Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

I was surprised with another award this week! Lisa at The Owl's Nest has given me the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you, Lisa!

I know the rules state that you're supposed to pass this along to 10 other bloggers, but I'm going to pass on that. You ALL have such great blogs! So come claim this award as your own, and pass it on if you'd like :)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Groceries 1/28/09

I do want to apologize for not getting this up yesterday. I had a bunch of errands I had to run, and then I had a jewelry party to go to last evening and the day just go away from me. Daniel's mom went with me, and it was fun to get excited with her over the deals we were getting. Between her, myself, and the stuff I was getting for my sister, we got 40 items from Kroger's Mix'n'Match Mega Event sale!!

Here's what I got:

4 Franks Red Hot Sauce - Free after Coupons
2 cans Rotel - $.14 after Coupons
1 Cattlemen's BBQ Sauce - $.25 after Coupons
1 Mustard - Free after Coupons
1 Orville Redenbacher's Popcorn - $1.49 (coupon mixup)
2 GG Steamers - $1.00 (coupon mixup)
1 Cottonelle - Free after Coupons
2 bags Kroger Chips - $3.02
1lb. brick Butter - $2.54
1 Kroger Sliced Cheese Product - $1.39
1 head Lettuce - $1.45
2 18ct. Eggs - $3.34 ($1.67 ea!)
Total OOP: $15.01
Total Savings in coupons, sales and Mix'n'Match bonus: $27.14 or 64%

CVS: (not pictured)
7 cases of Pepsi & Dr. Pepper
Total OOP: $10.74
Used a $10 ECB, earned another $10 ECB!!

Total OOP for this week: $25.75
Yay, I am so happy that I was able to come in so close to my budget this week. I originally wasn't planning to get more of the Mix'n'Match sale stuff at Kroger, but it turned out that I was able to get several things for next to nothing, and I'd asked Daniel if it was ok before I went.

Between Mama and me, I think we got our coupons a little mixed up and I ended up without one. And we both had a few not scan. We did go back in and I got 2 coupons back and the cashier and I thought we had it figured out... after we left I realized that I had more $1 coupons than had scanned, and I'd taken back two $.50 coupons. Oh well, another lesson learned. Next time, though, I am going to stand there and hand the coupons to the cashier one at a time and really watch to make sure each one comes off. I'm determined to get this thing figured out and down pat and going smoothly here soon!

I had some other stuff typed up on here but it didn't get saved. I had to leave for a Bridal Shower, and now that I'm back I can't remember what in the world I'd said! I you know, remind me :P I hope you're all having a peachy evening!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

An Award

I am always excited and happy to see new people following my blog. You guys make it worth it! I love blogging, but it's so much more fun to do when you know somebody's reading it :)

Carol just started following, and so sweetly gave me this award! I'm not sure what the name is for it, Carol's blog post title was "The Lovely Award", and so that's what I'll call it.

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers
aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in
self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons
of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.
Please give more attention to these writers."
Thank you, Carol!
I did have to look up "aggrandizement". After reading it a few times I had a good idea of what it probably meant, and I was basically right. Here's the Merriam-Webster definition: To make great or greater. To make appear great or greater: praise highly. To enhance the power, wealth, position or reputation of.
And you know the best thing about this award? It doesn't have "rules" about passing it along, or who you should pass it on to. However, I am going to pass it along to a few of my wonderful bloggy friends.

Weekly Menu Plan

It is another cloudy, foggy, icy day here in central Va. It's above freezing outside, I know, because the ice is melting just a little, but there's still plenty of it! We didn't get alot, but enough to cover everything. It's really pretty :)

I was going to do my regular Wednesday grocery shopping trip today, but I got to talking to my MIL yesterday about coupons and the sales that Kroger has going on right now, and she got very excited! At first I was just going to get her groceries (using coupons) while I was out, but then we decided to go shopping together tomorrow, Thursday, when it suited her to go along. So I won't be posting a shopping report today, but I should be tomorrow! It will be fun to "show her the ropes" about how I coupon. She used to use coupons "way back when the kids were little and money was tight", but she's excited about getting stuff for little to nothing!

However, I will go ahead and share my menu plan for the next week, today - next Tuesday. I don't know exactly what days we'll have what, though.

Tonight - Leftover Salisbury Steak and Green Beans
Tomorrow - Roast Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Peas
-Nacho Salad with ground beef, homemade refried beans, Rotel, Sour Cream, Cheese, Corn Chips
-Leftover Chicken (from roast chic.)/Veg. Steamers Casserole, making it up as I go
-Pork Roast
-Breakfast for Supper (probably pancakes or waffles, fruit, sausage)

Yesterday I declared it a "homemaker's snow day". It was just the perfect "snuggle up and do nothing" kind of day, with it snowing and sleeting in the morning. I did the bare bones of housework and lazed around blogging, taking a nap, etc. I felt very blah and unproductive at the end of the day! I did a load of laundry, but never put it in the dryer. The dryer still had clothes in it from Mon (when time just ran out and I never got them folded). I loaded the dishwasher and washed up the rest of the dishes, but then made a mess making supper and didn't clean it up. Yeah. So this morning when Daniel was getting ready to leave, I told him that the house WILL be cleaner when he comes home today :) I just finished filling up the dishwasher and started it, I folded the dry clothes and put the load of wet into the dryer and started it, and I started to clean up the mess in the kitchen. I guess I'd best get back out there and finish it :) I might even make a chocolate cake and use up the chocolate frosting in the frige. I've been having terrible chocolate/good quality dessert cravings the past few days, and there just ain't nothin' in the house!! Thankfully the cake recipe I have doesn't take any eggs. I had to ration the eggs to last through this week's shopping trip, and then when it got pushed back a day, I had to make sure and REALLY not use any extra eggs! We have one egg in the house, and it will be for Daniel's breakfast tomorrow :)

Y'all have a luffly day!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday Tip - Perfect Salisbury Steak

ETA: I'm cheating and using this recipe that I posted on Tuesday for Gayle's Friday Recipe Swap. Go check out her blog for great frugal ideas and more recipes!!

In all my 4.75 years of being married, I have never been able to make "pretty" Salisbury Steaks. I finally gave up and just mixed all the ingredients together in the gravy, and boy did that make a yucky looking, but yummy tasting, dinner. I finally had an idea, and decided to give it a try last night since Salisbury Steak was on the menu. I also wanted to photo-journal the process so that you, my faithful readers, could experience this yummy dish with success, too!

You will need:

Ground beef (or "deer-burger" as I'm using here), an onion, 1 carrot, an egg, a handful of crushed crackers (or finely cubed stale bread will work, too), salt, pepper, garlic powder, Worcestershire Sauce, egg noodles, water, cornstarch and beef bouillon. Note: The "think-ahead" side of my brain did not tell me that I needed to put the water, cornstarch and bouillon in the FIRST picture!!

