- As you have probably realized, we were out of town this weekend. Lily, Matt and I went on a campus tour of UNC-W on Friday. We drove down on Thursday and stayed until Sunday.
- I spent an hour on the beach, we all enjoyed the lazy river, kids played in the pool. Putt Putt was enjoyed as well as a campfire and a couple of card games.
- We also went to the outlets and enjoyed several hours of shopping
- We have cleaned and winterized the camper. This includes using it as storage for coolers and plastic totes.
- I started a batch of pear sauce and have plans to use the new electric canner this week.
- We are staying very busy. I am still overwhelmed at work. Hopefully this will improve in October.
- My health is improving, and I am hopeful to avoid a second surgery this year.
- We have finally turned off the air conditioning which is very late for us. I would love to go any entire month with needing heat or air but the chances are very slim at this point.
- After returning we have opened the rest of the chicken coop. The chickens are enjoying the extra space and practice flying from one end of the other. We have a automatic door to install but that is down the list.
- My goal for the remaining three month include reducing the grocery budget and working our way through the freezer and pantry. I would love to do a no shopping challenge but not sure I am ready for that additional stress.
- The garden is changing as well. We have added the rotating bottoms to the green stocks, we need to dig out sweet potatoes and plant that with carrots. The green beans are finishing and I need to purchase worms to add for the end of summer as well.
This weekend was supposed to be a slower than usual weekend however we still managed to get a lot accomplished.
- Decided on our next house project. We installed a new kitchen floor in March 2020. The floor has begun to split and we have lots of pieces that no longer fit and it is becoming a hazard. We have been talking for several months about replacing the floor. We are not certain which direction that we want to go. Matt and I talked and decided for the short run (less than a year) we will simply remove the new floor and return to the wood planks underneath. The current plan is to re-adjust the plank and attempt to nail in place. This is definitely not a permanent fix but solves the problem and will at least give us a presentable floor. We are going to undertake this project next weekend.
- Ordered the wood to finish the chicken coop and for the fence along the back edge of the yard.
- We have been watering the garden using county water for over a week now. It takes around 20 gallons a day to water so I am very hopeful that we will get some rain in the next 24 hours.
- Placed a down payment on our cow order. We should receive the cow some time the first couple weeks of August. Now we are focused on trying to decide what meat cuts we want. I am also working on emptying one of our freezers. My goal is to get this accomplished by the end of July. However, it is fairly difficult when at the same time we are beginning to get in our summer produce. Check and balance is all I can hope for.
- We ended up going to Costco on Friday night to use our reward check, I was very proud that we only ended up spending $26 out of pocket. But that was short lived as we also went to Sam’s today. We spend $260 of which over $200 was on food. I did stock up on Slim Jim’s (3 boxes) Hot Pockets (which the kids have been asking for) Biscuits and Pop tarts for breakfast in addition to some treats.
- We managed to only eat out one time this weekend. Matt has been practicing cooking on his new Blackstone. He cooked two meals yesterday in addition to breakfast this morning!
Let’s get this week started on a good note!
- Kendall had the stomach bug last Sunday. Today Zach has a stomach bug. This thing is awful. I am praying that it only last 24 hours so Zach and I both can enjoy Lily’s performances on Saturday and Sunday. Now for more positive news!
- I found several packs of tomato and green pepper seeds in my seed box a couple of weeks ago. I decided to use some of the containers I have been saving along with dirt that we had left to try and see if I could grow any plants from seed. I planted 2 packs of both. Currently, we have about 75% germination rate for the green peppers and about 25% for the tomatoes which were planted almost 2 weeks later! The goal would be to be able to transfer these to the garden in mid April and at least half survive. If I can get even 25% to survive that will decrease my out of pocket for the garden!
- Gas prices have seemed to level out and have returned to just under $4 a galloon for us. This week we have focused on having the Tahoe sit as much as possible and using the Equinox which get a minimum of 10 miles per galloon better gas mileage. It has worked so far as we have put 2 additional tanks in the Equinox this week.
