Menu Planning Monday

 

Menu planning has been a life saver the past couple of hectic weeks. I have enjoyed pulling items from the freezer to bake and eat.  This week we have added soup back to the menu. I enjoy the variety it brings!

Breakfast– Saturday-Breakfast bowls. Sunday- Danish from Costco    Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, pop-tarts, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, or omelets.  My goal is to add a day of baked oatmeal back in but we shall see.

Lunch-  Saturday–Left-overs Sunday- Gregg’s .  Matt made chill to take this week. I am planning to take a couple of days of soup and hopefully some left-overs.

Dinner-  Saturday-Broccoli and cheese soup from Costco .    Sunday-Taco Soup Monday- Chill    Tuesday- Grilled Chicken and pasta salad .  Wednesday- Walking Tacos in a bowl Thursday- Pulled pork and corn on the cob    Friday-Left-overs or egg drop soup if I get adventurous.

Sunday Catch-up

October has historically been one of the two busiest months of the year for us.  This year has been no different. I did make the decision last June that we would not continue piano lessons after the summer.  This has freed up one evening a week but I honestly miss hearing the kids practice. Hopefully maybe even next summer they will be interested in resuming but time will tell.  I am the only one who is missing it. The kids all had a teacher work day last week so they feel like they have gotten caught up on sleep which is great for them.

Zach has been playing baseball. Last week due to rain we had three games Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Each game started around 7:30 which gave us time to eat as a family but most night we got home around 9:45pm.  This week we have games only on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Lily chose not to participate in the Youth Theater but she is going to youth group on Sundays and also helping with the nursery on Wednesday night. She has complete her first 9 weeks of both high school and college.  I know she has been spending alot more time on school work than in the past . I am also very proud and excited to say that currently she has a 4.0 average!

We continue to sneak in an hour or so each Saturday to work on the green house. I am disappointed in how long it is taking to actually get plants started in there but once we get everything working properly it should be well worth the trouble.

Last weekend we purchased a travel trailer/ camper. We have spent several hours getting it all cleaned up and also trying to get it set up the way we want. Currently we are expecting to take ownership of the Tahoe toward the end of the month. We are starting to plan a couple of small trips to make sure we have everything we need. First we plan a 3 day trip to Asheville to visit the Biltmore house right before Christmas.  In January we hare headed to Myrtle Beach to shop and go to a show. This will be a longer 4 day trip as well as a longer drive pulling the camper as well.

I have been working in Guam several nights a week. My goal is to reduce my hours again to around 7 hours a week and a maximum of 2 nights.  I actually have only 1 night this week but it is a VERY long night!

Hopefully more updates and picture will be posted this week!   I am looking forward to slowing down and having more time at home in the next several weeks.

Spending Our Inhertiance

It was a very sad day in January when we learned that Matt’s father had passed away. The week that followed which included a trip to Florida was honestly probably one of the hardest weeks we have ever faced. We left all the kids here and it was a struggle as none of us are used to being separated that long or being that responsible for that long.

We are very fortunate that Matt’s dad had done lots of planning for not only his retirement but for his children’s and grandchildren’s future as well. He left all three kids with a small college fund that continues to grow each year. In addition to that we will receive 3 payments over the next year.  We received our first check in August and should receive a second check this month.

I have been really hesitant to share about this as it is a very private and sensitive matter but it also has some financial benefit and changes for us as a family.  I am going to share how we are planning to share the money without the exact amounts.

The first 10% of these check will be given to charity. We have chosen to make the donations to Envision Atlanta. This is the organization that we have volunteered as a family with and also one that we feel is doing the most to further the Kingdom.

Next we decided that we should make a couple of adult choices: paying off debt and medical bills. As part of this we paid off the car we purchased in November.

Last but not least for this round of checks fun! We  purchased a camper to use as a family. We ended up buying 2018 Grey Wolf camper home.  We have spent the afternoon cleaning and re-arrange items inside. And in turn “If you give a mouse a cookie” fashion.. we needed a place to park the camper so a driveway extension is already scheduled and we needed something to pull the camper so we are in the process of buying a new Tahoe.

Hopefully I can share some of our adventures soon!

