Weekly Update-Saving Money-February 17, 2018

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The beginning of the week was sunny, but cool.  One afternoon, when she got home from school,  Michaela and I went down to the river to watch the Wheatland Ferry.  She needed to buy some Valentines, so we did her errands first, then decided to take a little ride, since it was so sunny.  So, with French fries in hand, we drove down to the sparkling river, and spent some time throwing rocks into the river, counting the cars that crossed on the ferry, and just enjoying the afternoon.  It really perked up her afternoon, and I enjoyed myself very much, as well.  I’m always delighted to find a low-cost outing to do with her.  It does her good to get out into the fresh air.

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In fact, she had so much fun, that she came up with a plan for Tuesday afternoon.   On Tuesdays, Jake stays after school for choir, so we decided to take him to a near-by park to swing, even though evening was approaching.  Unfortunately, we were only able to stay for a short time, when he began to feel poorly.  We went right home.  He stayed with me Wednesday morning and all day Thursday.  He laid down or sat down all day, both days, at my house.  My mom took him to his house Wednesday afternoon, where he proceeded to sleep for 2 hours.  I’m sure he is fine now, but his daddy was able to care for him after that, if he needed it.

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In the midst of it all, life went on, as it does.  I made fajitas with some pork chops that were getting old in the freezer, an old pepper I found in the fridge, and an onion.  Rob ate that for a couple of day for dinner and in his lunch.

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I made rhubarb/strawberry crisp with some frozen fruit that had been there for quite a while.  I made some ground pork-vegetable soup with frozen veggies, pork, potatoes, etc. Alissa made biscuits.  We snacked on popcorn.  I made pizza from pre-made crusts I had on hand.  At the end of the week, my schedule got crazy, and so we had food from Wendy’s, and then Rob got me a real treat, Chinese food, on Saturday, because I was correcting and grading school work.  He was treating me because he knows how much I love teaching and don’t love correcting.

I corrected home-school work for about 7 hours on Friday night and Saturday, most of that being on Saturday since I was gone all day Friday.  We have a meeting coming up where I need to turn in grades, etc., for the diploma program the girls are enrolled in.  It’s still significantly less money than a private school, so it’s worth it to me to do all the correcting, etc.

The price wars continue in the grocery stores near where my aunt and sister live.  It’s only about 20-25 minutes away, and we go there frequently, so I’m not complaining. (It’s not far in miles, it’s traffic that takes the time). I got potatoes for 10 lbs/99c (2 bags), Ritz for 99c/box (1), apple juice for 99c (I ended up with 7 because 2 stores were doing this one), pork loin for 99c/lb (2-4 lb chunks), 25c cans of tomatoes (2), Honey Nut Cheerios (99c/box), and chili-48c/can (2).  At the Fred Meyers near me, I got the other apple juices and peanut butter for 99c (5), tuna for 50c/can(5), pasta for 50c/lb(5),  and my free candy bar. Going to multiple stores, shopping the sales, downloading and clipping coupons, and keeping track of prices takes a lot of work, but since it turns my modest grocery budget into a nicely stocked pantry, I don’t mind.

Ja’Ana cleaned house for the lady she works for weekly.  She also had a youth group outing where they planted cherry trees to earn money for their upcoming mission trip to help at a camp in Montana during spring break.  We aren’t going this time, just her, and I’m sure it will be a great experience for her.  I’m really glad they give them opportunities to earn money for these trips. It helps us a lot, and teaches the kids to value their trip more.  Both girls had extra youth group outings this week, along with the normal meetings.  So, we were very busy this week.  You could say we were fueled with all the chocolate from Valentine’s Day.  Too bad the car can’t run on chocolate:)

I was able to go to JoAnn’s and use the last gift card I had in my stash.  Patterns were 99c, so I got a handful.  I got some floss, as I have been embroidering towels, and can’t find my extra floss stash.  Thankfully, it’s not expensive and I only needed a very few colors for what I’m working on.  I will continue to look through the bins in the shop for my floss!  So frustrating when I had my hands on it so recently, but……it happens.

