Sunday With the In-Laws

It was a somewhat rainy morning on Sunday. I woke up around 7, and MrB woke up around 8. We ate leftover chai spice cake for breakfast. We brought water on the road with us.

We stopped to pick up a door for my in-laws, because someone had broken one of their side entry doors. MrB got a good deal on a door for his parents, and we were able to quickly swing by and pick it up.

Our drive there was rainy, and we learned halfway there that his mother had no way to fix lunch for us. My in-laws are replacing the flooring in their kitchen, and there was no stove hooked up to cook. Thankfully MrB had some leftover birthday money to buy us a little lunch.

We finally made it to their house just about the time the rain was ending. My mother-in-law wasn’t kidding about the kitchen being torn apart. Some things wee on the porch, and the rest was in the living room. Even the kitchen island was on the porch.

We visited with them for a few hours, and then headed on our way home. We were hungry when we got here. I haven’t totally learned how to prepare our pantry to make it thru the month. Since this is the first month of our “Grocery Budget Challenge”, we’re still learning how to make it work. We had some tortillas left over from the Mexican casserole the other day. We had some soy crumbles (they have a consistency of ground beef). So I threw the frozen soy crumbles in a skillet, added diced tomatoes with chiles, drained black beans, and a lot of cumin and chili powder. We warmed the corn tortillas. I put a little cheese on top of the tortillas, spooned in some of the mixture, and added some sour cream. It turned out amazing. We were so hungry we didn’t even get a picture of our food.

Although we spent some cash on lunch, we overall did well yesterday. We’re closing in on the end of the month. I’ll be updating soon on the results of our first month of the budget challenge. I’ll also talk about what our goals are, and how we plan to get there.


Saturday on the River

Our sunrise drive to the river.
Our sunrise drive to the river.

MrB and I loaded up our 1987 bass boat, and headed to the river yesterday morning. We packed some drinks and crackers. Where we go to put the boat in the Tennessee River is beautiful, surrounded by mountains and nature.

Getting ready to get into the boat.
Getting ready to get into the boat.
In the boat.
In the boat.
The sun finally started rising above the tree line.
The sun finally started rising above the tree line.

I brought some things to read. I’m reading a great book on simple living called “Down To Earth” by Rhonda Hetzel. I’ve been following Rhonda’s blog for a little while, and really enjoy her information.

While I was reading MrB was doing what he loves. We saw some of our friends in their boat, and talked to them a couple of different times.

Fisherman on the Water

Reflection of the sky.
Reflection of the sky.

As the morning went on the clouds started building, and the wind picked up. We met back up with our friends, and the guys helped each other load their boats on the trailers.

We ate leftover Mexican casserole when we got home, then wound up taking a long nap. I’m usually getting up at 6am, but we got up right about 5. I also usually get tired when I go out on the water.

I haven’t prepared the kitchen very well for our new budget. We ended up piecing together a dinner. I had a microwave meal with some asparagus. MrB had vegetarian “chicken” patties and asparagus. Later in the evening he decided he wanted something sweet, so he baked a vegan cake mix that he had gotten me back when we still ate a vegan diet. It was a chai spice cake, and it was yummy.

We spent the rest of the evening watching football, and we went to bed a little early.

Friday Happenings

Yesterday morning I still had the windows open, because it was still fairly cool outside. It was cool enough in the early morning hours that Joey crawled practically under me.

I was sort of off yesterday, I’m wondering if the ragweed and grass pollen levels are to blame. I drank my coffee, and didn’t eat breakfast until late in the morning, and then I decided to eat leftover pasta. Sort of reminiscent of eating cold pizza for breakfast. I fed Denver and got on the Internet for a little while. Then I fell asleep in my recliner for over an hour. After I woke up I decided that I needed to do something to get my blood flowing so I did some yoga.

