How to Make Jeans Shorts From Yard-Sale Jeans

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Patsy had no shorts left that fit from last year.  It has suddenly turned warm, and the situation was getting desperate.  I do have some money set aside for clothes for her, as she has grown, but want to stretch it as far as possible.  So, as I usually do, I started praying that God would lead me to the right bargains.

I’ve had it in my mind that I wanted to try some garage sales, but have not had time during the past few weeks to go to any.  In fact, I have been to only 4-5 in the past year, because I’ve been  too busy to spare the time.  On Friday morning, when I drove up to  Walgreens to get Ja’Ana’s finished graduation invitations, I saw a sign and stopped.  And, what do you know?  I hit the jackpot.  I got 4 pairs of jeans and 1 pair of sweat pants, all in sizes I was hoping would fit, for $1 a pair.  Here’s the “God thing.”  Every single pair fit her, even though they said different sizes on the tags.  I would have been happy with 1 or 2 that fit for that price, but to have all 5 fit?  Definitely a blessing. (I would have donated any that did not fit, and still felt like it was a bargain for $5.)

She decided to keep one pair long, as they fit and were short length like she is, removing the need to hem them or walk on the bottoms of them.

The sweat pants will be for when we go to the beach this summer or for after swimming. There is no picture of them, but they are basic.

The other 3 were turned into shorts.  Rob saw some in a store with eyelet lace on the bottom, so we decided to try that for 2 pairs.  The other pair was just cut off and rolled up.

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The lace was free.  I have a bin with lace from the past from either yard sales or leftover from sewing projects.  I feel very happy and blessed to have made such a great start on her summer wardrobe.  It was a pretty satisfying way to spend $5.

Here’s how I turned them into shorts.

  1.  Cut the jeans off.  I cut the first pair off a little long, tried them on her, then cut it off some more.  The roll-up ones ended up at about 9″ and then they were rolled.  That’s all I did.  That took 5 minutes.  The others took longer.  They started at around 5 or 6 inches, then the lace was put on.  Patsy is very short, so if you are making some for a taller person, cut them longer. You can always cut them off more or roll them up farther after you try them on.  You can never put fabric back after you cut it off:)IMG_6982
  2. I placed the lace right side down onto the right side of the shorts.  I folded the end over, so that a raw edge would not show when I was finished.  I lined that fold up with the inner crotch seam so it would not be obvious.  I then serged around the entire leg, attaching the lace, overlapping when I got back around to where I started.  The serger cut off the excess lace and finished the edge.  If you don’t have a serger, just sew around, then cut the edges even.  (My lace was too wide, so I cut some off while I serged).IMG_6983
  3. When I got back around to where I started, I angled the lace off when I overlapped it.  This keeps it from showing from the front, and the folded-over lace from the previous picture is what shows.  Then I sewed lace to the other leg and turned it right side around.IMG_6981
  4. Then I topstitched the right side down to hold it all neatly in place.  I used thread that matched the jeans, and a long stitch.  When I got to the parts where I needed to sew over the seam, I pulled gently to get the machine to go over those lumps, because by this time, I was sewing over a double seam and it was bulky.  (It was double because it was folded over.  I was pleased with how they turned out, and now she is ready for some upcoming warm days:)
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Weekly Update–Saving Money–February 24, 2018

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We’ve had snow 3 times this past week–twice over an inch and a half, and once, just a skiff.  Crazy!  It’s been such a mild, spring-like winter!! There was not enough on the roads to close school down, so neither Rob nor I missed any work.  We only get paid when we work, so we were able to enjoy the beautiful sight of snow without any of the inconvenience that usually comes with it.  In fact, on Thursday, when I took this picture, we were the only area that had much snow.  When you went even a few blocks, there was basically none.

Despite the thrills of excitement we all feel when it snows here, since it is so rare, our week went pretty smoothly.  Monday was a holiday, and I sewed.  I watched the Olympics several times.  We also did some cast iron cooking.  We are testing out some recipes for an upcoming 4H class we have been asked to teach.

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Chicken pot pie.

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Gluten-free biscuits.

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Apple cider and onion pork.

They were all good, and we had a fun time testing them out, and got good food to eat for the rest of the week.

