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!