Showing posts from 2018

Frugal Friday - Week 46 of 52


I am still trying to figure out how we have gotten to November already! Never mind that it is about half over already.  We have recently had temperatures that feel more like January than November and snow right along with it.  Typically we don't have snow until the end of November.  Oh well, it makes the Christmas lights look pretty and I am enjoying the clean, white look of everything.

We have tried to stay cozy the last few weeks, as it has been so cold.  Pulling out the hats, mitten and boots and enjoying the Halloween holiday.  We have Thanksgiving coming up here in the US next week and I am looking forward to one last blast of all things Autumn (my favorite season!) before Advent is upon us.   I did have to put the Jack-o-Lantern's in the compost bin today; they had frozen earlier and were definitely on their last legs.

This year has been a hard one - the last month or so, extremely difficult. Mentally, physically and socially.  I will not share details but I will say …

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 11, 2018

We are already heading into winter here in the Upper Midwest - it has been about 20F (approx. -7C) for the last few days and we have a bit of snow. Not much snow; just enough to make things white and slippery on the roads.  I was not ready for winter yet, but it is here and I will deal.

We have had a difficult few weeks - so many icky things and more money going out than we really would like.  I am weary and ready for a mental break from everything.  I am hoping that the holidays will provide that this year!

We have very full freezer and cupboards after all the summer and fall produce. I have two large baskets of winter squash sitting in the pantry and I still have green tomatoes ripening, though only a few now. We are eating well!  I am very grateful. 

The children have plans for Christmas treats - candy, cookies and snack mixes, as well as dry hot cocoa mix using what we have on hand. They are going to be making a few gifts starting this weekend and I am excited to see what they …

Menu Plan Monday - Week of October 14, 2018

We had SNOW here on Sunday afternoon - about 3/4 of an inch of snow.  I was definitely not ready for that.  Most years we get what we call a "dusting" (just enough to see the flakes come down and maybe catch on shaded spaces long enough to take a photo) this time of year but more typically, we do not get anything resembling snow until well into November.  Thankfully, it melted. 

That means it is time for soups, stews, chili and other fall dishes - roasted squash, shredded pork sandwiches, and lots of apple pie! YUM!  Fall is my favorite time of year and we have beautiful color here with so many different types of trees.  I really want it to linger a bit this year. 

We spent $62 on groceries this week, after spending only $25-$35 for the last two weeks (our budget for the grocery store is back to $40/week).  Baking supplies were on sale, so I used the extra in the grocery budget to stock up a little.

Here's what we are eating this week:

Sunday, October 14:

Menu Plan Monday - Week of October 7, 2018

Better late than never, right?  I had some big meetings to prepare for and blogging slipped to the back burner.  We are still primary eating from the pantry, freezer and the gardens.  We started the week with quite a few leftovers from the previous week - both from home and two meals that we were treated to by my Parents.  And, yes, we are having pizza twice this week - Monday it was the only thing we could all agree on (even though there were other things originally on the menu!). 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, October 7:
    Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter, Yogurt
    Lunch: Out for Lunch (my Parent's treat)
    Snack: Homemade Angel Cake
    Dinner: Leftovers

Monday, October 8:
     Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
     Lunch: Leftovers
     Snack: Yogurt or Cottage Cheese
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza

Tuesday, October 9:
     Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer
     Lunch: Snack-y - Apple Slices, Cut Veggies, Cottage Cheese, Nuts
     Snack: Angel Cake

Frugal, um, Sunday - Frugal Happenings this Past Week

I have been remiss at posting about our frugal things since school started.  Now that we seem to have settled into a rhythm of sorts, I am finding a bit of time for things less urgent (like blog posting!).  I'll pick up with what we did this week that may count as frugal rather than trying to recap since my last Frugal Friday post.

We have had so many large bills this year - several emergency visits, many, many doctor appointments, several scans, and medications.  We had a large plumbing repair (the only original pipes left in the house - after almost 50 years, I guess it was time), and both cars needed new tires and one needed new breaks.  I feel like all we have done this year is spend money!   John and I renewed our commitment to keeping expenses down the rest of this year, trying to catch ourselves back up to comfortable (to us) levels of savings and the like.

Here are some things we did this past week with that in mind:

* I baked four loaves of bread, cookies and an Angel Ca…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 30, 2018

I think I blinked and September was gone!  How does that happen?  Anyway, it did.  Autumn is my favorite season so I'm rather glad in some ways.  I don't feel like we really got a summer, so that part is a bit sad for me.  A few of the trees are starting to turn and that is my absolute favorite thing so I am greatly enjoying it!

