Filling out Fall Wardrobes

 

This past weekend, one of the major bi-annual consignment sales was held in town.  Athens has a good four major locations for these sales, and they all have a fall and a spring run.  I try to hit two and stock up on clothes for the coming seasons.  These sales are amazing as long as you browse carefully and take your time going through the items.  I look forward to them for weeks.  They run Thursday through Saturday, but I usually wait until Saturday morning because a lot of great clothes are still left, and most items are half off.  The first one I went to was back in Gainesville.  A big thanks to Natasha for introducing me.  I don’t know how I would keep my kids clothed otherwise.  I kid, I kid.  But not really.  The kids grow so fast.

This time, I probably had my best outing.  My goal is always a dollar an item.

Riley, Sidney, and I headed out at 7:45 on Saturday morning so we could get there right around 8:00am. Of course it was crowded, but I had Sid in the Bjorn, and Riley was in a great mood.  She played with toys and in the racks of clothes while I browsed.  By the end, my back hurt, but I was really happy with our finds:

  • 2 long-sleeved shirts for Adrian.
  • 3 long-sleeved shirts for Riley.
  • 2 pairs of pants for Sidney.
  • 1 sweater and 1 sweatshirt for Sidney.
  • 2 long-sleeved shirts for Sidney.
  • Riley also picked out a cute toy for her cousins.

All together, 11 clothing items and a toy…

$13.75.

 

 

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School Shopping and Preparation: T-Minus One Week

I cannot believe we are at the point that we are taking Riley school shopping.  Her elementary school sent her a letter and a list of items she needs for her Pre-K class.  We got all but one and then some.  This weekend, I took Riley and Adrian out to pick up Riley’s supplies and then go grocery shopping.  We snuck in a stop at Panera to pick up bagels as a special treat to commemorate the occasion.  Yeah, I can pretty much find any reason to stop at Panera these days.  I have been craving it recently.  I went once when I was home in Virginia, twice last week (once to write for three hours and then with the kiddos), and I am already looking forward to heading back there…and hopefully for dinner one day so I can get their French onion soup in a bread bowl!

So what did we buy and how did we do?  Here ya go…

1.  A pink-striped crib sheet from Target for nap-time (10 dollars).

2.  A Princess lunch box from Target (10 dollars)

3.  A sandwich container from Walmart (1.50)

4.  Snack containers from Walmart (3 dollars).  I wanted to get a bunch of cheap ones in case Riley accidentally throws them away.  So now we are starting the school year with 14 little containers.  We’ll see how many last until Christmas!

5.  Markers, glue, gluesticks, dry-erase markers, construction paper, paper towels, wet wipes, and Kleenex all for her class from Walmart (about 10 dollars).  We still need to get play-dough, and we have computer paper at home already.

6. A pink hairbrush from Walmart (3 dollars).  I told Riley the only way she was keeping her hair long and wearing it down was if she took really good care of it.  Now she has her own brush to take with her to school to help manage her crazy long locks!

7.  Hand-sanitizer for her backpack from Walmart (1.50).

8.  Two cold packs for her lunch box from Walmart (2 dollars).

And we have already started stocking up on lunch-making supplies…peanut butter, jelly, snack packs, mandarin oranges, and apple sauce.  Plus, Jif 40oz jars are going BOGO at Publix this week!  Hopefully, that will get us to September, peanut-butter-wise.

At home and as gifts, Riley already had a bunch of things she needed, too:

  • Winnie-the-Poo backpack from Caroline
  • Three awesome pairs of flats and sandals from Alli
  • A pair of sneakers I got on clearance from Target the other week
  • A pair of rain boots from Grandma 
  • A blanket and pillow from daycare days
  • Two or three water bottles.  The plan is to use these instead of juice boxes.
  • Plenty of clothes from my spring consignment sales hunts (And yes, I am so excited about two upcoming fall ones!)

