2018 Summer Goals

I realize summer is about one third gone, but I have been working on some of these things and if I put them all in writing they’re just more likely to get done.  Certainly we will do more than this, these are more the big hitters.

I consciously tried to keep us less scheduled than last summer.  Last year a number of interesting options came up after we’d signed up for other things so we got over-scheduled.

On the schedule this summer:

  • Swimming lessons for the middle four will run most of the summer.  This also results in our spending lots of time at the pool.
  • Our oldest has one week of baseball camp.
  • The oldest three have one week of track camp.
  • Kids B-D have one week of tech camp.

And that’s it!  Should be very manageable.  We have a list of day activities for days in between.  And, hopefully we’ll get some movies in on rainy days. (Thus far we’ve had only one.)

I need/want to accomplish the following:

  • Finish up school/spring sports:
    • Dry all soccer cleats and put away
    • Clean all sports water bottles (3)
    • Empty back packs
    • Clean lunch boxes
    • Clean all school water bottles (8)
    • Check status of all items in preparation for next year
  • Keep the woods from encroaching on our yard
    • On one side we have a five leaf vine thing and the plant in these pictures.  This second plant looks sort of like ferns when kept trimmed, but it puts out creepers that wrap around trees, thicken, and eventually kill the trees.  The righthand picture shows some that have been cut.  You can see the marks on the tree where other bands have been.
    • On the other side we have the same five leaf vine, raspberry plants, and a different sort of climber.  This one doesn’t strangle the trees, it just creates a net over them that doesn’t look very good.  There’s also poison ivy on this side, which I am very allergic to, so I’m less brave about tackling things.


  • Throw out/donate/sell/etc. another 465 items.  This counting thing has been working well for me.  I had planned to do this again in the late fall, but there’s enough kicking around now that I’d just assume move it along.
  • Tag 465 items for the fall tag sale.  My rules for above were that it has to get out of the house within the time period.  Since the tag sale isn’t until the end of September these items don’t meet that criteria.  As a result there are many things that should be leaving our house that aren’t going anywhere yet.  But, tagging needs to happen sooner rather than later.
  • Prep for the 2018-2019 school year.
    • Purchase a new lunch box and water bottle for the incoming kindergartner.
    • Complete preschool paperwork for the youngest.
    • Pay bus fee.
    • Purchase school supplies after the lists come out in mid-August.
    • Check fit of soccer cleats for four kids.  Upgrade as needed.
    • Check fit of baseball cleats for oldest.  Upgrade as needed.



June 2018 Grocery Review


Well, at least I’m keeping up with one post a week.  So much harder when the kids are all home for the summer!  And, I realized I completely forgot the June totals so they’ll be at the bottom of this post.

I made three stops this week, one at each of the major stores.

On Wednesday, I spent $138.36 at Wegman’s.

There’s items for two meals here plus some extras.  The pork butt, rolls, and coleslaw were for pulled pork on Saturday.  I bought more rolls than necessary, but better to not run out and they can always be eaten separately.  The cod and shrimp (small round container) were for California Fish Stew Wednesday night.

So far this summer we’re eating a lot of eggs, smoothies (ie, yogurt), and cheese slices.  Milk and grape juice are pretty standard.  On the far right is a small bag of cherries – in season, but only three of us will eat them.

On Thursday I spent $100.45 at BJ’s, not bad for my monthly visit.

Unfortunately they had no honey, which was my real reason for going on Thursday.  Otherwise I could have saved this stuff for next week.  But, it was a true stock up with multiple copies of almost everything.

Finally, on Sunday I spent $50.12 at Stop & Shop.  I had to spend $55 before $5 off coupon, so I did pretty well.  They were out of the cheese slices I wanted so I was glad I had gotten some (less preferred variety) at Wegman’s above.  As a result I got an extra egg noodles and extra pack of Gatorade.  Both will be used eventually and they were essentially free since I used them to move up from $48 -> $55.

