Friday, June 28, 2013

Just When You Think You Have It All Figured Out…


I had a plan.  In April I sat down with pencil and paper and brainstormed.  Then I came up with a plan.  I worked at my plan to make it better and once that happened I began to put my plan into motion.  I was on a roll.  Nothing could stop me now.  Or could it? 

We’ve had a situation come up and now we are looking at creating Plan B.  I didn’t have a Plan B in place because, honestly, I didn’t think I’d need one.  Now I do.
 
At the end of May my father kindly took my trailer up to his house and installed a new axle and springs on it for me.  I very much appreciated his ability and willingness to do this for me.  However, when he delivered the trailer back to me it was sitting significantly higher than it used to. 

The original axle is no longer available for my trailer.  I called and it just isn’t.  So the decision was made to install a replacement, which is completely fine and correctly installed.  It just won’t work with my current vehicle.  My pickup sits too close to the ground.  The trailer used to but no longer does.  With its current set up it isn’t safe for me to tow it with my truck. 

After visiting three different shops in the area to see if there was anything we can do to get it lowered I am left with the same answer.  “Um, no.”  I can have a replacement axle built the same as the old one but it is horribly expensive and will mean a two to three week delay.  If I had a full sized truck or drove an SUV or 4X4 I’d be fine.  Most people prefer their trailers up higher anyway. 

Right now a new vehicle really isn’t in the cards.  There are many good reasons for me to keep my truck – it economical to operate, has low miles, is in excellent shape and the biggest is that it is paid for. 

Plan B will not include the trailer and means we won’t get to do the travelling we had hoped to do.  It also means we won’t get to take our time and check out the many different places we wanted to consider to live in.  Quite frankly, without the trailer we are talking an entirely different plan altogether. 

Now I just need to come up with Plan B.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our Big Moving Sale

Anyone need a fridge?
  
This past two weeks has been amazing.  I have utilized Craigslist a lot lately to list items we have up for sale, mostly our big furniture items.  The response has been overwhelming as we have managed to get nearly everything sold.

Today will be the last day for us to make the final preparations for our big moving sale.  It is much smaller than I thought it would be when I first got started but we still have plenty of stuff left. 

I decided to hold our sale in our living room so I don’t have to haul things in and out of the house for two days.  Plus it will be nice and cool indoors.  I have friends coming to help out and make sure everything runs smoothly. 

Once this sale is over and done with I can finish up our final packing and take a load of stuff to the thrift store (or have them pick up a load in their big van).  Lots of work still to be done and not much time left! 

Have you had a yard sale yet this year?  Any plans too?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Next Week’s Menu Plan

After going through the pantry and freezer this is what I came up with for our meal plan next week:
 

Sunday – Meatloaf & Baked Potatoes

Monday – Leftover Enchiladas

Tuesday – Leftover Meat Loaf

Wednesday –Egg Scramble & Whole Wheat Pancakes

Thursday – Taco Salad

Friday – Grilled Tuna Sandwiches & Tomato Soup

Saturday – Pasta Bake 

What delicious things are you fixing for supper this week?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Getting Stuff Sold


Selling off our stuff has certainly been an interesting experience.  It has been a real eye opener to me in determining what exactly I find important and what has value.  The reality is that very little of what I own holds any real true value.  The value and worth in my life is in my family and my friends.  The reality is that everything else is just stuff. 

I have been listing an enormous amount of our stuff on Craigslist and eBay.  I put our car on a consignment lot a few weeks ago and we are hoping for a sale soon.  The proceeds from that sale will be the main funds for our journey.  I’m hoping not to touch our savings. 

A yard sale at a friend’s house last weekend got rid of a lot of our little stuff.  Another one at our house this weekend will help us get rid of the rest of our stuff and hopefully the items that haven’t sold on Craigslist.  After the yard sale whatever is left will have to go to the thrift store. 

I am definitely looking forward to being done with all the yard sales and selling stuff.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves


Sunday morning I started off my week by making and canning 6½ pints of City Dweller Salsa.  I already had the ingredients on hand in my pantry and freezer.  I was able to use up the last of the green bell peppers I put up in our freezer last fall. 

I made and canned 11 half-pint jars of raspberry jam using up the last of the raspberries I put up and froze last summer. 

I made labels for my newly canned items using leftover labels I already had and printing them up on the computer. 

I sold our leather rocker recliners after listing them on Craigslist.  I even gave the lady that bought them a jar of raspberry jam.  She was thrilled! 

I sold one of my crocheted baby afghans on Etsy!  I was so excited about that! 

I listed more items to sell on eBay and Craigslist. 

I took several items to a friend’s house for a yard sale.  My oldest daughter stayed to help out while I went to work.  We made over $300!  I couldn’t believe it. 

I printed signs off of the computer to put up for our big moving sale coming up. 

