Friday, March 16, 2018

Laverne's Travel Journal

I finished assembling my last journal.  But I'm not really finished.  I'm actually just beginning!

I picked up another mini binder and package of sheet protectors at Walmart

I decided to make a journal to keep inside Laverne who. for those you may not know, is my new to me 1987 Chevy Winnebago motorhome.  I've been lovingly restoring her since the day I brought her home.  I thought having a journal to keep track of things when I hit the road would be fun.

I chose papers that kind of matched her and her decor.  

And of course I used the fun travel embellishments my youngest spotted at the dollar store when I was shopping there for craft supplies.

It will be a work in progress.  I've tucked in lots of fun things to use when I am journaling and I'm sure I'll add more as time goes on.

With all the fun I had making my journals I sure couldn't leave Laverne out of the picture.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Need a super easy, quick cookie to throw together?  This one will fit the bill.  I hadn't made these in years so I thought I would and share it with you as well.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar or sweetener of choice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg

In a large mixing bowl use a mixer to combine peanut butter, sugar or sweetener and baking soda.  Add egg and continue mixing until it comes together to form a soft dough.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet.  Flatten each ball with a fork to form a crosshatch pattern.  Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.  Let rest 5 minutes before removing to a rack t cool.  Makes 24 cookies.

These are lightly sweet and very good.  I like them best when I use brown sugar.  If you have gluten issues or are watching your carbs these are a great alternative to traditional peanut butter cookies.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I'm Turning This Tug Boat Around!

2018 has been a bit of a bumpy ride for me.  The issues at work (with the big meanie) are still ongoing and have yet to be resolved, although I do believe we are getting closer.  Fingers are crossed.  There was the incident at Burger King, excellent resolution, but unpleasant nonetheless.  Our funky weather which has been all over the place.  Long hours at work, an admittedly overloaded schedule and to ice the cake, the incident with the raccoon and our chickens.  It's been a lot to have happen in just two short months.  I know I'm not alone either, several of my friends have been having their own things to deal with and I know it has been rough for them as well.  Like I said, it has been a bumpy ride.

My health has been kicking me in the butt.  Toward the end of the year my back went out again and held me captive for about three weeks before I was back to "normal".  But I was still having some residual pain.  Turns out it isn't my back after all, but a bum kidney that is being "disagreeable".  To top that off my migraines have been horrible and the tinnitus (ringing in my ears) seemed like it was getting louder.  About a month ago I actually had to leave work.  My head hurt so bad and my ears were ringing so loud I could hardly hear.  Scary?  Just a little bit.

Needless to say I haven't been too happy lately with the path my life has been traveling down.  Well, enough is enough because I'm turning this tug boat around and we're heading in a different direction.  You know why?  Because I can!

Priority Number 1 is to fix me.  In order to straighten out my health right now I'm now on a ketogenic diet.  Yes I am!  Never thought I'd ever do that, actually I thought it sounded insane first time I ever heard about it, just some crazy fad diet, but my doctor insists this is the way to go.  And quite frankly, I'm pretty much willing to try anything at this point, within reason of course.

Talk about taking everything I thought I knew and tossing it out the window.  This is really different!  I've read up so much on all of this, talked with a nutritionist and for me I do believe this is the right path to take.  It has been just four weeks and already I've had some amazing things happen which is telling me to continue on.

The first week I immediately dropped 5 pounds of retained water.  I'd been swollen for so long my clothes barely fit.  Now they do.  The waistband of my work slacks are no longer trying to slice me in two.  The next week my ears stopped ringing for short periods of time during the day and by the beginning of week three they weren't ringing hardly at all.  What a relief to get a reprieve of that persistent and annoying buzz in my ears all of the time.  Best of all I can hear!

Then I noticed my head seemed clearer and the Lupus brain fog I'd been struggling with seemed to lift.  This has been wonderful, because now I feel like my thoughts are clearer and I'm better able to process better, if that makes any sense at all.

My doctor also thinks this diet will have a tremendous impact on my anxiety (which has been off the charts lately with everything going on) and I think he is right.  I swear there are times I'll be sitting there and have this overwhelming sense of calm wash over me like I just took a pill or had a stiff drink or something.  Pretty amazing.

My three main issues, in order, are migraines, anxiety, Lupus and all the yucky stuff that it entails.  Is it possible a change in dietary lifestyle can have such a significant impact?  It just may be.  As I'm reading up on stuff and really investigating this diet I'm finding clinical studies and scientific data that support ketogenic diets as a really good treatment for not only migraines, anxiety disorders and Lupus, buy also other autoimmune issues like Chronic Fatique Syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia.  Type 2 Diabetes, cancer, epilepsy. Parkinsons, MS, Alzheimers, chronic pain, heart disease are all on the list among many others.

