Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Bare Essentials Challenge: This Week's Shopping Trips

Well, this was a week where I really didn't need anything much, so of course this was the week I found some awesome deals and had to get them *laugh*.

First up my family and I stopped by "Bushes and Bunches" a local greenhouse business that runs a fruit and vegetable stand on the side as I saw that they were open for the year and really wanted to stop by and see if there were any good deals.  And ohhhh yeah did I find some!

They had 30 lb boxes of potatoes on sale for 25.00, which works out to .83 a pound, which was right around where my target was for potatoes around St. Patrick's Day, but I could never find a deal below .99 lb.  They had a bunch of different potatoes:  fingerling/peanut potatoes, fiesta potatoes (they have pink lines running through them), viking potatoes (a good white potato...kind of like a Yukon Gold potato), blue potatoes and red potatoes.  I was having a hard time deciding on which type I wanted as some of them I hadn't had before and the ones I had tried I loved, so I was sitting there undecided.  The gal who worked there wasn't busy and in a totally awesome move made me a variety box of all the different types!  And the best part was because she made one for me the box ended up being 34 lbs vs 30 lbs =D.

I can get months out of these types of potatoes by storing them in my fridge.  The gal who worked there assured me that the wax box would help to keep them fresh and that I should just tuck the potatoes in at night like another child under a heavy blanket to keep the light out and they would last a lot longer in a cool dark location that way.  So, I'm looking through my heavier materials to make a potato blanket really quick *laugh*.
While we were there I also discovered that they had big bags of grapes on sale for 2.50 per BAG!!!  Right now the cheapest I can find is 2.99 lb, so I grabbed a bag lickedy split.  And in another awesome move they threw a second bag in for free!!!  People, you are looking at about 20.00 worth of grapes, at least.  For 2.50!  This is why I love shopping local businesses when I can :).

I'm also seeing frozen grapes in our future as the grapes are ripe and I worry about them going bad before we can use them all.  I've heard it's possible to can them, but I've never had home canned grapes, so I'm not sure if it is worth doing or not.  Anyone ever done that?

So, all totaled I spent 27.50 at Bushes and Bunches.

Next up is a trip I took to Fred Meyer earlier in the week.  They have seeds buy one get one half price this week, so I grabbed some lettuce seeds and some green onion seeds for the garden.  I also picked up some Easter clearance Hershey eggs (minus a peelie coupon thing my mom sent me for .50/1 Hershey's bagged chocolate, but it didn't exempt holiday chocolate, so I used it), a reduced package of pudding for 1.89 (my husband likes these in his lunch and while he doesn't like the butterscotch flavor, my daughter does, so it worked out well), a thing of red banded bananas for .69 lb (worked out to be .84 for the bunch) and my Friday Freebies from the last couple of weeks.  Missing from said picture is the weekly Coke I bought (didn't feel like hauling it upstairs).

All totaled I spent 20.39 at Fred Meyer.
And then I went back to Fred Meyer as my friend gave me her freebies for Freebie Friday (thanks Stephanie!) and since I was in town for my son's therapy I decided to hop over to get them.  And, just because I could, I stopped and checked out the produce reduction area and ran into another cart of produce in the 1.00 bags!!!  And oh the things I got!!!

I got a ton of apples, which are set to become applesauce this weekend, which I am hoping to can.  I also got some limes (which I'll make creamy limeade with...I'll share that recipe when I make it as it is a wonderful summertime recipe :), some lemons, some grapefruit, some poblano peppers (which are getting cut up and thrown into the freezer pronto tomorrow as they are really wilty) and some pears (there were three, but one was so mushy that I washed and ate it as soon as I got needed doing ;).  I also got my freebies and a few cans of cat food.  All totaled I spent 12.65 (of which I do not regret one penny!).

Total spent for the week:  60.54

And the best part about being pretty much right on budget (I raised my grocery budget to 60.00 so I could start buying produce and seasonal items again)???  I MADE it without going over as payday is tomorrow!  Woohoo!!!  

A couple of groceries I bought that I didn't take pictures of is I got 4 more pounds of butter while it was on sale at Carrs (I went on Tuesday right before it went off sale with the Easter sales).  I had gotten 20.00 by selling an herbology book to a friend of mine that I was no longer using, so I used that cash to buy the butter (and a few things from the used store this week). 

Overall, this week was all kinds of awesome on the shopping front.  How did you do???

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Menu Plan for Week of 3/28/16

One of these years I'll be able to consistently get my menu plan done on Monday, but for now I'm just going to be grateful that I have enough neurons firing to do it at all.  I'm still battling a lingering cough from that cold (Man, deja vu, as it seemed like I was having this much the same problem last year about this time.  Blah!) and I'm dealing with lack of sleep due to my daughter's stomach condition cycling something fierce this last week going between out and out migraines and the cyclical vomiting hitting her stomach.  She's making it through school, but is needing Zophran every four hours to function right now and it's not leading to a good quality of sleep for mom as I'm worried about her.  And of course then my son doesn't sleep on top of it, so mom is spending most of her time while the kids are at school crashing on the couch, or better yet in her bed, and sleeping most of the day away to recover even a minute amount of energy.

As a result my house could definitely be in better shape this week and trying to think of things to cook was making my head hurt.  I think I finally worked out a menu plan for the week though, which is good because I need all the help I can get right now to keep me focused.  Here's hoping things improve with the kiddos sometime soon.

I'm using up a few small packages of hamburger from the freezer that are older this week, which is a wonderful change of pace for us as beef is definitely the least used meat around here right now.

Menu Plan for Week of 3/28/16
Monday:  Leftovers

Tuesday:  Tacos (1/2 lb of hamburger mixed with 2 cups refried beans for main meat)

Wednesday:  Bacon, hoe cakes, hard boiled eggs (leftover), fruit salad (home made)

Thursday:  Meatloaf (turkey and beef), mashed potatoes and gravy, baked beans

Friday:  Pan fried cod with white sauce, leftover fruit salad, rice

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday:  Chicken and dumplings with mixed veggies.
Desserts:  Lemon Cornmeal Cake (if this turns out I'll share the recipe...I'm hoping my cornmeal is still in decent shape that I found), apple crisp

To Bake:  Lemon Cornmeal Cake, bread

Monday, March 28, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Well, as weeks go for getting stuff done on my list of goals, I got a few things done, but not near as much as I would have liked.  I ended up spending most of last week working on getting the house recovered after the kids went back to school after being home for a week.  And I was still fighting off this darned cold, which didn't help.  Combined with lack of just kind of hurt the cleaning efforts more than I would have liked.

I did however get a few things done. 

1.  I cleaned out my china cabinet and cleaned all of the glass surfaces in said china cabinet (seen up top after said cleaning).  I still need to wash the wooden parts and wax it, but it's a lot better than it was.  I got rid of empty bottles, organized my vintage Corelle (well some of it...the rest of that stuff is in my kitchen cabinets) and my Pyrex refrigerator dishes and made the cabinet look a lot more cohesive and better organized.  It makes me happy every time I look at it now :).

2.  I also started to get my furnace room reorganized now that it's emptied out.  I hung up the kids snow shoes and got the vacuum bags hung up.  I still have some more to do there, but I'm happy with the progress so far.

3.  I got slip covers for the two throw pillows cut out.  Still need to embroider them and sew them together, but at least I got that far.  I have been having a terrible time with fatigue since I got that bad cold/flu bug and sewing was the last thing on my mind.

4.  I found materials to redo the couch downstairs at the used store.  I measured it out and I think for the 2.50 I spent on the material that I should be able to redo the majority of the damage to the couch, so I'm super happy about that.  Then I just need to make a big slip cover for the couch cushions as they need one BAD anymore and the couch should be looking pretty good.  I'm hoping to get to that this week.

