Monday Menu Planning 12/10/2018

From the weather forecast of last week, I knew that I need to plan on all of us being home this week, which means extra sweets and treats needed. Amanda is also staying with us during the snow. I made a trip to Walmart on Thursday night and purchased all the things I thought we would need. So far after 3 full days at home we are still doing really well. My best guess is that the kids will be out of school all week. I will have a workday on Friday or maybe both Thursday and Friday.  My goal is to make a  batch and have some left-overs to use again.  Soup is always a big hit on these cold snowy days.

Breakfast- Saturday- Pancakes and Sausage balls   Sunday-Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuits, Monday- Gravy and biscuits,  Tuesday- Sausage crescent rolls and left-over pancakes, Wednesday- Waffles, Thursday- Muffins  and Friday- Choice of any available left-overs oatmeal, grits cereal, toast or eggos waffles.
Lunch-Saturday-Sausage dip, taco dip, Crock Pot wieness, with fruit and vegetable trays.   Sunday-Chicken and Rice .  Monday and Tuesday- Sandwich or choice of Left-overs. Wednesday- Mac and cheese or pasta, Thursday Sandwich or left-overs, Friday- Soup of choice 
Dinner – Saturday-Leftovers, kids had pizza at church. Sunday- Left-overs from Olive Garden,  Monday-Stuffed Green Pepper Soup Tuesday- Country Style steak, fried squash and green beans Wednesday-Instapot Potato Soup  , Thursday- Beef and Broccli in the crockpot Friday-Pizza.

Traveling on a Budget

Our family tends to travel a lot. Some of this travel is by choice and some is by necessity. Most of our travels are planned well in advance which allows us plenty of time to save. However this was not the case for our Thanksgiving trip to Michigan. We decided that this was an important trip on November 3rd, two week before we needed to travel. Here are the ways we used to save money on this short notice trip.

1. I spent around 4 hours or more trying to find a hotel on priceline and the other “cheap hotel sites”. I had two huge things working against me, first we were two weeks away from the trip and the second was this is a holiday weekend. I finally decided to call the hotel we usually stay at. I was able to get a room for all five of us and the dog and breakfast for less than $100 a night which is our good price. After having success calling the first hotel, I called the second with the same results. The average price per night was $100! Tip#1- Call the hotel direct and ask for pricing.

2. Gift Cards- We continue to attempt to use Swagbucks on a regular basis. Each month the first gift card is discounted to 2200 or $22 for a $25 card. Starbucks is always a favorite so we try and keep around $50 loaded to it at all times. I also took advantage of some promotions, and this helped our budget a great deal. We had around $150 in gift cards for this trip and even managed to combine with sales to stretch it a bit further. My suggestion is to purchase gift cards ahead of time an keep a stash for trips and other surprises.

3. Pack a Cooler- The average price of a soda is between $1.50 and $2.00. Just by packing drinks and water, we saved at least $100. I also packed sandwich items and frozen burritos in our cooler. We were able to eat breakfast in the hotels and then ate one meal from the cooler or even left-overs so we ended up eating an average of one meal a day out while traveling. Even if we would have eaten fast food for each meal we saved at least $40 a day by bring a cooler.

4. Pack snacks- We like to eat while driving and crunchy snacks help keep you awake. I have a snack bag that stays in each vehicle but for a trip we ended up making individual size bags of chips and popcorn. This worked well and was much easier than trying to carry large bags and eat from them.

5. Check gas prices and make a plan. We discovered that it was cheaper to buy gas ahead of time then waiting to fill when we had to.

November in Review

I have been debating even writing this post for several days.  November was a month that was busy, frightening and unforgettable but I also want to stay true to myself and have documented some of the reasons that things happen. First we decided to take a trip to Michigan to visit over Thanksgiving.  I am a planner and two weeks is never enough time to plan a 7 day trip. But this Amanda was sick and the two weeks turned into 3 days. I spent 5 solid days at the hospital with her and ended up eating several meals just to make the days go faster. I don’t regret spending the time at the hospital and would do it again if needed but it made the month really short.  I don’t even think I have actual numbers this month but best guess has to work for now.

Financial- I did fairly well for our trip expenses and I still plan to write a blog post about that.  I did end up spending money on more new clothes and shoes. The good news is that we paid all our bills and we have no real needs. 


Grocery budget $500- I did end up staying under this amount I am positive.  However I am going to guess that I spent around $200 this month on groceries. I am going to plan a HUGE grocery trip at the end of December but the goal is to stay well under $100 prior to that. 


Gas-  Our trip to Michigan cost us 7 tanks of gas for around $250. I have absolutely no idea what else was spent in gas for the month except $15 on parking for the hospital. 


