July in Review

July was a different sort of month. We definitely enjoyed our week at the beach and I even decided to skip blogging the entire week. We ended our trip early and arrived home late Friday night because of weather. Zach really enjoyed baseball camp this past week but it also was very stress with all the driving involved. On the other hand, we have been making some tough decision about school placement for both Zach and Kendall. I had a HUGE issue with American Airlines regarding our December tickets. This consumed 10 hours of my time and energy. Finally we had $1150 stolen from Disney gift cards and I am still waiting on a response. August will be a month of change and excitement. I will be returning to work full time, all the kids will be in school of some form and we have our first Disney Trip scheduled for the last week.

Gardening- We have been able to enjoy a couple of cucumbers, squash and zucchini. Tomatoes are ripening. I have been able to make lots of different dishes and have frozen around 10 “jars’ of spaghetti sauce so far. The kids LOVE this fresh sauce and prefer would honestly eat several times a week if allowed. I also made one cup servings of tomato sauce for use in recipes. We harvest enough peppers to use in a double batch of sauce but now to eat. The pepper plants appear to be blooming so I am hopeful. I don’t expect that we will be harvesting much more besides our sweet potatoes but we have been blessed with enough to enough this summer.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $584.33. This is a significant decrease from each of the other months. The freezers are full and I have even stockpiled toilet paper and filters for our heating and air system. My goal for the month of August is to limit groceries to $275 or more. Depending on how this goes will determine the grocery budget for the remainder of the year.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $512.02 the total for the month. Definitely the most expensive month this year but this total includes tags and taxes on the van and an oil change for both the Honda and van. We drove the van to the beach and I have been driving approximately 145 miles a day this past week to get Zach back and forth from camp. I am really not sure where this will land next month as I return to work.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Limited success. During the month of July, I have been working on our budget and hope to share this in the next couple of days.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 12 for the month! I am very pleased with this number especially given all the problems and time consuming things that happened this month.

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. I managed to walk 8days this month! This is also a improvement over last month. In a even bigger gain, I managed 10,000 steps for three day which is the first time in 11 months I have been able to do this!

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Yikes!

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  We have tried 44 new recipes this year! I know I will not finish this goal before school starts but with 6 recipes remaining even one new recipe a month will make this achievable.

Earnings_ $60. This is a small improvement so we will continue to hope for the best. We will be enjoying free Starbucks at Disney!

August will be a month of change and uncertainty. I am planning to share our new budget. My overall goal for August is to maintain peace and calm through faith no matter what happens.

Recipe Challenge 44

A slice of tomato pie on a plate.

This looks incredible! I was so excited to try this recipe for Tomato pie. The recipe itself was also very easy to follow. Spoiler alert……. not going to be making it again anytime soon. I just fell flat somewhere along the way. I did not use any onions in the pie because I knew my family would not like that aspect of it. This is probably the third recipe I have tried over the years so maybe we just don’t like Tomato pie?

The official count is
Repeating 22
Maybe 8
No 14

Eight more recipes to try this year, I will be very honest and say that I doubt this is accomplished before I go back to work in a couple of weeks.

Monday Menu Plan

The theme of the week is Tomato! We returned from the beach to find 12lbs of tomato with enough to last several more weeks. I am also doing easy as I will be driving alot and cool but tomato still rules!

Breakfast– Saturday-Biscuit King (since we returned early from the beach) Sunday- Bacon and eggs Monday- , Tuesday,  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, bagels or omelets or tomato sandwich

Lunch-  Saturday- nachos Sunday- hot dog lunch with friends . Monday- tomato pie Tuesday- McDonalds (while running errands) Wednesday- Chinese from Panda Panda . Thursday- School lunch food , Friday- sliders- tomato encouraged

Dinner-  Saturday-Pasta Salad Sunday-Dominos Pizza Monday Stuffed green peppers (4 bags frozen for future use) Tuesday- Spaghetti and meatballs with homemade pasta sauce Wednesday- Pasta Salad with added pepperoni and tomato Thursday- Quesadillas Friday- Mexican.

Saving on Saturday

I really had not planned to take the entire week off while I was at the beach but it just so happened that way. We enjoyed lots of beach time, shopping time and pool time. I am glad to be home.

My square foot garden is producing but at a significantly slower rate than I anticipated. Our Tomatoes are starting to come in and we have lots! I used 12 pounds of tomatoes the last week we were home to make homemade pasta sauce. The kids LOVE this and request it! I have been using restaurant to go containers that we have been collect to place the sauce in and store. This makes it super easy to find and one container equals one jar of sauce. Today, we head to the garden and harvest around another 12 pounds of tomatoes. I used 8lbs along with a couple of green peppers I found to make another crockpot full of pasta sauce. We also went ahead and stewed the remaining 4 pounds. I packaged these in 1/2 cup containers. I used these for Mexican rice. Other plans this week include tomato basil biscuits, stuffed green peppers, tomato pie and tomato sandwiches. My goal will be to use as many fresh tomatoes as possible and attempted to hold off on another container of pasta sauce until next weekend.

I purchased Disney Gift cards from Target and combined to one card that we will be using on our first Disney Trip in August. I am able to save $5 for each hundred using my Target card so is an easy extra $50 just during this trip.

While reading several other blogs and in order to have a complete stockpile. I have begun to look at items other than food that we can store easily. I was able to find air filters for our heating and air system at $0.96 each at Home Depot. In order to get free shipping, I purchased 12 packs of 4.

