Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quarterly Budget

Clothes Pin Hanger

First off the fun stuff, finished the new clothes pin hanger today, like it much better than the others I have made so this one is a keeper. I did use a store bought pattern from the 30% off sale last weekend, it was worth every dime, super fast and easy to do.

Finished crunching the quarterly budget numbers today, now that the spread sheet is built I should have a much better time figuring out where the leaks are in our spending. Until the end of the year when I know what we spend on the garden it is hard to tell exactly what we are spending on food but this is a start.

Average per month on Groceries in 2011 is $ 250.00 Average coupon savings per month on Groceries is $ 403.00

That's a %70 savings using coupons!! Go me

I also figured in our bulk food purchases in the grocery spending numbers so the coupon savings are even better than %70

Average money spent eating out each month $ 60.00, that's a number we can live with.

Money saved from Bush Tax Cut Extension $1,800.00. WooHoo!!

Bumps in the road on our spending:

FABRIC STORE, I need to stop spending and do more sewing!!!

Of course GAS is a kicker for all of us. I am paying attention to where I go and combining trips as much as I can but it is still taking a bigger bite than we expected at the pump and in the grocery store. I could purchase a more fuel efficient car (mine sucks gas) but we hope to hang onto the old gal at least 2 more years.

The weekend looks to be pleasant weather, if it works out that way I will be hitting the nursery to start working on some of our spring planting. We are going to need lots of extras for the new beds we are putting in this year as well as more plants to fill them with. Tyler will have his own little garden this year as well, when Rambo man gets back he is going to build a small square foot garden for him, so far he wants sunflowers, cookies, and pickles to plant. Gotta love them Grand babies, they keep us smiling!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Inside of check book cover Check book cover turn on side, UGHHHH
Cold and rainy today, perfect for a short sweet sewing project. I'm thinking maybe this checkbook cover will make bill paying Friday a little more pleasant. Well maybe not but it is still cute. Realized when I was ready to take the photo I don't even have a check book holder any more. I never carry the checkbook around, it just sets in the desk for bill paying. Better order one next time we need checks, this one went to daughter #1 today who does have a check book that she carries in her purse. The rest of the day was spent trying to keep Karsyn happy, she is cutting teeth, need I say more.

I did do a bit of work on next month's budget as well as looked over the first quarter of this years budget. One interesting thing I realized when I was crunching numbers is we only spent $91.59 for groceries this month, woohoo!! That's super good. As you know if you have followed this blog for any length of time we eat at our house and we eat well I might add!! That works out to around $3.00 each day for food, again if you have hung around this blog much you know I end up sending meals home with our Daughters a few times each week to share with their families, we also have Sunday dinner at our home. I send meals back with Rambo man when he comes home to share with his roommates as well so we are feeding lots of people each week. Keeping a full pantry and freezer along with preserving from the garden/farmers store, buying in bulk and clipping coupons pays off. Other than milk and eggs I know we would be fine for a month of no grocery shopping which by the way I think I just might do for the month of April. Gonna have to sleep on it before I jump on the challenge, we do have a Birthday in April also a Wedding and of course Easter. Hummm, I think it is doable

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Planting begins

New 12 inch square foot gardens Start of the strawberry bed
We got a bit more of this and that accomplished today. Rambo man took AJ to the vet for her yearly check-up and shots while Karsyn and I worked on a few loaves of bread and a batch of cookies. I had been putting off taking AJ in because of the babies, just didn't think I had the energy to lug everyone into the Vet's office. We also turned our mattress, doesn't sound like a big deal until you try to flip and turn a king size bed by yourself, this is for sure a two man job. Our shipment of hard white wheat also arrived today, somehow I forgot to remind Rambo Man to help me bring it all in to store. Do you know what 45 pounds of wheat berries weigh? Duh 45 pound dummy, I don't think so.... felt more like 145 pounds to me. We were able to get 2 of the 4x4x12 foot gardens built and in place before Karsyn hit a brick wall and we called it a morning, still have 2 more to build and get in place then fill all of them. I hope to work on filling them over the weekend if I don't have the babies. We will be planting potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions in them this year. I also got one flat of new strawberry plants in one of the old square foot gardens after adding a little of our own compost to beef up the soil a bit for the year. The book says to put 4 plants per square but we didn't have much luck with anything we did by the book last year, I am gonna stick with one plant per square and see how it goes, maybe we can add an additional plant to each square next year if it seems like the plants will be healthy enough. Finished the day with packing up meals for Rambo Man to take back to the project along with 3 loaves of bread to share with the guys and of course cookies. This was the first batch of freshly ground wheat cookies Rambo man has had, he couldn't tell any difference at all!! Ya Me!! I even sneaked 2 dehydrated eggs in the batch, I needed 4 eggs but ran out after 2. The cookies were good but I don't think the were as fat as usual, seemed a but flat and spread out more to me, but who the heck knows Karsyn was having one hissy fit after another today, I thought I was gonna lose my mind! Ha. Thank goodness for pre-cooked meals!! I don't have the energy to do anything more than get the fresh sheets back on the bed and crawl in.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekly Spending

