Jon and I are in a very exciting time right now. We’re moving back to the place we love – Ironwood! God has opened up the opportunity for us to go back and minister with them as a few holes have opened up. I’ll be working in the kitchen until summer and Jon will be helping out on the program team in Rivertown. We’ll have the same arrangement we had last year as far as pay and benefits go. Housing and meals are provided!!! God has been teaching us how to live on a lean budget and now our grocery budget can relax for a while. I can’t wait to be back on a full-time work crew. :)
This means that we’ll be moving. We’ve kept a lot of stuff in storage at Ironwood, and we decided to look through our boxes since we’ve been living without this stuff for 7-10 months, depending on when we packed it away. Those of you living in the area can think back to all those wonderful rain storms we had within the past few months. Unfortunately, those rains didn’t do good things to our boxes. We had two boxes of close-to-ruined things waiting to be discovered. Of course it couldn’t have been the things that don’t matter a lot to us. My plastic bowls and storage containers are in perfect condition. No, it happened to be Jon’s nice western wear (the shirt I bought him for his birthday last year!!! and a nice vest) as well as a blanket from his childhood and an entire box of precious books. Among the spoils, my beautiful Vintage from 2007, my Bible from high school and college that has all of my favorite passages and verses marked, my book of Carl Sandburg poems (Honey and Salt), The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, and several other Christian non-fiction books that I’ve really enjoyed. Some of the books weren’t hard to throw away, but the most damaged ones were the ones that I can’t get rid of, so we’re now looking for ways to remove mold (and lots of it) from these books. Luckily, I think we can salvage all of Jon’s damaged things. They’re in the washer right now . . . I’m most concerned about his western shirt (bright white) that now has pink spots (from what?!) and blackish mold. I think bleach is going to become my best friend.
So it seems like now God has moved on from teaching us to trust him without work to teaching me to remove myself from possessions. Blah.
I’m going to go check my laundry now.
Well, I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving. Jon and I celebrated with several good friends from camp. We made stops at several houses during the day and enjoyed spending time with what feels like family to us.
Yesterday, we braved Lancaster’s Black Friday for some great deals to start out our holiday season.
Our first stop was Target at 6:30 am. We walked around the inside perimeter of the store, walking beside the “waiting-to-check-out” line about halfway around. Fabulous. We were able to get some good deals, though. Psych season 3 was $12.99 and I found some nice sweaters for $8.99 each. We also picked up Monopoly Deal! which wasn’t on sale, but still not a bad price. I enjoyed learning the game the day before. I sent Jon to head to wherever he needed to while I waited in line. [His goal was a new laptop, and Best Buy was next door, so off he went.] After a couple calls, he said he was headed to RadioShack, but then ended up back with me after about 15 minutes of my line-waiting.
Next, we headed to Bed Bath & Beyond [we still have LOTS of wedding gift cards] where we picked up some items we’ll need to have once we move from our current furnished house. I grabbed a 10-piece cooking set with pots & pans, complete with bonus items: 5 glass nesting bowls for prep and a lidded brownie pan for $50.00. We got the start of Mom’s Christmas present, a yummy candle for us, and a 5-Quart Crock Pot Slow Cooker for $13.99. Good deals at Bed Bath & Beyond!
Next we went to the mall — JCPenney’s for a special item (Christmas for Amy) and RadioShack to check out computers. Didn’t have what Jon wanted there, so we ventured on. We hit some Staples and and Office Depot; still not the right model of the acer computer we were looking for. We stopped at Kohl’s and picked up some towels ($2.50 bath towels, $1.50 hand towels) and a new bedding set for ourselves — a 20-piece set; normally $299, but on sale for $99!!! Crazy good deal. And then we proceeded to wait in line for 2 hours before getting out of the store with our purchases. We also received $10 back on every $50 spent, which is a nice reward.
A quick trip to Walmart to pick up a 30 piece Rubbermaid storage set for $7.00 and all my shopping stops were crossed off.
We looked at several more RadioShacks in Palmdale to no avail. After making a few calls, Jon wanted to head to Victorville, but then we found out they were sold out of his computer, too. We knew the RadioShack in the mall still had their acer computer (the right model, but bigger than Jon wanted). The one downside is that it was the computer on display, but we finally decided to go with that one since everyone was sold out and we were told they wouldn’t be ordering more. It was a good deal, and ended up being $50 off the price we were told which was nice.
Funny thing is, we got the computer home and the CD drive won’t read a blessed thing. Jon called and we heard back from the manager today that they will order him a new computer to replace this one! Yay!
