Saturday, December 31, 2011

What Do You Get.....

...when you mix this.....

And this.....

We will find out in a few hours from now.

Hopefully it doesn't look something like this by midnight......

Gawd, now I do NEED A DRINK!lol
Off to party 2011 out!!!


December Budget Results.......Food and Toiletries Spending

Here are my FOOD BUDGET spending totals for DECEMBER 2011.

I have posted December's totals on the right side bar under Total Grocery Savings for 2011 and updated the Yearly Totals.
I am listing subtotals for each store I purchased from in December.  If you aren't interested in that much detail, just skip to the bottom for the Totals Summary.

My spending includes Food, Toiletries/HBA, Pet Supplies, Cleaning Products, Paper Goods & tax where applicable.We are a family of 5(3-5 at home this month)& 2 dogs. No kids under 15.

OOP  $22.45
Value  $106.19
Savings  78.86%

OOP  $9.98
Qs/Ads  $
Value  $23.94
Savings  58.30%

OOP  $78.03
Value  $119.77
Savings 34.85%

OOP  $27.35(with an additional $17.04 put on my free Rite-Aid gift card)
Qs/Ads/+Ups $341.26
Value  $368.61
Savings  92.59%

SHURSAVE STORES(small local independent affiliated stores)
OOP  $109.26
Qs/Ads  $93.10
Value  $202.36
Savings  46%

OOP  $3.66
Value  $3.66
Savings  0%

OOP  $8.98
Qs/Ads  $0
Value  $10.99
Savings  18.30%

WEIS (local chain Grocery store in my town/doubles up to $1 total)
OOP  $50.56
Qs/Ads  $53.65
Value  $104.21
Savings  51.50% 

I don't track Rite-Aid's +Ups here, nor CVS's ECBs & Walgreen's RRs. They will be included when used on purchases under "Coupons".   I'll keep track of what rebates are received monthly.  Rebate money/gift cards will be considered 'income' & will go into the Food/Toiletries budget, offsetting the Out of Pocket. Cash will go immediately into the Budget kitty, while Gift Cards will be calculated in when spent.


Burger King(giveaway I won)......$25.00
TOTAL Value of Cash/Store Checks/Gift Card Rebates Received...$26.00 cash/$25 food

Zero  *pathetic*

My best 3 Store Savings Totals were Rite-Aid at 92.59%, the Bakery Outlet at 78.86% and Price Chopper at 58.30%.
I shopped at 9 different stores in December.

TOTAL Out of Pocket........$313.74
TOTAL Coupons & Store Sales Savings...$632.76
TOTAL Value of Items Purchased............$946.50
TOTAL Savings of...................................66.85%

TOTAL of CASH Rebates........................$6.00 *I don't use my Toluna $ for food budget.
TOTAL Out of Pocket After Rebates........$307.74
TOTAL Savings including Rebates...........$638.76
TOTAL Value of Items Purchased............$946.50
TOTAL Savings After Rebates...................67.49%

This closes out the December spending AND the YEARLY Spending.

THOUGHTS & COMMENTS for this month & the Year.....
I went back into Rite-Aid in December and did some of the better deals there.  While I did spend cash there in December(as I had NO +Up Rewards to start with), I still had a 92% savings rate over regular retail!  And I still have +Up Rewards and FREE Gift Card money going into 2012.

I was able to stay close to my $300 food budget limit.  While I didn't really stock up at all in December on anything, we were able to eat well and do a good sized Christmas dinner.  I had to spend a bit more on the Hunk of Meat to barbecue but we are still eating on that a week later.  1 more meal with the Christmas ham tomorrow and then I'll divide up what is left and freeze it for later.
In Total, we have spent $3,080.59 Out of Pocket on food/HBA in 2011.
That comes out to $256.71 per month for our family of 5.
We brought home items with a reg. retail value of $14,234.09 for the year.
That's a savings of $11,153.50 or 78.36% for all of 2011.

Before you think I've done something remarkable, remember that my food budget does Not include eating out $.  And we do our fair share of eating out around here. ;-)

This closes the books on Food Spending for 2011.  I think we did pretty well sticking to a budget overall without having to live on ramen noodles. lol

How did you do in December with your Food Budget?  Did the Holidays drive you over the edge with food spending?  Or were you able to celebrate within your means?

Please leave a comment or link to your post and let us hear about your progress!  By sharing our struggles and efforts we can help each other stick to our budgets and learn to be better guardians of our resources.


Hopes/Goals for 2011 ......Final Report on How We Did

We are hours away from 2012 as I type this.
Another year gone and almost in the books.

