I was really hoping to find some awesome after Christmas sale this year. I usually buy items for the gift drawer in addition to some new Christmas décor. I will admit that I am disappointed, in fact the best sale I found were at Lowes and Harris Teeter. We headed to Lowes the day after Christmas basically to have something to do. I was surprised to learn that all Christmas was at 75% off and even more surprised at how little was left out. I did find and purchase my favorite item.
It was the display so I was offered an additional 10% discount. I had to wait patiently for around 10 minutes to claim it but ended up paying $20 for this awesome light! Even better, I used a Lowes gift card earned from Swagbucks really it was a nice freebie!
My other find was a jingle bell wreath holder for $1.50 at Harris Teeter. I did buy some gift tags, a couple of table cloths and platters but that was it for sales. I may try to go to Dollar General and Walmart again next Saturday (5th) to see if they have better deals I can not resist.
If you have been at our house or read a couple of blog posts you realize that food is our biggest expense except for the mortgage. It also requires the most time and effort. I honestly don’t mind cooking if and when I have the time. But here is the real confusion, I enjoy and prefer to eat out. Life and our budget tell me that this is not a reality so back to cooking I go. The balance of having enough easy simple meals for school days and cooking ahead is hard to achieve.
During the recent snow, I cooked only two meals a day and we enjoyed left-overs the third meal and even had some for the next week. Last week, we enjoyed quick simple meals Monday- Thursday. I decided on Friday two separate very different things, first- I wanted Seafood, specifically flounder and shrimp for dinner and second- I need to stretch and make a plan for food so we did not waste any food over the Christmas break. The good news is that so far it has been working! I thought I would share a recap and part of the current plan.
Friday night- Flounder and shrimp. The local seafood place has a special for 24 pieces of flounder, 6 baked potatoes and cole slaw for $22.95, I also added 2 plates of popcorn shrimp to bring my total to $45.00. This was ALOT of food especially for the cost and actually around the same as we spend for Chinese. I knew I wanted to save the baked potatoes for a second meal, so I split one for the kids that wanted it. On Saturday, I used the baked potatoes for twice baked potatoes, which became our Sunday lunch. We also had left-overs on Saturday at dinner as well. I know we have at least a fourth meal from this so I am very pleased to stretch $45 into four meals at around $10 each!
Saturday- For breakfast- I used some cinnamon raisin bread that Amanda had brought over to make French toast this was a HUGE hit with only 1 piece left. Lunch was a special treat of McDonalds. I used the app and we brought it home for drinks. Total spent was $15. Dinner was left-overs see above.
Sunday- I really try to make this as much of a day of rest as possible. This week to avoid going out after church, I placed the twice baked potatoes in the oven and they cooked while we were at church. I actually planned ahead for dinner as well. Saturday night we cooked up 2 pounds of ground beef and chopped up the ingredients for Pasta Faggioli soup. Everything was placed in the crock pot in the fridge so we move it out and turned on before heading to church for our special breakfast. The soup ended up much better than anticipated, we made up 4 lunch containers and froze for January in addition to a small container of left-overs for this week.
Monday- I had left-over gravy in the fridge and decided to make breakfast bowls. We used a pound of sausage, 12 eggs, green peppers that were frozen from the garden and onions. I fried 6 hash browns to complete breakfast. The remaining egg mixture will be rolled into burritos and frozen for a quick breakfast during school. We should have an addition 6 breakfast burritos. Lunch is left-overs, I plan on a flounder-cheese sandwich. Dinner is BBQ at my mothers!
This past Saturday prior to the huge, historical, massive snow storm we had family pictures done. I scheduled these several weeks ago. Here are some of the tips I have learned and a peek at some of the pictures.
#1 I have learned over the years that we need to have these done at home or someone’s house we know to save stress and headache. We had an awesome photographer who was as happy as we were to do pictures inside and outside the house.
#2 Prepare food that can be eaten the entire time, no one makes good pictures when you are hungry.#3 Coordinating outfits make awesome pictures. I was luck enough to find us all coordination outfits at Old Navy this year. Unfortunately, Zach decided he did not like the “feel” of his matching shirt but I also had matching ties for him and Braxton which he liked better.
#4 Some times you need causal pictures just to keep it real
#5 Christmas pajamas are a must
#6 Babies make awesome pictures when they are asleep
#7 Black and white pictures make me look better
And finally this is my absolute favorite picture so far
Birthdays are always a big deal around here. Lily’s 13th was no exception. I always think/assume that her birthday will not be as special as the two that she has spent at Disney but she tells me differently. One of the best traditions we have around birthday is picking your favorite restaurant and the entire family going to eat. This year Lily chose Olive Garden. Granny was not able to go with us on Lily’s birthday, so Lily decided we would wait until Friday to eat out.
Lily did get to chose her favorite food for dinner, baked ziti. She also started the day early around 6:30 opening her last present. She received and used a make up travel bag prior to our trip to Michigan.
She open an Lego advent calendar. It was a huge hit, every morning is up to finish the piece for the day.
