Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Menu Plan & Weekly Goals

Wow!  What a week we had last week!

The weather was great for a couple days so I was really busy outside, then we had family visiting for a couple of days, then DH and I had a little getaway while the visiting family stayed with the kiddos.  Needless to say it was really busy and this week will be busy, too, as I try and catch up with what I neglected last week!

My meal plans are to use what's on hand because I won't have much time to shop (I don't think), but I will have to get some more fruit and veggies because we're running low.

Monday - Biscuits & sausage gravy (Mom out)
Tuesday - Pasta
Wednesday - Grilled Cheese
Thursday - Macaroni & Cheese Pie (DH out)
Friday - Tuna Casserole - to use up Chow Mein Noodles
Saturday - Hot Dogs
Sunday - Pizza & Smoothies

Monday - French Toast
Tuesday - Nuggets
Wednesday - Homemade Pizza
Thursday - Bagels
Friday - Finger Food Lunch Smoothies
Saturday - Nachos
Sunday - PBJ

My weekly goals from two weeks ago are still mostly outstanding.  Bummer.

I did hang DD#2's curtains, but that was my only "goal"met.

This week I'd like to:
1) Sort girls' off-season & off-size clothing into appropriate bins & put bins away
2) Complete first garden terrace (digging & rock wall placement)
3) Transplant poor little cucumbers.  =( 
4) Post for Projct Twenty-Six so I can meet my April Goal of 15 posts.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekly Shopping - $19.53!

This week was super busy and I didn't go the store much.  I dropped into QFC to check for markdown pizzas early in the week, but no luck!  I bought just a couple things for $12.27.


$5.99 - Cheese
$0.99 - bag of 6 oranges
$5.29 - organic milk

I also stopped at Albertson's to pick up a chicken for $0.79/lb because my visiting aunt had noticed the sale.  I found a couple other things, too and spent $7.26.

$1.00 - Romaine
$1.00 - 4 packs yogurt on clearance
$0.79/lb - whole chicken

I cancelled our milk order this week because I had several half gallons backed up and was using a gallon from the freezer for cooking. 

My mom and aunt were visiting this week and they bought some food on Friday to get them through the weekend including some bananas and oranges for the kids. 

I forgot to mention last week that my friend, Sarah, gave us 4 mangos her kiddo didn't like.  We ate them in a matter of days because DD#3 eats an entire mango in one sitting. 

So this week was a very tiny $19.53 in grocery spending. 
Total for 2013 so far: $1,338.47
Average per week: $78.73


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weekly Shopping - $93.30

On Monday I picked up this whole wheat flour from my friend.  She had been to Canada over Spring Break and picked it up for me.  It was only $14 for 44 pounds = $.32 cents/pound! 

I killed time at Fred Meyer on Tuesday while the carpets were getting cleaned.  The little ladies were pretty agreeable and we scored at the markdown bin.  I spent $18.61 on food.
$0.49 - Cream of Mushroom soup on clearance - qty. 15
$0.59 - Diced pineapple on clearance
$1.68 - frozen peas
$1.99 - tortillas
$1.00 - lettuce
$0.99 - peach cups on clearance
$1.49 - lunch ham on clearance ($0.35 MC) = $1.14
$2.39 - string cheese on clearance
$0.89- ketchup

I went to QFC to pick up creamer and found lots on clearance. I spent $22.90.

$1.99 - Creamer ($1.00 MC)($1.00 MC)($1.00/2 MC) = $1.60 each
$0.99 - Cottage cheese on clearance
$4.99 - 2# shredded cheese
$0.99 - Kettle chips on  clearance
$1.00 - mangos
$2.89 - organic milk on clearance
$0.69/lb - bananas

I also went to Safeway for Pam cooking spray that was supposed to be $.99 with store coupon, but as it turns out it was a misprint.  Grrr.  But I found a few other things for $13.23.
$1.88 - Cereal ($1.00/2) = $1.38 each
$1.25 - Granola Bars on sale for $2.50 then 50% off
$0.99 - Salad dressing
$5.99 - 2# shredded cheese

And there was one more dash into Fred Meyer for margarine & some hardware to hang curtains.  I spent $9.40 on food.
$0.50/lb - oranges
$0.50 - cucumbers
$4.29 - summer sausage on clearance
$0.89 - margarine

I bought 2 dozen eggs from my friend for $4.00 & my milk delivery was $11.16.

Total grocery spending Week 16 - $93.30
Total to date for 2013 - $1,318.94


Friday, April 19, 2013

Clean Carpets!

I am still so tickled with my clean carpets!  We have lived here for almost six years and have just had the carpets professionally cleaned for the first time.  

