Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Grocery Sale Cycles

I would love to trim down our grocery budget. A forum I am a part of has a great section called Frugality and Finances where I have learned a ton. Some I have already been doing and some that I have not even thought about doing. Couponing is one I will not spend that much time on. If I happen to find a coupon I will use it but spending all that time searching for them, digging through the Sunday paper, keeping track of them all. Its just not for me! One thing I have decided I can do is keep track of the loss leaders and store sale cycles.

We currently do a once a month trip to Costco for a lot of our food. Meat, cheese, milk, butter, some produce, frozen vegis, flour, other baking supplies, etc. We also buy some household items here. TP, shampoo, conditioner. We usually end up going a second time half way through the month for more milk and some produce. We get 2% back which pays for our membership plus some so I'll call that our coupon. :) We do weekly shopping at Trader Joe's for yogurt, produce, and some other things. I have a goal to get out of the weekly shopping under $30 and never seem to do it. Occasionally I will shop at Safeway or Fred Meyer instead of TJ's. And honestly I am not going to go to twelve different stores. I just don't have the time. Costco will continue. And I will do a mix of the other three depending on what is on sale and what we need that month.

In my search for information I was linked to the Hot Coupon World Forum. There is a wealth of information regarding monthly sale cycles. I am hoping it is accurate and will use this in addition to the sale flyers to try and eat in season and buy on sale.

Here is some of what is says about May. As this is for my notes, I have deleted some of the items out that I will not need to keep an eye on. Like paper plates, cups, disposable utensils, dog food, etc.

BBQ/Memorial Day promos-
BBQ Sauce
Salad dressing
Hot dogs
Hamburger/ground beef
Insect repellent
Allergy meds

Coupon inserts of Summer Blast-off theme
Cinco De Mayo promos –
Tacos, seasonings

National Pet Week promos-
Cat food

Memorial Day
May Day
Cinco de Mayo
Mother’s Day

Other Promotions this month:
Asian Pacific American Heritage month
National Allergy/Asthma Awareness month
National Asparagus month
National BBQ month
National Egg Month
National Hamburger Month
National Salad MonthNational Salsa Month
National Strawberry Month
Skin cancer awareness/prevention month
International Pickle Week
Armed Forces Day
Kentucky Derby

Produce in Season:
Apricots ~ New
Artichokes ~ Waning
Beans, Fava ~ Peak
Beans, Green ~ New
Blackberries ~ New
Broccoli ~ Waning
Cabbages ~ Waning
Cantaloupe ~ New
Cauliflower ~ Waning
Celeriac/Celery Root ~ Waning
Celery ~ Waning
Chard ~ Waning
Cherries ~ New
Corn ~ New
Fennel ~ Waning
Garlic, Green ~ Waning
Grapefruit ~ Waning
Greens Including Arugula, Dandelion, Fiddlehead Fern, Lettuces, Mizuna,
Honeydew ~ New
Kale ~ Waning
Mushrooms, Morels ~ Waning
Onions, Fresh/Spring ~ Waning
Onions, Sweet: Vidalia ~ Peak
Peaches ~ NewPeas,
Edible Pods ~ Peak
Peas, English/Shelling ~ Peak
Potatoes, New ~ New
Radish ~ Waning
Ramps ~ Peak
Raspberries ~ New
Rhubarb, Field ~ Waning
Salad Mix ~ Waning
Sorrel ~ Peak
Spinach ~ Waning
Squash, Zucchini ~ New
Watermelon ~ New

I am going to try and track the sales at Safeway and Fred Meyer (maybe just Safeway) to see what I can buy at the lowest and buy this in bulk to last till the next lowest priced sale. We are also continuing with our goal to make as much of our own food. Garden season is here, I am re-exploring making our own yogurt (last time was unsuccesful lol), we currently make almost all the bread we eat, and our chickens give us more than enough eggs. I still buy hot dog buns, bagels, and tortillas but those are on the list to go as soon as I try out the recipes I have waiting. :) I don't know how much I can trim off our budget as it is not huge anyway. We make most of our food from scratch all ready and are trying to cut down on the snacky foods so those things help. This will be interesting and I am looking forward to watching the sales to see what happens.