Into a mixing bowl, put 1 lb. ground beef. Add in the onion, chopped.
Grate up the carrot - I like to use the finer side on my grater when I'm making this recipe - and add it to the burger and onion.Add the bread, egg and 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce.Then the 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
Mix on low speed (I used #2 on my KitchenAid) until everything is well incorporated.
I would not recommend using "regular" electric mixers with this. If you don't have a KitchenAid, you could use a potato masher or your hands.Preheat oven to 400°. Spray the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish with cooking spray. Shape the meat mixture into 8 patties, place in baking dish. See how there's space between each "burger"? You don't want them touching or they won't brown all the way around.Once the oven is preheated, put the patties in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, dissolve 2 beef bouillon cubes in 2 cups warm water.
While bouillon is dissolving (you may stir is around and break up the cubes to speed it up), put a large pot of water on high to cook the noodles.
Once the bouillon is dissolved, pour it into a large skillet over med. heat, reserving 1/4 cup of the broth.Add 3 Tbsp. of cornstarch to the reserved broth, mix it up well.
Pour cornstarch/broth mixture into skillet. Whisk together and bring to a boil. Stir and cook until thickened and clear. Reduce heat to low.After the timer *dings* for the meat, remove the patties from the oven. See how they're nicely browned all over?Place patties into gravy. Cover and let simmer over low heat.
Stir 1 lb. of egg noodles into boiling water. Simmer uncovered at a "low boil" for 8 - 10 minutes.
When the pasta is done, drain.
Serve Salisbury Steaks over a bed of pasta with some gravy ladled over top!
Voila! Beautiful "steaks" that held together great and look delicious!

Salisbury Steak
1 lb. ground beef - $1.00
1 onion, chopped - $.25
1 sm. carrot, grated - $.14
1 handful crackers, crushed - Free, used leftover bread
1 egg - $.04
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce - $.04
1/2 tsp. garlic powder - $.02
1 tsp. salt - $.01
1/4 tsp. pepper - $.01
2 blocks beef bouillon - $.20
2 cups warm water - Free
3 Tbsp. cornstarch - $.10
1 lb. egg noodles - $1.50

Total cost - approx. $3.31, I was guessing at some of the prices, and some things I'd gotten on markdown or a major sale.

Preheat oven to 400°. Mix together beef, onion, carrot, crackers, egg, Worcestershire Sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Shape into 8 patties, place patties into a greased 9"x13" baking dish so that patties aren't touching each other. Bake for 10 minutes.

Heat a large stockpot of water to boiling. Meanwhile dissolve bouillon in 2 cups of warm water. Pour broth into large skillet over med. heat, reserving 1/4 cup of broth. Stir cornstarch into reserved broth. Add to skillet, simmer and stir until thickened and clear. Remove patties from oven and place into broth mixture. Cover and simmer over low heat.

Boil egg noodles in large stockpot, uncovered, for 8 - 10 minutes. Drain.

Serve patties over a bed of pasta, top with gravy.

It's Snowing!!

It was sleeting at 7:30 when Daniel left, and just a few minutes later it turned into snow! Big, fat, fluffy snowflakes :) However, now about 45 minutes later, it's into little tiny flakes. Meaning it's probably going to turn into a gross snrizzle after a bit. You know a "snow-drizzle". I made that up. Then it'll probably turn into rain just like Mr. Weatherman said it would. Why did he have to put the "not get lasting snow" line right over us? I mean, he could've moved it down a few inches on the green screen and then we could've had the 1"-3" of snow like to the north and west of us are supposed to be getting. *tsk, tsk*

Last night I hashed and hashed over the grocery list for this week. I tried to get Daniel's help, but he wasn't too interested... he looked at it and listened, but asking him for his input on "should I buy X or Y?" is like asking him "does this shirt go with this skirt?" It just ain't gonna get much of a response.

I think part of my problem with the list this week is that last week CVS had Pepsi products on sale, 4/$12, buy $20 worth of certain goods (Pepsi & Dr. Pepper included) and you got $10 in ECB's. I had $10 in ECB's that I was waiting for a good ECB-sale to use them on, and at the last minute decided to go ahead and do it. So I got 7 cases of Pepsi/Dr. P for a little over $10, AND another $10 ECB!! Usually you'd pay at least $10 for 3 cases. That means we're set for Pepsi/Dr. P for several weeks, but it also means that there's only about $13 left to get the rest of what I need!

I think I'll be able to do it, but it did really really make me wonder if I'm crazy to try and feed us on $25 a week. That comes out to $1.19/meal. For both of us. Granted, Daniel's breakfasts and lunches are alot less than that. I usually have leftovers for lunch. I dunno. It's kinda frustrating, then I have to remind myself that I'm doing it to myself! I could easily decide to up the grocery budget to $30 a week. I thought about it last night, and some this morning. I probably thought about it while I was sleeping but just don't remember it :P It seemed so possible last summer to do it, but I'm sure all the fresh veggies from the garden really helped that out.

I think I will tough it out this week yet, and see what next week looks like. I reminded myself this morning that I'm not going to be spending "half" of my budget on Pepsi/Dr. P each week, that I'm not going to have to shop for the rest of the stuff with only $13 each week. And Velveeta Cheese will go on sale again, and my coupon doesn't expire until April 30th, for goodness sakes! You'd think it was going to expire tomorrow the way I was trying to figure out how to get everything I needed to get AND still get the Velveeta. It just ain't happ'nin'. And who am I fooling, even if I do buy the Velveeta, it's not like we have macaroni to eat it on! There's about 1 cup of macaroni in the bin, and more is on my "restock" list and I haven't been able to get it yet. That darn Mix'n'Match sale!

The GOOD part about this week? They (being Kroger) have 18ct. eggs on sale for $1.67!! That's amazing! I'm def. buying 2 packs. Now I just need a really good sale on butter. You'd think the stuff was 100 proof liquid gold as high as it is these days.

Ok, I will stop now. Just like the snow did. Come back tomorrow to see how I did! (And I hope to post a recipe today, too.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today, January 26, 2009
Outside my window... It's a little chilly, and a few flurries fell this morning. I'm hoping it's a little warmer this afternoon - if so, I may go for a walk.
I am thinking... Saturday and yesterday (Sunday), Daniel and I were talking about different things, and they were making me feel really uncomfortable. I couldn't figure out why. Late yesterday afternoon while I was alone for a while working at church, it kinda hit me like a "duh" thing that perhaps God is simply showing me where I get my "security" from... and those "other things" are not where my security should be! My security needs to be in Him.
I am thankful for... The security that He Is! My Rock and my Salvation.
From the kitchen... The dishes are washed and drying, the dishwasher has the rest of the dirty dishes in, I need to sweep and wash the floor today.
I am wearing... Jeans, t-shirt, turtleneck, flannel shirt, and need to add the sweater that I got out but never put on. It's a little chilly without it.
I am going... I DID go to MOPS this morning. Whew, we were all in one room today, it was a little interesting, but we made it :)
I am reading... nada.
I am hoping... that we get snow from the "cold front" that is going through. But I doubt it.
I am creating... I need to create my grocery list for Wed, and finish the menu. Tonight it is Salisbury Steak :)
I am hearing... the computer fan. I want to call a friend today that I haven't talked to for awhile and see how they're doing.
Around the house... the laundry is done in the dryer, Daniel's socks and shirt are on the hallway floor.
One of my favorite things... Free Groceries :P
A few plans for the rest of the week... I have a jewelry party to go to one evening, and a Bridal Shower another evening. Eeek, I need to buy a gift!! I must ad that to my errands list for Wed.
A picture thought I am sharing with you... My spice cabinet. It's immediately to the left of the stove and right over the counter section where I do most of my mixing/cooking/baking. I love it :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Oven Baked Beans

Gayle faithfully hosts a Friday Recipe Swap over on her blog each week, and here is my recipe this week. My editing to the recipe will follow in italics.

Oven Baked Beans

2 cups dried navy beans
8 cups cold water
1 tsp. salt, divided
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 lb. salt pork, cut up
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper

Rinse beans (and sort to pick out any rocks). Place in Dutch Oven with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour (or omit boiling, and soak beans overnight).

