Wednesday, November 30, 2016

MRS. MONSTER HAS RETURNED!!!!!!!




























NOOOOOO!!!  
NOOOOOOOOO!!!!   
NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

The armadillos are back!  There were about seven big holes in the garden and countless smaller ones in the yard.  It must be the Mrs. and the little ones coming to get revenge.

The link below will explain about the war we are fighting.

http://getmetothecountry.blogspot.com/2016/11/something-pretty-something-putrid-and.html

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November's Garden






This has been an unbelievably hard month. Between no rain at all and the armadillo's destruction, it is a miracle there is anything at all left in the garden. Over planting the garden this year was the right thing to do. The grass is completely dead and the only green color is where I have watered.

In the picture below, was the area that was not hit as much by the armadillo. I think because it was closer to the house, "IT" chose to visit it last. This is what most of the garden should look like now but does not.

All of the seeds in the right two rows were saved from last year's garden. Since there were so many, I broadcast them then later thinned them. They are still way to thick but it is time to do some major harvesting. They need to be shorter so I can cover them with a hoop house for the winter.

The row on the far left is all turnip greens. They were store bought seeds I planted after the armadillo destroyed most of my turnip patch by the woods in the back of the garden. It was late in the season when I planted them but it was a chance I took.  Anything is better than nothing.



Below is the area closest to the field so it was hit quite often by the armadillo. The rows should be twice as wide and not have the gaping holes. It is not as luscious as it should be, but will just have to do. This month will also see me harvesting quite a bit from these two rows because they have the less hardy plants.


In October's garden I spoke about planting winter peas. I carefully poked a hole between the lima bean plant roots and planted the pea seeds. The lima bean plants are dead now; the peas are growing and filling up the empty space. This is the first time I have grown these peas.They are supposed to grow during the worst weather and get real tall, we'll see. They are harvested by chopping part of the vine into small pieces and using it as a fresh salad. The peas won't be ready until later in the spring but it is the vines that are supposed to be eaten. Last week I pinched a few leaves off and they were GREAT. They tasted just like fresh green peas eaten while walking through the garden. If these really do bear the bitter winter, they will be a keeper.


Below, I think, is a Tokyo Bekana plant. Did I mention I save my seeds from year to year and things cross-pollinate? So I think this is Tokyo Bekana...anyway, it is delicious used in salads and stir fry. Even though it is in the mustard family, it is real mild. My family does not like hot mustards so I avoid growing many of them. Tokyo Bekana is not real winter hardy. It can withstand cold nights but dies during the bitter part of the winter. If you look real close you can see where the 29 degree nights have caused frostbite on the outer part of the leaves. This plant was harvested yesterday and made into a salad right after I made the picture. Most of these will be harvested during December.  A few will be left to go under the hoop house and maybe make it into bitter cold January.



Below is a picture from last year's garden on January 24, 2015 of a (I think) Tokyo Bekana.  This is how it reacts to the bitter cold even under a hoop house. Not very appetizing.



This is how it looked yesterday (11-28-2016) when I picked for my salad. It tasted as good as it looked.




There were a few more things in need of picking like the mustard plant in the middle of the picture below. They grow aggressively, blocking out other plants and I don't really need that many. In my family, only Bill likes them and I have way more than he can eat. I needed to cull some.




Nana likes mustard greens so this plant went to her. I cut it at the root since I don't want it to grow back. It was a really large plant and she froze 3 quarts, not counting what she ate. Soon I will be harvesting more for her freezer.



This is the large hole left by this one plant. The others around it immediately began spreading out.


While digging I noticed the wilted leaf below. This was a clue to search further.


I spread the leaves apart and discovered a winter radish growing. They are hardy enough for cool weather but perish in the bitter cold. Since we have had a few really hard frosts, this plant was beginning to show the stress, hence the wilted leaf. While I was digging in this spot, I decided to pull it out. I could tell by the light green above the dirt it was either a Green Luobo radish or a White Winter radish.



To my surprise, it was neither, or both, or something else; it had crossed. It should have been oblong and not round. I love surprises. Who knows what crossed with what, but it still tasted great in my salad.



