Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ever feel like life gets away from you?

Sure has felt like that over the last month or so.  We have had many changes in our home.  The biggest of which is that hubby has changed jobs.  Right now, he is not liking this job because his dispatcher is not following what he was promised when he took the job.  He has been talking to people about it and they are supposed to be changing it, but if that doesn't happen he will soon be looking for another.  It is a common problem in trucking, that companies promise things they don't follow through on.  I do think though that this issue is just a single dispatcher.  Hubby can ask for another one, and will this coming week if it comes down to that.  Over all, this is a good company to work for.  They keep the trucks and trailers well maintained, pay him well per mile, have several bonus programs.  They have a decent drivers lounge, with free showers for when your truck is in the shop.  They have a nice passenger program, the only downside to it is that he has to pay $250 a year per person for it, so it is likely that I will be the only one to go with him.  The kids would likely go once a year each and so $250 makes that cost prohibitive.  His dispatcher just never gets him home.  He was promised to be home once to twice per week for his ten hour break, and every weekend for his 34 hour break.  In a months time, he has been home one weekend and very little during the week.  Right now, he has been out seven days, getting home once for three hours for a shower.  He is not a happy camper, as he is very much a family man.  This summer when I drop Erica off for her job at church camp, I may very well just spend the summer on the truck with him, providing my fibromyalgia allows it.  In that case we may take some more long haul runs just to see more of the country.  We are thinking going through Utah and Wyoming would be nice.  We are not sure as yet how we will handle all of that, but we are trying to look ahead to it.  Beloved also loves it when I am on the truck so I can cook home cooked meals for him.  He is not at all fond of truck stop food, of course I don't know anyone who is.

Erica and I went to our ladies only retreat this weekend.  I went by myself last year, and Beloved really thought I should again this year, simply because that is the one thing I have started doing each year just for me.  I am glad I took her though the speaker had an awesome message that I will be sharing on another post.  The speaker was 19 years old and the message she had for us was amazing and something every young lady needs to hear.  That is a blog post by itself, so be looking for it!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The frugality of beans

It amazes me that so many people are so resistant to beans.  They are cheap and count as a protein and a vegetable.  I wonder sometimes if it is just that people don't understand beans.  So many people think they are hard to cook or that they always take forever to cook, and neither has to be true.  Some people think they don't like beans, but there are many different kinds of beans that can be used in many different ways. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you should put one on your wish list!  It doesn't have to be a huge canning one, a smaller one big enough to cook for your family is fine.  It cuts the time to cook beans down to almost nothing, and with the pressure used to cook them, it is easy to infuse your chosen cooking flavors into your beans.  With pinto beans, my favorite thing to throw in the pressure cooker with them is bacon and cumin.   Black beans, I normally cook more plain flavored, because I often add them to soups, such as a taco soup. 

Beans are also a great leftover to have.  The leftovers can also be used to make a meal less expensive or stretch a meal in a healthier way.  The thing is that they go with so many things.  They can even be used in the ideas above.  One thing I try to do is plan a Mexican meal a few days after we have pinto beans.  That way the leftovers can be smashed up and used in that meal as refried beans.  I often do a Mexican type casserole or a taco salad with them.  Either way it is nice to get two meals out of one cooking of beans.   I highly suggest if you don't already plan beans into your menu, that you look around for some recipes that you may like and try them!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The news says......

So a few minutes ago the news said "go out and stock up today before the storm hits".  Oh my.

This is precisely whey I went and did my coupon shopping last night.  Not only is today the first of the month, which is always the worst day to shop anyway.  Now this winter storm is coming, so they tell us this.  Granted, we are supposed to get between 6 and 12 inches, depending who you believe, but it brings a couple of big questions to mind.  The thing is I stock up on sale items when the price is great, and even more so when the coupons match.  I have food in the pantry and freezer to make something to eat regardless, even if it isn't what we really want. 

First of all, they have been talking about us having yet another "major winter storm "tomorrow for a week now.  So if you were going to need groceries for this storm, wouldn't you plan to get them on your regular shopping trip?  I mean I think I am pretty normal, and that's what I would do.  Secondly, even if you live under a rock and haven't heard the news, have you not talked to anyone?  Have you heard everyone saying  "for crying out loud, it is march already and we have had enough winter storms this year"?  Because we sure have all been saying it, this storm is going to push us to at least the second snowiest winter on record and we are all done, really we are.  But even if you haven't heard all the complaining, do you not eat when the weather is good (ok semi good, but good is relative)? 

