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Life in Limbo

April 1st, 2016 at 09:29 pm

So we were supposed to know yesterday about whether or not DH's company got the contract. Well, we still don't know. Apparently they are taking 2 MORE weeks to decide. Something that should have been decided in January. I am not holding my breath about 2 weeks from now, either. Do they not understand that they are fooling around with people's lives here and their livelihoods?

I am just hoping that DH can get some overtime in. There appears to be the work for it. If he can get in enough OT to get the EF up to $20K, I might (probably not), just might relax a little bit.

I have decided to do an eat from the pantry challenge for the month of April. I want to cut our grocery spending all the way down to $400. If I can, it will go a long way towards easing the pain of the pay cut. I don't need to buy meat at all during this month. I don't need to buy potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, pasta, tomato sauce, rice, or flour, or sugar.

I am allowing myself to buy fresh fruit, milk, and some greens and onions if I run out, but that is all. I will be baking all my bread, rolls, and buns. I've got plenty of food in the freezer and on the canning shelves. My Aerogarden is producing a couple of salads a week. I've got lettuce planted that will hopefully take off by the end of the month. This should be easy. It goes without saying that there will be no eating out.

If I can figure this out and stick to a much stricter grocery budget, and we can get used to not getting everything we want food-wise all the time, then if his pay does go back up, we can save the difference then, too. That would be nice. And if it doesn't, we'll know we can get by on much less.

Payday Report for 1/22/16

January 23rd, 2016 at 09:29 am

$205.00 Storage
__36.87 X-rays
__47.86 Life Insurance DH
__44.66 Life Insurance Me
__84.32 Car Insurance
__34.86 Medical Me
_146.36 Emergency Fund
_500.00 Down Payment Fund
__53.54 Prescriptions Me, DH
__86.91 Vitamins and a new cane
_165.00 Cash Out
$1405.38 Total Money Out

Cash Out includes:
$40 for DH for work needs
$25 for DD's allowance
$40 for movie tickets
$15 DD's food out with friends
$30.00 Pizza
$15 for Sundries

Payday Report

November 13th, 2015 at 11:39 am

$2044.59 BOA Visa
___55.25 Garbage
__197.67 Christmas Fund
__300.00 Meat from the Farm
__200.00 Groceries
___50.00 Allowances
$2847.51 Total Out

I probably won't spend all of that $200 this week since I just bought groceries yesterday. I just have one or two things to pick up that weren't at the other store.

The Visa was high this month because I had DH purchase all of his holiday travel tickets last month. Waiting too close to his travel dates at this time of year would mean his plane tickets would cost double of normal. So he bought 3 tickets on that month's Visa instead of the usual 1. Fortunately we are at a place in the budget where I was able to absorb that without too much of a blip.

I misplaced the Comcast bill for out internet. I need to find it. It's not due until the 21st. If I can't find it by the 18th, we will go in person and pay it. It is out near the airport and I'll be picking DH up that day so it won't be an extra trip. Usually I pay it at the start of the month, but as I had to pay some doctor bills then, I decided to wait until closer to the due date.

I never set it up to pay online as they charged a fee for online payments. I don't know if they still do now that online paying is becoming a norm, but the last thing I wanted to do was give them extra money. Plus I really didn't want them having the ability to just take money out of my account or off my card. I've heard too many horror stories about that company to let them have carte blanche.

I'll get it figured out, though. And look some more for the bill. It's got to be around here somewhere.

Payday Report

January 9th, 2015 at 10:37 pm

It was good to finally get to payday. This year I am going to start much earlier on saving for the shut down that occurs every December at DH's work. As in, this paycheck. And in April when things cycle around so that we'll have an extra paycheck, I will put a good chunk of it into that fund as well. It was nice to be able to get through that time period without touching the Emergency Fund and I am glad we did not rely on the Christmas Bonus as that went to pay for the car roof repair and Christmas. There was nothing of it left for living expenses.

The paycheck is about $100 less for this pay period than it has been due to the new 401K withdrawal. Not too big of an amount to absorb easily. We'll see how it goes for the whole month before we decide to up it a percent, though.

Payday Report:

$800.00 to Van Loan (including extra)
_400.00 to Mom's utilities
__24.28 Electricity (old house)
__75.65 Internet
__48.60 Phone (old house)
__46.00 Security Monitoring (old house)
__41.94 Garbage (two months)
__13.75 Medical
__29.85 Medical
__66.61 Medical
_100.00 Allowances (two weeks, 2 kids)
_100.00 Cash for Week
_178.00 Emergency Fund
_100.00 Property Tax Fund
_100.00 December Money Fund
_100.00 Propane Fund (old house)

The Propane Fund now sits at $700. The December Money Fund is at $233.55.

Menu Planning for the Week

October 5th, 2014 at 03:09 pm

I'll need to harvest 3 to 4 heads of broccoli this week so that will play into dinner plans. The zucchini has gone to baseball bat size, so I've just been cutting them open for the chickens and turkeys to eat. If I catch any of the smaller ones at the right size we'll have some of them this week, too.

I've also got quite a few tomatoes and a couple of peppers so those will also be accounted for in the planning.

I cleaned out the refrigerator today. It's my least favorite chore. But it needed to be done. Now all my leftovers are organized and on one shelf so it will be easy to see what needs to be eaten up. Those are generally for my lunches or DH's if he is home.

Spaghetti with Meatballs made with homemade tomato sauce

Pizza made with homemade tomato sauce, rabbit sausage, onions, bell peppers

Meatball sandwiches made with leftover meatballs, leftover sauce, and on garlic bread

Barbecue chicken wings
Fried potatoes
Green beans

Chicken Stir-fry with broccoli,, garlic, ginger, onions, carrots, green beans, and celery
Egg Fried Rice

Bacon rabbit cheeseburgers
Homemade French fries

Homemade Fish and Chips

Funds Update

March 28th, 2014 at 11:36 pm

$500.00 Property Tax Fund
__38.00 HoA Dues Fund
_300.00 Vacation Fund
_300.00 Appliance Fund (New Fund, not counting freezer)
2267.00 January 2015 Money Fund
1130.00 College Fund
_300.00 Aquaponics Fund
__72.00 Water/Sewer Holding Fund
_100.00 Laptop Holding Fund
_300.00 Christmas Fund
4007.00 Total in Temporary Funds

Payday Report

February 1st, 2014 at 04:12 pm

AMEX was higher than usual because of buying the food saver on that card. The MC DH accidentally charged on because he forgot the right card at home. I've restarted my Appliance Fund and my Vacation Fund after wiping them out to buy the new refrigerator. Everything else is business as usual.

I closed out the January budget and started the February one, though very little was marked off the February one, most was finishing up January's short term savings funds. But dollar wise most of it was for February.

$1500.00 to BoA VISA (DH's travel expenses)
__540.00 Mortgage (Old House)
__400.00 to Mom for her Utilities
__350.09 AMEX (in full)
___67.53 BoA MC (in full)
__100.00 College Fund
__100.00 Vacation Fund
__100.00 Moving Fund
__100.00 Christmas Fund
__100.00 Appliance Fund
__225.00 Monthly Chiropractic Plan
__100.00 Cash for Week
___40.00 Allowances
+__90.00 Physical Therapy
$3812.62 Total Money Out

One More Week to Go

January 17th, 2014 at 11:23 am

Well, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have one more week without a paycheck and then finally next Friday DH gets paid again. I am so glad that I put so much money in savings and stayed on top of all the bills. It has been so helpful in stretching over the last 3 weeks and we'll be fine until the end of this.

I start this next week with $674.63 in the checking account and $75 in cash. The only thing I have to pay for is part of my dental visit on the 22nd. And give the kids allowances. I will have to buy some milk and some deli meat and veggies on Sunday, but other than that, I hope to end up next payday with $500 left to throw at the mortgage.

Since the new year has started DH's paychecks will be fully taxed again so the extra $700 I've been throwing at the mortgage each month will be reduced down to an extra $200 again. Our medical insurance year won't be up until May and then who knows how much things will go up then. So trying to do as much as possible while I still can and if I don't spend this week I can make one last big payment. I think I can get the mortgage under $6000 on payday.

My coin jar was getting heavy and my ones envelope was getting fat, so I rolled coin and counted ones. Altogether I had $42 ready to be deposited.

$8043.19 Beginning EF Balance
+__42.00 Deposit Added
$8085.19 Ending EF Balance

My goal for the month is to get to $8205. I have $119.81 to go to reach that goal. I have 2 more $10 deposits coming this month and I will make my usual $100 monthly deposit when we get paid on Friday. So I will make that. I need to save $167 a month if I want to get to $10K by the end of the year. But I'm trying for $200 each month. I'm also on track for that.

Funds Update

December 16th, 2013 at 03:06 am

$200.00 Property Tax Fund
$200.00 Propane Fund
$400.00 Vacation Fund
$700.00 Appliance Fund
$400.00 Moving Fund
1000.00 College Fund
__72.00 Water/Sewer Fund
+_95.00 Dues Fund
1000.00 Laptop Fund
$4067.00 Total Funds Money

Funds Update

November 17th, 2013 at 02:31 pm

I am putting a copy of my Funds totals here in case something goes wrong transferring stuff between laptops. This is the first time in my life I've ever had so much money saved up. Almost $14K and it will be over that by month's end.

After our next mortgage payment on Friday we will have more money in the Emergency Fund than we owe on the mortgage. That feels incredible.

$2024.84 January Money Fund
$7687.86 Emergency Fund
___76.00 Dues Fund
__100.00 Property Tax Fund
__100.00 Propane Fund
__300.00 Vacation Fund (Hawaii 2018)
__600.00 Appliance Fund
__300.00 Moving Fund
__900.00 College Fund
_1200.00 Laptop Fund (using to pay off same as cash)
__700.00 Christmas Fund
13988.70 Total in Savings

There Isn't Much Going On

July 20th, 2013 at 06:57 pm

DH's paycycle is weird because of how he works, so we always have one week out of four that doesn't get a paycheck. And during that time it seems that there is nothing financial to do, because we budget accordingly.

Frugal things I've been doing:

1. Getting organized. The kitchen counters are clean, the cupboards are organized, and the floor is swept. The kitchen table is almost clutter free and will be by the end of the day. I found four bottles of ginger and three of garlic. Also plenty of mustard powder for making a new batch.

2. I've been pulling chunks of clover out of the cracked concrete pad where the old garage used to be many years ago. I've been feeding it to the rabbits who love it. They look at me like I am the bringer of all things wonderful when I give them piles of it to eat. So this is the sixth free food I am giving them, including grass, lemon balm, oregano, raspberry leaves, and blackberry leaves from the yard. Actually seventh if you count apple tree twigs.

