The new site is up and running at beckyathome.com. All the new posts are there. It looks very similar to this one, but I’m hoping to improve it little by little. Come visit:)
I have been working to change this website over to a self-hosted one. The migration seems to be up and running. I put a new post over there. It is at: http://beckyathome.com/?p=13490. This link has worked for several people. Thank you for your patience.
A reader asked if we would mind journaling Rob’s weight-loss journey to provide encouragement for her and anyone else who needed it. I asked Rob how he felt about sharing something so personal in such a public way, and he said he was willing to share in hopes that it would help someone.
In December, 2018, he got weighed at the doctor’s office, as he does monthly. This is our new (since August) primary care physician and is the overall manager of his weight loss journey. He was down another 12 pounds from the last appointment, around Thanksgiving. Since last May, he has lost 67 pounds. If we go back to last January, the number of pounds lost is even higher. Every doctor weighs him, and they all have different scales. No matter which scale you look at, though, it is apparent that he has lost a great deal of weight!
Rob has always struggled with his eating habits and his weight. He has always put more effort into taking care of those around him than he has in taking care of himself. He also struggles with emotional eating. Last spring, he was informed that the chronic pain in his lower back was actually originating in his left hip. X-rays were taken, shots were given, and nothing worked. He was informed he would need a full hip replacement, but they would not approve him for surgery until he lost 120 pounds.
They recommended that he get bariatric surgery for a gastric bypass, lose weight, and then they would do the surgery. He has gone to the classes for the bariatric surgery and they highly recommend that each person think long and hard about that option, as it is permanent. He is keeping that door open and following the guidelines they are laying out in regards to check-ups and other things on the list they require before that surgery would be allowed. However, he decided he really wanted to see what he could do with weight-loss before he would take that super-serious step. And, then, not long ago, the bariatric doctor stated that she would want him to lose each and every pound he needs to lose BEFORE she would clear him for the hip surgery. That would be far more than 120 pounds! Wait, What? He’s in constant, agonizing pain each and every day. So, clearly, that pushed that option down to the bottom of the list. He is doing what they ask, though, in case he cannot lose the 120 pounds in the end by himself. Then, he would have to use that option, because he has to have relief from this pain. We hoped it would ease off with the weight loss, but in fact, he’s getting worse each month.
As life often does, ours took a turn when his contract was not renewed at the school district and his job ended last spring. He had worked that job for 2 years, and it was on a 1-year contract each time, always with the understanding that it could end each June. When it all came down to it, he didn’t really want to do another identical job in another school, so we looked at other options. We spent the summer figuring out what we were doing with insurance, a job, etc., and he just watched what he ate–not worrying too much about it, but losing a few pounds here and there. Once our life was in rhythm again, and we got our new doctor (because the old one was not covered on our new insurance), he started working away in earnest on this project. So, most of the 67 pounds have been lost since August/September, 2018.
He has been asked for his “magic secrets.” I wish it was otherwise, and I hate to tell you this, but there are none! It has been lots and lots of work, but he prevailed and he’s losing weight slowly and steadily, just as the doctor wants him to. This is what is working for him:
- When he met with the new doctor last fall, she asked him to start tracking every bite that went into his mouth on a phone app. He uses “Lose It.” He has been faithful with it. For months, he has faithfully and consistently entered all of his daily food into his app. The app says he can eat over 2,000 calories a day and lose the weight he wants to. He can’t. He is a very tall man, but is unable to move freely and exercise easily because his left hip is completely ruined and he needs full hip replacement. Most days, he eats from 1,300 to 1,500 calories.
- In the daily calorie count, he allows himself a few treats such as a small square of brownie, a 1/2 can of full-sugar Coke, or 1-2 bites of a less-than-healthy food that he likes such as home-made macaroni and cheese.