Let's stop and look back at what went on in last year first before we drink the New Year in, shall we? ;-)

Here is the Overview of my Goals/Hopes for 2011.....

1. Put more Money Into Savings.
2. File all the Paperwork that needs filing  and completing it on time.
3. Declutter my entire house and garage, and storage unit(and then stop renting the storage unit).
4. Read 30 books this year, with 75% of them being non-fiction.
5. Finish ALL in progress sewing projects and alter ALL clothing that needs it or give it away.
6. Cook more foods from scratch and phase unhealthy options out of my stockpile.
7. Grow more of the food we eat or source our food from non-grocery chain stores.
8. Use my skills to step up what I do for Others.
9. Be more "in the Moment" for my Family.
10. Organize the running of my Home. 

And here is how I graded myself on meeting those goals....

1. Put more Money Into Savings.
PASS--I undertook a $32K Savings Challenge in 2011 and was able to surpasss that total! *Post coming soon on the specific amount I tucked away.

2. File all the Paperwork that needs filing and completing it on time.
PASS--We got the taxes and the college paperwork finished and submitted on time in 2011.  I let the filing pile up however on the back end of the year and didn't get it filed every 2 months as I had wanted.  This was partly me being passive aggressive, as Hubs NEVER files any paperwork and I get damned tired of having to do it all.  So I purposely let it pile up until he gave in(yes!lol)and broke down and started it.  It was touch on go there whether I'd crack first

3. Declutter my entire house and garage, and storage unit(and then stop renting the storage unit).
PASS sort of--While not everything is gone(sold or given away), considering what else was going on this year, I am very close to being totally done!  The GREAT PURGE of 2011 will continue as The GREAT PURGE of least for a few months into the new year.  I have loads in the garage for Salvation Army(just need to get it hauled off) and the last of the eBay-able stuff is in tubs in the living room.  The storage has empty boxes(for shipping stuff), as well as boxes of stuffed animals to haul away to Sallies.  Besides that the only things left in there are my extra toiletries and my fabric stash.  After I close up the eBay shop, I start weeding through the fabric stash.....but that's a 2012 goal, so more on that in another post.
I'd say I am 75% of the way to totally completing this Goal!

4. Read 30 books this year, with 75% of them being non-fiction.
FAIL--Yah, I totally blew this one.  I read 8 books and am halfway through #9.  While I am not a voracious reader, I do read a lot.  I guess I just had an off year.  It didn't help that some of the books I had were Not compelling in the least.

5. Finish ALL in progress sewing projects and alter ALL clothing that needs it or give it away.
FAIL--Sewing took a backseat AGAIN in 2011.  I did get a little more completed but it was mostly alterations and/or hemming pants.  Nothing much creative.  I just didn't feel inspired.  Once I get my fabric stash out in 2012, I'm hoping I'll feel more in the sewing groove. 

6. Cook more foods from scratch and phase unhealthy options out of my stockpile.
PASS--The stockpile has evolved in 2011.  No more nasty foods bought(well, except for brownie/muffin mixes for #2 son), and you won't find processed foods in my freeezer(unless I get something free or cheap for the kids ever so often).  I'm down to a soda about 1-2 times a month and I've reduced #2 son's intake as well(but not that little a month because he'd just plotz!lol) 

7. Grow more of the food we eat or source our food from non-grocery chain stores.
PASS--We did finally get the garden going late and we ate from it for a few months.  I really didn't have much extra to freeze though for the winter months and we lost nearly our entire tomato crop in September with the Flood, so no canned maters or pepper relish....sniff....sniff....
I did shop veg from produce markets instead of the grocery store when I could.  Still looking for a reasonably priced source for 'clean' meats that isn't store based.

8. Use my skills to step up what I do for Others.
FAIL--As for the local food bank....I wasn't able to do MORE food bank donating using coupons and deals in 2011, but I believe I did about on par with what I donated in 2010.  The deals were harder to find, the coupons were not as useful toward my goals and I just didn't put the extra effort into getting more items to donate.  I was also heavily helping 2 family members with food/toiletries the 1st half of  2011 so that counts too.  And I also was the transportation for the same family members for 1st quarter of the year as they lost their car to a wreck.
As for the Christmas Help List--I did a little better with that.
I need to face facts that I am NOT the great humanitarian I set myself up to be. 8-(

9. Be more "in the Moment" for my Family.
PASS--I feel I was more there for my family in 2011.....well, when they actually WANTED me there, which isn't always the case when dealing with  I spent more time with Hubs one-on-one and tried to make him feel more appreciated.

