We had a fun Christmas. We spent within what we had planned, and everyone got many nice things. My brother and his wife and daughter #2's boyfriend joined us for a Christmas Eve ham dinner at our house. It was an evening of laughter! We slept in a little for the next morning, and then opened gifts to each other and stockings from Santa. Later on Christmas Day, we headed over to my dad-in-law's place. We all brought food and visited. We were home by 5pm or so, and watched a new dvd. By 7pm, we were either asleep already or nodding off, so early to bed for us!
My husband had yesterday and today off as holiday, and Wed as a vacation day. Second daughter headed into school today, and has an appt made for her older sister later today. We'll do a couple of store returns and a bookstore stop (giftcards!) before I drop her off for her hair coloring and facial. After they are done, the rest of us will join them for a meal out - not sure where yet.
No real plans otherwise for the time off - I can tell it will go fast though! I've been cleaning out little spots that have been driving me crazy as I encounter them. A drawer in the bathroom, a couple of shelves on a bookcase in my room, my closet floor (now that Santa is done storing his stuff in there!) Adding to my donate pile, which will head out of here before the year's end
There's no snow in MN! So no snowshoeing or other usual wintery things we like to do here. Can you believe it - 40s for temps? As long as we don't have to pay in the spring (like snow in May - hate when that happens!)
I need to sum up in a holiday journal that I keep the details of this Christmas for reference next year - what went well, what didn't, ideas for gifts. My mom-in-law gave me my first one the Christmas after I was married, and I've diligently kept one up since. It helps me mostly for not repeating gifts to extended family over and over (once I have a good idea...,) and how many batches of what cookies so I don't run out, or have too many in the end. I also track prices of things, so I'd have a running tab on the total, and it's interesting to see how much postage or tree costs have increased, or what changes the budget went though - children added or job changes or medical expenses or car stuff.... A lot happens in 27 years!!
On the near horizon - the monthly tuition for number 2 daughter, the semester bill for number 1 daughter, the annual life insurance bill for me, tabs for some of the vehicles, property tax (April) - there probably is more that I'm not recalling at the moment. We'll help my oldest with some expenses too - she works on campus, but the school shuts down for about a month between semesters (so she's not working.) She'll receive one more check soon, but then it'll be four weeks without. Her expenses are low luckily, so we'll help with her share of rent and enough groceries to see her through until she's got money coming in again. I've been freezing chicken, ham and meatballs and quick breads and cookies, and we'll send along holiday leftovers. Then we'll transfer enough money to her account for her to fill in the gaps once she's back up there. She's in a house of four, and with the break they can meal share a bit more than they usually can (all different schedules!) A bit more time for cooking soups and stuff for the oven etc. It's fun to see her really "get" stretching the budget - I'm so proud!
Also in college news...with the end of this past semester, my oldest is officially a senior! She's on track to graduate one year from now, which is a half year early!! She's signed up for classes for this upcoming second term, then will take two courses in the May term, and finish up next fall term. Her classes are mapped out with her counselor, and she has preference now as a senior. We didn't use all of her financial aid offered for this year, so there is money for the May term that we weren't planning on. Life is good! Daughter is a little nervous with the prospect of getting a job after college, but plans to make use of any and all services provided by the college.
Except for tonight's dinner out treat, we've been, and will be, eating leftovers and making a dent in the fridge! We made a huge ham on Christmas Eve, and we were given the bbq shredded pork leftovers from Christmas Day - none will go to waste! We have a lot of fresh vegies and dips and fruit to round out the meals a bit.
I guess it's the same old, same old around here... but it's always something!
Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year to all!
Viewing the 'Making do, Using up, Do Without' Category
We had a fun Christmas. We spent within what we had planned, and everyone got many nice things. My brother and his wife and daughter #2's boyfriend joined us for a Christmas Eve ham dinner at our house. It was an evening of laughter! We slept in a little for the next morning, and then opened gifts to each other and stockings from Santa. Later on Christmas Day, we headed over to my dad-in-law's place. We all brought food and visited. We were home by 5pm or so, and watched a new dvd. By 7pm, we were either asleep already or nodding off, so early to bed for us!
Boy, it's been busy lately, but with what, I'm not sure! Cheerleading and tennis are done for the season for the youngest two. We visited with my oldest over the state-wide educators' conference break in Oct. While there, we drove up to Grand Marais for the day and had a wonderful time exploring, with the most perfect weather you could ask for on a fall day. I went to my second girl's school for a color and cut, and she did a fantastic job (told her she will be my stylist forever!)
On the money front - well, all I can say is that we survived Sep and Oct! November brings on the start of the holiday spending, but all have been put on notice of our reduced circumstance (we're in college mode, girls, and all will get their turn!) Following close behind is the continued monthly school charges for second daughter and the second term bill for oldest daughter...we'll get through, we will, we will!
We're eating a combination of meals from the freezer and less expensive meals to allow for holiday meal and baking extras. We've been eating lots of stews and soups which is fine with us as we love them! I have some beans soaking at the moment for a ham-bean soup tonight.
In anticipation of possible snow sometime today, we went grocery shopping last night. We enjoy a little baking on a snowy afternoon, so have plenty of ingredients for the stuff we will freeze. I always think of a line from Truman Capote's The Christmas Memory, saying that there comes a day in November when it's fruitcake weather. We're not much for the traditional fruitcake ourselves, but we do up a variety of breads that we give as gifts.
Please ignore all this early baking banter, if you like to do it closer to the holidays I come from long line of what I like to call the cookie tray ladies...I remember the year my youngest brother was born, he was due early December. My mom and I baked and baked until we had filled the chest freezer with ice cream buckets of cookies and candy. And it was all done before Thanksgiving, luckily, as my brother couldn't wait to get here and came early, little turkey! Closer to Christmas, we created endless trays to give to friends and family. Now, my girls and I continue the tradition, with some of my grandma's recipes, some of my mom's and some of our own - lots of history in every tray and container heading out our door!
I also picked up more for our Thanksgiving meal. That's shaping up nicely, with my immediate family converging all together by Wed night. Our turkey is so huge this year, that we put it in the frig last night to start thawing. Each of the four girls picks their favorite thing from the meal to cook or bake.
