Rice Shortage

Have you heard about the rising concern of a rice shortage?

There are no shortage of articles (The Daily Tribune, news.sbs.com.au, thedailygreen.com) about it.

Another point of view:

Because when hoarding occurs, when even, say, 10 percent of your customers suddenly buy 10 times the amount of a single product than they normally would buy, the product is quickly exhausted and the supply chain will have trouble immediately providing the product… So there is not a physical shortage of rice; there is a problem with the supply chain because hoarding has stressed the system. – cnbc.com

If you haven’t noticed, it isn’t just America dealing with the high cost of gas prices, costs of food, and living. It is really kind of scary. We’re feeling the pinch more than ever. Gas is high, wages aren’t keeping up, and now rice, a “filler” food is on the rise, too. What next, beans?

Half Price Medieval Times Tickets

Last year (well, OK maybe two years ago), we took the two older kids to Chicago to see the Medieval Times. We had a blast, and I thought it would be fun, someday, to bring the younger three. Since we’re heading that way again for a tournament this year, we thought it would be as good a time as any. The ticket prices are rather steep, though, and when I added in our totals (3 kids, 2 adults), I almost lost my functions.

Forget it, we aren’t going, I thought.

But then I found a coupon code for 1 free kids admission with a paid adult. A savings of over $60 for us, since we have 3 kids coming with. Just enter this code: WEBKTF upon checkout and they will be added automatically. It is only good for Schaumburg, and only good through the end of April, 2008. It says it isn’t valid online, but it www.medievaltimes.com


Such a beautiful weekend. We were outside as much as possible, just soaking in the fresh air. I did a very small bit of yardwork, but found my interest waning rather quickly. My yard isn’t very inspiring. We’d like to plant a garden this year. Something we can feast off of through the summer. Suggestions welcome. Just a note, though: I have blackthumb and plants tend to wither under my care. Even mint, which is supposed to just “overwhelm your yard/garden” has succumbed to the murderous touch of my hand. My pride and glory is chives. For some reason I didn’t kill my chives and they come back every year. I use them, too. They’re a yummy addition to an omelette. Mmm.

Frank planted some garlic last fall; hoping those sprout up. I’d like to grow some tomatoes, maybe some lettuce and peppers. Pumpkins would be cool. Maybe beans? I need a Gardening for Blackthumbs book. Sigh. I so very much love veggies and the idea of growing some delicious foods right in our backyard. Everything is getting so expensive; especially good fruits and vegetables.


A recipe worth trying:

Ol’ Settler’s Beans
(from Large Family Logistics)

Brown together and drain the fat off:
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. chopped bacon
1 onion

1/2 c catsup
1/2 c honey
1/2 c BBQ sauce
3 t dry mustard
1/2 t chili powder
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
4 quarts of cooked beans (red, butter, navy, pinto, black, etc.)

Bake at 350 for 1 hour or in crockpot on low for 4 hours.

Looks simple and would be right up my families ally. Mmm.

Mom’s Best Naturals

Mom’s Best Cereal Yesterday we went shopping and I loaded up on some Mom’s Best Naturals cereals. They don’t do a lot of advertising, which is why I’d like to give them props, getting the word out as cheaply as possible, so they don’t suddenly disappear from our store shelves or raise their prices.

Mom’s Best Cereals are cheaper and have better ingredients (no preservatives, hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors) than most of their popular counterparts. And if you haven’t noticed —  cereal is getting expensive, yo. With 5 kids eating cereal in the house, we spend a lot on cereal. Sometimes one of our local chain grocers will have decent deals on cereal, but it is usually the high-sugared kinds and we try to refrain from buying those.  You can read more about Mom’s Best Cereal’s here; and if you see them in the store, give ’em a try. For the first time I saw they made instant oatmeal, too. We generally make it the old-fashioned way, but instant is nice when you need the convenience of something fast.

Money saving coupon here, although I couldn’t get mine to print out.

Cloth Napkins

We’re not working with much cash right now. Annoying and stressful as it is, it is also a bit humbling. It forces us to really look at where we are spending and how we can make a difference. I say “us” but I really mean “me” because Frank doesn’t have anything to do with any of our money. Besides earning it. So many times I’ve said that I need to sit him down with me while I pay bills to he can see where the money goes.

. . . . .

A while ago I was reading up on some ways to be thrifty and came across some information on cloth napkins, which… inspired me. We could try cloth napkins, I thought. First, I planned on making some. I scoured my house for fabric but found none. I also didn’t think I’d be satisfied with the outcome of my own sewing. So I kept my eye open at Goodwill for some. They did occasionally have them, but they were .69 cents a piece and something in my head told me that was too much to pay for used cloth napkins. Found some at Pier I, but they were muy expensive. I found some at TJMaxx and was thisclose to buying them. They were $10 for a pack of 6, I believe. Buuuuuuut didn’t get them, thought Goodwill was a better bet. With 7 people in our house, we’d need at least two packages, and $20? Bah. Couldn’t bring myself to do it. I kept the cloth napkin idea on the shelf, but didn’t want to settle for anything less than a bargain.

In Target one day post-Christmas, there was a sale on all the leftover Holiday goodies. 75% off. I was looking for wrapping paper and scotch tape, maybe some chocolates. But you know what I saw? Some rectangular packages, red cloths… my mind clicked. Napkins!! At $9.99 each my tired brain tried to calculate what they would be at the discount. Realizing that this was the best price for brand, spanking NEW napkins, I took all they had and put them in my cart to “think” on it for a bit. I knew I’d want 4 for sure, maybe five. But I hoarded all available napkins in my cart for safe keeping. I did end up purchasing them, but my hoarding came back and bit me in the butt because I forgot that I had grabbed ALL of them, and at the checkout I just threw everything on the moving belt and paid.

