Friday, October 31, 2008

Day 31!! Wahoo We Made It!!

As if to mourn the end of my Month of Nothing, the weather turned gray and rainy today. This is what my walk to work looked like. It was very wet. In fact, I stopped to roll up my pant legs because I didn't want to work all day with wet pants! But I did walk to work, and it wasn't so bad. My goal is to keep walking. After all, I only live 6 blocks from work, it seems silly to drive.

Meals today:

Breakfast was cereal for everyone except me. I had leftover mashed potatoes, fried. Yum.

Lunch was whatever people could find. We don't have much left and I haven't baked. I took the last frozen burrito, a banana, and a homemade granola bar. Then I had WAY to many "treats" at work. I work at an elementary school and the staff got all the leftovers from the Halloween parties. All 19 of them! I ate doughnuts and candy. Ugh.

Dinner was trying to make up for all the junk we had all eaten (and had still yet to eat). I made brown rice (tossed it with butter, lime juice and salt), heated up some black beans and added a little garlic and cumin to them, grated cheese, sliced the last of the cherry tomatoes from the garden, chopped up the last little bit of lettuce from the fridge, set out salsa and sour cream. People made "burrito bowls" ala Chipotle (my favorite Mexican restaurant - their burritos are to die for!). It was very, very good. And so easy! Everyone raved about it and we ate it all (and could have eaten more if I'd had it!). This is a keeper recipe. On those nights when I don't know what the heck to have - burrito bowls it is!

Halloween was fun. The kids went trick-or-treating, Hubby got in a car accident, we saw my Dad . . . OH wait!! Did you see that whole part about Hubby getting in a car accident? Yup, it really happened, on the way to go visit his mom. He never got there. He's fine, the car is fine. He was at the front of a line of three cars when number four car slammed into the back of car number three. Car #3 was pushed into the back of car #2, which was pushed into the back of car #1 (Hubby). Thankfully, by the time it got to the front of the line, there was very little force left and we can't see any damage to his car. But the other cars were badly damaged and the police came and they had to exchange info, etc. etc. etc. An hour later, he decided that he would just go back home instead of going to his mom's house. The worst part is that the driver that caused the whole thing doesn't have a license and was driving his mom's car. He was not a happy camper.

So that was the fun end of our Month of Nothing. In the coming days I'm going to be posting about some things that I have learned. I'm also going to be talking about the recipes and tips that saved my bacon this month. Stay tuned!

I want to give a great big virtual hug to everyone who has followed my adventures this month. I've been so thankful for the encouragement, pats on the back, and just general support from everyone. Thanks so much!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day 30

Last day of sunshine. It started raining this afternoon. *sigh* Somehow I'll survive. When we have the first really good NW rain storm, I'll be enjoying it. I really do love the rain.

Today was good. We had oatmeal with berries for breakfast (I'm sure someone had cereal, probably Hubby). Lunch was buying for the little kids, yogurt, granola bars, bananas, crackers for the big kids. Leftovers for Hubby and bread, cheese, fruit and granola bars for me. I made another batch of the homemade granola bars and we've really been enjoying them. It is amazing how they fill you up so much better than the store-bought ones.

Dinner was Parmensan chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, baked beans and applesauce. For the Parmesan chicken I just take boneless, skinless chicken breasts (purchased for $1.69 a pound), pound them between two pieces of waxed paper til they are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Then I cut them into thirds or so. Dredge them in flour, then milk, then dry bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Then fry them in some olive oil. I made the gravy (from a packet) in the pan I fried them in so it picked up all the flavor. It is really good and my family loves it. My veggie girl will eat chicken so this is one of the few meat meals we can all eat. In addition, this meal doesn't take that long to make and is pretty inexpensive. Because we aren't big meat eaters even when we do eat it, I use two chicken breasts, cut into thirds, for my family. We just fill up on beans, potatoes, applesauce veggies (I usually serve steamed broccoli with this but we don't have any right now).

I made biscuits for bed-time snacks tonight. It just sounded good to me so I made them. We ate them in about two minutes. I kid you not. I took pictures while I made them, so I'll do a post about them soon. This recipe has been a wonderful discovery this month.

Tomorrow is Halloween and I still have a few costumes to pack for school tomorrow. Yes, our school "does" Halloween. We do a costume parade and the everything. We are old-school! And we love it.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Days 28 and 29 - Almost there!

Oh my gosh! I'm so excited! I only have two days left!

Oh man. I'm so bummed. I only have two days left!

Ok, so that's how I'm feeling. I'm really torn. I want to keep spending mindfully, rather than mindlessly. I want to save money and save the planet and teach my kids to respect money and to value and appreciate what they have. (Do you think I used the word "and" enough?) But I'm also am so excited to get my hair cut and go buy groceries!

I am thinking of all these things I've learned and I'm going to post a "What I Learned" post when this is all done.

The weather continues to be beautiful but it is supposed to start raining on Friday - just in time for Halloween - oh goody! I normally love the rain, I am a true Oregonian in that regard, but I've been enjoying the sunny, cool, beautiful days SO much! I'm going to continue to walk to work and the bad weather will be the real test of my commitment.

Meals yesterday were "I don't remember" for breakfast and lunch. And a pasta bake and french bread for dinner. I was going to take the pasta leftovers for lunch the next day, but my ravenous cross-country runner daughter ate them!

Meals for today were:

Breakfast was leftover french bread toasted. So yummy.

Lunch was leftover pasta for Hubby. Since Tali had eaten mine I went for option two, I'm glad I did. I took a couple of slices of french bread, some cheese, some fruit, and a homemade granola bar. It was so good. I hid the last two slices of bread so I can take it again tomorrow. The little kids bought lunch. I sent $10.00 for each of their lunch accounts. I'm deducting the $20.00 from my grocery budget for this week.

Dinner was soup and leftover bread. I put the soup in the crockpot early today. I worked at the concession stand at the high school today from 3:45 to 6:00. My family ate without me.

After I worked at the high school, I went grocery shopping. We were out of milk and fruit for lunches. I only had $30 to spend but I only spent $21.00. I only bought enough to limp through the next couple of days - until I can go shopping without a budget! I'm going to add up everything I spent for this month for food. I'm pretty sure I spent about $200 for the month. Not too bad.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Day 27

I baked today! Yeah me! Of course, we ate it all and I have nothing left. That's not exactly true, I made two loaves of bread and gave one away (we ate the other one) and I made homemade granola bars and I have those left, too.

