Sunday, January 26, 2020

Peek at the grocery budget; meal rundown

Dinner at our house last week:

Sunday - Two orders of fajitas from a restaurant and two free kids meals.
Monday - Chicken and vegetable soup. I've gotten into the habit of boiling a chicken on Saturday which makes a lot of broth and enough meat for a few meals (mostly lunches). Soup was from Saturday chicken.
Tuesday - Beef stew, including sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, peas, sage, and thyme. I took my lunch break early in the day to get the stew started so that it had five hours to stew on the stove before I got home from work.
Wednesday - Bunless hamburgers and roasted broccoli and onion
Thursday - Turkey tacos with corn tortillas, fajita peppers, and guacamole  (I had a taco salad)
Friday - Steak and asparagus. The kids always eat the same meals as the parents in this house but I did make them hot dogs instead of the crazy expensive steak my husband brought home from the meat market. The stingy adults should have shared the steak though because we both ate way too much.
Saturday - Chili.
My chili is about two pounds of ground beef. One onion. Three peppers: yellow, red, and orange. A can of no salt added tomato sauce. A little water. Tons of spice: chili pwd. garlic pwd. salt, cumin, oregano. Simmered for about an hour. We seriously love it!

Breakfast is usually a granola bar or fruit and nut bar or scrambled eggs.
Lunches are often leftovers or very kid-ish, like dino nuggets or mac n cheese.
I feel like there's a lot of snacking in our house, dried fruits, nuts, cheese, granola bars or fruit and nut bars, crackers. Lots of snacking!

As far as beverages go I drink a lot of coffee and tea.
My husband drinks a lot of soda water.
The little lady drinks a lot of milk and Abe just drinks a lot of water.
We really don't buy pop or juice unless we're eating out somewhere.

That's pretty much the rundown 😋

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Spending, January week 3

January 19 thru January 25th

I am no where near the $24 a day budget I'm shooting for BUT I'm not upset with my spending.

We haven't been eating out much (about once a week). My husband would eat out four or five times a week if I allowed it. I haven't been buying coffees at work. And I've been bringing lunch to work with me/ not buying anything to eat or drink while working. We've been eating really healthy food; haven't been eating sugary treats or any desserts (or spending any money on such items).

My "stuff" category has had relatively light spending and I've gotten pretty good deals on what I have purchased there.

Life is expensive! Right now I think I'll shoot for closing out January with a $30 a day spending average. That allows $167 to spend next week. My weekly spending has been over $200 so it's a fair challenge.

Groceries: $123.87
Meat, veggies, fruit, fruit and nut bars, nuts. Soda water. Oh, of course, coffee grounds and tea. Milk. That about sums up all of the grocery spending.

Eating out: $41.36
This week we had the "kids eat free" Sunday meal from a local Mexican restaurant. On Thursday I took a long lunch break to meet my husband at the dentist, grab the kids (so they didn't have to sit through is hour long cleaning) and I brought them through the McDonald's drive thru for happy meals before we headed home. I also got myself a medium black coffee from McDonalds.

Household items/ toiletries: $28.98
This week I bought $24.99 worth of diapers. Won't need those for a few weeks now.

Stuff: $16.74
I spent $10.90 on a mug for mom's birthday and $5.84 on a Valentines gift for Abe. That's $16.74 this week on gifts in the stuff category.

Grand Total this week: $210.95

Average daily spending this year: $30.71

A few cents down from $30.93

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Cold, Quiet, Calm, budget rambling

I've woke up well before the kiddos this morning. Generally Abe wakes up before anyone. I've had a very lovely few hours of quiet time. I haven't been able to comment in blogger for awhile now and until this morning's strange bit of peace and quiet I haven't had an opportunity to try and figure out what the problem is. Well, after at least 30 minutes of poking around I am happy to report that I think I've figured out whats been wrong (something to do with cookies... not the delicious kind) and I was able to just leave two comments on blogger for the first time in ages!
Little victories 😊

I've also used this bit of very rare mom time to look over my very abused budget which I've set at an average of $24 a day for the year.
Currently I sit at an average of $30.93 a day .
If I wish to end January on budget there's only $187.25 left to spend this month ($14.40 a day).

In all honesty, brutal honesty is my policy, I'll be happy if I spend $187.25 or less this week. BUT I am up for the challenge, at least I feel like I am right now after having had a good amount of coffee and several hours of peace and quiet.

Thirteen Days. $187.25
and GO...

