Wordless (almost) Wednesday- Snow Village

I am planning to upload each picture individually so that you can enlarge if you like. This will be a picture heavy post!

The beginning!

Started on November 12th the night Amanda went to the hospital. Stayed this way until November 27th.

All the house are on the ladder. This is usually the longest step for me as I work to make it fit and look like a real scene.

Finally I add the people and trees

The next scene is directly across from the ladder.

Finally this year we added the “Mickey Shelf”

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!

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.

Thursday Shopping 6/21/2018

Today is the first official day of summer! The little kids are all at camp, so I spent most of the day spending and saving money.

Matt and I started last night at Walmart. This was a quick trip to buy sunscreen and tea bags. We used almost half of his $25 gift card from Swagbucks and another $2 he had earned from Shopkicks.  Total spent $0

I picked up Mom not so early this morning and we headed to Winston-Salem.

Our first stop was Ulta. Lily has extremely sensitive skin. Two years ago, we discovered a sunscreen that did not burn, sting or break her out, the only down side is that each tube cost $40 before tax and shipping. One of the other moms at the pool shared “Australian Gold Sunscreen” with us last weekend. Lily loved it. I found a sale at ULTA that was Buy One Get One Half Off. I purchased 2 containers of sunscreen for $21 or half the price I have been spending.

Next stop was Babies R Us. The  prices are currently 60% to 80% off.  I was totally shocked at the deals we found. I purchased 2 bibs, a cute outfit, a set of shoe socks,  a gift for a baby shower next week,5 birthday presents and a Christmas present. I also grabbed 4 sets of invitations.  total spent was $107.39 Total saved was $171.18

I had my rebate check from Costco so we headed over to grab my normal grocery list. After using the rebate check, I spent $44. The best deal of the day was a pair of water sandals for me for $4.97.

Our final stop was Harris Teeter. Matt won out with this trip. 12 pack of Mountain Dew cans were $2.74 each. He ended up with a total of 10 packs. I also grabbed Kraft Mac and cheese for $0.39 a box!

I am so excited to find all the summer deals today!

Saving on Saturday- 1/22/2018

This week we , Matt, kids, my mom and myself, decided to search out some clearance deals.  I will go ahead and say that Matt was able to get the best overall deal.  Matt works at Dollar General.  Until Tuesday of this coming week, the majority of Christmas items are twenty-five cent each.  After hearing of his awesome deal, we decided to browse the other Dollar Generals in town.

On Friday night, Matt found a candle that was placed in the wrong area with a twenty-five cent coupon on top of it. He purchased the candle for me and a box of candy canes for a total of twenty-six cent. He also submitted his receipt to Ibbotta and receive a twenty five cent rebate so a candle and box of candy canes for one penny after rebate.

One store had lots of canned pumpkin (I purchased 12 cans) a container of green sprinkles and a container of cloves all priced at twenty-five cents. We also found a Cars stocking also priced at twenty five cent.  I also purchased tissue paper, gift boxes and bows of varies sizes.   Plastic round ornament boxes were priced at $3 each, I purchased at total of three at two separate stores. I also found some paper plates for a Ladies banquet that I am responsible for a table at. These were not on clearance but a great deal.  I ended up spending a total of $50 !  I will say I am very impressed with my self.

Our final stop was the local Big Lots, we found all Christmas items between 50% and 75% off. We also discovered at the register that this weekend, we received an additional 20% off. I am excited to say that we found wrapping paper that will work for several occasions for less than seventy five cents a roll! This was a huge score and completes re stocking our wrapping paper.

Today, we claimed and sorted the recycle paper bin at our church. I started with many years ago.  After less than an hours work for the sorting we have a case or more of paper that will be used for printing coupons, art work and recipes for the next six months or so.

 

 

 

How We Use Left-overs

This week has been filled with food. Starting last Sunday(Christmas Eve), my family has a huge dinner with BBQ shoulder. Left-overs are divided up, because we don’t like food waste. Christmas morning, I made country ham biscuits and orange cinnamon rolls, because only the five of us at home ate, we had left-overs. We also had a huge meal for Christmas dinner, again left-overs.  As you can guess my refrigerators were full to the brim.  I am proud to say that we have managed to use most of these left-overs up this week with a little creativity.

Tuesday and Wednesday we ate straight left-overs, one evening we all ate pork and the second evening it was turkey.  Lunch were a combination of left-overs or make a left-over sandwich/wrap.

Thursday, the little kids, Mom and myself spent the day shopping. We treated ourselves to lunch at Chick A Filet.  I grabbed a rotisserie chicken, I add the “cold/salad” left-overs and it was an awesome meal.

Friday was my Mom’s birthday and she requested hamburger steaks, sweet potatoes and  salad. I was very glad that we used our  fresh salad, cucumbers and tomatoes.  Matt decided to venture out and made “bbq pizza” using crescent rolls and pork. He again realized that we need to eat up our food.

Saturday morning, I cooked the remaining piece of country ham, some eggs and toast.  For lunch, I used the remaining turkey to make Turkey corn chowder, this was a huge hit and I will use for lunch at least one day. For dinner, we make chicken and cheese quesadillas from our left-over chicken.

Sunday, I made baked potato soup, this included the remaining pre-cooked bacon that we purchased for Christmas dinner. Again, I planned to use for at least one lunch this week. Dinner – sandwiches using left-over buns, chicken, pork or pepperoni. The pepperoni was in the top of my closet so I needed to use as well.

Today, we had sandwiches again for lunch. For dinner, I used the remaining BBQ dip with our last pack of Beef ribs and pulled out all the remaining leftover sides.

We are down to left over stuffing, macaroni and cheese and green bean casserole. I plan to use soups at work a couple of days! I will definitely call this a win!

