Sunday, January 31, 2016

Heigh Ho! Heigh Ho! Off to Costco I Go!



I got invited to go to Costco with my parents at the last minute this morning.  Even though I feel like I am fighting off yet another illness (Papa was sick this past week with probably the flu), I dragged myself out and over to meet them.

Here's what I got...


4 lbs butter
18 count eggs
2 flank steaks
3 ribeye steaks
4 lbs bacon
2 large packages of Crystal Light
1 package of Pocky (Asian cracker/candy snack)
1 box (18 count) Kraft Mac n Cheese
1 large bag tortilla chips
I package (12 count) croissants
1 package (8 count) apple strudel
1 large jar of pesto
1 package (2 count) spinach ravioli
8 lb bag of grapefruit
1 box (44 count) of microwave popcorn
1 large bag of broccoli


All at no cost to me.

Well worth the trip.

Happy Sunday!


Friday, January 29, 2016

More Freebies....

from my best friend, aka The Freebie Fairy, of course!


My BFF had a lot of time on her hands this past weekend.  The snowstorm had her shut in all day Saturday (not something she likes one bit!).  To top it off, her boyfriend and their dog went to stay at his parents' house towards the shore to help with shoveling out since his father recently had surgery.  So, to keep busy, my BFF did what she does best...PURGED HER BELONGINGS.  =)

Here's the latest round of freebies from the purge and just because:

1 large leopard print vase (not my style at all so off to consignment it will go!)
2 new pairs of fluffy red slipper socks (kept for the Guppies)
1 pink sweater (neither girl liked, too small for me so off to consignment)
ANOTHER pair of brand new slippers (that makes a total of SIX pairs I believe!)
1 6 pack of bakery cupcakes
3 new Tupperware style containers
1 pack of sparkly hair elastics (G2 grabbed these)
2 new Philosophy lip glosses (each Guppy grabbed one)
Misc cables for Iphones/Computers (she can be a bit eccentric in her freebie giving lol)
1 multicolored pen (remember the clicky kind to change colors?  I didn't even know these existed anymore but I used to love them back in the day!)
Seasons 1 through 3 of Newlyweds Nick & Jess on DVD (She LOVES Jessica Simpson...Me? Not so much so off to consignment/Ebay)
Seasons 1 through 7 of The Gilmore Girls on DVD (Ditto the above...Off to Consignment/Ebay)
1 package of beef sliders
1 package of 4 premade regular hamburgers
2 more packages of frozen Brussel sprouts
1 seat cushion thingy (she has been buying/trying a lot out because of back issues)
A huge gourmet brownie (left as a "thank you" for letting her dog out while she worked on Thursday)
1 jar of gourmet jelly she had a teaspoon of but didn't like
1 container of OJ because the container was "too big" and didn't fit right in her fridge.  LOL



Have a nice weekend!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why I Will Always Be a Cratchit...


Or I would totally be a reformed Scrooge if I ever had the money!

(Yes I realize that Christmas is over! Haha!)


I have had an extremely rough week and I'm not sure it's going to be better next week either.  I have been dealing with a cold thing that in turn triggers my MS symptoms.  Papa and I have been dealing with issues with Guppy 1's teachers.  And I have been thinking a lot about what happened this week on my blog....

Which has turned out to be a really good thing actually!

All the comments (including those not posted and the words of trolls) had me really doing some soul searching....

I'm not a confident person.  And, up until now, I have always had a "thin skin".

I have done some really growing in the last few days.

And, crazy as it is for me to say this...

There are things about me which make me truly happy.  So weird to say that after all this time on Earth!  One of the biggest things I am happy with is...

I am a very generous person....Some would say "to a fault".  Funny thing is I don't take that to be derogatory.  

Being generous is something programmed into my DNA, I swear to God.  I always tell everyone that I may have grown up "spoiled" but not a "spoiled brat".  Once I realized the "truth" about Santa, I asked for mostly cash for Christmas so I could buy gifts for my friends, family, and people who needed them.  While in college, I would use some of my monthly allowance to routinely buy extra groceries for my roommates, Papa, and his roommates.  My 21st birthday present from my parents was a weekend trip to NYC that I catered around things I knew Papa would love to do. (By the way, that was an amazing weekend and I enjoyed all the things we did too.)  When Papa & I were newly married and didn't have kids, we would donate tons of Christmas presents to needy children.  I remember one year I learned about a single mom with a daughter  who was having a lot of financial issues.  Papa and I took care of their entire Christmas that year.

It's not all about money either.  We have made our house a "safe" place for our children's friends to come and be themselves.  Guppy 1 has had friends with serious emotional issues (mostly anxiety related) that would come here to talk and relax.  We are part of a music community that consider us their "Second Mom & Dad" - which is something we cherish more than I can ever put into words.  Guppy 2's friends love being here because we let them be loud and laugh and be regular thirteen year old kids.

And, it translates to what we do for our Guppies too.  Papa and I will often do without something we wanted or needed to make sure G1 & G2's needs/wants are met - not all the "wants" of course, but ones we find important/enriching too.  We have invested countless hours (through our words and actions) to demonstrate how generosity can enhance your life and those around you.

Why am I rambling on about this?

Because I am a giver.  I actually LIKE that about myself.  And, it's not something I would ever in a million years (or for a million dollars) change about myself.

Does that take away from our financial health?  Yup, I am sure that it does. 

Can I find ways to balance out my giving spirit with saving money too?  Absolutely!  Can I do that without feeling guilty?  Probably not!  (Case in point...hiding snacks/drinks from G2's friends this week!  Haha)

Anyway, I really hope you will all continue reading my little blog and following my journey!

