Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pantry Challenge

I am going to do a pantry challenge to start out the new year.  Many people around the net are doing this starting on the 5th of January, but I am going to start it tomorrow with the exception of New Years Eve.  We usually have a big group over on New Years Eve and will usually do some finger foods and everyone requests Oreo balls which are not cheap to make.  Right now we have an abundance of deer meat and sausage in our freezer and we put up lots of green beans, squash, and tomatoes this year.  My pantry is also fairly full and I would really love to clean it out some.  The bonus to all of this is to save some money after overspending the month of December.  So to get started I baked some breads to start off our week.

We will eat the cinnamon roll and cinnamon bread for snacks and breakfast and the wheat bread will become sandwiches and accompany soup. 

Dinner tomorrow night will be white bean soup with the leftover turkey bones from Christmas.  I already had the beans in the pantry and then I added carrots from the fridge and garlic and onion that I already had.  The beans came with a seasoning packet that I will add.  All of it will go in the crock pot because we have some appointments tomorrow and I will not be here all day to cook it on the stove.

We have some leftover chicken in the fridge so I will make some chicken fried rice on Tuesday or some chicken broccoli cheese casserole if I can get some broccoli.  I will let you know what I decide.  I hope not to spend more than $200 this month in groceries.  I don't know if it will happen but that is the goal. 

El Salvador part 2

Now I am going to talk about our work in the village.  The village that we visited was about an hour drive outside of San Salvador.  The people there were so warm and inviting.  We had two goals while we were in the village.  One was to build new houses for two of the families and the other was to hold a mini vacation bible school for the village children.  The girls and I helped with the VBS because we were useless when it came to building houses.

These are from inside the house before we tore it down.

As you can see these are pretty primitive houses.  The have no running water and very little electricity.  They may have a light bulb but not much else.  This is what it looked like as they were going up and the finished product.

They were really excited to have a new house.

These are some pictures of us playing with the children.

The children were so sweet and loving in the village.  As you can see, it was hot and we were in the dirt.  We were filthy at the end of the day, but the children had fun.  It was so interesting to see these people still living so primitively.  They wash their clothes in the river and bathe there as well.  They all seem happy though and we can learn much from these people.  It doesn't take things to make yourself happy.  We loved the village and were sad when our time there was over.

On Saturday we did a Christmas party for the village at the beach.  I will post those pictures in another post. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014

We had a great Christmas yesterday.  We got up and opened our family presents to each other and then had my parents and my sister and her kids over for more presents and dinner.  It was a fun and relaxing day.  I really didn't do too much cooking and everyone chipped in and helped. The weeks leading up to Christmas made it so that we didn't get done much of what we usually get done during the holidays, but the holidays came just as well and I don't think anyone missed it too much.  It makes me think that we should scale down the holidays from now on.  You see, the week before we left for El Salvador I had exams for my college classes, had to get my Christmas presents done, and on top of that I had strep throat.  To make the strep worse I went to the Dr. on Sunday and the rapid strep test was negative and I was told it was a virus and was fine to go to work.  I worked all day Monday then  got a call Monday afternoon that it was strep and that I needed an antibiotic and shouldn't go to work on Tuesday.  The problem was that I was going to be off all the next week.  Well at 7:00 that night I had a fever of 102 and I was texting my co workers trying to decide if I should go to work the next day.  Luckily some of the other teachers made me come to my senses and I stayed home on Tuesday.  I went to work on Wednesday but still really did not feel well until Thursday so that whole week was pretty much shot.  Then we had to get ready to go to El Salvador then we left Monday morning not returning until the Monday before Christmas.  So to make a long story short not much got done for Christmas and it was OK!

So I just enjoyed sitting in my living room last night eating popcorn, watching TV and knitting.  I want to enjoy my time off for the holidays before school and my college classes start back.

Tomorrow we go and visit Tyler for Christmas.  This is our first visit since he has gone to the youth home.  I hope the visit goes well.  I know that he is angry with us for sending him there, but I do feel this is the best chance he has to have a good future.  Yall pray it goes well.

Well, I guess I have to go get a shower and try to tidy up this place.  I also want to undecorated today.  I love Christmas but I also like it out of here after it is over. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Remember why we celebrate this day.  It is the birth of our Lord and Savior.  Merry Christmas!

El Salvador 2014

The week before Christmas my oldest two girls and I took an 8 day trip to El Salvador.  Our church has been taking a team every year for four years.  My oldest daughter has gone two other times, but it was my first time and middle girl's first time.  I can't really describe adequately how I feel after this trip.  I have so many emotions.  I really love the landscape and the weather but at the same time it is dirty and riddled with garbage.  The people we met were so warm and welcoming, but at the same time there is so much crime and poverty.  I guess I will do several posts and talk about what we did.  On Monday was mostly a travel day.  When we arrived in the San Salvador airport we had to wait to see if four of our boxes had arrived.  We each traveled with carry on luggage and then put all of our toys and supplies that we brought under the plane.  There were 24 of us and we took 27 boxes and 5 didn't make it there on the first day. 
This was outside of the airport.  We had to get through all of those people to get to our bus.

