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Garden Goody

March 29th, 2005 at 07:02 pm

DS and I found out this morning, that our plot in the community garden has been upgraded from a 'half' to a 'full' (we were on a waiting list). This is a happy turn of events, since it will allow us more space for some of the 'viney' things we have in mind for the garden -- cucumbers and squashes and the like. I will need to go into the park district office to pay the difference, and as of now we are up to $42 rental for the season (plus an additional deposit). Anyway, DS and I will be sitting down this afternoon to do some basic planning. One thing is certain, we'll have to invest in some sort of deer protection (-- netting perhaps? They're thick as thieves out there. And voracious as all get out....)

Since we're coming in a little late, I'm not sure how much time we'll have to mail order seeds and supplies, etc. I much prefer planting heirloom varieties over commercially manufactured hybrids, but we'll have to see what we can scrounge up. In any event, I'm willing to pay a little more for heirloom and organically produced seeds (promising myself to save seeds this season for next season). Plus I'll have to comb through my seed collection from previous garden ventures -- they're getting old by now, but hopefully a number may still be viable. We can at least try sprouting them and see what they do. My father will provide us with lots of seedlings (heirloom and hybrid) for peppers and tomatoes. LOTS of seedlings -- so, we'll be quite covered as far as those cousins in the nightshade family are concerned....

Weekend Jaunt....

March 28th, 2005 at 02:37 pm

Just returned late last night from a little weekend trip to visit DH's 82 year old granny, as is our annual easter custom. She lives in a tiny house in a small town, about 5 hours away in another state. My in-laws drive there too from where they live, so between all of us we really fill up her little place -- but we always have a nice time. It's relaxing (and inexpensive), because there really isn't all that much to do there but watch TV, take walks, drives, and go to the park. We did all go out to eat once at a buffet restaurant in town, but were treated to that by DH's parents. Otherwise, we watched TV, took a walk, a drive, and went to the park. And aside from gas, spent no money (I did have miscellaneous easter basket goodies to give the kids that I'd picked up here and there in previous weeks).

For entertainment, DH packed up and brought along our DVD player to hook up, so 'Nana' could watch our copy of 'Return of the King' (which we did yesterday). She'd seen the previous two 'Lord of the Ring' movies with us, and really enjoys watching them.....



Car Care

March 25th, 2005 at 05:07 am

Well, the couple came and checked out our car this morning, and they seem interested! They inspected it all over, and gave it a spin around the neighborhood. We invited them inside afterward to discuss matters further. Turns out they are leaving town tomorrow for the holiday weekend, but called this afternoon asking if they might take it to their mechanic on Monday to have him give it look-over. I'd say that sounds promising. Actually selling it to the first people to check it out, by word of mouth no less, woud be some fantastic luck. Heh, I should stop talking about it --dont' want to jinx anything....

No spend day today. Must hang laundry now...



Glass Alas....

March 24th, 2005 at 04:35 am

Today was lively. Here it is, 'spring' break -- so my homeschooled kids had their schooling friends over for the afternoon. They decided to play outside, despite the chill. Which ordinarily would please me to no end, except that they shattered a window pane in our front storm door. Blargh. Not super thrilled about that, but I pragmatically figured, 'oh, well. What's one more thing to fix around here??", while picking up the many glass shards, just glad that no one was hurt. But then a short time later, they somehow managed to break a leg off my wrought iron porch chair, leaving it unusable. These were accidents, but sheesh! It was just one of 'those' days I guess....

On a happier note, we have a couple from a few streets over coming tomorrow morning to look at the car we wish to sell. This was all set up through my neighborhood email list -- when they just so happened to post a week or or so ago that they were in the market for da, da, da, DAH .... a '96,'97 or '98 Honda. Well, gee, what a coincidence. That's what ours is -- a '96 Honda. So we washed and vaccuumed and spiffed it up this past week, and I emailed them about it this morning. They responded with interest. How lovely and lucky for us if they actually bought it -- no advertising, no phone calls, no strangers coming by to check it out. I'm crossing my fingers!

Car Quandary

March 23rd, 2005 at 01:43 pm

Laundry has piled up again and I need to catch up. It's a wet and soggy day out there though, so no hanging outdoors. Even clothes hanging inside will take an eternity to dry in damp weather like this -- still, using the dryer isn't an option. Hang inside they shall....