5 Things Friday

  1. Everyone except for Lily has a 3 day weekend. Lily is working all three days. The next scheduled holiday or break from school is Thanksgiving.
  2. Our project for the weekend is to convert the old playhouse to a green house. We will be removing the roof and replacing it with plastic. Adding shelves and a watering system. We are hoping to reuse most of the materials. The plastic has already been purchased with a gift card!  I will plan to share pictures this week.
  3. Zach has officially started baseball practice. We have agreed to let him play both rec ball and AAU team. The AAU team is only going to travel in state and hopefully less than 2 hours away.
  4. The weather has finally decided to start to cool down a bit. We have been at or above 90 degrees for most of the month of August.  Fortunately we have no more 90 degree days in the forecast but I expect it to be close to the end of September before we are able to turn off the air conditioning.
  5. This week we are having a drive way addition installed. It will also include cement around the garden boxes that we bulit in the spring. I can’t wait to have a finished product!

Life Happens- NO Air Conditioning.

Today is Monday so I normally plan to post a menu plan for the week but Life Happens.

Last Monday night we began to smell something burning in the house. Lily around 10:30 heard a pop sound.  I woke up around 4 and knew immediately that the air was not working.

Just for the record highs last week have been above 90 each day.  Tuesday night and Wednesday night the kids all stayed with Amanda.  On Thursday, we were blessed with the ability to borrow a portable air conditioner which we are using in our bedroom.   On Saturday and Sunday nights we have been blessed by storms that have cooled not only the air but made sleeping in girl’s room possible.

We have not been following a menu plan- it is simply too hot to cook and add anything in the air. We are eating out most meals.  We have done minimal laundry as again it is too hot to add any more heat in the house.  We have spent time at the pool.

It has also been too hot for me to concentrate on working , I did manage 2 hours in Guam last week but have an uphill battle ahead.

Sleeping is hard when you are hot. Functioning as a normal human being is hard when you are hot.

Other small things are going wrong that just add to the stress. But it only takes a minute  to realize that we are  facing only very small problems compared to others.

Life Happens…

5 Things Friday

  1. Today starts our last full week of summer break. Next week will be filled with last minute appointments and some extra fun if we can arrange it.  Braxton will also be with us for the entire week.  Today is a pool day so we plan to spend most of the day at the pool.
  2. I had a huge food waste fail this week- We had an entire watermelon that had not been cut go back and spilled on the floor. I have definitely become a little bit more aware of our food following the clean up.  I did manage to make half a squash casserole with the remaining squash.  I am also beginning to use dill and basil that has been previously frozen in dishes.  I had forgotten about these treasures until we attempted to organize the freezer. Since I was unable to grow either this year, I am thankful to find them.  I did cook our first official meal this summer that include several items.
  3. Tomatoes are continuing to produce.  I had hoped for much more but I do realize that this summer has not been the best for tomato growing.  We have been able to freeze enough spaghetti sauce for the year in addition to eating several times. I should be able to continue to make a batch a week which means at least 4# of tomatoes.
  4. I talked with the neighbor and will start using goat manure to improve the dirt in my square foot garden. I am hoping that with this and more worm casting next year it will support and grow a garden full.
  5. We received our school supply list. I am excited that we need only to purchase a couple of notebooks and clear water bottles. I have been trying to stock up on items as they have been on sale. I anticipate less than $50 for all supplies for all 3 kids!

Five Things Friday

  1. No Monday Menu will be posted this week. Next week our church is hosting Vacation Bible School from 6 to 8 Monday thur Thursday and a pool party on Friday. Dinner is provided for workers and their children.
  2. Our new oven has arrived!  I have been experimenting and getting use to it over the past couple of days. So far I am very impressed!
  3. With only 3 weeks left of summer vacation, I have established a couple of goals that I want to work toward which will make my life easier in the fall. First- prepare easy to heat and eat meals as much as possible. This week we have focused on making pizza dough. We have all the ingredients but it takes around 2 hours to make the dough. Kendall has made 12 this week. This will make for easy pizza in the fall. Simply unthaw the dough in the morning and add toppings. We also made 2 additional cheeseburger pizza toppings to add to the dough. Second- Stock up and organize the freezers and pantry.  This is also close to completion. I will be adding a couple of cookie, bread and cake mixes during the next week. Finally-enjoy lots of down time by sitting by the pool.
  4. Square Foot Garden- we are making plans to add cement to complete this area but I am also continue to try and figure out how I can improve the soil for next year. We are fortunate to get tomatoes but I am so frustrated that the money I spent on soil is basically worthless this year!
  5. July has turned out to be one of the most expensive months EVER but we are still holding our heads above water. I am ready to start reaping the benefits of all my bargains and saving.

Filling Up the Pantry.

