Thursday, January 31, 2019

January Goals - Recap

My January focus is
Strengthening our Family Finances
Why did I pick this for January?  Because it sets the temperature for the rest of the year.  If we can start strong, we can carry on through the year but if we start behind, we can never catch up. 
Here is what I'm focusing on this month:
1) Become an active Shipt shopper.  For me, this means grabbing 2-4 shops a week.  I think this is doable between evenings and days Darryl takes off since I can only do this while he is home.  Never shopped once. Darryl started driving for Uber so he's working some later nights meaning there isn't a chance for me to go out. 
2) January will be a "no spend" month.  I've written out a calendar budget of all things planned.  Beyond that there is no spending outside of groceries and fuel.  No buying Kindle books, grabbing coffee, or picking up dinner :-)  Just trying to curb the spending and maybe even get a little ahead this month. So, this did not go well!  At first, I was discouraged and was trying to figure out why we were spending some money on unplanned items.  Then it hit me, we had been "no spend" since the end of October due to having one vehicle!  So, the first few weeks of January felt like freedom!!  There were things we truly needed that we hadn't purchased and, trust me, eating out at Taco Bell one night (on a gift card actually) was a long awaited treat!  I'm looking ahead and think we will try the no spend concept again in March and see if we can stick to it better! 
3) Cut the grocery bill.  I feel like I've made some progress on this but I would like to use the weekly add more paired up with mperks coupons and Ibotta.  Ibotta is a great way to earn money just for shopping.  I've managed to earn almost $100.00 and that's with not using it consistently.  I would like Ibotta money to become my scrapbooking fun so it motivates me more to use it ;-)  I did use Ibotta but it doesn't add up as fast as I'd like - still I'm saving it for my scrapbooking money.  Grocery prices went up, as I mentioned in a menu post awhile ago - so saving money has been even more difficult.  

I know it doesn't seem like a lot but I feel like if I can do these three things consistently this month, I can establish a pattern or habit that will continue throughout the year.  

If though that's my main focus, it doesn't mean I'm not looking at the other items on my list - I am.  I have goals for those items as well which might fall more into the "daily" goal concept. 
1) Add exercise to our daily routine.  I'm looking to just take a walk daily  The boys and started walking on a Monday evening mid-January . .then we had Ice Days the next two days HA!  Nothing kills a new "routine" like ice! Then throw in a major winter storm and "arctic cold" we didn't get much done outside of shoveling! 
2) Since this is a no spend month, projects are off limits so instead I want January to be a time I focus on working in the basement cleaning stuff up and out. With undecorating from Christmas and getting back into school, there hasn't been a lot of extra time to do deep cleaning. 
3) Get back to our school routine including Math Minutes and Cursive Writing.This was supposed to be our first full week back to school to do this but due to school cancellations, we've had extra friends here this week!  
4) Have one movie night at home this month Yes!  we've watched several :-) 
5) Find one activity to do this month as a family. I had planned to go to the Auto Show this week but the winter storm caused Darryl to take Monday off and therefore going to the Auto Show wasn't going to work.  
6) This is a no spend month, right? So I technically can't spend on getting one item for our grinch calendar 2019 but I should earn some Mperks rewards so I will plan to use that to pick up the first item. I actually had to use the first round of Mperks rewards to replace a broken Xbox controller HA!  But, I did get a second round by the end of the month and used it to buy the first Grinch gift. 
7) Make sure the Holiday Binder is up to date through New years. This is done!  
8) Scrapbooking - Use what I have here to finish up a few projects.  Also, use this no spend month to work on organizing photos on the external hard drive.  I worked on photos
9) Do the Flylady routine daily, weekly, for the month. Didn't do
10) Work on the first song to sing at church I've listened to some trying to pick one but haven't yet
11) Play piano - just play.  Not really measuring this but I just want to sit down and play. Other than helping the boys, I haven't played
12) I do need to reserve our camping spot for the Family Reunion so I do plan to use Shipt money to do that as soon as I get my first pay day. I didn't schedule a camping spot but I did reserve our hotel (which I don't have to pay for until we go!)  With this being 6 months away, there are just too many variables in place to plan a camping weekend - having a hotel gives us much more freedom on timing and planning
13) This should have technically been number one but I want to work on planning my day.  Taking time the night before and writing out specifics that I want to get done the following day.  This helps me so much on daily focus. I haven't been consistent every day with this but I continue to work on making a list and getting it done! 
14) A must - make sure that I'm two weeks ahead on my Co-Op class as I may not always have a vehicle/way to get to Friday School depending on when we are able to find a car to purchase.  I need to leave the next weeks lesson with my stuff at school each Friday that I am there. Not happening - I am working on the upcoming week now. 
15) Read, read, read.  First, I need to make my book goal list for the month and then I need to read.  I also want to start out this month reading outloud to the boys.  Maybe at lunch . . .I'm not sure yet. I did get some reading done, but not as much as I wanted to. 
16) Create a lunch schedule rotation that not only keeps my boys happy but doesn't repeat lunch and dinner options (such as chicken nuggets) .  Along with this, I want to work on their ability to eat a few more food items.  This is not an easy feat, trust me, but it's time to start stretching them just a little ;-) LOL  (I'm a little "picky" too so it won't be too crazy!) A little - still making progress
17) Complete our Taxes and file them by the end of the month.  Done
18) Help Josh with his gold AWANA sections daily.  He has a goal and I want to help him accomplish that goal! Also, finish January with all things current in school. Work on progress
19) Think about February plans - Valentine's Day and Darryl's birthday.  Lay out a plan, budget, etc.  Don't wait until the last minute to do things for these events. 

