30 June 2009

Gratituesday: Start Again

If I had a voice
It would sound like yours
If I had a voice
And if my eyes could see
They would see much more than I believed was there
Learn to speak
Learn to see
Forget what I once knew
And start again

As I watch you move
I am moving too
As I watch you move
And as you travel through
I am walking too
I am moved by you
So leave this place
Where I can't turn
I can't even breathe
And start again

And if I had your heart
I could dare like you
If I had your heart
But I can't seem to start
To love the world like that
If I wanted to
But I could learn to trust
Just enough
To push on past the end
And start again
Start again

I am constantly grateful for the chance to call in a mulligan and try something again. More often than not, I'm trying it over more than once, or twice, or 12 times. I want to be kinder with those I love, and I slip up and drop not so nicey remarks into conversations. I want to make sure my family is well fed, but sometimes I get lazy and let them make frozen chicken nuggets in the microwave. I want to be a servant, with a clear conscience and a full heart, but I sleep in on Sunday mornings and continue to live what is probably a pretty insane lie of omission in not telling anyone where I'm going (I can't even tell you how uncomfortable I am writing that online where I know people who know me are reading ... baby steps ... ). I want to follow this path that my heart tells me is right. I want to start again.

And I'm thankful for the opportunity.



ps, the lyrics are from Catie Curtis' "Start Again". You should listen to it ... amazing melody ... soup for my soul anyday.

pps, for more Gratituesday, check out Laura at Heavenly Homemakers.

29 June 2009

What's in Em's shopping cart? (27 June @ Meijer)

I did go shopping, as promised. I did not, however, get everything on my list. Some of the items were out of stock, and the others, I just wasn't stoked about the deals once I got there.

2 loaves Aunt Millie's bread: on sale, 75c/ea - 35c/1 coupons = 40c each.

9.53 lbs of red and green grapes: on sale, 99c/lb (yes, really, I bought nearly 10 lbs of grapes ... would you believe almost half of them are gone?! haha.)

2 Edwards Singles: reg. $2.37. on sale, $1.18 - 75c/1 coupons = 43c each.

4 Superpretzels (I'm trying to figure out how to make pizza pretzels since I make pizza out of everything else, and it's far too hot for ovens ... and these were super cheap!): reg. $5.46. on sale, $1.36 - 75c/1 coupons = 61c each.

2 Sara Lee frozen cheesecakes: reg. $5.79. on sale, $2.89 - $1/1 coupons = $1.89 (We're having people over for the holiday, and I don't so much make cheesecake that well. Honestly, I wanted the 84c pound cake that generated the $1 cat, but they were out ...).

4 large bags Tostitos chips: reg. $3.99. on sale, BOGO (buy 1, get 1 free) - $2/2 coupons from the Pepsi rebate deal months ago = 99c each (I honestly thought these were BOGO for $2.50 instead of $3.99. I would have used the $3/2 coupons I had if I had noticed they were more expensive).

2 Johnsonville formed breakfast sausage: reg. $3.69. on sale, $2.38 - $1/1 coupons = $1.38 each.

2 Johnsonville brats: reg. $3.99. on sale, $2.38 - $1/1 coupons for turkey and bold varieties = $1.38 each.

3 Kraft 2% shredded cheese: reg. $2.79. on sale, $2 - $1/2 printable coupon = $1.66 each (plus it generated a $2 cat making the actual cost more like $1 each).

6 tubs Cool Whip: 99c - $1/2 coupons - $1/3 store coupons = 16c each! (Score! Now, to think of things to do with Cool Whip ...).

1 dozen eggs: reg. 99c - $1/wyb 2 Johnsonville peelie = FREE EGGS!

Total Spent: $38.42
Total Saved: $62.77

62% Savings! Sweeeeeet.

Thank you, Meijer. Your cashier was annoying, but the deals were nice.



For more Shopping Cart Round-ups, check out Gayle at Grocery Cart Challenge.

Menu Plan Monday: 29 June to 5 July

Oh, Monday, here you are again. The temps have dropped back down into the 70s, so hopefully we'll eat more than salad this week. Last week's high temperatures were nearly unbearable here for a northern girl who likes a little chill in the air.

M: Beef & Rice Noodle Veggie Stir Fry (using the leftover crockpot roast, of which there was far too much)

T: Crockpot Chili with Rolls (... because I have to work late)

W: Fried Chicken Taco Salads

R: Pork Chops, Rice, Green Beans, and Green Salads

F: Survivor Night (we're headed to the annual local art fair on Friday, meaning I don't know how hungry we'll be after carnival food lunches, nor what time it will be when we get home)

S: Slow Grilled BBQ Ribs, Cheesy Potatoes, Baked Beans, Grilled Asparagus, Spinach Dip, Veggie Tray, and Fruit Dish (there are people coming over for the 4th, can you tell? hahaha)

U: Leftovers! There must be some from Saturday. I hope?!

For hundreds more menus, please check out the Org. Junkie.



27 June 2009

Super Saver Saturday: Meijer GDAs for 6/28

I'm not usually this on top of deal matching, honestly often scrambling on Saturday afternoon to get my lists ready, but this week I've already seen tomorrow's ad and pulled the matches I like for this week. Yay! My thoughts, why not share them with you?