Cloth Napkins

Patience paid off. I’m very glad I waited, and I’m not bent out of shape that I got a few extra with the deal. They’re red, so they don’t show stains and I can throw them in with my colored laundry. It seemed like I had way too many at first, but the good thing is I don’t have to worry about them running out.

We’ve used them for a week now, and haven’t run out. And we don’t frivolously use up the napkins, as we did with paper ones. My oldest son wondered if we were really saving money, considering they would need to be washed. However, in the long run I think it is more economical and less wasteful. And, everyone enjoys wiping their hands on the cloth napkins. It is kind of a treat. The other day we had Buffalo Wings. How nice it was to wipe our hands on the cloth napkins and not have to use paper, which peels and rips, leaving sticky paper attached to fingers. I smiled at Frank, happily, hearing little pennies go “cha-ching” adding up in my head the benefit of the cloth napkins.

Here’s some links to articles on making your own cloth napkins — I might just try them. Some flannel ones might be nice. But as far as purchasing goes, I’ll keep my eye open after holidays. I’m sure making them would be more cost-effective. I’m a little rusty at the whole sewing thing, never making it past novice, high-school sewing class, but I could probably handle some squares.

Family Homestead

New Post, New Year

Well hello again. Last time I posted it was 2007. New year, new post, new focus. I plan to update and re-arrange things around groovy-mom.com. As I change my personal focus, the site may see some changes as well.

Christmas is over. It went well. Gifts exchanged, family-time spent and an inch increase of the waistline (I’m guessing, I have no evidence to back that up, nor do I really want to face the scale right now).

It is only five days in to the new year, and though I don’t like new year’s resolutions, I do like to remind myself of what is important, where I may have went off track, how I would like to change things. I used to keep a personal planner. For years I did. A couple years ago I stopped. And, honestly, I can see the difference. So this year I am starting it up again. Writing in my appointments, deadlines and keeping lists. Financial planning is high on the list for me. Keeping (much better) records of where money is spent, so I can see where the leaks are. The credit card bill hit a max over the past month, going over and surprising us with a $40 late fee. Not good. We had that paid off. Paid off. Yes, I said it. Spend on it once, and… well.

So I’m going to whittle that down as much as possible. Pay it off with taxes (again), and then freeze the thing in a block of ice. Unfortunately, for emergencies, we need it. Until we can build up a savings.

Student loans I have ignored and denied. I need to face up to them. And I will.

I hope 2008 brings you renewed determination as well.

The Perkmaker

I realize it would only be customary to have one of those sappy, look here he is as a baby and here he is now entries for Dants, as he turns 14 today. But… I haven’t the energy. I’ll save that for a cheery disposition, and cake-cutting skills later. He already has his gift (a new snowboard — my goodness those things are pricey), so I’ve nothing else to do but be kind and try not to look as exhausted as I feel. He doesn’t like parties or big fusses over him (another inherited gene from his dad) on his birthday, but he won’t object to gifts, of coarse!!

. . .

Well, I done shot all my high expectations of daily posts all to heck, didn’t I? With Christmas and birthday and work and some personal crap that I’m too tired to discuss — I skipped some entries.

The world stopped, but only for a second. Did you notice?

Shooot. Hardly.

. . .

Work is very busy, being newsletter week plus bulletins for Christmas, Christmas Eve and the regular service. I was on the receiving end of some delicious yummies (bars and breads), and… yeah. It hit the spot and perked the day up. The little things, I tell ya. Another perky-perkmaker is my Sigg.

I chose the SIGG “Maharadsha Turquoise” one after numerous visits to the display rack located inside Whole Foods. For many months I’ve eyed up the bottles, fondled them, fantasized about them (would I like it, would I not… would they be hard to drink from, do I get the flip top or the ringed top… what cooooolor should/would I get if I got one… would it fit in my cupholder in the van… would it fit in my purse… would the kids like it… is the inside coating poisonous — just the regular questions, you know), and then walking right on past them to the olive bar. Finally, yesterday, I did it. I bought one.I take a bottle of water to work each day. Normally I’d take my water jug, but it broke months ago. Probably about the time I started fantasizing about the SIGGS. I have spent well over the $20 investment cost of a new SIGG. What was I waiting for? It was either buy the bottle, or pick up yet another case bottled water.

Hooray for me. I like my shiny new bottle. I took it to wrestling practice last night (the boy’s practice, not me wrestling, you silly thing) and the boys all drank out of it, refilling it twice. That’s about $5 in water bottles right there. Took it to work today. Another buck or so. I’d like to get another bottle or two and maybe some extra caps (probably a sport top). They have all kinds of stuff you can get, different styles, bags, doohickies.

. . .

A few more days until Christmas. Am I done shopping? Not really. But I’m ready for Christmas. Family, having off work. Reflecting. A longer Thanksgiving with more meaning, that’s what Christmas is for me. It is really hard not to get sucked in to the stress and expectations of this time of year, regardless if you celebrate. Be well, don’t stress it, don’t be unhappy. I say this to you and to myself, heh. I stress easy, I worry even easier and I often stress out over (imaginary, perceived) expectations. Sigh.