch of it's life this week.  It looks great!  Now we just need to finish painting.

* Lowered the hem on two pairs of pants for my son this week.  Sewed a button back on my spring/fall jacket.  Sewed the last of my son's Cub Scout patches on his vest.  We'll hang that in his room with his Arrow of Light as a decoration. 

* Ordered my son a new winter jacket on clearance sale.  Saved over $40!

* Spent more time cleaning out and my husband took another load of items to the thrift store.

* We picked pumpkins from the yard and our children brought home a HUGE pumpkin from an event at school.

* Used a refund from insurance to buy new shoes for the ordination and my parents bought my son a white dress shirt and red tie.

* Renewed books from the library and returned a few items. We checked out a new audio book to listen to in the car.

* We spent a lot of time this week finalizing plans for Ordination.  I'm REALLY  looking forward to it and I'm going to be happy when it's over all at the same time!

What did you do this week?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - Week of October 9, 2016

I'm missing my zinnias already!  The frost got them all as well as our pumpkins, the tomatoes and the peppers.  I guess that means it's officially fall!  I still have a few zinnias on our table and the piano and I will enjoy them while I can.  We'll get all those dead plants pulled out sometime this week.

We are in full swing with everything and my parents are coming for a visit for John's Ordination and will be with us for about 3 weeks.  They arrive tomorrow.  Other family will be coming in as well to stay for varying amounts of time.  We're certainly busy with preparations and all the other regular happenings!

Sunday, October 9, 2016:
     Breakfast:  Peanut Butter Toast or Fruit and Yogurt Smoothies
     Lunch: Cinnamon Biscuit Twists, Banana-Strawberry-Apple Salad
     Snacks: Fruit
     Dinner: Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli  (the children and I, John was at a funeral)

Monday, October 10, 2016
    Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer, Bananas
    Lunch: Leftover Stuffed Squash from Saturday
    Snack: Apples
    Dinner: Brown Sugar Meatloaf, Couscous, Maple Glazed Brussel's Sprouts

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Almonds
   Lunch: Leftover Meatloaf and Couscous
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Vegetable Barley Soup in the Crockpot, Bread, Sliced Apples

Wednesday, October 12, 2016
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
    Lunch: Leftover Soup and Bread
    Snack: Carrot Sticks
    Dinner: Roasted Butternut Squash, Chicken Flavored Rice with Spinach

Thursday, October 13, 2016
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Carrot Sticks
    Snack: Crackers
    Dinner: Turkey Sandwiches, Carrots and Celery, Apple-Strawberry-Grape Salad

Friday, October 14, 2016
    Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Leftover Soup and Bread
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, October 15, 2016
    Brunch: Spinach and Bacon Fritatta, Banana-Grape-Apple Salad
    Dinner: Turkey, Spinach Salad, Roasted Potatoes
    Dessert: Apple Crisp

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Frugal Friday - The first full week in October

This was John's first full week in his new Call.  I'm feeling a bit like I've been tossed in the air an haven't landed yet - we're figuring out schedules and new responsibilities and all that jazz.  It's been good and crazy and I'm so happy we're here!   I figure by the time the new church year starts in late November, we'll be settled into a routine again.  That I'm looking forward to.
This week we picked a lot of produce.  We had our frost this week - it was supposed to be  a hard freeze but turned out to just be a frost.  We had picked all the produce possible just in case, so now we have green tomatoes all over the kitchen!   
We still have green pumpkins on this monster - yep that's a single pumpkin plant and that's not even all of it - it extends in both directions both right and left as well!   We have harvested 9 and there are 4 more that the voles have taken care of.  So a total of 13 pumpkins so far and another 4 that are ripening.  We have a second plant that also went crazy this year but not quite this big.  We've harvested 5 pumpkins off that one and 2 were vole food from that one.   

Our butternut and acorn squash plants were done for the year so we cut the fruit and brought them in  and then pulled up the plants.  We didn't catch this one before his was hopelessly caught in the edging, so we pulled up the edging and brought it in too.  It's just wedged into the ironwork and not grown around it, so it should be fine to eat.  We'll eat that early this next week.:

Other frugal things this week:

* We made cornbread, pizza, French toast, sugar cookies, beef stew and chicken noodle soup at home this week.

* I processed pumpkins from the garden so we could use the pumpkin later this year.   I toasted the seeds for snacking. Delicious!

