Sunday, December 27, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
::sigh:: Where to start with this?? I am me. Whether I am changing diapers, reading "Green Eggs and Ham", or making plans to move a household a thousand miles away. I am still me. Maybe I don't get to spend as much time on my hobbies as I'd like...but I think that's just a part of growing up. Someone who chooses a career over spouse & kids might make the same sacrifice, but no one dare says she has "lost" herself. She's empowered and her own woman...even if someone else is making up her schedule and determining what she does and when in her job. She might report to 40 different managers, but she is strong and motivated, not under the thumb of corporate America. ...According to those who think wives and mothers are "lost".
Which is fine...do whatever you want. Like Barbie says, "Be who you want to be." If that "be" is a wife, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a lawyer, a photographer, a manicurist, or the chick who scrapes the gum from under the table at the mall food court...BE IT. And be it WELL! Working full time, part time, or as a mother (who might also be working full time or part time), means you will probably have to give up a few hobbies...but if you like what you're doing, then do it full tilt. Hobbies aren't who you are. You are you...in every way. :)
And apparently I am a little goofy. Go figure.
Monday, October 12, 2009
2 boxes College Hill Thai Coconut Curry stock
1 can coconut milk
1/2 - 1 cup shredded or matchstick carrots
1/2 - 1 cup chopped green onions
2 cups broccoli (break up the larger pieces)
1 head of napa cabbage, shredded
1 - 2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons curry
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
I put a little oil in the soup pot, and did a quick saute of carrots, onions, broccoli, ginger, and the dry seasonings. Poured in stock, added cabbage, cooked until boiling, added coconut milk, lowered temp, allowed to heat through.
It was really quick...the original recipe called for noodles, but I just couldn't see noodles in this. So I replaced it with the cabbage. Everyone loved it!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
I wanted to do SO MUCH when he got here...but now I don't want to do anything but lock the family in the house for his 30 days and try and just exist together in the same place for as long as possible.
I think I am staying in Florida while he deploys. I think it will be easiest on Jocelynn. At least let her finish out the school year. Maybe go to the new Post during the summer. Get used to living in a new place before we have to also get used to living in SNOW. I had planned on having our house all packed up and ready to go...and with everything in it's place I feel weird. And sad.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Still undecided on what will be happening when Eric gets his duty station assignment and will be deployed.
Have attended my Doula certifications...that's awesome, and I feel like I learned a lot. Have lots more to do, though...most of it on my own time, so there is no need to rush. I have something like 2 years to complete my packet and get it turned it. I don't think I'll need 2 years (maybe 6 months?) but it's nice to know I could if I ran into issues and needed to!
Getting a little anxious as Eric's return date draws near. I feel like I really haven't done any of the things I wanted to do while he was gone. :( Oh well...I'll have 12 months to try again soon.
Trying to find a new place to live is hard. I can list 100 things I don't like about where I am right now...but as soon as I see a new place, I can list 100 reasons why it's not as good as where I am RIGHT NOW. Lol. The fickle woman! ;)
Jocelynn seems to be getting on in school really well! But I think she's that kind of kid. Gets on with everyone pretty easily.
Finishing up my 3rd book in Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Only felt so-so about it at the beginning (especially after reading King's intro...could the guy BE more of an asshole??)...but now that the intro is further from my mind and I am further into the book, I think I want to stick this out and wait to see how it ends. I might sneak off tomorrow to get book 4 at Barnes & Noble.
Enjoy your week...
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Morning: Leave home 8:15. Arrive at school approximately 8:25. Sit in line for 14 minutes.
Afternoon: Leave home 2:55. Arrive at school about 3:00. (And surprisingly, there are already about 15 cars ahead of me.) School lets out 3:30. I sit in line for approximately 40 minutes.
Morning: Leave home 8:20. Arrive at school 8:30. Gates closed. Classes already started. I have to sign Jocelynn in, she takes a tardy pass to her classroom.
Afternoon: Leave home 3:30. Arrive at 3:41, I am the only parent in the parking lot. I wonder if it was a half-day and I effed up big time. I see a teacher, she says all kids left in line after the pick up line ends would be in the aftercare.
I don't understand how they're doing it! It must be a complicated system of walkie talkies, traffic light manipulation, and underground storage where they are hiding all the other parent vehicles! (Unless it's so very elaborate that all the other parents are in on it too!)
I paid $7 for a school agenda...It's basically a book with a calendar, and a reading list. Jocelynn is too young to understand the extra information in it. Times tables, measurement conversion charts...history blurbs. I could have printed out a calendar from my computer and ripped a sheet out of a spiral notebook to write down the reading list. I am sure it's more helpful for older students who have multiple subjects, teachers, and projects that need to be completed. But in Kindergarten...Usually it's just a little smiley face. Sometimes there is a note paper clipped to it to let me know things like...there is a child with peanut allergies in her class.
Of course, I didn't need a piece of paper to let me know that. Jocelynn is BEST FRIENDS with the peanut allergy kid! "Mom, don't send peanut butter in my lunch box because that means I can't sit with my friend at lunch!" Oh. Joy.
When does summer start?