I was thinking today that this whole baking thing has been my hardest part about this eating cheap. I know that I could feed my family for less if I would bake and make things from scratch. We could snack on muffins, bread, crackers, and lots of other things if I would just take the time to make them. I used to bake and make stuff from scratch all the time. Then I went back to college and got out of the habit because I was so busy. Then I got a job and stayed out of the habit. I only work four hours a day and I can't get it together enough to make some muffins! How hard must it be for a single mom who works full-time and raises her kids herself to take the time to make stuff from scratch! I know that I would probably make more time and force myself to do it if I had to. But to do it day in and day out for years on end? I think I'd go crazy.

So here's what we ate today:

Breakfast was leftover cinnamon rolls and cinnamon twists (that I tried to make for my dad but burned - we cut the burned part off.)

Lunch was bits and pieces. Lunch has been the hardest meal for this month of nothing. Since it has to be portable it limits my choices. None of the kids have access to microwaves so it has to be something that doesn't need to be heated. We've done lots of yogurt, cheese sticks, applesauce and graham crackers, apples, kiwis, and PB&Js. I really need to come up with better brown bag lunch options. Any ideas?

Dinner was soup and french bread. The bread was so good! I haven't made that recipe in awhile and I forgot how good it is. Think I'll have to make it more often.

It is supposed to start raining here in the next day or so and I'm bummed. I'm really enjoying this sunny fall weather. I guess it just means more soup and bread meals and some crockpot meals. And hot cocoa in the evenings. Hey, this might not be so bad!

Oh, on a sad note. Dilbert is dead (Dilbert is my laptop). Hubby will take the poor thing to the Mac store after the month of nothing is done. If it is something fixable (that doesn't cost a fortune) we will get it fixed. If it is the logic board (which costs $600 to fix) we will just wait and save my paycheck and buy a new one in December or January. I can use Hubby's computer until then and Hubby did manage to back up all my files and save all my pictures, music, etc. So I can wait until I have enough money saved to buy the computer and still have money left in the savings.

Hey! Maybe I have learned something from this month of nothing after all!!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Days 25 and 26

What a fun weekend! Yesterday we did almost nothing of importance. Made a trip to the feed store (chickens needed feed and straw), cleaned house, made cinnamon rolls, finished reading my book, and slept in - not in that order, of course. I spent $20 and change at the feed store - food for chickens, one bale of straw, and some timothy hay for the bunnies. Can't let the animals starve!

Today we slept in again (did I mention that this was a fun weekend?), made some treats, and went to a family birthday party at my sister's house. We celebrated several birthdays and had WAY too much yummy food. Now I'm home and getting everyone ready for bed.

On a sad note, my laptop (that I do all my blogging on) is critically ill. Thankfully, I have an IT doctor in the house (Hubby) who is working hard to save the Dilbert's life. Dilbert is my computer, yes, we named to computer. Hubby's is Fred. I guess we don't have enough boys in the house so we had to name the computers boy's names.

I can use Hubby's computer until Dilbert is fixed or replaced - but man, I really didn't want to spend $$$ on a new computer!

Meals for yesterday:

breakfast was free-for-all. Whatever you could find, you could eat. Come to think of it, lunch was the same.

Dinner was Gardenburgers on buns with lettuce and tomatoes, home-fries (what I call oven-fried french fries), and applesauce. It was really yummy. We had cinnamon rolls for dessert.

Meals today were very similar. Carina and I had potato pancakes for lunch (using the extra peeled potatoes from last night that I didn't end up cutting up for french fries). Then we all went to the party and had baked potato bar (with chili, cheese, broccoli, etc), and salad. Then cheese cake for dessert. Oh man, do I love cheese cake!

I was trying to be very frugal this weekend and bake goodies for my Dad for his birthday. I over cooked the first batch of cinnamon rolls and burned half of the second try. *sigh* No good deed goes unpunished. (kudos to the first person who can tell me what musical has a song about that!)


Friday, October 24, 2008

Day 24 - and Why I Love Oregon

This is the view out of my front window. I love that tree. Every fall it turns this amazing shade of red. Of course, in the spring, the pollen off of that tree makes me miserable for a month! But I forgive the tree every fall as its leaves turn a beautiful shade of crimson.

Today was another beautiful day here in the great Northwest. I walked to and from work - I needed gloves in the morning and needed to take my sweatshirt off in the afternoon. Makes it hard to know how to dress but for a fabulous day. Here's the view I get walking or driving down my street back to my house:You have to admit, we live in a pretty area, right?

I broke down and bought gas today. I put $10 of gas in my tank and I am going to make it last! Sadly, the $10 only bought 3.66 gallons of gas. More than it would have bought three weeks ago but still . . .

Food today was good.

Breakfasts were bagels and English muffins. Those should be gone by tomorrow but I'm planning on baking muffins tomorrow so we will have those for a few days.

Lunch was PB&J's for the little kids, Hubby had company lunch at work and I had bits and pieces supplemented by the snack table at work. Big kids were home (no school) and I have no idea what they ate - probably Top Ramen!

Dinner was homemade mac and cheese and sliced tomatoes from the garden. I'm thinking I have maybe one or two more meals from the tomatoes from the garden and they will be done.

Tomorrow I don't have to go anywhere! I'm so excited to spend time at home and bake, clean, etc. It is a sad commentary on how busy my life is that I'm excited to have time to clean! I hate house cleaning! But my house needs it and I'm excited to have time to do it. *sigh* I need a more exciting life!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Day 23 - In Which We Go to a Play

Tonight we went and saw a play at a local high school. My cousin's daughter was playing the part of Gretel in "The Sound Of Music." It was so fun and the kids did such a fabulous job. I love to go see local high school plays. I was in several plays when I was in high school and watching those kids sing and dance and act their hearts out just takes me back in time.

Unfortunately, the school was a long ways away and now my gas tank is on empty. I have to go to a family birthday party on Sunday and I don't have enough gas to get there. But I guess I should be happy that I made it until the 24th of the month. Three whole weeks on one tank of gas!!! That's nothing to sneeze at.

Meals today:

Breakfast was bagels, English muffins and cereal.

Lunches for Hubby and I were leftovers from dinner last night. Yogurt, graham crackers, fruit for the little kids, and I'm not sure what the big kids had because they had a half day of school and ate lunch while I was at work.

Dinner was toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup and applesauce.

Tomorrow is Friday and Friday is my favorite day!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 22

It is late, and I am tired so I'm going to dispense with the "chit chat" and just get on with it.

Meals today were:

Breakfast was bagels and English muffins all around. Oh, and orange juice.

Lunch was lunch meat and cheese sticks, carrots, Cheezits, and an orange for me. Bagels and cream cheese for kids (with oranges, etc), leftovers for Hubby.

Dinner was baked beans over rice with the last of the ham. We had sliced apples, carrots and ranch dip, and home made grape juice that I canned a few weeks ago. Man, oh man! That grape juice is good stuff. It makes all the hard, sticky, messy, tiring work worth it! Wish I had done more (of course at 8 pm that night I really, really, really wished I'd picked far less grapes than I had!)

