- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- I have done lots of shopping this week. We did our monthly trip to Costco, I headed into CVS for an awesome deal on shampoo. And so far I have made four trips to Food Lion. I actually convinced my mother to head to Food Lion tonight and helped her get a great deal on our Easter Ham and drinks.
- Spring is here, I am so excited to say that all my plants have survived the winter except for the mosquito bush. I will definitely be replacing it! The trees I planted in the fall have started to bloom as well. On my kitchen sink, I have sweet potato slits growing in addition to 6 pear tomato plants!
- We have been officially without heat or air for the past 14 days. The temperature is suppose to drop in the thirties today. I hope this is the last cold spell and my goal is to keep the heat off as long as possible. It would help the budget if we could lower electric cost to $150 for April and $200 for May.
- All three of the little kids are on Spring Break next week. Lily has decided that she is going to continue with charter school next year. So we have 7 more weeks until the summer.
- Kendall and Zach brought home their report cards today. Kendall has straight A and Zach has 3 in all areas except for spelling. Lily received her report card last week and has all A’s as well. I am so proud of these kiddos!
- We are managing to stay under budget for groceries this month. So far we have spent $86 after our Costco check. My goal is to spend $150 or less for the month.
- We have managed to reduce our credit card debt for the third month in a row! The reduction is VERY slow but the fact that we are able to achieve this goal for three month in a row is awesome!
- I ordered 16 bags of dirt that arrived last week. The goal for the weekend is to get the dirt spread in the square foot garden and make a planting plan for the year.
- We don’t have a cheer competition this week which means I am planning to spend 3 nights at home and going to bed on a regular schedule.
- I am definitely ready for Spring, during the past week, the temperature has turn cold again and I am not liking that at all. Give me 60 degree days PLEASE!
- We are all so tired. I thought it was just me until both Zach and Kendall fell asleep on the way home last night. I am hoping that we can all catch up with a less busy than usual weekend.
- I have reduced my hours at work, in hope to achieve that work/life balance that everyone is talking about. So far so good as I was able to work just half a day today! It is amazing how much better I feel!
- I am starting to feel as normal as I think I ever will. We have slowly worked on getting things back on a schedule. I was even able to ask and got approval for my days off through next November at work. I still need to locate a place to stay on part of our trip to Michigan but at least we are definitely going.
- The weather has been really warm and I definitely can feel the spring fever starting for me this means starting to plan for my garden. I am really excited that mint, rosemary and oregano survived and will not need to be purchased. I am really hopeful that the dill will return as well. Beside purchasing plants the only expense we will have this year is the purchase of dirt.
- Zach face seems to be healing. We will really be able to tell on Monday night when we remove the glue. I am working to prevent infection and so far it has not appeared.
This has been a day of beginning and ending for savings around my house. First I will share the beginning. We are planting fruit trees as part of our landscape. I ordered a set of six fruit trees of dwarf size to plant in the back yard. I specifically picked the dwarf size in order to use them as a bounder. They don’t look like much now but hopefully in five year we will be able to harvest and enjoy some fresh fruit. In case you are wondering we chose two apples up front, followed by two pear, a cherry and peach tree. The big debate is now do we add one or two more to complete the border.
So now we are at the ending, the weather has really started to feel fall like here. During the past week we have several nights that have gotten cold enough for a frost. Tonight, Saturday, the forecast is for a hard freeze. The girls and I went ahead and harvested all the remaining green peppers and tomatoes from our garden and pulled up most of the plants for the compost pile. I am hoping that the tomato will ripen in our window sill over the next week or so. The green pepper were chopped with some being frozen for soup and other left to use during the week.
I have been doing some shopping over the last week and will plan to share all my deals in the next couple of days.
1. My goal for the month was to spend $50 or less on groceries. I am already going to admit defeat with this. We realized Thursday morning that we are completely out of dog food. I know that I could always purchase a small 10 pound bag to last for the month of November but it will cost close to the same 25# pound at Costco. We did make a Costco trip and managed to spend $100. I am hopeful and actually fully expect that we should not “need” any more groceries until December.
2. I was able to cash out for a $25 gift card to CVS on Swagbucks yesterday. This will be my grocery money for the rest of the month. I do not count this in the budget because this is free money.
3. Because of yet another problem with the gas pipeline, gas in our area has jumped again and shortages are expected. The price difference between my town and Costco was 14 cent. We braved it today and actually drove the van until it read 0 MILES TO EMPTY, to fill up at Costco we saved around $3 this way.
4. We were at Costco at lunch time today and since I am not really a fan of hot dogs nor pizza, I picked up a rotisserie chicken to eat for lunch. Zach and Lily ate some with me at lunch. We brought the rest of the chicken home and made an awesome chicken salad. Finally with the skin and bones, I made chicken stock in the crock pot. I was actually able to use 2 crock pots for this and should have about 100 cups of stock!
5. The crazy weather has allowed our garden to continue producing a small amount. We are still harvesting basil, oregano, dill, tomatoes, jalapeños and green peppers. I hope that we will reduce the initial cost next year because we our dill and mint plants will reproduce themselves.
- This week has been a really hard week for me. I am think that the stress of the last several months in addition to our crazy busy schedule caught up with me. I have been struggling to just keep my head above water and even lost it several times this week. However, I do see light at the end of the tunnel and God continues to provide blessing big and small on a regular basis. I have decide that I am going to stop “trying to catch up” and enjoy the moment. What this did mean for me was that I shredded all the receipts on my desk that I want to write about. This weekend is not full and should give us all some time to slow down and catch up.
- Lily is loving charter school. Even on the days that regular school is out. I am continuing to see progress and hear her working to finish assignments. This is officially the end of the first quarter and I am 100% confident that we made the right decision with NC K-12.
- Zach’s last baseball game was Monday of this week. He LOVES baseball which is a huge surprise to me. He is already talking about the spring. He is also growing and will need new cleats and a new uniform. I hope he continue to try different sports, but if baseball is what he loves than guess we will spend more time on the baseball field.
- The three little kids all had Dentist appointments on Thursday. We are excited that no one had any cavities. But the even better news is that it was discovered that Kendall had several wires that were continuing to rub against her cheek. She thought this was normal and therefore had not complained. Our orthodontist office was closed and will be closed to Monday morning but the dentist cut the wires. Kendall already is acting much happier and is back to eating regular food.\
- The weather here is strange but enjoyable. We were able to turn off the air in mid September and are still not using the heat. Our electric bill for Oct is below $200 and I am hopeful for an even lower bill in November. The other benefit to the weather is that we are still harvesting a few tomatoes and peppers. In fact this is by far the best harvest of pepper that we have ever had. I am so excited to be able to flash freeze and may be able to use for the entire winter! Our first frost is still at least 2 weeks away according to the weather, so I am watering and growing!