Last night we FINALLY GOT RAIN! Every time I sat down yesterday, I checked the radar on my computer to watch it coming in. My fear was that it would blow over like all the other storms this fall. The weatherman (who is never wrong) said we were behind 8 inches of rain for this time of the year. For once, I agreed with him. To celebrate the end (I hope it was the end) of this drought, I took a long hot bath. I filled the tub up to the top then when it cooled, I let the water out and filled it up AGAIN! Oh, my beloved (almost) unlimited well, glad to have you full.

When I can walk without sinking in the mud, I will go out and check the garden. From the kitchen window I can see the plants growing as I watch. I love it when life is good!






Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Petrol Patrol Parade






















It  was Thanksgiving weekend and everyone was home. We decided to get out and go somewhere
together but everyone had to drive their own car. Sound strange?  I guess by now you realize we are an odd family. Where was the exciting place we were all going???  You guessed it. Kroger to get gas. Doesn't other families form a convoy to get a gas fill-up? Why were we doing this? This is why.


You read it right. $1.14 for gas (Dustin said, "Note the extra decimal place for accuracy"). No, there was not a gas war going on, although I wish there was. This month I had managed to accumulated 737 gas points from Kroger which gave me a $.70 discount for a one time purchase with a limit of 35 gallons. Since my car only holds 14 gallons, it is usually a waste of my time to bother with the program; however, if I can get everyone to join me, it would be fun.

Whenever I fill out one of the receipt surveys, I complain about being limited to a one time fill-up. I invite everyone who reads this post to also complain when filling out your survey. It is time to revolt!

This is what I did. About a week before everyone was coming home, I texted them to let them know not to fill-up with gas. If possible, try to arrive home empty but not so empty that they would run out of gas on the interstate. They did such a good job of emptying their tanks that no one's car had enough gas to go and pick up Nana on Thanksgiving. We managed to find an opened station and did go get her.

Since I am paying for the gas (I am a such a good Mom) my car gets filled up first before the points run out. Notice my gas tank cap is on the passenger's side while everyone else's is on the driver's side. This is a problem. I pulled up to one side of the island and they lined up on the other. The hose nozzle would stretch across to the other side if you parked just right.


After my car was full, it was Reese's turn. There was no rule as to who went first after me. Everyone arrived at the station at the same time. The lot was full so it required maneuvering around to get all the cars lined up in order. Reese just happened to be first after me.



After Reese came Joshua. His and Dustin's cars are the same kind and they each hold only 10 gallons. My car holds 14 gallons so if my gas discount had only totaled about $.20 it would not be worth bothering to try to coordinate more than one car. Reese would use the discount, since he drives more than I, and at the same time, also fill up the gas cans for the lawnmowers.


It looks like we are filling up the same car again but they just look alike.

It was very important to not hang the gas nozzle back up between fill-ups because it would turn the pump off. If that happened, you wouldn't get any more gas at the discounted price. One person, usually me, would stand and hold the nozzle while others moved the cars.  


To prove this is a true story and not one I made up, this is the total - $40.22 for 35 gallons for four cars. I win bragging rights!




This is how I managed to accumulate so many Kroger gas points.

11/4     275 points earned      
I received a coupon from Kroger for 200 gas points if you spent $60. I decided to try and earn points for everyone for the Thanksgiving weekend. I ended up spending $75 for which I also got points.

11/5      50 points earned        
I filled out one of the receipt surveys and earned 50 points. I did complain about only being able to use points on one fill-up.

11/5     36 points earned         
I spent $36 on groceries. I don't remember what I got or why I went back the next day to buy more groceries. If I had a good memory, I would not have had to go back the next day.

11/17     25 points earned        
I spent $25 for groceries

11/23     200 points earned       
I downloaded an online coupon for 4xs gas points for buying a gift card. I bought a $50 gift card which was something I had already planned to do.

11/23     80 points earned         
Kroger was also running a special for 4xs gas points for purchasing a phone card. My phone minutes will run out next month so I purchased a card this month and earned 80 points.
.
11/23     21 points earned         
I spent $21 on groceries

11/25     50 points earned         
There was another receipt survey with the 11/23 grocery purchase. I took another survey, of course I complained again.

Total points earned this month 737 and we used 700 of them. We got a $.70 discount which means 35 gallons times $.70 equals $24.50 saved.  

