Monday, January 31, 2011

Grocery Lessons

Groceries are freaking expensive. I am trying to find ways to cut back our grocery bill... but cutting back on food is not something I was born knowing how to do. It is also not something I was ever taught or something i ever witnessed growing up. I told my dad the other day i was trying to figure out how to trim our food budget and he just laughed and said-- I ruined you.
Sooo... cutting down on groceries... especially the more expensive items: shop the sales.
Every time I go to the grocery store I buy whatever meat is on the best sale that day. As soon as I get home, I wrap the meats in appropriate sized portions, and then put them in the freezer to use for meals later that week. But I don't use all of it every week... So tonight when I came home from the grocery store, I packaged up the turkey (that was on an AWESOME sale!) and went to put it in the freezer. But... the freezer was a little full. The freezer is, in fact VERY full. And... about 80% of that is meat.
(I am certain my husband is rejoicing)
We have ground beef, chicken breasts, pork loin, ground turkey, sausage, beef roast, chicken tenders, pork chops, brats, strip steaks, and bacon. And lots of it.
(Husband is doing the happy dance)
And yet I wonder why I can't control the grocery bill. Turns out-- I am buying much more food than we need, specifically more meat than we need, and not remembering what I put in the freezer every week. I have been carefully planning meals to try to cut down our grocery bill... but have a ton of food at home that I am not considering when putting together my menu.
So! Grocery lesson #562: Take inventory before shopping.
On the other hand... my grocery bill next month is going to make me feel like a rock star--not buying any meat for a while... so that's awesome.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Food Rules

Me: Hey Z what do you want me to make for dinner? Beef stew or chicken parm?
Z: Well... which do you want to make?
Me: I don't care, I have the stuff for both.
Z: [pause] Definitely beef stew.

I should have known.
I am slowly learning the 'Man Food Rules': Beef always trumps chicken. Even though there is a greater possibility of him runnning into vegetables with the stew... beef still trumps chicken. Beef trumps any other meat. The only exception to this rule is Bacon. Bacon trumps any food at any time on any day, no questions asked.
Gentleman? Is this correct?

Also... why is egg nog not available year-round? Ya'll know i love me some nog. DO you think if it were available year round i would love it as much? Do I love it just a little more because of it's novelty? If i had it available to me year-round would it become common-place and less exhilaratingly decadent??? I cannot know for sure. I wish it were Christmas again... I am having nog withdrawal.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Changes, but not new years resoloutions

