Thursday, January 31, 2013

First Grocery Trip

Yesterday I cleaned out the kitchen freezer to make way for this months challenge. I did leave in the few ice cream sandwiches we had left for hubby and Tyler as well as some homemade English muffins and corn meal. However I purchased more corn meal today to keep things within the rules. I am not going to open the fresh bag of corn meal just to have this bag wasted.
Other than milk, eggs, and condiments not much was left in the fridge.
AJ the beagle and I had a nice little nest to work on recipes last night while we tracked the severe weather that came in. Scary storms but no damage thankfully.
I decided today was the best day to do next weeks grocery shopping as I had some time on my hands. Should be cleaning but....... It was really hard to pick up most of this stuff as I have homegrown/dehydrated or canned/frozen setting in the pantry but I gotta play by the rules! Notice there is only canned fruit this week. I was afraid I would go over budget if I bought fresh.
This weeks meat purchases. I will pick up a roasted chicken on Sunday for next week as they are on sale for $4.99 each at that time. I got in on BOGO sales for the hot dogs and Kielbasa, so I am a little ahead of the game in the meat department for the month.
Potatoes were also BOGO, can't pass that up, they should last for the month. I think I bought more sugar than I needed but they were on sale and I had good coupons to boot.
This is our junk food for the week. I had a coupon for a free soda. What the heck why not take one home to pass on to the DD's or maybe even use it for Sunday dinner. Hubby nor I really drink soda's.
I was able to move things around a little in the kitchen to make room for this months pantry items. By the end of next week most everything will be used up.
This pork loin was marked down to $7.08. A 4 pack of pork chops were on sale for a little over $8.00. After taking a very small amount of time to cut the loin up we will now get two pork chop meals from this $7.00 roast. MUCH better deal!
 The freezer after. We have enough hot dogs to last all month, more than likely we will have more than we can use. I know there will be plenty of Kielbasa for all month (I hate the stuff but hubby is a big fan) I made up patties from the pound of sausage, that will go for 2 rounds of breakfast.

It was so hard to buy groceries that I have in the pantry already but I am going to do my best to stick with the rules in place for the month. I am soooo not use to shopping for meals like this anymore. I spent countless hours working up a meal plan and grocery list yesterday that would hopefully stay within the weekly budget of $67.00.

Well I can tell you right now I failed :( I think I can still stay within budget for the month but having to purchase so many staples blew the budget. We should have many things that will last us the entire month, hopefully next week I can come out with a lower amount spent.

Here is the damage done. Total spent $94.36 Total save with coupons and sales $30.20 I am going to bump the total spent this week to $100.00 as I will be picking up that roasted chicken on Sunday.

 Tomorrow is the big day, the start of eating only from what I have purchased for the challenge. I am going to make noodles later today for the freezer but will rotate them to the outside freezer as we already have some made up out there that I don't want to go bad. I think they will be fine but some habits are just hard to break, rotating food is one of them.

Hubby is unaware of this months challenge. It will be interesting to see if he will even notice. I think I have picked up what we need for meals and family favorite snacks but until I get this party started I won't really know. My sweet man is usually pretty good about going along with my odd idea's and ways of doing things but there have been a few times he has said "I didn't sign up for that challenge" Case in point when decluttering the attic was done with a little help from him. Ha he is also not totally on board with the No/Low spend challenges during the year but since he works out of state right now it doesn't affect him.

Off to get some of this house work knocked out as AJ the beagle seems to be more interested in sunning at the back door than stepping up to the plate.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dual Challenges for February

This item maybe should have gone in the January decluttering challenge but it didn't. I have a mess of loose recipe's I have printed out over time that need to be written up and placed in my personal cookbooks. When it comes time to look up a recipe it can be a real pain in the rump, many times I just run to the computer and print out another copy as I am too lazy to keep looking. We also have family favorites in various cookbooks that are also a pain trying to remember what book they are in or what page the recipe is on. Anybody else have some recipe's written on a napkin, or the back of an envelope? For the month of February I intend to get this hot mess in order. A clean out of cook books is also in order! Want to join in?
The other challenge is to live on the average amount of food stamps per person in the US which is $127.00 @ a month. Total for hubby and I will be $247.00 a month or $67.00 a week. Could your family do that?

