Archives for September 2008

Day 29: Jumper cables

Today was a writing day for me.  I headed off to the coffee shop at 9 or so, and came home at 5.  When I got home, my wonderful hubby had run all the kids through their school, made tomato soup for lunch, got everyone to do their chores and them took them all for a dip in the pool.

One of the good things about the day was that I finally gotten 10 punches on my coffee shop punch card, so didn’t have to pay for the coffee today.

One of the bad things was that I accidentally ran down the battery in the car.  After asking about 6 people in and around the mini-mall area for jumper cables, the coffee shop kid, bless his heart, drove to HIS HOUSE and picked up his jumper cables, and came and got me going.  So that was a very good thing.

Another good thing was taking a walk this evening, just my hubby and I.

Meals Today

Breakfast:  Pancakes and grape juice

Lunch:  homemade tomato soup, cucumbers, crackers

Dinner:  Lentil stew, homemade bread from my momma, cucumbers, cookies

Tomorrow is the last day– amazing.  I think I did this wrong, because it didn’t even seem all that hard…

Two months of nothing…now that would be tough…

Love Stories for October

I’ve been trying to think of something fun to write about now that the 30 Days of Nothing is almost done. I’ve decided to tell you John’s and my love story on the installment plan. Awhile back Megan from Fried Okra did a cool series that she called: How I Met Your Father, and I’ve been wanting to do the same thing for awhile. It’ll be a fun walk down memory lane, as well as a keepsake for my kids some day.

Here’s what I’m wondering: do any of you want to join in with me? I’m planning to write on Mondays and Thursdays during October starting this coming Thursday. If you have something prepared for that day, just leave the exact link in the comments of that post. Then we can all have fun reading each other’s stories.

After all, there’s nothing like a good love story…..

Day 27 and 28: Freezer finds

Friday night at 10 pm I had a minor crisis when I realized that I needed to pack a picnic lunch for 7 people from a not-too-full fridge. John was planning on taking 6 kids with him to the mountains for a load of firewood. They were planning on leaving early, and being gone all day. I didn’t want to go to the store. But I didn’t have lunch meat, peanut butter, or tuna. The cookie jar was empty. We had no pop.

What to do? I really didn’t want to go on a baking spree that late in the evening, but I didn’t know what else I could do.

I headed for the freezer none-too-hopefully. And came back victorious. One last loaf of bread. Some frozen chunks from a big ham. (I’d planned to use them in a soup but sliced thin they could be used for sandwiches.) And — jackpot — a couple dozen cookies I’d stuck in the freezer a week or two ago. Besides that, we had apples and popcorn. A perfectly respectable picnic meal and no cooking needed at bedtime after all. I was more pleased over that success than I possibly could have been with an expensive run to the store.

Saturday Meals

Breakfast: oatmeal and ice cream (I’ve been carefully hoarding the ice cream just so we wouldn’t be totally out of sweet stuff at the end of the month, and a little dollop makes a wonderful topping for oatmeal)
Lunch: picnic lunch (above) for the wood haulers, omelets for the people at home (some of whom slept rather late)
Dinner: White bean soup with ham, carrots and tomatoes, cornbread, slivered cabbage salad

Sunday Meals
Breakfast: cold cereal and milk
Lunch: Hamburgers at my sister’s house! (a nice last-minute treat)
Dinner: leftover Ethiopian food, potato chips, apples, and cookies

Another bonus this weekend: After church my sister came up to me with a smile on her face. Turns out she has a perfectly good clothes drying rack that she hasn’t used in years. It is now mine. One less thing on my ‘to-buy’ list for October. Hooray!


1 Thessalonians 5:14-18

A new favorite song of mine

Things I may be buying….

….as soon as this month is done.

(Here’s where I am very bad influence on anyone intending to continue not spending on a long term basis. So go away quickly, if that is you, so that I lead you not into temptation.)