DH and I are still trying to figure out what we want to ask for the car we intend to sell. It's a '96 Honda Accord LX in nice condition, with low mileage (only 80,000). It was involved in a fender bender when someone hit me last year in the front left quarter panel, but that was mostly cosmetic and it was all fixed. Due to its' age, it does need a bit of work otherwise -- the timing belt and the radiator (high ticket work). But the guy we took it to yesterday for an oil change at the Honda dealership ($29.99) said it looked pretty good overall and with the necessary work could easily withstand another 200,000 miles. Argh, it's hard to know what to do....

I made tostada-y things for dinner, with the beans I scratched cooked in a huge batch a few months ago, and froze in meal-sized portions (using a recipe from the "Make A Mix" book). Last night I thawed/heated and mashed some for refried beans -- very handy (they've also been good in chili). I have several more bags in the freezer to use, but when those are through I intend to cook up another big batch again, because the're really a time saver for busy nights....







Rockin' Moussaka

March 22nd, 2005 at 03:28 am

A busy day today, plus a spendy one. I took the kids with me to my volunteer gig this morning, where they helped out too (I volunteer at a not-for-profit store that specializes in fairly-traded, hand-crafted items from artisans in developing countries). By the time we were finished it was well past lunch. Naturally we were all famished -- so..., I took the kids to the cafe next door for a little, rare treat. Didn't go overboard though -- spending about $10.00 for all three of us. Then on the way home I stopped by an international foods market to pick up a few things I was running low on (to the tune of another $24.00)....

I did cook from my pantry this evening however, making Moussaka with a new recipe I recently ran across. Mind you, it was not perhaps a terribly authentic version (non-meat/non-dairy recipe for one thing), but it was quite good -- with everyone giving it an enthusiastic thumb's up. And it uses up lots of eggplant (which we all happen to love around here) so it's a handy thing to make when I find a good sale. Anyway, this one's a keeper --I shall be adding it to my list of recipe successes, to be made again.....

Chef 'BOY'(arty)

March 21st, 2005 at 03:46 am

I was busily balancing the checkbook this evening against our bank statement and didn't want to be interrupted in the middle of what I was doing, so I asked DS to cook dinner for us all. And he did! He made 'Spaghetti Aglio e Olio' (Spaghetti With Garlic and Oil) from a recipe he knows and has made before -- on the label of a bottle of an olive oil bottle we have in our pantry. All by himself I might add, and adding his very own embellishments (spices he selected himself, plus some frozen mixed veggies thrown in as well -- so pleased that he enjoys and is comfortable cooking). It was delicious and I will definitely be requesting it of him again soon! It was so successful, I'm wondering if we can add to his recipe repertoire -- I'll try to think of some other kid-chef friendly meal dishes he could prepare on busy nights....

Sushi Surplus

March 19th, 2005 at 03:37 am

Ever have one of those 'two steps forward, one step back' kind of days? That's what it felt like -- I swear I was busy and on my feet practically all day long, but now that it's essentially over I'm looking around trying to figure out what all exactly I accomplished. I'm sure I can come up with something if I think about it long enough. But eh, I'm too tired right now....

I did manage to make sushi for dinner (enough for several meals actually), as requested by DS. He loves it, and together we stopped by our neighborhood corner asian market this morning for the necessary ingredients. I ended up spending nearly $40 there -- but stocked up on lots of fresh produce (apples, potatoes, eggplant, onions, grapes, bananas, etc) which we were running dangerously low on (the bananas were a particularly good deal -- organic for .20 cents a pound!). Anyway, after much steaming and blanching, plus chopping, chopping, and more chopping, I cranked out our vegetarian sushi rolls (with corn on the cob on the side -- 5 ears for a dollar) this evening, to DS's delight. He snarfed his -- with horseradish no less. What a kid.....

Speaking of DS, yesterday we reserved his/our garden plot out at the community gardens. He's really anxious to get started, and already has definite ideas about what he wants to plant. I'm so glad he has such an interest! Here's to you, Mother Nature -- may you treat us to a glorious gardening season (clink).....

Happy St. Patty....

March 17th, 2005 at 06:00 pm

The kids and I had fun this morning, trying to get a pinch or two in before other family members got their 'green' properly on, heh....

