Saving Money

It feels like forever since I have been focused on saving money! I looked back on the blog and realized that in May we started survival mood which meet cooking without an oven. Our new oven did not arrive until after vacation in July. Exactly 2 weeks later our air conditioning went out. This was honestly one of the hardest times for me.  But I am very thankful to say that we have both a working stove and working air conditioning.  I also want to get a good handle and feel for our budget but this will also be changing in the next month.   I will post details once we have things finalized and money in hand!

Now to our ways of saving:

  • Using items already on hand to help improve the square foot garden. Today we placed the contents of my shredder on one of the garden beds. We also added the coffee grounds from the week and topped with a good dose of water from our rain barrels. We have also placed banana peels in water before pouring on the garden as well. Hopefully we will be able to improve the soil for the next year.
  • Ordering from Amazon-  I continue to shop for deals on subscribe and save!  We are expecting to be stocked up on soups by our next delivery date.  I am also watching for “deals” on any item that we use on a regular basis. This week I found “magic erasers” for fifteen cent each.  My goal is to eliminate the need to purchase items not on sale.
  • Making meals at home- We have eaten at home every day since Tuesday with two exceptions, Matt purchased Bagel  on Saturday morning and we enjoyed Sunday lunch with friends.  We are currently in the best financial position we have been in for many years so these small treats will remain part of our regular budget. Just not eating out every day and some times 2 times a day!
  • Packing lunches and making sure we have some convenient items on hand for lunches. The kids can eat lunch at school but for Zach this usually means more stomach issues and Kendall simply does not like most of the food.
  • Eating items from our pantry and freezer. Although I have spent $234 this month for groceries we are starting to look at and plan ahead for most meals. I have also added some treats that the kids enjoy!
  • Saving electric by turning off lights, using both the dishwasher and dryer at night so as not to add heat to the house.

What have you been doing lately to save money?

Recipe to Repeat! Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells

I was so excited to get the air conditioning turned back on but I knew I would have to do some work to keep from losing food.  Because I had not been cooking (even using the microwave most days) we had a lot of restaurant leftovers.  I had purchased a rotisserie chicken at Costco to help save money.  I think we actually had all eaten one meal from it.  I found this recipe and knew I wanted to try!  The really good news was that it also used up some other things like cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese.  I actually split this into 2 separate pans freezing one for later use.   Matt liked it so well that he asked how much trouble it was to make!  This is definitely a repeat but likely one that is made ahead of time in the summer.

I ended up using one jar of Alfredo  Sauce per pan mixed with 5 oz of melted cream cheese.  I also used one cup of mozzarella on each pan as well.


  • 22 ounces Alfredo Sauce  I used one jar but it was not very sauce per pan
  • 12 ounce jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken breasts leftover rotisserie chicken works great for this recipe
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 slices bacon cooked until crispy and crumbled
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon ranch dressing mix


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cook the pasta shells to al dente, drain well.
  • Cook the bacon until it’s super crispy, drain well and crumble.
  • Dice the chicken.
  • Combine the jar of Alfredo Sauce with 5 ounces of melted cream cheese.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced chicken, ½ the mozzarella cheese, 3 ounces of cream cheese, cottage cheese, bacon and powdered ranch mix.
  • Ladle a small amount of sauce onto the bottom of the casserole dish. Stuff the shells witht the chicken mixture and line them up in the baking dish.
  • Pour the remaining sauce on top of the pasta shells, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil.
  • Place in preheated oven and bake until hot and bubbly!
  • To brown the top of your casserole, remove the foil and place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!

5 Things Friday

  1. We were without air conditioning for a total of 8 days.  I only worked one of those days. We were blessed to borrow a portable air conditioner for 4 days to use. With this we were able to sleep at night.
  2. Our August electric bill came in as the exact same amount as our July bill. I am anticipating that it will be extremely high in September. This electricity was used in an attempt to keep us cool.
  3. I have managed to cook or produced a meal every evening since the air was fixed. Although our budget for August is so far over, this should mean a minimal to no spending month in September.
  4. The kids have all finished their first full week of school with mask being optional. I anticipate this will change next week. As quarantining rules stated that if both students are wearing a mask even with close contact the exposed student does not have to quarantine.  This makes sense to help keep the kids in school.
  5. I finally have a squash bloom. I don’t anticipate that I will actually get a squash but I am continuing to work on improving the soil for next year!

First Day of School

First day of daycare for Braxton

Zach is in 6th grade and Kendall is in 8th.

First day of 11th grade and first day at Davidson Davie Community College.


Life Happens- NO Air Conditioning.

Today is Monday so I normally plan to post a menu plan for the week but Life Happens.

Last Monday night we began to smell something burning in the house. Lily around 10:30 heard a pop sound.  I woke up around 4 and knew immediately that the air was not working.

Just for the record highs last week have been above 90 each day.  Tuesday night and Wednesday night the kids all stayed with Amanda.  On Thursday, we were blessed with the ability to borrow a portable air conditioner which we are using in our bedroom.   On Saturday and Sunday nights we have been blessed by storms that have cooled not only the air but made sleeping in girl’s room possible.

We have not been following a menu plan- it is simply too hot to cook and add anything in the air. We are eating out most meals.  We have done minimal laundry as again it is too hot to add any more heat in the house.  We have spent time at the pool.

It has also been too hot for me to concentrate on working , I did manage 2 hours in Guam last week but have an uphill battle ahead.

Sleeping is hard when you are hot. Functioning as a normal human being is hard when you are hot.

Other small things are going wrong that just add to the stress. But it only takes a minute  to realize that we are  facing only very small problems compared to others.

Life Happens…

Recipe -Chicken Bubble Biscuit Bake Casserole

Still trying new recipes to see if we can add a different variety to our cooking over the coming months.  This recipe I copied out several months ago, Chicken Bubble Biscuit Bake Casserole.

It has all the making of goodness, chicken, bacon and ranch. It appeared to be fairly simple with the hardest part being cutting up the biscuits. I also thought it would make enough for a meal. Such promise!

The reviews were mixed.  Neither Kendall nor I were impressed. Zach said he would eat again and Matt’s reaction was “not bad”.

It was very simple to prepare but I felt like it needed more so I added half a squash casserole, half a dish of creamed spinach and tomato basil biscuits.  Zach and I spent around a total of two hours in the kitchen.

Overall this will not be a repeat on our menu list!


5 Things Friday

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Asian Sesame Chicken- Crockpot

One of the things I love todo on the internet is find new recipes. I usually print out several of these at a time. My thought process is that if we like the recipe I can put in my book or if not simply throw away.  This is an awesome plan but I often find that I do not have time to try these out or I am in fear of making it and no one eating.  With a few extra minutes this week I have decided to try a few new recipes as well. This one, Asian Sesame Chicken is a definite repeat!  It is super easy and everyone enjoyed.  I used my casserole crockpot for this which worked awesome!

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs)  I cut mine into small cubes before putting in the crock pot. 
  • 1 cup asian sesame seed salad dressing
  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 packet  onion soup mix
  • chopped green onions & sesame seeds (optional, for garnish)


1. Spray slow cooker insert with cooking spray. Lay chicken in bottom of slow cooker.
2. Mix together the Asian sesame salad dressing, apricot preserves, and onion soup mix packet. Stir together with a fork and pour over the chicken.
3. Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.
4. Serve over cooked rice (brown or white) or noodles Drizzle with sauce from the slow cooker and garnish with  sesame seeds.