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Un-Fall Like Weather & The Garden

October 19th, 2014 at 11:37 am

Beautiful weather here. Some hot days in the last two weeks - many around 90F!
It was 78F yesterday and going to be about the same today. This weather makes it perfect to be outside doing just about anything.

Yesterday I pulled the old, dry cornstalks out of the garden. Then DH and DD arranged them in bunches out in front of the house for Halloween decoration.

For me that is the definition of Frugal! Big Grin

I also harvested a zucchini and several tomatoes. All the tomato plants are still producing and the sun is getting those green ones to ripen up nicely.

Here is some earlier garden pictures I had meant to share...

DS helping water.

Some of our bountiful cherry tomato harvest.

I'm thinking about planting a few things for a winter garden, but haven't decided on anything yet.

Post Fourth of July Post

July 6th, 2014 at 09:53 am

We had a busy week here. DH and I decided we would host a BBQ for a few families. I think it has been three years since we invited more than just our family over for a meal - ha!

DD was away all week at 4H camp (which was the BEST ever! Big Grin)
DH and I had to pick up her chores as well as work on getting the house and yard ship-shape. I also had to pick her up from camp Friday midday. So we worked on party preparation a little bit every day of the week. I squeezed shopping for food and supplies on Tuesday afternoon - my half day of work.
We made it a potluck, so that saved some money. I didn't feel embarrassed about asking and everyone was happy to bring something.

Party supplies were:
$ 2 - red plastic tablecloth
$ 3 - blue star paper dinner plates
$ 2 - blue napkins
$ 3 - plastic cups
$ 3 - plastic shot cups
$ 1 - glow-n-the-dark bracelets
$16 - kiddy pool
$ 3 - sidewalk chalk
The last two items are for DS to use all summer. If we are gentle the pool should make it for next summer too.
Total: $33

As far as food goes I wanted to make kabobs. We have never made them before even though I have wanted to many times. I bought 36 boneless/skinless chicken thighs at $2.50/lb. I used fresh zucchini out of our garden on the skewers also.

Food spending:
$23 - chicken thighs
$14 - Kabob produce (bell peppers, onions & pineapple)
$38 - (2) six packs of beer, (2) bottles champagne, (2) bottles sparkling juice
$ 3 - bamboo skewers
$16 - Avocados for guacamole
$ 2 - Tortilla chips
$16 - Huge watermelon
$ 3 - Whole Pineapple
$ 8 - Strawberries & Raspberries
$ 6 - Ice
$ 3 - lime jello
Almost all the fruit/veggies were organic.
Total: $132

The kabobs were a hit. Smile
I even had a few extras that I threw in the freezer - maybe dinner next weekend?

DH crafted a watermelon "basket" filled with the fruit. I should have taken a picture (I think he did) it looked great.

His guacamole was a huge hit as usual.

I had the idea to make jello shots. I saw this really cute idea to make red, white & blue layered jello cups. Well that gave me the idea to make jello shots. And then the idea to make Margarita jello shots.
(Let me say I have only had jello shots once before and I have never made them.)
They turned out really good! I will make them again as they were such a fun little adult item to have. Smile

DH and DD hit the fireworks stand and bought $25 in fireworks.

We all watched our city's fireworks from our house. It is nice to not have to drive anywhere.

It was a really enjoyable party. I would like to do it more often than once every few years. It's one of those things where you keep asking "Why am I doing all this?" and then you have such a good time you feel like "I am so glad we did this!" Smile

Sunday Shopping. Birthday Gifts.

April 27th, 2014 at 06:17 pm

Went to Target this morning.
I rarely shop there, but the new one is so close to the house it is so easy to get in and out.

I went for shampoo, laundry soap, fabric softener, sliced bread and a gift for a birthday party DS went to this afternoon.