I got to thinking as I wrote out the first 15 goals - wouldn't it be great to have 19 goals each month for the whole "19" concept??  Well, it worked this month!  So maybe my focus for "19 in 19" is to try to accomplish 19 goals each month ;-)  

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Trip to Aldi's

As I've mentioned in several past Weekly Menu posts, I needed to try out Aldi's.  As silly as it seemed, it was a little overwhelming to me because, well, I know Meijer inside and out and it was so easy to just keep going.  Well, this past Saturday, in preparation for the big storm, I did the grocery shopping during the day.  I then mentioned that as a "family outing" after a treat of Taco Bell that we go to Aldi and walk around.  Well, only 2 of the 4 of us wanted to.  After dropping Darryl and Nate off at home, Josh and I went to Aldi's and walked around. 

We found some fun things.
 The Peanut Butter Cookies taste just like the Girl Scout Cookies!  I have tried the Mint Cookies and they aren't that great.  I also tried out the Caramels - wow, those are incredible! 
 Josh picked these out.  The trail mix is sooooo good!  He really likes the granola bars too. 
 I had seen these salad kits posted on facebook because they are so inexpensive - guess what, they are and they are super good!! 
Now, I bought this at Meijer - it cost $10.49.  Well, at Aldi, they had some ice melt and it was only $5.49.  Next time, I will get it at Aldi!!! 
Finally, I needed garbage bags since I forgot to buy them eariler.  These were about $2.00 cheaper than Meijer.  

So, yes, I've figured out that I can probably save some money at Aldi's.  Next week I will start at Aldi's for shopping and then finish up at Meijer. 

For me, it helped to be able to walk around the store without needing anything.  I could price shop and just see what types of things they have and what they don't have (like Darryl's yogurt) !!

I did buy Darryl some of his favorite canned spray cheese to try and he hated it HA!  I guess it is trial and error! 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A Snow Day

After a very mild winter, we got hit with a true snow storm on Monday. I can honestly say that I can't remember when the last time was that we had a true "Snow Storm Warning", not just a "Snow Advisory." 

So, I took some "before" photos:

 Most impressive is the beautiful blue sky and the sunshine! 
We had some snow at the end of last week so we weren't dealing with total green grass but we the total so far had only been a couple of inches.  Nothing too impressive.

Then, some after photos from Monday:

We ended up getting a total of about 11 inches on Monday.  

Amazingly, we are under a snow storm warning until Thursday.  Between snow, lake effect snow and "temps colder than Antarctica" I think we will be stuck at home for a bit! 

Monday, January 28, 2019

Origami Week 2

During our second week of Origami class, we started by watching this video above.  It's the story of an Origami Professional.  Nothing really exciting other than being able to hear his story and see his work.  He talks about how he started folding paper by folding paper Airplanes which was the perfect segway into our main project for the week.

This week we stepped away from true Origami and did more paper folding by making paper airplanes.

