Sunday, July 31, 2016

Upcoming Week.....


I dropped Papa off at the airport this morning to go to his second conference in about one month's time...and hopefully the last one for at least a little while.  He was pretty crabby yesterday because he hates traveling....Yeah, I don't like it when he travels either!  At least it is another fairly short conference - he's coming home very late Wednesday night.

Here's what is on tap for the week for us:

Trying to stay very frugal is the number one priority!  We are feeling the pinch pretty badly since Papa's company didn't reimburse his travel expenses yet - His boss was away on vacation for a week and couldn't officially "approve" the receipts/documentation until he got back.  So, the reimbursement is pushed back until next payday...in TWO weeks!   Both girls know that anything they want to do needs to come out of their own money.  G1 doesn't have any major plans this week since her BFF is working a lot of hours.  And, G2 has some of her birthday money left.  So, I'm not  too worried about it.

Remember the family that took G2 to the Outer Banks earlier this summer?  The mom is going to Norway this week and I told them that we would have their daughter over to our house during the day while the dad is at work.  Considering how much G2 and her friends go out during the day, I am pretty sure this won't create much of a change in our "normal" summer routine.

On Monday my parents have generously offered to take me to Costco for a stock up! Of course the timing is NOT random...After I mentioned the late reimbursement issue, they offered the trip!  So, later today I will be making my list.  =)

On Tuesday, I will be heading to my neurologist...alone.  Not what Papa and I had wanted but, I decided to keep the appointment after we found out when Papa's conference days were.  Honestly, at this point, nothing is going to be decided on Tuesday anyway.  I will need to update my information (like being off my main MS med for the past six plus months) and then we KNOW he's going to schedule an MRI for me before making any sort of medical game plan.  So, I will go do this first step on my own.

Then, on Friday, I will be taking the girls and two of their friends to Rhode Island to spend the day at the beach.  My plan is to spend money on just the parking fee ($15) and gas for the trip back and forth.   (I am packing all of our food/drinks.)  This trip is now part of our "annual" summer tradition so I want to make sure it happens.  This coming Friday seems the best day available - let's just hope it doesn't rain!

In between all of this and running the girls to whatever plans they may make, I have a few things that I would like to take care of around the house.  It always seems easier to focus on slightly bigger projects when I am down a family member to take care of.  LOL  So before Papa gets home on Wednesday night, I would like to:

Reorganize the pantry/kitchen cabinets and take stock of what I have
Deep clean the upstairs full bathroom and organize/clear out the cabinets under the sink
Start to declutter our bedroom - including the large closet
Clean out my car as it is getting junky from driving kids around


So, that's what is coming up for me this week!

How about you?  Any good plans?  Projects? 


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Found Money For July



Notice I didn't use the piggy bank this month?

That's because the money didn't go to savings but to help subsidize Guppy 2's birthday party!

It didn't go that far but every little bit helped!

Here's what I got:


Consignment Store:  $11.10
A few things I had brought to the consignment store at the beginning of the month sold.  I am guessing that everything hasn't sold yet though because this total was slightly lower than I expected.

Bottle Returns:  $15.00
Yup!  You read that right!  I had quite a few cans stacked up in our garage!  Fortunately, no one else was in the bottle return area so I was able to get it done very quickly!  (I have it down to a science with those machines! LOL)


That's all the "found" money for this month.  I didn't amass that much in loose change so I am waiting until the end of August to cash it in.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Reading Challenge: What I Read in July



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


Well, July was a very slow reading month for me!  I'm not sure what is was....the weather?  Running around a lot more?  Whatever it was, I just didn't get much accomplished in the way of reading and  wasn't able to cross anything off my challenge for this month!  Here's what I did read though:


The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach
Separated, small town lawyer, Eric, is standing behind a very strange woman in the grocery store one snowy evening.   She looks homeless and is short on money to pay for her order.  Eric feels aggravated yet sorry for her and pays the balance.  While walking out to his car with his groceries, he sees this woman struggling and limping...clearly walking to wherever she came from.  Eric offers her a ride and find she lives in a summer cabin in the woods.  He feels compelled to help her bring her groceries down the path to her cabin and gets snowed in.  Thus begins the story of Eric and "Danielle" - each coming to terms with disappointment, loneliness, and whether giving love a second chance is worth it. 
I really wanted to like this book!  It wasn't your typical tawdry romance book (there was a light sorta sex scene but no "she gripped his rock hard shaft" kinda crap).  I can't say exactly why I didn't enjoy the story completely.  Part of it was distraction on my part with everything I was attempting to do besides read!  And, I think partly, the author didn't balance his details well.  He went overkill on the snow trapping them in.  Yet, when they finally DID manage to escape the cabin, there wasn't nearly ENOUGH detail about their hike to safety.  Also, I found the personality of Danielle to be a bit over the top and not believable....unless she was mentally ill.  In the grand scheme of things, I am going to give it the benefit of the doubt and think that maybe it was just the wrong book for me to read at the time I read it.  I'll give it a 3 out of 5 stars.