Albertson’s had bottled water on sale for $1.99 for a 24 pack of 16 oz. bottles.  Normally I wouldn’t buy this but with our upcoming travels I want to make sure we have plenty of drinking water options.  Hopefully we’ll find a place along the way to recycle our used bottles. 

We got enough rain this week I didn’t have to water the lawn at all.  Yeah!  It was also cool enough we didn’t need to use any A/C. 

Our chicken’s blessed us with 15 eggs last week.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Making Raspberry Jam & Syrup


I had oodles of raspberries from my parent’s garden frozen in our garage freezer.  I wasn’t about to let them go to waste so I decided to make a big batch of jam and some pancake syrup.  Not only was I able to use up the raspberries but some sugar I had in the pantry as well. 

I went to the grocery store and picked up two boxes of pectin (I had a coupon for a$1 off two boxes) and a box of lids.  I used the recipe from the pectin box.  Super easy and it always turns out well.  After making up the two batches of jam I canned eleven half pint jars in a water bath.  I then made the syrup and sealed it up in a Snapple bottle. 

After sharing some of the jam with friends and family the rest will be boxed up and heading out on the road with us.  A delicious reminder of our old home to have in our new home!

You may also enjoy revisiting 10 Ways to Save On Your Grocery Bill.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Next Week’s Menu Plan


 
After going through the pantry and freezer this is what I came up with for our meal plan next week: 

Sunday – Pork Chops & Rice Pilaf
Monday – Tomato Soup & Cheese Quesadillas
Tuesday – Chef Salad
Wednesday – Cheese Omelets & Toast
Thursday – Spaghetti & Meat Sauce
Friday – Cheese Pizza
Saturday – Beef Enchiladas 

What delicious things are you fixing for supper this week?
 
 

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Thinking Small - Kitchen & Pantry



My new kitchen will be much, much smaller than our current tiny kitchen.  The kitchen in our RV consists of one two burner stove, a small single basin sink and a cooler but I have some plans to make it much larger and efficient.  I am planning to incorporate an outdoor kitchen using my folding table (currently my sewing table) and some electrical appliances. 

Of course, you guessed it!  There will be a slow cooker involved and our new convection toaster oven.  I am also bringing along an electric hot plate and my kitchen kettle (these two items are always in my RV), along with a toaster, a small microwave and an apartment sized refrigerator. 

I also have extra dishpans for making it easier to clean up after cooking and eating.  This is important because I am not a lover of paper plates or plastic flatware.  I like to eat off of regular dishes and utensils. 

I use the icebox in our RV as a pantry because it has never been particularly good at keeping food cold.  I am always amazed at how much food that little icebox will hold.  I also have a plastic bin that has been our “chuck box” since our tent camping days to store extra items and bulkier stuff. 

I’m not sure, exactly how the little refrigerator will work out as I’ve never used one before with our RV but I figure this would be the time to give it a shot.  We will also have our cooler with ice for storing our fresh foods. 

I filled our RV pantry first with items I already had on hand in our house.  I had easily 90% of the stuff I wanted to take with us.  I have been filling in the items I don’t have using our current grocery budget so I’m not spending any extra money at this time to get ready.  So far, so good. 

I already have plastic bags and food storage containers as well as potholders, dish cloths and towels, napkins, dish soap and a dish drainer in the RV so I don’t have to add any of those things.  Plenty of dishes, utensils, flatware and drinking ware so we are set there too.  I added a couple rolls of paper towels.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves


Reduce, Recycle, Reuse
 
Sunday morning the youngest and I went out and changed the oil on the truck and replaced the air filter.  We also cleaned up the engine.  Very happy to have that off my “To Do” list! 

I sold some items on eBay and Craigslist.  I listed some more items to sell on eBay. 

I prepared meals all week from items I already had on hand.  We utilized leftovers to make several lunches. 

I took advantage of a few store coupons at Fred Meyer and stocked up on mayonnaise and cheese.  I purchased extra lettuce and some spinach while I was there. 

I purchased a gift for my father at Amazon.com at a rather substantial savings and with free shipping.   

I saved a small bundle on a box of ten reeds for my daughter’s clarinet and got them shipped free through Amazon.com.  I also bought a CD for myself for $4.99, shipped free. 

I made a fabulous dessert to take to a friend’s house, again out of items I already had on hand.  It was a big hit and I’ll be sharing it sometime soon. 

I made a bottle of raspberry pancake syrup and two batches of ranch style dressing. 
 
I took all our glass in for recycling at the big bin in our nearby Albertson's parking lot.  The city charges us $10 extra on our trash bill every two months if we have it picked up curbside.

