Wednesday, January 31, 2018

February's Grocery Challenge!

Due to a recent issue, Hubby's car was put into the shop and the cost to repair set us on a tight budget until his next paycheck.  With this, I decided to meal plan with cheaper meals and found a post on Facebook where someone asked if it was possible to feed a family of 4 on a $200/month budget.  Overwhelmingly, most comments said they could do it for less.  I spend on average $400/month for myself, Hubby, 4 year old, and 1 year old.  I'm including diapers and such too in my costs. 

One of the comments said to Google "How to feed my family of 4 on $(amount)/month".  So I did.  Have you ever done this?  There were a lot of sites listed with meal plans that show you how to feed your family on $200.  I reviewed some of them and found a lot of them would not include meat in every dinner, which is a must for Hubby.  I also noticed that to meet their budget, they HAD to use their stockpile (something they already had built up in their pantry).  I'm pretty sure that if people are using Google to see how, they more than likely don't have a stockpile of items they can already use.  The recipes or menu would not suffice my picky eaters.  So how would I be able to do this? 

I use to have a nice stockpile of things but when I noticed items were expiring before I was using them, I began to use them as much as possible.  What good is a stockpile if you don't use it?  My stockpile is very low right now.  My freezer is very low too right now.  To save money during the holidays, I used all the meat we had in our freezer and tried to only buy super great deals on meat.  That helped so much.  Meat is the most expensive food item we buy. 

I'm curious to see if I can do a reduced budget for the month of February.  Something about a few days shorter than the rest of the months makes me feel like I could meet this goal.  This would have to have some serious meal planning to accomplish it.  I just planned two weeks on Monday and went to pick up groceries on Tuesday.  So I really only have two or so more weeks to plan.  Can I do it? 

What would help reduce our grocery costs?  What are the most inexpensive meals possible with my stockpile and current pantry?  I only meal plan for dinners, because with the baby and I - we eat any leftovers we have or make sandwiches for lunches.  I've also made just meat and cheese roll-ups with sliced veggies for lunch.  The baby and I love it.  I've also been known to make myself a Shakeology shake for lunch or breakfast. 

Thursday, Feb. 1 - Ground Turkey Taco Salad on Tortilla Chips  {We have the four year old this weekend and she is a picky eater so this meal is so she can eat everything seperate.  She does not like her food mixed up.  She'll eat the avacado, cheese, lettuce.  I may cook her a piece of chicken too.  We may also be leaving for the deer camp so I need something that's quick and easy to make and take.} 
Friday, Feb. 2 -  Broccoli Lemon Chicken Pasta  (One pot meal!) Garlic bread? 
Saturday, Feb. 3 - Fried Pork Chops ; Mashed Potatoes ; Asparagus

Sunday, Feb. 4 - Ground Turkey Italian Meatloaf ; Mashed Potatoes ; Green Beans
Monday, Feb. 5 - Beans and Rice with Cornbread
Tuesday, Feb. 6 - Beef Enchilada Casserole made with ground turkey instead of beef 
Wednesday, Feb. 7 -  Leftover Night.  Eat any leftovers or make a sandwich for dinner. 
Thursday, Feb. 8 - Balsamic Chicken and Veggies ; Rice
Friday, Feb. 9 - Southern Goulash made with ground turkey instead of beef. 
Saturday, Feb. 10 - Spaghetti & Meat Sauce ; Garlic Bread

Sunday, Feb. 11 - Leftover Night. 
Monday, Feb. 12 - Sausage; Beans ; Rice ; Cornbread
Tuesday, Feb. 13 - Breakfast for dinner: eggs, hash browns, sausage
Wednesday, Feb. 14 - Valentines Day - Honey Bacon Pork Tenderloin ; Mashed Potatoes ; Veggie
Thursday, Feb. 15 - Tacos! 
Friday, Feb. 16 - Baked Whole Chicken ; Creamy Parmesan Rice ; Veggie
Saturday, Feb. 17 - Chicken Fettucini Alfredo (chicken chopped up or sliced from any leftover chicken available; Homemade alfredo sauce is super easy - butter, cream, parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.) 

