Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What A Difference A Drive Makes

I love small towns. While my sisters thrive in the five lane, 24 hour-a-day, neon glow convenience of Las Vegas, I schedule my life around the 8-12 hour days of most businesses in my community. They are just two people in a city of 1.8 million. I, however, am one in 1,700, and I like it that way ... except when it comes to grocery shopping.

I try to keep a tight grocery budget: $40/week, plus we set aside $10/week for buying bulk purchases as needed. For a while it was really easy to keep. I shopped the sales, brought my coupons, and often had a few bucks left at the end of the week (which went into our bulk fund).

Since we've moved, however, that's changed. It's been a constant struggle to get everything we want (and need) without going over budget. I'm not willing to sacrifice on a lot of things, so buying certain generic brands or processed food isn't an option (which means it isn't cheap). Granted life's been busy and I haven't been able to watch the ads like I used to, but it was really getting ridiculous. Try as might, though, it never seemed to work out.

Then last week Matt and I ran some errands "in town". Some of those errands took us to larger grocery stores. Holy price drop, Batman! I'm not talking about 10-20 cents ... we found three different items that were at least $1 cheaper at the supermarket. Just looking at a few items we found over $5 in savings ... imagine if we'd done ALL of our shopping there??

I'm still not comfortable doing my grocery shopping at Wal-Mart (no offense to anyone who does - I appreciate the low prices for those who truly can't afford other options), I'm okay with Meijer (a Michigan based store), as well as our locally owned Spartan stores (Tom's/Oleson's).

I decided to hit Tom's (10 miles away) instead of Meijer (20 miles away) this week. I grabbed my sale flier and my coupons, then headed out. While I still don't save the way my sister does (her sales put mine to shame), I was FINALLY able to get all of the fresh fruits, vegetables, and lunch foods that we need for the week, PLUS I bought laundry detergent, toilet paper, and razors (it'll be shorts weather here in another 4 months ... gotta get ready!).

Overall, I was very happy. It got me excited about grocery shopping again. Now that I know I can get more than two bags of good food for my $40, I'm looking forward to the challenge of seeing how many bags I can fill!

If you've got any advice you'd like to share, I'm willing to listen!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fight the Good Fight!

Since I promised not to talk about the new government "health care", I won't. Instead, lets talk about ways in which we can keep ourselves healthy!

It really is disgusting that the government allows French Fries to be served in school lunches as a vegetable option! Really?? You're going to tell me that a 1/2 cups of marinara, or steamed broccoli, or mixed greens have the same nutritional value as DEEP FRIED POTATOES??

I've been subbing in the schools. I was there the day when the main lunch option was three cheese stuffed white bread sticks with a little cup of dipping sauce. I don't know how, but that was considered a balanced, nutritious meal appropriate for middle school kids.

Since Matt was diagnosed with cancer we've been more diligent about what we eat, though I've been getting lazy recently. But after I saw how school chicken nuggets are made, I realized that we need to get more serious.

I signed the Food Revolution petition because I adore the kids that I sub for, and I'd love for them to have a better chance at health. I'd rather my tax dollars pay for their homemade 7-veggie spaghetti sauce than their diabetes and ADD meds.

If you haven't seen the show, check it out. You can sign the petition here. There are also tips for shopping/cooking better, how to get involved, etc.

Here's to your health!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Matt Discusses Auntie Pastas

In the recent Val-Pak coupon pack, we received a BOGO coupon for Auntie Pastas restaurant in TC. For those of you who've never been there, you won't get this. For all of you northern Michigan residents, this was Matt's honest reaction when I showed him the coupon:

"Come visit Traverse City's only restaurant that's never been remodeled. Sit down and enjoy layers of dust on our pink ceiling. But our view of the river and coupons more than make up for it."

I told him not to forget the fish shaped oil bottles on every table, but he likes those :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Honey!

April 15 - tax day. Two years ago, it was much more stressful - it was surgery day.

On 4.15.08 Matt and I were Indianapolis while he had part of his lymphatic system removed. It was a long procedure, but it went smoothly. Though he required months to heal, some pretty awesome things happened because of it:

- We really got to know our pastors better. They've become such important people in our lives; we're so grateful for the time we got to spend with them.
- It reconnected me with my first college roommate, Beth. Even though Matt was in the hospital, I had a great time getting know Beth all over again (and yes, I introduced her to Facebook)
- Even though he was recovering, Matt and I got to spend more time together that summer than we have since we've known each other.
- That surgery represented that last treatment Matt would need to get rid of the cancer - he's been cancer free ever since and is now down to one CT scan a year with an oncologist visit every six months.

So as you groan about getting your taxes in today, you can smile in knowing that because of this date, Matt's still here :)

I love you, Honey!!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Our First Seder

This is what my first Seder table looked like! While this wasn't the first time I've participated in a Seder, it was the first time I'd ever hosted one. Notice the fine hodge-podge of service ware :) We actually got to recline on the ground because I don't currently have a dining room table large enough for more than four people, but that's okay! It worked out well!

After the celebration we had a lovely dinner, then lots of chatting, and some of us even hung out long enough to watch at movie. It was a wonderful night!

This is definitely something I'd like to continue doing. It saddens me that it ever stopped being part of the Christian life, but I'm excited to bring it back into ours.

Next year in Jerusalem!