Friday, April 29, 2011

Tea, Scones, And Jam

Tonight I made scones at home to go with my tea. I used this recipe. The only change I made was to omit the salt since I used salted butter. They turned out great and if I had cut them into circles or added sultanas they would have been very much like the ones we had when we went to a tea house. The jam I used I had made and canned about 2 weeks ago. It is strawberry kiwi jam and it is oh so delicious.

Grocery Challenge Update

I went over on the dollars amount this last pay period but managed to have a few pounds left over.

Budgeted - $66.16 and 80 pounds

Spent - $113.96 and 74.91 pounds

For this pay period (May 1-14) I am going to budget $100 and 30 pounds. All of our visitors have come and gone now so we should be able to stick to this budget a lot more easily. I don't plan to go grocery shopping at the store this first week unless we absolutely need something but will probably place a order for a few things.

Budgeted - $100 and 30 pounds

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dear Military Medical Facility

Dear Military Medical Facility,
     When I call to schedule an appointment and specifically tell you that the date you want me to come in is not going to work because The Man is going to be TDY and I would have to bring in all 4 of my children please don't schedule me that day and tell me there is no other option. When you do schedule me that appointment and I come on time with my 4 children in tow, like you said would be OK, it would be nice if you were running on time as well. My time is just as valuable as yours. It would also be nice if I could be informed that the doctors are running late prior to me sitting waiting for an hour with restless children and only being told when I walk up to try to reschedule my appointment. When I have reached the limit that I am ready to leave and reschedule my appointment please do not try to convince me to stay just a little bit longer. Did you not see my children being busy bodies and loud? I try to be polite but after sitting and waiting for an hour with children who are not on their best behavior I am sorry but I will not sit and wait longer. Please take a little time to think about informing people when you are running late as you expect the same courtesy from them. Also next time when a parent specifically asks to not be scheduled when they must drag all of their children along it would benefit you and the parent to not schedule them that day.
                                                                                               The Disgruntled Mom
                                                                                               (who now has a headache thanks to you)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tea For 3

I had my friends from Tucson visiting for the past few weeks. It was lovely to see J and D as I had not seen any of my stateside friends since we moved to England almost 2 years ago. It was great. They stayed here over the weekends and during the week they travelled around the country to see the sights. One of things I have seen and J told me about was having tea. When we go out and about there are tea and coffee houses all over and they always seem to be busy. Of course with small children I was hesitant to try one out. J had told me about going to the tea houses while she was out travelling and said it was great. I asked about how it worked since I knew they served the tea with milk and sugar and I have never tried milk in my tea. She said the milk and sugar helped to cut down on the sharpness of the tea and that the scones with jam and clotted cream were amazing.

Last Saturday I took J, D, and the little princess to Cambridge to wander around. The Man kept the boys at home so they wouldn't be bored wandering around. The little princess had to come with us so she could nurse while we were out. We parked at the park and ride and rode the bus into town. We found the tea shop that we had looked up online and I had my first tea and scones since coming to England. The tea shop was named Auntie's Tea Shop. We had to wait til a table cleared outside so that we could sit down and order. I ordered a cream tea and it came with 2 scones and a egg and cress sandwich. It was a lot of food. It easily could have been shared by two people. Luckily J and D helped me out by eating some of it as well. I found that hot tea with sugar and milk is absolutely delicious. I have been making me hot tea at home the same way. I have a tea kettle already but would love to find a gorgeous tea set with a teapot, sugar bowl, creamer, and cup with saucer. I will be looking around to see if I can find one that will give me that elegant spoiled feeling without costing a ton of money. The Man and I will then make our own scones and tea and have mini dates at our house.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Good and The Not So Good

I did my shopping this past week on base and off base. I am still on track with my pounds spending but I over spent on the dollars shopping trip. I spent about $88 and it wasn't all good food that I would normally buy. It was easy things that would be quick to prepare while our friends are here. Combine this total with the money I spent on and I am way over in the dollars amount.

I spent 30.56 pounds on the off base shop. This one I was better about sticking to my budget and bought better foods for the house. I bought diapers, organic sugar, organic flours, fruit, vegetables, yogurt, and Coke. I will go shopping again off base next week since Sunday is Easter and if I do good about the budget maybe I will have a couple pounds to carry over to next pay period.

I also made a quick WIC trip to get milk, cheese, eggs, juice, bread, strawberries, and a big bag of salad greens.