- He eats lots and lots of salads and veggies. It was easier when the garden was going strong, but he cooks home-canned green beans frequently and I buy salad stuff every week. One thing I do is check the marked-down rack at Fred Meyers and often get mushrooms, tomatoes, and other veggies for $1/bag, which we need to eat quickly. He loves to stir-fry mushrooms with garlic salt from a grinder and eat a big pile of them. He eats veggies at almost every meal. I make veggie-loaded soups as well. He often makes salad his dinner–and tops it with everything from pickles beets to tuna to cucumbers to feta cheese and so on.
- He is eating lower-carb than before. He eats lettuce wrapped hamburgers, tuna salad on lettuce instead of bread, taco fillings without the tortilla, etc. He is not eating paleo or keto–just less carbs. He still eats an occasional potato, some corn, or a piece of bread once in a while–he just counts in the calories.
- He has cut out almost all dessert from his diet. He does not enjoy artificial sweeteners, so has a small amount of real sugar occasionally, instead of lots of artificially sweetened foods or drinks. He does have artificially sweetened things on occasion–just not often. We tried ice cream with sugar alcohol in it, but didn’t really enjoy it much and returned to very infrequent, small scoops of the “lite” ice creams. To give a clear picture, he’s still on the 2nd of 2 cartons I bought last September and he had help with the first one.
- He drinks coffee with a small amount of 1/2 and 1/2 and sugar–1 per day, and makes his own so he can regulate what he puts in it. We buy coffee to-go cups and lids from Cash and Carry so he can take it with him. 2 of his good friends just gave him metal cups for hot drinks. He’s been using those lately. He makes his own smoothies with fruit, milk or almond milk, and frozen banana chunks and whatever else he wants, like vanilla or cinnamon. He might add a tiny bit of sugar, or not, according to how sour the berries are. He made Starbucks so disappointed in him that they took away his Gold Star Status. For reals. I guess he will use that money he has saved for new pants one of these days:)
- He eats lots of protein. He has protein at each meal. Most breakfasts are eggs. He usually fries some ham, sausage, or bacon with them, and often sautés mushrooms, peppers or onions with them as well. He does omelets with cheese and some of those veggies. You may ask how he can eat bacon and cheese and lose all that weight. He controls his portions. A little cheese works for him–it gives him the flavor he wants without too many calories. Bacon is always cut in half so 1 strip becomes 2 strips at our house. He eats a smaller portion that way. Extra bacon is cut into small pieces and used on salads or in a scramble another day.
- He tells himself that no foods are off limits–he just has to count them and write them down. He uses real butter and 2% milk, regular yogurt, and regular cheese . He simply eats less of them than he did before.
- He does what exercise he can. It’s not much right now. He goes to the pool and moves his arms and legs as the physical therapist instructed him to do. They admit it will not help the hip–nothing but surgery will–but it will strengthen his core and help his body be stronger since it has to compensate for the bad hip. He did the 6 weeks of physical therapy the insurance covered. He was glad to learn exercises he could do. He still walks around as he can. Every little bit helps.
It’s really working, as you can see! He is far from done, but I’m so proud of his progress so far.
This week was an interesting one. I did a couple of things that were out of the ordinary.
I went with my sister to visit our friend, Harnet. She has moved a little farther away from us, so we carpooled a lot of the way, saving me some gas. Even better, my sister and I got to visit for way longer than if we had driven separately. We had coffee, lunch, did errands, and visited. It was a fun day. It was on my normal shopping day, so I did not go to the grocery store. Danait wanted to wear all her gear and ride her bike, so my sister took her outside for a while to do that. Brrr…..they didn’t last long, but it was fun for them both while it did!
Rob made Jake “Almanzo” pancakes for breakfast this morning. Every since we read “The Long Winter” and Almanzo ate stacks of pancakes, Jake has been fascinated with the idea. Rob makes them small, only about 3 inches across, so he we can make a stack. Last night, we were helping with a youth event, and after Rob finished barbecuing, Jake had had enough of it all, and went home with “Unckie.”