Sunday, Feb. 18 - Beef Stroganoff
Monday, Feb. 19 - Leftover Night 
Tuesday, Feb. 20 - BBQ Braised Pork Ribs ; Potato Salad ; BBQ Bread
Wednesday, Feb. 21 - Beans ; Rice ; Cornbread
Thursday, Feb. 22 - Honey Garlic Chicken and Rice - Instant Pot Recipe
Friday, Feb. 23 - Breakfast for dinner: eggs, hash browns, sausage
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Shepherd Pie

Sunday, Feb. 25 - Chicken Piccata
Monday, Feb. 26 - Taco Pizza
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Beans ; Rice ; Cornbread
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Cajun Chicken & Rice - Instant Pot Recipe

Can it be done?  I've already spent $100 on Tuesday...Can I only spend another $200 ot less for the rest of the month?  I've noticed buying ground turkey instead of beef will save me half the cost.  I switch out beef and use turkey when I can in most recipes now and Hubby hasn't even said a word about it.  I don't think he can tell a difference, although he says he can tell.  Funny, he only seems to know when he walks into the kitchen while I'm cooking and sees a turkey instead of beef. 

I told Hubby we were going to eat beans and rice once a week and he already asked for meat to go with it.  I'll add sausage to it but he asked for ground beef.  That's $7 per pound for lean beef!  He also just added sliced jalepenos to the next grocery order/purchase and dial soap - his favorite. 

Well, I finally meal planned for a whole month IN ADVANCE!  I should get a cookie or something. 

I'll post in the comments any additional receipts from groceries through the month as I purchase. 

Will you take this challenge with me? 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Dream Space for Quilting

Hubby has offered to build a one room cabin that I will be able to use as my sewing cabin on the property of our deer camp.  He's never done this before and sees this as an opportunity to test his carpentry skills.  I'm not sure he knows how much work he has signed up for!  This will probably happen next year...but knowing my husband I will need to plan every single detail ahead of time because he will not want to wait on me for a decision. 

He wants to clear the cedar trees that are slowly taking over the property and mill boards from them to make the lumber to build the sewing cabin.  There's a ton of them and after walking around this weekend, there are a ton of new baby cedar trees that are coming up.  Cedar trees take a lot of water out of your ground and if you can remove them, it's possible to bring back running water on your property - if it had been there before.  We are hopeful since there are two dry creeks now on our property that run towards the pond in the back. 

Hubby also suggested that we add a bed space in the sewing cabin for guests since our deer camp is not a large space.  It's plenty of room for our family, but if another family were to come over to visit - it's cramped.  But do I really want people to have access to this room when I'm not in there?  It's my creative space...I don't want a block I'm designing to get moved around because my guests may have knocked it down.  They may not get invited back!  LOL. 

A few questions still remain for the planning of the sewing cabin:

1.  Size!  How large should I ask for?  I may never get him to build another one, so I need to make sure this space will be large enough.  I would like plenty of space so that I have ample room to grown in and not be packed full once I move my sewing items in.  I'd like space to grow...and a coffee station.  Love my coffee! 

I'm checking out the space at the deer camp and wondering how large our open area is.  If we expand the measurements to the exterior walls of the bedroom that would be plenty of room, I think?  Would 20' x 40' be large enough? 

2.  Long-Arm Quilting.  I want enough space for a LAQ!  I haven't even begun to research them and honestly couldn't buy one right now with all of our other committments.  But one day, I will buy one and I want to have the space to leave it up and not have to pack it down when I'm done. 

3.  Do I want to install in bathroom in the sewing cabin?  Half bath?  Full bath? If we are really serious about letting guests stay there, they would need their own bathroom, right?   How expensive would this be to add a toilet and a sink?  Perhaps a bath tub?  If we really are going to use it for guests, what is the most economical way to do this? Or can I keep guests out?  LOL!

4.  Vintage and Extra Machines...I would love an area in this new space where I can display any vintage or additional machines I purchase in the future without taking away from my design wall space.  I'd love enough wall space to place a treadle machine too! 


5.  Fabric Storage.  I'd love to be able to see my stash but have it not cluttered or hidden out of sight.  Perhaps design cubbies around the walls with windows?  Fat quarters seperate from yardage on a different wall?  Integrate it into the decorating of the room/cabin? 

