Pesto Rolls rolling out of the oven at Boothieville, brimming with toasted mozzarella cheese, garlic, basil and onion

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Annie comes home on Mother's Day

We are back to 10 in our home, because Annie has returned from WSU.

Here she is at the market in Moscow, Idaho, where we sell things on Saturdays in the summer.  I'm starting a market blog for friends and customers, so see more of my pictures of the Moscow Farmers' Market by clicking here. 

I came home to a house full of excited children who were standing behind this door.

Each child wrote a nice sentiment.

Which I was delighted to read.

Time and effort went into these creations,

Which told me of their love and care for me.

This is not a chair with pillows, it is a throne, and I, apparently, am the queen.

See me here, sitting on my throne, with pillows for each arm, and a decoration for my lap.

The room was festooned with flowers.

And here are more in the boxes

and in the pots outside.

This pot of stocks and alyssum smells sweet and spicy.

The pansies are happy faces, and I smile back at them.
I'll write again tomorrow, because I'm starting back on the plan, and I'll tell you more about the plan then...

Monday, May 3, 2010

I come with new energy

I have a new energy as I write today.  Not a vivacious energy.  I got to bed too late and up too early for that...

Its a determined sort of energy.  The kind that says I have to do this thing.  What thing?  Well, I have to answer God's call to be hospitable.  What that means for me personally is that I have to get rid of stuff.  Stuff is what keeps my home hidden from people.  Do you know what I mean?  Stuff can be a barrier to inviting people over.

Why?  You have to move your stuff, store your stuff, clean your stuff, dust your stuff, sort your stuff, pay the bills for your stuff, hang up your stuff, wash your stuff, mow your stuff.  Right.  Multiply that by 10, plus the stuff of college kids, and you have a quandry.  If you're me, that is.

I have read a bit of a blog which Erin is following (Erin is one of my followers) with this title:  "How I found twice the life with half the stuff." Click here to see that blog.  I like that concept.  I think it's what I need!  Really.  Not just my personal stuff, but everything around here.  I have the distinct cringe factor of knowing that I, being the mother, have brought almost everything that is in this house into this house.   Think that one over for awhile.  I have been, and it is not a pretty thought, being responsible for the stuff which makes the clutter.

Well I have to do something about it, and fast.  And I have to head up the effort to inspire others in my house to get on board not only with the concept, but with the effort. It's enough to make me wish I had been a cheerleader.

Maybe I'll talk about it here on a blog.  I seem to do better with a goal in mind, and with the idea that I have some accountability to do what I have set out to do.

Twice the life with half the stuff.  I like it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Can I keep it up?

One thing that occurred to me yesterday is that I now have 10 weeks worth of $10 menus. And they are all written down.

 It shouldn't be that hard to continue eating on the cheap, should it?

Well, what was dollar a day cooking like for me?  It took extra time to count up the spending, and juggle the menu each day so we could keep under the lean budget requirements.  And it takes time to blog about it, too. The time spent was sometimes begrudged by my family members, even though they didn't mention it in their comments to me about the project here at the end.  Maybe their feelings about my preoccupation with cheap eating and cheap meals were fleeting.  Or maybe they felt that the pros outweighed the cons, I'm not sure.  But nobody mentioned the time problem, even in passing, when I pressed them for their feelings.

Perhaps the stability provided by focus was a good thing for the family.  This is what I need to keep up.  And, surprisingly, they liked the blog!  Their mom is doing something crazy like blogging to the world, and they see me in a new light---connecting with other people, losing some of the inevitable isolation that comes with being a mother of so many, with so much to do.

Have I neglected anything?  Yes.  My wash.  Which Sarah generously has kept us up on, so it is ok.  Sarah, however, is moving out of here and in with a friend, who will be her roommate for the summer. 

I'm happy about this new move, because Sarah has completely paid off her student loans by living with us for awhile, but now she can enjoy some of the benefits of independence again, and debt-free at that. 

It will mean changes for us, though, adjusting to filling in the gaps of all she does around here.  For me that will mean one less car and driver to ferry children around, plus the loss of her help and dependability and secret societies...

But, forward is the only way...