The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello
This is the story of Caroline...Suburban, married,  stay at home mom to two little girls who lives in a town where all the moms' favorite pastime is getting gossip and "dirt" on each other.  One day Caroline decides to "google" herself (both married and maiden names) and opens up a Pandora's box of events of which she has no recollection...including her twin sister's death and a botched abortion/hysterectomy.  Can she find a way to fit the missing pieces of the puzzle back together AND keep her life intact?
I have to be honest and say I almost gave up on this book.  The "clues" were too easy to piece together...or so I thought!  This book is well worth the quick read and has a very surprising twist at the end!  I have to give this book five out of five stars!


Hopefully I will be able to get more reading accomplished over the next few months! And I have to focus on finding books to fit the above criteria so I can finish this challenge!

Anyone read any good books this month?  Any suggestions on books that can fulfill what's left on my challenge?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Looking Ahead....



While summer has been great and lots of fun, this is around the time I start to get "antsy" and begin to think ahead...

To September...




It will be the first (and last!) year both my girls will be in HIGH school together!  That will bring some ease to my driving schedule but I am sure there will be extracurricular activities/clubs to juggle - some of which should be the same if I'm lucky!  But, it will also change my daily "at home" schedule - so the wheels are creaking and trying to think of different ideas/plans.


I am going to be re-evaluating the budget for a September re-start...




There are things that I am mulling over getting rid of completely - if not at least for the moment.  The top two things on the list are the Guppies music lessons....
  G2 has been enjoying her drum lessons but isn't practicing nearly as much as she used to.  She would much rather spend time with her friends, read, or write.  She has already stated that she "may" not want to continue once high school starts because she wants to take advantage of her time there.  Our high school will probably be a much kinder/better place for G2 than it has been for G1 so it's hard to argue with her logic!  
As for G1, I am far from happy with her vocal teacher.  His lack of professionalism has been very apparent lately.  The past month and a half there have been three separate occasions that upset us.  First, he cancelled a lesson the day of, stating there was an emergency at home.  Okay fine.  But....the next day he was posting pictures on social media of his "view" from the balcony of his hotel on VACATION!  Second, he bugged G1 to purchase an app (which ended up being fairly useless) that cost $10.  G1 was resistant to which he told her "Ten dollars shouldn't be a big deal since your father is working again.".  The third thing happened last evening, he asked to move G1's lesson up to an earlier time.  I said fine and got her there.  I waited outside in the car and received a text from her FIFTEEN minutes into what should have been her lesson saying that he hasn't taken her in yet but is still schmoozing the family of the student who's lesson was before her into purchasing more studio lessons in acting/dancing/etc.  And, the kicker is he didn't give her the full half hour!  She got a total of 22 minutes of lesson time! 
Ultimately, I will leave the decisions up to the girls but boy I am boiling regarding G1's vocal teacher!




Also, I will continue tackling my grocery budget.  I am *hoping* I can save a good amount of money once the girls are back in school!  Summer always seems to put a huge kink in the works regarding groceries.  It's not even like they eat all that much - it's just what they do eat/like, they run through pretty quickly!  When they are in school five out of the seven days per week, it should give me some breathing room!







I really need to get some sort of housework system in place once September comes as well!  Luckily,  the planner that I received for Mother's Day has some inserts that I was able to turn into a "household" planner - complete with housework pages/charts, budgeting pages, and meal planning pages.  I am holding off September to start it but having the planner close by helps keep it in the forefront of my mind.






I haven't sat down to actually write anything (besides this blog!) in a few months now!  And I am missing it tremendously!  I want to get back into writing (especially the book I have been working on!) as soon as the girls are back in school!  I *need* that quiet time during the day to focus!  That has to be a permanent part of my new schedule!



I'm sure I will come up with more changes I would like to incorporate into my fall re-boot but that's currently what's running around my head.

Does anyone else start to get antsy/reformulate things around September?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Chilling Out!



Today has been a pretty quiet day so far...

I took Guppy 2 to the library this morning to grab some more books to read...I swear the girl is never home but when she is her nose is always in a book!  And, I LOVE that!

I will be taking Guppy 1 to her vocal lesson tonight.  While I love spending time with her, I am not looking forward to the drive.  I am not crazy about where the studio got relocated and parking is a nightmare!  But, I have to suck it up and drive this week and next as well since....

Papa has been working a TON of hours...Yesterday he worked a thirteen hour day and Monday he worked eleven or twelve!  We both knew this was going to happen over the course of the upcoming months (until the end of October).  Even though I miss having him here at "normal" hours, I am very thankful that he has this new job that he loves and that the boss truly appreciates him! 

So, today is going to be another long day for him and, on top of that, G1's vocal coach asked to have her come almost two hours earlier than her scheduled lesson time.

And, then this Sunday, Papa is off to California for another conference and won't be coming home until early Thursday morning...I think he said his flight comes in at 1 am!  So, vocal duty is up to me next Wednesday!

Other than that, I'm still nursing this cold and trying to find the motivation to tackle some of the housework around here!  Haha!

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rare Treat!



Nothing short of a summer miracle happened today in my house!

The Guppies and I napped!

All afternoon long!

Guppy 2 decided to opt out of walking around town with her friends today and Guppy 1 is still nursing her own cold...