3.  I also weeded out more clothes from the kids that didn't fit them anymore and with my daughter I had her pull out some bigger sized pants to see if they fit or not.  She could a couple of pairs that fit her, so at least we got that taken care of for now.  Still got more weeding to do, but we're making progress.

4.  And I cleaned the coils on the standing freezer and mopped underneath it (that was filthy!). 

Seeing it all in writing, I guess I didn't do too shabby last week.  Mainly I didn't get to what I wanted to do (like sewing and working on mending that quilt), but at least I got some things marked off my list.

Now onto my goals for this week!

General Goals:
1.  Clean kitchen cabinets, switch shelves around (they are adjustable inside...I, but it's what I got), clean objects on top of cabinets.

2.  Work on couch in den.  Get repairs done if possible (as it's going to look weird if I don't do it all at once).

3.  Shampoo carpets.

4.  Start to wash windows (they need it bad!)   

5.  Clean Dishwasher
Sewing Goals:
1.  Work on pillow shams for couch.

2.  Work on dress.

3.  Make new bag holder (mending old one failed.  The material is so old it's brittle and it's just not working).

4.  Make pattern for some reusable shopping bags.
Garden Goals:
 1.  Make diagram of garden, this time taking into account where seeds and seedlings will be planted to figure out best layout for it.

2.  Make list of items I'll need for garden this year (I'm planning on planting some things in planters and such so I need to budget for that).

3.  Go through some flowers with daughter and figure out what she wants to plant (she REALLY wants to grow some flowers this year so I think I'm going to work on that with her.  I'm also hoping to plant some bulb flowers, like daffodils this year to come up next year :).

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bare Essentials Challenge: Weekly Recap

Okay, I'd like to take this opportunity to pat myself on the back *pat* as I have actually  managed to stick to my menu plan this week!  Completely!  No variations!  Okay, well one.  We didn't have any leftovers to eat on leftover night, so we ended up having BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans instead :).  And I didn't make the cookie bars this week as we ended up not really feeling like dessert a couple of nights and the cherry pie has been more than enough to keep us occupied the rest of the time (I made it early).

So, here's a quick recap of what we ate this week (for any recipe links up check out the "Menu Plan" link on the side of the blog and check out this week's menu).

1.  Best Ever Banana Crumb Muffins 

Okay, I've been eating these for breakfast all week and I have to say they are really good!  Biggest complaint I have is that my daughter won't even try them and my husband never seems to eat muffins compared to banana bread, so I've been eating them pretty much on my own.  I'm thinking the last six are going to have to go into the freezer tonight as I'm getting kind of tired of eating muffins every  morning.

2.  Honey Garlic Slow Cooker Chicken Night

I forgot to take a picture of this, but it was also really good.  Even my husband said it was decent, which he's pretty tired of chicken, so I'd say that's a pretty good endorsement.  I kept it in the slow cooker a bit long, so it got kind of salty (to me), but my husband liked it.

3.  Balsamic Brown Sugar Rosemary Pork Chops

Right, so I deviated from the original recipe a bit on this.  Instead of cooking the chops in a cast iron skillet, I coated two pork steaks in the glaze (exactly as written except I used dried rosemary from my garden instead of fresh) and baked them till done.

The huge amount of brown sugar called for the in the recipe compared to balsamic kind of worried me when I read it, but I tried it anyway and tasting it before cooking the chops in it, it didn't taste too bad.  Unfortunately, once baked this recipe was WAY too sweet.  Like to the point I didn't want to eat my pork steak sweet.  My husband was smarter than me (he ate after my daughter and I were done) and he sprinkled balsamic vinegar over the steak until it tasted right.  He said after you did that it didn't taste bad.  So, word to the wise.  If you make this you might want to up the amount of vinegar in the glaze.

4.  Smothered Pork Chops Night

Per usual, these turned out really good.  I ate the rest for lunch the next day with some left over green beans (seen above there).   I'll share this recipe really soon as it's really easy to put together.

5.  Creamy Shrimp and Mushroom Pasta Night

The moment when you go to add canned shrimp to a sauce and then realize you grabbed a can of canned salmon instead and then you go into your pantry to discover that you are OUT of canned shrimp, so you dig around in your freezer, unearth a bag of smaller shrimp and have to add about 1/2 hour onto your cooking time as you heat up water and cook shrimp to add to your pasta and sauce.  It turned out good, anyway.  We just ended up eating later than I would have liked.  Instead of doing mixed veggies in cheese sauce I added a couple of handfuls of frozen peas that I had quickly heated up to the final product (not seen because I forgot to take the picture AFTER I'd added them like a smart person).  It worked well and my daughter even tried a few peas before she complained that she "was full of peas" (which means, "I don't like this and I don't want to eat anymore, but I still want dessert").  She ate a few more peas before she could have a few Andes mints for dessert, so at least she got some veggies down her (bwahahahahha!!!).

6.  Leftover Night.

And instead of leftovers we had BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner.  I didn't take a picture of that one.

7.  Extras/Pie!!!!

I was so proud of the cherry pie I made I had to share.  Remember the cherries I bought with the gift card my mother-in-law gave me for last Mother's Day (so, I would have bought them in May sometime).  I had put about 90% of them in the freezer because they were so ripe when I got them they didn't have much of a shelf life to them.  I found the bag of them in the freezer and decided to try my hand at making cherry pie from scratch, and that meant making my own cherry pie filling (the cherries had to be used up, so I thought this would be fun). I defrosted them and then pitted them and then I macerated them with some sugar and let them sit overnight.  That really didn't release much juice at all, surprisingly, so I ended up smashing them a bit with a potato masher to make a more traditional cherry pie filling texture to the final product (it needed more juice so you'd have more thick liquid in the pie).  I used Ultra Gel (a kind of super thickening corn starch that is approved to make pie filling for canning and such, which is why I own it.  It also thickens things up super quick so it fits my impatient nature sometimes *laugh*) to thicken the pie filling and then followed some basic directions in the Ball Book of Home Preserving for cherry pie filling, but way scaled down of course.  It worked well and made really yummy pie :).  Now I'm determined to find a decent deal on cherries so I can make some pie filling to can this year.

I even made the pie crust pretty (that's supposed to be a flower on there in case you are wondering.  I was a bit short on pie crust to make leaves on the stem, so it came out KIND of looking like a flower).
I am not good at making pie, so I was super proud of how it turned out.  I mean check out that filling!  It actually stays put =D.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well, overall I have to say that this week has gone pretty well on the money saving front.

1.  My husband went out last Saturday, when we were getting a lot of snow around here and went to help out his friend's father who is wiring his own garage.  He went to inspect it and made sure the wiring was being done right.  He kept refusing to let his friend's dad pay him, but he insisted on giving my husband something for the trouble so he gave him some meat from his freezer.  So we now have moose hot dogs, moose kielbasa and moose meat sticks in the freezer.  Always nice to get the gift of meat :).  The hot dogs will taste awesome on the grill this summer that's for sure!

2.  As I said we got about a foot of snow last Saturday and by Sunday it was nice and warm and sunny, so we went outside really fast to play in the snow before it melted on us.  My daughter and husband built a snowman while I was taking care of a very cold son who wanted to go inside and get warm and both my husband and I knew that we had to take a picture when it was done.  We don't really get snow up here that is good for packing snowballs or building snowmen.  Usually we get light and fluffy (read too cold to pack) snow, so it was a lot of fun messing around in the snow all morning with the weather nice and warm.  I made sure to clean up the photos of my daughter with the snowman and am thinking of printing some off and putting them in Christmas cards this year for relatives that live on the East Coast. 

3.  Once the kids were back in school I spent most of the week just recovering the house from having them home for an entire week during Spring Break, so at least I didn't spend a bunch of money running around to a bunch of different stores numerous days.

