Thursday, January 28, 2010
"In our rich consumers' civilization we spin cocoons around ourselves and get possessed by our possessions."
Let me put those rumors to rest.... here's a list of far from frugal things that I can't give up...
1. The iPhone. I heart my phone. It's expensive, even after switching to a lesser plan... Around $150/month for two lines. We kept our number from Florida for our families, so it's still a local number for them. I use the map constantly. The apps... ohmygod the apps. I can check class times at the gym, movie times, restaurant recs, AIM, Facebook, weather, lolcats, Epic Fail, Pandora, IMDB, my white noise for sleeping, FML, Craigslist!!! So much... and the pictures. Lord. Granted, the camera really could suck less (no flash? Really, Apple?!), but when it works, it's a great shot.
2. Disneyland. We have annual passes for the kidlets and myself. Mine I paid for up front, and.... actually is coming up for renewal soon (note to self). But for the girls, we just did the monthly payment option for SoCal residents... Comes to $20, and we go probably once a month. We loved Disney World in FL, and while this is a distant, distant runner up in the awesomeness race, it's a great way to kill a day.
3. Starbucks. I have cut back, from a bazillion trips a week, to just once or twice. But it makes me sad.
4. Perfume. I love love love Michael Kors, and just dropped $70 on some (even after my $25 gift card). But, in just 2 business days, I'll smell oh so pretty. (I mean, I smell fine right now, but. This stuff is pure magic.)
5. Internet. We could have dropped the internet when we dropped the cable... our neighbor has unsecured network, apparently. But... I'm not an interwebs stealer.
6. Going out to eat. I love it. LOVE it. If I could swing it, I'd eat out all day, every day. Sadly, neither my wallet nor my waistline would appreciate it. So... we still do this, once or twice every few weeks. The H prefers to keep it down to once a month. I think Sunday breakfast out is heaven on earth. We compromise and head out about once every 2 weeks. Sigh.
So. That's it. My deep, dark, non-frugal secrets.
Now, if I wanted to, I *could* cut those things out but.... why? Why would I? I mean, I could if I NEEDED to... I have and I would again. But I'd be pretty pissy about them ;)
And in full disclosure... I don't do this out of some sense of nobility, or responsibility, or anything else good. If I had my way, I would own heaps of stuff. HEAPS. I would do LOTS of things, and stay in pretty, shiny places. This is done out of necessity. It's a necessity I've come to terms with, despite my protests.
So... it's not MY ideal situation. I recognize that I have more than enough to survive, and I'm pretty lucky in that respect. I also recognize how shallow and... well, elitest I could be. I'm not even entirely sure I don't WANT to be shallow and elitest.. I kinda think it might be fun. But that's not where I am... THIS is where I am.
And if THIS means that I have 3 great kids, and cars that run comfortably to get me to a job I like, and a home to live in that is SAFE, and food to eat at the end of the day... I'm gonna make the best of THIS.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Saute 1/4c onion and 4-5 cloves garlic (I'm stupid heavy on the garlic, because... I love it) in 1T olive oil over medium heat.Add about so much dried parsley....
And about 1/4c chopped red pepper...
When the onions have turned translucent, add the rice, along with 1T butter, and stir all together. Salt and pepper to taste.
When the rice just barely starts to brown, add the water.
My fool-proof rice ratio: 1 c rice, 2 c water. Turn heat up to high, bring to a boil. Stir, cover, and lower heat to low. LEAVE THE LID ON THE PAN. Whatever you do.... do not uncover it. You're using that steam to cook the rice. I promise, it will be fine.
Cook on low COVERED for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from heat, and leave lid on for an additional 5 minutes. Uncover, and voila. Lovely faux-rice pilaf. The general recipe also works for non-faux-pilaf rice as well.... 1 to 2 ratio, drizzle of olive oil and salt, bring to boil, cover and lower heat, cook on low for 20 min. Perfect rice, every time for me.
I had bone in, skin on chicken breast, 'cause it was on sale at my favorite store. You can use whatever seasoning you want. I trust that you know what that is :)
I used garlic salt, pepper, paprika, and onion powder. Season liberally... I try to season under the skin if I remember...
Heat 1T oil over med heat (I use veg or canola for this). When heated, add chicken skin side down.
When that side is browned, flip and lower heat to med low. Cover, and cook until cooked through.
Remove from heat and let rest.... Because these were GINORMOUS, it actually only took 1 breast to feed me, 1, & 2. Baby already ate, and The H will have the other one... or part of it. It's freaking huge.
I served with the faux-rice pilaf and steamed broccoli.
