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What do you do with a week like this…

This past week was very weird. Small things began to annoy me, and as the week went on, things began to build. It was as if a dark cloud was ready to start pouring down on me, then by a week ago Saturday life took on a real weirdness that even though I don’t want to explain here, come the night of July 29th, my emotions were all over the place. Just to tell how much of a basket case I was, Hubby and I and Peanut went for a drive that night and bought dinner and ice cream. Hubby wasn’t feeling good, so instead of a nice long drive, we came home early. Good thing. In my addled state, I forgot I had put the kettle on because Peanut wanted some hot chocolate. It was happily burning away on the stove 90 minutes later when we got home. Saying I was distracted is an understatement. Now I have one black kettle to show for it. Nothing a bit of elbow grease won’t fix, but it was just another reminder of how my emotional state was upside down.

On July 30, I was preparing Peanut’s lessons for the upcoming week, only to discover that our game based math curriculum was missing the crucial parts – the GAME BOARDS!!!! Not one single game board was included! Okay, could my week get any worse? Hopefully this was the end of it.

Last Monday I contacted both Rainbow Resources (the company I purchased the Math curriculum from) and McRuffy. McRuffy replied quickly, they sent me a pdf of the first two game boards, and assured me they would mail me them all ASAP, but it would probably take 3-4 weeks to arrive. Phew, my bad luck/bad streak was ending, or so I thought…

Tuesday after Hubby got home from work we received an awful phone call. Peanut’s Godmother passed away. She was only 38! She was estranged from the family since she and my brother in law were divorced a few months ago, but still, she was Peanut’s Godmother and would always be a part of his life. She went into hospital about a month ago, and died of acute aggressive leukemia. Way too young…

So even through all this, we carried on. We did our lessons (we missed Friday, but will make up for it this week). We had fun, laughted, and learned. Still, this past week has really made me treasure all the little things. All the small moments we take for granted. Give your loved ones your time. Put down the darned tablet and smart phone, and wrap your arms around those you love. People should always come before things…

 

Not a great week…

Last week was definitely one of those that I’d like to forget. Although Peanut did well school-wise, to be honest, the book The Little Island wasn’t a big hit for him or me. We did have fun, and learned a lot, but it wasn’t as exciting as the past two units. This coming week looks fun though! I’ll write about that in another post.

So why was it a bad week? Well, so much happened and I’m feeling overwhelmed. I have been on the verge of tears for days.

It started innocently enough. The huge cross stitch I’ve been working on is almost done. about 1500 stitches to go, and I ran out of one color. So close to finishing, and now it’s put on hold.

Then there was a facebook post from a relative that had me reeling. I’m in an inter-racial marriage, and this post was a vile piece of racism that really hurt. We are all entitled to our beliefs, but I don’t really know what to think about this person anymore.

Next came Peanut. He has been a huge handful this week. His pinnacle was when he was left alone for 5 minutes and decided that the floor needed to become an ocean. Yep. I went to the bathroom, came back out and the living room tiles were soaking wet. Not just a drop or two of water, but a good 4 litres or so of water all over the floor. Thank goodness it was tiles and I could squeegee it all right out the door.

After a few more things happened (I can’t talk about them, but they left me on the verge of tears for days now), the last straw happened Sunday. I’m getting Peanut’s curriculum organized for the week only to discover that his math curriculum is missing some crucial things – the game boards! We chose McRuffy Color Math because it was GAME BASED, and they forgot to include all the game boards! Normally this would be a non-issue, the company should be able to just mail us the missing items, but it’s a huge problem. We don’t live in North America! If they send them by our shipping company, we’ll be spending about $25 US in shipping, taxes, and duty for a package that we technically already paid for. If they actually agree to send it directly to us, we probably still will be charged taxes and duty, but not shipping. Again, paying for something we already paid for. Or the next option is that they say, too bad so sad, we can’t help you since it’s been over two months since you ordered. I hope to find out today what they will do.