3. I've sewn up the armpit seams of two shirts and one pair of my son's underwear where the hem was unraveling but was otherwise perfectly serviceable.

4. I've organized my canning supplies. Without a garden this year I am going to go out to an organic U-pick farm and pick 25 pounds of green beans. Not sure when, but sometime soon. Then I will can them. Then I will do it again. That should give me about a year's supply of green beans the way we eat them.

5. I have discovered that we have enough canned food to survive at least 3 weeks if disaster struck, but not near enough water. We have far more food than that in the freezer, but I am assuming if disaster strikes it will mean no electricity. I am going to can some rabbit meat next time we slaughter, because our stores of canned protein are pretty low. We'd have the chicken eggs of course, and if it came to it, the chickens. I'm not foreseeing a disaster, mind you, but neither are a lot of people and they get hit by them. Next payday I am going to buy a couple of cases of bottled water to put under the bed, just to be on the safe side.

That's really about it.

It's Been a Long Week

July 11th, 2013 at 12:52 am

Is it really only Thursday? Feels like I hit the ground running and never stopped. Just outdoor farm chores and indoor house cleaning and organizing and building rabbit tractors and moving rabbits outside in the morning and back inside in the evening and chicken care, etc.

We ate our first homegrown, home slaughtered, home butchered rabbit today. Took me almost a month before I was ready to take one out of the freezer and cook it, but now I know we can do this self-sufficiency thing.

I have been very busy picking berries. Because of the heat wave we have blackberries, raspberries and blueberries all ripe at once. This never happens. It is always staggered through the summer. So we are hustling to get as much picked as we can to freeze for the upcoming year.

We have spent very little this week. Mostly for things like milk for us and fresh chard and carrots for the rabbits. We are sticking to the meal plan well and DS has stopped asking to go to the store and buy chicken pot pies, his weakness. I am determined to keep our spending down and I am feeling better with several home cooked meals under my belt again. When you get out of the habit, you really get out of the habit.

Slow Week

June 27th, 2013 at 02:53 pm

Today is the day of the auto deposit to savings, bringing the Emergency Fund to $5071.62.

I haven't spent any money in the past two days. We haven't gone anywhere, which makes it a lot easier to accomplish that.

I've been following my meal plans, so no eating out recently.

I'm still working on cleaning. It's taking a lot longer than I planned because I am organizing as well as just cleaning.

The rabbits are doing well. They love it when it is nice out and they can come outside in the rabbit tractors. The kits are growing well and will be 7 weeks old on Sunday. A couple of them were close to weighing 3 pounds last Sunday, so will probably top it when I weigh them again this Sunday.

Swagbucks is chugging along well, though I wish they'd fix the SBTV glitches. I've hit goal every day this week except the day it was 140. I will definitely get all five GC's this month as I am only a few points away from it right now.

Otherwise it's been pretty boring here at Casa de Robin.

The Actual Future Musings

June 22nd, 2013 at 03:22 pm

Last night (or early this a.m.) when I copy/pasted my entry, apparently I missed the second half of my post, where I was trying to figure out how much I thought I could get the Emergency Fund to by the end of the year.

In August there will be an extra payday for us. I should be able to save $1000 to the Emergency Fund from that. I have also been able to save at least $200 a month, so that should be another $1200. That should put me at $7300. In November there will be another extra paycheck, and I'd like to save $1000 from it, which should put me at $8300. So I think I will make my push goal be $8500 by the end of the year, which is, coincidentally, about one month's take home pay.

Most of the remainder of the money from those two extra payday's will go into the holiday shut down fund. Every Christmas things tend to shut down on the slope for two weeks at the least and up to four weeks at the most. So I will set aside at the least $3600 for that. That should leave me with about $1400 between the two.

I think I will try to just put it all into temporary savings. I'm not sure for what. Probably some of it for rabbit expenses. Or possibly moving expenses depending on how things go with selling our house. I guess we'll see when I get closer to that time. I may just want to shovel it all into the Emergency Fund regardless. Or maybe save it for next year's medical deductible.

Getting Organized Again

June 20th, 2013 at 08:30 pm

Now that it is summer vacation and I am not homeschooling anymore, I am working on getting my home organized. I did the long hallway today, which had become a catch all for way too much junk. My husband has a habit of emptying his pockets into the rail. I find all sorts of things in it. Junk mail, credit card receipts, pens and pencils, tiny toys like my son's hex bug. I found a quarter and a dime so those went into the coin jar.

I had gotten so far behind on laundry that I had six baskets of clean laundry in the hallway, so those all got sorted and put away. Then all the random shoes got sent back to their home on the shoe rack by the back door. It's never a whole set of shoes it's always a single shoe from four or five sets. I don't even know.

Also got all the cloth grocery bags picked up and stuck inside the big one, ready to go out to the van the next time we leave the house. I've mentioned it before, but we are in a city that has made it illegal for stores to use plastic bags and it costs 5 cents a bag for paper ones. We have a ton of cloth bags instead. I would use them anyway and did before the law went into effect, but I have way more than I did back then.

I figure if I work on one room a day we can get things back on track in not too long a time frame. Tomorrow's goal is to get the kitchen straightened up. I'd like to use more than 1/2 my kitchen table and the counters need a deep clean. I also need to reorganize my canned goods, because my daughter has put things in willy-nilly just to get them put away and I like to have my cupboards a certain way so I'll go through and fix them after stuff is clean.

Saturday will be for the short hallway that leads from my son's room into the living room and ends at the computer table and the bathroom. Sunday will be for the living room. Monday I'll tackle my bedroom, while the kids start on theirs. That may take more than one day as I want to weed through all the outgrown clothing, throw out what is not donateable, and get the stuff that is ready to take to Goodwill. And honestly I'm sure nothing short of a bulldozer will get to the bottom of my daughter's bedroom floor. My son's room is not too bad. He's a much tidier person in his bedroom than my daughter.

I find being disorganized often leads to spending money, either because I can't find something or I don't realize I already have what I just bought. Tired of that so the organization is a must. Plus I have lost a library book somewhere in the house and need to find it. Well, I'm not sure I lost it. I think I turned it in, but the library can't find it so they gave me a month to look for it without a fine. I don't even have a clue where it might be. There's just not that many places I would leave a book.

I am just really ready to have a clean home again. Tired of the clutter.

Processing Day

June 17th, 2013 at 12:47 am

We processed five rabbits today, so we now have a little over 18 pounds of meat and 1 pound of livers. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I will still miss them. They had good lives though and deaths as humane as we can make them. They should provide at least 54 meals for us or 13.5 servings per person. Considering what we spent on feed and hay to raise them to 17.5 weeks old, we are paying about $1.25 a pound for the healthiest, and pretty much the leanest, meat out there. In the future we will try to butcher at 14 weeks.

We froze the furs and when we do the next batch of kits when they grow up then we will tan them. I found a pretty simple way to do so using alum, salt, and water. It'll be about a two week process. I am thinking about making a bedspread with the furs. We want to use every part that we possibly can. The feet can be preserved, too, and sold in batches, and the heads go to the raptor rescue program for their hawks, owls, and eagles.

We kept one doe of that litter. I am not sure if we will use her as a breeder or grow her up and sell her as a breeder. She has good ears and a good body type. She seems to be far calmer now that she is not sharing a cage any longer. Her name is Lola.

I think it'll be a couple of weeks before we can eat one. We need to get a little bit further away from the process, but at least we know we can do it now and that we are one step closer to being sustainable.

I had made up a big payday post on Friday and even though I copy/saved the computer didn't so I lost it. Hopefully I'll get that reconstructed tomorrow and sent in for accountability.

I did get another $5 gift card from SB for Amazon and sent for another one. I am doing pretty good this month, though I've been too tired to get more than 40 to 50 points a day for the last couple of days. Tomorrow I have a lot of reading online to do so will probably hit goal as I will have SBTV running off to the side while I do.

DS needs to finish his compare and contrast literature essay and then he is done with home school for the summer. DD gets out of high school on the 19th at 10 or 11, I'm not sure. It will be nice to be free. We can get some real work done on the garden, turn the compost over, and do a bleach and rinse of all the rabbit cages while they are in the rabbit tractors (portable pens) on the lawn. We also need to get the grapes tied up. They are overtaking the rabbit shed door.

And housecleaning. It needs it.

Financial Housekeeping and Other Stuff

May 1st, 2013 at 04:08 am

I managed to get caught up on my slacking. The April Budget is now fully updated and closed out. The HSA tracking is fully updated for the month. The checkbook is updated and balanced.

I sent $4500 off to the BoA VISA and will send another $2000 on Friday. That'll leave us with about $1700 to pay off by the end of May and then our vacation will be paid for. I still think it was worth it to go, but man was it ever expensive to pay for seven people. I've already told DH we won't be able to afford to do that again.

I'm just glad there is an extra payday this month because of how the paydays fall. DH's pay is on a four week cycle so every once in a while he gets an extra paycheck in the year. This is that month so I can shift things about a bit and get the rest of that vacation paid off. Then we'll have a clean slate again.

The mortgage is under $13K now. I will pay about $61 in interest on this next payement. I love seeing it so low. I'm pushing to get it under $10K, but that'll take me to November, I think. Unless it sells of course. Assuming the remodellers are ever done. I don't believe them even when they give me an actual date, because they flew right past the last one. *sighs*

DH's bosses decided that they are caught up enough on redlines that he won't have to bring anything home with him and work this hitch. Last hitch was hard though the money was nice. But they said in a couple of months they may need to do that again. I'm of two minds on it. If he has to do OT I'd rather he do it on the slope. Then again, at least it's OT. It just interferes with doing absolutely anything if he has to bring it home.

I have still not been able to shake this sinus thing and I am starting to think I might be allergic to rabbit dander. I am allergic to cat dander and dog dander which is why we don't have pets. I'm hoping not. It could be the dogwood and the rhodies in bloom. I hate allergies. Allergies can go away and leave sunny days in their place.

Spring Cleaning

March 31st, 2013 at 11:39 pm

I'm on a major cleaning binge. I spent a good portion of today cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom. I still have to reorganize everything so that I can actually make use of my countertops. I had so much cluttering them up. A lot of it was canning equipment that just didn't get put away at the end of last summer, but there was a surprising number of chip bags with just crumbs and little pieces in the bottom. Mostly plain tortilla chips. My kids don't like it when there are no longer big chips. I don't mind so much, but they were stale. I crumbled them up and gave them to the chickens. I figured it was safe enough since the only ingredients were corn, oil, and salt.

