Monday, February 18, 2013

Menu Plan Week 7 (And A Week 6 Recap)

You may have noticed that I skipped posting last weeks menu plan.  You may have even noticed that I pretty much skipped posting last week, period!

It was a pretty crazy week around here!  And mostly unexpected at that!

Let me give you a brief run down of what's been going on.

Last week:

  • Tax Refund Came  (Paid off last two payments on our Jeep!  Woohoo!)
  • Picked Up Produce Basket
Two cabbages, huge english cucumber, huge sweet potato, spinach, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, apples (3 lb bag plus 2 loose), 5 pears, bananas, and 13 blood oranges.

  • Begin Making Menu
  • Husband decides that he'd like me to end my no buying meat challenge early.
  • Went shopping.  Bought 9lbs. of ground beef, 6lbs of pork chops, and 3 lbs. of tilapia for under $30.
  • Get home, put everything away, begin fixing phone rings...
  • It's the school nurse....seems the head lice epidemic going around school has made it's way to my oldest  (yeah...she's got thick curly hair and is waist length when wet...)
  • Go get her.
  • Still determined to get cabbage rolls made that evening....begin boiling cabbages and peeling leaves.  
  • Husband gets home..leave him stuffing and rolling (one batch to eat and one more to freeze) and go to get lice shampoo.
  • Wash hair.  Comb Hair.
  • More combing
  • Notice younger one is coughing a whole lot
  • Return oldest to school
  • Bring youngest to doctor
She was not happy about it.

  • Tonsilitis
  • CVS for antibiotics
  • More freezer cooking  (rest of ground beef...burgers, meatballs, spaghetti sauce)
  • Clean kitchen and attempt to catch up on 18 loads of laundry and bedsheets.
  • Antibiotics are upsetting little ones tummy.  =(
Sunday night:
  • When I dropped my kids off at Awana, I heard a hissing noise....
  • It was coming from my tire....=(

Add to all of that the 13+ hours I tutored last week, and you can understand why I didn't have a chance to get any posts up.   I did make a menu plan last week, and we actually did a really good job of sticking to it (besides grabbing Wendy's last night with all of the tire fiasco).

But today begins a totally new week, and I'm ready to get things back on track around here!

I will be restarting all of my habits I've been trying to form and keep up with because they totally tanked last week.

I was able to use up the cabbage (cabbage rolls), sweet potato (fries to go with our burgers), some of the spinach (put on the burgers instead of lettuce), half the cherry tomatoes (sliced in a pasta salad for lunch saturday) and about half of the fruit between snacks and lunch box.

So to use up the remaining produce, here is my plan for this week:

Monday:  Baked Pork Chops, baked potatoes  (I still have a bag of baking potatoes left from my previous basket), and sliced cucumbers.   I will bake all of the pork chops I bought last week, and freeze at least two portions.  

Tuesday:  Soup from freezer (I'm tutoring)
Wednesday:  Spaghetti Sauce (made and frozen last week) over spaghetti squash.   We've never tried this before so I hope we like it!

Thursday:  Quiche from freezer (I'm tutoring)

Friday:  Meatballs (made and frozen last week) and cauliflower mash  (never tried this before either)

Saturday:  Red Beans from freezer  (tutoring again)

Sunday:  Pancakes

I'm loving how getting these produce baskets is encouraging us to try new things, and we have liked just about everything I've made with the produce.   My girls get so excited to see what we get!

If you are interested in ordering a basket for yourself, you may visit the Bountiful Baskets website and see if there is a location near you.   Ordering begins at noon on Mondays for Saturday pick-up (friday night in some places) and lasts until Tuesday or until the site sells out.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

This Valentine's Day, Help Give Anthony A New Heart

Today is Valentine's Day, and I'm sure that if you go out in public anywhere today you are going to be inundated with images of hearts.   Hearts have become a symbol of love, and everybody loves to talk about love on Valentine's Day.

I don't want to discuss love today, but I do want to discuss hearts.  I am going to tell you about a young boy living in Marshall, TX who is in need of a new heart.  I do not normally post things of this nature, but this boy's story has touched my heart, and I am hoping that it will touch your heart as well.

This is Anthony.