And  we also started preparing our schedules and routines at home, especially for bedtime, so we are good to go next week.  We pushed the bedtime up to 8 this week with a simplified and very direct routine that begins at 7:30: one 24-minute show and dessert, teeth and potty, stories, hugs, bed.  We may need to move this up a bit more, as Riley will have to start getting up at 6am to leave for school with Shawn.  For dinner time, I think we are also going to get into a more solid routine.  Since Shawn is going to be getting home with Riley before I will get home with the little kids, he will do dinners most nights while I will handle clean-up.  This is a win-win since I don’t really like coming home from work to cook and I do like cleaning the kitchen.  Crazy, right?  I also decided that I am going to start using Sundays for laundry again and adding veggie prep and baking to the day’s activities. That way, we’ll be able to throw together a salad or put in a pan of cauliflower popcorn without the fuss of cutting and cleaning and peeling.  I decided already that I am asking for a mandalin slicer for Christmas.  I really like this one from William Sonoma

A week to go.  I cannot believe so few days remain for summer vacation.  I will be posting a best-of recap of our summer soon so I can relive the many, many wonderful family memories we created.  At the same time, I am really excited for the start of a new semester.  New books (just ordered 7 from Amazon!), new classes, hopefully some new friends, new students, new syllabi, new lessons, new office, new papers, new projects…so much to look forward to.

And of course, I cannot wait for what is in store for the kids in their classes.  Adrian now knows his colors and counting up to five, but he will probably start to pick up on a lot more once he is back in a classroom setting, learning with others kids.  Sidney is pulling up on furniture left and right.  Walking might not be too far off.  Especially if she sees a toy or a cute boy on the other side of the room!  And Riley.  I cannot wait to see what she will learn this year and to hear her stories about her adventures at school.  I am sad, unbelievably sad, that I won’t have my mornings with her anymore.  I know this is just Pre-K, but still it feels like the beginning of an end.  All of a sudden, she doesn’t seem so little because she’ll be going to an elementary school with Meet the Teacher Night, PTO, school performances, and recess.

One more week.  I’ll be ready.  We’ll be ready.  Of course we’ll be ready.

And then again, I don’t think I will ever be completely ready.  But that’s just how it goes.

Back to the Budget: A Grocery Report

First a digression…

60 dollars a week apparently means I am starving my husband!  He said he has lost fifteen pounds this past year, and we think that his weight loss is due to his higher intake of vegetables, increased yard workload, and our tight grocery budget.  It’s hard to get a lot of meat for 60 dollars a week.  And when we do, it is usually something that is 2 dollars or less per pound (like chicken).

Fortunately, Paul treated him to a steak for lunch one day while we were in PA, and I treated him to a Brazilian steakhouse for an early Father’s Day treat.  He should have his fill of meat, especially red meat, for a while.

Back to our week’s grocery report:

Since we returned home last night to an empty refrigerator and two of the kids woke up early, I decided to hit Kroger’s right away.  My plan was to hit Kroger’s and Publix, but I ended up spending almost 60 dollars at Kroger’s, so I called it a week, and we headed home.

Here’s what I got:

10 boxes of cereal (yes, TEN), 2 boxes of Cheez-its, 1 container of Keebler cookies, 2 huge tubs of cookie dough, 2 boxes of instant coffee, a box of fruity tea (I have been craving tea recently!), bread, eggs, a container of Greek yogurt, 2 packs of American cheese, a bag of pretzels, 2 cups for the kids, a pack of steel wool cleaning pads, 2 rolls of kitchen garbage bags, bananas, 2 cans of baked beans, and milk.

Kroger’s had a save 5 dollars on 5 items deal that I used 3 times.  I also had 7.25 dollars in coupons (most for the cereal).

Total Spent: 57.50

I barely filled our frig, but we were getting desperate for cereal, and I couldn’t pass up some of the snack and dessert deals.  Next week, the goal will be to get more dinner foods, especially to complement our bountiful basket, which we are going to start ordering again.

Here’s what I am thinking for meals:

Sunday: Eggs, rice, and cheese

Monday: Welcome to Moes!

Tuesday: Mac and cheese and baked beans

Wednesday: Chili from the freezer

Thursday: Pasta night

Friday: Grilled cheese and canned vegetables

Saturday: Barbecue chicken (from the freezer) and some fresh veggies from our basket!

 

Operation Empty the Freezer (and Cupboards…)

Groceries this past week were kept to a minimum after our indulgence for the holidays and Riley’s party.  We made one blitz stop at Kroger’s for toilet paper, bread, and one or two other items for a grand total of $5.31.  Add that to our Bountiful Basket, and our week’s grocery costs were just 20 bucks!

Meals were also very simple this past week:  Moes’s Monday, leftovers and pasta Tuesday-Thursday, and then we splurged Friday night with dinner at Chic-fil-a for the kiddos followed by a stop at Subway for me and Shawn.

Can I just say that I love this month’s 5 dollar sub: bacon, egg, and cheese!