It completely amazes me that anyone would have so little in their house that they need to run to the store in this situation.  Maybe I am not factoring in that people eat out everyday.  I can't imagine doing that, or even eating out every week.  We just don't spend our money that way, and I wonder does anyone really live by eating out every meal?  If you do eat out every meal, I would love to hear from you.  I am really curious how you stay healthy, but even more so how in the world can you afford it?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Trying new recipes

Part of being frugal and living and life is to always be trying new things.  One of those things in our home is recipes.  I am always looking for yummy and frugal recipes, and have some favorite places to look for them.  I look on Facebook quite often, as there are a lot of people who can try them and then comment about how they turned out.  I also quite often look to other bloggers, most bloggers will let you know if they have actually tried the recipe or not and what changes they may have made or be planning to make to it next time.  I am not a huge fan of trying recipes that are not either full of things we like, or tried by others who can let me know how it turned out, as a meal the family won't touch is just wasted money at the end of the day.

One thing that I look for in recipes is the cost of ingredients.  Meat is one of the most expensive things to put on the table, therefore I try to use less of it.  Often, that means that you don't get a piece of meat, but that your meat is in something else such as a casserole.  Other times, that means I use less meat and will add other proteins such as beans or eggs to the meal.

Another thing I do to make meals more frugal is to make "planned overs".  This is when I make a meal knowing that I want extras left over for another night that week.  I did that just this week.  I made sort of a mock chili, but it wasn't my cook it all day chili.  It was just red beans, some ground turkey, spices and canned tomatoes and water in my pressure cooker.  I cooked it until the beans were done and it was somewhat thickened and we had it over rice.  I already knew I had some leftovers I wanted to use up the next night, but not enough for a meal.  So I used my leftover "chili" to serve over spaghetti, and our leftover stir fry and fried rice from another night.  I made a homemade loaf of french bread for some garlic bread and that was dinner.  Quick, easy, frugal.  Also notice how both of the meals of leftovers were meals that stretched our meat, one using stir fry to do it and the other using beans.

I hope you can learn from this post that there are ways to cut your grocery bill.  In fact, it is one of hte easiest expenses to cut if you haven't already cut it to the bone.  If you are one of  those people who remembers beans growing up and thinks "oh yuck", try them again.  There are so many different kinds of beans that can be used in so many different ways.  They don't have to be overcooked and mushy and they also don't have to taste like nothing!  Give them a try!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Back to Basics

I think it happens in every family, but it has been full swing in ours lately.  Life just really gets in the way sometimes.  It seems that the roller coaster of life never ends, because well it doesn't!  So it is time to reevaluate and decide what things that take our time and energy are really needed.  I think it is important for everyone to stop and try to prioritize every once in awhile.

One thing I know will stay on my priority list is blogging.  And I am hoping to make some major changes on the blog.  I am hoping to soon add in links to my favorite coupons and sites for coupons.  I may also be adding other links to some of my favorite sites. 

Another thing that will continue to be a priority is living simply.  I really feel that it is best for my family, and I enjoy doing it as well.  It gives me a great feeling as a housewife to live simply and stretch our budget while also caring for my family.  My family also enjoys things like fresh homemade bread that they simply wouldn't get if we were not living a simple life. 

If you feel stressed and pushed to your limits, perhaps it is also time for you to reevaluate.  When you do reevaluate, be sure to keep some of the things you enjoy because it is important to have some things we enjoy in our lives.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Time for a rant about parents!

This is a rant, and if it offends anyone well I can't really say I am sorry.  It is my blog after all and it is my little piece of this world to let my opinions out.  So here it comes!

Our weather this winter has been fairly brutal.  It has been cold, super cold.  It has been snowy and icy and just icky a lot.  But we are all surviving, because after all snow and cold is not the end of the world.  Apparently however, it is becoming so for some children and parents.  The schools here in Ohio have had way to many days out for weather.  One of the things districts have done this year is "blizzard bags".  These are only allowed to make up three days, and many districts have used them all up and this point and are going to be adding days to the year.  The assignments are posted online and kids don't have to print them if they don't have a printer.  If they don't have a computer or internet, they may get copies when school is back in session and they have TWO WEEKS to do them.  My daughter did tell me that she did more work on the blizzard bags than she did at school.  That left me scratching my head, because she only spent about four hours a day on them, begging the question what happens to the rest of the school day?

The point of my rant comes now with the controversy surrounding these blizzard bags.  The news did a story on them, and I was absolutely amazed, saddened, frightened and angered by many of the comments on the Facebook page of the station.  Many parents were complaining about various things.  Comments varied from parents shouldn't have to be teachers, I work full time why should I have to come home and do this after work, I had to fight with my teenager to get them to do any of the work and it isn't done, my child won't be making up any snow days he shouldn't have to, this is supposed to be a free day to the kids why should they do work?  Of course there were others, however this you get the general idea.  My question here is WHY do you have kids if you don't want to parent them?  Most of the reasons parents gave for not liking them came down to that for me I heard (or read) them saying "I refuse to parent my child and help them out at home". 