From the outside, Anthony looks like any other 10-year-old boy. He is an honor roll student, is active in his local church, and loves soccer, Legos, Star Wars, and magic tricks. He is seemingly normal in every sense of the word.

But unlike most 10-year-old boys, Anthony has been fighting a relentless battle against congenital heart disease, enduring multiple surgeries and procedures, countless hospitalizations, and two life-threatening infections to his heart. His heart is now so compromised that no medicine, no catheterization, no surgery can help it. At the recommendation of his doctors at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, he is now waiting for a life-saving heart transplant.
You can read more about Anthony's story in this very heartfelt post from my dear blogger friend and personal friend of his family and also in this write up about him from the Marshall, TX newspaper.

Please watch this brief and heart felt message about Anthony from a good friend of his, and the daughter of my good friend and fellow blogger.

Like many families who are unable to shoulder the significant financial burden of transplant and the lifetime care it requires, Anthony’s family has entered into a relationship with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, a national non-profit organization which assists families in raising funds for transplant-related expenses. Funds are raised for COTA in honor of Anthony and can only be used for expenses directly related to his transplant related expenses. All gifts are tax deductible and 100% of the funds raised will be designated for his use.  

The family asks for your prayers and your help. Providing for Anthony’s medical future is not an option. It is a necessity.

My blogger friends and I are coming together today, February 14th, to ask for your help.   We are asking people to visit Anthony's donor page and GIVE $1.40.   That's it!  That is a very insignificant amount to most of us--half a cup of coffee from Starbucks!-- but it would mean so very much to Anthony and his family.

We are also asking that you share our posts.  Get the word out about Anthony to all of your friends.   Even if you can't give, help us make this go viral!

If you wish to keep up with Anthony's Story, you can do so by liking Anything For Anthony on facebook.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Today's Shopping Trip: JCPenney And Kohl's

This morning, strangely, I was feeling like getting out of the house.  This is pretty unusual for me, and doubly so since I had not slept well.

But, I remembered that I had these....

That's $10/$25 to JCPenney (attached to inside cover of the advertisement book that came this past week) and $10/$30 to Kohl's (stuck to the front cover of my newspaper on Wednesday morning).

Now, I VERY rarely ever shop for clothing items, as it is just not in the budget most months, but as my husband was on top of things with the taxes, and filed them as soon as he received his last W2, and had it direct deposited, we were thrilled to find out that our refund came on Tuesday!

So, since we actually did have the funds at the moment, it seemed a shame to let these two coupons worth an extra $20 in savings go to waste!  I thought I would just ride over to these places and see what I could find.   I had been wanting to get some new shoes for my girls, and he was in need of some new polo shirts to wear to work.

I had browsed JCPenney's clearance on their website before I left, and I saw some cute shoes and winter coats very cheap, but I did not see anything of the sort in store.   In fact, I could not find anything at all for my girls at JCPenney, so I decided to browse around for myself and my husband.

I was able to find him 3 shirts marked down to just $5 each (two were originally $25 and one originally $14).  I also found two shirts for myself one was marked $4 and the other marked $6 (both originally $14).  I was thinking this would be perfectly $25 and I would be able to use my coupon.  However, the $6 shirt rang up $5 at the register, so I was $1 short.  I ended up tossing in an overpriced Godiva chocolate bar ($3) sitting near the register...

Here is what I got at JCPenney, minus the chocolate.  My total OOP including tax was $18.40.

Hard to tell, but there is a grey, green, and maroon shirt for my husband up top.

By the time we left there, it was nearly lunch time, and my little one wanted Cici's.   I obliged, since it was just down the street and we weren't done with our shopping escapades yet.  So there went most of my coupon savings from JCPenney, but I suppose that is alright.   We did have to eat!

Then we went over to Kohl's.   It took me a little less time there, since I had already shopped for the two of us, so I simply made a beeline for the shoes.   I found a cute pair of dress shoes for my oldest marked down for $8.99  (originally $44.99!)  I found a cute little pair of brown casual/dressy shoes for my little one marked down for $5.99 (originally $29.99!)   They had several sizes, so I took the advice of my good friend, and went ahead and bought the next size up as well!  Then I went over to the children's clothing department and finished off my $30 needed to use my coupon by grabbing a tutu skirt for the little one marked $4 (was $20), and a nightgown with sleepmask for the older one marked $6 (was $30).