A fun filled Birthday Celebration!
This adventurer started shortly after my father’s past away unexpectedly. In the last few years of his life, my dad acquired several building and filled them up. After his death, we realized that no one had been in the 4 buildings nor realized how full they really were. We decided to empty out as many as we could. It took almost an entire year but we were able to move everything that my mother wanted to keep in one building, including items from under the house and attic as well. It was decided that my brother would inherit one building and I would inherit the second. My brother lives across the street from my mother so he moved his building first. In September, I paid to have the building moved from my mother’s house to my house.
This could be considered a huge expense but in my opinion it was well worth the money. The company charged $350 and I came home to a perfectly level building and empty building.
The first “free” project was to build steps into the building. We used material from the deck steps that we just replaced. They are not pretty but very functional.
Next we used 2 old door hinges to cut two small opening in the front to allow for air to circulate in the building. Screen was again salvaged from cleaning of the building at my father’s. Inside the building we discovered several pieces of lumber that had been placed up high for storage. There was also an old rake handle and a multiple nails and screws. We did end up purchasing a fast track storage system at Lowe’s using gift cards from Swagbucks. The candy canes are hanging on an old broom handle that we found after the shed arrived to my house. My father used it to hold the door open with. The chairs above the candy canes are on the rake head that was previously used to hold shovels.
Beach umbrellas, pool noodles and surf boards are placed on shelves that were already in place in the building.
The caddy in the corner was purchased at Aldi for $4.99 and everything on the back wall is connected to hang from nails and screws that were already in place when the building arrived.
Yesterday, we used the wood found in the building to add this 10 foot very sturdy shelf with storage above and below the shelf. The top shelf was already in place when the shed arrived and had been installed by my father for storage.
Total spent on my new “she shed” including cost of moving is less than $400. I have gained a TON of storage and organizing space! Can you tell how excited I am to finally show off the results?
I have hinted several times that big changes were in the works for our family. I am so excited and scared to death to share and start these changes. First let me explain the reasons for the changes. We have been struggling for over a year with two things, first finances and second- how busy we are. The answer to our financial problems seems easy- increase your income. The answer to our crazy busy lives seems much harder. I could have never imagined that both of these problems could be answered at the same time.
Both Matt and I have been actively seeking different employment during the last several months. I am excited to share that we both have been successful and will be changing jobs in the next month. Matt is the marketing manger for the Davie County Humane Society. He actually started with training this past week and will officially start this Monday. I have given my resignation and will be completing my employment in mid August. I have accepted two different contract positions. One is for local pediatric home health and the second is school system contracting in Guam and several other states. Matt position is for 30 hours per week, so he is increasing both his pay and hours. The positions I have accepted are going to start at around 20-25 hours per week but may/ hopefully increase to around 30 hours in the next year. My hours will be school hours (8-2) and 7pm to 10 pm Sunday and Wednesday nights. These are flexible and will allow me to be at home and spend much more quality time with the kids. I am so excited. Kendall expressed why this is so important to us with this statement “Mom, you will be home for dinner EVERY night? That is the best news EVER!” My salary should remain about the same as now depending on the number of patients, I am given to start with. The biggest change will be with insurances and taxes.
Change is scary! Change in jobs is really scary! I will not be able to establish a good budget or really much of any budget until at least September. My best estimate is that we will work paycheck to paycheck until November with the goal of establishing and maintaining a budget by January. There are several reasons that establishing the budget will be so difficult. First, I will have a two-three week period where I am not working at all or very minimal at best. Second, I am still unsure of how many hours I will be working at each position. Third, my hours will continue to be unsteady until at least October. We must also decided and obtain health insurance and figure out our tax liability.
In anticipation of these changes, we have tighten the budget and are really working to save every penny possible during the month of July. I will try and share more about these major changes as I process through them. We have decided not to change our scheduled Beach vacation so that will give us some time to re-charge and actually communicate!
Today, Thursday is the kids last day of school before Easter and Matt had to go into work tonight so I decided this was a good time to dye Easter eggs. I am a day ahead on something!
I mentioned yesterday that we had purchased a trailer of mulch. The cost of the mulch was $15. I was totally amazed at the amount of mulch that we received. Here is a picture of the trailer AFTER I worked on spread for a couple of hours on Friday night.
This was a picture of the mulch uncovered about half way through Saturday.
I have never purchased mulch this way before. I am used to purchasing by the bag at Lowes. I would have been able to purchase approximately 7 bags at Lowes during the best sale which is $2 a bag. This was ALOT of mulch. We were able to apply mulch to all 3 flower bed around the house in addition to the two areas in front of the building and the new area I started in front of the kids play house.
Finally I decided to add mulch around the square foot garden and mulch in the area directly beside several of the beds. I have been doing some research and the mulch should help maintain the temperature better, hold water and prevent weeds.
I will admit defeat, I was unable to use the entire trailer of mulch, left approximately a fourth of the mulch for someone else. It did take a lot of effort or more accurately plain old hard work but we saved over $200 in mulch.