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Spending, January Week Two

January 12th thru the 18th

Groceries: $192.65
I purchased two pounds of salmon, a whole chicken, and several pounds of ground beef this week. Right there my grocery bill spiked. Oh yeah, my husband also brought home pre-cut beef chunks for last nights dinner, a superbly delicious beef stew that I stewed for five hours. I always regret asking him to bring home meat though. I told him to get a very cheap hunk of meat but... well, I should have known.

At present I have a whole chicken, about three pounds of ground beef, and tons of veggies on hand so hopefully that will bring down next weeks grocery budget.

Eating out: $31.78
We ate one meal out and I did not buy any coffees. If you ask me that's a win for the eating out category this week!

Household supplies/ toiletries: $19.03
Boring category. Not much to say here.

Clothing: $13.33
This was a fun one. Abe picked out a winter coat for next year from all the coats that have recently gone on clearance. The coat was originally $40. The clearance price was $20. There was an additional 30% off the clearance price. And I have a %10 store discount on clothing that applies at the end. One $40 winter coat for $13.33. He should be able to wear it next year and the year following. Win ✔️

Grand Total this week: $256.79

Average Daily Spending this year $30.93

Yikes! Even though spending is considerably higher than I'd like, I'm happy with my purchases. We didn't eat any fast food or any pizza. We ate out only one meal and I didn't buy any coffees. I purchased a ton of healthy foods. We were all well fed. And I'm very happy with the winter coat purchase. Also, I didn't buy any extra items, non food, non household supplies; no "stuff" category this week. Too bad it ended up costing so much just to eat but que sera sera.

Huge new coat

Monday, January 13, 2020

First Spending Tally of the Year

January 1st through January 11th

Groceries: $160.83

Household supplies/ toiletries: $22.98
I've included diapers under this category but we shall begin potty training next month so I anticipate that won't be an enormous expense this year. Yay!

Eating out: $86.28
This total included four coffees. I've already decided to start bringing tea to work with me. I'm also cutting out coffee creamer this year. We have a Starbucks at our store (where I work) and as much as I generally like Starbucks coffee I can't drink it black. The ones they choose to keep brewed are always too bitter.

Also, the eating out expense is WAY too high already but we went to one of my husband's favorite Mexican restaurants and spent $46 on one meal! This same restaurant does free kids meals on Sunday's so we've already decided we will not be eating there again any time soon unless it's a Sunday. I have a hard time paying more than $30/ $35 at a restaurant.

Stuff: $16.22
I spent $6.90 on a puzzle, $9.32 on Christmas items on clearance: wrapping paper, bows, lights, a decoration for Abe's room next year. I think there was a bit more but I can't remember what...

Clothing: $13.65
Two pair of pants on clearance for Abe.

Grand Total for 11 days: $299.96

Average daily spending: $27.27


Average daily spending rules recap. I do not include any bills in the daily spending. I also do not include gasoline. My kiddos are homeschooled and its my budget. I make the rules. I don't include school expenses in the average daily spend: books, curriculum, crafting supplies, classes outside of the home, field trips. I do however limit what I consider a school expense. If we purchase something on a field trip for example that would still be normal spending. I also don't call fun or unique outings field trips unless there are other students along. I won't exclude anything purchased for baby Wren on schooling terms because she's only one. Even though she is always learning she is not currently being schooled. That would be cheating.

The baby is a darling little lady now

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Have we given up on the fresh start?

I've worked in a supercenter for over sixteen years now. That's long enough to know that Christmas totally rolls out before Halloween is done. Thanksgiving is just a tiny blip on the radar. Swimsuits stop being sold one month into summer and you can't buy a winter hat no matter how frigid cold it is past mid February (it snows here well into April).

The other thing I've seen these past sixteen years is that New Year's Resolutions is a season. We fill the store with exercise equipment endcaps, weights, water bottles, yoga mats. The seasonal area (you know, where Holidays and garden time live) fills with vitamins, diet bars, protein shakes, the list goes on and on. The grocery side of the store runs ads and sales on "the healthy foods." It's tradition. People want to hope for a fresh start in January. Right? And the stores market to that.

Not this year. I have the vast majority of my Valentines AND Easter displayer out right now. A few hit the floor before Christmas was over. The main aisles house a slew of Valentines items. The seasonal pad... can you guess what it's gone to now that the 90% off Christmas clearance has been stormed? GARDEN! Mind you, the Farmer's Almanac estimates our last frost date to be MAY 2. GARDEN?