The first night we wrapped about 500 Christmas presents to take to some of the orphanages that we were going to visit and for a village Christmas party.

On Tuesday we visited an home for special needs adults.  These guys were a lot of fun. 

I felt pretty good about this home.  It was a little run down in parts but not too bad and the residents looked like they were well taken care of.  After lunch in town we went to an orphanage for children with AIDS.  We weren't able to take any pictures in there, but the children were sweet and seemed to enjoy us.  We had cake and a piƱata. I didn't get to see inside of the home because we were outside, but it seemed ok as well.

On Wednesday we visited a home for special needs children.  Most of these children were severe and profound.  We danced with them and had cake and made balloon animals.  They seemed to enjoy us too. In here we weren't to take many pictures either so I won't post any.  The home used to be run by nuns so it was fairly nice.  In the afternoon we went to a boys orphanage for boys ages 12-17.  This place was pretty run down and used to be a prison.

These are pictures of the bathrooms and bedrooms.  They are pretty run down.  I met a boy there who liked to read and we gave him a Spanish bible.  He kept giving me hugs and seemed like he just needed some love.  I really enjoyed him and was sad when it was time to leave.

I will write tomorrow about building houses in the village and the fun we had at the Christmas party and at the beach. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why I love thrifting

I love shopping at thrift stores. I would say that the majority of our shirts, shoes and accessories come from thrift stores or are given to us from others. My kids are thin and it is hard to find thrifted pants. I am picky about what I buy. I like name brands and cute. Sometimes I find quit a lot and sometimes I find nothing. I try to hit my local store every other week and the one in the bigger city every time I am that way. As a result my kids have lots of clothes for a fraction of what they would cost new. 

Now the downside is that there are not always this years styles and sometimes you just want something new. One of those times is homecoming. We took a crew to shop. We wanted something modest but pretty. He we are shopping. 

Then we finally found the perfect one. 

It covers the top well. I would love for it to have been longer but this was long compared to most. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Family Decisions

Sometimes you have to make hard decisions that affect the whole family. Sometimes those decisions look bad in the short run but can reep benefits in the long run. My oldest is our biological nephew. He has recently gotten into some trouble and while it may not be the worst in the world it is troubling for us. We worry about what the future holds for him and what his influence will do for our family. Because of this we have consulted the outside help of a group home. This place is residential and would last for the next year and a half. It would provide him with help and an environment that we can't give him. It would give him a better start in life. If he is accepted it would be a big change and would definately not be frugal. We are going to have to pray about what we want to do. Life's struggles and decisions are always hard.

The best thing about all if this trouble that we have had is the support of our church family. Many people in our own family are not saved and don't understand why we make the decisions that we do. Having the support of other Christians has made this process easiesr to bear.  We love The Lord and we are so glad that he is always faithful.

Here is our picture from see you at the pole. Our church youth are so on fire for god. I just can't get enough of seeing that. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Braves Game

Every year Steven's work gives us Braves  tickets. With there being 7 of us and the tickets being so expensive we would not be able to go if they didn't give us these. They also tack on an extra $10 on each ticket for concessions and provide us hotdogs before the game. The weather was great even if the Braves lost. 

One thing that came to my mind while we were there is how different our family is from the main stream. With the extra money on our tickets we bought snacks and cokes while most were buying beer. We just don't enjoy those type of activities and we are rarely in big crowds. We prefer camping to amusement parks and would rather do activities with our church family than parties.  We would rather cook in than go out and would rather watch a movie at home than go to the movies. Since our shift has been more and more Christ like those things of the world don't appeal to us. We have made new kinds of friends and have had to distance ourselves from some family members. 

I am tired and need to wrap it up for bed. I have class tomorrow night and see you at the pole tomorrow. Long day!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

New School Year

The new school year is now in full swing. 

This is the first day of school. Don't they clean up well. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Last day of summer

Well it is the last day of summer for me.  I go back to pre planning on Monday.  I was saying just a week ago that I wasn't ready for summer to end, then yesterday I knew it was time.  The kids are getting bored with no structure.  They also got board this week because I had to go to professional learning and they had to stay home while I did that.  Ashley has been at band camp and is my only other driver, so they are stuck at home.  Today I want to take the kids to the local water park.  It is not big.  It has only two slides, a pool and a kiddie area but the younger kids enjoy it.  I usually get a lounge chair and a book a and enjoy myself.  I might slide once or twice but I mostly just hang out.  If the weather looks questionable we might go to a movie or something.

Yesterday we kept the baby so that my sister could get some sleep.  Oh I do remember the newborn stage and I hated not getting my sleep.

We just loved having her.  She didn't make but three noises but you know that we held her and spoiled her.  Fun fun!
We also got an addition to our family a few weeks ago.  It is a puppy.  She is really cute but really bad. I forgot how much work they are.  Like a baby.