4.  I ordered a book my husband has been really wanting on Amazon for .01 (so, 4.00 after shipping).  I'm going to save the book for a couple of months and save it for our anniversary.

5.  I started sketching pattern pieces from our couch downstairs in the den so I can hopefully repair things that desperately need to be repaired with the cloth I found at the used store.  I'm hoping that I'll have enough material to make it all work well, so I'm hoping by making pattern pieces it'll help the cloth go further.  I went on Pinterest to get some ideas on what I wanted the final product on the couch to look.  I'm hoping to make the slip covers for the throw pillows tomorrow and then I'll start on some embroidery for them to make them a little bit fancier as I figure even if the repair job ends up being ugly at least I can distract the eye when people come in and look at the couch *laugh*.

6.  My husband and I have been having a lot of fun watching a series online.  It's a long series so we've been watching about two episodes a night (the episodes are only about 20 minutes long).  The best part about watching the series online is that we can watch it for a little bit once the kids are in bed but not quite asleep for the evening (it's subtitled so watching it with the kids awake gets to be really difficult).

7.  I mended a couple of shirts this week that had gotten little holes in them (I accidentally put a bra through the dryer...never ends well for me) and repaired a comforter that the quilting had given on.

8.  I used the crock pot a lot this week, which saved me time, energy (as I'm still really wiped out from the residuals with this cold) and really made dinner a lot more laid back since I didn't feel the need to have everything ready at the same time.  It worked out well since one night my husband got home late and then another night he wasn't hungry when he got home, so I just put the crock pot on warm and walked away and he still had a hot meal when he wanted it.

9.  We got our gas bill in the mail and turning the heat down at night and such has paid off yet again in a 50.00 reduction in our bill.  It felt good to get that bill in the mail, for a change.  The weather has warmed this last week as well (well it's starting to fall again today, but we won't count that) so I was able to actually open some windows for a little bit a few days and air out the house a little.  It's always so nice to be able to do that after a long winter, even if the warm snaps are still temporary.

10.  I have been saving some leftover school work papers that my daughter has brought home (weekly newsletter and such) and have been saving it for scrap paper at home and not just for writing things down.  The biggest thing I find it helps with is using it to scrub the extra fat out of a greasy pan and then throwing it away.  Better the paper than a paper towel.  I also use it normally for writing notes on the back of, of course, but I've been trying to expand paper's horizons a bit to recycle it just that one more time before throwing it away.

11.  I've been washing and reusing freezer bags for the first time in my life the last little bit.  I won't reuse things that housed meat (just too paranoid), but I've been reusing other bags after washing them out and drying them out really well.  It's really been helping to stretch my last box of freezer bags by a good margin.

So, there you go folks.  Some of the ways I saved money this week.  How did you do?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Thrifty Thursday: Thrift Store Finds

Well, this was a good week on the thrift store finds front.

I stopped by the thrift store today more on a whim than anything else as I keep hoping to run into a nice cabinet or a cheap, but nice, bookcase to use for some of my books.  Came up empty handed there, but I did find some cool stuff!

2 pinwheels for .25 each. 

These will be going into the Easter basket for the kiddos.

A reusable waterproof bed pad for 5.00 new in the box. 

I have desperately needed a second bed pad for my son since he tore the second one he has (which makes washing his bedding that much more challenging every day), so I was thrilled to find it.  It will definitely come in handy.

I found some pink lacy material for .25 that I figure I'll use to dress up doll dresses or something come Christmastime.

1 My Little Pony "Pop".  It's a toy that you build yourself and design the hair and everything. I  thought my daughter would definitely like this for Christmas as she kept wanting me to buy one for her last year (and what they wanted for them new was ridiculous).  I got this one brand new in the box for 1.75.

1 Harry Potter Clue Game for 4.50.

The game has all it's pieces that I could see, had the direction sheet and had pretty much the entire pad where you check off suspects and clues.  I had priced this thing on Amazon for my daughter for Christmas and it was at least 21.00.  So, one cheap Christmas gift down :).

1 bag of quilt batting for 1.00.

1 speed control for a sewing machine for 5.00. 

My husband has been looking for one of these, so I grabbed it.  If it turns out to be something he can't use, I'm going to see if my mother-in-law needs it as she has said in the past that she needed a sewing machine pedal for another machine she has.

1 box of snap fasteners for .25. 

This was a "duh" type of mistake as I forgot that my step mom had sent me tons of snap fasteners in her pinata boxes to me, but they'll get used, so not that big of a deal.

 And I found this for .50 (forgot to take a picture of it with the other items).  This seems like a really awesome cookbook and it has TONS of different recipes for pretty much everything beef including oxtails and lots of different types of stews and things.  I'm looking forward to reading this in more detail later.

And really, how can you not love that obviously 70's cover?  Vintage cookbooks are awesome :).

So, there you are, my finds for today.  Find anything cool lately?

Bare Essentials Challenge: This Week's Shopping Trips

Well, I have finally decided to raise my grocery budget by 10.00 per week to 60.00.  I really didn't want to do it, but with produce coming into season (thus cheaper and better quality) and such, I really feel like I need to do it just because I'm going to be going consistently over the 50.00 I set myself for a grocery budget.  I'm sure some weeks I'll be able to beat said number, but this way I have a little wiggle room anyway.

This turned out to be a good week for sales after all.  I was thinking that I'd have to pass on corned beef this year as 3.49 lb was the cheapest I was seeing it for sale, but when I went to Fred Meyer I found out that the points weren't advertised on their ad, only the flats and the points were 2.49 lb!  Not the 1.99 or less per lb I was hoping for, but I was willing to suck it up and deal with it.

I picked two corned beef briskets and used my 3.00 off your meat purchase of 15.00 or more coupon on them and it worked out to be about 12.00 for both corned beef briskets.  I took that amount off of my holiday meat shopping budget, so I won't be counting it on my weekly grocery budget, but I was so happy to have gotten them that I just had to share *laugh*.

And now onto the rest of the shopping!

The milk should actually be in with my Carrs shopping, but I put it here because I broke up the groceries into "fresh or frozen" and "shelf stable" categories this time.

When I went to Fred Meyer I got my free pot pie while I was there.

I got grapes for 2.99 lb on sale for my daughter's lunches (and as dessert for a "light" type of night).  I always have problems with Fred Meyer and their produce in that they never pick over the produce to remove rotten grapes and things, while Carrs seems to be better about doing that when they put stuff out.  So, I am sure the produce guy was going to be ticked at me later, but I picked out any grapes that were rotten or near rotten from the bag before I put it into the cart.  I just refused to pay for fruit that we were not going to eat.  Sorry produce guy!

I got my son some of the Natural Harvest Whole Wheat Bread.  My mom sent me a coupon for .75/1 on that brand, my son really likes it (still trying to sell him on home made bread) and the one loaf will last him quite a while for toast.  It was on sale for 2.99.

I was going to get my daughter Tyson chicken nuggets for her lunches while I was there, but they were out, so I ended up getting her Foster Farm ones instead for 6.49.

I also got two bags of discounted apples for 1.00 per bag.  I nearly went nuts with the reduced fruit as they had a cart full of it, but the reduced citrus was in really bad condition, so I just went with the two best bags of apples I could find.

The milk was 3.69 regular price.

All totaled I spent 25.53 toward my grocery budget in that photo.

 I ran over to Carrs because of 5.00 Friday sales.  I got cat litter and a big bag of dry cat food for 5.00 each (I had a 1.00/1 coupon for the dry cat food, so that actually ended up being 4.00), a party sized bag of Cheetos on sale for 4.99 and two containers of flavored water for my daughter's lunches (since the kids were going back to school on Monday and I wanted to make sure I had enough to last her through the week and the weekend).  Final cost 20.98 (with the exception of the milk in the first photo up top).

Total cost toward grocery budget:  47.51.

