Saturday, January 30, 2010

Working on My Goals...

May I just say how glad I am this first month of the year is practically over? It's my roughest month (at work and client's) and I hope to do a better job posting here for the rest of the year.

I mentioned early on that I wanted to stick to menu planning and shopping lists, didn't I? I did just great the first 3 weeks of the month, and then stress hit the fan! This week? I went to the grocery store three times in three days, no list, and debit card in hand. I still haven't totaled the damage, but at least the last time I only barely strayed from the mini-list in my head. We were being warned of high snowfall (Yup, at least 10 inches so far today) and I knew I was in need of milk and yogurt. So that trip was the most sane of the bunch.

But yesterday, I discovered this post over on Cheap Healthy Good, and decided it was time to rededicate myself to my lofty ideals...!

It's the perfect day for staying in and doing putzy-ing type projects: So early on, after snow shoveling (the first time), I sat down and pulled out a leftover 3-ring binder from grad-school days, and proceeded to insert the various articles and recipes I've been accumulating.

(yes, there's a special section for Weight Watcher-friendly recipes)

Once that was done, I stumbled into the kitchen: oh my, can you ever tell that the past two weeks have been insane in this room! I need a couple of weeks of snow to get everything back in shape, I think! *wink*

Still, I scrounged in the cabinets. I found three boxes of couscous - one that says it needs to be used now! - and pulled out my lovely slow cooker. There's been a bag of frozen boneless chicken breasts in the freezer for too long, and I got that out, too, and defrosted them. I tossed them into the cooker with two bullion cubes (chicken), 1 cup of water, a splash of merlot (leftover for a bit, but it's fine for cooking), a tablespoon of dried rosemary, 5 cloves of garlic, minced, and a small onion, also minced. I have the pot set on high for 4 hours, but since I'm going to be here, I'll watch it. I might not need that much, or I might need more...either way, it's all good.

In the interim, I've piled stuff into the dishwasher (yes, there's just too much for me to stand at the sink today and wash, I will make sure it's fully loaded, I promise).

Tonight, I'm going to look at the stuff in the cabinets and freezer a bit closer. I'll be making up menus to match what I've got (and believe me, there's a lot here!). And then filling in my list with what I might not have (broccoli?) and starting out again. I'll probably also get brave and total up my grocery spending for the month. February will take a hit from any amounts I went over my budget in January, I promise.

And I can celebrate. My weight is down 23 pounds on Weight Watchers. I'm happy to be doing well, hoping that it continues. Hmm..maybe I should go shovel a bit more? It's 1 activity point for every 30 minutes!
Stay Warm!

Friday, January 22, 2010

I'm a Bad Blogger...

And I can't spend a lot of time here today (there's a CAT Show this weekend, so Nana Sadie Rose is busy!), but I did want to touch base and let you know I'm still alive and still planning on doing a decent job over here with regard to making sane and sensible choices for money management and the environment, as well as good stuff to eat to help lose weight (on my/your body and in my/your pocketbook!) while staying mostly local in your shopping choices...Wow! That's a tall order!

Well, I can say that so far I'm doing pretty well with the "cash in the envelope" for groceries, except that I'm not using cash. I'm using my debit card, and keeping the receipts and a running total with the envelope...because I can't seem to get by my bank often enough for cash. So far, I've cut my grocery spending - and the actual time in the store - but I haven't had time to do the math to see how much I've cut compared to last year.

So since this has to be a short post, and for your reading pleasure, and because I'm a big, big proponent of "small banking/credit unions" I wanted to be sure you saw this: The Red Tape Chronicles is one of my favorite stops in the blogasphere, and I am a faithful viewer of Keith Olbermann and also of Arianna Huffington. Lately, Huffington has been encouraging us to "vote with our feet" and Move Your Money.

A few years ago, I moved from a very large bank to a credit union. I did this because it was the only place my office had direct deposit, but I was also ticked and tired of being jerked around by the BIG BANK. (This was before the recent crisis in banking, btw). Then this fall, I changed Nana Sadie Rose's accounts to a regional bank that I'd worked with for my job because they offered me Merchant Services that were more competitive (and LOCAL!) than what I'd had for the first five years of my business. I've been nothing but content with the results. There's a lot to be said for calling up the person I've signed up with and knowing they know my name, and ask how my most recent show has gone...

Credit unions are paying somewhat higher interest on deposit accounts, local or regional banks are less likely to have taken TARP money, and generally have higher reserves (and more conservative requirements for lending money) making them a safer alternative to the BIG BANK...

Still I won't argue: it does take time to make the changes. But no one should "hang on" to a big bank (or any bank!) because it's time consuming to change. It makes a lot more sense to vote with your feet, if you're sick of the treatment you're getting, or you don't like the fees.

Often? Smaller is better. And I'm of the mindset, that ALWAYS, LOCAL IS BETTER!
See you soon!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Are You Ready?

It's 2010! A NEW Decade!!

I know I'm hoping it will be better and happier and healthier than the last one!

So what are your plans? I've got a few:

1. I will shop with a list, plan menus, use coupons, and assign the food budget to a cash envelope to try to get my expenses in that category under control. It's bothered me enormously that I rarely plan such things and am often at the store, debit card in hand. No more! I know it's one area that, once controlled will help me not just save money, but be smarter in my food choices, waste less food, and help my overall health, too.

2. Every year I try to reduce the debt a bit more and save a bit more and this year's no different. I've got pretty detailed plans that I won't share here, but it's important to me to really focus on this one this year, more than ever before. As a woman of a certain age, thinking about the retirement account is critical!

3. I do hope to continue working on eating more locally (tho' as I've said before, I won't do another year with the CSA because it's just not a smart choice for me). But we have a great Farmer's Market, several farm stands and shops, and local bakeries. I know where I'll be doing as much of my shopping as possible.

4. I've detailed my knitting plans over on Knitnana, but I'll state here that I'm thinking increasingly of spending some time with my scrap bags and turning out a quilt or two. The Pottery Barn catalog came today and, as usual, I'm perusing with an eye to what I can do that's similar, but far, far less costly! The whole darn catalog is filled with eye candy galore, but THIS photo really spoke to me:

Love the quilt, the colors, the light and bright of it all...I think I can pretty easily mimic this. It would be wonderful to do a simpler machine-made quilt similar to this one. And I can certainly do it without much of any expense!

In case you're wondering, yes, I'm still thinking in terms of my "make-do" philosophy, voluntary simplicity. Every year, I add a few new habits, and usually surprise myself from my original plans set out on the first day of the year.

Which is why you won't actually find resolutions on my blogs. Plans are more fluid, and I can allow them to morph and grow in the directions they seem to want to go in.

How about you?