How do you do your grocery shopping? I would love to hear your tips and comments.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I find myself lately being drawn to blog posts about doing to much. This one in particular made me think about my days. Another good one here. I know I am overwhelmed with things to do. I have lists, charts, and organizational binders and they all sit neglected. This is nothing new to me. Seems once a month I am overwhelmed by the list of things I "need" to do. I get irritated that I "have" to do all these things and in protest don't do any of them. Well some I do cause well the kids can't feed themselves, nor the chickens, but the bathroom and laundry get neglected for sure. I have ever evolving plans to get everything in order, I will do things on certain days (my home management binder), the house will be clean, there will be bread baked, and clothing sewn, gardening will get done, and the kids will be involved in crafts and activites so that I will never hear the words "I'm bored, what should I do?" ever again.

Umm okay, yeah right. I am not super mom and I do not want to be. I do want to have a relatively uncluttered house. I'm not talking bare and sparkly clean. I just want to feel peace in my house and currently about once a month I do not. I want my house to feel cozy and inviting. I enjoy my kids art work on the bulletin boards and don't mind muddy footprints every now and then. I want to not feel rushed to get to the next thing on my list. Right now as I type I am thinking that the dishes need done and I have no plans yet for dinner (though I make a monthly menu plan!).

We are in the (constant) process of decluttering around here and it feels good to see things leave the house. I am relishing in the thought of baking bread tomorrow. This is one of those daily things I do that I really enjoy (too bad it only takes five minutes lol). I am also looking forward to sewing up some summer clothes I cut for Madeline yesterday. In the mean time I am going to slow down. If I don't get it done I will not stress about it. I am also going to make sure I get some me time. Sewing is wonderful me time but with so many little ones around I rarely get to do it. Gardening is also something I really enjoy and cannot wait for warmer weather to return! As for the cleaning, well it will get done, it (usually) does. It just may not be on the schedule I have planned and I am going to concentrate on what I am providing for my family and myself by doing it rather than the drudgery of the job.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Path to a One Car Family

Unintentionally we have been (once again :) ) thrown into a one car family. Joe's car we knew needs brakes (badly) and we had saved the $500 or so dollars to fix it. Well yesterday his transmission went out. Sigh... $1,000 possibly more if some other part is also broken.

This would not be such an issue if he was not required by his work to have a car. Some months he puts over 300 miles on his car driving from school to school, meetings with parents in their homes, and taking clients on field trips. He needs to be able to get a call from a school and be there quickly.

As soon as he called me to pick him up at the mechanics the wheels in my head started turning. Its almost summer, school is out, we can make a loose schedule and just try having one car. It means me waking up all four kids early some days to drive him to work. It also means the kids and I will have to get used to planning our days. No more wake up and decide to head to the zoo, the park, or a play day with friends. More planning of shopping trips and keeping better track of what we are running out of. All things I would love to have a handle on better anyway.

At some point today AAA will tow the honda here to the house. Not sure what we are going to do with it. Sell it, keep it in case we decide to fix it later, who knows. It is a pretty good time for this to happen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Water Harvesting

I just read this blog post and wanted to post about it. Mainly as a note to myself to look into this. lol. I live in a rainy area so this would be great. One of my friends has a barrel to catch water that I always see when I stop by. Of course whatever we do will be on a much smaller scale. :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hopes for Putting up Food 2009

I love to can. I love to look into my cupboard and see rows and rows of sparkling jars filled to the top with yummy goodness. I enjoy know that my freezer is full of home grown vegetables and farm picked fruit. That what I am feeding my family is grown with my love or the love of a local farmer. I wish I could say that what I can and freeze is enough to last us through the winter. We are far from that point but I do hope to be there in the future.