10. Organize the running of my Home.  
PASS--Since there is less crap lying around, the house is more organized by default, isn't it?lol

We still suffer from HSS....Horizontal Surface Syndrome.  We see a clean surface and we are COMPELLED to put something on it.
It's a chronic condition with no cure I'm

The house is more organized but there is still lots of room for improvement.  Getting back a big chunk of storage space within the home when Daughter went off to college helped a lot with organizing the upstairs spaces.  The kitchen and pantry could still use some organizing help.

I am feeling positive about the changes I made in 2011.
I hope you had good stuff happen to you last year as well.

Now it's onward and upward to 2012!
I'll be taking the next week or so to ponder where I want to direct my energies from here.

Have you thought about what you wish for in 2012?
More income?
More health?
More time with your loved ones?
Blogland domination?
Now is the time to figure out what steps you can take to turn those wishes into reality!

Here's hoping your 2012 life is your best one yet!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011 Budget/Spending Autopsy

Do you like this picture?  It's a Renaissance era painting of a medical autopsy.  I thought it was quite Christmas-y due to the red and green colors used.

Ok, so calling this an Autopsy is not very festive or cheerful.
So call it "The Post where I talk about what I was Going to Spend for Christmas and what I Actually Spent for Christmas".

I budgeted $1300 for Christmas spending.
$1300 in money we HAD already, so no putting Christmas spending on Credit Cards to pay off sometime next year.

Here is where the funds were allocated at the start.....

Shipping gifts/mailing Holiday Cards  $50.00
Gifts for family  $600
Cash for Kids  $300
Secret Santa Gift  $20
Charity  $100
Electricity for lights  $5
Alcohol  $100
A Christmas eve meal and show or movie  $125

And here is where the money actually went.....

Shipping gifts/mailing Holiday Cards  $39.43
Gifts for family  $452.24
Cash for Kids  $150
Secret Santa Gift  $17.94
Charity  $0
Electricity for lights  $5
Alcohol  $64.21
A Christmas eve meal and show or movie  $122.50

TOTAL SPENT...$851.32

Here are the Spending Details....

$39.43  *Shipping/Mailing Holiday Cards & Gifts----
We sent out 5 cards.  2 were mailed and 3 shipped inside of gifts that were mailed so the cost of 2 stamps.  We mailed 3 gifts(and I paid shipping for part of my Secret Santa gift bought on eBay)so that covers the bulk of our shipping expenses.  I knew we'd have a substantial amount to spend on shipping as we weren't traveling anywhere to visit family this Christmas, so we couldn't hand deliver any presents.

$452.24  *Gifts for family----
Last year I spent $369.70 on gifts for family.  I budgeted a much larger figure for this Christmas($600)but I still came in under that amount.  I know that my kids basically at their ages just want cash or gift cards, but I still have a hard time with nothing to wrap under the tree.  Plus it's one of the few times a year I get to shop since I really don't buy things anymore except for food.
Just having a pile of envelopes under the tree just doesn't do it for me...what can I say!lolol  But I do shop carefully and thoughtfully when I buy the kids 'things'.  I no longer buy silly or useless or things they don't want.  Heck, this year, I took #1 son shopping and let him pick out all his 'things' I bought him and then wrapped them up for him to open Christmas morning.  Since I don't see him but a few weeks every year now, this was the only way I could do it and make sure things fit him and were his 'style'. The money and gift card were still a surprise for him.

While I spent $452.24 on gifts, the regular retail on the gifts I bought was $1036.73.
Now how did I save over 56% on the cost of my gifts?

*First I used my credit card points to purchase $175 in Gift Cards, which were given to 4 of my recipients.  Next year, I may give these gift cards again AND 'buy' more cards and use them to pay for gifts I give as well.
*Second, I utilized 'social coupon' sites to locate great deals.  I got cheap movie tickets, free item coupons for fast food, cheap gift cards and used a wine deal to purchase wine for 2 of my recipients.
*Third, I shopped online on certain days to get % off deals on items and/or free shipping.  I shopped brick & mortar stores only 4 times.....1 trip to Kmart, 2 trips to Kohl's and 1 trip to Rite-Aid.  Just a few items(mostly for #1 son and he was with me)and I was totally done by last Wednesday.
*The Fourth way I spend so little on so much, was to pick up items all year long.  This works for both larger items and small stuff, the filler stuff.  By hitting sales, clearance racks and outlets you can save a lot of money over the course of the year by buying ahead strategically.  If you are dealing with growing kids or teens, I don't recommend buying clothing ahead because it may not fit and/or it might not be in style according to the whims and fancies of your teen.  But you can buy ahead staples like underwear, socks, gloves, hats, etc., or things like pens, notebooks, backpacks, gadgets, favorite snacks, etc.  #1 son loves fruitcake so when we go to Ocean City, MD in Oct/Nov, I get him a fruitcake at Rose's for $3-$4 then, instead of ordering the same item from the manufacturer's website in Dec. from GA at double the cost plus $6 shipping.  Daughter loves peaches so when I found peach flavored throat drops for $1 at the Dollar Store instead of the $3 they charge at the grocery store(IF I can find this flavor!), I bought them ahead for Christmas.  When I found a ginormous can of MONSTER drink for $1.50 at Big Lots I bought it for #2 son because he loves this stuff and I don't buy it normally.  Many of the toiletries I get for free at Rite-Aid(after sales/coupons/+Up Rewards/rebates)end up under the tree or in someone's stocking.
All these strategies help me spend less out of pocket and put goodies under the Christmas Tree for less.