Add 1/2 tsp. salt to beans and soaking water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Drain, reserving liquid.

Combine brown sugar, mustard, molasses, pepper and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir in 2 cups reserved liquid. Ad to beans with salt pork, onion, celery and green pepper.

Put in 2 1/2 qt. baking dish. Cover and bake at 300°F for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally or until beans are as thick as desired. Add more of the reserved liquid if needed.

Yield: 8 - 10 servings.

First off, I didn't have navy beans, but I DO have several lbs. of pinto beans. Dried beans is dried beans, right? :P I started soaking them yesterday morning. Note, my memories of my older sisters making this at home recall the beans ALWAYS being "bullet beans" - meaning, not soft. So I wanted to make sure they were going to get soft. I didn't bring them to a rolling boil as soon as possible, but instead kinda turned it on Med. and let it come to a boil. I let it boil a few minutes, then turned the burner off. I let the pot sit on the heat for the 1 hour, though it did stop boiling after a bit and cooled down.

After an hour, I fired the heat back up, and brought it to a boil (with the added 1/2 tsp. salt). Then I let it simmer. While it was cooking I got distracted cleaning in the bathroom and it cooked for more like 1 1/2 hours. Then I did take it off the heat and let them sit.

Instead of salt pork, I used a big handful of our home-cured country ham. And I had part of a garlic clove waiting to be used, so I added that in. My celery was almost the consistency of cooked spaghetti, so it was in need of a good home. After I had all the "other" ingredients ready to go, I drained the beans. I actually mixed everything (sugar, molasses, ham and veg.) together and then added it to the beans with the 2 cups of water.

I put it in the oven about 4 o'clock, figuring that 2 1/2 hrs. would make it done at 6:30, a good time for supper. I stirred it about every 30 - 45 minutes. The beans were pretty much "done" (softness wise) when I put them in the oven, so I'm not sure if that played a part in the juice not thickening up like it seemed it should. Anyway, about 5:15 I turned the oven up to 350° (they were just still as juicy as when I'd put them in). At 5:30 I took the lid off. We called Daniel's parents to invite them over to join us, and instead they already had company coming, but THEY invited US to bring our beans and join them! So at almost 6 (2 hours of baking), the beans were still pretty juicy, but they were soft and tasted very good.

I scooped out a little of the juice into a bowl, stirred in 2 heaping spoonfuls (like an eating spoon) of cornstarch and stirred that back into the beans. It thickened it up perfectly! Still kinda syrupy, but not so soupy that you needed a bowl to eat them.

They were very good. A teeny bit on the sweet side, so I think I might just cut the sugar/molasses back a little next time. Daniel agreed with me that these beans would make a good "low meat" meal served with cornbread :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

And now, The Rest of the Story

A while back I was blogging about our "around Christmas" goings on, and the computer went down right before I got to The Sanitation Project. You can check out the "Christmas" archives if you need to catch up.

Now that it's Jan. 22nd, and all of "this" happened before Jan. 1st, I will have to dust off the cobwebs in that section in my brain to remember all that went on. For the most part, it's not something that I want to pull out and re-hash every day!

My parents have a very big house. Like, a And the bigger the space, the bigger the job to clean it up. Did I say Very.Big.House. yet??

Knowing that the whole 23 person crowd was going to be descending on the house for our "Christmas" on New Years Day, and knowing that everyone would have a better, more enjoyable time if the place was cleaned, I headed up a cleaning crew to clean the place over the period of the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thursday, New Year's Day.

I knew what places were going to be most used, what floors most likely to be crawled on, what bedrooms were going to need some serious attention (I know, I was a kid once!), and what bathrooms were probably in need of a few gallons of Clorox and a pressure-washer.

And it all needed cleaned in 3 days. (Did anyone mention that it's a BIG house yet?) And that it would only get accomplished if LOTS of work went into it from LOTS of people, and it would happen the smoothliest (huh??) if there was some organization. Not to mention the fact that merely thinking about cleaning the house could cause mental hernias, heart attacks, migraines and catheterizations. Wait, not that last one. Basically it was a super, duper, overwhelming task.

I spent hours and hours making a list for each of the three days, and exactly what needed to be accomplished on those days. Then Sally suggested the great idea of prioritizing the tasks for each day, so I spent more time on that. First, I had scribbled it all down on paper. Then I would prop it up in front of the sink or somewhere on my countertop and study it while I washed dishes, made bread, or whatever. And I would scribble in changes, or add things. Sometimes in the middle of nowhere I would realize that I'd left out a pretty important step... like dusting, or taking out the trash... or, horrors, I'd forgotten to put in REPLACE TRASH BAGS until close to the end of my list perfecting! Knowing the blood that runs in my genes - and therefore in the genes of those that I would be cleaning with! -, it would not be uncommon for the trashcans to get emptied but the trashbags not replaced.

So let's see... it was Christmas Eve service at church.
Christmas Day here and with some friends.
Day after Christmas spent finishing wrapping gifts, cleaning my OWN house, doing laundry and spending the evening with Daniel's family and siblings.
Saturday was "Christmas" with Daniel's family.
Sunday was church in the am (2 services), lunch w/ Daniel's family, and then back here to pack up the car with my Oreck XL, sweeper bags, gifts, food, ingredients, more food, more gifts, more cleaning supplies, my suitcase, and my kitchen sink.
Sunday evening we went back over to Daniel's parents house and had a supper of leftovers with them and Joel & Rachel and then watched Facing the Giants. Whew, I sure felt like a giant was staring me in the face for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday!

Monday morning bright and early I threw the last few things in the car and headed up the road. Or down the road, or over the road, or whatever way you want to say it. I arrived just as Sally and her two munchkins, Paul & Hannah, and Rachel (ETA: I have a sister, Rachel, and Daniel's brother, Joel married a Rachel, so there are two Rachel's) were getting there. Ahh, it was good to have some co-horts to co-hort with!! In the morning we attacked almost every inch of the library. Finally it was clean and done!

After lunch was the basement. An overwhelming task for THREE of us!! Inches of dirt from the dirt-bikes/motorcycles, wood dust from when they had a wood stove going down there, mountains of 100 year old Hoards Dairyman magazines and the Lancaster Farming newspaper filling one corner, boxes of "stuff" that was to be gone through at "some point" covered the floor.... Uggh, it was overwhelming. To.say.the.least. But we got it done!!

Here is me (right) and Mom (left)...
this is probably 1 hour into the project.

Here is Rachel dumping one of many buckets of
dirt/junk/trash into an empty dogfood bag
to be hauled to the dump on
one of the 2 or 3 trips that were taken.

And here is my most handsomest big brother,
Luke (who will be 15 in Feb).
This is coming down the home-stretch.
You can see the floor!
I will pause here for a moment of silence in honor of Rachel. I think she got her stair-master workouts in for the next month, hauling box after box from the basement to the attic. That requires going up THREE flights of stairs. And back down again, of course.

Sally was working on the "mud room" (named very appropriately!), trying to make some organization out of the heaps of Tingly boots, Live-In's, Roller Skates, Coats, Gloves, Boots, helmets, ropes, mud, medicine, cow-doctoring supplies, you-name-it. Kudos, Sal, for your bravery.

I swept up bucketful after bucketful of dirt. All.kinds.of.dirt. Clay, cow poop, fire-wood dirt, sawdust dirt, plain old DUST, chunks and bits and pieces of who knows what. After the majority of the floor was clean of boxes, etc, I think all three of us (Sally, Rachel & myself) were brooming, and the air was like a cloud. We finally opened the door and set up a fan blowing OUT to help suck the dirty air out.