Monday, August 17, 2009
I am trying to figure out what to do with Anicah once Jocelynn is absent for the better part of the day. At this age, Jocelynn could speak full paragraphs. Anicah says a few things...mostly to convey an immediate need. Earlier she said she was hungry, but it came out as, "I HONKY!" Lol, I am just not sure how much I can do with her...I don't want to say she isn't smart, but she isn't even close to Jocelynn's (not comparing, just parallelling) level of understanding at the same age. I am just not sure how much I can do with her that she will "get". She is A LOT more active than Jocelynn ever was at this age. Jocelynn never climbed...Anicah climbs like a monkey.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
So at last night's "open house", a couple of people stood in the front of the room and read off slides so parents and kids understood what would be happening on the first day of school. This is the first year the school has been open, so I do understand that they have to set up everything from scratch...and then get parents to follow the rules from the start. Except this was a huge time waste.
Every last bit of the information that was given was information I found on their website weeks ago! I have been asked to come to this school 3 times already...each and every time a waste. First there was a "registration" process. Well, I had already mailed my packet in by mail a few weeks earlier. The automated call I received did not indicate that as a result, I would not be needed at the school that night. While I was there they said I could take care of Jocelynn's emergency card. I had already filled out that information on the application...whatever, I can fill it out on a card, now. They wanted a copy of my driver's license & Jocelynn's birth certificate. Neither of which they could do b/c they couldn't get the copier to work. I was allowed to order uniforms that night, but was not really prepared to do so monetarily. So I left after filling out the card.
I got a call from an actual person a few weeks later. The school still needed a copy of Jocelynn's birth certificate. I wondered if I should make the copy myself, but I knew that if I did they would say they needed to see that the copy was from the original...so I went without making a copy at home. When I arrived someone was talking about testing, scores, etc. I looked around & found a guy that looked like he belonged with the school. "Hi, I need to submit a copy of my daughter's birth certificate." Okay, I can take it. "No, I need someone to make the copy." We can't do that right now. Do you want me to take the original. "::sigh:: No, I don't."
Then last night was just horrible. I had to park in BFE, I'm holding hands with Anicah, who is holding hands with Jocelynn...and we are walking through some tall grass (well, in comparison to my kids). I stepped in a whole and nearly broke my damn ankle. I get into the building where they are doing the program...and about half the rows are empty on the side closest to the wall. A bunch of people stopped right into the middle of the aisle instead of moving down to the end. So, I had my choice of 1 or 2 seats for the 3 of us. I chose 2...and after 15 minutes left, b/c I realized I already knew all of this information. If this is any clue of things to come while Jocelynn is in this school...I hope the Army moves us ASAP!!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Jocelynn starts school soon! I'm taking her tonight to her open house. Also picking up her uniform shirts! It's so weird. I am not worried about how she'll be at school or anything, b/c she did VPK for a while 5 days a week. She had her on days & her off days...but seemed to excel just fine academically & socially.
We downloaded her supply list a few weeks ago & have everything on the list...except for the planner we have to buy from the school. I am not sure what to put in her lunch box yet. She took a lunchbox to daycare for a while when she was 2 & 3. She ate everything at first, but halfway through, she stopped eating all together. Hrm. I don't want to feed her junk, but I don't want her to go hungry. She likes those uncrustable things...but I haven't found the wheat bread ones yet...even though I know I have seen them.
Friday, August 7, 2009
The link that sparked my post!
Second: I am not Pro or Anti vaccination myself. Personally, I wish I did not have to vaccinate my children, but I have. I realize their general exposure to really deadly things like Polio, Pertussis, Measles, & Mumps are relatively low. That said, I know we come into contact with more people (from more places) now, than ever. We get our food from all over the world. The people who plant, pick, ship, & prepare our foods come from all over the world. They may be carriers of certain diseases that, when not properly vaccinated against, could easily pass to our families. (Typhoid Mary sound familiar?)
Third: Heavy metals are in a lot of things...more unnatural things occur in our foods & things we are daily exposed to than 50 or 60 years ago. So I do not feel you can blame vaccines for the high rate of autism. The autism spectrum itself is quite broad...from a kid who won't look you in the eye, to a kid who bangs his head into the wall repeatedly while screaming & fighting during any attempt at human interraction. It also occurs more in boys than girls. Autism according to Wiki. Ya know what else occurs more in boys than girls? A penis.
Anywho...I did want to pass on this blog/article, b/c I feel like if people are being deceived because they are ONLY getting their information from one place & thinking it's going to be unbiased they are wrong. BIG WRONG. Find different sources of information. If one person is telling you something you have *never* heard before...verify it. Find it at a different source unrelated to that person! Do what is best for your child...whether that means a vaccine or not. Just keep in mind that most of the side effects to the vaccines given to infants and children are mild compared to death. A few vaccine side-effects.
After reading it...I have to wonder, "Are men so dense they don't think women have already figured out most of these?" No offense to men in general, maybe it's just the writer of the blog that's...dense. But really, these are secrets? I could laugh out loud right now!
I won't give the explanation from the article, but I would like to go over each lie...
Secret #1: Yes, we fall in lust 10 times a day -- but it doesn't mean we want to leave you.
We know you look. And while I think for most men, it's a look-but-don't-touch policy...You can't tell me NO man looks because he's looking for something/someone else.
Secret #2: We actually do play golf to get away from you.
Really? You didn't think we knew this? Why do you think wives & girlfriends get so upset over it? You need an "absence" from home life? Way to be an asshole, there, bub. When was the last time your wife/girlfriend had an absence from anything sans kids, hubby, and home?
Secret #3: We're unnerved by the notion of commitment, even after we've made one to you.
Not. A. Surprise. Especially when you consider #1 and #2.
Secret #4: Earning money makes us feel important.
The majority of men [that I know/have interacted with] are competitive. In everything. Why would earnings be any different? My husband has even been competitive with our 5 year old.
Secret #5: Though we often protest, we actually enjoy fixing things around the house.