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You can bake in a cast iron kettle quite nicely if you put coals on the bottom, place the spider cast iron pot on top, then put coals on the lid.  We were delighted with how the things came out.  It does take practice, though.  We actually got too many coals on the pork, and it was super brown (slightly burned) on top,  but was still good.  We used liners, because we are going to do this at a class and it makes it easier.  I prefer the flavor when they are cooked right down in the cast iron, but this makes clean-up a breeze. The class is for older youth, so needs to be more advanced than the stew in a pot, roasted hot dogs, etc. that we have done before for younger kids.  I hope to practice a little more.

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We also cooked Rice Krispie treats, (Jake was here for the weekend), pizza, salad, several baked potatoes with cottage cheese on top, and I bought a $4.99 chicken from Costco when I was there.

I spent a lot of time Friday shopping my way from store to store, getting the best bargains.  I had the time to do that while J was in her house-cleaning job for 2 hours and I didn’t want to come home.  I shopped at Grocery Outlet and Fred Meyers while she cleaned.  At Grocery Outlet, I got 99c gluten-free cookie mix, a little produce, and a few other things.  I was able to pick up all my Friday Freebies at Fred Meyers and get a substitution for the one I had not been able to get twice before.  I got the Cliff bar easily. There was an extra freebie of yogurt on my app this week, and when read carefully, you could choose between a single yogurt or a 2-pack.  Of course, I took the 2-pack. I got more cottage cheese, as it’s really been on sale lately and people are eating tons of it.

Then, I got J and we went over to Safeway, where I had coupons from my aunt for 99c sugar(2) and $1.99 butter (2). A free cream cheese showed up on my app, so I got that.  We chose herb flavor.  We also got Oreos for $1.99, and a very few more things.  I don’t go there much, so haven’t won very many items on the Monopoly game they are playing there.  On this trip, J helped 2 elderly ladies get sugar from the bottom shelf, in the back, so they wouldn’t have to crawl down on the floor.  They were very thankful for her kindness.   At check out, one of them gave J her Monopoly tickets.  Another lady who was standing there did too.  I got my few, and we left.  I was surprised to see, when opened, that we won a bottle of aspirin, a bottle of salad dressing, and a few coupons.  When Patsy stuck the tags on the game board, we won $5!  Wow!  So, I need to redeem those tickets.

Last month, I found I had  $100 left over from last month in my grocery envelopes when I went to fill them up again.  So, I decided to spend it at Costco on Friday, and got a few things I could use from there.  J is taking snacks to youth group Sunday night, and so we got one of those huge bags of corn chips, which she will put with the bean dip and salsa I got very inexpensively at Grocery Outlet.  Her snack will be way under $10 and I’m sure there will be some left.  (She says it ranges from around 15 to 40 kids, depending on the day or night, meaning she has no idea how many there will be, so better safe than sorry).  I got one of those cooked rotisserie chickens at Costco.  I wanted lunch, but there aren’t very many things I can eat at Costco, so I just got that, ate some then, and saved some for later.  J had pizza.

Today, I had Rob pick up the Yoplait fridge packs of yogurt that were a Saturday special at Fred Meyers for $1.99/pack.  He got the 5 allowed.  That’s 25c/yogurt, as there are 8 in the pack.  He and Patsy will burn their way through those 40 yogurts plus the 2 free ones I got.  I buy them frequently for a lot more than that!  He got the 99c cereal, too. (5) and some milk. It’s a long story, but we had 2 Visa gift cards of $15 each.  He used them, and there is still a little money on one for next time.

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So, the fridge in the house is stuffed, as is the camper one.   I’m in a great place for groceries and grocery money for the month ahead.  We take grocery money from our mid month paycheck each time.  That’s just working well right now.   I’m hoping to be able to skip a week of shopping this month some time, or at least only buy a few items one week.  We’ll see how it goes.  I don’t want to get over stocked and have things start to go bad.

Tomorrow, Family Sunday dinner is here.  At last count, there may be up to 13 or 14 young adults and kids here, with Rob, myself, and my aunt. We will see how many really show up.  Some of the friends may not actually be available.   I love cooking for a crowd, but since Michaela spent part of the weekend, and Jake the entire weekend, I want it to be easy.  So, I’m using some of the 50c/lb rotini I got last week with some canned pasta sauce.  I’m making meatballs from beef.  All of this will be in separate bowls.  I’m under orders from Alissa, my niece, to keep it separate. (I’m using regular wheat pasta for all of them, to save a bundle of money, and I have a little gluten-free for me.  The trick will be that I will wash the pan and colander myself to make sure it gets super clean, so the separate bowl idea works really well for me, too).  Then, I’ll do salad with some of the 6-pack of romaine from Costco, and my aunt will bring chips and Oreos.  Simple, easy, and us aunties will keep our “spoiler of children” status:). I love it that they come, and bring their friends.  It keeps us all young and on our toes.