6.28 Meijer
Pepsi 24 packs: on sale, $3.99/ea when you buy 4 - $2/1 any Pepsi coupons from the Coupon Rebate earlier this year if you did it and still have them (I've been hoarding mine for just such an occasion) = $7.96 total, or $1.99 each. Yes!

Lays Chips: on sale, $1.99 - $1/2 coupon = $1.49/ea.

Ekrich hot dogs: on sale, 78c/ea (in conjunction with a grocery purchase, you can't just buy hot dogs, apparently). I hear there are coupons out for these. I can't find mine at the moment.

Bagelfuls: on sale, $2/ea - $1/1 Kraft Bagelfuls printable = $1 each. (I think these things are a little scary, personally, but I've been promising them to a certain family member once they made it down to $1 ... sigh).

Heluva Good Dip: on sale, $1.19/ea - $1/1 coupons = 19c each! Yes!

Old Orchard Juice: on sale, $1.67/ea - $1/2 coupons = $1.17 each. If you have a store that doubles, they'll be 17c!! Old Orchard is good stuff, made just down the road from here from fruit grown in between my house and theirs. 17c!? Absolutely, yes, please. (Oh, how I envy you doubling grocery store shoppers ... ).

Ziplocks: on sale, $2 - coupons that vary from 40c/1 to $1/2 to sometimes $1/1. I'm not necessarily advocating a stock up, but keep your eyes peeled since these often have peel off coupons on them that are better than the insert ones. Check them out in store, and if they aren't worth it, wait it out.

Chicken drumsticks and thighs: on sale, 99c/lb. (It's grilling season ... time for bbq'd chicken legs! Stock up a bit at this price as I haven't seen the 79c/lb drums/thighs price in a long, long time.)

And! A 10/$10 (11th FREE!) that includes ...

Coke product 2 liters

Green Giant Steamers and boxed veggies: Also, keep an eye out for peelies on these since there aren't any current coupons ... or at least I don't have any.

Bounty Big Roll Paper Towels: -$1/2 coupon = 50c each. I stopped buying paper towels (despite the near mutinous revolt that followed), but if you're still beholden to disposable, this may be good for you.

Breakstone Sour Cream: -$1/2 printable coupon = 50c each. I don't use sour cream that often, but I may need to find a few recipes this week.

ChiChi's Salsa: -55c/1 coupon = 45c each. Yes, please.

Hormel Deli Pepperoni: -75c/1 = 25c each. This is a YMMV (your money/manager/mileage may vary) since I'm not positive the deli size is what the coupon actually counts for when it scans. Give it a whirl, and if it works, make pizza subs with all your cheap giant pepperonis.

Ronzoni Smart Pasta: -$1/1 manufacturer coupon - $1/2 Meijer coupon = +50c! I don't have any of these manu coupons, because I was convinced this stuff was never, ever going on sale for $1 again. Haha, oops. I sent mine away and now, voila! Sale time! If you have them, stock up!! If you don't and need pasta, print the Meijer coupons and get it for 50c/box, which isn't terrible. Check the regular price of Meijer brand, though, to make sure this is still cheaper.

Dentek Flossers: This gets a big ole question mark next to it, because although I've seen talk online that they are included, I can't find it in my ad. I may be blind. If so, there are great coupons out from both inserts and All You magazine for these. I tried to use mine last time they were included, and the stores were out completely long before I got there (and for weeks after ...).

There are, of course, other things in the ad. I either don't need them or was not struck by them being an amazing deal. This doesn't mean they aren't. Feel free to add in your own matchups in the comments if you like. Questions? Please ask. I'm more than happy to answer them!



ps, I'm also going shopping today on this week's ad for 99c/lb grapes, BOGO Tostinos, Koolaid with FREE mac & cheese, 1/2 price Super Pretzels and Sara Lee frozen cake, and Cool Whip (15 CENTS each when you buy 6 ... are you kidding me?! Dessert, please!). I may get in a breakdown tonight ... we can hope. Happy Shopping!

23 June 2009

The Everything Post

Where have I been all this time?! My goodness how one day turns into 7 before you even know it. I've had all the things I wanted to post floating around in my head, but it's officially 937 degrees Fahrenheit here (ok, high 80s, probably low 90s today) and when it's that hot I want to do nothing but find a semi-reasonable place to sit (like the basement, in a corner, where it's 'cooler' ... by 2 or 3 degrees) and not move a muscle lest the Niagra Falls of sweat come forth from all parts of me at once. I hate being hot. Hate it. This is why we live in MI and not a warmer state. I would melt. It may happen this week, and I have the mop at the ready in case. Here we go, everything all together now ...

Some Quick Takes
I already told you it's hot, but it begs repeating. I do not like sweat rolling down the sides of my face because I'm standing still washing dishes in less than completely sanitary tepid water because I may just die if it were any warmer. I would really like a breeze, any breeze, even a hot one, to cut the density in the air. We do not have air conditioning, lest you think I'm complaining about hot weather for fun. I know there are many of you that survive much hotter temperatures also without AC, but seriously ... I can't take it. We don't have AC for a number of reasons.

1. It's reaaaaaallllly expensive for my electric bill.
2. It's not so fantastic for the environment with all those AC units pumping out exhaust and such.
3. If we did, I would not be able to control myself and we'd likely have it set at 35 degrees from March until October, bringing us right back to point number 1. When AC is involved, my rational mind desolves to putty and I have no self-control. Total abstinence is out only sound option.