We received one last "box" of produce from the CSA.  We received Brussels' sprouts, parsnips, carrots, peppers, winter squash, decorative gourds and pears.  Several friends have given us apples - approximately 75lbs total with the offer of many more if we would like them. I have diced and froze several 2c portions for baking later this year and have dried approximately 20lbs for snacks later. We are also harvesting the last few items from the garden - tomatoes, winter squash, peppers, and soon we'll harvest our own Brussels' sprouts.   I am so very grateful for the abundance of produce we have this year!

We spent $36.50 this wee…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 2, 2018

Storm clouds rolling in last week - very beautiful but more than slightly worrying!  These were south of us, so the rain we received was just that - rain, along with some wind.  There were other areas that received far more rain than they needed and even had flooding.  I am very grateful that we did not.  We had had several strong storms this year and I am grateful to have some rain instead.

The weather is supposed to be cooling off a little this week with perfect fall temperatures and off and on rain. I think I'm ready for fall and a routine again.  School starts this week and I think we are all ready to get into a routine.

We bought a small number of groceries this week and collected our CSA, which included zucchini, cucumbers, beets and a few other things.  We have plenty of food and I am enjoying all the fresh vegetables. We are still harvesting tomatoes, lettuce, and winter squash from the garden.  We had house guests for a couple of days over the weekend and they brought it…

Frugal Friday - Week 35 of 52

Our second "summer" event at the end of the summer here was to spend all day one day this last week at a friend's cabin.  The above photo is the children on a float behind a personal water craft.  They had a BLAST!  Both want to return as soon as possible and do it again.  That won't happen this fall but maybe next summer.  John went on the water craft with our friend and they hit a wake and rolled - he was soaked but fine and we all laughed because it was like watching slow-motion!  (No worries about the water craft - it shuts off if the driver falls off.) It was a great time and free other than gasoline to get there.  We were there with two other sets of friends - lawn games, a bonfire, fishing and really good food. It was a wonderful end to the summer.

School starts after Labor Day (September 3rd) so we are heading into school next week.  The children had Back to School Night this week where they bring all their school supplies and the communal school supplies fo…

Frugal Friday - Week 34 of 52

We had a week that seemed very scattered this week - here and there and everywhere, it seemed!  We did make two plans for "summer" before summer finishes and one is our now-annual trip to Minnesota's Largest Candy Store in Jordan MN.  It is a hike from where we live but once a year it's SO worth it - we love to go and look more than anything else but the children love to buy a few things too.  It is not necessarily frugal but it's something we all look forward to and we can spend as little or as much as we want to.

I have to say my favorite part of the whole trip was a little girl - she looked preschool age - looking at a women I'm assuming is her mother in disbelief when she was told she could have both a package of gummy bears and a candy necklace!  It was SO cute!  Her eyes were so big and she looked so excited!

I also enjoyed watching our children explore all the different candies and other items that were available.  They have a lot of other items too -…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of August 19, 2018

We have been having lots of this lately - along with BLTs (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches) with fresh tomatoes and lettuce from the garden.  We have had a lot of roasted garden-fresh zucchini, carrots, potatoes, broccoli and kohlrabi on the sheet pans with either chicken or sausage.  I always feel so spoiled eating all the fresh garden produce!  It is so delicious!

We have a whole watermelon in our fridge picked straight from our garden and waiting to be cut this week as well as a pineapple, so you will see those on the menu left over from last week.  I am also planning on baking oatmeal cookies, no-bake chocolate cookies, and no-bake energy bites for snacks this week as well as bread for sandwiches and toast.

We have several events this week that are providing meals or snacks: one at church, one at a get-together with friends, a party with another group of friends, and two days where we will take a picnic lunch with us for the day, just to make things easier for us.


Super Savings Saturday - August 18, 2018

The above photo shows our garden harvest, the CSA box contents and our very messy table earlier this week.  We did a large grocery shop after our vacation, including many things to make freezer meals for the fall.  We will assemble those next week (and I'm hoping I can do a post too!).  The box of mango just visible in the back left is part of that - we sliced and froze them for smoothies later this fall.  They were just 88-cents each; a HUGE deal for around here!

The acorn squash and the small basket are the produce from our garden.  The basket contains a handful of green beans, cherry tomatoes and a purple pepper. 

The CSA box is the rest of the produce - cucumbers, baking potatoes, yellow zucchini, a variety of peppers, two onions, a bulb of garlic, green beans (in the plastic produce bag, back center), thyme, tarragon, one each purple and green kohlrabi, broccoli, carrots, and a produce bag of tomatoes (just visible on the right).

The produce from the garden was no cost out o…

Frugal Friday - Week 33 of 52

It's Mid-August and more than halfway through the year.  This summer has felt like a sprint to me - Summer Session (Term) teaching, a two week vacation with my parents (a wonderful time!), and now getting ready for Fall Semester (Term).  We are planning a couple of lazy days in the next few weeks to make up for that. 