So, I had absolutely NOWHERE to go today!  Yay me!

Seriously, it was the first day this has happened all summer!

Plus, the nice nap I had (while didn't help my cold as much as I would have liked) definitely helped my mood!

And, I don't feel a single bit guilty about not doing any housework or anything on my "to do" list either!

Sometimes you gotta give in and indulge yourself with a lazy day!

It can work miracles for your psyche!

Crabby



I just spent almost 45 minutes writing up a seething post about all the reasons that I am crabby today!  While many are very justified, I am choosing to delete that post and simply say...

I'm very crabby today for a LOT of reasons.

I'm sure that fact that I have a cold coming on and all this heat (triggering my MS symptoms) isn't helping matters either.

And, in the end....

Most of what's bothering me isn't even ultimately MY problem!  It's the problem and perceptions of others...

So I am trying going to take a deep breath and let it go!


Besides a very messy house, all is actually okay in my world.  The cold and MS symptoms will go away  - especially if I rest and stay in the a/c!

We all feel crabby sometimes, right?

Have a great day!

I am going try my best to have one too!

Monday, July 25, 2016

This Week's Menu Plan

Back to the old format! Oh! And Guppy 1 is starting to eat meat again (making menus easier to plan for all of us)!


Breakfasts

Bagels with butter or cream cheese
Croissants
Cold cereal
Yogurt with berries
Berry Smoothies
Oatmeal
Toast with butter/peanut butter
"Breakfast Delights" - butter, bacon, and melted cheese on toasted English muffin



Lunches

Leftovers
Pasta Salad
Chicken Sandwiches
Mac n Cheese
Quesadillas
PB&J with chips
Wheat berry salad


Dinners

Sunday
Eggplant Parmesan
Spicy Salad with Choice of Dressing
Italian Bread with Butter and Roasted Garlic

Monday
Mini Meatloaves
Baked Sweet Potato Wedges
Green Beans with Garlic


Tuesday
Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Sage, & Thyme
Mashed Yukon Golds
or
Baked Russet Potatoes
Sauteed Zucchini with Garlic & Red Onion


Wednesday
Spicy Udon Noodles
or
Baked Potato Skins with Bacon & Cheese


Thursday
Mongolian Beef Wraps
Salad with Choice of Dressing


Friday
Angel Hair Pasta with Fresh Garlic, Tomatoes, Basil, Olives, Capers, & Parmesan
Italian Bread with Butter
or
Leftover Spicy Udon



So...

That's the plan!  Dinner nights may get switched around as our schedule dictates but these are the meals I plan on making this week!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Grocery Trip for the New Week



Late yesterday afternoon I went over to the grocery store to buy stuff for the upcoming week.  Here's what I bought/spent:

Stop & Shop:  $90.70

1 medium sized bag of shredded parmesan cheese
1/3 lb of pitted olives from olive bar
1 bottle of OJ
1 lb of butter
1/3 lb of Boar's Head Honey Maple Chicken from the deli
3/4 lb of store brand sliced American cheese from the deli
5 (32 oz) bottles of Gatorade
1 container of Finish dishwasher tabs
1 large bottle of Ajax dishwashing liquid
3 steaks
3 lbs of 85% lean ground beef
1 bag of store brand croutons
2 packages of Goldfish crackers
1 small bag of dog food
1 package of fresh snap peas
2 medium sized bananas
1 (12oz) package of raspberries
1 (18oz) package of blueberries


I am *hoping* that this will be the last trip of the month for groceries!

Total Spent for July Groceries:  $631.61

Definitely a LOT more than I had planned to spend but it looks like I will stay under the $700 I had mentioned last week or so ago (when I tallied up the receipts and almost passed out!).

Later today I will get my menu plan together for the week.  I'm thinking I want to go back to the weekly breakfast/lunch/dinner format since that seems to work best for me - even if I end up switching dinner nights around.  I'll post that tomorrow morning!

Hope you all have a nice and relaxing Sunday!!!



Saturday, July 23, 2016

Farmer's Market Finds




We got a very late start this morning!  I didn't get out of bed until TEN AM!  (I have the beginnings of a decent cold brewing so the extra rest will hopefully combat it a little!)  Also, my mom asked me if Papa & I could stop over to help them move a few pieces of furniture in preparation for their new mattress delivery later today.  So, instead of our usual nine am farmer's market trip, we didn't get there until almost 12:30 - and the market closes at 1pm!  Still, we got what we needed so no complaints.

Wooster Street Farmer's Market:  $16

1 bottle of whole milk
1 pint of cherry yogurt
1 pint of blueberry yogurt
1 quart of green beans  (I am soooo missing my garden green beans but sadly, we waited to long to plant and couldn't find any)
1 small bag of spicy salad greens




On the way home from there, I asked Papa to stop at the farm up the street  from us to take a quick look around since I hadn't gotten there yet this summer.  We definitely didn't leave empty handed!

Zentek Farms:  $7.11

3 ears sweet corn
2 large sweet potatoes
2 medium sized eggplants


Total Spent at Farms Toady:  $23.11



I have to say I'm pretty happy with the total I spent today and what it bought.  If you have been following my Farmer's Market trips, this price is a fraction of what I usually spend.