Yes, I figured this out when I said something like, "I'll just do it..." and my husband has jumped out of his chair to take whatever power tool I am trying to wield in my grip & takes over. Maybe it has a little something to do with showing off his manly prowess that he has to "help" his "wife in distress". Fine with me. I might chip a nail on that power drill.
Secret #6: We like it when you mother us, but we're terrified that you'll become your mother.
As illustrated when a man gets the slightest case of the sniffles and moans & groans on the couch all day. A secret of our own? Sometimes we like to baby you a little...but we're terrified if we spoil you, you will turn into a child.
Secret #7: Every year we love you more.
It really can't hurt to say that you love us more. It's nice to hear that we are appreciated and loved. However, not saying anything can cause the opposite effect in women.
Secret #8: We don't really understand what you're talking about.
Agree with me when you have no idea what I'm saying? And then you wonder why I get upset later over something you never remember discussing?? Surprise, this discussion you blew off was exactly what I was talking about! If you really don't understand, SAY SO! Tell us we need to explain it like you're a 5 year old if necessary. Smile, nod, and agree the next time you encounter a salesman & see where it gets ya. In a 10 year contract with a 47% interest rate, for a product you're not even sure exists. Smooth move.
Secret #9: We are terrified when you drive.
Secret #10: We'll always wish we were 25 again.
This should probably just be changed to "wish we were young & unattached again". And...Who hasn't??
Secret #11: Give us an inch and we'll give you a lifetime.
You mean smothering someone & near-stalking DON'T endear you to them?? I better cancel some plans I have later, then.
In summation...sorry, guys. Your secrets aren't as safe (or secret) as you thought they were. This blog post isn't meant to demean or make fun of any man I know (or love)...but I do think if any guys are thinking these things are really truly secrets, that I'd at least give them a chance to find some real secrets & maybe help things along. Some secrets may not be worth keeping.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I am not sure about shopping for clothes in the next couple of months though...cuz we have no clue where we are going...and what if we go somewhere where fall clothes are totally unnecessary? Once Eric gets the niftio laptop I sent him, he might be able to see some soft orders for after AIT. Which reminds me. I need to get him a sleeve for his laptop. I also need to run into Brandon soon and make a payment on our NEW KING-SIZED BED!! I cannot WAIT for that.
Still trying to get the girl's room together...trying to finish painting the headboard for their bed so I can move all that stuff around. Going to send the day bed w/ trundle to my mom...so she can put it in the girl's room at GRANDMA'S house. Fun!
Need to replace my cell phone already! I've only had it about 9 months. The jack where the charger hooks up is wonky. I have to hold it in place to charge. Nice excuse to sit around and do nothing for a bit, though. :D
Thursday, July 30, 2009
We got everyone settled, and I went out to get the girls some popcorn. My dad followed me out, also to get popcorn for himself & a water for my mom. Corn & water. Two of the cheapest commodities on the planet. He paid $10.50 for a bottle of water, and a "small" popcorn (which seemed rather large to me). For $11.75 I got a small popcorn and a large drink. That I'm used to...I just find it rather amazing at the markup that goes into some products. CORN AND WATER, FOLKS!! It's CRAZY. I hardly ever get to go to the movies. I've been a couple of times this summer because of the summer movie camp that AMC hosts.
I might make more of an effort to go if I knew I wasn't spending more for corn & a sugary carbonated beverage than I do to feed my whole family at a fast food joint! (The girls and I eat at CiCi's Pizza for just under $11.) Although, I will say Kudos to Regency's theater management...they DO allow you to bring in outside food. There are even advertisements on the windows of the nearby restaurants that say, "Bring our food into the movie!" All those years of sneaking Dr. Peppers & peanut M&Ms...and there was no need to sneak, lol. :)
Friday, June 26, 2009
Once home I tried to give a dose of the medicine. I had to fight to get it in, and I might have been a little agressive with the syringe, because within two minutes there was vomit on the kitchen floor. Wait...does that smell like...oh yeah, she had banana with dinner. Awesome.
Cleaned her up, gave her half a dose of medicine this time, she screamed like a banshee, but then I put her in her bed with the portable DVD player & her favorite Charlie & Lola DVD. She is OUT. I hope she sleeps all night. I have to make some cards for a friend in the morning and will need to have my wits about me to match colors & patterns.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
That grows on fields where valor led,
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I am not normally a chatty person...but I had a short conversation with the woman in front me me. I made a joke because she left her purse at the end of the conveyor belt. "Haha, better not leave this, or I might use it for my groceries!" She [seriously] suggested she could pay for my groceries if I needed her to. I reassured her that it wasn't necessary, I really was just joking earlier.
Well, she didn't seem to accept that. While she finished up with the clerk and I loaded my things onto the conveyor belt, she secretly gave the clerk $100 for my groceries. When the clerk explained, I cried...good tears! She found me in the parking lot & she wanted to make sure it had been enough to cover everything...she was just so sweet. I couldn't thank her enough. She said it wasn't necessary, she was grateful for the sacrifices my family was making, and it was the very least she could do. (She was referencing the part of our conversation when I discussed what my husband did for a living.)
I do not feel like I deserved this kindness...but I accepted it. There are still people in this world with beautiful hearts...and a desire to make others experience joy & happiness. God Bless.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Anywho...National Scrap Day passed over the weekend...didn't scrap a SINGLE thing, but I did support the day with some online shopping. Will share with you soon...
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
- The American Medical Association (AMA) concluded that "high fructose syrup does not appear to contribute to obesity more than other caloric sweeteners."
