September 02, 2012

Been on a Blogging Vacation.

I found that I needed to take a break from blogging for a couple of weeks during a busy time for me.  It also gave me time to just think about everything I have going on in my life.  No, I’m not having a mid-life crisis.  You see, September is that time when kids are going back to school and for me it is the best time to evaluate what I am doing and if I need to make any changes.

During July I began my training at the public library which took about two weeks.  Then I worked my regular part time hours plus I filled in for some full time employees who were on vacation.  Toss into that the normal August chaos of my husband coaching cross country and it got a little hectic.  My schedule has settled down and I am now working my normal 5 hours each Saturday at the library.

I can now breathe some.  Tonight I am spending some time looking at the calendar and planning out September.  This summer I was unable to work on scraping and painting the outside of our house.  It just wasn’t going to happen in 105 degree Fahrenheit weather.  Now I don’t have as much time to get the job done so I am having to compromise.  My plan is to paint the main color on the lower half of the house plus the two overhangs over the large windows in the living room and the dining room.  It is what I am going to refer to as the minimum requirement of painting on the house for this year.  If I have more time and the weather holds, I will do more. 

Next up is to clean the inside of our house from top to bottom in order to get ready for the winter months ahead and that means digging through closets and getting rid of “stuff.”  I also need to spend some time washing windows inside and outside, something that I have been putting off. 

I got behind on a lot of my housework and household projects this year.  I'm digging my way out.  

In order to get back on track on some of these projects I need to take an hour or so each week to review my calendar and review my plans.  I really need to stay on task in order to stay on top of all of the housework and the projects we have to get done in our house.  This is hard as I get sidetracked very easily. 

It’s odd but once I take out my calendar and get some planning done, I feel inspired to get to work and get things done.  It kind of takes me back to my days at the law firm when I loved to look at the work calendar and plug projects into place and then I worked the plan in order to get everything done.  I apply the same principle to my home.  Take the task, break it down into manageable pieces and calendar when you will get the pieces done.  It doesn’t take a special computer program to do this, a simple calendar and a spiral notebook will work just fine.

Now on to food . . . well, I’m sure all of you have noticed that the prices on many items have gone up.  It was a given with the drought.  I never thought I would be paying $1.89 a lb. for apples.  We live near some apple orchards and the drought has really affected their crops.  Again, it was expected to happen.  So, I have found that I have to bite the bullet and pay the price for fresh produce as we go through a lot of apples and bananas.  Today I was able to buy whole cantaloupe for only 99 cents each, so I bought three.  Also I have had several people give me some cucumbers, peppers and zucchini from their garden, which I gladly accepted.  Last month a neighbor was going to be out of town for 5 days and he asked me to pick up his mail, water his tomatoes and flowers and keep an eye on his house.  In return instead of getting paid (something I refused to do) he told me I could have as many tomatoes as I wanted from his tomato patch.  What a deal.  We ate our fill of grape tomatoes, Roma tomatoes and beef steak tomatoes. 

The best way I know to save on produce is:   1.  Don’t overbuy.  In other words, don’t buy so much produce (or anything else) that it spoils before you can use it.  I would rather go to the grocery store every two days to pick up fresh produce than to have the stuff go wilty and mushy in the produce drawer in my fridge.  2.  If the prices are too high on some produce such as berries or peaches (as an example), then don’t buy them.  Go with cheaper produce such as apples, pears or bananas or buy the berries in their frozen form if cheaper.  3.  If you have a local Farmer’s Market see if their prices are cheaper or if you have a neighbor that has a garden with surplus produce, consider approaching them and ask if you can purchase some of their produce.  Or better yet, make a trade.  For example, I would bake a few loaves of my whole wheat sour dough bread in return for fresh produce from someone’s garden.  4.  It’s too late this year, but next year consider planting a small garden. In my case I want to plant some tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers only if we don’t have another drought year. 

If you are struggling with your budget due to high prices on many commodities, you may have to make some serious decisions.  Cut in one area of your budget to find the money to spend on food if you need to or find a way to increase your income.  I can tell you that there are a lot of people who use our local library instead of paying for cablevision in their homes.  Many people come in to borrow dvd’s, books, c.d.’s and more for their entertainment versus paying for cablevision.  Many others have cancelled their internet service and use the library’s computer lab or the library’s wi-fi. 

As to increasing income, I had an opportunity recently that fell in my lap. My neighbor needed someone to watch her 8 year old son 4 days after school.  I decided to do it.  I get paid $5 (each day) to watch him for a little over an hour.  This little guy is the nicest little boy and he is very polite.  I fix him a snack and talk to him, help him with his homework and I let him watch some public television.  He is old enough to go the grocery store with me and I actually look forward to seeing him after school. 

So if you’re struggling and getting discouraged, take heart.  You can make it, but you may have to make some decisions and let go of some conveniences in order to meet your budget.  


Juhli said...

Glad you are back blogging!

Debby said...

We are so lucky in the eastern part of the US that the drought hasn't affected us except for the upcoming rise in meat,gas prices as well keep going up :( I have been spending my grocery budget on meats while they are at rock bottom prices now in hope we will have enough put back until next year. I to am looking forward to the lower temps so I can get to some major house cleaning!!

Rhonda said...

I am also glad you are back blogging,
lots of good info here. I saw apples for $1.89 a pound just recently and it really surprised me. But I am afraid that price will be the new normal.
To save on produce, I buy our produce at stores that have the freshest produce (not Walmart in my town) and store it in Tupperware fridge containers or in zipper bags with the air squeezed out.
I heeded your advice from weeks ago and have stocked our chest freezer with as much sale meat as it will hold.

Bernice said...

Glad you are back to blogging, good luck with your what I call Fall Cleaning. Will you be hosting your two college students again?

Martha said...

@ Bernice:

Sorry - just noticed that you had asked a question. The college girls will be living with us through the end of December.