Thursday, September 3, 2015

Spending rundown today: I bought one Christmas present today: $11.98 (it was on clearance 50% off plus and additional 10%). I had been planning to buy little Abe a child's compound bow that I saw on clearance several weeks ago and then suddenly they were all gone. I thought I was out of luck on the bow but then found one today (I work in six different stores). I hadn't planned to buy it this month but I could not pass it up. He will be THRILLED! I'm not sure if I'll be giving it to him anytime soon, maybe for a birthday gift next year: $14.23 (it was also 50% off plus and additional 10%). I spent $22.22 on groceries. Tomorrow should be a no spend day.

My budget for the month is $513.62 which leaves $423.28

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.06

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Quick post

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-J.R.R. Tolkien
Well, I certainly value food above hoarded gold... Time for lunch.

Spending rundown today: $0, NO SPEND day 65 for the year.

My budget for the month is $513.62 which leaves $471.71

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.01



Strangest lunch I've ever eaten:
Fresh beans and tomatoes chopped up.
A sprinkle of salt and balsamic.
A dollop of green tomato chutney.
And a baking soda biscuit on the side.
(I threw a handful of cheese in the biscuit batter)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September spending plan (I know, how exciting)

Worry does not keep it from raining tomorrow, but it does keep it from being sunny today.
-Shannon L. Alder
The number one key I've found essential in trying to spend less, live frugally and pay off debt is to have a plan, oh and to stick to the plan. I will be the first to admit that sticking to a plan or a set of goals is very difficult for me (but I'm sure I'm not alone in that struggle). However, it all starts with having a plan in place. I think, like the quote above, today I will focus on doing well with whatever plan I've put in place, no need to worry or fret about the days to come and tomorrow will be a new day.

September has arrived!
My spending budget for the month is $513.62
I plan to purchase a bag of cat food this month (est. $25)
possibly a few Christmas presents (est. $40)
A dinner at a restaurant (est. $30)
And today I bought the new pan I put in the budget ($16.68)
That leaves $100.48 to spend on groceries and whatever else each week this month.
^ That's the plan.

Spending rundown today: $16.68 on a new pan. I was hoping to find one on clearance and today I did. Instead of a teflon pan this time I bought a ceramic one. I've never used a ceramic pan so I hope I like it. I took out $6 to give to my sister for a book that we're going half/ half on. I spent $19.23 on groceries.

My budget for the month is $513.62 which leaves $471.71

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.01

I already marked a few things off my September list.
I signed my baby up for swimming lessons yesterday (starts in two weeks).
Little Abe and I (mostly him) made the thank-you card for my brother yesterday and put it in the mailbox today.
I got one of the dogs almost completely groomed so that's half way there on that one (SOOO much work!).

Happy September everyone!!!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Banana Zucchini Mini Muffins Recipe

I've been meaning to make these mini muffins since Saturday. They finally just came out of the oven. This is my favorite banana bread recipe that I cut in half to make one pan of 24 mini muffins and I added 1/2 cup of grated zucchini to it today. YUM!!! Little Abe fully approves as well.



Ingredients for 24 mini muffins:
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup of oil (I prefer coconut oil but any oil works fine)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of flour (minus 1 Tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 very ripe banana
1/2 cup of grated zucchini

Mix together.
Fill muffin tin.
Bake at 350 degrees for 16 minutes.
Cool on wire rack.

It's really that easy and so much quicker than making an actual loaf of banana bread.
I make these pretty much anytime I have an over ripe banana on the counter.

I better go clean my kitchen now.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

September Thoughts

My budget for September is $513.62

Spending: This month I need to purchase a new pan. I have a teflon one that is starting to get tiny little chips in it and I hear, and can reasonably assume that is very unhealthy. I'd kind of like to get a jump on things and purchase two or three Christmas present for the nieces and nephews this month (we have 8 nieces and nephews). I don't think I'll be needing dog food or cat food but I think in order to spare a triple purchase in October I should try and purchase at least one bag of pet food this month. At present those are all of the bigger financial purchases I can think of for the upcoming month.

Health: I'm still going to the chiropractor pretty regularly but the pain in my back is getting worse lately. I know it's partly to do with stress at work and also because I've been working a bit more hours. I NEED to stretch every single day. I don't know why I can't get in the habit of doing that but I know I need to. Stretching every single day is absolutely a September goal. I also need to up my water intake. I'd like to go for at least one long walk each week and at least one other shorter brisk walk each week. These aren't just things I should be doing: stretching, drinking more water, and going for walks, these are things I need to do.

My little Abe: We haven't been reading as much over the past month as we had been and I keep forgetting to write the books we do read down in his book log. I want to be on it this month with the book log for 1000 books before Kindergarten. My goal is to read 125 books with him in September. That would get us past 300 books read. I also want to read a Bible story with him each day. We need to work on counting up to 40 and learning a few more letters (I'm going to shoot for learning 4 more letters with him this month). With as much as we're trying to get outside we haven't been doing much crafting. I really want to do something crafty with him each week, even if it's just coloring or cutting with scissors. Also he and I need to make and mail a thank-you to my brother for the fun time at the Amusement park. I need to sign him up for swimming lessons and ideally a sport as well. I'd also like to take him on some sort of "field trip" (just a sort of fun learning outing). Maybe to another farm or blue berry picking if there are any places still open for the season. *Please don't go thinking this is a lot to load in one month. Reading through it, it sounds like it could be a lot but truthfully we could accomplish everything I've listed here in under 20 minutes a day throughout the month. That is NOT a lot.