So when Dustin and Reese go back to college tomorrow morning and their professors ask them to write an essay titled, What I Did on My Thanksgiving Vacation, they can brag, Our Family Got Gas at Kroger.

Bragging rights - priceless

Friday, November 25, 2016

Scratch Paper


When my middle son, Dustin, came home for the Thanksgiving holiday, he brought back a stack of paper. After he took an exam at college, he asked the professor if he could have the equation sheet handouts the class was throwing away. Dustin took them, and used the school's paper cutter to cut each page into 6 pieces each. He brought them home to give to me to be used as scratch paper. I just love it when my boys bring me gifts.

I showed Dustin my new blog and asked him to get involved and figure the savings. Well why not? My life is boring, so let's have a little fun.

Savings analysis:
We had 300 small sheets (yes, we counted them one by one. I said my life was boring. We received no deadly paper cuts so our workplace safety practices were effective).

The original 8 ½ by 11 inch sheets of paper were cut into 6 pieces, so originally there would have been 50 sheets. We found a similar note pad from Amazon - 12 Pads for $6.37 for the bundle which is $0.531 per pad. $0.531 per pad divided by 50 pages per pad is $0.011 per page. (Dustin figured it out to the extra decimal place in these calculations because it is more accurate. He is studying to be an engineer and can do math correctly.)

So, $0.011 per page times our 300 pages is $3.30 that we saved. (We are not counting shipping in our comparison even though Dustin did drive home from school and carried the paper with him. We are also not counting the labor of counting the pages or cutting the paper. He is a "starving college student" and works for food.)

When we use paper here, we sometimes use both sides of the paper (except for toilet paper), doubling its utility. But in this case, we can't simply count ALL the pages as being usable for both sides. This is because the original 8 ½ by 11 inch sheets of paper had equations printed on one side. As you can see in the image, some of the little paper pieces have the equations taking up most of the room, so its backside can't be used. Others have little to no equations, allowing double-sided use. Still others have student-written scratch work taking up room. But that's ok, scratch paper is made for scratch work, and we didn't have to pay for that. Scratch paper with some scratch notes included for free is good, right?

The last frugality accomplishment to mention: Dustin did all the math in calculating well as writing the rough draft of this blog post. All I had to do was read his post and give him a glass of homemade boiled custard.

Were the savings worth the work? Collecting and cutting the paper was worth it to me because Dustin did all the work. Figuring the savings and writing the blog was also worth it because Dustin did this work too. Would I bother doing the same thing? I have done it before; however, there is something happening here that is more valuable than the $3.30 saved.

Dustin has an engineer's math brain and thinks in absolutes. One plus one equals two, always. Social situations are like a minefield to him. With this simple gift he proved he knows the difference between a present and a gift. A present is what I want you to have and gift is what you want to have.  An example of a present: you have gained weight, I want you to lose so I give you an exercise bike for your birthday. This is a bad idea. An example of a gift: you love chocolate candy so I give you a big box of Russell Stovers, which is your heart's desire. That is a good idea.

My son saw the paper going into the trash can and saw an opportunity. He thought, Mom is thrifty, she likes to recycle, this is a good opportunity to do something she would like. Then he made the effort, asked the professor, cut the paper, brought it home and presented it to me. I was thrilled. I loved it. My heart went pitter-patter. It might sound silly to you because all you see is a cheap $3.30 present, but as for me, I see a priceless giver.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Bill's Office, Before & After



There is nothing I like better than a good "before and after" picture. How someone has worked magic from a hopeless situation is enough to give anyone thrills. I had to join the crowd to share my magical workings. Above is a definitely hopeless situation, Bill's office. I know it looks really bad and this is after we (he) straightened it up. Five years ago Bill was laid off from his job because the company closed the Tennessee office; it was not a pleasant time for us. He eventually was rehired (because they could not run the company without him, in my lowly opinion) and now works from home. At that time the only place to put an office was in the basement. It was cold and dark in the winter and hot and dark in the summer. We labeled it "The Dungeon," obviously not an OSHA approved job site. At the lower right corner of his desk sits a bottle of bug spray. Spiders like to congregate in the back corner under the desk so he keeps the poison bottle handy. The fan on the floor is replaced by a heater in the winter.

