Monday, July 18, 2011

A Three Way?




Ok, so this blog has pretty much been non-existent for awhile now and I’m hoping to pick it back up with an added feature as you can probably tell. One of my undergrad degrees was in Spanish, and because of the time I had spent in Buenos Aires Argentina I got to skip all the introductory garbage classes. As part of the degree I had to take a third language, and because Portuguese fit my schedule nicely (and they crammed 2 classes into 1) I took it, and I loved it. The problem, however is that I never get to use Portuguese and I only use Spanish extremely sporadically, and the old saying is if you don’t use it you lose it, and that can be applied to many things. So here I am attempting to write a blog in 3 languages: English, Spanish and Portuguese. We’ll see how this thing turns out.Ok, así que este blog ni ha existido por un montanazo de tiempo, estoy pensando (y estoy haciendo) en escribir otra vez con algunas cosas nuevas tal como ya se ve. Uno de mis grados de universidad del estudiante era español y debido al tiempo tenía viviendo en Buenos Aires Argentina, no tenía que tomar las clases introductorias que a nadie le gustan. También, como parte del plan de estudios tenía que tomar dos una tercera idioma, y portugués combinaba dos clases en uno lo tomé y yo lo gustaba mucho. Pero hay un problema, y esto es que yo nunca puedo usar portugués y sólo hablo el español muy esporádicamente, y hay un dicho viejo que dice si usted no la utiliza usted la pierde, y estoy se puede aplicar a varias cosas en la vida. Entonces, aquí estoy atentando a escribir un blog en tres idiomas: inglés, español y portugués. Ya veremos lo que sucederá.Eu vou ter algo aqui em breve
I intend to begin writing everything in English and translating them into Spanish and Portuguese and probably changing things a bit for each language, and no I will not just use one of those crappy online translators, they simply suck for large translations, but can be helpful at times for smaller things. I hope that I say some pretty ridiculously outrageous things in Spanish and Portuguese, otherwise this would be no fun, so feel free to comment on and in whatever language you read. FYI, I haven’t written or spoken Portuguese extensively since about 2001/2002 or so this could get good.Yo voy a empezar escribiendo en inglés and trasladándolo a español y portugués, tal vez cambiando algunas cosas por cada idioma, y no es el intento mío a utilizar uno de los online traductores por que estos, por la mayoría, son porquerías cuando se tiene que traducir mas que frases simples. Espero que escriba cosas absurdas, ridículas y completamente incorrectas en español y portugués, si no, yo no me divertiría por nada. Por favor comenta en y acerca de cualquier idioma lee. FYI, yo no he hablado ni escrito portugués mucho desde 2001 o 2002 mas o menos, entonces tal vez esta será muy divertido.
Now for content, as though blogs are supposed to have any. I am a gardener / want-to-be farmer and really want to utilize this space for documenting my garden, answering questions and anything else that randomly enters my feeble mind. I live in the Desert Southwest of the United States and will cater to what I live and know, but let’s see where this takes us.Ahora, para el contenido del blog, como si los blogs se necesitan tenerlo. Yo soy un jardinero / quiero-ser granjero y quiero utilizar este blog para documentar mi jardín, contestar a cualquier pregunta y cualquier otra cosa que quiero hacer. I vivo en el desierto del suroeste de los Estados Unidos y escribiré las cosas que vivo y conozco, pero ya veremos a donde este nos llevará.
ryan sauer

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A One Income Family

When Ryan graduated from college with his bachelors I was finishing up my first year of teaching and ready to pop out a baby at any moment. Literally the day he walked was my due date. We had used my small teacher salary to purchase a home and live off of for a year. It was hard being the main bread winner; there was a lot of pressure to get up early and shower and go to work, and I hate those things. But, I had no choice, it was up to me to pay the mortgage. Once Ryan graduated he began his career immediately at an engineering firm with a good salary. Okay, a great salary. It blew mine out of the water. We felt like we were rolling in the dough when we went from 28k to 40k. I was and do remain grateful for my husband's employment and his desire to go to work every day so that I can stay home with our children. It is a huge blessing in our lives.

Six years later, several good raises, and two growing boys, one salary doesn't seem to go as far as it should. We've never really had problems paying bills and have never been in debt (minus student loans and a mortgage), but we've also never been able to save as much as we want either. We're like your average middle class family living from paycheck to paycheck but in a financially responsible way, if that makes sense. But, we were happy, we didn't feel too strained and never lacked for anything.

