$50 a week grocery budget part 1

After MANY people asking me to blog about our grocery budget challenge ..her we are:

One of my biggest inspirations in life right now is Ashley over at http://www.neverhomemaker.com/ and http://www.writingchapterthree.com/.  I have never met her but her blog has inspired me so much.  From all things baby, to running during pregnancy, recipes, and the biggest of all our $50.00 a week grocery budget!

When Ashley posted about their goal for a $50.00 a week grocery budget Levi was about 4 months old, Tristan was still in the middle of busy season and was eating meals his work provided for dinner so I wasn't cooking and consequently rarely packed him lunch so he was buying lunch almost every day.  He was also buying a cup of black coffee for a $1.60 every day at work.  To top it all off I wasn't really paying attention to how much we were spending at the grocery store.  I just went and bought lots of whole foods....no planning at all.

All this eating out and un-planning was really adding up at the grocery store and when we were out and about or to lazy and tired to make anything at home. It was time for a change and I got just the inspiration I needed.

 Since instituting our budget challenge we have been able to save about $200 a month!  That's ALOT!!

I think we are on month 3?? So that means we have saved aproximatly $600 dollars!  Sounds awesome huh?  So how have we done it?  Planning, only buying just what we need, packing Tristan's lunches (always leftovers), making his coffee for the day at home,  and making most meals from complete scratch.

Tristan and I feel very strongly that eating whole unprocessed foods especially lots of veggies and fruits is super important for health and well-being so while saving money and being conscious of how much we are spending is important we don't want to compromise our health in doing so!

Let's just say..we want to find BALANCE!  That  is so important to us. 

We live in Austin Texas where there are several Whole Foods, Central Market's, Sprouts, and many other health food stores and a plethora of eateries (many of which are healthy, vegetarian, vegan and even raw vegan) so it can be hard to not be tempted to spend lots of money on buying all kids of healthy goods that aren't as budget friendly. Typically I stay away from these stores, except when they have specials or we have planned super cheap meals to make room for a little something special!

All in all we have stuck to the $50.00 really closely but I feel like our sweet spot is more like $60.00.

Keep in mind this is only money for food. If I buy non-food things at the store it doesn't mean I have less money to spend on food. We actually don't have a budget for things like toilet paper, toiletries, etc because those aren't really areas that need managing or where we are tempted to spend lots of money. We just buy what we NEED when we need it.  I don't buy a lot of make up and I don't buy expensive shampoos (I actually don't even use shampoo!) or hair products.

(Tristan's comment: We actually do have a 'master' budget for everything--it's just that some areas require managing while others don't. These are judgmental decisions that we make based on evaluating ourselves and our habits. We don't really go to movies, we don't spend much on books or music, and we don't buy stuff we don't need during random trips to Target, so we simply don't manage those areas. Historically, this has worked well for us--others might need to manage other areas more carefully if history has shown they spend more than they should.)

Also, we have $30.00 (total.. for both of us..not 30.00 each) to spend a week on eating out, a date night, or buying tea with a friend..etc.  Tristan is awesome and has no shame in bringing his sack lunch to restaurants when he goes out to eat with his friends at work....love that man! I did the same thing in nursing school.

So all in all when the week is said and done we are spending about $90.00 a week on food. May not seem like much to some people and may seem like tons to others and really it's probably close to 99% more than what most of the world spends on food.

We are blessed and just trying to be good stewards to so we can save, give, plan for the future and....have LOTS more babies!!! :)

I'll be back again to share more details of how we are making this all work!  If you have any questions or things you would like to see me talk about in a post just let me know in the comments!


Levi- 7 Months

Levi turned 7 months yesterday(Saturday 6/23/12).  And..... so I will be able to remember for years to come...here is a little overview of our sweet little man at 7 months!

- Went for his 6 month well check a week and a half ago and he is 27.5 inches long(75th percentile), 17lbs(25th percentile), and has a head circumference of about 17.5 inches(60th percentile).