- The American Dietetic Association (ADA) concluded that "No persuasive evidence supports the claim that high fructose corn syrup is a unique contributor to obesity."
Okay...so if you're watching all sugar intake you should be okay? Not so, according to clinical nutritionist Melanie Pearsall who says, "The way that fructose is metabolized can lead to high triglyceride levels and that can lead you to be overweight, a marker for heart disease if you have got a lot of high triglycerides floating around in your blood." Additionally there is a theory that suggests HFCS is more easily converted to fat by the liver.
- Research confirms that high fructose corn syrup is safe and nutritionally the same as table sugar and honey.
- High fructose corn syrup has the same number of calories as table sugar and is equal in sweetness. It contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients.
Cane and beet sugars are mostly sucrose. The glucose and fructose which are the two components of HFCS are monosaccharides, sucrose is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose linked together with a relatively weak glycosidic bond. A molecule of sucrose will be broken down into a molecule of glucose + a molecule of fructose in a weakly acidic environment. Sucrose is broken down during digestion into fructose and glucose through hydrolysis by the enzyme sucrase, by which the body regulates the rate of sucrose breakdown. Without this regulation mechanism, the body has less control over the rate of sugar absorption into the bloodstream.
The fact that sucrose is composed of glucose and fructose units chemically bonded complicates the comparison between cane sugar and HFCS. Sucrose, glucose and fructose are unique, distinct molecules. Phew. That's my chemistry lesson for the decade. (I had to read about 30 different website to even understand the little bit that I put in here! Then later, I found almost this exact explanation in wiki...oh why oh why didn't I wiki first??)
- In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally listed HFCS as safe for use in food and reaffirmed that decision in 1996.
Acid was "safely" used in hospital experimentation at one time. But it's illegal now.
- High fructose corn syrup offers numerous benefits. It keeps food fresh, enhances fruit and spice flavors, retains moisture in bran cereals, helps keep breakfast and energy bars moist, maintains consistent flavors in beverages and keeps ingredients evenly dispersed in condiments.
Things are kept "fresher" longer b/c HFCS is a preservative. Embalming fluids keeps corpses fresh, but I don't want it in my food, ya know? I have a miracle ingredient that enhances the flavors of things...it's called salt! Or you could even, you know...use real, fresh ingredients. Then the flavors wouldn't need to be enhanced. And if a lot of the unnatural ingredients were taken out of our foods, our taste buds would change. It would be easier for us to enjoy & taste the natural flavors without the need to enhance them. It does disperse more easily in beverages, have you ever tried to stir sugar into cold tea?? So...that's um...the one thing they've got going for it.
My issue with HFCS is not necessarily any of the issues already presented. My main issue is it's saturation in the food market. It's in almost EVERYTHING! I can understand the use of it in things like soft drinks. It's cheaper than sugar, it's easy to mix into the liquids, the syrup stays "fresher" longer. But it's not just in my drink...it's also in my hamburger bun, the condiments, and it might even be mixed into the coating on the fries! Nearly every item I pick up in the grocery store has it. Although, I believe the kosher foods are still free of it...so if you see a little "K" marked on things, you'll know it's Kosher, and if you check the ingredients list, it's unlikely that you'll see HFCS in the ingredients list.
Now...for the biggest issue, and one that I feel has contributed to a lot of the obesity issues, even if HFCS doesn't necessarily CAUSE obesity. When you are full...your tummy lets your brain know, "No more, thanks!" You feel full, and push your plate away. HFCS suppresses that connection. You eat and eat...and realize, "Hey, I'm not really feeling full!" When you see your plate is empty, you get seconds...or you wait an hour & have a snack (which is likely filled with HFCS). And then what? The connection continues to be suppressed - unable to tell your brain to, "Put the fork down, you're killing us!"
So...draw your own conclusions. I won't tell you to avoid it or to eat it. But at least know what you're eating. ;)
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
With Shannon...and this is what I did. I was there for a slightly shorter time period, PLUS I ate lunch with her...and if I subtract the time it took to get all my letters glued down (FOREVER!)...then this took less time than the other...but was still the only thing I got finished!! It's hard to scrap with kiddos around.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I used to have photoshop on my computer, but if I reload it, I think I have to download the Vista patch. Erk. Anyone have any easier ways? I am on flickr, but I don't think they do it. (Not that I can see anyway.)
Monday, March 23, 2009
Yes, I am a horrible camera operator...but I was being crushed in by about 2 dozen people. It is not usually so busy, but this was a few days before the Super Bowl game...and I am thinking some people found out this was a free attraction near the Tampa Bay area. I saw LOTS of out of town license plates in the parking lot. It was packed! So...forgive the craziness, and if anyone needs dramamine, let me know. ;)
I found a new way to use double sided paper...it seems so simple now, but I didn't come up with it on my own.
You take your double sided pattern paper...cut out the middle, I cut an 8"x8" square out of the center of my Graphic 45 Botanicabella paper. I cut a cardstock square to 8.5"x8.5" (Stampin' Up - old olive). I covered the big hole in the pattern paper with the cardstock, then I scallop edged the 8"x8" square & glued it to the cardstock...applied my photos & some embellishes & I was done. (HA! that took about 2 minutes to type, but seriously TWO AND A HALF HOURS to make!) It's hard to see b/c of the angle of the photo and the way the flash went off, but in the bottom right corner, I glued some bright red jewels to compliment the birds.
I am hoping to make this into a two page layout, using some photos that are actually floating around on this blog somewhere...
