Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Crocktober Meal Prep #4

Right now with it primarily being the two of us right now, my youngest daughter and me, I find myself preparing a lot less food.  With dance practice and gym class she does come home hungry and ready to eat, but a regular sized Sunday dinner seems to go a long ways in getting us through the week.  Throw in a few simple suppers and we've pretty much got it made.

I pulled a chuck roast out of the freezer and allowed it to thaw before cooking it my most favorite way.  I seasoned both sides of it with about a half packet of Au Jus mix and let it cook all day long in my slow cooker.  Oh my goodness is it ever tender, flavorful and juicy.

The juices make a wonderful gravy with just a little cornstarch slurry stirred in.  My daughter loves it over rice, but of course a mountain of mashed potatoes or the traditional potatoes and carrots cooked with the roast is always nice.

I did some burger patties seasoned with Italian seasoning and some provolone cheese slices melted over the top one evening alongside a pan of green beans sauteed with diced onion and sliced mushrooms.  Delish!


Breakfast for supper made the cut as well.  I cooked some bacon and then used some of the fat to saute diced onion, peppers and mushrooms before scrambling in a half dozen eggs.  Topped with some sharp cheddar cheese.  Oh my!

So not a lot of cooking required and I'm really glad about that because it has been so incredibly busy around here it is enough to make your head spin.  Some simple meals and a slow cooker save the day!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

My Grocery Budget 2019 - October Update

I am super proud of myself this month.  My plan was to round out the pantry and freezer to fill in the last items on my list in order to be fully stocked up for winter and that was exactly what I did.  And I didn't bust the budget to make it happen!

My nonfood purchases consisted of stocking up on kitty litter, cat food and some treats.  That was it!  We are all set for the coming winter months and shouldn't need to purchase anything else for the kitties.  Total spent $21.80.  Under my $25 budget by $3.20.

I filled in the gaps in my pantry with a few more canned goods, stocked up on peanut butter for the girls as it was on sale, and added several more items to complete the list.  I'm thrilled that I was able to get everything I needed and wanted as well as to come in under budget!

Here is the food I bought this month:

Sorry it is a bit blurry

$136.72 ÷ 31 days ÷3 people = $1.47 per person per day!!!

Once again I am super excited about how much I was able to get for so little.  I'm still looking at us as a family of three right now as I do make my oldest daughter freezer meals as well as let her raid my pantry.

What super buys did you come across at the stores this month?  Are you stocked and winter ready?

This budget month runs from October 1 through October 31

Monday, October 28, 2019

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday I drove to a little city three towns over to do some potential house hunting and scope out the area.  I used to live there thirty years ago when my son was very young and not too much has changed.  Always good to keep my options open.

Tuesday was parent teacher conferences at the high school.  I picked up my daughter after work and we headed over there for a couple hours.  Then home for a quick supper and homework.  The rest of the week went so quickly and before I knew it, it was Friday again.

I didn't have time to meal prep or do anything in my slow cooker the previous weekend so I kept our meals really simple.  I used quite a few things that were already in the refrigerator and freezer in the kitchen to make things quick and easy on ourselves.  By Friday. however, I was ready to pull out my largest slow cooker and pop a nice sized chuck roast into it.

The bulk of my week was wrapped up in all of the drama that surrounds my house right now.  I'll be really happy once this is all settled.  Thankfully I am managing my stress and anxiety about it remarkably well.  It helps too that I am surrounded with a lot of support, with both professionals as well as my friends and family.  It seriously makes a huge difference.

After cooking some bacon I saved the rendered bacon fat in a jar I keep in the refrigerator.  I like to use it to cook with as it is a good fat and adds a lot of flavor.

I didn't do any grocery shopping last week as we had more than enough food already.  Nothing in the store ads was tempting me to spend any money either.  That's a win!

I mended two pair of undies that had some small holes.  They're my favorite and most comfy ones I own so I was pretty motivated to stitch them and extend their life a bit.

I worked a little more overtime last week.

I microwaved the honey bear for ten seconds so I could get out every last drop and used a rubber scraper to remove the last of the peanut butter from the jar.  I had enough of both to make my daughter a sandwich to take to school.

Some of the 15 Minute Chores I accomplished to keep my home in order:

Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - vacuumed floors, scrubbed sink, cleaned mirrors.  Daily swish & swipe.

Dining Room - vacuumed floor, dusted shelves, chair rail, windowsill & baseboard heater.

