Monday, April 25, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

WOW!! It has been a crazy busy month around here. I have been doing OK with the menu planning, but not as diligent as I need to be.  I am back on track and going to have a good week! My hubby has started doing P90X so we are going to be gradually switching our menu to more and more options that fit with that. I am going to be getting back on track with Weight Watchers. The mix can be a good variety for our family!

Here is our menu plan for this week:
(The words on the document in blue are clickable recipe links)
Weekly Menu Plan 4/24-4/30

For more great recipes and menu plans visit: Organizing Junkie

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

YEAH! Today was "Box Day"

I love seeing the "Brown Truck" pull up with a box of curriculum! I got that joy today as I ordered some thing earlier in the week.

This year has been a rough year because of "lack of funds" to purchase what I really wanted and the boys needed to be using. I did purchase and we have been using Mystery of History Volume 1, but I think only my oldest has been "getting it". We have used online resources and printables and library books, many of which I talked about FREE Homeschool Resources. Lesson Pathways is my favorite online resource to use to plan our school day. It has been such an awesome blessing during this time when "lack of funds" was an issue. I have also been very blessed to be a part of TOS Homeschool Crew this year and have received many great products that have been very helpful in our school year.

We were very blessed to receive our Tax Refund a couple weeks ago and I finally got around to placing the order for some curriculum and books. I knew what I wanted to get and what the boys were needing, so I finally placed the order Monday and received it today.

First of all I ordered a Download copy of Illuminations from Bright Ideas Press. It is a program that goes with Mystery of History. It is basically the Lesson plans laid out for the year and the other subjects are laid out also  with the recommendation that Illuminations suggest. It is totally customizable and families can use other curriculum then what is suggested. Check out the great FAQ videos about the program!  You can also read some reviews about the program from TOS Homeschool Review Crew.

Here is a screen shot from my computer:

I also placed an order through Rainbow Resource.  Rainbow Resource is an awesome "one stop shopping" website for everything homeschool. I was able to get the books I needed at a discount price through them rather then buying at 4 different sites.

My Rainbow Resource Order:

I purchased:
For Joshua: Horizon Math 3  and Easy Grammar 3  
For Nathan:  All About Spelling
For all the boys: Getty Dubay Book B and Getty Dubay Book C

A veteran homeschooling friend of mine showed me a technique to use so that the Getty Dubay books are not just used by one student. It does not go against the copyright use for the book! I also supplement the books with Getty Dubay printables from Guest Hollow.

We are going to begin using some of our "new" stuff Monday. The boys are really excited and I am super excited. The boys actually wanted to use it all at 4pm this afternoon when the shipment arrived.

I will be going to the Illinois Christian Home Educators Convention June 2-4th and I have more items to purchase from the Vendor Hall. I also have a couple more online orders to do before September, but it wasn't anything that was needed now. Some I have decided on, others I am still trying to make a decision about.

Box Day is so much fun! I am also looking forward to purchasing some things at Convention!!

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

My "New" Reading Area

I really enjoy reading, I have been an avid reader since I was very young. I like to be comfy when reading and so last summer my dad found me a Chair and Ottoman set on Craigslist for FREE. I set myself up a "reading" area in the front room, which quickly became "my chair" for sitting in the front room. My dad even told my boys "this is your mom's chair, you are not allowed to sit in it". LOL  It was nice, but it was old and getting "beat up". It was also very short, but that is OK as the bookshelf I had was also short. The bookcase was breaking on the top. The Desk Lamp I had was cracking on the top and also like "burning" through. 

My "old" Reading Area

I needed to "upgrade" my area and was able to do so for about $100. I went to Fort Pitt Furniture earlier this week to look for a new Chair and Ottoman set. Fort Pitt Furniture is a Hotel Liquidator Warehouse. They get furniture from hotels that are remodeling and sell it to the public for really inexpensive. The furniture is always in excellent condition, as most hotels "remodel" every 2-3yrs. I also got a new Floor Lamp from Walmart and a 3 Shelf bookcase from Menards. I put my new "reading area" together today and I just LOVE IT!! 

 My "New" Reading Area

The Chair and Ottoman Set were $69 at Fort Pitt Furniture, the Floor Lamp W/Reading Lamp was $12.44 at Wal-Mart, and the 3 shelf bookcase was $15 at Menards. The whole area is much brighter and everything is much bigger! I very much look forward to utilizing "my space" tomorrow and in the days to come enjoying my favorite activity. 

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Busy week, looking forward to weekend

WOW!! I have never had such a busy week in my life or in a long, long time! 

