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Tag: progress

2022 Garden Supply Purchases

2022 Garden Supply Purchases

For 2022 we are really expanding our garden and possibly adding in some chickens later in the year. We are garden zone 8b in the Pacific Northwest located in the Seattle area. Our weather is wet a lot of the year and we have been […]

5 Year Blogiversary

5 Year Blogiversary

I started my blog in late March about five years ago so I thought I would write a little bit about it for my 5 year blogiversary. I started Oscoey as something to do while I was home with my kids as sort of a […]

April 2022 Low Spend Month Goals

April 2022 Low Spend Month Goals

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For April 2022 our goal is to have a low spend month with a focus on groceries, activities and other household items. We are going to achieve this through meal planning, shopping sales, eating through our pantry, only shopping for what is necessary and planning low cost activities. As you may know our focus for 2022 is keeping our grocery budget down and working on using what we have. I would love to reduce our food waste and get better at planning ahead with our meals. So far we completed a pantry clean out challenge in January and worked on our freezer for February. March was kind of a wash since we were dealing with family stuff but for April I would love to clear out more freezer space and eat through the meals I have stashed away in there to make room for the garden season this spring and summer.

Budget Planning Tool
Legend Budget Planner

To get a fresh start with my budgeting I bought this Budget Planner off of Amazon. Unfortunately I ended up having to buy two since our puppy ate the first one while I was washing dishes. I have been using YNAB (referral link) for the past six or so months in addition to Quicken but I am finding that YNAB struggles with our method of putting everything on a credit card and paying it off. I am going to try a paper planner for a bit and see if that will help me visualize our money better. Our budget is pretty wonky and uneven from month to month so I am hoping that by writing it down my brain will keep track of it in a different way. I also bought these stickers to go along with my planner as well. At the end of the month I will let you know how it is going.

Meal Planning
April Meal Planning

Another tool we are using to reduce our costs is to work on our meal planning. I took this picture when I was just starting to fill out our monthly meal plan but we have two nights a week when our menu is preset. I put chicken nuggets on for Tuesday nights but really only our son eats chicken nuggets every week. Tuesday night chicken nuggets has turned into chicken night and I have been cooking chicken breast for anyone who wants an alternative option. It really helps our kids to have touchstone meals in their weekly routine and I have found that by having two night a week where they know what dinner will be it really helps with satisfying that itch for routine and predictability in their week. I picked up this Meal Planning Bundle from Mindful Hustle (No affiliation) last fall and so far I am liking the layout of them.

Cranberry Lake
Cranberry Lake

Another strategy we will be using to reduce our costs in April is to do a staycation over Spring Break and do low cost or free activities. Last weekend we took a day trip up to Deception Pass on Whidbey Island and it ended up only costing us money because we drove down the island and took the ferry home. We do have family that lives on the southern part of the island and one of our activities over break will be to spend the day out there. I anticipate this will be our most expensive day since we will be paying for the ferry and buying bagels for everyone. It will still be cheaper than a vacation though!

cabbage
Cabbages June 2020

April is also a heavy gardening month and this year I plan on adding several new beds down the side of my house. Although I did have to purchase new beds, I bought them a month ago and technically they will not count towards my April budget. I will however need to buy soil to fill my beds this month and part of why I am doing a low spend this month is to cover the cost of the soil. I honestly have a lot to do to get our garden ready and we will be spending most of our afternoons and weekends working in the yard this month. Gardening is one of my favorite activities so I am really going to enjoy it!

The last tool we are going to utilize this month is one of my favorite ways to keep costs down, no spend days. I find that the more no spend days we do a month, the better we are at staying within budget. I have been trying to consolidate our grocery trips this year and with gas prices rising I am also working on reducing our trips out of the house as well. We are doing one grocery trip at the start of April to buy dog food and cheese (can you believe we forgot to buy it at the store last time?) but after that we will be waiting as long as possible to go back. We have a well stocked pantry and my greens are starting to grow in the garden so I am hoping we can wait at least a couple of weeks to make any sort of meaningful grocery trip. Our spending goal for April is to stay under $600 for groceries which is very tight for us right now.

 

What ways are you trying this month to reduce your spending?

