Tuesday, March 3, 2015

30 Things In 30 Days - March


This month I vow to do better and we vow to have a whole lot more fun than we did last month with our list.  Of course it will help a lot if we all stay well and healthy. J

This is what I have planned for this month:

1.          Count my blessings
2.         Bake bread
3.         Send a card or letter to someone
4.         Family Game Nite!
5.         Invite a friend over for dinner
6.         Make a gift
7.         Sew or craft something
8.         Make a monthly meal plan for April
9.         Go to the $$ Store
10.       Try a new recipe
11.        Read a book or write
12.        Family Movie Nite!
13.        Thoroughly clean the refrigerator & stove - inside & out
14.       Family outing
15.        Investment cooking - refried beans and maybe some chili
16.       Repurpose/recycle something
17.        Install new electrical outlet
18.       Clean up the backyard
19.       Brew a batch of beer
20.       Bake something and share it
21.        Clean out the flower beds and the garden I already did the garden beds!
22.       Update Christmas card list
23.       Start some seeds for the garden areas
24.       Start planning my Christmas gift list
25.       Prune the apple tree
26.       Family Nite Out!
27.       List something to sell on eBay, Etsy or Craigslist
28.       Clean, completely redo and organize the garage storage area.
29.       Clean the chicken coop and make any necessary repairs
30.       Get new peeps!!! Our babies are here!


This how I did last month:

1.          Count my blessings
2.         Bake bread
3.         Send Valentines cards I was bummed that I didn't get these done.
4.         Family Game Nite!
5.         Invite a friend over for dinner Nobody wanted to come over here for dinner.  Trust me.
6.         Make a gift I cut out the pieces, now I just need to sew it together.
7.         Sew or craft something
8.         Make a monthly meal plan for March
9.         Go to the $$ Store
10.       Try a new recipe BuffaloChicken Pizza
11.        Read a book or write I re-read Square Foot Gardening
12.        Family Movie Nite!
13.        Thoroughly clean the refrigerator - inside & out  It was more like a quick check for gross stuff followed by a random swipe with a dish cloth.
14.       Family outing
15.        Investment cooking beans
16.       Repurpose/recycle something used motor oil sent out for recycling, juice & milk jugs, pet crate into a brooder, took  glass to the recycle bin at grocery store, file folder box into a gift box.
17.        Install new electrical outlet
18.       Clean up the yard
19.       Brew a batch of beer
20.      Bake something and share it
21.       Re seed the lawn
22.       Update Christmas card list
23.       File my taxes
24.       Add to Christmas fund fully funded!!
25.       Prune the apple tree
26.       Family Nite Out! Big sister's band concert followed by ice cream afterward.
27.       List something to sell on eBay, Etsy or Craigslist
28.       Finish unpacking all of my sewing stuff.  Organize and put away by far my greatest accomplishment!


I obviously didn't quite get everything done since we lost half the month to illness but I did get some of it done.  Hopefully next month will be much better.

Do you make lists like these?  What kinds of things do you put on them?



Monday, March 2, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves


We had a delightfully busy week.  Let me tell you, when I feel good I really feel good!  I got so much accomplished and I'm just thrilled about it.

I had a lot to do on Sunday and I didn't want it to take all day so I made us a schedule so we could manage a lot of tasks in a short amount of time.  After a quick breakfast we left the house at 9:00 and headed off to Albertson's, Fred Meyer and then Zamzows.

Awesome store coupons!
In the past few weeks I hadn't done much in the way of grocery shopping and fortunately we haven't needed much.  So I decided to use the majority of our March grocery budget to stock up and Albertson's was the place to so this week.

Two hams and two packages of ground beef on markdown.
Bacon at $1.99 a package with store coupon.
Spaghetti sauce, canned veggies, breakfast sausage & tortillas.
Yes, that is a stack of TV dinners - don't judge me. LOL.
A few more items on sale.  I haven't bought Snapple in forever.
I have plans for those bottles when they are empty.
Fred Meyer had a few items on sale and I had a couple coupons to go with those items that expired Sunday.  Since the feed store is located next to Fred Meyer and Home Depot and we were planning to go there anyway I decided to make the stop and pick up those items.  I'm glad I did because near the milk they had set out three baskets of marked down items, mostly baking stuff and we had a lot of fun going through them.

