Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Nina and the Pinta!

Well, this past week we officially started homeschooling for the year!  And we survived!  Just barely but we survived.  Two days in both of the kids were sick...colds.  By the end of that day I was sick.  Like, I can't survive, just hold me while I die, sick.  

But we got through, we're only a little behind so I guess I just need to cut myself some slack and breathe!  

Anyway, for those of you paying attention we are doing Classical Conversations curriculum this year.  We don't have a group we are meeting with as our schedule with Cal at his Autism school does not permit it so we are just winging it and doing it at home, alone.  Which by the way, so far, I am loving!  We may not get a group because we are plugged in in other areas.  But we will see :)  

Anywho, the first week of Classical Conversation (this year CC is in cycle 3 where we are studying American History) was about Christopher Columbus.  We studied, we read, we memorized.  And at the end of the week we drove for a field trip to a neighboring county where replica's of the Nina and the Pinta were docked for tours.  How awesome of God was that?  To have them here just when we were studying??? Awesomeness!  

So off we was a gorgeous day.  
 Hi!  I'm your teacher for the year...  :)
 Here we are!
 Hi Daddy!

 Okay so these boats are tiny!  I mean, TEENY tiny!  There were 26 men crammed on these boats when they took off in 1492.  And they had to take so much cargo that the men all had to sleep up on the deck.  Seriously, I could not imagine going through that.  No memory foam there, folks.

So we've survived our first week, we've had our first field trip, and all is well in our little neck of the woods.  Hope you had a great weekend and are enjoying school too!
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Thursday, September 4, 2014

September's Monthly Meal Plan

September's one of those weird wonky months.

I'm all in the mood for Fall but the weather just ain't having it.

So...what's a woman to do then combine summer and fall recipes?  Chowder one day, grilling out the next.  So's life in the great Hoosier state :)

Here's my plan for feeding the family this month:

Week 1:
Monday: Little Caesar's new pretzel pizza.  This was so gross and so yummy at the same time.  I feel like I should be telling you this under some cloak of darkness or something.
Tuesday: Oven Chicken Fajitas
Wednesday: Northern Beans and Ham and Jalapeno Cornbread
Thursday: Pork Loin, coleslaw, green beans, and biscuits
Friday: Carbonara
Saturday: White Chicken Chili
Sunday: Pot Roast with root vegetables and mashed potatoes

Week 2:
Monday: Grilled Cheese with Ham
Tuesday: Grilled Chicken and Summer Squash
Wednesday: Spaghetti Bolognese
Thursday: Cheeseburgers, Homegrown Tomatoes, and Sweet Potato Fries
Friday: Calzones (I use this pizza dough for the crust)
Saturday: Fettuccine Alfredo with homemade pasta
Sunday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, peas

Week 3:
Monday: Homemade corn dogs...don't judge :)
Tuesday: Chicken Fried Rice
Wednesday: Cream of Potato Soup and Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Thursday: Biscuits and Gravy
Friday: Orzo Salad and Grilled Chicken
Saturday: Quesadillas
Sunday: Roast Chicken with root vegetables and mashed potatoes

Week 4:
Monday:  Tater Tot Casserole
Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie made with leftover roast chicken
Wednesday: Chili
Thursday: Grilled Brats and Oven Fried Zucchini Fries
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday:  Chicken Tortilla Stack
Sunday: apple picking trip...picnic lunch :)

Ta-da!  Sorry it's a few days into Sepetember and here I am finishing up my Sepetember menu but such is life :)  Hope this gives you some ideas to add to your meal planning.  I'd love to know some of your recipes too!

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Monthly Grocery Shopping Trip

So Saturday I posted this picture on Facebook...
mentioning I spent less that $160.00 for almost a month's worth of groceries and I started getting questions on where I get things, how I do it...etc.  

So...I am here to tell you how I do it!  
 First, let's talk budget.  We feed our family on $300.00 a month.  That comes to $75.00 per person.  According to Indiana's SNAP website, if we were receiving SNAP (food stamps) we would be given $632.00 for a family of four per month, so in essence we are feeding our family for less than half the amount the government deems necessary per person.  I know that's crazy, isn't it?  Plus please note that we eat well!  Dinner every night, lots of fruits and veggies, packed lunch for Cal and Nick every day.  Plus we strive to eat whole foods and organic, natural foods as much as possible.  (Note here...this doesn't mean that we don't have snacks or junk food, etc).  It's just a general guideline we strive for.

