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Archive for July, 2011

EF/Coin Jar

July 31st, 2011 at 08:50 pm

I added $3.40, the change from the $5 I gave the kids to buy corn, to the coin jar. I might actually have enough to make a deposit by week's end after all. My little EF is growing.

I am Bored

July 31st, 2011 at 05:37 pm

Normally boredom leads to spending money, but since I can't drive myself anywhere yet, not so much. The kids went out for a walk and I sent them with a $5 bill so they could swing by the grocery store and get some corn on the cob for dinner tonight. I love it when it's in season like right now and relatively inexpensive. Not great, it's still 2/$1, and I know if I could drive out to the country farms I could get it at least 8/$1 or even 10/$1.

This is not strictly a necessary purchase as we do have canned corn in the cupboard, but some days you just want what you want and so you give in to that want. A few bucks for corn is better than giving in to the want for Round Table I had the other day (which I did not do) or the desire to send my mother to hit the McD's drive-thru. And the chickens will eat off the cobs when we are done with them. They love empty cobs, because to them they are not quite as empty as they appear. I'm still way under budget for groceries so I'm not really going to freak out about it.

Two more days until my follow up appointment. It cannot come soon enough.

I have a big roast in the crockpot for dinner. I didn't realize it was as large as it was. 4 pounds. I do have Yankee Noodles planned for leftovers and maybe roast beef hash, but I'm going to need a few other recipes for leftover potroast. Anyone got any ideas besides sandwiches?

Bits and Pieces

July 30th, 2011 at 01:56 pm

Not too much going on in the financial arena today. I sent off the HoA half year dues for the old house, $100. It's due the 31st and I spaced out mailing it yesterday, so it went out in today's mail. I'm not that worried about it. The HoA people only work on Tuesdays and Fridays and it'll be there by Monday. In the past on the occasion that I was actually a day or two late, they never charged me the $5 late fee, because I was one of the people that actually consistently paid the dues year after year without them having to go knocking on my door to collect like they do with so many people.

I went ahead and paid my AMEX bill, $500 as well. It's not due until the third and I was going to just set it to pay that day, but then I was like, what does it matter, I'll just set it to pay today and be done with it and not have to worry about anything until next Friday. The autopays come out the 1st through the 4th and there's plenty of money in the account for that.

We are still working on that leftover ham. If DH had been home it would be long gone by now. The kids had ham and gnochhi soup and I had a warm ham sandwich. I haven't had a warm ham sandwich in a long time, maybe not since I was a kid. All I did was cut a piece of bread in half, butter it, put a nice thick slice of ham and thin slice of Swiss cheese in it and warm it up in the microwave for about 30 seconds. It was delicious. I don't really care for mayo on its own or I might have used that instead of butter. I could have used Dijon mustard, too, but didn't think about it. Besides I used butter as a child so that's what I thought of.

I bet it would taste even better on one of my homemade rolls. Right now we have actual store bought bread (Big Horn Valley) because I am not really doing extra baking yet. I thought about making drop biscuits today because they aren't that much effort, but DD said she wanted to make cookies instead and I wasn't going to argue with that. Maybe I can get her to throw in a pan of cornbread, too.

Dinner tonight is chicken, mostly because if I serve ham one more time this week I might have a revolt on my hands. I think I will do a package of wings and some thighs. We've diced up what is left, about a sandwich baggy full and thrown it in the freezer for a future pizza topping. So tonight is chicken (barbecue sauce on mine), mashed potatoes from scratch because they need using up, and broccoli because it needs using up. Also milk and cookies.

Then Sunday I will make a potroast in the crockpot for dinner. Monday will be Yankee Noodles, a recipe I found on

Text is www.livingonadime.com and Link is
www.livingonadime.com, only instead of using ground beef I will use leftover potroast. I will also use some of the leftover meat in sandwiches for our trip back to Virginia Mason for my follow up appointment. Did I mention I had the day wrong? The appointment is on Tuesday not Monday. I was really frustrated by that because I want to be done with this part of things, but at least it doesn't interfere with my mother's schedule (because she is driving).

Not really much else going on today. The kids picked enough blueberries and blackberries last night for today so we will have the rest of those for dessert tonight. I know I haven't posted my food costs much lately, but I am keeping track of them. On big meat nights I'm averaging around $20 a day, but on leftover meat nights my costs are down around $12 a day. Not too shabby.