5 Things Friday 12/22/2017

  1. I am on call Christmas Day. I am trying to plan around the expectation that I will need to spend at least a couple of hours at work.
  2. I am cooking dinner on Christmas Day to be ready at 5pm.  Going to be very interesting due to #1.
  3. The menu for Christmas dinner is turkey (never cooked a whole one before), rolls (from the freezer), stuffing (using my sister in laws hack), cream corn (crockpot), green bean casserole (crockpot), cranberry sauce (with fresh cranberries, most requested by kids), turkey gravy (another first),deviled eggs,  broccoli salad, 7 layer salad, (both will be made on Saturday). Lily is making sweet potato pie, candid pecans and brownies (from Costco) are the deserts.
  4. I was asked to teach the Beginner’s Class (2-3 year olds) this week at church. It is my absolute favorite “Jesus Birthday Party”. I headed to Walmart today to get the party supplies. It was crazy but I survived!
  5. The goal of Saturday is to clean out the refrigerator of left-overs so we can fill with Christmas food.

Disney!

Disney was awesome!! I can honestly say it will be remembered as one of our best trips EVER!

I have been very vague about sharing a lot of details especially here (on the blog). One of the reason, was safety and the second was the overall expense. Since we are back I feel much more comfortable sharing in regards to safety.  As far as expense, yes it was super expensive but it was a trip that Matt and I agreed to, a choice that we made and the only thing that matters is that we agreed!  We also agreed that we will not be planning another trip until we have conquered out debit! But let me share some of the details. I will be sharing more pictures and such over the next couple of weeks as well.

We left around 1pm on Thanksgiving Day and arrived to our room right around midnight. This did not stop us from begin up bright and early Friday morning for Epcot. This was a change from our previous trip as well. We stayed even the first night on site and it was so nice to arrive and know that we did not have to get back in the car for 10 days.

We spent 3 days in Magic Kingdom, which allowed up to ride EVERY ride and enjoy most shows and of course meet a lot of characters. Epcot was seen in two days with the first spent with our friends. We did accomplish our goal of eating around the world. We tasted at least one food item from every country.  We watched Whoopi Goldberg narrate The Candlelight processional, which is truly an experience. We spent one day each at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We also scheduled a day for resort hopping and a second day for the pool and Disney Springs. My favorite show after the live production of Beauty and the Beast was the Hollywood Studio Christmas special “Jingle Bell Jingle Bam” It started at 8pm which allowed us to get back to our room at an average time. Of course, the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom were awesome and lived up to everything!

Zach planned ahead and chose to celebrate his birthday at Animal Kingdom. He wore his birthday pin all day. We ate breakfast at Tusker House and he received a cupcake with Mickey sprinkles and a card signed by Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy. Lily chose to celebrate her birthday at Magic Kingdom. She wore her birthday hat, from 2 years ago, and a birthday pin. She was lucky enough to receive a signed card from Belle and Beast at Be Our Guest Restaurant.

We were fortunate enough to receive several free items including a funnel cake, a marshmallow Mickey and each of the kids received a Mickey ice  cream bar on Lily’s birthday.

The resort was the only thing that did  not live up to our expectations. The layout was confusing and especially hard to navigate at night. The housekeeping was slack. I ended up calling at least 4 night to request more towels and wash clothes.  We stayed at Port Orleans  Riverside, which is considered a moderate resort but it was definitely not what we expected.

We ended up with the Dinning Plan which we used every last item! We actually brought home 3 additional bottles of water and 4 bottles of Diet Coke.  I enjoyed not having to worry about the cost. The only down side to the dinning plan for us was that gratuity was not included, for table service meals.  We tried several different table service meals this time. Tusker house was great at Breakfast and the Garden Grill was an great dinner. I was disappointed at the Cape May Café so we will not be returning there. My overall favorite was definitely Be Our Guest!

I just downloaded over 850 pictures from our memory maker and we probably have another 500 between our phones and IPAD. But I promise to share only 7 or less at a time.

We stayed at total of 10 nights and returned home on Sunday (12/3) around 8pm.

Saving on Sunday 11/19/2017

I am so excited for the items I have been able to purchase on sale this week.

I have actually been to CVS twice to grab small gift sets. The set are $4.99 each with $4 in ECB.  I also grabbed some Christmas candy. Total spent this morning $9.29 and total saved was $29.45 or 69%. I also have 8 in ECB to use in the next couple of weeks.

Food Lion is running the best sale on 2 Liters that I have seen in a year. Currently, Coke 2-L are $.89 each with a limit of 10 per transaction.  A total of $9.34 for 10.

I was able to purchase Bath and Body works body wash on Friday for $3.16 a bottle. There was a limit of 15 and I add a coupon to the sale as well. Some of these will be for gifts but most are just mine.

I found earrings on sale at JCPENNY for 75% off and purchase 2 sets for gifts. After that purchase, I received $20 in rewards so Matt shopped to find himself a new work uniform (black pants and black shirt) for $6.32.

Lots of shopping but lots of saving as well.

5 Things Friday- 11/18/2017

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  1. We leave for Disney next week! I am so excited. This will be our longest vacation ever!
  2. All five of us at home will be part of our Church’s Christmas musical. I am not excited about this because I have a small speaking part at least no singing.
  3. I decided this year to be a “minimal” year for Christmas decoration.  I have my snow village in my bedroom. Our huge Christmas tree in the living room and the girls both have small trees in their rooms.  I am excited to be finished!
  4. December is a 3 paycheck month! This is awesome timing as it gives up spending money for our vacation!
  5. In addition to be a minimalist in regards to decorating, Christmas gifts are the same way. I am planning on 3 gifts from us and 1 from Santa. This is a HUGE change as my older girls remember the 12 days of Christmas, where we opened one gift each day and still have several for Christmas morning.