My total OOP with tax there was $22.70, and according to my receipt, I saved $134!

In all today at both stores, I spent $41.10 on items that retail (not that I would ever pay that much!) for $246.97!  That's a total savings of $205.87!  So I guess a little splurge on lunch is justifiable!  ;)

Did you do any shopping today?


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Albertsons Mega Sale: Saved 78%

Yesterday morning, after I had a glance at the new sale ads, I was spending my 15 minutes working on my coupons.  I was clipping the 1/27 SS, and noticed that there were coupons in there that matched with the Mega Sale going on at Albertsons this week.

Since I was already clipping the coupons, and since I was already heading down to the library, which is just another block or two away, I decided to leave a little bit early and run by Albertsons before the library.

I had made out my list of the 10 items I was going to get, and I brought only those coupons along.    I quickly grabbed the items and was on my way.

Here are the things I grabbed:

Total Shelf Price:  $22.50
Total Sale Price:   $17.22 (minus $5 mega sale coupon = $12.22  Already 46% Savings.
Price Paid After Coupons:   $5.02   78% Savings

The cashier laughed when I showed her my list and that was exactly the price I had pre-calculated.  ;)

Albertsons has also begun it's Monopoly game once again.   I love the Monopoly game, not because I think I will win (but you never know!), but because sometimes those little blue game pieces contain coupons for FREE items, and sometimes they contain coupons for items that will be on sale at some point during the promotion (so hold onto them!)

This time, I only got one for 2 free game tokens, but that is just fine with me!  In the past, I have missed out on many weeks of this sale because I just did not have my coupons together, but right now I am almost completely finished getting all of my coupons clipped and filed into my binder, and I am going to be very intentional about shopping at Albertsons each week that I feel it is worthwhile so I can make the most of this promotion.


Monday, February 4, 2013

7 Decluttering Tasks For The Week

Last week I showed you some of the progress I had made in my older daughter's room, and told you that I planned to spend this week working on their rooms a little bit more.

I did spend Monday - Friday working in their rooms and they were looking pretty good, though not quite finished.  I was VERY busy tutoring on Saturday afternoon so I did not get a chance to do any decluttering on Saturday.   I meant to double my time in my younger daughter's room on Sunday, but they had gotten all the stuffed animals down, and I had told them that we needed to get rid of some of those, and they had been bugging me to help them do that (why they were so eager to get rid of their toys is beyond me, but I'm not complaining).

They are pretty attached to most of the stuffed animals we have, and they also all have names, which I was not aware of (either that or my daughter was just making them up on the spot, which is also possible).  Even so, we were able to fill a garbage bag full of animals they were willing to part with.  19 in all that will be leaving the house!

I know this little task took up *at least* half an hour, but I still intended to go spend 15 minutes in the little one's room.   However, a more pressing need presented itself in the kitchen.  It was called "I had this food in a container to freeze and I cannot find a lid for it."  Thus organizing of the plastic container cabinet commenced.   No lid was found, but another suitable container was.

So this week, I return to their rooms.  

I have already done my task for today, which I think took me about 20-25 minutes.   I finished up sorting and putting away all of her toys, and then I vacuumed.

Tuesday and Wednesday I will tackle the younger one's dresser and closet.

I'm expecting to finish up all of that early on Wednesday and be able to move on to the older one's room and work on her dresser and closet for part of Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday I will begin the moving around of games and books that did not happen this past weekend.

This weekend, weather permitting, I will be working on tidying up the back yard.   I also want to get some gardening done, so I am hoping that it is a lovely weekend, but I will also be very busy tutoring again, so I might have to recruit some help from the rest of the family for this one.

I think that I've made this 15 minute daily cleaning task a solid habit of mine by this point, but I think it is about to get a little bit harder for me to keep it a habit, and that is just because I am running out of things that are in desperate need of decluttering.   I'm sure if I look around a little more closely then there will be plenty that jump out at me that have been there all along and I just choose not to see them. ;)


Menu Plan Week 5: From The Freezer

I  made one tiny change in last week's menu.  I realized that my dishes that I normally make and freeze my casseroles in were the larger size that I had bought last time, so when I made my shepherd's pie, I knew I wouldn't be able to make a separate one to eat and one to freeze like I had originally planned, so I just make a big one and we had leftovers, so I am moving the gumbo to this week.   I was still able to put 2 containers of beef stew into the freezer.