* We did a lot of end of season clean-up in the yard - head heading, removing annuals and vegetable plants after they were done and doing a final reading.

* I picked the rest of the zinnias and put them in the living room and on the kitchen table.

* A parishioner gave us a Hubbard squash as a "welcome tot he community" gift. Yum!

* I caught up the ironing again (I feel really accomplished when that happens!).

* We've kept the heat off and opened the curtains to let the sun heat up the house during the day.  Our upstairs/main level has really poor air flow so this happens pretty quickly.

* I purchased a new dress for my husband's Ordination service on clearance sale for $40. Original price?  $160!  Whoot!

* I polished several pairs of leather shoes.

* I tacked a fallen hem on a pair of my husband's pants and sewed a button back on to one of his suit jackets.

* The children went to work with my husband on their day off.  They watched videos on the computer and played on the air hockey table in the youth room while my husband did his work.  They also played Frisbee in the church parking lot.  We didn't have to pay for someone to watch them that day.

What did you do that was frugal this week?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Super Savings - October's Beginning!

I can't believe October is here already!   Where did September go?  We dug out some of the fall decorations this week and dug out some of the dead veggies in the garden.  The nights are getting cooler and the leaves are starting to turn. 
I guess that means it's officially fall. 
We've had rain, rain and more rain lately.  I went to pick the Rose Hips and most were moldy or rotten so I scrapped that plan.  May be next year.  I'm starting to feel like we need a boat or something with all the rain we've been having.  The perk?  Beautiful skies like this one:
The down side?  Hail!  We've had hail twice now.  This is a photo from the first round, about a week and a half ago.  Sigh. 

All that said, the weather we had this weekend was beautiful!   Couldn't ask for better weather.  Middle temperatures, nice light breeze, plenty of sunshine - just perfect! 

Here's our frugal and not-so frugal week:

* Returned some items that didn't fit and exchanged them for ones that did.

* Had our oven repaired.  It went out last week and we opted to have it repaired rather than buying anew one - under $200, including the repairman's time,  for an oven that works better than it has in years!

* Made homemade pizza, pancakes, and chili this week. 

* Picked tomatoes, green beans and acorn squash from the garden this week.

* Moved John into his new office at work this week - he has a great space and a beautiful, well laid out church to work at. 

* John started his new Call this week.  The congregation is so excited to have us and we're excited to be there!

* We enjoyed the treats at worship services both last Sunday and today.

* We finished making and mailing Ordination invites this week using things we had and two sheets of printed craft paper I bought for about $1.   Since we had most things on hand we only needed to buy the paper and buy stamps.  I was really happy to use up some of the things we've had for a while.

* I cut flowers from the yard for the kitchen table. 

* We used decorations we already have to start decorating for fall.  We'll do more this week.

* I taught two extra Jazzercise classes and was paid extra for those.

* I did some sewing this week, finishing a couple things that I've been working on for a while.  That makes me feel good.

* We picked up books and videos at the library and watched a few videos online.

* We enjoyed the children's school Fun Run fundraiser.  We ran or walked the 5K, played games and ate treats.  The best part? Talking to all our friends!   We had a blast, the school raised a ton of money and we didn't have to sell anything!

What did you do this week that was frugal?

Friday, September 30, 2016

My Friday Belly Laugh

So, John asked me to help him with picking out hymns for his Ordination Service.  As we were working our way through what is fondly known as the "New Red Hymnal", we came across this:

"All Depends on Our Possessing"

Listed under the heading of "Grace".

(Evangelical Lutheran Worship #589, if you're interested and have a copy).

The combination of the title and the heading gave me the biggest belly laugh I've had in a while. 
I guess that's what happens when you have a hymn without a title and you take the first four or so words of the hymn and make that the title.
The entire first line of the hymn reads as follows:
 "All depends on our possessing God's free grace and constant blessing." 
Whew.  I was worried there for a moment.
What gave you a good laugh today?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Super Savings - More Produce and a bit of shopping

We had our CSA's fall Harvest Party this weekend.  At the party, the CSA owner puts out any "leftover" vegetables and fruit that they can't use themselves.  We brought home lots of Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and HUGE parsnips.  I'm so excited!  

We also picked three more pumpkins, several more tomatoes, chocolate peppers and green beans from the yard.  There were even some more strawberries - enough for us to each get a couple.  They are heirloom variety so they're tiny but flavorful.  I'm really hoping they come back well next year!

