Monday, November 30, 2009

A Tale of Two Tomatoes

A Tale of Two Tomatoes

All in one day I started our new weekly grocery budget and broke a rule. When I informed the husband of our new weekly grocery budget, 25 dollars, he literally replied, “Oh, there’s no way!”

If you’re like me, you see that statement as a challenge. But that’s not what I’m writing about today. This evening I made out our list based on what we have in our pantry and what was on sale at the store and then also came up with our menu.

Sunday-Homemade Macaroni and cheese topped with breadcrumbs and green beans.

Monday-Meatloaf and mashed potatoes (mashed potatoes left over from Thanksgiving) with gravy (who knew you could make gravy from meatloaf, but it was good!!!) and green beans.

Tuesday- Smoked turkey sausage, macaroni and cheese (see Sunday), and brussel sprouts.

Wednesday-Chili topped with cheese, if you please.

Thursday-Roasted pork loin, mashed potatoes (from a box, oy-but they’re two packages for a dollar)

Friday-leftovers for me. Hubs has a gig so I’m on my own. Plus there’s a doggy get together I might attend-no time to cook.

Here’s the grocery list or rather a receipt rundown:

1 onion-.91

Ground beef-2.91

Pork loin-5.12

2 Mac and cheese-.88 (we didn’t need them per se, but who could pass that price up?)

kidney beans-.89

frozen brussel sprouts-1.78

frozen green beans-1.78

Smoked turkey sausage-2.19

2 gallons of milk-3.50

2 28 oz cans of tomatoes-3.18

Now we subtract 1.00 for coupons (sigh, that’s all) but also 4.70 for bottle returns.

(Side note, I also spent 5.00 on vitamins for the hubs who is now sick)

Total amount spent-22.44

Amount still available-2.56

So, now we get to the title. The whole tomato thing. I’m not sure what kind of person this makes me. What would you have done or what do you do?

As I stood there in the tomato aisle, baffled, I really was at a loss. This is where I broke my own rule. Not only did I not have a coupon for tomatoes but also none were on sale. But I know how far a batch of chili can go and it seemed like a small expense for what we’d be getting.

So anyway, as I stood there in that aisle of canned tomatoes I realized how many options there were but that I really wasn’t willing to accept all the options. What does that say about me?

Here’s what I had in front of me in the 28 oz options:



Dei Fratelli-1.99

Del Monte 1.59 but for only 14 oz. (so 3.18)

Red Gold-1.69 but for only 14 oz. (so 3.38)


Value Time .65 but for 14 oz. (so 1.30)

Value Time...that’s where I wasn’t willing to go, just yet. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with that brand, but it was so underpriced I just felt that the product might not be up to the same standards as the other. Is that wrong? Does anyone buy Value Time?

I did purchase the Spartan Brand. Not so much a compromise as I use other Spartan Brand products but I usually buy Hunt’s, Red Gold, or Delallo.

Week one of the new budget. One rule broken but one budget kept.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Budget Reform

Budget Reform-Family Style

It seems like it’s every year at this time-you’d think I’d get the hint by now. Christmas is around the corner (breathing down my neck), the snow is readying itself to fall, and every single bill we owe is due, now!

Here’s the downfall of a self-employed spouse-getting paid. My husband is a contractor and does remodeling and new construction. He currently has five outstanding invoices and to us, who survive on my teaching salary and his income, that’s huge!

Every time someone mentions Christmas or presents I want to pretend like I didn’t hear them. When I look at our pantry I feel saddened. Although, I could bake my way through the New Year because flour, sugar, and those types of things we have plenty of (used sparingly and cheap to buy).

So, when the hubs mentioned how we needed to come up with “X” amount of money by the beginning of the month, my heart sank but my mind started racing. What could I do now that we weren’t doing before? The last time we were faced with this we cancelled our television service (yay, big blessing in disguise), went down in our cell minutes (we don’t have a home phone), and set a grocery/eating out budget of 50 bucks a week.

Now what? Well, I made myself a little list to help clear my head.

1. Use what we have-food, clothes, misc. This seems simple enough but I wonder how many people out there have things in their pantry they’ve completely forgotten about? I reorganized ours’ this weekend and took stock of what we have. I sure hope we can eat rice for a month.

2. If it’s not on sale and/or I don’t have a coupon, I don’t buy it. Again, easier said than done. But I need to stick with it better.

3. Try bartering goods. I’d have to find other local gals willing to do this but I could easily trade my stick of butter for your can of beans.

4. Sell things we don’t need/use. Thank goodness for Craigslist. Let’s just hope we can find some buyers for our goods.

5. Set a tighter grocery budget. This time what doesn’t get spent goes into savings. It used to roll over to the next week, but that’s not helping us save.

6. Count loose change and deposit it. My hubby has a thing with not using change so it builds up. We have a container (oatmeal container) of change right now.

7. Return bottles and cans-and be on the lookout for them.

Yes, it would be so much easier if the people who owed my husband money would just pay him but that’s not happening, at least not now. And until it does, we have to reform our budget. Let’s just hope we can get through this, again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Oh drat! It only just recently occurred to me that if you’re reading my blog you see lame-o, ugly fonts. So sad. However, if you’d like to see what I see you can download them from here. Not only does she have wonderful FREE fonts she is also very creative. This particular font you’re not seeing is called Jacks n Matty.

While I have you here, I just want to say-for the record-I wish our teenage neighbor would go inside and stop bouncing his basketball at 9 pm...for the second night in a row. Raarr.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fleas, again?