I noticed on facebook this month that almost no one was posting New Year's Resolution related things. I noticed that more people posted New Year's Resolution mocking memes and comments than that actually posted the fresh start ideas. Maybe my friends are just extra cynical. I can go with that. But the enormous store I work in too? Who decided that 2020 was the year that the New Year's Resolutions tradition dies?

Politics and political discourse has ramped up in the absolute most negative way. Political ideologies are tearing people apart in a way they never have before, or at least haven't in modern times. Social media is giving people an outlet to be cruel and heartless in ways that my generation and all those before us could have never imagined. More and more children are smoking and using other illegal substances at very young ages. Caffeine and sugar (too of my favorite things) are the fuel that much of the population runs on. The world is right at the very edge of war. And now is when we've decided that we're over this fresh new start thing? Really?

Has anyone else noticed that New Year's Resolutions seemingly became out of date this year?
A whole new decade. A whole new way of life. We're too good for goals and new beginnings now?
I feel I am growing old very quickly.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Replying to Comments/ $24 a day

I have tried to reply to comments lately and I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.
Blogger isn't letting me reply...

In response to these two comments:

Then why not make your goal $20 a day? Children are expensive (even I as non-parent realize that!) and even with just one in 2014 you were spending $18.40. Or are you better aiming for the nearly impossible? I used to enjoy your "the numbers are in" posts.

I agree with frugally challenged. $20 seems like a decent starting point. Maybe you should consider a range of between $20-$25( $7300- $9125). That would keep you in the under $10,000 range.

Before I settled on an $18 a day average goal for this year I took several things into consideration.
1.) It would be impossible for me to average $12 a day like I shot for nine years ago
2.) We have two additional people in the family now
3.) We had three pets in 2011
We've had to witness the passing of all our furry babies and no longer have any pets
4.) Inflation has made it impossible to try and spend comparable to 2011 spending

To answer the first question: I'm really, really, really bad at hitting where I aim. I've found, over the past five to ten years, that whenever I set goals for myself I fall just short. Its true. Its probably a mental thing but I am not good at hitting my mark.

I thought that if I set my goal at $18 a day (hoping to at least come in for the year under $20.01) I'd most likely come really close to $20 a day.

After having read and pondered the second comment I'm realizing I didn't factor in many additional things.
1.) My son is eating more and more.
2.) I mostly cook from scratch now which is considerably more expensive than eating raman noodles and easy cook meals. Fresh foods cost more than processed.
3.) We will be getting a puppy in the spring time so having no pets isn't accurate.
4.) When I finally incorporated all my kiddo expenses into the average daily spend tally for little Abe we hit $18.40 a day average for the year
5.) I'm mildly crazy and always too hard on myself

Working it out:

$4380 is $12 a day. I never hit that target.
$5000.50 is $13.70 a day. That was my actual spending the year I started this blog.
$6570 is $18 a day. Where I'd originally set this year's goal.
$8760 is $24 a day. That's still considerably under $10,000 spending for the year and I think I really like that number.

I'm definitely going to change the goal for the year to $24 a day.
Since I started with a $12 a day goal (as the blog is and will remain named) and we've added two family members since then, cooking mostly from scratch now and inflation aside, doubling $12 a day after having doubled the family size is really VERY practical.

And yes, I'm still really long winded.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Re-working the Average Daily Spending

Welcome to $12 a day! LOL. For real though. Laughing out loud.
I started this blog several YEARS ago challenging myself to live off of $12 a day, everything under that umbrella: food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, gifts, clothing, vacations, pet supplies... you get the idea. Everything. It was a fun experiment and I learned so much from the challenge.

I ended that year, nine years ago with an average daily spending of $13.70 a day.
$1.70 a day over budget which adds up to just over $5000. Still a huge win for me because I tracked my spending so closely, spent SOOOOOOO very much less than I would have otherwise and learned so many valuable lessons. Additionally, I had fun.

Nine years and two new family members later I feel like my spending is out of control. Money is so difficult. One of the valuable lessons I learned from this blog is that when you meticulously track your incoming and outgoing finances you're automatically in much better financial shape.

There is no possible way I could commit to $12 a day, two more people in the family, inflation over the past nine years and all that jazz; I think $18 a day would be a better goal (not gonna hide the fact, I'd be thrilled with a $20 a day average for the year).

