Update 5/21/2017

To say the last week has been busy and stressful would be an understatement in addition to the sad truth being that this coming week does not look any better. The business is cause by a couple of factors, first baseball and swim team are overlapping for at least 3 weeks in May. Next is my work schedule, which is entirely full with NO opening last week and no opening this week. I honestly don’t ever remember it being this full before. In addition to all the fun already mentioned, we have less than three weeks of school left which means end of year activities several days/evenings a week. I am so looking forward to a 3 day weekend over Memorial day. I am very hopeful that it will be an actual 3 day weekend but in reality I am going to assume that I will need to put a couple of hours of work in so that I will not be too disappointed next Monday, when I do end up working.

I am so very sad due to a death of a close friend this past week. At the funeral service today, someone said, “I did not realize that your heart can actually hurt but it does.”

Now on to more positive news, I think we have again weathered the financial storm and things are definitely starting to look better. Matt has been able to pick up some extra work which helps and I am working crazy hours which in the long run also increases our ability to stay overall on track for the year. I am planning to go back and post an end of the month update for April since it got missed, but May is definitely looking better and better.

Our square foot garden has started to produce small but taste items. I planted 4 broccoli plants earlier in the spring and have been able to harvest enough broccoli for at least 4 meals. This is really exciting for me as this is the first time that I have successfully grown broccoli. I may even attempt again in September when the weather starts to cool down.

One of my plans for the week, includes a HUGE trip to Costco. I managed to stay under budget for January, February and March of this year. But in April I was 50 over and I fully expect to be over by $100 or more for May. Because of the summer, I expect to remain at or under for June, July and August which will definitely balance things out a bit.

Bring on the summer with day spent at the pool.

Saturday Savings /Square Foot Gardening

Today was a really exciting day for me… we harvest our first items from our garden, broccoli!

They don’t look very large but they make excellent Mickey ears and we harvest two of our four plants. Just two gave us enough for 2 meals.

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I stockpile for a couple of different reasons, first is savings, second is convenience and third is nutritional. Today, we used up our loaf of sour dough bread that I made on Thursday so I decided to make another batch. I have been putting dates on the items I buy in bulk to determine if I really am saving money. I used the last 6 cups of bread flour that was purchased in March 2016. The savings is broken down this way, $15 for a 25 pound bag which lasted fourteen months. That is $1 a month for not only bread but also pizza dough. Even if the cost of the other ingredients is $1 a week, I am still saving at least $5 a month on bread by making our own.

Today was also the day that we chose to go strawberry picking this year. The kids LOVE this and it actually saves us $3 a gallon to pick our own. We have enjoyed lots and lots of strawberries today in addition to make strawberry jam that will be enjoyed for the next year. We also have frozen a gallon for use in smoothies.

Friday Finds

We have been very fortunate this week to find and be given some great items.  Since I have not done a post with bullet points in a long time this is a fun way to be random.

  • Food Lion had a sale on “Suddenly Salad” $1 each. We discovered last year that we could add chicken, cucumbers and or tomatoes to make a great lunch or pepperoni and tomatoes for a very different but just as good lunch. I grabbed 10 with plans to use weekly this summer.
  • Purchased tomato plants from a local nursery for 50 cent a plant.
  • Found a couple of blueberry bushes on clearance at Walmart for $3 and onion starters for $2. We planted the blueberries and placed the onions under our house in storage for next spring.
  • Use a $2 off coupon to purchase “Got2b ” hair spiking glue for $0.87 cent. I went to a CVS in High Point and the cashier tried to make me feel bad for using coupons. Didn’t work but seriously just scan coupons I promise they will work. We also grabbed Easter Twizzlers for $1.50 a bag.
  • Used gift cards earned from Swagbucks to purchase drinks for everyone at Starbucks.
  • Matt has been enjoying his birthday freebies including a drink from Dunkin Donuts
  • I used office depot rewards to purchase a pack of AAA batteries and a notebook. Spent zero out of pocket and earned another $14 in rewards to spend later.
  • We have been given several bags of clothes recently so the only purchase has been swim suits for swim team.

What are your good finds?

DIY Teacher Appreciation Gift

The first week of May is teacher appreciation week in our area, sounds like it may be a national thing as well. Unfortunately, I am not a craft person but I am excited to share my FREE gift this year. I do have to give credit to my mother as she suggested I give pots of mint.