I used two different resources. The first was from In the Playroom and included these amazing directions for folding.
I also used instrutions show in the front of a Usborne Paper Plane book that my boys have.
Between those two resources, I picked out 4 different folding options for the students to make.

The goal was to fold them, fly them, and see which one went the farthest for each student.  Once they figured out which one went the farthest, they then had to color it for our display table for presentation night.  The others they got to take home.

For the second part of our class, we worked on folding Cootie Catchers.
I thought this idea from Krokotak were really cute to make.

Plus I also supplied this one from Red Ted Art as something extra to do.

All in all it was a good day.

A few photos from our day:

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Sunday Worship - For All You Are

This is a song I heard several months ago.  We were at a church where Darryl's group was going to be leading worship.  The sound guy for the group had this CD/song playing when we arrived and it just spoke to my heart so much!  I made a note of it on my phone and then forgot about it until a week ago.  I don't think I've ever heard it on the radio or any other place, actually, so hopefully you enjoy it.

 I apologize for the crazy background on the video but I love videos with lyrics!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Our week in photos #4

We had a quiet week partly because the kids spent a few days with my mom.  Darryl and I enjoyed a non-eventful weekend too.

We started out the week with a snowstorm.  We've had a pretty mild winter but Saturday made up for it.  In the end, we only got a few inches of snow - so not a true storm - but much better than the ice we had last week.

On Sunday, Darryl and I enjoyed eating lunch out together and going to Meijer.  I know, wow, but we used to always shop together and never do now so it's actually kind of fun.  Plus Darryl can then pick out his food for his lunch instead of me buying what I think he wants!!

Since I couldn't go anywhere on Saturday due to the bad roads, I took advantage of Monday when I unexpectedly didn't have to babysit (School was cancelled and the parents were home since they had the day off due to MLK day).  I treated myself to breakfast at McDonald's.  Then went to the Laundromat before heading to see a movie at the $5.00 ticket theater.  I actually enjoy going by myself every once in awhile.  Then I headed for home and did grocery shopping before Darryl and I went out to Pizza Hut for Dinner.

The boys came home Tuesday just in time for an ice event to hit again so we were home on Wednesday with our friends all day.  Thursday we started back to school with some easy lessons.

Friday we attended Friday School once again!
 Nate packing up a bag for the homeless for the Grateful Hearts Class
 Nate, in the solid yellow belt, doing TKD
 This is the Grateful Hearts class.  It is a service project class so they packed these Homeless bags for the local food bank to hand out as needed.  Josh and Nate are both in this class. 
 Josh taking French class.  He has always had a love for languages.  
 Nate is on the end - this is Fishing class.  I think it surprised him how much he is enjoying the class. 
 Nate in "Stones and Bones" 
 Josh in Origami - we made Paper Airplanes

Having fun seeing which airplane would go the farthest. 

Finally, after we got home, the boys went outside and played in the snow for a bit. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Weekly Menu

I actually stuck to the plan last week.  It might have helped just a little that we ate out since the kids were gone until Tuesday. HA!  This is a new week though - and the kids are here every day and expect to be fed.
 That makes me laugh :-)  There is truth to that some weeks!!!

Anyway, here is the plan for the coming week:

Friday:  Spaghetti Pie, Green beans, and Garlic Biscuits! (This was actually planned for Thursday night but there were SOOO many leftovers in the fridge, that we cleaned out the fridge instead)

Saturday: Sloppy Joes and Fries

Sunday: Stuffed Shells, Green Beans and Garlic Bread

Monday: Baked potatoes with leftover Sloppy Joes

Tuesday:  Tacos

Wednesday: During AWANA "season" this is my float day.  I plan leftovers/kid favorites but also know we can grab something out (Taco Bell is the cheapest!) if I really don't want to cook!

