Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27th- Christmas Recap

This Christmas has been a bit out of the ordinary for our family. Our Christmas vacation started off with both feet running. My youngest sons birthday party, my daughters Christmas dance performance and my ex husband coming to visit the kids all fell on the same day. That was day 1 of vacation. Day 2 brought another dance performance and kids spending more time reconnecting with their dad, and day 3 again more reconnecting time. Day 4 (Tuesday) brought the kids leaving with their dad at 3:30am to head to Idaho for Christmas. I was so excited for them to spend time with him and his family.

I had 5 whole days to myself. I was bored by the afternoon of day 1 LOL it was way too quiet! I wasn't sure what I was going to do with myself over those 5 days. However, the week before I had found out that we had lost a good high school friend and classmate. In a class with only 29 students this hits very hard. I decided that I needed to spend those 5 days reconnecting with friends and just visiting. Wednesday many of us made the 4-5 hour drive to attend Daves service. It really didn't seem real until we were all there together in the same room saying goodbye to one of the funniest people I have ever met. We all spent that afternoon crying, laughing and sharing great memories. We reconnected with each other over beer and pizza, something Dave would have loved.

The rest of the week was quiet and I had a lot of time to think, reflect and just be still. Something I never do. I had a movie night with a friend, dinner with former co-workers, sushi with a couple of other friends and got some craft projects finished. Christmas Ever I volunteered at church and attended a beautiful Christmas service. Sunday, Christmas Day, I went to the city and spent the day with my best friend and her family. I was able to see her beautiful new home and precious time with her that we don't often get with our busy schedules. Monday morning I was up early and making the drive to pick up the kids. They had such a fabulous time and had many stories to tell. We drove to my parents house and did Christmas with my family. My oldest son met us there, he had been at his dads all week having a blast jamming on his guitar and writing music, along with working for my parents and earning money.

Now we are back home. Its 7am and everyone is sleeping, except for me. My oldest son should be home in a couple of hours and we will do Christmas here at home. I am so very thankful and feel so very blessed this holiday season. Thankful for our many family and friends, the opportunities the kids got last week to be with family and experience new things. And for myself, the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and just be still for a few days.

We hope you all had a fabulous holiday weekend full of laughter, love and great memories!

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19th-Long Update-

**sigh** I really never intended to stay away from this blog for so long. I have missed blogging, and being organized, and sleep.....the list could go on and on. I took a condensed A&P course Fall Quarter. Full A&P 1 and Full A&P 2 condensed into one quarter. If you are ever considering doing that....don't do it. The last couple of months have been extremely difficult. The amount of hours spent on school and studying has been overwhelming, BUT I am so glad that the class is done, I earned a solid grade in the class and can now move onto my very last pre requisite in winter quarter (along with a couple of other classes).

Now we are onto Christmas vacation. This year, ours is a bit different. The kids are going to be spending the first half of the vacation with their dad! He has been here all weekend spending time with them, reconnecting and celebrating our youngest sons birthday as well as getting to watch our youngest daughter dance. He and the kids will head out bright and early tomorrow morning for Idaho.

That leaves me with 6 days of no children!! This is the first time in 4 years I have gone more than 48 hours without the kids here. However, I am ready for a little break and so excited for the fun they are going to have!!

I am going to spend this time deep cleaning my house, finishing up some projects, visiting with friends I have not spent time with lately and just RELAXING. I am also focusing on getting back on track with meal planning, organization and budgeting as these have gone out the window lately.

The kids are all doing great and enjoying school. We have had performances for each of them this week for either music or dance and they have all done fabulously! I am one proud mama!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Menu Plan and Grocery Shopping Week of Oct 30th

I have been horrible about menu planning and actually cooking the past few weeks. This week I am determined to get back on track. Here is our menu plan and the grocery shopping the kids and I did yesterday.

Dinner menu:
Sunday: Tacos
Monday: Chicken pot pie
Tuesday: Zuppa Toscana Soup and french bread
Wednesday: At sons soccer party
Thursday: Spaghetti, french bread and salad
Friday: Hamburgers and french fries
Saturday: Subway after church

Groceries purchased:
2-2 liters of soda $1.58
3 boxs ceral $8.97
hot sauce $1.49
Shredded cheese $2.50
Hot pocket $2.50
Taco shells $1.99
spanish rice 1.59
2 boxes eggos $2.98
fajita seasoning .89
chicken broth 2.99
milk 2.59
tortilla shells 3.89
seasoned ground turkey 1.99
ground beef 7.33
kale 2.49
bananas 1.92
apples 1.89

Total: $50.61
We had alot of leftovers from last week and the weekend that will be incorporated for lunches as well as parts of the meals planned for the week. I will also end up picking up a couple more gallons of milk later in the week.

Struggling to find Balance

The past 6 weeks have proven to be some of the busiest and most challenging weeks I have ever faced. With an heavy class load and 4 very active children I have barely found time to breath, and I have been getting by on very little sleep and large amounts of caffeine. However, I found that I was slowly drowning on the to do lists and places to be. I found myself in tears more often than I have in the past few years. I wasn't quite sure what to do, how to fix it or make it better. For the first time in a very long time, I felt out of control, unable to keep up and actually started forgetting things that needed to be done.

I feel very strongly that going back to school is Gods plan for my future. I feel in my heart and soul that this is the right path not only for me but for my family at this time. However, I had lost sight of the fact that I needed to put my worries, stress and fears in Gods hands and let Him guide me down this path. I had let go of the sight that God will provide!!

Last weekend our Pastor gave a sermon titled Beautiful Day (the link is a recorded video of the sermon). The sermon was about Sabbath, taking a day of rest. During that entire sermon I felt as if he was talking directly to me, it was such a smack up side the head. I have been so go, go, go, do, do, do that I haven't taken any time to rest. I had THOUGHT about it, but then felt I couldn't because I would fall further behind. Our pastor challenged us to implement a Sabbath at least thru Thanksgiving. Even during the sermon I kept thinking to myself, how will I do this? How will I find the time and not fall further behind? He shared the scripture in Mark 6:31 which says: "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.". I realized, how could I NOT do this. It is what God wants for us, what he has instructed us to do in the bible. Even God did this as we were shown in Exodus 20:11, "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy". If God felt it important enough to take a day of rest, why would we ignore that in our lives?

So I accepted this challenge to implement a day of Sabbath. We attend church on Saturday night. That next day, we went to my parents house for the afternoon to celebrate my moms birthday. Nothing fancy, no prepared meal just sandwiches so that we could all rest and visit. There was no fuss over cooking a big meal or the clean up. The kids took their pumpkins with them and spent time carving pumpkins with their cousins. For those few hours, everyone was relaxing, resting and feeding our minds and hearts with fellowship. I discovered that by taking that day away from the hustle and bustle of our schedule things were OK! I put my trust in God that He would provide. This weekend, we did the same thing. Sundays seem to be the best day for our family to set aside but your Sabbath can be any day of the week. Yesterday we went and had family pictures done (our appointment had been scheduled months ago). We had a fun time with the pictures and then came home and spent a relaxing/lazy day at home. It was perfect. No running around, no to do list just time with each other and REST.

I encourage you, if you have time, listen to the sermon that I linked to. Then find a day each week to be your Sabbath if you don't already. We all need time to rest our mind, body and spirit!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quick Catch Up

I had originally hoped (as usual) to keep up with this blog, posting regularly. BUT, I have not found a way to fit it in with our new insane schedule. So here is a little "recap" of the past few weeks.