I wouldn't have believed it had I not tried it.  If you think something like this might work for you I would recommend you talk to your doctor, as it is a pretty drastic change.  If you want to hear more about what I am doing let me know in the comments and I'll do more posts.  I don't want to bore anybody if this is a subject that holds little interest.

I honestly feel now that I've got a handle on my health and things are improving that over time everything else will fall into place.  Including the raccoon situation.  When you don't feel well, nothing seems to go right and it is difficult to make things go right.  Getting myself on track physically is going to also help me emotionally, I truly do believe that.  

I hope you are all doing well.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday my oldest girl got home from her trip and boy was I happy to see her.  I sure missed her those five days she was gone.  And no robotics all week so I got a reprieve!  Which was really good because last week was all about cheerleading and the youngest had a pretty full schedule - two basketball games, practice and a competition.

Monday I went straight home from work and stayed home!  Nothing on our schedule that evening and it was Heaven!!  It's the little things I tell you.  I had even done my chores for the day in the morning before I left for work so other than fixing dinner my evening was free and clear.  Didn't do a dang thing either.  Oh wait, I did play with the chickens.  Loved it.  So did they.

I'm sure the cat thinks having the hens in the house is pretty nuts!

The rest of the week was a complete blur with so much going on it was crazy.  The cheer competition on Saturday was a lot of fun and my daughter's team won for best choreography which was pretty dang awesome!

Sometime in all of the week's busyness I did manage to sneak in some grocery shopping.  I found some good buys and even managed to get over to Cash & Carry to pick up some things I like to get there including a 5# bag of grated cheese that was on sale. for $10.97.

I made some refill solution for our foaming hand soap dispenser in the kitchen.  If it seems like I am always making refill solution it is because I am.  I wash my hands a lot so it is really good that I came up with a homemade solution to refill the dispensers and save some $$ in the process.

I added water to the last of a bottle of laundry detergent.  Gave it a good shake and had plenty of soap to wash two loads of laundry.

I hardboiled a half dozen eggs for some quick grab and go breakfasts and snacks.  I used one in a yummy Cobb salad I made as well.  That was a goooood salad!

Honestly, I can't think of anything else that I did.  Like I said it went by in a blur.  How was your thrifty week?

Friday, March 9, 2018

Thrifty Meals Around $5 Or Less! - Egg Roll In A Bowl

I haven't shared a $5 Or Less meal prep for quite a while so it is about time I suppose I did.  This one is not just thrifty, it is super quick, super easy and best of all super tasty!

Egg Roll In A Bowl

1 lb ground pork, beef, chicken or turkey
1 pkg. shredded coleslaw mix
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 tsp. ground ginger
3 Tbs. soy sauce

In a wok or large skillet cook the pork and onion, add remaining ingredients, stir and cook until cabbage begins to soften.  Remove from heat and serve.

Cook up meat & onions, I used pork

Some simple seasonings
I bought these at the dollar store

Condiments of your choice
I had a handful of snow peas I chopped up and threw in
Add your cabbage

I told you it was simple.

This is my serving, no rice and topped with a little
chili paste and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil

You can enjoy this just as is but if you want to you can serve it over rice.  I love it on its own, but my girls prefer it with rice.  I also set out condiments like sweet chili sauce (like you would dip an egg roll in), Thai chili paste, additional soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, even hot mustard.

This is it how it breaks down:

Ground Pork - $1.31
Coleslaw mix - 98¢
Onion - 15¢

Total = $2.44

Rice - 25¢

Total = $2.69

Meat prices vary.  I find ground pork anywhere from $1.79 to $2.49 a pound.  In this case I found it on markdown which saved me quite a bit.  Same with coleslaw mix, 98¢ to $1.39 a bag.

Not only a thrifty meal that would easily feed four people but also very healthy.  So here you go, a tasty budget stretching meal.  I know we'll be adding this one to our meal plans on a fairly regular basis.

In some cases costs are approximated.  Groceries prices vary depending on where you live.  I don't include condiments, oils, herbs and spices when I figure the cost of a meal as it would be incredibly tedious to do so.   Plus condiments are subjective as each person uses more or less.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Savings Goals

This year my goal is to slug as much money as I possibly can into savings.  Savings for my future, savings for emergencies, savings for travel, savings for early retirement.  Recently I've become even more incentivized to meet my early retirement goal.  I am less than two years away from being completely vested in our companies ESOP plan and two and a half years after that my youngest will graduate high school.  Literally less than five years from now my entire world will change and I want to be ready.