I'm going to continue finding ways to be frugal!  But, I'm going to do it in ways that work for the unique needs of my family and who I am at heart.


Happy Thursday!



P.S.  I have my Freebies post ready to go for tomorrow and I may (or may not) take this weekend off from blogging.  Either way, I will definitely be back to posting by Monday with my grocery totals for the month!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Excuses, Reasons, & Changes....


So, yesterday I was hit with a literal $h!tstorm of comments regarding my post the other day about Guppy2 having friends here right afterschool and staying through dinner time.

First off, as you can see if you have tried to post a comment over the past twenty four or so hours, I have changed to a moderated comment section.  I did this not because of people like Nathalie, Sandie, Laura, Jess or  Cheryl who give their advice (though sometimes stinging) in the spirit of helping/friendship.  I did it because of the commenters who decided to troll and say nasty things just because they could since everyone is anonymous over the internet.

Another change I have made is I am discontinuing my "Yearly Totals" series and have deleted the previous posts concerning it.  I never really discuss my blog with Papa, however, yesterday we talked about it a bit.  He wasn't all that comfortable with me posting numbers in that much detail.  After thinking about it, I am in agreement.  Probably not my best idea there.  I WILL finish figuring this out though.  It is important for us moving forward.  I just won't be posting my findings.  (The only exception to this will be my grocery expenditures.  I plan on keeping up with this on here.)


There are a lot of reasons why I started blogging.  First and foremost, I wanted to just get back into the habit of writing everyday.  Second, I hoped to join a community of people who are trying to achieve similar goals, although on different paths to reach them.  Third, I wanted  (maybe too naively) to write a "real" blog, full of the flaws of real people and real life.  (NOT that anyone of you aren't doing the same! Please don't take offense in that statement.)  I guess maybe I don't mean "real" exactly....It's more than I am still new to the frugality part of the game.  (Truthfully, I feel like there are times when I am still learning how to "adult".) My life is not all perfect and wrapped with some great big red Karmatic bow.  Life is messy and hard and full of choices.

Funny thing is I also realize that, in wanting to be transparent with my flawed self and life, I made a greater mistake.  Readers don't see the entire picture.  Readers only get the snippets or, at best, a snapshot.  The only way to know the whole story is to have lived the whole story.  That goes for all of us, whether we connect in the blog-o-sphere or on the street, don't you think?

Anyway...

There are places we can tap into (if needed )monetarily to stay afloat while Papa continues his job search.  Not many places, but a few.  Also, he now is finally getting unemployment which helps cover some of the expenses.  We are probably getting back a rather substantial amount from taxes (not sure how much as these aren't completely finalized) which will help as well.  We aren't going to lose the house.  We are nowhere near that sort of thing and it just isn't going to happen because we won't let it happen. 

Do I make excuses?  As hard as it is to admit it, yes I do.  I should take the few extra minutes to double check coupons before heading out to the grocery store.  I should make time to find/clip/print/organize coupons to reap the benefits.  I should have back up plans in place and meals stashed in the freezer ready to go.  I should make the time to get ahead of the game where I can.  I can go on and on with the list of "I should"'s.  They need to be addressed. There are some days (a lot recently) where I am too tired emotionally or physically to "deal" so I revert to bad habits.  That's on me absolutely!

And, I do need to use the word "No" a LOT more often than I do.

I admit I have a hard time with changing how things are when the Guppies have friends over.  While hard for me, I am trying to now limit what is available in the way of snacks/drinks/food. Especially since Monday went fairly well.  No one went home hungry/had a bad time because my kitchen didn't look like the grocery store junk food aisle. And no one found my secret stash of stuff I hid so they couldn't eat it.  Haha!  Between limiting what's available and making casseroles when kids are here, I should be okay from this point forward.  I  will stand by what I said though - if the kids are here at dinnertime I won't send them home without feeding them.  What I need to do is work harder at having things readily available that are cheap and easy to make.

I know I spend a lot of money on snacks/drinks/food.  And, I know it  isn't completely because it's more expensive here in Connecticut.  Part of the reason I have certain food in the house that most people would immediately cut out is Guppy 1.  A few years ago, (end of sixth through eighth grade), we watched her waste away to nothing.  She was depressed and developed an eating disorder.  She was on the brink of being admitted into an inpatient facility but through the help of her team of doctors, (and hopefully us), G1 found the strength to turn things around.  (I'm not telling you this as a sob story. I promise. I am telling you this so you have extra insight/information.)  She is doing great for the most part now but her eating has become a bit picky - she eats a variety of food, a lot of which is made up of quality whole foods,  BUT needs certain brands/things in the house too.   As her mom, I will continue to do the best I can to keep her from slipping back and will include the specific items she likes to eat as snacks/breakfasts/ etc.   She will be an adult soon and will be off on her own at some point in the near future.  Until then, we will do what we can.  And now you have more of the full picture as to why I always get things like croissants, apple strudel, certain Snapple, and such.  Maybe it still seems like an excuse to you guys but, in my world it's a pretty great reason to make these purchases.   Is it all G1's fault the grocery bill is so high? Of course not! Not even close!  There are many places I could still cut corners and even with the things I feel I have to buy, I can do better with price matching/coupons/etc.