Pretty depressing. I know. There are unseen perks. He is right by the garage door so when I arrive home with a car full of groceries, he is able to help unload the car without having to walk too far. The woodburning stove is also downstairs so he gets to haul in the wood and keep the fire stoked all winter long. If the stove starts to smoke up the room, Bill is right there to check on it.

Another perk is that he can work without his shoes, leave them right in the middle of the floor and never be reprimanded by his boss. Bill has taken the lead and designated the whole week as casual Friday.

Underneath the desk on the right side is a lumpy pillow used by Scooter for napping. He is always on guard protecting and acting as Bill's personal security force. Bill says he is really more like a fire alarm, he makes quite a bit of noise, but does not actually do anything.

Good things come to those that wait and finally (maybe) one of our sons has moved out. Bill immediately received a promotion so he has moved upstairs to the empty bedroom. He is now the man upstairs with a corner window office. In addition, there are additional perks like air conditioning, heating and decent lights. However, the commute time is unchanged, there are 13 steps going down to the basement and also 13 steps going upstairs.

NOW FOR THE BIG REVEAL


So what were the steps to achieve such a shocking transformation?
1.  Bill looked online and chose the desk he wanted from Office Depot.
2.  He gave Joshua the money and sent him to buy it and haul it home.
3.  All three boys took turns assembling it...some assembly required was a LIE.
4.  Bill called the internet service and had them come out to change the lines.
5.  Bill began moving everything up 26 steps then organizing everything the way he wanted it.
6.  After everything was in order, I went upstairs, adjusted the light shining through the curtain and took the pictures.
Yes, before and after magic is something I can used to doing.

Wait, what about Scooter? Don't worry. He was able to track Bill to his new location and continue his security detail. He received a promotion and a new office also. He now works from the foot of a soft BED!



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving


The desserts were prepared and set out for Thanksgiving.  They lasted until the camera flashed.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Something Pretty, Something Putrid, and Something Pretty Putrid

Calendula, Calendula officinalis 'Erfurter Orangefarbig" 
Before I get into the putrid part of this post, I wanted to share something pretty. This morning I found this Calendula still blooming after two nights of 29 degree lows. What a pleasant surprise. Now onto the putrid part of my narrative.

About two months ago I went out to the garden in the morning and noticed about 25 holes, 12 inches round and 12 inches deep dug everywhere. There were no holes in the yard, they were all in the wet, loose plowed soil of my garden. None of the plants had been eaten but were laying in the dirt, dead from the destruction. This was something I had never seen before. We were in a drought so I assumed some animal was digging for water since I had used the sprinkler the night before. I put bowls of water out, hoed the dirt back over the holes and watered the spots to try and keep the damaged plants alive.


The next morning, it happened again. The bowls of water had not help. I hoed the dirt back over the holes and watered again. This time I spread a long sheet of netting over the most damaged area.


The next morning, it had happened again except this time "IT" had moved to another section of the garden. At least "IT" had avoided the netting; however, my garden is about 2,500 square feet. I don't have that much netting.


The next morning, it happened again. This time I sat down and cried. With a tearstained face I marched into the house and I confronted my husband. "I have had it! No more garden! It wins. Just plow it all under. I quit! I will give up on my winter garden and just plant again in the spring." (Whenever I get upset, it is always his fault.)

He calmly said, "If we don't get rid of whatever it is, it will bring its' family and we can never have a garden again."

That sobered me. I thought, no more juicy watermelons, sun ripened tomatoes, extra sweet strawberries, oh my...no garden? Ever? And what about my flowers? My daylilies? My Iris? I love my petunias. It was time to fight!

So who is my enemy? Is it a squirrel? They do dig holes but usually they are only big enough to bury a nut.

Is it a rabbit? We have rabbits in the yard. They do help themselves to the carrot tops and the kale, but I plant enough for them. I don't mind sharing a little.

Is it a groundhog? They will go down a row of cabbages and eat every plant within minutes. They will dig a deep den but not a large number of holes. If they come to the garden, it is usually in the late afternoon; we had been watching from the kitchen window and had seen nothing.

Is it an opossum? We have only seen them eating our chickens, never anything in the garden.

We were stumped so I asked the experts, my Amish farmer friends. I explained what was happening and in unison they all replied, "Armadillo".

I asked, "What is it after?"