-Nurses 5 times a day and is still exclusively breastfed. Actually at this point we aren't planning on starting solids any time soon. When at Levi's appointment the Dr. asked if he had had anything other than breast milk. I sheepishly replied no thinking he would get on to me for not having started sooner. But his response surprised me! He said, "Great, don't! Wait till he is a year old."  He then proceeded to tell me all the benefits of exclusively breastfeeding for one year. I knew exclusively breastfeeding till 6 months was good and had benefits and I knew with me that my mom waited till I was 8 months to start solids but I had never heard of waiting till a year. I was so excited that my Dr. was even more pro-breastfeeding than I thought but I was also relieved because adding solids sounded like so much work(lazy I know). Levi is sitting up much better, and is acting VERY interested but the Dr. said not to worry and to just keep giving him the breast milk popsicles or something to play with when we are eating! I asked him a few questions about it, and that was it. So for now the plan is to just keep doing what we are doing!

-Sits up unsupported but is still prone to toppling over sometimes.

-Gets up on his hands and knees and rocks back and forth. Sometimes he plops forward but mostly he scootches backwards while doing this.

-Talks a lot when in a familiar environment or when he is not around a lot of people.

-Is very quiet when there is a lot going on around him.

-Can be very serious and pensive.

-Just recently started getting more interested in moving around and exploring. Is usually too content and too chill to care much about moving. Can spend forever in one place just looking around and inspecting everything.

-Is SOOOOOO very smiley.

-Loves to laugh and play with people but seems to prefer one on one or one on 2-3 rather than larger groups. 

- Loves to read. Can sit and read and be still for 30 minutes (he may be able to do more, we have just never read longer than that). His favorite book right now is the Berenstain Bears B Book.  He kicks his feet and gets so excited with EVERY page!  It's soooo cute!!!  

-poops once a day or every other day...but sometimes still poops twice a day. He's very irregular!! ha!

-most days still takes 3 naps. each nap is usually 1.5 hrs long but sometimes one nap will be 2.5 hrs long. does OK if he skips naps as long as we are on the go. Can stay up till 9 or 10 and be mostly pleasant if I work his naps during the day just right and there is plenty going on to keep him interested.

-usually sleeps from 8 or 8:30pm till 7am. Slept in till 8:30am yesterday and I was soooo shocked he NEVER does that!  

-Totally makes it obvious when he is tired...he gets SOOO winey! Unless he is really entertained  in which case you can only tell he is tired by his stillness and eye rubbing.

-always wakes up happy from naps and in the morning.

-Is already very opinionated and will let you know if he does not want to do something. Sometimes he really protests getting his diaper changed and gives me attitude but he is slowly starting to respond to me firmly telling him "no sir."  While proceeding to tell him in a super happy voice why it's good for him to get a diaper change.

-Has beautiful blue eyes that pierce your heart!

-Has the most perfect full kissy lips!

-Still has his pointy little elf ears. LOVE THEM!

-Has the fastest growing nails ever. I am always needing to cut them.

-loves to grab at faces.

-loves playing with his daddy like nothing else.

-lights up when daddy comes home from work.

-loves water.. whether it's a bath, the pool, the frio river, or a splash pad park! He is MY boy!!!

-loves being outside.

-loves to talk to family on G+/ G talk video.

-loves when daddy plays the piano for him or when I play the guitar for him. He really loves music and singing. Right now his favorite songs are The Rainbow Connection, The Bear Necessities, Veggie Tales Theme, and A Bushel and a Peck!

-Still spits up a lot.

-Drools A TON most of the time.

-Still hasn't watched a movie or TV, only an occasional video on YouTube. Hoping I can keep this up!

-Wears 6month 9month and even some 12 month clothes.  With his long body and poofy cloth diapers he can fit in almost anything!

-loves to play peek a boo/ hide in seek..etc. He loves it when I crawl around the room and hide and then peek out and say "boo."

-Loves to look in mirrors

-Has really fat wide feet..he's a hobbit I tell you! :)

-Likes to look at the wall where we have all our family pictures hanging.