For the first time EVER I texted a number to get a coupon.
It was text TARGET the promo text LAUNDRY1 and get $5 off a $20 purchase of laundry related items. The coupon then came online on my smartphone with a barcode that the cashier scanned.
I like the savings, but what about folks without smartphones? I don't like that sort of exclusion.
**ETA: CCF commented that this coupon was online and in their ad. So I feel better about that. **

For the birthday gift - a giant bubble wand in a tube of bubble soap. I bought five at $1.99/each. DS has two parties next weekend, as well as one at the end of the month, AND his own birthday.
I felt like this is something that is high fun value, but easy on the pocketbook. Plus you can refill the tube all summer long. Smile

DH made homemade Alfredo sauce for dinner tonight. He and DD took most of it over to his boss' house for a birthday party there. DS and I opted to stay home. We are using up some old, opened pasta to have our sauce with. DH bought the cheese and cream for about $8 (butter and garlic we already had on hand) - so this was also an inexpensive gift.

Abundance of Produce. Two Soups for Dinner.

January 16th, 2014 at 03:30 pm

We get local, organic produce delivered to us by two different companies. We get them once monthly. I try to set it up so that a box shows up every other week.. Well, things got screwy with the holidays and we recieved both our boxes on the same day.

Lots of produce!
(aka bounty of California agriculture)

Just the fruit...

The pears are AMAZING! Like candy. DS and I have already shared three this afternoon. Big Grin

I have several more butternut squashes from last month.
I am getting up right now to go make a big pot of butternut soup. I am also using my fabulous leftover pot roast and the DIVINE broth for a beef, veggie and barley soup.

I have sourdough bread to go with both. Can't wait - Yum!

Vacation, then Christmas, now nearly New Year.. Oh My!

December 28th, 2013 at 09:59 pm

Our trip was great!
Really my only complaint was that it was 75F-80F (terrible, hu?) and made the Disney parks a bit more crowded than we were used to. (We always plan to go at "non-peak" times to save money and avoid the crowds. We usually wait 15 minutes or less on the really popular rides and less than 5 minutes for everything else.)
I shouldn't complain, even waiting twice as long as we're used to is better than a lot of people deal with.

It was so enjoyable to watch DS's enjoyment.
This is him on the Toy Story ride which he kept referring to as the "yellow glasses ride".

I used a hotel we hadn't stayed in before. While the hotel was nice and the beds very comfy it was too much of a walk to get into the parks. We walked back and forth twice each day in order to take an afternoon nap, so it was a lot of walking.

Yes, there is a circulating bus/shuttle, but I didn't want to pay the extra money, plus you have to wait for it to pick up and drop off. I prefer to walk, although this time it meant some seriously sore feet by day end.

We did pretty well with food spending. Snacks in the car and hotel room. Eating out *only* twice daily was easy to manage.
We ate at the Rainforest Cafe for $12. I had $100 gift card (credit card reward) that almost covered the "splurg-y" meal.
A character breakfast included with our package at n/c was a great treat.
I had my special treat in Disney - a Monte Cristo - that was filling enough for two meals.
We also ate at the Mexican restaurant in Frontier Land which I have found to be nearly the same cost as Mexican food anywhere else. You can also get free soda refills there. That meant my DH bought a soda with six trips for refills. Big Grin

We rented a car. A 2013 Ford Focus.
It was good for us. I had calculated that we would be about even driving our own gas guzzling car vs. renting a fuel saving car. Additionally, no wear and tear on our aging vehicle (we drove 1370 miles).
With the costs tabulated we saved a little money by renting the car! Smile

Here it is in Las Vegas at the Excalibur - where we stayed.

We splurged on the Tournament of Kings dinner show. It's where you eat with your hands while watching knights battle. I had seen a similar show while in high school so knew what to expect (good for a three-year-old!).
My family really enjoyed the show. As predicted DS was glued to the action. Big Grin

DH and I hit the blackjack tables both nights, but alas, didn't win big. We have found that we can play blackjack for hours on very little money all while drinking *free* beer. Smile

Vacation Spending:
$1414 Disney package (4 nights/(4) 4-day hopper tickets/pkg extras)
$310 Food
$200 Cash for gambling/souvenirs/misc.
$181 Rental car
$159 Dinner show
$146 Gas
$ 94 Vegas hotel (2 nights @ $29+taxes/resort fees)

DH's boss gave us DH's $500 Christmas bonus early so we could apply it to the trip if we wanted.
(I used the Sapphire for almost everything and will use the bonus money toward the bill next month.)