- I stopped by the store on my way home from work today in order to purchase a couple of items that we needed because of the stomach bug. I spent $49 which included TIde pods, 2 containers of deodorant, 4 6-packs of soda, a bag of chips and 8 packages of sausage patties. I found the sausage patties on sale for $2.39 for a package of 8 patties.
- Our electric bill came in this week and it is over $100 less than last month!! I am so thankful! The next bill is typically the lowest of the year due to not needing heat or a/c for several days at a time!
- North Carolina weather in March…last Sunday 80 and this Sunday expected low of 18*
- The greenhouse is currently empty. We have moved all the plants outside, one of the reasons is that it was getting over 100* during the day in the greenhouse and that would cause most of the colder plants I had planted to bolt. We have been enjoying both lettuce and spinach. The best part is walking by the lettuce and picking some to eat. We have started both tomatoes and green peppers inside. It is easier to start inside for the first few weeks. They will be moved outside about 4 weeks prior to plants to continue to grow in the greenhouse and for protection against our final freeze that usually occurs sometime in April. We also turned off the heater to save a bit on electricity.
- This week for the first time in history, we paid over $4 a gallon for gas. $4.11 to be exact. But the knowledge that it took 16 years for gas to go from $3 a gallon to $4 should bring us all comfort.
- We are doing excellent on the grocery budget for the year. We have currently spent $2.82 for groceries this month. For the sake of transparency, we did make a trip to Costco yesterday and used our credit card earnings to purchase sugar, dog food and some other items that we were out of.
- Our busy season is starting. Lily’s play is next week, Zach is managing the middle school baseball team while enjoying playing his last year at the booster club. I am now working 2.5 nights a week in Guam. And best of all our Disney countdown is shrinking!
- The weather has finally turned nice on a weekend. So today we hung 6 loads of bedding on the line to dry. Which saved us over 8 hours of drying time plus they all smell so good!
- Last weekend, we inventoried our freezers and listed 50 plus meals we could use. During this process, I realized we had 2 whole turkeys. We decided to cook one tomorrow and will have a great lunch with friends that has no out of pocket cost for us!
- We rotated all of the cold weather plants out of the greenhouse. The temperature is not supposed to drop below freezing for the next 10 days and during the day the greenhouse reaches over 100 degree so in order to extend the growing life of these plants we have moved them outside. In the process we discussed some spinach, lettuce and swiss chard that we can incorporate into our salads this week. We also turned off the heater which should save some electricity as well.
- Matt was able to remove the sliding glass door and locate the defective piece. We were able to order the piece for $90 on Ebay. A fair estimate is that this saved us around $500 in the cost of a repair.
- We took a clothing inventory and realized that new shorts are needed for most of the kids. I was able to order 14 pair of shorts at Old Navy for a total of $91. I used my credit card rewards ($17), old navy super cash ($20) and combine with the current sale to really save.
- I took both our vehicles to a local automatic carwash that is $5 for “the works” this is a huge savings for both time and money!
Recently I have been spending/ wasting a considerable amount of time watching Youtube videos of grocery hauls, pantries and freezers along with the traditional January- Eat out of the Pantry challenge. It actually has brought several things to light for me and I decided that I would share a couple of those things with you.
First a couple of facts that I know I have said but wanted to make sure these are obvious when I am reading this 3-5 years from now.
1. Matt lost his job in November 2021. This was a sudden and unexpected change.
2. We had budgeted $650 a month of groceries in 2021. We overspent this budget 3 months of the year but stayed under budget in November. We were over budget in December due to some stocking up.
3. I set our grocery budget for January until June at $200 a month or $50 a year.
4. Once Matt returns to steady full-time employment, I plan to use the difference of $450 a month to save in order to purchase a cow this summer and re-stock our meat.
5. If Matt’s unemployment would end prior to him having a full-time job, I am planning to then switch my grocery shopping to only things that we are completely out of and NEED!
