Saturday, January 31, 2015

Beef Stew with Barley

Part of the purpose of a pantry challenge is to use up what you have rather than going out and purchasing something or do without.  When doing my latest freezer inventory, I noticed I had a pound of stew beef that I meant to use when the twins were home for Christmas break but didn't.  I also had a bit of leftover canned Italian tomatoes, 4 bags of corn, and 1/2 bag of pearl onions all taking up space in the freezer.  I also had 1/2 box of quick barley in the pantry that I wanted to use, especially since I didn't have any potatoes.  So I went to Pinterest and found a recipe that used barley, as I wanted to add it at the right time, and then I tweaked things for what I had on hand.  It turned out really good, and I am planning to make it again soon.  Well, as soon as beef stew meat comes on sale.  :-)

This is one of those rare occasions where I formally measured only 1 or 2 ingredients.  Everything else was "dashes" of this and "shakes" of that.

Take a couple of scoops of flour, a bit of salt and pepper, and add to a Ziplok bag; shake to combine.  Toss in your stew meat (I had to do this in batches) and toss to cover with flour.  In a large pot, brown floured stew meat in olive oil with a clove of minced garlic.  Scrape bottom of pot to loosen the bits and pieces.  Add in 3 cups of beef broth and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add Italian tomatoes (I used about 1/2 can), 1/2 package of corn, maybe a cup of barley, 5-6 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and 1/2 package of pearl onions.  Add a bit more salt.  Stir and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until flavors meld.  (If you don't have Italian tomatoes, add basil, oregano, and parsley with the tomatoes.)

This made 4 good-sized servings.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Goals for the Week

Yeah, well....... Wish I had a good excuse, but I don't.

1.  Stay on track with daily Bible reading.  Done
2.  Stay on track with both BSF and Beth Moore homework.  On track with BSF, 1 day behind with Beth Moore.
3.  Keep main grocery spending under $75, including cat food and litter, to cover 2 weeks (other than milk).  Done
4.  Set up savings envelope for DS' graduation gift and dinner.  (Hard to believe he graduates with his associates degree and chef certification in less than 4 months!)  Envelope is set aside but there is nothing in it.  Every extra cent this week is going to property taxes that are due Feb. 6th.
5.  Continue to work on crocheting the snowflake.  Nope.
6.  Cut fabric for quilt-in-a-day.  Nope.
7.  Finish reading "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio."  Nope.  I normally keep this at work to read at lunch, which I did not do, and I didn't bring it home.  So it didn't get read.
8.  Sweep the basement floor.  Nope.

I didn't do much this week at all that was on my list.  Instead of cutting out fabric, I went to the Ohio State 2014 National Championship celebration with some friends, so I'll give myself a pass on that.  And right now, I want to take as little as possible from what little savings I have for the property taxes, so I'm okay with not putting anything in the graduation envelope this week.  The rest....weeeelllll..... Next week is a new week.  :-)

1.  Stay on track with daily Bible reading.
2.  Catch up and stay on track with both BSF and Beth Moore homework.
3.  Spend less than $10 at the grocery store for milk, fruit, etc.
4.  Gather tax papers together for accountant.  (I've always done them myself, but I think I made some errors last year that might result in a bigger refund, so I'm having a professional do them this year.)
5.  Schedule a girls' night with a couple single friends from church.
6.  Bring home ;-) and finish reading "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio."
7.  Sweep the basement floor.  
8.  Work on crocheting the snowflake.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A New Journey

The twins turned 20 this week.  Which means that I turned 50, since our birthdays are only 2 days apart.  Frankly, I'm having trouble with this.  Life has not turned out like I thought it would when I was 20.  :-)

Yes, in a lot of ways, that's good!  But I'm divorced, I'm working in a job that is scheduled to be eliminated in about 6 months, and I'm still in debt, and that's not so good.  And I'm kinda miffed that I have to be finding a new purpose, a new path, and that I have to do it alone.