I then went and got another gallon of milk this week on that 50.00 too, so I went a bit over budget by 1.12.  Not too bad, though, overall.

So my total spent for the week was 51.12.  Meat purchases (of which I set aside money for holiday sales and meat shopping this month) totaled 12.49.

By the way, notice the lack of Coke in the photos above?  I ended up sending my husband to the store earlier last week (after my "ouch" shopping trip to Three Bears and all) and had him pick up Coke while he was there.  I then put some cash float money I had back into the bank later to help cover the cost of the Coke as I had it to spare from my monthly grocery budget.  It worked out alright and allowed me to skip buying Coke for a while as I didn't realize how little soda my son was drinking while he was sick (since I was sick too) and we ended up being super stocked with Coke.  How well stocked?  I think I might get through all next week without having to buy Coke too.  I'm happy with that situation anyway :).

So, there you are folks.  My shopping trips for the week.  How did you do?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Menu Plan Monday (okay, Tuesday): Menu for Week of 3/22/16

I'm still behind on blogging it seems.  I wanted to get this post up yesterday, but life got in the way.  My husband and I took a trip into town once I pulled up the Fred Meyer ad for the week and we got some of our shopping done for next week.  Yup, on Monday.  I had put some money aside for meat and baking goods when I reduced our grocery budget for holiday sales and things coming up and so far it's worked out really well.  And then yesterday I HAD to see that standing rib roasts were on sale for cheaper than I've seen them in ages, with a limit of one to add incentive to going and buying early.  My husband wanted the rib roast so bad he looked through the entire meat department with me until he found the ONE roast they had left at Fred Meyer.  It's been years since we had a good cut of beef, even on special occasions and such, so I caved and got the rib roast for Easter.  Between that, a ham (1.19 lb this week for the non-spiral sliced ones at Fred Meyer folks!) and a couple of corned beef briskets that I got last week (I found them for 2.49 lb at Fred Meyer, called it "good enough" and bought two), my meat budget for the holiday season is officially shot.  Which means, if I want to get butter (2.49 lb for Fred Meyer brand this week), I'm going to be working that into my regular grocery budget.  Ah well, it was worth it.  Kind of.  I still feel queasy spending more than 30.00 on a roast, even if it is a holiday.

The funny part?  Even with the extra money I had put aside and the regular grocery shopping I did LAST week (which would include the corned beef I bought as well) I still was right at what my NORMAL weekly grocery budget would have been for one week.  The longer this "reduction in grocery budget" goes on, I'm seriously thinking I can keep this going long term, although I will be increasing my grocery budget by 10.00 or so very soon to accommodate the fact that produce is FINALLY coming into season so I can start buying it again as the quality will actually be worth purchasing (yay!!!!).

Between the grocery trip, a quick trip to the used store to try and find some type of fabric to fix our couch downstairs (which I THINK I got a good match there, finally) and a trip to Three Bears to get a cat scratching post for my cat to destroy instead of our furniture and carpeting (she toasted her other ones and I've been forgetting to get her a new one) was a full day.

And then I got an e-mail from our current care coordinator who takes care of the paperwork end of TEFRA, my son's disability based Medicaid, that she's not going to be doing TEFRA anymore.  I am a person who hates change and clings to competent people with a death grip (when you have a special needs child the term "good people are hard to find" takes on WHOLE new meaning and you realize how very very true the statement is), so reading that gave me a near panic attack as that means things are up in the air until I call Qualis health and get a new care coordinator and such.  It led to an evening where I was already dealing with sleep deprivation (son is on a "stay up past midnight, sleep two hours, stay up till 5:30 and then sleep another 1 1/2 hours till it's time to get up for school, schedule.  He's dealing with it better than I am) and so trying to figure out a menu for the week?  Yeah, that wasn't going to happen *laugh*.

I'm still sleep deprived, but I have two cups of coffee down me so hopefully my brain will function enough to put this sucker together now.  So, here we go!!!

Menu Plan for Week of 3/22/16
Monday:  Pork Steaks, salad (used the rest of the wilty wasn't great salad, but it worked), macaroni and cheese.

Tuesday:  Honey Garlic Slow Cooker Chicken, steamed broccoli with cheese sauce, rice

WednesdayBalsamic Brown Sugar Rosemary Pork Chops (make in crock pot), mashed potatoes, herbed mixed vegetables

Thursday:  Smothered Pork Chops with Stuffing, leftover mashed potatoes and gravy, mulled apple cider green beans (finally remembered to add THAT to the recipe index.  Sorry for the delay!).

Friday:  Creamy Shrimp and Mushroom Pasta, mixed vegetables with cheese sauce (found this is a good way to get the daughter to eat her vegetables a little easier)

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday:  Alton Brown's Standing Rib Roast (and yes, I have a terra cotta flower pot I bought special just to cook special/holiday roasts in because of that man *laugh*), seasoned roasted potatoes, asparagus (if I have any.  If not, find another suitable vegetable to serve with it).

To Bake:  Bread (I really want to make some really good bread at some point, but it might be this weekend before I get to that), Best Ever Banana Crumb Muffins (I've got exactly three bananas to use up, so this looked good :), cookie bars (for desserts this week), cherry pie (for Sunday)

And there you go folks.  My menu for this week.  Anything special on your menu this week?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monthly Goals Update and This Week's Goals

Well, looking at my goals for the month I'm kind of disappointed in that we're 21 days into the month and I have accomplished next to nothing on my cleaning goals for this month.  Ugh.

Although, bright side is that most of the cleaning I want to do, with the exception of things like washing down walls and things, won't take very long in the course of like a week, so I'm hoping to still get all of the accomplished by the end of the month.

I did manage to get my furnace room about 90% mucked out this week.  I still need to transfer the boxes of stuff into storage, but at least the room is pretty much empty at this point.  My plan is to then hang up a few items in the furnace room (like snow shoes) and then basically turn it into a mainly empty room with just a vacuum cleaner and the carpet cleaner in it.  That way I'll know for sure it's not a fire hazard in there and I won't have my carpet cleaner taking up part of my upstairs hallway.

I fixed a lot of different things this week (yay super glue!).  The biggest thing I accomplished was piecing the rim of my vase back together (seen up top there).

I know a lot of people wouldn't go through all the trouble of piecing this thing back together and I've done it a couple of times throughout the years.  But, this vase has sentimental value to me as it's the nicest gift I ever received from my brother-in-law, Clinton.  He actually bought it for my husband and I back when we lived in a tiny little apartment and I had to house it in the bathroom because it was the only spot in the apartment where we had an opening to stick it, but even back then I thought the vase was pretty.

Our then psycho kitten, Ginger, took it upon herself to try and destroy that vase, knocking it over constantly in her attempted conquest of anything breakable in the apartment, but she failed.  And then we moved to a bigger place and the vase was able to be put into a nicer looking location (once again, sadly, in a bathroom as that's how the house just happened to be laid out).  Then she really went to town trying to seek out and destroy her ceramic nemesis as she had so much more room to get speed up before smacking into it.  One day she knocked it over in such a way that it smacked off the toilet and broke a piece off the rim. 

She gave me such a smug look when I ran into the bathroom, like she'd finally succeeded in her quest at vase domination.  But, I had to prove her wrong.  I liked the vase darn it!  And so I sat and carefully pieced the pieces I could find back together.  It left a mark, but looked okay for the most part.

Oddly enough, after she broke that one piece off of the vase, she's pretty much left it alone ever since.  I keep thinking she just had to show it who was the boss.  Or she realized that I was more stubborn than she was and would glue the sucker back together no matter what she did to it.  Either way, she left it alone after that *laugh*.
Then last month my new psycho kitten (well, I guess she's more of a cat now, but we'll go with it) decided she wanted to attack a blanket that I was carrying downstairs to put in the laundry, skidded out of control and knocked said vase over where I have it in the corner of my landing, usually a nice safe place where it can sit out of the way and look pretty.  And thus another piece of the rim broke off, this time in small pieces.  I didn't have time to deal with the broken bits at that time, so I just kind of stuck them down inside the vase, rearranged the winter floral arrangement I had in it and decided I'd get to it when I had a chance.  Well, I finally got my chance this week.