Hope everyone is having a great weekend! 


Friday, July 22, 2016

We Survived Guppy 2's Party (Barely) and Some Totals.....



Phew!  What a whirlwind Wednesday and Thursday were!

Guppy 2's party went very well!  G2 and friends had a LOT of fun and seemed very happy (but exhausted by Thursday afternoon).  We had simply gorgeous weather and the kids were able to take advantage full advantage of it - first at the amusement park and then in the campground - until I wrangled them all into the cabin for the night at 11pm!  Oh, and let me also mention that they didn't go to sleep that night until 3:30am!!
The next morning, I had to get everyone up at 8:30am for breakfast and to vacate the cabin by checkout time at 10:30.  (They opted to go BACK to the amusement park for the day while I went home to unpack what I could, feed the animals, and walk the dog.)  When I picked them up at 3pm that afternoon, they were ALL dragging!  G2 crashed on the couch at 6pm and slept until 7am this morning!  LOL

Now, before I get into totals, let me start by saying:

G2 loves experiences over actual gifts.  The gifts I did purchase were well researched and bought at the lowest price/discounts/coupons I could find.  For me, I did very well - spending just slightly over 100.00 on all physical presents. That money purchased:  1 sweatshirt for G1 (tradition we started long ago where we buy a small gift for the non birthday girl) and for G2: all things had her favorite band's logo - 1 tank top, 1 T-shirt, 1 tank top with a custom cartoon version of the band members, 1 pair of skinny sweatpants,  1 sweatshirt, and a very fluffy personal blanket. 

I did purchase all of the soda and most of the chips during sales and taking advantage of buy 1/get 1 free weeks.

What we spend on birthdays/holidays is most likely not what others tend to spend.  I know this.  As the Guppies get older, we are trying to reign it in where we can.  But, please remember this is where we are after almost 18 years of birthdays and holidays. 

Okay...

Now for the breakdown....

Remember, there were eight kids total, me, and Papa who stayed for just dinner/cake Wednesday night.

First....

Big Y: $58.65

Custom photo 1/4 sheet cake (smallest offered)
2 1/2 gallons of ice cream
2 packs of apple strudel (option for breakfast)
1 pack of croissants (breakfast option)
1 package plain bagels (breakfast option)
1 package everything bagels (breakfast option)
1 lb of butter
1 tub of whipped cream cheese
1 extra large bag of plain potato chips


Pizza: $50-ish
Papa picked up the pizza on the way to the cabin after work.  He said it was right under $50 for four extra large cheese pizzas from a local pizza place in our town.


Wings:  $38-ish
1 bucket of Honey BBQ dirt style wings was right under $38


Lunches/Misc. at the park (both days): $60
All the kids brought $$$ but I gave G1 and G2 $30 each for lunches/miscellany.  Typically all the kids only eat French fries while at the amusement park anyway.  Lake Compounce has free water/soda stations but the Guppies also love the slushies (which you have to buy of course)

SkyCoaster:  $50
The SkyCoaster is the only ride at the park not included in the admission price or season passes.  Basically, for those who don't know, you get harnessed with one or two other people, raised up on a cable a zillion feet (okay maybe a slight exaggeration there), and then pull a cord to release the cable to fly Superman style back and forth.
G2's boyfriend wanted to pay for her ride so I didn't have to spend $$$ on her.
BUT, I did treat G1 and her BFF since this was on both of their summer bucket lists.

Cabin Price: $200-ish
The cost of the cabin was $200 plus a couple of pennies.  We had to get the largest style of cabin since there were nine of us sleeping there!


Total Price (not including what was purchased previously): $456.65*

*I know this is a lot of money.  I know it's not frugal at all. I know that this is a lot more than people spend during the month on groceries, etc.  Also, in no way am I trying to brag about the amount of money I spent either.  I am trying to keep an honest account of what I did.  Please don't take this the wrong way or be offended!


Food wise, we brought home an insane amount of leftovers!  We will be eating the rest of the cake probably through this weekend, we have almost all the ice cream waiting in the freezer, we will finish the wings and pizza for lunch today (we also them for dinner last night), and we will be eating the breakfast choices through the beginning of next week I am sure.

So, now back to reality and try to get on some sort of blogging schedule again!

Oh, and hopefully not gain 20lbs finishing up this yummy cake!  LOL

Speaking of which, I'm off to walk the dog!  =)

Happy Friday!







Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hi Guys!


Nope, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth!  I've just been crazy busy!!!  But, in a good way (mostly).

Saturday's trip to Long Island was a lot of fun!  Not only did we get to see a great concert at our favorite small venue, but we also got to catch up with some of our favorite friends that we haven't seen in at least six months.

Sunday Papa was going to visit his mom (ended up driving her from the rehab place to a local hospital to have some bacterial cultures done because they thought there was an infection...more on that in a few.)  G2 went to see her boyfriend. And....

G1, her BFF, and I went on a little adventure!  I LOOOOOVE abandoned sites but my favorite of all are old abandoned towns...the ones that date back from the 1700/1800's where there are just old rock walls and rock house foundations.  Most of these places have ghost stories associated with them as well (which can cause more vandalism and trouble sometimes) and this place is no exception to the ghost stories.  This village was amazing!  Some things were intact so well!  I just have to share some pictures:





The path heading into the abandoned town...You could almost hear the horses and wagons!


