Monday, December 28, 2015

Apparently Motivation is the key

Both for Money saved and blogs posted!  This challenge of saving for a roof replacement has opened up a slew (that's "a lot" for all you non- southerners) of blog posts due to all the frugal things I have to rave about.

This morning found me in the kitchen (big surprise) making things I had been planning to get at the store.  Bagels, Loaf bread (well I was still going to make that), Hamburger buns, and English muffins are on the roster today and some are in progress.  If I can keep my motivation going,  I will mix up freezer biscuits (freeze now, bake later )and make Chex Mix.  Tonight's dinner is venison stew and biscuits.  I have some buttermilk that needs using up and that's why the biscuits.  I also have some cooked red potatoes I need to use up, so hence the venison stew.

I thought I would share the "grocery list" for this coming month to give you an idea of how minimal our needs are.  Having a pantry on hand comes in handy for challenges such as these.  So here's my list.

2- 50 lb bags of Chicken Feed-  Feed = eggs.
2- 25 lb bags Dog food
1- 12 lb bag cat food
1- cat litter
4- 32 load laundry soap
1- 20 bar pack of bath soap (Sams)
2- Shampoo
2- Dish washing liquid
1- 80 oz container of powdered coffee creamer- (we all have our weaknesses)
1- 5 lb pkg of turkey lunch meat-  This comes to $1.45 lb at Sams.  I can't get turkey breast that cheap.  Plus I had already promised Rubic I would buy some.
4-Gallons Whole milk- I mix this half and half with water since my kids are grown.  It reduces the fat and calorie content without having to buy Skim (Yuck).  Taste like 2%.  Plus I get 8 gallons for the price of 4.  I use it full strength when making yogurt.
1- 5 lb pkg of 93% lean ground turkey-  This will serve multiple functions not only for dinners, but I will use this for my breakfast sausage.
5- 48 oz jars of unsweetened applesauce- Einstein eats this stuff by the bowl full and I am happy to have him eat something relatively healthy.  It is amazing how much you learn by taking a microscope to your grocery purchases.  Canned peaches are at least half water/syrup.  By purchasing unsweetened applesauce I am getting  much more for the money.  Even a side by side comparison without factoring in the water/syrup issue I come out ahead.  Cans of peaches at Aldi are .89 cents for a just under 15 oz size.  I get that same amount in applesauce for $.58.
2-4 lb bags Navel Oranges-  This will get me something I can stick in Dh lunches.
7 lbs of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast-  This is on sale this week at Aldi.

So that's it.  That is my list for the month.  A challenge to be sure.  I'm a little nervous, but up to the challenge.  Good thing I like my kitchen cause I will be in there a lot.

Fast forward a few hours and...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

EEEEERRRRRRRRRRT (that was a screeching stop for those who need to know)

So change of plans.  The roofer came out today to give an estimate on the removal of a cracked skylight and the patching of the roof in its place.  Then they were able to do the repair as well!  Yay! I am happy to say we were able to write a check for this repair because of our roof fund.  That's the good news.  Other good news is we can get half of the cost of the repair, about $225 back if we use this roofer to replace the whole roof within the next 120 days.  Right now we have about $50 in our roof fund and a little less than $2000 in our emergency fund.  We want to try to do this and add insulation to boot to help with the summer power bill.  This would mean funding about another $1500 dollars in between now and the end of April.  That is ambitious on what DH brings home, but we are gonna try.  We think we can do it, but we will definitely be pulling out all the stops to do it.  I feel like it will be worth it in the end.  This means my grocery budget for the next 4 months will be cut...a lot....really....a lot.  Ummm down to $150.00.  This gets us essentials and no frills.  Our pantry will sustain us with flour, sugar, oils, etc.  Everything one needs to make all other things.  So any thoughts I had about buying convenience foods has gone out the window.  My pantry levels will definitely fall.  Just think of all the closet space we'll have!  Netflix is going to be cancelled for now since we still have Amazon.  I know it's only $8 a month, but every little bit helps.  Tomorrow I will begin calling around to make sure our cable/Internet is the cheapest I can get and still be usable.  I'm also planning to call about our car insurance.  Contributions to our power bill and water bill fund will be put on hold and the money instead will be diverted to the roof fund.  The Car Repair fund, Car Tags Fund, and Car Insurance fund will still be funded each pay period until they reach their goal.