Kitchen -  vacuumed & spot mopped the floor, .

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - vacuumed & dusted.  Cleaned mirror & scrubbed tub.  Daily swish & swipe.

Other - two loads of laundry, vacuumed & dusted living room, hallway & entry, cleaned mirror.  Swept front porch & garage.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, October 25, 2019

Only 2 Months Left To Get Ready For Christmas

This year we are doing Christmas on a very small scale and budget, but it is still going to be very nice.  I've already started planning and preparing.  The girls and I have agreed to exchange small gifts and anything we give to friends and other family members will likely be something of a handmade nature.  More than likely something made in the kitchen.

I took advantage of a great sale on baking items at Albertson's and stocked up on sugar, flour, chocolate chips and baking mixes.  I bought Kraft marshmallow creme at the dollar store and we plan to use those items to make fudge and bake some cookies.

I have plenty of tins, boxes, gift wrap, tissue paper, bags, treat bags, ribbon, bows and tape on hand.  I also have plenty of homemade gift tags.  We will be able to dress up our simple little gifts quite nicely.

We scaled back our Christmas dinner menu and pretty much have everything we need already purchased and in the freezer or pantry.  Fresh produce and dairy will likely be the only things we need to buy when the time comes.

We have no plans to purchase any new decor this year and will decorate our home with things we already have.  Anything else we feel we want will need to be made from items we already have on hand.

I'm still planning to send out Christmas cards and I have plenty in my stash so no need to purchase or make any new ones this year.  I also have stamps leftover from last year as well as plenty of pretty stationery in my stash to print out our annual letter.

Honestly, I'm really looking forward to Christmas this year.  We all agree it feels very low pressure and we like that feeling very much.  No stress or worry about money or meeting certain expectations.  I can tell you too, it feels like a whole lot less work.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

House Projects On Hold For A Bit

Until things are figured out around here I have decided to put all house projects on hold.  I need to prune trees, do some repairs, finish a few home improvement projects and put on some finishing touches around here.  But until we know exactly what the plan is it does seem rather foolish to do anything.

Stella knows how to take it easy

My next door neighbors have a broken furnace that needs replaced.  They are stuck in limbo not knowing if they should invest $6000 into a new one or not.  Right now they are thinking not, but winter is upon us and it is really chilly outside.

I have to tell you that owning an RV gives me great piece of mind in that no matter what, we always have a second home option should we need one.  If there was ever a prolonged power outage we have a backup plan.  If I decide to work on anything around here it will be the motorhome.

I had big plans for this!

So for now I'll have to wait.  Put my feet up and take a much deserved break.  I don't do well sitting around with nothing to do so this will be a bit of a challenge.  No worries.  I'll find something to keep me busy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A Simple Little Supper

I like to keep my cooking fairly simple as well as thrifty.  The other night I prepared a quick and easy chicken meal that we often enjoy so I thought I would share it with you.

The first thing I do is bring a pan of water to boil to cook some small pasta like orzo.  While that is going I heat up some olive oil in a skillet and butterfly a couple of chicken breast halves.  The chicken is seasoned with some lemon pepper seasoning.

Butterflying the chicken allows it to cook faster
And if you have really large pieces you'll have better portion sizes 

While the chicken and pasta both cook I can pop a vegetable into the microwave real quick.  If I have leftover veggies those will just get reheated or I can steam some broccoli.  A lettuce salad is also a great option.

Once the pasta is drained I put it back into the pan and stir in a couple tablespoons of butter, a heaping spoonful of pesto and a couple tablespoons of grated parmesan.  I stir that all in and serve it as a side dish with the chicken and vegetables.

My girls absolutely love this side dish

The nice thing about simple meals like this is the versatility as well as how fast you can put together a really nice meal for your family.  The chicken can be swapped out with fish, pork or steak.  The seasonings can be swapped out with garlic and herb or just seasoning salt.  Sometimes just a little salt and pepper is fine.  Orzo can be swapped out with small shells or tiny elbows.  Pretty much any small pasta will work.  I love the mini bowties.

So that's it.  A quick and simple idea to get dinner on the table in short order.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

My 5 Year Plan

I am currently one year and a couple months into my five year plan with the hopes of early retirement.  My biggest goal has been to get my girls both graduated from high school and off to college.  One down and one more to go!