It is nice to not be spending money on frivilous things this week. No extras from the grocery store. No wasted gas. No DVD rentals from the cheap box (no excuse for this when I have Netflix). No fast food. No slow food from restaurants either. The kids are pretty happy with the food they've been eating and haven't asked to eat out this week, which is nice.

Dinner Tonight

July 29th, 2011 at 09:08 pm

Just thought I'd share a couple photos of my yummy, made from scratch pizza and free dessert from the back yard. Can't beat free in keeping those food costs down.

Before cooking:



After cooking:



Fresh blueberries and blackberries:

Did Have to Shop and Medical Stuff

July 29th, 2011 at 03:04 pm

Part of why I overdid it yesterday was that I did have to go to the store. I needed cloth medical tape and it has to be a specific kind or I will have an allergic reaction (though even this kind itches a little). I thought I was doing okay enough that I could walk all the way to the back of the store as long as I was leaning on a grocery cart. Well, by the time that I did that and got back out to the car (Mom was driving me) I thought I was going to be sick. It passed, but I definitely should have ridden the little scooter around the store.

Anyway, I needed the cloth tape to hold on the gauze for wound care. Still had plenty of guaze, just been going through the tape like crazy, so I did end up with some money for the coin jar after all, $1.22.

I thought my follow up appointment was on Monday, but they just called to confirm and it's on Tuesday. Fortunately that works with my mother's schedule, but it also means I have to wait an extra day longer than I thought to get this drainage tube out and it itches!

I am fighting a very strong craving to order a pizza delivered, but I won't do it. I won't spend the $27.18 for that. Not this week anyway. I am going to go and have my daughter put the dough ingredients in the bread machine right now and we can have homemade pizza with leftover ham, leftover ground beef, onions, tomatoes, two kinds of cheese, and chicken sausage for dinner tonight. Which will taste even better than Round Table. It always does. Oh, and we had the ham and tater tot casserole for lunch instead of dinner. There is some leftover for tomorrow, too.

I got a bill from the place I went to have an EKG before surgery. For some reason they billed it to my old insurance instead of to the insurance card I gave them, so I had to spend a few minutes on the phone today listening to Muzak (really loud Muzak) before I could get that mess straightened out. Fortunately I could give the lady all the information over the phone and didn't have to go down in person to sort it out. She's going to rebill it and hopefully they'll do it right and then I'll only have to pay 10% of $97.60. I am glad that I have been really paying attention to my bills lately. This is the second error I've caught this year.

Meal Costs Have Plummeted This Week

July 29th, 2011 at 12:38 am

Today was a long day and I completely overdid it and was useless from six o'clock on. But in the meanwhile, I did have enough ham broth to make both egg noodles (with ham and peas) and ham and gnocchi soup and the kids were doing cartwheels over the taste, so yay. A few weeks ago one of our stores started carrying inexpensive shelf stable gnocchi in the pasta section, and none of the stabliziers were ones my son is allergic to. I don't score that very often so I bought some. The original plan was to find a copycat recipe of Olive Garden's chicken and gnocchi soup, but this worked out just as well. There's enough soup left over for two more meals. The noodles vanished completely.

And there is still about a pound and a half of ham left. DD is going to make a pound of it into a tater tot casserole for tomorrow's dinner. I've cut up some for putting into eggs and onto pizza and the rest for sandwiches. I am really proud of how much we got out of this ham. When all is said and done it will be at least six family size meals, as well as ingredients in a couple others. Plus I've got a couple of recipes to try next time I make one, which won't be for a while. The next big crockpot meat will be a potroast on Sunday so now I need to come up with ideas for the leftovers besides hash. Meanwhile good old cheap chicken and a homemade pizza will be the order of tomorrow's day.

Stretching a Ham

July 27th, 2011 at 02:48 pm

Back in April, before Easter, there was a massive sale on picnic hams. They were $1.29 a pound and I bought a lot of them, fifteen or twenty, I'm not sure exactly, but anyway, they were really cheap. I currently have one in the crockpot for tonight's dinner. It is just over six pounds.