It all started last Thursday afternoon. We were bored at home, but it was a chilly day out, so no park time. I jokingly said to the boys "Let's go Library Hopping". They loved the idea, so we gathered a list of 10 different libraries within a 8 mile radius of our apartment and off we went. We ended up visiting 5 libraries in a 4hr period, the boys and I had soo much. DH was with us, but he was getting over a headache, so he was "just along" with us. We came home and had dinner and relaxed. 

Friday morning I wake up around 6:30am and was doing internet stuff. I checked our bank account online for something and was very surprised to find that our Tax Refund check had been deposited. We have to file an additional form every year, which causes a delay in the processing and refund date. We had just been told 3 days prior that it would be another 3-4 weeks before we received the deposit. Ohhh what a blessing to see this deposit. All in God's perfect timing! 

We had been carefully planning the saving and spending of our refund check. We had some bills to pay and we had some needs for the family. Our first need was met in a tremendous way. God is so Good and I am very grateful that he has blessed me with the knowledge and "Talent" for finding ways to save money on everything, not just on little stuff. 

 All 5 of us needed shoes, and for the boys Payless wasn't going to cut it anymore for everyday shoes. The soles of their shoes have been wearing out too fast so we needed to get them some good shoes. There is a store only 4 blocks from our house Shoe Carnival. We had always had it planned that is where we would go to get shoes once we got our refund. So we headed there first thing yesterday. Well lucky for us they are having a huge Buy 1 Get 1 Half Off sale!!! So for every 2 pairs of shoes we bought, one pair was 1/2 off. I was needed gym shoes and sandals, so I was the lucky one who 2 pairs of shoes.   We did end up spending $270 on 6 pairs of shoes. I also signed up for their FREE Frequent shopper card. For every $200 spent you earn a $10 GC. So I already earned a $10 GC.   The 1/2 off sale saved us $100 on the cost of shoes!!! 

I also needed a few things from Family Christian Book Store and saved $25 there due to a 25% off coupon that I had! 

We went to Game Stop because last year in our apartment flood the sensor bar for the Wii was clipped by the guys who were cleaning up. So the boys only had their Wii for 3 months and before it became inoperable. We got a brand new wireless sensor bar for $20. Then each of the boys chose a pre-owned game for $14.99 or less, and those were on sale for Buy 2 Get 1 Free. We ended up with 3 Wii games for $30. 

The one area where we saved a ton of money was in car repairs. We needed some work done on our van, but with my DH being unemployed we knew we couldn't afford the expense of a mechanic shop. We have a very nice family who lives in the building. The teenage boys and their older brother(25) are always in back working on their cars. I talked to them last week about doing the work on the van. They said "SURE". We already knew what work needed to be done: Wheel/Hub Bearing replaced and a Tune up. While the work was being done on the Wheel Bearings, he discovered we needed new Rotors and Brake Pads. My BIL did our brake pads last year, but did not do the rotors as he said we didn't need them last year, we could probably get another year from them. The guy doing the work showed us the rotors do need replacing this year. The brake pads he did last year need replacing because of the new rotors, which is fine because we have a lifetime warranty and just have to take those across the street to AutoZone and get the parts for FREE. He also checked all the fluids for us and all was good except the Transmission Fluid. The Trans fluid is something we have never had done in the 4yrs we owned the van, so it does need to be done. He told us our engine and transmission are in excellent condition! We thought we needed a Catalytic Converter, but he told us that is all good, but we do need an O2 sensor for the van. That is about $200 savings difference in the cost of the part. YEAH! He already came and did a Trans Fluid change and will be coming in the next week or so to so the O2 sensor. We also changed our wiper blades on the van today. 

We paid about $450 in parts for our car and all the parts have excellent warranties. Plus the mechanic gives us a 90 day warranty on his work. He charged us a total of $190 in Labor. All this work would have cost us $2,500-3,000 at a shop. We saved about $2K by having him do the work. 

Harlin, my hubby, was a little "leary" about having someone other then a shop do the work on our van because last year we had a bad experience with a "friend mechanic". He tried to tell us we needed $3,500 worth of work on our van and we didn't. He did do the wheel bearing work and told us he did both sides. We paid him $1,000 last year for that work and turns out he only did one side. Both sides have now been done on our van this year and we no longer have the ABS light lit nor the "Service Transaction" light constantly lit. Both of which had been lit since last year when the work was done "shotty". Harlin is extremely satisfied with the work done by our neighbors and very excited about it all!! 

I also found some awesome deals on some furniture for our front room. We had an apartment flood last summer and most of our living room furniture was ruined. We were very fortunate to be gifted with an awesome Sleeper Sofa and Love Seat from a family we know. My dad found me a chair and ottoman set on Craigslist for FREE. 

This has been an OK chair, but it is really low to the ground and was "beat up" a bit when we got it. 

