Garden Series – Day 34

23 Apr

It’s official. All my little seedlings have been transplanted. Every water bottle I had in my recycle bag, plus those I’ve used in the last few weeks, are now on my back porch with plants in them.

Last night I transplanted seven Albino Bullnose Peppers. I emptied the remaining soil from the tray and mat into a pot in the side yard. I wonder if anything will sprout from that?

I lost one kale plant. It just didn’t find it’s legs. Otherwise, everything is growing and looking good.

While I was at it, I transplanted the “accidental” cherry tomatoes that popped up this fall. They were the result of my squeezing a few cherry tomatoes a friend gave me into soil, watering for two months then giving up. They sprouted up in the late fall, and now one is per a foot tall. Not knowing what kind they are, I’ve name them MJ’s Cherry Tomatoes, after my friend.
20140422-225140.jpgI had ignored them for so long, they were seriously root-bound. I separated what I could, and moved them into roomy pots with lots of soil. They look happy!

The entire group now is hovering at the 50 mark. Good grief! I am more convinced than ever that my back porch is a perfect little micro-climate!20140422-225306.jpg

Happy US VegWeek!

21 Apr

This week is US VegWeek.  I took the pledge.  What?  Why?  Because,  bits of meat, dairy, salt, sugar, and oil have been slipping in and out. Between Veg Week, whatever our upcoming challenge is, and my personal grocery budget challenge, I feel a great week coming on.

There were a lot of naps yesterday. I was still really freaking about about the finances.  When I freak out and melt down, I nap.  The upside of napping is that I tend not to eat a lot :-)  The downside of that is that often I do not eat enough.  SOOOOOOO…this morning I woke and told myself that I will survive.  I will be ok.  It’s two weeks, and I have a good pantry, fridge and freezer going for me.  I may not be able to socialize, but that’s ok.  I can buy cat food and restock fresh produce next week.  I can fill my gas tank.  I don’t “need”

I’ve explained to my “going out and raising heck” friends that I’m on a spending hiatus.  The are cool.  A friend at work told me she has a bag of black beans if I want them.  Totally sweet!  I did not accept the black beans, I have two cans :-)  Instead of obsessing about the lack of money, I will obsess on my food!

I did some food prep yesterday and this morning.  My how I don’t enjoy it.  Really.  I. Don’t. Like. It.  I went through all my groceries and sorted/bagged everything into single or double portions.  That in itself was time consuming.  I have ziploc bags of spinach, broccoli slaw, mango, pineapple, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, edamame, and cilantro.  I also divied up some frozen kale and something else I don’t remember for the freezer.

I made THE most amazing lentils last night.  I googled French Lentil Recipes and saw a bunch of them.  I really just wanted an idea of the spices to use.  Boy were those recipes boring!  One of them had red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard.  That looked interesting!  Who knew that would make all the difference?

My lentils consisted of: French lentils, mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, kale, shredded carrots, bay leaf powder (I’m terrified of losing the Bay Leaf, my mother said they would choke us to death and slice up our throats), fresh garlic, onion powder, Mrs Dash Table Blend, Penzeys Spanish paprika and Penzeys Florida pepper blend.  I water sauteed the spices and garlic, then added the mushrooms, then the carrots, then everything else.  I let the liquid cook down so it’s more like…not soup.  I can serve that over rice and potatoes.

Photo Apr 21, 12 07 02 PM

Today I made veggie burgers.  Super basic, kidney beans, oatmeal, defrosted frozen kale, cilantro, a tbs, maybe two, of Bone Sucking Sauce, Mrs Dash Garlic and Herb blend, Penzeys Florida Pepper blend, and garlic powder.  It smelled delightful.  I let it all set overnight because it was really wet (I had not added the bbq sauce, but the kale was wet.)  Today it was dry, so I added the sauce.  I didn’t have an open bottle of salsa or I would have done that.  I made four, and they turned out pretty good.  A little dry, so I think I cooked them a little too long.  I kind of forgot about them….I also put a tiny bit of Bone Sucking Sauce on the tops when I cooked them.