School is going very well for the kids. My oldest daughter has found that high school is much more overwhelming than middle school. With sports, band and school work she has been on the go much more than she has been used to. That said, she is adjusting and handling it very well (most of the time). My oldest son is attending high school classes and Running Start classes at the college. He is having to prioritize, manage his time and really focus on staying on top of things. He has been doing very well with this so far!
The younger 2 kiddos are really enjoying school this year. They both have great teachers and a fun group of classmates.

My classes have been much more intense that I had originally anticipated. The Condensed A&P class is extremely fast paced and alot to learn in a short amount of time. I have been functioning on very little sleep for the past few weeks. My day time hours are packed with school/homework/studying and then evenings are packed full of kids activities, more homework and studying. I thank God daily that coffee was created!!

I have been doing very well with taking my lunch with me daily and not purchasing lunches. While we haven't had "fancy" dinners, we have been cooking dinner at home and not eating out. My menu's have been simple, with one to two crockpot meals per week. I am excited we are getting into "soup" season, as soup and sandwiches are a quick and easy dinner for those busy nights!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Menu Week of 9/18/11

This week, Fall Quarter starts at the college. With my school schedule and the kids activity schedule, I MUST be prepared. The kids eat lunch at school most days (and pack once in a while). I will be packing my lunch with me daily.

Weekday breakfast options: Cereal, bagels, eggos, oatmeal  (I eat a ff Chobani yogurt, fruit and whole grain english muffin with 2 T. peanut butter)

Lunches: I will pack my lunch with either leftovers, salad, sandwich in a Flat Out Wrap or Lean Cuisine.

Sunday: Roasted Sticky Chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables
Monday: Chicken Francese, brown rice and vegetables
Tuesday: Crockpot Chicken Taco Chili, brown rice again
Wednesday: Spaghetti (I will have spaghetti squash in place of pasta), French bread and salad
Thursday: Pot roast in Tastefully Roast SauceSimple Tender Pot , baked potatoes, veggies
Friday: Kids Choice
Saturday: Subway after church

Friday, September 16, 2011

Defining Success

We as a society are bombarded with "lose weight quick" ads and commercials. There are pills, drinks, powders, creams and who knows what all else that "guarantee" you to lose a large amount of weight in a very short amount of time. Add to that shows like the Biggest Loser (which I LOVE and watch regularly don't get me wrong), where they are losing BIG numbers week after week. I know for myself personally, I have struggled in the past with losing smaller numbers because of this. I felt I was failing because I couldn't pull those big numbers or have the rapid weight loss. This time, I am approaching things MUCH differently. The scale is no always the determining factor of success in weight loss.

I have had several people ask me what I am doing to lose weight. So here are the details. I have chosen to follow the Weight Watchers plan. This is not a diet but a lifestyle change. It is something that can be easily embraced by the entire family (over time). I am a nerd when it comes to lists and tracking things, making the Points system something that works well for me. I am using the online program which is perfect for me. I do not go to any meetings, it is all done online. Each morning I log onto the website and I track what I plan to eat for the day. I know how much wiggle room I have for the day. There are also online forums where I connect to people in my age range, with the same amount of weight to lose as I do as well as places to share recipes, new product reviews and the like.

I have been at this for almost 2 weeks now. Yes I know, that is not long, but that in itself is a SUCCESS. I have changed many aspects of how I eat, my activity level and how I do things in those 2 weeks. In the forums these are called "non scale victories" (aka NSV). Here are ten of my NSV for the past two weeks:

1. Menu planning for the family with healthy recipes
2. Stocking up on healthy foods/snacks
3. Exercising 4 times per week
4. Quit drinking soda completely
5. Changed what I drink when I go out for coffee from a drink worth 9 points down to one that is 3 points
6. Making very wise choices when eating out
7. Water Water Water I went from drinking very little to filling up and drinking my 16 oz cup 5 times per day (and sometimes more)
8. Reading labels! This is HUGE I am amazed at how much junk was in some of the things we ate
9. Trying new exercises (such as Yoga)
10. Being proud of the 1.4 pounds I lost last week and not being disappointed that it wasnt' 5 or 10 pounds

One of the tools I am using is a website full of recipes with the WW points already calculated. I cannot rave about these recipes enough! Check out the website http://www.skinnytaste.com/ . Another is a website that has many of the items on restaurant menus calculated http://www.dwlz.com/restaurants.html . Both of these are great resources to have on hand!

I hope to blog regularly about my struggles and victories as well as share things I find that might help someone else. I HOPE to, with our fall schedule and school starting for me next week, I may find myself not getting here as often as I would like.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Change of Plans and Revamped Menu

A little over a week ago, I made a decision. I desperately need to make a lifestyle change. I have spent too many years sabotaging myself with my weight and eating habits. I took action and did four things last week.

1. Joined Weight Watchers Online
2. Joined the YMCA
3. Joined a Biggest Loser competition (local group of ladies)
4. Stocked up on healthy foods

Last week was week 1 in my lifestyle change. I took a water aerobics twice and tried yoga for the first time (and loved it). I stuck to my WW points, drank my water and was rewarded with a 1.4 pound loss! Yes its a small amount on the overall amount I need to lose but it is a positive start!

With this change comes a need to modify our menu. I found a fabulous website http://www.skinnytaste.com/ that is FULL of fabulous recipes. The nutritional information is provided AND the WW points have been calculated! This weeks dinner menu is coming from that site with the exception of Sunday.

Our revised dinner menu:
S: Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts, green beans (for the kids that don't eat Brussels sprouts), pasta roni for the kids, and green salad.

M: Asian grilled chicken, cucumber salad, roasted spaghetti squash

T: Mexican slow cooked pork carnitas, rice and veggies

W: Pasta Fagioli, French bread

Th: Caramelized Onion, Red Pepper and Zucchini Fritata, Green salad

F: Burgers & baked fries for the kids, turkey burger and baked chipotle sweet potato fries for me, skinny ranch dip and salad.

S: Pizza for the kids. I will be eating at an all day scrapbook crop!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Menu

I have stocked up on breakfast and lunch options for the kids. The kids will eat lunch at school most days (free lunch) but will pack on some days. I will stock up on soup/salad options for myself at home. Later in the month, school will start for me and I will be packing a lunch for myself as well. HMM, I better get myself a lunch box ;)

This menu is the dinner menu for the month. I will be attending a Freezer Meal (FM) swap this month which is focused on crockpot meals! I will take 12 of the same meal to the swap and come home with 12 different meals for my freezer.

1- Bratz, burgers on the grill
2- Pizza for some of us, at the football game for the rest
3- Soup, sandwiches
4- Ribs on the grill, baked potatoes and veggies
5- Roast, mashed potatoes and veggies
6- Tacos, rice
7- Crockpot meal (FM)
8- Spaghetti, french bread, salad
9- Meatloaf, mash potatoes, veg
10- Subway after church
11- Brown Sugar & Balsamic Pork Loin, Brussels Sprouts w/ bacon/walnuts, green beans
12- Creamy wild rice soup, french bread
13- Tacos, rice
14- @ church
15- Crockpot FM
16- Hamburgers & french fries
17- Kids choice
18- Encheladas
19- Zuppa Toscana and french bread
20- Tacos, rice
21- Crockpot FM
22- Crockpot FM
23- French dips
24- Subway
25- Sticky chicken, mashed potatoes and veg
26- Bake potato chowder, french bread
27- Tacos, rice
28- Crockpot FM
29- Crockpot FM
30- Kids choice

September :)

Today is September 1st, and with the start of a new month it was like a switch was flipped with the temperature! It was 45 degrees this morning BRRRR!

With the start of September, we are starting our fall/winter prep around our house. Today my oldest son is getting the weedeating done and replacing chicken wire on the coop. The other kids and I are working on smaller projects around the house. We are restocking our pantry and getting menu's, budets and schedules in place.

