Friday, July 28, 2006

As for the pantry,

I really, really blew it. I took Skeeter and the urchins to the store with me tonight (bad idea), and I spent $38 of my weekly grocery budget AND I got almost nothing to show for it.

Part of it really was my fault; I admit it. I went looking for a few specific ingredients for a copycat recipe for Alice Springs Chicken like they make at Outback. I normally don't buy for recipes. I tend to adapt the recipe according to what I have already. But Skeeter had a bad day at work today, and I wanted to do it the "right" way for him. I also got Starbucks whole bean coffee for him instead of the usual, and that was a huge splurge.

So, alas, I'm working on $12 remaining for any grocery or household items until next Friday. And that's not particularly good, since my pantry is looking rather bare! This week's shopping really should have been all about working through the small amount left and restocking. Bad, bad me! Because of my poor shopping today, I think that my pantry challenge will last about a week longer than I had intended!

The Alice Springs Chicken recipe was excellent though, so I'll definitely make that again.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

No, no, no!!

Beginning this week, the British version of Monopoly will no longer have the traditional multi-colored cash. Monopoly in the UK will be now sold with Visa cards and a scanner!

Yet another once wonderful real-life teaching tool ruined by "modernization." How many of us learned to count money by playing Monopoly? I know I did. My son did. My daughter is.

I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the "improvement" makes its way across the pond to the US. As for us though, we'll keep the old paper money.

Should I be worried?

I just got a set of hair care products to use as part of a study. On the bottles is a warning:

"If you experience a medical emergency related to the use of this product, discontinue use and call"


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The beginning of the end of summer

It's time to look into school.

My friend Carla had her annual "end of summer" party today. It seems really strange to think of July being the end of summer. When I was little, it was still considered the middle! But, as I found out today, schools start soon. One district starts on August 2nd! The ones closer to me start August 14, but even that seems early to me.

In our version of homeschooling, we never officially stop. We just take more breaks in the summer because Spyder's friends are more available. There is something fun about the "beginning" of the school year though. Spyder and I both got sucked into the school supplies aisles at Target yesterday. We ended up buying pencils (several 8 packs for 20 cents each) and a composition book, but I managed to restrain myself otherwise. I can tell we'll be back though.

As for schoolwork, Sass will begin Pre-K officially. I'll need to make an entirely new curriculum for her. Spyder just skipped Pre-K -- or he did it before I realized it -- so I'll need to focus on researching that. As for Spyder, we're revisiting Egypt because he specifically asked for it. We're also continuing our geography study(Sass too), focusing on US geography mostly, but we do touch on European and Middle Eastern. Reading, writing, spelling, and math will continue as usual. The only thing we'll be changing -- sort of -- is science. I'm looking into science curriculums, simply because Spyder wants to use one. I have a sneaking suspicion though, that he'll get the currciulum and do it in about two weeks. He's done that before!

Summer has been good for science, really, because I let both of the children choose a plant to nurtre, and they've loved it! Sass chose lavender; Spyder chose impatiens. They've loved taking care of the plants and watching them grow. It ended up being an excellent teaching tool, that was completely unintentional! I bought some cilantro from Home Depot, and on the spur of the moment, I decided to let them each choose a plant. I need to do things like that more often!

Pretty soon, I'm going to attempt to dry some of the lavender to make sachets or something. I think Sass will love making those. I'm thinking Christmas gifts, at least for the grandmothers. :o)

Monday, July 24, 2006


My Sass is a girl after my own heart.

She's incredibly into puzzles at the moment, and she's really good at them too!

Her favorites are the 24 piece Polly Pocket puzzles, probably because they're so girly, but she can do the 100 piece ones that belong to Spyder. She's just not all that into Spiderman or the Fantastic 4. :o)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Oh, the woes of an eBay seller

I'm pretty sure that I'm giving up my eBay store. I received an email yesterday, via the eBay automatic system, saying that store listing fees were going up dramatically, and Final Value Fees are also increasing.

Last year, eBay raised the base price of a basic store from $9.95 to $15.95. Even then, it seemed worth it for me to just keep the store running all the time, with items only $.03 a month + the 8% Final Value Fee. Now, most of my items will be $.06 a month + the 10% Final Value Fee. Prices take effect on August 22, and I need to determine ASAP whether it will be worth it. I'm not a tremendous seller. Mostly I sell things from around my house -- toys, my children's outgrown clothing, books, movies, music -- that sort of thing. I would have to put much more effort into actually having a store for it to be worth it to me. It would become just another stress point, and that's not something I need at the moment.

