June in Review

I am almost in disbelief that the month of June is finished! I really have enjoyed the first two weeks of my summer vacation but it is going way to fast! In fact, we declared yesterday a chill day and I actually slept for about two hours which made a huge difference in my mood!

The garden is producing at a steady rate. We are on the verge of getting tomatoes and cucumbers! I am hoping to harvest enough tomatoes to make at least 12 batches of spaghetti sauce but will be happy to enjoy several sandwiches a week! The cucumber plants are blooming with several small cucumbers but nothing to great. We have two watermelons that are growing already! Unfortunately, we lost all but 2 of our corn plants. I have decided that corn growing is just not for me! We also lost both of our zucchini plants but were able to harvest several zucchinis first. I currently have enough in the freezer for zucchini something once a month for a year. I did discover zucchini hushpuppies which are a huge hit around here. Matt has been able to harvest enough jalapenos to make a batch for him to snack on. We are getting a steady supply of green peppers! I have only been able to freeze on batch but we are using them in a lot of things! I am trying my hand at drying basil this year in hopes to keep the plants alive and producing until the tomatoes come in. My plan is to plant pumpkins this month but need to check the almanac first!

My increase of free time has included lots of clearance shopping! I have been able to stock our freezer with both chicken and pork this month. I spent a total of $302 this month in groceries which is less than usual but more than I had anticipated. We have started to use items in our freezer and pantry and I have started a “stockpile” list. My goal is to keep spending low but also to maintain and improve the stockpile. I have realized that during the school year it is very hard to shop the sales and so I am hopeful to make huge gains in this area as well. I also am planning to attempt to cook ahead one item a week. For example, last week I made a huge batch of taco meat and froze enough for 8 additional meals. This week the goal is to make 10 pounds of sloppy joe mix.

We ended up spending $311 for gas this month. This is a decrease from previous months and I anticipate this to decrease even more for the month of July.

In the area of finances we are holding our ground right now. I did sit down and figure out my new salary. I also am actively pursuing several additional job opportunities to increase our income. This is always a hard decision and one that requires lots of prayer. Join me in praying that we follow God’s will in our financial life even if it is not easy!

I have been able to exercise at least twice a week this month. I actually increase my walking to two miles this week. This has not translated to the scale but I do notice a difference in the way some of my clothes are fitting which is always a nice thing,

This is post number 14 for the month! I am surprised at how difficult it is to reach 15 post in a month!

We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month, we were able to gain $75. I also have enough sitting in my account for another $25 gift card but am waiting so I can get it without a delay. My plan for this first gift card is Lowes to buy filters and plywood.

PLANS: July will be a busy month. Zach has 2 weeks of camp to attend. Lily will be at an International Youth Conference for a week. We will all be involved in our church Vacation Bible School the third week of the month. Followed by our family missions trip to Clarkston Ga. Spending should be minimal as everything but the mission’s trip is prepaid!

Saving on Saturday

I officially took a break from my Summer break today! Both myself and the kids were exhausted and really needed a down day! Today was the day! I even managed to get a nap this afternoon, which makes me feel and react so much better!

We did make a trip out of the house to one of our local discount stores “Ollies”. Matt let me know that he is down to his last 10 K-cups so that is what I was on the lookout for. We have found the cheapest to be 26 cent a cup when we order online at Costco. This is our standard price. Today was a good day to shop. The first thing we noticed was a 15% off everything sale! We ended up finding a variety pack of K-cups for twenty-one cent each! We stocked up with a total of 160 K-cups. I also found Pop Tarts on sale which will be awesome once school starts back and we are in a huge hurry in the mornings! The kid found Dippin Dot cereal, I caved and purchased one box which should feed them and Matt in the morning! We also found Christmas Candy and Cookies at 75% off. These lead to an interesting discussion at dinner about use by and expiration dates on food. It is no surprise that everyone decided that eating the Hershey Kiss Candy cane flavor kisses would be the best option. In total I spent $55 which included the coffee, cereal, poptarts, cookies, 4 bags of candy, a bag of twizzlers, 2 boxes of Kool-Aid drinks and 2 bags of chocolate chips!