I took Patsy and Jake swimming at the YMCA today, and took 2 exercise classes this week.  I was very sore after Thursday’s class, so stretched out really well and exercised a bit at home on Friday.  Jake joined me, pointed out how easy it was, tried to get me to put one leg on the ottoman, my head on the couch, wave my free arm around and kick my other leg up, like he did, but………

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We have moved on to reading “On the Banks of Plum Creek.”  He’s enjoying “Good little Mary and bad little Laura” very much.  I know Laura portrays herself as a spunky, slightly naughty child in the books, but I was surprised when he started calling them that:).  In the very first book, Laura slaps Mary and gets in bad trouble.  He was appalled.   Kids are funny. He won’t forget or stop thinking about Laura’s naughtiness:).  Today, I dug out the original Little House on the Prairie movie, I think from the 70’s, and he watched it.  He loved it!  Rob and he watched “The Apple Dumpling Gang” on Friday night, and he liked that, too.  He’s really branching out.  He played with Legos we have, my treasure chest of Transformers and other toys, and the box of play food we’ve had for years.  He made meals for the Transformers, and us, and then the Transformers shot everything in sight:). We read a lot of little books, too, and he read to himself for a while.  I cooked him bacon and pancakes, and he ate most of a package of mini bagels.  My house is a train wreck, but at least everyone is clean, safe and happy, at least for the moment!

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Michaela spend one night, and she was quiet, in her personal cocoon, at first, then watched tv with Patsy nicely, and slept in this morning.  Her older sister came and took her to Horses of Hope (she volunteers and grooms them, then gets to ride.). She liked that a lot.  I will get her back at 11 tomorrow, for her weekly after-church Coke, then lunch.  I would have liked to do something fun Friday night, such as take her swimming, but she would not leave the house, even though there were only snowflakes for about 1/2 hour, and they did not stick.  She is terrified of snow.  Still, she is doing quite well at coming over to spend the night more often and I’ll try again another time to take her to the pool.

All-in-all, it was a busy, productive week, with the beauty of snow for part of it.  Now, though, that can go away as far as I’m concerned, and spring can come:). My baby plants are up and growing, and I have some transplanting to do that did not get done this weekend.  Maybe tomorrow…..Maybe not…but soon!

 

 

 

August, 2017, $100 Grocery Challenge and Menu Plan

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August is a month of plenty for me.  My garden is growing rapidly, fruit is available everywhere, and my freezers are getting fuller and fuller each week.  I’ve decided to see if I can be more purposeful in utilizing the food I have on hand, rather than buying more.  So, I’ve decided to do a $100/month grocery challenge.  It should be quite easy to do, with the abundance of food on hand, and because I was gone for 1/3 of the month.  We took quite a bit of food with us, not knowing if there would be things I could eat, and we used some of it, but there were foods I could have much of the time, so I brought a bunch of mine home with me.  For several days, I enjoyed authentic Mexican food, cooked by the ladies of the church where we were helping!  Yum!!!

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My brother-in-law asked them all about the ingredients, etc., as he is fluent in Spanish, and I ate the foods that I could.  Much of it was corn-based, which is not a problem for me.   I did not get sick at all from those daily lunch meals.   Amazing.  Eating fast food on the way home—a different story.  It never seems to agree with me, even when I try to be careful.

After returning from my trip to Mexico, I went to the store and spent $47 on things like milk, etc.  So, that leaves me with $53 for the rest of the month.  I may not even need to spend it all–I’ll see.  I know I’m good for the rest of this week, for sure.

I will use the remaining grocery budget to buy apples and pears to process.  I’m completely out of applesauce, and have been for quite a while, so I want to can quite a few jars.  I don’t need very many pears, but want to do a few, and would like to make some fruit cocktail from peaches, pears, grapes and maraschino cherries.  Sometimes, I put pineapple in it as well, and usually buy a large can and add it in.  I hope to get some Elberta peaches from my sister to can, when they ripen.

