Friday, December 31, 2010

January Shopping- Mission Accomplished

So I just got back from the grocery store and I'm pretty excited I must say. I got everything from my list ( which should be enough for the ENTIRE month of January for ......$153.xx!!!!! I must say I am pretty excited. I even got several things that were not on my list but were good deals. I got several non food items also that we need like an air filter, toilet paper and a really cute Christmas candle that was 75% off!

A few observations:
- we eat a lot of recipes that include tortillas, I really must leran to make these. I've made a few before, but I need to start making them in bulk. We eat a ton of tortillas, and that ate up about $12 of my grocery budget for the month.
- I'm ready for spring and summer when we can actually grow more ourselves, I spent probably $20 this month on fresh produce. I really wanted the fresh parsley, but I have so much that we dried ourselves that I had to pass....
- It's been so long that I've bought that much at the grocery store at one time, and $153 really fills up a cart
- My husband insists on vitamins for the girls since they don't eat meat. I can't argue with him, so that was about $10 of my monthly budget. They had a Buy one get one sale on the vitamins we like, and I had coupons, so it worked out nicely.

I still have about $120 left for the month!!! I know I'll have to pick up maybe another gallon of milk in a few weeks but that honestly should be all. Any money left over will go directly into savings for something special.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


We love eggs. We honestly do. I have a 5 year old and 3 year old and they both adore eggs. It's great because we get them from our chickens, free range of course. And even though we love our eggs and use them for fried eggs, egg sandwiches, scrambled eggs, quiches, breakfast burritos and more, I still would have a lot of eggs that I didn't know what to do with.

I give some away of course to family and friends, I have one neighbor who will only take 3 eggs per week, she says that is all she needs.

But something else that I have started doing that we like is on Saturday I will take about a dozen eggs and hard boil them. The girls help me peel them, and I'll stick the in the fridge for the week. Sometimes my husband or even my 5 year old will have one for breakfast. I slice them up and put them in a salad, or pack one in our lunches. It's a great utlization of the eggs, and the key is to get them all finished at once, and prepared for the week. It is so much easier to boil 12 eggs at once, then to just do them whenever you would like one.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My January Menu

My January Budget for 4 people ( 2 grown ups, a 5 year old and a 3 year old ) is.......
I'm hoping that posting my menu and such will help me stay accountable and within budget....

So as promised here is my January meal plan. Just a few notes,
1) our chickens are still laying, so we get our eggs there
2) I make our own bread and snacky things such as cookies, muffins, pretzels etc. There are also a few things not on my list such as yogurt, that I buy for snacks.

So I think the easiest way to do it is to list how many breakfasts we need ( weekends) and how many lunches we need ( weekends only , and my husband and I will bring either leftovers or homeade soup to work) and then of course dinners which is the bulk of it.

1. cereal or oatmeal
2.cereal or oatmeal
3. cinnamon buns
4. cinamon buns
5.Scrambled ( or fried for hubby) eggs, toast
6. pancakes
7. waffles
8. pancakes
9. French toast
On mornings that I work I typically grab a peice of fruit, or do a bowl of oatmeal. I make hubby scrambled egg sandwiches.

1. Spinach Artichoke lasagna
2. leftovers
3. sandwich, chips, salsa
4. Soup
5. Soup
6. Homeade Pizza
7. Noodles of some sort
8. Veggie Heaven ( normally consists of 3-4 veggies, canned, fresh or frozen from our garden)
9. Veggie Heaven ( normally consists of 3-4 veggies, canned, fresh or frozen from our garden)

1. Breakfast burritos, toast with jelly
2. stirfry with brown rice
3. tuna casserole
4. tuna casserole
5. Spaghetti ( will probably include deer meat to satisfy my hubby)
6. Pesto Pasta
7. Alfredo Pasta
8. Chili
9. Soup/ Grilled cheese
10. Leftovers
11. Leftovers
12. Non- breakfast burritos ( normally just beans and cheese, plus jalepenos and onions for me and hubby)
13. Quesadillas
14. Homeade pizza
15. Pb&J
16. Quesadillas
17. Tuna Casserole
18. Tuna Casserole
19. Pesto Pasta
20. Alfredo Pasta
21. Spaghetti
22. Tuna casserole
23. Tomato Tortellini Soup
25. Quesadillas
26. Alfredo Pasta
27. Veggie Heaven ( normally consists of 3-4 veggies, canned, fresh or frozen from our garden)
28. Veggie Heaven ( normally consists of 3-4 veggies, canned, fresh or frozen from our garden)
29. Veggie Heaven ( normally consists of 3-4 veggies, canned, fresh or frozen from our garden)
30.  Out to dinner ( husband got a NICE gift card for Christmas to a local restaraunt)
31.  Out to dinner ( husband got a NICE gift card for Christmas to a local restaraunt)