So here’s hoping this week goes much better, or i’m gonna start “Irish”ing up my coffee!

 

 

 

Keeping my hands busy on my week off!

This past week was our break, and the rain kept falling. The chill in the air was nice, but never really lasted long. Once the sun peeked through, it was stinking hot again.

After tidying the house a bit, Peanut played Minecraft, watched power rangers, and some you tube videos (his favorite ones are Stampy longhead, hulian and Maya, the axel show, and hobby kids tv). I got my Netflix binge watching on – Star Trek DS9. While watching, I always had some kind of craft going on.

I managed to get about 500 stitches done on my current cross stitch, Fire and Ice. It’s looking great, and now I only have one more page to go, or about 1400 stitches, more or less!

 when I get tired of seeing red and blue, I head for my yarn. I am working on a crochet shawl for myself. This will be the first crochet item I’ve made for myself in years. It’s called the Virus Shawl, and there are many free patterns for it on the internet. I’m using some fingering yarn I found at our local craft shop called Naipaul’s, and a size 3.25mm hook.

The other project I’m working on is a tatted doily. I’m using size 24 ecru thread, and it’s working up nicely. 

I planned to get some sewing done too, Peanut needs new clothes since he’s grown overnight again. The problem is our older son, a 21 year old that I’ll call “Night Gamer”. He desperately needs a new bed, and his room needs some renovations. Until we get his room done, he’s sleeping his days away on the living room couch. I’d love to pull out my sewing machine, but I don’t want to wake up Night Gamer. Until we get his room done my sewing machine is off limits to me. 

This week I’m hoping to get more cross stitching done, and with luck it might be finished by the end of next month!

List a day – favourite tools and supplies

I’m a homeschooling, handicraft mama. My favourite tools and supplies tell this very well:

Homeschooling:

  • Our Epson eco-tank printer. This thing is amazing!
  • A great pair of sharp scissors
  • Binders! Preferably D ring
  • Page protectors – great for using dry or wet erase markers on so your paper doesn’t get messed up! (For homeschooling and crafts)
  • A really good stapler
  • Cardstock!
  • Internet
  • 10 drawer storage cart – great to keep all the day’s work organized (we use a workbox system),
  • Ink pens, I like very fine ones -0.7 or finer! 
  • A really good sharpener

And for crafts:

  • good quality needles and crochet hooks
  • A pair of tiny, sharp scissors
  • Good lighting
  • Page protectors
  • Internet & YouTube
  • Ziploc bags for all the bits and pieces
  • Plastic storage containers that can handle all the yarn, cloth, etc.

Menu planning…

We did it! We bought a brand new car! Now comes the hard part – budgeting so we can actually keep our standard of living.

Like anyone who just made a major purchase, we now have to start watching where our money goes. Things like utility bills, mortgage, car payments, etc are pretty much set in stone, so we can’t touch those. So the best place to start (hopefully) saving money is by planning our meals. No more buying daily lunches for Hubby. This alone can save $600 to $800 a month (in our dollars, not in US funds). This means I need to plan meals so that he can bring healthy and filling meals to work with him.

I spent hours scouring the web, looking for frugal and tasty meals. There were tons, BUT, we don’t live in North America. There are no dollar stores here, no discount stores, and not even coupons! Also, many of those “cheap” meals would cost almost double the price here since things like “tomato soup” and “cream of mushroom soup” are about $17 a tin (that’s about $3 US)! Caribbean grocery stores rarely have sales, and since a lot of it is imported, it can get really expensive. Forget home made macaroni and cheese – I can’t even find Velveeta on any shelves!

So what’s a woman to do? Get creative! We also have some issues with Peanut, who won’t eat meat (with few exceptions), won’t eat veggies, and has an aversion to certain food textures (autism does that!). Hubby also has an allergy to beef, so that eliminates a lot too. We also want to start eating a bit healthier, more veggies and less salt.