-Likes big bouncing curly hair.

-Still enjoys being worn in the wrap.

-Is really into bending backwards and looking upside down.

-Is still sooo distracted while nursing. And sometimes it seems like he barely eats anything!

-Has many nicknames such as, Boo, biggie or biggie boy, baboozle, and Leaves.

-Loves beards..especially uncle Shane's!

-Is the most wonderful thing on God's green earth!

Happy 7 months Levi Grady...Momma and Daddy love you more each day and are so thankful for every day of life God gives you!


Camping, Picnics, and Libraries ..oh my!

The Austin Symphony Free Concerts in the Park started here in Austin a few weeks ago. I think there have been 3 so far but we have only been in town for 1. But oh was it GREAT!  It's mine and Tristan's favorite summer activity.  There are lots of people, kids, picnics, friends, a great view of downtown, and wonderful music. Levi loved watching all the dancing kids, the people, the music, the dogs...it was great!  For those of you who live in Austin bring a picnic and come join us Sunday nights at 7:30pm outside on the grass at the Long Center on the corner of Barton Springs and Riverside!

Last weekend Levi went camping for the first time!  He did great and REALLY loved it!  He loves to be outside so I was hoping camping would be right up his alley! His naps and night sleep was just the same as at home even with the heat and he LOVED looking around in the tent!  We went with Tristan's family and had such a good time.  Us "kids" all went for a 3 hour float down the river while the grandparents watched Levi and Elijah.  I was away from Levi for about 4 hours and it was the longest I had been away from him during the day. He did great and I even was able to relax and have a good time too!!!

Yesterday Levi and I went to the library with Jana and her girls.  It was the first time I had been to a library since college I think.  It was sooo great!  Our Library is right down the street in walking distance and it has a great children's book area.  We checked out several books to read for the next 3 weeks. One of them though might be a no go for Levi.  The Very Busy Spider is a cute book by the same author who did the hungry hungry Caterpillar and there is a different animal sound you make with each page ...and when I made the animal sounds for the cow, goat and hoarse Levi had a huge lip quiver and then broke out in tears!  Something about those animal sounds scared him when they came out of my mouth I guess...it was so unexpected! I going to try to keep reading it in hopes he will get over it eventually!

This weekend we don't have much going on which will be nice..but...a week from today we are road tripping it to Vail with Bethany and John Ryan and maybe even my parents!  I can't wait!  I'm a little nervous about the long car ride but no matter how bad it is...we will survive!  But I'm sure once Levi and the rest of us smell that Vail air everything will be better! 
The Vail valley in the summer is my favorite place on earth and I can't wait to spend a whole week with Bethany and John Ryan..woo hoo!!!!!!

Happy Weekend Everyone!  What are your plans?

Oh my life...

It's changing every day....in every possible way!

I have had that Cranberries song in my head a lot lately because Levi seems to be changing so much every day!

It's wonderful and scary all at the same time.

Am I ready for all this? No. Lord..PLEASE make me ready!

Just in the past few days Levi has really gotten more motivated to be mobile and has made some progress at it too!  He is such a chill pill and so content I thought he would never be discontent enough to GET MOVING!!! Ha ha!  But He's getting there.  He can mostly sit on his own now...and can scoot backwards too.  Although I don't have good videos of him sitting or scooting yet.... in the ones below he's just being cute!!!

It's been such a joy to watch all the changes..he is such a blessing to our family!


Summer love...

I've been kind of silent lately but for good reason. We have been sick! I think I mentioned before that several weeks ago Levi got a cough, runny nose, etc.  He's pretty much over it but still has a cough here and there but since then...I have gotten sick and so has Tristan(twice)..he even had a 103.2 temp last night. Poor guy still had to go to work though today!  He's a hard worker.  We are tired of being sick and really surprised how much we have been sick..it's not normal for us ..and it's just not fun!  

But being sick isn't all we have been up to! It may not officially be summer but it sure feels like it and we are already starting to live it up! We have been hitting up the pool, traveling, and just staying busy in general! It's been a lot of fun! 