I don't like to cook when it's hot, but this morning I convinced myself to get a roast into the crockpot since I was awake anyway and eventually we'd have to eat. I'm calling it a gold star day just for that. Haha.

I had an unforutnate accident on Sunday that now requires a dentist's appointment and a lot of my conscious attention as to not show anyone the monstrosity when I speak. It doesn't hurt, but come Friday, at the dentist, it likely will. Thank heavens for dental insurance.

The summer semester started yesterday. I promise I was not intentionally skipping class. I really honestly thought it was a T/R class, not a M/W one. Not until the email hit my phone from another girl asking where I had been did I go look at the course schedule. I've been convinced for months that it was on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Ooooops.

Some Shopping Round-Up
I went to Costco and Meijer on Friday. There weren't any super amazing deals I needed to get in on, we were just out of a couple things that I had been putting off picking up for ... more than a little while. I did manage to get one box of half-price minus $1 coupon Snickers ice cream bars, and a raincheck for 12 more. Now, to find coupons ... Em is hot and needs ice creams!

Some Simple Sunday
What's better on a Sunday, especially Father's Day, and most especially when it falls on the longest day of the year ... than a late evening trip to the lake? It was hot. We were melting. We piled in the car at 9pm and headed to the lake for a quick swim. A little chilly at first, sure, but once initially submerged, swimming was heaven. It was like magic. Not hot. No longer puddling into your shoes. Just cool and marvelous, plus the beginnings of a sunset while we were swimming made for an marvelously simply Sunday.

Some Menu Plan Monday
M: Sausages on the Grill, Chips

T: Crockpot Beef Roast, Potatoes, Greens & Spinach Salad

W: Hamburger Helper (which I don't like, fyi), Greens & Spinach Salad

R: Fried Chicken Salads, Cut Veggies

F: Survivor Night ... eat what you can find, or starve. I will likely be having milkshakes ... and pudding ... and other things that don't hurt one's already hurting post-dentist teeth.

S: Pork Chops, Noodle Side, Steamed Veggies, Green Salads

U: Zuppa Toscana

Some Gratituesday
For more Gratituesday, check out The Heavenly Homemakers.
Today, I'm grateful for ...

... warm weather that helps my garden grow, even if it makes me terribly uncomfortable.
... cool swims at dusk.
... ice cream.
... self-employment.
... the appreciation of the women I work with.
... crunching on ice cubes, even if it's horrible for my teeth.
... dental insurance.
... Be, who although I currently look funny, still loves me.
... the tiniest hints of a breeze.
... getting up early of my own volition.
... schedule switching.
... the AC in my car being functional.
... a cool basement to retreat to.
... the library, full of great books, for free!
... money in the bank, bills paid.
... a clean house, easier on the hot weather sanity than a dirty one.
... grace.
... every day, hot or not, that I get to live in this perfect world.

Wasn't that wacky? So long as I don't melt, regular posting will resume. If, instead, I turn into a giant puddle of crazy, I can make no guarantees.



16 June 2009

Gratituesday: 16 June

For more Gratituesday, check out Heavenly Homemakers.

Today, I'm grateful for ...

... an early evening nap that slept the headache away.
... chocolate chip cookies.
... a final presentation, due tomorrow, which is finished.
... no class for almost a week.
... the possibility of free you-pick strawberries.
... warming lake temperatures that promise swimming soon.
... the promise of rain tomorrow, food from above for my greenlings.
... great bloggy friends.
... la bibliotheque.
... another day in the dream.



15 June 2009

Tortilla Pizza

Blessed with Grace
For more TMTT's check out Blessed With Grace.

Sometimes, I don't feel like cooking. Other times, I forget to take things out of the freezer, which I'm working on improving. When we're short on time and motivation, and long on hungry people, I often turn to this super quick standby. From freezer to table is about 15 minutes, and once paired with a nice green salad or veggie, it makes for a delicious way to avoid take out. I can't even get delivery in 15 minutes. It's pizza ... on a tortilla ... out of stuff in your pantry.

The Starting Line Up
Tortillas, any size, any variety.
We keep a stack of flour tortillas in the pantry at all times. I buy them in bulk at Costco for far less than the specialty aisle or produce section of the grocery store. You'll need 2 per person for adults (or at least adults in this house ... ) usually. Sometimes, when our tortilla stash is large, we'll use 2 tortillas for each pizza and toss a handful of cheese between the layers ... yum.

Pizza Sauce
Really, any sauce will do. I keep a stock of Save A Lot's Pino's brand pizza sauce in the pantry. It's fabulous stuff, and the whole jar is less than $1. When we run out of SAL brand, I'll use jarred spaghetti sauce. You could use whatever sauce you had on hand ... leftover pasta sauce, alfredo, creamy ranch ... basically it all works.


Most of the people in this house prefer pepperoni on their tortilla pizza. I buy it in the giant bag from Costco when we're running low, then break it down into smaller portions when I get it home. I literally throw a handful or two into a used (yea, we wash 'em ... and I don't have to buy so many) zip top bag and throw all the bags into the door in the freezer. When it's pizza time, I just pull the pepperoni I need out of the bag, put it directly on the pizza still frozen, close the bag, toss it back in the freezer. The pepperoni slices don't usually stick together much in the freezer, so you can just pull what you need as you go. I loooooove that part.