$150  *Cash for Kids----
Last year, the first year I actually tallied up what we spent on each kid at Christmas, I was aghast to see $200+ on average spent on each kid.  I had given them each $100 cash(since they like to spend the money themselves)but I had also bought each kid over $100 worth of stuff.  I hadn't realized we had spent this much until I tallied up all the "little stuff" stocking stuffers and filler items and those 'darn cute things nobody needs but they are irresistible' things.  Believe me when I say Stockings are KILLERS!   Even if you shop for them at the Dollar Store, stocking stuffers can add up quickly to big money.  Each kid needs to be stuffed and then times it by 3 and it gets to be substantial money!
I've decided to go totally with 'necessaries' next year in the Stockings.  Things my kids need and I would have to buy anyway and things I can get for free at the Drug socks(we already do socks in the stockings), underwear, batteries(Hubs got D batteries since he is always looking for them for his flashlights), pens/pencils, earphones, toiletries(daughter got shaving cream in her stocking this year), candy bars/gum.
So I reduced the cash given by half, to $50 per kid.  With an average spending of $80 on actual gifts of things/experiences/gift cards, $50 in cash kept the spending per kid to under $150.  I am happier with that figure than the $200+ of years past.

$17.94  *Secret Santa Gift----
I had #2 son's name.  I found a t-shirt he wanted on eBay I won for $7.99 and I had picked up a nice $25 leather wallet he wanted while down in Ocean City MD for $9.95.  We try to keep the Secret Santa gift spending around $20-$25 so I did well this year with 2 items he liked while spending below average.

$0  *Charity----
Before you call me the Grinch, I did something different this Christmas to help those in need.  I am on a YahooGroups help list.  It operates year round and is only for those physically located in PA.  Every year at Christmas time people who are in need of help providing for their families at the Holidays can post for help.  And then those who are in a position to help, the Angels they are called, either adopt a family or persons in that family and buy them gifts or food or whatever they ask for.  Other Angels who aren't in a position to do an adoption will offer items they have-mostly these are gently used items-to whomever can use them.
Since I still have eBay inventory items to downsize here, mostly of the toy variety, I took a large load of them and offered them up on this List for Christmas to anyone local to my area in PA, instead of selling them or donating them to Salvation Army for a tax write-off.  A little direct charity for a change, if you will. ;-)
I was able to put some smiles on kids' faces for Christmas and get some more items out of my house.
A win/win with no actual cash involved!

Ok, so maybe I AM a grinch since I didn't throw money in the kettles or send a check to the food bank or such.  Hubs just informed me he threw money in the bell-ringers' kettles when he was out Christmas shopping, so my no-money-spent guilt is assuaged....I
Seriously though, AM I grinchy this year for not giving cash somewhere at Christmas?....Even though I gave over $500 worth of food to the local food bank over the course of 2011?.....I gave about $4K worth of stuff to Salvation Army?....Hubs had about $600 taken from his paychecks for AFAA(a charity we have monetarily supported since 1986).  Tell me if I am a big old Bah-Humbug, I can take it. ;-)

$5  *Electricity for Lights----
Hubs strung 2 strings of lights outside and lit the Wreath on the door.  They were only up 2 full weeks and lit for a few hours each night. 

$64.21  *Alcohol----
I generally don't buy liquor at Christmas but felt the need this year.  Don't judge. ;-)  I bought 2 bottles of champagne(1 for NYE, 1 for Christmas dinner), a couple of small half bottle of JD and Kahlua, 2 bottles of Vodka and a bottle of Grenadine.  The vodka was a spur of the moment decision because it was on sale(and there was a  I thought I'd make some martinis but if I didn't like the brand of vodka I could always use it to make some Vanilla Extract. 8-)

$122.50  *A Christmas eve meal and show or movie----
We had our immediate family and daughter's boyfriend for our traditional Chinese restaurant meal.  We sprung for sushi as well so the bill was a bit high, but whattheheckitschristmas!lol

Yay us.....