The second purchase of the day does not sound like much saving but in the long run I think it will be. First the background, I purchased a Rainbow vacuum probably 14 years ago and we continue to use on a weekly bases. It is a huge pain to set up and take apart so once a week is the limit. This year we have moved a large carpet/rug to the kitchen in order to cover some of the more obvious/ugly problems with our floor. It becomes dirty quickly and I wanted to get something easy to pull and use at least several times a week. One of the chores that the kids do daily is to Swiffer either the kitchen/dinning room or living room. I have been amazed at how much this is reducing the dirt in the rest of the house. Swiffer cloths are awesome but can only be used on time and they do get expenses. I looked at “Ollies” for a stick vacuum but had no luck. We decided to head to Walmart. We were able to find a small stick vacuum for $35. Since it can also be used on the regular floors, my goal is a cleaner floor with less expenses! I will let you know if that works out!

Grocery Budget Fail

I was doing so well sticking to my $150 grocery budget for the month of June. I was at $144 on Thursday, June 27th. Just three days to go and I had been able to grab some muffins and donuts on sale, so no one was complaining about the limited spending. Innocently, I decided to go to a different Food Lion near our community pool, while the kids were at swim team practice Friday morning. My mom had gotten a $5 off $30 coupon out of the local newspaper so my first stop was to verify with customer service that they would except the coupon. This turned out to be the best move because of course as I am checking out the first thing the cashier says is “We don’t except those.” Another sign of my budget fail was the fact that half way through the store, I had to switch out for a larger buggy. But on the bright side, I am pleased and excited with my purchase.

First, I grabbed a watermelon on sale for $2.99. Next stop was the clearance rack where I found LED light bulbs to fit in our bathroom bar for ninety- six cents each, I grabbed all four! The clearance rack was very interesting and my next find was 4 pound bags of corn bread mix for forty-three cents. I grabbed two just because. My usual routine is to walk past all the meat just in case I can find a good deal. Today, I hit jack pot! First I grabbed two packs of pork chops both containing at least 6 chops for around 3 each. Next up chicken, chicken livers were ninety-five cent for a one pound container, grabbed 4 of those. Chicken thighs at ninety-five cent a pound, I grabbed 6 packs at around 2.5 pounds each. These should be good for crock-pot meals. Finally chicken wings, pre-cut at 2.10 for 10 wings. I ended up with 6 packs of these. My total was around $55 but that includes the meat for at least 10 meals. This definitely puts me over my budget for the month but I know it will be well worth it in the end.

I also headed to Aldi, because we were down to our last three eggs! Total spending for the month is at $253! One hundred above my goal but still at least $200 below our usual spending!

Zach’s Window

We painted Zach’s room in April and I knew that I wanted to find or make something unique for his window. I have been on the look out at yard sale for wooden bats. We were able to find one wooden bat last weekend for the awesome price of $2. I was excited but knew we would have to do something with the one bat because there seems to be a limited supply in our area. Matt was able to split the bat in half and placed half on each side of the window. I knew it still needed more.


On Thursday, we were shopping at Hobby Lobby, I spotted this sign. The best part was it was on 75% clearance at $6.30!


I really like the final results! Total saving win less than $10 for this window treatment!

Eating out of our Pantry

I enjoying reading about the lives of others and often wonder if I could learn something to make life easier or better. This, my friends, is the reason for this post. One of major goals for this Summer, is to spend less than $150 a month for June and July on groceries. To achieve this goal we must start to use up items that we already have on hand.

I will first share why we have so much in our pantry and freezers. We purchased a whole cow of 800 pounds in March 2017. We have been enjoying it since then, we currently probably have about 1/4 of the meat left. I like to shop sales, I usually will buy the limit of items on sale at the grocery store. At Costco I often grab one extra of things on sale. I do shop smartly and usually only buy items that I know my family will eat and . However, it is much easier to purchase and use items that are more convenient and often I buy items that we really don’t need just because they are on sale. I will be the first to admit that I should not have purchased 25 cans of Spam at the same time. We have lots of food around this house. Eating out of the pantry will not be difficulty but it will mean trying some different things and using things up until they are finished before replacing if and only if it is something we NEED in order to cook or prepare a lot of different items such as sour cream. I have spent some time making list of food in the freezers and other pantry items I need to use.