The youth event was a formal dinner. A few weeks ago, the youth pastor asked my sister if she could make a dinner for the kids, with “real plates and courses.” Of course, my sister said she could, and roped us in. In the end, over 20 kids sat down and ate dinner at my sister’s house, in their fancy clothes (or not in a couple of cases–there were a couple in jeans, but still always welcome). Then, they went ice skating. I’m planning to do a post later in the week showing what we cooked, but here I’m going to highlight the money-saving things we did.
Rob cooked 4 things outside on a very large BBQ. He did 1 of the appetizers, the vegetables and the chicken and fish. That saved us a lot of commotion in the kitchen. He shopped around quite a bit for the best price on salmon. It varied greatly in price, according to where it was purchased. He finally found 2-lb bags for $7.99, an amazing deal.
We used between 120-150 glass plates. We were able to use hers, mine and borrow more until we had enough. (In addition to the over 20 youth, there were 12 adults and college age helpers that came for the actual event and we fed them, too, making it a crowd of around 35. Yikes!). I had some nice paper napkins someone had given me long ago that we used, and we took 24 sets of silverware over there. I bought that set years and years ago at Walmart and they are very lightly made, but they all match and I use them for large gatherings.
We tried to get the best prices on the food that we could. For instance, I got most of the cream cheese on sale over the Christmas holidays and picked up a few more boxes at Winco when I realized I had not purchased enough for the cheesecakes. Their brand was quite inexpensive–I’m not sure if they had leftover from the holidays, but I was happy to see that price! I used dipping chocolates we had on hand for the decorations and home-canned cherry pie filling for the topping.
As I mentioned before, I was so busy this week with the dinner, and was gone on my normal shopping day that I didn’t have a chance to go shopping, except early one morning to pick up just a very few items. This is helping me with my project of cleaning out the fridge and using some stockpile items. I’ll see how many days I can make it, but I’m pretty sure I may run out of some things this week. We’ll see! At this point, I really, really want to clean out that fridge–it needs a good wash very badly.
I was able to spend quite a bit of time cooking this week, and used up several food items that had been lurking around for some time. I made this quinoa salad. I have quite a bit of quinoa in my pantry, because it’s a good gluten-free choice, but truthfully, Lovana was the one who used it the most. Now that she’s in Hawaii, there it sat. I looked up several recipes, and mixed and matched ingredients to make a salad that sounded good to both Rob and I. I plan to put the recipe in my recipe section before long, but basically, it was quinoa, black beans, home-canned corn, green onion, lime, olive oil and cumin dressing, and some home-canned salsa from the cupboard.
I made home-made tomato soup from a jar of tomatoes I canned, 3 scraggly carrots left from last summer’s garden, some garlic, a little home-canned broth, salt, pepper, and 1/3 cup 1/2 and 1/2. Rob likes it, and it’s certainly low calorie, but I, myself, would rather have a little more dairy in there, so plan to put some milk in mine when I warm up a bowlful.
I used some masa flour from the pantry (I got 2 bags when Grocery Outlet had it for super, super cheap, what was I thinking? That is a lot of masa when you don’t make tamales!). I have a recipe for a Mexican pizza with a masa flour crust, which is why I got the masa in the first place. The crust has green onion, cumin and garlic powder in it, along with the masa, eggs, salt and water. You cook that for 10 minutes, then add refried black beans and cheese, and cook for 5 more. It’s really quick and easy. I chopped up a hamburger patty leftover from the birthday party we did not have on Sunday (rescheduled due to a sick child), and added that to use that up as well. The recipe calls for tomato, lettuce and avocado on top. We were in a huge hurry to get Patsy to an event, so we just ate it plain this time.
We ate several jars of home-canned fruit this week. We are finishing up a ham, and cut off pieces frequently for lunches, scrambling with eggs, topping our salads and so forth.
