Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Daylight Savings Time Transition

I am very happy that we are getting more and more minutes of sunlight each day. Still, I struggle with what seems like such a late sunrise in March. Plus, since it is still a bit cold, we still have snow mounds, and where there aren't snow mounds, the ground is wet and muddy, and then freezes again overnight. This makes outdoor time less fun than it should. Was it earlier this year than other years? I seem to remember it being towards the end of March, not the first half. Either way, I struggle both in the fall and spring, but more so each spring, with the changing of the clocks. It seems to take about two full weeks for my body to match to the new operating hours.It's not just me. Recently an article popped up in my news feed about how daylight saving time affects your health and wellness.

Yesterday afternoon, I was attempting to take Pup for a much needed long walk. I saw my neighbor with Pup's buddy and they were pretty excited to see each other. Both dogs like to go down this long sidewalk, and if we are really ambitious, cross the highway to where there is a good forested walking path. Right now though, several parts of the sidewalk in both directions are flooded messes, meaning we would have to take the street. This was about 5:45 when loads of folks are getting home from work. It was not quite safe for taking the road, so we both just continued around our big block, withthe  dogs moaning and pulling for us to go down the paths, also flooded, to the park. Neighbor uttered the horrid words too-another big snow is expected. Not the first day of spring I would like. 

I've been up since 5:30, and still no sunrise at 6:26. In about 30 minutes I'll be driving to work, still in mostly darkens. I am a four season kind of gal. I just wish the length of the season would be summer five months, fall three months, spring thee months, and maybe leave winter the month of December. I hear there are places like this in the world.

Remember this? Sun and green!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tuesday Rant About Teens

Even a good kid can drive a parent a little bonkers from time to time. We did not have a great start back to school after the break. I get a panicked call yesterday at 4:45 from DD2. Now first of all, no parent wants panicked calls. The worst goes through your head. This was not great, but truly not the end of the world. She lost her keys. She had sort of retraced her steps, but was not thinking very clearly. I had to pick her up, go home, find the other keys, then go back with her for show choir. On the drive home I asked her a few questions, about her search process, and where she checked. Every question it seemed was answered, "I didn't think about that." and  my questions just got her more upset, These were some obvious things I would think she would have attempted to do before calling me. I made a not so nice, but parental comment, which I now wish I would have reworded. "I worry about your life skills sometimes." The tears came flowing. "I'm sorry I'm stupid." She calmed down, and I explained what I meant. She needs to be more problem solving focused. She needs to not get upset before options are explored. She needs to have back-up plans.

Things calmed down, though she now was worried about how much it was going to cost to re key the car and change the house locks. Being so concerned, one would think DD2 would have back tracked this morning to all her classes right away. No. She was going to ask each teacher one at a time as the day progressed. Fortunately they turned up, but had been left in her 7th hour class. A friend that had the teacher earlier thought to ask on her behalf, picked them up and brought them to 4th hour choir. 

Today she came home briefly, though in case they didn't show up, I was also home to let her in the house. She needed to go back for Vocal Jazz at 3:45, then eat quick, then get ready for Show Choir finale night.I gave her cash to give her friends mom who was picking up Jimmy John's sandwiches. As she was leaving I asked if she remembered her money, since her hands were full. "You never gave me the money." Now, I forget things too, but I was sure I handed it to her. She grabbed some of her own quick, and left, five minutes later than she should have. I looked around as to where I might have put the cash down if I hadn't given it to her, which again I was sure I had. A light bulb went off in my head. She was eating a donut out of a paper bakery bag when I handed it to her. Just maybe, she accidentally tossed the cash with the bag. Sure enough, there was a $5 and four $1 bills folded together on top of the bakery bag in the garbage can. I can't wait to tell her where I found the money.

