November in Review

November it was very different and I could have NEVER predicted the outcome either.  Big changes did occur this month, we traded for a newer better suited to us car and then then COVID-19 happened. But as today is the last day of the month, I can say it was not all bad and I am really ready to enjoy the holiday season.

Gardening-   We still have our small basil plant that is living on the kitchen sink.  I am debating how much work I want to put in the Garden for the next year.  Not exactly sure where this will land.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $676.  This included the Honey baked ham I purchased for Thanksgiving and a trip to Costco. Looking back over the year, based on averages this is an area that will need to be re-budgeted next year. The kids are all growing and so this is an area that will need to be adjusted annually for the future.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $184.44 . This is actually less than I had anticipate, which is likely due to being at home two additional weeks this month. However the goal and plan is to pay off the Sheetz credit card in December and then will will begin paying any excess from this category into other credit cards.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible!. I was able to find the money for the memory maker. We also have purchased a portable garage and a new Christmas tree this month. I would like to spend as little as possible for the first three weeks of December and use any excess for Disney.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 11 for the month! I am impressed with this accomplishment!

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. Covid

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

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  Currently on #58

Earnings_ $90. This is actually a huge improvement over most months of the year. I did cash out Ibotta which only occurs once a year. We will continue to monitor and determine if this time is well spent in the future.

We are on a solid foot financially. I am breathing a sigh of relief that has been years in the making. I want to spend some time in December taking a hard look at numbers and already have a huge goal in mind just not sure if I want to put it on paper yet.



Thanksgiving is a very fluid holiday around our house.  Many of our Thanksgivings have been spent travelling.   We have travel to Michigan and Georgia to visit with family on most of these trips. We also have discovered that Thanksgiving is an awesome time to visit Disney World.

This year we are quarantined.  Technically, Matt has been released but the kids and I are officially quarantined through Monday November 30th. The good news is that Matt is definitely better. I am starting to feel human again. I am positive that I have experienced COVID twice now but did not chose to test on either occasion. The kids all have not had any symptoms.    I chose not to test this time because the kids would end up needing to quarantine another 14 days after my test. They have been really troopers and this really would benefit no one.   We did end up cooking both the turkey and ham along with multiple side dishes. We have been enjoying and even packed some lunches for next week.  Thanksgiving was not cancelled just quarantined.

Zach has been experiencing some stomach issues. After multiple discussion with his pediatrician’s office, we don’t feel they are COVID related. Instead, a food intolerance. We are going to watch his diet as well as complete some testing to try and get a handle on what is causing this.

The goals for the rest of the holiday are to get the Christmas decorations complete!

5 Things Friday- COVID 19 Edition

Did you ever think to yourself- why might could happen if you decided to buy a new car on Friday the 13th 2020?    I am so glad I am not the only one and I do have the definitive answer- COVID!

  1.  We decided to go ahead and trade the 2016 Honda CVR that I have been driving in for a 2017 Chevy Equinox on Friday November 13th.   We actually were going to shop on Friday night and planned to purchase on Saturday but we ended up finishing up all the paperwork and driving away in the new to us car around 9pm.
  2. I am going to share the reasons we decided to trade cars just for future reference and so I can prove to myself that we did think this through and not regret the purchase. First- neither Matt nor I really enjoyed driving the Honda CVR, it was not a car that we would have purchased. It was under powered and although the gas mileage was better than the van, not enjoyable to drive. Next- the payment was extremely high. I actually had to split the payment in half in order to make it fit our budget.  After doing the research, I realized that we could likely reduce our payment by trading even with our upside down status. Finally- Matt has been employed at his job for over a year. Which allowed us to improve both of our credit scores at the same time. By trading and placing the new Equinox in Matt’s name, we reduced my debt ratio and improved his rating with consistent payments.  We have accomplished all we set out to do. Car payment is $100 less, Equinox is a car we both enjoy driving and credit will improve in the next six months.
  3. Sunday, the kids arrived home from spending the weekend with Haley and we took them for a drive in the new car. We ended up eating outside at the Salisbury Cracker Barrel. Matt and I had skipped church that morning because he was not feeling well and we did not want to expose any one to our germs. After eating on Sunday, Zach became sick and threw up.  It was a one time thing so I did not worry about it as this can happen.
  4. Monday- Matt says he is staying home from work so I decided to take Zach to school. He does not have a fever at home or at school. I honestly thought he had a case of the “Mondays”.  I dropped him off at school and headed to work where I was schedule to see 3 kids back to back a 30 minute break and another 5 kids back to back.  I get a call from Matt that his boss suggest he go test for Covid, because he is positive and has exposed the whole office all week. I finish the third kid and as I am checking my phone to call Matt back, Zach school is calling he threw up!
  5. Matt did test positive. By Friday (today) his symptoms are very light and he is only taking medicine at night.  We suspect that Zach had food poisoning – I ate some of the spinach dip that he had on Sunday and it was bad. I threw it out after one bite and had a horrible stomach ache.  By Friday, Zach is completely better! I have had what feels like sinus stuff to me. I have not had a fever, but runny nose and wet cough.   Lily has had a sore throat but feels much better today. Kendall ended up with a headache. Everyone is currently on quarantine. We have not left the house since Monday.  We are praying for two specific things- no one else get COVID and we can have a small family Thanksgiving. We have been told that 3-4 days without symptoms can end Matt’s quarantine and if no one else has symptoms especially a fever before then. We should be safe. the health department is suppose to call  on either Thursday or Wednesday to officially release us as well.