I trust that God knew what would happen to this job when He brought me to it and that He will bring me to my new job at His perfect time.  But I'm still waiting on what else He wants me to do.  Where does He want me to serve in church?  What does He want me to do with my evenings?  My weekends?  With whom?  How does He plan for me to get rid of this debt?  I made more money last year than I have ever made in my life, and yet my debt is no better.  In fact, with the addition of the car loan, it is worse.  My kids are on the path to independence, making plans for their future, which is good, but that means they need me less.  I will say that at least the cats seem to miss me during the day.

So it's a new journey.  I'm no longer a 40-something trying to raise teenage twins and pay off debt.  I'm a 50-something still paying off debt while trying to encourage my 20-something twins to spread their wings with as little debt of their own as possible.  I don't know where this journey will take me.  I'm not even sure what direction to begin.  I'm just praying that God will eventually provide a nudge or two.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Goals for the Week

I made progress last week.  I'd like to think I would accomplish everything every week, but I know that's not realistic.

1.  Stay on track with daily Bible reading.  Done
2.  Stay on track with BSF homework.  Done
3.  Choose a Bible study from the schedule at church.  Beth Moore's "Children of the Day" on Thessalonians.  Starts this week.
4.  No-spend week Monday through Saturday other than gas, mailing 3 boxes, and milk.  The kids go back to college Sunday, so I'm anticipating a few un-anticipated expenses before leaving town, and I may cave and get something for dinner on the way home.  Uh, no.  I didn't spend anything on Sunday other than lunch on the road, but I also ate Wendy's the day the car came back and I spent my lunch hour waiting for the tow driver, whom I tipped.  I also got an iced capp from Tim Horton's to celebrate on Friday when my car was finished with the non-accident repairs and I was actually driving it again.  :-)  There were a few other smaller things on Friday also, but less than $35, including a new prescription.
5.  Extra payment to credit card #1.  Done
6.  Finish organizing and purging kitchen cupboards and drawers.  Done
7.  Continue in the pantry challenge.  Done 
8.  Work on crocheting the snowflake.  I've just learned to crochet in the last 2 months, so hopefully this won't be too much of a challenge.  In progress
9.  Cut fabric for quilt-in-a-day.  Nope.  

This week's goals:
1.  Stay on track with daily Bible reading.
2.  Stay on track with both BSF and Beth Moore homework.
3.  Keep main grocery spending under $75, including cat food and litter, to cover 2 weeks (other than milk).
4.  Set up savings envelope for DS' graduation gift and dinner.  (Hard to believe he graduates with his associates degree and chef certification in less than 4 months!)
5.  Continue to work on crocheting the snowflake.
6.  Cut fabric for quilt-in-a-day.
7.  Finish reading "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio."
8.  Sweep the basement floor.

Plastic bag challenge update:  I used several this week as packing material for the kids' birthday boxes.  DD likes to use them as trash can liners at school.  I only brought 1 new bag into the house.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Blessing Overload

My car is back in Ohio!!  Yay!! :-)  It arrived yesterday and was delivered to the dealer so they could fix an non-accident-related issue that was found during a test drive after all the accident-related stuff was fixed.  So, while I am still driving a borrowed vehicle (the rental had to be returned last weekend), at least my car is in the same town.  haha

The blessing throughout all this?  As I posted earlier, we weren't hurt, we got where we needed to go, the rental had heated seats :-) , and the car was fixable.  But yesterday, I was overwhelmed.  Where we had the accident is a 6-hour drive from here, over 330 miles, yet the repair shop delivered my vehicle on a flatbed tow truck FOR NO CHARGE.  When I asked if I could mail the deductible because I didn't have my checkbook with me, I was told to FORGET ABOUT PAYING IT.  When the dealership called to tell me about the non-accident-related problem, even though the vehicle is 8 years old, it was UNDER WARRANTY.  Really?  Truly?  Wow.......