I went to Winco and purchased a few more salad ingredients, and a few items that I needed to make these recipes and to round out meals. I’m delighted, because I’m doing great staying within my lowered budget, and we are eating better than ever, and better yet, several items are getting used! I have been looking through old magazines for inspiration, and will do that again this coming week.
We will all be cooking a great deal this upcoming weekend, as my sister is heading up a formal dinner for the high school group at church. I am making a couple of items ahead, and got the final ingredients I needed for those. Rob will be pulling the big barbecue over there and doing appetizers, green beans, chicken and salmon on it. She has the bulk of the food at her house and we will cook most of it on Saturday, over there, where the event is being held. They already set up tables all over her living area, and the couches are all pushed back for that purpose. It’s going to be fun!
Rob was able to get these clamps very inexpensively using a coupon from Ace Hardware combined with a sale. He was mailed the coupon because he has a birthday in the month of January. I think in the end, the price tag was about $5 for both.
Patsy took this picture on New Year’s Day. Its a view of the Willamette River, from my sister’s deck. She especially loved that she got the cat in there. I love how it shows how very frosty and cold that morning was! We get a lot of enjoyment from the river.
Today, at church, my aunt noticed a bin of potatoes and celery that were for people to take. She got me one of each, since she didn’t need them and I looked after second service and there were some left, so I grabbed another one of each. The potatoes need to be used quickly. How handy! I just finished turning the ones I had at home that were sprouting just like these into potato salad!
We had a family birthday party scheduled for today. Unfortunately, we had to cancel as the birthday boy (Jake) was sick. (The birthday young lady (Alissa) and the birthday man (Rob) were not, but they will have to patiently wait for the reschedule date!). Thankfully, we were able to parcel out the enormous bowl of potato salad amongst the relatives anyway!
Rob and Alissa have not missed one year of celebrating together in all of her 18 years. Of course, Jake joined in when he was a baby, sitting on a table at Chuck-E-Cheese in his carrier. What a birthday surprise that was for Rob and all of us! So many memories of birthday parties in many places with many themes……. One of the best was when my sister put on a “Beauty and the Beast” birthday party with all girly things and a princess at one end of the cake for Alissa and the Beast on the other end, for Rob. I can’t believe she’s 18! But, she is. It’s been amazing to see that little, cute, curly-headed blond baby become a strong, confident young lady in what felt like a blink of an eye.
One of my Christmas gifts was a little planter with some seeds to grow basil on the windowsill. There were extra seeds so I used the container that my Christmas poinsettia was in, filled with new potting soil. Since the flower died because I think it got too hot near the wood stove where it was, I was glad to repurpose the pot and use all the seeds up, and hopefully, I will have basil in 2 pots.
I’ve been sorting through my seeds and hope to get my order finished up soon. I have quite a few 1/2 packets left from last year.
Every January, it’s the same story around here. We have just enjoyed a wonderful holiday with lots of time with friends and family and quite a few treats and goodies and we are in the mood to pare down a little in the areas of eating and shopping. I think it’s naturally that way for most people. This year was a little different. We did have a few treats, but so much less than in previous years. Rob is still slowly and steadily losing weight, and we don’t have that over-stuffed feeling we’ve had in years’ past. Still, I want to work on my usual practice of using items from my stockpile, so they can be rotated in future months. This is very important because if items slip to the back of the shelves they may go bad.
The garden is not producing right now, because it’s rainy, cold and of course, muddy out there. So, it’s a perfect time to use the food I worked so hard to preserve.
My stockpile has 3 main areas: The freezers, the home-canning cupboards and the pantry shelves. This month, I’d like to challenge myself to use as many items from each of those areas as I can in my daily meals. I plan to shop whenever I run out of things like dairy, eggs and produce. Although this is primarily an “use-it-up” challenge, I plan to easily stay within my grocery budget, and will use any extra money to fill any gaps I create during this challenge.
I plan to post once a week, showing some of the meals I created with what I had on hand. It’s only January 4th, but I’ve already made several items.
