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2023 Goals

2023 Goals

My goals for 2023 revolve quite a bit around self-care and doing things that make me happy such as cross-stitching, gardening, puzzles, hanging out with my family and reading. I am also trying to make them pretty open ended so I don’t feel to rigid […]

2022 Goals End of Year Reflection

2022 Goals End of Year Reflection

2022 was a year with mixed results for me. As I reflect on my 2022 goals post from March of this year I am struck by how different my year turned out from where it started. I started the year gung ho about my career […]

2023 Goals: Puzzles

2023 Goals: Puzzles

It’s that time of year again for goal setting and reflection. I am hopeful for 2023 and one of my focuses will be self-care. I love puzzles so I am setting a goal of working on my puzzles for 2023. I was very inspired by Karen Puzzles on YouTube (link here) with her journey towards the puzzle championships. I had no idea there were competitions!!! I have not found any in my area yet but I am definitely keeping an eye out. All puzzles mentioned in this post are listed at the bottom so if you are here for my 2023 list feel free to scroll on down.

 

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Practice puzzle #1 – 300 pieces large size.

I started my 2023 puzzle journey in 2022 with some practice puzzles. We have a bunch stashed from over the years so I dug through our pile and started puzzling. I timed my first one which was Grandpa’s Garage at 300 pieces and it took me 1 hour, 18 min and 56 seconds to complete. If that seems fast to you, this was a super easy puzzle with large pieces. For comparison, in 2022 at the World Jigsaw Championship the fastest times for this 500 piece London Postcard puzzle was 34 min and 25 seconds which is amazing!

The Craft Cupboard by Colin Thompson

Next I tackled the 1000 piece The Craft Cupboard by Colin Thompson. This one took me about eight hours but, huge caveat, I had help from my husband with sorting for the first four hours which is when everything is the most difficult. No doubt if I had done this on my own it would have taken way longer. I loved this artist and I’m already thinking about which ones to add to my list for the future. I would really like to do the massive 18,000 piece Magical Bookshelf but one, it is super expensive and two, I have no idea where I would put it to keep it safe from dogs and kids. I am sure it is the size of my living room (or bigger) and logistically I don’t know how it would work.

500 piece Home for Christmas

I pulled this 500 piece Home for Christmas Puzzle out of our stash and it was unopened. We got this one out of one of those random Woot boxes many years ago. Did you ever do those? My husband was really into them for a few years and we did get a few good things out of them but it was mostly stuff we gave away. I will put a photo of the box below but I could not find this one on Amazon although it looks like you can find it on Ebay if you are interested.

Home for Christmas

I found a similar one on Amazon here. I didn’t time this puzzle because my daughter really wanted to help with it and honestly if she had not helped me it would still be sitting there undone. The quality on this one was not great and it was hard to tell if the pieces fit together correctly and with the glare I was having a really hard time seeing the colors. If I did another one of these I would try to change the lighting up a bit and see if that helps.

Golden Gate Bridge 500 pieces

Lastly I started this 500 piece Golden Gate Bridge puzzle of unknown origin from my family room. This is the brand Costco carries so we probably got it from there. I had a great time sorting this one and had it sorted in a record 15 min into edges, the bridge, some sky and then the rest of the pieces.

Golden Gate Bridge First Sort\

Unfortunately I quickly remembered why we don’t buy this brand of puzzle any more. The pieces do not fit well together and I really struggled to get the edge put together. I gave up after about an hour and started working on the clouds. I am really glad I didn’t time this one because it will probably take several hours. My kids have been helping me a little bit but they are also discouraged by how difficult it is to see if the pieces actually fit together. I will post a photo here on my Instagram when I finish this one, hopefully before the end of the year!

Snow Day!

To keep track of my puzzles I will be filming as much as I can and posting it here on my YouTube channel. I have created some boards on Pinterest linked here and below. The completed list is currently blank but as I work on my puzzles I will add them to the completed one. For now, I am finishing up what I have started and trying to pry out of my kids which puzzles they bought me for Christmas. Ha ha!

 

Happy holidays and puzzling everyone!