And oy was that a lot of work!  The rim was broken on the one side in about twenty tiny pieces, so it was a lot of figuring to work out where the pieces went and then carefully super gluing one piece at a time back together to make one big piece to finally glue onto the vase.  And, once again, it left a mark, but it looks alright (when you look at it straight on anyway) and oddly enough for all the times it's gotten knocked over and broken throughout the years, it'll still hold water okay.  Ah the effort we'll go through for something we like.  Kind of amazing really.

I just find it so humorous that each cat has left it's mark on the vase, but it's still standing.  So far *knock on wood*.  I'm hoping to find where I put my black acrylic paint so I can touch up the obvious exposed bits of ceramic on the vase.  Hopefully I can find that in my cleaning endeavors this week.

On top of the vase I fixed my frog magnet, about fifteen thousand toys of my daughter's (okay, I might be exaggerating a BIT, but she keeps digging up more toys to fix!!!), a toy of my son's and I replaced a lot of his batteries this week in his toys as well. 

Overall as fixing things went I got a lot done this week.  Cleaning, not so much.

We did manage to scrimp and save enough to pay my husband's car insurance this week.  It definitely hurt to do it, but I also knew myself way too well in that when it comes to shelling out large amounts of money I'll just keep putting it off and putting it off until suddenly like three of said bills hit me at once and I have to shell out a HUGE amount of money and then I fight off multiple panic attacks and try to stop myself from having a stroke.  I figured it was just easier to swallow the worry in my throat and just take a bite out of the bills we have to pay by the beginning of April (since I totally misjudged the month the insurance was due, again...darn it).  This week we have to pay my husband's continuing education and his licensing renewal, so that's going to doubly hurt, but, once again, it needs to be done whether we like it or not.

And I got the cloth napkins embroidered last week too.  So, at least ONE sewing goal is done for this month.  Got a lot left to do on that front too, but hopefully I can get some of that done this week.

So, onto this week's goals!

Sewing Goals:
1.  Work on robe or dress (still up in the air on that one)
2.  Make slip covers for couch throw pillows. 
3.  Keep eye out for materials to redo couch or figure out something else (the cats have destroyed it using it as a scratching post the last bit).
4.  Work on quilt and other mending.
General Goals:
1.  Work on saving money as much as humanly possible to save last 400.00 needed to make bills by first week of April.
2.  Shampoo carpets (this desperately needs to get done)
3.  Clean and organize china cabinet (this is kind of a catch all cabinet for medicines and things as my son can't get into said cabinet so it needs to be cleaned and organized again)
4.  Clean wooden furniture and wax.
5.  Work on kitchen if I can find time (as I'm seeing the majority of my week being shot just trying to catch up on housework after the son has been home the last two weeks).
And there you are folks.  My goals for this week.  You up to anything?

The Bare Essentials Challenge: Weekly Recap

I am a couple of days behind on blogging, so be prepared for a few blog posts today.  Why am I behind?  Kids on Spring Break.  Yup, that pretty much covers it *laugh*.

I spent most of Saturday running around after my son trying to keep him from completely destroying the house (I half succeeded).  Over the weekend we got our first "real" snowfall of this year (we've gotten ice this winter, no doubt about that, but when it comes to snow we didn't get much), which my husband incidentally totally called it on this one as every time people kept telling him we weren't going to have a winter he was like, "Oh, there's still March.  Wait for it."  We got about a foot of snow around here, which happily was enough for us to go play in yesterday morning.  We didn't get a chance to play in it Saturday as we were all still a little too sick for us to go out and play.  Yesterday though was perfect as it was warm and snowy, so we got sledding in and lots of snow play before the snow started to melt in earnest.  The best part was we didn't freeze our tails off after about ten minutes like normally happens in wintertime so the kids were willing to stay outside for quite a while.  It was a lot of fun.

I didn't take too many pictures of what we ate this week as I was still feeling really worn down for the most part, especially around dinner time.  I actually had my husband pick up sandwiches for us one night and just made the kids dinner, which asking him to bring home dinner is rare for me anymore, but it was getting late and I was just wasted after juggling the kids all day.

I'm hoping that now the kids are going back to school today that I'll be able to catch up on rest a little bit and catch up on housework a LOT as while my house isn't walking away on it's own yet, my son was trying REALLY hard to get it to that point.

So, at any rate, the menu plan was kind of hit or miss this last week. 

Pork Slices Night
Last Sunday I cooked a GIGANTIC pork roast in the oven.  I didn't realize exactly how much meat was on it until I started cutting said meat off.

We had leftover pork roast a lot last week as it turned out.  We had the leftover pork slices on Monday and ended up with them for lunch a couple of days in pork sandwiches.  I'll get into a couple of more ways we used up the pork down the post a bit, but yeah...that one 8.00 pork roast worked out to be awesomely cost effective at feeding us for the week!
Baked Chicken Night
We had pork sandwiches for lunch, my husband brought home sandwiches for dinner and I baked my son some French Fries.  It worked, not really how I would have liked it to, but every once in a while you just have to admit you need a break, even for a night.

Steak Night
Well, we did have steak this night.  Instead of potato salad (just wasn't up to it), I made baked potatoes instead and we had kind of wilty lettuce in salad instead of baked beans.

Pork Soup Night
I had ideas of trying an oriental style pork soup for dinner that night, but I just wasn't up to doing too much, so I threw what was left of the pork roast into the crock pot with some chicken bouillon and some herbs and spices and a bunch of veggies and planned on calling it "soup".  But, there was so much meat left on the bone, it turned out, that I was able to just cook it off the bone, slice it up and serve the vegetables alongside with some home made bread.  It worked out great!
I then took the leftover pork from THAT meal and mixed it up with some BBQ sauce for lunch on Saturday for sandwiches.  Like I said, that pork roast did a LOT last week!

Garlic Shrimp Pasta Night
Didn't happen.  Ended up being baked chicken night instead.  I served it with green beans and one of my great "secret weapons" when it comes to breaking up rice monotony around here.

The Prudent Homemaker turned me onto Chicken Tomato Bouillon (sounds weird, but trust me try it!) and I like to mix in about a teaspoon per cup of rice in the rice cooker and just let it cook in the bouillon.  It works awesome and really makes a flavorful rice to mix up your side dishes.  You can find it in the Mexican food section at Carrs and Fred Meyer.

I used the leftover rice last night as a side dish as well.  I served it with some baked fish and some peaches for dinner.  It worked out well and was really yummy!

So, there you are folks.  My culinary adventures for the week.  Did you make anything fun last week or did you just kind of get by (which honestly is what I did).

Friday, March 18, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

This was another week where we were battling illness (honestly, I'm still not feeling great and now my daughter is sick...luckily she at least avoided the fever that comes with this thing), so I did manage to save money by not spending money.  At least not much. I'll get to that in a minute though.

So, onto this week's accomplishments!

1.  I managed to finish my embroidered floral napkins.  Be prepared to get deluged with some photos here as I was determined that at least ONE photo of these things wasn't going to come out dim and dingy looking.  Of course taking pictures of these on a cloudy day PROBABLY didn't help the lighting much.

A shot of all four napkins is seen above/top.  I took direct inspiration from the tablecloth (that you can see part of underneath the napkins in the following photos), but I wanted to make each napkin a bit different for fun.  So, this is what I came up with.

Since there was only about four different floral themes going through the tablecloth, I used the blue flowers twice.  Once in a group shot.
And one in a more close up shot.