Babies hat/Coat rack

The weekly budget has been blown sky high but that's what happens when Rambo Man gets in the home improvement store not once but twice in the past 2 days and I get in a fabric store on a rainy day.

The hat/coat rack for the babies are one of the many projects Rambo man has worked on the past few days, he forgot to check with the boss (me) on the placement of the pegs so they will have to be reworked then I can prime and paint the cute little bugger. I wanted a place to hang the hats and sweaters we keep at our house for the babies.

We got the bank problem worked out once again at least for now, they always seem to come up with some new rule, regulation or fee that throws a monkey wrench in my banking.

Picked up the boat cover that I haven't been able to get to. I couldn't carry the babies and lug a 40 pound cover at the same time. Here is something you don't find very often, we had the same company repair the boat cover 2 years ago the cost was $140.00 so I figure that's what it would cost this time, so wrong!! They only charged $25.00 they said the seam should have held up better than it did from the first repair so they only charged us the minimal fee, now how cool is that!!

We have the wood cut for the 4 new 4x4x12 raised garden beds we are adding this year but we ran out of steam before we could get that finished, maybe tomorrow if all goes well.

On to the ugly spending

Gas - $57.07 price is up to $3.54 a gallon now

Groceries - $16.43

Fabric store - $121.00 that is after the 30% of store wide sale

Breakfast out -$23.00

Home improvement store $82.00

Home improvement Store $88.43

Boat cover - $25.00

Dinner out - $11.00 (we had a $50.00 gift card from Christmas)

Over budget by $223.93 UGH!! Sometimes you win sometimes you loose

On to bed now 6:00 AM come early and we have lots more we want to do tomorrow.

Winter is Back

Ready to rock and roll at class on Saturday!

We have had a cold wet weekend with snow in the NC mountains, I honestly welcome a few more weeks of cold weather. We are no where near ready to get the garden planted and I have a winter to do pile that seems to grow by the day, I could use a 3 week extension of winter!!

Had my first sewing class on how to work my fancy new sewing machine Saturday, the class ended up being two back to back classes with a :20 minute break for lunch. I learned a lot (hope I can retain the info) but have so much more to learn!!! The store has decided to combine classes so I have 2 more Saturday classes that will run 8 hours each. Not sure I will be able to hang for both of them. Florescent lights do a number on my brain, I had forgotten how badly I react to the lights until Saturday afternoon. I ended up having to take a break for close to an hour just to clear my head a bit, checked with my table mates about what I missed, nothing important thank goodness!!

Taking the class was a good reminder of how blessed I am that I was able to leave the cooperate America job!! It is funny how quickly we can forget the unpleasant things we have overcome in life. I really did like my job, it was fast paced, interesting, and a great place to work however the commute was gruelling with headlights flashing, florescent lights were a nightmare for me, the noise level would be overwhelming some days and the stress to do it all was to much (I bring on most of the stress myself). I have gone from 400 milligrams of meds down to 100 milligrams since leaving work and concentrating on less processed foods. We are soooo blessed that one income can cover our needs!!!!!

Rambo Man arrived home Saturday while I was in class, what a nice surprise to pull into the driveway to a freshly mowed lawn and my super sweet husband waiting for a home cooked meal!!! This is the first time in forever that he will be home for more than 18 hours, this project has been a long haul with too many hours for a fella his age (don't tell him I said so) We have a list a mile long we would like to work on but the reality is we might knock out a few things, I am OK with that! He has already gotten the tractor battery recharged from over the winter so I can keep the lawn up while he is gone, replaced a ton of light bulbs,(a pet peeve of his, I could care less) built 2 projects with Tyler, changed the house air filters, purchased wood to make a hat/coat rack for the baby girls and cleaned off his desk (the top of the refrigerate is his desk) We have compared notes and idea's for the garden this year. We agree we disagree on some of the garden project's, (good to know before we get started) so we will go with mostly my plans and a few of his idea's thrown in. Since I do 80% of the garden work I get to have 80% of the say so!! His ideas are good, don't get me wrong but they are labor and time intensive both of which I don't have time for.