Talk about timing. You’ll know that we’ve had our bout with fleas lately because of my earlier post. And when I finally dragged myself off the couch Tuesday night, scratching away at my left leg I thought for sure I too had become victim to those un-crushable little buggers.

Let me back up a smidge. Monday night, as I was leaving the chiropractor’s office, I got a massive case of the chills. In the car I couldn’t get the heat high enough. When I got home I told hubby I was really cold and that I was just going to lay down for a few minutes under a blanket to warm up.

An hour and a half later-three blankets, a head wrap, thick socks, and a cranked-up wood stove-I finally got warm. I can’t remember ever having the chills that badly in my life before. The shaking-near convulsing-painful chills. My first thought, how on earth could I be sick again?! But wait, I felt fine...with the exception of those chills and well, now I was running a temp of 101.3.

After lots of hemming and hawing that night about heading into work the next day I decided to just head to bed and suck it up, especially since it was the last day before Thanksgiving break.

When the alarm went off in the morning I told myself I was getting up to go to work, even though I didn’t feel right. The thermometer was still sitting next to the alarm clock so I grabbed it quickly and sat in bed waiting for the beep. 101.8. Um, okay okay...I’ll go write sub plans.

Since it was the last workday before a holiday I had to make it into the doctor’s office. Hubby packed me in the car and off we went. Long story short, the doctor diagnosed me with another virus. Clue number 2 should have been what the nurse said to me. “You shouldn’t be running a fever on an antibiotic.” Yup, I was still taking an antibiotic to get rid of an ear infection. What was clue number one? Oh, the fever and chills without any other ailments.

So, now back to Tuesday night...and the little bumps on my leg and my itchy arms and chest and even an itchy face, strange. Did a load of laundry washing our entire bedding set and couch blankets. I put everything back together, scratching all the while. A little hydrocortisone will do the trick and off to bed I went.

Wednesday I was tired, still had the fever and chills, and was still a bit itchy. Stupid fleas. But, and this is a big but, I couldn’t just lie around, we were hosting Thanksgiving. Long story short, later that night (while hubby was away at a gig, of course) I happened to see a few more red spots on my skin. There is no way that this could be a fleabite. So, against my better judgment (I really had to talk myself into calling the on-call doctor-I understand that they are at home with their family on their time) I called the on-call center because now I was getting more convinced I was having an allergic reaction.

You know that saying, “Listen to your instincts”? Yes, you should listen to your body. I had actually questioned this antibiotic twice while I was taking it. Argh! Anyway, the on-call doctor confirmed my suspicions; yes I was reacting adversely to the meds.

Thanksgiving Day arrived and I had a few more red bumps...nothing my clothing couldn’t cover. However, I felt a bit yuckier in the morning and was getting worried about hosting for the day. I popped an allergy pill and a couple hours later I was feeling muuuuuch better. Thanksgiving was great! (okay okay, I segue a lot)

It’s Friday morning in my world (Black Friday in most other’s worlds) and you should see the present I woke up with today!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Trolling for Recipes

Trolling for Recipes

During the holiday seasons are when I seem to do the most Internet recipe searches. I like to try new recipes for the same old dishes and this year I went in search of one for cranberries. Yes, I could buy a canned version and watch my guests chisel away at the cylindrical blob-with of course, that slightly disgusting slurping sound that ensues as you slide your spoon through the form-blech.

Last night I came across my winner. Just look at those crimson jewels, succulent.

Photo courtesy of

But seeing as though I am taking from the virtual penny jar I shall also leave a penny. Here’s a recipe for literally the best eggnog I have ever had! It’s my mother-in-law’s recipe and I only make it on Thanksgiving and Christmas-which makes it extra special.


1 C. egg substitute (Egg Beaters)

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

7-7 1/2 C. milk (I use 2 percent)

1 tsp. vanilla


Beat the sweetened condensed milk into the egg substitute. Add the milk and vanilla.

Make sure you’ve mixed well and chill thoroughly.

Stir before serving.

Top with homemade whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon.

I know you’ll love it! Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner

I think I heard it on a commercial recently. A few guests are coming and then another group joins in and then before you know it the whole crew is crashing your party. How does that happen? Oh wait, I can answer that one.

My husband plays in a band and this is the giggin’ time of year. So, I emailed my mom to say we don’t really want to travel for Thanksgiving because hubby has a gig the night before Thanksgiving and the night after and that we’d just do something for the two of us.

In her return email she compromised and suggested we host Thanksgiving for us, my mom, dad, and grandma and they’d host Christmas. Talked it over with the husband and he agreed-since it would be small. So replied to mom “sure” and that makes five.

And then I got thinking we should invite the in-laws and my sister-in-law and her babe. So that makes a total of nine. Okay, nine, I can do that.

Through another email my mom shared that my aunt and uncle (who live not far from us) weren’t going to do anything because their kids/grandkids were heading up north now instead of hanging around. Okay, plus two more. That makes 11.

Paper-saving me sent out an evite invitation (as usual) for our gathering and had forgotten to check the RSVPs for a couple of days when low-and-behold my aunt and uncle’s response: “Change of plans, the kids aren’t heading north after all. Would it be okay...” You get the picture. Plus five. Yes, a family of five. That now makes 16.

So our small, just-the-two-of-us, Thanksgiving has blossomed into another family affair. And secretly, I’m glad it did.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pumpkin Muffin Photos

Voila! Here are the pumpkin muffin photos. I did under bake them from the original recipe (by 15 minutes) and they came out fragrant and moist...And yes, they ARE delicious!