There is a wee bit 'o' Irish blood in both DH and me (though more in him methinks), so for fun I made hot 'oat cakes' for breakfast, spread with jam and served with a little homemade applesauce (from the free apples) on the side. For dinner tonight I will be making my veg. version of "Corned Beef and Cabbage", like I do every year for St. Patrick's Day -- and subbing seitan for the meat (I'd make 'Colcannon' as well, but I'm out of potatoes, of all things!). This is one of my favorite recipes, very savory and delicious -- not to mention economical (essentially mostly cabbage, onion, and carrots). As for the seitan, making it from scratch with vital wheat gluten is way, way, WAY cheaper than ever buying it pre-made, so I always cook my own. I just whipped up a he-oooge batch this morning, that is currently bubbling away on the stove. I will use what I need in my cabbage dish tonight, and freeze the rest in recipe-size portions for future meals. It's good in stir-fries, noodle dishes, stews, casseroles -- anything that calls for chunked beef, pork or chicken .....

Sunny and warm(ish) out there -- a great day to hang out sheets and towels. I'd best get a move on....

Weary Wednesday....

March 16th, 2005 at 06:19 pm

Well, just a little. Still not feeling 100 % since my bout with a cold this past weekend I guess --but, I've lolligagged enough. There are things to do and people to see. Pets to be taken care of and cages to clean. Laundry to wash and hang and dishes to clear. Children to educate. A checkbook to balance and a mortgage to pay. A community garden plot to reserve. Floors to be swept. Email to answer. Sheesh, I could go on and on (and ON and ON), but you get the picture....

DH has been paid (finally), so now I need to push money around into their various accounts, including some $300 I will be transfering to savings. Yay to that. Still have some catching up to do, but I think I'm feeling the frugality of the past several months beginning to pay off. It's all very worth it in any event -- and encourages me to stay on track....

My house is fragrant. I have apples slowly stewing into applesauce on the stove as I type, from a big bag of apples generously given to me for free from our friendly neighborhood asian grocer. Some were a bit bruised, or slightly dried out -- nothing a little picking over and cutting around couldn't cure. My kids love homemade applesauce, so it will all be put to good use. I think I may throw a stew in the crockpot for tonight's dinner to go with it -- and perhaps some bread in the machine to make things easy, since I'm not in a huge cooking mood. I've been preparing meals out of my pantry these last few days though with good results. For example, lunch today will likely be leftover homemade chili (made with beans I batch-cooked and froze in meal sized quanitities some time ago) -- stretched with a little added tomato juice, and a can of corn. Mmmmmm, speaking of tomato juice, my mother has some in her freezer from my father's garden tomatoes, that she juiced in her Champion juicer last season and froze. I called her this morning to beg her for some of it -- I've had such a taste for tomatoes these last serveral days, and her frozen tomato juice tastes so fresh and delicious. WAY better than anything you can buy in a can from the store. I think I may run over there to pick some up when I'm doing errands here in a few hours .....



Good Get-away

March 14th, 2005 at 03:47 pm

Back safe and sound from our family's weekend out-of-town adventure -- our state's annual homeschooling conference. It was a short trip, but VERY activity-packed so it SEEMED longer -- I'm still recovering from it actually (coming down with a cold smack during the middle of it didn't help matters either). Whew. But it was a fun get-away for us, and overall a relatively economical one. Because DH and I worked the conference (as we do every year, in the Toddler Childcare Room no less -- not for the faint of heart), we received a free room for two nights as well as free conference registration for all four of us (a considerable savings). Therefore, our main concern was really only the gas to travel there and back (about 3 hours away), and food. But I actually packed a cooler full of food from home -- stocking up on fruits/veggies and snacks, and making/baking several goodies for the road. We ending up eating out just once, on our trip back home. As for other expenditures, I did purchase a few educational materials in the vendor hall that caught my eye (totalling about $40), while DH picked out two used books (for about $12). The kids each received about $5 in spending money for the 'kids' flea market' that was part of the event. That was about it in terms of cost. The accommodations were nice (a Sheraton Hotel), and the conference lively. Our DS and DD very much enjoyed their many conference workshops, as well as catching up with their friends (many from here), making new aquaintances, and swimming in the hotel pool. Fun times....!

Granola Recipe

March 9th, 2005 at 08:31 pm

I was asked for the granola recipe I use, so here it is. I found it somewhere on the web some time ago and have made it since -- this one really is good (mind you, I never make it the same way twice. I always substitute very liberally according to what's on hand and what I've gotten cheap (today it was sesame seeds, peanuts, and dried pineaple) and typically double the quantities, at least. But it always turns out well no matter WHAT I do....)