 

Links:

You Need a Budget

Meal Planning Template

Budget Planner:

 

Stickers:

 

2022 Goals

 

Victoria Part 1: Butchart Gardens

 

A New Beginning in Budgeting Part One: Using Quicken to Build a Buffer

 

March 2022 Spending

March 2022 Spending

For 2022 we are focusing on our grocery spending and trying to find ways to reduce it despite all of the price increases. In January we completed a pantry cleanout challenge and in February I focused on eating through the odds and ends in our […]

2022 Goals

2022 Goals

Setting goals for 2022 seems a little scary to me. I set high goals for myself for 2020 thinking “this would be my year” but then Covid happened and we ended up treading water for the entire year along with the rest of the world. […]

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 4

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 4

We made it to the end of January with our meal planning and although we didn’t follow the plan exactly, we did do a great job of eating through items in the pantry. Some of the highlights from this week were roasted potatoes, oatmeal and the cabbage soup I made on Sunday. I also did another pickup of school lunches and we did a decent job eating through what they gave us. They give you so much food sometimes it is hard to eat it all in a week. I probably won’t go again this week because we really don’t need it and we still have leftovers.

Free Lunches for Everyone

USDA Free Lunches

cabbage soup
Cabbage soup.

This week I made some cabbage patch soup. This is something my grandma used to make when I was growing up and I have been craving it for a number of years but had no idea where she got the recipe from. My grandma passed away a few years ago so I was not able to ask her but I did happen to mention it to my mom in passing and my mom somehow knew exactly what the name of it was and that it originated in a restaurant in Snohomish. Once I knew the name I was easily able to Google it and get the right one. I sort of used the recipe linked below. We were out of a few ingredients and since we were in a pantry cleanout I did not go to the store. I also used my husband’s homemade sausage in place of the ground beef. My grandma used whatever meat (if any) she had on hand so I am pretty used to having different meat in there. We ate this throughout the week and we still have one serving left that I will probably freeze since we won’t eat it today. I am so glad I mentioned this soup to my mom because it is one of my favorites!

Cabbage Patch Soup

oatmealOatmeal with eggs.oatmeal eggs

Can you sense another theme here? I definitely did great job of eating through the oatmeal packets this week. I ended up using two at a time with some of the dried apples and a couple of fried eggs and it was an excellent breakfast full of fiber and protein. I love gluten-free oatmeal packets because they contain way less added sugar than the regular ones. I don’t like a lot of sugar first thing in the morning and honestly the peaches were not a good choice. I also snacked on an apple throughout the morning and that was delicious as well!

peanut butter bagel apple
Peanut butter bagel and apple.

Another favoriteย  breakfast of mine is peanut butter toast with apples. This time I added a little bit of honey since local raw honey really helps with my allergies. The Seattle area had poor air quality last week due to some air stagnation and the honey helped with my sore throat. I needed to use up the bagels I bought so I had the last one with breakfast one morning and the others toasted with butter with my cabbage soup. They were pretty good but for some reason these gluten-free bagels were not salty at all. I am wondering if that is why they were at the Franz Outlet. I am going to eat through some frozen gluten-free bread I found in my freezer when I cleaned it out yesterday this week but I fully anticipate needing to go back to the outlet next week for more gluten-free goodness. We are set on regular bread for a few months but I may break down and get another pack of donuts for the kids if they are under a dollar again.

potatoes broccoli Kielbasa and apple
Potatoes, broccoli, Kielbasa and apples.

So this meal was a slight cooking failure. I pulled the potatoes out of the deep freezer earlier in the week to make fried potatoes but they just didn’t work out the way I wanted them to and they ended up more like mashed potatoes instead. They were still tasty though. We still have some of these leftover that I am hoping to eat up this week. I steamed the broccoli and the Kielbasa together and totally left them on the stove too long while I was trying to fix the potatoes so the broccoli was a little bit (I mean a lot) mushy but it was still edible and we ate it no problem. The Kielbasa was one of the items from the fridge I needed to eat up this week. This was an experiment buying Kielbasa in a large pack from Costco and honestly next time I will split the package up in to a few meals and freeze all but what we will need that week. I probably could have frozen these as well but I am trying to reduce our freezer this week so I didn’t want to add more to it.

sushi bowl
Sushi bowl.

