Sunday, March 29, 2009

Feeling Weary

Today is a blah day. My allergies are flaring up. My house is cluttered and I am so damn tired of this economy.


I took the kids to the park today. There was a meet up of the Moms group I belong to. Since I hadn't been to one in months, it was time.

I didn't like it very much. It is so easy to talk to people via e-mail. But to talk to people in real life, where I can't think about what I say before hitting the send button, it is absolutely painful and stress-inducing.


Someone cheer me up with stories of your fabulous weekend.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

For the Love of a Watermelon

My husband wanted some egg rolls one weekend about a month ago. Rather than pay somebody else to make them, I decided to make them myself. The least expensive place to buy egg roll ingredients is the Asian market so Sammy and I went together.

Azure stayed home with her Dad. She had first choice to go to the grocery store with me and she declined. She changed her mind when I was taking Sammy, but I have a one child per grocery trip rule. Taking more than one child to the grocery store never bodes well for my sanity or for the sanity of those around me.

The Asian grocery has a lot of produce. Most of it is much cheaper than in the regular grocery store. The front of the store has big wooden bins filled with produce. I walked by the bins and Sammy stopped me. He pointed to the bin with individual watermelons.

"Mom, do you see that box over there? I've been waiting for those."

The individual watermelons were only a dollar and fifty cents. I grabbed just one because it isn't melon season.

The melon didn't spend much time in the cart. Sammy weighed it in the produce scale at least twice. He also proudly kept showing it to a toddler boy who was riding in a cart. Sammy handed it over. Then the little boy handed it back. Fortunately his mother didn't mind.

After we paid for the groceries and went to the car, Sammy wanted his watermelon to hold on the way home. He sat in his car seat, tenderly cradling his watermelon and bestowing the occasional kiss on it.

When we got home, I had to cut it in half and he devoured most of it, finishing the rest of it later that day. It was good! I wish I had grabbed more than one.
My Mom gave me some birthday money that I hadn't yet spent so I went shopping today.

Normal women get excited about shopping. I'm not normal.

The first stop was for a sports bra. I grabbed the same style and size as last time but tried it on just in case. It was a good thing. Despite the fact the girls haven't changed in size the manufacturer decided to dub me a double D. I'm not but it seems even bra cup sizes are getting supersized.

The sports bra was thirty-four dollars before tax! Good grief.

I then went shirt shopping. What is with the new shirt styles? They cling to my back, caressing every wayward bulge. I don't want my back fat on display, thank you very much. I can't hide my double chin but I'll be damned if I'm sharing my back fat with the whole world. YUCK!

I ended up with no shirts but I did find a pair of capri pants for twenty dollars. When somebody figures out why a bra that covers an eighth of me costs so much more than pants that cover almost a third of me, please explain the reasons. This is one of those great mysteries of life that keeps me up at night.

Also, why can we put a man on the moon but nobody has invented a self-cleaning kitchen yet?

What mysteries do those of you in blogville ponder?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cool Hat

Roxanne ( is a fellow blogger of mine who knows how to knit. She had a picture on her blog recently of a pretty hat she had made.

My older sister is going through chemo and it has been cold outside. I noticed the hat on Roxanne's blog came far enough down to cover ears. I asked her if she would be kind enough to knit and sell me one.

Not only did she do that for me, but she knitted it in record time. I am seeing my sister this weekend and I can't wait to present her with her new hat.

In order for everyone to see this hat, I had Sammy model it. It's much cuter on Roxanne but she lives too far away for me to borrow her head.

Thank you Roxanne!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cat? I Didn't Order a Cat.

Most of you know our dogs are gone now. I was very impressed with the rescue lady who took them in. She crate trained and obedience trained them and found them new adult only homes.

I was sad about the dogs but also a bit relieved. Obviously the biggest relief was not having to worry about my son being bitten. I know it's silly but any dogs around my son make me nervous now, even the nicest ones. I find myself wondering when the wolf within will decide my son is too darn annoying and snap.

The dogs also needed a level of attention that I never seemed to have time for and I was always consumed with guilt. Dogs are wonderful creatures, filled with unconditional love but so darn needy. They are like an insecure high school relationship. "Are you sure you love me? Prove it and scratch my belly. Hey it's been five whole minutes since you scratched my belly! Say you love me, dammit!"

We also no longer had the need to find somebody to dog sit while we left town.

We were done with pets for now and that was okay. My kids keep me busy along with the never ending piles of laundry and dishes.

I'm going to meander off a bit here and explain about my daughter and the bus. I am a stay at home mom so I pick my kids up at school. My son is too immature to ride the bus and my daughter can meet me outside his classroom to be picked up at the same time.

But my daughter wanted to ride the bus. A bus ride costs a dollar. The minimum purchase is a packet of ten tickets for ten dollars. I told my daughter if she wanted to ride the bus, she had to pay for it out of her own money. So she did.

The first or second day my daughter rode the bus, a cat followed her home. Then it followed her in the house. I picked kitty up and noted she didn't weigh much more than a feather. I put her on the porch with a can of tuna. My daughter went with her.