With that said here are some of the deals I snagged this month...
 Organic milk, $0.99 per half gallon (normally running between $3.49-$3.99/half gallon) Completely not price related but fat free organic milk is so much creamier than ordinary skim milk...amazing!
 Organic Juice boxes, $1.19/case ($3.99 at target)...lunch box item for us
 GoGo Squeez pack, $0.99/box (normally $3.59)...for lunch boxes
Pad Thai noodle bowl, $0.99 (regularly $3.49)

 HUGE bag of Natural cereal, $2.29 (no idea the price of this size but the smaller size is in the $5.00 range at Whole Foods)
 A box of 8 yogurt pouches, $1.00 (one pouch is $1.50 at the store) Perfect snacks for on the way to Ballet or Tae Kwon Do!
 Monterey Jack Cheese $1.79/pound (those shredded cheese bags at the store with half a pound are around $3.00!) I use this cheese in the Pioneer Woman's Corn Chowder Recipe.  Yum!
 Full Circle Lasagna's, $0.99 (at whole foods these go for around $5.00 each).  I send these with Cal to school and if I am really running late they will heat one up for him to eat.

So I shop at all of these places and then I keep receipts and my cash in an envelope.  Out of my $300.00 for the month of September I have $148.47 left meaning I spent $151.53.  Here's where I went and the order I went to them in.  I'm also noting what I can consistently find there but I look through everything to find deals. Here you go:

1. Rentown, 1533 3rd Rd, Bremen (I get cheese and lunch meats from here...and sometimes they have awesome butter prices!)
2. Rite Choice, 1303 E. Market St, Nappanee (This is where I get yogurt for uber cheap.  I also get juice, gucacamole, eggs, and random things)
3. Dented Can, 25743 SR 119, Goshen (starbucks!, canned goods, cereals)
4. E & S, 1265 North State Road 5, Shipshewana (So.much.stuff!...yogurt, butter, meats, noodles, fruits, rice, cleaning products)
5.Forks County Line Store, 7900 W 310 N, Shipshewana (cereals, dairy products, meats, frozen goods)
6. Forks County Line Store, 508 E Warren St, Middlebury (cereals, dairy products, meats, frozen goods)
7. Aunt Millie's Bread Outlet, 206 W. Ireland Rd, South Bend (bread, buns, bagels)

I found lots of meat today at these stores but often I'll go to a butcher for meats.  Butcher's I like are: 

These are discount grocery stores where, from what I can gather and what I have learned, they buy bulk foods all Auction style from places like Sam's and other locations.  Like if a product says "new!" on the packaging but it isn't new anymore then it gets sold to one of these places.  

Please know that these places do sell outdated products too.  So check labels!  Some things I am okay with being a little outdated, other things, no way.  It's all up to you.  

As I mentioned before I have $148.47 left in my budget.  I will divide that money by 4 weeks (some months it has to be 5 weeks and then it kind of gets dicey!  This month it will give me $37.11 a week.  With this I will buy milk, oj, fresh produce, and if I find some amazing deal along the way at a local supermarket then I can try to free up some of the leftover money to stock up.  

So that's how I do it.  I hope that that helps with your grocery shopping adventures!  And for pete's sake if you have any questions, please let me know :)  I'm just one Momma happy to help other Momma's!  
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Monday, August 25, 2014

Bass Masters

 Every year the kids participate in a Bass Masters fishing tournament at a local state park.  Nick did this event lots when he was a kid so it's a family thing to do!
 These two are so cute!  This was not the year for Cal...he was very grumpy and irritated with the whole ordeal but we muddled through.
 Here's Nick and his dad.  They're pretty much exactly alike :)
 Here are Nick's mom and dad, waiting for the tournament to start.
 Here's the lake we were on.
 Grandma sandwich!

The fishing tournament is only two hours long but we didn't catch one single thing.  Not a one! We did catch our fair share of seaweed though!

Next year hopefully other cousins will be a part and we will catch fish by the truckload :)
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Here Kitty, Kitty

Last month we were surprised by two kitties. 
We put our sweet kitty Roscoe down on July 1st.  She had gotten so old and was in so much pain.  
Her death was so hard on us.  But my loving husband buried her with a nice headstone in our backyard and the kids are able to visit her...which they do often.  

Then July 3rd we went to Nick's parent's house and their next door neighbor was giving kittens away.  The kids had been playing with these kittens for a long time...they lived in a garage behind the neighboring house and were free to mosey around.  So we had thought we would get them kittens from there but we just hadn't planned on it being so soon!  