I used some cottage cheese on top of a peach half and sprinkled it with sprinkles to make it seem more festive for Patsy’s lunch yesterday. I also found this summer sausage lurking in the back of the little freezer over the fridge, and pulled it out for sandwiches.
I also made this casserole with some of that same sausage. It has some black bean noodles on the bottom that were gifted to us for Christmas, the rest of some pizza sauce that was in the fridge, the last scrap of mozzarella from a bag found in the freezer, the sausage, mushrooms and olives. It was delicious!
I also made some soup from some frozen cauliflower, zucchini shreds and broccoli and a carton of home made turkey broth. I added an onion, cooked until soft, blended it with my stick blender, and added a tiny bit of 1/2 and 1/2 with a little sweet rice flour in it. It was simple and good.
I hope you come up with some good ideas to use your items up. If you do, please share with all of us. Who knows, maybe you have the perfect way to use up something someone else has an abundance of as well!
We have been doing a lot of cleaning and reorganizing. While doing so, we noticed that this dresser had drawers that were completely broken, so Rob repaired it. We got this dresser years and years ago, for the first 2 girls we adopted, over 30 years ago. It has been painted and repaired many times, and it’s now back in great condition once again.
We collected a few bags of torn wrapping paper from Christmas, and have been using it to start fires in the mornings, along with kindling that Rob cut from free scrap wood collected around town. There are a few businesses around town that use wood to make products such as flooring and doors, and they put bins of free scrap wood out for anyone to take. Sometimes he gets really nice scraps and uses them for cutting boards, and the rest we use to start fires.
I made broth from the turkey bones from Christmas. I froze most of it.
We were given a Christmas gift that enabled us to do a Costco run. We didn’t choose what some would call exciting items–we got toilet paper, ziplocks, garbage bags, things such as that, but it was exciting to me to get those things stocked back up. We got a few food items as well. We also got a date out of it. We dropped Patsy off at a youth event, went to Costco, and bought one of those yummy cooked chickens and one container of salad and ate our lunch in the car.
Jake’s greens are growing! (There is a Columbine flower coming up, as I used a pot that had that in there just in case the seeds didn’t sprout for him). He was under the weather today when he was here, and hasn’t looked at them lately, but I know he will be here next weekend and hopefully can see them then. He was not himself, but was glad to snuggle on the couch under blankets and do the forbidden act of eating crackers on the couch while asking me 4-5 times to take his temperature with the thermometer. I’m not sure why it fascinated him so much–he didn’t have a fever any of the numerous times we took it, but it did. I kept him here for only part of the afternoon, just to keep his normal Sunday schedule, then sent him home. Hopefully he will get over it quickly.
Patsy was able to do 2 more work projects with the youth group this week, and is well on her way to earning the money she needs for the retreat she wants to go on.
We helped prepare lunch for the teens today. I made a large tossed salad, purchased 4 large sodas for 88c each on sale, and bought one large tub of ice cream. I made hot fudge sauce with mint in it and got some clearance red and green M & M’s for toppers. My sister ordered pizza for the main dish. It was very easy today.
As I mentioned last week, I had used my grocery budget up. But, Rob ate all the salad stuff and a few other things were running low. I decided to start in on January’s grocery money. I made a plan of what I thought I would use for the next 2 weeks, knowing full well I will need to grab lettuce at least weekly. I had several things that helped me out. 1) There were several free items on my Safeway rewards that I needed to use before Dec. 31, so I got those–2 boxes of Safeway pasta, 1 dozen eggs, and $2 off a bakery item (I used it towards a package of gf buns), and a bag of mini chocolate chips. While I was there, I got 99c/1/2 gallon milk, cottage cheese, 99c sour cream and a few more items like 88c soda. I also used a few Bottle Drop dollars to help out with that store’s haul. 2) I got a few Christmas clearance items at Fred Meyers, while getting produce: a package of Christmas cards at 75% off for next year, and the Christmas M and M’s. 3) I earned around $6 with Ibotta rebates. 4) When I stopped at Winco for the ice cream I’d forgotten I had promised to pick up for Patsy, I saw ham for 77c/lb. I immediately grabbed the 2 allowed.