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A couple of years ago, I was given a huge ziplock full of floss.  I recently put that floss in a very safe place.  In a bin.  In the shop.  It’s still there.  Very safe.   Very, very safe.

I was able to use a 20% off my entire purchase coupon.  I got a little fabric, too.  I want to sew a few items for Patsy, and will also use some of the fabric I still have in my stash in the shop.  I hoped to start on that today, but the correcting and house chores took my time (plus the fact that I fell asleep on the couch late this afternoon!!!). Thankfully, tomorrow is another day and floss is inexpensive:)

Have you lost anything lately?

 

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Weekly Update–Saving Money–What Did We Eat?–February 11, 2018

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It’s that time again–my sister’s birthday and Valentine’s Day.  So, I made a cake that will celebrate both.  It’s chocolate, festive, and most importantly, gluten-free!  I couldn’t wait to eat it today at Family Sunday Dinner.  Lovana insisted on counting out the candles to the exact number for this birthday and putting them all on the cake!  Pretty scary when you consider she is my LITTLE sister!!!!!  We also had a wonderful time with my niece, Rachel, who has now returned from her year in Ireland.  It was so good to see her again.

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I used the flowers I was given, plus a few more to brighten up the flowerbed by the front porch.  I also have little tiny early daffodils blooming.  It’s been very spring-like around here!  The daffodils Patsy planted when we first moved here are sending up buds.  We will get more blooms this year than we did last year, and each year they should continue to multiply.  Since they were all extras from my sister’s flowerbeds, we are going to get a lot of beauty for free for many years.

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I froze bananas.  They were 39c/lb.  We drop them into smoothies, still frozen, to make the smoothies icy and thick.

I did some shopping and got my free items from Fred Meyers.  I picked up my sports water and candy hearts.  They were out of the foil cookie pans.  I got some great bargains they had as well, including $1.99/lb butter (5 boxes), 99c peanut butter (5 containers), and some other things.  I didn’t buy many groceries to use for meals this week, as I am still well-stocked, but mostly concentrated on pantry-building items.  Pantry-building is important to me, as I like to buy everything at the lowest possible price, and then, hopefully, not run out until the price drops again.  I also grabbed candy for the cake and Valentine’s Day.

We ate lots of chili leftover from last weekend, sandwiches, leftover chicken and steak from last weekend, baked potatoes several times, and used some frozen salmon twice.  We also had Eritrean food that my friend, Harnet, made and brought to my house.  There was also a jumbo package of turkey dogs in the fridge and many were consumed.  Now, the fridge is finally empty from the Super Bowl leftovers and I can think about making some new items for the week ahead.

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Rob noticed his breakfast looked happy (?) one morning.  I think it looked scary:). Either way, home-canned peaches, cottage cheese and bacon made a great breakfast for him before a long day at school.  Bacon has been very reasonable at Safeway the last couple of weeks.  That was another item I “pantry-stocked.”  The bacon was around $3/lb, in a 3-lb package.  So, I divided it up into meal-sized portions and froze most of them.  It’s often more than $3 for 12 oz packages, so that was a stock-up price for me.  When Jake spends the night…..it’s bacon, bacon, bacon!  He loves it!! I’m glad to have a bunch in the freezer now.

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I took Danait, Harnet, and Patsy swimming at the YMCA.  She had a blast.  So did her mama.  Patsy always does.  She loves the pool.  I continued doing my Pilates class. It is each Tuesday and Thursday.  I still stink at it, but the teacher says I’m getting stronger, so that’s good.

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Danait has decided that Rob is her uncle. After all, if he’s Jake’s uncle……. How sweet.  So, Uncle Rob took her and Patsy down to the Dollar Store, and she chose Valentines for her class at preschool and Patsy chose some for her friends.  He also got some candy, and she had a busy time taping the candy to the little cards.  Her mama and I helped write her name on the cards, and taped some chocolate to the ones for the teachers.  We got a lot of bang out of our buck there….she worked on them for at least an hour:). During this time, we had the Olympics on, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching what I could between the commotion.  I’ve always loved the Olympics, especially the ice skating, and I was lucky enough that there was some on.  I was even happier to figure out how to record the rest of it when the hour grew quite late, and it was still going on.  I’ll find out tonight if I did it right!!! Here’s hoping:)

I downloaded and read a book for free on my Kindle, using the Prime Kindle Lending Library.  I had forgotten I can have one free book each month using that benefit of Prime.