Here’s what I’m planning to serve this week:

Sunday: Sandwiches:  We used up sandwich meat from our trip for our noon meal.  We wanted to finish the meat and cheese up rapidly so it wouldn’t spoil.  It was well-iced the entire time, but still….

Monday:  Spaghetti.  I pulled ground pork from the freezer and browned it with onions and celery.  I used 1/2 of it for spaghetti sauce.  There is a lot of sauce left over.  I served it with sautéed purple beans I picked from the garden.  They turn green when I cook them.  I added garlic to them at the last minute–yum!  I also put out cut up cucumbers from the garden.  There is enough sauce to freeze some for next week, plus eat leftovers for lunch.

Tuesday:  Chili.  Patsy is starving for chili, and asked me to make some.  I put pinto beans on to soak yesterday, and will use the rest of the pork I browned to make chili in the crock pot.  I see that there is lettuce in the garden, and I hope to cut some and have salad as well.  I could not get to everything yesterday and there is much to do in the garden!  However, we are gaining on the laundry:)  I will make a big batch and freeze some for next week.  I soaked a LOT of beans, so will cook up some plain as well to use later in the week, or next week.

Wednesday:  Chicken.  I plan to roast a whole chicken.  The weather is much cooler this week.  If Rob gets a bee in his bonnet, he may barbecue it, though, but I’m in the mood for roasted chicken, and then I can boil the carcass and get some broth.  I’ll do green beans again, as they are prolific in the garden, salad, and potatoes.  I think there are new potatoes ready out there, too, and I may start digging some up.  If not, I can buy a bag.  Potatoes are not a budget-buster:)

Thursday:  Chicken-rice soup.  I bought celery and carrots and have onions from the garden.  I can use the broth from Wednesday, and add rice from the pantry.  We like it simple.  I may make zucchini muffins if I get time, as there are SO many of those in the garden.

Friday:  Taco Salad.  I will pick lettuce and tomatoes from the garden, and use some hamburger from the freezer.

Saturday:  Leftovers.

Sunday:  Family Sunday Dinner–BBQ at our house this week.  I have both chicken drumsticks and steaks in the freezer, plus green beans, salad, potatoes–all from the garden.  If I think of anything else we could want, people usually bring things, and I can ask them to grab something.

Breakfasts:  I got some English muffins at the store, have a few yogurts, plus the usual cereal, oatmeal, toast, etc. people like to eat around here.  I have quite a few eggs in the fridge, and eat them frequently.  Sometimes I make breakfast burritos for the kids, and do have a few tortillas left that really need to be used.

Lunches:  Leftovers or sandwiches.  I bought a package of lunchmeat as part of the shopping I did and also have tuna in the pantry.  Peanut butter is Patsy’s favorite, so she can have that with our home-made jam.  Sometimes, I add a salad to the mix.

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Snacks and drinks:  There is a lot of fruit right now.  I’ve been picking a few peaches from the tree in the back yard, plus I can get some more from my sister.  My strawberries gave me about a cup yesterday, and the raspberries look like they are going to produce soon.  Once I make applesauce I will save some out to eat fresh, and  that will go over well.  We had popcorn last night, and can have it again.  There are quite a few snacks left over from our trip, as well, which will be especially handy if we go on picnics.

I bought some milk on Sunday when I shopped, can make lemonade from the bottle of lemon juice, and have several drinks left over from the trip.  I’ve been drinking a lot of water lately, and there’s always plenty of that!  I have a few sodas, too, plus 3 2-litre bottles.

 

Gluten-Free Cashew Chicken

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I found the recipe for cashew chicken that I promised to post.  I made it for dinner tonight and remembered why I loved it so much.  So, here’s to Jeannie–cashew chicken over rice

I started with a recipe from Taste of Home, and have changed it up over the years.  Here’s what I did today.  This recipe is very flexible.

Mix:  2 cups chicken or turkey broth

1/4 cup cornstarch

3 Tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce (we buy it by the gallon at Cash and Carry)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Stir those ingredients together, and set aside.  This is the sauce that gives the stir-fry a great flavor.  Stir it one more time right before pouring it over the veggie/meat mixture.