Sometimes, when I'm actually planning to make these, we'll pre-cook some sausage crumbles, bacon, or chicken strips for toppings instead of the pepperoni. If you prefer some other meat on your pizza, you could pre-cook a bit, do the pepperoni procedure with freezer bags, and have it on standby. Other times, we've used whatever meats were leftover in the fridge ... beef roast shredded down into strips, seasoned beef from tacos, extra meatballs (cut in half so they won't roll around), pieces of leftover whole chicken ... basically whatever is in there will work.

In the summer, tortilla pizzas are super fun with the plethora of peppers, onions, and tomatoes from the garden. In the winter, I rely on stored onions, canned mushrooms, and frozen bell pepper pieces. Again, it's a pantry meal, so whatever you have will work perfectly.

Ah, cheese, how I adore thee. We stock up on chunk (and shredded, because they're often on sale together ... ) cheese when the per ounce prices get low enough. Any kind you're in love with will work (except that disgusting Velveeta type 'cheese food' that doesn't really melt).

The Game Plan

Use about 1 Tbsp of sauce, and spread lightly. It's only a tortilla, so a ton of sauce makes it soggy.

These are the world's smallest onions, I think. We found them growing rogue in the herb garden, so I made a quick dice of them and they became dinner. They look huge in that picture, but the knife they're next to is a paring sized knife, not a sword.

A sprinkling of onions, some canned mushrooms, and 5 or 6 still frozen pepperoni.

Half a handful (a fancy and exact measure, no?) of cheese, really like a large pinch. It's not hard to overload the pizza and then they won't crisp up. Now, into the oven.

The End Result

Yummmm! They get all crunchy crispy, especially around the edges. Give them a minute to set up once they come out of the oven, and cut them on the tray in slices (for kids) or quarters (for grown ups).

The Play By Play

Light coating of sauce of your choice
A few pieces of still frozen pre-cooked meat
Handful of veggies that you happen to have
An extra big pinch of shredded cheese, spread around
400 degree oven for 10 minutes



Menu Plan Monday: 15 to 21 June

For hundreds more menu plans, please check out the Org. Junkie.

M: Leftovers (chicken stir-fry or pizza)

T: Freezer Soup in the Crockpot with Bacon Grilled Cheeses (we didn't get to this last week)

W: Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Green Veggie

R: Sausage, Egg, and Potato Scrambles with Tortillas

F: Homemade Pizzas, Green Salads

S: Survivor Night ... if you can find it, you can eat it.

U: Grilled Ham Steaks, Garlic Grill Potatoes, Green Veggies

What's on your menu this week?

14 June 2009

Simple Sunday: Wordless Edition

Ok, not totally wordless. This is the view if you happen to be laying on your back, feet bare, in the grass in my backyard. That line in the middle is a most faint rainbow. Simple, beautiful, perfect.



Dirt Cheap: Our Gardening Adventure ... Part 1

Memorial day weekend in Michigan means the threat of frost is gone (well, we hope ... ), and the time has come for ... gardening! I loooooove this time of year, and those cute little plants in the ground. I do generally forget how much work putting those adorable sprouts in the ground can be, but my calves and hamstrings do a fabulous job reminding me every week after Memorial day. Last year, we planted in a circle. Yea, really, what in the world were we thinking?! We had this vision for cute concentric circles, but the plants had other plans and did everything they could to turn the whole thing into a jungle. This year, we're back to a rectangle (and while we're at it ... why not expand a little ... teehee).

This is a shot of Be and my brother Abby putting up the perimeter stakes after the rototilling was finished. Great tip: Don't buy a rototiller, but instead find someone you know or who lives near by from whom you can borrow one for a few hours. Be's dad came down to do ours, and bingo bango we don't have to shovel by hand or lay out $600 for a rototiller. Share things! Buying new is both expensive and not always the best use of resources.

Now, since we have 2 large dogs who really like to be in the backyard, and whose footprints although adorable are not my favorite thing when they're trampling down baby tomatoes, we needed to figure out a fencing solution. Last year, we used a little metal wire fence. It was cute for a minute, but at only a foot and a few inches high, it was also entirely too easy for the dogs to simply step over. With a mind for just making do, we really did evaluate the option of using the metal fence again (of course, we saved it ...), but it honestly didn't survive being taken down last fall all that well. There are broken pieces all over (hooray for tetanus!?), not to mention the part where it's quite happy being bent in the shape of a circle.

Hmmm. What to do, what to do?

I begrudgingly agreed to browse the local Menard's in search of a fencing solution. They did have approximately knee high fencing on sale, but even the 36inch sections were upwards of $4 each. With 80 feet of garden perimeter to cover, the $100+ price tag was a little out of reach for us.

"So, what if we use this snow fence?"

Yes, indeed, snow fence. In the winter here, locals put up plastic fencing along the beaches to keep the sand and snow from getting out of control together. What's better? Menard's had 50 feet of glorious green (rather than the standard blaze orange) snow fence for $20. Instead of buying 2 rolls to cover the 80 feet, we simply cut one of them in half with the hacksaw, doubling the amount of coverage and making the fence just the right height.

See?! Fabulous green snow fence!