We both decided that Black Friday has good deals, but it probably won’t be worth it for a few more years at least. :)
This week was a pretty good week of shopping deals in the Moore house. Most weeks, I get the Rite Aid ad on Monday and the rest of the ads arrive on Wednesday or Thursday—Stater Bros., Vallarta, and Albertson’s.
I’ve started a new system this week. I go through each ad and enter all the deals I’m interested in on an excel spreadsheet (a separate sheet for each store). I write down the item, specifying the size in its own column. There’s a separate column for the deal listed and another column labeled coupon. That makes it easy to see if I should have a coupon to match it up with. I can just fold the coupons inside the sheet and carry one thing around the store. It makes for a little more work on the front end, but it has helped me stick to my list better. It’s also nice to not have to carry around the ad.
Tuesday I headed to Rite Aid where I purchased the above. The toothpaste was $2.69 and will be free once I enter it online for a full $2.69 rebate! The deodorants (normally $3.49 a piece) were 99 cents each, and the Almay makeup was BOGO—16.00 for what would normally cost $32.00. [I was way more excited about that than Jon.] I also grabbed a Christmas tree and some lights which weren’t bad, but it boosted my total to “not that impressive.” :)
Wednesday, I went through all the other ads. Jon and I are working on a budget now, trying to get our grocery spending down to $150 a month, if not less. We went on a big shopping trip for the entire month a few weeks ago and spent right around $100 on that. There were some great deals this week, and most of the food we purchased won’t get used until December anyways.
Friday we headed down to Lancaster and stopped by Albertson’s. I was really excited about this trip. I was expecting to spend $36.31, but after adding a pie pan,—needed to bake a pie for our Pie & Praise Service on Sunday—some dish soap, flour, and oil, the new total was $53.36.
But check out what I got!
- 2 cans cream of mushroom soup: $.69 each = $1.38
- Two 12 oz. bags Nestle chocolate chips: $1.29 each, coupon for $1.00 off 2 = $1.58
- 32 oz. Kraft Real Mayonnaise: $2.99 = $2.99
- Two 4 oz. Glade Candles: $3.00 each, coupon for $1.50 off 2 = $4.50
- Four 12 packs soda (Coke, Pepsi, 7Up, Cherry Coke): normally between $6.50—7.50 each, in-ad coupon 4 for $9.00 = $9.00 (saving $7.00 total)
- Two 8 oz bags Kraft shredded cheese: $1.77 each, coupon for $1.00 off 2 = $2.54
- Stouffer’s Lasagna entrée (enough for both Jon & myself): $1.99 in ad, but I was charged $3.99 [grr . . . ]
- 10 for $10.00 – (one of my favorite Albertson’s deals!)
- Four 2 liter sodas (Pepsi, 7Up, Sierra Mist): $1.00 each = $4.00
- 6 Birds Eye SteamFresh veggies: $1.00 each, 2 coupons for $1.00 off 3 = $4.00
- PLUS the pie plate, dish soap, flour and oil.
[I’ll be honest, I’m still working through being overcharged $2.00 for the lasagna.]
Store Coupon Savings: $8.00
Manufacturer Coupon Savings: $5.00
Preferred Savings (store card): $38.46
Total Savings: $51.46
Total with tax = $53.36
I do wish I had a picture of this absolutely delicious dish! At Bonefish Grill, it’s served as an appetizer, and that’s where my family and I fell in love with it. My husband and I happened upon a Bonefish Grill on our honeymoon, and that was where he fell in love with it. I’m not gonna lie; it’s a fabulous dish, and it’s really not that difficult to make!
Here’s what you’ll need for the shrimp prep:
- 18—20 shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
- 1/4 teaspoon of each: onion powder, garlic powder, and dried basil
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup milk
And here’s what you’ll need for the sauce:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 4 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar (I didn’t actually use this in mine)
First, mix up the fabulous sauce. If you can’t get your hands on a “chili garlic sauce,” just pick up a hot sauce and throw in one clove of pressed garlic. Cover this and set it aside.
Combine the beaten egg with milk in a shallow bowl. Set this aside, too.
In another shallow bowl (or any bowl . . . I used a big one, so there!) mix up the flour, bread crumbs, salt, black pepper, and all the spices. In all honesty, I didn’t have all those spices sitting around my house. So I used garlic powder, marjoram, and something else. Who knows what. I don’t think the spices will kill you. Just don’t use nutmeg or cinnamon or something silly like that. Gross.