 

2023 Puzzle List

 

Completed 2023 Puzzles

 

 

Puzzle links:

 

World Jigsaw Champions Website

 

World Puzzle Championship Individual Puzzle:

London Postcard

 

The Grandpa’s Garage puzzle is a Goodwill find and I could not find a copy but here is an interesting 300 piece substitute:

The Silver Trout

 

 

The Craft Cupboard

 

 

Magical Bookshelf

 

 

Christmas Cottage

Golden Gate Bridge Puzzle

 

June 2022 Final Grocery Spending

June 2022 Final Grocery Spending

Our June grocery goal was to eat through our fridge and freezer as much as possible and for the most part we reached this goal. I am super proud of our progress! Up until the last week of June we kept our spending under $300 […]

Our Favorite Board Books

Our Favorite Board Books

To compliment our summer reading lists for first and third graders I made the below list of our favorite board books for younger kids. We still read many of these books to our kids even though they are way past the board book phase!   […]

Summer Reads for Rising 3rd Graders

Summer Reads for Rising 3rd Graders

Summer is upon us and since I get a lot of asks on what my kids are reading I thought I would put together a summer reading list for rising third graders to compliment the one I created for rising first graders. This is a list of books for kids that are able to read chapter books on their own but need a bit more of a challenge than what the first chapter books offer. This list is by no means exhaustive so please, leave a comment with books that your rising third graders love to read as well!

 

This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

 

 

Choose Your Own Adventure: These classic books each take you on a different adventure. There are multiple choice pages where you choose which direction the story will take next. My kids like to try all of the different paths to see which ones work and which ones don’t for multiple readings per book.

 

 

 

Kitty and the Moonlight Rescue: I came across this series when looking for cat books for my 8yo to read and she loves them. They are about a girl whose mom is a super hero. My daughter loves the adventure and I love that they are low key and well written with an emphasis on family.

 

 

Unicorn Academy: My 8yo loves these books. She is a huge fan of unicorns and I found these better written than some of the other mass market series that are out there. The books go through adventures with girls learning how to care for their unicorns which are all unique with different needs.

 

The Secret Garden: This unabridged classic is a favorite in our house. My kids loved to listen to the descriptions of the places that Mary went and the mystery of the garden kept them enthralled.

 

Please note: There is some colorful language at the start of the book but I spent quite a bit of time talking about it when we first read it to make sure they understood it wasn’t ok to use the words in the book. We do this for a lot of books and I am a firm believer that talking about inappropriate language or content and how times were different when the books were written and how we have changed is much better in the long run than not exposing children to those discussions at all. We also talk in the same way about modern issues as a way to keep the dialog open.

 

I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912These graphic novel series are a favorite in our house. They tell about history in a way that kids like and the pictures are not too graphic. Our favorite is the one on the Titanic since that seems to be a fascination in our house.

 

 

A Biography Series for New Readers: We also love these biography books and have read several. They are great because if your kid is into something, like Hamilton the musical or is covering a subject in school like the elections you can find a book in the series to supplement what they are interested in.

 

Magic Puppy Series: My daughter the animal lover really likes these books. They are about a magic wolf puppy that has to live with humans to survive. The are similar to other mass market paperback books but if your kid loves puppies, these are the books for you!

 

 

Of course, there are many other books out there that will fit the bill but this list is what my kids are into right now.

 

Summer Reads for Rising First Graders

May 2022 Final Grocery Spending

We are working on our grocery spending for 2022 and our goal for May was to do a low spend month. Unfortunately we ended up a little bit swamped during the middle of the month and we both spent too much money and I did […]

June 2022 Spending Goals and Mid-Year Check In

June 2022 Spending Goals and Mid-Year Check In

Our 2022 spending goals have already gone a little bit sideways with me leaving the workforce in March. I left my job for both health and family reasons and it has thrown our budget into a hurricane of uncertainty. For now our goal is to […]

May 2022 Spending Check In

May 2022 Spending Check In

Our goal for May of 2022 was to spend as little money as possible on groceries for the month. We are using our local free lunches and breakfasts for the community as well as eating through our pantry items and just supplementing with items from the store. We have quite a bit stashed away in our freezers and pantry so we should be 100% fine with a low spend month.

This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Grocery Haul

I filmed our fist grocery update on May 9th which can be found here. As of 5/09 we were at $89.08 in spending which is pretty good. For April we were closer to $500 by mid-month so I am happy with our progress. Some of the items we bought were due to the kids being sick and we also stocked up on Luna bars and fig bars. We also bought about $20 worth of beef to grind up since it was on sale at Fred Meyer. These were all long term purchases and we won’t be buying them for a while. We also found a fabulous deal on bread at Bartell Drugs of all places where they had marked down their bread to 10 cents a piece. It was a stellar deal and we bought three loaves.

