“In Suuuummmmmerrr”

Olaf Chalk Art

Olaf Chalk Art

Where have I been all summer?!  Even my daughter chimed in with an admonishment that I haven’t blogged in forever.

This summer just FLEW by, but it was filled with new experiences.

I taught Vacation Bible School, and even I was shocked by that.  The class was K5-1st grade boys, whom I have little experience with.  I LOVED it, and I was attached to those little guys by the end of the week.

I have been training for a 5K in a class at church.  So far I am able to run 2.25 miles.  I don’t think I have run that far since high school.  I am pleased that my breathing is keeping up with the running, and am proud I am doing it, but I haven’t fallen in love with running.  It has been great to have a personal goal this summer other than “mom duties.”

UP Michigan, yes, it really looks like that!  This is an iPhone pic!

UP Michigan, yes, it really looks like that! This is an iPhone pic.

We vacationed in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, renting a house for a week.  It was beautiful, remote, and very different from our urban/suburban lives.  In the UP you are likely to see a number of eagles, but good luck finding a Starbucks!  How many places in the United States can make that claim?

Last summer we were pushing hard on financial fronts, saving for new siding and other exterior improvements.  This summer we eased up a bit, continuing to budget and save, of course!  We have continued to refine our budget process and I will tell you more about that in a later post.

If your blog has been on a summer hiatus, I would love to hear how you are doing!

 

 

 

 

Summer Spending Slide

We picked strawberries!

We picked strawberries!

The calendar says summer, though in the midwest it is wet, foggy and cold.  I have polar fleece and wool socks on, for real!  The temperature doesn’t feel like summer but the spending does!  It’s week 2 of being home with my daughter, and things feel a little more financially disorganized than usual.   Exhibit A:  unplanned trip to Michaels Crafts today = 15.00.  Now, on one hand, I am happy to do it as my daughter has been working tirelessly in her room on “world crafts.”  On the other hand, too many days of living it up will show up in the ol’ budget at the end of the week.

Last summer I had the purse-strings cinched a little tighter as we had an expensive vacation to Santa Fe and the need to save for our exterior renovation project.  This year we have many smaller items we are budgeting for, but nothing forcing us to really push hard and save like mad.  Honestly, we have spent so many years pushing hard on big goals, that it feels kind of strange to be without them. So this summer I am trying to find that balance between spending money on worthwhile, fun outings while not getting to the point of ‘I forgot to make a meal plan so we have to go out to eat…’

Last summer I also struggled a bit in the transition to being home full-time.  See ‘Summer Time, Is the Living too Easy?’    Curiously, I wrote that almost a year ago exactly!  This confusing state seems part and parcel of adapting to summer vacation.   For today, I have my crafting kid singing away in her bedroom (with a sack of feathers and beads from Michaels…) and I am off to prepare dinner at home using ingredients on hand.  That’s the balance we strike for today.

Trying to balance spendy days with cheap fun days...

Trying to balance spendy days with cheap fun days…

 

 

Report from Wilmot American Girl Warehouse Sale, Day 2

noexif_IMG_4662_privateLast year we hit the American Girl Warehouse sale on the first day of the sale, and it was grueling.  This year we tried the sale on Day 2, with no idea of what to expect, only hoping the lines would be shorter.  We set out on the open road after our traditional stop at Dunkin Donuts.

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Saige in Julie’s dress.

We arrived at 9:58 am, and were shocked to find the parking lot comparatively empty, and only a handful of ladies waiting to get in when the doors opened at 10 am.  We walked right in.  Mind boggling!

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They restock the sale overnight, and there was plenty of merchandise, both Bitty Baby and American Girl.  Also some Corolle dolls.  Note the Warehouse sale does not have dolls except for the mini historical dolls, which were $ 8.00.  You need to go to the Madison Children’s Museum Benefit for the regular dolls.

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Not our bags, but this is a small purchase by Warehouse sale standards!!

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The sales staff wear t-shirts displaying stick figures hauling huge bags around. True!

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There are always plenty of AG pets for 8.00 – 10.00

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Lots of items for last year’s GOTY.

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This one came home with us!

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There were accessory kits for Addy, Julie, and Ivy.  Also a shawl for Rebecca.

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Like I said, plenty of merchandise, and easy to find.

A favorite item:  McKenna's Warm-Up Outfit.  Those are some cute shoes!  $12.00

A favorite item: McKenna’s Warm-Up Outfit. Those are some cute shoes! $12.00 for the whole outfit.

This year there was only 1 historical doll outfit, Cecile’s yellow summer dress and bonnet.  Lots of MYAG outfits including a soccer outfit, cheerleading outfit, ski set, tennis outfit, a cello (!), and two Halloween outfits for dolls.

Alluring, yes.  Enough money in the budget, No!

Alluring, yes. Enough money in the budget, No!

We were stunned to be out of the sale by 11:15.  We decided to have our picnic lunch outside the warehouse, for old-time’s sake.

Saige, Addy, and a Webkinz along for the ride.

Saige, Addy, and a Webkinz along for the ride.