Amish men, "Ants and grub worms."

I queried them further, "How do I do to get rid of them?"

In unison they replied, "Shotgun."

"What about using a humane live trap. I have one but what bait would I use to attract them?"

Amish men. Silence.

I waited.

Then the youngest said, "Donuts. I think they like donuts. I have heard they like donuts."

The rest of the Amish men - silence with the occasional shoulder shrug.

I pondered this knowledge - with or without sprinkles, cream filled, maple, or chocolate glazed? Too many decisions. I needed help so I shared this information with Bill. He flatly stated, "If you don't buy donuts for me, you are not buying them for an armadillo."

Decision made. Shotgun it is.

That night Bill got out his trusted 12 gauge shotgun loaded it with birdshot and slipped out the back door. It squeaked loudly so we had to WD-40 the hinge. Then I stumbled over the porch rocking chair and had to slide it out of the way. Finally, we shone the flashlight out into the garden and something unknown scurried away. Something evil was out there. We would try again.

Two hours later we tried again, and again, and again....

We developed a choreographed dance that we would perform repeatedly during the night for over a month and a half.  It went like this:
We would first put on our ear noise protection, then Bill would load the gun. I would turn off all the inside house lights, get the flashlight ready then slowly, silently open the kitchen door. He would kneel on the back deck and place the gun on the rail to steady it. I would stand to his left while holding the flashlight in my left hand and placing my right hand on his shoulder. This way he knew where I was and I knew where he was in the dark. When he whispered "ready", I would shine the spotlight onto the garden and we would watch the critters scamper.

Bill would say, "Deer, nope (can't shoot them after dark). Rabbits, nope. Neighbor's cat, nope."

Then he would stand up and together we would walk to the other side of the deck, me shining the light all over the backyard and him aiming the gun. We would then retrace our steps back across the deck to shine the light back onto the garden to catch whatever had tried to escape when the light was not shining on them. Yes, they are smart enough to figure that out.

Then late one night we saw "IT"!  Frozen and blinded by the spotlight glaring in his eyes, "IT" turned to sneer at us. Bill aimed carefully and pulled the trigger. Bang! He hit it! We had proof that would stand up in a court of law.

Your Honor, may I present evidence that the perpetrator was indeed hit with shotgun pellets? Observe exhibit A, the old garden shed which sets in the back of the garden.


Your Honor, upon closer inspection our forensics team discovered holes in the left side of the shed caused by the impact of the pellets. No one or no THING could have survived.


We were  thrilled until a few days later, "IT" returned to the scene of the crime.  We resumed our evening waltz and once again, Bill shot it.

Your Honor, may I present Exhibit B. The right side of the garden shed which has also been hit by shotgun pellets. Surely this time it has expired.




Bill decided to change his tactics and use his scoped 22 rifle. "IT" stubbornly returned again to the the garden. Bill kneeled, carefully aimed, and pulled the trigger. Click. Nothing happened! The back of the bullet casing ruptured. He has never seen that happen before.

We continued with our routine and a few days later Bill again had "IT" centered in his scope but the 22 bullet misfired! It just did not go off.  It happened twice. Once is possible but twice, no way. Something was amiss. Bill discovered he had bought a bad batch of 22 bullets so he opened a new box and tried again.

Once again we danced and Bill got another shot. This time we knew he hit it because Scooter sniffed and found a single drop of blood in the yard the next morning. We were ecstatic! "IT" had been hit and did not return... for about a week. How could one animal be so lucky? What were we missing?

At this point, we consulted the Oracle and discovered that the armor on an armor-dillo (they are called that for a reason) could withstand a 22 bullet and sometimes birdshot. As we continued researching we discovered they may carry leprosy. LEPROSY!  LEPROSY! I repeat!  THEY MAY CARRY LEPROSY!  And humans can catch it. This suddenly became serious. It was life or death.

No longer did we dance but instead became a well coordinated, deadly military team maneuvering stealthy in enemy territory. This was war.