Off to get our Monday morning chores started, hope Karsyn can hold up to the activities!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

YAAAA for Thursday

New Clothes pin bag
Garden sit up on

I figured out how to sew on the stinkin plastic fabric!! I put a paper towel over and under the material, it went through the machine like butter, a little hard to see what your doing but it was better than all the slip sliding and puckers I got before. I fattened up the clothes pin bag a bit, I will need lots of pins for our laundry! Still have a bit of the fabric leftover but I am putting it away until someone asks for something, the stuff is just too much of a pain to work with.

Made a batch of chocolate chip muffins with the quick mix this morning that turned out great, shared some with my Guinea pig ladies across the street and they agreed, much better with the extra sugar and a bit more white flour, so that recipe is a keeper.

Update on the lettuce: Lunch - Taco Salad, Supper spaghetti with side salad, I can get one more meal out of what's left then no more lettuce until the garden comes in (I think)

Only one more day this week with our sweet babies then I have all day off Saturday, well that is after the sewing class Saturday morning, I do believe I might just take a nap!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Quick Muffin Mix

Man, my muffin pans look pretty bad, hey they are 38 years old and still work so who cares
Here is the dry muffin quick mix, I stored it in one of the OXO containers, I think this one is the 4 quart size. Watch for sales a Kohl's or Target

Karsyn and took a couple of walks in this 80 degree weather and played around in the kitchen. I have been reading a new cook book "Quick-Fix Healthy Mix" By Casey and Nicole Kellar, that is when I can keep my eye's open once I hit the sack each night. If your looking for a cookbook that uses more healthy ingredients for everyday food you would like this one, and the idea of making up quick mixes is pretty cool for ladies who don't have time to cook from scratch each night. So many of the healthy eatting cook books I see use ingredeants and recipies I can't pronounce let lone try out on the family. Decided to try one of the quick mixes for muffins today. I stink at muffin making, mine look like muffins, smell like muffin, but turn out as hard as hockey pucks, what did I have to loose right.
I put together the mix while Karsyn sat in her swing on the counter and chewed on her toes, then we grabbed a package of frozen blueberries from last summer and made our first batch of blueberry muffins. They looked perfect, opened one up, yepee they were soft and moist, took a taste and knew it would never fly at our house. They didn't have enough sugar and had a strong wheat taste to them. Back to the drawing board, I added more sugar to the mix and tried again, much better but they still have a pretty strong wheat taste, I am OK with it but I am not sure the family will go for them. I wonder if the problem is that our wheat is freshly ground, the recipe calls for store bought wheat, who knows. Mixed up another batch of the quick mix tonight with less wheat and more white flour, hope that will do the trick, gonna whip up a batch in the AM. Good thing I have friends and neighbors who don't mind trying out my kitchen experiments or I would have 2 dozen blueberry muffins to eat alone. Recipe at end of post.
Lettuce update: Lunch today - Chef salad, Supper tonight - Taco's

Dry Quick Mix
4 cups white flour
2 cups wheat flour
3 TBLS baking powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tsp salt

Mix all and sift together, store in container, shelf life 6 months. Makes 2 batches of muffins, super large muffins you could get 1 1/2 dozens out of each batch.

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Slightly mix all of this together
add to
3 cups quick muffin mix
mix until still a little lumpy, add 1/2 cup what flavor you want, blueberries, strawberries, chocolate chips whatever. I did add a full cup of blueberries and it worked just fine

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sewing Projects

Got 3 of these finished over the weekend
Cloth's Pin Bag

Turn your head sideways and you will see this is a place mat with a pocket for silverware and a napkin.