Tomorrow I'm going to post some pictures of the beautiful scenery that makes me love this time of year!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 21

I love fall in the Northwest. Today was such a beautiful day. It was cold and foggy in the morning and sunny and beautiful in the afternoon. What did I do on this beautiful day? I cleaned out a chicken coop! It needed it and it is all clean and sparkle-y! Happy chickens = many eggs!

I was almost out of food in the house so I went grocery shopping. As I suspected I used all my $50 (plus 1.78, somehow I miss added while I was shopping, sigh.). I also bought $12.00 worth of laundry detergent which we desperately needed but I didn't count that in my food budget even though I bought it at the grocery store - sue me if you must. I got lots of good stuff - some snack stuff like Cheezits, oranges, apples, and bagels and cream cheese. My family was very happy when I came home.

I made an unexpected trip today and used more gas than I wanted and now I'm back to thinking I might not make it. It was worth it, though. Tali and the cross-country team went to Olive Garden for dinner to "carbo-load" for their district meet tomorrow. Tali and two of her friends needed a ride home and I offered to do it. The mom of one of her friends has picked up and taken Tali a million times this season and I really wanted to return the favor. We'll see, I don't have many places to go this week so maybe we'll make it. On the plus side, gas is $2.89 a gallon here right now. So if I do need to get gas, at least it won't cost a fortune (just a half fortune!).

I'm off to soak some beans before I go to bed. We are having baked beans, the rest of the ham, and veggies with ranch for dinner tomorrow night. Should be yummy!

Only 10 days left of my month of nothing. I find myself flip-flopping between making lists of all the things I'm going to buy once Nov. 1 rolls around, and being sad that it's almost over and hoping we don't just slip right back into our old ways. Mostly it has been fairly painless and has sure opened my eyes about how much money I spend on stuff I don't really need, I just really want. And that was really the point, right?


Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 20 - There's a Light at the End of that Tunnel

Mondays are so hard. I did not want to get up this morning and it was torture to get out of bed and get going. It was sunny when I got up but an hour later it was raining and windy. I just wanted to crawl back in bed and pull the covers over my head.

But, no. I dutifully got ready, and went to work. I spend a long time straightening my hair. But this morning it wasn't worth it. It was raining and windy but I walked to work anyway. By the time I got to work my hair was crazy to say the least! I should probably just embrace the curls and forget the whole straightening thing, but I just can't.

I went shopping with the two oldest girls at Target tonight. Tali needed something for her last cross country meet. She also needed a coat. It is cold in the mornings here now and her old coat was much too small. We found a really cute gray pea coat which was only $27.99 and she really likes it. It was definitely a necessary purchase.

It is the 20th of the month and I'm thinking I may make it to the end of the month on one tank of gas! I'm really seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

The hardest part of the whole food thing is finding snacks. We actually resorted to oatmeal for snacks tonight! Unless I bake more I'm going to be in trouble! With working it is so hard to find the time (and the desire!) to bake some muffins or cookies or whatever. But that is what I need to do!

Meals today:

Breakfast was oatmeal with berries and cereal

Lunch was leftovers for Hubby and I, bits and pieces for the kids.

Dinner was croquettes and salad and fruit.

Tomorrow is scalloped potatoes day and I'm really excited about it!


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Meal Plan Monday - Two weeks to go!

Still in our Month of Nothing and so planning cheap meals this week. I'm starting to run out of the things I stocked-up on. I'm sure I will spend the whole $50 this week, unlike the last two weeks.

Meals for this week:

  • Homemade instant oatmeal. I'm so glad I learned this because my son LOVES this! On Tuesday of this week he had it for breakfast, after-school snack and asked for it for bed-time snack, too. It is so easy. Put 1/3 c. oats in a bowl (I use old-fashioned oats), add 2/3 c. liquid (I use 1/3 c. water, 1/3 c. mik), put it in the microwave for 1 minutes 30 seconds or so. Stir and serve. I put out brown sugar, maple syrup and frozen berries. I let Kaden add his own. I read a study once that said that if kids put their own sweetener on something, they actually add less than if you bought the pre-sweetened kind.
    I like this oatmeal with dried cranberries and slivered almonds in it. Yum!
  • cereal. It is inevitable, no matter what I plan, someone always has cereal. I don't even fight it anymore.
  • Homemade bread toasted with jam.
  • yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, crackers, leftovers, PB&J's, etc
  • Chicken and homemade rice-a-roni. Fruit, jello
  • Homemade Mac and Cheese, sliced tomatoes
  • Wagon Wheel Chili, biscuits, veggies and ranch
  • Soup and rolls (whatever kind of soup strikes my fancy that day)
  • Baked Beans over rice, veggies and ranch, fruit
  • Toasted Cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
  • Gardenburgers (from the freezer), home fries, fruit or veggies
So that's what we are eating this week. Tonight for dinner we had fried potatoes with ham. We scrambled some eggs into the potatoes and then served them with ketchup. Kind of breakfast burritos without the tortillas. It was really good and we ate every last bite!

For more menu ideas hop on over to Organizing Junkie and check out Menu Plan Monday!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Day 17 and 18

I'm sorry I didn't post last night but I got home really late and I was really tired. I was at a woman's conference last night and I got home late and had to get up early.

I needed to get some dinner last night and I was really mad that I didn't pack one to take with me. I had to leave 20 minutes after I got home from work and I needed to change my clothes and get a few other things. Half way to my destination I realized that I didn't bring anything to eat. I figured I would have to bite the bullet and buy something to eat. When I got there, one of my jobs (I was volunteering at the event in exchange for free tickets) was to recycle the leftover lunches from earlier. She said, "Keep the chips, cookies, and apples, but you can throw away the salads and sandwiches - unless you want them." Yeah! Free dinner. I never actually had time to eat the sandwiches until almost 9 pm(by which time I was a little worried about eating a ham sandwich that had been sitting around since lunch) so dinner ended up being chips, a cookie, and three or four bites of pasta salad at around 7:30. But they were good chips and it was free.

I did end up driving and paying for parking - I gave my MIL and my sister-in-law a ride home.

So I did pretty well on Friday - then came Saturday and everything fell apart.

I had planned on buying lunch on Saturday, which I did. But then I really needed chocolate. You know when you really, really need chocolate? That was me this afternoon. What's a girl to do? I know! Buy chocolate! So I did. And honestly, it was worth it.

Then our really good friends, whom we haven't seen in awhile, invited us out for dinner. I should have said, "I'm sorry, we are in our Month of Nothing and we won't be able to do that." But I was weak and we love our friends so we went. In our defense, we all split meals and drank water. But we still spent $34.00. It kills me to know that I spent $38.00 for my whole week's groceries last week - and we spent that in one meal!!

