Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Lesson in Frugal Eating

A large, echoing void. A vacant chasm. A strangely luminous abyss. . . .This is my refrigerator today. Can you relate?

It seems like I encounter this image about once a week, usually at 7:30PM right in the middle of four or five exhausting workdays.

Now, normally this results in a dreary errand out for frozen pizza and microwaveable soup. But today I was already in my pajamas. And my feet hurt, I'm tellin' ya!

So I decided I was going to come up with some sort of breakfast and lunch for tomorrow out of the available resources or die trying.

What do we have to work with?

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • a tub of Country Crock spread
  • a colander of thawing strawberries
  • 5 eggs
  • some almond milk
  • a Brita water pitcher
  • a heckuva lot of lemon juice
  • and 2 random jars of half-used spaghetti sauce.
Never mind what's in the door; it's just a bunch of condiments and a couple sticks of butter.

Normally, I don't make it past the depressing refrigerator inventory. I give up, give in, cry uncle, and buy pizza.

This time, I gave the freezer a more searching look.  The most prominent features are a couple bags of pecans, a cup or two of Quaker oats, a frozen banana, too much ice cream, and some wheat berries that I can't find a use for.

Hmmm. You can't bring an ice cream sundae to work for lunch, folks. 

But behind it all, I found one leftover cod filet, some slightly freezer burnt broccoli, and exactly 3/4 of a cup of uncooked wild rice.

*A Fanfare of Trumpets*

Lunch! By George, I think we've got it!

Breakfast was even easier to figure out. A fried egg, and some oatmeal spruced up with strawberries. Boom!

So out of the seeming nothingness of my leftover groceries, I have found meals. Not only meals, but healthy meals.

Healthier meals than if I had gone to the grocery store in a fit of laziness and desperation and bought pizza and microwaveable soup, in fact.

Moral of the Story

When you're looking in your fridge, groaning, "Awww, there's nothing to eat!!" . . .

Square your shoulders, look again, think outside of the box, and don't go out and buy "instant," over-processed, easy food.

Because you probably don't have to.

And hey, by using up your odds and ends instead of making an extra trip out, you've probably saved an extra $10 on your monthly grocery budget!


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Saturday Things....

The Poog, circa 2005.
If I was a good blogger, I would come to you today with mason jar crafts and wreaths made out of baby ducklings.

Um. All I have for you is a picture of a cat looking at a piano. Here ya go.

. . .

I am very tempted to launch into a lengthy excuse/rant/whine, but it would involve heavy objects, backaches, fatigue, chaos, and be of no interest to anyone.

So before I go to work in half an hour (Yes! SO excited!) (Not.) here's just a few whatnots from my latelys.

  • On the moving front, I've cancelled my newspaper subscription. One item off the mile-long to-do list, anyway. Do not despise small beginnings, people.
  • Also been cleaning out the freezer. So far, this has resulted in an increased consumption of broccoli, and the making of this really awesome peach raspberry cobbler. 
  • I have a TON of frozen strawberries. Still trying to figure out how to use them all up--Here's some strawberryful recipe inspiration!
  • Loving these two blogs at the moment.....Fennel and Fern (pretty pictures!) and Wilder Quarterly (always green, often fascinating.)
  • I listened to Josh Ritter obsessively when I was in college. Rediscovered my Animal Years CD..... I loved this song. It still rather speaks to me. (I can't resist the allusion to Huckleberry Finn in the last stanza. It gets my inner geek every time.)
  • I went to the library for a book of Theodore Roosevelt's writing the other day--I had seen a quote from his speech/essay "Strenuous Living" and wanted to read its context--and, predictably, came out with not one book, but five. 
  • As if I have time to read. Ha.
  • Someday, I will probably write a post about how SparkPeople's food tracker revolutionized my eating habits and magnesium turned my life around. Yay for vitamins and minerals!
  • But not today.
  • In case you were wondering about that compelling Theodore Roosevelt quote: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Yeah! Go get 'em, tiger.
  • The end.

So, what's your favorite recipe to use up frozen strawberries?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Preparing to Move: The First Steps

Re-locating. Chances are you've done this a few times. . .

Cardboard. Tape. Chaos.

What a pain. 

To the left, there, you see my to-do list. The middle two columns are all related to my upcoming move. Um. . .yeah. It's officially taking over my life.

It's still two months out, but it's not too early to get started.

Here are some tips . . .

I've learned from experience that you can focus on some things way ahead of time to simplify the process later on.