This coming week, I made a tentative menu, and I hope it comes in under budget, and tastes good too. I didn’t include any breakfasts or lunches for the weekend, we tend to have an early dinner and sometimes eat street food when we’re out and about.

I pulled a lot of recipes from Mom’s Bistro, and I’m probably going to subscribe to her monthly menus if we like these! Most meals seem to be easy to make, and they look yummy!

I didn’t include lunch for Hubby, since he will hopefully be taking leftover dinners for his lunch. I’ll always plan to put a portion of dinner away just for him! If there is still leftovers, I can freeze them in individual portions so we can have either a leftover day, or Hubby can have a choice of lunch instead of always having yesterday’s dinner. Gotta plan ahead!

One more thing, I make my own bread, usually 4 loaves a week. Two loaves on Sunday, two loaves on Wednesday. I use my bread maker on the “dough” setting to do all the kneading, then split the dough into two pans, let them rise for an hour, then bake in the oven. Yummy home made bread without the hard work! If anyone is interested, the recipe is:

  • 1 1/2 cups of water (or 3/4c water and 3/4 cup milk)
  • 6 tablespoons of milk powder (omit if using milk above)
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cups of flour (up to 2 cups can be whole wheat, but no more)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package of yeast

Place in bread maker in the order above, set on “dough” setting, then after the cycle is done, punch it down, divide into two, and place in prepared bread pans (I just line them with parchment paper or wax paper, easy to take out and no mess). Let rise in warm place till double, then bake in 350 degree oven for 30 – 35 minutes (or 20 – 25 minutes if you preheated the oven, I don’t preheat because I let them rise in the oven)

This recipe also makes wonderful buns, and you can also add to it to make herbed bread, or even roll it out, cover it with melted butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and raisins, then “jellyroll” it to make yummy cinnamon bread!

Here is our meal plan for May 28 – June 3:

Sunday:

Monday:

  • Breakfast: Pancakes (from a mix or from scratch) – make enough to freeze a few
  • Lunch: Hotdogs (for Peanut)
  • Dinner: Chicken, veggie, and egg fried rice (cook extra chicken and freeze it for friday)

Tuesday:

  • Breakfast: Eggs (scrambled for Peanut, sunny side up for everyone else) with toast
  • Lunch: Kraft Dinner (one of Peanut’s favorite foods!)
  • Dinner: Slow cooker chicken tacos

Wednesday:

  • Breakfast: Baked oatmeal
  • Lunch: Mini pizzas on bread
  • Dinner: Sloppy Joe’s (using ground chicken or pork) and homemade oven fries

Thursday:

  • Breakfast: Home made muffins (save some for lunch tomorrow)
  • Lunch: Pasta salad
  • Dinner: Creamy bacon and peas pasta 

Friday:

Saturday:

 

So, I’ll check in as the week goes to give a review of the dishes, and also a breakdown of how much the week’s worth of groceries cost. My goal is to keep our monthly groceries to about $1000 a week( about $150 US), or $4000 a month (that’s about $600 US). So until next time, bon appetit!

 

Dry season is here with a vengance

It hasn’t rained in a while, and there has been a weather advisory for the past week. It’s been well over 35 degrees Celcius (95 degrees Fahrenheit ) for 5 days now. It’s stinkin’ hot!

We don’t have air conditioning, so Peanut and I spend our days as couch potatoes. We sit on the couch, watch Netflix, and point our floor fan directly on us. Even the dog doesn’t want to move from laying down on the cool floor tiles.

We’ve been avoiding cooking as much as possible during the day. Having to cook over the stove or use the oven on is like torture. I just hate cooking in this heat. Plus nobody wants to eat food that I literally sweated over (EWWWWW!!!!).