So it wasn't a great day today. Somebody (sorry I can't remember who and my computer is not letting me go find it right now) asked me who I was feeling now that the month was half over. For the most part, I'm feeling pretty good. We are eating great stuff, I'm enjoying walking places, I'm feeling good about not spending mindlessly. Every now and then, though, I feel like I want a "treat." An I-deserve-it treat. I deserve to go out to dinner. I deserve some potato chips. I deserve some new shoes. I deserve some chocolate (ok, that was more I need some chocolate).

Thankfully, we have enough money that sometimes (in my real life) I can afford an occasional treat. But the less treats I buy, the more money I can put in my savings. That is what I want to gain from this experience - the ability to say "I may deserve this, but I don't need this!" And then put the extra money in savings.

Tomorrow is Sunday. I love Sundays because they are the day of rest, and I really need a rest!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Day 16

Tonight I made one of my family's favorite dinners - Ham Fried Rice. Everyone loves it. Even my veggie kids, they just pick out the ham and give it to someone else who does like it. It is a really easy dish, super cheap, and uses up leftover meat and veggies. We traditionally make it with ham but I got the recipe from my mom and we always had with with pork when I was growing up. We use peas but you could use any mixed vegetables you have on hand. The rice works best if is is cold so make it early in the day or use leftover from last night.

Here's how it goes:

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet. We use sesame oil but you could use canola, vegetable or what ever. Throw some beaten eggs in the pan and cook them. You can cook them all in a flat pancake kind of thing then cut it in strips later or you can just scramble the eggs. When the eggs are done, remove them from the pan and set them aside. Putting them on a plate would be good, too. Add more oil to the pan if needed.

Add some chopped cooked meat (ham, leftover pork roast, pork tenderloin, chicken, shrimp, whatever) and a couple of chopped green onions. Cook and stir until the meat is heated through. You can add your veggies here if they aren't cooked already. Stir them until they are done enough for your liking.

Add a whole bunch of cooked cooled rice, however much your family will eat. For my family that is a lot! Stir the rice and break up any clumps. Stir the rice until it is coated with the oil and the meat is mixed in.

Add some soy sauce. You want to add enough that it turns everything that nice shade of brown that says "fried rice" but not so much that it is overwhelmingly soy sauce-y. It all really depends on how much rice you have. Start small. You can always add more but it's really, really hard to remove it once you've added it in!!!

Next, add your veggies if they are already cooked. I add frozen peas and then cover the pan to let them steam.

Lastly, add the egg back in and stir everything together. Serve with soy sauce at the table. Enjoy! I figure this meal costs me about $3.50 for my whole family ($2.00 worth of meat, .20 for the rice, .25 for the peas, .25 for oil, .25 -.50 for the soy sauce, my eggs are free but I only use three so maybe another .50 for those?) I add some canned or fresh fruit to the meal, usually mandarin oranges they seem to fit. So the whole meal is less than $5.oo for my whole family.

And the best part? My family loves it.

The rest of our meals were pretty standard today.

Breakfast was banana muffins for all and chocolate milk or juice.

Lunch was bits and pieces for all. Kaden and Carina bought lunch for the last time this month. Hubby took leftover soup from last night.

Dinner was fried rice and oranges.

My family is on their own for dinner tomorrow night as I will be at a conference. Not sure what they will do!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Day 15 (and I'm starting to feel better)

I haven't had a cold - a real knock-down, drag-out cold - in a long time. But man, this thing has been rough! Finally today, day six, I'm starting to feel somewhat human again. It's about time!

I walked to work today and learned something important. I will not be wearing skirts to work this winter - my legs were frozen by the time I got to work! And it's only October! I guess I could invest in some tights that would match with my skirts and wear them but I'm not really a tights kinda gal.

I was weak and drove to my daughter's cross country meet, even though it was at the high school and it is only three blocks away. In my defense (very weak defense) I was worried about being late and missing her event. But I should have left earlier.

Meals today were good.

Breakfast was homemade oatmeal with brown sugar and frozen blackberries for Kaden and I (Kaden had another bowl for an after-school snack and asked for another one for a bed-time snack - I guess he likes it), toast for Carina, one-eyed egyptian for Jana (she took the PSAT today and needed brain food), cereal for Tali and Hubby.

Lunch was a slice of ham, cheese stick, carrots, graham crackers for me, leftovers for Hubby, bits and pieces for everyone else. Kaden took applesauce and graham crackers, yogurt, pretzels for snack. I'm not sure what everyone else took.

Dinner was ham and bean soup (really yummy) and garlic cheese biscuits from scratch. I'll have to post this recipe. I'm amazed at how easy and good these are. My family goes crazy for them.

I used up the very spotted bananas tonight and made banana muffins for breakfast tomorrow. There should be enough for everyone for breakfast and two people for snacks. Unless people are pigs before I wake up. Hey, it's happened.

I'm very jealous of everyone's gas prices. I was so excited that ours are $3.15 and everyone else is below $3! I want to move to were you live! Well, except I love this part of the country and my whole family is here and I'd miss them. And except my husband's job, that he loves, is here, and all my kids' friends and my job that I love. But hey, we'd have cheap gas!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day 14

Today I went grocery shopping and I'm proud to say I did really, really well.

Total: $40.38!

That gives me $9 and change for the rest of the week. On Saturday I'm going to a conference and I will need to eat out at lunch (we aren't allowed to bring food into the conference center). So I'll have to spend less than $9 won't I?

Meals for today:

Breakfast was the last of the homemade bread with cinnamon sugar (not on mine because I had the cheese bread and that would just be gross!)

Lunch was yogurts, cheese sticks, apples, graham crackers, leftovers for Hubby.

Dinner was ham and cheese toasted sandwiches, vegetable beef soup from a can and fruit. I bought a black forest ham at the store today and we will be making meals from it all week. Tomorrow will be ham and bean soup and bread. I better go put those beans on to soak right now.

On the gas front, I have almost exactly 1/2 tank of gas and tomorrow is half way through the month. Maybe I'll make it! I was driving home from groceries and an Arco station near us is selling gas for $3.15 a gallon! I haven't seen it that low in ages. And that price is SO close to under $3.00 a gallon. Think we'll get there?

What are gas prices like in your neck of the woods?


Day Thirteen

I should have posted this last night but this cold finally caught up with me and I went to bed early. After watching "Chuck" of course, and skimming through "Dancing With the Stars." After all, we have to have priorities.

Yesterday was a good day. The sun was shining, the crisp fall air is here in force, and for most of the day I felt really good. I walked to work - the car didn't move all day. I had put spaghetti sauce in the crockpot before I left for work so I came home to my house smelling yummy. And I'm almost half way through the month.