I reorganized my recycle area, so now there is a bin each for soda cans, cardboard, tin cans, and plastic and they are neatly lined up and easily accessible. I keep the paper recycle bag in my room since that is where I look at the mail. I did over a year's worth of paper shredding. I filled five paper grocery bags stuffed full, and two of them were those oversize bags you get from restaurants with the fancy handles.

I did some extra cleaning in the rabbit shed. I swept the excess dropped hay up and the rogue droppings that don't always make it into the bins under the hutches. I spent about 10 minutes cuddling Phoebe. She's such a sweetheart. She is 12.5 weeks now and she's no longer afraid of me. I was hoping she'd settle after a few weeks. She is growing well. She's just a little beyond the age they recommend for butchering meat rabbits, but she doesn't seem big enough to me. Not that she will be butchered, she'll be a breeder, but I was just figuring based on the size.

We are going to wait until May to raise meat chickens. That'll get us through our first rabbit harvest and the birth of the next set of kits, before taking on any more responsibility. I really need to get some grow out cages soon. The current kits will need to be separated in about 3 weeks and I need to be set up well before then. Maybe I'll have time to run around to the different feed stores tomorrow and look at what they have. I can order what I need online, but if I can get it locally I'd prefer that. I like to support local businesses first.

Thank goodness it's spring break. I don't think I could get everything done this week that I want to get done if I were homeschooling this week.

My Goals for the Week

March 25th, 2013 at 08:04 pm

1. To not set foot in the grocery store for any reason. I have all that I need. I might want bananas, but I have oranges and strawberries and canned pineapple and canned pears. Bananas are a want, not a need and they can wait a week.

2. To cook every meal and not go out to eat at all. I have lots of good food available here and an excellent meal plan. There is no reason not to follow it.

3. The only purchase I need to make is gas and that can wait until payday Friday. So no other purchases, period.

4. Set up the April Budget and remember to include the new insurance amounts. Both car insurance and DH's life insurance went up. Also the storage rate went up so make sure to change things accordingly.

5. Clean my bedroom. And clear off the kitchen table. It's for eating, not for storing everything I don't feel like putting away.


On the spending front I paid a medical bill of $1073.64. Ouch. Love that high $2500 deductible on the insurance. /sarcasm

I also bought 50 pounds of rabbit feed and a second water bottle for Piper and the kits. It cost $18.39 for the feed, $12.39 for the half gallon water bottle, and $1.69 for the Pepsi my husband snuck in. Tax was $2.82, so the total spent today was $35.29.

I picked up five holds from the library today. Two are on building a worm bin or raising worms. I think that may be the way to go for underneath the rabbit cages to keep the smell down (although there is not much of one), and to help with composting things faster. One was on raising rabbits because I still feel like I have a lot to learn. One is on small scale farming and the final one is a pleasure read, a teen sci-fi adventure novel called Ashfall that deals with the aftermath of the Yellowstone Volcano erupting in the near future. I do love the apocalyptic survival type of novel, so unless the author has a style I absolutely hate, it should be a good read.

Working on the Food Stamps Challenge

December 22nd, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Just letting you know I am pulling together week 3 of the Food Stamps Challenge. I may not get it posted before Christmas though. Those posts require quite a bit of planning. I have been working on it though and also have my selections ready for one that will be $40 for 10 days in a situation where you have limited storage and cooking options, like just a microwave and a burner. I'm also comtemplating what one would do during a holiday or a birthday or an unexpected guest, so those might follow along eventually.

Food Stamp Challenge on Paper--Week 2 Menus

December 15th, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Food Stamps Challenge on Paper—Week Two Menus

The first thing to do on your second week is to get up a little early and take one container of pulled pork out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge. Then take your beef chuck pot roast and put it into the crockpot. Season it with your seasoned salt and some pepper and add 2 cups of water to the bottom of the pot. Make sure some of the seasoning and salt is in the water to flavor it as well as on the roast. Cook on low all day for eight to 10 hours while you are at work. Then start breakfast which will be just a little more complicated today, but certainly doable even for the novice cook. Put 2 eggs on to hard boil.

Day 8—
One hard-boiled egg
Breakfast Apple Crumble
4 ounces of milk

To make the crumble you will need 1 apple peeled, cored and chopped, 1 biscuit, crumbled, 1 tbsp of butter, 1 tbsp of water, 1 ½ tbsp. of sugar.

Combine apples, 1 tbsp of sugar and water in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile crumble your biscuit into very small pieces. Let apples sit for a couple of minutes and then remove plastic wrap very carefully to avoid steam burns. Melt your tbsp of butter. Stir the biscuit crumbs into the butter.
Pour out any liquid in the apples. Level the apples and then pour the biscuit crumbs on top in as even a layer as you can. Sprinkle the remaining ½ tbsp of sugar over the top.
Put the oven rack on its top rung and turn on the broiler. Be warned that in small homes the broiler can set off the smoke detector because of its intense heat. You probably won’t be using it long enough to set it off, but it could. Once the broiler is up to temp, bake the concoction for one minute. Turn the broiler off and allow to cool. Serves one.
2 slices leftover pizza
1 carrot

4 ounces beef pot roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
1 cup of coleslaw
Boil 6 potatoes. Divide beef pot roast into 8 servings in four containers. Freeze three. You will be eating one serving and refrigerating the other. When you drain the potatoes, save the potato water. Remove 4 potatoes worth of boiled potatoes from your pan and set aside. Mash the other two potatoes using 2 ounces of the potato water and 1 tbsp of butter. Take 2 tbsp of the beef drippings in the crockpot and 1 tbsp of flour. Stir together until there are no lumps and add two cups of potato water, whisking until well blended. Put in a frying pan and bring to a boil while stirring, then adjust heat to medium low. Add salt, pepper, or seasoned salt to taste to flavor the gravy further. Cook until gravy no longer tastes floury. You will eat half of your mashed potatoes and ½ cup of gravy on this night, leaving one serving of potatoes and 3 servings of gravy for later in the week. Refrigerate your 4 leftover boiled potatoes and your potato water. Refrigerate the beef juice from the crockpot for later use in the week.

Day 9—
Breakfast Burrito

Take one of your boiled potatoes and quickly grate it through a cheese grater and mix it with 2 tbsp of onion. Fry in a little oil on medium high for 3 minutes on one side and about 2 minutes on the other. Use some of your ketchup on top.

Beat one egg and mix with 2 ounces of pulled pork. Fry in a bit of oil until egg is cooked through. Scoop mixture onto a tortilla, lightly sprinkle with cheddar cheese, and roll up.

Chicken noodle soup
Save your orange peels

Hot open-faced roast beef sandwich
Leftover mashed potatoes with 1/2 cup leftover gravy
1 cup of coleslaw

Warm up mashed potatoes, gravy and 4 ounces of roast beef. Toast two slices of bread and spread with some of your garlic butter. Place roast beef on top of each slice, then mashed potatoes, then cover it with gravy.

Take out 1 container of chicken and one cup of chicken broth to thaw in the fridge and take out 2 pieces of bread to go stale overnight.

Day 10—
Simple French Toast-

2 slices of stale bread
2 ounces of milk
1 egg
1 tsp of sugar
½ tsp orange zest
We will be using orange zest instead of cinnamon in this French toast recipe. Rub some of the orange peel you saved from the day before, orange part only, against your cheese grater until you have ½ tsp of orange zest. Discard remaining orange peel. Beat egg, sugar, and milk together then add orange zest and beat until blended. Put into a shallow bowl or a plate with rounded edges. Dip bread into bowl to soak up mixture. Melt 1 tbsp of butter on medium heat in your skillet. Place bread into skillet. Fry for about two minutes. When bottom is browned flip it over and cook on second side, about two minutes. Remove to a plate. If you have any mixture left, scramble it quickly in your pan. No need to throw it away. Add 4 tbsp of syrup.

Chicken noodle soup
2 slices of honey bread

Chicken stir-fry

Take 2 carrots and 2 stalks of celery. Clean and trim the celery, putting the trimmings into your freezer baggy. Peel and trim the carrots, putting the peels into the freezer baggy. Peel 2 cloves of garlic and put the skins in your freezer baggy. Smash and mince garlic. Cut carrots into quarter inch slices on the diagonal. Cut celery into quarter inch slices on the diagonal. Trim and peel onion. You know where the scraps go. Cut onion into strips and set aside half in a covered container and place in the fridge. Take1/4 cup of oil and mix it with half a cup of chicken broth, 2 tbsp of honey and ¼ tsp of your chili powder. Take out your container of chicken, remove half and return to fridge.

Heat a little bit of oil in your frying pan over high heat and sauté your carrots for 2 minutes. Add your onion and garlic and sauté for three minutes. Add your celery and sauté for 2 more minutes. Remove vegetables to plate and put in 8 ounces of chicken. Saute about one minute or until chicken is warmed through. Add your liquid ingredients and stir, then return vegetables to pan for 1 minute or until everything is hot. Half of this is your dinner and the other half is your lunch the next day.

Take out one slice of meatloaf to thaw in the fridge.

Day 11—
2 pancakes with powdered sugar
1 egg scrambled with 2 ounces of pulled pork, 1 tbsp of diced onions (cut a few from the strips in your fridge) and 1 tbsp of diced bell peppers
4 ounces of milk

Leftover chicken stir-fry

Chicken noodle soup
1 slice of meatloaf
1 cup of coleslaw

Take out 2 containers of roast beef to thaw in the fridge. Take out 1 whole chicken to thaw in the fridge.

Day 12—
2 scrambled eggs
2 Biscuits and gravy (use ¼ cup of your leftover beef gravy)

Pulled pork sandwich
1 cup of coleslaw

Chicken quesadilla
1 Carrot

Sauté ½ of your remaining ½ of an onion and 2 ounces of bell pepper strips in a little oil. Warm up 4 ounces of chicken in the microwave. Place tortilla on a frying pan and lay out onion, bell pepper strips, and chicken on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and top with another tortilla.

Make some more orange zest with your orange peel.

Day 13—
French toast with 4 tbsp of syrup

1 boiled egg
Chicken Sandwich
1 carrot

Roast beef hash
Cole slaw

2 cups cooked roast beef, cut into half inch cubes
½ cup leftover beef juice
1 onion, medium diced
2 leftover boiled potatoes, peeled and cut into half inch cubes
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
Salt and pepper

Melt 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Add onions and sauté for four minutes or until onion is soft. Add cooked potatoes and brown. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Flip over potatoes and onions and brown. Remove to a plate. Turn meat up to medium high and melt 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of oil in the pan. When hot and melted add cubed roast beef to the pan. Brown on all sides and return onions and potatoes to the pan. Cook for two more minutes. Pour in ¼ of beef juice. Cook for one more minute. Taste. Add additional salt and pepper if needed. Makes 8 servings. Divide into 4 containers containers. Freeze 3. Put 1 serving in the fridge and eat one for dinner. Freeze remaining beef juice.