I have now completely run out of dishes that have lids to freeze things in, so I am trying to clear some of those out of my freezer this week.  That means much less freezer cooking.   I am still making one pot of soup to use up some vegetables though.

This is going into week 5 of my no meat buying challenge, and my freezer is still staying well stocked.   All I really have left uncooked is a bunch of chicken, a bit of country style pork ribs, and some fish, though.  I might have to get creative with those, but I think I can make it happen.

I'm still trying to be very intentional about planning meals that are easy for my husband to pull together on nights when I am tutoring and he is having to juggle dinner, homework, and making his own lesson plans.

Here is the plan:

Monday:  Homemade pizza  (using up some bell peppers and some pepperoni I bought this week...that doesn't really count as meat, right?)

Tuesday:  Ham and Vegetable soup  (I'm tutoring, but it will be cooked and ready before I leave)

Wednesday:  Leftovers  (and freeze some...3-4 most likely)

Thursday:  I'm tutoring -Gumbo from the freezer.

Friday:  Potato Soup from the freezer

Saturday:  Spaghetti from the freezer

Sunday:  Awana night--hubby making pancakes  (he actually experimented with some egg filled ones last night that were not too bad...interesting for sure!)


Friday, February 1, 2013

January Update And New Habits For February

At the beginning of January, I shared with you a few habits I was trying to form for the month.  I said that once I formed these habits, I would slowly add more things to my list.

Here is what I had listed for January:

1 load of dishes/laundry everyday:  (doing very well with this)
15 minutes of decluttering each day:  (doing very well with this also-you can read about my daughter's room and my bathroom)
Remove a like from facebook and unsubscribe from a newsletter for each of my 3 emails each day:  (This task has been completed for the most part.  I can see I have friends on facebook once again, and I was beginning to have to do some real searching for something that I was ok with unliking, so I think it's safe to stop that one.   Two of my email accounts have not gotten anything unsubscribable in days, and I just skim what comes in and take care of any that I don't need right away~hey, that sounds like a habit!.   My third email account will take some more time, though.  It's a "junk" account I've had for YEARS so I'm now focusing my attention on this one).
10 minutes a day on coupons:   (this is going really well.  I have gone through all of my older inserts and I am currently in the process of getting my binder back in functional order, so I am clipping the newer ones and filing them.  I have gotten through January 6th clipped and filed and I am doing one set of inserts a day (I have 2 copies of most) and then I'm done.  I expect to be all caught up on this (including those I get in the mean time) by mid february, and then I can devote my 10 minutes a day to planning trips.)
Bible and vitamin: (two things I said I'd been skipping for far too long.   I have been doing both, with the exception of a few missed days of each.   I am feeling much more energetic!)

For the month of February, I intend to keep up each of these habits, making any changes necessary, as well as attempt to add on the following:

Eat Breakfast:  I've been letting coffee count for WAY too long.
Exercise:   I've been dabbling with this and spending about 5 minutes playing around on my new exercise ball.  I know that I seriously NEED to stretch and strengthen my muscles because I'm far too young to have the pains that I have, so I'm trying to make this a priority.
Bedtime:  It needs to happen earlier.   I've been making progress for a few days, but then I will nap, or have late coffee and can't sleep, or get caught up in a book and stay up til 1:30.   One day this past week I went to bed at 9:30, and woke up at 5am feeling fabulous!  Both are a little earlier than necessary and I ended up crashing that afternoon, but its something I'm working toward.  I have a goal of 10:30 and 6, but going to bed that early goes against my very nature, so this is going to be a tough one for me.
Program Coffee Pot The Night Before:  It may seem silly, but those few minutes saved in the morning when it does happen are very lucrative!
Study:  Since I am tutoring these days, I thought I should spend some time brushing up on my knowledge.  I want to start out with about 15 minutes reading through a textbook each day, and perhaps expand to more if I see fit, but every little bit helps!

These are just a handful of things that I think will make life run a bit more smoothly for me right now and in the long run.

Do you have any things you are working on this month?


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