Now... the thing that always jacks up my meals is my timing... for THIS, I seasoned the chicken breast, and let it sit while I started the rice. Chopped the veg's for the rice, sauteed them, etc., and started cooking the chicken when I put the water in the rice. This ended up with perfect timing, everything done at the same time.
And nary a box in sight ;)
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
So. If you're using Baker's chocolate, it's 4 squares of that... otherwise, it's half of a bar. Combine in a microwave safe bowl with one stick of butter. I tend to chop both up roughly so they melt faster. I'm imaptient that way. Micro that for about a minute, then stir. If it needs additional heating, go for it... 15-20 seconds at a time.
So, I forgot an important piece of this. BUTTER YOUR RAMEKIN'S BEFORE DUMPING THE CHOCOLATE GOO INTO THEM. Please don't forget that. It'll be ugly if you do.
And, my friend Fataliya at Madness and Kisses wants to make this tomorrow, so... here's something easier to use than scrolling through that madness up there :)
Easy to follow recipe:
Preheat oven to 425*.
Heat 1 stick butter, and chocolate until melted. See above for micro directions, or use a double boiler if you're fancy.
Once melted, add 1 cup powdered sugar, and stir until combined.
Add 2 eggs, and 2 egg yolks. Stir until combined.
Add 6 Tbls flour, stirring until combined.
Butter 4 ramekins, and divide batter into them. Bake for 13-14 min, or until they look "almost" done... should be kinda gooey looking on top, but not melty gross. (how's that for official?)
Friday, January 22, 2010
While that is browning, combine in a bowl:
- Minced garlic - 3 or 4 cloves
- 1/4 t ginger
- 3/4 t hot sauce
- 1/4 c apple juice
- 1/3 c light brown sugar
- 2 T ketchup (I know, I know, but don't freak out. I promise it works out.)
- 1 T balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 c water
- 1/3 c soy sauce
- 1 t onion powder
This makes a pretty dark, fairly sweet magical sauce.
After the chicken has browned, remove it from the pan, and add the sauce. Bring to a boil. Re-add the chicken, lower heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
I fed this to the kidlets with steamed rice and green beans.
The substitutions/changes that I made were:
- I didn't have apple cider vinegar, so I used balsamic.
- I didn't have chili flakes, so I used Trader Joes hot sauce.
- I like garlic, a lot, so I used more than the original recipe called for.
Things I might do differently, should I be so inclined:
- I'd prefer to make my own ketchup, or use similar ingredients rather than.. ketchup
- If my family wouldn't freak out, I'd add more hot sauce :(
- Broccoli instead of green beans (which I only got because Target had these frozen bags on clearance for $0.44!)
- Brown rice instead of white
- Maybe sub low-sodium soy sauce, and use fresh grated ginger
In there right now, I have... 2 beers (!!), some rum, water, apple juice, milk, some peachy liquor of some kind (!?), eggs, cheese, a bag of spinach, green bell pepper, half of a SmartWater or whatever that I've been semi-drinking for 3 days.
And the freezer.....
Contents: A teeny bag of coffee sample from Cost Plus Worldmarket, an Ikea fishy-shaped ice cube tray, and a bag of frozen edemame.
And the benefit to this is... $2 left in my pocket, and $110 in the bank, after everything has cleared.
That'd be a bit of an improvement over my $5 last week. (I tried to calculate the percentage, but I got confused.)
Plus, adding in the additional cost savings of not having thrown any money away on crap that we didn't eat... well. I'm practically a millionaire now.
I suppose the key to making something USEFUL of this discipline is what I do now. I mean, I COULD use my leftover cash stash to pay for some new makeup. I could take the kidlets out to dinner. I could buy some brown leather boots, that I'm dying for. I could buy a purse. I could... go on and on about what I could do.
So. Is my discipline wasted now if I DO those things? I think so. I mean, I really, really, REALLY want to do stuff, like, ALL of the above. I will probably do a little of some of them. I'm not sure yet. I need to contemplate this.
Feel free to leave suggestions ;)
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The last 6 months or so have been rough. I moved the fam cross country, The H was unemployed for three months, catching up on things once he GOT employed. It's been tight. And, pretty tragic.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
“The Internet is a giant international network of intelligent, informed computer enthusiasts, by which I mean, "people without lives."......
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Back about 3+ years ago, I used to self-color. It was fun. Easy.
Until one day, when I self colored, and my hair turned some gross greenish-blueish-grey color. It was disturbing. I tried calling my sister, since she self-colored all the time... and she suggested throwing a new color on top of that mess.
That's when I remembered she once turned her hair pink.