I spent a $10 JoAnn reward they sent me. I also spent a little fun money I had. I did not buy fabric, as I have plenty, but little odds and ends and some clearance Christmas paper. I found one Star Wars print that had no Christmas markings at all for Jake’s upcoming birthday, some leopard print paper for Michaela sometime, and a few ribbons that went with those and the other rolls I picked up. It was great that there were several selections that were not Christmas-y at all, and I will use them for birthdays. What wasn’t inexpensive was the package of iron-on patches I bought to mend some of Patsy’s clothes, but hopefully they will work to fix the holes.
How is your week going? Are you getting organized after the holiday and back to schedule? I hope to during this upcoming week after a little more holiday fun:)
Merry Christmas to everyone! The post that usually goes up on Sunday? I think I wrapped it on accident and put it under the tree:). Now that I have a moment to breathe, I thought I’d catch everyone up on our week before Christmas.
We spent a lot of time on Christmas this year, instead of a lot of money, so it was a mad whirl until the very end. Despite the hustle and bustle we engaged in, there were plenty of times to just do fun things, relax and visit. I’m very happy with how things ended up.
And, we stayed thrifty.
A while back, I was given some super-cute Christmas sprinkles. Jake used this entire jar up on his 2 projects. He had so much fun, and took the wrapped Krispie treats to his teachers and bus drivers. They loved them.
We made lots of gifts. Rob made gorgeous cutting boards for quite a few family members and friends. This photo is in process, when he was treating them with oil so they would stay nice. He made them all from reclaimed wood.
I sewed quite a few items. We put together several photo gifts–some enlarged pictures, and a couple of photo albums. We used coupon codes from Walgreens when we ordered the prints and went through Ibotta to get a few cents back. One album was put together by Patsy for the cousins’ grandma who is visiting from Florida. That way, she can have pictures of her far-away grandchildren all the time. She loved it!
Patsy and Rachel got matching hats. When Patsy chose her new middle name, she chose 2 middle names. Rachel is one of them. She’s a pretty special cousin and they like hanging out together when they can.
Patsy made super-cute bird houses for lots of us, and Chex Muddy Buddy mix for the rest. Everyone was happy!
Harnet and Danait came and stayed for a couple of nights. We had so much fun!
Danait loved seeing the Christmas train at the church before service on Christmas Eve. She remembered it from last year and was so happy to see it again. The service was lovely, too.
I love this picture of my sister, Rosalie, and Harnet! We had such a good time spending time and visiting. Rosalie gave Rob such a funny gift–It was box inside of box, inside of box, inside of box, with cute little signs and keys wrapped in it and a toy truck! Can you guess what was inside?
The signs read, “Ft. Knox” and the keys were to open the fort. The truck was a “get-away” car to haul it away with:). Then inside was a bag of gold coins (chocolate, of course!). It was very clever and everyone loved watching him open it.
The glitter was in there, too. I mean, gold glitters, doesn’t it?
Of course, Rob was up to tricks, too. He nailed and glued Alissa’s gift together, then finally gave her a hammer and chisel so she could pound it open. Once she got in, she was baffled by the Home Depot and PetCo gift cards (both blank). He finally pulled her real gift out of his backpack, but sure had fun teasing her first!
Of course, she paid him back by wrapping his gift in miles of bubble wrap, yards of tape, saran wrap, and lot of other sticky stuff.
There was an ice rink of “Frozen” going around the place! Little girls are so fun to buy Christmas gifts for, and the family had fun, I’ll just say:). Her little costume (not in this picture, this is a nightie), actually has lights on it and it sings, “Let it Go.” Crazy!