The even cooler part, the perimeter poles that we are using this year are holdovers from last year when we used them to tie up tomato plants in vain attempts to remedy the jungle phenomenon that the circle garden created. The poles are generally used for running electrical fence, and we picked them up for $1 at the local Tractor Supply. Oh, it gets better! My love of this semi-recycled cobbled together snow fence does not end. Not only are the poles serving a borrowed role, they have these amazing little clips on them that serendipitously fit the fence height perfectly. We had a roll of plastic coated twist tie which we had planned to use to secure the fence, but lo and behold, totally unnecessary. Each section just slipped into the little clip and on we went to the next. I am fascinated with the way it all worked out.

Ooooooo, pretty snow fence!
And, the adorable Be, from an angle he will likely not appreciate me snapping a picture of.

Then of course, it was time to go plant shopping. There are more frugal ways to start gardens. You can buy seeds and start them indoors. You can even save the seeds from the produce you eat, dry them, and start those in cute little pots with hopes that they'll come up. I've done a fair share of seed starting in the past, and it never goes well. In the places where our house is full of sun, there's no awesome place for rows and rows of seed pots. In the places where there is space, there are no windows. Or, as we discovered last year, in the mud room where we created a space, and the windows abound, it is simply far too cold for seed starting. Ugh. This year, we purchased plants as we hadn't come up with a sweet seed starting solution in time to meet the garden timeline. Next year, I aspire to do better. Until then ... cute little plants in cute little pots.

This isn't even all of them. 36 tomato plants?! Am I crazy?

What follows the purchase of a million little green darlings for the garden? Ah yes, planting them. I always (and I do mean always) forget about this part. I have some bizarre mental block that always seems to make believe that once we get them home, they'll just plant themselves ... or maybe little elves will show up and do it for me in the night. Alas, no, gardening is work. A labor of love, sure, but my glutes doth protest regardless.

The adorable Be using the garden hoe to make rows. He dug the trenches, then mom and I filled them with compost (Oh, how I loooooove compost!), set the plants in, and covered each root base individually.
(Please note, Be really did start shaving his head bald ... he's crazy, I think.

We ended up with 2 rows of tomatoes, plus 3 in pots and 2 planted experimentally (which I will tell you all about once I get pictures of them), 3 rows of peppers, 1 row each of green beans and peas, and 2 rows of root vegetables (parsnips, carrots, and radishes), plus an onion patch. There are also brussel sprouts, chinese cabbage, kale, strawberries, cucumbers, and blueberries which I haven't gotten pictures of yet. In addition to the regular garden, we have an herb garden up against the back of the house. This year's selection: rosemary, lavender, marjoram, oregano, horehound, sage, parsley, peppermint, thyme, and basil.

Oooooooh, pretty herb garden.

There it is, the beginning of our gardening adventure. I plan to update as the season progresses with new pictures and produce totals. Are you gardening this year? Tell me about it in the comments!



7 Quick Takes ... Sunday: Vol 8

Sometimes life happens, and things don't get posted on time ... or even written. Friday was one of those days, but the reason why is kind of exciting. I was asked to give the keynote address at an awards banquet honoring the highest honor given to girls in Girl Scouting, the Gold Award. I earned a Gold Award in high school, and was asked (kind of last minute ... like Monday afternoon ... oops) to be the keynote speaker because of it (and according to the woman who called me, "because (I) wouldn't have a problem speaking in front of a large group on short notice"). It was a really good time. My speech was well received. I did not fumble around like a crazy too much, and I got a pretty yummy (and free!) dinner out of the deal. The downside, the speech was oh, a hundred or so miles from my house, in the early evening, so most of my usual Friday bloggy time was spent getting ready and driving (and putting the finishing touches on my speech ... who loves the last minute?! Em does.).

I skipped church this morning so I could finish writing my group research paper, and although I've only been going to church regularly for ... oh, a month, I'm kind of sad I wasn't there. I know I can listen to the podcast and check the bulletin online, but really ... I just like being there. It's the highlight of my week, and I'm regretting terribly not getting up and going anyway. Now I have to wait another 6 days. (Wow, on 2nd inspection, I never ever would have counted myself in the category of people disappointed that they missed church ... something has come over me ... something not so awful, maybe ...).

We added even more plants to the garden yesterday. There will be a garden post forthcoming in the near future, which I'm terribly excited about. We swung by the greenhouse yesterday and I fell in love with some clearanced kale and chinese cabbage plants. I mean, in love. They were calling to me. I looked at them longingly, walked away, perused the remainder of the section, wandered back to them, stood looking at them like a 2 year old, and finally decided to just bring them home. We don't have any greens growing since my lettuce didn't so much make it ... stupid paper seed cards anyway.

The beloved Red Wings did not win the Stanley Cup. I should offer congrats and well dones to the Penguins, but I'm not that cool of a person. I'm pouting.

We had a fabulous time Thursday at the minor league baseball game. Not only was my favorite band playing after the game, but it was as well "Thrifty Thursday" at the ball park. We scored $5 admission tickets (instead of $9.50i) by agreeing to bring our own chairs and sit on the lawn. A number of food items were marked down to $2 instead of the regular exhorbinant park prices or $4, $6 or more, and you could get hot dogs (which I don't eat ... ick, but other people do) for $1! Some friends joined us on the grassy knoll, and we had an all around great time. Not that I'm the biggest baseball fan in the world, but we may have to check out future Thrifty Thursday events there for some super cheap entertainment.