The house looks pretty decent - been using our fall weekends productively. This weekend we're cleaning the carpets in our dining and living rooms (open to each other.) We need to check on our old carpet cleaner - it seems to me that there was something not working right, which was why it was in the basement near my husband's workbench. We've also been known to keep nonworking items, thinking of getting rid of them, only to keep them in that state long enough to forget that that was our intent. I use to blame this stuff on the distraction of kids, but I'm thinking we're just getting old - ha! Luckily, there's a cleaner to rent at our local grocery store, 'cause either way, it's getting done!!
We got through the nerve-wracking decision of open enrollment. Actually, the choices are fewer each year, so in some ways it's easier. This year the big decision was on choosing between an Open Access Plan (more traditional health plan) with an FSA and an HDHP with an HSA. Last year we did the OAP/FSA, and this year we went the other route. We're putting enough funds into the HSA to well cover the deductible, and our own savings could cover the max- out of pocket. We're anticipating a quiet health year, but can manage if it's not. Hopefully, we chose well....
We got our next year's proposed tax notice on our house, and for the most part, it'll be a repeat of this year. Along with it came a change in the homestead credit, and I'm pretty sure the only ones who know for sure what it's saying are the guys who created it. I guess we'll find out what's what at tax time.
Well, so far no snow... I always like the first snowfall, especially on a weekend, when I don't have to go anywhere. Snow or no snow, we have no plans to be away from home - we have everything we want or need here at home Enjoy your weekend - take care!
I have been continuing my cleaning, organizing, de-cluttering and financing:
- worked in my bedroom - went through MY stuff (working with husband on HIS this weekend) Nice to know that I'm set for "back to school" and everything is organized and in order for crazy mornings.
- finally finished my June project of our big attic - cleared out more to donate, boxed up what was being kept, and put most of it back in the attic (except for holiday, the next time most of the boxes leave is with the girls as they move to their own permanent places in the future.) The couple of boxes still in the hallway upstairs are the only ones left to go through, but they're out of the way, so will get to as I'm able.
- ran one load of donations gleaned from the above projects a couple weeks ago, and have another smaller load to go after the girls go through their stuff once more before school (though some of their clothes will go to Plato's Closet first to see if they will buy.) Except for what was unearthed in the attic, there has been less and less for donation in general - helps to be doing it a little more regular, I think.
- in anticipation of a small family reunion of my husband's side at our house, the girls and I did a pretty decent cleaning of most of the house. What didn't get done before the party has now gotten done after - my bedroom's closet, dressers, and underbed storage (except husband's part.) I also worked on cleaning the main floor's windows and treatments, and our bed's duvet and cover. We had beautiful weather this week, so out on the line it all went to dry in the fresh air and sun. Feeling really good about the state of the house, as in the summer we tend to run to the lake or get outside in some manner over doing anything beyond basic housekeeping! And then once school starts.... :-) (Ok, ok, I'll admit I'm a bit cleaning challenged. I grew up in a house that was so clean that when we did the spring and fall housekeeping it always felt we were cleaning a clean house, but we did it anyway! Now my house...well, I love it when it is clean, but I see it as a losing battle that I never seem to win, but always have to attend. Well, my mom must be beaming at me from heaven this week!)
- clearing out the dregs of our small chest freezer - always amazing what finds its way to the bottom. Have been able to stretch out the grocery shopping this summer a bit, which is good.....
- ...as we've had to start paying for the our second daughter's schooling this week! She's off to a great start - excited about classes and what's she's learning.
- oldest daughter received her financial aid notice, and for the first time her grants and scholarships add up to enough that we won't have her take out any student loans for her this year! We can easily cover the balance of tuition and fees. Her work-study covers her living expenses and books. Life is expensive, but good around here!
- the two younger girls started their fall sports with a vengeance - that signals summer's end more than anything! Third girl is a junior and cheering again this year (not enough people for a squad last year.) And youngest is a freshman and on the tennis team. The fees are outrageous, but the girls put some of their own earnings toward the costs.
- finally getting some tomatoes - the Big Girl has gone crazy, but the Sweet 100s are struggling (something's eating the leaves - we've had an invasion in our area of japanese beetles, but I haven't found any on the plant.)
- still eeking out more summer pursuits while we can. I'm hanging my laundry out, swimming in the lake, pulling weeds and watering the garden, taking walks with my husband at the nearby county park. The state and renaissance fairs are coming up - we'll see how finances hold out as we get closer. I think we'll be cleaning and closing up the tent trailer for the season - definitely didn't go camping as much as we had wanted, but there were other things we did get to do instead. There's always next year!
Better end this novel...enjoy your weekend!
...for students and those who work with a school calendar, that makes a person crazy and lazy all at once!
I'm finding that I'll have big bouts of frenzied got-to-do-before-school-starts work sessions intermingled with oh-forget-it-all-and-go-to-the-lake carefree times. August at its finest....
My oldest was home for the past week, and it went fast, but was fun. We spent many afternoons in the lake, which was perfect for the hot, humid weather we had. We explored the Mpls Farmer's Market, and bought wonderful food for the week. We have a teeny local one, but it's fun to run into the city once in a while. We also explored the Uptown area while in town, and I showed the girls a few favorite places, including the fun Majors and Quinn Bookstore (a booklover's heaven.) We saw a movie (Cowboys and Aliens - daddy's choice) and had a shopping/lunching girls day (mostly window shopping, but definitely the girls' choice.) The girls used their season passes to Valleyfair Amusement Park. We cooked and grilled, played board games and watched some favorite dvds. We took oldest back on Friday, so she'd have a couple days before going back to work. We met up with the boyfriend and ate out before driving home. They may head our way in a couple weekends for a long weekend visit, and if they don't, we'll probably go up one more time before school starts up (we all go back after Labor day.)
Next weekend we are hosting a bbq for my husband's family. His aunt and uncle are visiting from Michigan, and his dad and sister and family are coming (not yet sure if his brother and family are - communication isn't the family's biggest asset.)
With company at our house in the next two weekends, we switched from decluttering to cleaning mode. Between kicking back in the lake and being outside every possible moment, there comes a time when you realize you've really let the house go! Actually we're pretty good with the regular stuff like meals and dishes and laundry and bathrooms, but it's the "projects" we're in the midst of that mess us up! We really mean to finish the project, and so leave it out. But with the incentive of company coming, the projects are being finished or put away for later, and the house is put to rights.