I was blown-to-my-knees overwhelmed.  I just couldn't have imagined that not only would a business owner go so far above and beyond, but that an 8-year-old vehicle would still have parts under warranty.  (Granted, it only has 23k miles on it, but still!)  When I called the repair shop this morning, he simply said that that was how a Christian business should operate.  Bless his heart!

So I have, and will continue to, pray for this gentleman and his business, that God continue to bless him and that he continues to serve God.  I have, and will continue to, thank God for allowing me to experience these blessings.  I gave the tow driver a tip to at least cover his dinner on the way back, and I am actively looking for ways to pass the kindness.  And while it is not near enough, the next time I head up to my daughter's college, a certain repair shop is getting a huge plate full of Buckeyes and donuts from our favorite local bakery.  :-)  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Let Them Struggle

One thing I have been struggling with since the twins started college is knowing when to step back and let them struggle through things on their own.  In hindsight, I should have done more of that when they were still at home, but it was easier just to step in.

It's hard when your child calls and is having problems with classes or connecting with new friends.  It's hard when they get themselves into situations that aren't simple to get out of.  It's hard not to pick up the phone and make the call that they should be making.  And it's hard to be strong in front of them all the time and not let their struggles affect you.

It's even harder in this day of social media, when everyone's "perfect life" is displayed on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, and you feel that yours are the only kids struggling.  Perhaps you hear whispers of problems in other families, but certainly no one is going to proclaim their problems for the world to hear.

I'm trying to do better.  I'm trying to be more of a listening ear than an advice-giver.  I'm trying to let them figure out solutions on their own, while I become more of an encourager than a problem-solver.  And when a friend does confide issues their child is going through, I'm trying to be more open (while respecting my kids' privacy) about our life not being so peachy-keen too.  And my kids are responding.  They are taking responsibility for situations they get themselves into.  They are stepping up and making plans A, B, and C.  They are praying for guidance, asking questions, and making their faith their own.  They are growing up.

They have just returned to college for another semester, and both have expressed that they wish they could just stay home and not have the responsibilities that come with being an adult.  My response to both has been that my job is to help them strengthen their wings, to stir their nest so that they don't get too comfortable, and to give them opportunities to fly, and that it was their job to exercise those wings and to fledge.

It's still a struggle at times.  I still want to move to the middle of Montana with no one around for 50 miles but us more often than not.  But apparently the twins aren't the only ones who need to fly into a new season of life.  Mom does too.  Independence is a nice thing for all of us.  One step at a time.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Goals for the Week

I think I did pretty good with my goals for last week:

1.  Stay on track with daily Bible reading.  Done
2.  Stay on track with BSF homework.  Done
3.  Type out BSF notes from the last 2 sessions before Thursday night's meeting.  Done
4.  No-spend week, other than milk, prescriptions, gas, and one belated Christmas gift that I have put off way too long.  Done
5.  Work 5+ hours of overtime.  Worked 3-1/2 hours, until OT was cancelled
6.  Organize kitchen cupboards.  In progress
7.  Inventory and purge freezer in order to participate in Good Cheap Eats pantry challenge.  In progress
8.  Find a Pinterest project for the month.  Done - a small snowflake to crochet
9.  Put together filing system for the twins to give before they return to college on the 11th.  Done

This week's goals:

1.  Stay on track with daily Bible reading.
2.  Stay on track with BSF homework.
3.  Choose a Bible study from the schedule at church.
4.  No-spend week Monday through Saturday other than gas, mailing 3 boxes, and milk.  The kids go back to college Sunday, so I'm anticipating a few un-anticipated expenses before leaving town, and I may cave and get something for dinner on the way home.
5.  Extra payment to credit card #1.
6.  Finish organizing and purging kitchen cupboards and drawers.
7.  Continue in the pantry challenge.  
8.  Work on crocheting the snowflake.  I've just learned to crochet in the last 2 months, so hopefully this won't be too much of a challenge.
9.  Cut fabric for quilt-in-a-day.