At the grocery store this week we bought $36.02 worth of groceries ($0.16 in sales tax).  Here's what we purchased (no pictures because we were on the way back out the door after dropping these at home):

S&W Black Beans 2 15oz cans @ $0.69 = $1.38
Toilet Cleaner $2.19
Baby Spinach 2 @ B1G1 = $2.99
Apples 4.63lbs @ $1.39/lb = $6.44
Black Plums 2.06lbs @ $1.99/lb = $4.10
Russet Potatoes 2 5lb bags @ B1G1 = $2.49
Strawberries 2lbs @ $2/lb = $4
Mozzarella Ball $4.99
Gallon 1% Milk $3.00
Smart Balance Spread $2.99
1 dozen eggs $1.29

Total including tax $36.02
Total Saved according to store receipt $9.15 or 20%.

We've had voles in our back yard so some of the pumpkins have gnaw marks - nothing that broke though - but I will bake and freeze those pumpkins this week.  The rest of the squash will be stored and used later.  We still have several winter squash coming and I'm planning on harvesting rose hips this week too.  I've never done that before but I love rose hip tea and I'd like to try to make that myself this year.  We have lots of rose hips so I'm hopeful I will be successful. 

Come back Monday to see what we're eating!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Frugal Friday - There's a cross in my tomato....

How's that for a surprise when I cut open a tomato from our garden this week?   I had to take a photo, since it was so unusual.   Even our children commented on how unusual it was. 

It's been another busy week around here.  John starts his new position next week and I'm really excited to start a new routine.  There have been several viruses going around at work and I've been trying to make sure I get enough sleep and exercise and eat well.  So far so good!  I'm hoping it continues!

I feel like this week was a week of a lot of doing rather than much of anything else. Our grocery shop last week was quite a bit higher than I would have liked so this week we're hoping to keep it low again.  I feel like we didn't do much this week but I'm not so sure.

Here are some of the things we did this week that we "frugal":

* Ate one meal at church for the Capital Campaign kickoff and brought home several small bags of leftover crackers.  The meal was delicious!

* We picked lots of veggies from the garden this week - including strawberries!  I can't believe our strawberry plants are still producing!   I'll take it!

* We finished the current round of painting in our house and rehung all the decorations, rearranging some things.
* Made soft pretzels and waffles from scratch at home this week.
* We ate all but that one meal at home or brown-bagged meals.
* Scrubbed the kitchen cabinets and walls in preparation for painting last this next week.
* Went to bed early several nights this week so that I stayed healthy. 
* Returned two pairs of slacks that didn't fit my son.  Received store credit for the slacks which we'll use to buy something else later.
* Picked some more of my dwindling flowers to decorate the kitchen table.
* Dug out the fall decorations we already owned and started decorating the house for fall.   Our daughter wants to make a few more decorations too so we'll do that this next week. 
What did you do this week that might count as frugal?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 18, 2016

Sheep!  I promise that's the last photo I'll share from the Oliver Kelley Farm.  I'm planning on taking some actual photos of things in and around our house this week so, hopefully, I'll have some other photos this next week.  I'm rather astonished that I have only a handful of photos from September - all but two of them from the first day of school.  I'm a bit behind with that, I'm afraid.  The sheep in the above photo are chomping happily on the weeds the children and I picked in the garden there.  If only we had a sheep to feed the weeds at home to!  Or not.  I have zero desire to raise animals (other than a nice puppy at some point) around my home.

We spent $47 on groceries this week - I'm a bit irritated about that since my careful planning this summer didn't help.  I totally ran out of laundry detergent this week and we also needed yogurt, something that I've tried to make many times but have failed each time and is rather expensive.   SIGH.  We did use quite a few coupons so we saved quite a bit - I'm not sure I want to know what the cost would have been otherwise.  We have plenty of yogurt for the next two weeks and fruit for at least the week as well.  Our week is back in full swing here this week.