Right now our garden is pretty small. So instead of one or two of many plants as we usually do, we are concentrating on many of a few for the purpose of preserving. In past years we have visited a few local farms for things such as strawberries, pears, apples, blueberries, and peaches. Blackberries are obtained in monstrous quantities by visiting Great Grandma Evelyn and Gramdma Karen (who live in the same town) a little over an hour away. A fun filled day of picking and eating.

I am saddened to say that our little strawberry field is now gone. The local farmer tilled it under last year for cucumbers instead. So if you are local to Vancouver, WA and know of a good strawberry farm that is kid friendly please let me know! Last year strawberry jam was seriously missed in this household.

Onto my plans. I put them here in hopes that I get more accomplished. A note I can go and look at whenever I need to jog my memory. A note that won't accidentally get recycled, milk spilt on it, or turned into someones precious work of art. :)

This year I would like to can:

Strawberry jam
Blackberry jam
Tomato Sauce
Pasta Sauce (need to check info on canning this? Do I need a pressure cooker?)

I would like to freeze:

Green Beans
Grated Zuchini
Snap Peas

I would like to store if I can figure out some sort of a root cellar:

Potatoes (red and white)

I would like to dry:

Leftover Ham

Ham dinner on Sunday means many ham meals are to come. By the end of the week we should be sick of ham! Though we have been considering finding a ham on sale since Easter is over to freeze and do this again in about 6 months. I'm picky about my hams so this may or may not happen. Regular glazed hams just will not do!

Our menu is so far looking like this and may changed depending on the amount of ham we have left after each.

Monday Lentil soup with ham (freeze leftovers for lunches)
Tuesday White bean soup with ham (freeze leftovers for lunches)
Wednesday Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches
Thursday Ham and Eggs
Friday Ham PotPie (not so sure about this one but Joe says it sounds good)
Saturday if any left Baked Potatoes with ham

The actual days we eat these items may change as the week progresses. We will also get a few ham breakfasts out of the ham. First one was this morning. Ham with sliced potatoes, fruit, and twisty cinnamon bread made from a tiny little bit of dough I had left in the fridge.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Marah and Her Birth Story

3 years ago you made your entrance into the world. It was a wonderful day and though it did not go as we had planned I loved your birth. You are very strong willed and have opinions on everything. I love seeing you explore new things everyday and swear I can see your brain thinking about things.

Happy Birthday Marah!

Here is Marah's birth story cut and pasted from a message board I posted on shortly after she was born. Its long!