Current projects that are to be completed in time for this weekend's company - refinishing the dining room table top. I refinished it when I got the table, which I realized was seven years ago! It held up well, but was needing a good sprucing up. I knew I didn't want to be doing it in the last two weeks before school and with some predicted perfect weather, this week is it! May also do a dresser we've had in the living room, but not a high priority.
Another project is the flower gardens again... The weather has created a bumper crop for weeds! My cherry tomato is producing about one or two little tomatoes a day (note to self - plant several more of these next year.) The big tomatoes are starting to come in (think they're Big Girls) and used some in a taco salad last night. Boy, if all of the tomatoes on that plant go at the same time, well, I'll have to freeze some I guess!
Today, I'll put a couple of coats on the table, grocery shop, and organize one last shelf of the cabinet of the school supplies. From previous times, we're still supplied. I had about $42 in MaxPerks rewards from OfficeMax, so I bought more printer ink and the mechanical pencils the girls prefer (still have plenty of my preferred wooden ones.) Maybe there will still be time for the lake later this afternoon :-)
Have a great weekend!
....is what I call the weather today, and enjoy it we did! I just got back from a nice long walk at the county park with my husband. We're renewing our commitment to getting a bit healthier. As his mother died of colon cancer last Sep, my husband had his first colonoscopy done this week, and two polyps were removed. They aren't thought to be cancerous, but still.... We both could be doing better with regards to weight and exercise
With last week's heat, we ended up installing and using our window a/c units. I'm not sure we'll want to see the electric bill, but are very grateful for the heat relief. It feels like the mirror image of our winter, as stuck in the house in hot or cold weather is still stuck in the house! Oh, and relief at the lake wasn't even refreshing as it felt like swimming in overly warm bath water (oh the memories of sharing a bath with my younger brother as preschoolers - ugh!)
Did clear out another few bags to donate. I also mailed out the old silver to Replacements. Their offer was good, and I just plain wanted it out of my house. The crystal and china didn't pan out as well, as the offers were not worth the cost to send out. I'll likely donate them on the next trip.
Another benefit to being in the attic was that one of the roof vents was found to leak (albeit only during the torrential downpours of late.) My husband recaulked all of the roof vents, as caulk is cheap compared to the damage of a leaking roof. Problem solved!
Cooking at home continues - cooking a whole turkey in the smoker today, and it smells delicious. We'll be eating off of it for a bit this week, plus we'll share the legs with my father-in-law (he loves them!)
Went to Sam's to stock up a little earlier today. I've been able to space out the grocery shopping quite a bit, which helps the budget immensely. I was forcing the issue of using up some of the food stores around here Especially those special requests that family members say they'll eat, and then it languishes in the cupboard or freezer. Both are in better shape, so mission accomplished!
The tomatoes are taking forever to turn red! I've had fruit forming for quite a while, and can hardly wait to eat some. It's been funny with the rain though. I was thankful to have the latest rain, as the front was bringing relief to all the heat. It alternated raining hard and then not so hard, so I thought I wouldn't need to water my gardens. In he late afternoon, my husband comes in to tell me that the tomatoes need watering, and I'm thinking he's crazy. I checked, and they did! It must have rained too hard to soak in properly. What a weather year....
Enjoy your day!!
...this summer is going! A friend and I have been meaning to get together all summer, and gosh, it's already half-way through July. So today we are meeting for coffee - finally!
Work continues on the clearing out project. We married in 1984, and bought our house in 1988. I'm kind of thinking the joke about moving often so as to not collect too much clutter rings very true :-) But there is progress, and another load will soon head out for donation.
A couple questions though - where can a limited edition signed print that shows decent value from a quick check on the internet be sold? Also, what about old (maybe antique)cameras and accessories? I have no experience with ebay, and is this even a very good economy to be selling in?
My husband did the work on the cars last weekend, and found more to do. The odyssey needs new brake pads (he can do) and an alignment (will schedule with the pros.) The accord needs a new serpentine belt, which he can do. The local auto store manager told us last week that he's has been beating old sales records of the past. Sales had been creeping up, and then he sold double last month from his highest ever record! Local shops and people are keeping their cars going for longer, I guess. I know it's true for us, and we're doing our part for his business!
Enjoy your day!!
I've been so frustrated with my entries disappearing!!!! (ok, got that out...)
First, thank you to all who commented on my last entry. Yes, doctors are telling us the fainting is something she should outgrow. And we're back to good again - no fainting since the first week of June.
Besides losing typed entries to oblivion....
We've been in clearing out mode here. My youngest and I have been working our way through the remaining house attic space. I'm amazed how much in there was not bought by us (actually yay!) - most originates from my well-meaning and generous inlaws. We kept the spirit and gestures behind the gifts, but donated the physical items. The girls went through their rooms, and culled the unwanted also.
Items of more value have been set aside to see if we can sell. Replacements.com is interested in, and is writing up an offer, on a set of unused silver - I'm hoping it's a good one. If that works out, we have some china and crystal to part with. We also put out an email to a gallery on a signed limited edition art print that looks like it has some value. If that place isn't interested, I'm not sure where else to try selling it.
We also junked our oldest minivan - called a cash for junker place and they came and picked it up. I know it's silly, but I was a bit sad to see it go. It was my mom's car, which we took over use when she went into a nursing home. It had a long life, and served us all very well, with the girls sharing its use at the end.
On the spending side, we purchased with cash a used Honda Accord for the girls to use. My second girl will be commuting to school in August, and we wanted something reliable and fuel efficient. We used craigslist again (we bought the Olds that way a few years back.) Of course, the state is shut down, so no title transfers can be done on either the junked Plymouth or the new Honda - arg!
The Accord needs brake pads and rotors replaced, and my Odyssey needs an oil change and oil, air and cabin filters. My husband bought what he needed last night at the auto store, and will work on that this weekend. It's very handy having a husband who is handy :-)
On the plus side for not spending - since school has ended we've been stretching out the time between grocery shopping. I did a big Sam's run before my second's grad party the first weekend in June, and then did a small trip to Target a couple weeks later to stock up on milk and fruit/vegies. I'm stretching it out another couple days, and will head to Sam's again maybe on Sunday.