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, September 18:
    Breakfast: Smoothies
    Lunch: Fall kickoff at church
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Wild Rice Casserole, Homemade Rolls, Watermelon-Cantaloupe Salad

Monday, September 19:
   Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
   Lunch: Leftover Wild Rice Casserole
   Snack: Cut Veggies
   Dinner: Shrimp Stir Fry, Rice, Cantaloupe

Tuesday, September 20:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Raspberries
   Lunch: Leftover Stir Fry
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Noodles with Tomato Sauce, Garlic Bread, Sliced Apples and Pears

Wednesday, September 21:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Cut Veggies, Apple or Pear, Yogurt
   Snack: Cheerios
   Dinner: Sausage, Roasted Cabbage, Apple-Pear-Mandarin Orange Salad

Thursday, September 22:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Leftover Noodles or Sausage and Cabbage
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Taco Soup in the Crockpot, Tortilla Chips, Sliced Apples and Pears

Friday, September 23:
    Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Leftover Taco Soup
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, September 24:
   Brunch: Scrambled Eggs, Cinnamon Biscuit Twists, Smoothies
   Snack: Soft Pretzels
   Dinner: Harvest Party for our CSA: Bring Caprese Salad Skewers

I'm hoping to bake an apple crisp or gingerbread this week sometime too.

What are you eating this week?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Frugal Friday - Middle-of-September

I've been super remiss about taking photos in September now, but that's one from the Oliver Kelley Farm we visited Labor Day weekend.  Can you tell the bull's horns go two different directions?  We all thought that was hilarious!   He was very gentle - and was trying to eat clover out of the children's' hands very neatly. 

This week felt very busy. I have been discovering that my current schedule doesn't allow much time for prep or grading or any the things that go into making a class run well.  So we've been trying to move things around a bit.  Not sure how we'll get there but we will eventually, I hope!  The children were away for three days on a school trip so John and I had the place to ourselves for a bit.  He was paid for a Pulpit Supply job and decided that he was going to use it to take me out on a real out-of-the-house date.  Those have been so rare the last two years, so I heartily accepted! It was so very quiet and I really missed tucking the children into bed at night.  Other than that, it was working on things around the house and work.  That was it!

Here's some frugal things that we did this week:

* Made zucchini bread and waffles from scratch this week.

* Picked tomatoes, green beans, a chocolate sweet pepper, two pumpkins, two butternut squash and two acorn squash from the garden.

* Re-hung the artwork in our rearranged bedroom.  I'm really loving the new arrangement.  It makes the room feel so much larger!

* John attended two meetings and was fed a snack at one and lunch at the other.

* I continued working on The Big Embroidery Project. I promise I'll share phots when I have a minute! 

* Taught an extra Jazzercise class this week as well.

* Rearranged our my evening schedule to use less gas in the car and give me a little more time at work to get ready for classes.

* We cleaned out several more things and put them in the donate pile.  My husband will take these to our favorite thrift store on Saturday.

* Brought homemade zucchini bread and home-grown cherry tomatoes to a church event this week. The zucchini bread was a hit!

* Our son brought me back a beautiful little owl figurine from the school trip this week.  They each had  a small amount of spending money and he decided to buy me a gift rather than buying himself treats.  So very sweet and now it has a space on my nightstand where I can see it when I wake up in the morning.   Our daughter bought my husband a small gift too.

* I cut flowers from the yard to make a decoration for the kitchen table along with one of the pumpkins we picked from the yard and candles we already owned.

* We shredded and froze excess zucchini this week.

* John and I had a bonfire one night for an at-home date and he took me out to a favorite restaurant for dinner one night.  We both had leftovers for lunch the next day. 

* Did lots of weeding and other yardwork around the rain.  Transplanted some perennials that needed to be separated. 

I think that's about it for this week.  How did you do?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 11, 2016

Okay, so that's not a food photo, in terms of an actual meal, but it's a food photo since it's part of the kitchen garden at the Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River, MN.  You can read more about the Oliver Kelley Farm here.

We visited there using our Minnesota Historical Society membership and the children love that they get to try everything out. It's a living history farm and truly a great place for a family visit. There's something even for the little ones!

Our garden isn't anywhere near that impressive but I'm loving the produce we get.  I'm also very grateful that I don't just have to eat from our garden.  We'd do pretty well with some things and not so good with others.  Tomatoes? Check!  Carrots?  Not so much.

