Merry Christmas everyone. As you can imagine, being a musician at certain times of the year can be quite hectic. I just wanted to wish all of you Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
I had to do an unplanned Christmas Eve dinner and another last minute plan of a dinner on the 26th (on top of performances both of these days)
I got all holiday shopping done under budget, utilizing CVS ECB's, amazing Bon Ton coupons, Bobs coupons, Kohls Cash and other online deals including Ebates and Mypoints.
Even with the unplanned dinners we are UNDER our 500 per month budget as I didn't do much grocery shopping other than produce/bread/dairy most of which was from the farmers market.
I did NO baking other than a strawberry rhubarb pie (using couponed pie crusts and gifted canned fruit)
Today was running to several different family members homes. There was no blowups, which is always a blessing. Some were still disappointed that we weren't with them all day, but we just can't do it. We visited other family early on Christmas Eve before Mass.
I hope you all had a lovely holiday. Let's keep the bargains and deals going!
I have to admit I was surprised by how empty the stores were. I am not a 4 a.m. shopper, I went out at normal times to several stores. First was CVS. I will list prices after ECB's earned and coupons. 2 Palmolive dish soap ($1). CVS dish soap (free). KITKAT (free). Airheads (free) Almay eye makeup (2.99). CVS 4 pack AAA batteries ($1) Cheerios 8.9 oz (.25). Not too shabby.
Williams Sonoma Outlet. My biggest expenditure. $134.72. Uncles gift (originally 90, I paid $23.92). Cutting board 13.99 (half price) pumpkin quick bread mixes (2.89 each). Pumpkin streusel cake mix 75% off, vanilla three bottles and powdered vanilla 50% off. Cookie sheet regularly $45 I paid $11.92. French onion braising sauces 60% off. Plus I got another 20% off the vanilla as a Tangers card holder (discount program). Cash.
TJ Maxx $10 savings coupon used towards 4 gifts. $88.52 cash
Joann Fabrics. Used a 40 and 50 percent coupons. Got two music themed binders, clearanced 6 pack canning jars, scented pine cones, two evergreen/pine cone large picks, a wreath hanger and a beautiful evergreen and flocked pine one swag. $42.11 cash
Let the frenzy begin! I have already cleaned the house from Thanksgiving and gotten everything cleared out for the holiday decorating. We will wait to start that in December. I did get the greens out around the yard.
I am excited to say that I have almost finished my shopping. The few things that have not been purchased yet will be easy to obtain.
I got my friend Margaret's girls gifts using Amazon gift cards.
Daughters gifts were purchased online Wednesday evening and picked up at 10 p.m. A great bargain (not sharing what we got her in case she reads this) We saved over $200.00 on her gift.
Grandmother (God bless her, 98 and still as feisty as ever) will get a gift each week delivered (flowers, chocolates, her favorite brandy soaked fruit cake and cookies) as well as little trinkets almost daily in the mail.
Mother a new pay as you go ATT android phone. On sale for 39.99 plus came with a 45 dollar minutes card. A necessity as she has been using a phone almost 10 years old and not functioning properly. We also have a few things for her to open on the day.
DH who is a get me fun things on Christmas type of guy is also done. Don't want to risk ruining anything so will have to share with you on the 26th.
Brother in Law (DH brother) is planned and in cart to be ordered on December 1
Sister in Law planned
Pops (aka Gpa P) done
Friends gifts are all planned
Cousins visiting from CA gift is planned
Aunts and cousin who works for me planned
Nieces and Nephews done
Sister and I don't usually exchange
I used coupons, discount codes, free shipping deals. Most paid for in cash. The few things I charged will be paid off on December 8th.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It is truly my favorite holiday. One of the few times a year I take 4 days off (this year I took Wednesday off as well, only day my daughter could come home for a brief holiday). I took two hours of quiet time when no one was home and chopped 3 pounds of onions, a bunch of celery, peeled turnips and potatoes. Prepped brussel sprouts (already plucked, had to cut in half) Mushrooms wiped off and broken up. All veges stored in baggies (I reuse bags that held produce). Sausage for the dressing was cooked and drained.
