Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What's for dinner...

Ah, the age old question that makes every mom want to cry and wish they were fabulously rich so they could order out, at least at some point or another. Usually I am on top of things and have my menu done on Saturday and written on my calander from Flylady, so I can stock up for the week. Well, my menu is done, but the stocking portion just has not happened. Maybe it was because I was too excited for my my date on Saturday night, or that on Sunday, my back decided to spazz out. Maybe it was swimming on Monday, or Biathalon on Tuesday or the thought of swim again on Wednesday, or the fact that it is summer and the idea of hauling four kids to the grocery store is some sort of torture in itself. At any rate, the shopping has not happened, and it is supper time. What's the solution? Kitchen sink soup! You heard me, and yes it is what it sounds like. This dish starts with me firing up the computer and opening the fridge and freezer doors and a lot of staring. Eventually, I am inspired. Part of an onion in the drawer, oooo some peppers, here is that sausage I bought three months ago to make pizza with, wow, when did I freeze that zucchini? While this may seem a strange way to cook, if you put your four year old on stirring duty and let him dump in herbs, he thinks it looks like the best meal he has ever eaten. Guess I'll call hubby to pick up a loaf of fresh Italian bread and head out to the garden for salad. Oh hey, here is some tortellini....

Things I love on a Tuesday

I love the smell of bread....
This is Laura's recipe for Whole Wheat Honey Bread which actually makes two loaves. Unfortunately I can only show you one, since I turned the other one into a pan of cinnamon rolls and we ate them this morning before I baked the bread.

I love fresh strawberries, too.
I can show you these that are from our garden, but what I can't show you were the ten pounds I turned into strawberry spread for the rest of the year. I don't love that jam recipes have so much sugar in them, six cups for a batch! So I found this great product, pectin that doesn't require sugar, and I only added about 3/4 cup of sugar for an entire batch. We tried a partial jar that I immediately opened after canning, and you know what? It tasted like... strawberries!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Menu Monday June 28-July 4th

I went shopping and vowed to buy only what was on my list in an effort to stick to the budget much better this month. While it didn't go too badly, I did have three extra helpers in the store with me and we all know what happens when you have extra help, (particularly the kind that can't read your list and doesn't understand the word budget). I walked out of the big box with a total of $100.00 on the nose, and our local grocer with another $16.76. I don't feel too terrible with these totals as they do include two packages of diapers ($31.54) and four donuts ($2.32 and still not sure how they talked me into those). Here is our plan for the week.

Eggs and toast
Cinnamon rolls
Blueberry muffins and smoothies
Cold cereal
Kids choice

Lunch-leftovers or cold sandwiches, fruit and veggies

Sunday- Pizza and homemade strawberry ice cream
Monday-Stove top lasagna, salad, tropical fruit
Tuesday-Kitchen sink soup, bread, strawberry and spinach salad
Wednesday- Black beans and rice in the crock pot, corn bread and salad
Thursday- Grilled chicken, salad and plums
Friday-Date night (fish fry)
Saturday- Chicken broccoli bake, apples

Monday, June 22, 2009

No, I'm not dead...

I think the title is a good way to cover the last two weeks I have not been on. What a zoo! We left here on Friday the 12th after two days of packing and prepping to be gone and stopped in MN for the night at a hotel (great free breakfast the next morning!) Then drove on to my in-laws in Nebraska to surprise my mil for her 60th birthday. She was so excited to see everyone, it was worth the trip. Now that I think about it, between the stop over, and that hubby was with me this time, I can scratch #83 off my list, it wasn't that bad.
After spending two days in Nebraska, it was on to Iowa for the clean up week at the farm. We have had this on the calendar for two years since we have to plan around hubby's schedule. What a week! We burned down the sheep shed, moved bricks from the mill house, helped clean out the barn, wired new lights and outlets in the shop and then had a party just for fun on Friday. Since we stayed out at the farm, we had a whole house and tons of room for ourselves. Not to mention, my family stocked the refrigerator and cleaned before we stayed, so it was kinda like a vacation despite the work. Not to mention, helped out with my budget issues, lol.
Now, back home again and recovering from bug bites, sunburns and laundry, I have a garden full of weeds and an empty refrigerator. So, meal planning will be updated as I go. Sometimes you just gotta fly by the seat of your pants...
Sunday-Smoked pork chops, salad, cottage cheese, strawberry crepes
Monday-Grilled steak, tortellini, broccoli, beets
Tuesday-Naan, hummus, boiled eggs, lettuce, feta cheese, tomatoes and olives
Wednesday-T-bone, baked potato, salad
Thursday- Kids-pizza us-Grilled chicken, pasta with rosemary tomato cream sauce, salad
Friday- Date night!
Saturday- Crock pot Mexican beef into Baked Enchiladas with tomatoes, lettuce (from the garden), corn tortillas and sour cream