People have commented on the music lessons (again some comments I chose not to publish).  My girls "live" in the creative world - as in they write, draw, sing, play instruments.  While G2 does exceedingly well in school, it's not the place where G1 thrives.  G1 especially needs music, not only as an outlet, but as a potential career choice.  She doesn't know whether that means in front on stage or behind the scenes.  Does she want to be the next "big star"?  No, that's not her focus. But, music will be entrenched for her entire life one way or another.  I will (and have been) going without in certain areas for myself in order to keep these lessons on the books until G1 says she's done.  We plan on having a talk with G2 just to determine whether she wants to continue drum lessons.  My guess is she will.  And while not as passionate about it as G1, we will continue her lessons for as long as we are able.  But, we invest in our kids when it comes to the arts.  For Papa and me, it's as important as their public school educations. 

We are all on our own paths with our own set of unique experiences mixed in.  I think that's part of the reason why I enjoy reading blogs so often.  I like to see different points of view.  I like to see the snippets of others' lives.  And I DO like to hear different points of view, suggestions, etc on my own blog.  So, keep them coming!  Unless you are trolling...If you are trolling, forget it!  You aren't getting a rise from me any more!

Okay...stepping off my soap box now.  Have a great day everyone!

Just one more thing....a big THANK YOU to "Ms. Sandie".  Seriously thanks for the talk yesterday regarding all this! And thank you for being honest as well!  It helped more than you can imagine.....



Monday, January 25, 2016

Slight Change in Dinner Plans...


As I have mentioned in the past, I love being one of the "go to" houses for Guppy 2 and her friends.  However, since Papa got laid off, it's been tough to keep up with having them here very often.  There are five to six kids in total and they move in a "pack"!  LOL  I have begun lovingly calling them "the Nematodes" (SpongeBob reference) because they come in the house and literally drain the kitchen of food/soda/water!  Papa and I have actually gone as far as hiding some stuff to save it from being spotted.  Haha! 

Okay, so maybe I am being (a little) over dramatic but having an additional five to six mouths to feed snacks and dinner can really be a drain to supplies and grocery budget!

And, G2 asked for them to come over today straight off the bus afterschool!  Of course I could have said "No".  I totally get that.  But, it seems like our house  and G2's BFF are the houses they go to the most.  And G2's BFF's house has been having them there a LOT lately.  So, I figured it's my turn and let the BFF mom get some much needed rest!  Haha

Here's what I decided on:

Snacks
We are hiding Papa's cinnamon rolls and chewy chocolate chip cookies because they are amazing and would be scarfed down in about ten seconds.  So, I made a standard chocolate chip recipe that made about 24 cookies.
We have microwavable popcorn as well.

Dinner
Since Papa and G1 were already having salmon and G2 and I were having baked ziti, I decided to triple the baked ziti I was going to make.  While it is more work than just calling in an order for pizza, it is more frugal....especially since the last time they were here and I ordered pizza, I ended up paying $40!!!  None of G2's friends are big on veggies, so I will just take a loaf of Italian bread out of the freezer and call it a day.

Drinks
I'm ashamed to say that I hid more than half of our stash of drinks.  I left out enough soda for them to each have one.  And I hid all of G1's Snapple since that was an issue in the past.  There is a lot of bottled water and water from the tap of course.


BUT....

I still feel kind of guilty over the whole thing.

Besides saying "no", how would you guys handle the whole snack/dinner thing?

Am I just crazy?  And if I am, let me down gently!  Haha

Meal Planning...


I'm a little late posting this but here is the meal plan for the week.  Notice I started this from this PAST Saturday.  =)


Breakfasts
Cinnamon Rolls
Croissants
French Toast
Blueberry Muffins
Egg McMuffins
Cereal
Oatmeal



Lunches
Thai Coconut Soup
Pumpkin Soup
Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
Leftovers
PB&J
Pasta Salad


Dinners

Saturday
We munched our way through the day so dinner was a small/pick what you can affair of:
Macaroni & Cheese
Grilled Cheese with Bacon
Chips

Sunday
Crock Pot made Pot Roast
Mashed Potatoes
Balsamic Glazed Carrots

Monday
Asian Grilled Salmon
Jasmine Rice
Roasted Broccoli
OR
Baked Ziti
(for us non fish eaters)

Tuesday
Mini Meatloaves
Baked Potatoes
Corn

Wednesday
Baked Rosemary Chicken
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Scalloped Potatoes

Thursday
Choice of
Leftovers
or
Black Beans & Rice

Friday
Veggie Quiche
Home Fried Potatoes





Snacks/Desserts
Cinnamon Rolls
Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cherry Turnovers
Doritos
Potato Chips
Popcorn




Sunday, January 24, 2016

2016 Book Challenge Update



My first update of my challenge!  Let's see how I am doing....


2016 Reading Challenge

1.  A book published this year
2.  A book you should have read in school, but didn't
3.  A  book you have been meaning to read
4.  A book with an interesting cover
5.  A book you own but haven't read
6.  A book that received bad reviews
7.  A book with water on the cover
8.  A book in a genre you have never read
9.  A favorite book from your childhood
10.  A book by an author you have never read before
11.  A book that deals with an issue close to your heart
12.  A book "everyone" has read but you
13.  A book about the decade you were born in
14.  A book based on a true story
15.  A book set in the summer
16.  A book set in a country you wish to visit
17.  A Young Adult best seller
18.  A book that's longer than 500 pages
19.  A book that makes you smarter
20.  A book you can finish in a day
21.  A NY Times best seller
22.  A book about a culture with which you are unfamiliar
23.  A book with an apocalyptic theme
24. A book set during Christmas time
25.  A funny book
26.  A book with a one word title
27.  A popular author's first book
28.  A cookbook
29.  A book by someone with the same first name as you
30.   A book of your choosing