Budgeted - $66.16 and 80 pounds

Spent - $113.96 and 47.36 pounds

The extra dollars money got pulled out of savings for the overage.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Today's Spending

I placed an order at in the amount of 25.96. They had sent me an email for free shipping on any order over $25 so I could get the few things I needed to order instead of having to place an order for $49. I love websites that will not only ship to my APO address but also offer free shipping.

For $25.96 I got:

1 Little Twig Gift Bag - 1 set $.00

1 Puristics Baby Daily Diapering Cream - .1 fl oz $.00
1 Puristics Pure Protection 100% Organic Cotton Feminine Care Sample, Tampon & Pad - 1 ea $.00
1 Avent Soothie Pacifier, 0-6 months, Pink/Purple - 2 ea $3.99
1 biokleen Oxygen Bleach Plus with GSE - 32 oz $3.89
1 biokleen All Temperature Laundry Liquid with Grapefruit Seed and Orange Peel Extract - 64 fl oz $8.09
1 Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Training Pants, 3T-4T, 26 ea

I also made a quick trip to Sainsburys to get diapers and some produce.

I spent 16.80 pounds on:

2 pks diapers
2 6pks fancy yogurts (these have the separate mix ins)
2 4 pks Asian pears
2 8 count kiwi
9 bananas
1 container strawberries
1 loaf whole wheat seed bread

Budgeted - $66.16 and 80 pounds
Spent - $25.96 and 16.80 pounds
I really need to get in the swing of using my cloth diapers again it would save a bunch of money. I have had a hard time keeping up using the cloth since having two in diapers when my 2 year old was born. It seems to be a huge challenge. Between trying to keep them washed and keep up on my normal family laundry and moving to England where I am having a harder time figuring out a good wash routine so the diapers don't have stink or stains. Now we have thrush going on with the baby and me so I am not even going to touch the cloth til we manage to get rid of it. I just feel like a ton of excuses about it but the paper diapers have been so much easier and less stressful on me and the family.

Grocery Challenge....Take 2

So I failed miserably on the last grocery challenge and went over by quite a bit. I think that my biggest failure was not being prepared for extras when guests were here. I have bumped my budget up a little bit this pay period (15-30 April). I am putting my dollars grocery money into a separate account so if I don't end up using it all then I can roll it into the next pay period. I had $16.16 in that account already so I am going to add $50 and have a dollars budget of $66.16. I am also going to have 80 pounds to spend off base. For this I have my grocery pounds separated into a Ziploc bag in my purse. I also keep the off base coupons and store cards in that bag as well so that I can find everything easily. I still have guests at my house this weekend and next weekend so that is why I put the budget up a little higher. In dollars this makes our budget for the pay period a total of $200.56 plus any WIC foods that we are allowed. I am really hoping that I can stick to this budget a little better and go back to the $150 budget when we are not going to have guests.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Way Over On The Grocery Challenge

I'm quite busy today but as of now I have gone way over on my budget for groceries. I probably shouldn't have started to try a tighter grocery budget when we had friends visiting but oh well. Friday is a new pay period so I can try again.

Total budgeted- $50 and 60 pounds
Total spent- $52.28 and 96.41 pounds (ouch!!)

ETA: I had to go off base and get a couple more items and managed to lose my receipt. I am guessing I probably spent another 20 pounds on top of what I accurately have accounted for. I am hoping to do much better next pay period.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Grocery Update and Food Plan 4/6-4/10

I have not spent any more money on groceries. I did go today and pick up a little more of my WIC food because they are threatening to close the commissary if the U.S. budget doesn't pass and WIC checks cannot be used off base here. I luckily know how to deal with grocery shopping off base and have a bit of a stockpile of food so we would be able to eat if they choose to hold our pay for a bit. I have money pulled out to make a grocery trip on Sunday off base anyway so that will help with fresh foods if they do close the commissary.

On WIC today I got:
-2 gallons milk
-1lb mozzarella cheese
-1 container frozen grape juice
-2 boxes cereal
-1doz eggs
-1 loaf whole wheat bread
-1 pineapple
-8 bananas

Dinner plans:
4/6- We had chicken nuggets, corn and macaroni and cheese. This is not a normal meal for us but once in a while it will not hurt anything.

4/7- The Man made bourbon chicken and rice. This was the first time we made this recipe and it is a definite keeper.

4/8- We will be having our turkey legs. They are currently marinating in a brine. I have not figured out the side items but we will probably have mashed potatoes and some kind of vegetable.