A friend Guppy 1 found on the path!

Look at the condition of this old well near a homestead!!!

Well preserved rock house foundation with chimney flue in the middle.

Gorgeous old cemetery with gravestones being taken over by fauna.

Stone steps into graveyard

This gravestone was the only one completely intact and readable.


I took a ton of pictures but I won't bore you with them all!  LOL


As for yesterday....well Papa's mom isn't doing well again.  The cultures the local hospital took grew out way too quickly (meaning honking infection!!)  She had to leave the rehab facility and go back to Yale for treatment.  However, the rehab place was having difficulty obtaining an ambulance/chair car so Papa left work at the end of the day, drove 45 minutes to get her, and then drove BACK to work to get her admitted.  My poor guy didn't get home until after 8:30pm!  And, he is supposed to have a heavy load of work/overtime this week due to people flying here to work on his project!
I'm slightly aggravated at Medicare.  They wouldn't approve my mother in law being at a more clinical type of rehab facility (claimed she didn't need it).  Her doctor even fought it with them but they wouldn't budge!  So here we are with her being transferred back to the (more expensive for Medicare) hospital!  If she were in a facility like her doctor wanted, the infection could have been taken care of there and she could have continued her rehab!  Honestly, I am starting to get worried that she isn't going to be returning to her house ever.  She has had such a difficult time and quite a few infections.  I worry how much her body can handle, you know?
One fun thing DID happen yesterday though...I got to have breakfast with the one and only Ms. Sandie from over at Saving Money In New Haven County!  It was so nice to catch up with her!!!

Today has me getting things ready/finalized for Guppy 2's birthday party tomorrow!  I *think* I have most of the supplies I need (besides the cake and ice cream which I pick up tomorrow!).  I am working out the particulars with driving and it appears I will be in my car A LOT tomorrow shuttling kids to the amusement park (2 trips), heading back home to pick up supplies and cake, getting the keys to the cabin and dropping stuff off there, driving to G2's favorite wing place to pickup a bucket of wings, and then finally going back to the cabin to decorate.  Thankfully, Papa will pick up the pizzas after work before he heads up to spend a little time with us (he's not staying at the cabin overnight).  I am especially thankful for the fact that the kids are old enough to roam the amusement park themselves so I can get everything done!

I hope everyone is having a great week! 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Farmer's Market Finds




Amazing selection at the farmer's market this morning!  But, because I have been tallying my grocery receipts in (semi) real time, I know that I have spent a TON of money already.  Plus, this upcoming week is going to be an especially crazy one so I don't want anything I buy to go to waste.  Maybe next weekend I'll indulge a little bit more but, for this weekend, here's what was purchased:

Smyth Dairy:  $15*
1 bottle of whole milk
1 bottle of heavy cream
1 pint of raspberry yogurt
1 pint of blueberry yogurt

*My total was slightly lower than usual because I had four bottles to return.  Since I only purchased two bottles this week, the additional deposit monies helped lower my outlay.


And, that's all folks!  Just $15 today!

I was originally thinking about grabbing a few items from the "meat guy" but decided to use up what's languishing in the freezer first! 

I'm off to walk the dog and get ready for our trip to Long Island tonight to see a  concert. 

Hope you all have a great Saturday!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Yesterday's Grocery Shopping




Guppy 2's birthday went pretty well...I say only pretty well because her BFF and boyfriend are both away on family vacations so she was a tiny bit crabby about it.  All in all though I am fairly sure she had a decent day.  I do know she loved what we bought her so all the time I spent searching for the unique gifts was time well spent!  LOL

As for the grocery shopping, well I went when I was still a bit hungry....Not good I know!  Keeping that in mind, here's how I did:



Biy Y:  $136.01


1 bag of snowflake rolls (8 count)
1 (4 pack) apple turnovers
1 (4 pack) raspberry turnovers
1 large canister of store brand whipped cream
1 lb Cabot butter
1 (16 oz) container of sour cream
1 (4 pack) Jello chocolate pudding
2 (16oz) packages of shredded cheeses
1.5 lbs deli sliced American cheese
1 bag of zesty French fries
10 individual Ice sparkling lemon drinks
2 medium sized packages of granola
12 pack of toilet paper
1 (12 pack) Snapple
6 (32 oz each) Gatorades
1 (12 pack) Poland Spring water
1 (24 pack) Nature Valley granola bars
2 Fiber One packs (one brownie and one coffee cake)  G1 is having ummm...tummy issues and requested these since they help move things along
2 (1 lb) packages of Tyson bacon
2 lbs of red onions
2 lbs of yellow onions
2 lbs of red seedless grapes
5 lbs of Russet potatoes
5 lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes
2 (16 oz) packages of strawberries
1 package of organic red & green leaf lettuces
1 pint mini sweet peppers
1 (16 oz) container of salad dressing
1 large container of seafood salad


Total Spent So Far For July:  $502.80!!!