So the other day I headed to Fort Pitt Furniture and found me a "new to me" Comfy Chair and I completely    it!!! 

The set above was $69!! It is in excellent, excellent condition. (the picture doesn't do it justice)

The boys also needed a new computer desk chair. The one they had, our cats(that we had to give away last year) tore it up bad! 

I found them this chair for $10:

I also had to purchase a couple of lamps for our front room, as we have been using 4 desk lamps(think college student lamps with the flexible necks) since the flood also. The floor lamps we had were "fried" in the flood. I found some really nice lamps at Wal-Mart for $12.44: Floor Lamp w/Reading Lamp I purchased 2 of those! 

We have been running "here and there" since last Friday and getting things done for our family and getting some needed basics for our household. We have also been having some "Fun" times. 

My dad turned 60 this year and last Saturday we had a Surprise party for him at my sister's house. I was out by my sister's area all day last Saturday helping her run errands and get ready for the party. Sunday we had church activities all day. Church in the morning and Josh had rehearsal for his upcoming Musical at church from 3-5pm. Tuesday we went and picked up my 17yr old niece and around 7pm and then went to my dad's to tell  him Happy Birthday on his B-Day. My niece came home with us for a couple of days. Wednesday was church activities in the afternoon, we are there from 3:30p-9pm each Wednesday. Thursday we had to run a couple of errands in the afternoon and then we took my niece home. Today we had to run to Sam's Club and to a couple of libraries. 

I am sore and tired, but I am very very very blessed! We have been able to use the "Gift" of a Tax Refund very wisely and get some much needed items and save a ton of money at the same time!! 

I am looking forward to this weekend. Tomorrow is going to be a rainy and cold day, so we are staying in and getting some cleaning done. I have a couple of bookcases that Harlin is going to put together for me also. My Good Deal bookcase that I purchased a couple months ago and also a new one I purchased this week for $15 from Menards. We are just staying in tomorrow and getting things done inside.  Sunday is a repeat of last Sunday. 

I had a busy week, but I am so wonderfully blessed!!!! Praise be to God from whom all blessings flow! 

Time for a brownie and hot cocoa! (another one of God's blessings)!!! 

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

We are having a semi easy week for our meals. I have lots to accomplish this week, so semi easy meals it is. I will be going grocery shopping this afternoon for our weekly groceries. 

Here is our menu plan for this week:
(The words on the document in blue are clickable recipe links)

For more great recipes and menu plans visit: Organizing Junkie

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Home Depot Kids Workshop

A couple years ago I discovered that Home Depot has a Kids Workshop on the first Saturday of every month. We have been taking the boys since the First Home Depot Kids Workshop we attended.  We try to go each month, but we have missed a few months here and there for various reasons. The boys really enjoy it. They are learning a skill, having fun and making things on their own.

I took Nathan and Daniel yesterday morning, while Joshua was at church making his Pine Wood Derby car for AWANA this coming Wednesday. They made a really cute Planter Basket. I must say it was one of the easiest projects they have ever done. I was able to help the boys. LOL!! I wanted so bad to make me one as it was super cute and easy.

Here are some pics of the boys working:

We always have fun doing the Home Depot Kids Workshop. The boys have even given some of the projects to Grandma or others for gifts! The Kids Workshops are for boys and girls and for any ages as long as the parent(s) are there for assistance! The real cool part is that it is all FREE!!

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Night Pizza Night

My favorite day of the week is Friday night!! Good family shows are on and it is Friday Night Pizza Night in our house!

Our Family has a tradition of making Pizza every Friday night. The boys get upset if we don't have our traditional Friday night Pizza Night. We make this as "meals for families" also because it is something different from the 'casseroles and meals" normally given. Last summer DH decided to take pics as he was going along making the pizza. I put together a slideshow of those pics. (the pics were taken with a cell phone, so not too clear)

We have been making Pizza on Friday nights for 3 yrs now. We have tried many different Italian Sausages, different sauces and cheeses and  we finally found the "perfect recipe" about a year ago!! 

We begin by making our dough in the bread machine using this recipe: Bread Machine Pizza Dough The only change is we had some fresh garlic using a garlic press. It tastes so awesome and acts as a dough enhancer. We double the recipe so we can make 2 pizzas. 

The other list of ingredients include:
Italian Sausage from Super Tony's (I stock up when it is on sale for $1.99/lb)
Ragu Pizza Sauce (we buy a can for $3.89 at Sam's Club and it last 6 weeks)
3 bricks of Mozzarella Cheese from Aldi's ($1.79 per brick it melts the best and tastes great. tried many other cheeses and this is the best)
Pepperoni from Aldi's $1.99. 

I begin the Pizza Dough each Friday and then DH does the rest! Here are the pics of our Pizza Making:


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