Here are some pictures of the final meal. Not shown are pierogies (my family though Italian on my Father's side lived in Austria..I grew up hearing a combination of the two languages..so we have combinations of Italian and German foods at most holidays) Brussel sprouts, sausage dressing, gravy, corn.
I utilized every crockpot I own for this day. Mushrooms with onions and garlic above. Plenty of butter too.
Turnips in vegetable broth which were mashed with salt and pepper.
Sweet potatoes wrapped in foil .
Peeled potatoes ready to boil to become mashed.
The splurge, heritage bird fresh from a local farm. $56.00. 24 lbs. ( still did get two of the .59 cent a pound frozen birds....those are for winter months) Potatoes were less than .50, pierogies were from a local church bazaar, $10, and worth every penny. Brussels were probably $1 (farmers market) turnip $1, sausage 2.50, onions .99, celery .99, cranberry relish (gifted), corn free (couponed) stuffing mix 2.50.
Total spent $75.48
Meals provided 23 plus. At the most $3.28 per serving. Since I still have left overs (which I told Gpa P not to eat anymore as it was four days) I also froze some meat and made stock.
I have been getting into my winter cooking groove. I am definitely a soup, stew, baking type of cook.
So far I have made Fake Baked potato soup (cauliflower), butternut squash soup and pasta sauce (DH made meatballs).
DH also grilled steak tips with mashed potatoes and mixed frozen veggies. I froze half of the cooked tips to use in a future soup. I did not have any of the tips, but will enjoy the soup. I also made a meatloaf using some of the ground beef not used in the meatballswith a pound of ground pork. Topped it with some of my friend Margarets homemade canned tomato jam.
On pasta night I had some of the leftover frozen veggies with sauce and 2 ounces of linguine. I topped it with two meatballs. I try very hard to watch what I eat. A serving of pasta is literally four forkfuls. Was a real eye opener for my father and uncle.
I much prefer fish and vegetables. The men prefer meat. I try to keep all of us happy.
I made the most amazing soup. I had made a stock last week with the short rib bones and took it out of the freezer. I had one pound of grass fed sirloin tip steak that I browned.
Last of the leeks soaked overnight.
Here is the stock
Two pounds of mushrooms.
All added to the crockpot.
Celery and dried mushrooms added, as well as a few shakes of Worstershire Sauce and black pepper.
4 hours later
Mmmmmmm, 8 hours later.
Zucchini Quiche. 4 eggs, zucchini, onion, italian blend shredded cheese.
Shrimp, rice and broccoli, Chicken breasts in yumyum sauce (I have no idea what that is, DH said that was what he called it) and mixed veggies.
Ham and Broccoli Puff. One package of crescent rolls. Broccoli stems (yes stems!), onion and mustard (any kind, I used course dijon) pulsed in food processor until finely chopped. Shredded cheese(any kind, I used mexican blend) to taste, mix up, add chopped ham (I had one steak in freezer from a previous deal) Bake at 400 for 20 - 30 minutes until golden.
Broccoli Ham mixture that was left added to egg whites, 1/2 cup heart smart bisquick mix, baked into a quiche.
We love this store! I should say DH does, LOL. I was happy with the prices. Less than 20 dollars got us 5 loves of bread, 30 single serve goldfish crackers, to Milano cookie bags and a bag of Cheddar cracker chips.
After taking it out of the new to me (freecycle) crockpot, I let it cool and unwrapped it.
Opened it up
I got exactly 15 ounces of pumpkin meat out of it!
All that was left. Skin and seeds.
One stick of melted butter, one and two thirds cup of white sugar, one third cup brown sugar, four eggs. Two tbsp pumpkin pie spice.
Two cups of flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda.
Before going into a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.
Muffins stayed home as Gpa P grabbed one right after I dumped them onto cooling rack. I brought the cake with pumpkin cream cheese and honey walnut cream cheese to my friends house for our Thursday morning coffee hour. Everyone said it was a winner!