Bill went back to the shotgun and loaded it with buckshot which is designed to take down a deer; hopefully, it would kill this monster. Finally three nights ago "IT" threw caution to the wind and decided to come close to the deck and check out the overflowing trash cans. Bill had stayed up late watching a movie and I was in bed sound asleep. He burst into the bedroom yelling "IT" is back. I jumped out of bed and flew out the backdoor still in my night gown holding the flashlight as he took quick aim. BOOM! (The ground shook and lights began to come on in the distance houses. Oops.) He got it! This time "IT" flipped over on its back and died. I felt no remorse. Bill went out and poked it with a stick to make sure it was really dead. He is such a warrior! My hero!

The next morning at breakfast Reese asked, "Is Dad doing target practice off of the back deck in the middle of the night in the dark now?"

I replied, "We were being robbed and were fighting for our lives."

"Glad to see you are fine, Mom. So, can I have those last two bagels for breakfast?"

Life has returned to normal.

Epilogue:

As to the amount of damage it did to my garden, I would guess about 40% was destroyed. I planted and replanted seeds. As I filled in holes, I would throw in more seeds. This is a picture of my collard greens bed. It should be solid green from all the plants but almost everything is gone, all you see is the dirt.  There are a few other areas completely untouched and are still thriving.


Will we starve this winter? I doubt it. My plans were to have a huge winter garden so what is left will still be large enough for us. The remaining plants are spreading out and taking up more room so they are happy. As for me, gardening is not for the faint of heart. I will push on.

Now, as for the EVIL MONSTER. Scroll on down if you want a glimpse.

WARNING GRAPHIC PICTURE AHEAD


UPDATE:  We thought this was the end of our problem, but sadly, it was not.  The horrors continued when "Mrs. Monster has Returned!!!!!!!"   Then it was finally (hopefully) solved when  "Santa Brought Me an Armadillo!"  Thank you Santa.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lunchbox Economy


Making lunches for my family has been an important part of my thrifty ways.  Above is the lunch I made one day this past week for Reese to take to college.

In this day's lunch I fixed a white bean burrito with cheese. I would have preferred adding onions, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers or any other fresh vegetables; no, sadly this is how he likes it. There are a million different combinations of ingredients, but this happened to be what I had in the refrigerator. I roll the burrito up in wax paper then tape the edges shut. It is convenient because he can eat it while working and without washing his hands, afterwards he throws the wax paper away. Since he is not always near a microwave, this is something which can be eaten cold. While I had all the ingredients out together, I went ahead and made an extra one then tossed it in the freezer for another day.


In the previous day's lunch I had sent him a fruit salad. He said it was too much food and could not eat it all. Dare I throw it away? Of course not! I recycled it. My men have a saying, "If you don't eat it the first time, you will eat it the second, or third, or fourth or..."  I am proud to say they are right. Since Reese had eaten out of the salad container, no one else would want to eat after him so I made a "special treat" just for him. I put some milk, the leftover fruit salad, a little vanilla in a bowl.


With my hand mixer, I made a smoothie and sent it in his lunch the next day. It made more than would fit in the drink container so I put the extra in a fancy wine glass and took it to him while he was studying in his room. With a sweet smile on my face, I told him I had made him something special. He was skeptical and eyed it like it contained arsenic, but drank it anyway because he was too hungry to care. My husband wanted to know where was his special drink? I informed him it was made from Reese's uneaten fruit salad and he could have some also. He declined.

I do not resend anything with meat in it since I fear the lunchbox may not have stayed cold enough. We never take chances with meat. My standards are low, but not food poison low.


Next step is to pack everything into the little lunchbox. It is hard to see the burrito but it is smashed inside the front. Smashing it does not hurt anything, it just mixes the ingredients better.


The second step is to shove the lunchbox into the backpack. The force required to do this varies with the amount of books inside.


The potato chips will be crushed in the lunchbox so they go in the right pocket of his jacket so he can grab one with his left had and continue writing. 


The muffins go in this pocket where they are convenient to reach while in Marketing class. 


But wait you say.  Where does the bagel smeared with butter go?  Well here of course, on top of the defrost vent in the truck so the butter will be melted and the bagel warm and chewy by the time he gets to his first class.


Why do I send such a big lunch? He is always hungry, plus we grow them big in Tennessee.



Now I am going to do a detailed breakdown of the savings from packing a lunch and my labor costs.