After the young one is off to college I want to take a year to really evaluate my personal situation and see what it is exactly that I would like to do.  I'd also like to enjoy a year of living alone in my lovely little home.  It would be a first for me to live alone here and I would really like to experience that.  I may continue to work that year or I may not.  I'm not sure.

In the time that remains I would like to complete home renovations, inside and out as well as to add A LOT of money to my savings and retirement accounts.  Finishing up my work on Laverne is on the list as well.  I'd also like to fit in some travel, if possible.  I doubt I'd have the time or budget for much, but it would be nice if I could fit that in.

The biggest problem I've had is knowing where I want to go next and while I have a bajillion ideas swirling around in my head nothing has felt right.  I am hoping that in the next few years it will come to me.  Until then I have nothing concrete in mind.  The one thing that I did have in mind was that if I couldn't decide I could at the very least just stay put until it comes to me.

It is entirely possible that my five year plan will have to change.  It also may not, but it is very likely it will have to.  I need to prepare myself for that possibility.  So for the moment my five year plan will stay in place, however I will be planning and doing my research to be prepared in case it does need to be changed.

Having plans and goals is mightily important.  It gives me a sense of purpose and direction in my life and allows me to achieve more than I otherwise would.  Flexibility is also a very important part of planning and having goals.  Without the ability to flex and adapt to change we flounder.

I could be upset, fearful and angry over the idea of a big developer possibly coming in and taking over everything I've done here for the past twenty five years but I'm not going to do that.  It would just make me miserable.  Instead I am looking at this as a possibility to do something different.

Yes, this was completely and totally unexpected.  Out of the blue someone knocked on my door and told me they would like me to leave.  That is a tough one, but how I choose to handle that is completely up to me.  I'm in control and whatever the outcome I do feel things will be just fine.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday was more of a rest and recuperate day for me.  I made some spicy Coconut Curry Soup which helped a lot and made me feel better.  I had that for dinner again on Monday and was feeling much, much better.  Colds are just the worst.

Monday I had to hem my daughter's orchestra dress.  I sewed forever, I swear.  It was four inches too long and went miles around, but after a couple hours I had it done and looking good.  I sure hope she gets to keep the same dress until she graduates.  I really don't want to repeat that chore each year.

Tuesday was my daughter's first orchestra concert as a high school student.  It was really quite lovely.

I didn't do a whole lot throughout the remainder of the week as I recuperated from my head cold that was trying to move on into my chest.  Thankfully it did not and by Thursday I was feeling much better.

My neighbor and I have started digging into the Pesky Realtor situation to see if we can get a better idea of what is happening.  Hopefully we'll come up with some solid answers fairly soon.  That issue consumed the better part of my week and highly contributed to my lack of productivity.  Raised my stress level a bit too, not to mention my poor daughters.  But at least by the end of the week we had a better idea of what is going on and what our options are.

All the meal prepping I did last weekend really paid off for us.  I had enough meals and plenty of variety to see us through the week in suppers and lunches.  On Thursday I thawed a container of spaghetti meat sauce I had stashed in the freezer and reheated it for supper to go over a box of linguine noodles my daughter cooked up.  She seriously loves her spaghetti.  That was pretty much the extent of my "cooking" during the week day.

I worked overtime every day last week.  And I got my raise at work!!  Yes!!  Couldn't have come at a better time either!

I used some Pumpkin Marshmallow Latte scented bath gel to make a couple batches of foaming hand soap solution.  I was able to top off all of our soap dispensers throughout the house.

I really love our cozy little home

Some of the 15 Minute Chores I accomplished to keep my home in order:

Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - cleaned top of washer & dryer, vacuumed & mopped floors, scrubbed toilet.  Daily swish & swipe.

Dining Room - vacuumed & mopped floor.

Kitchen -  vacuumed & mopped the floor, cleaned microwave.

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - vacuumed & dusted.  Scrubbed sink.  Daily swish & swipe.

Other - one load of laundry, vacuumed & dusted living room & hallway.  Vacuumed & mopped front entry.  Swept front porch & garage, raked a pile of leaves.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, October 18, 2019

A Pesky Realtor

We've had this strange thing going on around here for about a month now.  This realtor kept sending me letters asking me if I was willing to sell my house and then leaving door hangers on our fence gate.  I pretty much ignored it as this is not the first time this has happened over the years, however it did seem odd to see so many coming from one particular realtor.

A couple weeks ago I got a letter explaining there was client interested in purchasing my home.  That same night this realtor showed up on my doorstep and told me he was representing an investor and made me a low ball offer on our house stating he'd pulled the comps and knew what the fair market value was on my home and that was a good offer.  He is young, kind of smug and cocky.  He irked me.