I think the big pink flowers on the tablecloth are actually peonies, but when I got done with mine it came out looking more like a rose (flowers aren't something I normally draw much of), so I just turned it into a rose by adding a few thorns to the stem.  It still fits in with a floral theme *laugh*.

I am also noting when I took pictures of these that there are some embroidery floss loose ends on the back side of these that are showing through the muslin.  I need to tuck those in better before I put some interfacing onto the backs.  Note to self.

And the napkin that took me the most time to finish.  That was a lot of flowers to outline and shade.

I do have to say that I LOVE the vintage-like line work I did on these as I think it matches the tablecloth really well.  And I'm starting to realize why women in my grandma's generation did embroidery this way on their "everyday" items like dish towels and napkins and such.  Because it is a LOT easier and goes much quicker, so if you stain them up beyond all recognition it won't make you cry to have to do another one *laugh*.

I used white muslin for the material on these as I use that as my work horse fabric around here.  It's cheap (if you get it on sale), it cleans up well and after a few washes it gets really soft.  All bonuses to me.

And might I say that I loved being able to pull out some of my French White and Spring Blossom patterned Corelle to stage these photos.  The table shouted Spring, even if we are getting some snow right now :).

Isn't it cute?

Anyway, onto the rest of the things I managed to accomplish this week.

2.  Despite being sick last Friday I did remember to go online and check on Freebie Friday, which resulted in a free pot pie for the freezer (and a free lunch or dinner when my husband is working weird hours, for me).

3.  I had to check on some orders on Amazon for my husband and while I was on there I happened to look down and see that a book I've been wanting for a while, "Victorian Farm", had a copy from a seller for less than 1.00!  This is a book that goes for 25.00 USED, and that's on a good day, so I swooped in super quick and grabbed it up before someone else did.  So for less than 5.00 I got a book that normally would have cost me 30.00 shipped.  I was thrilled and can't wait to get it in the mail :).

4.  I got an offer to try out some cleaning supplies in exchange for maybe doing a review on the items.  I jumped at the chance as free cleaning supplies...who is going to turn those down?

5.  I fixed a bunch of stuff this week and replaced batteries in a few of the son's toys as well.  I am happy as he's using the toys again now where before he was mainly just beating on them trying to get them to work.  I also replaced the batteries in his constellation nightlight, which was a good move on my part as if I'd waited until the batteries were completely dead I would have had a meltdown on my hands with him.

By the way, overall, I've been really impressed with the generic Safeway brand of batteries.  I'm definitely going to buy those again as they've held up really well compared with the name brand batteries.  I'm not getting anything for saying that...I have just been impressed with them :).

6.  I spent a lot of time this week reading books that I got for free with gift cards.  I do have a quick blog post with some suggestions on WWII rationing books in the works for those who might be interested.  I'm learning more everyday when it comes to this period in history and enjoy it so much that I'd love to share some of the books I've run into.  At any rate, spending gift card monies on books, to me, is a really frugal thing to do as it's really a great way to get hours of entertainment value out of a small investment.

7.  I managed to make dinner around here this week despite still not feeling well, which definitely saved us money.  On days where my son was freaking out and we had to buy him french fries, we tried to make sure that we ate before we left home, so we only had to buy my son his french fries when we were out.  It saved us money doing it that way (and saved my and fast food don't mix well).

8.  I dug out my Spring decorations in the middle of cleaning endeavors this week and put those up around the house (I'll do a post on that sometime soon in case I can share some tips people might appreciate).  Since I have used the same decorations for years, this was a completely free thing for me to do and really helped to brighten the house a bit.  Of course as soon as I did that winter finally decided to show up in force and we have snow on the ground and colder temperatures, but ah well.  At least my house is nice and Spring-like *laugh*.

9.  My daughter outgrew some of her pants this week and I put them aside.  One pair is a velvety materials, so I keep going back and forth about potentially reusing them to make a purse for her for Christmas or something out of them.  I'm still debating, but either way putting the pants aside out of the way saves me money in that they won't get thrown on the floor, continually rewashed for months and then tried on, yet again, only to find out they were too small (lather, rinse, repeat).  As soon as I see clothing that is coming out on the daughter that is too small I IMMEDIATELY make her take them off and stick them in the "too small" pile or inevitably what I just described happens for months before I realize what she was doing and want to pop a vein.  Soooo, it's worth nipping that problem in the bud ahead of time :).

10.  I baked bread this week, which with how sick I was last week it felt GOOD to get that done.  I was going to also bake "Wacky cake" which is a Depression Era recipe I've been wanting to try, but I ran into a box of cake mix in the pantry that was one month past the "use by" date.  I knew it was still good, but should be used up, so I made that instead.  Cake, after all, is cake.  It used a few more ingredients (oil and eggs) that the other cake wouldn't have, but it was still just as simple to make.  The kids are thrilled with desserts this week.

11.  Instead of watching TV, my daughter asked me to help her do a puzzle instead.  It was a lot of fun (we still need to finish it actually) and it was nice not having electronics plugged in around here during every moment my children are awake.

And there you are folks.  Some of the things I did to save money this week.  How did you do?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Bare Essentials Challenge: This Week's Shopping Trip

I guess this is KIND of this week's shopping trip as we haven't done much shopping around here lately due to people being sick.  I know I'm going over this week after this shopping trip mainly because I've blown through the 50.00 for this week, plus some (luckily I've been below budget the last little bit, so it will work itself out) and I haven't picked up Coke for the week for the son yet and I know we're going to have at least one more milk run to do.

The main reason I went over this week is simple.  I decided yesterday that I was going shopping at Three Bears, which is a bulk type of store we have around here (they actually get a lot of their in inventory from Costco as you can see from the brands I got), but you don't need a membership to shop there.  I knew it was going to be more expensive, for the most part, than shopping at the stores, but I decided split second to go there as the carts are huge and I figured I could make my son sit in the cart if he didn't feel like walking as he's still pretty wiped out.  That and the store is like less than five minutes from my house by car, so it was just me feeling very tired still after being sick and not wanting to run to multiple stores.

This is one of those shopping trips that you look at the bags and the total and go, "What?  This doesn't seem right!" when in fact, it is right.  Kind of sad really.

So, here's where my 50.00 (plus) for this week went...

I got two gallons of milk for 7.89.  This, to me, is ridiculously expensive for milk regular price as that's actually more expensive than a non-sale price for milk at Safeway, but I committed myself to shopping there and my kids just wanted to get shopping done and go home.

1 small thing of marshmallow creme for 2.12
1 large thing of marshmallow creme for 3.19

Right, so we didn't NEED marshmallow creme, but my daughter and I were talking about growing up in New England and Fluffernutters came up.  Okay, for those NOT in the know about these, as unless you grow up on the East Coast you probably won't know what I'm talking about, a Fluffernutter is a heavenly concoction in a sandwich which consists of Marshmallow Fluff (which as far as I know isn't available outside of the East Coast) and peanut butter.  Until you taste it, to most of us who grew up in New England, you haven't truly lived *laugh*.

Well with the son's peanut allergy, peanut butter was out, but I had to pick up some almond butter for him for speech anyway as we found out that the Kirkland brand of almond butter was made in a peanut free facility (and is MUCH cheaper than buying specialty brands online) and I didn't have Marshmallow Fluff available, but I could buy marshmallow creme and almond butter, so I did.  It will be worth it if I can get my daughter to actually EAT a sandwich as she hates them.  As close as we can get her to eat to a sandwich is a tortilla rolled up with melted cheese inside it or a cheeseburger.  I'm always trying to find new ways to get calories and protein into that child as she is so tiny, probably a side effect of her stomach condition hitting her during a major growth period in her life, so if she'll try said sandwiches it'll be worth it.