Read:
#4.  A book with an interesting cover...
I am not sure you can get more "interesting" than the maniacal raccoon on the front of "Furiously Happy"!  Even though I read it before I started this challenge, I am counting it since it was read at the beginning of 2016!  And since I have already reviewed it in a separate post, I'm not going to re-review it.  =)


#11.  A book that deals with an issue close to your heart...
I finished an amazing book called The Fifth Floor by Julie Oleszek.  It is the story about Anna, the ninth child out of ten.  Anna is admitted to "the fifth floor" of a hospital after not eating for twenty two days straight.  Anna's story of why she stopped eating and all that happens while in the hospital is such a page turner that I finished this book in about two days. 
When I opened this book up, on my Kindle, all I remembered was that I got it for "free".  I had no idea what the story ultimately was about.  This book fits #11's criteria because Guppy 1 dealt with anorexia and depression from 7th through the first part of 9th grade.  We were almost at the point of admitting her to the hospital so, needless to say, this book shook me up a little.  Though fiction, it is such an accurate depiction of what CAN happen.  I highly recommend this book!!!

#20. A book you can finish in a day...
This "book" was on my Kindle as well.  (While I do love actually turning pages, I have accumulated a gazillion books on my Kindle and need to start reading some of them! LOL)  "The Glass Case" by Kristin Hannah is a very short story about a young mother contemplating her life/situation after a potential tragedy occurs.  While I adored "Firefly Lane" by her - seriously go RUN and get that book if you enjoy a good cry!!!, I was left underwhelmed by The Glass Case.  Maybe it was too short?  Too cliché?  I definitely cannot recommend this one. 

Three down and twenty seven more to go!  =)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cinnabon Recipe








Sorry I don't have a picture of Papa's cinnamon rolls yet.  We got a late start on them this morning and they are still in the process of baking!  =)


So, for Alison and anyone else interested, here is our cinnamon roll recipe.  I would give credit if I could but we have been using this recipe for at least ten years so I have no idea where the original came from.




Cinnabons



Roll ingredients

½ cup warm water

2 packages of yeast

2 Tablespoons of sugar

3 ½  oz package of vanilla pudding

½ cup butter, melted

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

6 cups (or more) AP flour



Filling ingredients

1 cup softened butter

2 cups brown sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon



Frosting ingredients

8 oz block of cream cheese

½ cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon milk







Directions:



Combine water, yeast, and sugar.  Stir until dissolved and set aside



Prepare pudding according to package directions.  Add butter, eggs, salt and mix well.  And yeast mixture and blend.



Gradually add flour, knead until smooth, adding more flour as necessary so dough isn’t sticky.

Place in a greased bowl.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size.



Punch down dough and let rise again.



Roll on floured surface to 34x21.  Take the one cup softened butter and spread over surface evenly.  

In bowl, mix brown sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle on top of butter.



Roll tightly.  Then with knife, notch dough evenly every 2 inches.  Cut into rolls.



Place on lightly greased sheet two inches apart. (Or for easier cleanup, use parchment paper.)



Press lightly on each roll then cover to let rise to double size.



Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.





To Make Frosting:

Place softened cream cheese, softened butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, & milk into mixing bowl.  Beat until smooth.  Spread over slightly warm rolls.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Blame It On The Cinnamon Rolls...Or Papa...Or Both!



Conversation with Papa earlier this morning....

Papa:  You know what?  We should make the cinnamon rolls again.

Me:  Yeah, especially since it's going to snow this weekend.

Papa:  And we have the ingredients.

Me:  Well, most of them...We need cream cheese and vanilla pudding.

Papa:  Okay, nevermi-

Me: (interrupting)  No no!  It's okay!  I'll go grab them from the store this morning!


So, yup!  It's Papa's fault for bringing up the cinnamon rolls!  LOL

Seriously guys, he makes the most KILLER cinnamon rolls ever!  (Like Cinnabons really!)  We normally only have them at Christmas time but, this weekend seems like a great weekend to do them again (as long as the power stays on!).

Anyway, crazy lady (me) went to the grocery store yet again this week!  (Someone needs to take my car keys!  I need to be stopped!)  And, grabbed a LOT more than just vanilla pudding mix and cream cheese. 

Why? Because I remembered things like...

Oh!  Papa wanted to try that new cookie recipe that calls for bread flour!  I should get that!
and...
Oh!  G1 and her BFF (sleeping over tonight) love to make that sugar cookie pizza thing!
and...
Oh!  We are out of hot chocolate and look it's a buy one/get one!
and...
Ditto for the coffee situation at our house!
and..
Look!  Papa's favorite cereal is buy one/get one free!
and..
You get the picture!


 Here's the damage but I am putting it towards next week's shopping...Yeah, the shopping I said I wasn't going to do.  (sigh)  I am human.  I am flawed.

But, seriously I am staying out of the grocery stores next week!  I even threw all the flyers into the kindling pile for the fireplace.  LOL


Big Y:  $51.84

Bread:  $2.99
1 6 pack croissants
3 loaves of white bread

Dairy:  $6.69
1 dozen eggs
2 Big Y cream cheese blocks
1 lb Big Y butter

Meat/Protein:  $1.48
1 dozen eggs

Drinks:  $15.18
 2 Big Y K cup salted caramel chocolate
2 Big Y K cup coffee

Pantry:  $19.31
2 instant vanilla puddings
2 CapNCrunch cereal
1 5lb bag bread flour
2 jars of cake frosting
2 boxes cake mix

Snacks:  $5.96
1 bag of Reeses peanut butter cups
1 tube of sugar cookie mix

Taxes: $.23


On the bright side, there is a LOT of food to choose from in my house now.... Let the baking commence tonight and tomorrow!