There have been some significant changes in the Pogemiller house recently. I feel like we've made some huge leaps and turned a corner. There were some dark days we trudged through to get us there, but things are going better now... and I am excited that some decisions we made have taken shape and brought about real change in our lives.
I know... seeing as how it is January, it kinda seems new-years-resolution-ish. But it's not really. I don't like new years resolutions, I don't do that, it's silly. It just so happens that we hit our breaking point and had a 'come-to-jesus' talk about it... right after the first of the year. Z and I agreed we weren't completely happy with the way our marriage, finances, relationships were going, and changes need to be made.
First off-- we kinda needed to take a look at our finances. We've been kind of average-ly responsible with out finances, started off with the best intentions of tracking and sticking to our strict budget... but didn't stick to it as closely as we intended. We met all our bills, and put a little into our savings, but other than that we kinda weren't real sure what the deal was with our cash flow other than money was pretty tight, and we could do better. So we got a better budget in place, set some specific goals, and streamlined our spending. All so we can meet this more important goal (more than a goal-- a CALLING) to be more generous. We both feel it's important to give generously of all your resources. Even when money is tight-- we know are still blessed financially and want to give more generously out of that blessing. Because we got a handle on our money, we are able to make specific contributions to ministries in our church we believe in and want to support, and we also have 'room' in our budget that in our day to day lives if we see a need-- we have the resources to (at least help) fulfill it. To me... this is hands down the most exciting decision we have ever made as a couple.
We've made some other changes too. We are studying a passage of scripture together right now. It's sparked some interesting conversations. We are somewhat amused by our difference in perspective-- evidenced by the way we ask and answer questions. (I sure you are shocked to hear Z asks the scholarly, historical, theologically based questions,  I tend to think more narrative, emotional, and relational... hmmm... ) We are learning from each other... but also learning about each other in the process? Which has been good for us.
We eat breakfast together every morning now. I know... seems insignificant. But it was a change. We each have to get up a little earlier, But I love those extra twenty minutes I have with him each day. Sometimes he reads to me, sometimes we watch the news/weather, sometimes we just talk. We try to pray together (why do we feel awkward praying together? I don't know. It's getting easier, though). If for no other reason, this is good for me because I am more awake, alert, and ready to start my day-- rather than stumbling out of the house half asleep chugging coffee. bleh.
I made Z get rid of score cards. Okay, not literally-- i mean we didn't literally have score cards. But i hate the idea of 'keeping track' and things being 'fair'. The other day he didn't do something I had asked him to, and I had to do it, and he said 'I owe you one'. But I hate that mentality, and I hate that kind of language. No more keeping score of anything in the Pogemiller house, and no more using that kind of language. We are just finding ways to help each other as much as possible with no score card to keep track of who is doing more... and it's been better. A lot better. My husband has gone from being my opponent to being my helper and leader. It's a beautiful thing, my friends. Beautiful, beautiful thing.
Now... before you start to roll your eyes my world through rose colored glasses-- please recall what a miserable, pathetic person I have been for the past several months up to this point... mmm... recall that now? ugh. Gross. I am still that person, and I am still human. And... I am also smart enough to realize the limits I have because of my chronic human-ness. So I know that more bumps in the road and trials are surely coming my way (and SOON because things seem to be going so well right now, right?). But the changes we have made in our life have brought us to a much healthier place... and have no desire to be where we were before, so this work in progress will continue to be, well, work. But at least progressing in the right direction now.

(You like how I did that? How I cleverly turned that phrase as I summed up the post? Geez, that's the kind of stuff that gets me up in the morning! I love a good pun and a turn of phrase. It's gonna be a good day.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Good News/Bad News

The good news is Z is on vacation alllllll week.
The bad news is Valerie is not.

The good news is it's snowing and all the schools have another snow day!
The bad news is-- plumbers don't get snow days.

The good news is the CR-V was running smooth as silk... no bumping or shaking or loud scary noises anymore!
The bad news is, it took us $800 to get it there.

The good news is we had the money to repair/maintain one of our vehicles.
The bad news is the other one still needs tires.

The good news is we didn't find ourselves stranded in the boonies of MO, at the mercy of a creepy tow truck driver we didn't know, while our vacation time and budget slowly slipped out of our hands.
The bad news is, Z found himself stranded on the side of the interstate on after dropping me off for work... and our vacation may now be delayed.

The good news is-- it's not the transmission! It's the right cv-shaft that was most likely knocked out of place during the repairs to the left cv-shaft we had done yesterday.
The bad news is it's there is really no way to prove to NTB that the current damage to our vehicle was due to their faulty work yesterday... so we have another repair bill AND a tow bill to deal with.
The good news is... no one was hurt, and everything will be taken care of, and because we are averagely responsible with our resources this vehicle episode is not going to put us in debt. But I'm pretty sure it also won't have us turning down a free meal for the next month or so until our bank account can recover a bit. HA!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pity, party of one?

Sooo... a friend posted THIS LINK on facebook today. I bit-- checked out the link, read the short article...
And there you go, a challenge that must have been hand picked for me today.
I need to be honest. It's been a challenging 7.5 months. An even more challenging past 2 months. And an even more challenging weekend. It's been lonely, frustrating, and easy to justify self-pity.
I have been learning recently about how to live more intentionally. Challenging myself to learn when to say no, and when to say yes. Trying to be proactive instead of re-active to the unhappy circumstances in life... and figuring out how to live without falling into a trap of lonliness and self pity.
And then I read "...and [your spouse] should never be lonely." 
Which is what I needed today to challenge me to be a better wife.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Husbands are more or less just chaos-producing machines.
I am apparently not skilled enough at diffusing chaos to have one.