One of the nice things about this Month of Nothing has been the way it has freed me up to say "no" to things. Want to order books from the school book order? Sorry, no, it's our month of nothing. School fundraiser selling vats of chemical tasting cookie dough? Sorry, no, it's our month of nothing. These are all things which are "optional" but which, sadly, I usually cave in to when the sweet little faces of my children turn to me and plead, "Please?" But they are things that I probably should say no to more often, or at least be more selective. Maybe let them buy one book from the book order instead of a set. Buy one thing from the fund raiser instead of many, or don't buy from this fund raiser but spend a little extra on bingo night when the whole family is together having a good time.

I guess this is what I wanted out of the Month of Nothing - a fresh look at what I spend money on and why. Do we need books from the book order or could we check those same books out at the library? How many fund raisers can we really support? (I've been the PTA president for three years and been involved for 11 years so don't yell at me that we need to support our schools! I know how underfunded our schools are and fully recognize the need to fund raise. But when we get hit with three different fundraisers in one month I question whether we are going about it in the best way.)

Hopefully, when this month is over I won't go back blindly to my old ways. Hopefully I will have a new awareness of what is actually need vs. what I just want. And hopefully my family will also.

Meals today were:

Breakfast was homemade bread toasted. For the cheese bread I used my Bread Making 101 recipe, rolled it out after I punched it down after the first rise, brushed it with melted butter and sprinkled grated cheddar cheese. Then rolled it up and put it in the pan seam side down. The only change I would make would be to use less sugar in the original recipe. The slightly sweet bread with the cheese is a little odd. If you use 1/4 c. sugar instead of 1/3 c it should be fine, though it might need to rise slightly longer.

Lunch was bits and pieces. I had a cheese stick and the last of the lunch meat, an apple, a yogurt and a homemade granola bar. The little kids had yogurt, apples, graham crackers. I'm not sure what Hubby had.

Dinner was the afore mentioned spaghetti sauce over tortellini, sliced tomatoes from the garden, fruit cocktail from a can.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Menu Plan Monday (and Day Twelve)

I'm still in my "Month of Nothing" and going strong. I only spent $35 last week on groceries and I'm on track to do about the same for this week. I baked today so that we would have snacks for the week. I made another loaf of cinnamon swirl bread and then, because I have one kid who swears she doesn't like cinnamon, a made a loaf of cheddar swirl bread. It turned out pretty good. I just rolled the dough out like I would for a cinnamon swirl loaf and then brushed it with melted butter then sprinkled grated cheddar cheese, rolled it up and put it seam side down in the pan, let it rise then bake. It is good. Yum. Probably what I will have for breakfast tomorrow (if there's any left, that is).Doesn't that look good? I really need to work on my photography skills, they are not the best.

Meals for today were:

Breakfast was toast as we were running out the door to church.

Lunch is our big meal on Sundays, we had overnight waffles with jam and it was so good.

Dinner is whatever you can find on Sundays. I made apple oatmeal bars and a big bowl of parmesan popcorn. Some of us at only that. And I make no excuses. So there.

Here is the menu for this week. I'm going to buy a chunk of black forest ham and I'll make it last for several meals.

  • Homemade bread toasted
  • oatmeal with berries
  • muffins
  • cereal
  • leftovers
  • yogurt with granola
  • various bits and pieces
  • Ham fried rice, fruit
  • scalloped potatoes and ham, salad and/or veggies
  • ham and bean soup with bread
  • croquettes (we call these croquettes but they are really rice balls filled with mozzarella cheese and chunks of ham. The balls are rolled in bread crumbs and then either deep fried or, what I do, baked. The Italians call them arancini which means "little oranges" because they look a little like oranges when they are finished. Here's a recipe for arancini but I don't use the peas), fruit
  • Funeral Potatoes (a scalloped potato type thing, I know, I know, two scalloped potato things in one week. I pointed this out to my family when they suggested it but they didn't care. Whatever, potatoes are cheap. Fish Mama posted an almost identical recipe this week. Check out her Cheesy Potatoes)
  • Leftovers or pancakes
I should only have to buy the ham, some fresh fruit and veggies, sour cream, milk, yogurt, and a few other things I'm out of. I won't shop for this week until Tuesday night or Wednesday so for the rest of the week we'll be having the rest of last weeks menu (I'm off because I started my "weeks" when the month started and October started on a Wednesday).

I'm excited for this week's menu - most of these recipes are family favorites and so everyone should be happy at the dinner table all week. Weeks like this make a momma proud.

If you want ideas for how to make your crew happy at the dinner table, visit Organizing Junkie for more menu ideas.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day Eleven

Free grapes are great, unless you go crazy and bring home 70 lbs of them that you have to do something with today!

That is what I did today. Stupid girl. We went out to a beautiful farm on Sauvie Island and we could pick as many grapes, apples or asian pears we wanted. There were tons of apples, but I'd already done applesauce for this year so I just got enough for lunchboxes for the next week or so. There were very few asian pears so I just got a couple.

There were TONS of grapes! Purple concords, white concords and some that looked like champagne grapes. I got lots and lots of purple concords - 70 lbs worth!
Here they are all lined up on my counter. Here's what they looked like 6 hours (and a really sore back) later:
That is 25 quarts of grape juice. Supposedly, this is concentrated juice and I should be able to water it down and get a half gallon from each quart. I'm excited. I've never done grape juice before, it is a lot of work but I'm thinking it will be worth it. Especially since these 25 quarts cost me nothing except a lot of work!

Meals today:

Breakfast was an English muffin and chocolate milk for me. I left and was gone until 1 pm (picking grapes) so I don't know what everyone else had.

Lunch was leftovers for everyone. Roman Rice and beans wrapped up in tortillas.

Dinner was one-eyed Egyptians. I got three eggs today from my chickens! That means it is safe to start eating eggs because the chickens will produce enough to cover our use. Yeah!

Oh, I did buy a bottled water today. I took a Sudafed before I left to go picking and then forgot to take a water bottle with me. Sudafed dries me out and I was so thirsty! So I caved. Only 99 cents though.

Tomorrow I'm baking, for sure!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Day Ten

I had the day off today and it was lovely! I slept in, which did my cold a world of good. I still am very snuffily and drippy but I don't feel horrible.

My sister and I went and visited my other sister in the hospital (she had surgery but is doing fine), and then we went out to lunch. Yes, you read that right, we went out to lunch. And I paid for my lunch. And I didn't feel guilty about it at all. I know that I'm only supposed to be spending money on necessary things. But I felt like this was necessary - now that my sister and I are both working we never have time to get together and I really miss that. We really needed to connect. If I want to be really "good" I could count the $8 from Baja Fresh towards my $50 for the week. If I do that, I still have $7 left for another gallon of milk and some fresh fruit later in the week.