Good Granola Recipe

5 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick)
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup untoasted wheat germ
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
2/3 cup mild honey (or maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease 9x13 baking dish.
2. Combine rolled oats, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ in dish; bake 10 minutes and remove from oven.
3. Add remaining dry ingredients (almonds through salt) to dish and stir to combine; add wet ingredients (oil through almond extract) and stir until completely combined.
4. Bake 18-20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until uniformly golden; granola will not be chunky yet, but will "harden up" as it cools. (Keep an eye on it, and do NOT overbake....)
5. Remove dish to rack and cool, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to pan; store in airtight container.


(This recipe recipe doesn't call for raisins, but I personally think they, or any other chopped, dried fruit, makes a good addition (added after it's baked and cooled)....)

Granola Gratification

March 9th, 2005 at 03:33 pm

Another day, another batch of granola. It's in the oven as I type, making the house smell yurmy. I have all the bulk ingredients I purchased for it through my co-op, repackaged in my freezer in appropriate-sized quantities --so making it's a snap now. DH is very content to eat it each and every morning for breakfast -- the kids prefer slightly more variety, but they eat a lot of it too.....

Most of the fruits and vegetables I put up last fall are almost all gone (pepper relish notwithstanding) -- even the frozen green beans! I can hardly believe that. I froze so MANY last season I never imagined we'd get through them all before the next crop -- and here I'm almost all out already. Now I'm sorry I didn't process more when I had the chance. As for the other stuff (applesauce, apple juice, the frozen zucchini, etc) there wasn't so much of it in the first place. I plan to be much more diligent about staying on top of the garden produce this season, and putting up the extras for the winter months.....

I may be breaking my 5-day no spending streak this evening, with a quick stop at the store for a few items for a short overnight trip we're taking -- bananas and apples and such for the road. If it weren't for the traveling, I probably could have gone several more days without spending anything at all. I'm very confident now that we are going to make (perhaps even surpass) this month's savings goals, with flying colors....

Garden Guardian

March 9th, 2005 at 01:29 am

Oof! After a tantalizing taste of Spring this past weekend, with it's teasingly warm temps, it seems we're back to winter-as-usual. At least it was sunny and clear all day....

I find I tolerate winter weather far better now at my age than I once did -- but even my patience wears thin around this time of year. Spring Fever begins to set it -- I get itchy to spend more time outdoors, start poking and digging in my yard, smell the flowers, and so on. Well, it will happen. Eventually.

My son is talking me in to reserving a small garden plot out at our community gardens for him/us. He loves to garden and of course, so do I. Before we moved here from out of state, I kept two large vegetable gardens simultaneously -- one in my former huge, sunny back yard, and another on a friend's 4-acre country spread. Since moving back to my hometown however, I haven't had a vegetable garden of any significance. For one thing, I've not been able to do so at home (which I'd prefer), since the two yards we've had since living here have been shadier than all get out . But also because my own father, a passionate gardener, generously brings me all his surplus produce -- which is very substantial, even overwhelming at times. I figured as long as he continues to vegetable garden, I haven't needed to. Therefore, my gardening focus these last few years has been getting my ample, overgrown 'fixer-upper' yard in order (no small task). But my veggie-loving DS is chomping at the bit, so I'm going to look into reserving a little patch of earth out there to call our own. We've had many talks about the responsibility involved, which, having some experience with group gardens, he understands. It's a lot of hot, steamy work keeping the weeds, bugs, and critters at bay -- yet he'll be expected to do his share (and without excessive complaining). Anyway, it will be a fun, family project. I'm looking forward to the good eats!

In the meantime, DS is responsible for our indoor garden of.... sprouts. He's got quite a 'crop' going right now in our cupboard -- broccoli sprouts, as well as a 'spicy mix' (clover, alfalfa, fenugreek, radish). I bought him a fancy-shmancy counter sprouter thingie years ago to use when I found a really good deal (sale PLUS a rebate), but we still use the canning jar method too, and right now he has both going. It's just another of his household chores. This current batch should be ready by tomorrow and will be lovely. The produce in the stores is so very anemic right now (too late for the fall stuff and too early for the summer stuff) so it's a treat to be able to supplement with little fresh veggies of our own....