Of course any savings is already earmarked :-) We have nothing for the rest of July, so catching up a bit after the new car purchase. August has a bit more though! We have a camping trip to SD planned for the first week. Sport fees are due soon after - third girl is thinking of doing cheerleading again and youngest is doing tennis. Second girl starts school Aug 15, with the first payment due that day and the 15th of the next seven months. Back to school stuff later on in Aug (ugh to be talking of it already!) I have an OfficeMax reward of $44 (expiring at the end of July,) which will take care of the bulk of school supplies. The girls are petering out on the growing, so not much for clothes (plus they have jobs to supplement any whims beyond what I contribute.) The oldest's tuition and financial aid should be known sometime in Aug, though not due until Oct.
And my favorite little ways to save are still happening - I'm biking around in town for errands, combining and planning out the errands I need to drive to, hanging my laundry outside on the lines, and tending my little tomato plants (lots of little green fruit on the branches already!), plus cooking and eating at home. Nothing extraordinary, but it all helps out.
Enjoy your day!!
...even my old standby highlight and copy wasn't keeping them safe. Well, maybe I was just too wordy!
So short and sweet-
Oldest back to college and new room is working out. Got her bill for 2nd term with an increased state grant amount - surprised, but will take it!
My new job is a blast! I moved over to our middle school, and a very different experience than early childhood, but I'm loving it. Same special ed needs, just taller kids!
We're on the search for a new range. We replaced the washer, dryer, and dishwasher in Oct. I guess the range too is feeling its use and age. (This is what we get for buying all of our appliances all at once eons ago!) Luckily we've been skimming along using the burners and crockpot and microwave, so as to do some comparison shopping. My husband is very handy, but when we priced the part needed for the repair and figured in the age and wear of the appliance, it made sense to find a good sale. (Fingers crossed for our hard working frig - we need a couple more years and then we could downsize a little too.)
As many here have mentioned, I too am awaiting the tax forms to do our taxes and fafsa (for two girls this year!) Soon enough we'll have an idea of what to expect to pay for next year with two in higher educational pursuits - it's like you want know, but you don't want to know :-) I just keep throwing money into the savings in anticipation of what it might be. We didn't have the means earlier on, but learn from me - you'll be so thankful for any dollars saved ahead. The pay-as-you-go method is hair-raising!
Ok, getting a little wordy at the end, but I'll try it, and hopefully it'll publish! Take care!!
Medical appointments - check!
Fall sports forms filled out and signed - check!
School supplies bought - check!
Each of the girls to the store for essentials for school - check!
Help my oldest get packed and ready for college - check!
Clean my in-laws basement level and clear out their closets - hey, not on my list, but what the heck, check and check!
Intense bout of 'clear the clutter' at our house - feels so good and check!
Haul my and my in-laws' clutter to the donation destination - yay and check!
Get ready to head north to camp and bring our daughter to college this week - crazy, but check!
Get husband to install new brakes and rotors on the second car heading north and distract his thoughts on why the heck the oldest needs to take so much stuff - check, check!
I think this is why I'm always so ready to have us all go back to school :-)
In financial news - we found out this week what my oldest is receiving for financial aid - not as much as last year, but it'll work out, as her living expenses will be a lot less (dorm last year vs. off-campus this year.) She also rented most of the textbooks online through Chegg, and the one book she couldn't find to rent was cheapest to buy through B&N. So we over halved her book costs this year. (We'll be geniuses by the time my youngest goes to college!)
With all of the school related purchases, I made a very concerted effort to reign in other areas of cost, and it worked....I should do it more often...
We've been eating through the cupboards and freezer, which were in great need of their own decluttering. I went to Sam's Club during their open house event earlier this month, and was impressed enough to buy a membership again (had one many years ago.) And since that shopping have only bought some produce and milk during the school shopping treks with the girls.
We've been so busy with our stuff and helping the in-laws (mom-in-law has been in her home for a week, with a slew of home-visiting nurses and therapists making it possible!) Low-key and -cost things are what we've been craving, like swimming at the beach, taking neighborhood walks or bike rides, and library visits for books and dvds. Time together always gets so precious when back to school is bearing down on us, esp. with my oldest heading back to college.
Scratch what I said above, I'm not ready to let go of summer quite yet;-)
Enjoy your day!
Woke up to wet, drippy fog - luckily it's burning off in the morning sun. I hung out some laundry already, with another load to wash and hang out in a bit.
It just sounds like August outside! The cicadas are out in full force. It's promising to be another hot and humid day - one to be spent at the lake again this afternoon!
We bought some corn at our favorite stand after swimming at the lake yesterday, and it was too hot and humid to even do anything with it (no ac at our house, with temps in the 90s and dewpoint in the 70s.) We splurged and went to the local Subway and hung out in their ac for a while, then took a little drive in our the van's ac.
Today has a plan though... we will shuck the corn this morning, and then cook it tonight on the grill. When it's corn time here, the corn is the meal, maybe with sliced tomato on the side. I'm not sure if this is done anywhere else but here, but that's what I and many here grew up with :-) This is after spending the bulk of the day in the lake of course! We get a little wacky in this heat. It's supposed to get better tomorrow....
Yesterday I did wash and hang out two rugs that are inside our most often used side door. I thought they were goners, but figured that I'd take the chance running them through the washer. They look like new, and the backing held up. No new rugs needed at this time!
There's something about August to put the rush on all of those summer projects. Currently in the works, a bookcase that I use in my bedroom needs to be painted. It came from my mom's house back when we first moved her into an assisted living in 2004, and the paint job on it probably was a good 20 years old then...it's time to remedy this! We also have an old park bench that is in sound shape, but getting rattier each passing summer. Nothing a little paint won't improve!
Next on the list...all I can say is that my husband is running for cover, as we're moving onto the bigger two-person projects!
Enjoy your day!
Some of the little flower and vegie seedlings we planted last week are starting to sprout. We've been opening the covers to allow the condensation to dissipate, which attracts our cats' attention. And I thought the outside bunnies were dastardly? So far we've held strong against the evil kitty forces...
Oh my word, the temperature is nearly 60! And we're headed into the 70s later in the week. The weather guys have been saying this will be the first March in recorded weather history with no snow. Usually March is MN's second snowiest month. Absolutely no complaints here!
We broke out the grill last week - my favorite way to cook. On tonight's menu is grilled chicken to top a spinach salad with strawberries, red raspberries, red onion, and feta cheese topped with a berry vinaigrette. I hope it tastes as good as it looks in the magazine (Taste of Home's Healthy and Light.)
