Thankful Tuesday Thoughts 10/24/2017

I am reminded today that we start in November next week, so I need to be thankful for even the small things.

First Matt was able to design and create some really cool shirts for our Disney Trip. The best part is that we purchased both the shirts and the vinyl using gift cards earned from Swagbucks so total out of pocket equals ZERO.   IMG_0459 IMG_0460

Next the weather has finally started to feel like fall. In fact we are suppose to receive our first official frost this week. Because I was able to get off work earlier today, we picked the rest of the pepper and pimentos from the garden. I froze 4 cups of green peppers and saved enough for several omelets in the next week. 03AD7F7F-9B54-4174-8399-0994E8BD1729We have been searching for ways to save money. I am thankful to have discovered two. First Matt has been able to arrange Roku boxes in the house so that we have turned in 3 of our cable bill. I am thinking that this should reduce our total cable bill by around $30 a month. The best part is that it will not affect any of our viewing! Next, because we are attempting to eat out of  our freezers and pantry for the last couple months of the year, we are able to clean out and unplug one of our freezers. This will also allow it to be clean really well prior to our purchase of a cow next year.  I am also thinking that after our trip we should be able to turn off a refrigerator as well.  Finally, by watching the weather and opening and closing windows we are currently in our second full week of no heat or air.

Tuesday Thoughts 9/12/2017

  • Lily and Kendall both removed the training wheels from their bicycles this weekend.
  • We decided to go ahead and dig up our sweet potatoes as some of the vines appeared to be dying. It was a huge success with approximately 25# of sweet potatoes. These are completely free as we started the plants from the potatoes that were dug from the year before!
  • I was able to save 89% at CVS this week!  This is huge as they have been changing coupon policy and I have not been receiving many of the coupons I wanted.
  • The windows are still open in the house!
  • Matt remember that we no longer needed the digital convertor in our dinning rooms so he returned it. This should save us $2-3 dollars a month.
  • My goals for September and October were to keep the grocery budget and all other expenses as low as possible. I had not planned a Costco trip but it will be needed this week. I am still hopefully to keep the budget at half of it’s usual.
  • Our kitchen sink started to leak. Matt was able to repair it for less than $2!!!!

5 Ways We Are Saving 9/8/2017

  1. Tis the season for weddings at least in my department at work. Matt and I were able to make a gift this week. The bride to be really liked the gift as well. Total Saved $40.
  2. Windows are open!  This means no air conditioning and/or heat. We ended up running the air from Thursday to Monday last week but based on the predictions for our weather for the next 10 days and the average highs after those 10 days/ Our plan is not to use air until next spring!
  3. Eating from the freezers and pantry. I have a lot of food in our a stockpile. This month I am really sticking to the idea of eating what we have. The one exception is if we run out of a staple such as eggs. We currently do not have any sausage for breakfast but I am going to attempt to use lunch meat in omelets for the month.
  4. Staying at home, I know that I have said this before but I need to post it again for my benefit. If we don’t run out to pick up x then I am not spending money. I am also saving gas money!
  5. I wanted to have a no spend month but I needed a haircut this week, cost of $10. Matt is anticipating starting a job and is in need of black shirt and pants. We were able to locate 2 additional shirts at Goodwill but will most likely need a couple of pair of pants. We ended up spending $8.54 for the shirts.

How are you saving money?

5 Thing Friday 8/18/2017 Square Foot Garden

  1. Overall, I have been really disappointed in the amount of vegetables that we have been able to harvest from the garden this year. But each time, I say that or think about it, I realize that we have not had an abundance but we did harvest enough. We have enough diced tomatoes to last till next summer in addition to 4-5 containers of spaghetti sauce.  We have had enough cucumbers to enjoy in salads but not enough to make relish. We have enough squash frozen for the entire year. We also definitely have enough peppers. I am beginning to wonder if this is not something that we need to learn. Enough is enough to be thankful for.
  2. We did not harvest any corn this year. After two years of very poor performance, I know that we need to move this to a different bed. I am not sure if it is the seeds or the soil or a combination of both that is the problem. I do have enough seeds in the freezer to try again next year so I am going to try to corn in both the “squash bed” and in the long front bed.
  3. We have really enjoyed the watermelon from the garden. The watermelon have been small in size but we are definitely keeping the watermelon in the same spot for next year. Currently, we have eaten 6 watermelon and have 4 more ripening.
  4. I am really disappointed in the amount of tomatoes so I am going to try a different bed with the tomatoes as well. Currently, I am thinking that I will plant tomatoes in the corn bed, using large tomato cages to support the growing vines.
  5. The biggest surprise this year from the garden has been the pimentos. I planted one plant on a whim. We are really enjoying homemade pimento cheese spread. Next year we will definitely double if not triple the number of plants.

On a side note, I am hoping that I can locate this post next spring before planting!

 

Monday/Tuesday Menu Planning

I am continuing to try and find ways to love my instant pot. On Friday, I read that you could brown ground beef using frozen meat, so I gave it a try. I will have to say that honestly it was more work than it was worth. I did have success with beef stew on Sunday so at least I can make a new delicious Sunday lunch now.