Yee-haw, I also helped Mom come to the decision to haul all of those magazines/newspapers to the dump and recycle them. They were being kept for reasons that just weren't ligit enough to merit them being there anymore.

After the basement was finished and supper was eaten, Sally took her kiddos and went home, and Lucy arrived. Ahh, fresh blood. Err, ENERGY!! We also hog-tied Luke to come help us clean off the porches (the front porch and side porch). They, too, were piled. A major booby-trap for anyone that might not know exactly how to navigate their steps while approaching the door. A few truck loads of stuff that belonged elsewhere were hauled off to the "elsewhere" by Luke and someone, and by about 9pm we were finished and the porch was swept off :)

My intent had been to spend the night at Mom's each night so I was there "full time" and would be there right away in the mornings to get started. But my brain was shot. My mental state was headed downhill. So I decided that I needed to heed Lucy's very solemn and wise counsel, to break away from it all and "renew my aura" at Rachel & Ted's house. It was SO great to just walk away. I knew that if I stayed I'd just keep working until mid-night or so, and that wasn't a good idea.

The second day went much like the first, only working on other parts of the house. I got to Mom's house, ate breakfast, started to get overwhelmed at the thought of starting "it" by myself and Gail and Sally showed up. The three of us (Gail, Sally & myself) dusted and vacuumed alot of the downstairs in the morning, and then moved on to scrubbing bathrooms and the kitchen in the afternoon. Gail & Sally spent almost the whole afternoon cleaning the bathrooms (7 of them, total). I scrubbed away in the kitchen. Laura was spending her nights there, so she was already there, but she took on the task of helping the kids clean their rooms, so she was upstairs with them most of the time. Lucy was there for the afternoon and evening, and did a great job of purging the refrigerators.

THIS is the way to clean a frige:
haul in a big dumpster sized trashcan
and start throwin'!

Seriously, we hauled out a few big trashbags of stuff to "The Tomb of the Unknown Food". I think next NYD we should have a wreath laying ceremony. The big garbage can was not a joke or a prop just for the picture. It was a necessary part of life at that moment. Well, alot of moments to be truthful.

Here I am, in all my pooped-out, tuckered-out, brain-frazzled glory. Almost finished cleaning this dumb, 100 year old, lava-caked George Foreman that I'd been hosing down with Greased Lightening and 409 Cleaner for about an hour (or so it felt). Sally comes and takes my picture... THEN tells me that Mom had decided to THROW IT OUT since Dad had gotten a new one for Christmas. ****sigh**** Oh well, at least it went to the dump CLEAN!! (and ok, so maybe it wasn't really a "dumb" machine, but I kinda felt like it was at the moment)

And here are Luke and Katie (Katie is the youngest girl sibling at 16,
and Luke is the oldest boy sibling), washing and drying the frige
parts while Lucy was cleaning out the food-stuffs.

We had such a great time together!! Too bad we can't all get together sometime OTHER than events like these and hang out :(

Wednesday morning I trucked up to the farm again (only with Daniel this time since he'd taken NYEve off and come up Tuesday evening), but today was the LAST day before the function. That meant that things not on the "Absolutely Must Get Done" part of the list started taking 2nd fiddle to the "Must Get Done" parts. Wednesday it was just Me'n'Laura, and any of the "kids" (Katie, Luke or Glen) that we got to help in between their working on homework. (ETA: Gail had bear meat to grind up, Sally's Paul & Hannah needed a day at home, Rachel was working, Julia was sick, and Lucy was working.) It was also "floor" day. I re-vacuumed parts of the Living/Dining Room floors, and pulled out Rachel's great mop that she'd loaned for the event and went at it. Side note here, the Living/Dining Room is one big room - I think it's something like 50'x45'. I know it's something x 45' b/c their house is 45' "deep". I know the floor has had some wet-swiffering done to it over time, but it was time for a real, hot-water-and-suds bath. Glen (our youngest sibling) and Katie did excellent jobs of helping me move furniture around, piling it all on one side of the room as I mopped my way across the floor. It took 2 rounds of washing to get it to look clean and not like muddy streaks. My shoulder and bicep muscles got a major workout, they were pretty sore till I got done. Laura was helping Katie with her Algebra homework for a while, and then Daniel took over and Laura came downstairs and washed the kitchen floor - by hand, no less! I also need to give props to Glen for crossing off alot of the little, detailed stuff on the list - like supplying the bathrooms with toilet paper, putting out clean hand towels, making sure hand soap was in good supply, etc.

After we deemed the "cleaning stage" finished, we crashed and burned. Not quite. There was still food prep. to do. I'd gladly (and happily) headed up the menu, food acquiring, and organizing all of the assembly methods. During the day Wed., while we were mopping and tutoring, Laura cooked up about 6 gallons of tea, and I baked a batch of party mix. Then, after supper we got down to the real deal. We chopped up vegetables for a veg. tray, fruit for a fruit salad, put butter on butter plates, jelly in jelly bowls, set up the tables and chairs for eating at, did everything we could possibly do but eat the food. Almost. We got out the ham and turkey and put them in their roasting pans all ready to bake. We got the vegetables out of the freezer to thaw so they'd be ready to cook in the crockpots the next morning. Dumped the box potatoes into a big dishpan so they would be ready to go, and same with the Stove-Top.

Then we (both Laura and I) went to Rachel's house to renew our "auras". We were about frazzled. It was fun, but just alot of brain work. Where was everyone else? Julia and Linden were hosting the Annual NYEve Monopoly Madness Fest that evening, and so Daniel took the 3 kids to that. Laura and I were too brain fried to be sociable so we went and vegged with Rachel at her house (who was getting some last minute stuff done for NYD).

Here is Laura with our "neph-dog", Atlas,
at Rachel's house.

The next morning Rachel and I hiked back up to the farm for The Event!! (Daniel was coming later, both he and Ted were at the Monopoly Madness pretty late.) Laura had taken the kids home in the wee hours of the morning when the Monopoly Madness was over, and put the meat in the ovens. Different ones of us worked in the kitchen picking the bird and ham, making the gravy, and cooking up the Stove Top. Then after everyone arrived we had a Song Fest for about 1/2 hour before we ate. Rachel helped me mix up the 'taters and put out the food for the buffet line. We'd had the vegetables cooking all morning in the crockpots already on the food table so we had minimal work to do! The meal was a hit! The clean house was a hit! The presents were a hit! The nephews and niece were a hit!
Here is Auntie Jul's (Julia),
playing with Hannah and Bobby.
(Notice the clean, shiny floor??)

It was a great day. Oh, and since it's after Jan. 2nd... I can tell you what the "big secret" was that Daniel was keeping from me. He and everyone else went together and gave me a KitchenAid Professional 600 Series Mixer!!

I love it! I've used it several times now, and it is wonderful! No more obnoxious hand mixer!!

Daniel and I came back home NYD evening, and I crashed and burned for the next week. Or two. Or three. Wait, this is week three and I'm not crashing and burning. I did keep all my papers and lists and food prep. strategies for possible use next year. We'll have to see. I loved organizing it all and was tickled pink with how smooth everything went.

By the way, if you got the impression from the pictures that we live in Florida or something, we don't. They just keep the house about 75° all the time and we were workin'! That's like hot enough to make doughnut dough rise!!

And if you want to see another perspective on all this, you can check out Sally's take on it here, here and here. And if you think her pictures look familiar... well, that's because I didn't take time to take very many pictures, so I borrowed hers!!