It's a mostly normal school week for us this week.  Here's what we're eating:
Sunday, September 11:
   Breakfast: Smoothies
   Lunch: Veggie and Cheese Calzones
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Fried White Fish, Couscous, Steamed Broccoli, Watermelon

Monday, September 12:
    Breakfast:  Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Fish Tacos, Carrot and Celery Sticks
    Snack: Peanut Butter Cookies
    Dinner: Pulled Pork, Buns, Carrot Sticks, Watermelon

Tuesday, September 13:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cashews and Raspberries
    Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Carrot Sticks, Yogurt
    Snack; Peanut Butter Cookies
    Dinner: BLT's, Carrot Sticks, Pears

Wednesday, September 14:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Sliced Apples
   Lunch: Wheatberry Salad with Spinach and Craisins
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: At Church: Bring Cherry Tomatoes and Zucchini Bread

Thursday, September 15:
    Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
    Lunch: Zucchini Bread, Apple or Pear, Yogurt
    Snack: Peanut Butter Cookies
    Dinner: Maple Dijon Chicken, Rice, Watermelon

Friday, September 16:
   Breakfast: Waffles with Raspberries and Cashews
   Lunch: Leftover Maple Dijon Chicken and Rice
   Snack: Peanut Butter Cookies
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, September 17:
   Brunch: Lemon Scones, Bacon, Apple-Watermelon-Mandarin Orange Salad
   Snack: Big Soft Pretzels
   Dinner: Cashew Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Lemon Butter Kohlrabi 

We're trying something new with only two meals on Saturday - brunch about 10am and then dinner about 5pm with a larger snack about 2 or 3pm.  Saturdays seem to get off to a slow start for us so I'm hoping this works well for us.  On weeknights we eat about 630/7pm due to our work schedules so eating at 5 seems way early for us but I think that with the new meals, that should be about right.  I do get up about 6am every day of the week, so I will need a snack (probably a piece of fruit or a smoothie) but everyone else gets up later so they should be fine until brunch.  We'll see how it goes!

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Frugal --- What day of the week is it already?

Wow - this week has gone both super slow and super fast!   The children and I started school this week, John has been "off" while waiting for his Call to start but doing TONS of stuff around the house, I've been teaching extra Jazzercise classes due to vacations/illness/maternity leave, and then Buddy came down with a massive head cold and had to stay home from school.  I was so glad today was Saturday - at least I *think* it's Saturday!  I feel like I've been trying to figure out what day it is all week!  Starting on a Tuesday threw me for a loop and with Buddy having to stay home one day, it's been a bit confusing!

We had a pretty frugal week, all things considered.  John doesn't get a paycheck until October so we're trying very hard to spend as little as possible.  We did make a couple of grocery purchases where we actually ran out of something but other than that we didn't spend much and used several things we already had.

Here's what we did this week:

* Had a bonfire in our backyard fireplace using wood from our yard.  We roasted marshmallows and made s'mores using leftovers from our camping trip.  It was a great family night!

* We have been having a problem with mildew in one of our bedrooms - the exterior wall is chilly and we get condensation behind a piece of furniture.  We moved the furniture around so that won't happen again, washed the wall with bleach and sealed it - we did have to buy a can of sealant but we had everything else we need to repaint the wall afterward.  I like this furniture arrangement better than the old one and we painted an accent wall in that bedroom that I really like as well.  We had paint (we bought it two years ago for another project but ended up not needing it), roller, roller tray, edger/brushes, painters tape and drop cloth already so it only cost us the money for the sealant and the time to do this.

* John also patched, primed and painted the stairwell and back entry.  We have needed to do this for a long time. Someone had done a very poor job of hanging drywall in the past and my Dad and John fixed most it in May.  We hadn't had the time and the weather (it's been crazy humid and wet!) finish the project yet.  We use our back entry as our primary entry and it's very small, so having it all taped off and waiting for paint to dry when people are in and out all the time is difficult.  John did all of that while the rest of us were at work or school.  Hurray!  It looks wonderful now.

* I did a major weeding job on the front flower beds and dug out two volunteer trees that had ended up in my rose bushes.  I might have to do one more weeding job out there before winter.  That makes me happy!

* My mother-in-law sent us a back-to-school box that included a new shirt each for me and the children.  I really needed a new long-sleeve t-shirt and the children are growing like weeds right now, so that was perfect!  I love my new t-shirt!

* I picked flowers from the garden for our kitchen table.

* I picked tomatoes and green beans from the garden this week.  We have 19 pumpkins, 7 butternut squash and 6 acorn squash that we will need to start picking soon.

* Our daughter painted my toenails and her toenails using polish we already owned.  My toenails are now sparkly turquoise!