Housebreaking is going great with little accidents anymore.  Every once in a while I find a little present but not as much as in the beginning. 
I thought this was great so I had to get a picture.  Steven is teaching the kids how to care for the cars.  Last night it was checking oil.  She got it pretty good.
I like seeing the learn new things.  These are things that you can't learn in school.  You have to learn it in real life.  I am just so glad that my husband will teach the kids these things.  They are lucky and they don't even know it.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pantry Challenge update

I did ok on my pantry challenge.  I did end up going to the store and spending over $100 before it was over.  We just ate everything in the house and no one wanted to eat the same foods again.  It wasn't a total flop.  I did have enough money left over to buy some school supplies.

I ended up buying 20 three ring binders.  That is a lot of notebooks.  I also bought about 20 packs of paper an a bunch of pencils.  I don't know where these go but they disappear.

Today we are keeping the baby for a while.  My sister has some loose ends to tie up at her school before she goes on her maternity leave.  A little baby is my favorite thing so that is fine with me.  After that we are going to talk to my principle about how I would so student teaching while I work.  This is going to be tricky so y'all pray for flexibility and solutions.  Then off the orthodontist.  That should wrap up the day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer is almost over

We are winding summer down around here.  I have had professional learning this week.  I have to say that the classes have been interesting.  I have one more day today.  What amazes me is how fast technology is moving in the classroom.  Every day there seems to be a new a better way to use technology to learn.  It is frightening how hard it is to keep up with it all.

Now that we are about to start school and the crazy schedule that goes along with it we are getting some freezer cooking done.  I like to have several things in the freezer that I can pull out and heat up.

Recently I started doing some crockpot freezer meals.  These meals have all of the ingredients layered in a gallon ziplock and then thrown in the crockpot in the morning.  I usually cook it frozen solid.  Then in the afternoon dinner is ready.  There are lots of these on pintrest.
One other thing that these kids love is yogurt.  I was buying lots of little containers, then I saw people making their own yogurt.  I tried the crockpot method and was not impressed.  It was too watery.  Then I tried the method that you cook on the stove and put it in jars in the cooler and it worked perfectly.  First heat one gallon of milk to 180 degrees on the stove,
Then put it in a sink with a few ice cubes and let it cool to 120 degrees.  I then add a cup of starter yogurt.  I use Yoplait.  I then add a cup of sugar and a few tablespoons of vanilla to make vanilla yogurt.  Then I transfer it to four quart canning jars and put them in a cooler.  I add enough hot water to make it about an inch deep and close the cooler lid.  I then leave it for about six hours.  I then have wonderful yogurt.  So I can make a whole gallon for under $4.00.
Well now I have to get ready for class.  Then I have two more days of summer then preplanning starts. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pantry Challenge update

Ok so life sometimes gets busy. My niece was born early on Wednesday night. My sister was supposed to have a c-section because she had one with her first. This baby came in a hurry with no time to wait. She had a vaginal birth and everyone is good. 
So my three year old nephew is staying with us so that they can get home and get settled in. He has fun here so he is no trouble. I took him shopping for his own baby so he wouldn't feel left out. 

What a cutie!

So the pantry Callenge is working out great. We had homemade waffles and bacon on Wednesday night.  

Thursday we took some taco meet out of the freezer and had tacos. I don't have a picture. Friday night was Emma's birthday cookout with hotdogs , cheese dip, and watermelon. I don't count that because it was a party.  
Yes I made the cake. The inside was rainbow colored. I need to get a picture from my hubby

Lunches have been sandwiches or leftovers and breakfasts usually consists of cereal, bagels, or eggs. We already had everything so no grocery money spent yet. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pantry Callenge

I see all over the web that people will regularly do pantry challenges to use up what is in the pantry and freezer and save some money. I am going to do this for the next two weeks for several reasons. My freezers are stuffed full and I need them cleaned out a little more. I have been putting up veggies which is a good thing but now it is really full. The second reason is to save some money. The beginning of the school year has lots of expenses so I need to get ready. 

I kind of started yesterday but I am really starting today. I am going to allow $25 a week for the next two weeks for food.  My normal is around $150 a week so this will be a challenge. This way I can buy some milk and fruits and veggies.  I will share every day what we ate and what I spent. 

This is my current hall pantry. 

This is not a great picture but is shows our hall pantry. We should have plenty to use. 

Returned from the beach

We have returned from the beach. It was lovely not to have to do the regular routine. We were lazy and went to the beach, read, and I did plenty of knitting. I still cooked because we were trying to go low budget. See our lovely seafood:

Instead do going out we cooked our own seafood. I don't mind cooking on vacation if someone else will do the clean up. That by the way is a great way to save money on vacation if you have a big family. We usually rent a condo or a house that has a full kitchen. It is usually cheaper than two hotel rooms. We sometimes bring food from home and sometime shop there or do a combination. I have made lots of freezer meals before we go so that when we get to out vacation everything is ready and I don't have to prepare anything. Either way cooking on vacation is a great money saver. 

There was now day that we had steady rain all day. We had told the kids that we would go play putt putt golf that night, but the weather was questionable. We opted to go bowling instead. This was great because we had not been bowling in years so this was a treat. 
Our scores were terrible but we had a good time and that is what matters!