4/9 & 4/10- Our friends will be visiting and we will be having lasagna with homemade bread one night and homemade whole wheat pizzas the other night. The Man will for sure be cooking pizzas because he loves to make pizza and might possibly be making the lasagna if we choose to have it on Saturday.

Total budgeted- $50 and 60 pounds

Total spent- $52.28 and 35.99 pounds

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Ok so I am no good at trying to stick to a budget. I had bought two turkey legs when I went shopping the other day but have no idea how to cook them. I looked up recipes online and rather than attempting to grill them (I dont use the grill that is The Man's job) I found a recipe for a brining marinade so I could cook them in the oven. The sad part is that I needed a couple more spices. So off to Sainsburys I went once again. I spent 7.11 pounds. I found 6 of those pounds in the change in the van so it is going to make me go over in budget but I didnt have to pull more money out of the bank so that is good. The Man also requested a beer to drink and a beer to make the jalepeno beer bread mix that my parents brought over when they came.

For 7.11 pounds I got:
-2 organic ales
-3 cloves organic garlic
-cayenne pepper
-dried thyme
-ground allspice

Total budgeted- $50 and 60 pounds
Total spent- $52.28 and 35.99 pounds

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What's For Dinner 4/1-4/5

Friday 4/1

We had chiken, rice and broccoli bake. For this I make it all in one 9x13 pan in the oven. I mix up my uncooked rice, water and cream soup in the bottom of the pan. Then I put my chopped chicken, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in. I top all of this with cheddar cheese and cook in the over for about 45-60 minutes.

Saturday 4/2

We had a beef soup/stew that The Man made and a loaf of home cooked organic bread. He used 1/2 of a beef roast that we had in the freezer, carrots, potatoes, onion, leek, and this white radish type vegetable that we had gotten in our stew bag. The stew bag and the potatoes were bought at a side of the road stand that had fruit, vegetables, preserves, and pickles for sale. This was delicious.

Sunday 4/3

We had teryaki made from the other half of the beef roast, rice and broccoli. This teryaki beef is a recipe that my mom made when I was younger and I like the flavor a lot.

Monday 4/4

We had Cream Cheese Potato Soup, whole wheat bread and butter. This soup is amazing! We top ours with a bit of cheddar cheese and bacon bits.

Tuesday 4/5

Tonight we will be having whole wheat spaghetti with organic jarred sauce that I will add beef, onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms to. If i can manage to get a few free moments I will also make a loaf of whole wheat french bread for garlic bread or dipping.

I am still trying to figure out my dinner to use up the turkey legs I bought. I found a brine recipe but will need a couple of spices to make it. I think I may take a couple pounds and get the spices and start marinating those legs tonight.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Week One Of Off Base Shopping

This was the first weekly shop on my $150 + WIC challenge at the off base store. I decided to do a weekly shop at Sainsburys since they had sent me a group 6 off 30 pound purchase coupons that could be used weekly. It is also quite close to my house and has a decent amount of whole or organic options. I think I did pretty good as I am still learning the store and what things cost with the exchange rate. I had pulled out 60 pounds for my 2 weekly shopping trips to the off base store. I figured I would have about 30 pounds per trip. I came in under today with my total being 28.88 pounds. I am quite proud of my trip although I hope to buy a few more organic items next time since I will still have meat in the freezer.

for my 28.88 pounds I got:
-3 1.5l  cokes
-1 bag of smoked salmon fillets (frozen)
-1 bag frozen bell pepper pieces
-1 bag frozen diced onions
-1 bag organic whole wheat bread flour
-1 pk newborn diapers
-2 bags salad greens
-2 bags braeburn apples
-3 onions
-1 organic butter
-2 turkey legs
-2 4pks yogurt
-1 pk ground beef (almost 2 lbs)
-2 2pks of smoked back bacon (different than U.S. bacon)
-2 pks organic mushrooms
-1 organic bread mix

Budgeted: $50 and 60 pounds
Spent: $52.28 and 28.88 pounds

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Already Over :(

I went to the commissary today to pick up the few things I needed to buy at the commissary and a few extras that I had coupons for and were a good deal. I had another $22.10 to spend from my dollars budget but ended up spending $24.38 and giving up $5 of my fun money for the tip for the bagger. The surcharge was $1.59. When I figured in my head the things I would need to buy I totally forgot to budget for the surcharge and the bagger at the commissary. Oh well live and learn I guess. I also cashed in some WIC checks today as well. As of today I am over $2.28 on the budget.