Cut up vegetables and chicken and put into bowls, piles on a cutting board, whatever you want.  It just works better to have it all cut up before you start.  You can vary the veggies according to what you can grow, or get on sale.  Today I used:

2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into very small pieces (Mine were diced into about 1/4-1/3 inch pieces)

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 carrot, diced

Celery sliced thinnly (today it was the center of a stalk that needed used, other times I might  use 2-3 sticks)

4 large mushrooms

1 cup snow peas ( I would have liked 2 cups in there, but that’s what I had today)

1 bunch broccoli, cut into flowerets (it was 1 medium-sized bunch)  I also cut the stem into small pieces and added that in.

2 cloves garlic, minced

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I put a small bit of oil into a frying pan and cooked the chicken and onion for about 4-5 minutes, until the chicken was looking almost done.  Then, I added a little more liquid (some of the mix I made above, or plain broth.  If you use the mix, take from the top so you don’t get any cornstarch at this point.)  Then, I added the veggies in the order of hardest first, and softest (or anything that needed to stay crisper)last.  So, today I had carrots, celery, broccoli, mushrooms, snow peas and minced garlic.  If you have a different assortment, it will work.  Others I like in there are zucchini and summer squash, peas, and bean sprouts, to name a few.  The sauce is very important and it gives any veggies that great flavor.   I let it cook for a bit, stirring often.   After the veggies were crisp, but getting tender, I poured in the mixture.  I continued cooking and frequently stirring until the mixture thickened.  I did not let the veggies get very soft, just crisp-tender, because that is how my family likes them.

I made white rice to go with this, and it sopped up the marvelous sauce nicely.  I sprinkled some cashews on top of each portion after it was plated.  This would have been enough for 4 normal people, but 3 of us very hungry people ate it all.  It would be easy to stretch this, by adding more veggies.  It is tasty and healthy.

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday Tea Party

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Today was the first birthday party we are hosting this week.  Here’s how we made it simple, affordable, yet very nice.

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I started by giving Patsy a handful of invitations I had saved when we moved.  She wanted a small, special party so I have plenty from another occasion in my card bin.   We chose a day after school when I knew I would have plenty of time to get ready during that day.  She handed them out about a week and a half ago.  Although we asked for RSVP’s, we only got one firm one, and a couple of “iffy” ones.  So, we were not quite sure how many to expect.  Then, I dug around in the cupboards and pulled out fancy dishes.  These little luncheon tea plates are from garage sales and a junk store and I have had them for about 20-30 years.  There are a couple that match, but mostly they are different floral patterns.  I have 8 or 9, and got 4 chosen and washed and the others set aside in case we had any surprise guests that forgot to tell Patsy they were coming.

We are still quite new here, and had to also face the possibility that we would have only 1 girl, or even none if something prevented her from coming.  There was a lot of anxiety going around here this morning.  I was very proud of Patsy.  It’s hard to keep trying and trying in life when there are lots of changes, and so much history of disappointment in the past.  But, she was brave, and my prayers were answered.  In the end, 3 girls ended up being able to come.  They were delightful young ladies, and I enjoyed them very much.  Patsy was so happy.

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Alissa and Ja’Ana helped get ready this morning.  They also worked a bit on school.  They are almost done, and have very little to complete.  Alissa brought decorating supplies and worked on the cupcakes.

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She had frosted cupcakes I had baked and frozen last week.  She added the candies on top, and we picked and added violas to make it special.  We put Baby’s Breath on the fancy dish and…..gorgeous and special for pennies.

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I bought 1–$5 bunch of Baby’s Breath.  I used teapots I own, and roses and violas from the yard.  I put one bouquet on top of the piano and one on the table.

 

I used a tea cup and put one in the bathroom to take the elegance even further.  No extra money involved.IMG_4637

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We bought some fancy mints and candy from the bulk bins at Winco.  We used sugar cubes in the sugar bowl.  The girls were excited about the cubes.  They emptied half the bowl.

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Ja’Ana and Alissa worked on the chocolate and white chocolate-dipped strawberries.  I bought one carton of berries and a few melting chocolate disks from the bulk bins at Winco.  Alissa brought some red sugar to use as well to make them even prettier.

I worked on pickle rolls.  They are very simple.  You spread cream cheese onto lunchmeat and put a pickle on it, then roll up and cut into circles.  It is a family favorite at holiday times and Patsy wanted the treat for her birthday party.

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I worked on little sandwiches, too.  I cut white bread I got on sale for 69c for the loaf into circles with a biscuit cutter.  I threw away the edges.  If I was not gluten-free, I would have made crumbs from them, but we have no use for regular bread crumbs around here.  I just make and use gluten-free ones.