Here is a bit of the sewing I have been working on. The aprons are a bit funky for my taste but my girls think they are super cute. The clothes pin bag will get a little more tweaking, I want to make the next one a couple of inches wider but this one is perfect for a friend who has a retractable cloths line on her screened in porch, she didn't want anything too big. I use plastic covered material so they would be water proof, what a pain in the butt it was to work with, can't iron the seems open (would melt the fabric), turning it inside out was a bugger because the plastic stuck together as I was pulling it though, the material slips and slides so covering the button was no fun. The place mats are for a friend, the photo doesn't do them justice, the place mats and napkins are both reversible with coordinating fabric. I used a store bought pattern for the place mates, but the directions didn't take into account making everything reversible so I had to head back to the fabric store. UGH

I had Sunday off, after having breakfast with a friend I headed over to the fabric store 20 miles one way only to find a sign on the door saying "now closed on Sunday" Grrrr But it gets worse, the dreaded "Store is closing, everything 30% off" sign was also on the door. They do have a second store in a town south of us that I will now have to take my sewing classes to learn how to work the fancy sewing machine but it still makes me crazy to see yet another business that can't keep the doors open. I will be glad when the economic recovery finally makes its way to NC.

On to a tid-bit I picked up from a friend who is a general manager of a family restaurant chain. Their tomatoes that use to run $20.00 a bushel have now jumped in price to $50.00 a bushel. He says even the $50.00 tomato's are crap, so they only use them at the customers request and let folks know they are not a good quality. We planned on expanding our tomato plants this year, now I am thinking I better do a super expansion, no way can I afford to can $50.00 bushel tomato's!!!

My house is a mess!!! Need to give it a lick and a promise so I can get back on track, lots needs to get done this week.

Weekly Spending

Salad fixin's and taters cost $19.79

I went a little over on our weekly spending budget, gas is kicking our butt!! I had a few wasted trips during the week as well as a trip to BJ's which is a bit of a haul, hope to do better next week as far as gas usage goes. We haven't had lettuce or tomatoes since December when the garden finally gave up the ghost. I needed/wanted something green and fresh you can bet not a single leaf of the lettuce will be wasted! Also picked up 4 roasted chickens Sunday on sale for $4.99, we were getting low on pre-cooked chicken in the freezer and can always use more chicken broth. Baby hats were not a need but they were a want and on sale for 30% off, they will come in handy this spring and summer when I have the little girls out in the yard. Meet up with some girlfriends Sunday for breakfast, soooo needed some adult time.

We also did some planed spending over the week, my car needed an oil change and something replaced (trusted the guy knew what he was doing) and also a BJ run for some bulk items, rice, chocolate chips, sugar and such. Thankfully Rambo man wasn't around when I hit BJ's, he is as bad as a kid when it comes to throwing a little something extra in the buggy. We put back $1500.00 for vehicle repairs/maintenance and insurance deductible each year. We have a car, truck, Jeep, Harley, enclosed trailer, and a boat, I consider them Rambo mans fleet. Same thing with BJ's, we do a few bulk runs a year, having a little put back doesn't break the budget most of the time. It is hard to be disciplined enough to put something back each paycheck for all the odds and ends that you know you need during the year but it REALLY helps.

Weekly Spending
Groceries - $19.79
Groceries - $21.81
Baby hats - $36.00
Breakfast out - $6.35
Fabric store - $45.60
Gas - $ 81.20 up to $3.49 gallon now
Total spent $210.75, over budget by $10.75

Planned spending
Oil change and part - $77.21
BJ's - $169.32

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kara 8 months
Karsyn 4 months

Rambo man's tree 20 years!!
As you can see from the photo's above I stay super busy with the babies!!! I am so far behind on blogging but too wore out to do anything tonight, sorry. I did get Sunday off so I spent the day at the sewing machine, photo's to come. Working on a design for a cloth's pen holder for myself and a few friends who will be hanging out wash any day now! (fingers crossed) and a kneeling pillow for another friend who needs something to get down in the dirt with, she wants it big enough so sit on as well as kneel on. Have all my receipts from last weeks spending but haven't had time to total it all up yet, tomorrow I promise for tonight I am headed to bed with a hunk of dark chocolate and a good book

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day

Corn Beef and Cabbage
Kara (7 month's) Karsyn (4 month's)

Lets start with our babies, Kara is only 7 month's old and already wants to hog all of the toys, look closely, do you see she is sticking her tongue out at Karsyn. Karsyn is only 4 month's old and can almost set up, she knows Kara is being stingy so she is reaching for the toy she wants. There you have it our babies are gifted for sure!! All I do know is I want no part of them when they hit the biting stage, terrible two's they are on their own!!!
Threw the corn beef in the crock pot this morning with carrots, onions the spice pack that it came with and 1 1/2 cups of water for 8 hours. I noticed when I went to add the cabbage that there was way more fat in the pot than I wanted so I used the gravy strainer to pour off the fat and added a 1 cup brick of beef broth. Supper was over the top good and desert was cupcakes, can't go wrong with that!! Didn't get another thing done all day other than bottles, diapers, runny noses and lots of silly songs, life is good!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Giggles and Grins

A few more aprons

The babies were full of giggles and grins all day, Karsyn cut a bottom tooth last night, Kara cut a top tooth yesterday. No wonder they have both been such stink pots lately! Thankfully they were sweet as could be today, I had a headache that wouldn't stop. When the girls left this afternoon I hit the couch and slept for 4 hours, taking a nap at 6:00 PM might not have been a good idea but I couldn't hold my head up one more minute. Poor AJ didn't get her dinner until 10:30PM, hope she is not up all night with a tummy ache!