On sale and I had coupons too!

Markdown items.  Baking cocoa and whipped topping mix.
Next we headed to Zamzows where I was able to get the information I needed regarding poultry feed and prices.  I picked up a 40# bag of chick start because it was on sale and much less expensive to purchase than the smaller 5# bags.  At that price I could afford to throw it away, not that I would.  We'll use it.


I got home, put the groceries away and emptied out two boxes of stuff we had brought in from the storage area.  A box of dishes and a box of my grandmother's stuff - two milk glass candy dishes (I love that chicken), her juicer, and a couple of bowls.  Now all of my dishes are finally washed and put away.


Next I took our big pet carrier and the chicken feed bin upstairs to the bathtub and washed them both out thoroughly.  When we first moved back in the house I had every intention of listing the carrier on Craigslist and getting rid of it but for some reason I just couldn't seem to do it.  I got it at a thrift store for $16 and it is in perfect shape.  A couple months ago I realized it would make the perfect chick brooder and chicken infirmary should one of our girls get sick.  Now it is ready to go and I am so very glad I didn't sell it.

Chick feeders.  Washed up and ready to go.


After some lunch and a break to watch an episode of the X Files we got the crazy idea to go outside and do some much needed work in the backyard.  This was completely unplanned and my daughter's idea.  They actually wanted to do this!

We started a fire in our chiminea pot and got out our new garden tools and set to work.  We cleaned up so much of the yard it was amazing.  I even put the composted chicken manure that had wintered over into the garden beds and turned it all in with my shovel.  The beds are already to go - two months early!  I rounded up the wire tomato cages and we raked up a ton of trash and leaves back there.  While raking we were lucky enough to find the missing glass to our porch light fixture underneath a pile of leaves.

The youngest and I cleaned up the chicken coop and repaired one of the wooden planter boxes.  We also fixed the clothesline so it is now fully functional and ready to be used.  We still have a lot of work to do but it is really coming along and we made a huge dent in this project already.  By the time we sat down for dinner we were all pooped but really happy with all that we got done that day.

After dinner I scrubbed the found light fixture clean, founds some screws for it in my coffee can of miscellaneous screws, grabbed a new bulb and put it all back together.  It works!  Now we have a functioning back porch light once again.


I cut the top off of a gallon milk jug to use for collecting compost material in the kitchen.  I also cut the bottom off of two plastic orange juice bottles to use for planting some seeds.

I made two whole wheat pizza crusts and baked a loaf of whole wheat bread and a pan of cornbread.  The girls enjoyed leftover cornbread with honey butter two mornings for breakfast.

After thinking it over I borrowed funds from April's grocery budget and I went back to Albertsons and picked up eight more cans of veggies and four more packages of bacon.  At that price I didn't want to pass it up, especially the bacon.

In order to motivate ourselves and get the rest of our stuff unpacked and put away the girls and I agreed to do a box a night all week and got it done.  Mostly this entailed books, photos and photo albums, canning supplies and a box of miscellaneous crap.  I have to tell you it feels really good to have all of our stuff put away.

I brought home an empty file folder box home from work to reuse as a gift box.  These boxes are the perfect size and are actually sturdier than the last package of gift boxes I purchased at the store.  Plus, these are free and we have a ton of them that get tossed in the recycle bin so I plan to bring home a few more as I need them.

In the evenings I worked on my embroidery while we watched TV.  I watched Downton Abbey on PBS online as well as a few more episodes of the X Files.


Friday evening we picked up four peeps at the feed store for $2.49.  We chose a Buff Orpington, a Rhode Island Red, a Silver Laced Wyandotte and an Ameraucana.  The Ameraucana is the one that lays the colored eggs.  They are so sweet and adorable.



I finally got to spend some quality time in my new sewing and craft area.  I actually sewed!  I finished two of the tea towels I plan to put up in my Etsy store this summer and I am tickled with how they turned out.  Slowly but surely my inventory is beginning to grow.


Remember how I was hoping to find time to make some cloth Christmas napkins in December?  Well I didn't find the extra time and my sewing area was a mess anyway so it was an easy project to put off.  After I finished the tea towels I dug out a large piece of Christmas fabric I had (and forgot I had until a couple weeks ago) and made myself a set of four cloth napkins.  I love the print on the fabric.  While I was at it I made myself a matching hanging dish towel.