It is shaping up to be an pretty expensive month!  My goal is to keep the damage to under $700 for July's total - which I *think* will be doable. 

Tomorrow I will most likely be attempting the farmer's market alone since Papa has to work until midafternoon. (I say attempting because I hate having to parallel park!)  There I will be focusing on primarily Smyth Dairy (completely out of milk/heavy cream/half&half/yogurt) and a few items from our favorite "happy meat" farmer.

On the plus side, our overall soda consumption has gone WAAAAY down!  My Guppy 2 has even completely given it up!  And, I am down to maybe one or two sodas max per day!

Happy Friday everyone!  Have a great weekend!


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Happy Birthday to G2



Guppy 2 turns 14 today!

I'll be running her and a couple of friends over to Lake Compounce for the day and then she will have dinner with us (Papa, G1, and me) afterwards.  I told her we would take her out to eat and so far she thinks she wants to go to Fridays....This works for me since in years past she has chosen hibachi (a far more expensive option).  We purchased a small custom flavored ice cream cake for her from our local independent ice cream parlor which we will have after dinner.

We are including her birthday party (the overnight stay at the Lake Compounce cabin next week) as part of her gift because the cost does add up when you factor in the cost of the cabin and having to feed ten kids dinner/snacks/breakfast the following morning.   But, she loves the experience and asked for it again this year.  Other than that, we have purchased a few very well thought out and unique gifts which I am (fairly) sure she will love.

While she is at the amusement park, I will be home getting some errands done...Specifically grocery shopping.  While I did say I didn't want to end up back in the grocery store until Friday, shopping today fits into my plans better.

Hope you all have a nice Thursday!


Update:  Due to the potential soggy weather, G2 isn't sure what she wants to do today.  They may still go to the amusement park.....or they make just hang out here and watch movies.  Either way I will still be able to get a few errands done!  =)





Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Murphy Broke the Microwave


And I'm not even upset about it!

Last night I had to melt some butter to mix with the Ritz crackers I had for G1's veggie casserole.  So, I popped it in a ceramic mug and put in the microwave....Not two seconds later I heard a weird buzzing - like the kind when you accidentally put a flake of metal or foil into it.  I turned to see the microwave sparking and the lights inside blinking!  I unplugged the thing and checked the inside to make sure there wasn't anything in there that shouldn't be.  I checked behind the microwave too.  All seemed okay enough.  But, it did the same thing when I plugged it in and turned it back on! So, yup!  It's toast!

BUT....

Truthfully?  I don't care all that much.  Yeah it will be harder to heat up leftovers and I'll have to give the rest of my Costco microwave popcorn to someone but other than that?  I'm not all that upset.

The space on my kitchen counters is prime real estate.  And this microwave (although on the small side) was taking up room that I could use for other things - like food prep!  For awhile now Papa and I were trying to figure out what to do with it....build a shelf under a cabinet, buy a bakers rack?  Now I don't need to worry about it.

My family is freaked out about this though.  When I told Papa (still at his conference in NYC) he asked if I was sure.  Ummmmm, yeah since the last time I checked sparks flying out of a microwave isn't a good sign.  The Guppies want to know how we could possibly live without it.  I reminded them that the oven is perfectly functional.

Really now people!  LOL 

Replacing it is so far down on my list of things needed.  And, I'm not even sure I WANT to replace it!

All in all....

Thank you Murphy!  You did me a favor!

Happy Hump Day!



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Thank You PETA for the Menu Changes



Okay, so I am finding that planning dinners with two teenage daughters during the summer is almost next to impossible!  While the summer is a LOT of fun and I absolutely love the fact that both of the Guppies are out with friends (and not at home vegging in front of screens all day long!) the majority of the time, it has been wreaking havoc with any meal plans I make!




And, now I have a new wrench in the works...

Remember that music festival we went to on Saturday?  Well, there are many booths set up for charitable organizations.  I (mostly) love this aspect of the festival because these booths also get the word out to people who may need help with depression, suicide, abuse, etc.  The one booth that really gets me though is the PETA one.  Not only is there a booth, there is also a "viewing station" where concert goers get paid a buck to watch a four minute video of animals being slaughtered (no thank you), and PETA people walking around the venue passing out brochures with horrible pictures of animals being tortured to try to convert people to becoming vegan. 

Now, let me just say that I am completely and totally against treating animals poorly and I believe in as humane of slaughtering as possible. I abhor feed lots, grinding of baby chicks, etc.  Also, when financially possible, I try to buy as much "happy meat" (i.e. small farms who treat their animals ethically) as I can. 

Back to the music festival.....Guppy 1 was handed a brochure....sigh.  Here's the thing though...the front cover is covered with picutres of band members with quotes about being vegan.  But, when you open the brochure....BAM!  Pictures of animals being tortured -- this year's brochure included pictures from China's semi annual dog meat festival.  Just lovely.

So now I am scrambling to come up with vegetarian dinners and throwing my menu plan out the window...for now.  I should have known it would happen again since she gets lured in every year.  Eventually, I am able to get her to eat meat again (which she desperately needs due to health issues) in moderation.  But for right now, it's a no go. 

I guess I am just thankful right now that we don't eat meat everyday on a normal basis anyway.