Left in January's Grocery Budget:  $54 (approximately)


January Found Money....




This past Wednesday and Thursday I gathered up all our "found" money and deposited it into my personal checking account.

As of today it stands at:


$46.49
  (It would have been almost double this but you can read below why that it didn't happen.)



So, where did the money that DID make it into the bank come from?  Here's the breakdown...

Bottle Returns:  $7.75  (We were only able to do TWO of the four bags we have too!)
Consignment Check:  $28.84
Money sitting in the account already: $9.90



BUT....
This amount doesn't include the accumulated change I have saved.  This time when I went to CoinStar I checked to see what gift cards they currently were offering since there is no processing fee for gift cards but there is one (I think it's 10.9% or something like that) for a cash out.  Lo and behold, there was Amazon!  So, I now have a gift card for...

$33.16!

Not too shabby!



Happy Friday everyone!

If you are trying to save found money, how did you do this month?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

This Week's Grocery Trips



I ended up shopping a LOT more than originally planned for this week!  Here's the "damage"....

Stop & Shop $13.68

Bread: .99
1 loaf of white bread

Meat: $8.90
1 package of popcorn chicken (G1's Sunday night dinner while we were at G2's concert)
1 lb of Oscar Meyer bacon

Snacks:  1.79
1 package of Cosmic Brownies that G1 begged for...Don't take kids to the store EVER!  Even at 17 years old!  LOL

Pantry:  $2.00
1 bottle of Ken's Honey Mustard dressing







ShopRite: $144.62

Meat: $5.98
1 lb Plumrose Bacon
1 dozen eggs

Dairy: $6.68
1 16oz container of sour cream
1 lb American deli cheese

Vegetables: $4.75
1 bunch mustard greens
1 bunch beets
5 lb bag of potatoes

Fruit: $5.98
1 pint of blueberries
1 large pineapple

Bath:  $23.68
4 Blistexs (The Guppies and I have been having an issue with chapped lips)
3 large packages of feminine products
1 bottle of SR brand motrin (100 caplets)

Bread:  $16.66
*** Went a little crazy here.  Think I was getting hungry while I shopped!***
6 pack of croissants
6 pack of hard rolls
4 pack of cherry turnovers
1 package of French Twists
6 pack of corn muffins
***Honestly, I need to start trying to make bread.  I have a lot of flour and yeast.  I just need to add the motivation and recipes.***

Snacks: $11.99
1 large bag of Wise potato chips
3 packages of Goldfish crackers
1 bag of Spicy Nacho Doritos
1 bag of regular Nacho Doritos

Drinks: $25.48
3 12 packs of Pepsi products
1 12 pack of Snapple
1 package of Crystal Light Lemonade packets
1 gallon of Arizona decaf Iced Tea

Frozen: $4.48
2 packages of Tostitos pizza rolls
1/2 gallon of Turkey Hill ice cream

Pantry: $9.84
3 boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese
1 small jar of marinated artichoke hearts
3 pack of Oodles of Noodles Ramen style soup
1 Heinz ketchup (Papa is brand loyal here)
1 jar of gourmet mustard

Paper Goods: $23.98
2 Charmin Double Roll 24 packs of toilet paper

Taxes and Bottle Returns: $5.33





CVS:  $.84

Bath: .79
1 bottle of Aussie (brand loyal here) hairspray

Taxes:  $.5





Big Y:  $57.14

Kindling: $4.23
2 bags since our wood doesn't seem to be as seasoned as years past and refusing to catch fire quickly

Dairy:  $5.58
2 boxes of Big Y pie crusts

Frozen:  $1.79
1 bag of green peas

Snacks:  $4.50
1 large bag of regular Big Y tortilla chips
1 large bag of Big Y lime tortilla chips

Veggies:  $3.29
1 tub of freshly made salsa
(counting this as veggies since it came from the produce department fresh not canned)

Drinks: $14.98
1 24 pack case of Poland Spring water
1 12 pack of Snapple

Pantry:  $21.57
1 can Big Y cherry pie filling
1 medium sized bag of Basmati rice
1 bottle of sesame oil
1 bottle of soy sauce
1 box chocolate chip muffin mix
1 box of blueberry muffin mix

Misc.:  $1.20
Bottle deposits




Nothing to feel all that proud about with this week's shopping.  BUT, I am still keeping track which is very important to me.  I am quite sure I also have missed some deals.  However, I need to balance doing my best grocery shopping wise and taking care of myself since I have been feeling extremely "off" these past few weeks.

That being said, I would like to extremely limit or possibly eliminate grocery shopping next week to recoup losses from not utilizing coupons/absolute best deals this week.  We will see if I  can do it! Since I did some decent stocking up, I think this is achievable! =)

Monthly Grocery Budget: $584.00 (approx.)
Monies Spent in January til now: $449.19

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Odds and Ends...

I am thinking about doing these Gas, Garbage, & (now) Consignment posts every OTHER Wednesday since not much is changing.  So, here my last update about this until the end of the month.

Gas
I filled my tank last week for $22.00 and I am still and 3/4 of a tank.  With only two more weeks to go in January, I am very confident that I will be able to stay under my $30 budget for January.

Garbage
Same old boring 3 bags.  This is part of the reason why I am nixing the updates every week.  Until I can get motivated to change this dramatically, it gets kind of boring writing the same thing week after week.

Consignment
I'll have to report back on this later.  I am planning on cashing out my account later this morning and depositing the money into my checking account.  I haven't consigned anything of significance recently and, since I am going to Ebay the Coach bag, it's time to cash out.