Day's like today is when having a meal or two pre-cooked and ready to go are a life saver. I packed up chicken noodle soup for Daughter 1 and 3 to go and had a bowl for myself with some homemade bread and a Popsicle for desert (store bought) Tomorrow is corn beef and cabbage, I need to run up to the country store to pick up a head of cabbage. We have plenty dehydrated but I shredded all of it when I dehydrated it so I don't think it would work right with the corn beef. Also want to make St Patrick's day cupcakes for Tyler's desert tomorrow night, this will be the first time in 3 years he won't be here to bake with me, sorta sad but he was miserable with both babies around, going to school full time is best for him even though I miss him so much. Off to bed with a couple more aspirin's and a cool washcloth, gonna beat this headache before morning (I hope)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beef Broth

Beef bones 3 to 5 pounds, carrots, celery, onion, parsley, bay leaves, oregano, peppercorn, 1/2 cup water

Bake uncovered at 450 for 30 minutes, turn down to 350 bake an additional 30 minutes uncovered. Add enough water to the bottom of the baking dish to scrap up all the goodies on the bottom.

After done baking throw it all in a stockpot with 3 quarts of water, (enough to cover bones) bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer 5 to 8 hours uncovered. If broth drops below the bones add more water to cover bones.

Strain all into a clean pot or dish, cover and refrigerate overnight, skim off the fat then freeze in serving sizes you use the most. I froze mine in 1 cup and 4 cup servings, one batch made 12 cups frozen. Vacuum pack each serving or place in freezer bag.

Started my day off with a second cup of tea in bed with a good book, took myself out to breakfast, then on to meet daughter #1 at the photographer studio for Karsyn's 4 month old pictures, sooooo cute. Wondered around the shopping village with the girls and picked up a new hat for Karsyn. Summer will be here soon, little girls need lots of hats in the south. Then on to BJ's for a little stocking up. I realized I was really low on chocolate chips while baking yesterday, wanted to stock up on sugar (all kinds), rice, bullion cubes and oats none of which have good coupons this time of the year. Placed an order for more wheat berries today, the company has them on back order for 3 to 4 weeks, hummmm... that has never happened before, not sure what to think of that. Enjoyed a bowl of chicken noodle soup with the wheat noodle's I made yesterday for supper. I could not tell a difference in the taste. Yaaa, I am sure our colon's will thank me for the healthier choices we are making.

Weekly Spending

Wheat Toll House Cookies
Wheat Noodles
2 eggs mixed, add 1 tsp salt, 4 Tbls milk, 2 cups flour or enough to make stiff dough. Roll out very thin on a floured surface

Roll dough up loosely then cut into strips and place on cooling rack to dry for 2 hours or so

Throw racks in freezer until firm them load them up in a freezer bag and return to the freezer. Not sure how long they will last, we eat them to fast.
Karsyn was a stinker yesterday but finally settled down for a nap long enough for me to make cookies and noodles using wheat I ground before I picked her up in the morning.
The cookies are great, you can't tell any difference, I remembered after I ground the wheat that the electric mill has a pastry setting, I will try and remember to use that setting next time to see if it makes a difference. Putting on a pot of chicken noodle soup for dinner today, hope that the noodles have as good a result as the cookies. I planed on using 1/2 white 1/2 wheat in the noddles but forgot to add the white flour I was in such a hurry. It is cool and rainy here today a pot of soup is just what I need. I have the entire day off today!!!! I think I will be doing nothing, I so need a day of doing nothing.
On to the spending, it was not so great this week but not every week can be as good as we want so I just move on and try to do better the next time. We did have some very large expenses this week that I call planned spending. Planned spending doesn't come out of my weekly household budget. They are expenses we plan on having and save up for so it doesn't put a monkey wrench in our budget. The beef was one, we decided last summer we wanted to find a local source for our meat and stay away from all the additives at the grocery store meat counter, so we began to put a little money back for what we knew would be a large expense. The wheat grinders were the same thing I have been squirreling money back for over a year, when the time came to hit add to the cart I had NO guilt and used NO credit card!! All of the purchases will save us money in the long run but we had to be prepared to spend a chunk in the front end.
Gas - $65.84 cost $3.50 a gal up from, $3.44 last week
Groceries - $55.37 Big pork chop sale saved $27.70 now have 23 packs of (4) chops in the freezer
Birthday dinner (ate out with family) - $106.00
Birthday gift - $120.00
Spent $349.21, over budget by $149.21
Planned spending
Beef - $314.00
Butcher - $75.00
Food Saver - $142.00 (not planned)
Wheat Mills - $668.90