I have mentioned before that I feel like we have a well stocked freezers.  So now I am trying to stock up the freezers with easy to prepare meals in addition to adding some needed items to the pantry.

I have been doing ALOT of shopping on Amazon this summer, in addition to it being the most convenient option for me, I have been able to find some great deals.  I am using scribe and save- the subscription service.   I am finding that some  deals offer some additional amounts off for your first shipment. I am setting reminders all over the place to go back and check prices to make sure that the second and future shipment are still at the great deal. If not it is not difficult to cancel but the trick waiting till around  a week before your shipment closes and then doing the math.  I have purchased snacks (30 cent or less per pack), hand soap, school supplies, rice and all vitamins. This week  I have found soup for around 80 cent a cup this is a HUGE convivence item for us!

Today I ventured out to Harris Teeter.  I have not shopped this grocery store in over 18 months. I LOVE their sales but with COVID and the distance to get to the store I just have not had a chance. Today I was getting some work on the van so I was  within a mile of a store.  I spent $33.45 and saved 53% according to the receipt! There was only one small catch, none of the items purchased were a need. They all were to add to the pantry. I grabbed 4 boxes of pasta at $0.79 cent each.  Canned beans, green beans and corn at thirty seven cent each and Hamburger helper at ninety-eight cent each. I admit that we use 2 boxes of Hamburger helper to one pound of ground beef but this is a quick and easy meal.

I am actually thinking that I have stocked up on most pantry items as well.  My plan is to only shop sales for the rest of the summer! This months groceries will be a regular month but hopefully I will be able to reduce the grocery budget by half for the rest of the year! $300 a month sounds very doable starting in August.

 

Vacation Catch Up

We spent the last week on Oak Island NC. This was a new spot for us and  I am really impressed. So impressed in fact that we have already reserved  a condo in the same building for next year.  Our only complaint this year was the mattress in the condo we had were HORRIBLE!  But on the bright side for the first time in several years, both Amanda and Haley joined us at the beach. Braxton stayed 4 days, Amanda 2 days and Haley 1 day.

We turned the air conditioning up to 80 degrees while we were gone and unplugged all the computers and electronics.   We are hopeful that this saved us some on the electric bill.

We did spend more of vacation. I don’t like to cook or clean on vacation. We did do at least one load of laundry per day.  We purchased heat and eat breakfast items and ate at a restaurant at least one time a day!

Matt, Zach and Tim went deep sea fishing on Wednesday while us girls shopped. We did not expect any benefit from this trip but  we are very pleasantly surprised to have brought home lots of mackerel (King and spotted) for our freezer.  I also stopped on the way home to purchase 3 pounds of freshly caught shrimp to add to our freezer as well.

We arrived home to 20 pounds of tomatoes which is a great surprise considering this will be most if not all of what we harvest this year.   I made 5 batches of spaghetti sauce.  On Sunday, I decided to spread out the sauce, making a baked ziti, 2 baked spaghettis and 2 bags of meatballs along with 5 containers of spaghetti sauce. We also enjoyed the sauce for lunch!

Vacation is the time when all the money saving stops and we enjoyed what we have worked and saved for all year!

5 Things Friday

  1. No menu plan for this week for a couple of reasons. First we are on week 6 of no oven.  Scheduled delivery is 2 weeks away.  I wanted to use up a lot of the fresh ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator as well as left-overs. And the final reason… I was just too tired.
  2. Made the first batch of spaghetti sauce from the garden this week. IT was awesome.   Unfortunately, we have discovered that the soil that I purchased from Home Depot was not good. We have been working to salvage anything by adding lime.  We were able to harvest some snap peas and some tomatoes. The tomatoes beds were over half full with dirt that I had already been using so they are at least producing a first harvest. I doubt it will be enough to fill the freezer this year but at least I can make a few batches of spaghetti sauce.  The sweet potato bed which is all old dirt seems to be doing the best so maybe I can salvage a few of those as well. My plan is to continue to add lime a bag a month until we get the beds close to where they need to be. Ugggh  I had high hopes and expectations this year!
  3.  We are headed on our beach trip soon. Not going to share all the details but this will be a totally new experience for us. We are planning a trip to Oak Island. I have never stayed on a NC beach!
  4. Lily is really enjoying her job as a lifeguard. She is actually working much more than she hoped and is enjoying spending the money as well.
  5. My summer is officially half over. I return to work in 6 weeks.  I have actually completed all the items on my summer to do list except stock the freezer. I am hoping that the next 6 weeks are at a much slower pace than the last 5!