Our chickens blessed us with 18 eggs.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Next Week’s Menu Plan

After going through the pantry and freezer this is what I came up with for our meal plan next week: 

Sunday – Pot Roast & Peppers w/ Rice

Monday – Leftover Bean Soup

Tuesday – Leftover Roast

Wednesday – Denver Egg Scramble & Toast

Thursday – Quesadillas

Friday – Grilled Hamburgers

Saturday – Biscuits & Gravy 

What delicious things are you fixing for supper this week?


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Hardest Part About Being A Single Parent




I think the hardest part about being a single parent is that you are it.  All the decisions that need to be made and all the ultimate responsibilities rest upon your shoulders.  Yours and yours alone.  You are it. 

Parenting is a tough job.  Certainly not for the faint of heart.  Many of us become single parents for a variety of reasons.  Divorce, death of a spouse, an oops or by choice.  With my oldest I became a single parent after a divorce.  With my two youngest I became a single parent by choice so I totally knew what I was getting myself into. 

I’ve been doing this a long time and I love being a parent.  I’ve said it over and over it is by far the best job I’ve ever held.  And when my precious little gems are sound asleep at night and I am stressed out with decisions I’ve made or have to make, I’m feeling overwhelmed with my ever increasing “To Do” list, or I’m just flat tired I think sometimes this gig is really hard.  But at the end of the day when I tumble into bed too tired to sleep I thank the almighty for those special beings he has blessed me with and in the morning I get up ready to take on another day. 

For those of you that are single parents I encourage you.  Whatever you do don’t fall into that trap of allowing it to become an excuse for why you can’t do something.  And certainly don’t use it as the excuse for why your children are misbehaving, getting in trouble or aren’t doing well in school. 

I acknowledge that sometimes single parents get a bad rap.  There are plenty of negative connotations associated with single parents but we have the ability and the power to change that. 

Embrace your single parent status and allow it to empower you.  Because ultimately, the decisions are yours.  You are in the driver’s seat. 

And to all parents I salute you.  It’s a tough job.  Keep up the great work!



Monday, June 10, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves


Sunday evening I used up the last of the pot roast to make a nice pot of beef noodle soup.  We enjoyed leftovers for lunches all week long.  I also made a huge garden salad to go with it and another jar of homemade creamy Caesar dressing. 

I sorted, organized, and packed a lot of our stuff.  I also collected and priced more items for our yard sale. 

I sold some things on eBay and listed some more items to sell.  I also listed some items to sell on Craigslist. 

I mended a tear in my daughter’s nightgown. 

A quick stop at Fred Meyer for cat food also netted me two loaves of bread and a big package of hamburger buns for 70¢ each from the bakery clearance rack.  I put one loaf in the freezer for the next week.  Now I won’t need to add bread baking to my busy schedule. 

I used up every last bit of a bottle of shampoo and another one of dish soap by rinsing out the bottles.  Then I put the empty bottles in the recycle bin. 

While my oldest had music class the youngest and I headed to the grocery store to pick up some fresh produce.  This saved me from having to make a special trip later. 

Our chickens blessed us with 15 eggs last week.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer Salads



We eat salad at least four to five times a week all year long.  Salads are our biggest side dish and sometimes they are even our meals, say for instance Taco Salad or Cobb Salad, especially during the summer when it is hot outside.  A crisp bed of lettuce with some delicious toppings is nice and refreshing compared to a hot, heavy entrĂ©e. 

I will typically go to the grocery store about every ten days to pick up fresh produce.  Three items always seem to be on my shopping list – spinach, lettuce and cabbage.  I love to mix equal amounts of all three of these things for what I like to call the “base” of a good garden salad.  After that is mixed up in a large bowl the sky is the limit as far as what else I put on it. 
 
The "base" of our salads - spinach, lettuce, shredded cabbage.

I always shoot for “three”.  Three additional items to top the greens and they are almost always vegetables.  Then if it is a main course salad I will add on meat, cheese and/or hard boiled eggs. 

Salad dressings are last, but certainly not least, and I make them from scratched 90% of the time.  My girls are learning to make them now too and I always appreciate the extra help in the kitchen. 

Do you find you eat more salads when the weather gets warmer?  Have a favorite salad dressing recipe you’d like to share?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What Are We Doing?!



We are downsizing from our townhouse into our 13 foot Scamp travel trailer for the time being.  This is some serious downsizing we are talking about too.  We began going through every nook and cranny of our home beginning in mid-April.  It has been a job! 

Culling out what we only need for daily survival, then adding in a few items to make it nicer and more comfortable has been easier than I thought it would be.  I am finding in this process that I don’t want to be encumbered by my stuff and I am happy to let things go.  If we don’t love it then it needs to go.  If we love it we will take it with us.  It has amazed us all at how much stuff we have hung onto that we really don’t care for.  Kind of nuts, really.

