Monday, October 26, 2009

Baking Buys Time

It's the end of the month and there is definitely more month than money. With about $10 to last until 10/31, this week is going to be a challenge. Thankfully, the house has some food it in already.

Oak Glen is an apple village a couple of hours away. Usually my family makes the trek and picks up some apples and cider, but not this year. However, my best friend Judy went with her family and brought home a couple of bags of apples. Yay! Three bananas rest in a bowl on the counter gaining brown speckles by the hour. A large can of pumpkin sits in the pantry along with the flour and sugar.

Friday night, may daughter and I made an apple pie with some of the Winesap apples from Oak Glen. The food processor helped the crust come together in no time. A crumb topping made it quick and delicious.

Sunday was a free day with no pressing commitments. The oven called. I started slowly with some pumpkin muffins. Cake mix made the the muffins quick and easy. Next it was banana chocolate chip bread. This is a family favorite. Dinner called for hamburger buns, but I didn't have any. I went to and found a recipe that was purfect and quickly washed the mixer bowl again so I could get the buns finished before dinner. It was a good thing I took a quick nap before all that baking.

Normally the kids eat a fair amount of granola bars. Not this week. There aren't any in the house, but with all the baked goods around I don't think they'll be missing those granola bars at all. An added plus is stretching these supplies and not having to spend that last $10 ... yet.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Simple Works For Me

I have come to the conclusion that I am a simple person. I don't understand conceptial thinking. Give me the concrete.

Recently I've been exposed to some teaching and writing that is very philosophical. Philisophical concepts require one to concentrate ... sometimes for a long period of time. With my short attention span this is a challenge.

But even when I focus on these teachings and writings I find it difficult to share the perspective of the writer or teacher. I want to take a side. Do I agree or disagree? It's difficult to take a side when you don't even understand what is being said.

For the most part my ignorance doesn't bother me. As they say, "ignorance is bliss" But there are those ocassional times when I realize that I'm lacking and I wish I were a more complex person.

I console myself with the fact that I'm more educated than most of those in my family tree. And I do love to learn. I find the challenge of solving certain problems stimulating, when others around me surrender to frustration. I appreciate the fact that I live in a time and place where I have the freedom to choose what areas of interest I will give my attention to ... whether fascinating and and multifaceted or staightforward and unfussy.

We can't all be Einsteins and Mozarts. We aren't all meant to achieve wonderful accomplishments or make fascinating discoveries. It takes the "normal" people of this world to make the geniuses stand out. So, I'll be satisfied to be normal, even simple, and allow others more complex than myself, to dabble in the esoteric.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thankful for the Rain

The first sign was the sound. It's not a sound that we hear a lot of in So Cal. But to those who live her and love the rain, it is a sweet sound. Just a light dripping sound. Not too heavy, not too light, but slow and steady.

Next was the slight dampness when peering outside early this dark morning. It's not a heavy rain. That's okay.

Then was the smell. It's tough to describe that smell. Wet concrete, wet grass...wet wetness. A terrific smell.

The rain continues to fall lightly this morning. And I am glad.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Strategizing a Menu Plan

After last weeks grocery shopping trip(s), I decided it was time to take a different approach. I sat down with my computer and my cookbooks and determined to create 8 weeks of dinner menu plans using recipes that are already tried and true with my family. My goal was to come up with 56 dinner ideas without repeating any single menu. I did it.

Now for the reality. My family loves spaghetti. They really aren't excited about having to wait 2 months between spaghetti dinners. So here's the plan--if I'm faced with a dinner on my menu that requires more time than I have or just doesn't sound appetizing, I'll just break out the Prego and Pasta. Voila! Problems solved. Spaghetti isn't the only food that falls into this category of things the family enjoys and actually want to eat often. Those will be the fall backs in the plan.

Now part of the problem with this plan is that I'm not working the sales. All I have to say is ... oh well. I've decided not to lament over this. I've also decided that I will shop the sales for other weeks. For example - London Broil is on sale. London Broil isn't in my menu plan for this week. Guess what? I'm still going to buy London Broil this weeek. Why wait? In fact, I'll get two while their on sale and then I won't need to buy them the week that I need them because I'll have them in the freezer. Yeah, Yeah--I know this isn't rocket science. But this is progress for me.

Now the next challenge is keeping my freezer organized and keeping track of what is in there so I don't overbuy. I don't have a separate freezer, it's just the left side of the fridge. That's not much space. There isn't a lot of room for extras. I think I have a plan for this. I'll report back in a bit about whether my plan worked.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Learning from Mistakes in Couponing

Once again I ventured into the realm of couponing. My plan was to go to 4 different stores so I could benefit from the maximum savings. And I did--sort of.

I definitely stretch the bucks further than if I'd just shopped at one store. After factoring in the time (two and a half hours) and the problems (having to return to one store to get the Catalina coupon that didn't materialize at checkout), I can honestly say that I'm not sure this approach works well for me.

There are many reasons that I don't consider my trips a success. First, there is the time involved. Shopping at places that I don't frequent often means I spend more time looking for stuff and getting familiar with the store than actually putting the specific items in my cart.

The price stickers on the shelf at one store were so confusing that I began to doubt if I was getting the price I had planned to get. The sticker showed the old price, the new price, the difference between the those two and the sale price. That's a lot of numbers.

The sales fliers are great at pointing out the sales prices, but not so good at pointing out what is required to get those prices. In order to get the price in the very large type, you have to read the fine print and purchase the 10 or 20 necessary items noted in the fine print. Figuring all this out while actually shopping just adds to the time involved. I never did make it to the fourth store.

As a result of this experience, I have resolved to develop a strategy for future shopping trips that will help me get the shopping done in less time and still save large amounts of money. Since I am currently working full time and have a family at home, I have minimal time for coupon clipping, shopping, coupon blog reading, menu planning and grocery list making. Something has to give.