Last night a girlfriend of mine who is also a budget wizard stopped by. Since we don't know how much things like utilities at the condo are going to be during the winter we did our best to estimate. While we didn't get a budget that was done to her satisfaction I feel much better about seeing the numbers on paper. More than just budgeting, she offered support and encouragement which I needed just as badly as the view of my monthly and annual expenses down in black and white. I went to bed late, but couldn't sleep so I was up at two in the morning worrying about the future which really will be okay. My sister was telling me about a woman who got divorced when her children were small. For fifteen years she had to work many odd jobs and make tremendous sacrifices just to make ends meet. I'm nowhere near as bad off as that so I'm counting my blessings there. This morning I asked if he would help me pay for school. I have some money in the bank, but I'm going to need that if anything goes wrong with my car or I have another major and unexpected expense. He came over to get some tools for installing the flooring and showed me scorched plastic and burned cardboard in the garage that we're going to have to talk to the girls about since a house fire could have killed or seriously injured us had anything in the garage started on fire when they were playing with lighter fluid and whatever that thing is called that people use to start the grill.
My sisters and I played with matches when we were younger. There were burns and bad decisions, but fortunately we lived. My husband once set a hill on fire when he was younger. The girls are bored and bored kids with time on their hands get into things like lighter fluid. Today my mom and middle sister took the girls shopping. Initially I was going to go with them, thankfully my mom told me to take the day off so now I'm going through the fridge and seeing what I can do with the leftovers in there. So far I've made a spaghetti squash, started carrot soup, and added the rest of the peas to the zucchini slices I threw into the pan with the last slice of bacon. My mother is very frugal and I'm really disappointed in myself for not keeping to those habits, but at least I'm remembering them as I move forward with this new chapter in my life. I have a chuck roast in the crock pot for shredded beef that I hope turns out since my beef stock was watery and vinegary. In my mind I'm thinking that if I have the protein and some veggies ready, then it will be a simple matter for people to open the fridge, see beef or chicken, and assemble a well balanced meal, however I know that the girls aren't programmed that way. There's going to be a lot of changes coming up, and not having the foods that they're used to eating is going to be a part of that. I simply can't afford to indulge them as often as I have in the past and that's probably not the worst thing for them either.
The other day I read something about practicing gratitude and not allowing yourself to become a victim. I needed something radical to shake up my life or I probably would have been content to just sit there and let these terrible habits and rotten marriage continue. Being creative in the kitchen is a reminder of how I used to live and think and now that I'm facing a mini austerity program of my own, I'm much more grateful for small luxuries like really good sour cream and part of a five pound bag of organic carrots. I love to eat healthy foods and they haven't gotten the priority that they should have recently. I hate crock pot cooking, but using that to cook the beef is freeing up the oven for my sweet potatoes and butternut squash. I'm much more conscious of getting into the car as it costs money to run it and adds miles to it so I've been planning out what I can get done when I am out. Food waste is a mounting campaign on Twitter, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of putting the empty squash casings and carrot scrapings into my compost pile. The weather has been cold and dreary here. I thought I had turned down the heat, but I was standing in the kitchen when I heard it go on and for a moment I stood there cherishing the delicious warmth as it chased the chill away. I'm wearing jeans and an old sweatshirt, my mom and sister made the girls bundle up to go shopping, and I'm hoping it warms up, but at least the girls aren't whining about not having the air on yet.
Back from a tending to the stove break. I put a butternut squash in the oven, steamed cauliflower, and am using that water to tenderize green beans that someone left open in the freezer. The carrot soup turned out well. Next time I think I'm going to add something other than carrots like parsnips for balance. I found some diced onions in the fridge, I'll have to fry up those and find something to do with them. The beef is still cooking, and the fridge is much cleaner and more organized than it was. I left some whole carrots for a veggie tray. I bought radishes that I can put out. I used to be great at setting out fruit and veggie plates that people can snack on before the meal is ready. I'm going to get back on that wagon and this time include the girls more. Jill made supper last night. It was very simple; browned hamburger, plain white rice with butter, and a bag of frozen mixed veggies, but it was fast, easy, and most importantly, she felt good about what she accomplished. I bought four avocadoes that all ripened at once. I won't do that again since I might have to throw two of them out. A friend of mine that I really admire is a whiz in the kitchen, I'm going to get back in touch with her to see if she has some ideas for how we can prevent food spoilage and waste. Update on the avocadoes and carrot soup. The avocado I opened was only brown on the edges so I was able to scoop out the middle to garnish my soup. I added some steamed cauliflower for aesthetics, and am quite pleased with the cheery orange, green, and white of my lunch. It's kind of weird to not be freaking out about something, but I'll take this short oasis of calm for as long as it lasts.