* I baked French bread and made No-Bake Energy Bites for us to eat this week.

* I blanched and froze green beans and kohlrabi. 

* I made more pickled beets, some using a new recipe that my cousin sent me.  I'm looking forward to trying those!

* I re-hemmed two pairs of pants for my son - he's grown in the last month so I had to let them down.

* I did bunch of ironing - blouses for my daughter and me, shirts for my son and my husband and a few dresses for me.

* I taught two additional Jazzercise classes this week, so I'll be paid more than normal this paycheck.

* I read aloud to the children from a book we already owned and we put together several puzzles we already owned as well this week.  The puzzle in the photo at top is one that our daughter and I put together on our camping trip and that John and Buddy put together this week.

* John and the children sanded and repainted our patio furniture using paint we had purchased earlier in the summer on sale for that purpose.  They look fantastic once more!  

* John organized our wood piles so we now know which wood is safe to burn and which needs to cure before use.  Our back yard looks better too!

I have several posts half-done from last week.  I hope to get those completed and up this week - I'm hoping I have a bit more time this week than last. First week of school is always crazy!  And with John's Ordination coming up we have all sorts of additional things to squeeze in around everything else.  We're working hard this week to get things into a rhythm and have time for everything plus important stuff like sleeping!

What did you do this week that was frugal? 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - Labor Day and the First Week of September

Dinner while camping - hot dogs over the fire!  And the coffee pot is just heating water for washing the dinner dishes.   We also ate a LOT of tomatoes and other fresh garden goodies while camping.  It was all so good!  Grilled cabbage is now a new favorite at our house.  Yum!
This week is back into routine.  I think I'm glad of that!  I like routine and getting back into things is very comforting to me.  We have a the menus planned out except for details through the end of December, which is great for planning ahead and buying groceries.  I *think* we're good for the month except for some milk, eggs and a bit of fruit.  We'll see how that goes.  I'm trying to spend as little as possible on food this month since we have a few weeks before John gets his first paycheck. 
We had some meat leftover from camping so we ate those this Sunday and Monday and then into the other things we have in the freezer and pantry as the week goes on.  Lots of cabbage an zucchini in the fridge right now, so we'll use those too. 
This weekend we bought one 18-count container of eggs and a gallon of milk for groceries.  That's it for groceries.  Our CSA last week gave us: tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, and 3 different herbs.  I picked tomatoes and green beans from the garden as well.
Here's what we're eating this week:
Sunday, September 4:
    Brunch: Breakfast Tacos
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Salmon, Zucchini, Strawberry-Necturine-Grape Salad
Monday, September 5:
    Brunch: Biscuit Twists, Bacon, Strawberry-Banana-Mandarin Orange Salad
    Dinner: Steak, Potatoes, Carrots, Roasted Brown-Sugar Stuffed Apples
    Dessert: Gingerbread
Tuesday, September 6:
    Breakfast: Doughnuts, Smoothies (our first day of school tradition)
    Lunch: Sandwiches, Yogurt, Cut Veggies or Leftovers
    Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
    Dessert: Ice Cream with Friends (another first day tradition - we'll use a gift card for this)
Wednesday, September 7:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Apple Slices
    Lunch: Hot Lunch for the Children, Leftovers for Adults
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Perfect Potato Soup, Homemade Bread, Homemade Coleslaw
Thursday, September 8:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds, Cinnamon and Craisins
    Lunch: Leftover Soup, Bread
    Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
    Dinner: Hamburger Gravy, Broccoli, Rice, Sliced Apples
Friday, September 9:
    Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
    Lunch: Leftover Hamburger Gravy and Rice
    Snack; Yogurt
    Dinner: Leftovers
Saturday, September 10:
    Brunch: Waffles with Almonds and Maple Syrup, Smoothies
    Snack: Homemade Soft Pretzels
    Dinner: Cashew Chicken, Noodles, Cabbage Salad
What are you eating this week?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Frugal Friday - The End of August 2016