Hubby: Go out to eat with him once. Okay, so I've gotten GREAT at not eating out and honestly not even wanting to eat out but my husband still goes out to eat with friends almost weekly. As crazy as it may seem I think it would bless him a lot if we as a family made an effort to go out to eat once a month or so (I do not want to go out to eat more than that). It's a goal for me to budget in a dinner out as a family this month. I also want to very consciously work on little extra ways to show him how much he means to me. I'm not about to brainstorm plans for that goal right now but I'm putting it out there.

Random: Pay attention to the cat. Groom the dogs. Mail out five cards/ letters. No grumbling at work. Make/ sew one Christmas present (at least get it started). Cut facebook down to 10 minutes a day. Make the compost bin. Cook two new meals. Hang out with a friend. Make chocolate truffles. Keep on de-cluttering the house. Keep working on getting in quite time in the morning... yep, that's enough!

Re-cap (as if this post isn't long enough already):
$513.62 spending budget
Need to buy new pan
Need to buy dog or cat food
Hope to buy some Christmas presents

Stretch daily
Drink lots of water
Go for one long walk and one shorter walk each week

125 books
Count to 40
Learn 4 new letters
Sign up for swimming and a sport
At least one craft a week

Make&mail thank-you
Go on a field trip
Plan a family night out
Work on lots of little ways to show appreciation to hubby
Pay attention to cat
Groom dogs
Mail out 5 cards
No grumbling at work
Sew Christmas present
10 min. a day on facebook (MAX)
Make compost bin
Cook two new meals
Hang out with a friend
Make truffles
De-clutter house more
Quite time each morning


That's a long list. I suppose if I check off half the things on it I'll have a very good September.

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.99

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Garden Photo Updates


It's been cold and rainy for a few days now; not good weather for watermelon but so far my one gorgeous melon is holding in there, still growing, and the heat is supposed to return here shortly.




The three bean plants are filling up with beans now. These beans have yet to make their way to a dinner plate as I keep picking and eating them fresh. I LOVE them! The sunflower was planted directly next to them and was decimated by bugs and squirrels but nothing has even so much as touched the beans. Hooray!


On the tomato front we're up to 208 red ripe romas picked from my four plants. One of our dogs picks about 4 to 6 fruit a day with his snappy little jaws. It could just be coincidence but I'm pretty certain the tomatoes help with the joint pain in his hips so I can't bring myself to stop him. In other words I've lost a great deal of tomatoes to the dog which I have not kept track of. I also didn't tally the ones I used for the green tomato chutney (due to the other dog) or the ones that I gave to my neighbor.

We made pizza again today. For the record peeling the tomatoes is worth all the work just to get to see the little guy squishing them all with his hands; again the instructions for the pizza sauce specifically say to crush the tomatoes with your hands. Just being honest, crushing tomatoes in ones hands is the neatest feeling ever. He was skeptical at first but he LOVED helping make the pizza sauce/ squishing the tomatoes with his little hands.






That is today's garden update. Fall is certainly in the air. I leave you with one of little Abe's very favorite songs. He only knows it from the YellaWood commercials. I'm not entirely sure why but he just loves this song:



The sun comes up and the sun goes down
work away, work away

Well clear that acre, stake the claim
Gather up the timber, tie that chain
Cut that line, sand the plain
Sing a little song and do it all again

The sun comes up and the sun goes down
work away work away

Well haul the lumber, lift that frame
Get a little shut eye and do it all again

The sun comes up and the sun goes down
Work away work away

August Numbers Are In

I'm wrapping up the month financially by taking $40 cash out of the bank today (or tomorrow). I'm still shooting for a no spends today and tomorrow so I don't intend to spend any of the cash till Monday.

My goal for August was to bring the average daily spending for the year down under $18 a day. This month I bought a new pair of blue jeans for me and a new pair of shoes for little Abe. We went to an amusement park with my brother's family (he got us in for free). My husband and I celebrated our 13th anniversary. I spent in eight different categories this month and still I hit the nail on the head. I don't think I could possibly be happier with how August ended up financially. Our average daily spending for 2015 is $17.99 a day.

Average daily spending for August: $15.03

August averages and spending categories:
$9.83 a day on Groceries. Total $285.07
18 cents a day on Toiletries. Total $5.23
$1.86 a day on Food out. Total $53.79
5 cents a day on School supplies. Total $1.56
10 cents a day on Cleaning. Total $2.89
$1.06 a day on Clothing. Total $30.71
88 cents a a day on Pets. Total $25.43
$1.07 a day on Stuff. Total $31.13

My goal for September is to keep the average daily spending for 2015 under that $18 a day mark. I'm just going to leave well enough alone and not try to lower it further after a great month of low spending.

