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Archive for the ‘expenses’ Category

I eat a lot of yogurt. Sometimes up to three of those little cup-ish packages from the store. However, like the price of everything else, the price of those little individual servings has gone way up. I am paying about 69 cents a piece (if I use 3 per day, this makes it over $14 per week. I know I can get the larger size (I think it’s a quart). The store brand in that size is about $4.89, but then I get stuck with one flavor. If I get extra things (fruit) to put into it, then I end up paying even more because I can’t usually buy just four strawberries or just 1/8 cup of blueberries. You get it, right?

Years ago, when I was first married, okay DECADES ago, my ex used to make his own yogurt and taught me. We’d make it a couple of times a week and add our own flavors or toppings to it. I could also use it for other recipes when I was cooking. We used to make it on the stove, with no “maker” just the milk and the yogurt starter, then we’d put it inside our gas oven and it would grow and set. Later, when times were a little better, we got an electric yogurt maker. By the time the kids came along, we were doing better financially and our lives got busier so making our own yogurt became a thing of the past. I had all but forgotten about it.

I’ve really been trying to eat healthy. I’m diabetic and at the last check up, my cholesterol was too high. Two weeks after the doctor told me I needed to reduce my cholesterol level, I gave up eating eggs. A week after that, I gave up eating meat. Well I almost gave up. My youngest daughter hasn’t eaten meat of any kind (not even fish) in about six years. Now when she is near meat, the smell of it upsets her stomach. If she wanted to start eating meat again, it would cause great physical discomfort. She would have to introduce it very gradually. According to articles I have read, when a person stops eating meat, their body will no longer produce the enzyme that breaks down the meat into nutrients and by-products. With this knowledge, when I gave up eating meat (in January of 2007), I decided to allow myself to eat meat once per week. After about six or seven months of that, I lost the appetite for meat so now I have it occasionally, perhaps once or twice a month. I do eat fish. That’s what keeps me going. One can only eat so much soy products! (Soy by the way, is great for menopausal women. Daily intake of soy does away with the need to take hormones!)

And so I get back to my yogurt. I decided that I would make my own yogurt so that I can use skim milk and no sugar or other flavors, adding only fresh fruit or granola when I eat it. By making my own, I would be eating healthier and cutting cost at the same time. Perfect. I had forgotten the exact amounts of milk and yogurt starter to use but I remembered the process. I seemed to remember that we used about a tablespoon of starter but I wasn’t sure. I looked it up online. I got the information I needed and also read that I had to heat the milk to at least 185 degrees then let it cool to 110. I was supposed to use a candy thermometer to insure that I had the temperatures right. Then came the incubation period. How was I going to maintain the 90 to 110 degrees for ten to twelve hours? My oven is electric, not gas, so there is no pilot light to keep it at the right temperature. The websites I looked at recommended a few set ups, all of which were way too complicated and I didn’t have the right equipment anyway. I would have to go out and get several things. Now we were back to the money issues. (I recently moved to a different state and am still recovering from the moving expenses so money is scarce at the moment.)

Freecycle. Have you ever heard of it? I’ve been using it for about five years. I decided to list the items I needed for making my own yogurt, hoping that someone would have the little individual jars or even larger wide mouth jars with lids. I also needed a candy thermometer. I also listed an electric yogurt maker as an alternative, thinking someone might have one lying around that they didn’t use any more. You know, like when someone gives you something as a gift and you have no use for it but you still keep it, stuck away in a closet or the garage for years and years! I posted the ad and waited. Nothing happened. No one had anything I needed. I waited some more. Then I got restless and decided to go out and buy an electric yogurt maker. I searched Target, Walmart, K-mart, Fred Meyer, and several other places. No one had one. They all list them on their websites but the stores near me (okay, within 100 miles of me) do not carry them. I never buy stuff online because of the added shipping so that was out. Plus I wanted it NOW!