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The plants are from my garden. I purchased one pot of mint last year and planted, so far I have separated several times and it continues to flourish. The pots were left overs from Kendall’s birthday party several years ago. Matt used his machine to come up with the cute quote which is “I am so happy you were MINT to be my teacher.” The kids used a sharpie to sign the bottom of the pots.  These are definitely my most crafty and frugal gifts so far!

Square Foot Garden 4/29/2017

Spent most of the morning planting. We are trying so different strategies and techniques this year. First I have switched the cucumbers and the watermelon. We reduced the number of tomato plants. Next on the list of changes is to increase the number of pepper plants in addition to adding 2 new varieties.  By mistake I picked up zucchini squash this morning so I just planted. Finally, in the corn bed we are trying planting multiple corn in addition to adding a green bean plant.  I have been spacing out the planting so that hopefully our harvest will be easier to manage and a lot longer as well.

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I found a blueberry bush on clearance for $3 at Walmart this morning so I figured it was worth a shot to see if it would grow. I know it will be at least two year before it should produce anyway. Lily is most excited because she does have blueberries growing on one of the bushes we planted 18 months ago. It is a small harvest but the excitement is that we actually can eat something.

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I purchased a very small mint plant last year. Not only did it survive the winter but it has grown and grown and grown. This section I planted in the cement blocks that are surrounding out compost bin. I also have another section out front that I am trying to thin out and control.

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Lastly for now I wanted to include a picture of our future orchard. This morning as I was going to hang sheets on the line, I saw a “weed” growing in the rubber mulch of the playground. I pulled it up to discover it was actually a pecan tree. We decided to plant to watch it grow. All except one of the trees we planted in November has leaves. The easiest way to count the trees is by the red mulch surrounding, 7 small circles of mulch.

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Random Thoughts

The weather in North Carolina is just about as random as my thoughts and updates. Yesterday, it was 83 degrees and sunny, today 52 degree with rain and wind.

  • We are currently working on fourth week with no heat or air.  I am doubtful that we will make it a full six weeks because of the forecasted temperatures for the end of the week.
  • Our electric and water bill for the month of April are both significantly lower than budget. Our water bill is most likely due to fixing the leak that has been present in the front yard for six month or so. We are also utilizing our rain barrels for planting.The electric bill is from lack of heat or air and diligence in turning off things.
  • The weather has been helpful in some ways. Because it has been so warm, I was able to begin planting a full 3 weeks soon than I expected this year. I have been very cautious but our last possible frost date is April 30th. I currently have planted 14 cucumbers, 5 yellow squash, 15 sweet peppers, 2 banana peppers, 2 jalapeno peppers, 4 broccoli, 2 cabbage. I also have planted 5 asparagus plants for the future. My oregano, mint  and rosemary all survived the winter.  The plant is to finish planting the square foot garden this coming weekend.
  • I seriously did not think our schedule could get more full, but we were unable to attend piano last week because we did not have an hour of spare time.
  • I am spending part of the day cooking ahead for the week. I am scheduled to attend a continuing education class on Friday. The following week, I am working only 2 days as Kendall has field day on Monday and Zach has one of Tuesday.
  • Summer plans are starting to come together. Currently, we are planning a trip to Michigan in June and a trip to the beach in August. Swim team and lots of pool time will also be on the schedule.
  • We are planning a yard sale in mid May. The kids are actually sorting through toys and clothes today to add to the sell pile.
  • Lily has decided to continue in charter school for the next year!  We all agree that this is the right decision!

5 Things Friday 4/14/2017

  1.  The kids have really enjoyed Spring Break. Monday-Starbucks and Krispy Kreme Donuts. Tuesday- Zach spent the day with a friend. Wednesday- Day at the Zoo with Amanda. Thursday-Lunch at our favorite Sushi Buffet Restaurant, Friday- Celebrating Easter with Cross Walk.
  2. I did some shopping on Thursday. I used 2 printable coupons and grabbed 20 female disposable razors for free at Walmart. This should last for the summer!
  3. We purchased and planted several mosquito plants yesterday. I think I have decided to ask for a tree for Mother’s Day and not purchase any more plants. l will be purchasing vegetables for the garden.
  4. Lily has decided to attend charter school next year. She will finish her classes by the end of May
  5. We are planning a family dinner at my mothers. So I will be cooking or actually preparing crock pots most of the day tomorrow.