I told him no, I'm not interested in selling our home and that I happen to know what the fair market value is on my house plus what the comps in our neighborhood actually are so leave me alone.  Or words to that effect.  He left, but I figured I hadn't heard the last from him.  I hadn't.

Last week I got a letter in the mail.  A surprisingly polite letter extending an offer on my house of slightly above fair market value, the actual value this time plus an additional $10,000 incentive to put toward moving expenses.  This guy seriously wants our house.

He also wants my next door neighbor's house and an offer was made to them as well.  They don't want to sell right now either, but I'm not entirely sure of their commitment to staying put.  Wave enough money and people will jump on the opportunity.  So what exactly is going on here?

The nearest we can figure out right now is that the field behind our house, which a ton of investors have shown interest in over the years but no one has ever jumped on, is prime for an apartment complex.  The only issue with it is street access.  They would likely need our two properties to gain access to the lot behind us and that would mean the removal of both homes allowing our cul-de-sac to become the entrance and giving them the second required exit for a large apartment complex or business.

So what are we going to do?  Right now nothing.  First we need to check with the city to see what is going on, if anything, and then go from there.  The timing to sell isn't right for us so I'm in no rush, however if plans are approved for this type of development we will need to come up with a plan of some sort.  The housing market here is incredibly tight and a new apartment complex would be extremely helpful, however I don't relish the idea of sacrificing my home and quality of life for that to happen.  Right now, if we sell, there is no place for us go.  We'd have to move out of Boise.  It is a lot to think about and would dramatically alter my current five year plan.  What to do, what to do?  Whatever happens, we'll figure it out.  

We always do.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Winter Ready

I feel adequately ready to embrace the coming winter.  Nothing reminds me of how blessed I truly am than to be winter ready.  Our pantry, our chest freezer in the garage and the freezer in our kitchen are very full at the moment.  I've even got almost all I need for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals and well into the New Year.  We will definitely not go hungry.

Our garage is well supplied with pet and chicken feed and all the supplies they should need.  We have plenty of propane and other fuel sources should the power go out for any length of time.  There is a new bag of briquettes in case we need or want to grill outside too.

The coop has been cleaned and fresh bedding added so the girls will be snug and warm.  We employ the deep bedding method in our coop so it stays dry and produces its own heat.  There is also a heater in there should the temperatures dip into the single digits and they need to be warmer.

I picked up these items on sale super cheap for Christmas baking

We have plenty of warm weather clothing, boots, coats, hats and gloves.  Fuzzy socks and warm winter pajamas as well as robes and slippers.  We've added our winter blankets to our beds as well so we are ready to sleep through some chilly nights, which we've had quite a few of already.

There are plenty of toiletries, medicines, tissues and toilet paper, laundry and cleaning supplies as well as candles, batteries and matches stocked in the house.  I don't expect to need to purchase anything until the spring.  I think the only thing that would compel me to do so any sooner would be a really good sale and some coupons.

Our vehicles are winter ready as well.  Both my car and the truck have good tires and batteries.  They've had their preventive maintenance and all the fluids have been topped up.  I'd like to replace the wiper blades on my car soon and will add snow chains and our jumper cables to the truck so we have them should they be needed.  Both vehicles have ice scrapers and plenty of anti freeze in the radiator.

Snowmaggedon 2017

Our snow shovel is beginning to show its age so I've got it on my list to get a replacement this year.  There is a new bag of ice melt as well as a partial bag so we are good to go there.  In the meantime, before the snow flies, we are doing our best to keep up on raking the falling leaves and keep things tidy.  The hoses and sprinklers have been drained and put up and I've pulled up all the spent flowers and plants from our planters on the porch.  I usually have flowers until Thanksgiving, however not this year as we've already had some good hard freezes.

Warm bedding helps us sleep well when the temperatures dip

Knowing we have much of what we need takes a load off of my mind and frees up my money to go toward the higher electric bills we will have.  This year we are about a month early on using our heat so I am expecting the higher electric bills to start arriving next month through March or April.  Our coldest month is typically January with our highest bill arriving at the first of February.  This year we may see some of those cold temperatures much earlier.  It is hard to say, but I am prepared for it.

I sure hope we don't see snow like this again anytime soon

Are you prepared for winter?  What are some of the things you do to get ready?

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