So looking forward to Christmas 2012 for me--
* I'm basically happy with what I ended up spending.  I came in under budget but there was still enough bought and spent on everyone.
* With our schedules(and 2 kids away at college)it's difficult trying to find activities to do as a family(plus the kids don't want to 'hang' with the 'rents), but I'm going to try to find 1 thing to do as a family, besides eating out.  I'd love to find a concert for free or cheap here that we can attend.
* I'm happy with using some of my inventory to give directly to those who needed it.  Next year I am going to make an effort to get involved in a local Santa organization and give the gift of my time too.
* I cooked/bakes a LOT less this Holiday season and the world didn't end.  I think I'll plan on spending about the same reduced amount of time in the kitchen for Christmas 2012.

If you kept track of your spending for Christmas, how did you do?
Did you spend more. less or right about what you planned on spending?
Did you have any money epiphanies(epiphany? epiphani?)when you looked back at the Holiday plan?
Do you see anything you'll change about your spending for Christmas 2012?

Leave a comment and let us know how ya did and what you learned about yourself & money this year!!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Review Extravaganza......October to December

I'm taking part in this 2011 Review Extravaganza from over at Mimi's Place, Living in France.
Here is the link to The Rules.
If you want to take part go read the rules and then link up each Friday in December.
And to read the folks participating, go click on the Extravaganza Button on my side bar.

Onward to my 4th installment of the  Review of 2011...the October to December months.


Hubs and I took a trip to an Elk Farm.

I spent a good part of October in my garage getting ready to hold a big Toy Sale/Garage Sale. I dug through all my junk in Storage in preparation for this sell off, showing photos and talking about it HERE.
Since the Flea Market got swallowed up back in September when the Susquehanna River flooded the area, hauling all my toy merchandise there to sell was no longer an option, so the sale was going to happen in the garage instead.
Unfortunately, due to many factors, including pulling my back muscles out and being loopy on painkillers for the better part of 2 weeks,  the sale just didn't happen at ALL


I talked about me and Hub's trip to Ocean City MD and the unconventional souvenirs I buy when on vacation HERE.
It was 65 degrees and sunny the day we left.  A couple days later I woke up to this at home.......

I'm still scratching my head and mumbling WTF?!? over that......


The word for November was Insanity!
I reopened my eBay Store early on in November.  Oh, those crazy eBay buyers...need I say more?lol

So my month was fairly insane between dealing with eBay stuff and the kids' stuff and various band schedules AND Thanksgiving.   I was MIA online a lot or I was complaining.

The strange weather continued and the Forsythia started blooming in November.....NOVEMBER people!!ack

What do polygamists, spam and windmills have in common?   They are some random things I think about.  I gave readers a taste of what it's like inside my head HERE.  And HERE is another Brain Dump post that was very popular.

The grocery store ran a Catalina Deal that gave almost free Gravy right before Thanksgiving.  This caused me to try to get 81 cans of gravy for the local food bank Thanksgiving Dinner baskets.  The grocery store started moving the display around the store to thwart MY PLAN.  But in the end, we were victorious!

In between all this, I even found the time for more DECLUTTERING P*RN and I finally went back to Rite-Aid after a 2 month long break.

And Wall Street was NOT the only place being Occupied in November....


Gee, it seems like only yesterday that we were living the December life. lol

My dining room could have been mistaken for a UPS STORE.  It's been cleaned since this photo.

I found some strange keyword searches that brought readers to my blog HERE.

I talked about some funny &/or annoying  eBAY BUYERS.

I couldn't help myself even at Christmas to go off on another RANT.

We got the Christmas tree up by mid month but it stayed basically nekkid until all the kids were home from college.

Read about how my family can't take me anywhere without embarrassing them HERE.

And we ended the year with our CHRISTMAS PHOTOS and a look around our CHRISTMAS TREE.

I hope y'all had fun reliving some highlights(and lowlights)of my 2011 experience. 
Come on back next week to see what's in store for us in 2012!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

HoHoHo....Holiday Decluttering P*rn!

What makes your Holiday Season even merrier than some Decluttering P*rn!

We got another load together before Christmas.  Hubs & I are taking it in today.