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Special Delivery

First loaf of Hard White Wheat bread
Electric Wonder Mill

Manual Country Living Grain Mill
Here is what I received last week from the man in brown!! I have been studying, researching, and pondering the idea of getting a wheat grinder for a couple of years now. Would I use one enough to justify the cost and the space it would take up in the kitchen? Should I go with an electric mill or a manual one? Could I find a mill that would attach to my stand mixer, and would it be worth a hoot? I have watched tons of U-Tube videos, on the plus and minuses of both mills. With an electric grinder the process is fast easy and very little mess, now that I have the babies saving time is a huge plus. The manual grinders are capable of grinding much more than just wheat, have no plastic parts to break and if we should have a problem Rambo Man could fix it with replacement parts that are very reasonably priced,and I think milling by hand is a cool thing. Sooooo, I decided to get both. I know it is crazy but I just couldn't make up my mind, both have good and bad features and I had the money put back to afford both. I think I have purchased the best on the market for both the electric and manual, should last a lifetime or two (like my girls would ever want one) So I am off on another adventure in food this year, I made my first loaves today using my basic bread recipe 1/2 all purpose white and 1/2 hard white wheat, turned out perfect and very yummy. I milled the wheat with the electric mill, if this is the most quiet one I would hate to hear what the noisy one sounds like. Rambo man will have to rig me up something to mount the manual mill on before I can use it, not sure what I want yet but it needs to be portable or on wheels, something like that, I can't mount it to our counters or walls in the kitchen. Picked up a book last night "Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a Day" Huge learning curve, maybe you can make the bread in 5 minutes but its gonna take me a month to read the durn book.
It's noddle making time again we a totally out, you can bet we will be having white wheat noddles this time around if Karsyn will cooperate that's the task for tomorrow

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Working the meat

Huge packages of Round Steak
See the little piece of butcher paper in the package to the left?

Don't mind a little filler in our ground beef but butcher paper won't do

Spent the morning vacuum packing the ground beef, started by unwrapping then vacuum packing didn't work, had way to many little pieces of freezer paper that was stuck in the folds of the meat so I just vacuum packed it all still wrapped in the butcher paper. I ordered the ground beef to be in 1 pound packages, they all seemed very heavy to me so I weight a bunch of them, they all came in at 2 pounds each, UGHHH. Guess I will have to cook up two pounds at a time and freeze what we don't need. Next year I will go ahead and pick the meat up fresh in bulk and do my own thing. I was able to get into the round steak packages as well, ended up opening it all and doing my own cutting. Five packages turned into 22 packages once I divided it into the size we use the most. The roasts are HUGE, way bigger than we needed, they are too big for me to handle cutting up so I will just have to freeze what we have leftover after cooking it up. Ended the day early when my food saver took it's last breath, we got 4 or 5 years out of the old gal, hope I can figure out how to work the new one I picked up tonight!!
Also received my super special new tool today, more on that tomorrow, Rambo Man will need to help me get it set up right

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beef has arrived

1/2 of the meat

Took 3 hours to finally get the beef, long story but before you leave home to make a purchase you need to check to see if you have cash or a checkbook in your purse, debit cards won't due at the butcher shop! Our friend who will be splitting the meat with us was sweet enough to run over and help me unload and divide the beef up this afternoon, HUGE help Karsyn was ready for some Nanny time and wouldn't take no for an answer. Butcher said he could hook us up with a hog when we are ready for some pork but I need to get the beef vacuum packed before I take on any more freezer projects. Worked out to around $3.00 a pound in the end, happy about that, good beef without all the additives is sooo worth it. What do you get out of a side of beef that weight in at 312 pounds?
84 pounds ground beef
16 T-bone steaks
10 round steaks (4 or 5 pounds each) Will need to figure out how to cut it up WAY to large of a piece
10 Beef roasts (4 or 5 pounds each)
2 packages of beef bones

I might be getting a delivery of a super cool new tool tomorrow.........