Here's what I want to include in our life, and  I think I want to schedule it in, although I am a notoriously bad scheduler-inner---I want to take the children individually on some outings, where I have time personally with them, or at least only age groupings.  Some special times away from home.  Our last visit to Essensia reminded me of the value of that kind of time together.

I think I will just make a special budget for it.  And not even try to account for the two together, even though there might be food involved.  I'm not talking about taking kids out to eat, exactly, I can't really afford much of that, but going somewhere, doing something.  The budget for spending time with children would be different than a food budget.  If you have any ideas of cool and inexpensive kid outings, could you share them with me?

The other idea I am toying with is the concept of the "mileage club."  A Boothieville Mileage Club.  To get the exercise we need, and to do it regularly, with some goals in mind.  If I did a difficult project with food budgets, maybe I can do one with exercise and stick to it.  I haven't wrapped my mind around just how to make if feasible for so many different ages and interests and time schedules, but I am thinking, thinking...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The family speaks

I asked.  They answered.

I asked what my family thought about 10for10for10 and eating for only a dollar a day.  Here are some of the responses...

Christiana, age 8:  "It wasn't hard, and besides, we ate better food than before.  We didn't have pizza on Fridays anymore, but I didn't care." (Friday used to be our pizza night, because we can get 5 dollar pizzas down at Little Caesars, and 3 pizzas feed the family.)  "Are we going to keep doing it?  I think we should."

Kate, age 17:  "It was really good and worked really well.  We had planned meals.  There was nothing negative."

Emily, age 10:  "I want to keep on doing it."

Noah, age 6:  "I don't want to.  Sometimes I just don't feel satisfied."

Trudy, age 15:  "You know how much you are costing.  You appreciate your food more when you eat less.  You just appreciate food more.  Sometimes you're like---Wow, we have one dollar for dinner!"

Mercy, age 13:  I thought it was nice.  It didn't affect me.  I thought it was good:  I don't mind still doing it.

Charity, age 13:  Now that we're done, we can buy bacon and stuff.  One thing, we had barely any hot cereal and that was good..."

Sarah, age 26:  There was more consistency.  It was somewhat limiting on salads until the romaine was on sale, and it limited the vegetables we ate.  It might be easier to do in the summer time when there are more vegetables.  I think homemade tortillas were our best ever discovery!  Since everything was accounted for, people didn't snitch meat much, or it would be gone from the meal.

Rodger, the man of the family:  We always ate regular sit-down meals.  What I missed was large amounts of brocolli and other vegetables.  Usually we eat a lot of vegetables, but I think this would be easier to manage in the vegetable season.  I think I ate healthier.  What changed for me was not snacking so much. And we didn't eat many onions.  We can usually go through a bag in no time, but with the price so high, that really changed.

(An update here:  The price last week at Cash and Carry for 50# onion bags was up to $44/bag.  Yesterday when I went in there, the price was up to $50!  Am I kidding?  No, but I am kicking myself for not getting that bag of onions only 8 weeks ago, when the price had gone clear up to $7.49/bag.  Why did I think that was too much???????)

Christine has thoughts about the project, Christine being me...
I'll write some more about them soon, but Noah needs to be picked up from Kindergarten now, so adios...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Figures for our daily spending since Easter

Day 50:   8.12          1.88
Day 51:   6.98          3.02
Day 52:  13.46        (3.46)
Day 53:  9.57             .43
Day 54:  9.35             .65
Day 55:  9.27             .73
Day 56:  8.63            1.37
Day 57:  9.31              .69
Day 58:  7.68            2.32
Day 59:  10.32          (.32)
Day 60:  11.37         (1.37)
Day 61:  9.76             .24
Day 62:  10.58          (.58)
Day 63:  9.61             .39
Day 64:  10:93            .07  11 people today
Day 65:  11.92           (.92)  ll people again
Day 66:  10.76            .24  11 Boothies today
Day 67:  9.38             .62    back to 10 today
Day 68:  10.54          (.54) 
Day 69:  8.81            1.19
Day 70 19.31            (9.31)  We celebrated today!