Kid/Summer expenses: Kendall gymnastics $60 was the only required spending for the month but I am thinking I also paid $20 on a fieldtrip.
Earned $100- I have gift cards left for Christmas and we used $70 for trip expenses .
Personal-
Blogging-5 for the month. I had many things to think about an little time to blog this month. 
Exercise- Zero… no explanation.

What happened?

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and changes that I could had no way to prepare and plan for.

First, Matt’s stepmother, fell and broke her hip.  After some discussion and thought, we decided that we needed to travel to Michigan over Thanksgiving. In fact, we are currently in a hotel in Claire Michigan. My goal is to get a post over the next day or so that gives some ideas on ways to save on last minute traveling.

Next, Amanda, my oldest daughter, has spent 5 days in Cardiac ICU and 5 days in an regular hospital room. She developed a complication from pregnancy that caused her heart to fail, which in turned caused several blood clots in both lungs and one in her heart. The first days of this episode, were the most scary thing I have ever experienced.  I stayed with her for almost a solid week. We are all thankful and blessed that she is home, and expected to make  a full recovery.  The recovery will be slow but still is expected to be full. It was a tough decision for us to leave her and come to Michigan but it was the right one for us. Amanda was very supportive of this.

Luckily, I have purchased most of our Christmas gift, and did not plan to spend much time shopping over Thanksgiving.  We had a menu plan in place and Matt was able to stick to it and keep things functioning at home, while I focused on Amanda.  This trip although short planned and much debated, has given me some time to sit, relax and catch up on some sleep, which I would not have completed at home.

This is the short explanation of the last couple of weeks.  I am praising God for walking beside me and carrying me!

Tuesday Thoughts

  • We will be heading to Michigan over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I spent most of Saturday attempting to find hotels that were reasonably priced. I am very happy to say that I was able to locate and book two hotels both including pools and breakfast for around $100 a night including the pet fee!
  • Our plan for meals includes free breakfast, lunch in the room. on the go including pasta, mac and cheese, burritos and sandwiches. We will plan to purchase one meal a day and hope to cover at least 2 of these 7 meals with gift cards.  Definitely need to step up my swag game.
  • The house is finally getting cleaned!  I arrived home from work yesterday and we were able to spend a couple of hours cleaning floors and rearranging furniture.  I have even made a list of extra cleaning I would like to accomplish in the next week.
  • My goal is to be able to set up my snow village this weekend (Veteran’s Day). I am becoming excited and I love the anticipation of this.
  • I am tired, bone weary tired. I am not sure if this is related to the time change, the fact that I am home 3 night in a row and should be for another 2, stress or a combination of all three. But I seriously could go to sleep at 8pm tonight.
  • With our trip coming up, I want to reduce and leave very little in our refrigerators in the house.  We actually ended up eating left overs for 3 full meals this past weekend. I can see a little at the end of the tunnel but also hear some grumbling as we are out of pop tarts, instant oatmeal, shredded cheese and soon grits. I have no intention of replacing these items, Wish me luck!
  • I still LOVE my new job but it has become a lot more work than initially. I have been attending at least one meeting a week but it is still by far much less work and stress than the hospital.
  • Braxton is one month old, he is awesome and growing daily! I LOVE being a grandmother or baba, much easier than I could have imagined.

October in Review

It is one thing to anticipate spending after planning and knowing exactly where you wanted to spend money but quite another for bunch of small “fixes” becoming a very expensive month. In October, we ended up with some MAJOR automotive cost. First we need the oil changed on both vans. Next the silver van needed four new tires and finally the silver van needed a new battery. UGH, we made the choice to leave our emergency fund intact at around $600 and place the new tires on a credit card. Frustrating but not a total budget disaster. The good news is that I anticipate paying off this prior to the beginning of the year!

Financial- Yikes, did you read above. In addition, I have purchased new clothes and shoes for most of us. I am hopefully that we can stop spending and enjoys frugal months prior to Christmas without really noticing a change.
Grocery budget $500- Total spent $700. Yes, that puts us over for the second month in a row. I have pulled out $100 in cash to use for groceries this month. We are stocked up and I really want to eat what we have. The good news is because of losing power in October, we moved everything from the house freezers to the ones in the building. I was able to really organize and we have a great system for pulling up and knowing what food we are going to use. I have already pulled the food we need for the month of November minus Thanksgiving so we are only buying needs and good sales.
Gas- We are currently around $200 over for the month. This does include gas for the generator we ran but about 24 hours as well. I have not figured out exactly how much we are spending but get a better idea in November.
Kid/Summer expenses: We ended up spending another $100 for Lily for theater this month. We spent around $25 on baseball games including some food. Kendall choose to begin gymnastics this month which cost $100 for the first month.
Earned $175- This is a huge improvement from the last year. We have used most of this to purchase Christmas gifts. I also paid for clothing with this money this month.
Personal-
Blogging-12 for the month. I will admit that this has been a struggle but my goal is to make this goal at least for November and December as we have no travelling planned.
Exercise- Zero… no explanation.

