Project: Food Budget (Week 17)

It was a good week.  Groceries came to $84, and we went to Pizza Hut with the much coveted “Book It” coupon for a total of $14.  Church dinner on Wednesday cost $9.  The total: $107.  Not bad!

This week’s menu:

Monday: (Pizza Hut)

Tuesday: Homemade “Chicken Nuggets,” baked potatoes, and mixed veggies

Wednesday: (church)

Thursday:  Ham & Cheese Stromboli (super easy!) and tossed salad

Friday: Broccoli Cheese soup and bread

Saturday: Italian Bake

Sunday: Chicken and Rice in the Crock Pot

Check out the rest of the gang:

The Week 17 Participating Blogs:

What a surprise!

Yesterday, I had a really pleasant surprise.  My photograph was featured in The Nick Kelsh Radio Picture Show for Monday, January 23.  I was shocked!  Nick Kelsh’s show is fun, informative, and totally accessible for a not-s0-expert photographer like me and most of the population.    I sat down to watch Monday’s edition, and I was shocked to hear Mr. Kelsh say, “And this one is from Erica.”  There was Charlotte looking back at me!  Here is the photograph that gave me about 30 seconds of fame.  Well, not real fame…but the whole event made me want to get my camera out and do some more learning and practicing.

Project: Food Budget (Week 16)

Hey there!  Not as good as last week, but not terrible.  This was sort of a restocking week.  Groceries came to $120.  We had a quickie lunch out for $15, and dinner at church cost $9.  Total: $144.  Hmm… I’m under my absolute budget of $150/week, but I’m far over my $100 goal.  We did have to buy a lot of everyday items like paper goods and condiments.  I’m glad that I can go back and read last week’s post to cheer myself up.

It’s been nice to receive comments from my fellow Food Budget bloggers.  I find them and ALL comments to be very encouraging.  Thank you!

Getting it right…

My giving of Christmas cards was a bit haphazard this year.  I am claiming the “big move and new baby” excuse while I can get away with it!  But I want everyone to see our Christmas picture and some of the “out takes” on the way to getting it right.

Christmas 2011

I was finally satisfied with the picture above.  Whew…that’s a workout.  After our “photo shoot” was over and the rest of the gang was changing clothes and moving on to other things, Cory snapped a photograph of J in the window.  Somehow, this seems to truly capture Christmas.  The wonder, the waiting, looking out for what’s to come.

Farmers Market in January

See those beauties?  Real, honest-to-goodness, locally grown cherry tomatoes.  In January no less.  For a northerner like me, these tomatoes are nothing short of miraculous.  I keep going back for another.  They appeared in our salad last night, and I’m anxiously awaiting a taste in my lunch salad any moment now.  As soon as my hubby brings it to me.  Ahh…love.

The Farmers Market in our town is brand new.  The little ones and I headed over on Saturday morning.  We bought a big cup of squeezed-right-before-our-eyes orange juice for $1, this basket of tomatoes, a loaf of chocolate bread, and a loaf of banana bread.  We drank the juice on the spot.  The breads disappeared by Sunday morning, and the tomatoes are quickly being eaten.  The boys loved the market.  They especially enjoyed nibbling all the free samples and running into many friends.  You know, I am so surprised by how many people we run into on an almost daily basis.  So many familiar, friendly faces.  I can’t decide if this is the product of a small town, a large church, or something else.  I don’t know, but I’m not going to question the blessing.

Project: Food Budget (Week 15)

Yay!  Yay!  Budget Day!

This week needed to be lean because a certain special husband celebrated a birthday, and we wanted to go out for a nice meal.  Also, the travels and festivities surrounding Christmas required that we pinch a little this month.  I headed to the store with a pretty typical grocery list, and I somehow managed to come home with a pretty unusual receipt.  Are you ready?  I spent a grand total of $54.  BAM!  We spent $9 for dinner at church, and our dinner out on Cory’s birthday came to $34 on a “Kids Eat Free” night.  That brings us to $97 for the week.  I’m so excited!  Here’s our menu:

Monday–Dinner Out

Tuesday–Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo over Pasta

Wednesday–Dinner at Church

Thursday–Kielbasa, Macaroni & Cheese, Mixed Veggies

Friday–BBQ Chicken Sandwiches and Baked Beans

Saturday–Egg Salad Sandwiches and Creamy Potato Soup

Sunday–Chicken Tetrazzini in the Crock Pot

Take a look at my blog friends.  Some of them post links to recipes!  Yum.

Epiphany

Every year, I wish we did more with the celebration of Epiphany.  We always wait to take down our decorations until the full 12 days of Christmas have passed, but I felt like we were missing an opportunity to look at the story of Jesus from a different angle.  Since we didn’t spend Christmas in our new house, it felt good to do more celebrating and more telling of that beautiful story on 12th Night and Epiphany.

Because the little guy fell asleep on the actual 12th Night, we merged all of our activities into the day of Epiphany.  (Maybe we’ll get it right next year!)  During the day, J and I baked a Three Kings Cake.