Believe it or not, I got a few non-Christmas-related frugal things done as well. I re-covered Rob’s pillow with some quilted fabric I’ve had for a long time. It was worn out, but he likes that exact amount of stuffing, so I just made a new cover.
We did some deep cleaning and organizing on several days, spending several hours we probably should have used for other purposes, but it sure feels good to have some areas clean and things organized that were messy before.
I cooked many meals. I spent every last cent of my reduced $50/week, plus and extra $50 grocery budget, and have to admit, I dipped into the “little extra” I had set aside. I will still end up the month under $300 instead of $250, and that includes several food gifts for people, all paper products and toiletries we needed, Christmas extras like cream cheese, plus lots and lots of produce for my salad eater, Rob. One thing I bought was 5 boxes of Chex cereal for $1.49/box. Pasty used a lot of them for her Chex mixture. The lady behind me in line said she had never, ever seen anyone buy so many boxes of Chex at once. (She was nice, it just wasn’t part of her world to stock up like that). I politely made conversation with her, but later, to Rob, I said, “who COULDN”T eat 5 boxes of Chex!!!” Frankly, she might just faint if she every saw my garage:)
Patsy got to do work projects with the youth group at church twice, racking up money in her account for youth group activities. There is a retreat in February she is working hard for.
Today, when I took Harnet home, I got stuck in traffic on the way back. It took me a long time to get home. Thankfully, I had a piece of candy in my purse, which I ate, and then grabbed a little ziplock of frozen ham and bean soup from the freezer, and warmed it up right away once I got home. I was so glad that was in there! I almost had to stop and grab something, but made it home without a low blood sugar, saving at least $5-$7.
Rob grabbed some wrapping paper, bows and ribbons today at 70% off. We wrapped most gifts this year instead of using bags, using paper bought on clearance another year.
The holiday was wonderful. There are many more pictures I could show, and many more people who shared the week with us, but this post is way too long already. We had a great time together as a family, and with friends over the past few weeks. Tomorrow, we start our routine again, by taking the kids to the pool in the morning and I’m going to my exercise class. Let’s just say….. it’s time:). I had a lot of turkey. and ham. and…….
This was a week of bustling around, preparing for Christmas, going to the doctor quite a bit, having company over for lunch on Saturday, and having Jake and Michaela stay over here with us for a long weekend, ending on Tuesday.
On Saturday, we wanted to attend the Christmas program at church, and our friends wanted to go as well, so we had an early lunch, then went to the program. This meant that the food needed to be easy to fix, and easy to put away. Our oldest daughter wanted to come, too, which meant that her special dietary needs needed to be met, as well as my need for no-gluten. There needed to be lots of it, since there were 15 people, counting us, and I needed to stay within my lowered food budget for this month. Good thing I love a challenge and have a deep pantry!
So, what did we do?
We defrosted a turkey previously purchased inexpensively. It was quite small, and perfect for this occasion. Rob stuffed it with apples, cooked it on the BBQ, and we cut it up on Friday. We also had part of a ham we were eating on, so I sliced off some nice pieces and set them aside and let the family eat the other bits during the week. I also had part of a roast beef I had cooked earlier in the week, which was sliced as well. All of those meats were re-warmed in the microwave, taking care to put a little liquid in with them and they were tightly covered. Rob handled that. Nothing was dry, and everyone had choices.
I made twice-baked potatoes, home-canned green beans, corn, and cookies. I also put some baby carrots and cauliflower pieces in a dish. That was it. It worked beautifully, didn’t cost much, and there was plenty. In fact, we are going to repeat the lunch today at Family Sunday Dinner with the leftovers–win-win!
I cleaned the house. I used items I had for decor. I found paper plates and plastic cups and even some Christmas napkins out in the garage. We put up a table in the living room and another small one in Patsy’s room to supplement the dining room table. Usually, we seat extra people out in the garage, which is set up with a table and some chairs. It was pretty cold out there, so with these tables, we were able to avoid that yesterday, and the kids were able to play games at the table in Patsy’s room as well.