That brought my total for Week 28 to $288.93.

June was a busy month in so many ways – school ending, sports transitioning, and MANY grocery stops.

June TOTAL: $1,311.89

  • Stop & Shop: $184.13
  • Wegman’s: $647.05
  • BJs: $337.15
  • Other: $143.56
    • Local: $53.54
    • Star Market/Shaw’s: $61.24
    • Trader Joe’s: $0
    • Target: $28.78
    • Other: $0

Clearly the many stops and the multiple BBQs showed!

The Month in Review: Weeks 25-27, 2018

Admittedly, this is not an entire month.  But, “weeks in review” didn’t sound quite right so here we are.

The chaos of the end of the school year has let go for the somewhat more relaxing pace of summer.  We still have things to do, but not as many (especially on the weekends), and not as early in the morning which just makes things seem more relaxed.

The last Review post went up on the last day of school.  Since then we’ve:

  • had 7 baseball practices plus 7 baseball games, all for kid A.
  • had four swimming lessons for each of four kids.
  • hosted one BBQ and attended two others.  This feels very summer-like.
  • attended one birthday party.
  • grilled ribs and baked beans.  Finished with s’mores.  Again, very summery.
  • spent four days with relatives.

I’ve been working on my project to take some of the plants attempting to encroach on our yard.  More about that on Thursday.

Grocery Update: Week 27, 2018


I was in and out to a lot of grocery stores this week.  Nothing huge, but catching up on some places I don’t go often and hitting the same store on two sale cycles adds up.

On Thursday, I spent $56.57 at Stop & Shop.  We were away a few days over the fourth so some restocking was needed and I wanted to get some items on this sale cycle (they’re Friday – Thursday) so I squeezed this in after we got back Thursday afternoon.  As you can see, I had timed running out of milk well with our trip!

Then on Friday, I made a relatively small trip to Wegman’s.  I didn’t strictly need to go on Friday.  But, I was going to need to go soon and we were trapped inside all day by thunderstorms and heavy rain.  We have a garage and Wegman’s has a parking garage so we spent $53.78, got out of the house, and stayed dry.  I had a $5 off coupon for this specific type of cheese, so that part cost $0.55 (close as I could get to $5).


The clouds broke briefly while we were out so I quickly ran in to Shaw’s for oatmeal and pizza supplies ($63.84).


Then on Saturday, I spent $29.65 at Stop & Shop where I grabbed two fruit salads for an evening BBQ that didn’t make the picture.


Finally, on Sunday I spent $17.37 at the farm stand on corn, local green beans, and cherries.


That brought by grand total for the week to a reasonable $221.21.


Grocery Update: Week 26, 2018

I only did a small amount of shopping this week.  Mostly we ate things we bought previous weeks, including leftovers from the BBQ.

On Tuesday, I spent $23.62 on strawberries and chicken salad at the farm stand, as well as $67.07 at Stop & Shop.

Then, on Saturday I spent $51.47 at Wegman’s.  There are two gallons of milk missing from the picture; it was so hot I moved them straight to the refrigerator.


That brings the grand total for the week to a very light $142.16.

Hope everyone has a relaxing holiday week.

Fall 2017 Pantry Challenge – June 2018 Update


And this will be it.  I’ve used up enough that I’m declaring an end to both the freezer and pantry challenges.  Remember, my real goal was not to live exclusively from what I had, but to use up things that had been in our house for a LONG time before we switched over to the summer menu.  Hopefully that won’t happen again, but you never know.

I started last fall, with updates in January and March.  I wasn’t even sure I’d do a final pantry update as things were quite eaten down in March, but in the spirit of completeness here it is.


  • 1 jar of pesto, 1 package of sea salt, 1 package of sugar in the raw – No update here.
  • 1.5 boxes of graham crackers
  • 3 2 pecan pumpkin quick bread mixes – Would have preferred to remember these before it got unbearably hot.  So, definitely not this week.  I’ll have to try to remember these on cooler summer days as I don’t really want them sitting until NEXT fall.