It wasn't terribly expensive but our budget has been so tight for so many years we just couldn't justify the expense before now. 

I was amazed at how clean my house looked with everything off the carpet!  It was almost a shame to put everything back in place.

I took these photos because of how amused I was by the piles upon stacks of stuff.  I really wanted to get my money's worth so we emptied closets, moved shelves, and even stacked a dresser!

The office (with seedlings and grow lights)

The hall and the also cleaned area rugs - Hooray!

Master bedroom

Living Room

Kid Bedroom

Kid Bedroom
Kitchen/Family Room

I really am pleased with the results and have not been too freaked out about the kids messing it up.  Then again none have spilled anything on it yet.  =) 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Selling Stock Without Stress

We were surprised and pleased to get a big check in the mail a few days ago! 

DH periodically receives stock awards as part of his compensation.  We received advice years ago not to try and "play" the market.  Pick the price you want to sell at and when the stock reaches that price, go ahead and sell.  It was good advice and it has served us well a few times over the years.  We have never felt like we "missed out" on a higher price because we sold at the price we had been waiting for. 

However, neither of us is very stock market savvy, nor do either of us have time to regularly check stock prices.  There have been times when we have missed selling at our chosen price because we didn't even know the stock had risen to that level between our very infrequent price-checks.

Back in January, after missing our chosen price a couple of times, DH had the great idea to find out if there was an automatic sell order we could set up.  And sure enough, there was!  We happily set up a sale order for our chosen price and promptly forgot about it.  Oblivious to us, our stock performed well last week and reached our chosen price.  Our shares sold and a check arrived in the mail along with a separate letter stating our stock had sold and to look for a check.

Hooray!  Our emergency fund is getting a big boost from this sale!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Burritos With Leftover Chili

I was supposed to make biscuits & sausage gravy tonight, but it was very difficult to maneuver in the kitchen.  We had our carpets cleaned today and while the carpet dries there are many, many things stacked on the linoleum in the kitchen. 

So instead of attempting to roll out biscuits and thaw that freezer milk I just blended up the leftover chili and slapped in tortillas with some cheese.  I baked them with some cheese sprinkled on top for about half hour.  It turned out great and the kids ate it with nary a complaint.  I think we have a winner!

The best part is that we don't have to have chili a third time, even though it was super yummy.  =)

And next time I will try my immersion blender instead of the big mixer.  The mixer was out and easy tonight.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Menu Plan & Weekly Goals

Today I frantically finished preparing a couple of last minute tax returns and finally finished homeschool with my stubborn child at 6:15.  Our lunch was decided about 30 minutes in advance and our dinner was defrosting in the microwave at 6:00.  I'm so glad tomorrow will be better because of my planned meals!

Monday - Nachos
Tuesday - Nuggets
Wednesday - Pizza
Thursday -Grilled Cheese
Friday - Waffles
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - PBJ

Monday - Italian Chicken (from freezer) & egg noodles
Tuesday - Sausage Gravy & biscuits
Wednesday - dollar burgers
Thursday - French Toast
Friday - Chicken Pot Pie
Saturday -Picnic "ish" food at the Spring Fair
Sunday - Company?  Sour Cream Chicken?

I'm not sure how I forgot the tax deadline when I was preparing my goals for last week.  This week was truly one of the most productive and exhausting I've had in a while.  There was all the planned crazy food stuff , and then the unplanned crazy food stuff.  I had three tax returns to finish.  I went to the store an amazing 7 times.  I ran errands one day including Redmond, Sammamish, Bellevue, Bothell, and Woodinville.  We did get the pallets returned - Yay, DH!  And I did get a start on the girls' clothes before the rest of the week hit.

Goals this week:
1) Finish girls' clothes sorting, packing, etc.
2) Hang DD#2's curtains
3) I MUST transfer the rest of the garden starts
4) I'd like to take 10 photos for Project TwentySix


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Weekly Shopping - $108.52 and 7 shopping trips!

I had a remarkably large amount of individual trips to the grocery store this week.  It's pretty crazy really, considering the very busy week I had.  I suppose the busyness allowed for more "quick stops" than usual.

First, we were blessed by my friend, Erin, with a whole pile of food this week.  She and her family are moving to Canada and she had lots in her pantry to share.  I am so thankful that she thought of me and I'm looking forward to trying a few new things!  A ton of bread flour, conventional flour, coconut oil, sesame oil, evaporated milk, a can of pumpkin the girls were very excited about, fun baking decorating stuff, and a pile of candy are just a few of the great items we received!