School starts for the kids next week and I start again in a couple of weeks. I am determined to go into this organized and prepared! So off we go!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Menu Week of 8/21

Only a couple more weeks of planning 3 meals per day. While I enjoy menu planning, just planning dinner is much easier LOL!

B: cereal, muffins, whatever each wants
L: ??
D: Grilled burgers for the kids, grilled steak bites with blue cheese dipping sauce (Freezer meal) for ODS and myself. Salad and potatoes.

B: Cinnamon Rolls
L: Sandwiches & chips
D: @ a wedding reception

B: Hashbrowns and eggs
L:  Pizza in Crescent rolls
D:  Encheladas

B: Waffles with homemade blueberry sauce
L: Sandwiches & chips
D: Chicken Divan, rice, veggies

B: Pancakes, eggs
L: Tacos
D: Olive Garden (copykat) Fettucini alfredo, homeamde french bread and salad

B: French toast, eggs
L: At home for the boys, out for the girls
D: Fondue!!

B: Homemade muffins
L: Picnic at the beach
D: Subway after church


The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. In the past couple of weeks:
- I finished up my summer quarter classes at college
- The kids and I went to Family Camp where I coordinated an evening preschool class for approx. 38 preschoolers
- We went to Silverwood with some great friends
- We went on a tour of Grand Coulee Dam
- We went to the fair
- We started to prep for back to shool

WHEW! It has been fun and amazing and crazy busy. But, sadly, tomorrow starts the beginning of back to school insanity for us. No, school doesn't start yet, not until Sept. 6th, but sports start tomorrow. Twice a day soccer practice. Woohoo!

I have a few weeks off between Summer and Fall quarter. For those few weeks I am VERY thankful. I need to get caught up on things and back on track. Sept-Dec. is going to be a rough few months on us with our schedule so I need to be as prepared as possible.

What I am doing to prepare:
- Stocking pantry
- Stocking freezer with meals (attending 2 freezer meal swaps and then some on my own)
- Decluttering and hauling off things for donation (outgrown kids clothes etc)
- Prepping for Christmas with handmade cards/gifts
- Updating family calendar and keeping it current
- Meal planning
- Budgeting
- Cleaning house from one end to the other and top to bottom
- Making sure we are all ready with school clothes/supplies/sports equipment etc.

This past week the kids and I cleaned out our garage. We hauled away a large load of things to Goodwill and I have several bags for consigment. We also need to winter prep our chicken coop as well as windows/door frames etc.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Menu Week of 7/24

This weeks dinner menu is based mostly on freezer meals from this weeks freezer meal swap! Love the variety of meals we get to try.

B: Donuts (from the bread outlet)
L: Sandwiches and chips
D: Beer can chicken (freezer meal), pasta roni, green beans and salad

B: Choice of cereal, muffins, yogurt/fruit
L: Ravioli, salad
D: Hamburger helper, salad and garlic bread

B: Choice of cereal, muffins, yogurt/fruit

L: Sandwiches & chips
D: Mexi Chicken (freezer meal), rice

B: Choice of cereal, muffins, yogurt/fruit

L: Penne with Garlic cream sauce, garlic sourdough, salad
D: Hamburgers (Premade and in the freezer) & french fries, veggies

B: Choice of cereal, muffins, yogurt/fruit

L: Packed from home picnic at the park if its nice
D: Cheesy Chilada Bake (freezer meal)
B: Hashbrowns, eggs, bacon
L: Leftovers
D: Pizza for the kids, sushi out for me (I had the dates mixed up last week OOPS)

B: Belgian waffles
L: Mini corndogs, fries
D: Subway after church

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Menu Week of July 17th

Breakfast this week (weekdays) will be cereal for the kids. Thats what they like to have and well, really all they want to eat in the morning. So I have decided to throw the breakfast battle out the window for the rest of the summer. I will have either egg and toast or yogurt and fruit before I head out to class. And of course, LOTS of coffee!

This weeks Lunch/Dinner menu:

B: Waffles
L: Odds and ends from the freezer/fridge
D: Grilled steak, pasta roni, vegetables

L: Chicken fingers & fries
D: Pork ribs in Crockpot, rice and vegetables

L: Hot dogs/Mac & cheese
D: French dip sandwiches, french fries and salad

L: Sandwiches & chips
D: Pomegranate/Chipotle meatloaf, mashed potatoes, veggies and salad

L: Tacos
D: Leftovers/CORD (Clean out refrigerator dinner)

B: Muffins
L: Sandwiches & chips (if the weather is nice we will pack this as a picnic and head to the park)
D: Pizza for the kids I am going to sushi with a good friend!

B: Cinnamon rolls
L: Grilled burgers, creamy parmesan pasta salad

D: Freezer meal

I am providing a meal for another family on Wednesday (Urban Garlic Chicken). Saturday morning I am hosting a freezer meal swap and will prepare some brunch items for the group.

Week of July 10th Recap

School, homework and more homework. That pretty much sums up my week! These three classes I am taking are high volumes of homework, I will be glad when they are finished! This weekend I tried to spend some one on one time with the younger kids. Friday, my youngest daughter and I went and got pedicures, something she has been wanting to do :). Saturday, I took my youngest son to the movies, we had a blast. Its important to remember even in our super busy schedules, that one on one time IS important. Its a time when that child can talk to the parent without the competition of siblings and has the parents undivided attention.

Today, back to business. I have an extremely large to do list that I need to tackle. I am starting to realize again that when I don't stay on top of everything my stress level gets high and I have trouble sleeping. Time to nip that in the bud very quickly!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grocery Shopping Week of July 10th

This week I am using mostly what is on hand. I tried the new Target Grocery at our local Target not a bad selection!

I will be shopping again later this week for camping and will post that later on. But for now....

Salad dressing 1.99
Refried beans .99
2 hard shells 2.04
2 spanish rice 1.92
1 can corn .69
fettucini noodles 1.09
ground beef 3.50
2 lemonade 1.94
gallon milk 2.49
whipping cream 2.29
shredded cheese 2.59

Total: $21.53 I used a $5 gift card I had earned a few weeks ago on a womens razor deal they had. That brought my total to $16.53. I then used my Target card (which I came home and transferred the money to pay it) and that took an additional 5% off making my final total: $15.70!

I received a register coupon for $5 off my next grocery purchase of $50

See how others did at the Grocery Cart Challenge!

Menu Week of July 10th with recipe links!

This weeks menu will be a use it up menu. There are a lot of bits/pieces of things or partial packages in the cupboard that need to be used up. I did supplement with a few items from the store. I tried out the new grocery section of our local Target this week while shopping for other items. Not someplace I would want to do regular grocery shopping, but, great selection for just needing a few items!

This weeks menu:
B: at camp
L: sandwiches & chips
D: Garlic Panko Chicken Strips , Parmesan Garlic Pasta, green salad

B: Cereal or yogurt/fruit
L: Sandwiches & chips
D: Tacos and spanish rice

B: Cinnamon Melt Muffins from Tastefully Simple
L: Sandwiches & chips
D: Olive Garden Fettucini Alfredo and Salmon, french bread and salad. I will make some regular spaghetti for the 2 kids that don't like fettucini alfredo.

B: Cereal or yogurt/fruit
L: Chicken strips & french fries, watermelon
D: Pork Ribs in crockpot, rice and veggies

B: Cereal or smoothies
L: Leftovers
D: at camp

Friday- Sunday should be at camp but we will have to see how the weather holds up. Camping meals will be kept very simple.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Unexpected Getaways

This weekend my parents were camping at their camping property. Thursday night the kids and I decided to sneak over and surprise them for the weekend. My oldest son couldn't go, he had to work, so I got him set up at home with meals, emergency contacts etc. The rest of us loaded up the car and headed out Friday morning. It turns out that my parents had taken my niece and nephew with them so the kids were super excited!

