Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Morning Special

At the thrift store yesterday I found a little spiral-bound book entitled The Joy of Muffins. This fits right in to my never-ending pursuit of ways to keep Jeanne away from fast food. One of her favorite things to do on weekends is take the dog to the dog park early in the morning before I wake up and return with ... ta dah ... donuts and unneeded $5 expense.

So I proclaimed that Sunday mornings are now Muffin Mornings, I'll try out a new recipe from my cookbook every week. I went through and marked the recipes that looked the most appealing. This morning I broke in the book by making Swedish Breakfast Muffins. I chose this recipe because I already had all the ingredients in the house.

This, the book says, is a 150 year old recipe and was surprisingly easy to make. The first muffins I think I've ever made from scratch. Here's the recipe:

2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp. sugar
pinch salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tbsp. oil (or butter melted)

As I'm writing this, I'm just now reading that there are actually directions for mixing up the muffins ... I just threw all the ingredients into a bowl and mixed. They turned out fine. But for the purists out there, here are the exact instructions.

Mix dry together in large bowl. Whisk together egg milk and oil (or butter) and pour into a well in center of dry ingredients. Mix lightly and quickly together. Spoon into greased muffin cups and bake until done. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup. Bake at 375 degrees 20 to 25 minutes.

They said it would make 12 muffins. It made 7 large muffins for us. I served them with butter and strawberry jam. Jeanne felt that the texture was almost like a corn muffin. To me they tasted like a scone. I like that it didn't call for that much sugar.

At the thrift shop I had also seen two silk blouses that looked like they'd fit. I didn't buy them because they were $4 each, but I checked my account last night and found that I'd already been paid! I didn't think it would show up until tomorrow - the last working day of the month. So I went back to the store today and tried on those two silk blouses, one peach and one lavendar. They fit perfectly and were in top condition. I also found a nice pair of black capris and some cute, black shorts - a big splurge! When I went to pay, I discovered that all clothing was half off today! I got 4 top quality pieces for $8. Woo Hoo!

This thrift shop that I haunt (I try to check it every weekend) is my favorite because it's Revivals - all proceeds go to support AIDS research and treatment. It's also a consignment shop and I had fallen in love with a painting I'd been keeping my eye on. This painting was going for $195. This visit I was going to ask about it, could I work out time payments or put it on layaway or negotiate with it's owners if it was on consignment. Luckily when I got there today it was gone. *Phew* that was close. This is why I don't tour art galleries. I always fall in love with something unaffordable and never forget about it and suffer greatly that I can't own it. Champagne tastes on a beer budget, that's me.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Julie and Julia

Yesterday Jeanne & I decided to go out and celebrate my new job. We had to choose being going to Sizzler for a steak dinner or going to the movies (we couldn’t afford both.) I’ve been dying to see "Julie and Julia", so the movies won!

It was great fun, we actually splurged on the expensive Hot Popcorn, (which was cold) and two large sodas. Mid movie Jeanne excused herself and came back with another surprise – a box of candy. Life was good.

The movie was good too. I hadn't read Julie’s blog about cooking her way through Julia Child’s 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' but I had read her book. It was extremely entertaining. Meryl Streep played an affectionate, coquettish Julia Child and it was well written – the way the two women’s live’s mirrored each other.

You had to wonder how Julie afforded all those expensive ingredients. I know that eventually she put a paypal link on her blog so that supporters could contribute but what did she do until then?

A friend and I tried to blog and cook our way through Rachel Ray’s 365 No Repeats back in 2005. We made it through a month and then our families revolted and refused to eat any more of the weird, tex-mex type food. There’s a cute scene in the movie where Julie, Julia and their husbands are all reaching for the bicarb of soda to help digest the rich food. I could identify!

It is also every bloggers dream to break into the publishing world with their blog. It’s such a direct way to success and every writer’s dream … to have the publisher come to you. Every time you try to read some book about how to get your writing published, it’s always so convoluted … literary agents, editors, publishing houses, vanity publishing. I gave up a long time ago and shoved both my plays, my screenplay and my novel back into the drawer where they will probably always stay. My screenplay is coming back to life though in my mind and I want to do more work on it.

A New Job

I am way excited as I have gotten a promotion! I've been testing and interviewing with my school district for over year. As you know, I badly need a 12 month, better paying job. I lucked out and snagged one of the 2 twelve month jobs up for grabs this fall! It's about 5 steps up the pay scale ... How much my pay checks will actually be remain to be seen.

I started the job last week. It's a doozy, I've more than tripled my work load working at a high school with over 3,000 students. But I intend to learn it all and become the foremost authority in my field.

Now I'm waiting to see if J gets hired by the same school district. We should know within the next couple of weeks as the para educators are put into place for the upcoming school year. If she does, that will help us out financially enough that we should be pretty comfortable.

The trick will be to manage our money well while continuing to live within our means. My biggest goal is to pay off our bills, mostly we just have some minor medical bills of J's to catch up on. We don't have any other debt that I know of. I also need to start paying back my retirement and building it up so that I can retire in 10 years with a nice pension.

Our other two goals are to buy a second car and move to a nicer place that isn't roach infested and has a washer and dryer. Hopefully those two things can wait until we have passed our 6 month probation periods.

Stay tuned as the next few months should be interesting.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer Woes

It's been a long hot summer. Energy bills here in the desert are ridiculous. We're paying $200 a month to keep cool a 700 sq. ft. apartment with no washer & dryer. That's what we get for living in the So Cal Edison part of the Coachella Valley.

Needless to say, we've been patronizing the 99 cent store all summer. What a great place! I had to get some saline nasal spray according to my doctor and was able to find it there. I was also able to find large bottles of my fiber pills there. This stuff normally sells for $14.99. Needless to say, I stocked up on several bottles as you never know if they are still going to be there the next time you go shopping.

When we lived in Las Vegas, my partner Kate became infatuated with the 99 cent store. We weren't allowed to tell anyone, as she is from Cambridge Massachusetts and a bit of a snop. I didn't understand the attraction but there's a big one in the middle of town and it's amazing what you can find in there! Everything from cleaning supplies, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and food~!