One of my favs.  Not sure what Subway was thinking in March with their featured sub…tuna and jalapeno peppers??  Who orders that one?  Sure, I understand being creative but that choice just felt lazy and uninspired.  I might be biased, though.  I like tuna salad okay, and I’m more of a banana pepper girl…

So now that we are almost done eating ham, I actually have to start thinking about meals again.  Fortunately, we got an amazing basket this week: two bags of carrots, two zucchini, tons of potatoes, oranges, corn, kiwi, lemons, tomatoes, onions, and another head of lettuce.  Combine that with our lingering veggies from last week and a bunch of meals still hanging out in our freezer, and I’ve decided it’s operation EAT EVERYTHING DOWN!  We’ve got less than a month at home until I take the kiddos to spend some time with the family in Virginia, so I’m thinking we’re going to try to clean out the freezer and our cupboard supply of canned everything, boxed potatoes, tuna (yes, you did just read that…we have tuna to eat…just not with jalapeno peppers!), a variety of pastas, and anything else I can find.

Our freezer isn’t exactly this full or organized, but you get the idea…

I’m not sure how excited Shawn will be about this plan, but I am looking forward to forced creativity and meal innovation.  So far, we are off to a good start.  I already put together a veggie chowder in the crock pot for tomorrow night.  We’ll have that with some turkey kielbasa I am defrosting.  Already, the chowder smells so good.  I put in carrots, onions, broccoli, potatoes, water, and seasonings.  Tomorrow, I’ll add the milk and cheese.

Here’s what I’m thinking for our meals this coming week, though I’m sure we’ll end up tweaking a bit:

Sunday: Veggie Chowder and Turkey Kielbasa

Monday: Moe’s Monday

Tuesday: Pasta Night

Wednesday: Mega Salad

Thursday: Chili

Friday: Leftovers

Grocery Budget Busted!

This week, we definitely didn’t stay in our budget.  Actually, we just about doubled it!  I haven’t spent so much on groceries in a long time.  Our kitchen cupboards and refrigerator and freezer have never been so full, but I know the food will go fast.  I stocked up on some essentials, but I also had to get food for Riley’s birthday party, Easter dinner, Easter school parties, and some food for my family when they come to visit this weekend (YAY!!).  Plus, Publix had some really great BOGO deals that haven’t come up for a while.  And we got a basket this week.  All together, that’s a definite recipe for budget breaker!

So here’s the breakdown:

We hit Kroger’s Monday night.  Spent = 61.63.  

For Easter dinner and family meals, we picked up a 9lb ham, turkey bacon, tortilla shells, shredded cheese, English muffins, and frozen potatoes.

 

For Riley’s party, we picked up more chocolate chip cookies (for the cookie cake) and juice boxes.

For our weekly staples, we got cereal (3 boxes), fruit snacks, bread, sausages, milk, and Greek yogurt (I feel like I need a container in the house at all times…never know when I need some cake!).

Last night, the big kids hit Publix with me.  Spent = 36.82.

For the kids’ Easter parties at school, we got mini-cupcakes for Riley and animal crackers for Adrian.

For Riley’s party, we bought Starburst jelly beans and frosting.

For our weekly staples and stock-ups: frozen raviolis, light hot dogs, turkey kielbasa, Pam spray, spaghetti, four containers of Ragu sauce, two more boxes of cereal, and two boxes of cake mix (now that I have Green yogurt, I must have cake mix around!).

In our Bountiful Basket this week ($15), we had a really cool mix of foods: oranges, apples, kiwis, lemons, radishes, asparagus, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, an onion, green beans, and cucumbers.  (We are going to be making one amazing salad for our Easter dinner.)

Unfortunately, no coupons this week.  I blame the end of the semester stress and lack of time.

All together, that’s a grand total of 113.45.

Here’s a look at our meals for the week:

Monday: Moe’s Monday

Tuesday: Breakfast – pancakes, eggs, and sausage

Wednesday: Chili-stuffed green peppers with rice; hot dogs and beans for the kids; carrots on the side.

Thursday: Pasta night!  With some asparagus for me, too!

Friday: Probably something from our freezer.  I will be busy cleaning for the family’s visit and finishing up prep for Riley’s party.

Saturday: Ham, potatoes, salad, and veggies

Sunday: LEFT-OVERS!

I should say, too, that we still have to hit one to two more stores to finish getting food and supplies for Riley’s party.  It is amazing how fast the food and supply purchases add up, even when you shop at Dollar Tree.  But I will save the complete breakdown of Riley’s party for a post-party post.