Spyder's homeschooling has become much more mom/teacher-intensive, and Sass will begin Pre-K this year, most likely with the same type of schooling. I'm pleased with the path that schooling has taken for us, and I can't see changing it as a good thing. I can't afford to take away time from them to make eBay more profitable.

I've been thinking about this since I got the email, and I only came to my decision on the ride home from work tonight. As much as I hate to give up my "fun money," I know it will be the best decision in the long run.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Nothing makes me appreciate my own children more than keeping someone else's.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Must have been a good dream

When I went to wake Spyder this morning with the usual, "Good morning, Sugarbunch!"

He responded with, "Well? When are the arms going to explode and shoot the stuff?"

Three minutes later, he had no idea he'd even said it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Childhood relived

I've begun reading a book to Sass every night. Not a picture book, like we used to. A real honest-to-goodness book that we both can enjoy.

We sort of fell into it by accident. I read to relax every night. She'd crawl up into my lap, so I read out loud. I think she must have really enjoyed it because she started coming to me regularly, expecting to hear me read the story. It was very nice, for both of us, just sitting in the rocker, spending quality time together.

Our first story was Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster, written in 1912, but the prose is so engaging that it isn't difficult to read at all. In fact, it reads very much like a teen historical novel written today.

Our current story is Mandy by Julie Edwards, one of my favorite books from my childhood. My grandmother had a copy on her shelves -- a hardcover -- and I loved reading the book whenever I went to her house. I'd sit on her couch or at the dining room table and fall in love with the little cottage all over again. I didn't find out until much, much later (in my 20s) that the author was truly none other than Julie Andrews, whom I absolutely adored as Mary Poppins.

I think next will be Heidi, another favorite at my grandmother's house.

I am so excited that Sass is finally old enough to enjoy books with me, not just picture books. And although I never really think of myself as a girly-girl, but I'm so glad to have a daughter who wants to share these with me.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Larry-Boy Saves the Day!

Skeeter and I are helpers for children's church once a month. Yesterday wasn't supposed to be our day, but another couple asked if we'd trade since their daughter was being baptized this week.

Sunday morning at 8:30, we got a call from the coordinator. The lead worker was sick, and we were the ONLY ones for children's church that morning! No lesson plan. No snacks. YIKES! We sprang into action.

I am a local Veggie Tales ambassador, and I had picked up my kit for the new movie Larry Boy and the Bad Apple earlier in the week. We had planned to have a movie night at the church in the beginning of August, but Larry-Boy came to the rescue for children's church instead!

We gathered a story that worked with the "temptation" theme, got a small craft together, grabbed the DVD player, and Skeeter was at church by 10 am setting it up! I ran to Target for snacks -- goldfish, graham crackers, and apple juice -- and I got there around 10:30, just as they had finished the craft and were heading for the movie.

We had planned to share the story at the very end, just before prayer. The pastor ended his sermon early though, and the parents were coming to get the children just as the music video ended.

Despite the short notice, I think children's church went off really well. And I think this Larry Boy is one of my favorites -- and not just because he saved the day. :o)

Pantry cheater!

Well, it wasn't *that* bad, I suppose, but I spent $22 on Saturday, and not all of it was "must-have." Particularly not the ice-cream sandwiches! Bad me! :o)

I bought ground beef (2 pounds), and today I'm making spaghetti and meatballs. A friend gave me a huge bag of ripe tomatoes that really needed to be used ASAP, plus I'm using garlic (that I had in the fridge), mushrooms (jarred from the pantry), onions (already diced in the freezer). I already had the spices and things as well, so no trouble there.

I still haven't made the pantry/freezer list, so I'm sure that there will be another trip to the store involved in that. *sigh*

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pantry news

WOOHOO!! Things are looking good in the pantry and freezer! Things are clearing out, and I can see the light! LOL!

We have used all of the meat in the freezer, with the exception of two large chicken breasts and a ham bone for soup. We'll have the chicken this week, but the soup will have to wait for cooler weather. I'm not really interested in soup when it's 100 degrees outside.

We have (no kidding) a two gallon bucket full of rice that I completely forgot about. I found it in the back of the freezer. It's been there since October of last year, so that needs to be used ASAP. Luckily, we eat rice quite a lot! Since we're in the South, I keep all of our grains that require "long term" storage in the freezer. Flour, pasta, cornmeal, rice, and occasionally spices go into the freezer because they can get buggy if they're stored more than a couple of months, especially during the summer.