Okay, with that out of the way, onto what else I have planned for the day.

Guppy 1 gets to sleep in since it's the last day of midterms and she doesn't have any - lucky kid!  However, Guppy 2 and I will be braving the cold air early than usual since she has newspaper club before school today.

After that I am heading to a local Starbucks to meet up with the one and only, Ms. Sandie from over at SavingMoneyInNewHavenCounty.  It's nice to have found someone in the blogging community that lives so close to me. This will probably be the highlight of my day!

I will cajole request that Papa helps me return the soda cans today.  They have taken over my car trunk and there are two more bags waiting at the garage door entrance!  It's past time!

While I will be at the store returning bottles anyway, I am going to use their CoinStar and cash out all my loose/found change.  I will take a quick peek and see what gift card deals they have but I am thinking I will probably be just cashing it out.

Since my bank is across the street from the store I will march my butt over there and deposit the CoinStar, consignment, and bottle money into my designated "2016 Found Money" account.  (I'll be sure to post an update about how much I have accumulated for January later on this week.)

There is a potential snowstorm being predicted for this weekend.  At first the weathermen were giddy about having everyone "stay tuned" because they aren't sure of the storm's track yet. But as of six am, they are saying that, while it will be a shoveling/plowing event, it is most likely not going to be as bad as originally predicted.   Still, I am thankful that I already did my main grocery shopping for this week - to be posted tomorrow - and won't be scrambling to the store screaming "Gotta get the bread and milk"!  Haha   However, I do think I am going to "splurge" and grab some kindling for our fireplace because the wood we purchased this year doesn't burn as easily as in years past.  Also, I plan on running to the dollar store to grab another deck or two of playing cards in case we get "snowed in".  Other than that, I think we are good to go for our first potential storm.

And with that, I am off to shower and get bundled up to face the cold!

Happy Wednesday!






Monday, January 18, 2016

My 2016 Reading Challenge

 

To paraphrase something that Stephen King said....
In order to write better, you need to constantly read.  Read everything...Good and Bad. Just read.

This year, I have decided to do a reading challenge of my own creation.  I have gleaned ideas from a few different challenges (past and present) to come up with the following list.  Feel free to join me or you can always watch me (hopefully) succeed with completing this list!  =)



2016 Reading Challenge

1.  A book published this year
2.  A book you should have read in school, but didn't
3.  A  book you have been meaning to read
4.  A book with an interesting cover
5.  A book you own but haven't read
6.  A book that received bad reviews
7.  A book with water on the cover
8.  A book in a genre you have never read
9.  A favorite book from your childhood
10.  A book by an author you have never read before
11.  A book that deals with an issue close to your heart
12.  A book "everyone" has read but you
13.  A book about the decade you were born in
14.  A book based on a true story
15.  A book set in the summer
16.  A book set in a country you wish to visit
17.  A Young Adult best seller
18.  A book that's longer than 500 pages
19.  A book that makes you smarter
20.  A book you can finish in a day
21.  A NY Times best seller
22.  A book about a culture with which you are unfamiliar
23.  A book with an apocalyptic theme
24. A book set during Christmas time
25.  A funny book
26.  A book with a one word title
27.  A popular author's first book
28.  A cookbook
29.  A book by someone with the same first name as you
30.   A book of your choosing

I think a 30 book challenge should keep me busy enough!  Plus, I know there are books that I want to read this year that don't necessarily fit into any of the challenge criteria.

How about you?  Do you love to read?  Are you challenging yourself this year in any way with your reading?

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Quick Dollar Tree Trip....

When starting my chili for last night's dinner, I realized that I was out of chili powder.  So, rather than running to a grocery store and paying premium price (and probably buying more stuff than needed), I ran over to our local Dollar Tree.

Here's what I spent:  $6.19

And here's the breakdown:

Pantry: $1.00
Chili Powder

Paper Products: $2.00
2 rolls (27 sq feet each) of tin foil

Bath & Beauty:  $3.00
1 large bottle of liquid soap for the downstairs bathroom
2 bottles of Witch Hazel (G1 uses this)

Taxes: $.19

I added this trip to my Excel spreadsheet because every penny counts this year towards my bottom line! 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

This Week's Meal Plan...



Here's the plan for the upcoming week!




Breakfasts

Oatmeal
English Muffins with butter or jelly
Bagels with butter or cream cheese
Eggs
Hasbrown Patties
Cold Cereal (what's left of it. This has twindled quite nicely)
Pancakes
Banana, Peanut Butter, & Honey breakfast wraps
Cinnamon Rolls




Lunches

Leftovers
Pumpkin Soup
Grilled Cheese
Hot Dogs
Macaroni n Cheese





Dinners

Saturday
Vegetarian Chili with Ciabatta Rolls
or
Leftover Pizza/Calzone

Sunday
Guppy 2 has a concert with her band at a restaurant.  She, Papa, and I will eat dinner there.  G1 doesn't want to attend this time so she will eat leftovers/make something herself from the pantry.

Monday
Steak (frozen leftovers from the large tenderloin we purchased for Christmas and didn't cook)
Mashed potatoes
Frozen corn
Sauteed spinach with garlic

Tuesday
Baked Chicken
Jasmine Rice
Roasted Carrots

Wednesday
Mongolian Beef Crepes
(leftover) Jasmine Rice

Thursday
Pot Roast with carrots and onions
Mashed Potatoes

Friday
Chicken Casserole
Roasted Brussels

This week is a bit heavy on the meat, I know.  However, our freezer is stuffed right now (a GOOD problem to have!) so I want to start utilizing what's in there.

