So... Rocky Road is really nutty, isn't it, not nitty? Would you believe that every time I woke up last night I was thinking about that? Sheesh.
I must get some cheesecloth. I have a couple of dairy cookbooks, but how did I miss that ricotta was this easy ? I think I am still hung up on the idea of making yogurt so I haven't yet graduated to thinking about cheese. (I haven't yet attempted yogurt, by the way. It's the incubation that requires too much planning for my disorganized brain. Well, that and the fact that we are always about to run out of milk.)
Over the past several months I have become addicted to grocery blogs, the kind where the blogger takes a picture of her insanely cheap grocery haul and posts all about how many coupons she used and what everything cost. I notice that most of these women do not have large families, which is probably why they can get away with buying in quantities like, "3 apples." I thought about this quite a lot a couple of weeks ago when I found ripe bananas marked down to $.39/lb. I bought 14 lbs of bananas, and they were gone in 3 days. I did not cut them up and freeze them. I used 3 ( not lbs, bananas) to make banana bread. The rest were gobbled up mainly by the little boys. Adjusted for family size, time constraints, and organic/unprocessed eating (which means fewer coupons), though, I have found many of these blogs to be quite helpful, which is probably why I have become addicted to them. (The other reason is that I am constantly in need of a challenge. If I don't actively have a problem to work on, I start making them up.)
I actually took all the kids with me grocery shopping this past week, which is something I do NOT do frequently. Most of my kids are little and although the little car carts are definitely an improvement over no car carts, 3 or 4 kids can NOT fit into them, no matter how hard they try. (And no, Pop, you are NOT allowed to ride on the roof!) But Andy was in Arkansas for the day and there was a Mom's Night Out I wanted to attend later that night, so a morning grocery trip it was. In order to combat some of the chaos, this is what I did:
- Made a super structured grocery list, including quantities and brands, based on the sales flyer and what we normally buy. Katydid was in charge of the list.
- Gareth pushed the second cart. The three year old got to drive the "car". 5 year old twins and 7 year old were designated as helpers to pull things off the shelves for me. 4 month old baby blessedly slept through most of the store. That was nothing to do with me; that was divine intervention.
- Went as fast as we could, do not stop to read labels, do not wonder if you should buy the fish on sale, do not pass Go, head directly to the checkout. We made it out of the store in 45 minutes. I did buy a few extras (like Kozy Shack pudding) that were marked down for quick sale, but otherwise I think I actually spent less than I would have had I gone alone and been able to linger a while.
A few of the grocery-related blogs I've been browsing lately (and note that these are all American):
Mama Says Food Stamp Challenge -- Big, Catholic family, very low budget. This year she's written a real food manifesto and changed the way her family eats somewhat. Her manifesto is a useful guide to the compromises many of us must make in order to eat real food on a real budget.
Money Saving Mom -- not just about groceries, but she posts natural and organic deals and has a helpful series about lowering your grocery budget. She hosts a Super Savings Saturday where people can link all the gory details of their latest shopping trips. I think it says something about me that I enjoy looking at pictures of groceries, but I'm not sure what. I thought about taking a picture of our groceries when we came home, but everything got put away too quickly, and anyway, it wasn't that amazing.
100 Days of Real Food on a Budget -- just found this one. She's trying to feed a family of 4 "real food" on a budget of $125 a week. Apparently this is less than what she would get with food stamps (and interestingly enough according to the data she links to, a family of 9 would be eligible for as much as $1350 a month. We've been trying to keep ours around $1000 a month, including paper products, diapers, etc, and while I don't think we've come in at exactly $1000 yet, we're still way below $1350!)
Grocery Cart Challenge -- when I was sitting on the couch this summer trying to get my C-section incision to heal, I spent a while reading through her archives on my iTouch. After we moved, I tried her system of just buying what we needed every week without trying to stock up on anything, but I found that our lives are just too unpredictable and I was far more likely to go out when there was only a meager amount of "emergency food" around. So our budgets have been a little higher from time to time as I try to build up our freezer and pantry after moving.
Healthy Life Deals -- She posts coupon match-ups to Whole Foods.
When I was in the middle of writing Quick Take #4, I received a call from a new friend of mine. They were going to be in our area for most of the day but they had a gap of a few hours before they had to drop off a couple of their boys for Scouts. (My Boy Scout did not need dropped off because he decided he would rather go to a Civil War re-enactment than hike in the rain. If you knew him, you would have been able to see that coming.) The night before my husband mentioned that they ought to hang out at our house. Could they hang out at our house? Of course! The kids and I spent the morning trying to make the house presentable and baking pumpkin bread, and we spent the afternoon talking and playing with our new friends. One of the boys, about Farmerboy's age, likes rocks. Once they discovered that (and our rock hammers), it was a match made in heaven.
So that is why I am now finishing up Seven Quick Takes Saturday.
Because I fell into bed quite early Friday night (after all the scurrying, talking, etc.), I woke up before 6 this morning. It's amazing what you can see in the quiet morning if you're willing to be quiet, too. The daddy longlegs have been invading my house recently. This morning I saw one inside a jar of tempera paint I had mixed and left on the window sill. I mixed it from powder, and the powder had all settled on the bottom, leaving a skim of water at the top. The daddy longlegs clung to the rim of the jar with two of its long legs and lowered itself slowly to the surface of the water where it stuck out its mandibles to drink. Once, twice, three times it drank, and then slowly, carefully, testing every step before it took one, it backed up and out of the jar. The whole process took longer than it took me to write it, and certainly longer than it takes to read about it. In order to watch, I had to slow down, too.
Then I came into the computer room and sat down at the computer. I looked up "Costco shopping trip" because my new friend and I had been talking about Costco, and since I just spent 5 years in the frozen wilds of upstate New York, far away from any Costco's, I had to restrain myself from asking her too many questions. Then I looked up from the computer screen and saw that the whole outside was pink. Not just "tinged a rosy pink with dawn", but actually, really pink. I got up to take a better look. The eastern sky was clear and the sun was up. But from the west, a front had set up a wall of gray and white cloud. The sun reflected pink off the clouds, caught the glow from the yellow and crimson autumn trees, and colored the whole world.
Now it is almost 7 AM and I can hear the boys talking in their room. The clouds have come in and the world has settled down to gray sky and the sound of the bathroom door slamming. But I'll carry the early morning slowness, the pinkness, into my day.