The average daily spending for food groceries for my family is still sticking around the $12 a day mark for the year. My average daily spending so far in 2015 on groceries is $11.96

Jan. $11.36 a day groceries.
Feb. $11.53 a day groceries.
Mar. $12.83 a day groceries.
Apr. $12.56 a day groceries.
May $11.45 a day groceries.
June $13.71 a day groceries.
July $13.21 a day groceries.
August $9.83 a day groceries.

August 2015 Total: $435.81
NO SPEND day 65    8.31
$40 cash for groceries to wrap up month    8.30
NO SPEND day 64    8.29
Glue sticks $1.56    8.28
Groceries $13.73    8.28
Groceries $29.53    8.27
Toiletries $5.23    8.27
McD's $5.78    8.27
New shoes for Abe $10.68    8.27
Groceries $4.88    8.26
Groceries $17.89    8.25
Coffee $1.79    8.24
NO SPEND day 63    8.23
Groceries $29.02    8.22
Dog food $25.43    8.22
Candy $1.09    8.21
Groceries $16.95    8.20
Groceries $4.76    8.19
NO SPEND day 62    8.18
Groceries $1.48    8.17
Coffee $1.79    8.17
NO SPEND day 61    8.16
NO SPEND day 60    8.15
Groceries $7.69    8.14
Blue jeans $20.03    8.14
Burger King late lunch $9.61    8.14
lunch at work $2.89    8.13
Games at Michigan's Adventure $10    8.12
Groceries (dry active yeast to be specific) 99 cents    8.12
Bottomless pop at the amusement park $15    8.12
Coffee $1.79    8.12
NO SPEND day 59    8.11
Groceries $28.04    8.10
Trash bags and straws $6.29    8.10
Lightbulbs $7.13    8.10
NO SPEND day 58    8.9
Groceries $41.97    8.8
Bath squirters and two cups for Abe $7.71    8.8
Groceries $8.69    8.7
Groceries $13.85    8.6
Lunch $3.89    8.6
Groceries $6.96    8.5
Groceries $17.55    8.4
Dish soap $2.89    8.4
Pizza $11.25    8.3
On Vacation    8.2 (not counting this day in average)
On Vacation    8.1 (not counting this day in average)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Quick Update

Spending rundown today: $13.73 on groceries. $1.56 on four glue sticks.

Yesterday I didn't post. I indulged with lunch from McD $5.78, spent $29.53 on groceries and I bought little Abe a pair of shoes on clearance (a size bigger then he's wearing right now) for $10.68.

My budget for the month is $436 which leaves $40.19 (for three more days)

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.97

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Beauty in a Child's Simple Prayer

One of my son's most special toys right now is this tiny cat figurine that he got out of one of the quarter machines at the front of the store. He named the little grey kitty with green eyes "Whiskers." He adores Whiskers. He even snatched a scrap of fleece from my sewing supplies to make Whiskers her very own cozy blankie. Yesterday on the way out of work I plopped two quarters into one of the machines at the front of the store and purchased a friend for Whiskers. There was no doubt in my mind that little Abe would be thrilled when I arrived home and presented him with the tiny brown dog. You'd have thought I'd spent several hundred dollars on the gift if you had seen the surprise and delight in my little guy's eyes.

Little Abe played with Whisker and Pappy (the little brown dog) all evening yesterday. The two little critters had quite the lot of adventures together and even got to take a tubby after all their hard adventuring. Most of the adventuring involved going for walks together, hiding in caves at any sign of trouble, and somehow still managing to get trapped underneath a cup that Pappy was always certain had delicious ice cream underneath it. It didn't. There was no ice cream. It was always a trap and then Whiskers had to say all kinds of strange code words to get the cup to let Pappy go.

When darkness fell and I had to let the real dogs outside for one last time Little Abe wanted to bring Whiskers and Pappy outside with us. I told him there was too great a possibility of them getting lost, if he dropped them and to leave them inside. We let the dogs out and my boy ran circles around the backyard like the Tasmanian Devil on Looney Tunes. The boy ALWAYS has loads of energy even right before bedtime. When it was time to go inside little Abe stopped in his tracks at the back door, opened up his clenched fist and proclaimed, "Oh no! I lost Pappy!" There Whiskers sat in his little hand but his new little pal was no where to be seen.

In truth I was pretty mad. I just told him he couldn't bring the two of them outside. Now here we were ready for bed standing in the dark of night in our backyard and one of Little Abe's most precious treasures was laying somewhere in the grass and Whiskers was all alone. My child convinced me to get a flash light and he'd wear his miners hat so that we could look for a little while. And we did, for probably 20 minutes. We looked and looked and we found nothing. I told him we'd look again in the morning but that Pappy was going to have to sleep outside tonight. There were a few tears. He was very worried Pappy would be sad and lonely. I told him in my frustration there was a very good possibility we'd never see Pappy again.