Well since we had the ingredients leftover from our sushi bowls last week we just “had” to make them again this week. This time I remembered to take a picture before I dug in and I must say they are very pretty. We seared our salmon this week and ate it with some sprouts my husband started a week or two ago and it was delicious! This is definitely a highlight of the week!

Pancakes
Pancake stack.

We rounded out this week with pancakes and bacon for breakfast this morning. My husband made some gluten-free ones this time not from a mix and they were very good. My daughter and I had them with maple syrup and my son had Nutella on his. I didn’t get a picture of the bacon but it was pretty good too.

Freezer
Clean Freezer.

Looking back I didn’t get a lot of pictures this week. We had our usual Friday night pizza and ate a lot of the same thing just different ways to eat through what we had. The week is kind of a blur for me since I worked so much all week and didn’t really have any free time. Yesterday however I did clean out our main freezer in the kitchen. This is what I would call a working freezer and we use it all the time. I try to not go into the deep freezers very often since they tends to get freezer burn the more we open them so in our main freezer I keep open packages and things we use a lot, like frozen peas and bread. I only had to throw out a couple of things from this freezer when I cleaned it out which was pretty impressive to me. I last cleaned it over the summer so I am surprised there wasn’t more. We are going to try and eat up some things in this freezer this week. I moved items we won’t be eating to our largest deep freezer so what we needed to eat up wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle. If I had to choose another fridge I would definitely get one that is side by side instead of a french door fridge and a drawer at the bottom. It is too easy to just dump stuff in the bottom drawer and forget about it.

meal plan
January 2022 Meal Plan.

We finished out the month for Meal Planning and overall I would say we did a great job. We are not good at conforming to a meal schedule so the fact that we were able to mostly stick to the plan for the month is pretty great. We did however really only plan a few days at a time but it did help us learn how often we needed to cook and that we are cooking way too much. For February I am going to focus on our freezers. We are finishing up our storage room downstairs hopefully today and moving our smaller freezer down there. We will use it for mostly meat but it does need to be cleaned out very badly. I sort of cleaned it out last summer when we bought our big one but we never defrosted it or got to the bottom so I am a little nervous about that one. Most of the items in there are unlabeled since my husband froze them and has (or had) them memorized so I am not really sure what is in there. I am hoping that by eating through our freezers this month we will have room to hopefully buy half a cow next year and get some of our gardening goodies into there for next year.

Garlic
Garden garlic sneak peek.

My goal this week is to make enough room in the other freezers to completely empty our small one and defrost it. I am sure we can do it, but it may take more than one week. I am also hoping to avoid the grocery store this week. I still need to tally up our grocery spending for January and see how we did. I am not anticipating that we did a great job with spending. We spent way too much stocking up the first weekend of the month to have reduced our spending but we have not even started using some of the items we bought and should be good on those for another month or two. I am however setting a low spending goal for groceries this month and will try to get a post out later this week about it. We are only really out of a couple of things I will list below and aside from the usual fresh vegetables and eggs I might be able to stretch the groceries out a couple of more weeks, maybe even the month if we can plan it well and stick to it. I am going to take stock this afternoon and consult with the family to see if it will work. We are also going over to the mother-in-laws again today for a Lunar New Year lunch so I won’t know how many leftovers we have until later on today.

Grocery List for Feburary

  • Eggs
  • Cream
  • Kidney beans
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Dog food
  • cucumbers
  • lettuce
  • frozen peas (stock up item)

 

Look for another post later this week outlining our grocery budget for January and February. I am also working on some goals for 2022 and getting some content up on YouTube. Until then, happy pantry cleanout!

 

Meal Planning: A New Start

Stitching Update 07.20.21

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 3

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 3

For Meal Planning this week I pulled a bunch of forgotten items out of the pantry once again. We have a lot in there and honestly I could probably do this clean out for another month or two with only some grocery shopping for fresh […]

Stitching Update 07.20.21

Stitching Update 07.20.21

Cross-stitching is something I picked up many years ago when I was having some health issues and forced to rest for periods of time. If you know me, I hate sitting around watching TV and I love to keep my mind/body busy so when I […]

Gardening Update 06.20.21

Gardening Update 06.20.21

Hello and welcome to the first gardening update of 2021! This year my goal was to expand our vegetable garden and add in more pollinator friendly plants. My usual spring garden supply budget was much larger than usual because we ended up needing a large amount of soil and I bought some larger metal garden beds that are supposed to last a really long time. My wooden garden beds are starting to show their age and I am having a bug problem in that area so I was hoping that metal garden beds would solve some of that. We also cleared out a large section of bushy area from the front of our house and mulched most of the front really well. I of course don’t have before pictures of that because I didn’t take any but needless to say, it looks much better.