I got this stuff on WIC:
-2.5 gallons of milk
-2 jars of peanut butter
-2 loaves of whole wheat bread
-2 frozen orange juice

I bought this with the $24.38:
-1 gallon of 100% orange juice
-2 lbs of natural sausage
-2 12oz string cheese
-1 dill pickle relish
-1 white cooking wine
-1 5lbs King Arthur all purpose flour
-1 6ct mega rolls toilet paper
-1 20lbs dog food

The Man also wanted soda and didn't want to wait til tomorrow when I could go off base and use the pounds so he bought a 24 pk of natural sierra mist for $5.XX of his fun money.

Budgeted: $50 and 60 pounds
Spent: $52.28 and 0 pounds

I am not counting the fun money spent in this as that is money for anything we want to buy.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Order

My order total was $27.90. I was able to use the 10% off Facebook discount and I had earned some dollars to put towards this order.

-1 Little Twig Gift Bag - 1 set (free with 7th gen pullups)
-1 Puristics Pure Protection 100% Organic Cotton Feminine Care Sample, Tampon & Pad - 1 ea (free sample)
-1 Puristics Baby Daily Diapering Cream - .1 fl oz (free sample)
-1 Almay Travel Size Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover Pads - 15 ea (small filler for free shipping)
-1 The First Years GumDrop Newborn Pacifier, Ages 0 months+, Girl - 2 ea
-1 Act Kids Alcohol Free Anticavity Fluoride Rinse for Kids, Bubble Gum - 18 fl oz
-1 Band-Aid Clear Perfect Blend Clear Bandages, One Size - 30 ea
-1 Huggies Overnites Diapers, Big Pack, Size 6, 35 lbs+ - 48 ea
-1 Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Training Pants, 3T-4T - 26 ea

I have $22.10 and 60 pounds left for this pay period.

My $150 + WIC Grocery Challenge

I have to admit that I have a huge problem with shopping. Not just shopping but grocery shopping in general. There were a few years when I had no money and lived on $.99 hamburger helper with no meat added because that is all I could afford and I had no cooking skills or any idea about how to use coupons. I now know how to use coupons to my advantage but since trying to adopt a healthier eating lifestyle I find this is more challenging. I still do find some coupons for whole or organic foods and use them when at all possible. I found a good resource of coupons at this website for organic foods. I also keep watch on Swagbucks or Mypoints for other printable coupons as well. My hamburger helper life has made it so I feel the need to keep my pantry stocked with at least several weeks of food at all times. I also love the feeling of getting a good deal which in reality I know that a good deal is only a good deal if I need it but I still love feeling like I have scored an amazing bargain. I have more food that I really need in the house.

 I try to find the good deals and coupons to stock my pantry but I have noticed that my grocery budget had crept up to over $400 a month plus WIC foods. I do have a nicely stocked pantry so I figured I need to learn how to cut my budget even more and get some things down to a reasonable level. I am challenging myself to stick to $150 plus WIC foods for the pay period (April 1-15). I am going to change some of this into pounds to use at off base stores and then use the rest on base at the Commissary and on my order. The positives going for me are that I do have a decently stocked pantry and I have 2 coupons for the off base store (one for each week). The negatives are that I still need to keep my pantry going and not clean it completely out and we have some friends coming to visit from the states. This budget also has to include dog food and any paper/household items we may need. I am quite nervous about doing this since I am the one who loves to grocery shop and find a bargain. My other challenge is going to be that The Man will not be able to go to the market since not only does it cost for the fruit/veg but the one he LOVES going to costs money to park and is about 30 minutes away. The gas money and parking just makes the savings on the vegetables and fruit not worth it.

I know that getting WIC may offend some people but I decided that for the time being this is something that my family will use. I was used to paying less than $2 per gallon of milk when we lived in the states and when we moved here a gallon of milk costs about $3.40 or more. That cost difference alone made it worth it to us. We only plan to use this while we live here as the children will be a bit older and drinking less milk and the grocery options will be greater offering a larger variety of pricing once we get back to the states. This program helps me to keep my grocery budget a bit lower and give my children healthier foods since the costs of food here is so much different than Tucson.

At this point I plan to spend about $50 and 60 Pounds and use the remaining WIC checks.  I will update once I do my shopping to see how I am keeping to this challenge.

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