I continued reading Little House on the Prairie to my nephew and played many, many games of Yahtzee with my niece.  When Harnet was visiting, we all 3 played.  We also played with a friend of Michaela’s on Monday, when he and his mom came to visit.  He hadn’t played before, and Harnet is new to Yahtzee as well.  It is good for Michaela to be the teacher occasionally.  She loved it both times!

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We also enjoyed some time at a park, with Danait and Patsy.  While they were playing, we finished up the last of Harnet’s homework for the weekend, so she could rest for the remaining part of the weekend, if you call doing laundry, taking care of Danait and cooking resting:).  The weather has just been so nice!

How did your week go?

 

 

 

Weekly Update-Saving Money-What We Ate-January 28, 2018

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I decided to combine my menu post with my weekly update, because I simply have had no time to post in the past few days.  Instead, I’ve been spending time with people I love.

Jake and Michaela came to spend the weekend with us.  They came Thursday afternoon, as there was no school on Friday.  We went down to the YMCA and went swimming.  While waiting for the girls to change, Jake enjoyed the Mr. Potato Head toys–there were 3 of them.  He had a ball!  It was great for him to get to play with a different toy than what I had and then leave it there:). They also had free books, and he got one–happy boy!

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I cooked a lot during the week.

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Gluten-free blondies were so good, I made them twice.

I went grocery shopping and spent all the money from the past 2 weeks, and more!  With the kids coming, I needed to lay in a supply of foods they like.  They have very specific likes and dislikes.  I also was planning for 2 sets of company.  One set of friends was coming Saturday, and another on Sunday after church.  The weekend ended up much differently than I planned.

Rob has been struggling with the flu, and we assumed he would be fine by the weekend.  He was not.  Ja’Ana came down with a high fever on Wednesday, and we figured she would be fine and go to her retreat, as planned.  She wasn’t, and didn’t. The doctor’s office wanted to see J on Saturday, so I took her up there. If she’s not better by Tuesday, back we go. Jake became ill on Friday evening.

All of our friends declined to visit our house once they heard about our house full of sickies!  I wonder why?  LOL!  They made a great choice.  We stayed home, surrounded by all that food and Kleenex for the rest of the weekend.

I made a huge pot of chicken-rice soup.  Jake ate 7 helpings over the weekend.  Who knew?  I made smoothies several times.  I ended up making 2 batches of yogurt, and used part of it, frozen peaches, frozen bananas, canned peach juice, and more as I made smoothies.  I bought orange juice and citrus–big oranges, mandarins, lemons and limes for the sick ones.  I bought lemon-lime soda.  I replenished my tea.

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I fetched this and that for people.  I shopped. I cooked.  I cleaned.  I did laundry.  I swept. I washed dishes for over 2 hours on Saturday.  I read endless stories.  I ran to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal Saturday night.  On Sunday afternoon, I finally gave up, turned on the Wii, and the tv, and fell asleep on the couch:). Rob did manage to take Michaela to Costco for her hot dog, and got my short list.  He grabbed a cooked chicken there.  Every little exertion wears him out, though, and he’s back in bed for another nap.  J hasn’t moved from the couch since Wednesday, except for short times.

People are starting to feel a little better.  I am feeling a bit more rested.  I still opened prepared spaghetti sauce and bagged salad for dinner, along with noodles.  Frankly, we have been in survival mode the past few days.  And, if I never need to watch “Odd Squad” again, it will be fine with me:), at least for a week or two.

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With the extra time at home, I got Patsy going on a new embroidered dish towel with a cute cat pattern.  I gave her some embroidery floss we got at a yard sale, in the colors she wanted.  She started working on it.  She also cut Rob’s hair.  Brave man.  But, look what a nice job she did!