Morning came. I woke before the little one, made coffee and sat down to read. Before long my best buddy woke, walked to the living room, gave me my morning snuggles and then he looked at the front window and says, "oh, sorry mom but you see, the sun is up now. Let's go outside and find my puppy." I made him feed the real dogs first but then we headed out. Before we got outside I told him, very matter of factly, "Abner you better say a prayer to God that He helps you find your puppy. There is a chance we might not ever find him." He told me that he surely would but that he was going to wait and say a prayer under the lilac bush. I started making small passes through the yard (again), the same way I'd done the night before. Little Abe ran off to look and I saw him run under the lilac bush. I was on my third pass when I saw the little brown dog between a few blades of grass. I truly was not expecting to find it. I was hoping but not expecting. My heart jumped.

I picked the dog up, placed it in my pocket and started walking back to the lilac bush to tell little Abe. I saw that he was whispering under the lilac bush. He began walking towards me with a smile on his face when he saw me coming. I put my hand in my pocket to retrieve the surprise when little Abe said, "mom, God told me that He knows where my puppy is." Less than a second later I opened my hand and showed him the small brown dog and tears welled up in my eyes. He gasped and clapped and I don't remember what he said exactly but it was something like, "see I told you God knew."

I know that God answers prayers. I absolutely believe in miracles. This is actually the second time that God has directly answered a prayer said by my child. You can call it coincidence or whatever else you'd like. My heart can call it nothing short of God's perfect timing and an answer to a child's heart felt prayer. Little Abe was overjoyed. I left for work really really happy, feeling truly blessed. Like I said the other day, there has been darkness, heaviness, darkness, and more heaviness consuming the news lately and it makes everything seem so bleak. This morning was really beautiful.



Spending rundown today: $4.88 on groceries.

My budget for the month is $436 which leaves $106.70

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.92

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Debt Quote Tuesday with Albert Einstein and some reminiscing

Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury - to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind.
-Albert Einstein
At first I was just trying desperately to get our spending under control. I embarked upon a year long journey to see how little stuff I could acquire (food not considered). That was shortly after I went on a mission trip to Guatemala and saw how little people can really live on, and not just get by on but really live lifetimes, generations; there are entire cultures of people who just don't have much of anything. Not long after, this blog began and I started to really budget all of our spending, track it, and try to get it lesser and lesser. I've come such a long way.

"It's what's on the inside that really counts." Remember your mom trying to tell you that when you were an adolescent and you were crying because someone said you were fat or ugly or that you would be cute if it weren't for your 32 chins? (someone really said that about me in the fifth grade) Who cares what really counts when what everyone really wants is more, bigger, better, smarter, and prettier.

Twenty years later and my heart, what's on the inside, screams with a peaceful sort of sound, "a simple and unassuming manner of life IS best; it is what's on the inside that really counts."

I remember wanting things when I was young. I remember before getting my first paper route I lost a pair of earnings that I adored. Goodness they were long. I think they actually touched my shoulder. Us 80's kids were the coolest. I remember crying and crying and asking my mom if she would "please, please, please buy me another pair." She refused. I'm sure she said something about me needing to take care of my things (in truth my younger brothers were responsible for the loss and destruction of most of my things). I remember screaming something like, "I hate you. I wish I had a job. I wish I were an adult." I cried and cried. I do not remember what I said but the memory of losing those earrings and wishing with all my heart that I could fast forward time and be an adult and have a job and buy my own stuff and be responsible for my life, that is a vivid memory for me even today. I remember the feelings I had in that moment, the ardent desire to grow up and work and have money and be able to buy stuff.

I wish I could take it back, that feeling. Do you ever think about going back and telling your little kid self something, a message, like words of wisdom or some advice on how to handle a certain situation? I think I'd go back to that very moment. I'd tell myself that childhood is a gift (I did not spend very much of my childhood being a child; my childhood ended when I was 10) and to try my very hardest to enjoy it and appreciate it. I'd tell myself that stuff is not important that it could never make anyone happy and to start there and then looking for the lovely bits of life. And of course I'd tell myself that I was VERY special and that it really is what's on the inside that counts. I suppose if I'd had listened I would probably have a very different life then the one I have now. Maybe that's one of the reasons we can't go back (you know, and the fact that time travel isn't possible).

This was going to be a quick little post. Oops. All that to say, less is more. Simple is better. It is what's on the inside that really counts. Things and money and stuff really aren't all that they're cracked up to be.

Spending rundown today: $17.89 on groceries.

My budget for the month is $436 which leaves $111.58

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.97

Monday, August 24, 2015

One week to go

Well folks there are seven days left of August. It's very chilly here today and while summer is certainly not over there's a clear and present reminder of autumn's near arrival in the air. I'm hoping to take advantage of the cool weather and go for a hike in the sand dunes with little Abe after his nap today.

Today should also consist of washing laundry, cooking tomatoes, picking tomatoes, eating beans (from the garden), cleaning up around the house, and I really really want to go through the cupboards and see how far out I can ride the food we have and what random items will be needed to further ride out the food we have. I'm not trying to imply that we have a lot of food in the house. But I know there are several different meals worth of fixins and I can really hit budget this month as long as I continue being very strategic.