So tonight we will have ham with potatoes and green beans, then I will pick all the meat off the bones and put the bone back in the crockpot all night with plenty of water to make stock. Tomorrow we will have ham sandwiches (or in my son's case ham rolled up in tortillas) for lunch and then I will dice up the ham that is left.

I will add some diced ham into the eggs (possibly omelets) in the morning for breakfast. I will make egg noodles with the ham broth and we will have ham and noddles for dinner. No one here cares for ham and bean soup so that's not an option. I might make pizza on Friday with diced ham as a topping.

Anyone have any other ways to use up ham? I mean these are probably sufficient for a six pounder, but for future reference? If anyone has a good strata or fritatta recipe, I'll take it. I really want to see how many meals I can get out of an $8 ham.

No Spend Week

July 26th, 2011 at 03:27 pm

Before DH left to fly up to work yesterday he emptied his wallet of all his coins, so I had another $1.55 to add to the coin jar. That will be the last coin jar addition at least until after I go back to Virginia Mason next Monday to have my follow up appointment. We shopped in such a way so that I wouldn't have to buy anything or spend any money between now and then. I'd make it an official no spend challenge week, except for the fact that it's not really a challenge for me. It's just the way it is this week. I can't drive myself anywhere until I have the okay from the doctor and I don't need to pay any bills until next week. No challenge in that at all.

Still, there won't be any fast food or restaurant food picked up at the last minute. There won't be any impulse purchases or decisions to replace worn out flip flops or new goggles for the pool. So that's at least good for the bottom line. No money out means no money into the coin jar though, so I think I will set aside a few dollars for it anyway. I usually scrape together about $15 a week for that, so that would be a nice amount to add to it when I do start driving again.

I transferred the money from ING to pay the AMEX. It won't be here until Thursday and the bill won't be paid until Monday, but I wanted to make sure it was in the account well before the day I made the electronic payment, even if means sacrificing a couple of days worth of interest.

DH and I had a long talk about what to do with the extra money from his raise. One of the things we gave up for the kids when we had to do major belt-tightening was lessons. Tae kwon do and dance. We decided to put our son back into Tae kwon do and our daughter back into dance. She will take two classes in the fall for $105 a month and he will have three lessons a week for $90 a month. Actually DS already started yesterday, but DD won't start until September when school starts.

I particulary wanted DD in something because she does not have PE for her sophomore year and she tends to put on weight if she is not excercising at least every other day. Also her nutritionist for her pre-diabetes counseling recommends she exercise to help keep that in check. She will still have to do something else, like swimming though because she chose classes on Monday and Tuesday and the exercise needs to be more spread out than that.

I don't know when I'll be able to get back into the pool, but it will definitely be by September. I'd say mid August but they close the pool down for two weeks then to drain and clean it. Why in August I will never understand. December makes more sense to me to close a pool down, but the Y and the aquatic center both do it in August as well. Maybe because that is when the lakes are all the warmest.

The other part of the raise will be tacked on to debt repayment or new medical bills, which should start coming in shortly. I wish they'd just send them already. I want to know how much it is going to be so I can plan out the budget for the next several months.

Other tweaks to the budget will be increasing the amount to the Best Buy 18 months same as cash to pay off the laptop. That will go from $125 a month to $200 so it will be paid off by year's end. I know I could take several more months with no interest, but I'd just like to do it and get it over with. Then when it is done I will start contributing that money to a new laptop fund so that next time one breaks irrepairably I can just buy a new one without financing it.

Another tweak is that our homeowner's insurance on the old house will be going up. Right now it is $41 a month. Starting next month it is $41.25. Next year if we still own that house I will try to pay it all in advance.

Oh, I sent the HoA dues off. It was actually only $100, not $102. I had forgotten that I had divided $100 by 6 months and it came out as $16.666666666, so I just put $17 in each month instead so of course it was a little over. That money will stay in the holding tank for the next dues payment at the end of January.

Grocery Shopping and Meal Planning

July 25th, 2011 at 05:58 pm

Since we had used up virtually everything in the refrigerator yesterday, leaving us with pretty much just condiments, butter, cheese, carrots, potatoes, and apples and Chris was leaving today to head back to work, I decided to do a last minute shopping expedition and get everything I should need until payday. I wasn't sure how I was going to handle it because I was only 11 days post op yesterday, but I had my handicapped parking pass and the stores have those scooters to ride around on with the baskets on front so I figured I'd be fine.

