Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
This month, I've lowered my weekly allotment by $10. I'm a little daunted since I didn't come in under budget like I was hoping last month, but we're really trying to tighten the belt to really get our debt snowball moving. So here's to a challenge!
The plan for this month:
1-Moroccan Lentil Soup, bread, peas
2-Egg casserole, pancakes
3-Soup from the freezer, green beans, bread
4-Broccoli & Pasta Bianco
5-Pizza *Date Night*
8-Hot & Sour Soup, homemade egg rolls
9-Pasta with marinara, salad
10-From the freezer: Vegetarian curry, white rice, mango smoothie
11-Breakfast Risotto, fruit, eggs
12-Pork chop (for the man, leftovers for me), mashed potatoes, corn
15-Black Bean Soup, whole wheat cornbread, salad
16-Baked Ziti, salad
17-Out to eat! My little sister's 21st birthday!
18-Whole wheat waffles, eggs, fruit
22-Vegetable Noodle Soup
23-Sauteed Mushrooms in butter sauce with pasta
24-From the freezer: Lentil tacos, salad
25-French toast, eggs, fruit
26-Chicken, mashed potatoes, corn
And, because I figure my monthly budget by the number of Saturdays in the month (because that's the day I grocery shop), here's the first week in March:
2-Spaghetti, marinara, salad
3-Something from the freezer
4-Huevos Rancheros, whole wheat pancakes
I'm feel like my side dishes are a pretty uninspired this month. Salad is popping up a lot, and that makes me feel guilty because I almost always buy bagged salad. I usually get whatever mix is on sale, but sometimes it's still a really bad price. But I sold my salad spinner, and towel drying lettuce really irritates me. So, I welcome your side dish suggestions!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Then, I had 28, after a shy, polite newcomer felt the pull to go back to work to make money to support himself and his family. He is 19.
The week before winter break, we had an early dismissal because of snow. A fifteen-year-old boy from South America was wandering the halls with no way home. I didn't have my car and had to walk home. I asked an administrator what to do to help him. I was sent to three more administrators, and after a few fruitless phone calls, I was dismissed and he was sentenced to four hours in a conference room by himself. His parents died in his home country and he lives with relatives he doesn't know well.
Over break, a student brought me flancocho (flan cake) and an announcement that she was moving back home to be with her family. She was barely 14 and had tried a difficult four months away from home. She wants to be a pharmacist.
Expecting to see 27 of my students when I returned to work, I was dismayed to learn that another nineteen-year-old boy had gotten a day job over break. He wants to send money to his mother back home. He is a charming kid. Once, he said to me, "Teacher, you are looking junger and junger every day." Another time, he asked permission to read his science book after finishing his homework.
It's been two weeks since break, and I'm now down to 25 students. A counselor emailed me to tell me a student had returned to his home country during break and could not return to Iowa City. This was odd, since he had been at school since break, and the students who live in his neighborhood report that he still lives there.
Two students will move at the end of January. Two more students report that they will be moving "any day now."
I miss the students who have left, and I worry about them along with the ones who remain. I am tired of crying each time I find out about another sad story or about another student who is leaving. When I cried, it was half for the student and half for my own sadness that they were gone. When I was done crying, I wanted to act. I have a lesson plan that outlines average salaries for people with and without high school diplomas and compares that information to the cost of living. I have hopes of creating a GED class outside of school for those who needed to work or who were too old to finish a diploma. I have an idea for a fantastic mentoring pair.
I found out about the earthquake in Haiti on Wednesday night. One of my students is from Haiti. His parents and siblings still live there. He doesn't know where they are or what has happened to them. He does know that they lived in a severely affected area of Haiti. I cried about this too, but there isn't a "plan of action" I can create to solve the problem or to make myself feel better. But not acting was not an option.
We've made a donation to Compassion International.
I'm linking to this post on Money Saving Mom, who will donate $10 to relief efforts for each blog post or comment about what people are doing to help.
I'm praying for Haiti, and I'm praying for peace for my Haitian student.
My lesson plans look different, too. Friday, we discussed what happened in Haiti. We discussed inequality in the U.S. and around the world. Next week, instead of reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, we'll devote class time to create a fundraising effort headed by my students. I wanted to do this but didn't want to push it. But they asked me, "So, what can we do?"
If you'd like to make a donation to help Compassion International help Haiti, there is a link at the top of the page. If you'd like to encourage my students in their fundraising efforts by making your donation through them, please let me know.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Then, month after month, I got knocked off my high horse when I'd way overspend my grocery budget because I ran out of time to plan meals one weekend. Or because the Fareway add hadn't come in the paper and I kept thinking I'd go pick one up but then it was too late. Or because the meals I planned were expensive. Or because I never used up all the produce I bought.
But even though my system never actually worked, I just couldn't wrap my mind around monthly meal planning. It all changed my friend Sarah did No Cook November, which involved crock-pots, and my mind is definitely wrapped around crock-pots. Specifically this one. And then posts like this one, which had been floating around in my mind for a long time started to click.
So, in December, I made a monthly meal plan. But it didn't go very well. I dabbled in some organic produce, tried way too many new recipes, did a lot of baking, and made lots of little trips to the grocery store and was just as over budget as usual. I felt like I was on the right track, so I decided to try again in January.
