Time for a challenge punks! March grocery challenge.

I can’t tell you what it is about March, but I always feel like we run out of money before the month is even close to being over.  We have a large bulk order of stuff to purchase early in the month (gallon of coconut oil, organic butter, 25 pounds of organic popcorn, etc.,), so to ensure we can make that happen, I am launching a grocery challenge for the month of March.

Like previous challenges, I am setting the parameters for me, and inviting you to play along…under your own rules and guidelines.

For our family, I am planning to spend no more than $100 over the course of the month.  We have plenty of food in the house…it just will require some creativity by me, leaps of faith by the other eating members of the family, and some willingness to gently say “I’m sorry, that’s not in the budget this month”.

Grocery challenges always end up having multiple benefits for us.  For one, it saves us a lot of money, or allows us to redirect the grocery funds in other directions.  It also clears up my shelves, fridge, and big freezer of the random items that I have no idea why I initially purchased them.  And most importantly, it makes space for the potential garden bounty that will hopefully be coming our way in the next few months.

I think our biggest challenge will of course be fresh produce, and those random ingredients and “wants” that I would normally just go and get during my weekly shopping trips.  And a grouchy husband who was not thrilled when I just told him my idea.  Troy goes through an incredible amount of lunch meat each week, so convincing him to look for alternatives will require me to put on my thinking hat.  Pre-planning is so important, and while I’m fine with looking at ingredients and seeing food, Troy seems to only consider something that is ready now without mixing or chopping to be “food”.  Neither concept is good or bad; it’s just a hurdle to overcome.  My personal challenge will be whether or not to buy raw milk weekly to make homemade Greek yogurt.  It’s my favorite breakfast that I don’t tire of, but perhaps I should be looking at alternatives?

I always prefer to do such grocery challenges in winter or early spring, because it forces me to stretch my creativity further than during summer and fall when the garden is practically vomiting fresh produce on the daily.  It’s not hard to do a grocery challenge when you’re picking tomatoes, raspberries, blueberries, and cucumbers daily, and by the bucket.

So, if you’d like to join me, commiserate when you’re finally forced to use that dusty can of lima beans, and save a boat load of cash, add your name to the comments.  And if you’re willing to share, list what you think the biggest challenges will be for your family!

And please remember, the monetary amount you are pledging to spend is of your own choosing.  In no way, shape, or form should you aim to the same amount as us.  You normally spend $800 a month on groceries?  Well, maybe your goal is spend $500 for March.  You need to define what works best for your family.

Homemade Mondays week 120

Homemade Mondays is a series for people that are on a journey to better living, via healthier eating and a more natural lifestyle.  We realize that there are different paths that we all take to get to that place, and this bloghop celebrates that.  Whether you’re a seasoned raw foodist who has banned all things unnatural, or a rookie who is starting out by cutting out junk food, we’d love to hear from you! Link up with your favorite recipes, projects, crafts, or rants and raves.

The Hosts

How to:
Homemade Mondays will open every Monday. You have until Thursday to make your submissions. We will share our favorite posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and shout it from the rooftops.
  • Link up. Use the submission form below to add your blog posts to our gallery below. You can add as many links as you’d like, as long as they’re on topic. What’s eligible? Recipes, crafts, DIY projects, gardening, fitness, green ideas or just plain old advice. We’re pretty open.
  • Tell us about yourselves. Leave a comment telling us a little about your site and what you’ve shared. Of course this isn’t mandatory, but it’s a good way to stand out.
  • Link back. Share the love by adding a link back to this party with your readers so they can see all of these great ideas as well.
  • Follow our Pinterest board. Remember to check out our Mostly Homemade Mondays Pinterest board where we’re pinning some of our favorite posts from the week.

The featured post from last week was Make Your Own Sweetened Condensed Milk from Naptime Warrior.  What a great tip to have!

Make-your-own-Sweetened-Condensed-Milk



Meal plan for February 23rd – March 1st

In memorium: the industrial bottle I have used for the last eight years for my homemade surface spray, finally bit the dust last night.  I feel comfortable that I got my $6 worth out of it.  I went right out and got myself another one post haste.  We’ll see if I can stretch this one to nine years.

Jack has a loose tooth and is spending all his waking hours wiggling it, and it is causing me to throw up in my mouth about 391 times a day.  YUCK!!!!

Last week I mentioned I was going to try to make a shark toothfairy pillow.  Well, I tried.  Tried.

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It isn’t perfect, but it was free, and the toothfairy will be able to locate the tooth and leave the cash safely.  The body is made out of an old pair of Jack’s jeans, and the red mouth (aka exploding herpes as Troy calls it), was leftover from some random Christmas thing a few years ago.  The body is stuffed with quilt scraps that I keep in a bin for just such an occasion.