I ran out for lettuce on Tuesday night.  I needed it for a meal I was delivering on Wednesday morning.  I was pleased to find a bag of lettuce on clearance but didn't expect to spend $18.09!
$2.69 - organic milk on clearance
$1.00 - Annie's mac 'n cheese on sale
$1.79 - bag of salad on clearance
$0.49 - 16 oz cottage cheese on clearance
$0.99 - 24 oz cottage cheese on clearance
$0.99/lb - tomato on the vine
$0.89 - dozen eggs on clearance
$0.59 - holiday cookies on clearance
$0.99 - bag of 3 apples on clearance (2 pounds each bag)  Something weird happened with these apples.  The checker initially rang them up at $.99/lb because the bags said "$.99".  I explained that they were $.99 per bag and I could see he didn't believe me.  I told him I had purchased these produce bags a lot recently and they had always been $.99 before.  He left the line to 'go check'.  It was a little embarrassing and people left the line.  He came back and asked me to come with him to show him where I'd picked them up.  So I led him to the little clearance rack with the sign stating each bag was $.99.  That satisfied him so we went back to the line.  He adjusted the prices, I paid and went home.  But he made a mistake!  He removed only 2 of the 3 original charges and rang up the 3 reduced charges.  Instead of paying $2.97 total for about 6.5 pounds of apples.  I paid the $2.97 PLUS $2.14 for old, bruised apples.  Grrrr.  It's only $2.14 but I just don't want to pay $.79/lb for applesauce apples.  Pooh.  Shame on me for not checking the receipt before I left.

There were so many great markdowns I stopped by another nearby QFC while I had a sitter on Wednesday.  I spent $6.33 there.

$1.99 - Organic baby romaine
$1.99 - Huge bag of romaine
$0.99 each - bags of 6 clearance oranges
$0.37 - starburst jelly beans (not pictured)

I swung back through my normal QFC because I had a few more minutes before the sitter had to be returned home and found $8.95 worth of deals.
$2.99 each for deli pizza.  I was so glad to get these because it was a terribly long day with cooking and processing 40 pounds of chicken.  It was lovely to just pop pizza in the oven for dinner.
$0.99 each for nitrate-free hot dogs.

I went out Friday night for an event that I was too late to enjoy, unfortunately.   But I made the most of it and stopped in at Fred Meyer.  I didn't have any coupons with me and spent $9.85.
$.64/lb - bananas
$.88/lb - pears
$.69/lb - celery
$.48/lb - cantaloupe
$1.19 - whipping cream
$1.49 - angel food cake on clearance

I was at QFC - again - on Saturday morning to pick up creamer.  I spent $6.95 on groceries.
$.99 onions
$1.99 each for cream ($1.00/2 MCs) = $1.49 each

Then back to Fred Meyer with my coupons spending $33.74.
$1.00 chips
$1.79 each pie crusts
$1.89 each organic yogurt - plain
$1.00 each sour cream
$1.00 each cottage cheese
$.79 each 5# potatos
$1.39 salad on clearance ($.40 store coupon) = $.99
$5.49 2# cheese
$.99 whole wheat bagels on clearance
$2.00 2# bag of lemons
$1.00 each - 2# bags of apples on clearance
$3.50 string cheese - 12 pack

And finally, tonight, a quick stop at Safeway spending $11.25.  And I screwed up - again!
DD#2 arranged and took this photo.
$1.49 each cereal
$1.00 each mangos
$3.29 creamer that was supposed to be 50% off, but I wasn't watching closely again!  Boo!

Next week I think less shopping!  And much more careful receipt checking!

Our milk delivery was $13.36.  We splurged on some yummy coconut raspberry muffins.

Total for the week including milk - $108.52
Total for 2013 thus far - $1,225.64
average per week - $81.71


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Busy Week in the Kitchen

I did spend major time in the kitchen this week and  I thought I'd share because that's about all I did this week.  And we had a very productive homeschool week.  Maybe because I spent so much time in the kitchen?


We had about 1/3 a pound of bacon for breakfast.  I sliced up the rest of the package and cooked it off for potato soup.

I also cut up the sausage I'd gotten on clearance over the weekend and cooked it off for pizza topping.


I made potato soup hoping to use what remained in this jug of milk in the freezer.  No luck!  I'll have to make sausage gravy next week, I guess.

We also got the ham out  and forgot to close the freezer door.

I cooked the ham.

And I had a minor freezer catastrophe.

I ground the leftover ham.

I included some ham I found some in the freezer, too.

In total there were 11 pounds of ground ham (8 pictured)

I also processed 40 pounds of chicken.  Ugh.  Some cooked and shredded, some cubed and cooked, some left raw.  The cooking also produced 4 cups of broth.  I was super tired, but really proud of myself for finishing it all in one day.