I had been having contations on and off for about a week. They would start about 7pm and go for a few hours. On Wednesday, 4/5/06, I was having alot of them and though this may be it. Well contax continued for most of the night but I was able to sleep in between them. Finally about 6am I could not sleep through them and got out of bed. I went back to bed about an hour later and slept for a little while. The contrax were strong but not regular in length or time between them at all. So I decided to go do a bunch of errands (had to get my drivers license renewed before the 11th) in town. I asked my brother to go with me in case I went into labor he could drive me home. So I continued to have contrax through out the day. Some of them were coming closer and at one point I really though I should not be driving around. LOL. So errands done I dropped my brother off at his house and started for home. At about 1:00 I called my DH to ask him a question and he answered the phone with "no you cannot be in labor now." He was joking and I told him no I was not. He was in class until five. When he got home I thought that maybe this was it but did not want to get to excited in case they stopped like previous times. So we took the kids on a walk and I had a ton of contrax while we were out. Then we went to dinner and the grocery store. I think I scared some guys (we live in a college town) in the dairy aisle. I had to stop and breathe through some of the contrax. When we got home we put the kids to bed, by now it was about 7:30pm. We did some cleaning and then decided to watch a movie. About 30 minutes into the movie I said I cannot watch any more because I cannot remember what is going on. I decided to call my best friend who had a three hour drive and tell her that it might be tonight. We decided to set up the birth tub and make the bed up, which I had been holding off doing because I was still thinking that these would stop. Well this took 45 minutes and I called my friend back and told her she should come. A while later ( I think about midnight??) my DH called our doula who said she was on her way. I asked her if I should call my MW (she is also this MW's apprentice) and she said that was up to me and do what felt right. So I had Joe call her because I was being very vocal through the contrax. MW heard me in the back ground and decided she should leave for our house which was 30 mins away. Well MW arrived first and then our doula. My friend Jennifer arrived shortly after this. I asked MW to check me and I was about 5cm. I was a bit dissapointed because I had been 3-4 about a week ago. Because baby was still posterior I had been laboring on hands and knees as this was most comfortable. But our doula suggested doing stairs with my feet really far apart. I could get down and then back up the stairs before a contraction came and I would plop down on my hands and knees. I had to have someone doing the double hip squeeze on me!!!! I have no idea how long I did this. At some point in here my DD woke up and we decided to call our "kid doula". DS slept through all of this though, except for yelling about tractors in his sleep, LOL. But finally I decided I wanted a shower. The shower was not that great so I got out and did more stairs. At one point my MW ( who had been resting) came up because I was making some "good noises" (her words) and said that why don't I try the tub. The tub was good but I still needed someone to do the hip squeeze. My DD wanted to get in the tub with me and DH said no to her but I told him to let her because I was thinking I would rather have her there now than later. Well after a few contrax in the tub I felt a gush of fluid and looked down. I thought my waters had broken but all I saw was red. I knew it was alot of blood because as it spread in the water it get darker instead of lighter. I called to my MW and she asked me to get out of the tub. I was still bleeding and she wanted to check me thinking maybe I was fully dilated. Well I was a 7 and she could strech me to an 8. Blood was still coming out, but baby's heartrate was perfect even through contractions. I was pretty scared a this point and MW asked me to go downstairs. So they wrapped me up and downstairs we went. MW went off to call some of the other MW's in the area (by now it was 2:30-3:00am) She came and asked if she could check me again once we were downstairs and I was a 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! From a 7 to a 3. She came and talked to us about transfering. She also asked if there was anyone we knew in Spokane that would let us labor at their house. She said that she still felt comfortable doing a HB at this point but would want to be closer to the hosp (we were a good 30 minutes away). We did not know anyone in Spokane that we are that close to so we asked her about txfring to Holy Family Hosp. Which is farther away but one of the docs is VBAC friendly. She said she would call and see who was the on call doc. Thank God it was Dr. B. He said to MW that yes bring us in but he is thinking I would have the baby in the car. Well we finally got all loaded up and left the house at about 3:50-4am. We arrived at the hospital about 4:45 am (MW rode with us so she could check heart tones on the way) and made our way up to L&D. I still could not sit so I rode in the wheelchair backwards. This was a sight and we have some pics of it, LOL! When I arrived Dr. B came in to talk with us and asked me what I wanted out of this birth. The staff was very respectful of us and knew we were a HB txfr. I did have an IV and they put me on the monitor. Baby was still looking great so Dr. B asked if he could check me I was at about 7! I was so happy, I thought it would take forever to get back from a 3. My MW had said that it would not take as long, and I think that once I knew we were on the way to the hosp I felt safer. The Dr. talked alot and I don't remember alot of it. He talked about putting in an internal monitor but I said I did not want my water broken. He said he would give a few hours to see if baby would turn and if not then he would like to break my water and try and turn baby. After he left I talked with MW about this and she said that this is one of the reasons she likes Dr. B so much he is really good at turning babies so she said after a few hours maybe we should try that. So I labored on the bed on hands and knees (still needing the hip squeeze). After a while I was grunting every now and then and MW checked me. I don't remember what I was but she said keep doing what I was doing. Well a little bit later I grunted/pushed uncontrollably and my water broke everywhere. It was the loudest pop. MW and doula both said it was the loudest they had ever heard. LOL. Well the nurse asked if I could try and get up so she could clean up the bed. It was soaked! MW suggested the toilet and I said after this contrax well they could see baby at this point and I yelled "she's coming" The Dr came in and said he had been praying my water would break. I never made it out of the bed to get it cleaned and they threw some more chux pads under me. I pushed for 9 minutes on hands and knees and she was born at 6:09 am (a little over an hour from arrival). Her cord was wrapped very tight around her neck but the Dr. managed to get it over her head so that DH could cut it. Well she came out and they bagged her for a few minutes her apgar was a 3. Later my MW and doula said that she was really okay and was sneezing and starting to cry but the hosp just wanted to be safe. I was able to hold her a few minutes later and she was beautiful!! I did it!!! the placenta came out a few minutes later and about 15% of it had abrupted. You could see the spots where it had torn off the uterine wall. We asked to keep the placenta and they bagged it up and gave it to our doula. Marah latched on a little while later and nursed for the next four hours. They did not even get to weigh her. She weighed in at 7lbs 13 oz and was 19 inches long. Her head was 13 inches. She did not have a bath, rec'd no vit K, no eye ointment, no shots, and did not leave her mommy or daddy's arms the whole time. The pediatrician cleared her to leave the hosp at 9 am but I was not cleared until later so we finally got out of there at about 3pm. Our kids were excited to see us, DS did not seem to care that we were gone at all, he woke up to "Aunt Jenny" and the "kid doula" DD was upset that she did not get to cut the cord but we told her that she got to help give the baby her first bath instead and that we could all look at the placenta later. It was amazing, It was not what I wanted, a HB, but she made it here and I was not cut again. I thank god that Dr B was on call the other hospitals would have wanted to section me right away. The staff was really supportive of our decisions and it was a very nice experience. Not at all what I expected from a txfr. But all is well and Marah is still nursing like crazy she is one week today and now weighs 8lbs 6oz. We did look at the placenta the next day and it was great. Nothing like 2 kids covered in blood at the dining room table. My DH thought it was so gross but the kids were amazed. The sac was still there and some of the cord. So it now sits in our freezer waiting for a tree.