Start heating some oil to 350 degrees F. (We cooked it in our 2″ deep frying pan. If you own a deep fryer, go for it!)
Coat the shrimp by tossing it with the dry breading ingredients. Dip it into the egg and milk mixture, and then once again into the breading. Once all your shrimp are breaded, set them in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set the coating.
Once the oil has reached the right temperature, fry the shrimp for 3—4 minutes. (Ok, Jon and I used already cooked shrimp, so we didn’t worry about time. We just wanted to heat it.) Oh! On another note, make sure your oil isn’t too hot. Apparently our stove gets crazy hot, so we had 10 little black shrimp coals. We did not eat those. They looked yucky.
Ok, so after your shrimp is cooked, go a head and drain it on paper towels. Once all the little guys are fried up, spoon 1/4 cup of the sauce over the shrimp and gently stir it to coat. If you have someone who doesn’t like hot sauce, just serve it on the side. It actually makes a great dipping sauce.
If you’re all about presentation, cut up some iceberg lettuce and place the shrimp on top. Eat with chopsticks!
You can also buy pre-breaded shrimp to make this even easier. Then you only have to mix up the sauce and fry the shrimp!
Yesterday, I ventured out on my first actual couponing mission. I had gone to Albertson’s Sunday, but that was a trip for groceries, and they had pretty good deals already, not to mention my coupon collection is pretty sad and sickly at the moment.
Anyways, I went to Rite Aid. Now, normally I would think that Rite Aid is probably just a rip-off. But if you know how to work the system (that they provide for you), and are committed to doing a little homework, you can actually get great prices for stuff! They have recently started this coupons for videos deal, so you watch a commercial on their website, and they’ll give you $1.00—2.00 coupons off of the product you just watched. Two great things about this: you can pick the products you want to view from their list of shampoos, medical needs, toilet paper, etc. —AND— once you view 20 videos, they will give you a $5 off your $20 purchase coupon! WOW! Believe me, the savings add up. All you need is internet that will allow you to watch their commercials, and a printer. They’ll keep your coupons in a list until you print them off, then they are removed. I don’t have a printer where I get my internet service, so I just send them to print and then hold the job until I get home. And . . . viola! Savings!
Notice the picture above. I purchased all of this for $11.70. The toilet paper would normally be $11.00 itself. How did this happen? I carefully walked through the store, keeping my coupons in mind. I already knew I needed milk, and who doesn’t need more toilet paper, right? [I had a pretty good coupon for that, too.] I grabbed the conditioner because I had a coupon and needed it to help reach the total. I decided I could get the spices because I needed them anyways. I knew I would be pretty close to the $20 limit (you want to stay as close as possible), and when I got to the register is was $19 and some change, so I threw in the Orbit. I used the $5 off of $20 coupon first, then a $2.00 for the TreSemme and a $2.00 for the toilet paper—all from watching videos on the sight.
I am by no means a professional couponer, so you can see that it’s easy from the get-go! As I get more used to it, I know I’ll be able to plan my trips for even better savings. A friend of mine routinely saves more than she spends on her trips, and sometimes even gets away with only paying tax! If you’re willing to put forth the effort, you can save tons of money! Every drugstore has its own system. I wouldn’t be a Rite Aid shopper normally, but it’s the only store with reasonable prices within 45 minutes of home. Check out www.myfrugaladventures.blogspot.com to figure out your best option. This website does most of the work for you—keeping updated posts on lots of different stores, even giving you examples of how to get the best savings.
Ok. I should go now. I need to get back to designing websites. [whew.]
I am inspired right now by a few people . . .
Mary Lekoshere, who was inspired by Melissa Muth, has decided to blog one work of art daily during the month of October. I admit that I am jealous of her truly artistic abilities. Not only is she a fabulous artist, she has a way with words that will command a smile with almost every blog post. The one thing I can brag above her is that I know my way around computers. :) In this transition time, I have found myself with quite a bit of down-time. I am actively seeking employment, but there are only so many places you can apply. Now has begun the online search while waiting to hear back from other companies. Anyways, I was just trying to say there’s a lot of free time. Between cleaning the house and car, laundry, and meals, I have . . . nothing . . . to do. Maybe I will devote some time to redeveloping the quickness necessary for designers. I want to pick up sketching again. So, Mary, thanks for your inspiration.