A big metal kitchen garbage can with a lid. If I can find one built like a tank, that is. I suspect this one would only last a week in our house. Recommendations, anyone?

A cheese slicer.

A drying rack. This one is lovely.

A dishwasher. Maybe this one? Feedback?

A new battery for my computer, since it only lasts 20 minutes without a charge.

Malarky. Looks fun, doesn’t it?

The truth is that we have gotten along without all these things for a month, and could do so for longer. So it leaves me a little conflicted….

The amount of time my kids have spent washing dishes leaves me convinced of the rightness of purchasing another dishwasher. There are so many things they could be doing instead of endlessly drying dishes.

The drying rack will help with laundry in the wintertime when drying on the clothesline doesn’t work.

And certainly as a writer, I can justify the purchase of another laptop battery.

But our current kitchen trash can is still functioning, and you can cut cheese with a knife, and our kids already have lots of games to play. Where does ‘quality of life’ turn into sheer self-indulgence?

I suspect that is a question we all have to answer for ourselves…

Day 26: The fridge is getting emptier

I was almost flummoxed at lunch time today. We have almost no pasta. The eggs are gone again. The bread is nearly gone. Peanut butter is gone. Potatoes are gone. Forget about fish sticks or burritos or any other quick food. Actually if it weren’t for the apples off our tree, and a few petrified leftovers in the back, my fridge would be almost empty right now, a highly unusual state of affairs. I do have a lot of meat in the freezer still– must have done a good job buying/conserving that. But nothing quick and lunch-like. (Hmm…was it really just a day or two ago that I said we weren’t running out of much. What was I smoking anyway?) Finally I found some hot dog buns and made tomato melts. We’ve had those quite a few times this month, but tomatoes are something we have in abundance, and we’re not out of cheese yet either.

This afternoon I sent Eldest to the grocery store with $20. She spent $16 and bought potatoes, eggs, sugar, and milk. That leaves $6 til next Wednesday. Basically if it is not utterly essential, we won’t be buying it. But I am feeling highly optimistic about our chances of making it at this point.

It has been interesting to see just how whittled down a grocery list becomes when you only have a certain amount to spend. The food that ends up on the conveyer belt tends to be healthier and simpler.

Breakfast: Cold cereal, milk and our own grape juice
Lunch: Tomato melts, cucumbers and apples
Dinner: Ethiopian food (injera, doro wat, shiro), cucumber salad and tomatoes, ice cream for dessert

Day 25: Jelly Party

Today I got a bunch more jelly made. I think I am almost done with the jelly, finally, so that is good. But before I even got the grape juice stains bleached out of the counter, I was silly and asked the kids to check the garden for tomatoes. They came in with 3/4 of a bushel. I guess I’ll be canning again tomorrow…sigh…. Sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself, but it is so nice to have all that food in the pantry to eat during the year.

Meals Today
Breakfast: Eggs and toast
Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with fresh homemade jelly
Dinner: Teriyaki Beef with beets and green beans over rice

I have to say that the buy-everything urge has subsided in me. Thanks to all the jelly, I am out of sugar. AGAIN. It is pitiful how much sugar this family eats. (I must ask myself, should I do something about that? No, I do not have enough energy to revamp our entire diets.)

But other than our constant need for sugar, we are doing okay. I have somehow made three rolls of paper towels and one packet of napkins last all month. Our cloth napkins have been working well. 3 dozen seems to be enough to allow some rotation for washing, as long as most of the napkins are used for a couple meals. We set new ones out every breakfast, and non-messy people just set their napkins on their chairs for re-use for lunch and dinner. Then after dinner they all go into the wash. Of course, the three and six year olds go through two during one meal sometimes. But it’s working.

Am getting excited about our trip to the Dominican Republic in November. If you are interested in knowing more about it, you might be interested in checking out this video. I have some other interesting things to tell you about soon, so stay tuned.