Because one never knows when a denim shark needs to be made on demand.

Know how to make a type A girl happy?  Build her some closet shelves when she is at work.  Thanks honey.

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At long last – storage!  Our bathroom closet got ripped out to become a door way, so for the last oh five (?) months, all our bathroom closet stuff has been sitting in our master closet on the floor.  We can’t use our master closet because of some work they were doing/we haven’t rebuilt the bars and stuff, so the floor seemed like a great place for oh…everything.

It was movie night, but I was so excited to get to organizing (nerd alert) that I went and started moving in to the new space as soon as I was done with my popcorn.  Man oh man, it felt GREAT to be putting things in bins, and pulling extra towels and sheets out from under the bed.

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We had all the bins hanging around in various places, so other than the brackets and the lumber, the re-org was free.  That bottom shelf is really high, so that we can store our vacuum there.  It folds in half, so Troy measured it to rest right above the vacuum.  As a result of the height, we can stack three packages of toilet paper on top of each other.  That is almost 1.5 huge Costco things of you see below.

I swear I’m not bragging to our East Coast friends, but Monday, President’s Day was insane.  INSANE.  Flowering trees that usually start in mid-March are in full bloom, and I was in a t-shirt outside for almost six hours working in the yard.  My to-do list was long, but my enthusiasm to be outside was overpowering.  From 9 am ish to 2:30 pm ish, I:

  • Fertilized all 15 blueberry plants (aka, put free coffee grinds from the coffee shop around the base)
  • Mowed our lawn
  • Had so much fun, I mowed the neighbor’s lawn too.  They are both older ladies (mother and daughter), and I figured I had the machine out, it was a gorgeous day, and why the hell not.
  • Weeded ourthree giant raised beds by the street.  They were a hot mess.  The garlic box (sounds like a vampire revenge porn, yes?) needed some serious weeding, and the other two boxes needed to be weeded and have all the soil turned over so I could…
    • Reinstall our trellises and plant peas!  I initially typed that as pees.  Delish.
    • Plant the first planting of radishes and beets.  I’ll do another planting probably next weekend so they’re staggered.  I’m terrible at staggering plants so I get A LOT of radishes all at once, and then in a week they’re gone.
  • Planted all our spring/summer seed for growing inside under the grow lights.  These are things like tomatoes, spinach, chard, kale (even though I have a 5 ft tall kale “tree” still in the garden) and lettuce.
  • Cleaned out the chicken coop.
  • General weeding and clean up.

I took a shower, did some in-house cleaning, and then cooked dinner.  I sat down to eat dinner, and when I was done, I found myself stuck in my seat.  As in, I had zero energy to get out of my chair.  I had never felt “old” until that moment.  And that evening, I realized why I was so damn tired:

IMG_2583I’m going to plant carrots outside next week using “grow tape” because carrot seeds piss me off so much that I just chuck them and yell “grow damn it”.  And then I have the audacity to complain later in the season “well, I guess carrots just don’t do well in my garden”.  Lies.

I received a wonderful surprise gift last week from my friend Anne.  She found these before last Christmas and meant to save them as my birthday gift (October), but couldn’t wait and they became a Valentines gift.  I love them’ they’re so amazing!

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If you can’t read the photo, the bag on the left says “Shut your lid and can it” and the bag on the right says “Ain’t no thing but a chicken wing”.

While I was cooking dinner the other night, Troy and Jack were doing this.  How do men still control this world?

I was driving home the other night and I saw a Mini Cooper with the license plate “Minilvr”.  Um…I guess there is something to be said for truth in advertising, no?

Meal plan time! Just a reminder that I only plan our dinners for the week.  For breakfast we tend to eat the same things (homemade Greek yogurt for me, a sandwich for Troy, and whatever Jack’s heart happens to desire that morning), and lunches for the grown ups are leftovers of what we had for dinner the night before.

Monday:: Taco bowls

Tuesday:: Tomato soup (Jack’s request, so I think he is up to something), my fake Red Lobster biscuits, and salad.

Wednesday:: BBQ pork sandwiches (pork leftover from Monday’s taco bowls), slaw, and roasted root veggies.

Thursday:: This fish dish, but with frozen wild cod (Costco), more biscuits, and stir fried pea pods.

Friday:: Popcorn…obvs

Saturday:: Troy’s burgers, roasted sweet potatoes, and salad.

Sunday:: Family dinner at my parent’s.