What's cooking in your world?



This Week's Freebies



Lots more freebies happening here this week!
 

First one is Papa's.  He went to dinner on Wednesday night with some old colleagues - some still at the company, some laid off like him, and some retired.  These gentlemen were the ones Papa really liked/respected so (before knowing it would be free) I had encouraged him to go.  I knew he would enjoy getting out (and away from me LOL) and that getting in contact with some of them could help him network.  Well, one of the guys is from out of state and here for meetings so he decided to put the entire meal on his expense report!  So free food for everyone at the table!  =)


Second one is (sort of) Papa's too.  He had his unemployment "hearing" (fancy telephone call where they took all his original data AGAIN!) and they NOW decided they wanted a copy of his severance package paperwork.  Well, since we didn't have an electronic copy to email, we were going to have to fax it over.  Our public library was going to charge us TWENTY DOLLARS to fax the thing!!!!  My mom offered to fax it for us from her job for free.  So, essentially twenty bucks saved/stayed in our wallet.


Guppy 1 got a free doctor's visit...She got hurt while at work on Thursday when a kid kicked a ball into her face!  OUCHIE!  We had to pick her up from work, bring her to a walk in clinic and make sure her nose wasn't broken.  (It's not broken - just bruised. And she's okay.  It swelled a little but not black eyes so yay for that!)  Not the greatest thing to count as a freebie I know.  Also, before leaving work to get her nose checked out, they gave her two extra ice packs in case our wait was long.  These ice packs are the kind that you "break" to make instantly cold so they are a pretty cool thing to have for our summer hiking adventures.  But, still, I feel weird adding any of this in as "freebies".  =)


Now onto the bulk of the freebies, coming from the Freebie Fairy (my BFF).  I am now pretty sure that she is doing some of this on purpose because she KNOWS I won't let her specifically buy me groceries or anything.  And part of it is because she is freaked out that she gained a little weight over the holidays and is starting to do Paleo again now.  Here's what she passed on to me....

2 boxes of pierogis
2 packages of frozen Brussel sprouts (she says she didn't like the texture)
2 Special K protein shakes
1 package of organic ground beef
1 bunch of fresh rosemary
1 package Werther's candies
1 package of cupcakes
1 box of light brown sugar
half package of bread crumbs (left from her Christmas cooking)
half bottle of good olive oil (left from her Christmas cooking)

She also gave me a couple of gift cards with small balances she wasn't going to use up.
Big Y - $3.73
Walgreens - $10.48


Oh, and I guess the last thing I can count as a "freebie" is that my car began to do it's overheating thing again and needed the antifreeze lines "bled".  Papa was able to do this at home so no out of pocket money on car repairs!  =)


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Shop Rite Stock Up



This week I took advantage of Shop Rite's "Can Can" sale.  I did have to refrain from buying more frozen food stuff because my freezer is loaded to the brim.  Otherwise, I think I did fairly well.  Also, note that some of what was purchased is going to be used in next week's meals since I did try to do some "thinking ahead" about that too!  =)  I will be doing my best to stay out of the grocery stores next week (unless there is a really really good loss leader!)



Total Spent This Trip:  $118.93
Total Spent 2016:  $209.53

Here's the breakdown....

Dairy:  $16.70
Pint of ShopRite sour cream
2 packages of Cabot shredded mozzarella
1 Quart of light cream
1 block of Cabot cheddar cheese
1 package of Cabot shredded double cheddar
1/2 gallon of milk
1 block of Shop Rite cream cheese

Veggies:  $16.78
3 large green peppers
3 large red peppers
1 package of Shop Rite baby bella mushrooms
1 large eggplant
3 lbs of onions
1 large package of Shop Rite microwavable spinach
5 lb bag of potatoes

Fruit:  $.80
3 large bananas

Bread:  $2.50
1 package of 6 store made corn muffins

Snacks: $5.38
Newman's pineapple salsa
1 package of pizza goldfish

Drinks:  $22.75
2 8 packs of Hi C juice boxes
1 12 pack of Snapple
5 cases of Pepsi

Bath & Beauty:  $6.35
2 tubes of Aim toothpaste
1 Sauve shower gel
2 Arrid deodorants

Frozen:  $10.63
3 pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream
1 large package of Shop Rite Crinkle Fries

Pantry:  $16.06
4 cans College Inn chicken broth
4 cans College Inn beef broth
2 jars Francesco Rinaldi pasta sauce
1 can of diced chilis
2 cans black beans
2 cans red beans
2 cans diced tomatoes
3 boxes mac n cheese

Paper Goods:  $6.99
12 pack of toilet paper

Cleaning Supplies:  $8.95
1 small bottle of dishwashing liquid
4 bottles of laundry detergent

Misc:  $5.04
Bottle Deposits
Taxes



I am relatively sure I could have done better had I taken the time to look for coupons other than the ones that were "clippable" in the ShopRite flyer.   I did take a quick(ish) look through the coupons I have yet to clip and didn't find any that coordinated with my trip.  Moving forward I do need to make more of an effort with this.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Quick Trip to CVS



Papa had a phone interview this afternoon so puppy and I took a ride so Papa could concentrate and have the house to himself....with no barking dogs in the background!

Anyway, I did a quick run to CVS since I had $3 ECB's and wanted to see if I could find any deals and grab some more tissues.  Here's what I ended up with....

2 boxes of CVS brand tissues (70 count)
1  6 pack of Brawny paper towels (this will last us at least six months!)
5 bottles of Purex laundry detergent (43.5 oz each)

Total Spent:  $14.81
Earned $5 ECB's

Not too bad in my book!  And I am stocked up on laundry detergent through at least the winter!


