Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Laundry Monster

a few weeks back, i counted the amount of laundry i do in a week. this includes everything--clothes, towels, sheets, diapers, the works. the total was 12 loads...and i mean Full Loads. no wimpy "extra small cycle" here. we're talking Heavy Duty Extra Large Cycle.

now, granted, we do wash our own cloth diapers, but those only account for 2 of the loads per week. not that much. the rest is just normal, household laundry. i ask you, do we just have an insane amount of clothing? are we some kind of crazy laundry hedonists? how in the world do we make all this stuff? and how, pray tell, do i keep up with it??

so, i want to know about laundry. your system, your philosophy, your advice. thank goodness summer is coming...i can just throw the boys out back and hose them off. (just kidding.) (mostly.)

Photo credit: Flickr/Rigmarole

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Book Mooch

so i came across this website in my internet travels, and it looks pretty cool. it's called Book Mooch, and from the looks of it, it is a site where people list their books for trade and post wish lists for books they are looking for. when you add your books to the list, you get certain points which you can then redeem for another book that someone else has listed. i haven't tried it yet, but it looks like a neat alternative to buying books or checking them out from the library. since, as you learned in my previous post, i am not always good at avoiding library fines. guess i oughta check this site out.

anyone ever used it? have any other nifty sites to share?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Jumpstart My Car

so, it's 16 degrees outside and i have just managed to get all 3 kids dressed, in coats, and out the door. not to mention the 2 diaper bags, my CBS lesson (actually finished!) and lunch for all of us, since we have to go straight from CBS to preschool with a little lunch in between. as soon as they are all in the car, i try to turn on the engine and realize It. Won't. Start. not even the little rrrr-rrrr-rrrrr sound when it is trying to turn over. just a pathetic little *click*. after calling everyone i think could be around and coming up empty, i manage to con a neighbor into coming over and giving me a jump, and 30 minutes later we are finally on our way. did i mention that it is 16 degrees?

not only that, but the baby is sick, i am sick, and i just don't have much in the way of humor to face this situation. which leads me to what i now want to put on my birthday list: the portable jump start device.

if i wasn't so tired and cranky, i might be able to formulate some philisophical reason why this would not be a good idea, something about relying more on God to provide what i need (like a neighbor with a car) or being too caught up with needing to feel self-sufficient rather than going more with the flow. however, i am tired and cranky, so i just *want one.*
the end.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

When Was Your Last Tetanus Shot?

so, we made it though day 2 of the basement caper (relatively) unscathed, and if it weren't for the pesky nailgun shooting a hole in the waterpipe at 8pm, a fairly uneventful day. my right hand was feeling a little left out last week apparently, (when i got a black fingernail on the left ring finger in the first 30 minutes of working), so it decided to add to the drama by impaling itself on a nail. minor flesh wound, as far as i can tell. this home-improvement stuff isn't for sissies.

now all we need is for a benign inspector-type to sign off on the work, and we are on to chapter 3: Drywall Waits for No (Wo)Man.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Grocery Exile

in my previous post, i detailed the ways in which money does not grow on trees on the estoll property. as a result of this, i have been looking at cutting discretionary spending, the biggest category of which is the grocery budget. at times like this, i have done this little game i call 'grocery exile'. basically, i plan meals as much as possible around the staples we already have in the house, instead of what i usually do--which is, what sounds good to eat? (not that the things i make this way don't sound good to eat, just that it isn't the first consideration.)

so, we have 3 lbs of brown rice and no noodles? then, stir fry extravaganza. have a bunch of orphaned veggies left over from previous meal plans? veggie soup. feel like grilling pork chops, but the only meat in the freezer is cooked turkey? ok, turkey rice casserole it is. also, it helps to get things used up and cleaned out...for example, it seems like the tail end of the cereal boxes seem to linger on forever, once a new (and thus, more exciting) flavor has made its appearance. during grocery exile, new things don't make appearances, so the old stuff has to be used up (or, face a cereal-less breakfast existence....sad, sad day.)

this has also led me to thinking a lot about the freedom i normally have to buy whatever food i want, whenever want it. within reason, of course, since i don't get to have sushi once a week, but you get the picture. i am easily able to cook a balanced and filling meal for my family, as often as i want to (and sometimes, more often than i want to.) having a month or 2 of grocery exile can be good for the gratitude meter, if i allow myself to think in those terms, rather than, "poor me, i can't buy any new meat this month." even during exile, we still have plenty to fill our plates.

the usda puts out a report each month on the cost of food and how much it takes to feed different family sizes. the most recent one for december 2006 is posted here. according to their calculations, in order to feed a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 kids under 5) on the 'thrifty plan', it takes about $505 per month, which averages out to be a little under $120 a week. which on paper seems like a lot, but even when i'm on grocery exile, it is a struggle to come in under $100.

so, where do you fall? anyone have any good, frugal tips for those times in the wilderness?
Photo credit: Flickr/Camo's pics

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

15 Words or Less

well, hello again, my woefully neglected blog. it has been a more-insane-than-usual few weeks, and so, it has been awhile. thanks to christy (not me!), for giving me a little kick in the boo-tay. thanks for noticing, christy. ;)

so, last we heard from the intrepid little band of estolls, we were transitioning back into the world of gluten. so far, so good. there was a while there that i was getting paranoid about the diapers again, but chris suggested that we keep a food-and-poop-log, and since then things have seemed pretty normal. so, probably he just had a little stomach ick for a couple of days when i was feeling worried. this makes a good 3 weeks that we've been back with gluten, and it seems to be fine. which is a relief, for sure. hopefully the f.a.p. log will continue to work its magic.

thomas the tank engine made his debut this week as a home-wrecker, when he decided to fly through the air and straight into the picture window in the living room. this, of course, had nothing to do with the children who at the time were running circles around the couch ottoman. this left a large star-shaped crack in the bottom of the pane, which has since then snaked all the way up and across the window to the opposite corner, and is now covered in duct tape because i am convinced with every gust of wind that the whole thing is going to come shooting into the living room and impale the nearest man, woman, or child. never mind that the temperatures last week had highs in the single digits. so, our neighbors love the new ghetto look, but we are still looking for options to replace or repair the window.

this weekend also marked the beginning of The Basement Room Caper--my dad and i are donning our toolbelts once again to finish the 3rd bedroom downstairs. (the picture to the right is from our previous escapade in the basement of our last house, but you get the idea.) this will allow us to move the 2 older boys into that room and free up the 2nd bedroom upstairs for jonathan, which in turn will allow us to have more than a 12 inch walkway around the furniture in the master bedroom. oh, and to move the diaper station out of the living room. however, the weekend began with the disadvantage of being decidedly NOT underbudget nor ahead of schedule. which led to some less-than-loving days with the hubby. but, we have put that all behind us now, and we are plunging valiantly onward. you can even ask chris.

on another front, i have been putting in more hours at the DAPP office where i work, in an attempt to stem the flow of money-hemmorrage that has been happening of late. (see thomas, and caper, above.) which is why i have not been keeping up here too well. anyway, wish me luck.

the good news is that on friday the groundhog saw his shadow, so spring should be just around the corner.