I've been giving some thought over what folks would do if they were suddenly thrown into unemployment that are not use to living on a set amount of money each month for food. Maybe they are use to eating out for the most part, or they just make quick trips to the store if they decide to do some cooking. They don't have a stocked up pantry other than maybe some box meals, chips and snacks. How could they make ends meet where eating is concerened?

If you watch news very often you are well aware that 1 in 7 US citizens are on food stamps. In addition over 10 million families receive WIC. Many studies show that families on public assistance are overweight leading to medical problems now and later in life.

So that got me thinking, could one of the reasons so many poor families are overweight is due to lack of good food, not enough money to purchase the right foods, or do they just not know how to shop/cook health meals? With so many families receiving food stamps why then are the local pantry's servicing so many more people since the recession (BTW I think the recession is still going strong) Do their food stamps just not cover the cost of food they need?

Rather than continue to do the pantry challenge this month I have decided to start a Food Stamp challenge. The thing that put me over the line in making this decision was yesterday we received a paper bag from the Boy Scouts for donations to our local food bank.I think somebody upstairs is telling me something.

I am going to have to change a few of my ways on cooking, shopping and eating!
I haven't used a meal plan in a VERY long time. I can't really remember how long it has been as our pantry and freezer stays pretty full. I can pull what I need when I need it from home. We have a GREAT variety to choose from.

The other thing I will have to change is grocery shopping. Right now I only purchase what is on sale using coupons where I can and stocking up. The only thing we need weekly is milk, eggs and fruit. I study the sale flyer on line and come up with my plan of attack each week for stocking up and rotating food. Big change is a comin!!

So here are the rules if you want to join in.

Recipe book - just pull out all those loose recipes and get them organized. I plan on working in the evenings or early morning when there are not so many distractions.

Food Stamp challenge

1.) You CAN NOT use any of the food you now have on had other than spices and condiments!!!! NO CHEATING!!!!

2.) If at all possible keep your food from this challenge separate from your regular pantry/freezer items. I am going to clear out a space in our freezer to do part of this. Finding a cabinet in the kitchen to store the other food is going to be a challenge in itself as my kitchen is full to the brim of things I really do use. I think by keeping this months food separate it will keep us from cheating by falling back on our pantry's

3.) The other exception is Birthdays, Anniversaries or Sunday dinner. In our case we feed 12 for Sunday dinner!

4.) Lets use Monday's as our check in day. Post on your own blog and make sure to leave a comment linking your blog up so the rest of us can cheer you on. If you don't have a blog then make sure and keep us all updated on how you are doing in the comment section here.

Hop on board if your feeling froggy, if not follow along with the rest of us as we shut down our pantries, freezers, or stock piles.

BTW, this challenge is NOT meant to offend anyone!!!! Playing like you are poor and really being poor are two different things. Been there done that! Sometimes by walking in another persons shoes turns the light on in our own hearts and minds.

Off to do some rearranging in the kitchen, I plan on hitting the floor running as Friday is my grocery day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Challenge Updates