Our other really good food news of the week is that our garden is continuing to produce, not huge amounts but just enough. I have already frozen what I hope is enough diced tomatoes for the winter. My goal over the next couple of weeks is to collect enough tomatoes to make a batch of spaghetti sauce a week, this means I need to collect 8 pounds of tomatoes. We are also eating tomatoes on a daily basis, if I cant collect the 8 pounds I will continue to freeze half cup packages for the winter. Matt harvest pimentos and made an awesome homemade pimento cheese but my favorite still remains the watermelon we are getting.

Finally in food news, we are continue to plan and eat out of the pantry and freezer, I currently have a meal plan until September but with school starting we may have to make some small changes to this.

Breakfast–   Saturday-Biscuit King-treat before the swim meet.   Sunday- French toast with a freezer stash made as well. Monday-Choice  Tuesday-  Sausage biscuits and gravy  Wednesday- Choices . Thursday- Pancakes .   Friday- Baked Oatmeal with blueberries?.  Choices include : eggs, grits, left-overs , toast or cereal, pop-tarts

Lunch- This week sandwiches and left overs make the list for lunch. No special plans at all.

Dinner-  Saturday-Lunch-Pasta salad . Dinner- -Pizza from gift card
Sunday- Lunch-Beef stew in instapot . Dinner- left-overs
Monday- Hamburger helper and fresh green beans
Tuesday- Taco Tuesday
Wednesday-  Breakfast casserole
Thursday-  Coconut shrimp if I am home.
Friday- Pulled pork and glazed carrots.

5 Things Friday

  1. Our square foot garden is producing just not in the manner we had hoped for. Today, we picked our first watermelon, we have pimentos and a variety of peppers. a few tomatoes and a few cucumbers. I did invest in two additional tomato plants that I hope will provide a second and third harvest of tomatoes to place in our freezer.  I have frozen green peppers so far and we have enjoy cucumbers and tomatoes.
  2. I was able to complete some summer cleaning this week and place 8 totes of yard sale items in the attic.  I also am catching up and reducing the to do list for the summer. The goal is to spend a couple of weekends just relaxing by the pool.
  3. One of the area that got a “clean up ” was our kitchen pantry. I am very determined to reduce our spending on food during the next two months. This will involve a couple of things, using the items we have on hand instead of purchasing anything new. For example, we do not have any red spaghetti sauce but do have 5 cans of Italian style tomatoes. I plan to use those to make a homemade version instead of purchasing more. Next to achieve this goal, meal planning becomes so important. I even started writing plans for August on the calendar in order to use some of the hidden items in the pantry.
  4. Because of my work schedule in addition to Tuesday being the Fourth of July, I honestly feel like I have worked three Mondays this week.
  5. Lily will be leaving on her first ever missions trip next Saturday. This should be an interesting experience to say the least.

June Update

June was certainly not the month I expected it to be. We did not increase our income and we ended up with two major house repairs that have definitely knocked up back a bit with our debit reduction. We still are living very comfortable but July-October are going to mean some serious belt tightening.

Debit Reduction:  Failure
Due to the things stated above we actually have increased our debit by close to $1000 at this point. Ouch

Blog Post: Fail
I had 9 total blog post for the month. I can honestly say that June was an extremely busy month, including 4 afternoons for swim meets and a week long trip to Michigan. I have some very good intentions and plan so I hope to at least hit 15 this month.

Days on Treadmill: Zero
Water walking days-7  In addition to a full day of walking on Mackinaw Island.
I am actually documenting improvement in this year!

Groceries- Goal Met!  We spent a total of $405  for the month of June in groceries! This is a huge win as the past several months have been over budget!

Gas: $355 for the month. This is about $50 over budget but does include our entire trip which was 5 tanks of gas!

Earnings:  June was a positive month in this area as well. I am expecting some changes starting in July but our earning is consistently increasing. Total $220
Swagbucks: $100 for Me, $75 for Matt
MPlaces/Cricket Rewards:  $15
Shopkicks: $5
Ibbotta: 24.75

 

5 Things Friday

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  1. June is a very promising month with lots of fun planned. The little kids are all on the swim team. We will participate in swim meets on Tuesday afternoons starting the second week in June.
  2. June is also a three paycheck month for me. I get two of these a year. Because I base my budget on two paychecks a month this become extra money. This extra money will be used to help fund our beach trip and other travel plans for the summer.
  3. We will be traveling to Michigan this month with plans to spend a couple of days on Mackinac Island. I really enjoy this trip with Amanda, Haley and Lily (at 9 months) and look forward for the younger guys to experience something totally new and different. Other plans include time spent with Matt’s family and of course Bronner’s.
  4. The Square Foot Garden is slowly starting to produce. This week I was able to harvest snap peas and squash. I am trying something new and “pre-breading” squash for frying. I would like to have 12 packets of frying squash and 12 packs of squash casserole for the freezer.
  5. Matt discovered a major leak in our main water line late last night. We will be repairing it ourselves not so much fun but necessary.

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.

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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