I finally pulled the 8 pound pork roast that had been simmering since Tuesday night.

Chili for dinner!  All of these ingredients came from the freezer - Wahoo!

And later I remembered these tomatoes were also in the freezer so I added them to the chili pot. 

Finally, I just put this second 8 pound pork roast in the crock pot.  It should be ready by tomorrow night for company.
Off to bed!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Landscaping Project

We are working on a big landscaping project in our backyard.  It has flowed a bit into our front yard, too, and now we've added fixing our runoff drainage problem to the list of tasks.  I'm definitely not looking forward to digging ditches and figuring out how to tie perforated pipe into our house gutter system.  But the good news is that I'm totally comfortable and fine with major digging to move dirt around the backyard.  I am thankful that I have a young, strong body.  I am thankful that we finally could afford to buy the landscaping bricks/stones and that we could pay to have them delivered.  I'm especially thankful God provided beautiful weather when my brother was here getting us started on the work and working hard himself!  I am thankful for a brother willing to travel and help us.  I am thankful that we can do this project ourselves, that our kids can see us working and using our bodies, that our kids can particpate (!), and that we'll get to enjoy the fruit of our labor for years.

Here are some pictures of the back yard project:

9 pallets of 120 stones each = 1,080 stones!

Wall 3 bricks tall and dirt packed against it.

Wall six bricks tall with lots of concrete chunks for fill.
Kids helping fill crates with rocks for fill.
There is much to do - I'll keep you posted!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Catastrophic Freezer Events!

So I walked into the garage yesterday evening around 5PM and saw this:
Whaaaaa?  Yes, the freezer with its door WIDE open.  I frantically close the door only to discover the ice build up keeps the top of the door from sealing.  In fact it's stuck open over an inch and the bottom of the door barely seals. Bah!  I quickly figure out that DH, in fact, was the one who left it open The Night Before when he got a big ham out to defrost.  Then I get down to business.

Everything in the door is defrosted (mostly beans and bread) and most of the stuff on the exposed edge has a defrosted edge.  The first thing I do is put an 8 pound pork roast in the crockpot.  It's mostly frozen, but I just want to be safe.  Another huge roast goes into the fridge.  A third roast stays put because it's literally frozen in place with a clear ice covering on that outside edge.  I start pulling out everything I can reach when I finally pause in my panic to think about the practicalities of my situation.

First, there's no way this will all fit in the inside freezer.  I am not willing to throw food out so today will not be the day to permanently defrost.  I will have to partially defrost today, however, because otherwise the door will not seal.  But I will not be unplugging for the summer for another few weeks.

Second, the fruit has to be my first priority.  Most of it was frozen carefully on trays to retain shape and then, once frozen, put into Ziploc Bags.  The bananas are already goo.  Two bags of blackberries near the door are also mush and juice.  I don't want the peaches to melt or my last remaining, precious raspberries to get gross.

OK, I have a plan.  Make room in the inside freezer for fruit.  It can't sit out and defrost at all.  Here's the freezer in process.  I moved 8 ziploc bags of peaches only to discover there was another 10 bags beind.  *Note to self:  Can more peaches next year even though freezing is easier.

I continued moving things from outside to inside, choosing fruit first and prioritizing others on their space efficiency.  I also leave out many things I intend for meals this week.  I am SO thankful the menu plan is so heavy on freezer stuff so I don't have to replan.

Here's how the freezer inside ended up:

Here's how the fridge looks with all of this week's stuff defrosting:

And the outside freezer is mostly empty.  I packed ice packs around the remaining peaches hoping to keep them frozen while the top shelves defrost enough to allow the door to close completely!  Those containers in the door are just defrosted water bottles.  When frozen they help the freezer run more efficiently.
There's also this ridiculous amount of zucchini sauce. I'm planning to keep much of it since it really works beautifully as a substitute for vegetable oil but it might not make the final cut come the end of the month.
Phew!  That's not how I intended to spend the dinner hour, but thankfully it wasn't raining so the girls happily played outside while I dashed between the garage and kitchen.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monthly Update & April Goals

Here we are again well into the month before my update.  This time it was kind of on purpose because I wanted to more time to finish my March goals.  See?  These posts are totally confession time!

I did well on the goals for March.

1) I  re-evaluated the amount we'd need for our emergency fund factoring in the refinances.  DH agreed to lower the total about 10% to allow for the decreased mortgage payments.

2) I set an aggressive goal to save 9% of our goal this month.  I managed 8.1%, but it brought us up to 36.4% of the new goal.  I'm hoping our tax refund, whenever it arrives, gives us a big boost, too.