We arrived at camp and my parents were gone they had taken the kids fishing. We had most of our tent set up when they came back. My niece was so excited to see us she almost bailed out of the car before mom was done driving YIKES!

We had a great time. The cousins had a blast playing together. Saturday we went into Winthrop for ice cream. Mom took my youngest back with her to camp and the girls and I stayed and walked around Winthrop, had lunch and just spent some time together. I am so glad we decide to make the trip!

I didn't snap many pictures but here are a few from the North Cascades Pass on our drive over and a few in Winthrop of the girls :).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Saving Money on our Furry Family Members

We have three cute kitties in our home. Unfortunately, the cost of vaccines and regular flea treatment can get expensive. Last year, I learned how to vaccinate my own cats at a fraction of the cost. The vet told me how to do it (for free) and then I purchased the vaccines (which came with a needle/syringe) at the local feed store.

Today I learned how to drastically cut the cost of monthly flea treatment. I use Advantage for the cats. The cost for a one month supply (3 individual doses) from the vet is $40 after tax. When I went in today they asked me if I felt comfortable measuring doses into a syringe, which of course I do. They now offer a large dog size dose of Advantage with dosing instructions per the weight of your cat. This one vial of Advantage is enough for me to dose all three cats for THREE MONTHS! The cost for one vial $18.49 after tax!! I calculated out the savings over three months......$98! This was simple and easy to do. If you have ever measured medicine in a syringe (no needle) for an infant you can do this. Same application as you would with the little tube.

My kitties will now be happy and flea free and my pocketbook will be much happier with the savings.

Fourth of July Fun

Our community has a very nice fireworks display over the bay each July 4th. The past few years we have fought the crowds to enjoy them from the waterfront. This year we met some new friends and they invited us to join their annual 4th of July party. Great food, great fellowship and we were able to watch the fabulous fireworks from their deck! Earlier in the day I made my children pose for some pictures. They are not big fans of matching shirts of group photos but they cooperated and we were done quickly so we were all happy :). Here are a few shots of our 4th of July fun! By the way, this was FRUGAL fun! The party was a snack potluck. We took chicken drummettes in Bayou Bourbon Glaze and Lemon Bars both from Tastefully Simple. All items used I had on hand no money spent! We took our own drinks, which came from leftover camping stock, again, no additional money spent. We enjoyed the many fireworks going off around us, we did not spend money on fireworks, again no money spent. Yet we had the BEST 4th of July we have had in a very long time!

This Bald Eagle landed in the field across from our house while we were out taking pictures!

My favorite shot of the kids, shows their true personality :)


Our fabulous party hosts Jen and Jeff!

One of these days I will learn how to use the fireworks setting on my camera properly but I thought his one turned out pretty cool!

Garden Treats

Sadly, this year we are not enjoying our own garden treats. With the late and very wet spring we were unable to get a garden in the ground. I also decided that with school and our crazy schedule this summer, it might be too much to take on a large garden as well. Instead, we are getting produce from a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) on a local farm. We are also taking advantage of the many berry farms around us and a fabulous farmers market. The cost of these items is great and the quality and freshness cannot be beat! Here are a few of our items from this week:

Homemade waffles with homemade blueberry compote. These berries were in the freezer from last year. Blueberries require no work other than to package/freeze!

Strawberries from a local field. I cut the green tops off, froze on the cookie sheet and then placed in ziplock bags in the freezer. We now have plenty of fresh berries on hand for smoothies!

This is our farmers market dinner. The bread came from a local baker, the lettuce for the salad as well as the peas and garlic scapes in the stir fry from a local farm (same that we get our CSA box from). The pasta is from a fresh pasta company here in town. It is Garlic Scape Fettuccine and to die for delicious! The chicken on the skewers is also local but wasn't picked up at the farmers market. This is an inexpensive meal that feels/tastes like it cost alot more. Cooked at home with love but the purchases helped support local farmers and businesses.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Grocery Shopping Week of 7/3/11

This week I did my major shopping trip at Haggens. I need to go to the bread outlet and pick up a few items sometime this week. Saturday I will pick up skewers to cook that night so that they are fresh and not frozen.

My total spent: $80.15

Milk $2.69
Corn $1.50
Parmesan cheese $3.99
Chips x 3 $5.97
2 packs Bagels $5.00
Shredded cheddar $2.99
1 loaf bread $1.99
Ground beef $4.27
Cream of celery $1.49
Hot dogs .99
Steak $6.59
Pork Ribs $8.03
Drumsticks $6.49
Chicken satay $8.00
Red onion 1.11
Alfredo sauce 4.99
3 boxes cereal $6.99
garlic .79
cantaloupe 1.12
watermelon 4.27
lemon .89

This will fill in what I need for the menu posted earlier today for 3 meals a day plus snacks.
Check the Grocery Cart Challenge to see how others did this week!

July 3, 2011- Summer activities update, menu and ramblings

We are discovering new ways each day to enjoy frugal fun this summer. Yesterday we walked around the fabulous Farmers Market here in town. We picked up a few items for a delicious all local dinner for tonight. We then drove towards home and stopped at several garage sales. We found items to add to our back to school box for the fall as well as a couple of items on our wants list (such as a flour sifter!). On our way home a friend called and asked if we wanted to head out to the beach with them. OF COURSE! We stopped by the house and threw some snacks and drinks in the ice chest and headed out.

Washington State passed a new law that requires a Discover Pass to park in State Parks. We have not yet picked ours up so that excluded our favorite beach. Our friends showed us a public county beach that we didn't even know existed! We had a fabulous time before heading off to church!

This week is going to be a hectic week. School starts for me on Tuesday and my oldest daughter has a soccer tournament this coming weekend. July also brings additional challenges of expenses of youth group camp and dance camp. With the busy schedule and additional expenses it is very important to stay ontop of menu planning and being prepared. We also need to make sure that we keep our activities free or low cost to avoid financial stress, which personally, I feel is one of the worst kinds of stress.

With that, here is our plan for the week!

B: Cereal or egg/toast
L: Chicken drummettes and leftovers
D: Garlic scape pasta with Alfredo sauce, salad and chibatta bread (all from the local farmers market)
S: Fruit (grapes/cherries)
Activity/craft: Movie day or the park depends on the weather

B: Waffles
L: Hamburgers
D: At friends BBQ
S: Fruit bars
Activity/Craft: 4th of July BBQ with friends

B: Cereal or bagels
L: Sandwiches & chips
D: Chicken, stir fry veggies, rice
S: Popcorn
Activity/Craft: Park and thank you card(s)

B: Blueberry muffins
L: Cheeseburger spaghetti, salad
D: Pork ribs in cp, coleslaw, rice a roni
S: Ice cream cones
Activity/Craft: Library

B: Cinnamon rolls
L: Chicken & vegetable summer tostadas or bean/cheese tostadas
D: Steak/egg salad or hotdogs/chips
S: Popcorn
Activity/Craft: Giant bubble wands and homemade bubbles. Family game night.
B: Cereal or egg/toast
L: Sandwiches & chips
D: Pizza after soccer game
S: Cookies
Activity/craft: Soccer tournament/playground

B: Cereal or yogurt/fruit
L: Packed from home picnic for soccer tournament
D: Grilled kabobs, grilled "baked" potatoes, salad
S: Packed stuff from home for tournament
Activity: Soccer tournament/playground

Monday, June 27, 2011

Menu and Shopping Trip Week of 6/26

I have planned out Sunday-Thursday of this week and will finish out the week when the sale ad is available. I did our grocery shopping last night, with the kids so a few extras made it into the cart. Hmmm not sure HOW that happened :)

B: We ate at camp. We sauteed leftover potatoes, peppers and onions in a cast iron pan over the camp fire and fried up eggs to go with it.
L: Sandwiches & chips
D: The two older kids had a BBQ for youth group and I treated the two younger kids to dinner at Billy McHales on Sundays their kids meals are 1/2 price!