We'll needless to say, times change. The economy is in the crapper and everyone at Ryan's firm received a 5% cut in pay. I didn't think much of it at the time and sadly didn't change my spending habits. I've been pretty frugal and thought that we would be fine. Over the summer we discovered Justin's food allergies and had to make some severe changes to our diets. I was overwhelmed, but determined to feed my child what he needed. As it turns out gluten free and dairy free alternatives can rock the boat of one's financial situation. One month this summer we spent close to $1000.00 on groceries when $450.00 is what we have budgeted (although we always spend more than that). Yikes! Our grocery budget (or rather our ignoring our grocery budget) has put us in debt. Nearly $3000.00 in debt and man does it feel terrible. This is the most debt that Ryan and I have ever had as a couple and it's strangling us. I feel panicked when I go the grocery store. I don't want to eat so I can save money, and I've lost my desire to cook which isn't good either because then we end up eating out perpetuating the problem. So what should we do? What will we do?

Ryan and I sat last night brainstorming on how to deal with these problems. And, so far this is our immediate plan/goal. 1. We will get out of debt by the end of the year. 2. We will pay for groceries using cash or debit cards and will not spend past our designated budget. 3. We will give up other luxuries and use those misc allowances to pay off debt. 4. We will give up some non-necessities of groceries: cookies, ice cream, cheese, Italian sausage. I know these items may seem strange to you but they are our favorites. I figure some items we can drop cold turkey and others we can make from scratch for a cheaper price then buying them pre-made. 5. We will cook, cook, cook. We've decided to try cooking and freezing meals using food storage. This way we will use up the groceries we have on hand and have meals ready to go. We will also start making our own staples like bread and will try our hand at rice milk and chicken stock.

We really feel motivated but need to have a defined plan with a schedule to get out of debt and change our lifestyle. We will have to make some sacrifices to reach our goal but it's worth it. Just having the freedom from debt will be enough of a prize for me. I never thought I'd say it or feel it, but living on one income is hard. I suppose it will only get harder the more children I have. I suppose I've learned my lesson and need to be more disciplined in my spending habits. Or, maybe I should just stop feeding my family. That's an option too.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Breastfeeding Campaign

This story aired a few years ago but I still think it's really important and frankly these commercials crack me up.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Television: A Love/Hate Relationship

A few years ago, I made a big decision to decrease the amount of television I was watching. It was hard because I love tv. Like, love love love tv. I made a decision to only follow three shows and if I caught something else, so be it. I also made the rule not to turn on the tv until after my children were in bed. That was hard. Boy, did I miss Oprah. But, now, now it's no big deal. And, I've been able to loosen the rules and watch more. I'm more disciplined about it now. Years of practice can do that.

Last summer I read The Plug in Drug and Set Free Childhood and made some serious rules for tv watching for my children. That too was hard. Very hard. There were days where I was constantly fighting with my kids, unplugging the tv and at times giving in. But, now a year and a half later, we are doing just fine. Tyler gets to watch a bit more tv than Justin because frankly, I have things to do. One of the biggest ah-ha moments in my readings was discovering how much I use tv as a babysitter. It was upsetting to admit how much of a lame mom I was. But, once I did I was able to make changes. Now, Justin gets a movie day once a week. The movie then becomes special, something exciting. If I can, I try to watch with the boys and pop popcorn and enjoy the moment. Weekends and play dates are fair game because sometimes you need a babysitter and you can't get other people to abide by your rules when your child is with them. That's life. But, I am extremely proud of all of the progress that my family has made.

A few months ago, I gave away a tv. My kitchen tv is now safely tucked away in my closet. I actually don't miss it, and that surprises me. It shows how far I've come. A few weeks ago I was sick with the swine flu (so Ryan says) and the tv came out. Afterwards it sat and was utilized by Tyler a bit. By the time Ryan found the time to put it away, Tyler was already attached to it . That was a few weeks ago and he still cries at times, "Daddy took it my tv away!" He's quite perturbed.

I also have a love/hate relationship with Digital Television. When it first started I was so enamored with all of my channel eights. And, it was nice that my children could no longer work the tv on their own. They can't figure out the converter. But, now, now that fall season has begun I hate dtv. It is the bane of my existence. I have no cable so I have a converter. I have a dvr with a hard drive on it. Last season I could use it to record shows, while watching other shows. I could set my shows to record once and walk away for a whole season. It was awesome. Now, the dtv and dvr are not friendly. They do not work well together. Now, I have to be present to change the dtv channel before a second show begins. It sucks. I might as well use my vcr again. I've had to give up a few shows and that makes me sad. While I want to only watch three shows, the truth is once my kids are in bed and I turn the tv on I will choose something to watch. Some weeks I'm better than others but the beginning of the new season always taunts me. It's hard. I'm at the point where I'm making plans to order cable or buy a new dvr that can function with my dtv. Either way, something has to happen. There are three main ways that I relax at night: reading, Internet usage and watching tv. Without the latter, I am screwed. It's my favorite down time activity. Something has to happen and soon. I've given up a lot where media is concerned but I'm not willing to give it all up. Like I said, it's a love/hate relationship.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Was it Like Heaven in your Mouth?