3) A third goal was to post 10 times on Project TwentySix.  I just managed 7. 

4) I got the girls' rooms rearranged and am happy to report that DD#2 is sleeping significantly more!

Here are new goals for April:

1) My new savings goal is 25%!  I know, huge right?  But with the tax refund, the change in our emergency fund goal, and our debt snowball I think it's doable.  It will be so amazing to be over 50%.

2) I have to keep plugging away on Project Twenty Six.  I just want to be done!  But I also want to keep my commitment to finish.  This time I'll make my goal 15 posts.  That means I should be taking a picture every other day.  Eep!

3) I still have 2 boxes in the office that haven't been sorted through.  Probably everything in them could be thrown away at this point but I still have to look through it all. 

My Christmas stuff finally made it up to the high shelves in the garage!  My brother was visiting and he got it all tucked away for me.  I think he was frustrated because it was all stacked in front of the tools so he was happy to get it out of his way.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Menu Plan and Weekly Goals

Oh, there is so much kitchen work to do and so much food to eat!  It was stressing me out a little on Saturday but now I'm kinda looking forward to it!  I'm thankful it's Spring Break so all our activities are cancelled so we have more time at home this week.  I can really get busy in the kitchen.

Monday - Baked Potato Soup, Salad
Tuesday - Ham & Mashed Potatoes, green beans
Wednesday - Chicken & Rice, Salad
Thursday - Pancakes w/ berries (DH teaching)
Friday - Chili w/Sausage, Salad - Family Game Night!
Saturday - Company for Dinner - Pulled Pork, Trifle, Salad
Sunday -Pizza & Smoothies - Family Movie Night!

Monday - Pizza
Tuesday - Finger Food Lunch & Smoothies
Wednesday - Mac'n'Cheese Pie
Thursday - Nachos
Friday - Grilled Cheese
Saturday - Leftover Chili
Sunday - PBJ

Goals for last week got done!  I finally got my living room back when I sorted out a bunch of kid craft supplies and found new homes for it all.  I got the giant suitcase unpacked this morning and the remaining concrete blocks were moved in five small segments all week.  Yay DH for working so hard!

Goals for this week:
1) sort out girls' clothing boxes - odd sizes away, heavy sweaters/coats away, spring out
2) return pallets to Home Depot
3) clean out top two shelves of garage freezer
4) hang curtains for DD#2


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Weekly Grocery Shopping - $88.33

I was super busy again this week.  I stopped in to QFC to checkout the markdown produce and found some oranges.  I ended up getting a bunch of other stuff, too for $23.22.
 Baileys Creamer - $.99 each after $5/5 sale
Ritz - $1.79 each after $5/5 sale
Wheat Thins - $1.79 after $5/5 sale
Cottage Cheese - $1.67
Tillamook - $4.99
Butter - $1.79 each
Neufchatel Cheese - $1.00 each
Bananas - $.69/lb
6 clementines - $.99
3 tangelos (?) - $.99
parmesan rinds - $.89

I met a friend for coffee on Wednesday at a Fred Meyer Starbucks and ended up picking up chips, english muffins, and eggs for $3.79.

Then I went to my own Fred Meyer on Friday night because I really needcd to buy jeans.  Seriously, my only acceptable pair got a hole in the knee 2 weeks ago and I've been desperate to find time to shop!  This was only my second attempt and  I was successful.  Hooray!  And then I bought groceries for $17.89.

Chips - $1.00 each
Cottage Cheese - $.59 each on clearance
1# bags of shredded cheese - $2.50 each (lots of mozzarella for pizza)
broccoli - $.78/lb
green onion - $.39
Easter candy - $1.99

Finally, I made one more trip to QFC on Saturday and spent $32.27.

10# potatos - 2.44 (for chicken pot pie)
Organic Milk - $2.69 on clearance
Instant Oatmeal - $.79 each on clearance
Coffeemate - $2.99 (B1G1 MC) = $1.50 each
3 Apples - $.99 clearance
Organic Yogurt - $1.99 on clearance (for smoothies)
Lettuce - $1.39
Butter - $1.79 each
Johnsonville Sausage - $2.69 on clearance ($.50 MC) = $2.19
Hillshire Farms lunchmeat - $2.19 ($.35 MC) = $1.84
Easter candy - $1.49 clearance
Bacon - $1.99 on clearnce (for potato soup to use up milk in the freezer)
Greek Yogurt - $.25 each on clearance
Yogurt - $.29 each on clearance

I also paid $11.16 for milk delivery this week.

Total Grocery Spending for Week 14 = $88.33
Total Spending in 2013 = $1,117.12