Spending rundown today: $1.79 on a coffee from McD's before work.

My budget for the month is $436 which leaves $129.47

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.97

Sunday, August 23, 2015

This is the life

We've had such a fun weekend. We walked the shore at the beach while a storm was coming in. The waves were something like 6 to 9 feet high. The intensity of the wind coming off the lake was somehow soothing and the deafening sound of it helped to clear my mind. There's been so much heaviness and filth in the news lately that it's been really dragging me down (like having trouble sleeping at night dragging me down). The stuff that's being reported these days can almost make a person lose any and all faith they had left in humanity, which additionally puts a grave outlook on the future. Somehow the power of the wind coming off the lake, seeing the intensity of the mighty waves, watching my son joyfully chase the seagulls and climb on large pieces of driftwood, and poke holes in the sand with his pointer finger (I'm not sure why but he stopped every few steps to poke his finger into the wet sand on the shore) restored a calm to me that I was missing.

Friday evening my little guy got to spend sometime playing with his favorite little girl on the planet. Her grandparents live next door to us and she stays there on the weekends. Little Abe does not get to see her that often and plays were her even less but he looks out the window for her every single day. He talks about her often and it's the highlight of his life when the two of them get to play together. Needless to say it makes this momma's heart absolutely giddy when the two of them do get a chance to boss each other around, take turns practicing their skills at sharing, play with water toys in our backyard, explore our garden together and dig in the dirt.


Today he had another fun play date. Some friends of ours collect monarch butterfly eggs from their backyard and hatch the beauties all summer long. They had three that crawled from their chrysalis this morning and invited us over to let them go. The butterfly thing didn't last very long but it was neat and educational and then he got to play with the two boys (a few years older than him) for several hours. I adore these two boys. They are so nice to my little guy, really polite and well behaved and they are very creative.They really don't watch much TV, play hardly any video games, and only get to use tablets/ smartphones when they're grocery shopping with their mom or going for long car rides. I love that they can really have fun for hours just playing together and playing with toys. It sounds a silly thing to say; what kid can't just play with toys? Now a days... quite a lot of them actually.


This evening, if it doesn't rain all day there's a community picnic that we'll be walking over to with these same friends. (I love the rain so I'm not complaining about it) There'll be free food, dinner for all, and this includes pop and chips and usually cake. You say free food and unless my hubby intervenes I AM THERE! (I'm really not a super big pig but I LOVE not having to buy food AND if someone else is doing the cooking too!!!) Local restaurants cater the event to it's really a neat thing to at least stop by each year. Speaking of free food the monarch butterfly momma gave me an enormous zucchini from her garden and a cucumber. I'd offer her some of my billions of tomatoes but she grew those too. I will most certainly be making lemon zucchini mini muffins this evening. Okay, maybe I am a super big pig.

Calming but busy weekend; lots of time with friends, fun had by all, (hopefully) free food, harvested the sunflower seeds, tons of tomatoes and quite a lot of strawberries, gonna try a new muffin recipe from gifted garden fresh produce and I stuck to budget. Happy, happy, happy!

 Spending rundown today: $0. NO SPEND day 63 for the year.

My budget for the month is $436 which leaves $131.26

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.96
(the above average considers tomorrow as a no spend day)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sunflower Art

Yesterday we harvested the seeds from the sunflower. If I'd waited much longer the squirrels would have eaten them all.


Little Abe and I sat on the kitchen floor for at least 10 minutes removing each one. We both had red colored sunflower sap (thats the only thing I can think to call it) on the tips of our fingers. What an oddly entertaining activity. I couldn't believe how stunningly beautiful the head was after the seeds were all removed. Sunflowers are truly amazing all the way through, from height to strength, to the roughness and thickness of their leaves, the beauty once they open and rapidly they go from a lovely first opened bloom to an enormous seed filled circle.




The seeds are all lying out on a cookie sheet now. Today we put the empty head of the flower to use by painting with it. Little Abe just painted different colors on it with a paint brush. He pressed it down after each color. It was a good deal of fun until he started to notice the bees flying around (remember, he got stung one week ago). After that we called it quits. I rather like the way the little pressings turned out though.





Spending rundown today: Well it was inevitable; I was going to have to buy the dog food sooner or later: $25.43. I also had a strange sort of shopping trip in which I purchased specific ingredients in order to make recipes with the tomatoes: $29.02. I needed heavy whipping cream and chicken stock for the soup, more flour to make pizza crust again, some cheese for sandwiches and pizza, meat for making meatballs to go on spaghetti, and a few other food items.

My budget for the month is $436 which leaves $131.26

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.96
(the above average considers the following two days as no spends)


TOMATOES! Soup

I have a piece of paper on the fridge where I'm keeping track of all the ripe red tomatoes we've picked from the garden this year. So far I've used them fresh for tacos, guacamole, placed on top of hot bread with warm cheese. I've made pizza sauce out of them, spaghetti sauce, and used them as toppings on our homemade pizza. Until recently the tomatoes have been getting eaten about as fast as they've been getting picked. The fresh produce of summer is possibly my favorite part of summer.