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Posts, Posts Everywhere

We did it! 80 bazillion posts later, we have surrounded our yard with what looks like the start of a stockade. What a job that was! I say that somewhat tongue in cheek since my part of it was relatively easy compared to what my hubby did. We had someone come out with a tractor to drill holes since our first attempt didn't quite produce the results we wanted. (read as- rented a machine with not enough power to dig, or a long enough bit to dig deep enough) This put our project up to about a 9 on the cuss-o-meter scale from the start. Only installing our own crown molding was more painful. After some discussion about how the other 86 holes were going to go, we made the decision to pay someone to do what clearly was going to take us that many years to accomplish, and by then our kids would be out of the house and we would be too old to hunt let alone with a new puppy.
Tractor came, and in the same amount of time it took us to do 5 holes, did all the holes! We were ecstatic! String the line, let's start planting posts, no problem right? That was 2 1/2 weeks ago. Between schedules, rain, wind, rain and more wind...(makes the string move) it took a while to get the rest of them in the ground. My job was holder, clamper, water getter, cheerleader and string mover. I have to say, I sweat much less than hubby who was raker and tamper, using a 40 lb iron bar and a lot of sweat and muscles. It never ceases to amaze me what an incredibly strong and resourceful man I have married. God couldn't have given me a better one, and I know that I wouldn't have found such a guy without His awesome hand. Posts are up, hard part is done, and I am overjoyed at the money we saved doing it ourselves. Hard work! Works for me.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Grocery budget take 2

Ok, week two of the budget. If you read the last week, you were a) shocked at how much I spent, like I was b) wondering what possessed me to not keep track before or c)... well, there is no c. So off I went, newly determined to stay on task this week. Here is what I spent.
Big box (dried and canned items) $18.50
Local grocery big box $29.03
For a total of $47.53!
Now, before I get too excited about this, bear in mind last weeks lump spending of $295.09 which about put me over the edge when I added it all together. So, now I am up to a total of $342.62. This would be an outstanding total, for a whole month, not 2 weeks! Take a look at my menu to see what I will be making this week with my purchases.

Menu Monday June 7-12

Here it is,
Short and sweet.
Our menu plan,
For what we'll eat.
Thank you, thank you
(bows to the applause)

Eggs and toast
Blueberry muffins, green smoothies
Apple bread, green smoothies
Biscuits and gravy

Assorted sandwiches
Cheese sticks
Veggie sticks

Chicken tortellini with alfredo sauce, shrimp, peas
Chinese (birthday supper choice)
Crock pot Swiss steak, noodles, California mixed veggies
Jambalaya, rice, lettuce salad
Hamburgers and fries
Who knows?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Grocery budget.... not!

Ok, I just updated my grocery budget post and I gotta say... looks bad, looks bad coach. I knew we were a bit off target, but had no idea how much is spent on food. To be fair, this week is a bit of a stocking up week on items we order only once a month or so. The Schwans man comes the first week of the month, and my Country Life order is rather hit and miss about every 3 months or so. If I had not had those two whoppers we would have been much closer to target. I guess I will just have to keep in mind, the end of the month is where the real numbers come out, and since this month is just to get an idea of what we spend, better to be realistic than idealistic, right. Still I have to shake my head and wonder where all that food goes... oh ya, 4 healthy kids...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Random thought #1

#2 - Mom
Me- Ya, honey
#2- I think you should move away.
Me- What?
#2- I think you should move away and get your own place, and I will stay here and be the mommy to the little boys.
Me- Why do you think that? (trying to remember what this is called, they talked about it in my college psych class I think...)
#2- Then you could do all the things you don't get to, like... you know, take naps and stuff.