Day 14—
2 egg omelet with 1 tbsp diced ham and 1 tbsp cheddar cheese
1 biscuit with cheese

Begin a batch of bread dough and leave to rise in a warm place following the instructions in the post here: http://luckyrobin.savingadvice.com/2012/12/06/youve-done-the-shopping-now-what_99377/ Remove your pizza dough from the freezer and put into the fridge. After bread dough has doubled in size, punch down and knead for five minutes. Divide in half and put into two lightly oiled bread pans. Let rise until poking over the edge of the pans and then bake. Start lunch. Remove bread when done, remove from pans and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
2 slices garlic toast (2 bread ends)

Prepare spaghetti sauce as you did in week one. Boil 8 ounces of spaghetti noodles and warm up 3 meatballs from the freezer. Serve yourself half of the spaghetti with 4 ounces of the sauce and refrigerate the rest, spaghetti and sauce in separate containers.

After lunch it is time to deal with some veg and fruit and the second chicken you bought on grocery day. Wash your hands. First cut the wrapped half of cabbage from your fridge (removing the wrap of course!) and cut it into slivers or shreds, cutting away any part of the core still left. Set this aside. Peel 2 apples and cut them into pieces to remove the cores. Thinly slice and set aside. Trim and peel an onion putting the skins and cut off parts into your veggie bag in the freezer. Cut the onion into slivers and set aside. Wash your cutting board in hot soapy water and dry. If you have a separate cutting board for meats and for veggies, get out your other board, otherwise use the one you just washed (always do meat after vegetables, never first).

Remove the wrap and check for a packet of giblets. If there is a neck, remove it from the package and then do whatever you normally do with the rest of the organs. Mine go to the neighbor cat. Rinse the chicken inside and out.

Next we are going to cut up the chicken. Although many people think this is a complicated business, it’s a lot simpler than you’ve been led to believe. The internet is a great resource for showing you how to do this. There are videos on youtube or written instructions on many websites. Make sure you have a sharp knife, preferably a butcher knife. Get out two bowls.

The way I do it is to put it breast side up (that’s the meatier side without the ridge for those of you who have never done this before) and first pull the leg and thigh away from the body. I cut through the skin so that I can see the meat and then cut through the joint where the thigh connects to the body. You can feel where this joint is with your fingers. Once you have cut the hindquarters off, feel for the joint between thigh and leg. You can break it and then cut through. Repeat on the other side. Then remove the wings in the same fashion by pulling them from the body, slitting the skin to see where it joins, find the joint with your hands and cut through it. Put all of these pieces of chicken into one bowl.

Now you are left with the body of the chicken. I like to use kitchen shears for this next part but it can be done with a good knife. Cut down each side, you can look in and see where the bones don’t quite meet up, separating the back from the breast. Take the back and turn it bony side up. You can see where the bigger part joins to the smaller part. Cut this in half at that spot and put in the bowl with the other pieces. Then take the breast and turn it meaty side up. Remove the skin (on the breast only) and set aside. Feel for the breast bone and if your knife is sharp enough, cut directly down this bone. If your knife isn’t quite sharp enough, cut to just one side of this bone. You want two roughly equal pieces.

At this point watch this video to show you how to take out the bone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7Ut68Z3FUU I find it much easier to have someone show you than I do to try to describe how to remove the bone. Save the bones and the skin in a baggy in the freezer.

Set aside the chicken breast in your second bowl and wash your cutting board in hot soapy water and then put it into the dishwasher to be washed again. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an oven safe dish (I used my square glass brownie pan) layer 1/3 of the cabbage, ½ the onion, and ½ of the apples. Then layer 1/3 more of the cabbage, the other ½ of the onion, and the rest of the apples. Finish with the final 1/3 of the cabbage. Cover and leave on the counter.

Mix four ounces of apple juice with 1 tbsp Italian herbs, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Pour over the chicken and cover aluminum foil (you will be using the foil in cooking) and place into fridge.

Take your 2 legs, 2 back pieces, 1 neck if you have it, 2 wings, and 2 thighs and rub them on both sides with oil. Place them skin side down into a baking dish and sprinkle with your seasoned salt, salt and pepper. Put them in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Turn over and cook for 40 minutes.

Remove from oven. Take out the legs and thighs and put onto a plate. Mix 2 tbsp of honey with 4 tbsp of ketchup. Brush over wings, backs and neck. Put back into oven for 5 minutes and then remove. While wings, backs, and necks are cooking, take the meat off the two thighs, and the two legs. Save the bones in a baggy in the freezer.

Check on your bread dough.

Remove your chicken breasts from the fridge and put them on top of your cabbage mixture. Pour the apple juice from the bowl into the oven-safe dish. Cover with aluminum foil and put into the oven. Cook for one hour.

While chicken and cabbage is cooking divide the barbecued chicken into two portions. Each bowl should have one each of a back and wing and the container with the smaller back piece should have the neck. Freeze. Remove the meat from the thighs and legs. You can eat the skin or add it to the freezer bag. Put the bones from the thighs and legs in the freezer baggy. Divide into two containers and freeze.

Prepare 4 potatoes, 4 carrots, and one onion. Put the carrot and onion peels into the freezer baggy. Cut vegetables into one inch cubes. Put into an oven safe dish and add 1 cup of water. . Remove chicken and cabbage from oven. Put vegetables into the oven to roast for an hour and a half. Divide the cabbage, onion, and apples into four portions and then divide the chicken breasts among them.

Chicken noodle soup
Chicken and cabbage

Remove vegetables from the oven and divide into four portions. Refrigerate. Wash everything. Go collapse in a chair. Slice each loaf of bread into fourteen pieces. Wrap in aluminum foil. Freeze one and put the other in the fridge. Congratulations. You made it through week 2.

Food Stamp Challenge On Paper--Week One Menus

December 8th, 2012 at 12:08 am

Some major prep is out of the way. Does that mean no cooking at all this week? Well, no, not completely, but your cooking time has been cut way down because you’ve done so much work on your day off. So what is going to happen during your first week? A bit of cooking, a bit of reheating, and a lot of variety and flavor in your meals. Obviously some things will be used quite a bit, like eggs, but I’ve tried to vary how they will taste based on ingredients.

Day One
4 ounces of apple juice
2 Biscuits warmed up in microwave and spread with a little honey
2 eggs scrambled with 1 tbsp of your diced deli ham, salt and pepper

Put out a plate. Scramble 2 eggs in a bowl with a couple shakes of salt and a couple shakes of pepper. Put a little oil in a small frying pan, being sure to lightly coat the bottom. You want to be able to tell the pan is coated, but not have your eggs swimming in it. Heat the pan to medium and drop in your frozen tbsp of deli ham. Using a coated spoon break apart the ham as it cooks and once the ham is warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes, pour your eggs on top and lightly scramble until done. The eggs will no longer look wet or shiny. Dump onto plate. (I often use the cheat method and cook stuff on high stirring rapidly until done, which is faster, but for the beginner cook could lead to burning due to lack of constant attention and on this budget, you can’t afford to burn your food).

Chicken sandwich
Water in a reusable water bottle

Take 4 ounces (or half) of the one cup of chicken you set aside the night before. Spread two slices of bread with mayo or with the sweeter salad dressing you made the night before, place chicken on one piece of bread, sprinkle with a tbsp of cheddar cheese, and add one leaf of lettuce. Place other slice on top.

Open-faced Meatball Sandwiches
2 cups of leftover roasted vegetables warmed up in the microwave

Take 3 meatballs out of the freezer and cook in the microwave. Depending on your microwave this could take 1 to 2 minutes. Take ¼ cup of tomato sauce from the open can in the fridge and pour into a bowl. Add a few shakes of Italian seasoning and warm briefly in the microwave until sauce is no longer cold. Turn your frying pan on to medium and take the two end pieces of your first loaf of bread and put them in the pan crust side down. It should be lightly warmed after about 30 seconds. Turn it over so the cut side is down and toast for about a minute. Put onto your plate and spread with the tomato sauce. You will probably not use the whole amount of sauce, so if you do not, cover what is left in the bowl and return to fridge. Cut hot meatballs in half and put three halves on each slice of bread.

Before you go to bed take one slice of meatloaf out of the freezer to thaw for the next day. Take out one of your four containers of pulled pork as well.

Day 2
2 pancakes warmed in the microwave and scraped with a little butter and sprinkled with powdered sugar
2 eggs scrambled with 1 tbsp of finely diced onion (from the fridge) and 1 tbsp of diced bell peppers
4 ounces of milk

Meatloaf sandwich

I personally prefer my meatloaf sandwich without any sauce, I feel it is flavorful enough, but you could put a bit of ketchup on or some mayo. If you can warm the sandwich up at work, I think that makes the sandwich better.

2 pulled pork burritos
2 cups of leftover roasted vegetables
Small salad made with 2 lettuce leaves, your homemade salad dressing, and a bit of mozzarella cheese.

Take 4 ounces (or half) of the pulled pork and place it on 2 tortillas. Add 1 tbsp of cheddar cheese to each. Roll them into burritos and place seam side down on a plate. Microwave until pork is hot and cheese has melted.

Before going to bed hard-boil 4 eggs. (Place in a pot with enough cold water to cover, heat on high, bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes. Cool eggs in cold water for 5 minutes and then peel. Put in covered container in the fridge. It is important to start your eggs in cold water. Cold eggs put into hot water are more likely to crack and spew egg white into the pan. Also take a small handful of pepperoni out of the freezer to thaw for the next day.

Day 3
2 Biscuits and sausage gravy
1 hard-boiled egg

Warm up your biscuits in the microwave. Take 1 tbsp of sausage fat from your container in the fridge and put into frying pan. Melt the fat on medium high. Take 1 tbsp of flour and mix it into 4 ounces of milk. Stir until blended and then pour into hot fat. Stir and turn up the heat to high. Bring to a boil and then bring heat down to medium. Cook for about ten minutes or until gravy no longer tastes floury. You may need to add a bit of cold water if gravy is too thick.

Chicken salad
Honey bread

Spread honey on two slices of bread and put together to prevent honey from sticking to the wrapping. For your chicken salad you will take the remaining half cup from your container of shredded chicken and put it over 2 shredded lettuce leaves. Cut up 1 hardboiled egg and put it on top. Sprinkle on a bit of salt and a very tiny amount of pepper. Add 1 tbsp of shredded parmesan cheese. There is enough flavor in this to not really need a dressing, but you can add it if you like.