 Last weekend we went to Corpus and surprised my dad with Levi for his 60th birthday present. It was wonderful and we had a great weekend but I didn't take any pictures!!! I so badly wanted some pictures of Levi with my parents and B and JR!!  I think we were having to much fun!

Levi has been so much fun! He laughs easily, smiles a lot, and is just so interested in life! His personality(and sin nature too) seem to be coming out more and more every day. I have noticed he seems to be very serious and pensive, he also seems very content and laid back.  It's rare that he get's real crazy and is just going going going. He takes the world in by putting things in his mouth or by staring and thinking. Not so much by moving and getting places.  He tries and tries hard but as of now he STILL thinks his little super man move is going to get him somewhere and he has even started getting frustrated when it doesn't. He is not to interested in sitting up either but he LOVES to stand..with help of course. Tristan thinks he is going to skip crawling and sitting and just go straight to walking.  He has also started just today protesting when I have to take something from him. 

He knows what he wants and how to tell you what he wants!  The training and guiding has already begun...actually it began a  long time ago!  

Here are just a few pictures of life lately.

 Levi loves his daddy!

 Tristan and Levi in their matching swim trunks..thank uncle Shane!

 I love those eyes!

 "Hi Momma"

 Learning how to sit up!

 Levi's model pose!

 The John Travolta

 First time sitting in the grocery cart.

 My cheeze ball!

 He loves pool time!

 I put him in this position, he loved it!

 Look at those cheeks!

Inspecting the oatmeal box, his new favorite toy!


Momma Milk Cookies

It's not what you think...I didn't use breast milk in this cookie recipe(although, I'm not against doing that)!  No..this cookie is to help increase your Momma milk supply!

Levi is still only breastfed and I haven't had any supply issues, but lately he has been sick (more on that in another post) and hasn't been eating as much and coughs and spits up(or throws up sometimes) most of his meal. Even after a good nose cleaning with clear nostrils he still hasn't eaten as much as usual.  He still get's very distracted very easily so the faster the milk comes the better.  So in order to ease my mind a bit I have been doing things to increase my supply.  I heard oatmeal was a lactogenic food so I have been having oatmeal every day and what do you know I have really noticed a difference!  Stronger and more frequent letdowns!  Sweet!

To switch it up a bit I thought I would make some oatmeal cookies. I have majorly cut down on sweets from the first 4 months of Levis life(and even cut all added sugar etc out for a while), but every once in awhile you just want a cookie.  Well...actually I want cookies everyday..but we don't always get what we want and that's ok! :)  But yesterday I made a batch of yummy oatmeal cookies.

My friend Sandra(my baking friend queen) recommended I try this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I made a few alterations to it to make it have a little more oatmeal and a smidge more healthy and I am really pleased with the way they turned out! Just what I was hoping and Tristan loved them and he's not even a sweets guy!

Here is my adaptation of the recipe:

1/4 cup organic coconut oil
1/2 dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Oat Flour(I put 1 cup instant oats in the blender)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon(it was a BIG teaspoon..cinnamon is good for you)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 cups (120 grams) rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, cream together the coconut oil, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the oat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the coconut oil/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips
Chill dough for 20mins or so.
Drop onto baking pan in tablespoon size balls. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

Makes close to 2 dozen. Total time from start to finish for these cookies(if you let them chill in the fridge) is 40-50mins.

That's it! Now just sit and enjoy them with some Mother's Milk Tea!  Hope some of you Momma's give them a try.  If you do let me know what you think!



We hung out at our pool yesterday with our friends Justin and Sandra and had a GREAT time! We got to use the new float we bought for Levi and he got to spend a good chunk of time in the water. The weather was perfect and so was the water. Levi had a great time... he was so relaxed and loved going around the pool and laying forward and lifting and letting his bum and legs float. There was even some possible slight kicks too! It was so much fun for this big water baby to watch her little water baby enjoy the water too!!!

Happy memorial weekend everyone. Hope you all have a great weekend!