Spring Flowers

I love this little vase, a Friend got it for me years ago, so excited when I get to bring it out every year and fill it with flowers from the yard. Karsyn and I did a bit of housework yesterday before setting down to sew. Finished up 3 aprons (shown) and cut out 3 more. I decided to pick up more of the tea cup material but the sewing center was already sold out, durn

Did you catch the news yesterday when they were talking about the increase in groceries we have already experienced and that will be going up even more? In the past year, coffee is up 12%, corn 90%, cotton 154%, the whole news report was how bad things are but more importantly how much worse they are going to get with the fuel increases. What aggravates me the most is they never give people tips on how to overcome some of the obstacles that are facing us all, grrrr.
We intended on enlarging our garden this year, may have to go bigger than we initially planed, but I am not sure I can keep up with much more, we hope Rambo Man will be able to stay in the office for a bit when his project is finished, soon, very soon!!! It would be so nice to have and extra pair of hands around the house, being the lone ranger sucks!
I usually shop for socks, undies and jeans in the fall when the stores run back to school sales but I am thinking I might need to go ahead and stock up on the basics before there are anymore increases in the prices. Need to brainstorm more money saving ideas so we are not impacted any more than we have already been.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekly spending

Took the time to clean up a bit on the canning shelves this morning. Lots of moving jars around, consolidating jars into boxes and a bit of inventorying what we have left. Looks like we have gone though about 1/3 of what we put up. I am good with that as we are still a few month's away from getting anything from the garden. We will have plenty of everything until it's time to start again. There are a few things I won't waste my time on this year, radish relish is one, it tastes pretty good but we don't like it well enough to spend time working on it. I have been adding it to chili, taco's and anything else that could use a little extra kick. Watermelon jelly was a pain in the butt and not worth fooling with, put it all down the drain today, we did put some over ice cream a few times, just seemed like an odd taste to me. We will continue can tomatoes in quarts but I need to do pints as well, lots of the recipes I use only need 2 cups of crushed tomatoes so I am left with 1/2 jar of tomatoes I have to use up pretty fast. Sweet cherries were dirt cheap last year I canned and froze enough for a dozen families. We may be eating the suckers for years to come. Na, bad idea, I just need to find more recipes to use them up, they are really to sweet to use for cobblers or pies. Pickled asparagus is another place I will cut back, we do like it but I over did it, gonna end up sharing the love so to speak. My girlfriends will be running away from me over pickled asparagus soon. On to the spending.

I might have found a great cost cutting trick, keep your butt at home!! I wouldn't suggest spending your time at home hugging the toilet as I did last week, but staying at home works! The kids ended up having to drop and pick Karsyn up some last week, I was just to sick to be behind the wheel, saved me a few bucks on gas but the savings were not worth the illness!!! Also found I was overcharged on the cell phone bill, they charged us $29.90 for 411 calls, didn't happen! I don't use my cell phone, it stays in my car for emergencies and convenience only. Took more time than I wanted to spend on the phone but I got the charges off, watch the detail ladies!! Received a refund check from the insurance company for prescription drugs for $167.00, yepeee, a little at a time I will pay myself back for the sewing machine.
Groceries $.00
Gas $44.72, up from $3.36 last week to $3.44 this week
Carry out $10.00
$145.00 saved, went right to the saving account!!

Quiet Sunday

Sunday was one of those days that turned out to be productive and peaceful. I have been so busy for the past few months keeping up with the babies, house, errands and everything else life throws at us that I am always frantically running from one thing to another just to keep my head above water. Being sick for an entire week didn't help any! I sooo wanted to at least turn the new sewing machine on before a layer of dust coated it, have piles of sewing projects cut out and ready to go but just couldn't find the time or energy until yesterday.

Saturday after Kara left I did hook the sewing machine up and figured out how to thread it, decided if I could figure out how to do nothing more than a straight stitch for now I would be satisfied, I will start the classes at the end of the month so I can wait that long to learn the rest.