Later, we'll head out for a walk. Can't take this beautiful weather for granted!
On the spending front, March is looking a little on the spendy side, but not horrible. The girls and I all did a little various wardrobe updating. I stocked up on groceries this past weekend, as we had gone two weeks since the previous shopping. We worked through quite a pile of frozen items. While adjusting to cooking for less, I'd end up freezing more and more food. Finally after one too many shove and slams to the freezer door, I decided it was time to resolve this problem. We are so souped, stewed and chili'd out now, but my freezer looks much better. (Spring cleaning of a sort!)
Enjoy your evening and take care!
...when you're busy! I check the blogs daily, but it's not always easy to find the time to post.
As recorded in Fern's No Heat entries, we kept our heat turned off until Nov 7. We're happy to get into November some years, so this was good. It also helped remind us that we can tolerate temps a little lower, and we've been adhering to our new high/lows without a problem (I say this bravely before the snow flies!)
We swapped out the last of the incandescent bulbs for CFLs. We've had a little savings on the bills, but it's a bit of a wash with rate increases. It could be worse without the bulb changes, so no complaints.
I paid $1.86 a gallon for gas on the way to the grocery store yesterday morning! Very thankful for these lower prices lately.
Speaking of groceries - I spent far less for this week than normal. My husband headed out for training in Indiana today until late on Thursday, so the girls and I will be making do with what in the cupboards/freezer/ frig for meals. I did pick up milk and produce, but the rest of the groceries was in preparation of holiday baking (I lucked out with things on sale too.)
I've been Christmas shopping a little with each paycheck, and have been making good progress on my list. I like to get done with the bulk of it by Thanksgiving or so, as December gets really busy with activities and events.
We've been working hard the last few weeks, and there is still more on the to-do list (who keeps adding to it, I want to know?!!) So today, in between church, homework and baking for lunches, the girls and I are heading to Mpls to visit a Russian Museum of Art. It's a fairly new place, and we've never gone. We picked up free tickets at the library yesterday. We're looking forward to a little break!
Have a wonderful Sunday!
Boy, the last paycheck just shot of our house, between bills and back to school, coupled with no OT. Hmm, I think we start to enjoy that OT too much, then forget it's not always there.
Oh well, this is where the 'laying low' comes in. There isn't anything we need, and nothing to spend on that is worthy of touching the savings.
We're sort of restless with these last days of summer break. So far, we've headed to the beach every day for the last two weeks. It's been absolutely gorgeous for this late in August. Usually, the 'dog days' have arrived, along with the pea soup green scum. Definitely, soaking up as much summer as possible - we're about due for a true MN winter here in a few short months.
We hit the library earlier this week, and I've actually found some books to pique my interest. I've gone through three so far. I love reading, but if it doesn't grab this tired mom's attention fairly quick, I fall asleep. (Of course, the reading of late is not improving the said mom's tiredness...but it's still summer break.) Oh, and I picked up some dvds - Zorba the Greek (I haven't seen it since I was a kid, but I remember my mom loving it- it may be a hoot, or not.) Also Snakes on a Plane - missed that one the first time around, though from what I hear it's a lot of snakes popping up everywhere (hope I didn't give away the story!)
I've been doing great with using up some of the newly discovered frozen foods at the bottom of my recently cleaned freezer. Lots of crockpot use lately. I even used a lasagne recipe twice that was so delicious and easy, I may not return to my oven recipe. I know Boo and some others here have mentioned this site - crockpot365.blogspot.com - it has lots of great recipes and fun commentary on the author's commitment to using her crockpot every day for a year.
I do have to meet my husband later at the DMV to renew our driver's licenses - both our birthdays are coming up. I'm looking about as good as it gets...
Enjoy your Friday!!
...and dinner's in the crockpot.
On Sunday, I cleaned out the chest freezer and the one on the kitchen frig. I also had to defrost our older model chest freezer. It wasn't too full, so it seemed like a good time for the job. I pulled its plug, and sorted its contents, getting rid of the insanely old. We propped a fan to blow into the chest, and it was defrosted in a couple of hours.
A side note - I always kind of know what I have purchased and put into the freezer. But then, my inlaws clean out their freezers, and pass along their castoffs. We eat what doesn't look too old and frostbitten, but unfortunately, most of the food should have been thrown. To my inlaws though, someone should get to use it, even if they can't, and no one else should. Oh well, we're just that extra step to the garbage sometimes- what the inlaws don't know, doesn't hurt them!
A side note to the side note - the inlaws do this with 'things' too. I cringe when I hear they are cleaning out the corners in their house. They invite our girls to help, which is great, but then they send home lots of 'too good to throw' things. That's another long story... They mean well, and we do respect that a lot, and deal with it all (things and food) accordingly.
Anyway, back to my clean freezers. They look wonderful, if I may say so myself. I also wrote a quick tally of what are in them, and making plans for meals, so I don't pass along too old frozen food to my children - you know,once they move out and are on their own and all. (Boy, didn't know how much planning went into keeping insanely old frozen food! I should really give my inlaws credit in ths feat.)
Yesterday, I put a close to too old beef roast in the crockpot, and cooked it until shreddable for sandwiches. Today, with a bit of cooler, rainier weather, I'm putting on my favorite crockpot minestrone.
I'm relishing my clean freezer time - once the kids start rummaging around in there, well, it never lasts too long, does it?!
Extraneous stuff, that is.
With my younger two daughters, I pulled out stuff from the garage attic space. Some was tossed, the rest was bagged up for donating, and what didn't fit into bags, went to the curb with a free sign posted. I know I could have held a garage sale, and made a little money on our cast-offs. With a lack of time and the consideration that these toys and items had gone through my four at the very least, I chose the easiest solution. Bit by bit, people have stopped to take away items.
The results - less stuff at my house and the fun of making a few families' day.
Goodbye, Little Tykes slide, picnic table, workbench and kitchen set. Farewell, bikes and trikes in many sizes small to large, ALL in pink and purple. Adios to everything else that found it's way to my house, but now, it's really time to move on.
Wow, I think I'm entering a new stage of my life (more like easing slowly into it, as my my youngest is 10 - ha!) Some things take time, I guess.
Two loads of laundry on the line today. More raking out garden areas (I think I'm done!) Oldest daughter is in her last weekend of lifeguarding training. Picked up second daughter from a birthday sleepover. Then grandpa and grandma picked up the youngest three to have them help pull out and wash their deck furniture.