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He told her what to do, and she did it!  Amazing!  (Since I am awful at cutting hair, I have admiration for anyone who can).

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Earlier in the week, Harnet and I took Danait to the dentist.  She had been before, but that dentist wanted her to go to a pediatric dentist.  We got to go to Portland.  On the 11th floor.  In a place where parking was difficult.  But, after circling around a few blocks a few times—-we managed it!  She had a wonderful time there.  She seemed to love everything they did, and was so interested in it all!  Of course, they loved working with a kid like that, so it was an amazing dentist visit.

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We went down to the river with a lunch bucket full of food, and had a car picnic.  The ducks, pigeons and even seagulls were out in full force.  Thankfully, her mama had some bread in her pocket and we all enjoyed feeding the birds between rain showers.  She had tucked in in her pocket because she thought Danait might get hungry, and that turned out to be a great source of entertainment for us all.

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It’s been a crazy week, and a busy one, but not the most frugal one.  We were still able to save money here and there, and best of all, took care of everyone that needed care!  Michaela went home with her big sister last evening, and Jake will be leaving soon.  I’m not sure what the week holds, but I do know I have enough food for any occasion:)

Saving Money and Weekly Update–The Greenhouse Project Continues–January 21, 2108

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Work on the greenhouse continues!  Rob and Patsy worked for several hours yesterday, and whenever they needed an extra hand, Ja’Ana or I ran out and helped.  He is still not done.  This has turned out to be quite a project!  I’m SO excited to see it coming along so well.

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Late in the day yesterday, Rob got it to the point where he wanted to put a plastic roof on.  He was not satisfied with the plastic he had because he felt it was too thin.  Also, the wind really kicked up and a rainstorm was coming in, so he cleaned up and stopped for the day.  Today, he is getting thicker plastic and will tackle that roof again this evening.

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He is taking this opportunity to show Patsy how to build with tools.  She has been really enjoying her woodworking class at school this term, and is sorry it’s almost over.  So, he hopes to continue teaching her more skills in that area, since she is showing an interest.  He was talking about maybe moving on to some planter boxes or flower pots next with her.  Building things is a very rewarding hobby for him, and has saved us many, many dollars over the years.

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In the meanwhile, the seeds have started to arrive.  2 out of the 3 orders I placed have arrived!  You may notice the “Mater Magic” fertilizer in the middle.  Who could resist something that promised that it would grow great tomatoes, take care of blossom end rot, and was organic to boot, all in a tomato-shaped container? Certainly not me:). So, I will try it this year and see how it does.  I’m also trying those biodegradable, stretchable twist ties for the first time.  I’m going to see how they do.

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Rob and I both went scrap wood gathering this week.  There are a few places in town that put out tote bins full of scraps.  They are free, but it’s very rare to find them full of good-sized chunks, since people usually empty them as fast as they are filled.  So, we generally just check the boxes if we are passing by anyway to see if they are full.  Earlier in the week, he hit the jackpot at one of the places and got firewood scraps, and even a bit of scrap lumber he can use to make part of the plant table inside the greenhouse.  I put a bin in the back of my car “just in case” since he had such good luck.  When I went by, taking J to her house-cleaning job, I got a few scraps from the place he had such luck at.  But, when I went over to the other place about 2 block away–WOW!  So, I filled the bin the rest of the way up, filled up a shopping bag and a basket I had in there and piled extra wood around.  I took it home, unloaded it, got Patsy since she had come home from school, and went back and we did it again!

In the tote, Patsy found a broken dowel, like you would put in a closet to hang clothes on, and grabbed it for plant stakes.  It was split down the middle, so it will hold up 2 plants.  I found some pieces that will be perfect for garden row-marker stakes.  I don’t care if they are different lengths. Neither will the green beans:)

And, in the end, I got over 6 boxes of wood chunks.  Rob got an old garbage can full, several buckets full, and I think a couple of boxes besides.  He also got some larger pieces he will cut up a little more and then we can burn it.  These are great to use when starting fires and we’ve been burning through what we got before:), so it was nice to find some more.