I used some of the circles for cream cheese/olive open faced sandwiches.  Then, I added 1/4 piece of turkey pepperoni on top.  I spread cream cheese, then placed 1 cucumber slice and a piece of dill on the rest.  I also made some egg salad sandwiches from whole pieces of bread.  I cut the crusts off  and cut into quarters.  I used fancy toothpicks for those.  I also made a veggie tray in a fancy dish.  Snow peas, the remaining slices of cucumbers, celery, carrots, and cherry tomatoes filled it nicely.

The last thing I served was zucchini chocolate chip bread, baked and frozen last week.  I also made 2 pots of tea.  I let them choose and they chose Chai and Peppermint.  That was easy enough, using my insta-hot on my sink.  We used 4 tea bags, total.

The girls visited for a bit.  They then proceeded to polish off almost ALL of the food on the table.  How gratifying!  I was very pleased that they were so verbally appreciative,  polite, and apparently very hungry!  Afterwards, they went outside and played croquet on the lawn until it was time to go home.

The items I made this food from were all inexpensive, common ingredients.  It was the fancy dishes, the flowers, and making all the food tiny, decorated and fancy that made the tea party seem special. I did as much of it ahead of time as I could, even freezing a couple of items last week. I shopped yesterday for the things I needed.   I washed dishes as I went, and then put all the fancy dishes away directly after the guests went home.  I cleaned the house first thing this morning and some more after lunch.  That is something that would just have to be re-done if I did it too far ahead:)

I made a list of food I wanted to serve on the whiteboard as I thought of it, and then used the list to shop and cook.  I bought dill and used it more than once to get the best use of my purchase.  I did the same with the Baby’s Breath.  I figure if I’m going to buy it, I want to use it a lot.

So, I’m very tired, but satisfied and happy.  Patsy had a great party, I did not break the bank, we DID have some girls come to the party and they had a great time, my house is clean, and I have bouquets of flowers to look at.  I should sleep well tonight.

 

 

 

March 2017 Low-Budget Grocery Challenge–End of Week 3

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It’s all about potatoes, potatoes, potatoes!  I went back to the discount store where Rob discovered potatoes for 10c/lb last week, and bought 100 additional pounds for $10.  I gave away 20 lbs right off the bat, and started cooking potatoes.

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While I was at the store buying the potatoes, rejoicing because there were still some left, I bought my daughter $1.29 worth of snacks.  And, that was it for the week–$11.29.  That brings the total up to $61.29 for a 3-week total, leaving $138.71 from the $200 I set out in envelopes.  What did we eat?  I’m glad you asked.

Refrigerator items and produce left over from last Friday or before that I used:  cheese, milk, eggs, lunchmeat, sour cream, carrots, celery, lettuce, tiny bit of broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, 1/2 and 1/2, butter, onions,  POTATOES!

Freezer items:  1 chicken, 2 lbs ground beef, bacon, frozen waffles, leftover frozen bits of roast beef from a ziplock I discovered, refried beans from last weekend (I froze several pints and we ate a bunch all week as well), corn, frozen bread and muffins

Home-canned and pantry:  green beans, peaches, fruit cocktail, salsa, spaghetti noodles, various tomato products, lentils, quinoa, canned black and kidney beans. (Lovana made a bunch of soup and I’m not sure what else,and took it and a bag of potatoes with her, so you won’t see some of these ingredients in my menus)

Garden:  Chives!   I only got enough to sprinkle on the soup, but it’s a start!

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The girls made large batches of cheddar-broccoli soup and potato-cheddar soup.  We had that several times, including today for lunch.  My sister took a bunch for her lunch one day when she got to my house to drop Alissa, and realized that she had left hers on the counter at her house.  Rob also took some in his lunch, and my mom enjoyed it, too, when she came over for lunch one day.  They are getting some serious cooking skills!

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They also made a simple cornstarch chocolate pudding from my “More With Less Cookbook.”  It was great.

I found a container of frozen turkey-spaghetti sauce in the shop freezer that was a couple of years old.  I wasn’t sure if it was still good, but it was excellent and we ate spaghetti one night with green beans.