  1. Empty the pantry. Food is a bother to transport even if you're just moving a couple blocks. Try to eat as much of what's in your freezer, fridge, and cupboards as you can, and quit stocking up on extras!
  2. Declutter. You know that stack of magazines? Junk mail? Random stuff in your closet? Under the bathroom sink? If it's not important enough to justify the work of packing, hauling, and unpacking. . .Pitch it.
  3. Downsize. There's no time like the present! Break out your inner minimalist. Think about articles of furniture that you could sell on craigslist to off-set the cost of the move. . .Clothes you could donate to thrift stores. . .Books you could donate to your local used bookstore. . .
  4. Start collecting boxes and packing materials. If you subscribe to a newspaper, don't throw any of it away or cancel it until you have enough to wrap all your fragile items. If you get a package in the mail, save the box and bubble wrap!
  5. Pack what you can when you can. Chances are, there are things you can start packing ahead of time that you won't miss. Out of season clothes. . .The contents of bookshelves and closets. . .
  6. Make a list and tape it somewhere in-your-face. Your mind is probably swimming. (Sinking?) So much to do. Get it all on paper and add to it as things occur to you so you don't forget anything!
  7. Re-read your lease and inspection paperwork. If you rent, make sure you know how much advance notice of your intent to vacate your landlord requires. See who's responsible for shampooing the carpet.  And if your landlord went over the condition and cleanliness of your apartment with you when you moved in, find that paperwork again to help you leave things in the same or better condition.
  8. Those crazy drip-pans on your stove covered in burnt-on gunk? Buy new ones and install them the day you leave. Seriously. They never look decent again once stained.
  9. Make a list of all the places you'll need to change your address, and all the bills and utilities you'll need to cancel. I find this is easiest to do if you simply make a list of all your incoming mail for a month as it arrives. 
  10. Eat ice cream. Hey. You can't take it with you.

How do you prepare to move?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Google Reader and so forth

Hey guys,

Just a little administrative note. If you use google reader, you've probably heard that it's going to be deep-sixed! As a creature of habit, I find this extremely irritating. . .But I've switched to Bloglovin, and am slowly adapting. :) It's not too bad, really, and it's easy to import your entire google reader subscription list over with just a few clicks.

 If you'd like, you can follow this blog on Bloglovin by clicking this button.....

Follow on Bloglovin

Also, would you hate me if I change commenting on this blog to not allow anonymous comments? Seriously considering it. Comment spam is getting harder and harder to keep up with......In fact, one spam comment just arrived at my e-mail inbox during the two minutes it's taken me to write this.

Anyway, sorry for the lack of updates! Right now, I'm just trying not to be chewed up and spat out by my retail job, and trying to get my act together to move. . .Listing my piano on craigslist. . .Doing some spring cleaning. . .

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cheap Thrills 01

Don't let this picture fool you.
This post has nothing to do with yarn.

Okay, for the sake of updating my blog with something, anything. . .here's a post of some cheap or free things I've appreciated lately.

As you might remember, my primary source of income went kaput (no more latte slinging over here :(....) and I'm saving up for a cross-state move.

So if I'm going to have any fun over here, it better be cheap!

Cheap Thrills!

  • The OED's Word of the Day. You can sign up to have it e-mailed to you. Today's was "achoo" -- If I were rich and extravagant, I would pay the $295 annual fee to have total online access to the dictionary. But I'm not, so I just revel in the linguistic luxury of a free word-a-day.
  • Volunteering at a local cat shelter. I started in January. . .I always kind of wanted to, but the death of my family's elderly cat in December spurred me into it. I've never rented with a lease that allowed pets, so I've been cat-less for too long! Volunteering at the shelter is truly the highlight of my week. (Not sure what this says about me...Crazy Old Cat Lady?)
  • Rediscovering my french press and drinking decaf coffee at any hour of the day or night. Working at a coffee shop four days a week, I didn't make coffee at home very often. Now that we're closed, though, it's a totally different story. I really only drink a cup at a time--not a whole pot!--so french pressing eliminates waste.
  • Italy. I've been on this random Italy kick lately. It's pretty. Let's go. (Hey! Daydreams are free!)
  • Little Dorrit. This book is like biting into a big, juicy peach. It seems much more tightly written than what I usually would expect from Dickens, and much less farcical. (I just finished Nicholas Nickleby, though, so the contrast between his earlier and later works is especially apparent!)
  • Jane Austen Unbound on Facebook. Okay, okay, okay, stop throwing things at me. I know I railed against the evil time waster-iness of computer games. Actually, I've gotten sucked into a few of them since that post. (Thanks Mom.) But it's Jane Austen, so it doesn't count. Right? Right? Okay, I'm not fooling anybody. Obviously this is a case of do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do.
  • Soaking in the tub. With epsom salt! Ugh. Lately I've been one big living, breathing Ache. Walking around on concrete for eight hours at a time, lugging around 40lb boxes of whatever will do that to a person. But I picked up this huge bag of Dr. Teal's epsom salts at Walmart, and it seems to help. This isn't a particular advertisement for Dr. Teal's or anything, it just happened to be the cheapest and/or only brand I saw.

What have been your latest frugal delights?