2 Chess Books
7 Ty stuffed animals
1 gold plated Race Car
2 Gargoyles Backpacks
1 pack of Power Rangers cupcake papers

1 kid's stapler(used)
3 Hot Wheels commemorative cars
2 Power Rangers Galaxy Gliders
1 Bionicle Game in tin
1 box of Power Rangers trading cards
1 Women's plus size knit blouse
1 Book by Charles Grodin
1 box of Star Trek Generations trading cards
6 boxes of Star Trek Movies trading cards
5 chess books
2 faux leather cosmetic bags
4 playing card sets in collectible tins
2 Crinkle Clause figurines
1 Menorah with candles

1 bow(toy), used
12 pillows of various size, used

Also....not pictured
1 silver cream and sugar set with tray
1 purse, used
2 spoon rests, used

I might have 1 more load of decluttering in me before the New Year.
Stay tuned!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Time in Photos

Just a few pictures of our Christmas eve and day....

My son, who just became interested in learning to cook, making cookies for his girlfriend.  This is his first encounter with an electric mixer.  We avoided flour/cocoa powder flying to the ceiling when he tried to run the mixer with no wet ingredients in the bowl.  We also learned the hard way how to stop the mixer before taking it out of the bowl.  Important mixer rules you know.....

He was making something he'd never made before to give as a gift.   When I found this out, I impressed upon him the wisdom of NOT making something for the 1st time if it had to be perfect/right/edible.

Here is our intimate Christmas eve dinner at the local Chinese restaurant.  We had the place to ourselves this year until we were nearly finished eating and a couple came in.
At least my polka dot handbag made it into the photo.  Why does no one else ever volunteer to take the photos?
And no, the family wouldn't let me drink sake or sing "Deck the Halls" there.

 Which brings us to Christmas morning.

 #2 son opening, and with his most wanted Christmas item(besides cash).  You would think THIS would illicit a smile??

 Even a $50 gift card taped to a jar of Nutella(he is an addict)couldn't get him to smile!

 #1 son cramming a block of Jalapeno Jack Cheese into his pie hole, whilst holding Beef Sticks.  The way to this guy's heart IS through his stomach.....

Daughter showing off her new laptop cooling mat from her Aunt and Uncle.  Geez, I dare any of them to smile!
 Inside Joke....#2 son was in love with Kimberly the Pink Power Ranger when he was a tiny tot.  I wrapped one of his presents in this old Power Rangers paper we had and made the tag out To XXX, From Kimberly.
I thought it was hysterical, #2 son was NOT amused, and #1 son noticed that I'd put the tag between Kimberly's spread legs. 
I plan on having a family for sale on eBay next week!

 #1 son feigning joy and surprise at his new hoodie Santa brought him(because he went to the store with me and picked it out 3 days earlier before I wrapped it and stuck it under the tree).

 I almost got a smile out of #2 son for this Beatles close but yet......

 And this gift of CASH from her Aunt finally got Daughter to throw out her face muscles and give a smile....success!
Cash is king in her world, at Christmas and every day.

Waiting not-so-patiently for the Santa-of-the-Day(played by #2 son this year)to give out more presents.
We open presents one at a time so everyone can see and enjoy them.....or just to torment my kids if you ask
That door mat/rug in the photo is about 50 yrs. old.  It was at our front door every Christmas that I can recall growing up.  I put it in front of the tree now to keep it from getting dirty.

#1 son getting a silly gift of Mario underwear.  It's silly yet functional and useful....just like him. ;-)

Ok, I lied.
I DID get a photo with them smiling.  They are even sitting in close proximity without complaining that someone is too close or is touching them.
Will miracles ever cease?!?
Of course, this photo had to be taken BEFORE I let them open anything or go through their stockings.
Once I didn't have Christmas presents to hold over their heads, the chances of getting a photo with smiling faces was nearly nil.

I hope your Christmas was everything you wanted!


Monday, December 26, 2011

December Food Spending Week 4, Meal Plan Week 5

Last week's meal plan is in the books.  Here is what actually happened....

SUNDAY--Lone Star for steaks(holiday treat out)
MONDAY--Daughter's Bday Meal out, Mom Sake binge
WEDNESDAY--Beef Stroganov, Rice, Broccoli
THURSDAY--frozen Pizzas, Salad(nobody ate the Salad tho)
FRIDAY--BBQ pulled Pork Sammies, Coleslaw, Corn
SATURDAY--Chinese food out(Xmas Eve tradition)

3, count 'em 3 Dinners out last week!  It's the Holidays, what else can I say?lol
I cooked 2 actual meals last week, we had leftovers 1 night and the frozen pizzas(lazy dinner)was the night of the Band Concerts since there was no time for a sit-down dinner.