Here are my ground rules:
- Breakfast for dinner once a week - We like this, and it's usually pretty cheap.
- Pasta once a week - Dexter would eat spaghetti every day if I let him. (This is not an exaggeration, because this is what he did before we were married.) We use whole wheat pasta.
- One freezer meal a week - I'm planning ahead to make sure there are leftovers for this. I also made a pot of butternut squash soup just for freezing this weekend just in case.
- Leftovers, freezer meals, or from-the-pantry meals on the weekends. If we have none of these, I'll just eat a PBJ.
- "Humanely-raised" meat option once a week for the recovering vegetarian that is my husband.
- Plan at least one side dish, otherwise I'll spend the whole budget on main dish things and go to the store every day for side dish veggies.
Here is our menu for the month:
1-Pumpkin soup from the freezer
4-Risotto in the crockpot (with carrots, peas, and chickpeas), salad
5-Lentil tacos (filling from the freezer), quinoa and black bean salad
6-Waffles, eggs, fruit
7-Baked spinach and cheese noodles in the crockpot, carrots
8-Pork chop, corn, green beans, mashed potatoes (I might have freezer soup for my main dish)
9-Make Moroccan Lentil Soup for the freezer/lunches
11-Vegetarian Curry in the crockpot, rice
12-French toast (made with panettone from the freezer), eggs, fruit
13-Lasagna, salad, bread
14-Freezer soup, bread, vegetable
15-Burgers (fake for me unless I cave), baked beans, baked fries
18-Falafel in the crockpot & lots of fixings
19-Spaghetti, salad, bread
20-Rachael Ray's healthy huevos rancheros, whole wheat cinnamon rasin biscuits, fruit
21-Lentil tacos from the freezer, quinoa & black bean salad (possibly also frozen)
22-Sweet & sour chicken with mango lettuce wraps
25-Barbecue "chicken" (or beans or tofu) and cornbread casserole, vegetable
26-Broccoli & Pasta Bianco (a Campbell's recipe I'm using frozen, homemade mushroom soup for), salad, bread
27-Freezer soup, bread, vegetable
28-Pancakes, eggs, fruit
29-Eat out to celebrate (hopefully!) being under my grocery budget
So far, I'm $3 under my "weekly" budget. This bodes well, because I was able buy some of the "bad list produce" organic, be on main dish at house church, and buy ingredients for two crock-pots full of soup that will go straight to the freezer. There's a chance we'll run out of milk before the end of the week. I set my budget higher than my "ideal, superwoman, impress all my homemaker friends" budget because work takes up so much time and we're trying to make some ethical changes, but this way I'll have some success to keep me going, extra cash at the end of the month, the option of buying sale items in bulk at the end of the month, and the option of tightening the budget next month.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I spilled a cup of tea on myself, the couch, the ground, and a file organizer as was writing the paragraph above. Maybe it was the Lord chastising me for my opinion. More likely, I'm just not coordinated enough to handle coasters.
Whenever I sit down at my computer, I sigh and think, "I want to blog." But then all my thoughts and emotions start moving toward the front of my mind and all my eloquence starts heading for the hills. If I muster up the courage to start typing anyway, I end up with a really boring, sentimental, disappointing story and think, "I would take me off my blog reader if I wrote something boring like this. At least they won't take me off if they just forget about me."
If I had fewer things going on outside of work, or if I didn't care so much about trying to unpack, spend time with Dexter, getting enough exercise, eating remotely healthy meals, or other time-consuming things like that, I would have started a blog about my first year teaching. I thought it would be my "niche" where I could start a "successful" blog. But, since my first year is half over, it seems a little late to start something like that.
Before that, I wanted to start a blog about cooking with ethical ingredients while living on a budget. There were a plethora of problems with that idea. 1: No time to write or research. 2: The title I chose sounded suspiciously like Eat. Pray. Love. I didn't like that book, nor do I want to get sued. 3: Cooking with ethical ingredients while living on a budget is HARD and it takes a lot of planning. I am totally unqualified to write this blog.
So, my blogging related resolution is this:
Blog sometimes. Shoot for once a week. Don't worry about whether anybody is reading. If nothing else, you're developing your writing skills and you like to write.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I went through all my coupons today and cut out all the ones I want. If you would like whatever is left, you are welcome to them. There are a lot from earlier this summer that will expire at the end of September. Most are in full pages, and there are several expired ones. But, I only included a page in the "keep pile" if there was at least one good coupon. I didn't judge what you might want to buy. I left in coupons for stuff I thought was weird, just in case you're feeling adventurous.
Let me know if you'd like them.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Today, Dexter and I were getting ready to leave on our anniversary trip to Chicago when Fitz yelped and we saw that one of his nails had broken off and the "quick" (inside) was exposed. We took him to a vet and helped hold him while the vet tech clipped the nail super short. He gave a miserable howl through the muzzle they put on him. I was thankful to be holding his back end because apparently it was not pretty up front.
Now he has a bandaged foot, pain medication, anti-biotics, and a mommy and daddy who are leaving him for 2 days. His mommy feels really bad about that. I'm hoping that his pain pills make him sleepy so he'll sleep away the time that Keriann is at work. Poor Fitz!