Deb Buckingham has also inspired me. She is the only person I have ever personally observed work coupon magic. After sending me to a couple websites (A Full Cup and My Frugal Adventures), I got hooked. The one problem I’ve run into is that I don’t have a printer at the same time that I have internet service. (Thank you, Internet Cafe.) I’m definitely not complaining. It just makes it hard to print all those coupons. After returning home tonight, I will see if my plan to print will actually work. This is another free-time spender. It requires a little more research, but once I get started, I know I’m going to enjoy it a LOT! I love saving money (even though my dad might argue otherwise).
Web designers in general have inspired me. Yesterday, my amazing husband decided it was worth the investment to purchase a book that will help me master web design. In all honesty, that was the only class during college I didn’t feel benefited me. It didn’t click then. I could make a website look good, but I couldn’t guarantee that it would work. And I have been wanting to figure it out ever since. So, now I have the time and the resources, and I am determined to become a proficient web designer. This is where most of my free time will be spent. (As soon as I get done with this crazy blog post.)
Today was the first day I spent separated from my husband since our wedding day. It was good. And I can’t wait to see him when he comes home. Look at him, out there bringing home the bacon. Yes, that is my husband. And after dinner ( . . . maybe before?) we will have our second tennis date. Last night was fabulous. We are horrible. :)
After 4 days of married life, I’ve already had a few interesting cooking experiences. It’s completely different when you’re cooking for someone else’s tastebuds! Jon has been fabulous and has [so far] volunteered his dishwashing skills in exchange for a wonderful meal. :)
We are honeymooning in a wonderful area of Virginia, with a cabin all our own – complete with a kitchen and cabinets stocked with cooking utensils and containers. I was really excited to hear that was one of the requirements for Jon because he knows I LOVE to cook. Most of my experience has been in baking, but I love adventure. :)
I’ve been collecting recipes for the past few weeks, and yesterday we compiled a list of meals and a shopping list based off of that list. We shopped at Walmart and Kroger until we crossed everything off our list.
All of those past few paragraphs to give you a quite delicious recipe! I came across it on a website that gives a good listing of different toppings to put on boneless, skinless chicken. This one wasn’t disappointing! Delicious and VERY easy to fix.
All you need is the following:
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts [we only used 2]
- 1 package (.4 oz) of buttermilk ranch dressing mix
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2/3 cup purchased dried bread crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine the pepper, bread crumbs and ranch dressing mix into one bowl. Put the sour cream in another bowl. Dip each chicken breast in the sour cream to coat both sides well. Then coat both sides in the bread crumb mixture. Put the chicken breasts on a cookie sheet and cook at 400 degrees for 18—24 minutes. Yum!! Combine it with some diced red potatoes and seasoned steamed broccoli and you’ve got yourself a wonderful dinner!
Jon just finished dinner tonight – spaghetti with garlic texas toast and corn. Can’t wait!
This dessert is fabulous! I’ve been holding this recipe in the back of my mind for at least 3 months, if not 6, just waiting for the perfect time to try it. Well, last night, I had a craving for chocolate, all the ingredients were nearby in my parents’ cupboards, and the microwave looked like it needed a little company.
I should probably warn you, once you find out how easy it is to have a brownie dessert, you might be tempted to make this more often than you should. The brownie also turns out to be quite large in my opinion. Probably enough to serve 2 people, so make sure you have a friend or roommate nearby who wouldn’t mind helping you finish! :)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2-3 tablespoons sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons egg white or egg white from the carton (this ended up being the whites from 2 eggs when I made it)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla*
1 teaspoon chocolate chips
*you can also substitute almond extract for the vanilla [gross]
In a 1 – 1.5 cup microwave-safe mug, combine all the dry ingredients (except the chocolate chips). Mix well. Next, add all the wet ingredients and stir for 2 minutes (6 times through Happy Birthday or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star).
Sprinkle the chocolate chips in (if desired) and microwave for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, use a spoon to pull the brownie away from the mug and see if the bottom is completely cooked. If not, microwave in 10 second spurts until it’s done. If you microwave in longer spurts, you may overcook the brownie and it will become rubbery. [Gross . . . nobody enjoys a chocolate tire.]
If your mug is a little smaller, it will overflow, so make sure to put a plate or something under it, especially if you still live with your parents. :) You’ll also want to let it cool for a few minutes because it will be HOT. I added some ice cream to mine, but I know whip cream would be yummy, too.
First of all, let me say I have the most amazing fiance in the world.
[Now for the story.]
I knew Jon started shopping for rings around February. We went to get my finger sized, and he wasn’t really trying to hide it from me. We looked at diamonds a couple times, and he shopped online, asking me about certain bands that he found. Once it started getting “for-real,” I happily let him do his thing. Not that I wasn’t curious, and not that I didn’t try to drive him crazy being nosey, but I did want to be surprised, and I knew he wanted to surprise me. So I let it sit.