 

garden bed
New metal garden beds from Australia.

 

I must confess, I have become a bit obsessed with gardening channels on You Tube over the past several months trying to do as much research as I could. I learned quite a bit about gardening but honestly not all of it was helpful since there don’t seem to be very many gardening channels specific to the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps I will do a post with a rundown of my favorites. If you know of any good ones please comment below! We have such a unique climate here that advice from other parts of the country may not be the best fit. My house in particular is in it’s own microclimate and we seem to be two to three weeks behind many of my fellow PNW gardeners that live even just ten minutes away (or even in different parts of my neighborhood). I did however find a common theme with large numbers of people recommending these metal garden beds from Australia so I ordered two of them. I have one installed with some of my giant vegetables and some cucumber in the area in front of my house that we cleared this spring. We have not installed the other one yet but my goal is to get that done this weekend and plant onions and carrots.

 

giant daikon
Sakurajima Daikon Radish

 

I spent quite a bit of time on some rare seed sites over the fall and winter and ended up buying a few large varieties of Kohlrabi, Radishes and Beets. My favorite so far has got to be the Sakurajima Radish seeds I ordered from Japan. These Daikon radish can grow up to about 100 pounds in their native Japan but I am hoping for closer to 10 pounds. I was impatient and did not plant them at the right season though however so I will be planting more later this summer after I harvest my cauliflower to see how they do over the winter. So far they have grown quite large but I am not seeing any bulbs forming. My goal is to get them fertilized this week and maybe poke around under the soil and see if anything is forming.

 

giant beets
Giant Beets

Another seed I tried out were these Mammoth Red Mangel Beets. Traditionally these are used for animal feed and can get up to 40 pounds. I planted these in my new garden bed and they grew great for a few weeks before the bugs got to them. I have broken down this year and I am using some Sluggo Plus around the garden because the slugs, earwigs and piddle bugs are eating everything. I lost lots of plants this year (including most of my zucchini) to bugs so we are trying to save at least a few of them. We treated these shortly after the picture was taken and I am now seeing lots of new growth happening. I have been eating some of the greens off and on and I was pleasantly surprised by how good they are. I am not a fan of beets but I am going to try roasting them this year and I also thought it would be fun to play around with beet dye that we make from our own beets. My dad also loves pickled beets so I was thinking of maybe making those for him at some point. They have not started forming the beet part of the plant yet but I have heard that this particular variety can be slow going. I am hoping by the middle of July we will see some beet action.

 

garlic
Garlic I planted last fall.

 

Another plant I am trying for the first time is garlic. Last fall I planted a large number of cloves pretty late in the season so I was a little bit nervous about them growing but so far the ones that survived are doing well. I honestly don’t remember which varieties I bought but I did get both a soft and and hard neck variety from Territorial Seeds. I did a big no no and I did not top off the soil in my garden beds before planting so we have fertilized these beds a couple of times hopefully to make up for that oversight. I will be filling these beds this fall before my fall planting in late September. My garlic is getting closer to harvest but it will probably be mid to late July before everything is ready. I checked this morning and my scapes are starting to curl and should be done in the next week or two. I will probably pull a test garlic a week or so after we harvest the scapes to see where the plants are at. One thing I did do in these beds however is to plant some tomatoes and peppers in between the garlic. The tomatoes are doing really well but it was a pretty wet spring so my peppers are struggling a bit. I haven’t done peppers before so this year is a trial period for those as well. Next year I will put them in a different spot that gets more sun.

 

purple cauliflower
Purple Cauliflower

 

The plant that surprised me the most was my cauliflower. I have tried growing it before and the seedlings were devoured by slugs faster than the eye could see but this year I stuck some plants in grow bags in our sunniest spot and they did well. One of the varieties I planted was this purple one and I was pleasantly surprised one morning to discover a few heads peeking through the leaves. They are smaller than our white cauliflower so I am going to give them another week or two if the heat wave coming this weekend doesn’t send them into bolting. I am pretty excited to eat these though!