We’re also planning a major purchase (more details later!) so I am trying to focus on how to create a meal plan so that Hubby can take food to work with him rather than spend $50 a day on lunches or dinners (remember, we’re in the Caribbean, $50 here is about $7 US or $10 Canadian). This means I need to come up with dishes that are filling and can reheat well.

I stumbled across Busy Mom’s Guide to Home-Cooked Meals and for the price, I couldn’t resist! It seems to have some great recipes, and very kid friendly too! I bought it, printed it out, and can’t wait to try it out! It covers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, Yay!

I also found Mom’s Bistro that offers free monthly meal plans for people on a budget. They come out at the beginning of each month, and sometimes includes recipes too! I printed out the one for April and it definitely has some great ideas.

The only problem is that what is inexpensive in North America can be extremely expensive here. For instance, a tin of Campbells cream of mushroom soup is $1.25 in the USA, but here it would cost $2.54. Snack packs of 4 pudding cups are about $1.30 in the USA, but here they are $3.00! Let’s not even think about applesauce! Heck, even apples!!!

Remember, what is exotic to us is normal here, and vice versa. Here on the island, apples, peaches, pears, etc are considered exotic. Fresh strawberries? better take a second mortgage!

So what’s a Canadian girl to do? I’m used to meals like chili, tacos, poutine, and lots of casseroles with various “cream of ____” as the base. Here, meals like Pelau, stew chicken, and lots of beans and rice are the norm. And spicy dishes, wow do the Caribbean people like pepper!

I’ve decided to try out a menu plan using both the above plans, picking out dishes I think may be yummy, but not too expensive to make. My goal is to keep under $900 (or $135 USA) a week if possible. Let’s see how it goes!

I’ll post my meals as we go, I’m hoping to start either tomorrow or this weekend!

It’s been a painful month

hI haven’t posted in a while, I’ve been battling with a toothache that has lead to a root canal! Yikes! I’ve been to the dentist three times already, and after a month it’s almost done. Yesterday was the first day in a month that I haven’t been in excruciating pain! Next week I go back for my forth and final time for the insertion of the post and crown.

I’ve been living off of Ramen noodles, soup, bananas, and all sorts of mushy foods for a month. I’m craving a great big, juicy, sloppy, messy burger so badly! I’ve lost a bit of weight, but not really enough to notice. haha!

Homeschooling throughout this pain had been a challenge. Some days we accomplished everything, other days we only got the basics done. A few days we just sat in our PJ’s and relaxed, but we made up the time later in the week. I absolutely love the flexibility of homeschooling!

Peanut has been enjoying his time on the computer, he’s become quite the Minecraft expert! I was worried at first about all the time he has put into this game, but then I realized it can be a wonderful learning tool too! He’s learning physics, botany, math, and art, and the best part is he doesn’t even realize it!

He has built pirate ships, houses, pyramids, tree houses, and yesterday he was working on a spaceship! His vocabulary has exploded again, and words like “enormous” “combined” “cobble stones” “environment” and “habitat” have become routine in his ongoing play by play commentary about what he’s currently building!

I’ve been getting ready for my eldest stepson’s wedding. I volunteered to make and decorate cookies for the wedding. I found a store that carries the decorator tips and couplers for the icing, and I may end up getting a few more! Of course the heart shaped cookie cutter I want is sold out (thank you, valentine’s day, haha) but I did find a store that is selling a 102 cookie cutter set that has 6 types of hearts in it! Meringue powder seems to be scarce on the island right now, but I’m hoping that the stores will get new stock soon. I could make the icing with egg whites instead, but I’d prefer the meringue powder. I have to start baking the 120 – 150 cookies starting next week.

 My oldest boys also turned 24 today! They have become such amazing, kind, loving, funny, responsible, handsome men. They are a true joy in my life, and I’m so lucky and proud to be their mom!

So now to say goodnight, since my youngest son wants a bagel with smoked salmon (but he insists he doesn’t like fish!), and I think I hear a cup of coffee with a dash of vanilla calling my name!