Je ne regrette rien

I am Thrifty and Cheap and I like it.

Posted in Uncategorized by Amy on March 15, 2009

I am cheap. I was raised in a family where you didn’t buy something unless you needed it, there was no such thing as spending  money on fast food, and if you are too lazy to cook it – you don’t deserve to eat it.

Today I went to Dollar Tree and picked up groceries. This is something that I just started doing and it has saved our family so much money each month on groceries that it is absolutely amazing. I purchased everything from a few Hot Pockets for my husband when he gets home from work at 2:oo am to chicken broth. I was able to get a  bag of frozen fries for $1.00  Tortillas, lunch meat, lunchables, orange juice, pretzels, animal crackers, instant potatos. $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00  This is good food, not expired, not flavorless (though if it was they have a whole colony of spices and herbs there, too, and not just plain ole generic knock offs.

They have Campbell’s tomato soup there for $1.00. The bonus? They are the 45% more  cans, which makes things like making chili even cheaper. Additionally, one can of soup only need to be used at lunch time instead of two. And I can use the soup as a base in Bacon Cheeseburger hotdish. Oh, and the have the Sargento cheese that I use for the topping of said hotdish there, too. For $1.00

The only thing that I need to get from the grocery store is ground beef, chicken, yeast (to make bread), milk, and eggs. If I had my way, I would have my own chickens so I could use their eggs and so I could butcher them. (Can you tell that I am completely from the country?)

My husband works very, very hard for our money. It is his job to make it. It is my job to make it stretch as much as possible. I take a lot of pride in it and the fact that my daughter thinks I am the best cook ever brings me a lot of pride, too.

I feel really thankful today, given the state of the economy, that I have the tools to be able to take care of my family in this way.

Posted in Uncategorized by Amy on March 14, 2009

I have been putting off writing this post.

I am leaving New Orleans.

There. I said it outloud.

I could rant in this post how eff-ed up it is to live in a country where a court can tell a law abiding citizen where and where they cannot live, but I won’t. I could go on about how much of an emotional terrorist my ex-husband is, insuring that I have no peace, even 1,200 miles away from him, but that post would drain me too much emotionally and create a climate inside of myself full of negativity and hate. I should probably go on about how I am a thrity-three year old woman more than capable of making good decisions, especially when it comes to my child that I am with day in and day out – even homeschooling her when I found the schools to be a bad environment for her in the city, but it would do no good. Nothing that I could say right now would adequately describe the situation that I am in so instead of having my hands tied and a little girl left unprotected from a man that violated her in the worse way and my family continually sinking because of the unnecessary cost this is forcing upon us, I will simply say that I am leaving.

In trying to see the positives out of everything, I realize that this does mean many different things to my family. It means more financial freedom – owning a home – better schools – children that I trust my daughter to play with – more space – land – and in some ways, freedom from some of the things difficult to escape in NOLA.

As I write this, I look at the piles of things to do. My husband works every day for the next two weeks, so that task falls on my hands. My body is in a great deal of pain thanks to my fibromyalgia, but I don’t have the luxary of just slowing down – things need to get done and I need to be the person to do them.

I’m cranky.

I’m bitter.

I’m cautiously optimistic.

I’m not moving that far away from NOLA, but it’s NOLA, and there are so many things that I am truly going to miss – watching the streets from the street car, my visits with Miss Elizabeth at Blue Cypress Books, the zoo, the aquarium, City Park, and Miss Norma’s Sno-Balls. I am going to miss being able to count on seeing Miss Evie ride her bike around the neighborhood and listening to my neighbor play the french horn. I’m going to miss the banana trees in my yard, the Asian plums, and the feeling I get when I ride anywhere with my husband and look around.

I’m leaving NOLA, but so much of me will still be here.

Homeschooling: Little House in the Big Woods

Posted in 100 Things, Book Babble, education, Homeschool, life, new orleans, Parenting by Amy on March 10, 2009

book-bigwoodsI remember when I was in third grade. Somehow, I had convinced my mother – who then had to convince my penny-pinching Irish father – that I wanted needed the complete collection of Little House on the Prairie Books. I grew up in Wisconsin. Every day, after school, I ran home from the bus stop to watch Little House on the Prairie from 4pm – 5pm on channel 9. Ten miles from my home, we had our own little pioneer village. I was at one with Half Pint. My mother purchased the books for me, and boy, was I proud of them! SO proud, in fact, that the very next day I took them to school for show and tell. Unfortunately, on my way to show and on my way to tell, I fell down in a snow bank and the paperback copies of the books were destroyed. I was heartbroken, ashamed, and afraid to tell my mother. I told her, she assured me it was ok, but I didn’t ask for anymore books after that, afraid the same thing would happen again.

Now that my daughter is eight, I am forcing introducing her to Half Pint, Mary, and Baby Carrie. Reading the Little House series is apart of the curriculum that I have created for her. I think it teaches her a lot of important things, as well as teaching her about the area that her Mama comes from.  This has an added appeal to her, as I she received the first season of the television show on DVD as a Christmas gift and we do have a lot of fun snuggling up with one another in my room and watching it while my husband productively spends his time playing Resident Evil or some other zombie killing game in the living room.

Our vocabulary for the first book, Little House in the Big Woods, is as follows:

brindle bulldog
hasty pudding
threshing machine
trundle bed

We use this words as our spelling words and as practice in using reference books.

We have been making our bread from scratch, so she gets a bit of an idea of what goes into that. We also made two batches of Apple Cinn. jelly. Next week we are making cheese!