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Anicah is really too young to "miss" daddy...but she sees little things every now & again & says quizzically, "Daddy?" I was folding his pajama pants from a forgotten pile of laundry today & she did it. His shoes are still on the floor of our bedroom and that will trigger the daddy question. She doesn't seem sad...just sort of confused. "Hmm...I know that big bald guy used to hang around a LOT. His stuff is still here, where is HE?"
Jocelynn is a little more aware. She has spent a few nights crying herself into sleep. I took one of his pillows that has a very distinct "man smell". Testosterone & dirt, I think. I put one of his favorite t-shirts on it...and gave it a quick squirt with his favorite cologne (is it cologne if it's from The Body Shop?). One night I give her this "daddy pillow" to hug a little while she cries, and later I find her rolled away from it crying harder. I asked her why she didn't want to hug the pillow and she said, "It's just too sad!" That is when I get sad.
Before he left, Eric made a little dvd for each of them. He reads a story for them...and gives them a short message. He says nice things about being good at school & for me. He also went to Build-a-Bear with Jocelynn. Last year for Father's Day we gave him a gift certificate for BAB, and he finally decided to use it before he left. He & Jocelynn made stuffed animals together. She made a Zebra dressed up like Hannah Montana, complete with little guitar that plays some of her songs. (Uuuugh.) Eric made a little monkey with camos & boots. It's kind of cute. We collaborated on a name...and he's called "PFC Bananas." It is Jocelynn's job to take care of PFC Bananas. So she has something to do for dad while he is gone.
In the first week my husband was gone I bought a bench cubby with baskets to sit near the front door, with a matching shelf w/ hooks, & a little thing for my car keys. Eric HATES to hang the keys by the front door...but it's the only way for me not to lose them. So I put something up.
...I would like to get back into posting projects & pictures...so I am doing some furniture rearranging to be able to do a little more work. Hopefully by next week I will be done!
I need to make a trip out to get our Military I.D.s & get setup with Tricare. So lots of things to do, still!
Friday, January 23, 2009
So you're supposed to have one...but how do you decide what to do & when to do it? Well, first, the budget should apply to everything. From groceries & utilities to vacations & after school activities.
1. Decide what items have to be paid at a fairly standard rate every month. This includes your mortgage/rent payment & most utilities (including things like car insurance).
Using some made up numbers, I'll give you an example of those costs:
- House - $850
- Electricity - $125
- Phone/Internet/TV services - $150
- Auto insurance - $100
I know some people pay for gas & water, but I wanted to go basic here, to keep my math easy! ;) Alright, so that total is $1,225.00. Forget for now that most people cut off their TV services & often the home or cell phone when they are trying to save some money...I just need an example.
2. Every time you get a paycheck, put at least half that amount into checking. The half of that is $612.50, but if it were me, I'd round up to $620.
If the average family income is $50k (ish...I believe this number is combined for the whole household), then you are bringing home approximately $1,923 for a 2 week pay period. If we subtract 20% from that...assuming you are having SOME kind of deductions taken out from taxes to benefits that leaves you with a take home pay of $1,539.00. Putting your first $620 away leaves you with $919.00 to spend.
3. Take cash out for the unfixed items. Gas, food (grocery & eating out), clothing, work/school events, etc.
These may take some time to figure out. You might have to do some research...find out how many miles you drive to & from work and school. What does your family spend at the grocery store, and how many times a week do you get take aways or fast food? How often does clothing need to be replaced, what about shoes? How much do you need to pay to events like field trips, sports teams, the office pool for birthday cake??
As you are figuring these numbers out...try to decide what you can cut out. If you bought 5 pounds of ground beef last week...why did you eat out 4 nights in a row? Can your child walk to school, carpool or take the bus instead of being driven? Can YOU walk or take the bus...or carpool? If you explain to the office party planner at work that you are trying to keep to a budget...can you refrain from adding to the birthday kitty? You wouldn't expect cake on your birthday or worry about having a piece on other's days. (I have done this...and trust me, it's not that weird. Sing the song, clap...and go back to your desk.) Cancel the daily newspaper (or get it only on weekends), make breakfast at home, make coffee at home, if you bring your work home with you...don't print it out at home. Get to work a few minutes early to print it out there instead.
Here is another sample budget for those items:
- Grocery store - $200/2 weeks.
- Gas - $75/2 weeks.
- Non-food shopping - $100/2 weeks.
- Unexpected errand - $50/2 weeks.
- Fun money - $50/2 weeks.
Yes, this is a fairly short list. But again...I like simple math. Notice I separated my grocery store money from my non-food money. If you make a point to only buy food at the grocery store, you will notice a difference in your bill. I don't do diapers, detergents, or clothes shopping with my food. (I say this mostly b/c so many use super stores now, that yes, it does happen that you will be in the same place with those things.) If you decide to buy some of those during your grocery trip...put one of those plastic dividers between the items and have the clerk ring up two separate transactions. They won't look at you funny...Not about this anyway. :)
Unexpected...ugh. You know what I mean. The midnight trip to the drug store for cough medicine, on the way home your kid tells you that he volunteered you to make 3 dozen cupcakes for his class tomorrow. If you don't use it...leave it in place for the next unexpected event. Or keep adding to it for a family surprise!
And yes, I did want to leave you something to enjoy. Fun money can be your fast food money...a special treat from the vending machine. (Mmm...C7 you call my name!) Whatever you need it to be. You don't have to spend it all...you can always save it up for a rainy day...when you need a real pick me up...or if you want something special like a mani/pedi. Or a paintball gun.