After reviewing that list, I can make the following statements:
1. We could likely exist on $25 a week if we needed to by only purchasing things we are completely out of.
2. I am keeping a rolling grocery list of items that we are currently low on. I am restocking to the level that I normally would. For example, we have 2 cans of corn left, I will be purchasing 8 cans on one of my next few trips. I really could get by with purchasing 2 more but instead, I want to keep a doable level for me. This will allow me to switch to number 5 above for several months in not longer if the need arises.
3. I am continuing to purchase items I know we will use in the next couple of months when I see them on sale. For example, 2 Liter Diet Cokes are on sale this week. I will be purchasing my normal amount of 20 bottle plus an additional 10 bottles of regular Coke for the kids. I also plan to purchase 10 non-caffeinate soda to restock as well.
4. In order to use the items that we have in the freezer, I have to meal plan. And I am also trying to add one meatless meal a week and at least one meal a week to use items that we have in the freezer but normally would not choose like chicken legs or meatloaf muffins.
5. We are in a very blessed position that allows us to wait on God’s timing for Matt’s new job. Currently you would not be able to tell from our lifestyle that we are basically a one income family at this point.
6. I need to remember that we need to keep the budget at $200 a month including Amazon in order to enjoy things like our planned trips without it becoming a financial strain or hardship.
7. I am not the only person in the world who has enough food for 6 months to a year on hand!
- We all (even Lily) enjoyed our 4 day camping trip to Conway SC this past weekend. We arrived home on Monday (Martin Luther King Day_) to about 6 inches of snow in our driveway. The kids were super excited to “play in the snow.”
- Today (Tuesday) was an official snow day for the kids. The community college even cancelled class! I however worked remotely with a two-hour delay. I am grateful to be able to stay nice and warm and earn a paycheck. The same thing will happen again tomorrow. We are actually supposed to receive more bad weather Thursday night and Friday morning, so this is turning into an interesting week.
- We have our first official harvest from the greenhouse. Matt was able to harvest a bag of mesclun lettuce today. We will use this as part of our salad with Lasagna for dinner tomorrow. Matt was also pleasantly surprised to find that our greenhouse roof of plastic did not break or tear in the sleet, snow and wind. We are now strongly considering getting a lemon tree this summer to keep outside in the summer and in the greenhouse next winter!
- So far this month for groceries we have spent $90.72. Which means I currently have over $100 sitting in the grocery fund. I have trade and left a $100 bill in the envelope to encourage me not to spend it. I am also on track to spend less than $200 on groceries this month. I do have a subscribe and save delivery that should arrive on January 28th but that still should not throw me over the $200 budget. My next decision is to keep saving the excess in the grocery fund until June or use this money to pay for some other items. Right now I want to build an emergency grocery fund of $200 to start with.
- Braxton has been staying with us this week so that both of his parents can work. I will be the first to admit, I am glad daycare is open tomorrow because it is difficult to work with a toddler in the house!
- Lily was rear ended on Friday while driving her car, unfortunately the person who hit her did not have license, insurance or a tag. She is very shaken up and we are now trying to figure out what and how to fix her car. She loves the car and wants it to be perfect. So this will be a huge balancing act.
- I have declared November to be a no spending month. I have even gone so far as to tell both Matt and myself that we do not need anything from Amazon! I have gotten into a bad habit of eating breakfast out 2 to 3 times a week, in addition to my 2 or 3 days of lunch out. I am definitely cutting back this month. We have been gifted 3 to 4 dozen eggs so it is much easier to find a different way to eat an egg for breakfast every day this week.
- We have given in and turned on the heat on October 28th was the official date. We should experience out first freeze this coming week. The temperature today was a cool high of 59. I am not ready for winter in fact, I would love to move to a spot with summer all year long!
- The kids all did awesome during the first grading period of the year. Lily has all A/s even in her college classes. Kendall has all A’s and Zach has all A’s and B’s.
- The past several weekend have been spent relocating the garden beds in order to expand the driveway. Hopefully during the next 2 weeks we will be able to start some seeds in the green house.
- We have harvested our sweet potatoes. This year was a very small harvest of sweet potatoes but small is better than no harvest at all.
- Tonight for dinner, I took out our entire green bean harvest for the year, and it was all eaten. Again one family serving is better than no servings.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.