We ate, visited, put perishable food away, threw away the plates, and put the silverware in the sink and went off to the program. It really didn’t take long to clean it up that evening. We had so much fun visiting with our friends, as we don’t see them much anymore since we live a little distance from them now, and the program was really, really well done and wonderful to watch. The music was amazing, with a large choir, a children’s choir, an orchestra, and also drama with angels, Mary and Joseph, and shepherds with real sheep! I’m sure glad I was not in charge of those sheep, but enjoyed watching the shepherds manage them:). To me, it really feels like Christmas when I can watch the Christmas story, shown in such a creative way, and I loved sharing the enjoyment with our daughter and friends. One of their sons recently married, and he and his wife now live down our direction, and have been attending our church (super special for us to see them on Sundays) so the young couple were in the choir, and our youngest was on stage crew–so that was special, too.
I messed up the first tray of cookies. There was not enough flour in them, and they crumbled up terribly when I removed them from the pan. So, I crumpled them up even more, made some hot fudge/mint sauce, and will serve the sauce and cookies today over the ice cream that my aunt is bringing to dinner.
I have been buying the super good deals that have been offered at the stores with most of my grocery budget. This week, my aunt clued me in to the fact that there were eggs for 79c/dozen at Safeway on one day only. She got me the 2 dozen allowed on her card, since she had recently purchased eggs, and I stopped by and got 2 more. Yesterday, I got the 5, 8-ounce shredded cheese allowed at Fred Meyers for 99c/each. I got 5 Hot Wheels cars for 50c/each to set aside for my nephew’s birthday in January, and 2 boxes of coffee at 3.99 each. (I could have had 5, but that was what I chose to spend). I did have to buy almost $25 of produce this week though–it’s pretty expensive right now, and but I’m not cutting corners on that right now. There were several free items I picked up, and one more that they were out of and I can hopefully get before the coupon expires. I put a few more cents onto my Ibotta account, but most of my shopping was items that were store brands or items that there were no rebates for. I’ve got about $60 left from the $250 I want to spent this month. The budget I set was an average of $50/week, plus $50 to stock up on sales with. I am on track to easily manage it, I feel, but will go over if produce continues to be so high. (I have a little more available, but would rather buy Christmas goodies with it if possible) We are eating home-canned and frozen items, using produce from the $1/marked-down rack when I can get anything there, and still burning through salad stuff, carrots, potatoes, etc. like crazy. Go, us! The commercial that would rather have us eat peanut butter cups says, “Not sorry–Reeses”. I say, “Not sorry–veggies!” I’m so proud of Rob for sticking to this diet for so long. He gets weighed again this week. Here’s hoping he’s lost some more:)
I had 2 incidents this week where they over-charged me at the grocery store. I was able to catch it by paying attention, and got both of them corrected. One time was for $7 and the other $3, so I saved $10.
I made a lot of burritos and froze them. The filling mixture is cooked brown rice and quinoa, pinto and black beans, cheese, a tomato and a jar of the home-canned taco sauce I made last summer. I found these tortillas at a scratch and dent store for 50c/package. I filled them, and wrapped them in foil and froze them. Now Rob has something to quickly make for Patsy for dinner on nights when he is just over-done from the day and I’m still at work. I made lots and plan to gift a few at Christmas time to one of our sons who would love to have some frozen burritos to eat in a hurry.
Patsy did stage crew for the Christmas program. She needed black clothes. We looked through all the clearance choices at Fred Meyers and found a plain, long-sleeved t-shirt type black dress. We decided she could wear that with leggings she already had, so I got away for only $15, since things were marked 1/2 of the clearance price that day!
I hope your week is not too hectic, and that you can have some peaceful times so you can reflect on the true meaning of Christmas amidst the busy, busy week you probably have ahead of you. That’s what I hope to do, as well. Merry week before Christmas!