 

sunflower
Sunflower

I am trying again this year to grow some sunflowers. I started a bunch in March and this beauty is the sole survivor of about 20 or 30 seeds I started indoors. It is currently about 4.5 feet tall and starting to flower. I am really hoping I got this one in the ground early enough that we will be able to harvest the seeds this year. Last year we got a gigantic bloom but the weather turned before the seeds could ripen and it just got moldy. It was super disappointing. I also had my daughter poke a bunch of sunflower seeds directly into the soil and although a few came up we currently only have one that is about 8 inches tall. Next year I am going to start a bunch more seeds in March and maybe try a different variety or two.

 

Cabbage
Sole Cabbage survivor.

Keeping with the brassica theme we also started some cabbage and broccoli this spring. We had such good success with our cabbage last year that I planted a bunch of them. Unfortunately the pots were too close to our Hydrangea bush and they were shaded too much and attached viciously by a number of bugs and slugs. I spent every morning for a couple of weeks removing slugs and butterfly eggs but I could not keep up with the onslaught and many of our cabbages are very damaged and not forming heads. I did last week pull some of them out into the sunshine and treat them with a second dose of Sluggo but we really only have one head and it looks pretty buggy. I will still harvest this one and we may or may not eat it depending on what I find on the inside. I am not really sure what we will do for cabbages next year. They did much better in the spot I had them in last year where the garlic is now so I may try that again and see if it works. I am pretty sure all of our broccoli plants did not make it. The spot I put them in is completely covered by my Hydrangea bush and I may get out there this weekend and trim it a bit. Maybe I will find some broccoli plants hiding under there?

 

apple
Apple growing.

We are having mixed luck with our fruit trees this year. Currently we have an apple and a pear tree and although both flowered really well we don’t have a lot of fruit. It was a cold spring and the bees were not quite out yet when our trees flowered so I am assuming that is why. Last year our apple tree had way too many apples on it and many of them were diseased so I am hoping that with fewer apples the tree’s overall health will be better. I would like to eventually put in another pear and another apple tree but honestly I am not sure where I would have them room for them at our current house. Although we do have a lot of space, we also have a lot of ornamental plants that we inherited and only a few spots with decent light.

 

Shasta Daisies
Shasta Daisies.

One of the goals for the garden this year was to reduce our insect issues and to plant some things that would lower our weeds. We have a bumper crop of weeds this year, let me tell you, even with all of the mulching and weeding I did in the spring to prevent it. I am trying to avoid spraying with chemicals and usually if I start out the season with hand weeding we can keep it in check but this year there are so many I can’t even keep on top of our garden areas. One of the biggest indicators of this was going outside about a week after we completely redid the mulch in the front garden to find a large area of new mulch covered in wind blown Stinky Bob baby plants. I also allowed the girls to plant some “native wildflowers” last year in a small area against my better judgement and I was not so surprised to discover that this year most of those plants are weedy. Unfortunately they are super close to my vegetable garden area and I am thinking I will have to pull out a bunch of soil from that area and start fresh.

 

I planted the Shasta Daisies above in an area near our transformer that I can’t really maintain alongside the street but definitely is a weed source for my garden. These spread and can survive with not so much water and they attract bees. I am hoping they will eventually take over that part of the garden and I won’t have to be weeding around the transformer in a couple of years.ย  I am also hoping it will take at least 5 or 6 years for them to get close enough to the garden to become an issue. I do have a barrier of Rosemary, Lavender and some sort of bush in between that should slow their spread. Maybe I am creating bigger issues later on but honestly it can’t be any worse than what I am already pulling out daily.

 

Gerbera Daisy
Gerbera Daisy.

Wrapping up this garden update with one of my favorite surprises in the garden this year, finding this Gerbera Daisy coming up in the pot I planted it in last year! I had no idea they would over winter and I had already replaced it with some Kale and Primroses so when I saw the little flowers poking up through the Primroses it was exciting to see. I will definitely be buying more of these to plant next year since they are some of my favorites.

 

What surprises have you found in your garden this year?

Gardening Update 6.14.2020

Gardening Update 6.14.2020

This year is the first one in a while I have been excited about my garden. Working from home for the past few months due to the Corona virus has greatly reduced my commute time from 3-4 hours a day to nothing and this means […]


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