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I decided to get out my yogurt cooker, some starter that had been in the fridge for a long time, and some powdered milk and try yogurt-making.   No one wants plain yogurt to just eat, but Patsy is loving smoothies right now, so that’s what I’ll do with it when it’s finished.

Is your week going well?

 

Saving Money and Weekly Update–January 15, 2018

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I took my friend, Harnet, to visit the state capitol.  We walked around the outside, and enjoyed looking around the grounds, as it was Saturday, and was not open.  The circle of flags has one for each state and 9 for the American Indian tribes in Oregon.  They were very beautiful against the blue sky.

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She has been studying government in her citizenship class and really enjoyed looking around.  One day, we hope to go when it is open so she can go inside.

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Who knew there were toys for kids to play on?  I didn’t until Saturday.  We could tell they were meant for children because of the soft, cushy pad around them.  Danait loved climbing on them.

We also took Patsy and Danait swimming at the YMCA and they had a ball.

Last week, Harnet cooked a ton of food for Eritrean Christmas (celebrated later than we do), and froze it.  Then, she packed it all up and brought it down for us to enjoy at family Sunday dinner after church.  After we had all enjoyed our meal, some friends of my sister dropped in.  The young man had seen Ethiopian food cooked on t.v. and had been dying to try it. (Eritrean food is basically the same, as the countries are very close together). So, he happily dug into the remaining food and loved it so much, he ate most of the rest of it!  I’m not sure who was happier, him or Harnet.  It’s is so fun to cook for someone who appreciates it, and he appreciated it!  She made us coffee, and he loved that, too! What remained of the food, went home with him:)

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Rob’s working on a small greenhouse for me to start seedlings in.  I will order some seeds this week so they can begin growing.  Peppers and onions take a long time to grow from seed, so I hope to get them started in the next couple of weeks.  However, this is a big project, so I’m not sure it will be done this week.  He has made great use of the long weekend and thankfully, we had good weather for him to work outside in!  I’m super excited.  I used to grow all my own starts for the garden at our old house and love being able to choose the varieties I want.

I cooked a lot.  We have weeks where no one seems hungry.  This was not one of them:)

I still have plenty of most foods on hand.  I did pick up a bit of produce, and Rob was able to grab a few items that were a great price at Grocery Outlet.  I also got my Friday freebies from Fred Meyers–2 weeks worth–a Lara bar and a bag of popcorn (popped).  I don’t anticipate needing a whole lot more for a few days, but will be going out to get ice cream for poor Lovana.  She had 2 wisdom teeth pulled today, and they had a hard time with one of them.   So, I will be getting whatever flavor(s) she wants.

We were able to use insurance for the dental work.  After not having any for most of our marriage, I’m still very grateful that we have it now.

Did your week go well?

 

 

 

Saving Money and Weekly Update–January 7, 2018

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Keeping my pantry well-stocked is important to me, even on a month where I’m not planning to spend a great deal of money.  So, believe it or not, I was almost out of olives!  Now, to some, like my mom and aunt, that would be good news!  To me and my sisters, a tragedy:). Rob spotted these medium-sized olives at Grocery Outlet for 79c/can and so he snagged me a case. We’ve used 2 cans already.

I grabbed the 5 packages allowed of grated cheese from Fred Meyers on Saturday.  I got Rob a birthday present from the clearance rack while I was there.  His birthday is at the end of the month, and I struggle with what to give him every year, coming so close to Christmas.  But, this is a small thing that I know he will enjoy.  Better yet, I thought of another idea I will work on this week.  We will be watching both our niece and nephew that weekend, so any celebrations will be group efforts.  I think another chocolate cake is in order, for sure.

Our 1/4 beef arrived.  It was taken to the butcher shop in December, but Rob went and picked it up yesterday.  I had to do some major freezer arranging to fit it in, so now I’m even more committed to emptying out a few more items.  I like the freezers full, but not crammed to the point where I worry they will pop open.  I had been emptying them and they were in great condition, but now they are really full!  Buying the beef in bulk saves a lot, compared to purchasing little by little. We have done it for many years this way, but have cut our order down from 1/2 to 1/4 as our family is smaller.