Okay...those totals are $475.
4. Get an accordion organizer...the ones for coupons are PERFECT. Label each section for each of your cash expenses. Separate your cash by need. When you shop, replace it with a receipt (for future research...to know if you should adjust your budget)...and when it's gone...it's gone. You don't do any more shopping!
Alright, so we've got our money in checking & our cash in the organizer. That leaves us with $498.
5. Put the rest of your money into savings. If possible, get a savings account that you can't just click a button to transfer funds from savings into checking. If you have to make an effort, you may decide that the purchase isn't worth it.
6. Now, after 2 paychecks you can pay your monthlies right out of checking. See if your bank has free online bill pay services...or just go traditional & write out a check.
I realize it may take a few pay periods to get used to this. And you may not be able to put as much into savings at first. But if you give it a chance...you'll at least have something that resembles order & a good start to a home budget plan. Be sure to take a look at your receipts and billings statements periodically to see if your budgets need to be adjusted. If you find you are spending less than expected, put a little less cash in the organizer.
A friend of mine recommends paying utilities with the same amount every month, regardless of the statement (assuming you are paying over rather than under). This way, at the end of the year you may have enough credits to cover a whole month. That extra money might come in handy if you are the sort to celebrate holidays in December!
That money that gets put into savings can go for emergencies, nest eggs, vacations, or whatever you decide your family needs. Maybe periodically set a goal for a certain amount in your savings. Then make an extra house or car payment, decorate a room, replace a mattress.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
- Calculator! Seems basic, right? But it really can be a big help. Most stores will have their price per ounce/pound/unit/etc. listed right on the shelf price for most items. BUT...when the items is on "sale" that price per unit no longer applies. AND if you have a coupon...it helps you figure out if you're really saving anything. Different sizes also throw a kink into the works when trying to compare. Soooo....
"What do I USE the calculator FOR, Momma??" Well, I'll tell you. To figure out the price per unit...type in the price of the item. Divide button, then the unit of measure. Let's use dishwasher liquid. A large bottle is 30 loads for $5.99. $.19966 per load. A smaller bottle is 22 loads for $3.99. $.18136 per load. That's $.0183 cents less PER LOAD for the smaller bottle. A penny less a load sounds like nothing...but I run my dishwasher at least once a day...some days twice.
What if you have two similar items but their sizes aren't compatible at all? Paper towels. 4 pack with 60 sheets each & a 5 pack, each roll has 56 sheets. First figure out how many sheets you're getting. 4 rolls x 60 sheets = 240 sheets total. Now, 5 rolls x 56 sheets = 280 sheets total. Even though the larger pack has less sheets per roll, you still get MORE sheets. Now, figure out the cost per sheet using the above equation! (That is [price of roll] divided by [number of sheets].)
AND if you are shopping with coupons...remember to consider the price AFTER the coupon discount when you are doing an equation.
- Internet. Shop around online. Look for your weekly sales ads from local stores (I always just toss all that junk mail that comes to the house). Try http://groceryguide.com/, to see what items you regularly use that might be on sale at different local locations.
- Excel. Now, this may only be for those who are very meticulous. Get out your excel spread sheets! Pull out your grocery list & type in all the items that you've purchased. Then you'll want to enter the prices for those items. (Be sure to tally at the end of the column what your total cost for that trip was!) Then as you use different grocery stores you will have your own comparisons. Be sure to note when an item was on sale (take advantage of those different fonts & colors!), and if you purchased a national brand or store generic.
I have the capability to use excel on my cell phone...so if I have a spread sheet, I can quickly look up what I paid for a pound of frozen peas at any number of stores I have visited recently. This also might help you decide which everyday items you might want to buy at one store, while choosing another store for larger purchases (like bulk warehouses).
Which brings me to the last tool for this blog entry...
- You cell! There are new apps you can download that help you calculate the price per unit & coupon details. These are not going to be available for everyone...but if you have the opportunity you may want to check it out! In addition, most cell phones now feature a built in basic calculator.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Also...I am not sure what's happening to my kiddo's clothes. When I buy clothes, I am usually ready to do it when practically everything needs to be replaced. One big buy & then I wait for another growth spurt. Last time I shopped I got a bunch of stretchy leggings (I think 4 pairs). Two pairs of jeans (and brought 2 pairs out of a closet that I had found earlier on clearance for $1.50 each!), about 8 different shirts that would be for school & church (the old shirts went into the 'play clothes' drawer), one skirt with a Hannah Montana t-shirt (I tend to stay away from character stuff, but it was a reward for some good behavior)...some new socks & a pair of canvas shoes that were sort of 'ballet flat' style. Not like sneakers. Well, now I am down to about 2 pairs of leggings (one missing, one with a hole in the knee), 2 pairs of jeans (the other 2 are missing), 3 shirts (NO clue where the shirts have gone)...and the shoes smell like old seaweed & sweat.
I am not in a position to go out for more clothes. We're not due for that until closer to spring...when usually I change the season of her clothes!
Oh...did I mention the hoodie jacket that was super cute until it got ruined by a mysterious yellow/brown stain that won't come out? It happened at my mother's house. Hmm. I had to pull out an older jacket that is a little too short in the sleeves. Hopefully we won't have many more freezing days. Someone gave me a poncho thing for Jocelynn...but she won't wear it. It confuses her. She's not stupid...but everything she has worn up to now has had SLEEVES in it. She just does not get the concept of no sleeves.