Now, here is what eating from our pantry looks like around here. I am going to try and add ideas or things we do to this list for the next couple of weeks.
1. BLT sandwiches on buns instead of bread.
2. Making pizza dough and bread to slice instead of purchasing. (I found an entire food storage container, large bucket of bread flour and 10 packs of yeast.)
3. Using link sausage in sausage gravy instead of bulk sausage.
4. Breakfast for dinner, even breakfast for lunch.
5. Adding tuna and/or Salmon to noodles/pasta packs to increase the amount of protein.
6. Trying different recipes to use only the ingredients on hand.
7. Grinding up the remaining “roast” into hamburger meat for taco meat. For some reason, my family does not like roast. I have tried different recipes and always end up with left-overs that usually go bad or have to be repurposed to get eaten. This way we have at least 3 meals out of the roast that we really enjoy.

Do you have any secrets to using food? Ideas for Spam?


Kendall’s Camp Pictures

Kendall really enjoyed church camp this year. She was fortunate enough to have two counselors from our church. Both of these awesome ladies also sent me lots of pictures.


Kendall with her cabin and one of the speakers!

5 Things Friday 6/21

Today is the official first day of summer and it marks the end of my first week of summer break! Lily and Kendall left for church camp early Monday morning. I have some really cool pictures to post from Kendall including rock climbing and archery. Lily did mange to sprain her thumb but still sounds like she is having a great time.

2. The square foot garden is continuing to grow the best I can remember. This week we have picked green beans and peppers. My cucumber plants finally look like they are growing! I did break down and buy both cucumbers and peaches from the farmers market this week.

3. Several years ago, I decided to attempt to create an edible landscape. This year both the apple and pear trees are large enough to produce fruit. We added 2 pecan trees that grew in my mother’s flower beads that are thriving as well. My third attempt at a peach tree has 3 leaves. I decided to try something new and planted 5 pits from the peaches I bought this week. I will be thrilled to grow even one as they are very expensive from the nursery. I also have started a blueberry blind. Yesterday, we planted another plant to replace several that died this year. The exciting news is that we also managed to find and tie up two other plants that I assumed were dead! The kids really enjoying picking and eating the blueberries and I am hopefully that 3 years from now some may actually make it inside.

4. I have spent $30 on groceries this week, including items from the farmers market and bagels on sale at Alidi. We also have not spent any money on gas which is exciting decrease from 3 tanks a week.

5. I feel like I am achieving a good balance, keeping things caught up and extra cleaning at home while enjoying time at the pool, reading and relaxing as week. I wonder if this will change next week when the girls return?

Menu Planning Monday

You will probably notice a different feel to this weeks menu plan. There are two specific reasons for this change. First, both Lily and Kendall are away at camp from Monday until Saturday. Secondly, I am trying to start using up some of the more less desirable things in our pantry. My thought is by eating one “different” thing a week, he are less likely to end up with a week of food that no one wants to eat so we head to the store or worst even, out to eat several nights in a row. We always want to use up as many left-overs as possible as well.

Breakfast- Saturday– Sausage cresant rolls – Sunday-bagels, Monday- Biscuit King (special treat for Zach.)Tuesday- egg salad and bacon sandwich.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, omelet oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast. 

Lunch–Saturday-Costco, the kids all shared a rotisserie chicken.     Sunday-hamburgers with friends    Monday– nachos(using taco meat from last week).  Tuesday–butter noodles (I added a pack of salmon to mine) Wednesday- sandwiches Thursday- left-overs from the fridge or sandwiches and Friday- pizza (another treat for Zach)

Dinner – Saturday-left-overs choice of sausage rolls or rotisserie chicken and grapes  Sunday–Left-overs Monday-veggie plate with choices of left-over meat  Tuesday– Hawaii sandwiches at swim meet.    Wednesday–Fried chicken sandwiches Thursday– Eggroll in bowl- new instant pot recipe . Friday- maybe breakfast? or the single container of hamburger helper.