Both DH and I used paid vacation time, so no lost income.
We saved a few bucks in daycare costs.
My dad stayed at our house so we didn't pay anything for house/pet care. As a big plus, my dad totally spruced up the front and backyard - mowed, raked, swept.. That was nice!

This trip was our Christmas gift to each other. Tiring, but good family time and some funny memories made. I'll tell you it was nice - no shopping, no wrapping, no extra crap!


Christmas was comfortable and low-key.
Santa brought a $25 dump truck set for DS.
Santa used Amazon credit (from selling back the EMT textbooks) for DH and DD's gifts. They cost $0.
Stocking stuffers included personal care products and trip souvenirs.

I got coffee and chocolate from almost everyone. Smile
My boss gave me a nice, crisp $100.

Only my parents were here with us (Yay! no drama!).
I made a nice ham dinner, roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, fruit salad, rolls, pie.

This year I feel like I figured out the best way to warm a ham without drying it out!
I used a roasting bag and set the oven for 275F.
About 10 minutes/lb.
Nice and warm throughout - no dry slices!

I bought a 10lb ham for the extra leftovers. I froze the ham bone for later use and a dinner's worth of slices for a future meal.


Kids are visiting the in-laws until tomorrow. DH and I have been basking in the quiet laziness the last 48 hours.

Next week will be pretty easy. Work one and a half days, then another paid day off. Big Grin
Then.. WOW.. 2014!

Easy Cheese Stuffed Meatball Recipe

November 3rd, 2013 at 12:36 pm

My DD learned this recipe in her 4H cooking group last year. We have made them several times since and I have been meaning to share. They are easy and yummy! It is a very versatile recipe. You could add ground up mushrooms, spinach, carrots, squash etc. to increase the veggies in your diet.

Made them last night.
Dinner on the table in 30 minutes.

I like to make them a little larger and make a dozen.
I have only used turkey so far because I really like the fine texture and less fat; they don't shrink much while baking.



Cheese Stuffed Meatballs
1.5 pounds ground turkey (or pork, beef, etc.)
2 eggs
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs (maybe a little more)
String cheese or Mozzarella cheese cut into 1/4" chunks
Spices of choice can be added - such as salt and pepper to taste, garlic salt, paprika, parsley, curry, Tabasco, Italian seasoning, Seasoning salt, etc. (Whatever your family likes)

In a large bowl, mix together uncooked turkey, eggs, bread crumbs and seasonings.
Mix together until uniform (hands work great).
Take a small handful of meat and roll into a ball. Make a dent in the meatball and put the chunk of cheese in the center. Wrap the meat around the cheese.
Place meatballs on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray or use foil.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes (22 min for the larger meatballs I make).
Serve immediately.

Great recipe to make ahead for a busy week.
Leftovers can be used to top a pizza, or wrap in a crescent roll with some marinara sauce and more cheese or meatball sandwiches.

Happy First Day of Fall

September 22nd, 2013 at 05:15 pm

We took a trip out to the beach this morning. The Pacific Ocean is a 35 minute drive from our house. DH and I were saying that really we should go more often given it is so close. SO we bought a regional park pass this morning for $69. It is good for unlimited visits to the parks in our county for one year. Plus, we got a surprise when we saw we also get one night of camping at any of the campgrounds. The day use fee is $7/visit and camping is $30/night so this pass will pay for itself quickly.