I started dinner early so we could eat, and then get out of the house if we wanted to. I made a Mexican casserole with roasted peppers and corn. I cooked bell peppers and then corn in a little oil, then coated them with cumin and chili powder. I set them aside. I preheated an oven to 400 degrees, and while it was preheating, I cut 18 corn tortillas into strips. I greased a casserole dish, put a little enchilada sauce in the bottom of the pan, and put half of the tortilla strips across the bottom. Then on top of the tortillas I put more enchilada sauce, half of the roasted vegetables, and some Mexican cheese. I did another layer of this, put some aluminum foil on the top, and popped it in the oven for 17 minutes.

This was yummy!
This was yummy!

We enjoyed our supper, and then decided to run to the river for a little afternoon fishing. I sat in the shade in a foldable chair reading a book. MrB caught one fish, and then decided they weren’t biting much so we slowly headed home.

Our evening was quiet watching a little football on TV, and sipping decaf coffee. We went to bed early for a fishing excursion on Saturday morning.We didn’t spend any on our meals today.

Busted on Thursday

Yesterday we went over our budget for the Grocery Challenge. It’s only a $1.64 over our $350 budget, but I am not too disappointed. This is a learning process. We may still have to buy a couple of things from the grocery store before the month is over. Yesterday MrB bought grapes and peanut butter.

I had eggs for breakfast and ate a salad with my homemade garlic dressing for lunch. MrB got his lunch from some tips he made at work.

I started dinner at noon. I made a layered vegetable casserole. I used my food processor to slice potatoes and zucchini. In a bowl I mixed frozen corn, frozen peas, cut up baby carrots, homemade Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and a can of tomato sauce. I put layers of potatoes, then zucchini, then the vegetables from the bowl, and topped with Mexican cheese.

Here's our dinner for the night.
Here’s our dinner for the night.

I also started a batch of Weight Watchers 2 point bread. It made some pretty tasty bread. It’s a very simple recipe. I mixed bread flour and whole wheat flour along with sugar, salt, and yeast. I put it in my mixer and it combined with the regular beater blade. Then I put on the dough hook and slowly added in olive oil and warm water. I let it mix for 2 minutes, and then put it in a greased bowl to rise for 2 hours. Then I punched it down and kneaded a couple of times. I put it in my silicone bread pan, and let it rise for a fairly good while. It baked in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. I took it out of the pan, and let it rest for a while on a rack. MrB cut it for me. He has the best slicing skills, so I usually let him cut up veggies if we’re working together on a meal.

Bread dough in the process of rising.
Bread dough in the process of rising.

MrB found a Cuisinart immersion blender on sale at Kohl’s, and was able to find a coupon code online to order it for $31. We went to pick it up, and he found a pair of shorts. He is in desperate need for new shorts. Almost every pair he owns is falling apart. He spent $14 on them. Not our most frugal day, but we got things we needed.

Sticking To the Grocery Budget Challenge

It was a rather quiet day. We’ve had some windows and our deck door open to enjoy the perfect cool temperatures in. The weather the past few days has been amazing. Sunshine, breezes, and cooler temperatures are a perfect combo. The best part is we’ve been able to keep our A/C unit off.

Breakfast was cheesy grits and veggie sausage. For lunch I made a concoction from leftover quinoa and rice. I added leftover black beans and corn from Tuesday’s dinner. Then I threw in a little cumin, chili powder, and mozzarella cheese. I popped it in the microwave to melt the cheese. It was pretty good. I have a little of the quinoa and rice blend left over. I’ve got to figure out what to do with the rest. MrB took the leftover quinoa enchilada casserole for lunch. He liked it so much that I only got one bowl of it. It will definitely be a keeper.

I had an appointment at noon, and since I’m always thirsty I planned ahead. I have a water bottle with a flip-up straw that fits perfectly in the cup holders.

Dinner was a simple box of bowtie pasta and a tomato basil pasta sauce. We threw a little grated parmesan over the top, and it was a perfect simple supper.