This week I spent so much money, I want to weep.  $14.50 at the farm for raw milk and honey, $17.82 at our local butcher for a huge pork butt (hee), $49.12 at the grocery store, and $547.34 at Costco.  You read it.  Did I stutter?  Yeah, that much.

To be fair, it included toilet paper and my Vitamix!!!!  Last week, we were at Costco and saw there was a $25 instant rebate on the blender I have been saving up to buy for almost six months (saving a little each paycheck, and combining it with our yearly Costco AMEX rebate).  I was so excited.  You can imagine my dismay when I went today to see that model was gone.  I talked with a clerk and they said they sent them all back two days ago to make room for a different model…which was $50 more.  BALLS.  I still got it, but it took a bit of the pep out of my step.

Didn’t stop me from making the smoothest batch of hummus ever when I got home though!

The food portion of my Costco bill: bacon, frozen organic blueberries and cherries, frozen wild cod, flatbread, and organic pears and apples.

What are you having this week?

Whatcha readin’?

On my recent reader feedback poll, someone asked for an occasional post about what I’m reading, and giving you all the chance to share when you are reading.

Done and done.

I’m linking books on Amazon, but I highly encourage you to check out your library first.  Because libraries are freaking awesome, and one of the best features of our society.  They’re also whoa-fully underutilized.

Physical and e-books

  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd:  This was recommended to me when I was at an industry fair last month.  We had a lot of downtime, and spent a good 30 minutes discussing books, favorite authors, and recommendations.  This book tells the story of a slave and the family who owns her, in Charleston in the early 1800’s, and how their lives are intertwined by fate and society.
  • Herbie’s Game by Timothy Hallinan:  I’ve written about Timothy Hallinan’s Junior Bender series before, and how much I love the previous three books (Crashed, Little Elvises, and The Fame Thief).  Junior Bender is a thief in Los Angeles who somehow keeps getting mixed up in solving mysteries.  The premise sounds a bit silly, but the stories are fascinating, and the writing is whip smart.  LOVE this series in a way I haven’t loved a series in a very long time.
  • Smart but Scattered: the Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential.  This book breaks down the executive skills a person can possess, and how to focus on the skills we’re strong at, and how to develop the ones where we lack strength.  If you end up buying this book, do not buy the Kindle or e-reader version.  There are lots of tests you take throughout, and it’s helpful to be able to flip back to see your results.   You take a test on your kid’s abilities, as well as your own.  I never had Troy take the test, but I have a strong feeling of where his strengths and challenges lie.  Jack and I are strong in most of the exact same executive skills, which is why certain activities we do are so easy for the two of us.  We have very different weaknesses, and that explains why there are things my kid does that drives me up the wall (his weakness is the opposite of my strength, so something that comes easily to me but not to Jack is hard to relate to).
  • Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Adults: I would say this book was somewhat helpful in how to react to Jack’s seemingly premenstrual mood swings, but mostly the book was a huge snooze fest.
  • The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison.  Jonathan is a Puget Sound author and writes about our region.  This is the fictional story of a down on his luck good-hearted loser who takes a course on caregiving because he is broke as a joke.  He starts taking care of an early 20’s  gentlemen who has disease I can’t remember the name of, and they end up going on a roadtrip with loads of issues, crapfests, and laughs.
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  This is the story of the run up to World War II from the viewpoint of multiple people, including a few kids in their teens.  It’s hard to explain, but the story is good.

Audiobooks (I have well over an hour commute, and I get pretty much unlimited free downloads on to my old ipod from the library)

  • I started the Harry Potter Series last summer, and it took me until just this last month to finish them.  I can’t believe my nerd ass never read these before.  I loved them!  And finally understood a bit more of what my dorky friend Anne was always talking about.
  • Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (who is really J.K. Rowling).  This is the story of a veteran in London who becomes a private investigator, and takes on a case examining a model’s suicide.  If you like character-driven stories, this is a good one.  It’s a bit slow, but it all is for a purpose.
  • The Silkworm, also by Robert Galbraith.  This book focuses on the same detective investigating the disappearance of an author in the UK.  It was recommended by Nancy Pearl, the former head of the Seattle Library who makes book recommendations around lunchtime every week on our local NPR station.  And I dutifully write down every thing she says because that bookworm knows her stuff.
  • World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstier.  The story of a small town in upstate New York after peak oil has occurred, and basically the world has gone to crap.
  • The Witch of Hebron by James Howard Kunstier. This is the second book in the World Made by Hand series, and it is a total snoozefest compared with the first book.  I’m still going to check out the third book, because I wear a hair shirt when it comes to punishing myself with finishing up a series.

 How about you?  What are you reading these days?

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