B: Leftover muffins from camping
L: Mini corndogs/french fries or sandwich/chips
D: Grilled chicken, grilled potato/veggie packets, salad
Snack: Smoothies
Activity: Family movie night

B: Eggs, bacon, hashbrowns
L: Tacos
D: Slow roasted sticky chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies and salad
Snack: Popcorn
Activity: Dance classes. The dance studio where my youngest daughter takes classes is offering drop in classes on Tuesdays over the summer. Both of the girls are going to try some different kinds of dance this summer. My youngest son is going to reluctantly give Hip Hop a try :).

B: Biscuits/gravy and sausage
L: Sandwiches & chips
D: Spaghetti, french bread and salad
Snack: Ice cream cones from a local dairy farm
Activity: Library and farm for ice cream cones

B: Cereal or eggos
L: Sandwiches & chips
D: Grilled burgers/hotdogs
Snack: Crackers/cookies etc.
Activity: TBD

I didn't take a picture of my shopping trip but here is our list of purchases for the week:
2- Eggo Waffles $3.98
2- Apple Juice $3.78
2- Whole fryers $7.73 (one is for our family and one for a family we are providing a meal for)
1- shredded cheese $2.50
1# bacon- $5.71
Sausage links $3.49

Total: $27.52
I will pick up our CSA Farm box on Wednesday and that adds in more veggies. We are still using what we received last week as well!

Camping and the Beach

This past weekend we took our first camping trip of the season. While we were only about 20 minutes away from home, it seems like we were a world away. This is our 2nd year making this group camping trip with friends. We reserved a double site giving us lots of room for tents, tables, fire pit and the kids to play. We are just a short walk from the beach which is AWESOME. By splitting the cost among the families that went, we were able to camp for 4 days/3 nights for less than $40! Keep the meal simple and this is a very low cost way to have some family fun!

The beach is one of my families favorite places to be. Especially my youngest son. He can spend HOURS at the beach collecting rocks and shells. The weather was nice but the wind kept it a bit too chilly to really play in the water this trip. Except our last night there. Despite the cold water the kids were determined they were going to swim once this camping trip. So as we sat on the beach waiting for the gorgeous sunset, the kids swam.
One of the best parts of this camping location is the AMAZING sunsets.

This is our first year tent camping. We invested in a new 10 person tent. I was worried about setting it up for the first time. I have to say, this tent was probably the easiest tent I have ever set up! The hardest part was staking it down because the ground where we were was hard and rocky. We are so excited for our many camping adventures to come this summer!

This is a picture of 3 of my kiddo's and my daughters best friend. My oldest son seemed to have been MIA in all of my pictures LOL. I am sure that wasn't on accident on his part.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

First Day of Summer

What a beautiful day! After such a dark, wet winter and spring it was a delight to have such a beautiful sunny day for the first day of summer. I have a two week break between spring and summer quarters at college and hope to make the most of it with the kids.

My youngest son was a little down the other day and when I asked him why, he had a very good point. The older kids had so much going on the past few weeks he hadn't had a day that was about him. So we made yesterday all about him and what he wanted to do. We had originally planned to go bowling (Free with Kids Bowl Free) but we opted to skip that for the outdoors and the park. We took a picnic lunch and enjoyed the park and playground. After the park, we headed to the library to check out books for the week. While we were there, all four of the kids signed up for the summer reading program. We stopped at Dairy Queen for ice cream cones to cool off on the way home. Last night we had lasagna for dinner (his favorite) and ate outside in the back yard. Such a great way to spend the first day of summer!

There are alot of free options out there for activities. We participated in the Kids Bowl Free and the Summer Reading Program at the library last year as well. Even if you do not live in our local area, check your local library to see if they have such a program. The Kids Bowl Free website has a list of participating bowling alleys and suggestions if yours is not currently participating.

We are off for day two of summer vacation! Make sure to take time today to make some memories!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Vacation- Week 1

YEAH summer vacation has finally arrived. This summer, I won't be working but I will be taking 12 college credits. 7 of those credits will be online classes which allows quite a bit of flexibility. However, as with anything, routine is key. We started off the summer by creating a rotating chore chart for the family. By using this chore chart, it will take about an hour each day to get thru all of the daily "stuff". This allows us the entire afternoon for fun!

Along with chores, we have made sure to add in 20 minutes of reading time daily. I feel reading is very important for the kids as well as myself. It allows one time to relax and step back from the insanity of life, along with keep up on a very important skill. As I type this blog post, the two youngest kids are sitting here with their books :). Our local library offers a summer reading program that awards the kids for their reading and best of all, its FREE!

Our menu has been planned for the rest of this week along with fun activities. Here is a peek at our week :)

B: Egg/toast or cereal
L: Leftovers
D: Pecan Crusted chicken, mashed potatoes and salad
Snack: Popcorn
Fun activity: Game night!
Craft: Chocolate covered strawberries (ok not really a craft but hey the kids are excited!)

B: Blueberry pancakes, bacon and eggs
L: Potato chowder and sandwiches
D: Lasagna, salad and homemade french bread
Snack: Free ice cream cones
Fun activity: Bowling and the library
Craft: Cards

B: Omlets or cereal
L: Sandwiches & chips for those at home. Oldest daugther and I will be heading to a soccer BBQ. We will take cucumber salad and snicker salad.
D: Leftovers, steak bites with blue cheese dipping sauce, salad
Snack: Smoothies
Fun activity: Park
Craft: Sun visors

I will post the rest of the week later on!

Graduation, Dance and Summer Vacation!

We made it thru our busiest five days WHEW. Last Thursday brought my oldest daughters 8th grade graduation and her first high school dance. She looked beautiful and so grown up!

Friday was the last day of school for the kids. They are ready for summer vacation and all of its fun! Friday night we had our first big BBQ of the season. We celebrated summer and the 8th grade graduation with family and friends.

Saturday was dance day. My youngest daughter had her spring performance for ballet. She too looked beautiful and so grown up. This is a picture of her in her costume/hair/makeup.

Sunday was Fathers Day. The kids dad doesn't live locally. We went and spent the day at the beach with friends for a BBQ celebrating the day and my friends birthday. It was alot of fun and great to just sit and relax for a few hours.

Today we are on the first official day of summer vacation. We have done alot of planning today. Chore lists, extra projects and menu's. We are also working on our list of summer fun activities. This is going to be an AWESOME summer!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lots of Catching Up to Do

Every morning as I write my daily to do list, "update blog" is on there. However, as you can tell, that has fall off the list every day UGH. I hope to do better (yes I know said that many times before). It has been an extremely busy month here. Here are a few highlights!

We have decided to not grow a large garden this year. We have had such a very wet spring and the ground is just now ready to till. However, the farmers are so busy trying to get their fields done, tilling the garden just isn't in the cards. I have decided I am totally ok with not having one this year though. We are going to be so busy this summer I am worried it would just be added stress. Instead, we have joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program thru one of the local farms. For a fee, you buy a share in this years crop. Each week we get to pick up a box of produce. Here is what our first weeks box brought us:

We survived the end of the year band concert. This was an all district band concert and was L-O-N-G. The high school band/jazz band are really really good, the jazz band even received a standing ovation! I am excited that next year I will only have to attend one concert per season as I will not have a middle schooler for one whole year **sigh**. In other "music news" and a "proud mom moment", my oldest son lettered in both Band and Jazz Band this year! I didn't even know you could letter in music, one of the things I guess I missed growing up in a very small school. The 2 oldest kids also marched in the Farmers Day Parade with band. My oldest daughter plays bass which is too hard to do with band so she volunteered to help with the flag team instead.