When my daughter came in the house again, kitty pushed past her. I put her out again. She screamed at the door. MEOW MEOW MEOW!

I felt awful but a cat has to be a two person decision and my husband was adamant on no pets. I had been adamant also but it's a bit harder to stick to your guns when the animal finds you.

The kids and I decided to help the cat find her house. We walked down the driveway and the cat followed. She followed us all the way down the street meowing at us. We took her to where my daughter had met her on the street parallel to ours. I found a man outside and asked him if the kitty belonged to him. He said he thought she belonged two houses down and he had found her in his garage before.

We walked two houses down and knocked on the door. Nobody answered. The cat continued to follow us like we were her only friends in the world. She went in the yard and around the side a bit.

I grabbed the kids and told them to run for it. I knew she would follow us home if we didn't. The cat saw us run off and started crying. I felt horrible, like the biggest jerk in the world, but knew we had her back in the right area.

The next week she followed my daughter home again. I made her stay on the porch. My daughter stayed with her. We had to run an errand and we left her on the porch. When we came home, she was gone.

Then last night, at nine, we heard meowing on the porch. MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW! I felt horrible again. My husband instructed us to ignore it. He held out for about two minutes.

We got some hamburger patties out of the fridge, let her in and fed her. I found a container suitable for a cat box and some old cat litter.

The cat ate like she hadn't seen a meal in some time and made herself at home. She and I will have to have a talk about this habit of waking me in the middle of the night to get petted though. We also need to talk about waking everybody at seven in the morning screaming with hunger.

She does use a cat box. Hooray! When she decided to sharpen her claws, it was on my ten dollar Big Lots area rug. I can live with that.

She hasn't showed the urge to leave yet. The kids are busy following her around the house so she might be feeling the urge soon. We will be watching for signs around the neighborhood about a lost cat who hoovers food like Marlon Brando at the Hometown Buffet.

So we seem to have a cat for now...

Monday, March 09, 2009

Old Hoss Has Passed Away

Old Horsetail Snake, Gene Maudlin, has passed away. Rest in Peace Gene. You will be missed.

Frugal Cooking

The economy is in the crapper and grocery prices have become completely insane. I want to share some of the tips that work for us. I also would LOVE to hear the tips that work for everybody else.

I have cut my grocery bill a lot by using these ideas but I still need help. So I strongly encourage any and all of your ideas.

A tip from Liz ( I wanted to share was to cook from scratch as much as possible and make a double or triple batch for freezing. Having a frozen dinner on hand that you only have to thaw and heat helps eliminate the temptation to grab take out on a busy night.

The author of The Tightwad Gazette recommends freezing your dinners immediately after everyone has eaten and then having leftover night once a week. She also freezes all her vegetables in one container for "stew night."

Check the weekly grocery store sale ads and plan your meals around them. I recently started doing this and it saves me quite a bit of money. It should have occurred to me sooner but I am a bit slow on the uptake at times.

Another thing that has been saving me money is my meat grinder I received for my birthday. I can save two dollars a pound or more by grinding my own beef, pork or chicken. It tastes better too.

My meat grinder hooks up to my kitchen aid but vintage meat grinders abound on eBay. They may not be as fancy but they get the job done.

Saving money on vegetables has been more of a challenge for us since they have gone up so dramatically. Carrots are a staple in our house since they seem to be the last vegetable bargain. As far as other vegetables go, I try to buy what is on sale.

I went to an Asian Market this weekend and was pleasantly surprised at their produce prices. Swiss chard was on sale for thirty cents a pound. Cilantro was thirty cents a bunch. Cabbage was fifty cents a pound. So, if you have an ethnic market, check it out.

Some of our pantry staples are dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, onions, garlic and rice. Sometimes I feel like the Bubba Gump of potatoes - potato soup, twice-baked potatoes, fried potatoes, oven baked french fries...

If your store has a coupon for an item that you want, you can use the store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon for extra savings.

My daughter likes to take granola bars to school so I am trying to make them homemade a lot more. They are cheaper and have the added bonus of no corn syrup in them. I was never a corn syrup fan before and now that I have found out it is filled with mercury, it can stay at the store and out of my pantry.

Now for a few recipes. Feel free to share some of yours and I will publish them.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

2 tablespoons margarine
1/3 cup natural peanut butter or sun butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Begin by melting the margarine and peanut butter together in a 3-quart saucepan. Add the honey, vanilla and salt. Stir the mixture until it is smooth and hot throughout. It doesn’t need to boil. Add the oats. Stir until the oats are completely coated with the sticky gooey peanut butter mixture. It will be chunky. Turn the mixture into an ungreased cookie sheet, or a large 9 by 13-inch pan. Spread the granola out evenly and bake it at 375° for 10 minutes. It will be brown and crispy. Now remove it from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan. Break it up into pieces after it is cooled. Transfer the granola to a clean coffee can or sealed canister. Add the raisins, if you are using them, when the granola is cool.

If you want a chocolate topping, sprinkle chocolate chips on top after removing granola from the oven. After they melt, spread them over the granola.