Monday Menu Plan 10/29/2018

I see light at the end of the tunnel, our schedule should begin to slow down after this week as baseball season is over. Lily has two weeks until her performance and work is slowing to a normal pace for me. Both Lily and Zach had orthodontic appointments with changes made to their braces so I attempt to keep things soft for a couple of days as well.  You will notice several things different about this plan as we are eating out several times and we need to use up left-overs the other evenings.

Breakfast- Saturday- Pimento cheese and Bacon Biscuits, Sunday-Sausage Cresant rolls  Monday- Bagels  Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of oatmeal, grits cereal, toast or  eggos waffles.

Lunch-Saturday-Rice Kerola  Sunday-Chicken stew  . Kids have lunch packed including soup, uncrustables and chicken nuggets. I will be eating out on Monday and Friday this week. But plan to take left overs the rest of the week.

Dinner – Saturday-Leftovers  Sunday- hot dog supper at church , Monday-Chicken nugget bowls  Tuesday- left overs   , Wednesday- IHPOP  , Thursday- Hamburgers and French fries Friday-left overs or pizza depending on my mood.

Spending Week

This is a totally different post than I usually blog about.   I feel like all I have been doing this week is spending money. I figured at least I am shopping the sale some what so I guess that counts right?

First, I have been using Ebates for the last several months, for my online shopping. I received one check in late September for $8 and have another schedule for November 15th that should be around 15. I will point out  that at least one of my purchases did not credit but overall it has been super easily and I only buy what I would be purchasing anyway so this is definitely free money.

With the sudden change in weather, I realized we needed some new shoes and clothes. I purchased the girls both 2 pair of boots at 40% off last weekend at The Children’s Place . In addition I purchased Lily two pair of pants and Braxton 2 pair of pants for $80.  Old Navy had a great sale on leggings so I purchased 8 pair for myself and 2 pair for Lily. On Sunday, we stopped at Walmart to get Zach a zip up jacket and found Kendall another pair of boots for a total of $40 spent.  Unfortunately, the boots I ordered online, were slightly too big, today Lily and I headed to Hanes Mall to exchange them.  Another shoe sale at 40% off caught me, both the girls ended up with an additional two pair of shoes. Yes, Kendall has received 5 new pairs of shoes in one week. I also purchased Lily a Christmas dress.  I can at least say that everything was on sale.  I don’t see that we will be needing any more shoes or clothing until Spring.

In addition to all this clothing spending, I ordered a new fryer and Roku box from Amazon this week.

On Monday, we had the oil changed in one van and Zach also had a doctor’s appointment with our new copay of $40.

WOW this month has become really expensive. I am hoping to gain a couple of weeks of no or limited spending prior to Thanksgiving.

Thursday Thoughts

  • Fall has officially arrived in North Carolina. Monday, the kids wore shorts and t-shirts to school. That afternoon, I heard complaints of how hot it was!  The house temperature was 78.  Today, the kids both are wearing long pants and long sleeves. The house temperature is currently and I am hopefully to avoid the heat til at least Saturday.
  • We will have to dig up sweet potatoes and grab the last of viable veggies from the garden as we are predicted to get our first frost Sunday night.
  • I planted some lettuce bottoms in May and after we ate some they ended up self seeding.  We have really been enjoying this lettuce during September and October. I walked out this afternoon and grabbed enough lettuce for 6 salads! This is probably the third full meal we have gotten and I grab usually a salad a week for my lunch.
  • I am coming to the realization that my job in Guam may never come about. I have already received notice that I need to renew my Guam license by Oct 26th for next year. I have yet to use this license so I am thinking that I will not renew and mark it up to a learning experience. The biggest issue is that I will need to re-do our budget in December and eliminate the need for that income.
  • Dinner this week has been a challenge, as I have had after school meetings 4 out of 5 days.  I am hoping to get a better/easier plan for next Monday and Tuesday. I also have a meeting on Monday evening so we may be ordering pizza after all.
  • I have spent my grocery budget for the month so I am forced to say No to a really good sale at Harris Teeter.
  • Going to end on a positive note, we currently are 1/3 of the way to have our Christmas completely paid for via Swagbucks. I am hopefully that by December we can purchase all large items using this free money!

Sheila’s She-Shed

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?