Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saucy Stories

     There was a period of a few months where we only went to the grocery store for a few basic items. I still bought the newspaper and perused the sales ads out of habit, but there just wasn't money left for groceries after bills and gas for the car. No, I didn't waste away to a size two. We ate out of our pantry and freezer.  I browsed my cookbook cabinet instead of the grocery ads. We mainly shopped at a fruit stand and Amish goods market on the way home for fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, and eggs. We couldn't afford meat very often.

     I started really paying attention to the grocery store sales. Many of these buy one get one free foods that I could purchase almost for free with coupons were full of chemicals. Pasta sauces, seasoning packets, boxed dinner mixes, even beef and chicken broth are often laced with chemical additives and MSG. I didn't realize how many modern foods contain MSG. I had mistakenly thought they did away with that when they learned that it made many people ill. Silly me...

     My two year old grandaughter has been in my house all along. When she was on formula we called her the exorcist baby because she projectile vomited constantly. She was switched to every formula there was and nothing worked. However, she flourished as soon as she went on regular food. She tries all foods and eats almost everything with great gusto. She loves the home cooked meals, asks for beans, and eats tomatoes like candy. She even eats things you wouldn't expect a baby to eat like chicken with hot sauce, tacos, bean tostadas, guacamole, and spinach artichoke dip.

     My five year old grandson moved in with us and for a week straight he refused my dinners and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead. He only eats peanut butter and jelly, pizza, chicken nuggets, fries, apples, bananas, cereal, and corn dogs. Gradually we hope to have him taste some new dishes. 

     I usually drop into my produce store on the way home from work. It's the end of the day and they give great deals on everything they won't be able to sell much longer and sometimes it is just free. One day I was given an entire box of tomatoes. I brought them home along with red peppers, garlic, onion, carrots, and celery. I chopped, peeled, sliced, steamed, and ran everyhting through the food processor. Everything went into a big stock pot on the stove and cooked a long time. As a matter of fact I was cooking sauce on Halloween night when a little girl, probably around twelve years old, sniffed and asked what I was cooking for dinner. She then went down the street and marched her dad up my driveway so he could smell dinner too. My daughter tried the sauce that night, closed her eyes, and said, "Please don't ever buy jarred sauce again." I haven't bought sauce since. I cook a box of tomatoes at a time and put the sauce in freezer bags. We use it for pasta dishes and pizza. I plan to try it as a soup base too.

     Goodbye coupons and grocery stores. I think I'm much better off without you.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

In the Nick of Time

     This was a rough month. I emptied my savings completely and rolled all the coins and deposited everything into checking so I could pay the bills. Not even one penny was left unaccounted for. I tallied up everything I had and then added up my bills. The bills were higher than the money available to pay them. I paid what was due first and saved the three that were due in the first week of February. These were important bills, electric, water, and gas. I had another check coming so they would be paid in time, but I would still be behind enough to have me worrying over the month to come.

     After all the worry, the phone call came. We had a year and a half of too many applications, a few false starts, and much careful living financially. However, now my husband is employed in another pizza restaurant! I'm excited! It's exactly what we needed and just when we needed it. Now for the long process of rebuilding.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

As It Is

     The winter has been cold for Florida so far. We've had quite a few nights that dip below thirty two degrees. While this is laughable compared to what other Americans face in the Northern states, we usually only have two to four days that fall below freezing each winter. Many fires are being started by cold Floridians firing up seldom used fireplaces and space heaters. We have gas heat but haven't had the gas company hook it up. I barely get the bills paid as it is. Extra gas for heating would be one bill too many, so we use space heaters too.

     I sleep like the dead. I once slept through my alarm clock ringing for a very long time. As the ringer went off non-stop in the real world I simply dreamt I was working in a nuclear power facility during a meltdown. My husband can hear a flea cough on a dogs butt three streets away and it wakes him. Last night as I slept, a neighbor across the street came home at one in the morning and played their car radio loud as they sat in their driveway. This did the job to have him awake for the rest of the night. I wish that this was an isolated incident but they do similar things like have loud conversations in their backyard at three in the morning. We have another neighbor a few houses down that leaves for work at five in the morning. We know this because he sits in front of his home and needlessly revs his engine for ten, sometimes fifteen minutes before leaving.

     With renting you usually find rentals like this in neighborhoods with houses all around and small yards. My parents always purchased their homes. When I was very young we lived on 138 acres on top of a small mountain. It was beautiful, peaceful, and free. When we moved to Florida we had a smaller place, only five acres, but it was still more room that I've ever had renting as an adult. I'm dreaming now of picking a state I want to live in, one with low property prices and a low cost of living. I want good soil for a huge garden and chickens. I want room to roam and lots of freedom. I want peace. For now, I have to work hard, manage the bills I have, and try to get by. Since all savings are gone we are not prepared to purchase a home yet. I think things will have to improve one day and we can begin rebuilding our lives.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Update Continued

     This is what happened. We could have repaired the roof of the RV if we could have come up with a spare eight thousand dollars. I gave up. We sold it for less than a fourth of what we paid for it and cut our losses. Someday perhaps we will have another opportunity but for now the dream is dead.

     For now as we have for the past year, we go to work, we cook dinner, we stress over the bills and then we do it all again the following day. Days are full of racing to get everyone to work, the grandson to pre-k, the bills paid on time. It's all about schedules and things that have to be done. Sometimes everbodies schedules clash. It's life and it's exhausting.

     This will be a very short post as the library is closing. It may be short and thrown together, but it does mean that I have blogged two Saturdays in a row.


Saturday, January 11, 2014


     There is no way to sum up over a year in one post so I will not even make the attempt. It's been a year with a lot of rapid changes,many struggles, and some good times as well.I have no idea where to begin so I'll just start a long ramble and see if it all sort of falls into place.
    We moved to another rental home a bit further from work in a slightly better neighborhood for less money, although utilities are a little higher so it balances out. The old house was damp and dismal and had two small window unit air conditioners that were supposed to cool the entire house. The bedrooms were miserably hot. The new home has higher ceilings, brighter walls, ceiling fans, and central air.

     For a brief few days we thought it might be an empty nest home as youngest had moved to another state to stay with "friends." She needed a rescue after they were through stealing her $1500.00. Expensive lesson learned. Luckily she was able to get her job back and the experience gave her the kick in the butt she needed to realize she needs to get independent on her own. She signed up for classes at the local community college.

     We still survive with one vehicle. Eldest daughter and grandson are staying with us temporarily until she gets a few bills paid down and gets back on her own. Her vehicle has been broken down, so my husband is the taxi driver/babysitter/housekeeper/everything. We have no savings left whatsoever, so it is pretty dangerous living.

    We have a large closet in our bedroom, large enough for all of our clothes, some other odds and ends, and those last six boxes we were meaning to unpack. An air conditioner leak took care of some of the items for us as it leaked into some of the boxes before we noticed it. Leaning against the boxes was a canvas tote with my laptop in it. Yes it did get wet. I have no idea how bad the damage is because the port where the power cord goes in needs repair. I haven't used my own computer in a long long time.

     We moved to our new home in the Spring and excitedly put in a small garden. Our ornamental plants did well. The herb garden survived a little while, long enough season a few meals, but not long enough to warrant the cost. The vegetable garden died a horrible death, and did not produce one edible vegetable. Florida gardening has always been difficult for me.

     Well, that's a start on something I have been meaning to get back to for an entire year. I intend to stop at the library very Saturday that I can and get a post up.