Monthly Archives: July 2013

Austerity Mode

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We’re t-minus 9 days from school starting here.

Yes, we start ridiculously early here. Vestigial year round scheduling, you are a pain in my ass.

This means no more staying up until 10 pm (them) and 2 am (me). No more sleeping until 8 am. (10 am for Selby, our resident sleeper.) We’re gradually transitioning to a school-year schedule. We’re brushing up on our math skills. We’ve read all summer, but now I’m making them write a little. Most of their efforts have been about their cruel mother. This is my honored face.

In related news: Target, Office Depot, Staples and Wal-Mart would have me believe that I need to load up on school supplies NOW! NOW! NOW! I’m not buying it. Any of it. Not yet, anyway.

My kids have perfectly good backpacks. They don’t need new ones. Their lunch boxes need to be replaced, because I caved last year and bought the poorly made character type. Never again, my friends.

The kids won’t get supply lists until a week after school starts, when Back To School night happens and the teachers decide to reveal what supplies will be mandatory. I’ve already stocked up on the constants: notebook paper, tissue and Ticonderoga pencils.

Go Ticonderoga or  go home, yo.

But my children, who have been allowed to glut themselves on television so I can get shit done, they are pretty firmly convinced that in order to even be admitted to the hallowed halls of elementary school, we need to buy a bunch of crap. Advertisers have done their job on those two. My firm and unyielding “nope,” has netted me arguments, requests for explanations and protests. I’m horrible and as previously noted, cruel.

Not really.

What I really am is done with the unnecessary spending.

(Except when my friend goes to New York and brings home the most beautiful “Michael Kors” *wink* purse I’ve ever seen, and is willing to let me buy it off her. I’ll be honest. That felt pretty freaking necessary.)

I’m paring down everything around here. In years past, we’ve celebrated back to school with a shopping spree. But celebratory shopping gets expensive. It feels wasteful to me. And with two summer birthdays, the budget doesn’t allow for a lot of extraneous spending this time of year. So no trolling the aisles at Target, buying just to buy.

Yeah, I’m feeling pouty about it. I love doing that. LOVE.

Heather, over at Want What You Have, advocates shopping for school supplies when they go on clearance. She stocks up for the next school year at this time. I sort of did this last year and spent 17 cents for a package of notebook paper that is currently $1. Cue virtuous feeling. This year, I’m buying all our school supplies that way. It makes sense to pay less when you can. Besides, I feel like protesting school supplies being marched out at the beginning of JULY. Come on, retailers, enough of the premature roll-outs. Speaking of which…

~rant~ I WENT INTO SAM’S CLUB YESTERDAY AND THEY HAD HALLOWEEN COSTUMES OUT. IN JULY. I AM SO NOT KIDDING. MY CHILDREN WILL CHANGE THEIR MINDS ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT TO BE FOR HALLOWEEN 73 FUCKING TIMES BEFORE OCTOBER 15TH, SO IF YOU THINK I’M BUYING COSTUMES A FULL 3 MONTHS EARLY, YOU ARE HIGH ON BULK PACKAGED CLEANING SUPPLIES. ~/rant~

Yeah. Now I’m going to have another cup of coffee, calm the hell down and figure out what the hell to do about lunch boxes this year. Something sturdy and washable because holy crap, my kids are death on lunch boxes.

 

Freezer Meals, Procrastination and Revelation

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Months ago, a friend hosted a freezer meal exchange. You selected your favorite freezable crockpot recipe, made a bunch of batches, then attended the party and took home a bunch of meals that others had made. I left with 11 meals to stow in my freezer. It was fabulous.

But there were…issues.

Issue one was the investment to make twelve batches of stroganoff. A few other folks ran into the same issue, because a couple of the meals were a little skimpy. That’s not a criticism. I have a larger family than most of the women and they are hearty eaters. I certainly found a use for everything that was brought home.

Issue number two was taste. I enjoyed every meal, but no meal is going to please everyone, especially a sensory-challenged six-year-old with a mile-wide stubborn streak. My husband and teenage daughter were both of the opinion that they had simply been spoiled by my near-magical kitchen abilities. (such complete and utter bull shit, I won’t even bother to blush and simper.)

Issue number three was the fact that it takes EFFORT to pull that sort of thing together. With so many families in play, there are a lot of dietary concerns to address. Then there are the flakes that don’t show. Life happens, but damn it, give a bitch a call, would ya? Anyway, with a move and a busy as hell life, it’s no surprise that my friend has put off arranging another swap and no one else, despite all the praise and wonder we expressed, has stepped up to the plate. I totally would, but I live a far piece out. (excuses, excuses. AKA, more bull shit.)

I’ve been thinking about how nice those meals were though. And if I forget, the Pin Nation is kind enough to remind me. Daily. So I should probably make some of those babies up, huh?

Except…

The work! The expense! The WORK! The knee pain and back pain. To make a long list of excuses short, the idea of spending an entire day in the kitchen, working my fingers to the bone, makes me weepy. Not in a single tear, trickling poetically down my alabaster cheek sort of way. In a full-blown, ugly cry way. We’re talking blotchy skin and snot, chickens. Not a good look.

Cut to this morning, when I had a little, teeny-tiny epiphany.

No one said I had to make 46 freezer meals at once, did they? That’s an actual question. It doesn’t say that in the freezer meal rule book, does it?

Why can’t I take the stew meat that was marked WAY down because it’s going to go bad in a matter of hours and make a single or double batch of stroganoff one morning? Why can’t I just take that extra half package of thighs and legs, mix up a batch of marinade and pop it in the freezer the payday after next? I could easily plan for a double batch of whatever was being thrown in the crockpot, budget allowing. In other words: I can spend fifteen minutes, instead of five hours, using the stuff that needs to be used or was on sale. Sure I only get one meal instead a months worth. But still…it’s there. And I don’t get PTSD the next time I think about doing it. Win-win.

Suddenly, a freezer full of prepped meals seems a LOT more doable. In related news, I feel a little stupid for not thinking of this earlier.

Oh, did you expect recipes? No, no, no, chickens. This isn’t that sort of blog. You can check my Pinterest though. There’s a metric ass-load of links there. And if you have a spectacular, freezable recipe? Link it up, kid!