Fabulous & Frazzled But Still Standing (sort of)

The ins and outs of life as a working mom

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How to keep your sanity and remember the eggs

So last week I mentioned that I had some great grocery shopping tips that I would share. As you know I love to write lists, it is like a little slice of heaven for me. But this should work well for you non ocd minded folk out there, in fact it may even be more efficient for you b/c you won't be killing a forest with the number of times that you rewrite your list.

First of all, I do my grocery shopping once a month, and when I am really good I can make it stretch to about 5 weeks. I know, I heard the collective gasp, but it really is worth it. You see I plan a meal for each night (I factor in a couple take-out/restaurant nights and I also throw in some lazy night meals [grilled cheese & tomato soup, blts, frozen pizza, etc.] for when we just don't want to cook). When I am planning the meals I write down all the ingredients that I don't have on hand. Then I try to plan multiple meals that involve some of the same ingredients. I also scan the store flyer to see if there is any great sales that I could plan meals around. This allows me to a) buy in bulk, b) spend less time in the store & c) save money. For example; maybe Jewel is having a sale on Red Peppers, I will make Stuffed Peppers one night, Stir fry another night and maybe Fiery fettuccine w/ red pepper sauce. And b/c I am planning my meals for a month we won't be having 3 red pepper meals right in a row.

Once I have written down all the meals, I will write up the actual shopping list. I sort the list by store departments so that I don't have to weave back and forth while I'm there, this saves me time and it helps me to not forget anything (we've all done that, "oh, I need to go back to produce and get a cucumber" but then you never get there). I write down each item, the quantity I need and a brand name if I have a preference.

When I get to the store I shop for all the non perishable or general grocery items first. These items are often heaviest so I don't run the risk of my can of black beans smashing my head of lettuce. And for you germaphobes out there, if you shop for you frozen items and meats last they are out of the refrigeration for less time. Plus if they are at the top of the cart they will be touching fewer other items (but always wrap your meat packages in a produce bag or something b/c sometimes they do leak!).

Shopping less often and with a very specific list helps to reduce the impulse buys that I really struggle with. Lets say I am going to spend $15 on last minute crap that I don't need every time I go to the store, I will spend $60 a month if I shop each week but only $15 if I shop once a month. Couple that with the savings from buying in bulk and you are looking at a drastically lower grocery bill.

Don't forget to comparison shop either, if you are able to shop in bulk be sure to check the prices at the warehouse stores (Sam's Club, Costco, etc.) sometimes you can save a bundle, especially on paper products but other times you walk away with a huge bill and way more than you will ever reasonable use. I find that if I mix generic brands in as much as possible when I shop at my neighborhood store I don't really save any money going to Sam's Club.

Be sure to check the butcher counter and the deli counter b/c sometimes they have sales on meat that doesn't apply to the prepackaged version of the same thing. Sara Lee ham is often cheaper at our deli counter than it is in the lunchmeat section of the store.

Never shop while hungry. This sets you up for major binging. When you are hungry everything looks delicious, even foods that you never cook and probably don't own a recipe for! If you must head to the store hungry, go straight to the deli counter and get a little container of pasta salad or something to stave of the growls for the duration of your trip. This will prove to be invaluable for those of us who are prone to salivating over every single item we see. Mmmm, Cocoa Puffs, OOOOOHHH, Bacon wrapped filets, yummmm Spam (?!). You get the idea.

Once at the checkout counter, definately use the reusable bags if you can. They hold more than the traditional plastic, are better for the environment and have great handles that will save your back. I always request that they bag all the parishable items together and seperate from the non parishables. When you have little ones it is nice to be able to quickly grab the "must put away" items first and come back for the rest when you have more time. This has been a life saver on more than one occassion, especially since we have to haul our groceries up a flight of stairs!

So whether or not you shop once a week or once a month, these tips should help save your mind and your wallet. Josh still does not understand my shopping habits but he certainly doesn't complain when I check my receipt and realize that I saved over $50! It's also nice to only have to head to the store once every 4 or 5 weeks. It really frees up my time to do other things like hang out with my family, catch up on Project Runway and Flipping Out, oh and to clean my house!

I really need to work on the cleaning thing, my house rarely looks very messy but upon closer inspection you will see that I have not mopped my floors in over two years (Swiffer doesn't count), my carpets are begging to be shampooed and forget about washing my windows! Maybe I will start working on this. I'll make a list!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Power of Caffeine Is Strong

So it is 4:45 and I leave the office at 5:15. For the last couple of hours I have been resisting the urge to dash out for a quick Starbucks run. I have now accomplished 1/25 of the work I normally do and have yawned 2,456,987 times (just typing that makes me yawn!). I am desperately trying to justify the 5 minute drive to Starbucks, the 10 wait in Starbucks and the 5 minute drive back. It is logical, right? 30 minutes more totally justifies a 20 minute Starbucks run, right? RIGHT?? I am really in need of a Carmel Frappaccino right now, so cool and refreshing, just enough caffeine to get through the night, just enough drive time to make the rest of the work day go by quickly... I can almost taste it. The whip cream with carmel dripped into it is calling my name!