Photo Apr 21, 10 45 11 AM

I had the bowl of lentils and rice (above) for lunch.  I had some rice that is a combination of light brown, orzo (I think) and chia.  It was pretty good.  I steamed it in my new microwave rice/pasta steamer. That may be my new favorite toy (I steamed an artichoke to perfection in it last night as well.)

Dinner tonight is a veggie burger and a salad.  The salad is spinach, broccoli slaw, mango, and pineapple.  I topped both with half an avocado with lemon and a splash of sriracha.  I know, I know, HALF an avocado, not a quarter?  I felt a need to bust into the bag of chips in the kitchen at work.  And the cookies.  If half an avocado keeps me away from those, I’m cool with it.  Besides, it makes a really good dressing!  I’m trying to decide what else I could add to it so it’s creamier, like a salad dressing.  Right now I am savoring the texture, pretending it is a potato chip…

Photo Apr 21, 5 34 36 PM

That’s my day. My challenge, which is harder than the eating thing, is to wake up every morning and remind myself to be happy.  I can feel the slimy fingers of depression scratching at me.  I’ve been ok for a while, I can’t let them get a grip. The better I eat, the more I can keep that at bay.

Grocery Shopping

21 Apr

Friday evening I went to The Fresh Market.I love that store. The produce is beautiful. They put up little sign that tell you organic or conventional as well as where the product comes from. I can see how far my food traveled!

The whole ambiance is soothing. I grabbed the mini cart and stepped into my calming place. (If you recall I was losing my mind over the payday situation.)

I purchased a few items, checked out, and tried not to show my horror at the $26 bill. What the heck? Ok, heck is not what I was silently saying whole smiling at the clerk and running my debit card.

Two huge Honeycrisp apples, one avocado, one artichoke the size of my head, a small bag of spinach, a small bag of mandarins, two Yukon gold potatoes, and two bananas. Turns out I spent about $10 on just the apples and artichokes! Eek ads.

20140421-095556.jpgI need to pay attention to these things!

Saturday, as I munched on a $2.49 apple, I was still bothered. If I’m going to eat on a shoestring, I need to keep away from TFM. I remembered that Trader Joe’s had recently opened. Hmmm.

I went to TJ after work. I turned onto the street that the store is on at 5:38pm. I waited in line to make the left turn into the store. There was a traffic director, and about 15 cars backing up the residential street the store is on in both directions. I pulled into a parking spot at 5:44pm. Not bad. I actually GOT a spot.

I went in and was immediately overwhelmed. Too many people. SO many people! Who were all these people shopping during the dinner hour on a Saturday night? I had a cart and realized there wasn’t a whole lot of room for a cart. Claustrophobic panic began. To many people, walls closing in. First instinct, get out as quick as possible! Ok, deep breath. I pushed that irrational feeling down and moved deeper into the store.

I went down the produce aisle, grabbing a few things as I went, trying not to be run over by less observant shoppers. I made the turn at the far end and headed up frozen food. I grabbed a few more things, and headed to the three buck chuck. (I remember whenit was two bucks!) I got a bottle for friends I was having dinner with (an excellent novelty gift for the wine lover) and headed to check out. I pulled out of the parking lot at 5:59pm.

I’m sure this has to be some sort of record! I did not look at beans, canned tomatoes, or anything else. I had enough adventure and my claustrophobia was tapping me in the shoulder.

The line leading out of the parking lot was just as bad as the one to get in. Seriously?? Sadly, the store they are building in my town will be just as bad. They should build the store up and provide parking underneath. Just saying. They could really handle more volume if they dealt with the parking.

I filled a TJ shopping bag for $28.05 and I got a lot of stuff! Two dollars more than my nine items at TFM. Ouch.

An impulse purchase was frozen artichoke hearts. What do I do with those??? I also got frozen pineapple. Two things I’ve never bought before.

I ate the artichoke for dinner on Sunday night. I’m not sure it was worth $5.

Payday’s Temporary Insanity

20 Apr

It has been a financially difficult couple of months. One thing after another has sapped my savings. Little things, that all add up and wham!