But alas in the course of three days we lost our favorite Roscoe Ann and gained these two newbies!  :)
 This is Stripe Whiskers.  Emma chose this kitty because it had a girl looking face, which ended up being a boy.  This cat.  Boy I tell ya.  Has like a Jackyl Hyde thing going on...nice one minute mean the next.  Oy.
And this is Otis Num-Num.  Who is actually a girl.  Surprise!  Another girl cat with a boy name.  I guess that is just how we roll around here.  This cat is also friendly but also kind of that just a cat thing?

I thought we had our hands full with watching Roscoe for when she couldn't make it to her box or having to carry her but boy that was cake compared to these two.  They've broken a dining room chair, a lamp, 2 runners, and a crock.  So far.  Oh and a shoe that they completely chewed through.  They eat dog food like it's some haute cuisine that's all the rage and they ate a pound of raw hamburger when I was putting groceries away.  Seriously!  I've never had cats like this.  Not even with our crazy, insane cat when I was a cat named Norm!  who would literally jump over my bed repeatedly while I was trying to sleep.

So there's your introduction to our cats.  If you ever find us locked in the bathroom, scared of our cats, you now know why :)  Hopefully they'll mellow in the next day or two!
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Monday, August 18, 2014


Sometimes you're just sitting around like this...
 And then you decide you need to make cookies!  So you put on aprons and get to work!

 We had so much fun making cookies for Daddy!  And in our new mixer we were able to whip up a double batch of his favorite cookies-snickerdoodles!
 I was amazed...even Cal was able to hold on through the entire cookie making process.  Usually he fizzles out after egg cracking, which as you know, is usually towards the beginning.  This boy is growing up!
And here's my big girl with some of the final result.  Ignore the one with the oven mitt through it.  Someone learned how to get cookies out of the oven...with the help of mom of course :)  They were so yummy and we had such a great time.
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Thursday, August 7, 2014

hello there

Well as normal when life gets busy the blog is the first thing to go in terms of priorities...

Hope you all have been having a wonderful summer.  We sure have. 
 Our dear kitty Roscoe was put to sleep on July 1st.  On July 3rd my in-laws neighbors had kitties who were ready for new homes.  It was earlier than we had wanted to get a new cat but we took home 2 KITTIES then.  It has been crazy around here with little Otis and Stripe.  So just to review we now have 2 cats, a dog, a turtle and 9 fish.  Nick said anymore and we're going to have to get a permit or something ;)

 the kiddos enjoyed tennis lessons this summer.  It was a great place really close to our house and they always seem to have lots of fun in their lessons.

In other news my sister got married.  We ALL were in the wedding.  Emma was the flower girl and Cal was the ring bearer! They are just the cutest!

And now I am onto my biggest endeavors...the Fall/Winter Children's resale.  This is the event where I sell all of the toys and clothing that our children have outgrown.  It takes a lot of time to wash, iron, price, and ready everything.  I'm also on the marketing committee where we spread the word about the sale and raise money to give certificates to moms in need to shop the sale and get things for their little ones.  I love being a part of it!!!

After that I will be scurrying around to ready our classroom for this upcoming year of homeschooling!  This year we are starting Classical Conversations!  It's a classical model of teaching and the children will be learning the same thing for the majority of their subjects so hopefully that will really help me in teaching them.  Last year some of our days would go until 8 until 5 and it was just getting to be too much!  Classical Conversations typically has a co-op type set up you join and go to one day a week but Cal has been accepted into an autism school so with that we opted to just do it at home.  I'm very excited!  :)

Well that is all that has been going on around here.  Hope you all are well and enjoying your summer!
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Monday, July 7, 2014


Hi all!  Things here have been zooming by this summer and I hope you have had as great a summer as we have!  Things here have been wonderful.  We've gone on two trips, one to Illinois and one to Pennsylvania.  We've had an evaluation with a wonderful Autism school that we are hoping to get Calvin into.  Emma is enjoying a ballet intensive class.  We've just been busy.

Anyway, I am so lame I don't even have any pictures to share pulled up or anything.  I just wanted to hop on here and let you know I am still alive and living.  When life gets crazy the blog is the first thing to go.  Hopefully one day I'll figure out how to balance this all!