In the area of food, I will be making a Costco trip this week and hope to be able to grab both paper towel and toilet paper at some point during the week. Zach is attending a baseball camp in Winston so I am not opposed to stopping at Costco several times this week. I also need to make a list and head to Aldi to grab so canned biscuits, pie crust and cream cheese that is significantly cheaper to purchase here.

My final area of saving my not appear to be one at first. One of the things we like to do is shop the outlets while we are at the beach. This year, Matt and I specifically talked about items we needed. We purchased new shoes for everyone and even an additional pair for both Matt and myself. We ended up spending around $30 for each pair of shoes so this is truly a huge savings. I also purchased Zach so shorts and Braxton several outfits to use my Old navy cash. The best find was probably 40oz metal water bottles for $10 each. We will definitely be using these at Disney!

Baseball Catcher

Zach has been the most excited this summer to get to play baseball. This is also his biggest fear for the fall that he will not get to play fall ball. A left handed catcher is extremely rare. In fact, only one left handed catcher played one game in the MLB. But Zach is enjoying the position and that is all that matters.

We have been working on getting some good pictures.

Monday Menu Planning

This weeks plan looks very different than most anything you have seen. The goal this week is to use up the food that we have prior to our beach trip with as little waste and left-overs as possible. We are doing very well on grocery spending so far for the month at $96.85! This is also the last week for school food delivery so I am going to assume our grocery bill will start to increase again next week.

Breakfast– Saturday-Egg and fries omelet Sunday-Biscuit King because we over slept. Monday- , Tuesday,  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, bagels or omelets

Lunch-  Saturday- left-overs from the refrigerator Sunday-
BLT with homemade bread and home grown tomatoes . Monday- tomato sandwiches Tuesday- Egg rolls from school Wednesday- Chinese from Panda Panda . Thursday- homemade uncrustables , Friday- pizza lunches from school.

Dinner-  Saturday-Spaghetti with homemade meatballs and sauce Sunday-Time Square Pizza Monday chicken nuggets and carrots Tuesday- corn dogs Wednesday- Grilled Chicken Thursday- spinach ravioli Friday- hamburgers.

Recipe Challenge 42 and 43

This week has been busy but a normal kind of busy so I am choosing to be thankful! We did manage to squeeze in two new recipes both of which are repeating so that is the best of everything.

First is Instant Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni, let me start by saying that I have found very few things that I absolutely love the instant pot for. I did learn to use the saute feature for this recipe so that is a plus as well! This is is a quick and easy replacement for hamburger helper. A bonus was it used alot of ingredients that I have on hand. The one exception was the cheddar cheese soup. I am going to place an order with Amazon to get this stocked up now. I decided to use jumbo elbow as well to improve the texture. I did not measure the last cup of cheese and was actually told that it might could use less cheese. I am going to use this again for a quick filling meal during the school year.

A bad storm on Friday night left us with a couple of broken tomato plants which meant was had a couple green tomatoes. Matt decided to try and make fried green tomatoes. Everyone but Lily decided they were good. This will be a good way to use up tomato if we need to. I thought they were really good but just not something I would attempt to make.

The official count is
Repeating 22
Maybe 8
No 12

Only 9 more new recipes to try before reaching our goal!

  1. The garden is not producing as much as I had anticipated but it is producing just enough for us to eat! For example on Wednesday, I picked 2 cucumbers, a squash, a zucchini and couple of tomatoes. For dinner on Thursday, I combined the zucchini, squash and grilled chicken packs from the school for dinner. For lunch on Friday, four of us ate tomato sandwich! I think this is the right size garden for the future as well!
  2. We are heading to the beach in one week! I am so excited to have some really downtime with minimal expectation of effort from me! The ocean is my favorite place so there is no bad time there.
  3. We have washed 10 loads of clothes today. This includes everyone sheets and comforters! I am most excited because everything but Lily’s was hung out to dry so that we did not waste money! Bonus the sunshine smell should last a few days.
  4. Zach has had 4 baseball games this week and three are scheduled for next week. This makes for some very busy evenings! So far we have tolerated the heat ok!
  5. Sad news- I have exactly 4 weeks or one month left of my summer break! I am really enjoying sleeping late, reading books and keeping ahead of my task! I do look forward to going back to work and getting a normal routine in place if this is even possible.

Monday Menu Planning

I am excited because, we were able to clean out and organize the freezers in the house over the weekend. I ended up only throwing away one single pork chop but the kids found lots of breakfast items to enjoy. During the month of July my overall goal is to reduce grocery spending. We also are planning a beach trip so we will plan at least 50% of the meal that we eat to take with us to save money. I also want to fill in my pantry whenever possible. I realized that I have several recipes that call for Cheddar Cheese soup. I stopped and purchased a can today on sale for $1.50. By using Amazon Subscribe and Save, I can purchase for $1.25 a can. I have a shipment set up for the end of the month. I am hoping to reduce trips to the store and expense by doing things like this. Summer foods are definitely dominating this weeks menu.

Breakfast– Saturday-Biscuit King Sunday-Breakfast bowls.(Remained was made into Breakfast burritos) Monday- , Tuesday,  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, breakfast pizza or omelets

Lunch-  Saturday-Chicken sandwich or pizza bits Sunday- Wings from East Coast wings. Monday- pasta salad Tuesday- Egg rolls from school Wednesday-(ham and cheese sliders school). Thursday- Salad, Friday- corn dogs from school.

Dinner-  Saturday-pasta salad Sunday-left-overs Monday Steak fajitas Tuesday- Cold Plate Wednesday- Instant Pot cheeseburger Macaroni Thursday- Sandwiches or left-overs Friday- sloppy joes.