Gas, Garbage, & Consignment



It's Wednesday again so it's time for Oscar to make his appearance on my blog!  =)
Let's see how I did this week....


GAS

Remember how last Wednesday I said I was going to get gas?  I never did!  LOL  I spent the last week chugging along on that quarter tank (when I did drive that is)!  Crazy right?  Well, I HAVE to fill up today because I'm driving G2 to an extra garage band practice tonight since they have a 'gig' on Sunday.  The place they practice is about 30 to 40 minutes away so I KNOW I won't make it round trip on what's left in the tank. 
I'm too lazy to double check my past posts but I *think* it's been a little over two months since I filled the gas tank.  It's hard for me to believe that even happened!  And, I am quite sure this won't happen again.
Even though I have used Papa's car a bit more for in town errands, our overall gas consumption has gone down a LOT.  Papa usually tracks his own gas $$ but, starting February, I'll be tracking what he spends as well.
Budget for MY January gas is still at $30.00 and I should have no problem at all staying within this.

UPDATE:  Finally broke down and put $22.00 in my gas tank!


GARBAGE

This week we had 3 (13 gallon kitchen sized) bags for garbage.  Our recycling only gets picked up every other week and the large rolling cart is about 1/2 full already.




CONSIGNMENT


As I wrote earlier, I didn't get to the consignment store yet with my Coach bag.  I also haven't called in this week to check my balance.  The store is closed at the moment so I have no idea if anything else I have left there has sold or not.  I'll have to call or drop in later this week.


So, that's where we stand on this freezing January morning!

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Hardest Thing to Consign So Far....


It's not the greatest picture but you get the idea.


Yesterday I blogged about my "freebies" and hinted at the above picture.  Yes, that's an authentic Coach bag.  And, it has been used exactly two times...Once by my BFF (the original owner) who decided it was too small and then once by me.

While I am not your typical girly girl (anymore),  I actually do did love this purse. No rhyme nor reason why... I just did.

But, I was slightly afraid to use it because I didn't want to dirty it.   Seriously, I worried about everywhere I put the thing on the one day I used it!

So, it sat upstairs in my closet...on the top shelf....wrapped in a small towel...all alone.  (No joke!)

And, then I got to thinking....

What good was this purse to me if I was afraid to use it?

And....

More importantly....

What good was this purse if I DID use it but there was no money at all to fill it?

And...

Most importantly....

What good is a freaking purse if I can't pay my bills/am starving?  (A bit of a stretch but you know what I mean.)

So, off it goes to the consignment shop later this morning.

I plan on keeping track of it though.  If it doesn't sell in the allotted three months, it will be coming back home with me and NOT being sent off to be donated like the rest of the stuff the store doesn't sell.  I would bring it back home with me....

To sit back on the closet shelf....

And wait...

While I posted the sucker on Craig's List, Ebay, and Facebook.

Because, it IS a Coach bag afterall...

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Freebie Fairy Strikes Again!




My best friend, AKA The Freebie Fairy, struck again this week!

Honestly, I can't tell you enough how much I love her BEFORE all the freebies! As I have said, she is like my sister and I would do almost anything for her! Sometimes I feel badly for all that she passes on to my family but she says it makes her feel good to do it.  So, that makes it a win/win right?

Anyway, here's what she past on during the latest round...

2 pairs of brand new PJ bottoms (my size which I suspect she bought specifically for me but won't admit)
2 pairs of brand new soft slip on style slippers
1 refrigerator eye mask
4 night light bulbs (she can get a little quirky with her giving!  LOL)
1 very pretty ring holder (off to consignment since I only have my wedding rings which don't come off ever)
1 portable phone charger (which I will carry in my purse.  The Guppies would probably maim each other to get a hold of this!  Haha)
1 loaf of artisan French brioche bread
2 trays of her mom's homemade manicotti
2 containers of fresh Brussel sprouts
2 large heads of fresh broccoli

And, one more thing but I am holding off talking about it since it deserves a post of its own next week!

Any good freebies come your way lately?


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Meal Plan for the Week



Here's what we have been/will be eating over the next week.  I am going to try my best to keep up with the meal planning this year!



Breakfasts

French Toast
Hash brown Patties
Coffee Cake
English Muffins (with butter or jelly)
Homemade Egg McMuffins
Bacon & Eggs
Croissants



Lunches

Hot Dogs
Salads
Seafood Salad (Papa)
Thai Coconut Soup
Granola Bar, String Cheese, Assorted Fruit
Leftovers
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup


Dinners

Saturday
Roasted Chicken Breast with white wine, garlic, and artichoke hearts
Jasmine Rice
Roasted Broccoli

Sunday
(Dinner for one - Me!  Papa & G1 will be going to New Jersey.  G2 has plans with friends.)
Baked Homemade Manicotti (BFF's mom made it!)
Salad
Homemade Garlic Bread (using leftover hamburger buns)

Monday
Cheeseburger Wraps
French Fries
Pickles

Tuesday
Crockpot Beef Stew
Rolls

Wednesday
Turkey (previously cooked but frozen in meal sized bags)
Homemade Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Sauteed Spinach
Roasted Carrots

Thursday
Baked Taco Bowls

Friday
Pancakes
Sausage
Diner style Homefries


I tried to put a bit more "thought" into dinners - using what is on hand/what will be purchased at Shop Rite tomorrow. 

To help streamline the process, I have written down each dinner menu on the corresponding page in my planner.  Hopefully this will help me remember what is scheduled to be made each day and make it easier if I do need to rearrange any meals.