Altogether, we were about $2.76 over-budget during these days, and since I had $13.26 left in my slush fund (which comes from the pennies we saved each day up until day 52), 13.26 - 2.76 = $10.50 left in the slush fund. 

That means we were able to stick to our budget over the course of the whole 10 weeks, with a little to spare. 

I have a really good feeling about it.

I also have experienced a strange sense of some kind of aimlessness over the last few days since the finale of my project.  I asked the children their thoughts about 10for10for10, and will write about them in my next post...stay tuned, kids never say what you think they will say...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 70 makes 10 weeks. We mark it with a flair, helped by the slush fund

Ten weeks seemed so long, so far into spring, but now it is here, the 70th day of my project.  I discussed with the children their ideas to celebrate reaching 10 weeks of staying within our goal.  Steak was mentioned by more than one person as a possible celebratory food, as was ice cream, cheese cake, and some other items I can't recall.  It was fun just thinking about it...

This rose on our dining table comes from Kate's invitation to prom, and arrived on our front doorstep early in the morning with a note. 

You can see Christiana in the background getting some catsup to come out the bottle.

We all had things to do today, so once again food had to fit the life.  I fixed pancakes for breakfast.  That marked the day as special from the start.  And everybody had real maple syrup, or as Noah calls it, "pure."

"We're having pure today, guys," he announced as they came to the table.  "Pure maple syrup," Christiana would add. 

During the morning, Kate took the children to the party palace and the dollar store to look for decorations for their bunks at the family reunion.  They are living in excited anticipation of the upcoming reunion, when they will see all their cousins for a special weekend at a camp.

Each year the different groups of cousins, older girls, younger girls, older boys, and little boys invent a theme for their abode.  This involves extra planning and packing, but provides a fun creative outlet, too.  Emails and phone calls abound during the planning stage, which is now.

While the kids were off dreaming and shopping, Rodger and I peeled and chopped potatoes and apples.  We boiled the spuds and added some soup flavoring, then added the remainder of last night's clam chowder to make a new and different batch of soup.  We ate the soup with crackers.

I peeled these potatoes somewhat thickly, because they had some green in the skin and I don't want to poison the family.

Rodger and I talked while we had some time to ourselves as we prepared lunch.

Five pounds of potatoes only costs me 50 cents!

We enjoyed fried apples for dessert.  I made a topping for the hot apples with the rest of my pint of sour cream.  To the sour cream I added vanilla and sugar.  Simple.  And tasty when spooned over steaming cinnamony apples!

I gave up on the steak idea and suggested we fry some hamburgers.  We haven't bitten into a hamburger for many days.  This idea met with the approval of the masses.  Sarah formed some of my whole wheat bread dough into hamburger bun shapes and baked them up.

We made a green salad and finished the menu with some sparkling cider and sliced strawberries to eat with ice cream for dessert.

That is a hefty hamburger.

Waiting to get dressed up with condiments...

Strawberries were only $1.25/lb again this week.

Toasts were made around in honor of the attaining of 10 weeks of keeping to our budget.  It was a fun dinner with lively conversation and great big bites of large hamburgers!


Sarah gets caught fully enjoying her burger.

Once again, the time is late and I must sign off before finishing the details.  I have also interviewed the children and will post some of their comments about our eating experiment asap, but not before I get some shut-eye. 

  Alright, it's morning now and I'm back.  Shut-eye is a relative thing...last night most of us had some significant lack of shut-eye.  Here's the story:

The children discovered yesterday that there are feral kittens living in the corner of our property/the neighbor's property.  There has been a feral cat hanging around for some time, and now she has had her kittens here.  There must be some food source nearby, and the stacks of wood and lack of access in the back corner have provided her a good shelter for her kittens. 