One of the challenges this month was to declutter around the house. Our biggest problem area's were the attic and my sewing room. The attic we knocked out at the beginning of the month. The sewing room....lets just say it's a work in progress. These mini bed pillows for the little girls along with some leftover minky fabric is one of many things that are cluttering up my room. The only way to declutter is to keep sewing and STOP buying more!!
The pillows are now a thing of the past, they are headed home with the little girls this week. I made a mistake today when I went to the quilt shop to pick up the tiny amount of fabric I needed to finish off the quilt tops from last week. I want to move those tops to the quilt someday soon pile but until I had the fabric I couldn't finish them off. Along with the tiny bit of fabric I needed I couldn't pass up a sale of fabric to use for backing at $3.99 a yard, what a DEAL!! Then it happened I spotted a way to cute to pass up pattern all done up that will be perfect for 2 more Christmas gifts. The good thing is the pattern was only $8.99, also good is that I have most of the fabric on hand in my sewing room. However I did need lining fabric :( I am not doing so good on decluttering the sewing room due to my lack of control when I see cute fabric.
Now for the 52 week challenge. Grand total in my envelope at this point is $127.00. I am loving this challenge, it is so doable.
Pantry challenge. Unlike the decluttering challenge I am totally ROCKING the pantry challenge!!! This one I will continue for an additional month as it is helping me use up what we have on hand as well as forcing me to step out of the box a little to think up some new recipes. Last week I did purchase paper products to take to my friends house after the death of her Father, the rest of this month has been milk, eggs, and fruit only
No/Low spend challenge. So far this month I have only put back $300.00 in our Christmas/vacation fund. Friday will be my end of the month deposit so I will do an update on the total saved for the month. I am thinking I can transfer at least and additional $200.00 over but time will tell. Its all according to what the mail man sticks in the box this week! Ha In addition to the $300.00 I really should count the $127.00 in the 52 week challenge envelope don't you think?

It has been a pretty darn good month with challenges this time around. A huge THANK you to Carla, Cindy, and Rhonda for including us all in their fun for the month. The 52 weeks will continue for, well 52 weeks of course. I will try and remember to do a once a month update on how that fund is growing. I am going to carry on the pantry challenge for an additional month as well as the low/no spend challenge. Winter is when I am able to beef up our saving the most. Decluttering will be changed over to UFO's in the month of February. The only way to declutter the sewing room is to sew, sew, sew. I also need to unload some of my scraps and leftovers. The biggest obstacle is to stay the heck out of the quilt shops!!!!

How is everyone else doing on their challenges? Any ideas for the month of February?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Love is in the Air

Last fall when I went for a weekend visit with a GF I found this panel of Valentine fabric on sale for $5.00. Pretty darn good deal
I decided Saturday my play time would be to work on Valentine projects. I mainly planed on doing buntings but after remembering (finding) the panels I had picked up I figure might as well work some of those up.
I used some leftovers from a jelly roll to do some strip sewing, then cut it up for scrappy borders.
Along with the scrappy boarders I pulled out a little more fabric to enlarge one of the panels for a table topper.
Straight line quilting and some free motion "loop dee do's" finished the first gift off.
Ditto for the second panel, this time I did 4 inch scrappy blocks and pulled even more of my leftover valentine fabric out
After digging around in button jars I added a few rows of buttons for some cute texture. Gift number 2 complete!
Last but not least I sewed the final 2 panels together, added some strips of fabric along with a few rows of 2/12 inch blocks for a table runner.
As with the other two gifts I did simple straight line quilting with some free motion quilting to the main fabric to add a sweet touch. Gift number 3 complete!!! All together the 3 gifts ran me $1.70 each by pulling from the leftovers I had on hand. The buntings I had originally planned to work up are still in the works. I have run into a computer problem with the software that I have I have figured out sew I can clean up all this red and pink from the kitchen. After playing, looking and coming up with ideas for the past 2 days I am OVER this stuff! Ha

DD #1 dropped in this afternoon with Karsyn and Mason man for some Nanny time. Nothing like answering the door to those sweethearts ready for some hugs and sloppy kisses. DD#1 claimed the Valentines table runner right off, it is the perfect size for her sofa table. The second runner will be going into a gift box I am working on for later in the year, the 3rd will go to the gift closet for a quick gift when needed. I still have one more of the panels in my Valentines tub. Maybe next year I will work that panel up, for now NO MORE Valentines day!! Other than the buntings of course, which BTW will also be made from leftovers. It's nice to use up a bit more of my stash.