Have you ever seen Dan in Real Life? It's hysterical. There's a scene where he is eating dinner and he says, "This corn is heaven." I crack up laughing every time I see that scene. Well, I've found a similar Heaven, in the form of a brownie. A gluten free, dairy free brownie. I made them on Friday and ate the whole 8x8 pan nearly by myself in two days and that's only because my husband was home over the weekend and I couldn't blame it on play date mothers. I found this heaven-in-your-mouth brownie recipe on Gluten Free Girl. You can visit it here. Seriously, it is the best brownie I have ever eaten. EVER. And I have eaten a lot of brownies.

As I said, I ate the whole batch in two days and figured I did without them for two days (and that was some will power on my part), so I was ready for more. I went to Trader Joe's under the guise of "grocery shopping" to buy a 3.5 oz bar of dark baking chocolate-it's part of my Heaven too. I got home and got set up and realized that I hadn't printed out the recipe and my computer was farting that day. Boo hoo! I was devastated, so I called a good pregnant friend who I knew would take pity on me to look up the recipe for me and relay it over the phone. I promised her a slice the next day. Sure enough I made the brownies, downed about half the first day and saved a piece for her.

I gave it to her this morning. She called mid-day to announce that she needed the recipe (as she was at Sunflower buying "groceries" (some baking chocolate for brownies). I asked her, "Was it like Heaven in your mouth?" She laughed at me and quickly got on with the conversation - she's pregnant and NEEDS these brownies! I get it! And, so should you - get the baking chocolate and get to bakin' unless of course you think Heaven is stupid. It's your soul. Whatever.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Healthier and Allergen Free Substitutes

I've been learning a lot over the past two years about healthier options and allergen free options for cooking. I thought I'd share my findings with you here.

Healthier Substitutes
canola,vegetable oil, butter or margarine - coconut oil
shortening, butter or margarine - palm oil shortening
white sugar - honey, maple syrup, agave nectar
white flour - anything but white really - spelt, barley, oat, just have one with gluten in it
cow's milk - hemp, oat, almond, soy or rice milk
white rice - brown rice, quinoa (cooks in 20 minutes just the same as white rice), millet

Allergen Free Substitutes
butter - Earth Balance buttery spread
sour cream - Tofutti's sour supreme
cream cheese - Tofutti's better than cream cheese
cheese - Ha ha ha. You try an alternative I dare you!
pasta - TJ's brown rice pasta in spaghetti, penne and rotini
bread - Pamela's gluten free bread mix
crackers - Edward and Suns or TJ"s brown rice crackers
cow's milk - rice milk (and the others listed, my naturopath suggested we avoid soy so we do not use it much)
white flour - mix your own non-gluten flours and add xanthan gum for springy texture
ice cream - Rice Dream (not my favorite), Purely Decadent soy ice cream, Coconut Bliss ice cream (this is Heaven if Heaven costs $7 a pint)
eggs - ener-g egg replacer

If you are curious and want to purchase some of these items without having to search the store like an idiot, drop a comment and I can post pics of these items so you know what you are looking for. I can also tell you about where to locate them in various stores.

Vegetarian Enchiladas

I'm trying to spread out my grocery shopping more these days so that I don't buy more stuff that I don't need and will probably end up wasting. I'm using more food storage and checking my fridge and cabinets before cooking. I've also been trying to make more vegetarian dishes lately; save money by not buying meat and live a longer healthier life because of it. So, I began with a Martha Stewart recipe "Vegetable Enchiladas" and I embellished so that I could use what was in my fridge.

Vegetarian Enchiladas
1/2 diced onion
2 garlic cloves diced
10oz frozen spinach
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1t cumin
corn or flour tortillas
red enchilada sauce

Directions: Saute onion, garlic, mushrooms. Add spinach, then cans of beans and corn. Roll in tortillas, spread enchilada sauce over the top and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. They were delish. Ryan and I added Monterey Jack cheese to our because we could. Mmmm. I will definitelty make these again. They were very filling, although I think it would be much better with fresh spinach and fresh corn off the cob.