Tomorrow is grocery shopping for the must-haves, so I'm planning to go through the fridge, freezer, and pantry to make a list of what we still have. I'll have to do that to be able to plan what we need to use. I know that I'll have to buy eggs, spinach, carrots, and the like, but I'll need to plan our main meals, and I can't do that without assessing what we still have.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Skeeter, Spyder (and a friend), and I went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean film last night.

I didn't hate it, but I certainly didn't like it as much as the original. I don't want to give any spoilers, so I'm going to try to be as vague as possible.

As before, the action scenes were excellent, and overall the film was great fun. And I'd say it is a film that works best in a movie theatre, on the big screen. The water wheel scene alone is worth the price of admission. We saw it on an IMAX-style screen, and it was one of my favorite scenes in the film!

I also loved the depiction of Davy Jones and the crewmen, as more creatures of the sea than true men. That was excellent!

Most people have heard that there will be a third installment what has become the Pirates of the Caribbean series. I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say that this film felt like it was doing nothing more than setting up the third film. It raised issues and questions that weren't resolved. They weren't even explored. They were sort of dropped into the viewer's mind, then left.

I'll definitely see the third Pirates film, but I'm sorely disappointed that this one was merely set-up for the next.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

That bottomless pantry!

I'm beginning to think it has a bottom after all! Yesterday I went through both the pantry and the freezer and organized everything according to type. All the frozen veggies together, all the grains, etc. I found that we have exactly three chicken breasts left, and that's IT for the meat! Unless I count the package of veggie sausage. :o)

I did go to the market last night because we were completely out of milk, creamer, and bread. And those are absolute essentials. I spent a total of $12.90 because I got the remaining ingredients for cucumber salad as well. I made that today, and it was just fantastic! So easy to make and wonderfully summery.


Cucumber Summer Salad

2 cucumbers, peeled, sliced and quartered
10 oz cubed mozzarella cheese
2 tomatoes, diced
1 small container blue cheese
Italian dressing, about 1/2 cup

Mix all ingredients and chill for at least 1/2 hour before serving.


Sometimes I mix pasta with it as well, and occasionally prosciutto, to make it more of a "main" dish rather than a side.

I know that I've cheated a little bit on the pantry challenge, but it's really doing what was intended -- using up things that have been in there for ages, as well as making me take stock of what I have.

On a not-so-good note, Skeeter didn't like yesterday's chicken and black bean dish at all, so I'm trying to think of a way to change it or spice it up. I'm going to clip some cilantro tomorrow -- my plants are doing quite well! -- and I may add some cayenne pepper. We had it over rice, and I think that was at least part of what he didn't like. Maybe I can grab a bag of tortilla chips and use it as a hearty dip instead.

Ideas, anyone?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

On shopping

I spent $26 at the grocery store on Saturday. I didn't do really well this week, but because I wasn't at my usual shops, I couldn't really comparison shop like I normally do. I'm still working out of the pantry, so most of what I bought is for Skeeter's lunch. For home, I bought

  • cereal
  • rice
  • olive oil
  • salt

I'll still need to get bread, milk, and creamer sometime early this week.

Tonight we had BBQ ribs (from the freezer), potatoes, and broccoli. Tomorrow I absolutely must make the rest of the squash in the fridge. We'll have the rest of the ribs then too, I think. I have just enough carrots and such to make rice pilaf. I have two or three cans of black beans that I need to use too, but I haven't come up with anything that sounds good so far.

I really want to make a nice cucumber salad though, so I'm trying to justify heading to the fresh market to get cucumbers and cheese. I think that would be cheating though, since I don't have to have it. Maybe if I can think of a creative way to use those black beans, I'll celebrate by making the cucumber salad. :o)

I'm not as young as I think I am


This weekend was quite a whirlwind! I worked Friday night, and we had troubles with the computer system, so I ended up getting home later than usual. I slept in on Saturday morning (so no yard sales this week) and made brunch (omlettes and waffles) around 11.

At 12:30, my mom called and said that they were having a party at 3:00 for my grandmother's birthday. Could we be there? Well, yes, if we left straightaway!