The smaller container of marshmallow creme is for making fudge, pure and simple.  I am KIND of hoping to be able to make it for Easter, but we'll see how health and things go around here.

The almond butter was spendy (16.09), but it is nice having a nut butter around the house again that ISN'T peanut butter.  I'm hoping this stuff holds up well in things like cookies.  I'd love to have a readily available nut butter to use in the kitchen that I can just jet down and buy instead of having to worry about ordering a quantity of four or more at a time.  And if my son's SLP can get him to eat some of it during feeding therapy it will help to fill the protein gaps in his diet, which would be wonderful!

The sales so far for this month are just depressing.  Corned beef isn't going for less than 3.00 lb (ouch doesn't even BEGIN to cover that one.  Average price is ranging at about 3.49 lb right now), so that is definitely off my "buy" list...well maybe.  I got this booklet from Fred Meyer in the mail a few days ago...

It has a bunch of coupons in it and a couple of those are 2.00 off your purchase of 10.00 or more in the produce department (which I'm hoping to use that to cut down costs on cabbage and potatoes as they are going for .99 lb on SALE this year, which was the regular price for them last year...depressing) and there is a 3.00 off your purchase of 15.00 or more in the meat and seafood department.  So I MIGHT pick up a corned beef and some other cheap meat that is on sale and see if I can make the coupon work to eat up some of the difference.  I don't know though.  Money is so tight right now, I'm not sure if the coupon is going to close the gap enough for me to want to us up that much of my grocery budget just for that.  I mean I have to come up with 800.00 in the next few weeks (by April 7th) for insurance (I was a month off on my renewal...I do that every single year it seems...darn it) and for my husband's licensing renewal and continuing education fees.  So, corned beef just might be off the shopping list for this year.  A lot will depend on how much my husband's paycheck is this week and things like that, but I'm not really seeing corned beef being put into the freezer at this point.

At least the coupon for the meat and produce and things is good till May 22nd, so I'll have time to shop sales and find a good deal to use them on if I don't use them this week.  Always nice!

Butter became a priority to buy finally and the sales just weren't there so I figured I'd get butter at Three Bears while I was there as well.  I do have money set aside for these types of purchases as I know that buying items like this would just eat my grocery budget for lunch, but it was still depressing.  I found that the price on butter had gone up too.  12.00 plus for four pounds of butter.  So, I'll definitely be watching sales at the regular stores now and picking up butter when it goes below 3.00 per lb.  It's now worth it to do so instead of just buying it in bulk.

I got a 9 lb box of Cascade for 13.00 and some change.  A 2 lb box at the store is normally around 5.00, so this was definitely worth the price I paid for it, but it hurt parting with that much money just for dish washing detergent at one time (and no, making my own has not worked for me.  I've tried in the past and it just doesn't work great with my water).  Oddly enough I really do like the powder better than the gel detergent.  It works much better in my dishwasher and dissolves better than the gel and the double benefit there is that it lasts a LOT longer than the liquid does.   And this box will last me for a long time I'm sure.

The hamburger buns were a treat for my son who has been determined to survive on french fries the last week.  Thank goodness he IS eating them, so at least he's moving off of the french fry diet.

The cat food was also expensive.  I can normally get cat food for about .52 a can at Fred Meyer.  At three bears it was nearly .90 a can. 

Basically, unless I'm going to Three Bears to get something I know I can't get somewhere else (like the almond butter) or if I'm going to get something in bulk that I know will be worth buying a LOT of it to not have to buy for quite a while (like garbage bags), I don't think I'm going to be buying much there from now on until their prices go down. 

Not shown is a big bulk bag of Doritos I got for my son while I was there that was 5.00 (I put it in the pantry when I got home).  I passed on the Coke there as it was 3.00 per two liter

So, all totaled I spent 64.41 on groceries so far this week

Overall I'm alright since I haven't picked up much on the grocery front the last little bit.  I'm debating raising my grocery budget to 60.00 vs. 50.00 just because the prices on things keep jumping up, but I'm still torn about it as I'd like to save as much money as possible, thus the 50.00 grocery budget. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Menu Plan Monday: Menu for Week of 3/14/16

Well, first I'd like to just say joyfully that I'm feeling better today!  It's all kind of relative, really, as I'm still pretty whipped feeling and I sound like I swallowed a frog, but my fever finally broke last night, which amazed me how very quickly I felt better after that happened.  Thank goodness I feel better today as the house is a wreck after me being down and my son being near fully recovered the last few days.  I got load one of the laundry on, got a load of dishes going and am now officially pooped, but at least I got that done.  I'm really trying to take it easy and not push myself too hard as I do NOT want to a relapse of this bug.  Period.

This week's menu is hopefully going to be a bit more fun than last week's "Survival" edition as I'm finally feeling up to baking and cooking outside of the crock pot, I hope *knock on wood*.

Menu Plan for Week of 3/14/16
Monday:  Leftover Pork Roast slices. green beans, rice

Tuesday:  Baked chicken, corn bread, baked beans

Wednesday:  Steak, potato salad, leftover baked beans

Thursday:  Spicy Pork and Kale Soup (use up rest of kale from freezer)

Friday:  Garlic Shrimp pasta with steamed veggies

Saturday:  Fish and Chips, fruit cocktail

Sunday:  Leftovers

To Bake/Prepare:  Bread, potted pork (pork sandwich spread), desserts

Desserts:  Wacky Cake (depression era recipe I'm trying out), Chocolate Crunch, Popsicles (use juice from pantry.  Daughter is getting sick now and Popsicles are one of her sick foods).

And there you are folks.  Our menu plan for the week.  I hope I'm up to making it as I'm finally hungry again *laugh*.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Bare Essentials Challenge: Weekly Recap

As far as meal plans go, mine went off the rails completely the last few days.  I've been pretty much living on store bought soup that my husband has been nice enough to bring home to me as all I was really up to doing was lying on the couch, dragging myself into a vertical position when I absolutely had to to take care of the kids, and shivering.  I rarely get sick to a point where I can't function, but running a fever will take me out quicker than a plank board to the face every single time.  Luckily I run a fever next to never, but this virus I got from my son took me down hard.

I feel like someone took a bottle brush to the inside of my throat and I've just been wrapped up in about four layers the last three days.  It's been awful.

Thank goodness my husband didn't work today as he watched the kids and told me to rest.  And boy did I.  About the only time I was out of bed today was for a short period of time about noonish when I threw things into the crock pot to make soup for dinner tonight and then about six when I threw the rest of dinner together so we could eat.

Times like this I'm doubly grateful that I have things in the pantry and I did use up some things this week.  So, let's get to that shall we?
1.  Leftover Beef and Vegetable Stew (picture seen up top)

I had frozen a few smaller portions of the beef and vegetable stew from last week and I pulled out a few of them during the week so I had a quick lunch while my son was sick.  I was glad I had it as it made a quick and easy meal when I didn't have a lot of time to spare.

2.  Quick Pasta Salad as a Side Dish

This was actually really simple to put together.  I just followed the directions on the can of this...

It said to add the salad to rotini pasta for a quick pasta salad, but I used mini penne so I could feed the rest of the pasta to the kids for their dinner (for the son) or as a side dish without the pickled beans in it (for the daughter).  I liked the pasta salad better than my husband did, but even he agreed that it wasn't bad.

3. Cider Pork Roast

Believe it or not one of the things I have to use up in the pantry is alcohol.  I know that some people don't drink and I totally respect that, but I do drink from time to time (like once or twice a year is my average usually).  I'd bought a big variety pack of hard cider about three years ago as it was cheap and I really like cider, so I wanted to give the different flavors a try.  Unfortunately there was a ginger flavored cider that I just didn't really like so it has sat in it's bottles in the pantry for the last three years.  I broke out a bottle of it and poured it over the two year old pork roast I'd pulled from the freezer, added some chicken stock that I defrosted and then some sage and thyme and a bit of cinnamon (as I knew the finished product would come out a bit sweet from the cider).