The kittens are still pretty small, and Charity managed to catch one of them.  They're old enough to eat on their own, but not too old to tame down, I think.  The kitten is currently in Eppie's kennel, and it meowed pretty much all night long.  Yowled might be a better word.  The kitten is wild, so it is scratchy, but in the night this little wild kitty purred when I came out to hold it and give it some milk.  Right this minute Eppie is back in her own kennel with the kitten, and both are pretty uncomfortable, but Eppie is eating her breakfast there, cautiously.  The kitten is not yowling, so my ears have a reprieve.

     breakfast menu:  pancakes and syrup, milk to drink
Cost:  $3.65
1 1/2 batch pancakes:  1.65
pure syrup:  1.00 (approx)
milk, half a gallon:  1.00

lunch:  potato/clam chowder, crackers, fried apples
Cost:  $ 2.82
2 oz chicken soup flavor:  .43
5 lbs potatoes:  .50
leftover chowder:  gift
 3 lbs apples:  .72
2/3 pint sour cream:  .70
1/2 cup sugar:  .09
vanilla:  .05
shakes of cinnamon:  .05

afternoon snack:  half a bagel each, toasted with butter
Cost:  $1.12
one package onion bagels, 6: .99 (marked down)
1/2 cube butter:  .13

dinner menu:  hamburgers on whole wheat buns, condiments, green salad, ice cream with sliced strawberries, sparkling apple juice
Cost:  $12.27
2.2 lbs beef hamburger meat:  2.19
home made hamburger buns, whole wheat:  2.00
mayonaise:  .10 (I'm about the only one who likes it around here, one other person, too)
butter:  .10
catsup:  .20
mustard:  .10
3 heads romaine:  .79
2 lbs strawberries:  2.50
2 bottles sparkling cider:  2.50
 (yes, I really purchased them for 1.25 each, at new years' time, at Fred Meyers.  I bought more than a case of cider at the time...)
half gallon ice cream:  1.79

Today's total bill:  $19.76, so I'm over by $9.76. 

 I will borrow from my extra stash, the slush fund, which contains dibs of money we have saved every day that we have scrimped enough to eat for less than 10 dollars on that particular day.

Day 69 I make a big lunch and then get help for supper

Last night Rodger and I were both teaching.  We chatted after class with some couples, and then stopped by the store to get bread and milk.  The late night checker at Albertsons knows us from our after-we-tuck-the -little-kids-in-bed forays to do our grocery shopping.  We always like to chat with him. 

Anyway, lunches had to be easy, because we were pressed for time to make them.  There were some leftovers of rice and gravy from supper, so I put portions into containers.  There was enough leftover for 5 helpings.  For the others, we thawed some ham slices fromt the freezer and made sandwiches.  The older girls requested chef's salad, too, so I grated some cheese and diced up some of the ham, cut some romaine, and put together some simple salads.  Everybody got an apple, so it was easy to take care of the fruit today.

I spent almost 5 dollars on lunch, partly because I let Charity make brownies last night to put in the lunches, so I was feeling pretty scrimped for my supper budget.  Then I got a call from Rodger.  A lady had given him a kettle of clam chowder which was left over.  She couldn't use it and didn't want it to go to waste.  He brought it home and put it in the fridge. Wasn't that nice of her?  And perfect timing for me.  We had clam chowder for supper.  I added crackers to go with the soup.

breakfast menu:  the usual and customary---cold cereal and milk
Cost:  $2.20
11 servings (weighed out my mom) cereal, Capn Crunch and Life:  1.10
milk, half  a gallon +:  1.10

sack lunches:  leftover rice and pork for 5, ham sandwiches for 7, chef salad for 3, granola bars, apples, romaine, brownies
Cost:  $4.81
leftovers:  accounted for yesterday
one box granola bars, 10:  1.00
one batch brownies:  1.01
apples, 3 lbs:  .45
bread, 2/3 loaf:  .70
ham, 8 oz:  .75
2 heads romaine, for sandwiches and plain, and salads:  .52
4 oz cheese:  .38

snack:  capn crunch cereal, dry; apples
Cost:  $1.30
one box capn crunch cereal, divided into baggies:  1.00
2 lbs apples, for the hungry kids who couldn't wait:  .30

by this point, I had spent $8.31, so you can see that I was seriously thinking of only eating some garlic potatoes or the like for supper.  The chowder was a surprise blessing and kindness from someone I don't even know.

last minute supper menu:  clam chowder and saltine crackers
Cost to me:  $.50
chowder:  gift
2 sleeves of crackers:  .50

Today's total:  $8.81