 Another few things to remember, I will have some sort of side dish with most things. For instance normally the quesadillas will be cheese for the girls, then hubby and I add jalepnos. Sides will be refried beans and mexican rice. Chili will include a homeade bread , pastas include at least one veggie, sometimes two and a bread.  These are not necessarily in order, just the overall month. I think we will have leftovers more than I allotted for, but just wanted to make sure I had enough stuff bought just in case.

This is just an experiment, I am anxious to see how it works.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Once a month shopping???

A new year is upon us and I'm really going to try to do my grocery shopping once a month. There are several reasons I want to try this....
1) I have a monthly grocery budget and just going once per month should really help to detour "extras".
2) We don't live in town, it takes a while for us to get to town, go the grocery store and get home. We should save on gas also, if we just go once per month.
3) This will FORCE me to stick to my monthly meal planning lists.
4) More family time at home on the weekends which typically would be my "trip to town" day.

Also, before I divulge my Monthly shopping list and my monthly budget I think it is fair to tell you a few things about my deep freeze and pantry.
1) We only eat deer meat ( or venison as some people call it) and  fish ( Crappie and catfish are our faves), we will eat canned tuna occasionally as my 5 year old adores it. VERY VERY occasionaly , like if we go to the Gulf , we will bring home shrimp. The freezer is full of deer meat, but most days we are strictly vegetarians.
2) I coupon, and I have a very nice stockpile of rice, whole grain pasta,oats and a few other things. So you may notice that even though I may list oatmeal for breakfast, that I don't buy oatmeal that month, it's because I've got a TON of it already. Same with pasta. I have boxes and boxes of whole grain pasta I caught on sale and had coupons for. I will not buy pasta for a very long time, and actually will probably make it before I pay more than a few cents a box for it.
3) We can a LOT of our garden each year. You may notice things in my menu, especially things that are tomato based like salsa,diced tomatoes, tomato soup etc. that I never buy at the grocery store, it's because we can them. Same thing with pesto, jelly, jam, jalepenos etc. If you notice that it's not on my grocery list it's probably because I can it, ( or freeze it, like corn).
4) My girls stay with my mother in law part time and a private babysitter part time, so I don't buy food for them for breakfast or lunch during the week ( unless it's a special snack).

I have Staples that I will need to stock up on , and I have a list of Health and Beauty Aides that our family needs, but I should be stocked up on the majority of that also due to my couponing.

I will post my monthly budget ( which should help hold me accountable), tomorrow, and will also post my staples list and my menu soon. I plan to go grocery shopping this coming Friday, so we will see what happens.

I would love to hear stories of you all and your adventures in once a month shopping.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Home Made Pizza

I just had to share. This was so yummy!
I made the dough in my bread maker, super easy and fast. Then just topped it with cheese ( for the girls side) and on hubby and I's side I put peppers that we canned from last years garden and black olives. Made a delicious lunch! The pizza stone is my faithful Pampered Chef stone I've had for years and absolutly ADORE it.

Merry Christmas!

Linked up with TALU Tuesdays

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Homeade Bread Crumbs - Yummy

Not only are they delish, but so easy! I started out with homeade bread, it was a couple of days old, but certainly not stale yet. I had made several new loaves today to eat during the holidays, so I thought I would make breadcrumbs with the older loaf. I put what I had on a cookie sheet ( yes I know it's ugly and I need a new one).

Then baked for about 15 minutes in 300 degree oven.

Take them out and tear  them into small peices and put it in the food processor, or blender or whatever you use.

Pulverize it, then you can either freeze it, put it in a mason jar with a lid, or put it in a Tupperware type container with a tight fitting lid.

Things to use your breadcrumbs on:
- venison parmisan
- breading fish
- breading veggies
- adding to fresh salad for a tiny bit of a crunch
- add to the top of lasagna, casseroles and such

What are some things you like to use your breadcrumbs for?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

No comments..

Somehow I deleted all my comments on posts. I'm terribly upset as I really love comments. My apologies to all of you whose comments are now gone.....

It's not just a garden....

I love having gardens, I really do. But to me that space of land that is growing  things represents so much more than "just a garden".

It represents freedom. Freedom to be able to decide what your family will eat, how it was grown and how it was treated. It represents goodness, and hardiness, and nutrition, and sustainability.