I’ll be honest, it seemed like ages passed. I didn’t know if he had the ring yet, but I kept thinking he probably did. It was like everytime we went out, just the two of us, I got my hopes up. Especially within the past two months. But it never happened. I started telling myself I couldn’t do that anymore. I was always disappointed at the end of a date, and it wasn’t right to him for me to do that. I just needed to wait patiently. [And that is a hard thing to do!] So, I determined to not think about it, stop setting myself up for being grumpy, and just enjoy Jon and the fun we could have spending time together.
We had a few conversations about wedding planning and the timing. We want to get married in the fall, but Jon kept saying he couldn’t have a ring til mid-summer, which would leave me very little time to plan a wedding. [I’m a big advocate of waiting til you have a ring to start actually pulling things together, such as a church, bridesmaids, etc.] I was present when he told him parents over the phone that he was trying to be “as honest with Audrey about a ring as I can. We just need to be realistic.” So, that solidified in my mind that it would be July before we could get engaged.
We’ve been planning our trip over break for a couple months now, and it turned out that we got to come to Marina, CA to visit a friend for a little over a week. I pretty much ruled out the thought that it would happen anytime during that trip since he probably thought I would be expecting it. [He really wanted to surprise me.]
He asked me to bring along my dress that I bought last year but haven’t been able to wear yet. [The $10 Dress.] It’s dressy—black satin with ivory polka-dots. I don’t get to dress up often, so I was really excited about that! He told me we were going to have one night that was a “just-us” night. He said he had made sure it was ok with Geneva for us to go on a date, and he wanted to get all dressed up.
The plan was to go to San Francisco on Monday and have our date-night on Tuesday. Sunday, we realized that wouldn’t work very well. Traffic would be awful Monday since it was Memorial Day. So, we switched days and decided to go out on Monday night.
We got all dressed up—I curled my hair, which takes a ridiculously long time to do. We left around 5:30 and headed to Monterrey Bay for dinner. We had a little trouble finding the restaurant, but found it within a few minutes, and ordered quickly. Our food came out in no time. We were so surprised. This was supposed to be a long, enjoyable evening together, but we got done at the restaurant within 30 minutes. Wow! It was freezing outside (to me)—54 degrees and cloudy! Jon wanted to walk around downtown for a little bit, but we decided to forget that idea since it was so cold. We decided [spontaneously, I thought] to head over to the beach and walk around for a little bit down there, taking pictures, etc. I love the beach, so we agreed. [I don’t really enjoy swimming in the ocean, but I love beachiness.]
When we got out of the car at the beach, Jon picked up a wooden box wrapped in blue ribbon from under his seat. I was with him when he bought the box, and he had bought chocolates “secretly” at a store a couple days before. [In all honesty, I had seen him buy the chocolates.] I assumed that was what was in the box, and he was trying to be thoughtful and give me a yummy present. He kept saying something about the weather at least wouldn’t melt the gift. Yeah, chocolates, for sure. He told me the box was for me, but I couldn’t open it yet. I had to wait until we had walked a little bit. We walked around, taking pictures here and there. At one point, we thought we were being followed by Mr. Creepy [it was still light out, Mom]. We just stopped and waited for him to go away, and he did. We turned around and walked back down the beach, toward a tree that looked really cool. Jon said I could open the box.
He did a good job. The box was beautiful, and he had tied a light blue ribbon around it. He mumbled something about lots of tape and how hard it is to tie ribbon that way. I untied it, and opened the box.
Inside, a ring stared at me. I think I laughed, and then I noticed the card—”Miss Audrey, Will You Marry Me? Mr. JOn.” Wow! Where did he go? I turned around slightly, and noticed he was down on one knee. He asked me again, “Will you marry me?” this time verbally. I kept laughing, but said, “YES!” We took a few pictures of the box and then he put the ring on my finger.
On our way back to the car, he gave me the speech he had prepared to say to me. “It was too cold to remember.” It was really cold.
He did an amazing job. He chose one of my favorite places, and we had one of my favorite skies to take pictures with [the cloudy, gray kind]. He surprised me, which is how I’ve always hoped it would be. And I got the man of my dreams.
The ring is gorgeous. It has a Celtic love knot surrounding the diamond. The band has four small diamonds on either side. I hoped for this band. [He showed it to me once upon a time, and I fell in love with it.]