The spring semester ends Wednesday. Yay! The bad news: the summer semester begins on Monday. Yikes. Ugh. Why in the world idd I agree to take spring AND summer classes? Am I a crazy person? I'm happy one semester is almost over, but I'm wishing for a much longer break than 4 days. These are the moments when I wonder to myself, "why in the world am I still in school?"

"So the eye needs light to see, so the soul needs labor to comprehend." --Philo

I will try to remember this next week when I'm cleaning my house top to bottom in preparation for the party we're having Saturday.

For more 7 Quick Takes, probably posted on time, check out Jen's blog.



10 June 2009

Summer Fun! (on the cheap ...)

If you happen to be relatively local to me, there's a list of great stuff going on to fill your summer date book with below. If you aren't so local, check out your local chamber of commerce, library, or civic association for events calendars. Summertime is always full of pretty cheap or free community events, no matter where you live. Don't miss out because you aren't in the know. Just google your town and find some freebie fun for your family (hooray alliteration ... haha). Festivals, library reading programs, fireworks, and car cruises abound. I cannot wait!

On the Lakeshore ...

Brown Bag Film Series at the MMA
Grab your lunch and meet up at the art museum for a 30 minute film. Admission to the film is free, though I think they still charge for museum admission if you want to browse the galleries afterward, and there are cookies! Check out the downtown schedule for details.

Movie Nights at the LST
Bring a blanket or a lawn chair and head down to the Mart Dock for a free movie every Friday on the deck of the historic LST (Landing Ship Tank ... it's a boat ... a huge one, if you haven't seen it). The deck opens at 7pm, and the movie begins at dusk. You can bring a cooler and snacks, or purchase them on site for $1. A schedule of films can be seen on the downtown schedule. Although there's no admission cost, donations are accepted and all proceeds go to the Restoration Fund of the LST. Movies under the stars ... for free ...?! Score!

Parties in the Park
Live music (the link has the schedule), kids' games, and positively a ton of people you forgot you knew will be at Hackley Park in the middle of downtown every Friday from 5pm-930pm. Entrance is free, but food and beverages are a little on the pricey side so I suggest eating an early dinner at home before heading down there. I don't honestly remember if they let you bring food in or not, but I do know outside beverages aren't allowed. The best part, all proceeds go to the organization that is "sponsoring" each week. They provide the volunteers and the PITP organization compensates them according. Come out to the park, hang out with your friends, and support the organizations you know and love.

Summer Celebration
Most of the events surrounding SummerCel have some kind of cost associated, sometimes a rather significant cost if you're considering a night out with one of the live 'big name' bands. However, a number of the events going on around the Main Stage are free, especially the ones targeted at kids. Be careful to avoid the midway if you're not into dropping tons of cash on junk food and stomach turning carnival rides. Flip through the schedule, though, there may be something going on for free or pretty low cost that may interest you, like the Community Picnic where each food item costs only a quarter or the Safari-Me Petting Zoo. Also, scope out a free spot to park your car and catch the fireworks on July 4.

Star Gazing ... Inside
The Carr-Fles Planetarium at MCC offers free planetarium shows to the public on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7pm.

Vacation with Purpose
If you're so inclined, the Maranatha Bible Conference offers free entertainment on Saturday nights at 7pm. There are other free events as well mixed in with their admission required ones. You can check the summer program schedule here.

Tons More!
Events can be found here, here, here, and here. There are also library programs going on all over the area, so check out your local LLC library for details, or the Hackley Library which even has an Adult Summer Reading Program in conjunction with their kids' programs.

Surrounding the Lakeshore ...

Fishing Weekend
Don't have the cash for a fishing license?
(although, I would strongly advocate the purchase if you have the time, location, and fish population since it's ... free food that can easily recoup the cost of the year long license)

Join in the fishing fun anyway by participating in the Michigan Free Fishing Weekend. No license required, just grab your pole and head to the closest stream (in MI that's approximately 12 feet from anywhere you live) for some quiet time and hopefully some free dinner!

Anything Else?
Are there other sweet freebie events going on that I don't know about? Nation wide programs you want to tell me about? Great local programs in your community that you'd like to brag about? Let me know in the comments! I'm looking for freebie summer fun and date night ideas (remember, we need those date nights ... badly).



09 June 2009

Super Saver: Water, Water Everywhere Edition

I've been a little lax on the grocery shopping lately. I hit up the super deals (sometimes ... ), but I leave the rest alone. We have plenty of food in the house, and every so often I just get the urge to use it up rather than add to the stockpile. This natural downsizing inclination helps keep everything well rotated, and hopefully will create enough freezer space for fall butchering (fingers crossed ...). That said, Be and I hit up Meijer on Saturday evening because no matter my shopping aversions sometimes, the power of free things compels me back to the store.

6 Mrs. Dash seasoning mixes: on sale, $1.99 - $1/2 Meijer coupons - 50c/1 manufacture coupons = 99c each.
6 lbs ground beef: on sale, $1.59 - $1/1 wyb Mrs. Dash coupons = 59c/lb.
16 Crystal Light On The Go: on sale, $2.99 - $1/1 Meijer coupons - $1/1 manufacture coupons = 99c each.
2 Crystal Light Skin Essentials: on sale, $2.99 - FREE coupon = $0!
8 cases of Meijer bottled water: orig. price unknown, - Meijer promo for buying Crystal Light = FREE!
4 Nabisco Cookies: on sale, $2.50 - 55c/1 coupons = 1.95 each.
2 half gallons Meijer ice cream: orig. price unknown - Meijer promo for buying cookies = FREE!
2 pkgs Meijer bagels: on sale, $2 each.
10 2ltrs Dr. Pepper: $1.39 - B3, G2 sale - FREE 2ltr coupon = $6.95 + $1 deposit = 70c each.
2 loaves Meijer bread: on sale, 99c each.