As for the whole healthier lifestyle thing, I think if we are all getting our exercise and not eating or making things we shouldn't , we should be good to go and probably make some progress.  Who knows.  So there you have it.  All the best laid plans of mice and men.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Time to pick and choose.

Don't think I've gone over to the dark side, but it is time to get back on the straight and narrow when it comes to weight loss.  When I left my job to come home, my doctor was the first to expect the best from this.  My yearly appointment with her in September included her wish list for me for the coming year; healthy eating, regular exercise, and at least a little weight loss.  She would like 12 lbs in a year.  While she's happy with my lab results and lack of weight gain every year, she knows the risk excess weight holds for me as a person with Hypothyroidism.  I am more susceptible to Diabetes among other things.   For that reason she has always encouraged me to lose at least a little weight but has never done it in a pushy or mean way.  Can you tell I really like my doctor?  Anyway,couple that reason for healthier eating with the rest of my family wanting to get on the band wagon and we have a go.

While not a lot will change grocery buying wise, there are certain things I am going to opt to buy rather than make.  Yes it will cost me a little more in some cases, but time for me becomes a factor.  If I am to include a 45 min workout each day, I want to save that time somewhere else.  Granola and Wheat bread are two things I will still make.  Granola bars, Yogurt, and cookies are things I don't plan on making.  Granola bars and yogurt take time to make and plus my sons prefer the cartons they can grab.  They don't like having to sweeten or flavor their own yogurt.  Whatever I can do to encourage them I will do.  Cookies are too much of a temptation.  At least homemade ones are.  The dough is another stumbling block.  I LOVE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH!  Other things going on my "buy don't make" list are Hamburger buns, Bagels, and English muffins.  Mainly because of time, but also, I can get the Natures Own Bagels, English Muffins, and Hamburger buns for fewer calories than my homemade counterparts, and they still don't have a lot of crazy stuff added.  Plus I can get them at the Bread store cheap(Yay!).

With overall price increases in groceries these days, and the fact that I am still on a budget: I need to get all the bang for my buck I can.  For that reason I've started looking closely at the nutritional information of the protein sources I use.  I've discovered that boneless pork loin is a power house of protein compared to eggs, or even ground turkey.  If I purchase boneless pork loin when on sale and have some of it ground for me, I can then use the ground pork for my breakfast sausage recipe.  The pork loin is a little more per serving than eggs, but, my son can eat it for breakfast (he's allergic to eggs), little to no waste left in the pan, and about 2 times the protein as eggs.  This means it will stay with us longer, and the calories are about the same as eggs.  I look for boneless pork lion for $1.99 lb or less.  I had been buying the 1 lb bullet packs of Ground Turkey at Aldi.  It's 85% lean.  I compared it to the 93% lean ground Turkey I can get at Sams and realized I have a lot of waste left in the pan in the form of fat that we neither want or need.  So I'm going to start using only the 93% lean at Sams.  I will actually be saving 9 cents a lb.

I still intend for any weight loss I achieve to be with normal food.  There will be no "Fisher Price Foods" as my mom says.  No artificially fat free, sugar free items will be on my list.  Well with the exception of a stray Diet Dr Pepper.  I do love those.  Don't drink them often mainly cause I can't afford them all the time.  We also like our Kool aid, but we mix it with 3/4 cup Stevia and 1/4 cup sugar.

So here we go.  Back on the straight and narrow.  We'll take it one day at a time.  I will succeed and I will fail from day to day, but the important thing is to keep going.  So what about you?  Any Resolutions or changes coming your way?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thoughts of long ago.