All that said I'm going to at least track, ideally report, and hopefully do a pretty good job with the average daily spending for 2020. In truth, I have no idea what the average daily spending was for the past three years. So this will be a fun new challenge.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Happy 2020

Well, the baby is hardly a baby anymore


Bring on another year of crazy, busy, go, go, go.
We're ready!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

more of autumn

Someone has been dreaming of jumping into leaf piles for weeks. He's been talking about it for week too. Yesterday we had our first snow that officially stuck. Today, minutes before I'm about to leave for work, I look out the window to see that yesterday's dusting has become several inches of heavenly ground covering. I won't be home to see it but I have a currently sweet dreaming young seven year old who will be waking this morning with joy and exuberance. Around 7:00am while I'm going about my normal duties at work I will be able know for certainty that this said seven year old will be throwing his snow clothes on and running outside to play.

Rewind a few days father back and his dream of jumping into leaf piles also came true. To the joy of many mommies and daddies the leaves were very stubborn this year and held on for quite a long time. Last week was the first time that we really had enough to fulfill little kid dreams.

It really has been a lovely fall!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Pumpkin Pie

Fall here has absolutely flown by and winter is peeking in at us today. Even so I think we managed to utilize the rapidly passing time rather well. Today's photos are brought to you after our having gone on a pumpkin patch field trip.

As our wagon full of parents and kids pulled up to a lovely patch of pumpkins littered with small orange balls I eagerly asked the wagon driver, "Is this a pie pumpkin patch?" He responded with a kind smile, "why yes it is!"

Of course the very next day found us cutting open, baking, and pureeing one of the three pumpkins. Only later to be topped with heaps of whipped cream and devoured. Fall yummmmm!

The seeds were also roasted and enjoyed, olive oil, salt, and Cayan pepper.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

tomato thief

Today was the very first day I've been able to bring tomatoes into the house. Even though our garden is fenced in I have noticed some baby bunnies hanging out in it. They haven't been thieving the tomatoes though. It's Abe that's been going out everyday and eating all the ripe ones directly from the plants.

I'm glad to have brought a few lovely ripe tomatoes inside today but in reality I LOVE that Abe can go out back and eat fruit and vegetables from our garden. It must be a fun special summer childhood treat that hopefully he'll remember when he's grown.

Saturday, August 3, 2019


I've noticed that the zucchini blossoms only open up for a short while in the early morning and once it closes the same blossom doesn't open up again. Those leaves are enormous though. It's hard to tell from the photo but the blossoms are really large!

So far we've gotten four zucchini from our two plants. The fifth one will be picked today. One was used for the weird lemon zucchini bread. One was chopped and roasted. One was grated into the meatballs I made last night. One is currently sitting on the counter.

It's really only been the past few years that I've grown to LOVE the summer harvest. Even though I've only ever had a small little garden, I've completely fallen in love with the task. This year we planted zucchini and tomatoes in our garden. It hasn't warmed up until fairly recently so the tomatoes are slow going but been able to pick a few. The zucchini plants are getting huge. We went blueberry picking pretty much right when blueberry season opened up. And a friend of ours gave me a large bundle of rhubarb that ideally we'll make a big batch of strawberry rhubarb jam with today.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year, followed by spring. I really love sweatshirt weather when there's a crisp breeze in the air. Bonfires and fallen leaves... magical. But summer is really creeping up there as a fabulous time of year. I don't think I will be able to say I have a favorite season any longer. There's just too much joy that comes from fresh summer harvest and watching my kids play in the water during days of extreme heat.

Friday, July 26, 2019

summer is dragonflies in blueberry fields

Blueberry picking season has just begun here. We went picking on Wednesday with some friends and brought home a bucket full of beautiful berries. It was a lovely hot day and the bushes were covered with berries. They'd fall off the branches right into the buckets if you gently grabbed ahold of a bunch and slowly pull them off. The kids had fun chasing dragonflies and eating handful after handful of freshly picked berries. It was a fantastic outing!

My favorite childhood summertime dessert was blueberry crisp. Okay, lets not kid ourselves, here in Michigan we end up with freezers full of frozen berries from the summers harvest and we eat blueberry crisp in the winter too.

I couldn't resist letting today be blueberry crisp day. It's a simple dessert to whip up but SOOOO yummy. Abe and I enjoyed making this one together AND eating it together.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

first harvest of the year and the most screwed up dessert bread ever

Yesterday we picked one gorgeous zucchini from our garden. Today we attempted to turn it into lemon zucchini bread. *Attempted*

My husband is manager over the produce department at his store. I called him at work and asked if he could please bring home one lemon so we could make the bread. I should have just taken the kids to the store before he even got home because, if you aren't already suspecting it he did not bring home a lemon. So, determined to stick to the plan we three ran to the store to get one lemon.