Our RV has an abundance of hidden storage so you can pack a lot inside.  More stuff than you need, actually.  In one area I have our bedding and linens all organized in clear zipper bags (the ones comforters and bedspreads come in).  In another we have our electrical cords, hoses, heater and fan stored.  We have an area for games and craft supplies, another for pots and pans and a third for miscellaneous items. 

Our clothing has been seriously scaled back to fit inside our existing suitcases.  I did not want to purchase anymore luggage because that would mean we’d just pack more stuff. 

I am adding a shell for our pick up so we can have additional storage and we can keep those items locked and secure. 

Our patio furniture all folds flat so we’ll be able to take it along and enjoy using it.  Compact is really the name of the game.  Outdoor living space will be key to making this workable and more comfortable.  I plan to set up an outdoor kitchen space on our folding table whenever we stop, just like when we go camping. 

The old ice box is our pantry, a cooler our refrigerator, the toaster oven and microwave plus a hot plate and a kitchen kettle will help us conserve propane when we have access to electricity.  We have battery powered lights as well as electric. 

Small items that multi task are even better.  The bin that holds the linens can also hold dirty laundry and be used as a bathtub.  Our pasta pot will be used for cooking and to heat water.  My laptop will be invaluable as our communication center, home office and as our TV/DVD player, among other things. 

It won’t always be easy but we’ll make it work.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Next Week’s Menu Plan

 
After going through the pantry and freezer this is what I came up with for our meal plan next week: 

Sunday – Pork Chops & Rice Pilaf

Monday – Spaghetti & Meat Sauce

Tuesday – Pancakes & Eggs

Wednesday – Leftover Spaghetti

Thursday – Vegetable Stir Fry & Rice

Friday – Salmon & Pesto Orzo

Saturday – Ham & Bean Soup w/ Cornbread 

What delicious things are you fixing for supper this week?

 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Grocery Budget Update - May


A much more normal shopping month for me this time.  I did two fairly good sized trips to the grocery store and concentrated most of my purchases on fresh produce this month and a few items to stock up our RV.  The produce is so wonderful this time of year, especially the strawberries.  I used nearly all of our non-food budget on cat food, chicken feed, fabric softener and coffee filters coming in at $22.68. 

This is what I bought this month: 

Groceries
 
 $$$
 
Cereal (4)
 
          6.72
 
Cereal (5)
 
          6.40
Coupon
Cereal (2)
 
          5.96
 
Tortillas (2)
 
          2.00
 
Peanut butter (2)
 
          3.00
Store Coupon
Lettuce (2)
 
          0.88
 
Spinach (2)
 
          1.99
 
Butter (2)
 
          3.76
Store Coupon
Tomatoes
 
          0.44
 
Apples
 
          2.82
 
Oranges
 
          2.03
 
Strawberries
 
          1.88
 
Bananas
 
          1.11
 
Cucumber
 
          0.69
 
Cheddar - 2#
 
          4.29
 
Oatmeal
 
          2.42
 
Salsa
 
          1.68
 
Taco sauce
 
          1.87
 
Verde sauce
 
          1.48
 
Tortillas (5)
 
          4.40
 
Tortilla chips (2)
 
          3.00
 
Honey
 
          3.18
 
Beans
 
          0.98
 
Soup
 
          1.98
 
Canned tomatoes (4)
 
          2.32
 
Mandarin oranges
 
          0.78
 
Fruit cocktail
 
          0.90
 
Parmesan
 
          1.98
 
Olives (2)
 
          1.90
 
Non stick spray
 
          1.84
 
Frozen pizza (2)
 
          7.00
 
Ice cream (2)
 
          4.00
Store Coupon
Tortilla chips (2)
 
          2.00
 
Pesto
 
          3.09
 
Carrots
 
          1.25
 
Potatoes
 
          0.59
 
Sour cream (2)
 
          2.00
 
Eggs
 
          0.99
Store Coupon
Salad dressing (2)
 
          3.00
 
Cucumber
 
          0.69
 
Lettuce (2)
 
          1.76
 
Spinach  
 
          1.99
 
Cheese
 
          2.99
 
Parmesan
 
          2.69
 
Mushrooms
 
          1.41
 
Cauliflower
 
          1.56
 
Broccoli
 
          1.01
 
Green olives
 
          1.29
 
Strawberries
 
          2.00
 
Onions
 
          1.10
 
Cabbage
 
          0.98
 
Salsa (2)
 
          3.58
 
Bell pepper
 
          0.79
 
 
 
 
 
Total
 
 $  122.44
 
 
The items in blue are things I bought to restock the pantry in our RV.  We ate way too much chips and salsa this month.  Not sure what was going on there.  Tasty though!  And yes, I did buy a dozen eggs this month because fresh eggs don’t hard boil well.  They stick to the shell. 

How did you do with your grocery budget this month?
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