My goal this week has been to get this house clean!  Last week I was preparing for my baby sister's wedding shower my other sister and I threw. The week before we were in Pennsylvania.  It's just been a long crazy process that has left our house cluttered and hairy and messy, yuck!  This week is operation cleaning up so hopefully next week will be operation school planning!

Hope you all have a great week :)
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Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Beautiful Mother's Day!

Hello loves!  I hope you had a fantastic day Sunday.  Hopefully it was full of pampering and being made to feel as special as you are.  I know mine certainly was!  Words can't even begin to describe how amazing my husband and kiddos are...they did such a great job of spoiling me and making me feel amazing!  

Nick let me sleep in (I got to sleep until 9 am!) and then he made me a beautiful breakfast in bed!  Then the kids each gave me a bracelet...Emma gave me a rainbow loom one and Cal made me one out of twistie ties...they both are super cute!  Emma's came with a note that said something like "I made this for you...if it's not enough just let me know"  :)  

Nick and I then scraped the house to ready another section for painting (my idea...I wanted to!).  Then Emma treated us to a lunch she made!  She made lettuce salad with tomatoes and strawberries on the side...she was so proud and did all of it on her own...and it was delicious!  Love her and her big heart, that girlie!

Then I went on a run aroung the river in our neighborhood and ended up at the park so I could meet the kiddos and Nick at the playground.  I managed to get a ride home too :)  

After a shower and getting ready Nick just about had dinner ready.  He was amazing putting things together for me! 
While he made me dinner he served me fresh oysters on the half shell...yum!  They were so good and fresh! 

 And then it was time for dinner!  Lobster, corn on the cob, new potatoes, and shrimp was delicious!  Amazing!  Terrific!

 But my best gift of all was these plaques Nick made me with the kids.  He used a lightbox to draw their names on the canvases and then printed each of the special poems I have between each child and I.  Then he had them put their hands and feet prints on sweet and I will have them forever.
It was an amazing day!  I am so blessed to have this life and to have these children and this husband...happy Monday!
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Target Savings on Crayons: Quick Tip

Just a quick tip...

These adorable packs of crayons are on sale at Target for $0.79, regularly $0.99!  Cartwheel has a 25% discount on these you can use to save even more.  I picked up four boxes for only $0.59 per box...there are lot's of themed boxes with really neat colors!  Pick some up and save them for your Easter Baskets like I am doing.  Can't wait for Easter and it will be here before you know it!  :)
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Monday, February 10, 2014

My fancy meal plan

As I mentioned in my last post, we do our grocery shopping on a monthly basis.  This month I decided I would make a realistic meal plan (for once in my life) containing meals made out of ingredients that we actually eat and that I know I would be able to actually find in the stores we frequent.

To do this I first posted a question on facebook, asking my friends what their favorite, easy meals were.  I got so many ideas.  I was able to match the friend to their pinterest page and then to find the recipe they were talking about there.  From that I got about 6 recipes.

From there I continued perusing meals on pinterest.  The criteria for meals included that they had to be easy to make (super quick or a crockpot meal), contain ingredients I knew we would eat, have as limited processed food as possible, and be available at the discount stores we go to once a month.

I found tons but I was also finding a surprising amount of recipes that call for chicken.  While I love chicken as much as the next girl, my husband is not too keen on eating nothing but chicken, chicken, chicken.

So I switched it up a bit with some familiar stand bys I make and I found a couple of recipes from magazines I have.

Here's what I came up with...
Fancy system, huh?  I did a column for each meal and then rows for each day.  My original plan was to actually have those meals on those days but what I have found is that sometimes we just don't feel like having what is on deck for that day so I switch it around.

Here are some of the ideas I've had for low budget, nutritious foods:
Potato Soup
Tuscan Bean Soup
Corn Chowder
Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
Crockpot Beef Stew
Crockpot Chicken Cordon Bleu
Homemade pizzas
Spaghetti Night

You can find lots more things I've posted on my Pinterest Page here.

I'm not listing all of my meals this time, maybe some month I will :)  But I hope this encourages you to plan meals out, shop wisely to find bargains, and above all have fun with food with your family and feed them well!  By having a plan and knowing I have all the ingredients for dinner ready to go, I am a much calmer, happier Mommy.

Some months I do the Once-a-month cooking but I know not everyone is up for it and I can't do it every month.  So this is a good compromise for me.  Last month was so hurried that I was trying to throw meals together at the last minute and it was horrid.  HORRID I tell ya!  :)   So this month so far has been lots better!  Happy planning, friends :)
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