We had dinner (spaghetti and salad), and after clean-up, we all headed to the livingroom for our “undecorating party.”  We put on the Christmas music for the last time.  The boys didn’t hang around for all of the undecorating, but we gave them some specific tasks to complete.  They removed the ornaments from the tree and carefully placed them in a box for me to wrap and store.

All the lights, bulbs, greenery, and other goodies were removed, but our nativity scene stayed in the big front window.

We talked about the wisemen following the light to find the Messiah, and we went out to the driveway to make our own journey to the manger.

We carried our ceramic wisemen and their camels along the lighted driveway to their proper place next to the stable.

Talked about how Jesus was a surpise –an “epiphany”– in many ways.  He was a tiny baby, not a warrior.  He was in a manger, not a palace.  I loved, loved hearing the boys’ thoughts on these great mysteries.

We closed the evening by putting out straw for the camels in the childrens’ shoes.  (An idea borrowed from Emily.)  Charlotte doesn’t actually have any shoes, so we put out her teddy bear slipper.  The boys thought this fact was hilarious.   We awoke the next morning to a tangerine and a Matchbox car for each boy.  Charlotte received a hair bow.  Lots of fun!

Project: Food Budget (Week 14)

As I sat down to type this post, I actually started making up a silly little song in my head about budgeting.  I know, I know!  I am a total food budget geek.  Why am I doing this food budget challenge?  There are lots of good, wise reasons for doing this.  It helps me spend less.  It helps me plan meals more thoughtfully, and that translates to better nutrition and less waste.  It makes me a more organized shopper.  It keeps me accountable as I broadcast to all of cyberspace what we spend and eat.  The challenge gives me inspiration as I browse the blogs of the other participants.  But do you know what my number one reason for doing Project: Food BudgetIt’s fun!  I love planning and recording, anticipating and calculating.  Like I said, Total Geek.  I have always been a sucker for pens, folders, notebooks, planners, electronic organizers, and calculators–all the little tools that make organizing fun.  This challenge is right in that vein.

We were doing fine on a $600 monthly food budget.  In fact, with hubby’s new job (Praising God for such a blessing!), we have more wiggle room than we’ve ever had before, but when my friend Katy mentioned the food budget challenge with Emily Levenson, I knew I wanted to do it, and I’m so glad that I did.  I love the very deliberate reflection upon what we purchase and what we consume.  I get a little thrill when I look at how much is being put into savings instead of being spent on a grocery trip.  I love that I can splurge a little elsewhere in our budget because I shopped smart on Monday!  I find the food budget is the easiest place to take control of overspending, and Emily’s challenge is helping me do that.  I chose a $400 monthly budget goal simply because I wanted to see what would happen if I really pushed myself!

I’ve been disappointed in myself for being so off track over the last month, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating this week’s post as the first in a long time when I can actually look at some numbers.  So here goes:

Hubby did the shopping, so some unexpected purchases found their way into the cart.  Namely, a Cheez-It box, a box of vanilla wafers, and a jar of alfredo sauce.  In his defense, the jar of alfredo sauce was part of a BOGO deal in partnership with the marinara sauce that was actually on the list, and he also bought BOGO loaves of bread.  Go hubby!  The total came to a praise-worthy $98.  We spent $10 on dinner at the church on Wednesday.  We will need to run to the store for more tortillas later in the week, but so far, I’m really happy with our $108 for the first week of 2012.

Ah…Clean Slate

Do you feel that clean, fresh breeze blowing by, clearing off the dust of old ways?  For some of you, that “breeze” might feel like an icy gale, but for my family, the movement is crisp and pleasant.  It promises a fresh start, a new beginning.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  I love beginnings!  In my first Warm as Pie post ever, I wrote briefly about how much I love a new start, no matter what time of year.  The beginning of 2012 is exciting.  We started the year on the road as we made the long drive from North to South.  (Having watched Gone With the Wind over the holiday, I was particularly aware of the Mason Dixon line and Charleston, SC.)  Oh, I was so sad to leave Home to go home, but as we made our way southward, I felt the excitement growing.  We left our new house in a bit of a scramble, and now I get to truly be a “homemaker” as I empty boxes, hang pictures, and set up new routines.  How I’ve missed our routines!  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could do parenthood without them.

I have several goals for the new year.  I prefer the word “goals” to “resolutions” because, to me, a resolution is a promise and a goal is a process.  I cannot promise that will have my new ways set in stone on January 1.  No way.  Instead, I will be working all year to make positive changes for me and my family.

My very most important goal is to make our house open to guests at all times.  I want to practice hospitality in its truest form, ready to share the joy of friendship at any moment.

Secondly, I want to treat our bedroom as a sanctuary for me and my husband.  Our bedroom is always the place where I mindlessly toss things.  I usually avoid going there for any reason other than sleep, but with a brand new bedroom to design, decorate, and enjoy, I figure this is the time to commit to making a little refuge for us.

I hope you are refreshed and ready to write something beautiful on that clean slate before you.