I'm a mean mom for my quote yesterday, and do feel bad. It wasn't the lost keys, no less than three times a week are keys being left in work bathrooms or conference rooms, but how she went about, or didn't go about, problem solving. I sometimes do worry how she can be an accomplished student and performer, but often leaves the street smarts behind. 18 out of 20 times, she eventually figures things out on her own, does the right thing, the wise thing. Still, those two in 20 things are piling up this week and it's only Tuesday. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Latest Life's Little Luxuries

Since I basically menu planned yesterday, looking to squeeze every morsel out of my March grocery budget, I thought today I should move away from my whole  tightwaddery topic. I like nice things as much as the next person. I just find them nicer, and I appreciate them more when I don't have them all the time, or use as part of downtime. Despite my penny pinching,  even in the last three months, I've splurged on a few things that give me a sense of indulgence, and dare I say perhaps luxury. Some might think these are fool hardy expenditures and others might laugh that I call them indulgences. But to each of us, we have our own inner definition of luxury and indulgence. We only have to feed our own taste. 

Nourishing facial masks: These two beauties were bought for $2.49 each at Target and are single use. I splurge at least once a month on these after discovering them in one of the Fab, Fit, Fun boxes. While  the Target ones are not even close to the retail price of the brand  in the subscription box, these are pretty darn close to the same quality. I like the quiet time while it sits on my face and the softness it leaves behind. 

Tresemme Shampoo and Conditioner: Now I an really showing my lack of upper class style, but  we have now started to buy Tresemme at over $5 a container compared to shampoos 1/3  to 1/2 less and I am not going back. Some say shampoo is just the same, and conditioner is not needed, but I would disagree. I try to get on sale, or at least when  at Target I can get the extra gift card for future use. It reminds me of the same quality of my Nexus days, when my Father-in-law the Barber, would get us ample supplies. I mistakenly was buying cheap shampoo for too long, and my lifeless hair was not happy. Would I start buying product in salons? Perhaps more luxury than this thrifty person could take.

Lindor Truffles: I've been savoring these since Christmas as I got a bag from my future niece-in-law as part of my gift. We had so much candy and treats for a month after, I didn't even break into these until February. They are nearly gone now, and I plan to replace, keep in the refrigerator and enjoy one every now and then and feel like I've actually had a treat instead of mindlessly popping various miniatures into my mouth, because that's what I do with an open bag of Reeses Peanut Butter cups. 

Fresh ground coffee and real cream: Coffee drinkers, do I need to say any more? I just realized I haven't been out for coffee at all this month yet, but my home grounds have been keeping me quite satisfied. 

Candle light from a good quality candle: This one is Garden Flowers scent and soy, so will not leave a stinky after burning smell. I actually bought this a while back on my sisters shopping day at a pop up barn craft/consignment shop only open a few weekends a year. It was a luxurious bargain at $10 for a homemade candle. Give me a quiet night watching a good movie, enjoying a glass of wine with a candle burning  and I say it is a good night.

Avocados-all to myself: I did not grow up eating avocados. This was not an item my mom ever would have bought, or known what to do with. I think I had guacamole for the first time after high school. Most often these babies run upwards of $2.49 a piece in my part of the country. However, despite the relatively high price point, indulging in these on occasion, more often if they are on sale, feels decadent, while being healthy. The environmental impact helps me keep my indulgence focused on occasion as well since they consume a lot of water to grow and must be transported. Maybe it's the pretty staged avocado toast pictures displayed in magazines, but I get a sense of luxury when eating on for breakfast or lunch, and not sharing with anyone. 

Goodness. I am a real suburban/small town bumpkin. Still, if these are the things that add a little spot of decadence in my life, I'm not complaining that they are simpler than other folks definition. How about you? What do you occasionally  indulge in? Have you changed to a more expensive, but one you feel is worth the added expense, product?  Does anyone have some extra truffles and coffee brewed and want to invite me over to talk about this? 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Another Self Imposed Grocery Challenge

What did we end up eating the last week?