Recipe Challenge #58

forkful, Slow Cooker Tater Tot Casserole

Disclaimer this is not how ours turned out. But after seeing this picture do you have any doubt why I wanted to try this recipe. It had such potential and promise. Chicken, tator tots and bacon what possibly could go wrong?

Crock pot Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole

The problem it was too dry.  We did add some ranch on top of it and that worked out well. This will go in the No category.

The official count is
Repeating 30
Maybe 9
No 19

Monday Menu Plan

Really debating on sharing this for the week as life has thrown us a curve ball and I am not sure where we will end up. But I figured we might as well start with a plan and see what happens from there.  I will share the curve ball later  this week depending on which direction the curve ends up being.

Breakfast– Saturday-Biscuit King Sunday- Bacon eggs and toast .   Monday,  Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, bagels or omelets, French toast.  Tuesday- sausage gravy and biscuits Wednesday-Sausage crescent  rolls.

Lunch-  Saturday– left-overs   Sunday-Cracker Barrel.  Eating from fridge and salads sounds like a plan for me .

Dinner-  Saturday-  Wedding for Matt and i  Sunday-Chicken noodle soup in crock pot.  Monday- Philly cheese steak and chips.   Tuesday-New Chicken tator tot casserole. Wednesday- Rice Ceola .  Thursday-Corn dogs and sweet potato fries . .  Friday- insta pot creamiest mac and cheese.


Recipe Challenge #57

Hummm No I am not going to set a new goal just keep trying things as I can and see where I end up.

Easy Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe - Family Fresh Meals

I actually saw this recipe on Facebook but tracked it down to the original site and here it is.

Easy Chicken Tetrazzini

I did forget that Matt does not like mushrooms and it really surprised me that the cream of mushroom soup was the first thing he tasted.  So it goes without saying that he did not like this meal. Kendall on the other hand LOVED it.  Lily and Zach and I all agree it was not bad actually pretty good.  Kendall suggested we put it on the list of things to eat when Dad is not home. So that is the final maybe verdict.

The official count is
Repeating 30
Maybe 9
No 18

Saving By Buying Chicken

Last week something very strange and odd happened. We ran out of frozen chicken broth.  I actually used some turkey broth in the chicken and dumplings I was making. The easiest solution would have been to just add chicken broth to the grocery list. Instead I added a rotisserie chicken to the Costco list.  The total cost of the chicken was $4.99.  We ate it for dinner on Saturday night, I had left-overs on Sunday and I think at least one other person did as well.  Today (Wednesday) I pulled the rest of the meat off the bone  which was almost exactly a pound and used in our new recipe, Chicken Tetrazzini. The bones and skins went into the crockpot with 24 cups of water to make broth out of.  So instead of spending $5.00 on chicken broth, I spent $5.00 on three meals and made the chicken broth for free!


Monday Menu

This week is not a normal week. We have a holiday in the middle, Zach is in a baseball tournament and the kids are all going to Durham for the weekend while I attend a wedding.  I know that things may change and shuffle around but starting out with a plan will help.

Breakfast– Saturday-Biscuit King Sunday- Bagels with lots of options.   Monday, Tuesday,  , Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, bagels or omelets, French toast. Wednesday- bacon and biscuits.

Lunch-  Saturday– Sushi buffet  Sunday-lunch with friends. Wednesday- Taco Bell( if Zach earns it)

Dinner-  Saturday- rotisserie chicken, scallop potatoes and broccoli  Sunday-Sandwich and chips Monday- Pepper Steak in the crockpot  Tuesday-Gregg’s between piano and ball game?. Wednesday- new recipe.  Thursday-Chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries. .  Friday- left-overs?

Monday Menu Planning

Yeap it has been TWO months since I have posted a menu plan. We have been continue to meal plan but really just have not had the time to post. I have been slammed with working in Guam and with ball games. Life has gotten busy. We have been very fortunate that lunches are no longer an issue as the kids are provided free lunches through the end of the school year. We were also given extra food two weeks in a row. I am currently attempting to keep our food bill at under $200 for trips outside of Costco and under $500 with a Costco trip.

Breakfast– Saturday-Sausage patties and eggs Sunday- Breakfast bowls with grave  Monday, Tuesday,  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, bagels or omelets, French toast

Lunch-  Saturday– Find your own from the fridge or freezer  Sunday-Lunch Soup (new recipe)

Dinner-  Saturday- Kielbasa and potato soup Sunday-Sandwich and chips Monday- Steak and baked potato  Tuesday-Gregg’s between piano and ball game. Wednesday- Spaghetti and meatballs   Thursday-Sloppy joes and french fries .  Friday- Chicken and dumplings.