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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Monday Musings:Weeks 50 and 51


I haven't posted since December 10th when Esther turned 12. Since then, we traveled to San Antonio, had our oldest daughter and her husband here for a week, made a couple of trips to Dallas, hosted two family gatherings, attended numerous church functions, and celebrated Christmas. The last of our company left 5 hours ago. All this to say that the blog has been low on my list of priorities.

 I have a rather large stack of receipts on my desk since I haven't been doing such a great job tracking my spending since the 7th. Since there are so many receipts to tally, I've decided to wait until the 31st to log the remaining spending for December. At that time I'll make a monthly spending report for December and a report for the entire year of the 2014 spending challenge. I'll post my results on Monday, January 5th.

In the mean time, I plan to spend time deciding the future of this blog. It's taken much more time than I expected, but the exercise and discipline have been good for me. I hear from some people that they enjoy reading it, and they want me to continue. The dilemma of putting something "out there" is wondering if it has meaning to anyone but me -- if it helps anyone else -- if it's worth the effort and time. There are so many blogs out there. Am I just one more self-important voice, or am I meeting a need and sharing something of value? I would appreciate any input you might have that might help me in my decision. 

Until then -- HAPPY NEW YEAR!



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Baby Turns 12

A little bit of heaven drifted down from above,
A handful of happiness, a heartful of love.
The mystery of life, so sacred and sweet,
The giver of joy, so deep and complete.
Precious and priceless, so loveable too
The world's sweetest miracle... baby, is you.


12th Birthday wishes to dearest Esther – the caboose of the Newman children. Here are 12 pictures that will give you an idea of what a special person she is. I can’t imagine life without her!














Sunday, December 7, 2014

Monday Musings: Week 49


Week 49 Spending (Dec. 1-7, 2014)
Groceries  
$95
Entertainment
$19
Gifts
$26
Toiletries
$1
Total  
$141.00


The Christmas crunch is here. Since I am madly trying to complete multiple projects and prepare for multiple activities, this post is going to be short and sweet.

On Wednesday, my baby turns 12. Please stop by later this week for a photo essay about this precious girl who brings joy to everyone she meets.

In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy this beautiful Christmas rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wednesday Eats and Treats: Post-Holiday Hamburger Stew

After Thanksgiving's overindulgence, I always crave a meal that is lighter and healthier. This hamburger stew fits the bill. I cook it in my crockpot on low while we listen to Christmas carols on Pandora and take down our fall decorations in anticipation of breaking out the Christmas regalia.


HAMBURGER STEW

Note: Serve with buttered cornbread.

Ingredients
2 pounds ground beef
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) stewed tomatoes
8 medium carrots, thinly sliced
4 celery ribs, thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups water
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons salt
1 to 2 teaspoons pepper

Directions
Cook beef and onions over medium heat; drain. Add tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, water, rice, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables and rice are tender. Uncover; simmer 20-30 minutes longer or until thickened! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Musings: Week 48 and November Spending Report



Week 48 Spending (Nov. 24-30, 2014)
Groceries  
$53
Entertainment
$22
Gifts
$26
Toiletries
$61
Benevolence
$29
Miscellaneous
$5
Total  
$196


October Spending Report
Category
Spent
Budgeted 
Savings
Groceries
$629
$700
$71
Miscellaneous
-$8
$120        
$128
School
$26
$50
$24
Entertainment
$56
$75
$19
Toiletries
$86
$100
$14
Piano Lessons
$30
$30
$0
Clothing
$0
$60
$60
Gifts
$56
$75
$19
Hair Care
$0
$30
$30
Benevolence
$29
$35
$6
Discretionary Cash
$25
$25
$0
Total  
$929
$1300
$371

Except for the past two months, the majority of my savings were from the food category. That makes sense, because over ½ of my budget is devoted to feeding this hungry crowd. As October and November approached, I found some serious space in my pantry. That made me a little bit nervous. We live 25 miles away from the closest large grocery store, and the cost of eating out is prohibitive for our group, so I need to keep food on hand. I also pride myself on my ability to feed my family well on a pretty tight food budget. To do this, I have to be able to take advantage of bargains when I see them, For example, around Super Bowl time, Kroger usually has a great sale on Rotel tomatoes. We use at least 1 of these cans of deliciousness each week, plus a few more. The regular price is around $1.29. When Kroger has a sale for $0.50 a can, I can buy 64 cans for $32. That’s a savings of more than $50 off the regular price of $82.56. Now that’s significant. I stopped by Wal*Mart on Sunday afternoon. I just happened to glance over at the fresh turkeys. Imagine my surprise delight when I saw fresh turkey breasts with a use by or freeze date of December 5th marked down from $2.28 to $0.50 cents a pound. You can bet 5 of those little beauties jumped into my basket. I’ll cook one this week and the other four are already in the freezer – 32 pounds of prime turkey meat for just $16. Whoop!

I need to learn to balance stocking up on  great deals with economizing and using the things I have on hand. In the meantime, I have four weeks left in the spending challenge, and I’m hoping to finish strong.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Musings: Week 47


Week 47 Spending (Nov. 17-23, 2014)
Groceries  
$84
Discretionary Cash
$25
Gifts
$13
Total  
$122

As we approach Thanksgiving, I would be remiss if I didn't share a few things for which I am thankful. This year has been a tough one, and while I may have been tempted to ask, "Why me?" I know that my response needs to be one of gratitude. No matter how difficult things have been, they could have always been worse. As our dear Uncle Ross said to me the other day, "I know lots of parents who would trade problems with you any day."

What I should really ask is,"Why not me?" Each day, each trial, each struggle of the past year has been an opportunity for me to draw closer to my Savior and to seek my strength in Him. Syd and I have grown closer as a couple. I have realized that I have some of the greatest friends and family members on Earth -- without any judgment, they have walked alongside me, encouraging me, praying for me, praying for my children, reminding me of truth.

My children have challenged me to be a better mom -- to let loose of the things I want to control, and to trust God with their lives. We've made many changes, including putting a child in public school. This was huge for us, but even in that, God has blessed our son with Christian teachers who genuinely care about him. They have worked to help him make this transition, and while we still have a long way to go, there is light ahead.

So, on Thursday as we gather at my sister's house for Thanksgiving, I will have literally hundreds of things to be thankful for. I hope the same is true for you. Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fluffy Pumpkin Dip

 

This dip is especially good on graham crackers and crispy apple slices.

Fluffy Pumpkin Dip

Ingredients
1 30 oz. can of pumpkin pie filling (I used Libby’s brand)
2 3.4-oz. packages of vanilla instant pudding
2 cups of heavy cream, whipped or 2 8-oz. tubs of Cool Whip

Directions
Mix pumpkin pie filling and pudding mix together in a large bowl until blended.
Stir in whipped cream or Cool Whip.
Refrigerate one hour.
Serve in a bowl or a hollowed out small fresh pumpkin.

This is how I plan to serve it on Thanksgiving Day. The picture shows caramel dip in the bowl, but I'll use the Pumpkin Dip instead.


Adapted from Kraft Foods’ Pumpkin Fluff Dip recipe.