Thursday: Chicken Legs in the crock pot, Mac and Cheese and Broccoli

And then, just for fun - this quote makes me laugh every.single.time.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Family Favorites - Buttered Noodles

Have you ever been to Frankenmuth and ordered the family style dinner?  If so, you have tasted those amazing buttered noodles with the cracker topping.  Oh my goodness, I could eat those all day long.  After a visit there several years ago, I started searching for a copy cat recipe to get as close as possible to that wonderful dish.  (Actually, I was looking for a squash recipe to begin with and when I couldn't find that, I searched for the noodles!)  I'll be honest, one of the keys to this recipe is buying Amish Noodles.  I found these at Meijer quite by accident the first time I decided to make this recipe:
Which, by the way, Das Essenhaus is also an amazing place to eat in Shippshawana Indiana.  Such fabulous food!  Back to the noodles.  Another reason I love this recipe is because it is a TRUE family favorite in the fact that every person in the family loves these noodles.  That is success in my book!

1/2 gallon water (or enough to cook the noodles in like you normally would!)
2 chicken bouillon cubes
8 ounces extra wide egg noodles (I just use the bag of Amish Noodles shown above)
1/2 cup water
6 ounces of butter (or 12 Tablespoons!)
Ritz Crackers (and they must be Ritz!), crushed

Add 1 bullion cube to the "noodle" water in a medium put, bring to a boil.  Add noodles and set a timer for 1 min. longer than the longest time listed on the package, stir a couple of times while cooking.

While the noodles are boiling, add 1/2 cup water, chicken bullion cube, and butter to a microwave safe dish and microwave for 45 secs. - 1 minute (or until butter is melted. 

  1. When noodles are done drain water from pot but do not rinse, add butter mixture and parsley. Mix well until most liquid is absorbed, about a minute.
  2. Serve immediately with crushed Ritz crackers on top.
So, super easy and super tasty! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Homemade Valentine's Ideas

Do you realize that Valentine's Day is less than a month away?  Well it is.  We do a little "Valentine's Party" with our co-op so the boys make Valentine's to hand out to each family (and extras to hand out to their close friends)  I've been searching Pinterest for fun (cheap) ideas and thought I would share a few here.

Landeelu provides a free printable and easy instructions to make these cute Emoji Valentines. 

 This is a cute idea from the gracious wife that's simple and easy.  

I have a Starburst loving kid who might like this idea from Capturing Joy.

Creations by Kara gives a simple idea using Laffy Taffy - another favorite of one of my boys. 

Passion for Savings gives a cute idea too!  

Here's another idea from The Gracious Wife that is super cute. 

So, what are we doing?  You'll have to wait for that!  I put together a Pinterest Folder with 8-10 ideas that I'm willing to help the boys with and then I let them pick.  Last year they couldn't decide so they each picked two ideas and made those.  I'm hoping they only pick one idea each this year!  Once our ideas are complete, I'll be sure to share! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Our favorite games

My boys really enjoy games - especially Nate.  I thought I would share some of our favorite games for all of you!

 We first played Pictureka while visited my brother and sister-in-law in South Carolina.  Nate fell in love with this game.  When we were leaving, my sister-in-law gave it to him and he was thrilled.  I will admit that when we have a game night, I always love it when this game comes out!  It's a great version of "I spy" and really, truly, fun! 
 Blokus is a game Josh got for his birthday.  It was recommended on another blog and got great reviews.  I ordered it and hoped for the best.  The boys love it and learned it quickly.  I love this game because they are able to teach other people - they taught our little friends who come over how to play and they took it to their Grandparents and taught their Grandma how to play too!  It goes really quick - and lets admit it folks, no one likes a game that lasts hours with kids! 
 I'll be honest, this is not my favorite game BUT the boys love it.  Josh asked for this for Christmas about 4 years ago I believe.  It is a true Chess game but one side has images on the board to help with moving and you use cards that tell you which piece to move and how to move it.  It's a great way to learn the game.  I just don't enjoy it because 1) I don't like Chess and 2) it does take a while to finish a game! 
 This was another birthday game!  It had been on my list for a few years as a fun game to get and I finally picked it up for Josh.  It's fun, active, and easy to play.  It also goes fast.  The balls are similar to ping pong balls - I thought they would be hard or something and was surprised at how easy they bounce into the squares. 
This is another game from my Sister-in-Law and is fabulous for preschool/Kinders!  It's a simple matching bingo style game.  My boys will still pull this one out just fun. 

Nate pick this game up at our AWANA fair last year.  He loves cup stacking and this game didn't disappoint.  The cups are small which makes the "race" more interesting as you try to stack your cups in the order shown on the cards and be the first to hit the bell.  It is a stressful game HA!  But just so much fun!