Simple Woman's Daybook - Jan. 22, 2009

For Today, January 22, 2009

Outside my window... The sun is almost above the treeline. It's cold :) I'm too lazy to get up and go check the temperature and come back and tell you what it is, though. Where's the snow???

I am thinking... of the things I need to get done today. Not much more than my "to do" list, and hopefully some extra time to do a few non-have-to things.

I am thankful for... A wonderfully sweet husband :)

From the kitchen... Not much, yet.

I am wearing... my bathrobe and slippers.

I am going... probably all the way to the mailbox and back at some point today :P Otherwise, not (planning on) going anywhere today.

I am reading... I just finished a really great series by Kristen Heitzman last week. About an Italian girl. Nothing like reading those books to get my Italian food appetite rolling!!

I am hoping... that the nice girl is back at Kroger next week, and that those other two ladies won't be there. Is it wrong to hope they got seriously reprimanded and/or fired or something??
I still want SNOW!!!!!!!!!

I am creating... I want to create some cards with my Stampin' Up stuff. I also want to get a jump start on next week's menu.

I am hearing... Growin' With It's blog music :) I hadn't heard Kenny Chesney's "Me And You" before... I love it!! I think I will try and find a download of it, or save up my pennies and buy a CD with it on.

Around the house... The 1st load of laundry is finished an waiting for the dryer, the dishwasher is almost full, I think last night's supper dishes will fill it up. The house overall is staying cleaner since I've been keeping "on schedule" with my daily to-do lists this week. I love it!

One of my favorite things... Good, mushy, romantic love songs ;)

A few plans for the rest of the week... Make homemade Fettuccine, EXERCISE (I exercised for the first time since Christmas yesterday... pitiful, pitiful), stuff. Nothing super exciting.
TWO picture thoughts I'm sharing with you... This is the baby shower cake I made this past weekend, and the baby shower invitation I was to copy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Weekly Menu Plan and a Peek At My Grocery List

Last night I sat down with my big cookbook and planned out a week of (dinner) menus. I'm planning it to go from Wed - Tues, since I do my shopping on Wednesdays.

Wed - Beef Stew in Crockpot
Thurs - Tater-Tot Casserole (with leftover peas from last night), Garlic/Parmesan Potato Wedges
Fri - Oven Baked Beans (will use up some of the umpteen lbs. of dried beans in my cupboards!), Hotdogs
Sat - Fettuccine Alfredo (w/ Homemade Alfredo Pasta) with Chicken, a Veg.
Sun - leftovers and/or pancakes or waffles
Mon - Salisbury Steak, Broccoli
Tues - Orange Glazed Chicken Stir-Fry

I made this list around what I have on hand, and will only need to pick up a few things to fill out the recipes and ingredients.

I was really excited to see that Kroger is doing another 10 Items Mix'n'Match sale this week! They have the items on "sale" for $.50 off the regular price. Then if you buy 10 of those items, you automatically get $5 off your entire purchase total at the register. By combining coupons from this past Sundays paper and from previous Sundays, there are some really, really good deals.

Armour Meatballs, 14 - 16oz. Select Varieties
$2.49 ea. or $1.99 ea. after $5 savings
use $.55 coupon
$1.44 for a lb. of meatballs!!

Daisy Sour Cream, 16oz.
$1.99 ea. or $1.49 ea. after $5 savings
use $1.00 coupon (in this Sunday's insert)
$.44 for 16oz. Sour Cream! (and you can freeze sour cream, did you know that?)

Green Giant Vegetable Steamers, 12oz.
$1.49 ea. or $.99 ea. after $5 savings
$1.00 coupon

Rotel Tomatoes, 10oz.
$.87 ea. or $.37 ea. after $5 savings
$.30 coupon (in this Sunday's insert) that will "double" up to the sale price of $.37
FREE can of Rotel!!

Franks Red Hot Sauce, 12oz.
$1.49 ea. or $.99 ea. after $5 savings
$1.00 coupon
FREE hot sauce!

French's Mustard, 12 - 14oz.
$1.49 ea. or $.99 ea. after $5 savings
$1.00 coupon (in this Sundays Paper, I believe)
FREE mustard

Velveeta Cheese, 32oz.
$4.99 ea. or $4.49 ea. after $5 savings
$1.00 Internet Printable Coupon, in the sidebars of these blogs:
$5 Dinners
$3.49 for a 2lb. brick of Velveeta!

Kraft Mayo or Miracle Whip, 24 - 32oz.
$2.99 ea. or $2.49 ea. after $5 savings
$.75 coupon

Kraft Natural Cheese, Bars, Cubes, Shreds or Sticks, 6 - 8oz.
$1.99 ea. or $1.49 after $5 savings
No coupons, but this is even CHEAPER than Kroger brand 8oz. blocks! I might get a few of these, too.

There IS a limit of 3 "$5 Rewards" per transaction, which means if you want/need to buy more than 30 things, you need to do a second transaction. I'm not planning to wipe out the store that much! If I can get another set of Sunday's coupons (and my MIL is supposed to be getting me some from her neighbor) I hope to get 20 items. The Velveeta has been on my "need to restock" list for 2 weeks now (although it is possible to live without it!), and this would be a good time to get some. Of course the Mayo is something we use daily, so I'll probably get one of those if I can get a second set of 10 things, and the cheese is definitely a stock-up price!

Here's the deals I hope to get:
First Set of 10:
1 Meatballs - $1.44
1 Sour Cream - $.44
7 Green Giant Steamers - Free
1 Rotel - Free
Totals to $1.88/10 (after $5 savings)
Second Set of 10:
1 Hot Sauce - Free
2 French's Mustard - Free
1 Velveeta - $3.49
1 Miracle Whip - $1.74
1 Sour Cream - $.44
1 Green Giant Steamer - Free
1 Rotel - Free
2 Kraft Cheese - $2.98
Totals to $8.65/10 (after $5 savings)

Of course I will do all of this in one transaction, and could have mixed up the list any which way. That's 20 items for $10.53!! There are, of course, other things in the sale that I have coupons for (not many, though), but none of it came out to a good enough deal for me to put it on my list!

I will still have about $14 to get the rest of the stuff on my grocery list (which includes FREE toilet paper! Woop Woop!!)

Another great deal I hope to score tomorrow is at CVS - Excedrin 20-24ct for $1.99. Now I just hope they have some when I go in.

And now I need to get back to the kitchen and finish cleaning out the frige. I've unearthed a few science projects, but my main goal is just wiping off the shelves, reorganizing and seeing what all I have in there that I need to use up. Any ideas for using up apple cider or cranberry juice?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Is Couponing Worth It??

I know when I first started thinking about couponing, I couldn't bear the thought of shelling out money each week for a Sunday paper. I mean, if I were to buy 1 paper, that would be a whole $2.00 out of my grocery budget!! I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to save that much using coupons and make it worth the expense of having to buy the coupons. It seems a little backwards - spend money to save money.

But I plunged in, and started out buying 2 papers each week. I clipped any and all coupons, and had my coupon binder filled up pretty fast. And I kinda blew my budget those first several weeks, too. It didn't help that about the time I started couponing was the same time that stores were running some really amazing sales on stuff. Like, REALLY amazing sales. I got alot of great stuff for much, much less than if I had bought that stuff at regular price without coupons. I don't regret buying those things.