Total after coupons: $46.05
- 15% off grocery catalinas earned by my brother when buying his girlfriend's birthday gift last week. I gave the cats first, so that they came off the pre-coupon total. Hooray little brother for thinking of me and not tossing the cats in the trash.

- 4 $2 catalinas for buying Crystal Light.

Final Total: $35.42

Total Saved: $127.00

78% savings! Yay! We don't buy bottled water, preferring to use the filter and a wide array of Nalgene bottles. However, with ummer coming and sweet coupon deals, I'm more than willing to take cases of the stuff home for FREE!

Want to see more totals? Check out Gayle's round-up at Grocery Cart Challenge.



Gratituesday: 9 June

I'm grateful for ...

... absolute providence (I was worried about money last week, and now, a perfectly fabulous part time job offered without my application and a bit of a business upswing all at the same time).
... fast growing little green friends all over the garden.
... bountiful rain, the elixir of life.
... Sundays spent with friends, large groups and small.
... The White Bucket Project.
... the promise of in season strawberries, very soon.
... leftover spaghetti in the morning.
... new friends, laughing, in pajamas.
... an attentive Be whose love style is most clearly the gift of service. Thank you, love.
... Ed Dobson, again. Great words from a great man.
... that feeling that no matter the miles (to Greenland ... yikes!), no matter the time (years, unfortunately) that first hug is just as perfect and comfortable as the last time. My cousin (and former debate partner in high school) was home for his brother's wedding this weekend. He's a Cpt. in the USAF, and I count him among my dearest, closest friends. He likely knows more about me (even the nitty gritty dirty stuff) than anyone else in the world. Those stolen moments, even though he was busy with his Best Man duties, were fabulous. Now, back to Greenland he goes. I'll miss you, Reric.
... a journey that is just beginning.

What are you grateful for today? Please go check out Laura's blog for even more grateful posting.



Menu Plan Monday: 8 June to 14 June

Note: Blogger and I had a bit of a disagreement about the scheduling of these posts, apparently, so they didn't go up when they were supposed to. For that, I apologize.

M: Baked Spaghetti Marinara, garlic bread

T: Firehouse Tortilla Pizza

W: Broccoli Cheese Soup with Bacon Grilled Cheese

R: Sausage Dirty Rice Florentine

F: Survivor Night (leftovers! yay!)

S: Chicken Stirfry with Herb Rice

U: Pork Chops, Au Gratins, Steamed Asparagus, Buttered Biscuits

That leaves ...

Cut pasta with Meat Sauce x2
Pasta with Meatballs
Fancy Mac & Cheese x2
Chicken Stir Fry
Ham and Cheesy Potatoes
Pork Chops x3
Corn Tacos x2
Grill Night x3 (Hamburgers x1, Hot dogs/Brats x2)
Crockpot Whole Chicken
Creamy Chicken Stew (from leftover whole chicken)
Tip Steaks and Potatoes
Broccoli Cheese Soup with Bacon Grilled Cheese
Chicken Kabobs a la Med
Pizza x2
Breakfast for Dinner: Pancakes, Eggs, Sausage
Sausage, Egg, and Potato Scrambles with Tortillas
Baked Ham Steaks with Au Gratins x2
Oven Beef Loin Roast
Sausage Dirty Rice Florentine x2
Leftover x2 (probably more, honestly, but we'll see ...)

What's on your menu? Need inspiration? Check out the Org. Junkie for ideas!



Simple Sunday: June 7

Note: Blogger and I had a bit of a disagreement about the scheduling of these posts, apparently, so they didn't go up when they were supposed to. For that, I apologize.

Summer time is often busy for a lot of families with events and outings and the like. This Sunday was one of those days for us with two graduation open houses and a wedding. Sitting among the bowls of buttermints and half eaten pieces of cake (also, who only eats half of their cake ...?! ), I had a very 'Simple Sunday' moment. I love the unending smile of a new bride, surrounded by her friends, completely in love with this moment and the toothy grins of new grads, the whole world in front of them. They give me that oh how I love simplicity sigh. I remember those moments. I think that's probably why people attend these events in droves. They want to remember those same moments in their own history and recreate those feelings, if only for a few minutes or a couple hours.

This Simple Sunday I'm in love with rites of passage, community celebrations, and the love between family members that no matter their distance or time apart, can be almost immediately rekindled. It's just a party, just a cake that your mom insisted on putting your face on, just a group of people sharing a meal ... just that until the memories and feelings make it so much more.

Congrats to those whose snapshot (a moment you will always remember like a polaroid, still shot glimpses of a before) moments we got to share in this weekend. Thank you.