Homemade pizza

Put your oven rack on the middle spot. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Take your pizza dough out. Lightly oil the dough and your hands to prevent sticking. Place dough on your pizza pan or your cookie sheet. Press the dough out until it is approximately 12 inches in diameter. Take your open can of tomato sauce from the fridge and spread ¼ cup on the pizza dough. If you have any sauce left from meatball sandwich night add it to the dough. Sprinkle the sauce with Italian herbs. Spread one cup of mozzarella cheese over the pizza. Cover with pepperoni. Add ¼ cup of diced onion and 1/3 of your bell pepper strips. When the oven is hot turn it down to 425 and place pizza inside.

A 12 inch pizza will need to be baked for about 20 minutes, but it all depends on your oven. The best way to check if the crust is done is to lift it with a flipper and thunk it in the center with a spoon. If it doesn’t thunk it is still too doughy and needs to be cooked for longer. Trust your nose. If it starts to smell like it is done before the 20 minutes, check it. Whatever you do, you can’t let it burn because it is going to provide four meals for you.

When pizza is done cut it up into 8 slices. 2 of these are for dinner. Once cooled freeze four slices for next week. Put other 2 slices in the fridge.

Day 4
Sausage and onion omelet
2 pancakes warmed in the microwave and scraped with butter and powdered sugar

I can see the panic already. She wants me to make an omelet? But—but—but… It’s really not as hard as they make it out to be on television. The most important step is to have all of your ingredients ready. You need one tbsp. of sausage from the freezer, 1 tbsp of finely diced onion from the fridge, Italian herbs, butter and 1 tbsp cheddar cheese. Whisk 2 eggs with salt and pepper and sprinkle in some Italian herbs. Melt a bit of butter into the pan on medium high then turn it down to medium. Throw in the sausage and onion. Cook for about 2 minutes.

Remove sausage and onion to a plate. You may need to add a bit more butter to the pan. You don’t want your omelet sticking or it will end up more like scrambled eggs again. Once the butter is melted pour your eggs in. Then watch it. It will take a few minutes to cook, about 3 or 4. Again it depends on your range.

Do not be tempted to turn up the heat, though you may place a lid on for the last 30 seconds or so. The goal is for the omelet not to look wet or shiny. When it gets to that point, dump your sausage, onion, and cheese onto one half of the omelet. Put your turner on the edge of the circle and fold it in half. Slide the omelet out of the pan and onto your plate. Even if it is slightly browned because you left it a little too long, it is still good eating. Yellow with a few brown spots is good. Totally brown, not so much. Now wasn’t that easy?

2 pulled pork burritos

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Garlic Bread
Small salad

Just a very simple salad tonight. 2 leaves torn up, sprinkle with a little mozzarella cheese, oil and salt. Do this at the start of dinner prep and keep in the fridge.

I did not specify in my shopping list what type of spaghetti I bought. It comes down to personal preference. I find that regular old spaghetti is much hardier a noddle than angel hair. I find it more filling. But angel hair has the benefit of being very quick to cook. I don’t like my pasta al dente, I like it limp but not mushy. So for me, angel hair takes 10 minutes to cook after the water comes to a boil and spaghetti takes about 25. Cook times for al dente pasta are shorter and should be listed on the package directions. So if time is one of your problems, then angel hair is the way to go. Either way, make sure you use plenty of water to boil it in. For this challenge I am going to assume we are using angel hair.

You are going to make 8 ounces of pasta or half of a one pound package. This should provide 2 meals for you. To begin, smash (Press down hard with the side of your knife. This helps the illness fighting stuff in garlic to do its job.) 4 cloves of garlic and mince it finely. Make sure you put your garlic skins in the bag in the freezer. Put your water on to boil using the directions on your package. Salt the water (1 tsp) and put in a dab of oil to help prevent sticking. Open a can of tomato sauce. Put some oil in your skillet and sauté your garlic on medium heat for a minute. Remove 2 cloves worth of garlic and pour the rest of your finely diced onions from the fridge in with the garlic remaining in your pan. Sauté onion for five minutes. Pour in tomato sauce and stir. Add several shakes of Italian herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

Put the garlic you took out into a microwave safe bowl (preferably one with a lid). Add half a stick of butter and partially melt in microwave. You want it to be soft, but not liquid. Maybe 15 to 30 seconds. Just check it and you should be able to push through it. Remove from microwave. Stir the spaghetti sauce. Stir garlic into softened butter. Stir tomato sauce again. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, or herbs to taste. Spaghetti should be done about now, so drain it when the timer goes off. Put two pieces of bread into toaster. Warm up three meatballs from the freezer in the microwave. Spread toasted bread with garlic butter. Cover garlic butter, preferably with a lid so it doesn’t permeate the fridge, and put it in the fridge.

You will only be eating one piece of bread with your spaghetti and meatballs. Leave the other one to cool on the counter until after dinner. Divide the noodles in half and place into bowls, one to eat from and one to cool. Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce onto your spaghetti. Eat.

After dinner, cut your second piece of garlic bread into cubes. Put your sauce and your spaghetti into the fridge (separately, they warm up better when the pasta hasn’t been soaked in sauce). Place in a baggy and put in the fridge. Remove one container of chicken, 1 tbsp of diced ham, and one slice of meatloaf from the freezer and place in the fridge to thaw.

Day 5
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 biscuits sprinkled with Italian herbs and with cheddar cheese melted on top
4 oz of apple juice

2 slices of leftover pizza

Last 2 cups of roasted potatoes, onions, and carrots
4 ounces of chicken mixed with half or your remaining spaghetti sauce and warmed in the microwave
Small salad consisting of two lettuce leaves, a bit of oil, and the cubed garlic bread from the night before.

Take beef pot roast out of the freezer and put into the fridge to thaw. This will be put in the crockpot on Day 8

Day 6 (I am assuming this is a day off. If it is not, make the lunchtime quesadilla before going to work. It only takes a few minutes.
Easy fried eggs and toast
4 oz of apple juice

Take two slices of bread and cut out a round circle in each one. You can use a tuna can or a biscuit cutter or even a glass to do this. Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat and put your bread on it, including the two cut out pieces. Carefully crack an egg into each hole in the bread. Salt and pepper the egg. Cook for two minutes, or until the egg white has turned white, and then carefully flip over eggs and bread as well as the two cut out circles of bread. Cook for another minute. Remove to a plate. Break yolk of each egg and dip circles into yolk. This is a great method for cooking fried eggs for the first time. It makes it almost impossible to crack the yolk when flipping. If you have a wider flipper, I’d use that over a narrow one. Oh, and if you don’t like runny egg yolk, you can always break the yolk on purpose right after you crack it into the bread hole. Cooking time remains the same.

Chicken quesadilla
Ham salad

For the quesadilla, there is the easy way, and the slightly harder way. Put down one tortilla on a plate and take the remaining 4 ounces of chicken from the fridge. Spread it over the tortilla evenly and then do the same with a little cheddar cheese and a little mozzarella cheese. Put second tortilla on top and cook in the microwave for one minute. Cut into triangles. This tastes good cold, but even better warm. The slightly harder way, heat a large frying pan on medium high heat and put in one tortilla. Spread the chicken and cheese on top and put on the other tortilla. Cook for two minutes. Turn it over and cook for one more minute. Remove from pan and cut into triangles.

For the salad tear up two lettuce leaves and sprinkle 1 tbsp of deli ham and 1 tbsp of cheddar cheese on top. Add a little mayo and some pepper.

Leftover spaghetti with sauce
One slice of meatloaf with ketchup

Remove baggy of chicken bones and baggy of vegetable peels and celery leaves from the freezer and dump into the crockpot. Return these bags to the freezer as you will be filling them again. Clean and roughly chop 2 carrots. Take an onion, wash it, and cut off the ends. Throw them in the pot. Roughly chop the onion into eight pieces. Add them to the pot. Smash four cloves of garlic and add them to the pot. Add 1 tbsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Fill the crockpot to the top with water. Turn it on to low and allow it to cook all night long. You will deal with it tomorrow after breakfast. Remove a container of chicken from the freezer.

Since this is a day off (hopefully) we are going to make something very simple. Syrup. The ingredients? One cup of regular white sugar and one cup of water. Combine them in a sauce pan. If you happen to have maple flavoring or extract, or vanilla flavoring or extract on hand, add 1 tsp. The sugar alone is sweet enough, but the other will make it taste slightly more like pancake syrup, but since that was not something bought on my grocery list for the food stamp challenge it is not a needed ingredient. Heat on high, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Bring it to a boil and then immediately turn off the heat and allow it to cool. Pour it into a jar and refrigerate. It makes 1 ½ cups of syrup and will keep for a month. Remove frozen loaf of bread from freezer and place in fridge to thaw.

Day 7 (Assuming this is a day off as well, for making the soup it needs to be on a day off, so adjust accordingly)

2 pancakes warmed up in the microwave with 4 tbsp of syrup
2 plain scrambled eggs
4 oz of milk

After breakfast get out two carrots, two stalks of celery, and your large diced onion from earlier in the week. Peel and trim and put those into the freezer baggy. Cut the carrot into ¼ inch rounds and cut the larger end rounds in half. Slice the celery in half longwise, and then cut those two pieces in ¼ inch pieces. Place a colander into a large cooking pot and drain the crockpot contents into it. Once all the broth is in your big pot set it aside. Clean out your crockpot. Put half of your broth back into the crockpot. Put a lid on the other pot of broth and set it aside to cool for an hour. Put celery, onion, and carrots into the crockpot, set it on low and cook for 4 hours or until vegetables are soft. Break four ounces of spaghetti into thirds. Add to the crockpot. Also add 4 ounces of chicken from your container. Cook for another half an hour. You may have to add more salt and pepper to adjust for your tastes. I usually use garlic powder as well, but again, it wasn’t on the challenge shopping list. If you happen to have it, I’d add 1 tbsp. But you can definitely get a good flavor out of it by adjusting the pepper.

Once broth has cooled for an hour, pour into one cup containers and freeze. You can ladle off the fat before doing this if you choose. You will have 4 servings of chicken noodle soup. One is for lunch, the rest for the fridge.

Chicken noodle soup
Homemade garlic bread

Baked potato with cheese
Chicken sandwich made with remaining 4 ounces of chicken, 1 leaf of lettuce and garlic butter

By now you are likely out of salad dressing. We will need to make a larger batch this time. ½ cup of mayo, ½ cup of oil, and 2 tbsp of honey. Stir until mixed. Cut your first purple cabbage in half. Wrap one half tightly and put back in the fridge. Shred the other half. Clean and peel two carrots, putting the peels into your freezer baggy. Shred the carrots and mix with the cabbage. Set aside enough of your dressing for sandwiches for the week and mix the rest into your coleslaw. Refrigerate. Take out 2 slices of pizza to thaw for lunch on Day 8. Week one is over. Pat yourself on the back. You made it through.