Reusable items
Lunchbox (a gift when I toured the Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri years ago)
Cloth napkin (a gift from a friend)
Drink containers ($.99 each from Goodwill)
Blue ice packs ($.99 each from Wal-mart)

Plastic bags, saran wrap and wax paper (These will be thrown away so maybe $.03)
Drinks (Milk $2.00 per gallon. 1 gallon equals 16 cups / $2.00 divided by 16 equals $.13 per cup)
Fruit smoothie (The fruit salad was considered garbage so I am not counting it. I added 1/2 cup of milk so garbage plus 1/2 cup milk $.07)
Tortilla (Aldi 8 per pack for $1.29 equals $.16 each)
White beans (32 oz bag for $1.49 equals $.05 per dry ounce. I guess 1/2 oz so $.02 for beans)
Cheese (One tablespoon??? $.10)
Potato Chips (Aldi Bar-b-que 9.5 oz for $1.49 equals $.15 per ounce. Who can eat only one ounce of potato chips?  $.15 per ounce times 3 oz equals $.45)
Muffins (Wheat was $12 for 50 pounds which I grind myself, the sweet potatoes I added were from my garden, that leaves oil, sugar and eggs in small amounts. I will guess about $.10 for all of them)
Bagel (I got these at the day-old bread store for $.50 for 8 which equals $.06 for each. I did slather on the butter which I made myself from the $2.00 gallon of milk. I am guessing another $.03)

Adding everything together equals $1.15 which is impressive for one meal, but for math I am going to round up to $1.50. His college charges $6.00 for one meal so $6.00 minus $1.50 equals $4.50 saved. Sounds good but let's take it one step further.

It only takes a few minutes to fix one lunch but I am adding time to clean out the lunchbox, laundry the napkin and put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, so I will round up to 10 minutes. That means I am making $4.50 for 10 minutes of work which equals $27 per hour. I consider that great pay but let's take it one step further.

Reese will often eat the bagel for breakfast, the burrito and chips for lunch, then muffins and smoothie for a snack. Once again guessing, but this one lunchbox meal can feed him for at least two meals. Doing math again $4.50 in savings times 2 meals equals $9.00 saved by 10 minutes of work which equals $54.00 per hour. I can work for $54.00 per hour every day.  Let's take it a step further.

From the first to the last day of class for one semester is roughly 100 days. You must buy a meal plan to get the $6.00 per meal price, but if you miss a meal or decide to go home for the weekend, money lost. If you want to buy a lunch for your friend to make up for a lost meal, no way. If you don't buy a meal plan the price of each meal is about $9.00.

This is why our children are leaving college with crushing debt. They are not being taught how to economize. When each of my sons got their first job or started college, I told them I was proud of them and would support them by making their lunches. Each one has come to appreciate the value of this simple daily gift from me. How do I know they appreciate it? They thank me constantly and that is all I ask in return.

Not Quite A Butterball

This morning I awoke to two wild jake turkeys stuck behind our backyard fence pacing back and forth, back and forth, right in shooting range. The fence is only four feet tall and they can easily hop over it, but they couldn't seem to figure that out. So back and forth, back and forth they paced.



I ran yelling for Bill, "Bill, wake up, wake up! There are two turkeys in the backyard! Bill, quick, get your gun! Bill, wake up! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!"

Did he hurry? No. Did he rush? No. He calmly walked to the computer and loaded up the TWRA website, turned to me and said, "Turkey season closed on November 4th, can't shoot it."

I gasped! "Nooooo! Thanksgiving is four days away!!! I want a turkey!"

Sadly, my husband obeys the law; however, he was willing to go out back and shoot them with the camera. When he walked out the backdoor, he startled this one so it hopped over the fence and began strolling away!

The other bird began to panic! He was left behind! He began clucking rapidly and pacing quicker, back and forth, faster and faster. Birds of a feather MUST flock together! Even though he had just seen his friend hop the fence, he didn't know what to do. Stupid birds. No matter how many fences they cross in their lifetimes, it is as though everyone is the first.

The free bird began walking toward the driveway. He could hear the panicked calls of his trapped friend, but just continued to meander on toward the road.

In an act of sheer desperation, the trapped bird soared over the fence. He was free! He began to wander down the yard to join his friend for their next adventure.

He paused, looked back at Bill and smirked. They knew hunting season was closed and they were safe. They both laughed all the way down the driveway...until they encounter the next fence for the first time.




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