The biggest highlight of this past month was getting to go on a mission trip with my oldest daughter. This is what she chose to do for her 14th birthday. We went to Esperanza, BC with a group of 14 from our church over Memorial Day Weekend. We were gone 5 days, volunteering with a women's retreat. Our team cooked, did dishes, provided child care and worked on a list of maintenance projects. It was so amazing in so many different ways!! We cannot wait to go back again next year!

The two younger kids are so excited for summer vacation. They both LOVE the outdoors. Our summers are full of days at the park and camping which they both love. My youngest son finished up soccer season and cannot wait for fall soccer to start. My youngest daughter finished up fast pitch and is practicing her pitching skills to be ready for next year! This week she will finish up dance for the season as well.

My biggest news is actually winning something! I won a $1000 shopping spree in the Haggen Monopoly game WOOHOO! I will be blogging about how much I can actually get with that win using sales/coupons and hope to use it to well stock my pantry for next fall/winter! School is going really well. This week I wind down spring quarter and then summer quarter will start July 7th.

I really do hope to blog more frequently over the summer.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Insanity and Catch up (no not Ketchup) :)

On one word, that's how our schedule has been the past couple of weeks! We have about one more month and things will start to slow down a little, well, for a couple of months anyways. I have had some trouble adjusting to school along with the kids schedules, the house and all that I need to get done in a day. However, I think its finally coming together in a good routine. I under estimated how much time I would need to spend studying this quarter whew! I registered last week for Summer and Fall classes so I know what I am facing ahead. I like KNOWING whats going on, I am not a fly by the seat of my pants kind of gal at all these days.

It has been an exceptionally wet spring here in Western Washington. This has not been good for our spring sports season. Many of the fast pitch games have been cancelled due to rain, and even three soccer games (which is not normal). We finished up soccer this weekend and will be done with fast pitch in a couple of weeks. After that its just finishing up dance, the rest of the school year for the kids and its onto summer vacation!

We did have a big event in our house this week. My oldest son is now driving. I have discovered that having to let them have that freedom is one of the hardest things one can do as a parent! It is gut wrenching to watch them drive away for the first time, but he is doing great with it. It will be nice to have a second driver in the house that is for sure!

This week I need to do my freezer cooking session. We have a freezer meal swap next Saturday. I am not sure yet WHEN I am going to fit this in, but, somewhere in the week I need to find some time. I cannot stress enough how valuable and time saving it has been having these meals on hand.

I was going to add some pictures but that function doesn't seem to be working this morning. Ahh the joys of technology!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday May 3rd- Getting Crafty and a Birthday

Today is my oldest daughters 14th birthday. I still cannot believe she is 14, it seems like just yesterday that she was born! She is growing into such an amazing young lady and I am very proud of her! She hates having her picture taken but here is one taken last summer. This photo was taken by Shannon at Sweetpea Memories Photography if you are looking for a local photographer check her out!

I have also been getting crafty this past week. I keep getting comments of trying to be "super mom" or an "over achiever" LOL but really, I love to craft and making things myself is MUCH more cost efficient!

This week is staff appreciation week at our school. Volunteering is important to me especially in our church and at the schools. For staff appreciation I volunteered for two things I knew I could do, take photos of staff for the bulletin board and bake cookies! My daughter and her friend helped me frost and package them. Making these cookies vs buying them was a huge cost difference. Here are the cookies ready to be delivered.

Every year I also make a gift for each of the younger kids teachers. Google is a great tool to use when looking for fabulous and fun teacher appreciation gift ideas! This year I found this Box of Teacher Goodies which I thought was super cute! I picked paper that matched each teachers likes and had fun with filling them with goodies! For me the personal touch to these types of gifts is important.

 And then there are cupcakes. The younger kids are not able to take homemade goodies to school anymore on their birthdays due to too many allergies in classrooms. The middle school and high school however, are different. My daughter wanted to take 30 cupcakes today. If I had bought them pre made it would have cost me at least $20 just for cupcakes. We made them ourselves at home. I bought cute liners, orange frosting tint, 2 cake mixes and frosting for about $7. That is a huge savings.

So, sometimes, it is more of a financial factor in doing the things I do than trying to be "supermom". Although I do have four SUPER kids that I would do anything for! :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Musings-May 2nd

I love spring for many reasons. Sunshine, flowers, sounds of birds and frogs. But most of all, I love spring because the electricity and natural gas bills go way down! We are getting to the time of year where I can use my clothes line instead of the drier and we can put on a sweater if we are chilly instead of turning up the heat YEAH! Spring, my checkbook thanks you :).

Another thing I love is our church. Our church has great programs for not only adults but children of all ages. I posted last week about my daughter who went to the "old fogey" night for the middle school youth group. Last night was my sons turn. The high school youth group had "thrift store formal" night. Check out these "special" duds HA! The Scooby Doo tie was an especially huge hit at our house since it is my youngest sons favorite character!

There are a few areas I need to address this week and focus on.

*I need to re inventory my pantry and freezer so that I know what we have on hand. With the cost of gas and food prices rising, I want to make sure I stay stocked on things we use regularly. I will watch for sales on those items and avoid running out and having to make a "quick trip" to the store. Those quick trips can be very costly not only in buying more than you need, but also with the price of gas.

*Re look at our budget and expenses. I did this 6 months ago (in November) and I need to do it again to make sure we are not overpaying for services.

*Front flower bed. It needs major attention. This week I will measure the flowerbed to see how much bark we will need and what we might want to plant.

*Garage sale list. No, not a list of garage sales we are going to but rather a master list of things we are looking for this summer. For example, my youngest daughter has a series of books she would like to have. If we bought it new it would be close to $100. However, we can usually find books at garage sales for .25-.50 each. HUGE savings! I would like to find a bike for myself (a particular one) and will watch for that over the summer.

Mix those in with a long list of activities and events this week as well as housework and homework and well, that's my week :).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Menu

If you seen the note FM that stands for Freezer Meal. I have alot of meals in the freezer from the past 2 months freezer cooking sessions and swaps. I am planning another for May (see below). Each night as I am doing the dishes I take out a freezer meal to thaw overnight. There is alot of variety in our freezer so I just choose whatever sounds good that night for the next day!

May Menu
1- Grilled burgers, hot dogs and pasta salad
2- Slow roasted rosemary/garlic chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies
3- FM
4- Chicken ceasar pasta, salad and french rolls
5- FM
6- OUT- we will be attending an art walk with childrens art from local schools (including my daughters art) and will have dinner there
7- Mission Team Potluck (I'm taking chili)
8- Mothers day I am hoping we can go to the beach again and roast hot dogs. If not I will probably pull out a freezer meal.
9- FM
10- FM
11- BBQ at church
12- FM
13- Tacos
14- @ a graduation BBQ
15- Shepherds pie, salad, hm rolls
16- FM
17- FM
18- Spaghetti, salad, french bread
19- FM
20- Homemade pizza
21- Subway
22- BBQ burgers
23- FM
24- FM
25- Chicken ceasar wraps

26/27- free choice
28/29- meals at other locations
30- On the go or sandwiches
31- FM

My May Freezer Cooking Session will include:

3-Chicken Broccoli Bake
3-Chicken Cordon Bleu
3-Daves swamp blues bbq chicken
4-Cheesy Chilada bake
3-Shanghai Stir Fry
15-Cheese Burgers
4-Rice Pilaf
4-Garlic Mashed potato
8-Tropical Fruit Smoothie

All recipes except the cheeseburgers come from the book Fix Freeze Feast I cannot recomend this book enough! The # next to the item is the quantity of meals I will be making. The Rice Pilaf and Garlic mashed potatoes will be a side dish. The cheese burgers is an individual # not meals.