Oatmeal and coffee for breakfast.
Oatmeal and coffee for breakfast.

Most of my breakfasts this month have consisted of my gluten-free oatmeal and a cup of coffee made with milk. I used up the whole milk and also made my coffee with the 1% that we have. I heat up about a cup of milk in the microwave and then our my shots from the espresso machine directly into the milk and it tastes like a latte even though the milk is not steamed. I don’t really keep track of what my kids eat but my son usually eats a bar in the morning so some of the Luna bars we bought have already been eaten.

pancakes
Pancakes

I did make pancakes last week from the gluten-free confetti ones we got 3/$1.00 at Grocery Outlet a few months ago and they went fast. I made sandwiches for the kids out of the leftovers with Nutella and the kids loved it. We only have about four boxes left at this point and I am definitely going to miss their convenience when we run out. I have been keeping an eye out at Grocery Outlet for more gluten-free pancake mix but I have not seen it since they ran out of these so maybe soon.

cabbage and chicken
Mushroom Thyme Chicken with cooked cabbage.

One of the meals I cooked was my Mushroom Thyme Chicken with cabbage. Link can be found here. This lasted for quite a few meals and also used up some of the cabbage I bought last month. We still have a bunch of cabbage left so I will probably put more of the cabbage into a soup this weekend after I am done with my $10 grocery challenge.

Chicken Nuggets
Chicken Nuggets with veggies.

Another meal we ate was chicken nuggets with some of the frozen peas and carrots we got from this free school lunch unboxing and the jicama we bought at Whole Foods during this grocery haul linked here. This was pretty good. Peas are not my favorite but I didn’t mind them with the carrots. My husband has asked me to leave the rest of the bag so that he and my daughter can make fried rice out of them. Apparently they were really good together with some of the spam we have stashed away.

Soup
Soup

We did have sickness go through our house this week so we ate some of the soup we have in our pantry. This one is my favorite and I ate it for two meals. We are down to only a couple left so I may stock up before the end of the month. I don’t like eating the instant soups though because of the packaging but we really only eat them when we are sick so I am not sure if that is infrequent enough. These do not have Styrofoam like cup o’ noodles so at least they are recyclable but I am still trying to be aware of how much waste we create.

School lunch items.
School lunch items.

My ate through quite a bit of the school lunch items this week. The bars of course were immediately eaten and my son tried one of these pinwheels. He wasn’t a fan but trying something new is progress and I was super proud of him. We also ate hamburgers and I made a batch of cobbler out of the frozen strawberries that was pretty good. We will continue to do school lunches through the end of the year and I am really hoping they will last minute continue funding at least over the summer. So many families in our area depend on these to feed their families.

Cupcakes
Cupcakes

Remember our fruity pebble cupcakes? I froze half of the cupcakes we made for a later date. I pulled these out last week as a special treat for our son while our daughter was at camp. He had a great time frosting and decorating a cupcake for himself at dinner on Thursday. The rest we ate over the weekend.

Tater Tot Casserole
Tater Tot Casserole

My daughter asked me to make tater tot casserole last week and since we had fresh ground beef I made it for her. It was pretty good. This also used up some of the green beans we got from the school lunches. We get them most weeks and it is a lot of green beans to eat. This batch was particularly good because I melted the rest of those twisty cheese sticks I bought at Grocery Outlet into the cream sauce. They were too hard for the kids to eat so I melted them into the cream of mushroom soup and it was so good! I am pretty proud of my impromptu cheese using up. These might have been thrown out after a while if I hadn’t thought to incorporate them into the casserole which is super wasteful.

Pudding and strawberries.
Pudding and strawberries.

Overall we are doing great so far at a low spend month. We are using what we have and there is a little bit of room in our freezer which is unheard of. Our fridge is pretty full but we are at the cycle in the week when we have tons of leftovers and I also have a bunch of juice stashed in there from when we were sick that usually wouldn’t be there.

 

I have gone to the store once since our May 9th post but I will include it in next week’s wrap up post. How are you saving money this month?

 

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This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

 

Products used:

Cream of Mushroom Soup

 

Glass Meal Prep Containers

 

BeneFit Bars – Chocolate Chip

Garden Update 04.30.22

Garden Update 04.30.22

Welcome to the end of April when our garden starts to take off. We have been celebrating the emergence of our asparagus and planted many flowers and I am super excited for the summer when all of our plants start taking off. I am still […]


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