Friday, April 19, 2013

I don't get it...

Yesterday I found this chart.  It gives the average cost of food for families in Feb. 2013.  It divides those costs into four levels: a thrifty plan, a low-cost plan, a moderate plan, and a liberal plan. 

I've been working for a long time to try to lower our grocery budget.  The more I plan ahead (and have backup plans), the better I do.  Some weeks are better than others.  But I continue to track and try to see if I can't make the best possible use of our somewhat limited resources. 

But according to this chart, a "thrifty" plan for my family is spending $135.60 a WEEK on groceries.  That's almost $588 a month!  We usually range between $325-450 (depending on how well I'm doing any particular month).  I have never spent $588 on groceries.

And this is the thrifty plan??? 

I do realize that these are averages and that food costs can vary widely according to the region of the county in which a family lives.  I'm no doubt sheltered by the low cost of living that exists here and our relatively low food prices compared to many other parts of the country.

But.  New England isn't exactly known for being cheap.  Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Tightwad Gazette, ran across the USDA's chart back in the mid-90s (when the Gazette was still in publication).  And she shared this rather humorous anecdote: she immediately sat down to figure up what she spent on food for her family of eight.  To her dismay, she ended up in the "low cost" bracket.  She moped around for days, wondering how she, as a writer and publisher of a frugal living newsletter, could have missed falling into the thrifty bracket--or even below it. 

Finally, one of her assistants decided to check her math.  The assistant promptly burst out laughing upon realizing Dacyczyn's error.  Dacyczyn had totaled up her monthly grocery bills.  The USDA chart was listing weekly totals. 

Yeah.  Dacyczyn spent less in a month than the low-cost plan allotted for a week. 

So it's not just me wondering what the heck is up with these charts.

To present another side, a blogger I read spent over $800 a month in 2012 for her family of five.  But she was buying all organic, grass-fed meat, raw dairy, and gluten-free grains.  So her family's special diet definitely figured into the higher costs.

So I'll open it up for discussion: does your spending fall within these parameters pretty neatly?  Do you think the numbers are fairly accurate? 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

treasure hunting

While doing some cleaning/straightening, I found an old issue of Whole Living magazine.  I mean Dec. 2011 old.  I had gotten a free subscription and then never renewed when it ran out.  I enjoyed the magazine's emphasis on natural living, emotional and spiritual well-being, and whole foods. was a little too "hippie" for my tastes, so I didn't renew when it came time to have to actually pay for it.  I might love yoga and try to buy organic as much as I'm able, but I'm not full-on flower child yet.  ;)

I miss it sometimes though.  It had some good tips from time to time.  So when I found the issue today, I read it even though it was out of date...because it wasn't really out of date.  I saved an article on some migraine remedies to try (most of it just reaffirmed what I already knew or was already doing, but I'm always willing to learn more and try something else).  I saved another one on a home spa technique that looks intriguing.  Another article gave natural remedies to treat or prevent cold and flu--again, most of it is stuff I already know, but reminders don't hurt. 

I had honestly forgotten how much I liked the magazine overall.  Now I'm wondering if I could manage to score another free subscription somewhere.  ;) 

I'm also wondering what other lost treasure I might unearth while cleaning. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

my brain is Swiss cheese...

Seriously.  I had a post in mind to come here and write today.  Now it's gone.  Clearly it fell out of one of the holes in my head.  :-p 

Soon, though, I'll have a review to post here.  I received an e-book to review, so I'll be reading it and writing about it soon. It's called The Christian Parenting Handbook, so I'm really excited to be looking over it and sharing my thoughts.  If you decide this book is exactly what you've been wanting or needing, wait until the week of Apr. 29-May 5; they're giving away lots of free stuff with purchase then.  Around $400 in free parenting resources I'm told, so definitely worth the wait.  ;)  I promise to have it reviewed by then! 

In other news, Sarah finds her science book fascinating; it currently deals with astronomy.  Who doesn't love astronomy?  She is also loving the art curriculum my dad got for her.  And I will confess to feeling slightly super mom-ish as I cooked and worked with her on grammar at the same time today.  I don't feel anything close to super mom-ish often, so it's worth noting.  ;) 

Maybe later I'll remember what I actually meant to blog about tonight.  Here's hoping.  Or maybe you're better off that I've forgotten; who knows?  :-p 

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Since the girls enjoyed The Nutcracker so much, I jumped on the chance to take them to see Sleeping Beauty.  We went yesterday.  The ballet was beautiful, and the girls did enjoy it.  I think it was longer than The Nutcracker though, and Natalie especially got a bit restless.  Still, I'm glad that we went.  We're so cultured, visiting the ballet and all.  ;)

Natalie's birthday part was today.  We had beautiful weather for it.  We went to the park with some of her friends and had pizza and yellow cupcakes with lemon frosting.  I'm not much of a cake baker, but I got a yellow cake recipe from my mom to make the cupcakes.  They were pretty darn tasty, if I do say so myself. 

Nelson took some video of the festivities, so you can pester him about posting it (as well as the talent show video and the carnival video).  :-D 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

spring has sprung...

At least temporarily.  After all the chilly weather we've had, yesterday's warmth and sunshine was welcome indeed.  A small carnival was set up in the parking lot of the mall, so we went to check it out.

The girls had a blast...for the most part.  Sarah went down this very tall slide that moved pretty fast.  I wish I could adequately describe her face when she got up at the bottom of the slide.  She was definitely stunned--I think the slide was taller and faster than she'd been expecting.  She was white and shaken by the end.

Natalie wasn't able to do several rides she wanted to because of the height restrictions.  But she did ride the carousel, the kiddie roller coaster, and a ride where cars spun around a base while moving up and down.  Surprisingly, she liked it all.  The last carnival she visited, even the carousel was a bit too much for her.  This time she really enjoyed herself.

I think Nelson got some pictures and video.  :)  Hopefully, we can get those up soon (as well as the talent show videos). 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Natalie's birthday

So I actually started this post on Saturday (the day of Natalie's birthday).  And then I never finished it and never posted it.  Knowing Blogger, it may end up with Saturday's date on it when I do post it; I guess we'll see.

Anyway, Natalie turned FOUR on Saturday.  "How is that possible?" is so terribly cliche, yet...not. 

But time is a funny thing when you have kids.  On the one hand, part of me can't believe my baby is very much not a baby anymore.  Same thing with Sarah.  But it also seems like they've always been here, always been a part of my life.  Yes, I do remember life before children...but somehow, they were still a part of it.  It's kind of fuzzy around the edges. 

Our initial plans for the day were a party at the park with pizza and cupcakes and some of Natalie's friends.  However, our weather has been unseasonably cold here, with no sign of spring in sight.  So we decided that delaying that whole party thing would be a grand idea.  The park can happen some other time, when we won't be risking everyone turning into icicles during playtime.

Soooo...we went shopping instead.  Each year when we get our tax refund, we always have this long list of things we need but haven't been able to afford.  So Saturday was shopping day. 

One of our first stops was Office Depot.  As I was grabbing pens and pencils, Natalie was chattering excitedly about what else we might grab here at the office supply store.  She brightly told me that she had found the shoe aisle.

Shoes?  At Office Depot?  Yeah, sure.  I smiled and played along, thinking she either had a fabulous game of pretend going or she was just really not getting the concept of "office supplies."

But no.  I really need to learn that my kids know what they're talking about.  Even when I think it makes NO sense, it does.  You just have to figure out the sense they're making.

Natalie had peeked around the corner at the next aisle.  This is what she saw:

Office Depot does indeed have a shoe aisle.  So there you go.