Get home. Start getting read to make bread... uh oh, no eggs. I was not going to run back to the store so Google search egg substitute and land on 1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1.5 tablespoons water plus 1 tsp. baking soda per missing egg.

I debated but I'm the absolute queen of annoying my husband by altering recipes because either I am missing something or I think it sounds good a different way so I just went with the weird egg substitute thing. Abe had a great time zesting and juicing the lemon and he said it was a ton of fun grating the zucchini. At least that part was a win.

After the batter came together I realized it was going to be strange. I threw in a large handful of coconut (because I really like coconut and) to balance out some of the liquid. I had the thought in the back of my mind that it would have been wise to put the mixture in a sheet cake pan instead of a loaf pan. I should have stuck with my gut because the loaf came out WAY more like a lemon bar then a lemon bread or cake.

See all that sugar on top, WELL that's supposed to be a glaze. I had powdered sugar AND we kept back some of the lemon juice to mix with it and make the glaze. I made the glaze (totally according to the recipe) but I'm pretty sure my powdered sugar is way too old and has soaked up every flavor in the baking cupboard because the glaze tasted awful! Okay, lets be clear Abe loved it. He said it tastes... wait for it... just like Willow (the neighbor's dog). LOL
Me: WHAT?!?!?! It tastes like a dog?!?!?!
Him: Yeah, just like she smells but it's good, she smells good!
Me: Yeah, no it's official we are not putting dog frosting on the lemon zucchini weird.

So, I just topped it with plain sugar. The glaze had 1 cup of powdered sugar in it and I might have put a 1/4 cup of regular sugar on top instead so it's healthier now, right...

Wow. That poor zucchini, sacrificed it's short life for vegan lemon coconut olive oil zucchini weird bar bread cake. For the record, it does actually taste good but I think I need to hide it from my husband who has been napping during this entire ordeal. He will never let me live this one down.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Taking Inventory of 2019

2019 is half over, and some. I survived the long winter. We've had a really great family vacation to the Wisconsin Dells. My baby girl had her first birthday. Little Abe learned how to ride his bike without training wheels. Got the garden planted this year and it's doing pretty well. I'm back to my pre-baby girl pregnancy weight. I've seen my mom and sister almost weekly. I've kept in close touch with my best friend who lives an ocean and longer away. Somehow I've been staying on top of Abe's schooling which usually seems an impossible task. The kids and I have had a ton of fun outings. This year, as normal, has been flying by but if I stop to reflect it's been a good six months.

I think one thing that's lacking has been time with family. I haven't seen my dad but once, in March around Abe's birthday. I haven't seen my one remaining grandparent at all. I've hardly seen my brothers or their families. Life is always so crazy busy. I never get even half of my to-do list items done. Taking inventory on the first half of 2019 leaves me happy but realizing I need to make some more time for family. It's weird to think that my little feisty princess is already a year old and my own dad has only seen her three times that I can recall.

Life is exhausting, really, really, really exhausting but it is amazing too.

Friday, July 12, 2019

zucchinis are growing

The tomatoes are growing too.

Photo on the left is from one month ago.
Photo on the right is from today.

There's a zucchini plant that we grew from seed in the very front of the photo and another one back by Abe's foot. I squeezed three tomato plants in directly next to the fence. I sort of weave them into the fence and tie them to it with string so that I don't have to cage them. You can't see the tomato plants as well in the newer photo but they are doing good. They are the three little green spots in the first photo.

We haven't had any harvest yet but I'm really happy with how well the plants are doing.

Gardening has definitely become one of the major highlights of summertime for me.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Finally got the training wheels off of Abe's bike

We are so glad that summer finally showed up. June was really cold, following up cold January thru cold May. The heat that's finally arrived has been wonderful and we've been outside quite a bit.

Today was monumental as Abe is now riding a bicycle (no training wheels). Hooray!!!

We made a very short video highlighting the event, hehe

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

two new monarchs

On June five we brought two tiny white eggs in the house on two separate milkweed leaves.

On July three we let two gorgeous butterflies go into the wild (well, not so wild since we live in the city but it was so cool).

The new butterflies wings aren't able to fly when they first come out of the chrysalis.

This was the first butterfly to emerge.

This was the second butterfly and little sister was up from her nap when we let this one go.

Monarchs are so beautiful.

It jumped on his face when he was looking at it on his arm.


butterfly day

Our caterpillar project now brings us to five chrysalises 
and just this morning two of them have become completely transparent. 

Today's the day!