I won this dish towel at Bunco in December and thought it would be perfect redone as a hanging dish towel.  A sweet friend just made me a beautiful set of crocheted lace snowflake ornaments for my tree and I thought I would make another one of these towels for her out of the other half of dish towel.

How thrifty were you last week?



Friday, February 27, 2015

Monthly Menu Planner - March


I got our menu plan finalized and posted on the side of our refrigerator this week.  The plan is based on the items I already have in our pantry and freezer.  In the past two months there were quite a few meals I had planned to make and didn’t due to having plenty of leftovers that needed to be eaten.  I went ahead and put them on this month's plan so if some of these sound like repeats that is why.


This is what we have planned for our culinary future.

Baked Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Green Beans
Tacos w/ Shredded Lettuce, Cheese, & Salsa
Pork Fried Rice, Stir Fried Veggies, Egg Drop Soup
Creamy Tuna & Biscuits, Green Peas
Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Garden Salad
Pepperoni Pizza, Garden Salad
Chicken & Stuffing Bake, Steamed Broccoli
Ham & Bean Soup, Cornbread, Garden Salad
Macaroni & Cheese w/ Diced Ham, Peas & Carrots
Spaghetti & Meat Sauce, Garden Salad
Denver Style Breakfast Burritos, Hash browns
Grilled Hot Dogs, Tater Tots, Veggies & Dip
Pork Verde, Steamed Rice, Garden Salad
Meat Loaf, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans
Corned Beef, Potatoes & Carrots, Cabbage Salad
Mongolian Chicken, Steamed Rice, Stir Fried Veggies
Pizza Pasta, Garden Salad
Sloppy Joes, Potato Chips, Veggies & Dip
Chicken Enchiladas, Lettuce & Tomatoes
Broccoli Cheddar Quiche, Fruit Salad
Ham & Potato Hash, Toast, Fruit
Taco Salad (a la the 1970s!)
Patty Melts, Steak Fries, Veggies & Dip
Split Pea Soup, Cornbread, Garden Salad
Lemon Chicken, Roasted Veggies
Spanish Rice, Garden Salad
Waffles, Bacon & Eggs, Fruit


It all sounds pretty darn tasty to me.  Do you make up meal plans?  What great things do you have lined up?



Thursday, February 26, 2015

KIS - Making Lists & My Day Planner


You all know by now I am a serious list maker.  I makes lists for just about everything and I looooove crossing stuff off of them as I get things done.

I happen to be one of those people that if I have to remember it in my head then I am always thinking about stuff so I don't forget about it.  The busier I get the more stuff I have to think about which turns to worry because I don't want to forget and pretty soon I am completely stressed out.  Having things jotted down on paper alleviates problem entirely.  Now if I lose my list we have a whole other problem.


So I keep my lists collectively in my day planner so I have less of an opportunity to lose them.  My day planner sits on my desk and I often refer to it as my brain, or more often, my external hard drive.  Cause after fifty years my internal hard drive is FULL. 

I also keep some of my lists on my computer and I back them up on my flash drive.  As time goes by I find I am getting to be more and more comfortable doing this.  However, nothing feels more cathartic to me than the act of writing things down on paper.  It is still my preferred method.


My day planner is a basic black number with pockets on the inside of each cover and places for  my all important mechanical pencils and Clic eraser.  I tuck my shopping lists, Christmas planner (a school composition book), a spiral notebook of my plans and goals and other important things needing attention inside.  If there is a birthday coming up and I need to send a card I tuck it inside so I know where it is when I need it.  And since it is right there I don't forget about it.

The nicest thing is that my day planner keeps everything in a neat, concise and small space eliminating clutter and it is very portable.  Because of its size I can't overstuff it which forces me to get things done and regularly purge the things I put inside.

The calendar I use is simply one I print off of my computer using Publisher.  It is the same format as the one I use to make my monthly meal plans.  You can easily download one from the internet too if you don't happen to have Publisher.  I also like to keep a small pocket calculator in my day planner for quick math calculations and a few jumbo paper clips to help me stay organized.