Day 24: No concern is too small

At lunch time today I told one of the kids to put cookies on a plate. She came back to me saying were were almost out of cookies. There were only 8, and there were 9 of us for that meal.

“That’s okay,” I said, with only the tiniest hesitation. “I don’t really need a cookie.”

A few minutes later I asked one of the kids to go grab the mail. In the mail was a small box containing –amazingly — one cookie. A sample from Kashi, that I had requested a couple weeks earlier. Proving once again that no concern is too small for God.

Also this morning my sister stopped by with a gallon of milk. Another sister had bought more than she needed before leaving on a trip, so we lucked out. She also brought some sugar that she had extra (her family isn’t eating sugar these days) and some pint jars from my mom, both of which will be perfect for making jelly tomorrow as I had planned. I remember lots of little things happening last time we did the 30 Days a couple years ago. I wondered then and I wonder again now how many times I’ve run to the store when really I should have just given God a little more time to meet our needs.

Meals Today

Breakfast: cold cereal, juice and milk
Lunch: Stir fry with cabbage, rice, cheese, and cookies
Dinner: Spaghetti, cucumbers, apples

One more week!

More horse books

Sourcebooks just sent me a couple more books from the Half Moon Ranch series that girls in the 9-12 year old age range might find interesting. The first book is called Wild Horses and the other is Rodeo Rocky. The writing in this series is good and the stories have lots of adventure. These books look like the kind I would have loved when I was a horse-crazy little girl.

Day 23: Roasted in a very hot oven

This afternoon I had the fun of going out to our garden ‘annex’ and picking all sorts of vegetables. Since we only planted that little patch at the start of July, and I wasn’t certain we’d get much, anything we get there feels like a bonus. But I today I got enough corn for dinner, plus decent amounts of beets, carrots, kohlrabi, and beans.

beets, carrots, and kohlrabi, with apple crisp in the background

beets, carrots, and kohlrabi, with apple crisp in the background

Tonight’s corn was the first out of that corn patch, and there’s enough that hopefully we’ll get 3 or 4 more meals. Speaking of meals, I’m glad there’s only one more week left to this 30 Days, because I’m getting bored with writing what we’ve eaten for every meal!

Today’s Meals
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and toast
Lunch: Leftover beans and rice, plus grapes
Dinner: Garden veggies (beets, kohlrabi, carrots, and beans) roasted in a very hot oven in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, plus corn on the cob, cottage cheese, and apple crisp.

Today I spent $9.50 at the grocery store, leaving me with just over $22 to last for the rest of this week. It’ll be a piece of cake. I think. I bought a dozen eggs, two boxes of cereal (1 free, 1/$1.50 with coupon), 10 lbs of sugar, and a tub of margarine.

Someone asked how I thought it would be at the end of the month– would I spend tons? I’m not sure I will. I’d really like to see if we could shave maybe a hundred or two hundred off our average budget on a regular basis. Instead of my usual $900 a month, maybe I could habitually do with $700?

Granted, the garden was a huge help this month. I spent almost nothing on fruits and veggies all month. I bought onions and garlic and that’s it. So that is certainly not reflective of most months. And certainly we have eaten some of our stores and I will need to restock some things. But we must have had huge quantities of food in the house to begin with, because we just aren’t hurting that bad right now. I think I’ll aim to spend $700 in October, and see how it goes.

One thing I am definitely going to do on a regular basis is to shop with cash. That trick alone has helped me be so much more self-disciplined in my shopping.

One other funny thing happened today. I gave one of my 10 year old boys the assignment of making the crumb topping for the apple crisp we had for dinner. Being a 10 year old boy, he was trying to get the task done as quickly as possible, and accidentally added a teaspoon of cumin to the topping, instead of what I’d said, a teaspoon of cinnamon. Although there was a slightly different smell to the crisp this evening, I am happy to report that cumin, cinnamon, and apples actually go together just fine, and dessert was not ruined.