We had tacos several times.  I mean like 4-5 times in the past week. There were leftovers from our company last Sunday, and then several people ate refried beans on tortillas throughout the week.  I froze a few of the beans, but had to pull 2 pints out on Saturday morning because I found that some dear friends from out-of-town were going to be able to eat lunch with us Saturday.  So, I still had tortillas, cooked more burger, finished up the cheese our friends brought last Sunday, used most of the lettuce that was left, and a tomato.  There were still chips from the huge Costco bag I opened last weekend and lots of home-canned salsa.  (I put the chips into Ziplocks immediately after I open one of the huge bags and they stay fresh for quite a while.)

I made an enchilada casserole from–wait for it–tortillas, beans, sauce, cheese.  We ate it for dinner tonight.

I cooked a chicken Saturday night.  I have to admit it tasted really, really good after so many tacos.  I boiled the bones and have some broth to use this week.  I made mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans with it.

Rob made chicken-potato pancakes from:  1 cup cut up chicken, 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes, 3 eggs, a few tablespoons of chopped onion, salt and pepper.  He then fried them in a pan.  They were amazingly good for supper last night.  I made salad from leftover taco lettuce and tomato, and put salsa over the top, along with leftover green beans.  Rob also ate leftover corn.

To sum up the potatoes:  mashed, fried for breakfast, potato-chicken pancakes, baked potatoes, potato soup

So, the meals ended up being quite repetitious this week.  Still, we enjoy Mexican food a lot, and we love potatoes.  The chicken made a nice change.  I feel really good about how the week went.

I will be buying a few more fresh things this week than last.  The lettuce is almost gone as are a few other things. But, the challenge was helped along a bit when my sister gave me an avocado, some veggie chips she got for really cheap at Grocery Outlet, and 1/2 of the stir-fry veggies she bought today.  I enjoyed stir-fry for dinner tonight and she enjoyed the other 1/2 for her dinner.  My other sister gave us some crackers and another bag of snacks.  My aunt and sister did the cooking for this Sunday’s family dinner and gave me the week off.  I guess none of them want anyone to really suffer through this challenge!!

As I stated in the rules in the beginning, I have another account where I occasionally buy some fast food for one kid or another. It’s my “keep from going crazy and keeping balance in my life on crazy days” account.  That was my day on Thursday.  I was hit with several unexpected things that I needed to do and I ended up driving around a lot, doing school in-between driving around so it went late into the day, taking care of a sick kid, and more.  I was simply not home at lunch time with no time to plan ahead for it, and yet, had a car full of hungry kids.  Guess where mine wanted to go?  Seriously, just guess.  Yep.  Taco Bell.  Ja’Ana chose Taco Bell.  Where she bought…..yep…..burritos and other items containing tortillas, beans, rice, etc.–one of those $5 boxes.  It surprised me a bit.

I limited each one to $5 and they were fine with that.  Michaela and I chose Dairy Queen.  Later, when Alissa was picked up, she also chose Taco Bell, which did not surprise me since she doesn’t eat dinner here.

There is lots and lots of food still left around here.  I’m not sure what I’m going to cook this week, except for something from the broth.  And potatoes.  I’ll let you know as it unfolds.  How is it going for you?

 

 

 

 

 

March 2017 Low-Budget Grocery Challenge-End of Week 2

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This past week turned out great with the pantry challenge.  I was able to use up quite a few things, and was actually able to re-stock some items.

So, on week 1, we spent $11.50.  We got some cheese and some 1/2 and 1/2.

On week 2, which ends tonight, we bought more groceries.  We spent $16, $18, and $4.50 at 3 different stores, totaling $38.50.  I’m not sure how, but that totals exactly $50 for the 2 weeks, a nice round number. So, since I put $50 in an envelope twice, I now have an extra $50.

I got lots of basics like celery, carrots, 1 head lettuce, 25 lbs potatoes, 4 tomatoes, 6 lemons, milk, 1/2 and 1/2,  6 bagels, 6 English muffins,  2 dozen eggs, onions, 40 tortillas, 3 apples, the bananas, and a few other things.  I hit a Friday sale at a store near my house and got 2 bags full of groceries, plus the bananas for the $18. Rob did Cash and Carry  for large packages of tortillas, onions, carrots and 1/2 and 1/2 for his $16 and the $4.50 was spent at a discount store.  He went in there to get some gum for the kids in his classroom and found the fabulous deal on potatoes.