You've Done the Shopping. Now What?

December 6th, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Planning on Paper Only for the Food Stamp Challenge. Can one person make and eat a decent variety of fresh, nutritious food on the $133.26 monthly food stamp allotment?

I’m going to make a couple of assumptions here. I am going to assume that people have a microwave, a stove top/oven, a crock pot, and a fridge with a freezer. I am also going to assume you have a couple of frying pans and a big pot for boiling water and at least one cookie sheet. I am also assuming that people have baggies or containers. Mark every bag with its contents. Once stuff is frozen it can look remarkably similar. Oh, and wear your shoes, with a flat sole, while cooking and prepping. It will save your back.

I do have many methods for using alternative cooking sources, but that will most definitely be in another post, because it requires a completely different plan, but it can be done. I remember doing it when DH and I were a lot younger and poorer, and our stove went out and it was a few months before we could afford a new one.

Remember to wash your hands with soap before starting to cook. Wash your hands any time you are going from raw meat or eggs to something else. Wash them between dealing with different types of meat. Do not use the same spoons for raw meat or eggs as for cooked. You do not want to cross contaminate anything.

So, we are starting with the groceries listed in this post: http://luckyrobin.savingadvice.com/2012/12/04/about-the-food...

The first thing I would do would be to put away all of the food in the fridge, freezer, or my canisters. If I were a single person, and part of the working poor, I’d have done my shopping on a day off, in the morning, so that this day off would also be the day I did a lot of my meal prep on. Otherwise shop at night on the day before your day off so you’ll have plenty of time for prep the next day. So first things first, I had to calculate my ingredients to know what I could make from it, because when you don’t have extra on hand, you must be exacting in your recipes.

20 cups 10 pound bag of flour
8 cups 1/2 gallon of milk
8 cups 1/2 gallon of milk
8 cups 1/2 gallon of apple juice
8 cups 1/2 gallon of apple juice
60 tsp 10 oz can of baking powder
32 oz 2 pounds of spaghetti
8 cups 4 cans of tomato sauce
48 eggs 4 dozen eggs
32 TBSP 1 pound butter

I seperated the two half gallons of milk and the two half gallons of apple juice since they are in separate containers. That is why each item is listed twice. I figured out that from my 20 cups of flour I could make one batch of pizza dough (two medium pizzas with 8 slices per pizza), 4 loaves of bread, 24 biscuits, and 24 pancakes. That takes 19 ½ cups of flour and leaves me with 1/2 cup, which is 8 TBSP of flour left. You will be using these TBSP for gravy later on.

Okay, so with those figures clearly in mind I would start my bread dough, because it takes the most time. Normally I use my bread machine to mix the dough and let it do its first rise and second knead in there. I have seen bread machines at Goodwill for $5. If you do not have a bread machine, you can use a food processor or a stand mixer. If you have neither of those, then you have the old-fashioned method of mixing it together with your hands.

You will be making two loaves of bread and freezing one. You will use the second bread recipe in this post: http://luckyrobin.savingadvice.com/2012/08/13/bread-recipes_... If doing it by hand, mix ingredients together to form a dough and knead for five minutes. Place towel over your bowl and put it in a warm place and let it rise. If your home is cold you can boil some water in the microwave and then take it out and put the dough in there to rise or you can put your oven on its lowest setting and let the bread rise in there. You will check on it in an hour and a half

Preheat your oven to 450 and get out a new bowl for making biscuits. Use this recipe http://breadbaking.about.com/od/biscuits/r/easydropbisc.htm except you will be using butter instead of shortening and adding an egg per batch. Double the recipe. Drop 12 spoonfuls of biscuit onto a cookie sheet. When oven is hot, put them in. If you have a second cookie sheet put the remaining 12 biscuits on it and start mixing your pancake batter. You will be doing a triple batch of pancake batter using this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/good-old-fashioned-pancakes/

Now I happen to have an electric griddle that makes pancake making a lot easier. I can do six 1/4 cup pancakes at a time on it. But even if you only have a griddle pan or a large skillet, you should be able to do 3 pancakes at a time. On the griddle I’d cook it at 325. On the stove I’d do it on medium (recipe says medium high, but I have a gas stove and I’d be taking no chances with only limited ingredients). Pancakes should cook for about 2 minutes on the first side. There will be lots of bubbles on the surface and the edges will start looking solid and shiny. Flip them over and cook for one to two minutes. Place on cooling rack. Get second batch of pancakes going. Biscuits should be done about now. If you have a second cookie sheet, put them in. If you did not, allow biscuits to cool for a couple of minutes before removing them to a plate. Scrape any residue off the cookie sheet with your turner. Check your pancakes and flip if ready. Drop next 12 biscuits onto cookie sheet and put into oven. Finish off your batches of pancakes, removing and cooling biscuits when ready. Turn off the oven.

If you do not have a cooling rack you can place your pancakes on wax paper to cool. Or plates in a pinch. You are going to be freezing these, so you don’t want them to get sweaty like they would if you stacked them hot. After a half an hour they will be cool enough to stack and put in a baggy in the freezer. You will now have used 5 ¾ cups of milk and 5 eggs. When you measure your milk to start with, take one cup out of one half gallon and then close up the container and put it in the freezer, in the back where you cannot knock it over. Then take the remaining amount of needed milk for the recipes from the other container.

Clean out your mixing bowls. It should about be time to check on your bread dough. If dough has about doubled inside it is time to punch it down and then knead it for five minutes. I knead the bread right there in the bowl. If dough is sticky I would very lightly use a bit of cooking oil on my hands (there is no extra flour to waste). Lightly oil the bread pans (you can use a bit of butter if you want, I normally do, but with butter limited and oil more available I’d use the oil). Divide the dough in half and form into loaves. Place in your bread pans and cover with a towel. Place next to stove or on top of the stove to get the residual heat to help with the second rise.

Mix your pizza dough using this recipe: http://luckyrobin.savingadvice.com/2011/03/14/pizza-dough-re... Warm up the microwave again by boiling hot water and then slip the dough inside with a towel over it. This dough only needs one rise. It should more or less be done about the time the bread dough has risen just above the top in its pans.

Get out your crockpot and put in your 2 pound pork butt roast. Combine your can of tomatoes and green chiles with 1 TBSP of chili powder. If you have a blender, give them a whirl, otherwise just stir. Pour over pork. Cook on low for 8 hours. Go and take a break until your bread dough is done rising. Check on your bread after it has risen for an hour. Preheat your oven to 375 and follow the instructions in the recipe for baking the bread.

Be careful not to bump the pans hard or slam the oven door as this can make your bread fall. Also do not walk too heavily or jump up and down in the kitchen. While fallen loaves cook up just fine, they will be smaller in volume. Because there is no extra flour, you want the volume to be as large as possible.

Once the bread is in the oven it is time prep some carrots and potatoes. Wash, peel and/or trim 4 carrots, 2 onions, 1 stalk of celery, and 3 potatoes. Save the peels from the carrots and onions, any parts you cut off the celery, and the top and bottom of the onions, and put them in a ziptop baggy and freeze. Shred one carrot into a bowl. Finely dice the celery and add it to bowl of carrot shreds. Set aside in the fridge. Cut one onion into bite-sized chunks and set aside, covered, in the fridge. Do not leave off the cover unless you want your whole fridge to smell like onions.

Cut remaining carrots, onion, and potatoes into one inch chunks and put into the bottom of your roasting pan. If you do not have a roasting pan you can use a cake pan (you will just set the chicken directly on top of the veggies). Place the carrots and potatoes into the pan and pour on two cups of water. Lightly salt. Take out one of your chickens. Freeze the other. Take out the packet of organ meats with the neck, if there is one. I don’t eat organ meats, but I know some people do, so if you do, do whatever you do with them. I feed them to the neighbor cat. I take out the neck, wash it, and place it in the water with the vegetables. Then I put the roasting rack over it. I then wash the chicken inside and with warm water, and reach inside to make sure there are no organs that have been missed, like the kidneys. I lightly rub about 1 tbsp of cooking oil all over the chicken and then sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and Italian herbs.

The bread should be done about now, so when the timer goes off, remove it from the oven and take it out of the loaf pans and set on a cooling rack. Slip the chicken into the oven, turning the heat down to 350 and setting it for 2 hours. Your pizza dough should have risen, so lightly coat your hands with cooking oil, punch down and divide it in half. Freeze half and put the other half into the fridge for use later in the week in a tightly covered bowl or a ziptop baggy. Crumble and fry your sausage. Using a slotted spoon, spoon sausage into a bowl and then carefully pour the sausage fat into a jar. Cool the fat. Cover and refrigerate. Cool the sausage until cold. Your biscuits should be cold now so put them into two gallon size freezer bags and freeze.

While the sausage is cooling, get out one pound of hamburger. Smash 4 cloves of garlic. Mince. Put the garlic skins or any bits you cut off, like the stem end, into the baggy in the freezer with the onion and carrot peels. In a large bowl, mix half of your diced onion and your garlic together. Shred one ounce of parmesan and a quarter cup of cheddar into your bowl. (You will be shredding your cheese as you need it, because it is less likely to mold in block form then in shreds). Add 2 eggs and stir well. Add the hamburger and mix with your hands. Form into 15 meatballs. I normally nuke these in the microwave for 5 minutes in my Tupperware stack cooker, but they can also be cooked in a skillet over medium heat until done. Remove to a plate and cool. Your egg count is now at 7 used.

Now is the time to put your cooled sausage into a baggy and throw it in the freezer. Take your ¼ pound of deli ham and dice it. Take an ice cube tray and divide your ham into each section and freeze it. My ice cube tray makes 14 cubes. In about 2 hours you can take it out of the ice cube tray and put it in a baggy. Put with the sausage. Add the bag of pepperoni to sausage and ham.

When your meatballs are cooled through, place them on a plate and put in your freezer. Once they are frozen solid, put into a baggy and put in the freezer. 15 meatballs gives you 5 servings of 3 meatballs each.

When the chicken and vegetables are done take it out of the oven and cover for a half an hour to help the chicken maintain its juices. Tear up a couple of leaves of lettuce to make a small salad. Top with a tbsp. of cheddar cheese. Mix together ¼ cup of mayo, ¼ cup of cooking oil, and 1 tbsp of honey for a dressing. Use 2 tbsp of dressing and tightly cover what is left in your fridge. It will keep about 5 days. Serve yourself 2 cups of the vegetables for dinner along with a chicken thigh and leg. Pull the meat off the bones and start a baggy of chicken bones for the freezer.