Christmas Eve, makes me remember when I was a child and December 24th would arrive.  I think Christmas Eve has always been my favorite.  Don't get me wrong.  Presents have always been great so Christmas Morning was the ultimate, but Christmas Morning was the last day.  Once the gifts were unwrapped, the anticipation was over.  Christmas Eve, however, was the height of anticipation.  There was electricity in the air!  As a child I felt like Christmas Day would never come and Christmas Eve seemed to last forever.  But it was fun.  We always got a gift on Christmas Eve.  Some little something to take the edge off so to speak.  Ironically the one gift I remember the best from a childhood Christmas Eve was the one I received in bed because I had the stomach flu.  Stomach flu had gone thru just about everyone and I was one of the last on the roster.  I had recovered by Christmas Day, but was still shaky.  Anyway, I got a Charlie would you say?  It was like a magnetic board, but it wasn't magnetic.  It was slick and it had little slick Charlie Brown Characters you could attach in any way you wanted in order to create a scene.  Not a big elaborate gift, but it did the trick.

Christmas Eve was the best after bed time.  The one time of year children will willingly go to bed and try to sleep.  In order to keep us 5 kids in line, Christmas Eve was the time all the kids slept in the same room with our oldest sister watching us.  We had electric candles in the window and my mom would have multiple colors of lights in them.  We got to leave the candles on and the result was surreal.  There was little to no sleep....for us or our parents.  My poor parents were up just about the whole night getting everything out.  I (We, Daddy I wasn't the only one regardless of what they say) was up the whole night worrying my parents were still going to be awake and Santa wouldn't stop (Bad parents!  lol), or sneaking out to the hall to peer into the darkness (again Daddy I wasn't the only one) in the hopes we could see something after our parents turned the lights off and went to bed.  Needless to say 5 am was a perfectly logical time to drag my sister and subsequently our parents out of the bed to start Christmas Day.

As the years have passed my Christmases have changed.  No longer a child myself, I would see Christmas through the eyes of my children.   Wide eyed wonder at the lights, Santa, the presents, etc.  Now my Children are adults themselves.  My daughter and her husband have the joy of seeing Christmas in their children's eyes.  Christmas has changed for us again.  Now it is really more of a spiritual celebration.  I still love the giving and receiving of gifts, but my focus turns more toward why we give those gifts.

This year, as I laid out the Nativity, it just so happened O Holy Night was playing on Pandora.  The Nativity ended up being laid out with tears. I couldn't help but Praise God for this precious gift.  Over 2000 years ago, on another Christmas Eve, the world held its breath in anticipation of the child to be born on Christmas Day.  I guess anticipation has always been a major part of Christmas, only the first Christmas never ended with the coming of Christmas day.  Instead it became the beginning of everything.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

All things Christmas

GOOD MORNING WORLD!  Hmm well now that I think about it that sounds a little lofty.  GOOD MORNING THOSE WHO HONOR ME WITH READING MY BLOG!  That's better.

This morning finds me enjoying a cup of coffee with pumpkin pie spice added(yum) while waiting on bread dough to do its first rise.  In a minute or two I will leave my laptop and venture back into the kitchen to punch down the dough (though it won't need it too much)and set it for its second rising.  I do two 30 minute risings before I shape it into loaves to do the final rise.  The first rise doesn't really rise too much, but by the time the second thirty minutes is over it is nice and voluminous.  This bread I'm making is for a customer.  I love saying customer!  Makes me feel all entrepreneury.  While my little side business isn't going gang busters, I am getting some regular orders and it's enough to give us a little extra.  Plus I'm doing what I love.