The pork came out a bit dry (it was a loin roast I noticed after the fact...oops), but it tasted pretty good.  I'm going to use the leftovers to make some ground pork sandwich spread, hopefully tomorrow if I'm feeling somewhat human.

4. French Fries to the Rescue!
The only thing my son wanted to eat when he was sick was French fries, so I was really really happy that I had frozen ones in my freezer.  I think frozen french fries saved me a fortune this week as we would have been buying my son McDonald's three times a day otherwise.

5. Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
This was dinner tonight.  I threw two cans of drained canned chicken into the crock pot, two cans of cream of chicken soup reconstituted with one a half cans of water (instead of milk) and then I cut up a big rutabaga and added that, cut up a large carrot and put that in, and then I added some dehydrated onion and some dehydrated celery (I was out of fresh) and then I added about two teaspoons of Italian herb blend to season it with a sprinkle of black pepper.

Four hours on high later and I was ready to finish it.  I cooked some little star pasta in a separate pot and then added it at the last moment to the soup.  It worked great to thicken the soup up to an almost porridge consistency and it made it so my daughter actually ate the nutritious juices out of the pot as she ate the small little pasta out of her dish (bwahahahahaha!).   My husband assures me the soup tasted alright as all I can taste right now is that it was hot and had some salt in it that I'd taste every once in a while.  Sad, but that's about all I can tell you about it right now.

We had buttered bread with the soup to finish it off.  While the pasta was cooking to finish dinner, I pulled out my container of Bisquick and made some biscuits.  These are for breakfast tomorrow or maybe lunch.  I'm planning on browning up the sausage I got cheap at Fred Meyer a little bit ago (it's defrosted and in the fridge), mixing it in with some country gravy that's in the fridge right now and making sausage and biscuits.  I'll have either pears or peaches as a side to go with it, but I figure I'll use up the gravy that way and it'll be a simple, but filling, meal.

The rest of the week was pretty much store bought stuff.  My husband got himself some more chicken fried steaks at the store (where the gravy came in)  for his dinner while I was eating soup and then he got pizza for the kids for dinner last night (well pizza for my daughter, bread sticks for my son) and he had leftover pork in a sandwich.

The one final thing I did today was I took what was left of the failed pound cake from my birthday from the freezer to defrost and pulled out one of my free things of Cool Whip I'd gotten with coupons last year and put those in the fridge and then I sliced up the last pound of strawberries and mixed them with some sugar to macerate in the fridge.  Pound cake with strawberries and whipped topping will be for dessert tomorrow night.  I might not be able to taste it, but I think the husband and daughter will like it.

So, there you are folks.  My culinary adventures, as they were, for the week.  Did you do anything interesting on the culinary front this week?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

I haven't really spent much money this week, mainly because I went no where and did nothing essentially.  I was home all week taking care of a sick with a fever son for part of the week and then yesterday I went down hard with the cold myself.  How sick was I?  I actually had my husband go and buy me ready made store soup because I wasn't up to cutting up some veggies and chicken.  It is rare when I am THAT out of it as I haven't really liked many ready made soups for years, especially chicken noodle.  At least I'm improved today.  So long as I keep on top of taking Ibuprofen every four hours on the nose to keep the fever under control I can function, so I'll be making soup tonight (whether and husband and daughter like it or not).

Believe it or not I did manage to get things done (mainly before the son got sick) on the money saving front!

1.  My friend contacted me as she had some coupons for free Tostitos corn chips that her friend had given to her (some product testing thing that she hadn't used all of the coupons for), but they were set to expire in about four days, so she mailed them to me quickly.  I ran to the store as soon as I got them and redeemed them.  The hardest part was finding chips below 12 ounces (restrictions set by the coupon), but I found some.  And now I'm set on corn chips for speech therapy for a while (thanks so much for the coupons, Stephanie!).

That day I just got freebies at the store (run in, get freebies and perscription, get out was seriously my list for that day).  Old Orchard had sent me some coupons for free frozen juice concentrate in exchange for some coupons that I couldn't use, so I grabbed my two free things of juice.  And I had a coupon that had printed off at the register the last time I'd been at the store buying cat food for another free Fancy Feast tray, so I got that while I was there too.

And I want to send a thank you to my husband for waiting in the car with the kiddos while I ran in and got those things as really that and my daughter's monthly script was all I was going to the store for that day.

2.  We went over the weekend to get my son new sneakers as he was suddenly outgrowing his.  Luckily we were able to find him the EXACT same shoe pretty much as he had before (we get him high tops so he can't escape them at school so easily) on clearance for 11.00 a pair!  He grows so fast that I decided to buy him the next size up in sneaker for his gym shoes.  They weren't clown shoes on him and that way I'd have the next size up in shoe all nice and broken in when he grows again.  Double benefit is I won't have to buy two new pairs of shoes when he grows, only one.  The school, however, checked his everyday sneakers and since they were white soles and non-marking they told us that they'd just use those as his gym shoes for the rest of the year, so we didn't need gym shoes.  So, one brand new pair of sneakers in the next size up went into the closet for when he grows again.

While at the shoe store I also found a pair of knee high boots.  I've been wanting some to dress up jeans or to wear under a skirt for YEARS (I wish I was kidding, but I'm not), but they always had heels if they were on sale cheap enough that I would buy them (I am so stingy when it comes to buying things for me) and after having the kids...I just plain can't WEAR heels anymore as they kill my feet, so I was always looking for flat boots with no luck.  That day I found some!   On clearance!  For 12.00 (down from over 60.00!).  My husband saw the total come up for the sneakers and boots, shook his head and said, "Man, I can't even buy ONE pair of sneakers for that price."  Which I took to mean, "We did good on the money saving front today."  *Laugh*.

3.  I weeded through my cookbooks and pulled out the ones that I just plain am not going to use.  A lot of them were like, "101 Ways to Cook Chicken" but every recipe you'd try in the book just didn't come out well and wasn't to your taste.  So, it was like, "How many of the 101 recipes am I going to go through before I give up on this book?"  Some of them were those magazine-like cookbooks that come out a couple of times a year that I was saving for one recipe to try or something, so I just sat down, wrote down that one recipe and threw it into the donation pile for the next time I go to the thrift store.  Managed to cull my pile down  a bit and make my cookbooks fit better in the cabinet, so I was happy.  And the best part was that I found the recipe books for my ice cream maker, my bread machine and my rice cooker/steamer (which now all I need to find is where I put my steamer try and I'm in business ;).

4.  My husband got some balsamic vinegar on the tablecloth, so I decided to do a new "hack test" as I read that white vinegar could remove balsamic vinegar from cloth (I know, it messes with your head doesn't it?).  So, I tried it.  Results?  It worked like a charm!  I was thrilled as it stopped me from having to fight with my tablecloth for ages to get the stain out :).

5.  I got my electric bill in the mail yesterday and was thrilled, finally.  All of my hard work cutting down our electric costs by sitting in the dark, turning off lights all day, etc resulted in a nearly 100.00 reduction in our bill.  I want to go and read the meter and make sure as I'm worried that they estimated the bill, badly, or something, but I'm hoping it's actually good news instead.

6.  My husband and I cut my son's hair.  I cut my daughter's and my husband cut mine.   Thank goodness we did that as the shorter hair really helped me to gauge my son's temperature better (we have a heck of a time holding him down enough to get his temperature taken with a thermometer).

7.  Leftovers and the crock pot did me a great service this week in getting dinner on the table and us not having to eat out all the time (we did end up getting french fries from McDonalds a few times, however, as that's one of the only foods my son will eat when sick).

So, there you are folks.  Some ways I saved money this week.  How did you do?