We left home just after 1 pm, stopped for gas, and headed to Mom & Dad's. We pulled into the driveway at 5 minutes to 3:00. We stayed there until just after 10:00. It was actually a pretty productive day. Skeeter fixed Mom & Dad's computer; I did a bit of grocery shopping (more on that later); the urchins played outside and got filthy (as always). Plus, I got to visit with an aunt and uncle that I haven't seen in years.

We got home at midnight, and I was just wiped out. We went to bed almost immediately, and I was so tired that I didn't sleep well. I tossed in a half-sleep most of the night, and I woke up feeling like I had a hangover, which lasted all day. Of course, it didn't help a bit that I had to work all day today either.

There was a time that none of that would have bothered me. I spent most of my 20s working 80+ hours a week, with time to spare for fun. No longer! I still think of myself as being relatively young, but times like this make me realize how very wrong I am!

Friday, July 07, 2006

On cooking and spending

Last night's dinner was Chicken Enchiladas, and once again, all ingredients came from the pantry or freezer. I made up the recipe, but it was pretty good!


Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce

1 cup shredded chicken
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 8 oz container of sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup milk (approx)
Mexican seasoning to taste (I like Emeril's Southwest Seasoning mix)

Cook chicken and shred (I love my crock pot!); mix chicken and cheese and roll into tortillas. Place side by side in a deep baking dish.

Whisk together sour cream, soup, and milk to make the sauce; add seasonings to taste and pour over the rolled tortillas.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes. Top with additional cheese and diced green onions and serve!


I did spend about $9 at Target yesterday. I had to go anyway (for toilet paper -- necessity!), and several of their snack-type foods were on sale. Skeeter takes those for his lunch, and 80 cents for an 8 pack of cheese on cheese crackers isn't bad. He also got mini-smores and peaches (also for his lunch), and the urchins got graham crackers and saltines.

Tonight is Family Buffet night, which pretty much means that I'm not cooking, and each person can choose whatever he/she wants for dinner. We have tons of stuff in the fridge from what I've cooked earlier in the week, and it needs to be eaten anyway!

Oh happy day!

We finally got the new chandelier up today!

Found at a yard sale about two weeks ago for $35, and it was worth every penny.

I love it!!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July's Personal Challenge

This month we will be eating out of the pantry, rather than purchasing items for meals. We do have quite a lot stockpiled, so it shouldn't be too awful. :o) I'll need to buy some things, of course, but I'm going to try to buy only what I must.

So far this month, I've spent $4, on coffee and whipped cream (to go with pound cake and strawberries). Tomorrow we should finish off our July 4th feast, and I'll need to cook something. At the moment, I'm thinking I'll make zucchini pasta and garlic with cheesy garlic biscuits. But I could change my mind tomorrow when I start poking around in the pantry. :o) That's exactly how we ended up with pound cake and strawberries today. I found them both in the back of the freezer!

I've been trying to keep up with my cooking and spending anyway, due to the yahoogroup discussion, but I have a feeling that this month will be all about creative cooking!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th!

Today was an absolutely fantastic day!

We opted out of the usual family celebration, simply because it would cost an additional tank of gas, and I just didn't have the money to spare. Between having been off work for a week and a few additional and unexpected bills, we have to stay strictly on budget for the moment.

Despite the not-so-great reason that we stayed behind, I can honestly say I'm really glad we did!

We didn't have any real plans, and we bummed around far longer than we should have. I had planned to make mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and zucchini, green bean casserole -- all the Southern fare -- with a couple of bacon wrapped beef filets that have been in the freezer for a few months.

We had invited our friends Chris and Brenda last week, but we'd never made final plans. I had assumed that they'd do something with family since I hadn't heard from them. Brenda called around noon and said they'd be over later -- YAY!! They came over around 4 (sans children, since they're with a grandmother for the week).

I pulled a couple of extra of the filets from the freezer and got everything ready. They came with the grill, plus extra squash, sweet corn, and green tomatoes, all fresh from the garden. Oh yummy yum yummmmm!!

I had been a wee bit concerned that we might not have enough food, since I'm budget-limited this week, and I had to use what we already had on hand. We ended up with far more than we could eat! (Isn't that usually the case though? LOL!) We barely had room on the table for all of the food and our plates!

We ate far too much, which always happens at gatherings, and we had an excellent time just hanging out with friends and no pressures of having to get back home.

A day well spent!

Saturday, July 01, 2006


"Hey man. That magazine says you have to be 18 to buy. You think I can get it? I'm WAY past 18. I'm 19!"