Before taking care of the remaining chicken, wrap one loaf of bread in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and freeze. Slice the second loaf of your bread into 14 slices, making the two end pieces slightly larger (You will be using the ends in a specific recipe later in the week). Since the bread is now cool you should be able to easily get that amount. (You won’t if you try to slice it hot.) Wrap bread or put into reusable bread bag or bread box. You will have bread crumbs after slicing the bread. Wipe them or dump them into a large mixing bowl. Get out another pound of hamburger. Take your shredded carrot, finely diced celery, and the other half of your diced onion and put them in a bowl. Crack and whisk 5 eggs. Add ¼ cup of cheddar, ¼ cup of mozzarella, and 1 ounce of grated parmesan to the vegetables. Add ¼ cup of tomato sauce. Pour eggs over top and mix in. Add your hamburger and mix together. Take one of your bread pans, lightly oil it, and pour the meatloaf mixture into it. Bake at 375 for one hour.

While the meatloaf is cooking strip the remainder of your chicken off the bones. You can eat the skin if you want. Put the bones in the freezer baggy for bones. Shred the chicken up into bite sized pieces. You should have about 4 cups of chicken. Put one cup of the chicken in the fridge and freeze the remaining 3 cups. Put the leftover vegetables into the fridge. Wash everything.

Wash, peel, and cut up two more onions, one into a large dice and one into a small dice. Do the same for two carrots. Put your peels and ends into the freezer baggy for veggie peels. Cut up two pieces of celery into a large dice. Put the parts you cut off into the bag. Take the center stalks and leaves from the celery and rough cut them. Add the rough cut leaves and stalks to the freezer baggy. Return the remaining stalks to the fridge. Smash 4 cloves of garlic. Put all of these veggies into one container. Take your frozen bell pepper strips out of the freezer. Take ¼ of your strips and dice them fine. Put them into a baggy by the sausage, diced deli ham, and pepperoni. Put the remaining strips in their bag next to these.

Go and sit down until the meatloaf is done. When it is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool for about half an hour. Once cooled, cut your meatloaf into five portions. Freeze on a cookie sheet, and then transfer to a baggy and keep in the freezer. Go and find something else to do or relax until the pork roast is done. Once it is done, take two forks and shred it, mixing it well with the tomatoes and juices. Divide the pulled pork into 4 equal amounts and put into containers.

If you have any raw meat still in the fridge, put it into the freezer. Clean the meatloaf pan and the crockpot and go to bed. Or whatever. You are done for the day. I will tell you what you are going to do with everything in another post.

Back in Real Life--God Laughs at My Plans

December 5th, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Well, this project of mine is taking up quite a bit of time, I sacrificed my novel writing hour to it, but it sure is a fun and interesting challenge. But now back to my real world for a change.

I have three dentist appointments scheduled for next week. DD is on Monday, I am on Tuesday, and DS is on Wednesday, but thankfully DH will be back around 12:30 a.m. on next Wednesday morning. I am finally getting my teeth fixed. Or one of them. Yesterday was just a cleaning.

But yeah, it's finally my turn for something. I was going to have it done this summer, but then DS was assaulted and given that major concussion and neck issues. The bill on that ended up being $3000 out of pocket. We may or may not see some of it come back but I doubt it. Thankfully we had the HSA and we'll be deducting the full amount there again this year.

Then I was about to get it done and DH broke a crown and cracked another one, so then he pushed in front of me, because you cannot walk around with a broken molar if you can at all afford to fix it. Well, now all those things are paid for so it's my turn. I told everyone else that they are not to injure themselves at all until after my teeth are done. Because I am seriously tired of soft foods. So far our portion is looking like $505.

Remember when I said there would be $521 left for me to do something with this month, but I wasn't sure what? I am pretty sure God was laughing at my plans. But hey, at least we have the money to pay for it and that is the important thing.


I've been picking up a large amount of blog traffic from somewhere during the past couple of months. I'm getting over 3000 hits a day most days. Whereas I hit the 1,000,000 mark on April 19th, and that took me six years of blogging (well, five if you count the year I took off), I'm now close to hitting the 1.5 million mark and at the rate it's been building I may just do that before the end of the year. I sure wish I knew where it was all coming from, but I'm happy to have the readership. My traffic for last month was 111,670, but it had a weird spike in the middle with 30,000 some hits on one day that was just ridiculous, but even taking that away it was 80K. The month before was 52,895 and in July it was 34,577. I think before October my highest was around 38,000 and more were closer to the 30,000 mark.

I don't often think what I have to say is all that interesting or appealing to many people besides myself, unless I'm posting to a theme. Normally I just post for daily accountability, though I strive not to be boring. I mean the coin jar updates are just plain old tedious. I wander off topic quite a bit. I occasionally rant about things like cable television. I get silly and want to spend far too much money on things like Doctor Who action figures or memorabilia because I am that type of fangirl. Most of my posts don't have pictures to grab the eye.

But I am digging my way out of a hole built years ago, not giving up, taking it step by stubborn step. I am proving that it can be done even if it takes years and years. And maybe that's what people come around for. To see someone else who is working hard to get the debt put behind them. I am glad that there is some appeal to someone though. It's always nice to know it's not disappearing into the ether. That people are actually reading what I write. So thank you to all of you who have been bump, bump, bumping my stats along. I'm grateful to every reader I have.

But I Don't Have the Time

December 5th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

How often do you hear this refrain in your day to day life? How many times are you guilty of using it? More often than not when I tell people that I make almost everything from scratch, I get one of two responses. The first one is, “I’d love to do that, but I don’t have time,” or simply, “I can’t do that because I don’t have the time.” The second one is, “Well, you’re a stay at home mother, of course you have the time to do it, but I have to work a job.”

For the myth that someone would love to do it, but they don’t have time, 9 times out of 10 what they are really saying is it isn’t a priority. Or they’re too tired to do it. Or it’s easier to pop a TV dinner into the microwave, which let’s face it, it is. Or they’d rather watch 3 hours of television or dink around on the internet after their 8 hour work day and 2 hour commute. It’s not that they don’t have the time. It’s that they choose not to use the time they have to make food from scratch. Which is fine. If I were stuck in traffic two hours a day, I’d probably not want to do it either. I’d want to veg out, and I’m not talking chopping broccoli. But that would be making a choice to do other things with your time, not that you truly don’t have it. If you don’t want to make it a priority, at least own it. Don’t say it’s because the time doesn’t exist.

1 time out of 10, there really are people who just cannot squeeze one more thing into a working day, who are lucky if the even remember to eat lunch or only eat it at their desk, who collapse into bed twenty minutes after making it home from work with a half-eaten drive-thru cheeseburger in one hand. Some people work massive overtime, or are salaried and work massive unpaid time. Even if this is you, there are still ways to do it. It just takes more planning.

For the myth that my life is somehow easier or full of extra time just because I do not work outside the home, I am going to give an example of my schedule on a typical day in fall/winter (spring would include gardening, summer would include gardening and canning but no school), I’ll show you what I did Tuesday. If you honestly still think that I didn’t “work” that day and that I had plenty of time to cook meals from scratch, then I challenge you to live my life for a day and then say that.

7:00 a.m. Wake up and get dressed. Look out the window and see if the car has frost on it. No frost this morning so throw last night’s load of clothes into the dryer, make sure DD actually has her lunch and drive her to school. (If frost, there would have been no laundry until 8:50 due to scraping and heating the car).

7:25 a.m. Return home. Let chickens and duck out of the coop. Fill the feeders, put out oyster shell and grit trays, check water. If water is frozen, put out fresh water. If water is not frozen, fill up waterer. Check pond. If pond is frozen, break the ice. Muck out the chicken coop and dump in the compost bin. Check for eggs.

8:00 a.m. If DS is still asleep, take a shower. If DS is awake make breakfast. Pancakes and eggs (10 minutes). Eat breakfast with DS. If DS is not awake, take a shower. DS was awake this morning. Check on Mom and make sure she’s alive and has her meds.

8:30 a.m. Send DS to get dressed and make his bed. Make my bed. Go on computer and check emails from DS’s virtual school. Check email from DH regarding daily, weekly, and monthly progress on virtual school. Check regular emails. Look at my blog and see if there were any comments.

8:50 a.m. Put laundry in the dryer and start new load. Check to see if DS is dressed and has made his bed. If not, tell him again. Look over today’s lesson plans.

9:05 a.m.: Start dough going in the bread machine.

9:07 a.m.: Start homeschooling--Math.

10:00 a.m. Put clothes in dryer. Start a load of towels.

10:10 a.m. Vocabulary

10:35 a.m. Take dough out of bread machine and place into a lightly buttered bread pan. Cover and place in warm spot to rise.

10:45 a.m. Science

11:45 a.m. Preheat oven for bread and make lunch.

11:55 a.m. Put bread into oven to bake. Eat lunch.

12:30 p.m. Pull bread out of oven and place on cooling rack.

12:40 p.m. Go for twenty minute walk with DS to get in daily exercise.

1:05 p.m. Composition

2:05 p.m. Leave to pick up DD from high school.

2:30 p.m. DS’s appointment for forward head posture correction treatment.

3:00 p.m. Put last load of laundry into the dryer. Hang up and fold with the help of the kids. Sneak some internet time.

3:45 p.m. Go to dentist for cleaning.

5:06 p.m. Check to see if all of the birds are in the chicken coop. Check to make sure water is not frozen. Check for eggs. Lock up the coop.

5:15 Make dinner (pot pies assembled and cooked last night and reheated for today). Eat dinner. Do dishes. Slice and put away the bread.

6:00 p.m. Grab DS and do History.

6:30 p.m. Make sure DD has folded the last load of laundry and put it away. Make sure DD is in the shower. Finish history.

7:00 p.m. Make sure DD is out of the shower, has made her lunch for school tomorrow, has put away the dishes and is on her way to bed. Send DS to the shower. Dream of actually maybe getting a shower of my very own. Read the blogs while the Swagbucks TV thing is running in the background. Read non-SA blogs, but get there by entering each one into the Swagbucks Search bar to collect points.

7:30 p.m. Make sure DS is out of the shower. Let him watch one half hour program on Netflix and dink around on the internet.

8:00 p.m. DS goes to bed.

8:05 p.m. Shower! And wash my hair.

8:20 p.m. Look at virtual school and see if there is any advanced prep for the next day. Check over the next day’s math lesson and make sure it’s not going to kill me. If not then go to my LJ and read my F-List.

9:00 p.m. Write for one hour on my novel.