This past week has been a Hodgepodge of baking.  I've made Bread, Granola, Chex mix, Sausage Cheese balls, Sausage Crescent rolls, German Chocolate cake layers (to be iced tomorrow night), and German Chocolate pie.  Some stuff is for our Christmas Breakfast, some for DH birthday, some for normal family use, and some for orders.  I  still have a loooong list of things still to make for most of the above reasons:  Gorilla Bread, Cinnamon Rolls, Dinner Rolls, Sugar Cookies, Coconut Pecan Icing, Blueberry Dump Cobbler, a Cheese Ball, Bread, and Granola,  I know this sounds like a lot, and it is, but this is for multiple events.  I will say this, come December 26th we are back to healthier eating.  I guess that's why people have weight loss or healthy eating as a New Years resolution.  After eating rich food for a month it's easier to make the switch.  I know it is for me.  By the time Christmas is here I'm having a hard time looking at rich food much less eating it.  This is our last hurrah for the holiday.

I'm excited for this weekend though.  I'm off today to go to my parents house for the newly traditional Buffington Family Christmas.  It started last year and was such a hit we decided to try and do it every year.  The rest of my family will join me tomorrow for the whole clan Christmas party.  Tonight though, and tomorrow morning, will be just myself, my siblings, and our parents.  I'm very excited about the gifts I made for everyone.  I hope they like them.  I'm pretty proud of them.

Well you didn't know it, but I have left you, punched down the dough, and returned.  I'm sneaky like that.  Today is the first day of a crazy busy week.  It will be a whirlwind of events, family, gifts, eating bad, etc.  Afterward I may just sit and stare at the wall for a bit.  Crazy, Crazy, but I love it.  I love it all.  It can be hard getting in the spirit of Christmas.  We are bombarded with Black Friday Brawls, Red Cup Controversies, Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas, etc.  This year here in Georgia we've had a warmer winter ( an no that is not abnormal.  Abnormal is the cold winters we have had the past three years).  All these things can make it hard to get into the Christmas spirit.  When those things happen, perform Christmas actions regardless.  Give a gift expecting nothing in return; Surprise someone in the checkout line and pay for their groceries (if you can), Donate toys, coats, etc.  Give of yourself.  Once you start acting in the Christmas spirit, the rest will fall into place regardless of what is going on around you.

Almost 20 years ago, it doesn't seem like that long ago, the older of my two younger brothers was  killed in a motorcycle accident the day before Easter.  The following Christmas no one would have faulted my mother if she didn't celebrate.  She put her decorations up and we celebrated Christmas because, she said she had hope.  She was celebrating the hope she had because of Christmas that she would see my brother again.  We have that hope because a loving God sent His son in the most humble fashion to save us from sin and grant us life.  Eternal life.  That alone is Christmas.  The rest is just the icing on the cake.  Focus on Him this Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mind Blowing tip of the day!

Well for me anyway.  Definitely life changing at least.  Let me share.  My mom and I were talking the other day via phone and she told me how when she uses butter in cookies they spread out.  She said they taste great, but aren't pretty like she likes them.  I'm like "I have the same problem"!  So armed with that thought I gave myself a mission (Should I choose to accept it ((and I did)).  To see if you can reduce the amount of butter to get the cookies just so, but not affect the taste.  Well I have succeeded!  I have made a batch of cookies with 1 stick of butter in place of the 2 sticks called for in the recipe, and without the texture of the cookies or the taste being affected.  Einstein says he tastes no difference.  So I have discovered when using butter in place of margarine in cookies, use 1 stick of butter for the 2 sticks of margarine called for in the recipe.  You can, and probably should, also reduce the number of eggs by one.  Not only does this reduce the amount of fat in your recipe, but it also reduces the cost of ingredients.  I love me some money (and calorie) savings.  In this recipe I also reduces the sugar used by 1/3 without affecting the taste.  So here is my chocolate chip cookie revamp.