Is it really worth it to spend the money on the paper? Will I get my money "back" in savings? You bet! I buy 2 papers each week, and the cost just went up to $2/paper. So that's $4. Or, just this week I subscribed to home delivery for 2 copies of the paper (we'll see if they deliver tomorrow!), and that's $1.90/paper, so $3.80/week just to have coupons and throw the rest of the paper, ads, and "stuff" into the recycling. I haven't actually done the math, but I know that I'm getting my money's worth. Some weeks I might not save $3.80 by using coupons... but another week I might save twice that much. It really helps that Kroger doubles coupons up to $.50. So, yeah, my answer is yes, it's worth it to buy the paper for the coupons.

And if you don't want to shell out for the Sunday paper, there are several other ways you can get coupons without paying for them. You can print them off the internet! Just now I printed off a $1.00 coupon for Velveeta Cheese. Velveeta is on my "want" list. The coupon doesn't expire until 4/30/09, so I have 3 1/2 months to find some Velveeta on sale and get a great deal! So far I haven't had any trouble with any stores taking internet printed coupons. I've heard that there are some places that don't take them, but I play by the rules and hope everyone else does, too, so our stores will trust us and our internet printed coupons!

Another "free" coupon option is to load coupons onto your store's loyalty card. I know for my area, I think it's just Kroger and CVS, but there's a list of stores you can load coupons onto. They are free, but they do expire. And once they're loaded, the next time you buy that item, the coupon automatically comes off your card when the card is scanned during that transaction. Some new information about the "e-coupons" though, is that you are NOT supposed to combine them with a paper coupon. For awhile that was good, ok and accepted. It's just been found out that you aren't supposed to do that. So... don't do it. It means being a little more careful on how I load my coupons onto my card (since you can't choose to NOT use the coupon on the card if you are buying that item), but that's easy enough for me. I simply make up my shopping list, then look over the e-coupon sites to see if there's any coupons that are better than my paper ones or that I want to use. Then if there are, I make sure and mark it on my list that it's an e-coupon so I know not to use a paper coupon with that product. (By the way, e-coupons do not double.)

Is it worth my time? I guess that depends on how valuable your time is to you! To me, it's worth it because I want to stretch every. single. penny. And pinch it until it squeals. And the booger comes out of Lincoln's nose. It did take me several weeks to get the hang of it. I'm still not the fastest couponing shopper in the world, I'm sure, but it's worth it to me. If it takes me an extra 1/2 hour and I save $6 by using coupons, I just "made" $12/hour. Kinda :)

Now you know my thoughts on couponing. I really do think it's worth it. There are a bunch of different ways to coupon. If one way doesn't work for you, you can always try another! So if you're thinking about it but unsure about jumping in and joining the rest of us... c'mon in, the water's fine!

If you have any questions, leave me a comment, or go check out any of these blogs:
Stretching A Buck
Couponing 101

Internet Printable Coupons:
The blogs above and Erin at $5 Dinners all have a "Printable Coupons" bar on the side of their blog that you can print from, and that's where I get mine.

A few hints for printing coupons:
~ Use the Fast Normal or Draft setting on your printer. It will save ink (since printable coupons do take some ink!)
~ You can use "used" paper! I have done this (just make sure you're printing on the blank side of the paper!) and haven't had any trouble using the coupon.
~ Most coupons you can print multiple times. Some have a print limit and it will tell you if you've reached the limit.
~ If you're unsure if you're store takes internet coupons, just go to the Customer Service desk and ask :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Grabbin' Life By The Horns

Update: I have finished everything except mixing up the frosting, but I'm going to be working on that as soon as I finish this update. We were supposed to go have dinner with a couple from church tonight, but with this COLD snap, Daniel ended up not getting home until almost 8 o'clock, so we moved the date. Since we were planning to eat with them, I hadn't prepared anything for supper. We went up the road to a (new to us) Chinese Restaurant. It was very nice, very good food, and a little pricier than I was expecting! However, the plates were HUGE, so I brought about 1/2 of mine home to have later.

I'm very pleased with what all I got done today, it has made a huge difference in the overall appearance of the house, and the laundry mountain has gone down some :) I think I'm ready to start next week off on the right foot now :) Thanks to all of you who cheered me on today!!! You rock!

After feeling all day yesterday like I just wanted to sit down and bawl my eyes out, but not knowing why, it finally happened last night. After serious meltdown and a spaghetti-noodle-style conversation with - or more like at, since he mostly listened - Daniel trying to figure "it" (do we women ever really know what "it" is????) out and bawling my eyes out most of the time, he suggested that I really need to get back to doing my daily routines.

So here's today's list. It's not my normal Friday list, but it's what I've come up with that will give me some organization to what I do today and will let me get what I need to get done, done.

Done - Shower and get dressed.
Done - Fold clean laundry in dryer and put away.
Done - Put wet laundry from washer into dryer, start a load of "Sunday" clothes.
Done - Eat Breakfast.
Done - Put away clean dishes, load and start dishwasher.
Done - Wash remaining big dishes and wipe off counters.
Done - Mix up bread, wash mixing bowl.
Done - Fold dry laundry and put away, switch laundry from washer to dryer.
Done - Start 2nd load of "Sunday" clothes.
I just checked off a few more things, and realized that I'm at the 1/2-way mark!!
Done, and took a quick lunch bread - Mix up and bake cake A, wash mixing bowl.
Done - Pick up Living Room & Dining Room.
-- This means that I just now got around to putting away the box of gift-wrapping stuff from Christmas! No wonder I was depressed.
Done - Take out all trash.
Done - Mix up and bake cake B, wash mixing bowl.
Done - Vacuum all floors.
Done - Hang up Sunday load #1, put load #2 in dryer.
Done - Scrub toilet and bathroom sink.
Done - it's in the oven now - Bake bread.
Done - Hang up Sunday load #2.
Mix up frosting.

Just keepin' it real. This is how I fly. I will check back later to update my progress.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bloggy Awards

I am a terrible blog award receiver. I know somebody gave me one a loooong time ago, but I don't remember who or where it was! Sorry! I really do appreciate them and get so tickled pink when you give them to me... really, I am. Somehow "stuff" (life??) just kinda takes over and before I know it a day, or week, or month(S) has passed and my mental note of "Remember to post and pass along that award" gets shoved under the other mental piles and forgotten about.
"Way back when", I think shortly before Christmas and also right before our computer went into purgatory hovering between life and death, Phoebe gave me these two awards:
The Lemonade Award is to go to 10 bloggers
who show attitude and gratitude.

The Kreativ Blogger award tells me to
list 6 things I'm grateful for and to
pass it along to 6 more bloggers.

Thank you, Phoebe!

Hmm, 6 things I'm grateful for...
1) The promise of Eternal Life and knowing that it's mine!
2) Having the most wonderful husband in the world and sharing, realizing and dreaming our dreams together.
3) A roof over my head and a working heat-pump. Hmm, I just noticed an ant crawling up the wall, I wonder what in the world he's doing out and about in this weather? Bye-bye, ant.
4) That I can stay home and fulfill my dream of being a housewife :)
5) That He does supply all our needs.
6) A WORKING COMPUTER!!!!!!!!!!!!

And now, for passing it along, I am going to let it be a free-for-all. I know, that isn't the way it's supposed to go, but you're ALL deserving of this award! So come get it, and post it on your blog! Really, I would just go through my list and put you all on it. I love my bloggy friends!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Grocerys for 1/14/09

Check out Gayle's Grocery Roundup for more shopping trips from fellow frugal bloggers!