The tomato tally is up to 81 tomatoes this year. I didn't tally the green ones I used for the green tomato chutney or the 10 or so that I gave to the neighbor. All of the sudden though my counter was filled with these lovely red romas and I began looking up new ways to use them. Today was my first attempt at tomato soup from scratch and now I'm left wondering why in the world I've ever purchased the stuff pre-made. Little Abe helped me by dumping and pouring all the ingredients into the pot. The soup took about 5 minutes to prep and not quite 20 minutes to cook. And let me tell you this is by far the yummiest soup I've ever eaten. Of course I am bias; It's made with fresh tomatoes from my very own garden but oh my did it turn out heavenly!!! We paired it of course with hot, melty grilled cheese sandwiches. I made mine from the bread I baked the other day. Weekends, delicious lunches, the little guy getting to play with his buddy next door; there is always something to smile about.  


HERE is the recipe I used for this soup (mostly)

Stop on by Sluggy's

I can honestly say that I don't often encourage folks to stop by another blog, maybe a few times a year, and not for any particular reasons. I just don't. Today however I suggest stopping over by Sluggy and reading her latest genealogical studies.

I've said for years that if I ever did go to college it'd be to get a degree in history. I am just fascinated by history. For that reason I love reading tales of times past, and these tales are even more interesting when they are connected to a known living person. That's really the thing about history though, everything in the past really is connected to something, someone, somewhere today. History has shaped our world. History is responsible for who we are, for us being here at all.

Sluggy's post "He Needed Killing" is a long read as she's set the familial connections up nicely so we are all aware of which ancestor of hers this story is about. Also for people who are interested in finding their own ancestors and stories of old maybe not quite like this one Sluggy does a pretty good job explaining her researching. I found this post particularly fascinating and you may too, although I suppose if you've never dreamed of a degree in historical studies then maybe not, haha! (I really believe you will though)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Spending rundown today: $1.09 on chocolate. Today could have easily been a no spend but I worked a longer day (again), had two big jobs, and chose a chocolate break to keep me motivated.

My budget for the month is $436 which leaves $185.71 (for 10 days)

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.96

BOOM!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

FOOD!!! (Green Tomato Chutney Recipe (sort of))

I've struggled with depression for decades (thankfully not at the moment). It always passes but its never fun at the time. I am very artistic and pretty unorganized by nature but I'm a perfectionist in most aspects. I'm certain that perfectionism raises stress levels especially when you're always juggling 100 balls at once. While I know that I'm a perfectionist there's a catch 22 because I don't believe perfection is attainable.

I heard on the radio the other day that the human mind is incapable of experiencing two conflicting emotions at the same time. Stress, sadness, fear, anxiety; these all go together. Just go ahead and experience the lot of them all at the same time. Happiness, excitement, contentment, joy; again, our mind can handle these all at once. But try and mix happiness and anger together, or try stress and contentment and apparently our little finite minds can't do it. Interesting to say the least... 

I shouldn't admit it but there's absolutely no denying that food really makes me happy. I suppose you could surmise that while I'm eating momentaryly stress just melts away, the anger subsides, and the anxiety of a perfectionist trying to keep 100 balls in the air all the time takes a little break. No wonder we human beings spend so much time (and money) with loved ones at restaurants dining out and chatting over food or hot beverages or cold beverages. We almost create for ourselves these little moments of happy, of peace, of "shut down all those negative thoughts little mind of mine because I'm going to work on being content for a few moments."

Now these "few moments" is probably why I really enjoy cooking as well as eating. I love food! I love the billions of different flavors one can experience through combining a few different ingredients. I love what heat can do to a few eggs, some flour, butter, sugar, and just to bring it up a notch add some cocoa powder. Food is amazing! But the experience of eating it is, lets admit it, short lived (unless you eat all day long non-stop; I've been there). I enjoy cutting up all the fruits and veggies for a meal or a salad. I relish mixing together flour, sugar, and salt for a loaf of bread, combining it all with milk, butter, water, and yeast. Putting my hand in the bag of flour to sprinkle all over the table so that my son and I can take turns kneading the dough is delightful. Pressing the rubbery ball of ingredients out on the table and working it back and forth with my hands, taking turns with my little helper, is therapeutic. Then once the very long process of bread making has almost come to a close and the loaves are ready to go in the oven that wonderful aroma begins to fill the house. All the work, all the anticipation, that smell; it's so close to the moment when we can take the hot loaves from the oven, cut them up immediately and spread melty butter on that first slice that steam is still wafting off of. For me, baking takes those happy moments of eating food and extends them much further along. I suppose gardening has a similar role. Not only am I transforming food into delicious dishes but I'm growing the plants that grow the food, tending to them, watching them come to life and bring forth life.

I love to bake, I like to cook, I am delighted at gardening and I really, really enjoy food. 