05 June 2009

7 Quick Takes: Vol 7

I'm toying with the idea of another blog (as in, in addition to rather than in place of). There are approximately a million things I want to write about all around a common theme, but it is one that although linked to the thematic direction of this blog would likely overtake the parts that it is not so connected to. I don't really want that. GSF for me has been a place to be grateful, seek simplicity, and practice frugality. This new idea would be grateful and likely connected to the reasons for which I seek the simple over the complex and the frugal over the luxurious, but would be far less practically oriented (fewer GDAs, coupon breakdowns, recipes, etc). I don't think I want a replacement, just an alternate place to also write. You could read both if you wanted, but at least you'd still have options. Now, to decide the name (this part takes me the longest of anything ...).

I'm learning that my body doesn't like commercially produced fruit juices. It used to be just orange juice, which I blamed on the ridiculous citric acid to actual soluable fiber ratio. Then it was anything orange juice made an appearance in ... Mountain Dew, for example. Now I'm also having problems with grape juice (and if that ... then, wine? noooo!). Before I call it quits entirely I think I may drag my juicer out of the cupboard as the fruit crops start to come in and give making my own a go to see if the problem is the juice itself or the commercial process (and assortment of unnecessary crap ingredients). Then the question becomes ... how to store already homemade juice for once the availability of fresh fruit diminishes?

Remember my favorite thing about Sundays? Yea. Apparently not this week. My schedule (I even hate the use of the word 'schedule' in reference to a Sunday) consists of meeting a friend for church, then driving to our hometown for an early afternoon graduation open house, then driving across that town for a late afternoon graduation open house, and then making it to my cousin's wedding reception. Argh! That's pure craziness, but the prospect of eating cake three times in one afternoon/evening does have me a little twitterpated (I loooooooooove cake!).

Now, to figure out 2 frugal graduation gifts and a frugal wedding gift. I should consult my gift closet, but it's currently stocked only with plastic cups and Halloween candy. Hmmm. I have 2 days to figure this out, my lovely friends of the interwebs, and I would adore your help in the comments section. (pretty please ...?).

Not that it's all that exciting to anyone but me, but the data for my summer research has been tabulated and analyzed. Those of you who've been involved in research projects like this know the sigh of relief I'm breathing right now knowing that all the (f)tests and ANOVAs are done and accounted for. The remainder of the paper still needs to be written ... the results and discussion portions, but really I'm just glad we only had a few data hangups getting to here (mostly involving spelling inconsistencies in responses ... which the computer does not like at all). I do need to write the rest of this paper before Monday (is it Friday already?! My word!). Also fabulous, the data analysis proves our hypothesis, which is way cooler than it not.

I want to go here, please. I may have to start fundraising once I decide when exactly would be the perfect time to go. My initial thought is of course ... winter, because winter in MI is less fun than winter in Morocco and vice versa for summer since Rabat is in Northern Africa. I really want to volunteer abroad, and have for quite awhile. I just hadn't found the place that felt right. Just imagine ... Em walking down a tiny market street, eating the most amazing hummus and falafel purchased from a street vendor, speaking Arabic to cute little kids, and working with the local women's group on organizing actions. Beautiful. I am so in, as soon as I find $6,000.

I am really hungry to lo mein thanks to a conversation I am having this very minute online while writing this post. I loooooove lo mein almost as much as I love cake. It's my first and favorite pick at every Asian resto we've ever been to, and the more I talk about it right now the more tempted I am to gnaw off my own left hand. I also haven't eaten lunch yet. Hmm. Now, to find some fabulous Chinese noodles ...

The mailman was nice enough to bring me a $27 (and change) check this week from the good people at Inbox Dollars. This is the first time I've actually received money from them, so they finally get to go down in my "Absolutely Legit" column. I click through some emails, they send me some money. I am ok with that arrangement. Mostly, I was just excited to get free money in the mail. If you want in on the deal, feel free to click the link on my right sidebar under 'Places I Dig' (or just google it if you're not as comfy with referral links ... I care not either way).

For more 7 Quick Takes Fridays, check out Jen's blog.



04 June 2009

GDA: Free Krispy Kreme!

Tomorrow, June 5, head to your local Krispy Kreme for a FREE doughnut of your choice in celebration of Doughnut Day. I didn't know there was such a thing, but I like Krispy Kreme a whole lot more if it means freebie doughnuts all-around. You can go here to see if your local store is participating. I love the glazed sour cream ones, myself. Now, to think of a reason to go to that side of town so I can be close to the only store we have ...



02 June 2009

Gratituesday: 2 June

This week, I'm grateful for ...

... sunshine!
... most adorable little green shoots coming up in the garden, life embodied from my own hands.
... pajama Tuesday (We occasionally declare it Pajama Day! here. Love love love pajama day!)
... Mars Hill.
... good friends, and those time machine moments when we can all be together in a room, laughing like there aren't a whole world's worth of miles between us regularly.
... a hilarious family that enjoys being together, eating ice cream, and laughing until our sides hurt.
... our hometown, only 20 minutes from where we live now, where we can go and just breathe (the links are pictures ... share in the beauty).
... Betty Crocker confetti cake (the rainbow chip one). It's not scratch, and it's far from good for you, but it's sooooooooo tasty (and was requested by yesterday's birthday girl).
... great people, with big hearts (and the occasional extra Rolex ... which is a reference only one person will get ... haha).
... the kids I work with, amazing young adults who are looking like they'll turn into great grown-ups one day.
... a little bit of a cool breeze, refreshing after the humidity.
... every day I get to be part of this amazing world.

What are you grateful for today? Want to see what others are grateful for? Check out Laura's blog.