On the plus side, it is nice having more options for the kids’ dinners with hot dogs, raviolis, and a wider selection of fruits and veggies.  I am hoping we don’t have to do major shopping next week…maybe just pick up milk, eggs, and bread.  We’ll see.  I’ll keep you posted!

Grocery Food Challenge: Weekly Report

Because we were out of town for two weekends in a row, our grocery shopping was sporadic and light and we took two weeks off of Bountiful Baskets.  But this week we started up again and even already did our grocery shopping for the week.  How did we do?  Not bad, not bad…

Shopping

Bountiful Basket: 15 dollars.  What a great basket this week!  We scored six apples, six pears, six bananas, two lemons, about five tomatoes, two bags of carrots, one head of lettuce, two zucchinis, a pack of strawberries, six big green peppers, and even scallions.  All of that pretty much filled our refrigerator again.  Note: this is a picture from a previous basket…so not quite what we got this week.

Groceries: 33 dollars (In store savings, 31 dollars).  I went to Southern Savers this week to make and print a shopping list (complete with coupon match-ups). This week, we hit up Publix for a lot of BOGO deals: bread, cheese, mac and cheese (four boxes), vanilla wafers, Doritos, Kettle chips, frozen waffles, peanut butter, and I think one more thing that I’m forgetting.  I also picked up a container of greek yogurt (to try with some cake mix…I saw this recipe on Pinterest…) and cookie dough (for Riley’s birthday party…she wants a cookie cake…).  We really had to shop quickly to get to basket pick-up on time.  As a result, the trip was probably one of our most efficient and smooth ones.

At Kroger’s, we will probably pick up English muffins (you really can’t beat six for a dollar), eggs, and butter (I really need to bake something with all the lemons we have right now!).  But I don’t think we will spend more than 8 dollars.

That will bring our weekly total of groceries to 55 dollars (40 in stores, 15 on our basket).

Coupons: just one for the cookie dough: 1.25 off of two.

The Meal Plan

Sunday: Leftovers and cauliflower popcorn

Monday: Moes Monday

Tuesday: Chili-stuffed green peppers

Wednesday: Chicken strip salads

Thursday: Pasta Night

Friday: Not sure yet…maybe grilled cheese and a side dish of zucchini.  Possibly, zucchini tots (I saw the recipe idea on Pinterest last night!).

Saturday: no doubt we’ll be back to leftovers!

Footnote: Favorite Foods

1.  My dad picked up this blend of peanut, cashew, and almond butters from Target for me.   It is heavenly.  On bread, on bananas, even as an ice cream topping.  So, so good.  Thanks, Daddio.

2.  Riley has been doing a much better job of eating meals for us recently, which means a happier child who isn’t constantly asking for a snack.  Love it.

3.  I took the kids to Target the other night, and instead of getting the popcorn combo, we split two cookies for two dollars.  But the cookies were massive and so good!  Definitely a nice treat.

Grocery Report and Meal Plan

Well, I wasn’t able to get down to 50 dollars this week, but we did manage to stick to 60 with a couple of superfluous buys thrown in there.  We hit up Kroger’s twice and purchased a bountiful basket.  I wasn’t at all impressed with Publix this week, so we stayed away.  Here’s the breakdown:

Fruit and veg basket = 15 dollars.

1st trip to Kroger’s: two bags of M&M’s, a pack of cookies, bread, and milk = 12 dollars.

2nd trip to Kroger’s: eggs, bread, coffee creamer, four boxes of cereal, chicken breasts, two bags of Chex mix, two bags of mini rice cakes, pretzels, peanut butter, English muffins, and toilet paper.  = 33 dollars.

Coupons used this week: 3 (2.55 saved)

Total spent = 60 even

So how does that translate into meals?  Here’s the plan (at least for now) for our dinners this week:

Monday: Moe’s Monday

Tuesday: Chicken patties and corn on the cob

Wednesday: Grilled chicken salad and cauliflower popcorn

Thursday: Pasta night

Friday: Still not sure…probably something with yellow squash…eggs/rice/cheese/yellow squash?  Another squash casserole?  Or squash as a side and something from the freezer!

Usually we figure out the weekends when we get there…some combo of leftovers, eating out, play dates, etc.

Hopefully, we’ll do a little better next week, but I am pretty happy.  As you can see, we all like to snack a lot!  But I think we balance that well with lots of fruits and veggies.