As predicted, the food spending was high last week.
In all, we spent $139.35 last week at the grocery stores.  8 trips to various stores, lots of small trips to pick up a thing or two while someone was already out nearby and 1 big trip to the restaurant supply store(where I bought the hunk of meat to BBQ among other things).   Reg. retail of $250.53 so I saved 44.38% last week.
I find this hysterical that I spent just over $100 for 3 WEEKS of meals earlier this month and I cooked a large number of those meals.
Then I cook 2 meals total in Week 4 and I spend $139+ in 1 WEEK!!lol
My spending is in reverse proportion to my cooking.  Hmmmmm......

I also did something sneaky last week.  I got these for free!
$40 in Weis gift cards.  
I had gotten a Catalina about a transfer or bring a new Rx to their Pharmacy deal at my local store.  As part of the remodel(and price hike)this Weis closed up the Pharmacy/DrugStore down at the end of the strip mall and put it inside the Grocery Store.  They are offering this move your prescriptions/get gift cards deal to drum up business.  So I moved 3 Rxs and filled a new Rx last week and got $40 in gift cards for free.
Now if only Rite-Aid would bring back their 'move your Rx gift card' deal in January so I can move them all back there, I'll be all set!lol

I had planned to use all $40 this month to bring my OOP food spending down, but I ended up using $20 when I had Hubs pick up the Ham for Christmas dinner and I gave the other $20 one to BIL for Christmas.

My Dec. food spending total so far through 12/25 is $240.92.  That leaves $59.08 with 6 days left in the month.

This week's menu.....

SUNDAY--Ham, Rolls from scratch, Deviled Eggs, Rutabaga, Green Beans, Cranberry Glop, assorted pies
WEDNESDAY--Date Night-I have a free dinner for 2 to Applebee's to use
SATURDAY--Appetizers, homemade Pizza-using dough Hubs picked up last week for cheap

We have tons of leftovers in the fridge for this week, so I plan on doing little actual cooking.
Huge container of leftover Stroganoff & Rice, half a Ham left from Christmas, pulled Pork, Coleslaw, 2 lbs. of Roast Beef coldcuts(that #1 didn't polish off)and 2 bags of homemade rolls.
I see Stoganoff, Pork Sammies, Cheese Steaks and Ham & Cheese Omelets in our future.  Fill in with some fresh veggies and we are set for the week.  Heck, we have enough pie and cake to get us through an Ice Age!lol

Items needed for this menu.....except for the ever present milk, a little bit of cheese for cheesesteaks, some veg. and Hub's herring in cream sauce(for NYE celebrating), there is nothing else I can think of to buy this week.  I may actually stay under $300 spent on food for the month.  (Again, our eating out budget is a separate pile of money.)
So what is everyone else doing this week between Christmas and New Year's Day?  Just grazing on all the food that piled up at your house for Christmas?  Or are you cooking up a storm?  Or are you swearing off of food altogether, fasting and/or changing up your diet in anticipation of the new year? ;-)


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."             -Norman Vincent Peale

From my House to Yours, Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bopping Around My Christmas Tree.....Come Look!

I finally corralled the fandamily and got them to put ornaments on the Christmas tree last Sunday night.

I sat and took pictures and supervised.
Yah, that's what I am good at....supervising.  You know....telling everyone to put it to the left, or to the right, or on a different branch, or change the hanger wire from a green one to a silver one because God Bless Us Everyone, we are using the white tree not the green one this year!
What would they do without my Great Help?!?!?

I let the kids and Hubs put up the ornaments.  This generally means we have TONS of ornament from when the kids were little-- homemade/crafty ones from Pre-School and such when their manual dexterity was questionable(which I love!), the ornaments from when they were born, and things like what you see in #2 son's hands above....Big Bird, Dudley the Dragon, Thomas the Tank Engine, Cat/Dog and Pokemon!
Yes, nothing says Christmas like a Furby ornament on the tree!lol

And then Hubs will put up about 3-4 ornaments as his contribution.....all baseball themed.

Then after they are done and leave, I get to move things around and fill in with a few ornaments from when I was a kid or ones that have been gifted to me.

Since we have bought tree ornaments every year, from 1 to 8 or so each Christmas, since we were married in 1982, we have way more ornies that we can fit on the tree at one time.  So ornies seem to go into rotation now and only a few reappear every year.