So, here I am. Awake. Because of a stink. I am also trying to do laundry, hoping the clothes will somehow turn up. They are not in my car, and not at the grandma's house! If anyone sees them...please return!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
- BYO...Make it a pot luck and have people help with a side dish. Spiffy things up & choose a theme like foods that start with L...foods that are red...foods that don't require forks. It seems less mooch & more more mood-setting that way.
- Brew it up right. Instead of spending money on expensive and BAD FOR YOU sodas...brew up some tea. Family size teabags are 2 bags per gallon. You can reserve pitchers & make sweetened or unsweetened. I sometimes fancy up my gallons of iced tea with a single bag of flavored herbal tea steeped with the regular teabags. Try mint or ginger tea.
- Set a specific end time. Partying into the night might be fun once in a while...but if you set a specific end time, then you don't run out of refreshments & have to go racing to the more expensive (but more convenient) corner store instead of the bigger grocery.
- Snack light. Pretzels are less expensive than chips, and not covered in greasy oil. Little bowls of raisins can replace M&Ms. Fresh salsa is cheaper per pound than the pre-made stuff & it's easy to personalize. Salsa is really just a mix of chopped tomato & onion (canned tomatoes are pretty inexpensive & often come in different flavors or even heat intensity) and your preference of herbs. Cilantro, cumin, garlic (okay, not an herb)...
- Homemade dips can also be easy with a little bit of sour cream or low-fat/no-fat yogurt and a soup mix.
- Buying naked chicken wings to cook & flavor yourself is also usually cheaper than ordering from a deli or specialty restaurant.
Enjoy your fun...and clean up as you go so you're not in the kitchen until midnight.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
- 3 TBSP Olive Oil (36 cents)
- 1 small onion, chopped (25 cents)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (25 cents)
- 3 TBSP curry powder (50 cents)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon (20 cents)
- 1 tsp paprika (20 cents)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp ginger root (20-60 cents for ground versus fresh)
- 1/2 tsp white sugar
- salt to taste
- 2 breast halves, cut into bite sized pieces ($1.29-2.99/lb for bone-in vs. boneless)
- 1 TBSP tomato paste (25 cents)
- 1 cup plain yogurt ($1.50)
- 3/4 cup coconut milk ($2.12/can)
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until lightly browned. Stir in garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, paprika, bay leaf, ginger, sugar and salt. Continue stirring for 2 minutes. Add chicken pieces, tomato paste, yogurt, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove bay leaf, TASTE and [if desired] stir in lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Simmer 5 more minutes.
Remember the lemon & pepper will add tart & hot to your sauce...which is why I recommend a taste. I found prices where I could and then divided the prices into cost per tablespoons & teaspoons. Some prices were so small, it was mere pennies or LESS per serving (like the sugar). I used the lower price on the items with a range...just to give an idea. I added that meal up to about $7.12. To feed four that is $1.78 PER PERSON. Most people will serve this over rice...another item that is pennies to the serving. Even rounding it up to $8, still means you served your family for $2 a person. How satisfied would your family be if they had to spend that same $8 at a fast food restaurant??
If you'd like to add another $3.40ish to your bill, try this naan bread with your curry.
- 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast (60 cents)
- 1 cup warm water (free!)
- 1/4 cup white sugar (40 cents)
- 2 TBSP milk
- 1 egg beaten (15 cents)
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 1/2 cups bread flour ($2)
- 2 tsp minced garlic (optional)
- 1/4 butter melted (25 cents)
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
- Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
- During the second rising, preheat grill/skillet/griddle to high heat.
- At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.
The naan rounds out your meal for just over $10 total. And it's unlikely you'd have to purchase ALL of these ingredients to prepare this meal! I think all I need to add to my shopping list is bread flour, coconut milk, and yogurt.
ETA: Had an email suggestion of adding a bag of frozen peas & carrots to the curry...the mix with the little square carrots is apparently the best way to go...Thanks!
Now, I've only got girls, so those of you with boys may be able to send me an email or two & give me some hints...but I've got some quick keep-your-cash ideas on how to take care of these little buggers.
- Stop the treats! It might be hard to listen to the whining at first...but don't give in to treats or extras when you are out shopping. I know I have been guilty of doing the, "If you're very good, Momma will let you pick something out..." when I just want to get through a shopping trip without tears. Besides, if it happens less, then it TRULY becomes a treat & they might just learn to appreciate it a little more.
- Hide the toys. No, I'm not being cruel...I promise. (Not about this anyway.) See what your kids can live without for a while. You might come to see they do not need a whole toybox, a closet, a rubbermaid tub, a basket, and a backpack full of toys. If you hide a few toys for a while, when you give them back...it will be new & exciting again. If the toys always stay new & exciting, the kiddos may not ask for new toys as often (thus you don't have to say no as often...and keeping the crying to a minimum). I have a box in the top of the closet & bring them out when I start hearing how boring things are. While they're digging through the "new", I toss a few old into the box to bring out when the boredom hits again.