And what did husband and I do with NO kids? Well, we took the electronics and used motor oil to the county recycling center - oh yeah! We did have abundant time to talk, as it seemed everyone else in the county had cleaned out their garages too. The lines were very long, but the staff were pleasant, and some were even funny. My husband was extremely thrilled to be asked if he wanted to keep his five gallon motor oil tanks - he had been trying to gather enough one gallon plastic containers to transfer the oil. The guys working there were kindred spirits to what my husband holds dear, and said they'd dump the oil and give back the containers. We offered to pull ahead, but they said no. I slunked down in the seat, avoiding all eye contact with those in the many cars behind us. My husband was enjoying a great conversation with the other workers. Maybe the guys needed a break... Oh well, the deed is done!
I pulled out the pots and other garden decor, though still too early for anything but pansies. It was in the 70s, and tomorrow is supposed to get into the 80s, but as it is only April, and I can't go crazy yet. Dinner was on the grill tonight - hot dogs and brats. Everyone was hungry from all the work earlier in the day.
We also got the minivan back. We had a boot replaced (he showed us the axle he took out) and a new exhaust system installed. Only $200 - much better than what I imagined.
Because it's supposed to be so warm tomorrow, I'm baking some cookies tonight for my youngest's year-end church choir concert tomorrow night. I'm kind of tired, but it will be best to get it done. Then a nice long bath...aah!
Better get to it...take care!
Much was accomplished over the weekend, as many of the seemingly perpetual tasks were crossed off the to-do list. A decaying couch was removed from the garage (see previous entry) - finally! That acted as catalyst to the general cleaning up of the space. This is truly a wonderful thing!
Trusting, and really, really hoping, that spring is indeed here, we pulled out the patio furniture. We lucked out in that my parents were ready to get rid of these things when we were first married. I have my grandmother's wrought iron set (couch, chair and coffee table) and my parent's old metal lawn chair. On the actual patio, we have a metal mesh table and chairs set. Last year I painted them a sage green. As there are leaves in the wrought iron design, I stenciled ivy leaves onto the back of the lawn chair. The paint held up well, and I'll just touchup with a small brush. I set the couch and chairs in an area under a huge maple tree. I then will plant up pots of begonias and impatiens. On the patio, I get to have some sunny flowers. Can you tell I'm anxious to get planting? May 15 is when it's considered safe to plant here. My youngest two girls and I did plant frost-tolerant pansies in the playhouse window boxes on Saturday. And the rhubarb is shooting up. Signs of spring...
Except for yesterday ( it rained,)the laundry has been out on the line for the past week. I grocery shopped on Saturday, using store coupons that saved me almost $10, bringing my total a good amount under what I budget for the two weeks. I bought tons of fruits and vegies - we're starting out with the most perishable, and working toward the less.
Visited my mom on Saturday - she doesn't seem to be doing as well right now. Her potassium levels are up, and the dr is using meds and tests to stay on top of this. She seemed so incoherent - time will tell if this is the current medical condition or just the Alzheimer's progressing.
Have a great Monday...take care!
Laundry on the line - again (loving our spring weather!) Husband is in MN, on his way home. Oldest daughter didn't pass her driver's test. Hmm, two out of three ain't bad...
The weekend is shaping up busy, but self-induced busy, rather than out of my control busy. We're clearing out the things from the garage that can go to the county recycling center - mostly beyond repair electronics and used motor oil. The facility is open weekdays and Saturdays, so tomorrow's the day. (I just talked to my husband - he is SO excited. At least, he's still heading home!) There's still a bit of raking to do, but the wind is supposed to be strong, so we'll see.
My husband found out he got a 4% pay increase. Will need to look at the budget in light of that. I know some, if not all, will go toward retirement.
Enjoy the weekend...take care!
Another day for hanging out the laundry!
Yesterday, I puttered, but it was productive puttering. The garage is cleaned out...well, "my" side is, anyway. We got rid of a lot of the accumulated junk. My husband still has his side to do, in which I will help, as he is organizing challenged (or maybe he appears so as to spur me into action - hmm.)
I raked leaves around the garage area, and uncovered the hosta, which had tips poking through the dirt. Today the rhubarb patch and lily and iris garden get their turn, as the tips are up through the leaves. I think my spring bulb flowers may have not made it through the last bout of snow - the leaves were up when it snowed, but they remain flopped over, though still green. Will have to watch... My husband even offered to unearth the patio furniture from the garage. I need to check whether they'll need any paint touched up.
I reconciled the checkbook to the statement. I filed papers!! I recently revamped the files, so I may stay caught up with that task. (that's a definite maybe...)
I also went through my mom's papers. When she went into the assisted living in 2004, I kept many papers that were (or seemed) pertinent then, that are not, now. So I have a basket full to shred. It's been slow going through all the stuff that I brought from her house to my house. But I've found that I'm more able recently to get rid of what needs to go. Fun things I rediscovered that I had among yesterday's papers - My dad's discharge papers from his service in the Marines in WWII, his college transcript from the U of M, his inoculation card from the WHO that allowed him to work in Greenland for the Army Corp of Engineers in the 50s, a copy of my grandmother's family's naturalization papers when they came here from Russia in 1911, and a copy of a picture of the family around that time (my grandma was about 16.) Ok, ok enough nostalgia...
My older girls and friends want to head out for a little shopping. ("On a beautiful day like this?!" says silly mom.) So... in a bit, I'm heading to Target, with some returns, after dropping them off at the mall. I get done what I need to, and the girls are a road and a parking lot away from my wallet (they have their own money!)
Better get on with the day...take care!
Yesterday went as planned. My husband headed back to work, and the girls and I were home for the day. I worked on the main floor bathroom. I scrubbed and scrubbed, it's all shiny in there, if I may say so myself. One room down, more to go...always!
We ate a very strong-smelling sweet and sour chicken recipe - a new crockpot recipe for me. Tasty, but the house still smells today. May need to modify that one, or lose the recipe.
Today's agenda includes washing the valances and couch covers in the living room, and generally cleaning up the living and dining rooms. We painted these rooms last fall, so they aren't in too bad of shape, though well lived in. I'm also throwing spaghetti into the old crockpot - that's a tried and true staple recipe for us.