Today was one of those aggravating days that make you want to pull your hair out. First off a trip to the post office to mail a package to hubby. After a 45 minute wait I was headed back home to begin the LONG process of going over Dr. bills that were coming in for hubby from the end of the year. More time wasted on the phone with Dr's offices and insurance company to get everyone on the same page as far as what we really owe.  I am so sick of the BS the insurance company pulls over who is or is not a preferred provider. How can a Dr be on the list for 10 years then suddenly the last week of December they no longer are a preferred provider.
LADY - Looks like the contract with the Dr expired.
ME - OK when did that happen?
 LADY - December 31, 2012.
 ME - OK then why are you not paying a claim for December 27, 2012?
LADY -  Our system had already been updated to drop the Dr.
ME - But shouldn't you have to honour the contract until the last date of the year?
LADY - Yes of course we do.
ME - Well you didn't on our claim
LADY - That's because our system had already been update.
ME - just need to keep breathing....don't yell....I can do this....
Me - How can we have the mistake corrected
LADY - You can put in a request for review
ME - That's what I thought I was doing
LADY - OK, what would you like reviewed?
ME - How about this conversation that has taken us close to an hour to figure out?
Lady - Sure, lets get started.

I rest my case. Some people have been educated beyond their intelligence!!!! She also didn't understand why I was complaining as we have plenty of money in our HSA to cover the bill. Why should I pay a bill I don't owe no matter how much money we have in the account? This whole trying to save money and keep up with whats coming in and going out can be a full time job some days!! The bill was $441.00, I told hubby that my worth as a stay at home wife/mommy/nanny is now $441.00 an hour!! Ha

Tomorrow is another day Scarlett, let it be a good one with no more software problems or Dr bills in the mail box!!!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013


The hot tub was a little too frozen yesterday for a warm soak!!
I took this shot from the kitchen window in the early afternoon as I couldn't take a step out any of the doors due to ice.
This morning I decided to have some play time with the chalkboard fabric making buntings.
I think the DD's will enjoy having buntings that they can use during any season. Just wipe and write whatever they want.
I don't do fancy lettering but the DD's are all about cute printing (it's a teacher thing maybe?) I am going to make a couple for some Elementary teacher buddy's. I know their kiddo's will get a kick out of thinking of new words to print on the buntings during the school year!!

I am so glad I decided to head home after the funeral Thursday as our ice storm moved in earlier than expected. While Kara and I were out on our Friday morning grocery run the first round of sleet and ice moved in, BURRRR. We made a quick trip of it just picking up fruit, eggs and bread. I didn't really need eggs and milk this week but we have had ice storms in the past that left us home bound for several day's and a few times without power. You just never know what might happen. With all the extra milk in the house we will be having potato soup and lots of other milk based meals next week!! Ha Better safe that sorry. Kara's Mommy got off early yesterday due to the ice storm, the drive home for them took over 2 hours due to ice on the roads, wreaks and such. I was on pins and needles until I knew they were home safe and sound.

The funeral service Thursday was bone chilling cold. Even with all the layers we had on the wind cut through us like a knife. On the way home the radio said the wind chill was -2 degrees, that's way to cold for the south!!! I had never been to a "Moravian" funeral before. Being that we are not Moravian I didn't participate in the readings but kept my head bowed in respect for their service and customs, over and hours worth of it all {Oh so cold). Even if I had felt comfortable participating I didn't have my reading glasses with me so I could never have kept up with the four pages of "Liturgy For Burial Of The Dead". It was really beautiful and interesting. If you have never heard of the Moravian faith this site has some information. I have been on several field trips with our DD's over the years when they were in school but I want to go back for a visit while NOT being a chaperon of kids!! It was so interesting. Until moving to NC I had never heard of this church/faith.

Now for a few funny things I overheard at the visitation. One elderly gentleman was sharing with some of his friends that "Mr. So and So had caught a heart attack while checking the mail last week. Died right there in the street." They all agreed once you caught a heart attack there wasn't much that could be done. So funny and sweet. A group of elderly ladies was asking one of the other ladies why she wasn't coming to the walk group anymore. She told them that her knees couldn't take the stress. She now was doing Yogurt (yoga). They were all impressed that she had learned how to stretch out like a kitten!! Again funny and sweet!! My friends Mom who's husband of 62 years had passed came up to me at the reception worried that people were eating the zucchini bread that I had made for her. She likes the bread with her morning tea and these folks are eating it up. I assured her we had plenty I had made two loaves of each. That was not a good enough explanation for her. She had me take a loaf of the zucchini bread and banana bread to hide in her pocketbook to take home! "I know you made it just for me like you always do."