Hair today .....

March 8th, 2005 at 03:45 am

My hair is soooo chopped. I've been taking scissors to it myself whenever the mood strikes -- which has been often lately. This weekend had me clippity clip on several occasions. Ha, ha! It looks pretty funny now -- especially where I attempted some DIY layering. Good thing today's hairstyles are pretty much 'anything goes' (and that I am not terribly hampered by notions of vanity). But really, I hardly know what to do with it anymore. For many years I just wore my hair long (below the shoulders) for the sake of sheer simplicity. Then some time ago, desperate for a change, I actually had it cut (chin length, layered) and styled professionally, rediscovering why I kept my hair long and simple in the first place -- because maintaining any 'STYLED' style requires regular salon visits, which I am actually quite loath to pay for (with either time OR money). Silly thing to worry about I know, but I DO need to re-evaluate my hair situation....

Vehicle Shuffle

March 7th, 2005 at 06:07 pm

I spent no money over the weekend, and probably wont today either. Maybe not even tomorrow. It's lovely to have no pressing needs or wants right now. We're very lucky.....

As of Saturday, we are now in possession of the new-to-us vehicle, for which we still have to transfer the title, register, get insured and all that goes with it. This is to be taken care of this week, and then it's on to the selling of our old car, which is still in reasonably good shape (so hopefully we can get a decent price for it). It's been years since we've sold a car though -- not looking forward to the actual process (the calls, the inquiries, the test drives, etc etc). But that's a petty thing to complain about, isn't it....





Saturday Sign-In

March 5th, 2005 at 04:25 pm

Dinner turned out well enough last night, and most economical at that. DD (aka 'Potato Girl') had specifically requested mashed potatoes and gravy, which I whipped up and supplemented with peas, as well as some patty/cutlet thingies I created from spiced navy beans I'd pressure cooked and mashed, along with a few other ingedients. Despite how that might sound they were actually quite yummy, and no leftovers -- I'll have to remember what I used in them so I can make it again.....

We also all watched a library-borrowed DVD last night -- very entertaining, and in theory free (if I can remember to get it back in time). Our local library does have a great selection. The competition is fierce though -- the latest and greatest films are almost never in (although I do believe it's possible to put movies on 'hold' -- I just never bother to do it. We dont' mind older, less popular titles -- although every so often we get lucky....).

I anticpate no spending by me today -- although DH is attending a soccer refereeing clinic to renew his licence, requiring a fee of some sort. Otherwise, there will be no retail spending at least -- well, by us anyway. My inlaws are coming down later for a short visit, and want to take us out to dinner this evening (they will also be bringing their extra car for us)....



Friday Fine Day

March 4th, 2005 at 06:12 pm

Finally! A day nice enough to effectively hang clothes outside! (I've still been hanging all along of course -- just indoors) Several loads are waiting to be strung up in this glorious sunshine, catching me up with that particular chore. Happily, I have not used our dryer in months and months (can't speak for DH though -- he usually does his own laundry and will still use the dryer from time to time. I'll offer to hang it for him any time though -- maybe he'll take me up on it more when the weather warms up)....

I currently have potatoes, both white and sweet, baking in the oven for our lunch. We were considering going to a neighborhood fundraiser chili supper this evening. It would have been $20.00 for all four of us and it sounded fun, and hearty (chili --choice of meat or veg--, salad, bread, homemade cookies). But, I decided against it because when it comes down to it? I'd rather save the money .....

DS is slightly under-the-weather, so it looks like we may not be making it to dance this afternoon. That will give me time to prepare a decent meal this evening (don't know exactly what that will be yet though). Anyway, with nowhere to go, our day ought very well shape up as a no-spender. Heck, let's see if I can extend it all the way through the weekend. There's nothing I can think of that we are really in need of from any store right now -- I'll see how many days I can string together of no retail spending (not counting the several bills I still need to write checks for and get in the mail).....