While I won't say that going somewhere, anywhere, wouldn't have been nice for spring break, I also enjoy just puttering around the house, relishing in the time off. Cleaning and caring for what I have, making it so things last longer, just enjoying 'our things' such as they are. It works for me! But then, I think of my girls...not that they say or imply anything. These school breaks really display the haves and have nots though. Even the teachers go places wonderful. Oh, I know to be proud in whatever we do, and I know we can afford what we do over break, but giving the girls some more adventure would be nice. Hmmm - these kind of quandries usually mull around in my head, until some ideas start to form. There may some changes a-brewing... (In rereading this paragraph, I have to wonder is it the girls or is it me feeling the lack?? Ha! Well, it still gets to mull around in my head for a while, either way.)
I'm working the last week at the Spec. Ed. extended school year job. Next week I'm prepping and mailing out our early childhood fall brochure. Then the two middle weeks in August, I work a pre-Kindergarten class to ready the children entering Kindergarten in September. Bit by bit, it all helps pay the bills, while allowing me lots of time for the family.
I've got my assignment for the fall - four mornings a week in a pre-Kindergarten class, and two afternoons in a preschool special ed class. I'm thrilled to know this early what I'll be doing for the school year, and very happy with the assignments.
With fall shaping up nicely, I'm planning on enjoying the remainder of summer. It's still warm today, though no over 100 heat index. After I get the clothes hung on the line outside, I think we'll head to the lake for the afternoon. Dinner will be again grilled - still too hot to cook in the kitchen (oh darn...)
Stay cool (it seems everyone is in a heat wave this summer)& take care!
We had power go out one night last weekend, and the computer wouldn't come back on. My husband has been working overtime, and my computer knowledge lacks in any sort useful skills, so we had to wait until he had the time to look at it (and it took all of two minutes, wouldn't you know!)
Our family had a great little break at home over the holiday weekend (my husband and I both had Monday off.) We used our zoo membership, and went on a gorgeous day with the youngest two girls. We swam a few times at our favorite beach. On the 4th, we went to a bbq at my inlaws, and later went to a firework display at the next town over from us. In between, we had lots of time to sleep in and read and relax. It was definitely a struggle to get back into work mode on Wednesday - enjoying the relaxation way too much!!
Otherwise, we're continuing to luck out with line drying weather for the laundry, eating at home (lots of grilling) and enjoying summer (need to bank warm weather memories for the winter!)
Tomorrow morning, my oldest daughter leaves for a mission trip with the youth from our church. They are driving out to a Montana Crow reservation for service work and some sightseeing. She's looking forward to the trip, and is packed and ready for the early morning departure. She's a seasoned traveler, so I'm excited for her (this is far less embarassing for her than having anxious, worried Mom waving goodbye, as the crew sets off on their journey.)
My husband's last paycheck with a slug of overtime, as well as my better-than-nothing check, helped pay off the final amount on the mission trip, the vet bill and a too large prescription mail-order. I try so hard to stagger the med orders, especially the expensive, no generic available ones, but with some recent med changes, I got caught this time. Well, luck was with us, as there was extra on the paychecks. May we always stay this lucky - I like this lucky!
And, gosh, here we are at the start of another weekend, with no plans, which is my very favorite kind. May you all enjoy your favorite sorts of weekend...take care!
I went strawberry picking yesterday afternoon with my oldest and youngest daughters, and my best friend and her daughter. We snacked on what seemed like a ton of berries. For dinner, we had salad with chicken and strawberries on top, dressed with a blush wine vinaigrette - fantastic!
I cleaned, topped and hulled berries until my hands gave out. Next I froze them single-layered on trays, and then put them into freezer Ziplocs. We still have half of our pickings left in the fridge today for processing into jam, today's snacking, and some to bring over to my inlaws this afternoon. A bit of work, but oh so delicious!
I also have to cut some rhubarb for Mom's nursing home and deliver it this morning. I'll bring along my mom's dog for a visit too.
Another day of being able to hang out the laundry - wonderful for me, but it's getting a bit dry around here for the farmers. Some overnight rain would work for all of us...as if I have any say in the matter!
Well, the strawberries won't take care of themselves, so I had better get going...take care!
Waiting on the washer to finish, so I can get the laundry on the line outside. I love that we've had this incredible stretch of wonderful weather for line drying.
Need to pick some more rhubarb. I'll make up a double batch of muffins for us. My mom's nursing home called for a bunch for the residents to cut up for their rhubarb jam making session later this month. I think I'll offer to help with that, as I would love to learn how to make jam, and the recipes seem confusing. I'm sure there are many laughing at this, but I think I'm more of a visual/hands on learner, at least with canning.
To continue on the picking theme...the two girls and I are heading out to a pick your own strawberry place this week. I'm going to call a friend and her daughter who were interested in doing it too. I'd love to do up some strawberry jam - at least I do know how to do freezer jam.
Enjoy your day...take care!
The girls went to school with mixed emotions - a bit sad for school to be ending, but happy for the end of the homework. We dropped off teacher gifts, and took photos. This afternoon is the 5th grade graduation for my third daughter. How my girls seem to be racing through their school years!
Met with a friend for coffee (used another giftcard) and celebrated her upcoming birthday. We always meet the first and last days of school (and in between too.) It seemed like we were just talking of what the school year will present, and here we are summing up how it went. A sentimental day...
I had a giftcard from a preschooler for a local restaurant that I had thought to use tonight to end the school year nicely, but the three older are all going to parties - either birthday or year-end - so I'll save it for a night we can all be together. My youngest can help me make a homemade pizza instead, which will be fun.
I guess not much financially happening - kind of in auto mode lately, as another blogger I think called it. This is better than out-of-control high anxiety mode any day - just makes for boring daily blog material! I do like that I'm making use of the 'making do, using up, do without' category a lot more often now. Enjoy your day...take care!
Never get done as much as I would like on the weekends. I always think having more people around will translate to more helpers. Wherever did I get a crazy idea like that?!!
As soon as the last two girls got on their bus this morning, I got to work. The laundry is washed and on the line (the morning rain gave way to a beautiful breezy day - yay!) I noticed the bananas had become ripe for baking, so I tried a new muffin recipe. One of my second daughter's teachers told her he'd have to request having her in class next year, so he could get some more of the pumpkin bread we gave out to the teachers for Christmas. I can take a hint, so whipped up that batter, as long as the oven was going anyway. He's been a wonderful teacher, so my girl will bring in a big loaf to him, along with the recipe (since my daughter wants to move up to 8th grade next year!) Now I'm 'thinking' of entering the disaster zone, I mean my youngest two girls' bedroom. I may need to ponder this a bit longer.