I have such a love for older people, they say what they think and mean what they say. No political correctness in their world. Good manners are good manners, they have no tolerance of all the craziness going on in the world and don't mind sharing "Their peace" . I told Mrs. D that I would be coming back soon to take her to lunch and shopping at Walmart. She jumped right on that invitation telling me "Friday's worked best for her Mr. D always took her out on Fridays" Just too sweet and funny. A wonderful celebration of a husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather of 87 years. A life well lived!!

Off to have a fun filled day of staying in the warm house creating whatever I want as long as I want. I have lots of leftovers from the week to eat on for a few days, may even get in a nap if the mood strikes me. No worries over the To Do list today it's all about just being for a change!!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pantry Blessings

Night before last I received word a dear friends father had passed. The services will be today at graveside. My buddy lives in the Mountains, the weather is going to be brutal with 20 to 30 mile an hour winds and temps in the teens, the wind chill will be well below zero. I checked with her to see if any food had been brought in for the family for after the service. Deli trays, fruit, cheeses and such was what they were going to be having at the reception after the service. To me that wouldn't do after spending all that time in the outdoors so I got busy yesterday morning pulling ingredients from the pantry for warm food to take along today. First up was veggi soup.
After simmering on the stove a few hours all the dehydrated veggies plumped up nicely.  Blessing number 1 from the pantry.
I knew one pot would never be enough so on to chili again all from what I had on hand.
Since it was late notice I used commercially canned kidney beans as cooking up beans would have taken too much time. Blessing number 2 from the pantry.
Home made bread would be better than crackers I was thinking
4 loaves of artisan bread will be making the trip with me today. Blessing number 3 from the pantry
I had fears of the only sweets that would be on hand might be store bought cookies. Again I hit our supplies for some zucchini bread.
While at it I threw together banana bread
Blessing number 4 and 5 are zucchini breads and banana breads
I did run to the store to pick up paper goods as I don't want my buddy stuck doing dishes tonight
At the end of the day sweet Kara helped me wash up the dishes. Of course with all of her help mopping the floor afterwards was a breeze!!

Quick post as I am headed out the door to the mountains this morning. I had planned on staying overnight but with icy weather moving in overnight and tomorrow I will be coming back home late tonight. I HATE driving after dark but driving on snowy, icy roads would be much worse. Being able to put a warm meal together at a time like this is one of the many reasons I love our deep pantry. Knowing that the majority of the food I am taking was grown in our back yard or the local farm is an added bonus.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fun on the Run for Mason Man

Before I can start anything new I have made a pledge with myself that I have to finish two UFO's. I gave myself a pass on the pledge today as I ran out of fabric to finish the last row on the LAST of the Christmas quilts created entirely with leftovers from last years quilts. Next time I am close to the quilt store I will pick up the bit of fabric to finish this off. Don't want to waste gas on $2.00 worth of fabric!
Now that I have completed two UFO's I could move on to this new project for Mason Man. Here it is all bundled up with ties so it will fit nice and neat in Mommy's diaper bag or purse.
Ta Daaaa. A sweet little Fun on the Run mat he can play with when they are out eating or whatever. The green pocket on the right holds chalk that he can use on the chalk board fabric in the middle. How cool is that? I don't have any chalk on hand right now but tonight when I am out and about I will pick some up at CVS as I have $12.50 in rewards bucks. Need to stick to the No/Low spend challenge when I can.
Let me just say right here right now that I HATE working with 1 1/2 inch squares!!!! What a pain in the rump. The next few Fun on the Run mats I make I might just do something much simpler in place of the checker board piecing.