Checkbook Look

March 4th, 2005 at 01:29 am

Balanced the checkbook this afternoon. DH will be paid in another 12 (long) days. Had it not been for the $400 ballet payment yesterday (along with another $100 today for Piano for the month. Oh vey), I'd be feeling perfectly relaxed financially right now. But as it stands, I feel a wee bit pinched already. It's going to take some focus keeping us on track of our savings goals this pay period -- which include, as always: extra $$ toward the mortgage payment, healthy cc payment, as well as a deposit into our savings account that represents a savings of at least $10 a day (or, $280 for the month of Feb. Would prefer to be able to bump that up to $300 though....). Can I accomplish all this without compromise? We shall see (that our substantial power bill is also due this week in addition to everything else doesn't help matters either -- ouch). I do think our goals are quite achievable -- barring any unforeseen circumstances requiring unexpected funds (even then I suppose, if it came down to it, I could, in theory, 'borrow' from the savings, returning the $$, along with the next savings deposit, promptly on pay day. But yuk. Will avoid that if at all possible....).....

Ballet Budgeting

March 3rd, 2005 at 05:11 pm

Had to cough up the second installment payment yesterday for DD's ballet classes this semester, to the tune of $400 ($800 for the whole semester). Yes, I know. A lot of money. Fortunately for us, we only have to pay for her. DS, who also takes classes, is on full scholarship, and always has been these last 5-6 years that he's been with the school, just because he is MALE (his teacher gives full scholarships to all boys, any boy). In fact, we originally gave the classes a whirl for him on a whim, way back in the beginning, simply because it was Free. Always the opportunist, I figured ballet for him would be exercise and a way to channel some energy, as well as an opportunity to learn a little music, art and culture. Then, it turned out he had rather a knack for it, and began getting cast in the shows right away, which he did and still does absolutely ADORE (natural born ham that he is). Over the years he's been in 5 or 6 Nutcrackers seasons (I lose count), Swan Lake, Peter and the Wolf, etc etc. (Currently he's rehearsing for Coppelia, for which he has a big part and lots of stage time). And the classes are definitely a discipline for him -- a good balance to his personality (plus, the coordination, balance and flexibility he has developed helps him in his soccer game). So, we've stuck with it all these years. Had we been paying for him all this time, it would have added up to many thousands of dollars by now -- therefore, I guess I can rationalize it this way when it comes to paying for DD's dance education (who naturally wanted to get involved too once she was old enough). In effect, we're getting a 2-for-1 deal, I guess you can say (actually we're coming out even more ahead because, being younger, she's in a lower, less expensive level than he is)....

Cheap Eats

March 2nd, 2005 at 02:13 am

Tonight's meal for dinner (currently simmering up in the pressure cooker) has to be the cheapiest cheapo of the cheap. It's a cookbook recipe I have called "Split Peas on Toast" (need I say more....?)...

Ticket Stick It.....

March 2nd, 2005 at 01:22 am

Ooh, new journal format. Interesting....

Anyway, today? I paid both a parking ticket (due to forgetfulness) AS WELL as library fines (also due to forgetfulness) -- two totally unneccessary and avoidable expenses, thankyouverymuch! How nutty is it to agonize endlessly over nickel and diming down our food budget, for example, only to throw any savings away with silly expenditures like that?? I drive myself crazy sometimes. Oh well -- moving right along...

On a more positive note, DS is currently looking at options for investing the nice little savings he has so patiently socked away over the years. Christmas money, birthday money, etc -- all dutifully deposited into his own savings account (as with my daughter). He's done a great job. Now, we've checked out some child-oriented money/financial books from the library, and are comparing interest rates, etc. (which are truly abysmal at the moment, but what can you do?). I'm there to help offer help and guidance (even though it's sort of like the blind leading the blind because I'm HARDLY the financial wiz, KWIM?). But ultimately however it gets invested (CD? Saving Bonds? ???) , it shall be his decision to make, since it is his money....

This morning we dropped our little Russian Lass off at school for the last time. Her parents returned from Russia late last night safe and sound, with her new sister in tow -- and now she's reunited with her family. She truly was no trouble -- in fact, she was a delight and we enjoyed having her. Still, it's probaby in the best interest for ALL of us -- both families -- to get back to our old, regularly scheduled routines...

Day Three Spend-Free

February 27th, 2005 at 12:24 am

Another day of no spending.....

My homemade pizza crusts have risen, and are ready to be topped and baked (and consumed!)....

Interesting bit of news. Received a call from my in-laws this afternoon -- they bought a new car (a hybrid), and have very generously offered to essentially give us the car they are replacing. It's a Honda, like the one we currently drive, but a few years newer. Obviously we don't need three vehicles, so we will mostly likely look into selling ours....