- Recyle the toys. I have two little ones a few years apart. Every few months (usually near a birthday or other gift-giving holiday) I will go through the toybox and pull out all the broken toys, the toys that have been outgrown (teething rings for a 3 yr old?? I'm sure it's not the favorite anymore), and anything that might be simply taking up space (happy meal toys come to mind). Anything that is still intact but too young for the current child I'll put away for the next. Chances are...enough time will pass when it's time to give the toy to the next in line that the previous owner has forgotten about it. If they haven't...just remind them that toy stores make a lot of the same toys. ;)
- Keep the Summer dresses. Okay, so this is girl-specific, but it's a good trick! Some of you might be tempted to put your boys in dresses just to take advantage. :) In Florida, we have fairly mild Winters. There are a few freezing overnights & just above freezing days...but for the most part, we can get through with just a light covering. Instead of tossing the Summer dresses (which have gotten shorter by Winter because of growth spurts), I pair them with warmer items. I find a few long sleeved shirts & some nice leggings of different thickness. I usually find the leggings in 3 packs, and they might come black, white, & red to a box. So the dress turns into a little jumper. I find tights that are fairly thin (similar to a woman's pantyhose), to thick...probably equal to a pair of cotton leggings...which is another excellent item to put under a dress as it gets shorter and your girls get taller.
Okay...much shorter list than last time...and probably for the good!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
- Sales and coupons are great...but keeping your menu basic works best. I do waffles/pancakes, eggs, or cereal (varies between hot & cold) for breakfast. Lunch is sandwiches or leftovers. Dinner is where I will make some variety...but sticking to some basics like chicken, rice/pasta, beans...and then changing that up with different seasonings and veggies.
- Go vegetarian a few nights a week. You don't HAVE to eat meat at every dinner. If you're worried about getting enough protein, then eat eggs for b'fast & PBnJ for lunch. I also stretch my meat with beans. Works best when you are using ground or shredded meat.
- Go halfsies with the milk. Half REAL milk...half powdered. This works well on little kids. If they complain that it tastes funny, add a little chocolate syrup or powder. A lot of chocolate milk powders are fortified now-a-days...so you're not doing too much damage if you go with that over the syrup.
- Puree away! When you have fresh veggies or fruits that are getting a little past their prime and might be unappetizing, puree them and add them to other foods. Veggies can be added to sauces or meatloaves, and fruits can be put in with muffins, pancakes or breads (think banana bread not sandwich bread).
- Learn to bake. Baking helps with the above suggestion...but in the long run one 5 pound bag of flour lasts much longer than a single box of cake mix or cookies. You can also control how much GOOD nutrition goes into your family's food when you bake it yourself. Use whole wheat flour & brown sugar instead of the white, overprocessed stuff.
- Recycle...This might sound weird for food...but think about it. If you buy a can of bread crumbs...what do you think it was before it was in the can?? BREAD! Instead of tossing the last few pieces of bread from a loaf, put it in a plastic bag into the freezer. When your bag is full, stick it in the food processor and you have your OWN bread crumbs. You can season it any way you like. Stale bread also works for french toast, stuffing, croutons, or casseroles. (Best for casseroles that will have a lot of liquid in it, or is being made with a lot of egg, just tear it up & toss with your ingredients.)
- Leftovers. This goes along with the recycling. If you are having chicken for dinner, shred the leftovers for enchiladas or soup. Try making more than one meal out of what USED to be a single evening's fare. Roasted potatoes for dinner means home fries for breakfast.
- Go international. It changes things up a bit! Naan bread has ingredients most people have in their pantry...and since Indian dishes don't use beef, you already have a chance to find some cheaper items to go in your curry! Mexican food is REALLY easy to do cheaply. Flour tortillas can be made at home in seconds...add some beans, rice, and fresh tomatoes & you're done. If you want a little decadence then add some sour cream...store brands aren't usually more than a dollar for a medium sized container.
- Shop with a LIST and stick to it! And don't just put random things on your list. Make sure you have exactly what you will need. There is a great tool on http://www.allrecipes.com/ that lets you choose recipes and then add the items needed onto a printable shopping list. I do this for my dinners. I typically choose 5 dinner meals and put them on my list. Why 5? To give me 2 nights a week to let me work with leftovers and in case our schedule gets mixed up and we end up having grilled cheese one night b/c it's faster than a roast. And in case we go all week and stay exactly on schedule or have no leftovers, I always grab a jar of pasta sauce & spaghetti to have on hand. (Although, it might be to your advantage to make your own spaghetti sauce in a crockpot and then freeze it in manageable size freezer bags!) The shopping list lets you delete items you won't need to buy (things like water, or items you know are already stocked in the pantry) and add things you will need in addition to the specific recipes.
- When you DO buy meat...look at the packages carefully. Yes, boneless skinless are more convenient...but more expensive, too! Buy bone-in and do a quick de-boning before or after cooking. You can boil the bones in some water (add herbs!) to make stock. Whole chickens are about or just under a dollar a pound right now. Roast 2 in the oven at the same time...pick out your pieces for that night's meal & at cleanup go ahead & carve or pull the meat off the bones. Stick it in a bag for the next night...or a freezer bag for next week! And again, boil the bones for stock! If you put the stock in the fridge overnight, any fat will rise & harden on the surface...pick it out for a lower-fat stock. Stock can be used for soups, adding to a roux for gravy or used in place of water in things like rice or mashed potatoes.
Last one...I promise!
- Use your crockpot! Crockpots help you make larger batches of food. You can eat some now & freeze the rest for later. It also keeps cheaper, tougher cuts of meat tender & juicey. If you don't have a fancy crock with a timer that shuts it off on it's own...you can still make foods while you are away at work or school. Buy a timer switch (like this one http://tinyurl.com/8zm68z). You plug one end into your crockpot & then plug it into the wall. Set the timer and it will automatically shut off your crockpot. That timer might look familiar...I have seen people use them for lamps, lights, and TVs when they go on vacation...to make it seem like someone is home. :)
I hope you enjoyed my Frugal Momma article on food. I think I might make a short series out of this...so keep your eyes peeled!