MrB got bored in the evening and decided to work on our garage some. Our garage is somewhat of a nightmare. It’s getting better slowly, but surely. We have years worth of boxes with things that need to be thrown away and donated. I did find a few things I had been looking for including a nice camera tripod. The only tripod I had inside the house was one I had gotten at a yard sale, but failed to realize that the platform that the camera screws into was missing. MrB had gotten a filing cabinet at my request about a year ago. I’m planning to put it in my spare room to hold papers, but now it is being used in the garage as a tackle holder for all of MrB’s tackle. He stopped when the garbage got full, and it was almost dark.

We’re closing in on September, and we’re still looking good on our Grocery Budget Challenge. I’m super excited!

Last Day of Vacation

I woke up fairly early yesterday morning. In keeping with the budget challenge I ate a couple scrambled eggs and a leftover lemon poppyseed muffin. MrB got up later and he ate a poppyseed muffin.

We had to go to a lab and get my blood drawn for our insurance company. This is the first year that I’ve had to do it. I have lost another 1.6 pounds this week, so I’m pretty thrilled about that. I’m quickly closing in on 50 pounds lost.

After we left the lab I had to go to the eye doctor. The contacts I were given last week made my eyes feel dry. I wanted to get the same name brand I had been using in the past. They switched me to the name brand I wanted. It was a bit chaotic, and at first they told us we owed $200, and we questioned why. In the end I got a years worth of contacts for $56. I’m pretty sure I won’t be going back to that vision center.

MrB had some money left over from his birthday, and he wanted to go on a picnic. He had a coupon for Panera Bread. We spent $7 for sandwiches for the both of us. I am not counting that against our budget, because it was cash to be used for whatever MrB wanted.

We went to a park at the river for our picnic. We sat at the picnic table for a while enjoying the fall like temperatures. It was peaceful, and fairly quiet.

Looking skyward from our picnic table.
Looking skyward from our picnic table.

No trip to the river would be complete without a little fishing. MrB sat up a chair for me to sit in the shade while he did a little fishing. I had a pretty bad migraine all day, so he didn’t stay too long.

MrB doing what he loves.
MrB doing what he loves.

I went to Walmart in search of an immersion blender I had seen on their website. I searched high and low for any immersion blender, and there were none to be found. I was surprised that they didn’t have any at all. I suppose I’ll be going to another store or getting one online.

For dinner I made this Quinoa Enchilada Casserole. It was super easy! I cooked a cup of quinoa in 2 cups water for 15 minutes. I sprayed cooking spray in a casserole dish. In a bowl I mixed black beans, corn, chopped green chilies, enchilada sauce, cumin, and chili powder. Then I mixed in shredded mozzarella, and we used the food processor to shred some cheddar cheese. After pouring that mixture into the casserole dish I added more mozzarella and cheddar to the top. I popped it in the oven, and sliced some avocado to put on the top. It came out looking great.

Right out of the oven.
Right out of the oven.

I only got one bowl of this, because MrB ate two helpings, and then later that night packed up the rest of it to take for lunch today.

My bowl of yummy dinner!
My bowl of yummy dinner!

As the sun lowered closer to the horizon we sat out on our deck enjoying the wonderful temperatures and breeze. Our rocking chairs face the humming bird feeder, and we sat really still until hummingbirds became brave enough to take a drink. We enjoyed watching them for a while. It’s been a great week of spending time with MrB. Vacation time is always special.

Our hummingbird feeder.
Our hummingbird feeder.

Monday With Mama

MrB and I woke up yesterday morning at 4am, packed up the car, and headed to my mom’s house. We were armed with drinks and lemon poppyseed muffins I had baked the night before.

MrB went fishing with my stepfather, and I spent the day with my mom. We enjoyed some fresh cantaloupe, and coffee. We did a workout to my yoga DVD that I’ve been regularly using.

My mom tried out a new recipe that she had found online. It was a vegetable quiche with a riced cauliflower crust. The crust was made with by putting cauliflower in a food processor and pulsing it until it resembles fine crumbs (this can also be done using a grater). To the cauliflower, a cup of canned coconut milk, eggs, and red pepper were added. It made two pie crusts, and as those were baking we prepared the filling. 10 eggs, and since the recipe wasn’t specific, my mom used a ton of different vegetables. Tomato, bell peppers, yellow squash, carrots, onions, and minced garlic. She added salt, pepper, and a little red pepper. After the crusts began to brown, they were taken out and the filling was added. Then she also put together a bunch of veggies, vegetable broth, pasta sauce, and small pasta shells. It all turned out great, and I may try it myself sometime.