The first thing I did was sit down with the grocery ads of the four of the five main grocery stores. (Freddy's doesn't come for free, you have to buy a Sunday paper for their ads, so I didn't consider them). I found the store with the top deals and then the store with the second best deals in case the first store was out of what we wanted.

Cost Cutter was having a major produce sale and since my produce bins were virtually empty, I decided to stock up on a variety of shorter-lived and longer-lived produce. We'll eat the shorter-lived stuff this week and the longer-lived stuff next week. They also had chicken legs and chicken thighs on for .98/lb and full chicken wings for .99/lb.

I ended up with 4 white onions (the sale made them cheaper than yellow ones for a change), 4 beefsteak tomatoes, 6 nectarines, 2 lbs of strawberries, 1 head of iceberg lettuce (I know, not the best nutrition in the lettuce bunch but it was .98 instead of $1.79 like the leaf lettuces), 1 head of green cabbage, 2 canteloupes, 1.4 pounds of red grapes, and 2.17 pounds of broccoli. They had some lovely cherries for a very good sale price, but my mother had brought back some bing cherries from a family reunion in Eastern Washington, so free trumps very good price.

I also got a large Alaskan Wild Coho Salmon fillet that was marked down as it needed to be made that day. It was $8.99 for 1.57 pounds, which is unheard of outside of buying an entire fish. I got ten pounds of chicken thighs, ten pounds of chicken legs, and three pounds of chicken wings. Then I bought two bags of organic white cheddar popcorn (one for each week).

I don't get the fancy deals like some folks manage but I did get $41.62 off my order between coupons and sale prices.

After that I felt okay enough to go to a second store so we went to Haggen, because I didn't like any of the beef prices at Cost Cutter, or the cuts on their pot roast. I found a nice big pot roast at Haggen, a lovely chuck and it wasn't in the despised cuts of cross rib or bottom round, neither of which will get tender the way I like them in a crockpot. Suddenly that's about all that the stores are carrying and I just don't like them. I like it when there's enough fat in the cut that they fall apart when you try to lift them out of the crockpot. I shouldn't have to cut them with a knife.

I also got 10 pounds of flour and 8 pounds of sugar, 8 lemons (for making homemade lemonade), 3 gallons of milk, 2 gallons of orange juice, 2 12 packs of Charmin at $6.99 with two $1 off coupons, so $5.99 each) since I knew I'd not be making it to Costco any time soon to buy the huge package. I got two family size cans of both Dinty Moore beef stew and Chef Boyardee mini ravioli (it comes without MSG now and no preservatives!), and four cans of no beans steak house chili from Stagg (not on sale, not even close), a package of hot dog buns (.25), and both a Fine Cooking and a Clean Eating magazine. Between coupons and sale prices I saved $32.45.

I went through both magazines last night. I like both of these magazines because they have well explained recipes and they also teach you cooking techniques (like how to cut up an artichoke for example, which hardly seems worth the effort, frankly). I also like them because they don't use ingredients like "cream of something soup" or empty five cans into the crockpot with your meat. I don't have anything against recipes like that but we can't use them with DS's allergies. And I prefer as close to natural and organic as possible just because I've had so many health problems and need the best nutrition I can give my body. (Not that that stops me from craving a quarter pounder from time to time).

I found ten recipes in one and three in the other. I was happy. I've come to think a magazine is worth it if I just get one great recipe out of it, and I feel like I hit the jackpot with these two, especially Fine Cooking. Then I looked up a recipe online for Chinese beef and broccoli which I hope to have the energy to make later this week. The kids had some at the City Center when they went to the Pacific Science Center Saturday and have wanted it since. The only places around here that make it all use MSG, so I'll have to do it myself. Fortunately the place there made it without any MSG.

I'm pretty excited to be meal planning this week because I have so many fresh ingredients and so many different colors of food, the plates will look great.

Oh, we've also got fresh blackberries and raspberries right now as the canes in the back yard are producing overtime. I can't wait for the blueberries to be ready. The bushes are loaded and blueberries are just so good and so good for you with all their anti-oxidants and stuff. I love the taste of summer!