So I did the next best thing. I started going to all the Goodwill stores, Salvation Army shops, and any other thrift shop I could find. The area I live in has a lot of thrift shops. I went every day. For two weeks I went everyday. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

On Saturday I didn’t feel well. I stayed in bed most of the day. I never went out of the house. My stomach was upset. This underscored the need for having yogurt. I hadn’t had any in over a week. Sunday came around and I dragged myself out of bed. I couldn’t stay in bed again because I could already feel myself getting depressed and that’s the last thing I need. So I pulled myself together and headed to the Goodwill Outlet, also known as the Bins. You must see this place. It’s a huge warehouse building with long bins full of stuff. Everything you can think of is there, mostly in pieces, but it’s there. One of the neat things is that they sell things by weight. For example, if you buy one to ten pounds of items, you pay $1.69 a pound. The more you buy, the lower the per pound price. They weight glass separately because it weighs so much more and they have a much lower price per pound for that (I think it’s about 39 cents per pound). It’s a fun thing to do. Even if you don’t need anything, a trip to the Bins is distracting and fun and some times will yield something neat for very little money. When my son was here a couple of weeks ago, he didn’t bring a jacket because he came here from 100+ degree weather. Here, he needed a jacket. We went to the Bins and he found a jacket exactly like the one he has at home that he paid $35 for. The Bin price? Less than $3! What a deal.

So as I walked into the Goodwill Outlet yesterday, I walked to one bin. The first bin. Yup. Guess what was there?! A yogurt maker. Brand new. In the box. Sealed. Yippee! I quickly grabbed it. Then I noticed that almost right next to it, in the same bin, there was a brand new candy thermometer. Yup, still in the package! I grabbed that too and headed for the register, paid less than $3 for the two items and walked out with the most hugest grin on my face! (Okay, I know that is horrible English but at the moment I don’t care.)

I’m now making my first batch of yogurt. I have a feeling it will be the best tasting yogurt I have had in a long, long time.

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Kitty Cat Troubles

Those of you that have followed my blog might remember that my daughter’s cat of 16 years died in September. She waited a while then finally got a new kitten at the shelter in mid October. We have all fallen in love with the kitten. He is an orange Tabby named Naranja (orange in Spanish, named by the staff at the shelter).

He was doing great but had diarrhea. We took him to the vet last week. He checked out fine. They gave us a flea treatment for him and a kitten de-wormer. That was last Wednesday. Late Sunday night my daughter came home from work and went into her room then I heard her start yelling to me that there was something wrong with the kitten. When I got to the room, he was at the food dish trying to eat but he was so weak that he couldn’t stand up. He kept flopping over to the side. We took him to the 24 Hour Vet Hospital. They said they weren’t sure he’d make it. His temperature was two full degrees lower than normal and his head was flopping side to side. He couldn’t track movement with his eyes. They put him on an IV to hydrate him and took some blood work. We left him there. Within the hour the vet called and said she thought she had found the problem. Naranja is anemic. So they gave him a blood transfusion and started him on medication. (more…)

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Last week my youngest daughter was leaving on a trip to New York and Washington, D.C. I was supposed to take her to the airport (about an hour and ten minutes from home) but I wasn’t feeling well. I called my older daughter at work and she left work an hour early to drive us. However, the younger daughter, Susie, wasn’t ready on time. She was so late getting ready that we left home a full hour and a half later than we had planned. Were it not for my older daughter driving, Susie would have missed her flight, but because her sister drives fast, we made it to the airport in under an hour. Although it was twenty minutes til take-off, Susie made it through check-in, security, and to the gate before the flight left.

Tina, my older daughter, was good about it and only complained once, saying that had we known Susie was going to be so late, she could have worked the extra hour. I agreed. Once we got the “okay call” from Susie and we knew she was on the flight, Tina and I needed to eat. Because it was late, after nine, we knew there would not be a lot of choices open to us in the Oakland area, at least not in any neighborhoods we wanted to visit. I suggested that we take the Bay Bridge into San Francisco instead of the Richmond Bridge toward home. I joked that at the very least, I could get us to the 24 hour Mel’s Diner on Lombard or the 24 hour IHOP. While on the bridge, I noticed Fisherman’s Wharf in the distance and suggested we try Pier 39 where I knew there was a Hard Rock Café. My daughter loves to eat at the Hard Rock and has eaten at about 20 of their international locations. I figured it would be a treat to thank her for leaving work early and driving us to the airport. I knew she had never been to this particular location and that she would love to add one more souvenir glass to her Hard Rock wall.