Easy White Cheese

Great for breading and frying, stir-frying with vegetables, or by itself, this mild cheese will keep refrigerated for one week.

1 gallon milk
2 T. lemon juice
3 T. white vinegar

Pour milk into a large enamel pot. Slowly bring the temperature up to 180F. This may take an hour. Stir frequently to prevent scorching, and hold the temperature at 180F for four minutes. Combine vinegar and lemon juice and add to the milk, stirring gently, until the curds separate form the whey. Line a colander with cheesecloth, and pour the contents of the pot. Tie the corners of the cheescloth together to form a bag and let it hang to drain for three hours. The cheese will be solid when its ready. Wrap and refrigerate. Yield: one pound. Variation: Herbed Easy White Cheese — Add 1� teaspoon dried chives and � teaspoon dillweed to the curds before hanging.

And we are making maps of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Of course a Little House in the Big Woods unit would not be complete without making a handkerchief doll.

And our poem for memorization is :

Pioneer Dolls

By Judie Fordham

Judie Fordham, “Pioneer Dolls,” Friend, July 1992, 27
When pioneer children were crossing the plains,
They didn’t have cars, airplanes, or trains.
They walked beside wagons loaded clear to the top
With food, bedding, and seeds for the next season’s crop.
There just wasn’t room for a toy or a doll—
The wagons were filled with all they could haul.
So Papa’s handkerchief became a new toy,
A cherished soft doll that brought lots of joy.
This cute little doll loves to play or just sleep.
She’ll brush away tears if ever you weep.
So keep her close by—she’s easy to hold—
And pretend you’re a pioneer child of old.

Our big project, though, is to make a log cabin and all of the furnishings inside. The Dollar Tree has craft sticks for $1.00 and although it is a long way from actual logs, that is going to be the walls to our cabin. We are going to gather small rocks and clay for the fireplace.

Tis the Little Things

Posted in 100 Things, Homeschool, life, new orleans, Parenting, Relationships by Amy on March 10, 2009

We had a pretty earth-shattering experience in our household since the last time I posted.

No one died. (Knock on wood)

We fought minor Post-Mardi Gras Krud without any trips to the doctor. (Thank God!)

I didn’t get asked to sing for The Runaways  reunion tour (though I totally would, if anyone out there is listening, and maybe y’all should reunite – at least for one show since I was too young to ever see you live)

Cleo got her library card.


Oh, I know, it’s just a library card, but not in this house and not to Cleo. No, this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime, I’m-the-luckiest-girl-in-the-world, I-need-you-to-buy-me-a-wallet-now moments.

We dressed and got ready to go to the Latter Library sale as we do most Saturdays. I had been doing some research on books I wanted Cleo to read along with her homeschool curriculum. We are tackling the Little House on the Prairie series as apart of school, and I wanted her to see some authentic Pioneer Days stuff and get some pioneer-ish recipes for us to make so she can appreciate how hard those that came way before us had to work and could see exactly how far we have come (whether good or bad I leave that for you to ponder) and I thought it would be a good time to go into the library.  I have not seen Cleo light up like this since she caught her shoe at the Muses parade during Mardi Gras. And then when she got Tumbles the dog at Christmas. For Cleo, this was a serious deal.

“Um, excuse me, Ma’am,” Cleo said in her little voice – the one she uses when she is trying to be super polite, but talking to a stranger who has something she wants. I think she was afraid that they would turn her down if she used her big voice.

“Yes, baby, what can I do for you?” the boisterous librarian said behind her librarian desk.

“I would like a library card, please! How many of my coins do you need?”

“I don’t need any of your monies, baby, all you need to do is apply for one.”

“Like you apply for a job?” Cleo asked.

So, Papa Bear took care of applying for Cleo’s library card and I took care of making sure Papa Bear had all of Cleo’s information right, not trusting him to because he is, after all, a boy and boys aren’t always that great when it comes to important things like birthdates. (I assure you there is no bitterness or glares in that statement)

And off we went. We went to the children’s section and by the time we and worked our way down the first row, Cleo had nearly fourteen books that “looked interesting” or “could probably teach her a thing or two.”  I sat her down and explained that we didn’t have to get all of them at one time, that we could find the ones we need and return them to the library near our home, but that simply wouldn’t do. The library by our home didn’t use to be a mansion and she HAS to go to the Latter Library because it WAS a mansion. More important, though, is it has a carriage house and she just KNOWS that the horses that used to live there had to be incredible horses so we need to there to HONOR  the horses majesty. Yes, she said the word majesty and the emphasis was hers.

Needless to say, after she had the library card in her hand, she was happy.

“Mom, we can go to the library every week BECAUSE I HAVE MY OWN LIBRARY CARD!”

“Mom, we should go shopping. I need a wallet BECAUSE I HAVE MY OWN LIBRARY CARD!”

“Mom, I don’t need you to teach me anymore. I can teach myself BECAUSE I HAVE MY OWN LIBRARY CARD!”

Somewhere, we lose that as adults – the need for only the simple things and the simple things meaning the most.  It is like a sweater that we outgrow and we throw away. In thinking about it, it made me a bit sad, the fact that at one time I used to appreciate every single little thing so much and now, well, I’ve been having a case of the grumpies lately – a combination of a lot of things- and have felt so…unhappy.

I decided to try to see the world through the eyes of Cleo, a tough cookie who has been through her own hard times that some cannot even imagine, and try to see how much power is there in the little things. I’m trying…. I’m trying….