The lasagna will be my meal I am making for this months freezer swap. I will take the 8 lasagnas and come home with 8 different meals for our freezer. This is a great way to try new recipes without the commitment of making several of them!

May 1- Happy May Day

I was so happy to wake up to beautiful sunshine this morning! We have had some very rainy gray days here in Western Washington this past week. The sun came out long enough yesterday for my son to get the lawn mowed YEAH! I have a strong urge to work in the flower bed this morning, sadly, there is no time today. It will be a day full of birthday lunch, baking 100 cookies for staff appreciation at the school, a soccer game and a Thrift Store Formal for my oldest son at youth group. We are however, going to BBQ tonight, something we love doing!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April Catch Up

I have learned several things over the past 3 weeks, here are a few.
1. There are not enough hours in the day.
2. The use of turn lanes (what they are or how to use them) seems to have evaporated.
3. Freezer meal cooking is saving my sanity AND my bank account.
4. Do not take a single day for granted. Take time to hug your loved ones and tell them how much you care about them.

The past 3 weeks have been a whirlwind of insanity. We are finally getting into a good solid routine with me going to school. The homework for the 3 classes I am taking is more than I anticipated at times but I really am enjoying it. I have ended up with 2 fabulous partners in Biology which is really helping!

Here we are performing one of our fun experiments.

Spring sports are also in full swing. I have to get pictures of the older kids yet (one in track and one doing flag team for marching band) but here are the younger two!
Danielle playing catcher (Fastpitch)

Tyler after a very muddy wet game on the soccer field

Our middle school youth group held "old fogey" night. My oldest daughter and I hit up Value Village for some old lady gear and borrowed a walker that was sitting at my parents house. Here is a picture of her before and after!

As I stated above, freezer meals have saved me so much stress, time and money this month it makes me VERY thankful I got started again! As I clean the kitchen after dinner, I pull a meal out of the freezer for the next night. Dinner takes only a short time to prepare with very little effort and mess. With our crazy schedule having these on hand keeps us from grabbing dinner out which can get very expensive. I am getting ready to put the finishing touches on another cooking session for May. The kids are even getting into it now, looking thru the book and picking recipes they would like to try.

On a "closing" note, I would like to ask for prayers. My oldest daughter and I will be joining a mission team on a 5 day mission trip to Esperanza in Canada in May. Please pray for our team that we will be able to to successfully be the hands and feet of Christ. That we will have a safe journey and that lives will be impacted in a positive way! This mission trip is what my daughter has chosen to do for her 14th birthday which has made me a very proud mom :)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Freezer Meal Plan

I am still working on my April freezer meal plan. I would like to do a large batch of both main dishes and sides. I am going on incorporate some help for this session with the kids and maybe a couple of friends. Of course, the friends will be rewarded with a meal to take home!! :)

Right now I hope to make:
Three Cheese Manicotti-3
Taco Kits-3
Chicken encheladas-3
Twice Baked Potatoes- 15 individual
Breakfast burritos- 15 individual
Quiche in a bag-3
Pie crust- recipe makes 20
Chicken Parmigiana-3
Pecan crusted chicken strips-3
Cashew Chicken Stir Fry-3
Mozzarella meatballs-6
Broccoli Beef Stir Fry-3
Steak Skewers with blue cheese dipping sauce- 3
White sauce butter balls- recipe makes 28 individual
Biscuits- 3 dozen

I may add to this I am not sure yet.

April Menu/Meal Plan

This may end up being tweaked a bit once we get the fast pitch game schedule for April. My goal was to do another freezer meal cooking session before school starts but it doesn't look like that will get done, and that is ok. I will do it in a couple of weeks before our next freezer meal swap.

On the nights I have indicated Freezer Meal I will pick something the night before from what we have on hand to thaw overnight in the fridge.

1- Pizza rolls (mom was out kids cooked)
2- OUT
3- Burgers & fries
4- Chicken Pot Pie
5- Spaghetti, french bread, salad
6- Freezer Meal
7- Freezer Meal
8- Out we will be spending the day in Seattle
9- Subway after church (we get the $5 footlongs only no chips etc and bring them home to eat. We can add sides at home)
10- Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies
11- Freezer Meal
12- Tacos, rice
13- Freezer meal
14- Freezer meal
15- Saucy garlic chicken, noodles, salad
16- Grilled steak (or turkeydogs for the younger kids), beer baked white beans, blue cheese slaw
17- Salmon w/ Brown Sugar and mustard glaze, rice, veggies
18- Italian sausage rigatoni, garlic bread, salad
19- Taco
20- Freezer meal
21- Freezer meal
22- Freezer Meal
23- Subway after church
24- EASTER- ham, make ahead mashed potatoes, marmalade candied carrots, marinated cheese topped salad, cool coffee gels and cheesecake
25- CORD/leftovers
26- Encheladas
27- Freezer meal
28- Freezer meal
29- School carnival
30- Kids choice

April 1- No fooling!

I had a good laugh at some of the April Fools jokes that people came up with this year. And even more so at some of the people that believed them! I was lame this year and didn't pull any pranks or jokes.

I took time today to move one step closer to my oldest son driving. I am having such a hard time accepting that he is old enough to drive. I keep reminding myself that my parents had to do a lot more "letting go" when I learned to drive. We had to drive an hour each way to get pretty much anywhere including to work. Yesterday I put his truck in my name and got him new plates. My parents gave him an old pickup they had sitting around which will serve as a great first vehicle for him. This week my mom is taking it to have tires put on it and then we will move forward with him getting his license. **GULP**

A high school friend had coordinated a fundraiser scrapbooking crop for her daughters preschool. I spent time putting together page packets to take and work on. If you are not sure what a page packet is, you take your pictures and pick the paper and embelishments you want to use for those photos and put them together. When you get to scrapbook you just pull out that packet and assemble the pages. By putting in the time to make the packets it cuts down on the amount of things you need to carry with you to the crop. Also, I was able to put 23 pages together!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30th

Wow the days are flying by as usual. Having freezer meals on hand has saved us several times already! We have added in soccer and fast pitch practice which land right at dinnertime several nights a week. Its been great to have something that is ready to go and quick to prepare!

This is my last week before college classes start. I am working on getting things finished up, caught up and organized. I had one child down this week with walking pneumonia and we have been dealing with several deaths of aquantences. Such a sad time for so many families. I have found myself in a funk and just not getting things done so today I am foucsing and getting back on track.

I will work today on a menu plan for April and another round of freezer meals and grocery shopping. The kids are on spring break next week and I will plan a craft/activity for each day for them for some extra fun. Hopefully I will be posting more regularly UGH I keep saying that don't I!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Freezer Meal Update

So this week I did my first large freezer cooking session. This is something I hope to get back to doing on a regular basis. This took me the equivelent of a day to do, however, I broke it out over two days. In the end, I have 38 meals in my freezer at a cost of $4.45 per meal (average). That is PER MEAL which has enough servings to feed my family of 5 and the potential of leftovers for lunch for me the next day.

In comparrison. This past Tuesday we were running late. I had not planned dinner and didn't have time to really fix anything. I picked up Little Ceasars and spent $31.41 which provided dinner for the 5 of us and lunch for my son the next day so 6 servings. That is $5.24 per serving. Of a meal that is NOT really healthy. The freezer meals which include vegetables if broken down into 5 servings is a cost of $.89 per serving. That is a savings of $4.35 PER SERVING for just one nights dinner!