I’ll eat them eventually:

  • 2 single serve packages of plain oatmeal
  • Dates, whole & chopped – Progress has been made, but some are still there.
  • 2 single serve brownie mixes

Kids snacks:

  • 6 pk chicken ramen
  • Whole almonds, whole cashews – Probably going to take these as pool snacks.
  • Coconut oil, dried apple rings – I had planned to make granola with these, but haven’t.  Maybe I will actually get around to that.

That’s it!  I almost made it (except for the pumpkin bread).  Really though, it is a short list.

Fall 2017 Freezer Challenge – June 2018 Update


Now that the school year has come to an end, it’s time for a final update.

A couple of quick reminders on the principal first:

  • I kicked it off in November and updated the status in January and March.
  • The goal was not to stop shopping, but to use up things that had been in the freezer for a while.  I’m allowed to make new purchases and buy things to complement what I’m using up.

There’s not much meat left from the March update:

  • 6 packages (3-4 per pk) of chicken thighs with bones & skin
  • 5 packages (2-3 per pk) of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 9 4 packages (4-5 per pk) of thin-sliced chicken breasts
  • 3 lbs chicken wings (These are probably waiting for summer smoking.)
  • 1 3-lb chuck roasts 
  • 1 lb of ground turkey 
  • 5 salmon fillets 
  • 4 lbs pork loin chunks cut for stew
  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1 bag of beef bones for stock
  • 1 package of chicken nuggets

Ingredients left after the March update:

  • Partial BJ’s bag of sliced almonds
  • Partial BJ’s bag of walnuts (I have continued to use these, but there’s still a few left.)
  • 7 4 1-cup packages of blueberries (these are ones we picked and I froze in vacuum bags)
  • 9 basil-in-chicken-broth cubes
  • 12 2 bags of egg whites, mix of 4-ct and 8-ct
  • 3 8-oz blocks of cream cheese

Miscellaneous items left after the March update:

  • ½ box of popsicles (these waited for summer)
  • 7 loaves of banana bread
  • 17 14 servings of butternut squash ravioli (Seems like I should be eating these for lunch this summer.)
  • 2 loaves of gingerbread

Apart from the gingerbread, all items across all categories are now ok.  Either they are ingredients for dishes that will keep for a long while, or their churn is enough that they will be used up.


Grocery Update: Week 25, 2018

I would have hoped to be back to having menus available, but baseball marches on.  We had baseball everyday last week, and six of seven evenings!

But, I did go to the stores.  (Given how late I finished putting this together yesterday, it made more sense just to post it on Tuesday.)

On Monday, I made a relatively small trip to Stop & Shop.  I spent $34.21 on sale items, milk, and a few things I can only get there.


On Tuesday, I spent $15 on three quarts of strawberries at the farmer’s market.  Not cheap, but much tastier than the grocery store variety.

On Thursday, I made my first of two trips to Wegman’s.  This was the first of a spendy burst as we hosted roughly 35 people for a BBQ Sunday night.  I thought about separating my more regular groceries from those for the BBQ, but decided against it.  Inevitably we won’t eat everything (the bulk pack of cheese slices, for example) and we’ll pick up pot luck items people leave us so it didn’t seem worth it.  Anyway, this trip was $84.12.  Only the cheese is for the BBQ, though I did order our burgers for pickup on Sunday while I was there.


Friday was the kids’ last day of school.  Between that (ie, trying to avoid going with them for as long as possible) and the BBQ it was a big trip to BJ’s: $244.83.  As you can see, there was so much stuff that I gave up sorting it nicely for the pictures and even got a few toys (not new) in there.


I also picked up $61.24 of homemade pizza supplies (plus a watermelon and shallot) at Shaw’s on Friday.


Finally, on Sunday I picked up the most last minute, and priciest part of the BBQ – the burger patties – for a total of $142.18.  (Which, as it turns were more than necessary so we have lots of  leftovers.)