I am going to get free fruit tomorrow. I have a friend who invited me to go and I'm not sure exactly what it is going to be like but I'm going to go and check it out. There are apples, pears, grapes and "berries" although I have no idea what kind of berries. What kind of berry is still producing in October? I'll update you all tomorrow.

Meals for today:

Breakfast was who knows what! I had toast, some people had leftover pancakes from last night, some people had cereal.

Lunch was Baja Fresh for me, ramen noodles and apples (courtesy of Jana) for the kids, office provided lunch for Hubby.

Dinner was Roman Rice and Beans and fruit. We actually liked this fairly well. I think I would make it again but "tweak" it a little to fit our tastes.

I'm going to bed early so I can get some sleep and hopefully get rid of this cold!

Thanks for the suggestions on what to make. I'm definitely going to make cookies and brownie bites sound yummy!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Day Nine - In Which I Get a Cold

This morning I had a headache. The kind that is centered right behind your nose and eyes, you know? I thought, "That's weird, it almost feels like a sinus headache." I took a couple of motrin and felt fine the rest of the day.

Then while I was fixing dinner, it hit me.

"I'm getting a cold." I thought.

Then 15 minutes later I started sneezing. Then the congestion hit. Then the body aches. About an hour later I felt miserable. I'm now laying in my bed in my pajamas hoping that I have Nyquil (or the generic equivalent) in my medicine cabinet. If I don't, I'm in big trouble 'cause I'll never be able to sleep if I don't.

Do you think cold medicine is a "necessity?" I guess the answer depends on whether you are the one with a cold or not!

Meals today were:

Breakfast was english muffins with jam and chocolate milk (regular milk with Hershey's syrup added - don't judge me, we like it.), and apples.

Lunch for me was the last of the Thai noodles and snacks from treat day at work. Hubby took leftover Cornbean casserole from Tuesday night. The kids took yogurt, fruit, graham crackers, cheese sticks, etc.

Dinner was pancakes. Blueberry pancakes and potato pancakes. Not everyone likes potato pancakes and not everyone likes blueberry pancakes so if I make both, everyone is happy. Plus it's really cheap and yummy. We like to do breakfast for dinner. Everyone thinks it's a treat, I think it's easy, and it saves me money. How can you do better than that?

I took cinnamon bread to treat day today, and ended up with extra so the kids (ok, and me, too) had that for snacks.

I'm going to go drink some lemon honey tea, take some kind of drugs and go to bed. I have the day off tomorrow so I'm sleeping in and spending time with my sister. My plan is to bake this weekend so that I have snacks and lunch-box stuffers for next week. Muffins, more cinnamon bread, cookies, etc. Hopefully I'll feel better and have the energy for that.

What are your favorite baked things that you can send in lunches? I'm getting tired of my recipes and need some tried and true ones. Help!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Day Eight

Wah-hoo! I went grocery shopping today. I made a list in advance (after planning meals for the next week) and only got what was on my list.

Drum roll please!


And that included food for our bunnies!!! Yeah me! After I got through the check-out line and realized how low it was, I was kicking myself for saying no to a few things. I should have gotten more fruit for lunch boxes, for instance. But now I have almost $15 to make a run later in the week for a gallon for milk and a bag of apples or grapes.

One of the things that has been really great about this experience so far is that it is teaching me what I really don't want to run out of. I have a really well stocked pantry, and I keep it that way so that if I ever really had to feed my family for almost nothing, I could. But I'm realizing some things that I need to stock up on next time they are on sale. Olive oil, for example. I'm almost out of olive oil and that will take up half of my $50 to replace! For this month I would just switch over to canola oil, but I really like my olive oil! Next time I go to Costco, I'm buying two!

Meals for today:

Breakfast was cereal for some people and the last of the homemade bread toasted with homemade raspberry jam on it.

Lunch was Thai noodles for Hubby, rice, beans, cheese, salsa for me, yogurt and bits and pieces for the kids.

Dinner was chicken and rice soup, homemade breadsticks. Yum, it was really, really good.

I got sleep last night and I feel like a human today, amazing how that sleep stuff makes you feel all "well rested" and perky.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Day Seven

I'm so tired! It has been a very long day. I went to the city council meeting tonight. I didn't speak but just me being there reminds everyone about chickens.

I drove to work and to the city council meeting. I have a little less than 3/4 of a tank left in my car. I guess that is good since it is almost the 8th day of the month. I only drove to work because I was volunteering in Kaden's class before I work, I haven't gotten it together enough to walk and be there by 8 am! I'm walking the whole rest of the week.

I was rethinking my last post (where I said I would have $76 for food this week). I went shopping just before this whole experience began and I'm going to count that as my grocery spending for last week. That means that I will have $50 for this week (tomorrow to next Wednesday). Maybe a better way of doing this would be to say that I have $200 for the month, rather than per week? I don't know.

The other real bummer of this whole experience is having kids in school. My high school junior came home from school the other day and said, "I need $74 for a new choir dress and $40 for a choir retreat."

"What?" I asked. I hadn't seen anything about a choir retreat, and what was wrong with the choir dress from last year, and SEVENTY FOUR DOLLARS for a choir dress? I haven't spent that much on a dress for myself - ever! I think the fabric for my wedding dress cost less than that!

"It's not optional, Mom," my daughter replied. "My choir teacher already paid for both these things and now we have to reimburse her."

Well thanks for giving us parents some choice.

So now I have to pay $114 during my month of nothing. It isn't really optional because, well, because I'm responsible and I won't let my child be blamed by her teacher because her mom went crazy and decided to do a Month of Nothing. But it really bums me out. I wanted to end this month with lots of money left over.

My dryer is making funny noises, also. *sigh* So far the dryer is still running and it doesn't smell like anything is burning up so I'm going to keep using it. Then I'll string clothes line in the garage and hang stuff if I have to!

Meal for today were:

Breakfast was homemade bread toasted. I made two loaves, one cinnamon swirl loaf and one plain bread. We had the cinnamon swirl for breakfast and the plain one for snacks.

Lunch was Thai noodles for me and Hubby. Bits and pieces for the kids. Kaden bought lunch. I think he has two or three lunches left in his account.

Dinner was a Crusty Cornbean pie. It was ok, but no one jumped up and down about it. It was really cheap, though.

Tomorrow is another day, maybe I won't be as tired.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Menu Plan Monday Oct 6 - Oct 12

Ok, this should have been posted last night but I was tired and completely forgot about it!