Sunday-leftover lunch, DH frozen pizza, DD2 and I hotel picnic
Monday-DH Chicken Cordon blue(frozen ones to just bake) and rice, DD2 and I stopped and shared assorted DQ items, surpsingy with no ice cream
Tuesday- Baked chicken, mashed potatos, creamed corn
Wednesday-DH and I went out for date night, DD2 leftover chicken cordon blue and rice
Thursday-Ham and cheese toasted on bagette (bought a $0.51 bagette at Walmart clearanced, spinach salad, DD2 ate at her friends
Friday-Spaghetti and meatballs, spinach salad
Saturday-Tuna croquettes/cakes, sweet potato wedges, green beans. DH and I also had some wings with our beers when we joined friends for an ealry evening out 

I'm tallying the numbers after a quick stop for mailing envelopes, milk, bananas, eggs and a couple avocados. I have a tad bit over $106 for the remainder of the month. With what I have already purchased that will go towards Easter, I'm giving myself a $45 budget for everything else for th holiday meal, leaving me with $61 the week of March 18th and 25th. I am going to be tight fisted with my families money-we have big plans and fancy meals at home don't play into them. Humble and satisfying is my mantra. It time for a grocery and household supply inventory. Planning ahead meals with what we have on hand is my starting place. I will need laundry soap, fabric softener, and toilet paper, and  dog food for pup, so should plan to set aside $25 for these items. I also can prorate into April $20 for some health and beauty and baking products purchased in larger quantities to maximize savings, giving me $56 for straight up groceries, or a $28 target per week.

I think it is easiest to start with the main portion or protein when I look at what's on hand to eat from the stocks. Meat proteins aren't that plentiful, since there hasn't been great deals and I've been trynig not to overbuy. Still, there are options to get me started.

1 bag, 22 ounces Simeks prepared meatballs-three meals worth
2 large Smoked Sausages
1 Sausage ring-still lingering around from previous meal planning weeks
1 package hot dogs
1 pound dried navy beans
2 cans black beans
1 can garbanzo beans (but will probably reserve to make a pasta salad with tomatoes for my lunches)
6 cans tuna (though I should reserve a few for lunches when we don't have leftovers handy)
1 dozen eggs
8 ounces cheddar
4 ounces pepper jack
4 ounces Colby
1 pound Velveeta-please, no judgment, bought by DH

We don't have much in the way of canned or frozen vegetables, so I think a lot of the budget will go towards fresh or canned/frozen versions of those items. We also must have fresh fruit, though we do have enough bananas, apples, and honey dew in the fridge for about 2-3 days after this weekend. I also have frozen berries and mixed fruit and canned pineapple.

Looking above, here are a few meal options to get me started. An * means I do not have these items, or we are low and will need to be purchased.

Meatballs and gravy, potatoes* and vegetables*
Penne pasta and red sauce with meatballs
Sliced Smokes sausages in spicy black beans and rice, steamed corn*
Hot dogs on buns* with french fires* and baked beans
Ring Sausage, au gratin potatoes*, green beans*
Navy beans soup, with carrots*, celery* and onions, crackers* and cheese slices
Tuna noodle hotdish, with peas*
Homemade baked macaroni and cheese, mixed vegetables*
Rice crust cheesy quiche with steamed broccoli*, honeydew
Grilled cheese using the Velveeta, again no judgment please) sandwiches and tomato soup
Tuna cakes or croquettes (my croquettes were more like tuna cakes), rice pilaf, and some sort of vegetable*

My * items roughly come to $14 in my head. Add milk and bread, another bag of apples and a few more bananas, I will most likely be at around $23, leaving me a few bucks and several meal options to take into the following week. I am such a nerd when it comes to these things, but the challenge has me fueled. Can I get those items for less than $13? What about my $25 set aside for household items that are not groceries? Can I get pups dog food on sale or find a coupon? Can I creatively come up with a new recipe or two that my family likes and is healthy? What about snacking? Can I maximize my baking supplies, popcorn, and miscellaneous food items for quick on the go snacks without using too much or any of the budget there. The game is on folks.

Someone's pantry-not mine.