We found the restaurant easily and the parking lot across from Pier 39. We rushed ahead of a group of slow walking tourists because we only had about 45 minutes until the restaurant closed. I had a funny feeling, you know, the kind that tells you something is wrong but you don’t know what. We were seated right away and ordered our food and drinks. Without much waiting, our food arrived and we ate and had a nice chat. Tina told me about some of the people at work and some of the hotel guests she has checked into the resort hotel where she works. We had a very nice time at dinner.

When it was time to leave, I realized I didn’t have the parking ticket to have it validated.  She said it wasn’t a big deal, I had probably left it in the car so we walked back to the parking lot. No parking ticket in the car. We would have to pay the maximum, thirty dollars.  Not good when I was already regretting having splurged on the dinner! She was stubborn and insisted they would give us a discount or the real rate if we showed them the receipt from the dinner. I didn’t think so. I was right. The attendant, in barely understandable English, said we’d have to walk back to the restaurant and get a validation then come back and he’d talk to the manager and see if they could discount the rate. My stubborn daughter insisted that she wasn’t going to walk “way back to the restaurant in the freezing cold” and that there must be someone she could talk to about it. Yes, she got part of her stubborn genes from me but she also got her father’s stubborness so she has a “double stubborn whammy”! She kept arguing with the attendant who finally told her to park on the side then he left. We assumed he was coming back. He didn’t. We waited twenty minutes. He didn’t come back. Tina was really upset. She tried to pay the maximum with her credit card but we didn’t have a ticket so the machine could not process it. She wanted to drive through the arm across the exit and just leave. Not a good idea, I told her. It was my car. There were police around. I told her “don’t do it” because we wouldn’t get more than twenty feet away without the cops following us and then we’d both be in trouble, not to mention my car would be damaged. She drove around the lot hoping to find someone else’s lost ticket. She even tried pushing the button at the entrance to get a new ticket. No luck. I finally convinced her to let me walk to the office to get some help. She drove me to the office where we ran into a police man and we explained we needed to get out but had no ticket. She was all smiles for him! He got an attendant to come out and we paid the maximum (my cash which we really couldn’t afford at the end of the month) and left. She didn’t speak to me the rest of the way home except to mutter under her breath, “Next time give me the ticket.” Actually, it is common practice for someone else to carry the ticket because they get lost in my huge purse. I didn’t dare tell her that for fear she’d bite my head off or drive the car over the Golden Gate Bridge!

At least we both now have fresh San Francisco Hard Rock Café souvenir glasses. Not all was lost.

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Yes sir!  My daughter was born to the wrong mother.  I don’t know how it all happened.  I was sure that was far beyond the realm of possibility but I have been wrong all these years.  Now, just two weeks shy of her seventeenth birthday, I have realized, and so has she, that she got the wrong mother!

She meant to be born to the mother that would buy her the $345 Diane Von Furstenberg dress that she put on hold when she was at Nordstrom’s the other day.  She took me to see it today, only telling me that there was a dress on hold for her and failing to tell me the price.  I looked at it and agreed that it was beautiful and that it would be a great addition to her wardrobe.  It is red.  Not a bright red but a deep, rich red.  It has classic lines and a lot of possibilities as far as accessories are concerned.  However, I took a look at the price tag and nearly dropped.  She has expensive clothes.  Her favorite designer is Marc Jacobs and she owns about ten Marc Jacobs pieces.  However, all but two of them were bought on sale…deep sales at the end of the season.  One skirt was originally priced at $340 and we paid a mere $15 for it, brand new, perfect condition at Macy’s.  So she has beautiful clothes.  Expensive clothes.  Clothes that I did not pay full designer price for.  But this dress, at this time, is just not possible.  And Nordstrom doesn’t have any kind of layaway.  So it was get it and make her very happy and me very anxious about the next month’s finances, or not get it and make her regret that I’m her mother.  I just could not get it.  Just not possible.

So she didn’t say anything mean.  She was good about it.  However, she lacked the sparkle in her eye and the spring in her step and the beautiful “I love you mommie” smile.   I felt bad.  I still do.  But right now, there is just no way.  And she has to understand that.

We ended up extending the hold til next Tuesday, on the outside chance that we figure out a way to get it.

Maybe she will find the right mother by then.

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