It represents family. Growing up with a large garden and orchard, I remember that beautiful family time spent under the huge oak tree in the front yard shucking corn, picking peaches right off the trees and eating them until I got sick, sitting in the freshly tilled garden dirt with a spoon and a cup and playing in the dirt while my mom and dad worked in the garden. And now that I have my own family it represents continuation of that tradition. Some of the best talks my husband and I have are while we are bent over in the hot sun, picking green beans or filling a five gallon bucket with tomatoes. My girls carry on my love of dirt playing, and now have their own collection of garden spoons and cups to relish the long days of summer.

It represents hope. Hope for a future of ecologically minded children. Hope that the educational experiences that have absorbed through the garden will be far greater a benefit than anything they could learn in school. Hope that the lessons taught in the garden go far beyond that of soil science and pollination, but extend into character building lessons such as patience, thankfullness, givingness and love.

So much more than a garden.....

My father and my girls picking sunflowers one morning before church. I couldn't resist taking this picture.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I miss Mayberry....

Well, maybe I don't actually miss it, but long for it. I've never been to Mayberry, and I'm too young to actually recall those days, but I do long for it somedays. I enjoy the Andy Griffith Show, and it is one of the few shows that my husband and I watch.

I'm actually probably luckier than most. I still live in a very small country community, where neighbors still know each other and help each other out. I still wave at them when we pass by on the 2 lane road as we are heading into "town". The next larget town does have several grocery stores and hardware stores and restraunts, but the little community that I live in doesn't have anything.

Up until about 5 years ago there was a tiny country store, where you could get gas, milk and fish bait :).It's actually where my husband and I met. I was working there while I was in high school, and knew EVERYONE that set foot in the tiny bait store/gas station, and my husband actually lived in the neighboring big town and went to college at that time. He built houses on his day off from school during the week, and on Saturdays worked at this tiny little gas station. We always tease each other saying we fell in love over the minnow tank. Not much of a tease though since it is basically true.

Our church is in our community, as well as both my parents and my husband's parents. It's so nice to have such a close little group of loved ones so close by. Our girls get a chance to really see their grandparents.

I also realize that my girls are really lucky also. At lucky in my sense of the word. They have space that they can have animals, ( chickens, goat, rabbits, guinea pigs, cat, dogs, oh my!), they have a pond where we can lazily fish at on summer afternoons, they have a tire swing, they have fruit trees and nut trees and large gardens to explore.

So maybe I don't miss Mayberry after all, maybe I'm closer to Mayberry than I realized.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Amazon and such

So we all know that I Heart Amazon, but I'm not certain if I have ever shared with you guys how I got so much in my Amazon account. There are 2 sites that I use ( both free of course) to earn points that I cash in for amazon codes. LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

The first one is Irazoo and is a search engine, but also allows you to "recommend" or "not recommend" certain results, and that gives you additional points.

The other one is Swagbucks which is straight up a search engine where you get random "swagbucks" which you then turn in for Amazon codes.

I cashed in most of my Amazon credits this year for Melissa and Doug Wooden Toy food sets when Amazon had them for %50 off with free shipping. Talk about one happy momma!!

If you all have any questions please let me know. I love being able to buy nice quality gifts, and it's even better when I don't have to pay for it :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas - It's a comin'

Busy times around our household. The girls keep crossing their fingers for snow, no such luck yet. Actually there isn't even much of a chance anytime soon....

Today Olivia, my newly turned 5 year old gets to go to work with my father. He works with horses and quail dogs, and today Olivia gets to go with him for the first time. She has her little backpack all ready with coloring books, animal crackers and her toy zebra, and man is she excited! It is such a sweet time of fellowship for the two of them, and I have fond memories of getting to go with my dad when I was about her age.

Tonight is a Christmas party for my dad's side of the family, he has 6 siblings that are still living, and they will all be there with all their kids and grandkids and even great grandkids. We just have a huge potluck and fellowship and one of the ladies plays the piano and we sing. It will be a fun time.

My daughters have been asking my mom and dad for a sleepover soon, so since they are both off work next week, they will go over Thursday evening and spend the night.My parents are great and the girls love them to peices. It will be a fun night for them, even though my husband and I will miss them like crazy.

Our church Christmas fellowship is tomorrow evening after church. The girls will be in the program, then there will be finger foods afterwards. Sounds good to me!

I won't bore you with anymore details, there is a lot more coming up this week and I pray for peace, joy and lots of family time with the ones you love.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Carrots and Turnips oh my!