So, after getting John's Call on Sunday, we headed out for pre-planned week of vacation at one of Minnesota's beautiful State Parks.  We spent part of Monday down at the beach, the kids and John swam and I waded around, skipping rocks and taking photos.  It rained Tuesday and the water levels were quite high and trails were damp so we limited ourselves to hiking the groomed trails on Wednesday and then did a 7 mile hilly/rocky/rugged hike on Thursday.  The beauty always astounds me!  The weather was too cool to return to the beech but the hikes were plenty.  We had a wonderful week, though now I have a mountain of laundry and a whole bunch of other things that need cleaning before they can be put away until we need them again. 
Every year, we take a week and go "camping" at one of the State Parks.  I put camping in quotes because we rent a cabin with a solid roof and actual beds.  It's beautiful and peaceful and free of things like distractions from work and there's no wifi so we can't jump back into the internet life unless we make a specific effort to.  We cook over a campfire while there - using food we previously bought and what have at home and using our grocery budget to get a few treats - makings for s'more's and wieners for roasting.  
This week was a much needed break before all the hustle and bustle of the next few weeks sets in.  It was just what my soul needed and we all came home a little disappointed that it was ending "so quick".   We have the long weekend for Labor Day here in the US this week so we'll ease into things slowly this next week.  The children and I are all back to school on Tuesday and John is over at his new parish for meetings and things like that.  
Here's what we did this week that might be considered frugal:
Before leaving for camping we:
* Picked tomatoes, green beans, and a pumpkin from the garden.
* I blanched and froze green beans and kohlrabi. 
* We put together a menu plan from what we had in the house for the week ahead.
* I had woken up Saturday morning last with massive pain in my right side.  I had been having trouble last week with what we all thought was a pinched nerve and had talked to the nurse at the clinic on Friday to see if I needed to come in.  Since it was much worse, I went to our provider's Urgent Care clinic rather than the ER.  No big fees (only an office visit copay), quick service and I ended up with an X-ray (showed nothing - which was expected) and a prescription for a low dose of prednisone, which cost only $8 with our insurance. By Sunday I was feeling MUCH better and after my appointment today (Friday) I may need PT again rather than anything else - the doctor suspects I may be moving in a way that repeatedly pinches a nerve, rather than something more permanent.  We'll see when the tests come back next week. 
* I did a ton of ironing so we start the semester with all of our clothes actually in the closets rather than hanging on the "to iron" rod in the laundry room! :)
While Camping We:
* Enjoyed many park trails for hiking adventures and the beach for swimming.   Both were wonderful.  The scenic overviews were amazing!
* Our whole family greatly enjoyed the antics of a squirrel pair that were harvesting pine nuts from the trees next to our cabin.  One would stand in the tree and shake the branches and the other would collect the nuts as they fell.  Hilarious!
* Used our own wood for campfires rather than paying $6/bundle for the camp wood.  Since we live within 100 miles of where we camp, we can bring our own.  We had a lot of wood from taking out several small trees last year it was nice to use a bunch of it up.
* We played UNO, put together puzzles and read a lot when we were in the cabin.  All items we already owned except for some books checked out from the library.
* I did quite a bit of work on The Big Embroidery project.  I'm hoping to give you a sneak peek this week on Wednesday along with some other gifts I've made.
* We ate from food we already had in the home or that was purchased from our regular grocery budget.
* We returned to our home mid-week to shower, update the goodies in our cooler, and take the children to Back-To-School night at school.  That is where they drop off all their school supplies, get their locker combinations, turn in back-to-school paperwork and get their school photos taken.   We did order photos since we have a lot of relatives who like to receive them!
* While at back to school night I dropped off several school clothing items that didn't fit our children anymore and picked up a pair of shorts for our son at the Uniform Swap.
After camping we have:
* Picked more tomatoes and green beans from our garden.  I'll need to pick another pumpkin in the next week or so and maybe some winter squash too.
* Bought athletic shoes for the children using a buy one get one 50% coupon that was good this weekend only.  Our children are in adult sizes for shoes now - every little bit helps in saving on shoe costs!  We do have to buy them uniform-compliant dress shoes still but we don't need those right away.
* While we were out and about, we returned to unneeded school items that we had purchased, receiving a credit back into our account (we had used the debit card to purchase them).
* Used baking soda, hot water, vinegar and elbow grease to clean soot off two aluminum camping cooking items. 
I have a number of things that I'm hoping to get done this weekend before school starts - painting our master bedroom, canning beet pickles, transplanting some plants in the garden and some mending.  We'll see how it all goes.  I kind of feel like life is waiting to start up again on Tuesday for us.  Exciting times ahead, for sure!
Have a wonderful weekend!