For our first autumn dinner we are having corned beef with cabbage and carrots. The corned beef I bought on sale back in March - $5 for 3lbs. I am going to bake drop biscuits to go with dinner as soon as I finish here. Welcome Fall! Smile


April 27th, 2013 at 05:04 pm

The days have just been flying by here. We have been having beautiful weather and the seeds we planted in the garden two weeks ago have sprouted up. When they get a bit taller I will take a picture to share.

The chicks are much bigger now. They have almost all their feathers so no more fluffy downy fuzz. We let them out in the backyard every afternoon and they are so fun to watch. Once they are a little larger I will move the dog crate that is their home out to the coop and they can start acclimating to nights outside.

I received two more referrals on my Ting account - $50 more credit. Big Grin
A big Thank You to the folks using my referral code (if you’re reading this.)
I am so very happy I switched to Ting. Great service and excellent value.

Last week I changed my withholdings from 2 to 4 so I could squeeze a little more money into my weekly paycheck.

Then this past Wednesday my boss gave us each a brief review and a $1/hour raise. Big Grin Yay!

Now I’m worried with the raise I might not be withholding enough. What I will do is give it a few months then do a year-end-mock-up and see where we stand tax wise.

The plan for this weekend is relax, relax, relax. Our calendar is full for the next two weeks once May starts, so we've got to rest up.

We plan to have BBQ dinners tonight and tomorrow, so no "real" cooking to do and I love BBQ'd food. Smile

Awesome Salad & My Green Smoothie

April 6th, 2013 at 08:47 am

As part of my healthier eating I made this wonderful spinach salad with green onion, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, hardboiled egg and leftover ham. What was really great about it is the dressing I "created" on the spot.

Citrus-Mustard Dressing
- One Tablespoon olive oil
- One to Two Tablespoons honey mustard
- Juice of one Clementine (Cutie)
- Dash of black pepper
Wisk together.

I don't use a lot of dressing so this was enough for two servings over large salads. I think this dressing will taste great with other types of meat too - salmon, chicken, steak, bacon bits. I want to try a few variations like using an orange or a lime or even a grapefruit. Maybe trying Dijon in place of the honey mustard.

Spinach Smoothie
- Spinach
- Coconut Milk
- Strawberries
- Frozen Banana
- Dash of Cinnamon
- Tablespoon of Flax

Plans for April & Baby Chicks Pics

April 3rd, 2013 at 06:47 am

The biggest plan for DH and myself this month is improved eating. DH wants to drop some pounds for a physical test for his fire department and the life insurance we hope to get started this summer. I want to get serious because I have not started to work on my weight loss goal yet. If I wait any longer we'll be half way through the year. Worse even - I gained three pounds in March. Time to make an effort. Smile

We are cutting way back in the sugar department. We eat healthy foods mostly, but I love fats and sugar. Big Grin (I have the hugest sweet tooth! Seriously! I have dessert almost every night.)
SO, I am dropping breads, cakes, cookies, pie, etc. In addition to reducing my dairy to a tiny amount. So no cheese, ice cream, half & half, etc..

Monday and Tuesday we had oatmeal with fresh strawberries for breakfast. I made myself a big batch of quinoa and black bean salad that I have been eating for lunch in addition to nuts and fruit. Last night I made an awesome spinach salad with leftover Easter ham.

I am cat sitting again for a few days this week and earning $140. I'll be doing it again for the same cats in a few weeks I think for the same number of days.

I was surprised that their owner didn't leave me a check so I am not sure if she forgot or if she is planning on writing one check for both weeks. You can be sure I'm going to ask! Wink

We have four baby chicks. Young hens to "freshen" our flock of four older ladies.

I paid $14 for the chicks and $7 for their feed. We had the additional supplies (dishes, heat lamp) from raising chicks a few years ago.

They are about 11 days old now.
We have them in a brooder box under the heat lamp in me and DH's bathroom. I love that our family has the opportunity to raise animals. It is the type of thing I want my kids to remember years later and smile about.

Three days old:

Black Australorp chicks.

Golden (Red) Sex-Link chicks.