I fell off a ladder right after Summer Session was over (early July) and broke my left foot, so I have been in an immobilizing boot and using crutches since then.  That has really put a damper on the plans for summer - we had hoped to do a major cosmetic remodeling on the main level of our home.  We did get a few things done in spite of the broken foot and will hopefully get the rest finished before class starts.  I get the boot off today and should be able to do more, though I will need to be careful for a few more weeks.  It has healed well and I am grateful!

Here are the frugal things we managed to do this last week:

* We made soup, bread, no-bake energy bites, p…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 8, 2018

We had a lovely, low-key Independence Day last week and then spent the rest of the week enjoying a family wedding.  It was one of those weddings that was just lovely and so enjoyable.  I am so happy we were able to attend! John officiated and it was a sheer joy for him to marry this lovely couple.   We also enjoyed delicious food and wonderful family time around the wedding itself.

This week, we're back to whatever passes for normal around here.  I have decided that "busy" is just the season we are in right now - with teen-age children, we have many activities, we both work outside the home and we have several church activities.  I am truly okay with that.  I just have to wrap my head around my time right now!

John and I made a trip to the grocery store on Monday afternoon and picked up a few things, including ground (mince) beef on sale for a very good price - limit of one 3lb package.  I separated the package into smaller portions and put them into the freezer so we …

Frugal Friday - Week 25 of 52 - Mid-June 2018

Happy mid-to-end of June!  I'm so excited that we're heading into full blown summer here - the garden is growing and the flowers are blooming and the weather is starting to heat up.  We were super hot for here (over 90F) a few weeks ago and then cooled off to more normal temperatures (right around 75-80F) and now we're starting to creep up - which is exactly what we should be doing!  The sun is peeking out today after a week's long absence and I'm planning on enjoying some time working in the garden. 

We have had a lot of rain lately and the garden is growing like mad. Tomatoes are starting to set and so are the bell peppers and the bean and peas are starting too.  I am thinking that by the end of next week we'll have radishes - those are late since I planted the seeds late.  We are still harvesting lettuce and rhubarb. 

I feel like we didn't do much in the way of frugality this week, though I think it was more than I first thought.  Here are some of the…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of June 17, 2018

We're eating on a tight budget this week - lots of bills out and not much to spend on groceries.   That's okay - we have a lot of items in the pantry and freezers so we will still be eating just fine.  We bought milk, Smart Balance, spinach, grapes, apricots, and ground beef this week; staying well within our budget.   We are also harvesting rhubarb and lettuce from our garden and I'm hoping the first radishes will be ready this week. 

We have a very, very busy Sunday this week so we decided on a picnic lunch at a nearby park or in the fellowship hall at church if it rains. John asked specifically for the pretzels you see on the menu (I purchased them with our gift money) and I made peanut butter cookies, which are his favorite.  I'm looking forward to a relatively low-key celebration, which is exactly what we need these days!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, June 17, 2018, Father's Day:
     Breakfast: Toast, Mixed Berry Smoothies
     Lunch: …

Frugal Friday - Week 24 of 52 - Mid June 2018

My goodness, my flowers have been making me super happy this summer!  I think I say this every single year, but it definitely is something that I enjoy so much.  I've had peonies and iris on my kitchen table for the last three weeks. The scent of the peonies makes me smile every time I walk into the kitchen!

The last few weeks haven't been particularly frugal - we have received several medical bills totaling $1600 and a plumbing issue required bringing in a plumber, which was another expense; though thankfully, a budgeted one.  We already had several large bills due before the 25th of June, so I feel like all I've done lately is make payments!  I spent quite a bit on groceries this last week so I need to keep it tight this week and I think we're going to manage that.  I'm grateful that we have options!  I am well aware that many do not.

Here are some of the things that were frugal at our house this last week:

* Made biscuits, waffles, pancakes, bread and stir fry…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of June 10, 2018

We received our first true box from our CSA this week with more asparagus and rhubarb, lettuce, kale, thyme, oregano, green onions, and strawberries!  I was so excited! 

We also bought corn on sale this week 4 ears/$1 (we bought the limit of 8) and a few things for the children to take for lunch this week.  Our garden has lettuce, rhubarb, and basil ready for harvest and several things that will be ready in a couple of weeks - radishes, tomatoes, beans, and maybe peas (those may take a bit longer).  I am really enjoying the fresh lettuce.  We spent our allotted $40/wk plus another $20 on groceries this week since there were some good sales and we were short on a few things.  That leaves us with $20 plus some change for next week.

We have several baking potatoes leftover from a church event (the potatoes were uncooked and were going to be thrown if no one would take them home) that we are baking for dinner this week and then will use the leftovers to make hashed brown potatoes this we…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of May 27th - and Happy Memorial Day!

To all my US readers - I hope you are enjoying a meaningful and relaxing Memorial Day!  Having a parent and several other relatives who served in the Armed Forces makes me appreciate the sacrifices that so many have made.  We are flying the flag today. And I am very proud to do so.