I called a salon by my then-office, and described the nonsense on my head to them, and they (magically) had an opening available with their best colorist. My description apparently piqued some interest, because when I got there, and gave them my name, I got a, "Oh! With the color situation! Can I see!?" True story.
My "color correction" turned into a 4 hour process to fix the mess I made. This visit turned into a love-affair with my stylist... who faithfully, every 6 weeks, spent 3 hours coloring, high-lighting, low-lighting, and trimming my pretty hair into perfection. And, thanks to her, I discovered that... ta da! I have CURLS!
Sounds stupid, I know. I had no idea. I thought my hair was just frizzy for no reason. But... lo and behold... there are CURLS on this head.
Now that I'm in Cali instead of Florida (land of mugginess and swamp funk), my hair is gloriously almost always frizz-free. It's spectacular.
My sister has always had this insane, thick, shiny bunch of hair, and... being that she's far, far girlier than I am, has always been able to do... stuff with it. That used to piss me off to no end.
A few months ago, I was seriously, SERIOUSLY in need of a cut. I found a stylist here in OC, but... I couldn't afford it. What I want done runs me a couple hundered each visit. So, I talked The Russian into cutting my hair for me. It turned out she's pretty great at it, and my hair was magical. THEN! I even dyed it myself, to amazing results... a lovely chestnut brownish color.
Thanks to my Florida stylist, I now vaguely know how to style my hair, and make curl cooperate... sometimes, it even looks good. Like so:
I mean, there are still PLENTY of days where it doesn't....
But, fortunately for all of society, those days are not nearly as frequent as they used to be.
Monday, January 11, 2010
“Waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality, nothing will do, and with them everything.”
Many years ago, I lived with my cousin and her daughter. I was making dinner one time... french fries were involved. From scratch, like... potatoes. And the kidlet looks at me all crazy, and says, "What are you doing with those?" And I explained it, and she looked befuddled.
My kids are the opposite. Now, I pull out a frozen bag of fries, and they look at it funny.
Believe me, I'm far from a health nut. I could stand to lose a good 20 lbs (at least), I've got a can of Pepsi on my desk (opposite from my blood orange), and a bag of chocolate in my drawer. But it's a step, right?
UPDATE: Peppers? Gone. Finished by Sunday afternoon. I knew I should have bought more than 5.
UPDATE UPDATE.... Some mofo stole my blood orange at work. Bastards.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Eventually, we moved out and my parents moved in, and there she stayed...in the house Opa built, for the rest of her life. She had a ridiculous amount of faith... Like, ridiculous. I could never. I'm too uppity and impatient and cynical for that faith nonsense. But she did... and I wish I could, 'cause she was the most gentle, calming person I've ever known.
She was super awesome, and today is her birthday. I ought remember her more often, 'cause... dude. NOTHING I've had to complain about in my life compares to stuff SHE dealt with. So, in honor... Oma is Awesomeness, and I'm gonna stop whining about my lack of organic potatoes.
Happy Birthday, Oma!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
“There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.”
Heaps of my FB friends are melting down because - gasp! - it's cold right now. In all fairness... -19 degrees?! Seriously?! No thanks. 73 and sunny? Yes, please!
I currently live in Southern California, and LOVE it.
Yeah, we have traffic, Hollywood, smog, taxes like no OTHER.... but you know what we also have??
The most beautiful beaches. We spent Christmas Day on the beach, sipping Starbucks Hot Chocolate (or Caramel Brulee, if you're the mommy), jumping in waves, chasing crabs, and digging giant sand holes to... break ankles, or something.
Sunny, clear skies 330 days of the year*. When we DO have rain, it's pretty relentless for a few days, but then? It.is.glorious. The sun reappears, the smog is cleared out, and we can see the beautiful, snowy mountains hanging out to the north.
Lovely, snow-capped mountains that... y'know, should I lose my mind and WANT to be in the snow, I can within hours. I live in OC, so it's about a 2 hour trip, but it certainly beats the hell out of needing to own and USE an ICE SCRAPER!
Super great hiking spots. I took up hiking when I moved here, because... I had six months alone, and no kidlets, so... this killed time. In the process, it gave me killer calves! Win!
Disneyland! So, it's certainly no Disney World, but... it'll do.
Super fresh produce, super cheap. I have this grand idea - and I try REALLY hard at it, honestly! - that we will become locavores. I love fresh produce, and it's SO affordable here. Pink Lady apples? 49 cents a pound. Tangerines so fresh they have bright green leaves still!? I think I will!
*I have no idea if that's an accurate number. I made it up. It sounds about right though.