We're in our last four days of school, filled with end-of-year events. We have three medical appts this week - one I'll need to pay outright and two with co-pays. I work tomorrow morning for a bit at my school. My mom's care conference is on Wednesday. My youngest's class has an ice cream social, and my third daughter graduates from 5th grade on Thursday. I'm thinking I should enjoy my quiet Monday!
'Tis all for now...take care!
...and how did it get to be June already?!
Last week, I cleaned some very neglected parts of my house, and also worked as a last minute special ed sub at the Intermediate school, which makes for a rewarding, albeit exhausting, time. Tons of laundry went up on the line yesterday, as well as dropping off and picking up my husband's company van for some repair work ( he leaves for Fargo to install and program a security system tomorrow, and needs a properly running vehicle.)
The repair shop was near a Kmart, where I stopped to see if there was the kind of tops my mom likes to wear. The nursing home staff called during the week to say she's gained enough weight and needed some new sizes - she's still in the wheelchair with a sore healing on her foot, after 7 months, which accounts for this gain. My brother and I are meeting with staff on Wed for Mom's care conference, to see where we are with returning her back to
physical therapy. I brought the seven new shirts to her yesterday, along with my third daughter and her dog. Mom was having a fairly agitated day, and wanted to get up out of the wheelchair, which set off her alarm (which hardly helped the situation.) Not the most relaxing visit, but she loved the new shirts and enjoyed a walk outside to look at the flowers in the garden. I figured if I was pushing her around, she wouldn't try leaping out of the chair, and I was right. Phew, what a visit... It may be a long summer.
Medical issues of now two daughters are still weighing heavy, but I'm trying to focus on only what I can do at the moment, rather than look too far ahead. Well, I'm mindful of what the future holds, but with little that can be done, I try to not get myself too worked up with worry. Times like these, make hanging laundry on the line, or cleaning, or baking such peaceful, productive activities in my life.
Otherwise for today, we will work on getting my husband ready for his out-of-town work - he's hauling 12 boxes of cable, I think each holds a 1000 ft. I'll bake the weekly batch of rhubarb muffins - the good old plants still going strong. Of course, there's laundry to wash and hang.
I have a giftcard from one of my students for a local nursery, so I'll head over later and get some (few at their prices!) annual flowers for our pots. I have gardens throughout my yard that have perrenials, mostly divides from family and friends. I also fill in with lots of collected things, almost all free or gifts. Some ceramic and terracotta figures, birdhouses and garden stakes that the girls have painted throught the years, handprints in cement pavers, coal scuttle, old washbasins, odds and ends of marble - from my parents place before demolition (a previous owner was a headstone carver and brought home the leftover odd pieces to create pavers and a retaining wall.) Well, what I lack in flowers may or may not be disguised by my odd collection scattered throughtout the gardens, but I enjoy it all anyway.
What a loooong entry, too long! Anyway, I think it's time to get moving...take care!
...raining on my (laundry) parade. Well, most of what I washed dried fine on the line. I've relocated the woven table runner from the line to a series of hangers over the bathtub. The biggest quilt was almost dry, and is air drying across the dining room table. (Swatting away three curious kittens is the new game at our house.)
The living and dining room components are all clean - just need to put everything back together again. (Ha - right as I'm losing steam, but I will charge on, with a totally clean area in my house as the reward. I won't be taking bets on how long it all lasts...)
Still left to do - mix up some rhubarb muffin batter to start baking. I've offered the family other rhubarb options, but they can't seem to get enough of this newest recipe I found a few weeks ago. This is fine with me, as it's simple and quick to bake a bunch of muffins.
Dinner is our everpresent favorite, spaghetti.
'Tis all for now - take care!
...the cleaning roll, that is. Yesterday, the washing machine was in constant use. In addition to the normal laundry of the day, the covers on the couch and the pillows were washed, and hung on the line. I stitched up one of the covers, where it had split a seam. A bit more use left in these covers.
I also soaked two throw rugs in warm water and borax. Our senior citizen dog gets confused about whether to use those two rugs near the door or to actually go outside. She often chooses poorly. Spot cleaning only does so much. So, as a last ditch effort in making these rugs last a while longer, I tried the soaking. They are still drying on the line, but smell much better, and don't look the worse for doing this.
Today I'm going to hand wash and line dry the quilts that hang on the wall. Some are my husband's grandmother's that she made for him, and some are ones I've made through the years. I actually enjoy doing this chore. It's a bit of a job, but I love checking how each quilt is fairing up on the wall and making any repairs. Then, of course, they look and smell so wonderful when clean. We're having perfect weather for all this line drying!
The wonderful corollary to all this cleaning - who has time to go and spend money?? Enjoy your day - take care!
We got back from our camping trip over the weekend. Wonderful, relaxing time, though hot and humid. We were lucky to be able to cool off in the St. Croix River during the day, and only had one night where we sweltered a bit in the tents. We canoed a different portion of the river than previous years. We also met some very interesting (in a good way!) people this trip. I always marvel at how my family's and others' paths cross, with the river being the common factor to bring us all together this time.
In the last few days before the girls are off from school, I'm using the time to clean the house and clear out more clutter. I find it quite amazing how much there is given how little shopping we do beyond groceries. I guess it's part that my girls are outgrowing a lot of things and part that we are passing along a lot of pass-along things from others. Either way, we have enough, and it's nice to pass along the excess.
With our early exit of spring, we pulled out the window fans (we have some window a/c units, but using them in May is not even an option!) It's the season for closing the miniblinds to the sun, doing the hot chores in the morning, and just spending time out of the house during the hot afternoon hours - playing in the shade or at the beach, visiting the a/c library, running errands (well, probably not as often this year with the price of gas!)... Our hope is to not use the a/c units at all this year. (This is very possible, as we've only acquired the units in the last couple years - giveaways from a friend and from my mom's house when she went to assisted living - we just need some reminding of our old frugal ways.)
Well, off to hang more laundry on the line outside, plan a dinner that doesn't involve a campfire and clean while the temps are in the 80s with a low dewpoint - life is pretty good with a low dewpoint! Take care!!
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