I couldn't decide if I wanted to cry because she wanted me to move away, or if I should be paying more attention to what I say because apparently she thinks I am tired all the time. Or maybe, I just look tired, hmmm, time for a new haircut or could it be the same black track pants and gray t-shirt that has become my Mom uniform. There may be more coming on this post...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Time for a Food Budget *(update)

I don't know what it is, but I have decided I am somewhat of a food collector. I love having a full pantry and refrigerator. I is perfectly logical to do this in my mind, always ready for company or that last minute, "We're having potluck tomorrow, honey." event. If I am not crazy about what is on the menu, I can change it on a moments notice. If I forget to thaw meat, no problem... However, my grocery budget is non-existent, and one of my goals is to get that under control. I have no idea where we are with our current spending but my goal is to pare it down to $550 a month for 6 people and the occasional guest, while trying to eat local, organic and natural as much as possible. No problem on the local, I shop here for my produce and cereal, we get our beef from a local dairy farmer who raises it on the side and our neighbor plans to raise 10 chickens for us this summer. No problem organic as my bulk items come from Country Life Natural Foods since there is no Azure Standard drop by us. No problem natural, I love to cook. So what's the problem? Staying on target with the budget.

Here we go, week 1. Saturday 5/29.09
Bad start.... I decided to use my hour in town on Saturday as a power shop trip. One hour to run to the dreaded big box while hubby watched #1, #2 and #3 play soccer. While I stayed on target spending only $75.97 ( I don't have to buy beef) not one lick of anything I bought was local or organic. I did however hold to the natural, as most of what I bought were ingredients for homemade dishes. I splurged on cereal and fruit bars for the kids, creamer for me and a bag of noodles, but that was it. One out of three things isn't bad right? Check out my menu to see what I will be making with my purchases. If I get a bit more organized, next week I will take a photo of my purchases like my favorite grocery blogger, Gayle.

Hmm, starting to step away from the budget already. Hubby wanted grillers... who can resist chicken wrapped around cheese, ham and asparagus right? Costly $23.45 stop at local grocer for what was a really good lunch, but could have been made for a fraction of the cost....

*(Update 2) 6/03/09
Ok, add another $20 for milk for the week. We pay this way because we get our milk from a local family with happy cows, :-) Yesterday I saw them all laying in the grass and I would swear they were smiling...

*(Update 3) 6/04/09
Schwans man today. I love Schwans, it just makes me happy to see that big yellow truck pull into our driveway. Substantial order at $75.65 for the month. This would not be so bad if I had not also gotten my bulk order from Country Life today too. This includes my pb, dried fruit, oatmeal, olive oil (a gallon), sucanat, pasta and wheat berries, beans, and vinegar. It added up to $100.02, yikes!

Menu Monday May 31-June 6

It's Monday, it's Monday, so much to do, so much to tell. My sister and her one trailer (ok, one trailer, one pickup bed and one van load, but not bad for a 4 bedroom home) got moved up on Saturday. Hubby and I went will all 4 kids (yes, all 4) and helped her, my step-dad and uncle move in rather quickly. The kids had a great time, she was exhausted from getting up so early and the stress of moving and we all had pizza and a beer to celebrate. Hubby and I got the south fence line put in, I planted petunias, my potatoes came up, and one of my friends had her 5th baby! So did Sara on another blog I follow, but this was her second. Ahhh baby love, nothing like it! Some days I look at my kids and think what fun it would be to have twice the number....
On to the menu!

Whole wheat pancakes with peaches and syrup
Cinnamon breakfast biscuits and smoothies
Eggs and toast
Oatmeal with toppings
French toast with apples
Breakfast cake
Kids choice (usually means cereal)

Last week with just the two little boys, will have to start planning next week, lol.

Grilled round steak, fried potatoes and onions, green beans, rolls
Roasted chicken, carrots and onions, rice, salad
Grilled venison tenderloin, noodles, green beans
Chicken tortellini soup, cheese sandwiches, fruit
Hamburgers, fries and applesauce
Chicken enchiladas with homemade tortillas, salad
Homemade pizza, salad