Homemade Granola (from the Tightwad Gazette)

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
5 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup dry milk
3/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

Mix brown sugar, oil, and honey in a saucepan. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl except for raisins. Toss dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for ten minutes. If adding raisins, put them in the granola after removing from oven. Let cool in pan. Store in an airtight container.

Vegan Pea Soup

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, chopped (I add four)
1 stalk celery, chopped (I leave this out)
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup yellow split peas
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute carrot, onion, celery and curry for about 5 minutes. Add the water, peas and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 to 50 minutes, or until very tender.

My carnivore husband LOVES the pea soup. There are no complaints about the lack of meat.

I haven't made the next soup in a while but I plan to make it this week using soy milk and cornstarch instead of cow's milk and flour.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

3 cups vegetable broth (or 3 cups water with vegetable bouillon cubes)
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 package (10 ounces) frozen, chopped broccoli
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups low-fat milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese (optional)

Heat carrots, celery, onions, vegetable broth, broccoli, salt and pepper to boiling in Dutch oven. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer ten minutes. Remove from heat. Shake milk and flour in tightly covered container. Gradually stir into vegetable mixture. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute. Remove from heat. Makes four servings.

I'd like to share more recipes later, mine and yours. Have a great Monday!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

More Cafemom Fun

Every now and then on Cafemom (cafecrack to addicts like me) I run across a post where I cannot bring myself to navigate away and follow the Thumper rule that goes, "If you can't say anything nice..."

Here is the post I saw last night.

BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE TOO!!! THAT IS WHY (Notice the incorrect spelling of to)

Okay, I just have to vent. You want to know why my family will go eat out and have a 60 dollar meal and only leave a 5 tip??? Because thats what we have left or in cash AND because tip is not part of our meal! We are not required to leave you a tip just because you decided to be nice to us. Its your job!!! You are the one that chose to work as a waiter/waitress and get paid only 2 or 3 dollars, so dont complain that you arent making enough because people dont tip. We are not required to tip you a certain amount, or anything! Be grateful for whatever you get. I have never left a tip over 5 dollars. Oh, and for those that say to go to mcdonalds to eat if i cant afford to leave a tip...oh, im sorry...well just because I dont leave a huge tip doesnt mean my family cant eat at a nice place. Heres an idea, how about you get a job that actually pays you for your service instead of relying on customers that are already giving you their business.

Oh, and yes, I have been a waitress and know what its like.

Ah, rampant ignorance. Gotta love it. I could not let this one go. Here was my reply.

You know what? You're right! So what if she hustles her ass taking out your food. If she doesn't like it, she should find another job.

I am going to start being a total bitch to the person who rings up my groceries. If they don't like it, they can find another job.

Next time my propane bill arrives, I'm going to call customer service and ream them out because my bill is so high. So what if they don't set the prices. If they don't want to hear me bitch, they can find another job.

Oh, and those road construction workers. Screw that whole slow for the cone zone thing. If they don't want to get run over by my car, they can find another job.

Watch out world here I come. And I'm throwing common courtesy out the window!

So I'm just warning all of you now. Stay out of the crosswalk. I've decided to not stop for pedestrians either.

It's liberating, liberating I tell you!

Sunday, March 01, 2009


In case this blog couldn't get any more boring, I thought I would post some frugal living tips. I'm not sure how many of my blogger pals are feeling this recession smack dab in the wallet but I know most of the country is in sticker shock.

If anybody has frugal tips to share with me, please do. Today's topic is homemade cleaners.

I wanted to start with homemade laundry detergent. It doesn't leave your clothes with a fancy smell. BUT it does get them clean and it's better for you and the environment. And did I mention it's CHEAP?


1 cup grated soap (Use Zote, Fels Naptha, Castile or Ivory)
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax

Mix all together. Use one to two tablespoons per load.

To find washing soda at a store near you, call 1-800-524-1328.

Next I am covering homemade dishwasher detergent. I don't know if this one is a lot cheaper, but it is supposed to be healthier.


1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Baking Soda
1/4 cup Citric Acid or you can use lemon koolaid powder
1/4 cup Salt

Use the same amount as you do with commercial cleaner. I've read that we tend to use too much detergent so I would try a tablespoon or two at first and see if I could get away with it.

Now for antibacterial cleaner since we are such a germ obsessed nation

4 cups water
1 TBS Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap (look at
1/4 to 1/2 cup vinegar
20 drops tea tree oil
20 drops lavendar oil

Mix all together in a spray bottle.

I know tea tree oil is pricey but I have a friend who says she finds it at grocery outlet. Woo-hoot for the grocery outlet!

On to glass and counter cleaner.

1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar

Mix in a spray bottle. Use newspaper to wipe your mirror down after you spray this. Otherwise you will be wiping all day. The smell does dissipate, I promise.

I can't find the ratio of water to mouthwash but I read in a magazine that water mixed with cheap mouthwash is a great tile cleaner.

I use cheap mouthwash to scrub my toilet, just a splash of it. When Jasmine lived here, I had purchased her some generic Listerine which she refused to use. The gall of me, I know.

The mouthwash languished under a cupboard until I read the cleaning article. So I tried some in my toilet and it worked. Hey, if it can kill the smell of my morning breath it can certainly deodorize my toilet.