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One of my goals in January is to use things that have been around for too long.  This soup is some I canned in 2011.  I ate it for lunch, and it was still delicious.  I felt so virtuous when I ate it:). I also used some peppers I pickled a few years ago.  I put some in refried beans and some in chili.  They worked fine.  When a friend made them, they were crisp.  Mine turned out mushy, and so people didn’t want them that way, so they just sat there.  Now, I’m using them up in creative ways.  I’ve also used several frozen bread items.  I buy it when it is on the day-old rack at Fred Meyers and freeze it.  But, I needed space more than extra bread this week, so I targeted it.   I will try to post later in the week about the other goodies I cooked.

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One day, Alissa came to my house for school, as usual.  She had her hair in curlers.  After she took them out, some hair was curled and some was not.  So, we curled the rest with a curling iron, and it turned out great!  (We also did school, if you were wondering). Ja’Ana had taken a job for the holidays where Lovana (older sis) works.  They just needed a dish washer for the break, and Lovana said, “My sister will do it.” And, so she did.  But, there was a mix-up, and they thought the break continued one more week than it did.  So, they scheduled J for a few days last week.  Therefore, Alissa and I had a fun week of school, and we made J a list of work she had to do in the evenings!  I tried not to make it too hard, and it worked out.  This week, we will hit it harder, as both girls will be here, as usual.  So, it was win-win for everyone, and J ended up getting a few hundred dollars out of the deal.  Alissa still has her after-school job, so she enjoyed buying Christmas gifts for everyone this year, even more than she usually does.

We got a microwave!  Rob went to a hardware store out in Mt. Angel, Oregon, where we have bought appliances for years.  It’s just a little store in a little town that has excellent customer service and good prices.  They showed him the choices. He did not pick the most expensive or the cheapest, not the simplest or the fanciest, the largest or the smallest, but one that met our needs for a good price, and within an hour, he had it home.  I’m sure glad to have one again.  I use it a lot.  With my work schedule, I cook a lot on the weekends and warm it up during the week.  We’ve managed, but…..this will be better.

We went swimming as a family at the YMCA and I took 2 exercise classes this week.  We’ve been enjoying watching Netflix, Rob’s Christmas gift from Lovana.  When we moved in here, the price of cable, plus internet, was less than our bill at our other place for phones plus internet, because we dropped our phone land line.  So, we got cable.  I’ve especially enjoyed the ice skating that was on this week, as I have not gotten to watch it for years and years.

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Jake spent the weekend.  He wanted popcorn, so we enjoyed the frugal, tasty snack.  We had him help Rob run errands.  He went swimming with us, and decided to run around the track 2 times as well, while we were at the Y.  We read out loud several times.  Right now, we have moved on to “Little House on the Prairie” and he is loving it!  We just finished “Little House in the Big Woods.”  It’s been so rewarding to see him making this transition to enjoying it when I read chapter books.  This is our 4th, and I’m such a proud auntie!  It’s so fun to see how indignant he got when the Ingalls’ dog, Jack, got swept away when they were crossing the creek because they forgot to put him up in the wagon, and how happy he was when Jack showed up, all right, by the campfire that night.  (I know I have a few new readers–for you, Jake is my special-needs nephew, who is going to turn 10 this coming week, whom I work with as both an auntie, and as his personal support worker for DD services, so spending time with Jake is both rewarding for me as a person, and generates some funds for the family.  When I work with him, I try to help him go forward in his development, in some way.  You can read about some things we have done here and here.)

 

Happy New Year 2018, Weekly Update and Saving Money

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We had the most beautiful sunset for New Year’s Eve.  I had to run out and take a picture, it was such a gorgeous sight!  Even the power lines didn’t ruin it for me, and that’s saying something. We saved money by staying home tonight and enjoying this sunset, playing games, and watching movies.  Since I had a full house, which included my niece, Michaela, our movie choice was “CARS,” a favorite of hers.  And, the game of choice was Yahtzee, which was no surprise.  What was really fun was watching her help teach our friend how to play it and giving advice for those times when there were multiple choices.  We all had a good time.  Everyone went to bed a little later than usual, but we did not choose to stay up until midnight.  However, you could say the fireworks that went off in our neighborhood gave us little choice in the matter!