I did invest a little more $ than I have included in my calculation on items that I didn't use all of (such as olive oil). However, the items I purchased are items I use regularly and would have purchased anyways so it was not a burden on my grocery budget. Here is the breakdown of the groceries I used and the cost I have calculated out for them. Some items I already had on hand and were previously calculated in the grocery budget(such as the potatoes I used for the soup)

Meals I made:
(All recipes came from the book Fix Freeze Feast)
Baked Potato Soup-4
Tomato Basil Soup-3
Cherry Skillet Chicken-3
Tequila Lime Chicken-3
Sesame Soy Sirloin-2
Basil Balsamic Chops-3
Garlic Studded Pork Loin-4
Pork Barley Soup-8
Rice Pilaf-8

I will take 6 of the Pork Barley Soup and 6 of the Rice Pilaf to a Freezer Meal Exchange tomorrow and bring home 12 different meals to try and add more variety.

What I purchased and the cost:

Olive Oil $5.35
Chicken $31.98
Steak $20.85
Pork Loin $36.25
Celery $3.29
Garlic $2.00
Half & Half $0.75
Onion $1.75
Pork Chop $16.58
Carrots $3.99
Tomato paste $1.59
Lime Juice $1.00
Basil $0.24
Sesame Seeds $0.65
Barley $2.78
Cheddar Cheese $6.00
Soy sauce $2.75
Fresh Basil $2.50
Green pepper $5.77
Orange $0.49
Margarita Mix $0.40
Tequila $1.50
Sesame Oil $0.25
Balsamic vinegar $0.25
Chicken broth $2.93
Rice $2.95
Diced tomatoes $7.36
Cherries $3.49
Thyme $0.25
Crushed red pepper $0.10
Gallon ziplock bags $2.66
Quart ziplock bags $0.30

Total Spent: $169
I am already planning my next cooking session its quite addicting!!

Here are a few pictures!
Dishes ready for the freezer

Baked potatoes cooling for the Baked Potato Chowder

Double batch of Rice Pilaf

Pork Barley Soup and Rice Pilaf ready for the freezer

Monday, March 14, 2011

Week of March 13th

Last week went by in a blur. It was a long and emotional week for many reasons. This week, starting fresh and focusing on PREPARATION! With school starting for me soon and the kids sports in full swing I need to be prepared if I am going to stay ontop of things.

This past weekend I was blessed to be able to attend a Freezer Meal class taught by Lindsay Tkacsik author of Fix, Freeze, Feast (if you click on the book title it will take you to their website)the book and the class were an amazing inspiration to kick off my freezer cooking again. If you are a freezer/OAMC/Batch meal fixer or have wanted to try, this book is a must have in your kitchen! You can order it from Amazon at a great price!

I have decided to tackle 3 big projects this week:
* Spring Cleaning
* Batch/Freezer cooking session
* Baking session

I will break these down to one project a day with some (such as spring cleaning) taking a couple. The kids will each have a part in each one of these projects as well, especially the cleaning part :)

Today I will start with the Spring Cleaning. My daughter did quite a few things yesterday that got me started which is AWESOME. I am hoping that this evening I will get to Costco to pick up most of the items needed for both the freezer and baking sessions so that I can start that tomorrow.

I will post pictures as I go along, not of the cleaning that would be boring but the cooking sessions :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Grocery Shopping Week of Feb 27th

This weeks grocery list was VERY small since the menu is made up mostly of whats on hand. I went to one store but then had to stop at Fred Meyer last night and picked up a loaf of french bread to go with dinner.

Cost Cutter:
French fries $3.49
2 butter $5.98
Prawns $3.36
Half & Half $2.99
chocolate chips $2.99
avacado .99
Total: $19.80

Fred Meyer:
French bread $1.99

Total Spent: $21.79
I am leaving this as part of the February budget since the $ was spent IN February. See how others did this week at the Grocery Cart Challenge

Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu Week of Feb 27th

This weeks menu is focusing on what needs to be used up in the pantry/freezer and fridge. All of those partial packages and little bits of leftovers.

S- steak, baked potatoes and roasted veggies
M- Tuna Casserole, biscuits and salad
T- Chicken nuggest & fries (it will just be the boys)
W- Queen Bee's chicken, rice and veggies
Th- Tripple Decker Tortilla and veggies
F- Fend for yourself night (it will just be the 2 older kids)

Kids will eat at school
My options: soup, salad, Cajun Rice.

Breakfast (they can either eat this or cereal)
S- baked french toast casserole
M- Pumpkin muffins
T- Sausage, scrambled eggs, toast
W- Pancakes, eggs
F- Waffles, eggs, bacon

End of February

Its hard to believe we are at the end of February already! We finally got snow this weekend and the kids were thrilled. The younger kids spent Sunday morning outside building snowmen and making snow angels before the rain came and melted it all. There are small glimpses of spring each day. Baby calves in the field, the chickens are laying regularly and a small little flower has popped up from the dirt in the front flowerbed :).

I have been determined to start up OAMC again, however, I am putting this off by at least one more week. I need to use up things in the freezer/pantry that are partial packages or have been there a while. This weeks menu is based on whats on hand that needs to be used up. My grocery list for the week is VERY small which I love.

I did more crafting this past week. This weeks main project was Mini Treat/Gift bags. I found this pattern last fall at a quilt show I attended with my mom. You use Fat Quarters and with 2 Fat Quarters you can get 4 bags. They are super cute and easy to make. I had purchased quite a bit of fabric to make some and have been using that up this week. I also did some card making, thank you cards for my daughter to use as well as some cards to have on hand.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Crafts and a Birthday

Last week I decided to get a few craft projects done that had been sitting around for some time. I had finished up a stack of Rice Warmers and the headbands I showed in my last post. I finished up PJ shorts and pants for my oldest daughter and then moved on to reuseable shopping bags. I had found a Resuseable Shopping Bag Pattern online and had purchased the fabric. I found a price sticker still on one of the yards of fabric with a date of 11/21/2008. Yes, it was time to get this project finished :).

Here is a picture of my current craft area. I had moved the majority of my craft supplies to our living room so that I will actually USE it. This space is very functional for me and I am able to leave projects out and not clear them away for meals.

This past weekend was my youngest daughters 10th birthday. We have opted to NOT have birthday parties anymore but rather, to do something fun and special. She wanted to go to the bit city for her birthday, stay in a hotel with a pool and have fondue. She picked one friend to go and my mom went as well it was a fabulous time!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blog Slacker and Craft Projects

Yes, I have officially become a Blog Slacker. I am adjusting to not working and having too much time on my hands. While most would LOVE the opportunity to have all of the free time, I do not do well with it. I enjoy being busy busy busy! I have found myself shopping more than I should. Not necessarily buying things but browsing the stores which could be potentially very dangerous on the budget.

I am setting a goal for myself over the next couple of weeks to finish up some craft projects that have been sitting around collecting dust. Yesterday it was headbands. I found this pattern online last year at Paige and Brook on Blogspot . The girls picked out their fabrics at that time and then it just sat, in a drawer in my "to do" craft area. Yesterday I pulled it out and made 12 headbands! I did modify it a bit. I printed the pattern hey supplied but made it a little bit longer. I also just used fabric and elastic I did not use the interfacing, well, because I had since used what I had bought for another project and I was NOT going to go to the fabric store. It worked just fine. My next project will be the resuseable shopping bags that I bought the fabric for almost 2 years ago! Again, using a free pattern I found online.

I am also working my way back into Freezer Meals and Once A Month Cooking. I will start school right at the time that Spring Sports for all 4 children are in full swing. That will make for an insane schedule for a few months. By planning ahead with freezer meals I can cut down our grocery expenses AND curb eating out.