Monday, July 11, 2016

Updating the Grocery Totals...



Finally got my receipts together to do this!  I hate when I get behind like this because then the tracking feels tedious.  But, I am pushing through!  LOL

Here are my most recent trips, in chronological order:

July 3rd  Stop & Shop: $60.12

2 French Breads
1 lb store brand American cheese
3/4 lb Boar's Head Honey Maple Turkey
2 packages of sparklers (fourth of July)
1 12 pack of Snapple
1 box of peanut butter cookie mix
1 bag of peanut butter chips
2 bags of tortilla chips
2 bags of pizza goldfish
1 bag of pretzels
1 flank steak
1 bag of green beans
1 (16oz) jar of salsa


July 5th  BigY:  $41.92

1 lb of Cabot butter sticks
1 large box of store brand baking soda
1 loaf of store brand bread
1 large bag of dog food
1 medium sized jar of Skippy peanut butter
1 12 packs of Snapple
6 (32oz) bottles of Gatorade


July 7th  Big Y:  $57.10

1 (3 pack) apple strudel
1 (5 pack) croissants
1 package (2) store brand pie crusts
2 (dozen each) store brand eggs
1 box penne pasta
1 bottle salad dressing
4 (6 packs) Coke products
1 (4.5 lbs) whole chicken
2 small bags of pizza dough
1.25 lbs of broccoli crowns
1 bunch of celery
1 (8oz) package of mushrooms
2.5 lbs of cherries
1 pint blueberries
1 small container of seafood salad


July 10th  Stop & Shop:  $16.61

1 bag of store brand hamburger rolls
1 bag of shredded cheddar
1 box (6 count) Italian ice
1 can of black beans
1 jar of pineapple salsa
1.97 lbs of ground beef



Total for July up to this point:  $366.79

So, not to state the obvious or anything (LOL), I have been shopping entirely too much/too often!  I have to find a way to bring my shopping down to grocery stores once per week maximum and then the farmer's market on Saturdays.  I definitely don't want to continue to spend at the rate I am this month because, if I did, I would end up well over $600!!!

I am battening down the hatches and not setting foot into a grocery store until at the earliest this Friday -- the Guppies are NOT happy about this but they will live.

I think my silver linings for this month are:

1.  The first trip listed above included things for the fireworks picnic so I didn't do that bad with that trip.
2.  Most of the groceries needed for G2's birthday at the rented amusement park cabin have been bought already.  Only things left to purchase are:
bottled water
breakfast items (I'm thinking of keeping it easy and doing bagels)
a birthday cake


All in all, I'm glad that I took the time to write this all out/save my receipts.  I think I stopped a train wreck from completely happening with my July groceries!

How are you doing with your July grocery budget?



Sunday, July 10, 2016

Cooking Like a Crazy Woman...



So, about the picture above...
My girls LOVED the show Courage the Cowardly Dog on Cartoon Network!  For those who aren't familiar, the lady in the picture is Muriel, the kindly old lady Courage adores.  In one episode, Muriel goes into full blown panic and handles the stress around her by going into cooking mode.  The scene ends with her collapsing face first into some of the food she just finished making.
I tend to think about that scene every time Papa goes away because I tend to get all my own nervous energy out in my kitchen too!  Today was no different!  Haha!



I think the Guppies and I are set with goodies for the week with the following:

1 large pan of Rice Krispies
1 medium sized pan of brownies
Apple turnovers
Beignets


Plus...

I made a mushroom & spinach quiche for easy breakfasts for me this week too.

Pretty productive and a good use of piggy backing things in the oven!

Now to deal with the dishes and messy kitchen!

How Is It Sunday Afternoon Already?!?!

Wish this was me but sadly it's not!  Haha!


How on earth did it become three pm on Sunday afternoon already?!?!

We have been extremely busy around here this weekend!

Yesterday we spent the day in Long Island at an all day music festival.  We attend at least once a year during this festival's tour and don't mind driving to NY because 1.the show is at Jones Beach and 2.the fellow concert goers have consistently been nicer than the ones that show up to Connecticut.  Papa and I completely luck out since we get in for free as long as we bring kids under the age of 18 - I guess we are in the minority of the parents who bring their kids but actually WANT to be there!  LOL  This was a planned summer expense and came in at a little under $300 total for the day for six of us (each guppy brings a friend)! And, of that $200 was for the tickets!  It helped tremendously that it wasn't as hot as usual because, at $5 per water/soda and not being able to bring in more than one water bottle per person, it can get quite pricey. 

This morning was spent getting Papa ready for his trip to NYC until Wednesday.  After being with him for a total of 25 years, you would think it would be easy to say goodbye for a few days.  It wasn't.  I hated dropping him off at the train station earlier this afternoon.  Even though he is still relatively close in proximity, NYC makes me nervous with all that has happened across the country as of late.  Wednesday evening can't come quickly enough!

I am hoping to be productive over the next few days and am compiling a list of things I want to accomplish!  If I can get even half of it done I'll be happy! 

However....