I am so excited about this too.  I do plan to work some after I take early retirement, but I plan to take jobs only when I want to and work doing only what I enjoy.  I don't love corporate America and I will be very happy to leave it behind once and for all.  Having plenty of money saved up will give me the ability and peace of mind to do exactly that.

As you all know Laverne is officially "paid off".  I have put back all the money into my savings account that I took out to purchase her.  I have also paid myself back for all the money I've spent on her so far since I made that purchase.  I still have a lot of work I want to do on her to get her ready for our great adventure and I'm super excited about it.  Fortunately I also have plenty of time to get it all done so this will allow me to pay cash as I go and not have to borrow.

In order to accomplish my savings goals I'll be constantly looking for ways to spend less money.  Spending less means I keep more in my pocket and that is a really good thing when you are trying to keep more of your money like I am.  I'll be pushing that money directly into my savings and retirement accounts.

As I take on projects and look for ways to spend less on the items we need and want I'll share with you how I am doing this.  I know we all have certain goals we are trying to meet for various reasons and if anything I do is able to help you along then that is great!  If anything you are doing would help me along, then by all means, feel free to share if you would like to.  We can all work together and learn from each other which is what really makes this blogging community so great.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Packing Healthy Lunches Thrifty Mom Style

We are serious lunch packers around here.  Wasting our money on eating out or purchasing those less than desirable school lunches just isn't something we are inclined to do.  My girls will be the first to tell you that school lunches aren't so great.  Loaded with junk and preservatives it is hard to make a really good and healthy choice from what they have to offer.  I would love to see a complete overhaul of our school lunch system someday, but I doubt that is much of a priority right now.

These are really pretty cool - literally!

We all have insulated lunch boxes.  The girls have the Pack-It lunch bags that go in the freezer and I have a regular one and use the girl's old Sponge Bob ice packs they had in grade school.  Fortunately for me most of the Sponge Bob characters have worn away with time and they're basically blank now.

Soup in a canning jar is a good way to pack it and reheat it
Hardboiled eggs are great for breakfast or a snack

We normally pack the previous night's leftovers for our lunches.  The girls are lucky enough to have teachers with microwaves that are willing to let the students heat up their lunches.  I really appreciate that and it has truly made a big difference in what they are able to take to school.

I try to keep a lot of fresh fruit and veggie options on hand

Along with leftovers I send along milk, water or fruit juice, a piece of fresh fruit or a fruit cup, snacks items like crackers and cheese, crackers and peanut butter, pretzels, trail mix or chips,  Homemade cookies and jello or pudding cups are nice as well.  I do allow the girls to have chips and some junk food in their school lunches.  I figure that we eat so much good wholesome food at home that a little in their lunch won't hurt them.

I find these at Dollar Tree

I am constantly looking for items for lunches.  Since most of what they pack comes from our grocery budget I gave myself a $10 a month allowance for "other stuff".  Ten bucks is a whole lot cheaper than the cost of two kids buying school lunches, believe you me!

These go on sale quite a bit at Fred Meyer

I pick up stuff on sale at the grocery store and I do include those items in my grocery budget.  Usually I buy the big package of assorted individual size bags of chips when they go on sale for $5.99.  I'll get two or three of those a year.  I've shopped Amazon too and one time purchased a big case of 100% fruit juice boxes for $9.98.  That was pretty awesome.

My girls love these

I usually spend my $10 at the dollar store and I hardly ever spend it all, if you can believe that.  They have a nice selection of packaged cracker snacks, individual packages of Teddy Grahams, Hanover pretzels, Little Debbie items, Dole fruit cups, Dole gelatin and fruit cups, Snack Pack pudding (although I don't usually get them there because they go on sale at the grocery stores for 89¢ a lot) applesauce cups, cookies, and even flavored oatmeal packets.

We have water bottles like this that are really handy

I don't really buy a lot of drink items for us because we are such big water drinkers.  We all have water bottles and insulated water glasses.  We fill those up and take them with us most of the time.

I get 8ct packages of these at Dollar Tree

I thought I'd give you an update on how we've been handling our packed lunches lately.  And any ideas you guys want to share with me would be great!  I am always looking for new ways to keep it interesting, more efficient and of course, thriftier!

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