We had a week of healthier eating, which is always nice during the holidays.  I found all those tomatoes on the mark-down rack at Fred Meyers for only $2 total.  I got a bag of organic sweet potatoes and an orange squash in a mark-down bag for $2 total at Natural Grocers.  I made sweet potato fries, baked squash and froze 2 bags of cubes for another day, and we’ve used almost all of the tomatoes already.

I was able to use several coupons for free or greatly reduced items.  There was a coupon on my phone for a free package of fruit strips, but our Fred Meyers did not carry them, so they kindly substituted another organic gummy snack for them for a whopping $5.19 for free!  Wow!  I got marked-down milk for 89c/1/2 gallon, some marked down bread for 79c/loaf for the good kind, and big boxes of 20-24 cans soda for $3.99.  There were several other good deals, too, so I stocked up on those items.  I thought I was all set for groceries for a long while, but we did eat up a bunch of it already, so I’ll probable get a few things in the next couple of days.  I shouldn’t need much, though.

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We had another big family gathering.  This time it was at our normal Family Sunday Dinner time, with additional friends and family added in.  We were jointly celebrating the birthdays of Alissa, Jake and Rob, as we usually do around the new year, as they all have January birthdays.  Alissa and Caitlyn had some unfrosted cupcakes and Danait helped them frost and decorate them.  I made a gluten-free chocolate layer cake–so yummy.  Even with the gluten-free ingredients, which are more expensive, I’m sure my cost was $10 or so for the cake.  To buy one around here is at least $25-$35, minimum.  My mom brought ice cream, and of course my Aunt Janet brought chips.  She and the children have a long-standing agreement:) Harnet cooked Eritrean food on Saturday (Coalwa, which is a beef dish, and lentils with beri-beri spice), while I watched and cooked rice, and Gail made some chicken.  There was salad, too.

After 10-12 unexpected guests dropped in on her on Friday for lunch, with only 1-1/2 hour’s notice, I was glad it was my turn to cook the bulk of the meal Sunday:) I’m also glad I got her one of those 20-pack Diet Cokes.  She’s going to need it if she keeps up the pace!  She said she made chicken, cut in tiny pieces, so it would cook fast and go farther. She mashed potatoes.  Lots of potatoes.   She had plenty of other food in the house, and cooked it up.  They have gone through over 100 lbs of potatoes and 100 lbs of various meat/proteins this month, with all the entertaining they ended up doing!  She hosted several parties for teens (at least 3), an out-of-town guest, guests who wanted to visit the guest, friends and family multiple times, and her business party (her employees and families).  I should have bought her 2 boxes of Diet Coke!

 

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Gifts were purchased when I did my Christmas shopping, and one of Alissa’s gifts was a cookbook I got from the library used book store (the book looks brand new) for only $2, which left me plenty in my budget to spend on the rest of her gift!

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There were light saber wars!

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The toaster Hot Wheel car was a hit!  The toast even pops up and down.  It was another of the toys that Fred Meyers had a high value coupon for over the Christmas season, so I paid very little for it.

Now that all the fun commotion is drawing to an end, and it’s back to work and school tomorrow, I hope to spend a little time today getting organized for the week ahead.  It’s a miracle, but the house is actually quite clean and the laundry is under control (go Rob!)  I want to cook a little bit of food–muffins, for one, and make out a menu plan for the week.  I have a few house guests to take home sometime today, and I’ll check the ads to see if peanut butter is on sale anywhere.  It is absolutely unbelievable to me that I’m out of peanut butter!  I bought so much (like 10) not that long ago.  But, I am.  I have some correcting to do for homeschool that’s I’ve been chipping away at and I’d like to do a little more today.  It’s been a wonderful holiday season, but it’s time to get back down to daily living, and that’s nice, too.  In January, we always eat a little healthier, spend less money, and clean more–all good things.  This January will be no exception–at least that’s the plan:)

So, to you and yours from all of us….Happy New Year!