Potluck Luck

February 26th, 2005 at 02:49 am

Just came back from a big PTA-sponsored potluck dinner at Russian Lass's elementary school. She was excited to go, so we took her, met her teacher, saw her classroom, and so forth (as homeschoolers, it was a new and interesting experience for us). Her school has many international students, and there were wonderful ethnic dishes from all over the world (I was partial to a (vegetarian) Rwandan stew, and metioned as much to the woman who made it. She in turn insisted on giving me the leftovers!). I myself brought garlic bread I made (from a .45 cent loaf of day-old french bread I bought last week and sliced/froze-- very easy and eh, they must have liked it as every crumb was eaten), as well as hummus and carrot sticks (from the free carrots! They were all eaten too....). Anyway, it was great to get all of us in the family filled up so cheaply (we did pay a dollar-per-person fee to cover the cost of dinner ware, etc) and with such little effort -- no dishes for me to wash or anything (and the the $5 it cost us tonight has been our only spending in the last 2 days...).

Lunching Ladies

February 24th, 2005 at 10:08 pm

Had a nice lunch with an old friend today. In the past, she and I have been known to meet at local restaurants during her lunch hour (she's a working gal), but not today. Instead, she came over to my house to eat a home-cooked meal (miso soup with tofu, brown rice, and green onion pancakes) -- saving us both money. It was fun and we'll have to do it again soon....

The lunch's ample leftovers will double again as our dinner, when DH and Russian Lass join us. It'll be just a small matter of heating it all up just a bit. Ah, it feels very luxurious to have dinner all taken care of already -- going off to celebrate with a relaxing cup of hot tea and a homemade biscotti....



Is this day over yet...?

February 24th, 2005 at 05:17 am

Staying up to make biscotti. Because why the heck not? It's not like I need sleep or anything (the entry may state 9:11 GMT, but here it's 11:11).... Anyway, I made a double batch and it just baked it's first round (25 minutes). Now it's cooling on the counter (for at least 15 minutes), waiting to be sliced and baked again (for another 5 - 10 again on each side). It sure flattened out on me this time -- the batter must have had too much moisture. I was in a sloppy and reckless mood when mixing it up tonight, and didn't feel like taking too much care and being precise. Guess I keep forgetting that one can't really get by with that too often in baking. Cooking? Yes. Baking, no....

Weekend Spend

February 22nd, 2005 at 03:22 am

Well, the weekend was anything but low-key -- but there it is. And now a new week upon us (even though I rather feel like I could use a weekend to recover from the weekend, heh).

Our little Russian lass has been with us two days now -- no problems there....

Saturday was a bit of a wash. Spent the entire day doing little more than driving all over creation burning fossil fuel and schlepping the children to their various, too- tightly scheduled destinations around town (a meeting, two classes, rehearsal, a birthday party (DD and Russian Lass having a wonderful time), a symphony concert (free tickets!)). I also found myself shopping in between schlepping, which I hadn't expected to do, but oh well. Spendy spend spend -- but at least I did run across some deals. A quick stop by the neighborhood asian grocery to pick up some fresh produce landed me with a whole mess of free carrots --probably close to 15 pounds or more. They were given to us 'for our bunny' by the shopkeeper (she knows we have a pet rabbit). The carrots were bagged, but in each bag you could see that there one or two squishy ones, so she gave us the lot. The vast majority of the carrots were perfectly fine though, and it was a simple enough task to open the bags, dump it all in my big laundry sink and pick through, composting the questionable ones. Now we are rich in carrots! Rabbit nothing -- oh sure, she'll get her share, but we'll be nibbling on 'em too...

Stopped by a large chain supermarket as well where I raided the scratch and dent discount bins. There I found pouch upon pouch of Mrs. Wages tomato dry canning mixes (which I actually really like), for .50 cents a bag. They are ordinarily close to $2.50 or so -- so I rifled through them and stocked up. I can always stick them in my freezer if need be. Most of the mixes were Ketchup, but I did get several Spaghetti Sauce's (Mrs. Wages (http://store.yahoo.com/mrswages/tomsaucmix.html) is an 'add your own tomatoes' kind of a thing for canning -- very handy, especially for making ketchup in particular).

Also in the discount bin were a bunch of dented (26 oz) cans of Hunts spaghetti sauce in assorted flavors, discounted to .60 cents each. I dug deep and snatched all the meatless ones....