From Kroger:
(6) Green Giant Broccoli & Cheese, $1.00 ea - $.50 ea. AQ
*used (2) $.50/2 coupons - each doubles to $1/2
*used (1) $1.00/2 Cellfire coupon
(3) Kroger OJ, $1.00 ea - $3.00
Kroger Block Cheese - $2.19
2lbs. Brown Sugar, 1.99 - $1.49 AQ
*used $.50/2 coupon - doubles to $1/2, so $.50/1
(the second one was for a separate order, but in the same transaction)
Kroger Chicken Bouillon Powder - $1.65
Balsamic Vinegar, $2.89 - $1.89 AQ
*used $1.00 coupon
.55lb. Round Steak - $2.11
3 doz. Eggland's Best Lg. Brown Eggs, $.50/ea!! - $1.50
Total OOP - $17.23
Total Coupon & Kroger Plus Card Savings - $12.22
Used my own bags - $.10 credit
Total Savings - $12.32/42%

From Food Lion:
(not pictured, sorry)
Parmesan Cheese Wedge - $4.39
FL Mozzarella Block Cheese - $3.43
Total OOP - $8.02

Totals for this week:
OOP - $25.25
Savings - $12.32/33%

Not bad if I do say so myself! I milked this week's budget for all it was worth. The Food Lion trip was actually this past Saturday. My sister was here for the weekend and we were in the middle of making Lasagna when I realized that I didn't have enough mozzarella cheese and no Parmesan cheese. Bummer. Oh well. I knew it was going to have to come out of this week's budget, so when I went to Kroger this morning I only had $16.98 to spend. Somehow I thought I had it figured out that my total was going to be just a few pennies under $25 (I was even calculating the tax...), but I guess I messed up somewhere on my little tiny calculator there in the store :P

I went in with a list of "must haves" and a list of "things would like to have/restock". I was quite happy to see that I caught their sale week for OJ... I was dreading having to hand over my arm and leg the next time I needed to buy some. I didn't have it on my list, but the savings when it's on sale for $1.00 is SO MUCH that I went ahead and worked 3 cans into my budget anyway. The Green Giant Veggies, while I wouldn't "normally" buy them, they are cheap when they're on sale (10/$10), and when combining the sale with coupons, I like to stock up. It saves me from buying frozen broccoli later when it's not on sale to fill in our homegrown veg. supply.

The eggs!! Oh my, the EGGS!! I have NEVER, ever, EVER bought eggs for $.50/dozen!! I was getting ready to pick up another 1 1/2 doz. pack of Kroger eggs off the bottom of the shelf when for whatever reason, I looked up on the top shelf and saw 1 box for $.50!! I couldn't believe it! I pulled down that box, and there was another one! Then another one!! I will ALWAYS check for marked down eggs from now on! I doubt it happens very often, but it won't hurt to look!

I had finished everything up, tallied up my total and had a couple dollars left. It wasn't enough to get any of the "would like to have" items, so I went to the meat section doubting that I could find anything marked down to fit my little leftover budget money. Lo and behold, there was a steak marked down to $2.11! I grabbed it up, then stood there and tallied up my figures again to make sure it fit. I ended up being $.25 over my budget this week, but I think that's ok. I guess I will leave a few extra pennies designated to Uncle Sam next time I'm trying to figure up my total in the store before checkout :)

I did the self checkout again today and love it! The lady in charge there is SO nice (I've decided that Kroger simply has GREAT customer service and PR!) and it's so easy! Even with using coupons it's very quick. Maybe not quite as fast as going through the reg. checkout line, but this way I can pack my bags the way I like them, scan the items in the order I want them to show up on the receipt (ok, is that anal or what?) and so on :) I'm really not usually picky about my receipts, I promise. Only when I'm getting things that are being paid for out of different categories of the budget. It makes it easier to figure it out in the end.

I'm glad to see that they credit you for using your own bags! I have 2 bags (will be getting a third one soon since I won Liz's bloggy giveaway!! Yay!!) and now that I know they give credit for them, you can bet I'll be using them faithfully!!

Oh yeah, and yesterday while I was digging in the frige I found my original chunck of Parmesan Cheese - up on the top shelf where it doesn't belong. That's why I thought I didn't have any!

Grocery Shopping Trip - for LAST week, 1/7/09

Since our computer was down last week, here is the grocery trip I made. Sorry for no picture... The drive that the pictures are on is unplugged right now and I don't want to mess anything up!!

I was able to get everything from Kroger:

10 lbs. potatoes - $2.99
Wild Vines Strawberry Zinfandel Wine - $4.19
3 Apples - $1.77
3 lbs. onions - $2.59
Cottonelle - $.99
*used $.50 coupon, doubled to $.99 = FREE
(2) Softsoaps - $1.00/ea.
*used (2) $.35 coupons, doubled to $.70/ea, = $.30/ea.
"American" Cheese - $1.39
Bananas - $1.01
8 oz. block Cheese - $2.19
1lb. dried Apricots - $4.69
1 1/2 doz. eggs - $2.67
Total OOP: $24.86
Under $25/week budget by $.14 :)
Total Coupon and Kroger Plus Card savings: $11.05 / 31%

I was really afraid the wine was going to put me over... but it had been SOOOO long since we'd had any, and WalMart stopped carrying it, so I was almost jumping up and down excited to find it at Kroger! I was tickled pink to figure out that it could fit in our budget. This is the only wine we like to drink - it is basically Kool-Aid compared to other stuff. And, side-note here, we don't drink alot. Like maybe 2 glasses a month at the most "not alot". And I don't remember the last time we had some... I think it might have been September?

Anyways, now I must go get dressed and get my gear together to go do this weeks shopping trip. Hopefully I'll have a picture for that one :)


As Sally said, I was getting to the point of head-banging the walls in the shower from all the withdrawal symptoms.

Monday night Daniel made a list of all the CD's that I needed to dig up, find, unearth, make magically appear, etc. in order for him to start "fixing" the computer. I took a chunk of time yesterday and went through the WHOLE desk, threw out a ton of "stuff" and found all the CD's he needed!! ***whew!!*** He kept asking me "do we have this??" and I honestly didn't know if we still had it or where it was, so I'm really glad I was able to find everything.

He got off work earlier than usual yesterday, and spent awhile getting the computer ready to format the virused drive. He asked me multiple times "are you SURE you have moved everything from such-and-such to so-and-so??". Then he said "Ok, this is it..." About 5 minutes later I heard him start moaning and groaning and making drastic noises back in here. I left supper in the kitchen and came in to find him exasperated. In order for the computer to "boot" right, he'd had to unplug some stuff in the "guts" of the "brain box" (yeah, I'm up on my computer lingo allright...). Somehow in all his thinking and planning and figuring out how to do the right thing, he hooked it up backwards from what he wanted to. That means he formatted the wrong "drive". The one that I'd moved stuff TO to save it.

Now we have our fingers crossed that since we only copied stuff from drive A to drive B that the original "stuff" is still on drive A (the sick drive). We know that some pictures are totally gone, as Daniel says "Abby (from NCIS) would be able to find them, but I don't know how to", which I'm sad about, but I don't really remember what all they are, plus anything that we DID lose is only EARTHLY THINGS. While I was bummed, just like Daniel is/was, it can't be undone so no use crying over spilled milk!

There is still alot of work that needs done... like moving all that stuff - again - to the newly formatted drive, and then formatting the sick drive to get rid of all the viruses and threats and trojans and bugs and other wicked stuff that was really attacking our computer.

Daniel has been a trooper through this. I'm glad he was a Computer Science Major in college :) I have my own personal Geek-Squad ;) And he rescued me from lack-of-internet-itis!! That makes him my HERO!!!