Did Dave Ramsey fail me? No! I failed me by not using the envelope system and saving properly to handle emergencies.

Friday was payday. Once I paid a few bills and wrote the rest out of my checkbook I realized that it was going to be a very tough two weeks.

The range of emotions went something like this:

  • Momentary Terror – mind numbing, oh my god I’m going to wither up and die, how can I possibly live on THAT for two weeks?
  • Waves of Panic – most of 45 minute drive from work was spent alternating between “It will be ok,” and “OMG AAAHHHH!” Had I been rational and able to monitor my heart rate during that drive, I may have headed straight to the ER.
  • Avoidance – at some point I called a friend to distract myself. We had a nice conversation. I did not mention my terror. The conversation calmed me.
  • The Ah-Ha! – after talking to my friend, I began to think clearly. I have a decent pantry going. I can pick up a few things to round things out. I can PLAN and PREP, and I will be fine! Plan and prep? Me??
  • The challenge: two weeks of food on a shoestring budget.

    Things I am contemplating making on Sunday:
    - veggie burgers
    - rice
    - potatoes
    - pasta
    - pasta sauce
    - an artichoke
    - soup
    - bags of single serve veggies

    Lets see how this goes…

    Pots for Peppers

    19 Apr

    I need to drink fast! I need a few more pots and these bottles are the perfect size! 😉20140418-221349.jpg

    March Grocery Analysis

    18 Apr

    Waaaaay back I posted something about tracking what I spent on groceries for the month of March. March was a wild and crazy month, and there were a number of meals eaten out rather than in.

    In the midst of my frantic, crazy life, I did manage to keep track of my grocery spending. I did not keep track of the waste (but I do remember the acorn squash getting lost in the depths of the fridge!). I also did not track the eating out. I should have done that.

    1st Lesson: I spend too much on sparkling water. I may need to buy a Soda Stream or something. I need to do a comparison between how much the cylinders cost vs the water I’m buying. (I say that as I sip on a cup of sparkling water.)

    2nd Lesson: The one chain grocery store I shopped at was usually the least expensive…but they no longer exist! At the beginning of April, Sweet Bay was converted to a Winn Dixie. I stopped in there one day a week or so ago. I was really disappointed. I am now forced to do my grocery shopping at odd hours so I can go to the crazy busy Publix on the other side of the road. Grrr. Not. Happy.

    3rd Lesson: I bought a lot of fresh produce. That’s all well and good, but I did toss some out that I couldn’t eat fast enough. A single girl needs to either shop every few days or invest in either freezing or buying frozen. I never really realized that before I saw all this in black and white.

    4th Lesson: Because the Sweet Bay was changing ownership, I got a bunch of produce for 25% off the regular price. That was unexpected, and probably skewed the numbers.

    5th Lesson: The little natural food store by my house has higher prices on most produce than anyone else. This makes me sad. All of their produce is organic, fresh, and amazing. However, I can get organic elsewhere for less in most cases. I’m not overly picky about organic, but this really showed me the cost difference for several items I never really thought about. I need to find a financial balance between shopping smart and supporting the local business.

    Beverage $37.85
    Canned/Condiment/Spice $28.46
    Ethnic $9.55
    Frozen/Refrigerated $7.17
    Paper/Storage $20.80
    Produce $115.27
    Total $219.09

    Below are images of my spreadsheets, by category:20140417-232420.jpg20140417-232445.jpg20140417-232502.jpg

    Garden Series – Day 28

    17 Apr

    The official count:

  • 8 Italian pepperoncinis, (I think, they look a lot like the bullnose)
  • 9 lemon cucumber
  • 9 black cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Thai basil
  • 6 bullnose albino peppers
  • 9 kale, (three of those are questionable)
  • 3 spinach
  • 35 water bottles
  • I have four bullnose peppers left to transplant. Then I shall try basil again.

    I feel like I’ve given birth.

    I went to Ace Hardware yesterday. Stepped into the garden section and was smacked in the face with the scent of poison. Bags and bottles galore! I am sure I got a contact high. I had never before noticed how awful all of that smells. Hoping I don’t have to go there. 20140417-102226.jpg

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