I was afraid the chalk board fabric was going to be a real pain to work with but it cut like soft butter and stitched up so nice!! At $15.99 a yard it should be great fabric!!!

I used fabric from leftovers and my stash for Mason man's mat. I have lots of combo's I can use for the little girls as well but I may need to pick something cool and more grown up for Tyler. He is after all a big kindergartner now you know. I am thinking I might have the time to make a fun mat for the little girls tomorrow if the moon and stars line up just right.

Once I get Fun on the Run mats done for all the Grands I want to do one more project with the chalk board fabric before I move back to UFO's. Hopefully the next item will go as smooth as this one.

Thanks so much for all the comments on the Granny Square quilt!! I have decided to go ahead and add a large border to the sides to enlarge it to a queen size quilt. Once that's done it will move over to the UFO quilt tops pile. I have been thinking about taking a class on long arm quilting so I can rent space at a local quilt shop to use their long arm machine. I need to check the class schedule and pricing on the class as well as the rent per hour to use their machine. It might be cheaper to just hire the work done, however it would be pretty cool to learn something new. Maybe a great Mothers day gift from hubby!! He is always interested in my further educational opportunities. NOT!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Size Matters!!!

Awhile ago I found a great tutorial from Blue Elephant Stitches for Granny Square blocks. I have since been cutting up scraps to use for Granny blocks. Storing them in the handy dandy container makes it sew easy to sit down a whip a few up.
I had a nice size pile of blocks in my quilt block container. I wondered if there would be enough to make a lap quilt. Yep this should do just fine.
I looked around on line at different completed Granny Square quilts to get some idea of how I wanted to do my quilt top. Most of the quilts I saw used white fabric for the sashing and borders, the blocks sorta floated on the quilt. Pretty, but I wanted to do something different and use the vintage pink fabric I had on hand.
Here is where size matters comes in.....The quilt top turned out to be 59x89, way out of proportion for a lap quilt I think. After putting the top on a spare bedroom queen size bed if I add a larger border to the sides and a little at the bottom I will have a queen size quilt. Now it's decision time. I didn't really want or need a queen size quilt but I don't think I will be happy with it as is. Once I add a larger border I will have to have a long arm quilter do the quilting. Looks like my TOTALLY made from scraps quilt is gonna cost me a pretty penny to have the quilting done :( This quilt is headed to the UFO pile once I get the new borders on. I need to save up for the backing and long arm quilter. That's what I get for making up a pattern as I go.
Our "snow storm" last week only gave us high winds and tons of rain. Hubby however got a nice big snow!! Check out the photo he sent me yesterday of his back yard. I plan on heading up to his place sometime this winter. Knowing my luck they will have a tropical warm up and all this lovely snow will be long gone :( BTW hubby is on a project in the UP of Michigan. We rented a house for him back in November to hopefully save a little money as the motel bills were getting out of hand. Not fair!! he is looking out his kitchen window at that beautiful barn and snow. I am looking out at a shed that needs to have the doors painted and a mud hole of a yard.

Well I didn't complete the two quilt tops I had hoped to yesterday. The over sized lap quilt did me in. Maybe today I can get the second one completed, at least I have a pattern for that one! Ha

I had Kara this AM, while Mommy went to yet another Dr.'s appointment. I now will be adding vacuuming and mopping to my To Do list today. It's always something!! Ha

DD#1 is headed in our direction today to use the Gayboree bucks I have put back. I figure there is a pretty darn good chance I will end up with one or more of her three little ones who won't want to shop. Vacuuming and mopping may have to wait until tonight.

BTW, the chalk board fabric is pretty cool. Not sure how it will sew up but as soon as I clear out the quilts I am gonna give it a try. I have a cute pattern for a "Fun on the Run" mat I want to make for the grands. I will be using leftovers from other projects to keep the cost down. Also found a really cute bunting on line somewhere that used chalk board fabric. Wonder where I saved that site? As soon as I get some done I will post where I found the idea's. Really cute!