Yesterday turned out to be kind of a clusterfuck. I had helped a friend out, which meant that I didn’t have as much time as I needed to get through my day. She bought me lunch, which was nice, but also something I wrangled myself up over. It was so nice to eat out and chat, but I really needed to be home managing some crap I had to do. It was also, save for a couple of breakfast muffins and a piece of candy she gave me, the only thing I ate all day.
I have a small sum in the bank from my last paycheck. I want to avoid using it until the Independence Day sales. I left the kids with breakfast muffins and homemade chicken soup, which they barely touched. By the time I got back, it was too late to start a homemade dinner (we had something going on last night) and one of the kids was teetering dangerously on the edge of a panic attack (related to the thing we had to do last night). I offered up more of the barely touched soup, which was left damned near untouched this time.
We ended up on fast food runs last night. I caved. I had so much shit to do and the chicken soup was my magically turn nothing into something feat for the day. So I spent the damn money. This was on top of gasoline and motor oil. That small sum I have been hoping to spend on groceries next week is whittling away at an all too rapid pace for my comfort.
Meanwhile, the ex wants something and so does an extended family member. Come on, July. Get here already.
I’ll catch everyone later. I’m about to try to pull another miracle meal out of my ass.
This month will be over in four days and I kinda can’t wait. I want to set aside the budget audit, the June series of fights with the ex, the yet again disappointing returns on my job search efforts, and everything else that has weighed me down this month. I want the June 2014 chapter to be completed and the July 2014 chapter to begin.
June was heavily scheduled, much more so than I liked. There was a school’s out rush of things to do and the pace was a little much for me. We literally had one day where I was off and didn’t had a bunch of stuff to drag the kids around for. I was going to catch up on mowing and weeding that day, but there was a lengthy downpour shortly after I finished mowing so the weeding never got started. Although, it was kind of nice to go inside and just sit for a while. I need that from time to time. More than once a month, definitely.
As I look toward July, I find that I am simply looking forward to July. We don’t have an aggressive schedule and we are looking forward to spending time together on my days off. I have some sewing and crafting projects for the kids that I’m really excited about. My work schedule looks to be relatively stable, which really lends itself to better eating and sleeping habits. I’m entering the month without anything past due on my utilities. And, very comfortingly, the month should begin with some fantastic grocery store sales that I can take advantage of.
My goals for now include:
- Cut 16% from what we’ve been spending on groceries. I’d like to cut it all the way down to budget, but that’s an unrealistic change to make in one month. I’m switching to cash for grocery purchases to make sure this happens. Trips to the store won’t be based on what’s in the bank, only what’s in the budget.
- Make the breakfast muffin recipe twice each week, once as muffins and once as coffee cakes.
- Make bread twice each week. I’ve only been doing this once a week, but I have found a good recipe that the kids are loving and they are gobbling it up.
- Add more soups to meals. They really are a great way to get more veggies into the kids, they are reasonably priced to make, and I just finished cooking up a big batch of chicken stock.
- Get a fall garden planned and planted. I did so poorly this spring that we’ve got very little to show for it. Thankfully, it’s not too late and we could still end up with some fall produce if I use my time wisely.
- Take two recreation days. I want two days with the kids where we just do something fun. Two days this month that we spend out of the house, without worrying about our problems or what we can’t afford to do.
Yeah, I’m looking forward to July.
I’ve been heavily focused on food since the budget audit. Like, obsessively focused on food. Maybe that’s not quite accurate, it’s a little more like borderline panic.
That said, I can’t just sit back and panic. That would make me go insane. (More insane. Insaner. Whatever, I’d lose it.) Instead of letting panic take over, I have been working my culinary skills. I have the staples, it is time to s-t-r-e-t-c-h them.
So, there are these muffins I’ve been making for breakfast a couple times per week. They come together quickly and are inexpensive. I wouldn’t quite call them healthy, but you can always make a crumble topping with oatmeal and brown sugar that gives these guys a fiber and protein boost. And maybe stretches them a little farther for practically nothing. One of my kids doesn’t like the crumble topping, so I only do it for half the muffins when I make them.
I’m posting the recipe without pictures for now. I hope to have photos added before long. Recipes should always have photos.
These are milk free and egg free. Pretty much all of my baked goods are vegan due to dietary restrictions, yet we are very much omnivores.
Quick Breakfast Muffins
1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Dash Ground Nutmeg (Optional)
1 Dash Ground Cloves (Optional)
1/4 Cup Shortening
1/2 Cup Rice Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
Make it Happen:
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Prepare 12 muffin cups, either by greasing and flouring or by popping those oh-so convenient muffin papers in them.
- Combine rice milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice in a bowl, cup, jar or whatever you have handy that will hold it.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Mix thoroughly.
- Smoosh in shortening with the back of a spoon until the mixture has the tell-tale crumbly appearance that so many recipes want you to work to get. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
- Pour the liquid mixture into the well and gently fold the dry ingredients until everything is just wet. Don’t overwork the batter.
- Spoon the batter into prepared cups, filling no more than halfway.
- Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or so depending on your oven. They’re done when a toothpick can violate them without soiling itself.
Sometimes, I make this in a greased, floured round cake pan. The baking time is just about the same.
If you try them, let me know what you think.
For some time, I have prided myself on my ability to feed my household on a strict budget. For years, actually. It’s been more of a battle lately. We have some dietary restrictions that I thought I was working around reasonably well.
While I was thinking that, I realized that money seemed to be slipping away. No matter how many expenses I have cut, I am still coming up short every month.
The other day, after a shopping trip, I realized I spent a full third of my monthly budget and did not have enough food for the week.
Seriously, I did not have enough to feed my family for a full week, but I had spent more than a week’s budget. As I loaded up the car, I started mentally going backward with my grocery spending. And I did not like what I was coming up with.
I decided to sit down and complete an audit of my food spending. It was eye-opening, er, eye-popping. I am literally spending over twice as much as I have allocated for food! Twice as much.
I don’t have any lines of credit. Living beyond my means in one area means hurting myself in another. This is why my car is past due for an oil change. This is why I only shop thrift stores on half price days. This is why I haven’t been able to do so much of what I have budgeted for because the money just isn’t there when I need it.
So, dear readers, I am humbled. I am not the grocery maven I thought I was. I am, however, going to get my shit together and get my food expenses down to the amount I have budgeted. I am going to cut my spending in half. And I’m going to hold myself accountable right here.
Get your popcorn.
I have found my voice, but that doesn’t mean it gets heard.
I have learned to put up boundaries, but that doesn’t mean they get respected.
I have convinced myself to operate in his world for my children’s sake, but that doesn’t make it reality.
I have chosen to play nice to protect them, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t use them just to show me he’s still the king.
Days like today, when he’s suffering from not getting his way, all he can do is attack. If I won’t give in willingly, then, goddamnit, he’ll make me give in by force. No matter what, he will have his way. It’s usually over some stupid fucking thing that I would probably give him without blinking if he would just treat the children nicely, or simply ask instead of taking.
I’m probably going to give in anyway to mediate his next rage. To protect our children. I have to choose my battles and this one won’t be worth fighting. I have to put up the boundary and pretend I’m going to enforce it, but, eventually, I’m just going to give in because I don’t have the resources for a war.
Please don’t ask me today why I’m not going to fight this one. Ask him, or someone like him, why my only options are take his abuse lying down or take his abuse standing up.
Fuck him and fuck every control freak out there that has to hurt people. Fuck them all.