We are still doing our month of nothing here in Crazyville, I have $20.76 left for this week, and - oh joy!- I realized that the new week starts on Wednesday. So, if I can make it to Wednesday, I can spend $70.76 on groceries. I probably won't though, I want to have money for later. Right now, we are still operating on things left over from last month, those will run out and I'm going to want more later, I'm sure.

I found a copy of Diet for a Small Planet, by Frances Moore Lappé. It was written in 1971 and is a book advocating a meatless diet to conserve the world's resources. Interestingly, the chair of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just came out with a statement urging people to eat less meat to help curb global warming. He recommends going meatless one day a week initially then increasing it. We eat vegetarian several days a week because I have veggie children and I'm too lazy to cook two meals so sometimes it's easier to just cook vegetarian. This week we will have three or four meals that are vegetarian (depending on what kind of soup I end up making). I'm trying two meals from Diet for a Small Planet.

So here is what we are having this week:

  • I'm determined to NOT have everyone eat cereal all week. I have lots of boxes of cereal, but I'd like them to last a long time! So, I'm going to make some homemade bread (which everyone likes toasted), one of the loaves will be cinnamon raisin bread. I'm also going to make some muffins for people to eat. But I'm sure that people will eat some cereal anyway.
  • The muffins will also work for lunches which will be good. Carina is out of money in her account so she will take lunch everyday for the rest of the month. I will need to buy some yogurts and some crackers/pretzels. The kids will take cheese and crackers, yogurts, homemade granola bars, fruit, muffins, peanut butter and jelly.
  • Hubby and I will take Thai noodles, leftovers and "fillers" of granola bars, crackers, muffins, fruit, carrots, etc.
  • Creamy Crockpot Chicken Thing (cream of broccoli cheese soup, milk, boneless skinless chicken breasts, in the crockpot, serve over brown rice), biscuits, salad.
  • Roman Rice and Beans (from the Diet for a Small Planet), bread?
  • Crusty Cornbean Pie (from the Diet for a Small Planet), fruit
  • Soup and bread (whatever soup I feel like, but probably bean soup in the crockpot)
  • Navajo tacos, rice, fruit
  • Spaghetti, bread, salad (we have Italian sausage in the freezer because I buy it in bulk at Costco)
Hop on over to Organizing Junkie to check out more menus.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Day Five

This whole one tank of gas for the month might be a problem. Today we went to a family birthday party. In was at my sister-in-law's house which, unfortunately, is about 40 minutes away from us. We used almost a quarter tank of gas today! Ugh! Well, we'll do the best we can.

I made granola today so that maybe we can stretch the cheap cereal. Today for meals we all ate whatever we could find. I slept in again and didn't fix anything for anyone. So there.

I'm making some Thai noodles for Hubby and I to take for lunches this week. The kids won't touch them, which is fine with me because it leaves even more for us!


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Day Four

Gotta love Saturdays, unless you are so busy that you don't get to sit down all day!

Remember those boxes of apples I talked about? They are now in the form of applesauce and in 20 quarts on my shelf. Not the boxes, just the apples. But you knew that, huh?

I also worked with my neighbor to make her yard escape proof so that our chickens could get out of their enclosure and roam around the yard. The enclosure is just too small and now that the rain has started it is a muddy mess. Now that they can peck all around the yard and hide under the trees and bushes when it gets really rainy. Plus they have access to green grass which they love! But it took forever to sting up bird netting on certain areas to prevent them access to Mr. Grumpy's yard.

I spent some money today. I bought 9 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts which were on sale for $1.69 a lb. plus a gallon of milk and a box of small mouth jar lids for the applesauce I did. It cost $20.24. I'm not sure if I'm going to count the box of jar lids towards my $50. I guess if I'm really desperate this week, I'll use that $1.89 later, but I think I'm going to be fine. So this week I've spent $29.24, meaning I have $20.76 left for this week. Don't tell my family but I'm stretching the milk by adding reconstituted powdered milk to the "real" stuff. I can't add much, cause they can tell but I can stretch it a little. I need to make up some straight powdered milk to use for baking etc.

Today was hard because I canned all day and I really didn't want cook dinner. Add that to the fact that Hubby really wanted pizza and we almost caved and got a Papa Murphy's take-and-bake pizza. But I settled for baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese sauce. We also had our last can of baked beans. I think I'll make some home-made ones in the crockpot and put them in the freezer - they are so nice to add as a side to a meal. Lunches were leftovers or Ramen noodles for the kids. I'm not sure what the kids had for breakfast since I slept in (HEAVEN!). I had leftovers for breakfast (don't judge me, it just sounded good).

Now I'm baking a cake for a family birthday party tomorrow and I'm going to iron my clothes for next week. Right now I'm sitting on my bed watching my Hubby iron his clothes. He also did the laundry and cleaned the house while I was canning and stringing bird netting. He's a keeper!

I'm off to iron!


Friday, October 3, 2008

Day Three

Today was a fun day. I went to work (I walked even though it was raining, yeah me!) and it was Friday treat day, that meant yummy treats in the staff room. Fridays are good days because I can usually get a lot of work done. I work in the library of an elementary school. I'm the media assistant - that means I check out the books, check in the books, re-shelve the books, mend the books, keep the library clean, and do a lot of computer stuff. On Fridays we only have two classes so I have more time for cleaning, doing computer stuff, etc. So I felt like I got a bunch of stuff done that I've been wanting to get done for weeks.

It was really raining on the way home, the kids opted to take the bus rather than walk with me. Tali had a chiropractor appointment at 5 pm and Hubby and the little kids were leaving for the Blazer Fan Fest (the local NBA team's fan appreciation night) at 4:45 so we had to have dinner ready early. Then take Tali to the chiro and after that to an activity at church. I did spend money on her chiro appointment (she runs cross country and has an injury. Injury "repair" is necessary!) and we drove to the appointment and to church (and Hubby drove to the Fan Fest).

Meals for today:

Breakfasts were banana bread and cereal and juice.

Lunches were bits and pieces (yogurts, cheese sticks, cinnamon bread, fruit, applesauce, graham crackers, etc). Hubby has a company lunch on Fridays. I took left over lentil soup and had snacks at work.

Dinner was Spanish tortilla (kind of like a frittata with potatoes), salad. Some of us ate the Spanish tortilla in a flour tortilla with ketchup (a breakfast burrito) because we ate them on the go to our various destinations.

The most exciting thing of the day was that I went to collect eggs from my chickens (that are living with the neighbors) and I was greeted with this:

This is a normal size egg and a very small "first-time" egg. That means that my baby chickens are starting to lay!! That means I will have enough eggs! Because of various factors, I've been getting only one egg a day - and sometimes not any eggs at all! I was very worried that I was going to have to spend some of my $50 on eggs - now I think I'll be ok.

