May 17, 2013

Hit The Dirt Running...Fall Flat Fast

Wow!  Did I ever have the greatest of plans when I created this blog.  I hit the dirt running with all the grand plans for an organized simplified better running life and fell horribly bodily face first into four feet of life's dirt and gunk.  In fact, having to admit this a little  okay, a lot red faced at the moment, but I had totally forgotten that I had gotten this blog established and was already planning to create an additional blog for the cooking and the house stuff.  Yes, I know, I have visions of grandeur. Every one has to have their quirks.

So, with that being said, it is on to bringing the blog up to date.

The SAVING PLAN:  I have actually kept up with that fairly well until the last month or so.  I will be catching that up on Monday though.  Plans have changed and my daughter is no longer planning on going on the church trip, however the goal amount is still in place and will be going to the cost of my new sewing machine instead.  I am using some special funds to go ahead and pay for the machine now, but am going to use the saving plan to pay that fund back.  I also helped a friend of mine out with a small loan and am praying that it doesn't end up biting me in the butt.  At any rate, that part is still fairly on track.

On another front, MEALS, I have been doing some serious thinking about that as well. I have one large freezer to empty out and defrost tomorrow, then the freezer section of two fridges.  Once I have it all pulled out and can organize it, I will then know exactly what I have on hand.  The inventory of my freezer will be the last part I need to once again start the process of menu planning.  I recently caught some great buys on meat so they are really stuffed in there.  I know there is some items that really need to be thrown away as well.  I absolutely HATE wasting food, but there is things in there that are either A) Way past their prime, B) Freezer burnt beyond hope of ever having any usefulness, or C) Just will never be eaten by this family.  Brussel sprouts comes to mind.

Thanks to Facebook, I have a stack of printed recipes that is literally inches thick ready to try. Most of them are desserts, so won't end up daily on the menu as realistically I don't plan to bake a cake or such each night.  However, the way the family ate the blackberry cobbler I made recently I might have to plan on it all being gone the night I make it.  Along with the stack of print outs, I have about two months of recipes bookmarked, another few months of recipes copied to Word and saved in a folder as well.  Not to mention the metal file cabinet full of printed recipe pages that are all neatly organized by dish type (vegetable, salad, fruit and such) along with blank menus.  All ready for me to create menu plans.

So...why menu plan you ask?  There are several benefits of menu planning.  It makes meal time more organized because you know ahead of time what you are going to be cooking so the mystery is gone and you can work the meals around the family plans. Such as sports events, scouts, school events, meetings and such.  In my case, this means planning meals around the days I have the grand son, Mr. M.  Now, also in my personal circumstances, I don't really plan for each day as much as plan meals to make for a set amount of days.  Our schedule is so varied and subject to change at the drop of hat that it works better for us that way and plan meals that can easily be moved from day to day.  For instance, hubby some times forgets (most of the time) that he has a meeting or that we are going to a company dinner.  Then, there are the days when my medical issues kick in and make it totally impossible for me get a darn thing done, much less cook an extensive meal. I will join back up with Meal Plan Monday, but it will work best for me to post a menu of what we had the previous week as opposed to the majority of the group that post menu for the week to come.  On a side note, that is why I am planning on doing a small freezer session, once I can get the room in the freezer for it.  For me though, the biggest reason for menu planning is that it SAVES A TON OF MONEY.  Yes, you have heard it before, but it really is true.  I can cut 30 - 40 percent of my spending by planning out the meals.  Why you ask? Because I know what I will be cooking which cuts down on impulse buying.  Fewer trips to the store as well.  Also, with planning out the recipes for the meals, a person can easily take advantage of weekly sales and loss leaders.  For instance, your local grocery has put ground beef on huge mark down, and also have a buy one get one free or 10 for $10 of soups,  pasta sauces, pasta and rice.  There you have some cheap fixings.  In my case, I have now stockpiled enough inventory in my pantry and freezer that I will be able to use my budgeted grocery money for stocking up when I need to again and find a good sale.  Actually, I am pretty well set to just put the bulk of my budget in to savings for a couple of months.

The small kink, very small, to the whole plan is that my oldest grand son, Mr. T who is 10 years old, is coming to visit for a few weeks (about 6 actually) and we will be taking him with us to hubby's family's reunion.  We are taking our RV for this, and will then do a few days in Yellowstone as we head to Texas to take him home and then I get to my other grand son (and brother to Mr. T) Mr. W who is 3 years old.  I AM SO EXCITED about this.  That will be two full weeks away from the house so not sure how I will handle the menu planning for that yet.  Also, we will be on baby watch for our first grand DAUGHTER to arrive as well.  They live here in town, I get the big brother Mr. M during the day already while they work. Mr. M will be two in July and Miss C is expected in July as well. LOVING that since the other two grand sons live in Texas and I only get to see them about once a year.

Speaking of budget, I am making a few changes to ours.  For one, accountability is non existent at the moment.  I have gotten to the point now where I can actually start tracking not only our purchases but also the cash spending as well.  I can honestly admit, since I am in the mood to make some changes, that we spend a huge amount of money on eating out.  That has to stop and I am the guilty one that wants it most.  My hubby eats out every day at lunch with his job.  I can document what he spends on his own, but it will be up to him to change that.  We have done all we can to cut down our other living expenses so that is done as well. In fact, I used some inheritance I received to pay off our second mortgage in order to end that payment.  Of course, we are still putting that money out there in the form of improvements on the house.  New paint job to outside of house, new cable lines, pool equipment (which replaced what was original to the house when built in 1985), some new carpet in two rooms so far.  In the planning stages are two bathroom make-overs (gutting and new fixtures) and moving the current small laundry room (which will be turned in to a large pantry/storage room) out to a larger space in the garage and a total kitchen make-over.  The kitchen will be out of commission for close to four months.  I will still be able to use the stove and fridge, but not sure where I will put all my pantry and cookware stuff.  I am so looking forward to getting the kitchen done.

Guess that pretty much winds things up for the moment. Now hopefully I will be getting myself back on track over the week end.  Although, Sunday will be spent in a class to learn how to use my new sewing machine.  I have never had a machine that I had to learn how to use before.  I just looked over the quick start manual and starting sewing.  This machine however is a different matter.  It has built in quilting options, does regular sewing, built in embroidery stitches and comes with and embroidery unit.  Pretty sure I am going to be investing an additional $200 for a proper case for it as well.  At this point, not really planning on hauling this caliber of machine back in forth for sew-in sessions or quilt classes, but I will need some type of protection for the embroidery unit as I won't be using it on a regular basis.  However, once I learn how to use it, that may change.

So...the plan is to get the menu planned for at least two months, schedule or chart made to organize house hold chores, schedule made for doctor appointments, meetings and gym time, scheduling time for sewing as well.  With every thing going on over part of the summer, I will however have about a month with daughter Miss Zebra out of school and my daughter in law will be on maternity leave for a few weeks and I will be taking advantage of that time to hopefully jump start my two new business ventures.  One is Pampered Chef, the other is opening up an Etsy store for selling some vintage items as well as some hand made items (quilts, pillow cases, crochet and such).  I make a lot of items I donate to charity and with the change in the babysitting coming I hope to get some items stocked up until I see how the my time is going to work out this fall.

That is it, once again big plans, check back and see how I'm doing with it all.

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