Additionally on saturday, I stopped by an estate sale I noticed while driving across town. I have a 'thing' for estate sales -- like a moth to a flame. If anything, I am perpetually nosy about houses, any house, and love opportunities to see inside -- especially the grand, old ones (like this one). But, I'm attracted to all the Stuff too of course. Saturday I showed real restraint however, and made it outta there with only a $1.00 tablecloth, and an quaint old $2.00 basket thingie, despite an abundance of interesting clutter (my particular estate sale weaknesses are old linens, practical-looking baskets, and old wooden boxes...). But I knew perfectly well I didn't need to spend the money, and probably even more importantly? I do NOT need more Stuff....

Yesterday proved eventful as well, despite the gloomy weather. On a whim, we ended up hosting a very spontaneous and impromptu dinner here for some friends of ours. There were nine of us in all. It was lively and fun -- and I managed to cook mostly from my pantry. On my menu was 'Couscous with Seven Vegetables' -- a rich stew chock full of veggies (including CARROTS). Although I did need to make a quick stop at the HFS to pick up couscous from their bulk aisle since I was out, that was all --the rest of the ingredients I had on hand. To accompany the stew, I also quickly pressure cooked garbanzo beans (from my bulk-purchased stash) and whipped up a big batch of hummus -- with what else? CARROT sticks (as well as a bit of sliced, discounted 'day-old' french bread from the H.F.S. -- priced at .45 cents) . Our friends brought salad fixings, which was a nice addition. Last but not least, however, was the dessert I made -- 'Pineapple Upside Down CARROT Cake' (do you see a pattern here? Heh, getting a lot of mileage out of the free carrots ....). Oh, and lots of peppermint tea. Anyway, the party was fun, the company enjoyable and the food ample and well turned out (despite the cake running over a bit in the oven and burning on the bottom nearly smoking us out of the house) -- not too terribly shabby for somebody who woke up with no particular plans for the day whatsoever....

bill ills....

February 19th, 2005 at 03:03 am

Aside from the several bills I managed to get out in the mail this morning, today was a no-spend day for me. Just one of MANY more to come, if we are indeed to make our budget this month as planned, ahem....

Spent a goodly chunk of time crunching the numbers this a.m.. DH was paid just a few days ago, yet most of the money is already spoken for. The bills just never stop piling up, do they? Everytime I think we're caught up, our friendly neighborhood mailperson so thoughtfully brings us another stack. Heh, it's going to be a looooong month....

Cooked out of the pantry tonight -- spaghetti and homemade sauce along with meatless 'meat'balls I made last month in bulk (from TVP) and froze in meal-sized batches. Also peas and the homemade bread leftover from yesterday. Attempted to 'dovetail' my cooking efforts-- so that I had enough leftover pasta to pack for my son's lunch tomorrow (while he's at rehearsal), and enough leftover sauce for tomorrow night's pizza....

Our little Russian lass temporarily joins our family tomorrow, for the next 11 or so days. Should be interesting....

Adoption Option....

February 18th, 2005 at 07:10 pm

After much on-going confusion this past week, it looks as though our friends/neighbors' plans to adopt an additional Russian daughter are ON, yet again (as per the official telephone call they received at 4:30 or so a.m. this morning). Therefore we *will* indeed be hosting their nine-year old here with us for the better part of 2 weeks, starting tomorrow when her parents fly over there to finalize the arrangements.

What a roller coaster ride this has been...!

Errant Errands....

February 18th, 2005 at 01:44 am

Had to purchase dog food this afternoon -- we were running out and it could not wait another day. Since our preferred brand was on sale, I purchased two 20 pound bags at $16 each (as well as a sack of doggie treats). Yes, I do spring for the quality canine victuals. I find the cheap stuff is mostly just filler, so she only ends up eating more of it to meet her needs, and then we don't come out ahead anyway....

Filled the gas tank too while I was out (at a $1.89 a gal). And, as if all this wasn't enough, DH is on his way to Blockbuster right now, AS I TYPE, to rent a recent release he simply can't WAIT to become available through our local library! Woo hoo, are we going CAH-RAZY over here, or WHAT...??!!

(To our credit at least, we haven't rented from Blockbuster in months....)

On the frugality front today, I did wash (in cold) and hang two loads of laundry, and cook from our pantry (chili, oven fries, and homemade Anadama bread). Not too many plans for the coming weekend either -- so hopefully we can keep it low-key and low-cost....



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