We had a fun day today. It's not too incredibly cold, and it wasn't raining so we took the opportunity to play outside.

My dad called this morning and asked me if I wanted to go Crappie fishing. OF COURSE! So off I went to the lake with Dad. Great time, great fellowship and great fish! Yummy, can't wait to fry up some fillets tonight!

Then we went to the turnip field. We have entirely too many, but of course we always do. Here is a pic of the girls with some they helped harvest.

Yes that is our goat Clifford in the picture above. Him and our dog Waffle follow us everywhere.

Then we went and harvested a few carrots. We were actually pretty suprised we still had some, we thought we had gotten them all a while back. But here is a picture of the girls with their carrots. You have to look really carefully in order to see them, but they are certainly holding tiny little carrots.

That's my green arm in the corner, with a few more carrots :)
So tonight for dinner, fish, turnips, a green salad with carrots and probably some corn on the cob from the freezer, from what I put up back in the summer! Man I love this life!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is it too early for New Year's Resolutions?

Yes, I know that you can make resolutions at any time during the year, but it seems like at the close of the year is when most people seem to really reflect. There are some things that I'm happy with that have happened this last year, and some things that I would like to improve upon. Years really do fly by don't  they though?

1) Cash use: we actually did quite well on this last year but I would like to continue our practice of using cash for purchases. I'm not talking about using cash instead of credit cards, because we do that already, I am talking about using cash instead of debit cards or checks. It's very easy to go to a store and spend more money that expected or budgeted for, if you are simply swiping your debit card. So I want to work on that.We have a pretty cool little envelope system going that I replenish at every pay check. Left over envelope money goes into savings accounts. And while we are talking about money, I really want to agonize over each and every purchase we make. Is it needed, is it useful, it is the best deal we can get, will it last???? All of these questions need to be asked before each and every purchase, and my husband and I aren't doing too well with that.

I know that many of you are trying to enhance your economic situation also in the coming year. Good luck with that and let me know how it goes okay?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes,

We are pretty lucky where I live that we can grow tomatoes quite well. We normally start them from seeds inside. We put them outside in the ground normally the week or so after Easter.

I'm getting pretty excited about my tomatoes I must confess. There are several things about tomatos I thought I would share with you today.

The first is an awesome website/ seed catalog that specializes in Tomatoes. It's fabulous. When I get my catalog in the mail, it reminds me of when I was a kid and my mother would get the Sears Wishbook catalog around Christmas time. I try to get my chores done quickly and get the girls in bed so I can sneak away a few moments of alone time and savor the beautiful images of tomatoes........
You can request a catalog by going here    or you can shop online through thta link also. I'm telling you , it's amazing. Great quality, all different varieties and honestly just plain fun!

So we always grow a ton of tomatoes. We of course use them as slicer tomatoes to put on sandwiches or salads, and we all enjoy just picking the small varieties right off the vine and snacking on them. But we always have such an excess. Last year alone we put up
- salsa ( hot, medium, mild and EXTRA hot)
- green tomato relish
- pasta sauce
- stewed tomatoes
- tomato juice
- Italian stewed tomatoes ( great for chile, has onion, garlic and pepper in it)
- whole tomatoes
- tomato based veggie soup
- pizza sauce

One company I have found that has some great pre made mixes for a lot of the stuff is Mrs. Wages. You can find their stuff at  . You can start buying now in bulk. I don't use the premade stuff for the salsa , soup , juice or stewed tomatoes, but the mixes are great for pizza sauce, pasta sauce and ketchup.

Of course I want to enjoy all the yumminess of tomatoes while they are still fresh, so I have a fabulous little cookbook I love.
I acually went to a local tomato festival and they were selling these books, but of course they were $30 or more, so I came home and got one from off line for around $8. It was used, but it has so many really tasty recipes to use tomatoes in. I highly recommend it.

Well that's all for me today, I'm off to drool over my Totally Tomotoes catalog some more while the bread is baking and everyone else is napping.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I Heart Amazon

Well I do love Amazon, but I also love Swagbucks. I'll explain :)
Search & Win
Swagbucks is a search site, that is totally free to use. You simply search and get random points. Then you can cash in your points for "stuff". I always use mine for Amazon gift codes.
So for Christmas this year I am treating myself to 3 books I have been wanting for a while.

Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money

The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life: How to Sew a Sampler Quilt & 49 Other Pioneer Projects for the Modern Girl

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!

I got all of these with my Amazon codes I had saved up and still have about $40 left to buy toys if they have awesome toy sales again this year.  I love books. I read books, and reread books and just really enjoy them.