So, it was a big week: $581.58.  But, not too crazy with the party and summer stock up.  Hopefully all this extra food will play out to lower bills over the next few weeks.

The Month in Review: Weeks 20-24, 2018

It’s almost officially summer.


This should have posted on Tuesday so clearly I am not yet back on track from the spring.  Summer, with everyone home, won’t help so be prepared for things to be a little less organized until they’re back to school in September.

I never did get a post up this season about our typical week, but I’m not sure there was such a thing.  The kids were in school until about 3:00 everyday.  Then our oldest had middle school baseball (practice or game) most days until about 5:00.  The real kicker is the evening timeslot.

Between 5:30 and 8:00 pm in a typical week we had all of the following on weekdays:

  • Four soccer practices.  Two each for kids A & C.
  • Three baseball games.  One for kid D and two for kid A.
  • Three baseball practices for kid A.

Plus a few one time random items that fell in that same weekday timeslot:

  • Soccer ratings for kids A & C.
  • A makeup soccer game for kid A.  These  are usually on Saturdays.
  • A chorus concert for kid A.  A twice annual event for every grade at school.
  • A school committee meeting for me.  I never go to these, but this was one where they were soliciting feedback on a new proposal of great significance to us.  Of course it fell in May!
  • I spoke at the Kindergarten panel for incoming students.  Again, a one-off that happened to fall in May.

It was quite the juggling act to determine which thing kid A was going to.  And, we had to sort drivers because we almost always had two – three on Mondays – different fields to get to.

Then last week when the playoffs hit it bumped to five baseball games in one week!

So, now we take a deep breathe.  Soccer, and most baseball, is done until next fall/spring.  One baseball team will continue, though in a much less time consuming fashion.  Other kids are participating in swimming lessons, tech camp, and track camp over the summer.  I’m sure we’ll go someplace.

But other things did manage to happen in the past month:

  • We finished up gymnastics class, bike club, and math mornings.
  • Our youngest boy went to Kindergarten screening and graduated from preschool.
  • The kids attended four birthday parties – oddly including each boy exactly once!
  • We had three dentist appointments.

I did get some things done around the house also.  I’ll write about those in another post.  And, talk about what I hope to get done over the summer.


Grocery Update: Weeks 23-24, 2018


Apologies for the hiatus; May just got the better of me!  Hopefully I’ll get back on track this week and you can find out just ridiculously many baseball games we’ve been going to over the past few weeks, along with soccer, school, and everything else.

I did get to the grocery store (and take pictures).  Meals were fairly boring – lots of chicken nuggets, eggs, hot dogs, homemade pizza, etc.  This is always a month to just get through, not a month of gourmet eating.

I made a lot of stops the first week, though that included some very small dollar ones.

The biggest stop of the week was at BJ’s on Wednesday.  I spent $92.32 on mostly churn items – milk, bread, and chicken nuggets – plus a few items that were on sale.

I spent $84.24 at Wegman’s on Friday.

I also stopped by the farm stand on Friday, spending $14.92.


I then spent $52.95 at Stop & Shop on Saturday.  And, feeling somewhat disjointed, I ran into Stop & Shop again on Sunday for fish (which I failed to take a picture of) for another $5.99.


That brought Week 23 to $250.42, which is well within goal considering that it included a BJ’s stop.

Week 24 brought fewer stops.  On Wednesday, I spent $28.78 at Target on juice.  I didn’t take a picture.

On Thursday, I made the first of two larger trips to Wegman’s, spending $107.43.

On Sunday, I had to go to Wegman’s again.  Our oldest has decided he really likes smoothies and since it had been a trial I hadn’t gotten that much quantity.  Notice I have now stocked up (though I’m not sure it will last the week)!  This round was $90.89.


That brought the total for Week 24 to $227.10.  This is a little higher than I would like, but hopefully the month will balance out.