The items that were put back into the pantry were frozen bananas–there was a bag of very ripe bananas at one store for $2.28 and I got it. We ate a bunch and I froze a quart bag for smoothies.  Rob came across potatoes for 50c for 5 lbs–10c/lb.  I had him grab 25 lbs and am now wishing I had said 50!

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Meals:  There were muffins, cereal, eggs, some bacon and sausage for breakfasts. When Jake is here, he eats bagels a lot.  In fact, the entire bag I purchased on Friday has been eaten by him and some others.

Lunches:  I ground turkey with bread and butter pickles and Miracle Whip for sandwiches and we ate that several times. This was the end of a bag I found in the freezer. Rob always packs a lunch to work and he takes leftovers, sandwiches, fruit, crackers–whatever he can round up. He also takes coffee in a thermos every day.  Patsy packs a peanut butter sandwich daily, and takes fruit, etc. as well.  J and I ate a lot of soup, burritos and leftovers. I made rice and stir-fry on the day my mom came for lunch.

Dinners:  We ate a lot of turkey-rice soup, chili-mac casserole,  chili, a lot of tacos/burritos and refried beans.  We had pizza.  We ate broccoli, green beans, baked potatoes, rice, and lots and lots of beans.  Rob cooked some steak one day while I was gone.

Extras:  I made cookies and Patsy made Rice Krispie Treats for when we had company.  We had popcorn and corn chips.  We also used several odds and ends like partial bags of chips and crackers and the kids had some popsicles that were in the freezer.

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Items used:  Canning: Several jars of home-canned items including peaches, tomato products, green beans, pickles, salsa, jam, applesauce, and more.

Frozen:  hamburger,  steak, turkey from Thanksgiving, chocolate and white chocolate chips, butter, several kinds of peppers from 2015’s garden in re-fried beans, 3 chicken tenders for stir-fry, frozen corn from 2015’s garden, broth, bread, and more.  We carried in several loads from the freezers in the shop throughout the week.  I can start to see a little space in the freezers.

Pantry:  Several pounds of pinto beans, white rice, cereal, marshmallows, baking ingredients like gluten-free flour, sugar,cocoa powder,  etc., spices for cooking such as chili powder and poultry seasoning, gluten-free noodles, coffee, tea, hot chocolate (packets), corn chips, popcorn, peanut butter and more.

We had a church event. My sister was in charge of feeding 40-50 people.  She chose taco bar. I made a lot of refried beans as my contribution, and then enjoyed a taco lunch there. I made 2 crock pots full, and served them to our company as well as church, plus we ate them several times.  J and I ate over at my sister’s house a bit, and we took a few food items over there.  My brother-in-law took J, me and Alissa (his daughter) out for lunch after our homeschool meeting on Friday (we finally had our 1st semester grade meeting).  We took Jake for happy meals a time or 2.  (This is a different fund than my regular grocery budget)    My mom came for lunch one day.  On Sunday, we had friends over and there were 13 of us in all.  We served taco bar for them.   We got the kids a burger and some fries one day while we were out and about.  The funds for that came out of another fund–entertainment, but I thought I’d mention it to keep things real.  Also, sometimes the kids pitch in for something they want that’s not in my budget, such as french fries or a $5 pizza (which they promptly eat) and one day Jake’s mom sent him with money so we could stop and get him something on the road since he had not eaten yet.  Lovana swoops in on the weekends and cooks enough food for the week ahead as she prefers to eat a certain way.  At her new job, she can eat whatever she wants while she is there, but this is the first weekend where she didn’t cook it all ahead of time–just took a box of ingredients from here.  (From here being the pertinent  phrase in this case)

My point is, it all averages out.  If I serve 15 meals per day for 7 days, I am serving 155 meals per week, plus snacks.   I’m putting out ingredients for that many or more even though every one of us does not eat here every single meal.   I am using lots of pantry ingredients, and spending very little money while still stocking up a little bit, so I’m feeling very successful. I’m making a dent in my stockpile, while still grabbing that great deal on potatoes.   I have had to hold myself back from my usual habits of stocking up a lot when I find a great deal–but so far, so good.

I’m going to plan some meals for the week ahead in the next couple of days.  Until I get it done, I’m going to fly by the seat of my pants and plan one day at a time.  I have a busy week, so hopefully, I’ll have some inspiration quickly when I do write the list out.  Until then, there are lots of tortillas and refried beans left:)