My anger boiled over at "it isn't my job to teach my child".  Really?  Then someone please tell me who is supposed to teach them morals and values and responsibility?  Who exactly is going to teach them to become upstanding members of society?  Do we really think that teachers in classrooms so overly packed there is standing room only are going to teach these things?  (And yes this semester my daughter had a class with far more kids than seats, they crammed in more chairs, and there are not enough computers in this computer class so some kids are resigned to home and the library to do the work.)  And how is that teacher supposed to teach our children our values and our morals when we likely don't even know what that teacher believes?  For instance, how would a teacher who doesn't believe in God teach my child that Christ died on the cross so she may have everlasting life?  Sadly more than one parent commented about how teaching wasn't the job of the parents.

Lets tackle the I work full time one.  Okay so maybe you have to work full time.  Maybe you don't have a choice, or maybe you just shouldn't be alone with children (that is how some made it sound).  But these assignments are not for the parents to do.  There may be some guidance and support needed, but there is no way I expect a parent should be doing the school work of their child.  My daughter is a Freshman in High School in all Advanced Placement classes.  I do spend a lot of time some evenings with her on a regular day.  THAT is my JOB!  I am a parent.  I spent far less time with her on blizzard bag days, because it was all self explanatory.  If you work full time and your child is able to be home alone, that child should be able to get these assignments done.  And if your child goes to childcare, did you even ask that person to spend a little time with your child?  When I did home daycare I did preschool with my little kids and if any had brought blizzard bags, they would have gotten done also.  Of course I had less children than the law allowed.  Are you putting them in an overcrowded situation yet again?

The I had to fight with my teen to get half the work done amazed me.  Really?????  You are the parent of a child and when you tell your child to do something they will argue with you?  And you ALLOW that?  A sad world it has become when we have children telling adults what will and won't happen isn't it?  What else is your child going to do?  Will this child be stealing your car at 13 because you are not allowed to say no?  Will your child be demanding all of your money because they rule the roost?  Will your child be out all night sleeping with the opposite sex whenever they choose?  I argue they will be doing all of those things if you can't put your foot down when it comes to something as simple as school work?

Of course there were comments that went the other way.  But the number of these negative comments, this world is going to continue to be more and more scary.  The children raised with parents who refuse to be teachers will likely have more children and raise them the same way.  Not a good thing friends not a good thing.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Finding God's blessings in everyday life.

It is funny how sometimes God speaks to us in ways we would never expect.  And how when it does, you find it was a huge blessing in disguise.  HE will ask us to do things for him, and we think he is asking us to do for others but then we find that in fact HE has blessed our life in a profound way.

That happened to me today.  I was chatting with a friend who informed me of a tough time she was going through.  I had no idea until today, and I hope she hadn't been silently struggling alone as many of us tend to do.  When she told me, my first thought was "wow, I wish I could do something".  My next thought was probably not my thought at all, because I DID do something.  I did it right that second without really have to think about it at all.  I shared a couple of Bible verses.  It seemed so little but it was the first thing on my mind.  I seemed to recall clearly two verses in particular that hit the moment with certainty and clarity that not a lot of verses could.  

Then something big started to happen.  I started becoming a real teacher.  I asked my friend if she had ever made bread.  Now in this case I was going to refer to the actual making of bread, the kneading of the dough to make the point I was trying to make.  But I found my friend did not in fact make bread.  A door opened.  God put me in this moment with my friend from high school to do what I feel I do best.  Teach the methods of keeping a household running when income is not on your side! This friend and I have had many miles apart and many years of breaks in our friendship off and on as life has gone on (as it always does) to bring us back together at this moment when we needed each other.  Yes, I just said we needed each other.  You see the scripture we shared today lifted my mood in a way nothing else could have.  It had been a crappy day in an even worse week, and I needed some of that scripture myself!

My dear friend and I have had completely different paths as we have moved along through being wives and mothers.  But we always seem to find when our paths meet that really our path is quite the same.  The same because we are both wives and mothers and children of God.  We are also the same today because we were able to bless and lift each other, and it was remarkably easy to do.

So by now you may be asking the point of this post.  So the point is that God blesses us in strange ways, we never know where we will find those blessings so we have to keep our eyes open!

My daughter also got a blessing today, she got a job offer from our church camp.  She was thrilled.  Beloved and I were not surprised a bit, we thought she was a shoe in!  We however had to do what she did and be patient and wait.  Last Friday, she got home to school to an email with the application they had promised.  She mailed it back that day, and they likely got it yesterday.  She was jumping up and down today when she saw she had another email.  She quickly signed the contract and emailed it back.  I am surprised she is not packing yet!  If you heard unexplained excitement today you now know why!