The view from my mom's back deck.
The view from my mom’s back deck.

We spent the afternoon visiting, and we found out that the temperatures were almost fall like outside. We went out on the back deck and enjoyed the sunshine and cool breeze. My mom loves plants, and she always does a great job on them.

Some of my mom's plants.
Some of my mom’s plants.
More plants with the Tennessee River in the background.
More plants with the Tennessee River in the background.

My mom gave me a little present, it was an 8×10 enlargement of the photo MrB took of the butterfly the other day. I was impressed that a picture taken on a phone could enlarge so nicely. We put it on the mantle so we could enjoy looking at it.

MrB and my stepfather arrived back from fishing, and MrB enjoyed the leftovers of the food we’d had earlier. We headed home, and after we got home I enjoyed some leftover egg noodles and cabbage. MrB cut the grass in the back yard even though it was pretty much dark.

We spent nothing on food yesterday, so we’re still on track!

Weekend With the Hubby

MrBalentine and I had a wonderful weekend together since he is still on vacation.

Friday evening was spent hanging out and working on our individual laptops. It was a quiet evening. I spent my time going thru a mountain of email, and unsubscribing to as many lists as possible that are not super important to me. Deleted a ton of unnecessary emails, and although I still have quiet a few to go thru, it is much more manageable.

Saturday was spent out of the house. We bought Denver a couple new toys, because his favorite one was accidentally run over by the lawnmower. I stopped in several stores to look for an affordable immersion blender. I purchased a silicone spatula at Marshall’s. I’ve been looking for one to make the most of each drop out of jars in the kitchen. My last stop was Old Time Pottery where I didn’t find a reliable looking immersion blender, but I got a set of 2 cooling racks for $2, and a 100 count package of cupcake liners. I read an interesting blog post about freezing muffin batter to bake later. I’m definitely going to do this. Using that method I can bake less at one time so none goes to waste.

We were starving when we got home. I had gathered a menu together from Pinterest that gave me a selection of things to pick from to make. We picked the thing that took approximately the least time, which was egg noodles and cabbage. Egg noodles are very cheap to buy, and make several meals out of a single package. We cooked the noodles to al dente, and in a skillet we put the butter and olive oil. I chopped some onions, and while they were cooking MrB sliced up a head of cabbage. After everything cooked we mixed it all together, and put a bunch of pepper on it. It was a very economical meal, and we have plenty of leftovers.

Noodle goodness.
Noodle goodness.

I have some special trees that are intended to be planted soon as a symbol of something important to me. MrB bought two pear trees on sale, and they’ve been living on our back deck. I went outside Saturday afternoon after noticing a strangely colored sky after a storm, and one of my trees had little white flowers all over it. It made the tree even more special to me. We put them downstairs to get better light and rain.

What a beautiful surprise!
What a beautiful surprise!

Although we spent money Saturday, it wasn’t a massive amount. Also, we didn’t spend anything on food.

Sunday started out rainy, but ended with sunshine. We hung around the house all day. I had scrambled eggs, and veggie sausage for breakfast. Lunch was leftover pasta from a couple days ago.

Sunday dinner was deep dish pizza. Saturday night I mixed some bread flour, yeast, salt, and room temperature water together, and put plastic wrap over it to sit for the night. Sunday afternoon I put about a tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of my trusty cast iron skillet. I floured the dough a bit, and stirred it until it made a ball. I transferred it to the skillet, and pushed the dough around trying to get it to fit into the skillet. I then covered the skillet with a plate, and let the dough rise for another two hours. Mr.B shredded some cheddar cheese. I put on pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, the cheddar, chopped garlic, and diced red onion. It cooked in a very hot oven for about 14 minutes. It was the first time I’ve made a from scratch pizza, especially one where I made the crust as well. We were pleased with the results.