The rest of today will be about recovering from yesterday (even the Guppies are still tired!), trying to get some laundry done, and some prepping/baking for the beginning of the week.  The Guppies are seriously whining about there "not being food" in the house, which of course there is....just not as much of the convenient "grab & go" variety.  My hope is to make it until Thursday before hitting the grocery store.

Speaking of groceries, I still have to get my totals updated here on the blog.  Onto my big list it goes!  Hopefully that will be accomplished tomorrow morning.

Hope everyone is having a nice weekend!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Making The Most of a "Free-ish" Day


My summer schedule has been completely wonky!  I have been staying up later/getting up earlier and just haven't been around the house very much.  (It seems like I live in my car lately with all the chauffeuring I have been doing!)

Needless to say, it's finally caught up with me and I got a little...ummmm...cranky last night with my family.  I am not the most organized person so you know it has to be really out of control to get to me!

Anyway...

Two of the three appointments for today had to be rescheduled and I am left with a decent chunk of time to do things AT HOME! 

Which is very awesome...

Except for the heatwave we are experiencing!

Today's plans for catching up include straightening up our downstairs, a lot of laundry, and batch cooking.  Not a great day to do two of the three of these things because it will make our A/C's work extra hard....

BUT

I gotta take advantage of the time when it happens, you know?

Hope everyone is staying cool!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Jumping Back Into The Credit Card Game....


...Sadly...


Contrary to what you may think, we don't have any credit cards anymore.  About five years ago, that was a different story.  We had one with an APR of 5.9% that I had racked up to a little over 32K!  I say "I" not "we" because, truthfully, it was me that did it!  Yes, most of it was stuff for the house/guppies/etc and nothing was for extravagant purchases...but I had "nickeled and dimed" us into a huge hole.  The turning point came when I received notice that, ALL users of this particular bank/card were going to have an increase in APR..to a revolving fluctuating number!  The notice assured me that I wasn't being penalized for anything (I was always on time in payments) but it was an across the board move.  The only way I could keep my low APR was to close my account.  I was beginning to read Dave Ramsey at the time and did just that!  While I haven't made the progress I would have liked, I have cut the balance on this card by a little over half.  Slow but steady progress which I hope to amp up now that Papa is working again.

So, why would we dip our feet back into potential disaster?

Papa's job.

Papa's old job had corporate credit cards so there wasn't any need for us to outlay any money for trips/conferences/etc.

This new job doesn't.

And, a few opportunities have presented themselves...

But we have to outlay most of the $$$ first!

Papa has a conference in New York next week.  When his boss told him that he wanted Papa to go, Papa had to tell him we don't own credit cards.  His boss wanted him to go so badly he told Papa he would charge it to his own card and get reimbursed by the hospital if necessary! (Thankfully, Papa was able to have a P.O. cut for the conference charge - 2.5K for just the three days without hotel!)

Plus, there is another conference in San Diego that Papa wants to attend but hasn't mentioned it to the boss yet because of our monetary situation.  But, now he can.

The hospital's turn around time with repayment is (supposedly) amazing and you get reimbursed the next pay period.  So, in theory, Papa can pay off the business expenses in full every month.

Yeah, did I mention that this credit card is in his name only and is exclusively for business/work expenses? It is the only way that we can be assured that this will work right now.

We had thought about pulling money out of our IRA and placing into Papa's checking account but we don't want to deal with the penalties associated with another early withdrawl.

So, here we are....or at least Papa is.  "Proud" owners of a credit card (((cough cough)))

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Picnic & Fireworks Tonight!


While I am not crazy about the overall community in my town, there is one very big exception:  The Fourth of July!  A local farm has a very large picnic for its employees but then puts on a large fireworks display that the community is invited to watch.  There are many industrial/office buildings in the area that allow people to park in their lots and picnic/view the fireworks from their lawns.

Sadly we missed last year's display because we were at a relative's wedding.  Tonight we make up for it!  LOL

Papa and I are both driving because (we think) we are taking a LOT of the Guppies friends with us!  We are also going fairly early to have a picnic first.

When I went shopping for supplies for the picnic, I had no clue who was coming or how many kiddos we were feeding....It's 1:30 and I still don't have a complete head count!  Here's what I decided to make:

1 large French baguette will be turned into a turkey & cheese sub style sandwich.  Condiments will be on the side and I can cut the baguette into pieces at the picnic - making slices as large or small as needed to accommodate.
Another large French baguette will be cut in half and turned into two different types of vegetarian style sandwiches (G1's BFF is definitely coming and is vegetarian).  One half will be tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil, and a drizzle of balsamic.  The other will be roasted summer squash, mushroom, onions, and cheese.
Leftover water from our Vermont vacation will be brought along with three different types of soda from cases already opened.
Snacks will include  two bags of Pizza Goldfish, chips and salsa, and one bag of potato chips.
Desserts will be peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (no allergies for any of the kids that may come), chocolate pretzel bark, and Nutella sugar cookie cups.
Also, an ice cream truck stays in the parking lot so if the kids choose to go that route, they can - using their own money of course.

Given all the unknowns, I think I did pretty well!  I spent less that $40 for everything for tonight (I'll do a full recap of the grocery receipt tomorrow) and no one should go hungry.

Hope you all have a wonderful fourth of July!