Are you a list maker?  Do you use a day planner?  How are some ways you stay on top of things and get stuff done?


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Pizza


I needed something quick for supper the other night and as a result this pizza was born.  I grabbed a ball of pizza dough out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge while I was at work so when I got home all I had to do was roll it out and put on the toppings.


I diced up half of a very large chicken breast half and browned it in a skillet with a little oil and 1/2 cup of diced onion.  Then I seasoned it with a little Frank's Red Hot Sauce.  We love this stuff.


Next I brushed the crust with 2 Tbs. of Buffalo Ranch dressing.  Topped that with a cup of pizza blend cheese, then the chicken and a thinly sliced Roma tomato.  Then I sprinkled the top with 1/4 tsp. of dried basil.  I baked the pizza at 450° for 14 minutes.


In further keeping with the Buffalo theme I made a quick coleslaw using shredded cabbage mix and some Blue Cheese dressing.  I topped the salad with some fresh cracked pepper.

We loved this pizza.  It is definitely one of our new favorites.


Note:  You can make your own Buffalo Ranch dressing simply by mixing some Frank's Red Hot Sauce with your regular buttermilk dressing.



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Grocery Budget Update - February


My stock up meat item this month was ground turkey. We had no ground turkey left in the freezer so I was happy to be able to restock this item that I enjoy using a lot.  My oldest and I stood in the meat department for quite awhile doing the math calculations to determine which was the best buy.  We finally decided on two 3# packages of lean ground turkey for $17.58 less a $3.00 OFF coupon Fred Meyer had sent to me for a meat purchase.  I was able to divide the meat into eight packages to freeze.


I was able to stock the freezer with 10# of grated cheese.  Five pounds of pizza blend and five pounds of cheddar Monterey jack.  I also added the ten jars of peanut butter to the pantry I had purchased ahead in January.


My non food budget came in at $30.38, a little bit over, for cat food, cat litter, dish soap, mouthwash, cotton swabs, cough syrup and fabric softener.  I used a lot of coupons and purchased everything on sale so I was spending as little as possible on each item.  The cough syrup was only 74¢.  I also bought a bottle of facial cleanser and a gallon of distilled water.


This is the food breakdown for the month.  The items I highlighted are the stock up items:

Groceries

 $$$







Cheese - 5#

          13.98
Cash & Carry

Cheese - 5#

          13.48
Cash & Carry

Chili paste

            2.69
Cash & Carry

Sweet chili paste

            2.57
Cash & Carry

Seasoning sauce

            2.08
Cash & Carry

Coconut

            5.07
Cash & Carry

Mung bean noodles (2)

            2.16
Cash & Carry

Peanut butter (10)

            9.80
Sale

Ground Turkey - 6#

          17.58
Sale

Customer Appreciation Coupon

          (3.00)


Turkey bacon (2)

            2.98
Sale/Coupon

Pork Sausage - 1# (2)

            5.00
Sale Raincheck

Pasta (6)

            2.74
Store Coupon/Coupon
Milk - 1/2 gal

            0.99
Store Coupon

Orange juice - 1/2 gal (5)

            4.96
Store Coupon

Tortillas (2)

            2.00
Sale

Salsa (3)

            3.90
Sale/Coupon

Steak (2)

            4.00
Sale

Cereal

            1.19
Sale/Coupon

Bananas

            1.25


Mushrooms

            0.99
Markdown

Romaine

            0.98


Tomatoes

            0.45
Sale

Carrots

            1.29


Bell peppers

            1.98


Celery

            0.60


Coleslaw mix

            0.98


Garlic bulb

            0.34


Broccoli

            1.20
Sale

Cauliflower

            2.49
Sale

Customer Appreciation Coupon

          (2.00)


Tortilla chips (2)

            1.00
Store Coupon

Olives (2)

            2.00


Pink lemonade (3)

            4.17
Markdown

Milk - 1 gal

            2.09


Eggs - 1 doz. (2)

            1.76
Sale

Flour -25#

            8.29







Total

 $    124.03



$124.03 ÷ 28 days ÷3 people = $1.48 per person per day!

99¢ each!

On sale and with two $1 OFF coupons made these just 46¢ each!
How did you save money on groceries this month?  Were you able to find some good sales and stock up on anything?