My Chocolate Chip Cookie Revamp

1 Stick butter softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1 ts vanilla
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chocolate chips (although I used 1/2 cup and chopped them up)

Beat butter 30 seconds.  Add sugars and mix with your mixer until fluffy.  Add vanilla, Egg, soda, and baking powder.  Mix well.  Add flour 1 cup at a time ending with the quarter cup.  Stir in chips.  Bake 325 for 10 min.  Remove from oven and let cool just a minute or too then remove from cookie sheet to a cooling rack to finish cooling.  Amounts vary depending on size of cookie, but would probably make 3-4 dozen easy.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


That's it.  Woohoo.   What's with the woohoo?  Well I'll tell ya.  I am done with gift buying/making.  Here I am on a Saturday and thinking "Hmm I have nothing I have to do, or nothing I have to buy".  My last task before Christmas is getting the groceries for our Christmas festivities.  This is nice.  Let me just bask in the moment..........

Okay, enough basking.

This has been a week filled with plenty of baking, and sewing.  Santa's workshop was in overdrive because I had a fear I wouldn't be done in time.  So imagine my surprise when I got done early.  Funny though.  It sure doesn't feel like Christmas is around the corner.  Today's high is due to be 70 degrees.  We've had these temps before in December (Like when I was a child) so welcome to Georgia.  Next weekend will be more Christmas like.  Then we will have lows in the low low thirties and highs in the upper 40's and low 50's.  But for today I am resisting the urge to go work in the garden.  I did however order my seeds and they have shipped!  See this is what happens when I have my Christmas stuff in order.  I start thinking of the new year and spring planting.

I will share an new recipe I discovered this week.  I made my moms pumpkin bread recipe, however, I decided after I had all the dry ingredients together that I only needed one loaf and so I stored half of the dry ingredients for later.  I also tried my hand at making cranberry juice.  It was pretty good, but I had these left over cranberries I wanted to find a use for.

 *** on a side note:  Just buy your cranberry juice when it is on sale B1G1F at Publix.  It's similar in price.

So first of all, if you want to try your hand at making Cranberry juice, simply put equal amounts of water to cranberries; i.e 1 quart of cranberries, 1 quart of water.  Slowly simmer the cranberries until soft then pour into a clean cloth and let drain over night.  I ended up having to add about 1/2 cup sugar for each quart of juice I ended up with.

So armed with the spent cranberries from 2 quarts of juice, I formulated a plan/recipe.  Here tis:

Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

1 cup plus 2 TBS flour
1.1/4 cups sugar
3/4 ts salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk
2 TBS oil
1 Egg
1-2 TBS grated orange peel
1 1/2 cups spent cranberries (you can probably soften dried cranberries to add)

Mix together dry ingredients then add the milk, oil, egg, and orange peel.  Mix well then stir in the cranberries.  You can add nuts also, but I didn't.  Pour all into a loaf pan and bake 325 degree for an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This bread is soooo good if I do say so myself.  I made it yesterday morning for breakfast and it was gone by nightfall.

Well, I know this is no barn burner, but you did get a recipe of sorts out of it.  I hope this post find you well and your Christmas plans are moving along.  Just remember why we celebrate this season.  Don't let the stress of the holiday take your focus on the greatest gift we ever received; Jesus

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Makin my list and Checkin it twice

In this case I'm not talking about my Christmas list, although that is coming along.  I've been knocking out the homemade gifts as well as supplying my little store.  No I'm taking about my garden seed list.  You see I am getting ready to put an order in for seeds for this coming spring.  Crazy right.  Well not really.  I plan on starting cool weather seeds Dec 23rd.  I have planted seedlings that go out end of Feb and march, but it seems to get to warm too fast for them to be as successful as they can be.  So this year I am starting my own seeds and am hoping to have my Cool weather things in the ground come Feb.  We'll see,  My list consists of Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Spinach, and Cucumbers (but the cucumbers are for warmer weather).  I already have seeds for Snow peas, Beets, Radishes, and carrots.  Wow!  I would love for all these things to produce in abundance.  Nice crisp raw veggie sound so good during this season of sweet, rich, goodies (although the goodies are mighty good).  So I have my list and armed with that I am off to buy my seeds.