Lunch today consisted of that green tomato chutney I made yesterday spread on slices of homemade bread that I lightly buttered, topped with chunks of pepper jack cheese and popped in the oven until the cheese was hot and melty and the bread was nice and warm (I spread the chutney over the cheese after it came out of the oven). I ate the wonderful treasure with a fresh cup of steaming hot coffee (even though I normally try and keep my caffeine intake to mornings only).

Needless to say, and I sort of did just spend four paragraphs saying it, I am at peace right now. Green tomato chutney made from tomatoes grown in my garden on bread that little Abe and I baked together yesterday, yep, that's happy, happy, and happy right there.

^ Longest intro ever to a recipe but here it is, not so much so you can try it because I altered it quite a bit and I've never made nor eaten chutney before now so I am in no way qualified to give anyone a lesson on chutney, in fact I'd read it was to spread on toast but a little birdy just told me it should be eaten on cheese or cold meat (notice I added cheese to my toast up there? That's partially because I love cheese and partially for you Frugally Challenged) but because I love the way this turned out and in case I ever lose the note card I jotted it down on I can at least come back here and find the concoction I've done up.

Linked HERE is the original recipe I used to make my crazy concoction.

Green Tomato Chutney (my recipe)
2 cups Green tomatoes - diced small (that's 2 cups diced, not 2 cuts whole tomatoes)
4 ounces of balsamic vinegar
4 ounces of water
3/4 cups raisins
1 cup brown sugar
about a quarter to a half of a large sweet onion - diced small
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 large apple - diced small

Boil for about three hours (until desired consistency)

Add juice of half a lemon just before removing from heat

I made a pretty small batch seeing as I wasn't really even sure what chutney was and I was trying to use up all of my fallen tomatoes. As for the vinegar water thing, I feel I should explain. I did not have any white vinegar on hand and although I'm fully aware that it's not the best idea to add balsamic vinegar in place of white vinegar I actually love balsamic vinegar, did have it on hand, and decided to just chance it. I used half the amount of vinegar called for because I knew the strong balsamic flavor would cook down and I might be left with something gross and substituted the other half of vinegar with water because again, I knew the balsamic would cook down and I figured the water would counteract that a little. I'm pretty sure I put in too much brown sugar, but honestly who is ever going to notice that, and I did not put in the chili peppers called for in the original recipe. I added the lemon juice at the end simply by intuition. I read no where about doing so but I like the little hint of tangy it added to this savory sweet yumminess. Despite my madness and possible chutney blasphemy I am very happy with how this turned out. It is super yummy and as usual I'm thrilled to have made a new food/ recipe.

Spending rundown today: $16.95 on groceries. The basics really; milk, cheese, eggs, butter, an apple, strawberries. Can you really get more basic then that. Oh and I bought a bag of frozen french fries (a rare treat around here) and some lunch meat that I ate while working (placed between two slices of bread I'd made the night before).

My budget for the month is $436 which leaves $186.80

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.04
^ SOOOOO close to being under $18 a day again!!!
A no spend day tomorrow would put me under $18
Darn it I think I need to buy dog food tomorrow, gah!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Oblivious!

You know what I'm in the process of doing right now? I'm making green tomato chutney. You know why? Because my husband is completely oblivious. Have I ever made chutney? Nope. Have I ever eaten chutney? No. Do I even know what chutney is? Not really...


So, tomorrow is our 13th anniversary. Lucky 13? I think in a last ditch effort to see if this thing would stick he planned this morning out for me. I was in a rush to leave for work. My dear husband scheduled himself a doctors appointment pretty much during the middle of my work day (keep in mind that we work around each other; no child care needed here). He told me the day before his appointment that his mom would be coming to watch little Abe while he was at the appointment. (for the record it was a consultation for an annoyance he's having with his hand and I actually asked the office if it'd be okay for him to bring the kiddo with. The lady laughed at me and said that would be totally fine and normal) I've been really stressed out at work and I'm in no way trying to sound like a jerk with this post but I get REALLY stressed out when the MIL is at my house alone. For many various reasons I don't cope well with it. Okay, sigh, get over it, get over it.

My husband is NOT good at feeding our child (one of the MANY reasons I work part time and dream of being a stay at home mom). For crying out loud my husband is not good at feeding himself. He's equally not good at communicating to his mom what the child should eat while she's here with him. There are quite a good selection of fresh fruits and veggies in the fridge, cheese sticks, and frozen kiddie tubes of yogurt but to be honest almost all the food in my home needs to be prepared. I strategically left the kitchen SPOTLESS this morning (well, as spotless as my kitchen will ever be) with the exception of a box of mac'n'cheese on the counter, two tablespoons of butter set next to it, and I even put the measuring spoons alongside the pair (as the box calls for 3 TBS of milk). Well there's one issue "resolved."

Point number two of stressful morning, we only have one car that's in good working order. The other car clumps. It scares me. We really only ever drive it around town at this point like if I want to run to the store (less than a mile away) when my husband is gone or working. Well guess who got to take the clumpy car to work (over a 30 minute drive) because I wouldn't be driving over 70mph whereas hubby would need to take the express way to the doctors appointment? 