PS - I am taking the card from the camera TODAY and will print off all the pictures that are on it. Lesson learned. Don't put off till tomorrow what could be lost out the "black hole" any minute.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas - #2

Christmas morning we slept in and then when we did get up, we made this breakfast:
I knew I wanted to do bacon, eggs, toast and _____. I couldn't decide if I wanted to do sausage or what. I asked Daniel, and he said "how about fried taters?" I remembered that I had one potato left, and it was a kinda big one and made enough for a decent serving for both of us!! We found a good way to "fry" potatoes.... Dice it up, then put it in a microwaveable dish covered in water and microwave a couple minutes until they are starting to get soft. Then fry them in plenty of bacon grease or butter. That really helped them to cook faster once in the frying pan, and they crisped up really well, too, since we weren't charring the outside trying to get the inside done! Breakfast was REALLY good and we watched a John Wayne movie on TV while we ate it and lazed around for the morning.

Oh! I almost forgot to tell you about our gifts!! Remember when I told you that Daniel had me go to Kohl's and buy my gifts with the "mysterious" Kohl's Cash? Yeah :)

I gave Daniel a pair of black dress pants (he only had one pair, so a second pair was going to be really nice!!), a light blue shirt with some plaid (very thin) stripes in a couple different colors (ok, the description sounds weird, but it really does look nice!), a purple shirt and a tie to match (for the RARE occasions that he wears a tie, I thought it'd be cool to have one to match his purple shirt), and 2 DVD's: Bourne Ultimatum and Shooter. I'd seen the previews for Shooter on TV and thought it looked like a good guy/action movie and one that Daniel would like. It is. It is rated R for graphic violence, but it's not near as graphic as some movies I've seen that I wouldn't consider "action" movies!

And Daniel gave me a brown skirt (I picked it out), a pair of brown shoes (I picked them out, too), and a BEEE-UUUU-TEEEE-FULLL dark chocolate brown coat! HE found and picked out the coat!! It is faux suede with faux "fur" lining and trim, has a hood and a really pretty brown embroidery design on the front. It is SO warm, not to mention pretty! I love to wear it and he lets me know he likes to see me wearing it ;) After I "opened" my gifts he commented "I think I see a theme going on here... alot of brown...". I guess I've just had the "usual" (1) black skirt and (1 pair) black shoes for so long I was starved for something OTHER than black!

And where did the Kohl's Cash come from?? I kinda had an idea, but didn't want to think about it too hard in case I was wrong, plus he kept telling me that I could ask all my questions on Jan. 2 (after Jan. 1)... so you'll have to come back later when I get that far :)

Friday I spent the whole day finishing some cleaning and wrapping gifts and putting final touches on the plans for the week of New Years. Friday evening we had dinner with Daniel's family, and then spent the whole day with them Saturday.

Sam with his monkey pillowcase.
Not a good shot, but he was moving around
quite a bit :)
Steven with his...

Emily (who I made the tote bag for) and "Papa"
(Daniel's dad) feeding her new Raggedy Andy
doll with her new baby bottles.
Sunday morning we got up extra bright & early and went to church with Daniel's parents and siblings. Their church had asked us (all) to sing for special music that Sunday morning, thus all of us being there early and staying for both services :) It made for a long morning, but that was ok. Afterwards Jeremy & Lynn's went home and the rest of us went to Daniel's parents for lunch. Then it was NAPTIME for everyone... Almost. I had a big list of things I had to gather, pack, load up, etc. so I could leave bright and early Monday morning for "The Sanitation Project..."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year, New Budget

Not so much, though. I pulled out Daniel's last pay stub for 2008 to see what our "annual" income was. It was almost exactly $1,000. more than 2007. I knew it was going to be close. He didn't get a raise last year plus the slow time, which meant not as much over-time. I'm sure the no-raise part is/was related to the crunch the company was going through. Though I never budgeted counting on him getting a raise, it sure did show me to never plan on one! I'm just so thankful that he still has a job (they didn't lay anybody off, but I did notice they took their "hiring" magnet off the work vans), still getting paid, and it's still quite enough for us to be able to live on one income. We are blessed, really blessed. Thank You, God.

Yesterday afternoon I spent a while creating our 2009 expenses spreadsheet and balancing the checkbook (for Nov & Dec). I know one thing: I must be more diligent in making sure that all information is recorded in all places - it makes life much easier. I use a spreadsheet for our budget - on it gets recorded all income and out-go. I have all the categories on it and have it set up so I know if we're in the red in any area. Then I also use Microsoft Money, but purely for the checkbook balancing ease! This means that whenever I go to balance the checkbook I have to go back and enter everything. Yesterday I found about half a dozen things in the checkbook never got entered on the spreadsheet (the checkbook balanced perfectly, but the spreadsheet didn't match the checkbook!). Nightmare... I had to go through it 1 line at a time to find it. Daniel kept asking "how much is it?" and I had to keep telling him "I don't know - I don't know if it's all one thing that I put in as income and it's really an expense (or vice-versa), or if it's multiple things". Turned out to be multiple things. "Grrr" at myself. I started with Dec. 31st, and thankfully only had to go a little into October.

Ahh, that is what New Year's are for, though, right? So I can make a resolution to stay on top of it at all times. We'll see. Hopefully.

Anyway, I just finished our 2009 budget! Yay! I made only a few changes from our 2008 budget since the income was so much the same. I changed our grocery budget to $30/week (I decided to make it $30 since the newspapers for the coupons comes out of that, so I will still be doing $25/week for actual shopping), lowered the amount we put into savings each week, and also created a little spending money for myself. I matched my spending money with Daniel's - $7.00/week :) I know it's not alot, but I always feel selfish and "bad" when I splurge and buy something for myself (be it makeup, cheap jewelry, whatever), and this way I will know that I have a little budget to work with. Daniel usually uses his for tools that he uses for work (they are his, though) but occasionally will buy a gadget or gizmo or whatever for himself. It is something that we talked about, so I knew I could do it. I also had to up our "household" budget a little since our mortgage pmt. went up some. Even with those changes, the money that I budgeted comes out to around 88% of our spendable income (after tithe). I am really pleased with that.

Now the hard part will be to stick to the budget! While I want to continue using coupons, I really need to get back on track with the $25/week budget. So, I am going to do it! I know that if it's possible to do it without coupons, it is possible to do with WITH coupons!

Areas that are also hard for us are eating out on Sundays. Since we are always leaving church around 1pm Sunday afternoons, our breakfasts are long gone and we're hungry. It's always tempting to run by Wendy's, Burger King or Taco Bell on the way home. I don't have that budgeted in anywhere, so it comes out of the food budget, which results in running that in the hole... and the cycle begins. So... we will just have to make our choices! Either pack a lunch (which is a royal pain), wait till we get home (and have something ready to eat or leftovers available - means better planning on my part), or decide if we want to spend a chunk of that week's grocery money on 1 meal!! I haven't talked to Daniel about this specifically, but we have talked about how it is a bad habit and we need to be more careful about how much we do it.

The thing that makes it hard is that in general (as long has he has an hour or two of OT), his paycheck is more than our budget, so it's easy to just put a little extra into the food category to cover what we've overspent. This is SO not budgeting! All the reasons we have for spending less is so we have more money to put on our mortgage, so we're only shooting ourselves in the foot if we're eating that extra money for no reason.

So, New Year 2009, I am going to do my part to help our family stick to our budget 100%.