Our visitors left this morning to visit friends for several days before making their way back to their home.  Our home feels to quiet with two fewer people!  They will return in about 6 weeks and we are looking forward to seeing them again.

Our meals this week were a bit odd to put together, as we are trying to finish up some odds and ends in our refrigerator and the freezers.

We are picking lettuce and rhubarb from our garden this week and we have not received another box from our CSA at this time (we received asparagus and rhubarb two weeks ago and then we typically have three to four weeks before the next package - that has proven the case this year too).

Here's what we are eating:

Sunday, May 27, 2…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of May 20, 2018

We had LOVELY weather last week and were able to eat our evening meal outside on the patio several nights.  I am enjoying it so much!   My flowers are starting to bloom - the rhododendron is done for the year but the first wave of iris are blooming and the peonies are budding too.  I'm so happy!  I am so very grateful that we purchased a home with a large garden! 

We have guests ("company") until the end of May and I'm enjoying having them here.  Food-wise it means we've been eating up a few things that are a little harder to eat with just the four of us (beet pickles, for instance!).  I like that too!  We spent $62 this week on groceries after spending only $26 the previous week and we are feeding four adults and two teenagers. 

We harvested lettuce and rhubarb from the garden this past week and we received chives, a different type of rhubarb and asparagus from our CSA already!  We still have chives left and can harvest more lettuce and rhubarb this week. 


Menu Plan Monday - Week of May 13, 2018


WOW!  Mid-May already!  Time does fly....

We're officially in spring/early summer here - the lettuce has sprouted, the rhubarb is ready to cut and we received asparagus from the CSA this week!  YUM!   I'm so excited!   My rhododendron is blooming and making me deliriously happy.  I think spring is my favorite season, though fall is pretty nice too.

We have company this week so we are feeding four adults and two teenagers.  Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, May 13, 2018, Mother's Day:
      Breakfast: Cereal and Bananas
      Lunch: Out for Mother's Day (my Father treated us to a delicious brunch out)
      Dinner: Snacky Dinner - Leftovers, Pretzels, Fruit, etc. (we were all really full from lunch so we just 'grazed' a bit, as my Mother likes to say)

Monday, May 14, 2018:
      Breakfast: Eggs, Toast
      Lunch: Leftovers
      Snack: Fruit or Yogurt
      Dinner: Fish Tacos with Avocado and Asparagus

Tuesday, May 15, 2018:

Frugal Friday - Week 18 of 52

A busy week for us!   Out of state family arrived to stay with us for a month and we had two other events this week. We are busy like this for another two months and then have about two months of down time planned.  I am looking forward to the events but not the running.  I am also looking forward to the planned down time later this summer.  Here's hoping for good weather and lots of time in my garden!

We are into super saving mode here for the rest of the year.  So, here are several of the frugal things we have done this week:

* We made bread, no bake energy bites, minestrone soup, scones, muffins, pancakes, and crackers at home this week.

* I replaced buttons on a dress for our daughter.

* We attended a free music concert at one of the local schools.

* Our children attended their spring "formal" dance through their school.  As the children are in middle school, it isn't a true "formal", though the children like to call it such.  They wear nice clothes (n…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 29, 2018

We're expecting company for a month starting this week!  I'm super excited but it always means spending more on groceries and doing a bit more in the kitchen than I typically have time for this time of year.  Thankfully our company is more than willing to help out and it makes things so much easier. 

We have a dance competition this coming Saturday and will eat both breakfast and dinner at home but will have to buy lunch there.  They do not allow people to bring food into the venue so we will purchase something little and filling and then will make soft pretzels when we get home.  Friday evening we're meeting some extended family for dinner at a restaurant mid-way between our homes - I'm pretty excited since it has been quite a long time since we have seen them. My Dad, who is now officially the oldest living member of the family, will be treating - his request.

We're still eating some things out of the pantry and freezers but we did buy two beef roasts on sale …

Frugal "Friday" - Week 17 of 52

Goodness, this spring has just flown by!  We only have a few more days of University left for me and then we jump into our abbreviated "summer session".  Final projects and exams and piles of grading at the normal routine here.  End-of-year projects, spring concerts and recitals are all coming up for the children.  John is thankfully heading toward a quiet season in the church year (Ordinary Time - also known as the Season After Pentecost - starts May 20th and programming for the year decreases at that time).  We're all looking forward to longer days with sunshine and green grass, flowers and fresh vegetables.  Two weeks ago we received 18 inches (just under 46cm) of snow.  Today, we have green grass and the iris are up about 3-4 inches (7.5-10cm) above the ground!  I'm hoping the daffodils and tulips bloom soon - they are just starting to bud!  Typically, we're done with all of that by this time of year but we have had a slightly longer winter this year.  I'…