I was getting ready to walk out the front door with my creamerless coffee (haha, I just had to throw that in there) when I hear my dog barking like crazy out back. I pretty much always let the dogs out but hubby chose to do the task this morning, bless his heart. I also walk my girl on a leash because she's kind of, hm, she's a bit of a neighborhood nuisance and although she listens rather well indoors she becomes somewhat of a deaf dunce out of doors. I took a detour to see what the little darling was barking about and I see my husband standing there asking her to, "quite, quite girl, go potty." Meanwhile there is a cat in our driveway and my dog is jumping up and down inside of my tomato plants barking her head off at the cat, as if trampling my plants is going to catch the cat for her. The plants are next to our fence, next to the driveway. If you've ever stopped by this blog before you're probably aware that I'm quite fond of my garden, treat my plants as if they were my own children (okay, not quite that extreme), and am over the moon proud of all the fruits of our labor outside. Well, MANY of the fruits of my labor were trampled under doggy feet this morning while my dear sweet hubby of 12 years, 364 days just stood there and watched.

Off to work I went in the clumpy car! Yay!

When I got home my kitchen was a mess. I have no idea how it got so messy and what do you know the box of mac'n'cheese, butter, spoons and all sit there untouched surrounded by the mess. Head back up to the photo and you'll see the three just sitting there (I took the photo after I re-cleaned the kitchen) and the pot on the stove has the green tomato chutney cooking away. Guess where all the green tomatoes came from? Thank goodness for pinterest and a neat recipe I saw about a week back for making green tomato chutney. Thank goodness for Frugally Challenged who's mentioned chutney a few times on her blogs and gotten my interest up. Despite the changes that I've made to the recipe (seriously I cannot help myself at this point; I alter every recipe) so far it seems that it will be quite delicious AND I only had to purchase raisins in order to make it.

Oh, and from what I can deduce, after having cleaned the mess in the kitchen little Abe has eaten very little today. My husband said something about trying to feed him a burrito that he picked up for himself after the doctors appointment but that little Abe didn't like it. He probably ate strawberries and cheese all morning.

Spending rundown today: $4.76 on raisins, an anniversary card and several groceries (I used a $20 store reward today).

My budget for the month is $436 which leaves $203.75

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.04
^ SOOOOO close to being under $18 a day again!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Debt Quote Tuesday; Getting Ahead

There are plenty of ways to get ahead.  The first is so basic I'm almost embarrassed to say it:  spend less than you earn.
-Paul Clitheroe
This quote is perfect for today because I've been thinking along these lines a lot lately. I like how he say's "I'm almost embarrassed to say it." Like, duh, everyone should know this. But do we? I've heard that no matter how much you make rarely will it be enough. People who get raises or move on up the ladder in their careers just buy nicer cars and bigger houses, they begin spending $15 on a t-shirt instead of $5 or $25 instead of $15. More often than not we spend our money. Period. And as a society we're darn good at spending more then we make. We spend money with our eyes. We spend money with our tummies. We spend money with our dreams (even if we're only dreaming about that next mocha frappuccino). You know that once you start dreaming about Starbucks you're likely to find yourself standing at a counter or pulling up to the drive through window shortly there after.

Spend less. That is pretty much always my goal but here I am thinking about it again and by golly thinking about spending less has gotten me a pretty far way along this journey (this very long, slow, arduous journey).

This is silly but one way I've started to spend less is by no longer putting creamer in my coffee. I never thought I'd drink coffee without creamer but a few months ago I ran out and decided to try a week without it and wa-lah a few months later I still haven't bought any. (I know I'm mildly insane) Before cutting it out I probably bought one small thing of Hazelnut Coffeemate a week, usually around $2.49. When the big ones went on sale I'd buy a large one for probably $3 and that'd last two weeks. So if I cut out creamer for a year and saved $3 every two weeks well I'd have saved $78 that year. If I never found them on sale and spend $2.49 a week (come on that doesn't seem like a ton of money) I'd have saved $129.48 in a year. Spending less is spending less. (that $3 number seems really low but I'm thinking the sale is two for $6... now I have to watch the sales on creamer or this is going to bug me)

It's first thing in the morning so this could change but I'm planning a no spend day for today.

Spending rundown today: $0. NO SPEND day 62 for the year.

My budget for the month is $436 which leaves $208.51

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.10

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday's Watermelon Update


This is the only watermelon on the vine that's done anything (other than shrivel up and fall off). There are nine days worth of growth between the top photo and the bottom photo (today).
I'm rooting you on buddy!

Spending rundown today: $3.27

My budget for the month is $436 which leaves $208.51 (14 days left)

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.10

Sorry I haven't responded to yesterday's comments. I published them before work, haven't been home too long and have a very needy little boy on my hands today. I think I've heard "can we go to the park?" a hundred times since I got home. We will be going to the park but we have to cross off everything on our Monday to-do list before we can go... getting to work on that list now!
This wins the award for worst picture on my entire blog :)
(yes, eat pizza (again) is seriously the first thing on our chore list)