After last year’s sale we started saving $10.00 from each of my paychecks for future AG adventures.  When it came time for the sale my daughter knew exactly how much was in the AG budget!  We were happily surprised, though, that Grandma chipped in as a way to celebrate our school year.  Thanks Grandma!

 

 

 

 

American Girl Outlet Sale, 2014

 

Josefina, wearing a dress for babies 0-3 mo from Carters.  Rummage sale purchase for 1.00.

Josefina, wearing a dress for babies 0-3 mo from Carters. Rummage sale purchase for 1.00.

I knew something was up with the American Girl Warehouse Sale because suddenly my blog was getting heaps of searches about the Wilmot Warehouse Sale.  I was shocked to find that the sale is running right now – about 2 months earlier than last year.

You can read about our odyssey to the Wilmot Warehouse sale last year here.  To tell you the truth I had to go back and re-read my blog post to give myself a reality check about what the sale is really like!   My first instinct was to skip it this year.  We just got out of school today!  The other half of me said, “You won’t be going to this sale forever.  Carpe Diem!”

So, we are gearing up to go tomorrow morning, which will be day 2 of the sale.  I called the Mattel outlet store which is on the grounds of the American Girl sale and the clerk confirmed that people have been camping out in tents for two days prior to the sale starting today!  These are the Ebay-ers who make a living reselling the items.  People arrive with uHaul trucks from all over the midwest.  No kidding!

Here’s how to prepare for the sale:

  1. Leave husbands and small children at home.  The warehouse can be crowded, hot, and the wait to check out can literally be an hour or more.
  2. Pack a lunch with plenty of cold drinks and candy to pass the time.  There is one gas station in town, and one cafe, which is small and is cash only.
  3. Bathroom… you can use the bathroom in the Mattel outlet (a separate building from the warehouse sale).
  4. Bring a blanket to sit on.
  5. When you arrive you get a number and you can do whatever you like in the meanwhile.  No need to stand in line.
  6. Definitely bring a doll… they may want to get acquainted with other dolls!
  7. How about a book to read?  My daughter is reading Kaya’s books and I am starting Julie’s because, “Mom, it’s from your time in history!”  #feelingancient
  8. There is ample room to play catch or throw a football while you wait.

So tomorrow morning we will pack lunch, stop at Dunkin Donuts, and hit the road.  I have no idea what mayhem to expect on Day 2 of the sale.  Hopefully a tad more sane than day 1 last year.  I really hope to find Addy’s nightgown.  My daughter will be looking for items for Saige and Julie. I will give you the full report!

 

Jammin’

When I was a kid, every summer we could look forward to a jar of my Grandma’s homemade raspberry jam, made from raspberries grown in her home garden.  I can still picture the thick wax seal inside the jar; alas, today this method is not considered safe.  Every now and then I get possessed by the urge to can fruit preserves.  Over the years I have had some successes and failures, but gradually my results are becoming more reliable. One of my favorite books is “Canning for a New Generation” by Liana Krissoff.  I originally borrowed it from the library and in time, purchased it.  (See my prior post on her Quick Indonesian pickles).  Another great resource is the blog Food in Jars.  Today I made Vanilla Rhubarb Jam from the Food in Jars blog.  The recipe called for Earl Grey tea, but I substituted Rishi Vanilla Black tea to heighten the vanilla flavor.  It tastes great!noexif_IMG_4642_private I made a small batch and mostly used the 4 ounce jars.  I am thrilled to say that all my jars sealed and the preserves set properly. noexif_IMG_4637_private While I worked, several male ducks slept in the garden.  When there are no ladies to chase, you might as well have a nap.noexif_IMG_4640_private Do you do any canning?  Or do you have memories of family members preserving food?  I’m waiting for U-pick strawberries to get my next canning fix!

Menu Plan Monday – May 26

Monday – Memorial Day in the US… dinner plans uncertain due to weather.  Hoping rain can hold off and we can cook outTaco Salad

Tuesday – Teriyaki Glazed Tofu, Vegetables and Rice

Wednesday – Make Your Own Pizza on Naan

Thursday – Turkey Burgers and Oven Fries

Friday – Taco salad

For more menu planning inspirations, head over to Orgjunkie!

Garden is Planted!

DH and DD worked in the garden this week and pretty much everything is planted except for our basil.  It is not consistently warm enough to start basil from seed outdoors.

Raised Beds

Raised Beds

In our raised beds we have two areas for yukon gold potatoes, summer squash, cilantro, arugula, swiss chard, zinnias for cutting, and basil.  The zinnias re-seeded themselves from last year. The raised beds with black edging make the soil warmer, which helps immensely.  That extra heat helps compensate for the cool temperatures where we live.  This weekend my husband will hook up drip irrigation which makes watering much easier.

Spinach

Spinach

We grow spinach in a big pot to outwit the bunnies.  You can continuously re-seed the pot throughout the summer.  We also do kale in a pot.  Bunnies love baby kale!

Our garden has had many different looks over the years.  The current approach is manageable for us and gives us food we actually will eat on a daily basis.  I have to credit my husband for all the gardening efforts.  It’s just not my thing, but I am happy to harvest and cook it!

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