Oh! I also spent $9 on a box of apples - that will come out of my $50 for this week. My friend found boxes of apples and I needed one for applesauce. Tomorrow I will can two more boxes of apples into applesauce. Oh joy!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day Two

Today was a day for walking. I walked to work, as I always do, and then after work I walked up to the high school. I had volunteered to work in the snack shack from 4 to 6. Thankfully, both work and the high school are only a few blocks away so it wasn't too bad. I did drive my car today. I was really trying to avoid it. Carina had a girls group meeting at church, Jim walked her there (church is two blocks away) but when it was time to pick her up it was dark and raining and the vice-presidential debate was on so no one wanted to take the time to walk there and back, so we drove. *sigh* I wish we were more disciplined.

The highlight of the day was watching the vice-presidential debate. My high-schoolers were very into it. That makes me happy - I'm raising kids who want to be involved in the political process and understand that it is important to be informed.

Meals for today were this:

Breakfast: Pretty much everyone had zucchini cinnamon bread and juice or chocolate milk, except Hubby. I'm pretty sure he had cereal (he always does).

Lunch: I took bits and pieces - lunch meat and cheese stick, apple, carrots and tomatoes from the garden, slice of zucchini bread. Kaden and Carina bought lunch (they both still have money in their accounts at school. They won't buy anymore this month when they run out.), Jana took a granola bar, Tali took bits and pieces too (Wheat Thins and Babybel, applesauce, yogurt, granola bar, etc) Hubby took leftover zucchini pie, peanuts, etc.

Dinner: lentil stew that I put in the crockpot before I left for work, salad, parmesan toast.

We had zucchini bread, fruit, hot cocoa, and crackers for snacks.

One of the nice things about where my husband works is that we get free food sometimes. No, he doesn't work at a restaurant or anything. One of his co-workers has a second job at a boys ranch which gets food donations all the time. Mostly it is produce and the boys ranch can't always use it up before it goes bad. Rather than let it rot, he brings it to work before it goes bad and anyone can take what they want. Today Hubby brought home bagged salad and a big bag of broccoli. We had salad tonight and tomorrow we will have steamed broccoli with whatever we end up having. It is a nice supplement to our budget.

Lots of people have access to free food - leftover muffins or sandwiches from meetings, garden overflow from neighbors and friends, invitations to dinner from family or friends, or other sources. I figure I'm never turning down free food! Tomorrow is snack day at my work (an assigned number of people bring snacks and treats for everyone. The people responsible rotate on a weekly basis), I'll be bringing a main dish (leftover lentil soup) and I'll supplement with snacks from the snack table. That way my lunch will cost almost nothing. Of course, when it's my turn to bring snacks I will spend a little more.

So, day two, not too bad. And tomorrow is FRIDAY!


Zucchini Pie

What to do with all those garden zucchinis? Other than zucchini bread (which I made two loaves of last night) this is what we do with it - make zucchini pie!

I found this recipe in my mother's recipe box. My mom died when I was 17 years old, later in life I went to my dad and step-mom's house and "stole" a few things that I wanted to keep - her recipe file, some of her cookbooks, and a few other things that I'm not going to say because my dad reads this blog sometimes.

I love reading the recipe file. Her handwriting brings back so many memories to me. As I read the recipes for Super Salsa or Crab Buns I can remember her fixing those things and eating them. I feel like I'm 14 again and at home - back when everything was simple and anything was possible.

I don't remember my mom making this particular recipe and it isn't written in her handwriting. In fact, it is cut out of our local paper, circa 1980. But this recipe intrigued me anyway. It has zucchini, lots of cheese, eggs, a crescent roll crust - kind of like a zucchini quiche.

It is very, very good. Everyone likes it, except Kaden. But Kaden has a thing about green food. Kids.

Zucchini Pie

Unroll a can of crescent rolls. Line a pie pan with the crescent rolls, press them as flat as you need to line the whole pan and up the sides. Make sure there are no gaps. Spread tsps prepared mustard around on the crescent rolls. Set pan aside.

In a 10 inch skillet brown:

1 c. chopped onion
4 c. sliced zucchini (you don't need to peel it. If the zucchini is really large, you can halve or quarter the slices)
1/2 c. margarine or butter (I use less than this and it still tastes great)

When they are tender and the onion is translucent turn of the heat, add:

1/2 c. chopped parsley (or 2 Tbs. dried parsley flakes)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder (I use more, we are garlic-aholics)
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp oregano
2 eggs well beaten
8 oz. (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix well then pour into the prepared crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 18 - 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If the crust is getting too brown, cover with tin foil the last 10 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, then slice into wedges and serve.

We like this with salad and biscuits. Or fruit is good also.

I took pictures of this last night, but the pictures turned out awful. I'm out of practice. I'll try to do better.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Day One (and the day before!)

I haven't spent one penny all day! Aren't you proud of me? This is gonna be easy!

Ok, now back to reality. I really haven't spent anything today but, really, it's only been one day. I did go shopping last night so that I wouldn't start the month out with a deficit. My budget for Costco was $75 but I spent $81 (in my defense, $17 of that was toilet paper, not food). I spent $99 at Winco (less than my usual budget of $125) and part of that was new make-up (I just got over an eye infection and was told to toss all my eye make-up and buy new so that I wouldn't cross-contaminate or some such thing). Do you know how expensive eye make-up is??

So, I shouldn't need to go shopping again until next week and then I'll only have $50. We'll see how that goes.

So far today this is what we've eaten:

Breakfasts: pretty much everyone had cereal except Kaden and I. Kaden had leftover pancakes and I had nothing. I know, I know . . . most important meal of the day, yada, yada, yada. I just forgot. Wednesdays are really busy mornings and I was walking to work when I realized that I hadn't ever eaten breakfast. I promise to do better.

Lunch: leftovers. I had refried beans, rice, cheese, salsa, tomatoes. And a banana, and a homemade granola bar. Kaden had peanut butter and jelly, kiwi, pretzels, and something else I can't remember right now. I don't know what the other kids had - they pack their own lunches, but I'm pretty sure they all had granola bars (the store bought kind, what will they do when those run out?)

Dinner: zucchini pie (recipe tonight or tomorrow), scratch cheese biscuits (I'm out of Bisquick, poor planning on my part, now I'm going to have to do biscuits from scratch all month!), canned peaches, tomatoes and grapes from the garden.

Tonight I'm going to be doing some baking. I have some zucchini that needs to be used up and I have bananas on the counter that are screaming "MUFFINS!" at me (did you know that bananas could scream? They can if they are turning brown and need to be used up). So tonight I will be making zucchini bread and banana muffins. These will be snacks and lunch-box rounder-outers (is that even a word?) for the rest of the week.

I haven't driven my car all day. Let's see how long we can let it sit.