Sunday I pulled out my time out teddy bear (crazy I know) and gave myself 1 hour of sewing then 1 hour of housework throughout the day. When the alarm would go off after the cleaning I was able to go right to the machine take a deep breath and enjoy some me time for an hour. Worked like a charm, the whole house got a little TLC, I have 3 new aprons in the works, put beans on to soak, Sunday dinner was yummy and I went to bed early with a good book. Ahhh. Getting the ham out of the freezer helped free up a little more space for the incoming beef, we also had pickled asparagus from the summer canning as well as applesauce and fried squash from the freezer. I need to use up more of what I canned and froze last summer! If the girls will nap at the same time today I am gonna find some recipies on line to use up the abundance of sweet cherries I canned and froze, we have way more than we need. Tonight is a pan of leftover cornbread with ham and a big old pot of pinto beans. Sooooo glad to be able to eat again.
CRAP, spell check is not working, sorry!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Play Time

The girls are able to have a little play time together now. They have always liked to sit in their various baby equipment and babble to each other as long as I don't turn my head for a minute they can now roll around together and share toys, so darn cute!
In the afternoon Karsyn and I ran over to the farmers store to pay for our beef, Yaaa!! By the time we pay the butcher it will work out to a little under $3.00 a pound, that's a good deal for our area. I went ahead and put our name on the list for another side of beef for next year, now that word has gotten out he has been overwhelmed with the requests from folks. I hope I have the freezers reorganized enough to hold it all, I had planned on using one of the turkey's and hams before the beef was ready but time got away from me. I might just throw a ham in for Sunday dinner this week and free up a little more space.
Talked to the butcher earlier in the week on how we wanted it cut and packaged, I went with t-bones, round steak, various roasts and the rest in ground beef. The more he has to cut and handle it drives up the cost, next year I will know a bit more and make changes if need be. He did say I could pick it all up fresh and in bulk so I could do the packaging at home (vacuum sealer) but with the babies around I wasn't sure how fast I would be able to work the meat. Instead he will wrap and freeze it all then I can vacuum pack it as I have time later. REALLY hope my pick up day will be on a day when I only have one of the chunky butt girls!
Ate real food for the first time in 6 days last night, I ordered carry out from our local cafeteria, chicken and dumplins, sooo yummy and it stayed down. YAAA ME, maybe I am finally on the other side of this nasty bug, sure hope so cause I am powerful hungry, Popsicle's don't cut it for very long.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Touch of spring

Stepped outside a bit with Karsyn yesterday and was greeted with this surprise, our Camilla bush is in bloom!! As much as we wish winter was over I know we will have more cold weather before the real spring is here. Rule of thumb for our area is don't plant before Easter which is more than a month away. I wanted to give starting my own seeds inside this year for the garden a try but until I am more proficiant in the whole gardening thing I took a pass. We will be getting most of our plants from the local nursery along with planting seeds in place this year. Rambo man still needs to build a few raised bed when he has the time, if I can ever get over this butt kicking bug I plan on picking up the materials over the weekend.
I haven't done myself any favors by trying to keep up with the babies this week when I have been so sick, that maybe why I can't get on the other side of this crap! I hope none of you come down with it but if you do, take to your BED! Rest and fluids are the only ways to get back on your feet. Not keeping anything down causes my medication to get out of whack, that becomes a pretty big problem after this many days. I always question myself should I take more since so much seems to be gone before it has time to work, or am I taking a chance on an OD if I take more? Who knows, at this point I don't feel comfortable driving until I know the medication levels are back where they should be. As of yesterday I had lost 11 pounds, but I wouldn't recommend the bug as a weight loss program, you can bet as soon as I am able I will be packing on the pounds again, maybe even more I am BIG time hungry.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Relapse, UGHH

Plastic wrap and bags are stored on a shelf in the linen closet, need a few good sales on gallon bags before summer.

Over the counter drugs and first aid are stored in tubs in the top of my closet, out of the way of little hands. We keep what we use regularly in a small container in the kitchen and restock from the closet. I don't by over the counter drugs or first aid supplies for the food pantry, not sure they would even take it.

Woke up last night at 11:00 pm with a return of the creeping crud, up all night long with chills and trips to the bathroom. I couldn't make the drive to pick Karsyn up this morning (needed to stay close to the bathroom) so the kids dropped her off on the way to work and had to pick her up after work, Kara came later in the day. Thankfully both girls were little dolls so I was able to rest a bit while they napped. Back to eating dry crackers, water and juice soooooo hope this will clear up soon!! And pray the babies don't come down with it. Being sick SUCKS, I am really not good at this whole being sick deal, I am ready to eat real food and get something done around the house.