Spring is here!

It has been such a nice few days here. I love Spring time. My birthday is coming up, I will be 28. As are the birthdays of about 13 other family members. What can I say my family enjoys July a lot for some reason. I love the warmer weather. It means staying outside for most of the days, less mud everywhere, tired kids at the end of the day, fresh dried laundry, more eggs, growth. Oh how I love spring.

This is Goldie, one of our chickens enjoying some sun and bugs.

We got a lot of the garden planted this Sunday after Church.

First line dry of the season. I cannot say enough how much I love these clotheslines. They are retractable and were less than $15 each. There is something calming to me about hanging clothes on the line. The smell, the slowness of it, I thoroughly enjoy it.

Diapers on the line

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring Planting

Garden season is here and I am so excited to get our seeds in the ground. If only the rain would stop. This year I decided to plant our normal plants as well as a large amount of certain things to can and freeze. Usually we plant a small assortment and seem to never have enough of what we actually want. So this year I went all out in my garden planning. What is usually a ripped out notebook paper with a crudely drawn map of the garden is now a to scale (one square is half a foot) map of the garden. Each section is marked out with how many plants and rows needed. As well as needed space between plants and space between rows. I even took it further one night and color coded by cold, warm, and hot plantings. lol I know I'm a dork. Lets take this even further though as I then put it in a sheet protector so it can be wiped clean once I return inside from planting with my handy map in hand.

So this years planting will be:

Green onion
Snap peas
Bok Choy
Carrots and Rainbow carrots

Potatoes (red and white)
Tomatoes (Roma and Cherry)

Bush Beans
Marigolds (pest control)

We opened up a huge section of the garden by taking out all the strawberries. These have been moved to long pots and a large box taken to a friend planting her first garden. I also have some herbs in pots on the porch (chives, thyme, dill, basil). We are also attempting pumpkins and watermelons (well the kids are) in pots on the front porch where I usually put flowers. This area is hot all summer long so hopefully these plants will do well here.

Goal for the weekend is to get the almost completed compost into the garden and till it in. Then get the first grouping of seeds planted. A bit later than I wanted but alas its been rainy, rainy, rainy.

Looking foward to this