6.  Location and View!  I need to find a place close to the deer camp where I can walk to easily with kids in tow yet gives me a great and inspiring view of the woods.  I would love a small table area for the kids and I to sit and watch nature around us.  We have been very intrigued with all of the birds and squirrels that run around us at the deer camp.  We recently put up a deer feeder to watch the deer come up and feed.  It's been a huge treat for us! 

7.  Ironing/Cutting station.  Any great ideas for this space? Should I implement the fabric storage idea as in this Google photo? 

8.  Number of electrical outlets.  Would having 3 per wall be too many?  3 units of 4 plugs per wall?  I hope I don't have to read an electrician's manual to build the sewing cabin. 

9.  Quilt books, etc.  Should I ask for a built in bookcase too?  How many books do you have in your collection?  I have quite a few and they are packed away.  I'd love to display them so I can actually use them when I'm creating. 

What would you include in building your own dream sewing/quilting space?

Post your pics (of your vintage machines too!) and suggestions below!  I'd love to read your ideas and comments!

{Note:  Photos used in this blog were used from Google Images.} 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Planning the Menu...Again.

It’s the 29th of January and I’m already a day late on getting the week ready for productivity and efficiency.  As I’m sitting here waiting for the baby to take her nap, I’m realizing I need a more productive way of meal planning so I’m not doing this every week…that’s at least 4 times a month I have to stop and plan.  We all know that planning takes time, especially if you want it done right the first time. 

Why not only plan the menu once a month?  Well, that’s hard with picky eaters, especially when one loves chicken and the other says they are sick of chicken….when they like to come home and suggest a new meal option that you have zero ingredients for…when one picky eater insists on meat with every meal and also trying to meet a budget requirement!  The stores don’t exactly tell you what they will put on sale in a month to prepare you and your budget.  Even the weather plays a role when I meal plan for my family!  If it’s cold, I need a warm hearty meal for Hubby to keep a smile on his face.  Now add in a one year old who is now eating from the table most meals...sometimes I just want to have someone else plan the meals for my family.  

Granted, Pinterest has been a great asset in searching and finding new recipes, however, that doesn’t always guarantee they are good recipes or that my family will eat it even if it is a great recipe! 

I’ve been cooking with the meat that I have had in the freezers trying to use them all so I can focus on getting and stocking up fresh/new meat for the freezer.  I have successfully done that and now just have a couple of packages of ground turkey that I just purchased when it was on sale for $2.99/pound.  I may or may not have a package of chicken thighs in the deep freezer.  Of course, Hubby has said that he doesn’t want to eat chicken for a while, so I guess it will stay in the freezer for another week or so before being pulled out for dinner. 

I’m still at the deer camp with plans to head back to reality later today after I get packed, organized, and clean the camp.  Tomorrow I will drive to the airport to pick up my MIL.  Wednesday will be first day I can go to the grocery store.  I will need to plan specifically to feed the picky eaters. 

Happy Thoughts!

That's a good looking German Shepherd, if I may say...I love that dog!  I've had her since she was 6 weeks old.  She just turned 5 last month. She loves coming to the deer camp and running around in the woods.  


I'm finally back home and have everything unloaded from the car.  The baby is enjoying playing with her ball pit she got for her birthday.  I have two weeks meal planned and now to order groceries to make it work!  

What's on your menu?  What are their favorite meals?  

Here's to a great week!  

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Deer Camp Decisions

I came up to the deer camp last night for a couple of reasons.  Last week we had several hard freezes with temperatures in the teens and I really wanted to check on the property to see if we had any damage.  I also wanted to come up early before Hubby so I can finish the denim quilt I have laid out on the dining table.  (I have sewing and quilting everywhere in the main living space.)

I’ve had this quilt on my mind ever since I saw the pattern on Pinterest.  And who doesn’t like Pinterest?  Even Hubby has his own account on Pinterest! 

It’s Thursday morning and as I sit and drink my coffee, listening to the baby’s sound machine (yes, she is still asleep), I’m pondering all the steps to finish this denim quilt.  I have two backing choices and am unsure of which route to go.  Red?  Or blue?  I’m definitely leaning more towards one than the other, but both would be a great choice.  I can’t really go wrong here. 

I’m also considering if I should make the denim quilt larger or keep it at the wall-hanging size it currently is now.  This quilt is so gorgeous!  I’m loving it so much! 

Oh, the decisions!