10:00 p.m. Work on blog post for the next day. Start figuring out menu plans for the on paper only food stamp challenge.

10:50 p.m. Check my emails.

11:00 p.m. Go to sleep.

There would have been an extra hour for food prep if I hadn’t had to go to the dentist today. That’s why I did it last night.

Now I can sneak a little bit of internet time here and there sometimes while DS is reading to himself throughout the day, but it’s a pretty hands-on curriculum as far as DS is concerned. Because he is a kinesthetic and auditory learner he needs more help than if he were just a visual learner. Some days we get through things a lot faster. Some days we don’t. Today was a longer day.

So my day is just as busy as anyone else’s day, pretty equivalent to a working parent’s day since I am teaching as well as parenting and running the household, yet I still find the time to make my meals from scratch, to bake my own bread, to get in a smidge of exercise. What you won’t see on my schedule is TV watching. I do watch a few shows on the internet, but mostly not during the week (except Big Bang Theory), because if there really is one thing I don’t have time for, it’s the brain suck that is TV. If I do watch during the week I am working on my knitting at the same time.

I will cover ways in which to make cooking from scratch fit into life a bit more easily through multi-tasking and advanced prep in another post. I think this one is long enough.

Homeschooling Question

July 23rd, 2012 at 10:57 am

I know some of you on here homeschool. Does anyone know of a good 7nth grade pre-algebra math program other than Saxon? I like Saxon to a certain extent, but it is very repetitive and my son kind of balks at that. Preferrably one that does not cost an arm and a leg.

Also a grammar and writing program? I would like something that is very engaging. I've pretty much found what I will use for all the other subjects, but I'm waffling with whether or not I want to go with the Saxon program there. Again, if it's not too pricy that would be good. I have found a good free spelling program I am going to go with and it will double as vocabulary.

I'd prefer them to be secular or if they are religious based programs to be non-preachy and non-denominational. I don't want to have to pay extra attention to the curriculum to keep out things that don't quite match up with our religious beliefs.

I have found the history and science programs we are going to use so now it's just a matter of nailing down the other two.

Productive Day Plus Free Organic Potatoes

June 9th, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I got a lot done today. I did clear off and clean off the counter on the other side of the sink like I'd planned so all of my counter space is now cleaned and organized. I have found all of the pieces to my Mr. Coffee Ice Tea Maker and DS has requested iced tea tomorrow. I did not get to the kitchen counter, but I did get to the garden.

I did far more in the garden than planned. The rain finally stopped at about 4 today and by 7 it was all dry outside so the kids and I went out to weed enough space next to the compost bin (did I mention it's set up now? I'm too excited about having one again!) to transplant three tomato plants, 3 herbs, and what turns out to be two zucchini in my one plant pot.

We ended up clearing a lot more than that and then Mom came out and worked for a half an hour and we ended up clearing a space that is about four to five feet wide by forty feet long. Two of the older chickens helped (i.e. got in the way and ate all the spiders, bugs, and worms we uncovered). I wish they could actually do the weeding, too. They certainly dig and kick the dirt around enough and you have to watch out not to get a mouthful. Ask me how I know.

We dumped all the weeds and greens into the main chicken enclosure and the flock will eat most of them happily over the next few days.

We pulled up a bunch of volunteer potato plants. I was surprised at how many of them had potatoes growing on them. We ended up harvesting about 7 pounds worth. I was going to go make a special trip to Trader Joe's tomorrow so I could buy some organic potatoes, but now I don't have to and I have enough for at least three meals. And it's my favorite price--free!

I won't buy non-organic potatoes anymore. Not after I read about how they are grown and the poison they spray on them to kill the bugs. Humans aren't even allowed to go into the fields after they are sprayed for a ridiculous number of days because it is so dangerous. I can't remember if it was 10 days or 2 weeks. And then when they are harvested the potatoes have to sit in a shed for a year before the government deems them "safe enough" to eat. No thank you. That is one vegetable that I am not going to take chances on again.

We have plenty of volunteer potatoes coming up in the main chicken enclosure, too. Those ones have been nicely fertilized with chicken manure hay that was cleaned out of the coop, so we will get a healthy amount of them, I'm sure.

Now there is so much space that I am going to go ahead and plant green beans, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, English cucumbers, pickling cucumbers as well as three more tomato plants. I will go to Joe's Garden http://www.joesgardens.com/ to get most of it. they grow everything without pesticides there. I have seeds for beans and green onions.

We left in some flowers as I believe in interplanting flowers with vegetables. There were some double pink poppies that will bloom in about a week. They volunteer all over the place and look like this when blooming:

There were also some orange flowers that volunteered as well. I am not sure what they are but they look like this:

I think it's going to be a very nice garden when it is done. I just hope I don't hurt tomorrow and that it is also a nice day for planting. I'll try to remember to snap some before and after photos.

Late Spring Cleaning

June 9th, 2012 at 12:16 am

We've been so overwhelmed by life in general lately that some of the chores have been falling by the wayside. To that end I decided this week to take back my house. Sunday I cleaned out the freezer, tossed all the stuff that was freezer burned or looked yucky and was past the use by date I'd marked on the container. Admittedly this started as something that we needed to do to store the beef, chicken and pork we'd brought back from the ranch.

On Sunday I cleaned out all of laundry baskets, put everything away and stacked them neatly together. I also finally got caught up on all the laundry in the house at the time.

On Monday I cleaned out the refrigerator and scrubbed out all the gunky stuff that had collected at the bottom.

On Tuesday I cleaned the bathroom.

On Wednesday I cleaned out the microwave because it was taking longer and longer to heat things. It might be going out, or it might be that layer of stuff that splatters against the top because no one but me ever uses a cover on their food.

On Thursday I scrubbed out the sink and then rearranged the cupboards.

On Friday I cleaned out the massive pile of bags and empty boxes that were in the corner to the left of the microwave, scrubbed the countertops down and then moved the microwave into the corner but at an angle so there is space behind it and on both sides. I thought it might be blocking the fans the way it was before, which could also have accounted for slower cooking.

I took the bread machine, which I only use for making the dough, and moved it next to the sink, just at the end of the cupboards so that I can now close all my doors. I also moved the toaster over next to the microwave. And I also put the pint size canning jars in a box next to the breach machine so they were off the kitchen table.

Tomorrow I will tackle the counter on the other side of the sink and the kitchen table, which has become a catch all of late. We've been eating up at Mom's table, but I would like to have ours back again. I also hope to get my new herbs, zucchini, and tomato plants planted. The weather let up this evening and hopefully it will be nice tomorrow, too.

My Least Favorite Chore

June 4th, 2012 at 04:56 pm

I spent about 40 minutes cleaning and organizing my fridge today. It hadn't been done in a while. I think I am the only one in the house who actually wipes up spills as they occur, because I found some unidentifiable nasty goo on the bottom of the fridge underneath the produce drawers. I probably should have used a couple of towels, but the stuff would have colored them if I had, so I mostly used far too many paper towels to sop it up and then an old brown wash cloth to clean it. At least the paper towels can go into the compost bin.

I still need to work on the door frame and the outside of the fridge door, and reorganize the stuff on the top, but I will do that tomorrow when I have more energy. It is nice to have it organized and know exactly what I have again, though. It makes it far easier to meal plan, which I have not done yet for this week, eeep! It also helps me not to waste my leftovers, or buy more of something that I do not need.

Finally--Odds and Ends

April 3rd, 2012 at 08:13 am

By late last night, both of the BoA payments I made on Friday were pending and this morning they have gone through. It was nice to see a big fat $0.00 next to the total on the two Master Cards and know that is never going to change, barring future medical disasters. And the total on the BoA VISA is now at $6,365.74. We had a couple of autopays go through so it's a bit higher today than it would have been if it went through on Friday. Still, it's all part of the plan.

After the mortgage payment hits the account and we make the car payment on Friday, we will have $352.21 to pay off before our debt to income ratio hits 45%. That's how close we are to being able to qualify for the best mortgage loans. Of course we will still have to come up with a down payment and hopefully that will happen by year's end.


We finished packing up the old house on Friday and today we will be going out there with a U-haul to bring everything that is left in to storage. We got the $19.99 plus mileage (.79 per mile) truck and our insurance covers us even up to replacement value of the truck so we don't have to buy their expensive 24 hour insurance policy. DH double checked yesterday. We'll put on between 50 and 60 miles so that'll be an additional $47 tops, plus whatever gas we use. I'm assuming at least 6 gallons at $4 per gallon, so another $24. But then no more moving stuff!


I found two companies that do a very thorough Move in/Move out special on cleaning. They do everything. So if they will actually come out to the county, we will set up to get estimates done for the day after DH comes home next time and then hopefully be able to schedule a deep-cleaning of the whole house before he goes up again.


On Wednesday DH and FIL will be putting up the last piece of drywall in the bathroom and the ADT guy is going to come out and give an estimate for replacing the code box that got cracked when those kids broke in and yanked it off the wall and see whether or not the alarm box itself is damaged. It was just yanked out of the wall and doesn't appear to be damaged. DH cobbled it back together at the time, being an engineer, and it works, but it doesn't look pretty. We want to get at least two more windows wired up as well, two that you can't see from the road and are not covered by the motion sensors.

We'll need to get an estimate still on replacing the broken window pane and then have it fixed. I don't know if we can get an esitmate this week or not. Otherwise it will have to be scheduled for when DH comes back home next time as well.

Once repairs are made and it is clean we can finally put it on the market. I am hoping to be able to do that at the end of April. And it should finally be warm enough for DH to paint that little bit around the top of the gutter that never got painted when we pained before because I wasn't tall enough to reach it even on the ladder. The back porch steps are in the way there and I couldn't quite stretch far enough. He also needs to take down the Christmas star attached to the front of the house and probably repaint that as it probably has left an outline from the sun hitting it there.

So much to do, never enough time when DH is home.


I still have not heard about my jury duty. They were supposed to resummon me for April 30th, but I have got nothing in the mail yet. I've been checking it religiously. Maybe they've finally given up?


I stepped off a curb at the library on Friday without relizing it was there and wrenched my low back pretty badly. It's finally starting to feel okay after a massage ($90) yesterday and a visit to the chiropractor, but I still have to watch how much I do. It's a little frustrating because there is so much to do and I was doing so well with walking and actually being able to do things again.


I have a nasty cold again. Just a head full of snot and lots of coughing as it drains. Plus I'm tired because even though I sleep, I wake myself up coughing. My daughter infected me this time. And I can't figure out where I put the pseudophederine. DH bought two boxes for me. I guess I can drag myself down to the store to buy more. It's just such a hassle since they keep it behind the counter and you have to show ID and sign for it.I'm just glad it's still available.

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