Sunday dinner!
Sunday dinner!

Pleased to have another day of no food purchases. I think we’ll need to buy some fruits to snack on, but we have $13.14 left. I’m hopeful that this first month of our grocery budget challenge will be successful.

Wish Lists, Good or Bad?

Wish lists, something I’ve been making since I was a kid. Every Christmas the Sears “Wish Book” would arrive in our household, filled with toys of all kinds. I remember thumbing thru the pages and coveting the all the latest and greatest toys. I would always compile a list of things I desired for Santa to bring me.

Nowadays, many consumer websites such as Amazon have wish list features to invite you to remember items they sell and “wish” for.

Consumerism is still alive and well in this nation. Most people can quickly compile a big list of things they’re wanting to buy at any one time, myself included. I have wish lists on many different websites. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?

There’s a couple ways to look at it.

On the bad side, the wish list facilitates desire for things that we don’t really need.  We are bombarded every day with ads of every size and shape just begging us to spend our hard earned money. Television, magazines, radio, even the billboards when you’re driving down the road. It’s almost impossible to ignore them. How often do we find ourselves seeing an ad somewhere, and immediately wanting it. It feels pretty counterintuitive to frugality. It seems to go against my desire to simplify things in my life, yet I find myself often seeing an object I want and putting it on my wish list.

On the good side, a wish list can be used to price compare many items that we have to have. I take quiet a few vitamins and supplements. I’m always looking for the best deal. I’m also in the market for an immersion blender to help create the from scratch meals I’m making here at home. I’ve been able to use my wish list to compare them online and in the stores.

I use the wish list on Amazon to keep up with all the books I want to read. I use it to go to my library’s website to see if the book is available. My library has its own wish list that I find extremely useful. So, in this case, I’m using a wish list to do something much more frugal.

When trying to live a more frugal and simple existence, we have to be on guard to ignore the “want monster”. That is a process I’m still in the process of learning.

"I just want any food you eat!"
“I just want any food you eat!”

Tight Grocery Budget

Yesterday, MrBalentine and I did a little grocery shopping. I had armed myself with recipes I want to do this week. Thankfully we had some of the ingredients at the house already. I knew that we were getting closer to the $350 mark for groceries for the month. I’m proud to say, that we’re still within our budget.

We first went to Big Lots to compare some prices. MrB has been doing a lot of the shopping since I had foot surgery, and was a little more familiar with the prices. My first job besides babysitting was working at Big Lots. I furnished most of my first apartment with things from there. I was hoping that we would find some bargains on a few food items on my list. It turns out the only things we really thought were cheaper than Kroger were a jar of salsa, and a jar of pizza sauce. Spending there was $3.77

Next we went to Costco. I’ve got several Mexican dishes on my menu for next week, and I wanted to get a block of cheddar cheese that I could grate up. I have a FoodSaver to seal the cheese if I don’t use it all right away. One large block of cheese cost $5.44. We did find some reasonably priced coconut oil in a large container that I will buy next month. I use it for several things including cooking, putting on my air popped popcorn, and I’m wanting to try it for health uses too.

Then it was off to Kroger. We got the majority of our items from the list there. Their house brands are hard to beat price wise. I stuck to my list completely, which I was proud of. We bought dog food, which we will not be counting in our monthly budget. It was $16.38 for a 15 pound bag of dog food, but we had a $2.00 off coupon. Our total at Kroger minus the dog food was $31.42

Finally we made a quick stop at the small farmer’s market store by the house to buy some more eggs. They were $3.17 (they charge tax), and we finally headed home.

As of yesterday our grocery spending for the month is $336.86. We’re so close to the end of August. I’m still hoping that with some homemade meals, and trying to cut back on the amounts of food we eat, that we can make the $350 goal.

Dinner was a wonderful stir-fry. I made a pan of quinoa and wild rice. MrB took care of the vegetables. I meant to take a picture, but we gobbled it up before I remembered.