And last year, after we went to Virginia and retrieved all the family ornaments my mother kept, that had been hidden away in my oldest brother's attic(where they have been since she passed away in 2000), I now have even MORE ornaments to deal with!
I know that once my 3 kids set up their own households I'll have plenty to divide amongst them.  Instead of fighting over who gets which, they'll be fighting over who has to taken MORE ornaments!lol

Now if you thought I was a tad on the OCD side with organizing, I give you my mother's ornament box......
No plastic store-bought ornament storage box for her!
The box from my Easy-Bake Oven I got for Christmas when I was 7 did just fine.

Inside she labeled the ornaments....
 Not only a name for each ornament but the year she bought them and a drawing of what each one looked like.
And even some really old glass ornaments from her mother, my grandmother & grandfather's tree dating back to when they married in 1930. 

And here is a tour around our Christmas tree this year.

This one was a gift for me.  I wonder why someone would give me you? ;-)

 Thankfully the Mets actually won the World Series back in '86 so we could have this beauty on our tree....

This one we picked up last summer during our latest trip to Maine.  A moose in waders holding a lobster says it all for me.

This felt mouse was made by my mother when I was in grade school.  The PTA ladies made Christmas ornaments to sell at a school bazaar.  My mom made these as well as Lions and some other critters.

This is a teeny tiny plastic Nativity scene.  We have about 5 of these.  When I was in 1st grade we had to sell Christmas stuff for a school fundraiser.  I had this ginormous box of paper, tags, cards and little tchotchkes that I had to haul from door-to-door to sell.  The nuns nagged at us every day to get out there and sell, sell, SELL!!  What a bunch of pushy broads....
I don't recall the dollar amount I sold but I remember it was a large sum in my 6 year old brain.
I turned in my bulging money envelope and had visions of a big BIG prize as a reward.
The prizes were lined up along a big table from smallest value to the big prize-a bicycle!
The fundraiser nun tallied up my coins and pointed down to the end of the table to the last 2 or 3 items.
For all my efforts, I had enough points for these 5 teeny nativities.
I bet nobody earned enough to get that bicycle.  It was just a visual "come on" to get you to sell more every week you walked past the table and drooled at it.
Nuns in my past often weren't totally straight with you.  It reminds me of the time Hubs and I worked the Festival at the local Church and I manned the "Pick a Ticket" booth.  The "come on" I was suppose to use was that if you picked a ticket that ended with "00" you were suppose to win a prize.  But not every ticket that ended with 00 was associated with a prize.  Long story short, there was deceit involved and it left a bad taste in my mouth....but that's another story for another time.

I was sorely disappointed in my prize.....but my mother kept them for all those years.

Then we have this beauty from my Daughter's pre-teen years.....

And then we have ornies with photos of days gone by in them.....

And after holding 2 Toiletries Sales this summer, I had to put this one on the tree....

Here's one I made back before I had kids.  I made crafts and sold them to shops and at craft shows. We had gotten some sand dollars down at the beach.  I painted them with pearlescent white paint and added red stain ribbon and bows.  Easy and classy looking....

Along with my mom's box of ornies was a smaller box of ornaments my brother had saved.  Most of them were ones I had gifted to him over the years.  Here is one from a set of fabric stuffed Santas I had made him while in high school....

And here is an ornament my mother made for my Daughter when she was very small. (It's hard to see some of it because of the angle.) My Daughter's nickname was "Slugbaby".  My mom got an empty ornament ball and filled it with a paper angel looking over a slug.  Since she lived far away from her grandkids, the Angel was Grandma watching over her Slugbaby. lol

Here is one of my favorite ornaments.  My oldest son had problems sitting still in school when he was very small.  He wasn't ADD or ADHD but he was ACTIVE and had no patience for cutting, gluing, coloring, etc.  This is one of the 1st ornaments he every made.  I think someone else cut out the snowman shape but he hacked up the paper to make the mosaic design.....and I am sure he had a story to go with why the snowman needed a third eye....

And of course, Spider-man is right at home swinging among the branches.....

And Spidey has foes lurking within the branches.......use the force Spidey, the force!

Here's another school craft my mom made.  These dolls are cardboard form and fabric scraps, yarn hair and you Mod Podge it all.  Very homemade looking but cuter than it appears in the photo....

This is an ornament I bought my mother from a fellow vendor back in my Craft Show days.  She made beautiful blown egg ornaments, decked out with decals and rhinestones and about 20 layers of sealant.  There are little metal bells hanging from a chain below the egg. These were quite exquisite and cost me dearly back when we didn't have much money.  I didn't even buy myself one back then.  But now I have my mom's.

And it just wouldn't be our Christmas tree without at least 1 Power Ranger.....

I am off now to make some new Christmas memories.

We here at Chez Sluggy wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Yule or whatever Holiday you celebrate.