Ugh, it is already 4:55 and I didn't factor in the rush hour traffic that plagues our town. My coffee needs will just have to wait. The kicker is that I have a free coffee coupon!! Maybe they won't notice if I leave early... it really would be sinful to waste that coupon. I feel so parched, what if I am dehydrated? It would be irresponsible to not get something to drink. I wouldn't want to become dizzy while driving Jack home. I would be doing it for the safety of my son. Really, I swear!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Don't forget the deoderant and other randomness

Well we are off to Armpit tomorrow afternoon. I am so excited! We are officially going to celebrate my cousin Ryan's 18th birthday but, truth be told, the Allen clan would use any excuse to head up North. For those of you who are blissfully unaware of the Wisconsin terminology Up North is above Milwaukee and Down South is below Milwaukee.

I purchased Off Deep Woods Outdoorsman 95% Deet bug spray for myself to (hopefully) avoid coming home as one giant, swollen mosquito bite. The extent of my packing has been bringing the Louis Vuitton duffle bag down from the top shelf and putting it on the bed, clearly playing on the computer and downloading music to the Ipod is more important than making sure that we have clean clothes for the weekend. I have my priorities people!

Actually, I am about to make a list of everything that we need and then all I have to do is throw it all in the bag. I probably don't need to write a list considering that we are only going for the weekend but I just bought a bunch of really cute steno notebooks and I have been waiting for a reason to break one in. A good list seems like the perfect excuse! I am a list person, I love me a good To Do list! I have a problem really doing the items on it but writing it out is pure joy. Also, grocery lists. Those have made me the brunt of many jokes. You see, I cannot simply scratch something out if I make a mistake on my list. I have to rewrite the entire thing. And if I stop in the middle, when I come back to it I have to use the exact same pen and the exact same amount of pressure b/c if you can tell where I stopped I will have to start over. Also, if Josh wants to add something to a list, he either has to tell it to me so that I can write it correctly or he has to write it on a seperate piece of paper for me to then transfer to the list.

Oooh that reminds me, I have some really great grocery shopping tips that are list related but that is a whole 'nother post. So now that I have given you some insight into my special brand of crazy, I am off to write my list in my super cute green composition notebook. This notebook makes me want to draw flowers in colored pens and write Shanna Pitt hundreds of times in different variations.

Armpit Weekend Packing List:
1) Cute clothes that are appropriate for lounging and bonfires
2) Sneakers
3) Jack crap
4) Deoderant

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Trucks, Trash and Slim Jim Hot Dogs

So we went to the Lake County Fair last night so that Jack could see the Monster Truck Demo. That kid really has an obsession! He loves anything truck and tractor related, even a boring old trailer is thrilling to him. He can take any conversation or game back to trucks. Somehow we always end up digging and dumping!! It is really funny to watch him watch something like Monster Trucks. He just sits in silence for a while, expressionless. At first it is hard to tell if he is even enjoying it. But the second there is any silence, he explodes in a furry of re-enactments, claps, cheers and Holy Cow's. He will stand on bleachers and use any extremity necessary to recreate the vehicle acurately; if that means one arm is a row of cars and the other hand coupled with the rest of his body is the giant truck running it over then so be it. We really get a kick out of his excitement, he is just so passionate and because of that he has really learned a lot. You can just see his little brain clicking away, trying to figure out how you drive this one and what sound that one makes. Jack can name just about any piece of machinery and if he is feeling cooperative he will even tell you how you drive them and what their differences are!! He is such a riot, I feel like we should book Jay Leno- his good looks and goofy grin would certainly win everyone over!

So, the Lake County Fair... it really hasn't changed much over the years. The same people in the same clothes go every year occassionally adding another limb to the family tree. The same rides with the same attendants return to push riders to the brink of nausea. The same 4-H members brings the same tired pigs. And the same vendors bring the same food, no really my hotdog may have been from the very same batch they brought last year. It was food poisoning covering in ketchup wrapped in a cold bun. I took one bite and couldn't even swallow that, it tasted like a spoiled Slim Jim. Dis.Gus.Ting! We spent almost $60 to go to our local fair for an hour and a half and we didn't even ride anything! Our horrific, inedible dinner cost us $30 then we had to get corn on the cob just to get rid of the taste in our mouths. It was pretty bad. But we did get a kick out of walking around and reliving some of the memories from our childhood. At many of the stands the prizes had not changed since I was a kid. If I were to knock down the plastic milk bottles I would still have my pick between a felt cover Mr. Big framed poster or a Jesus mirror. What a selection I tell you, two sets of people who were both very influential in my life. You really can never have too much long hair although I think the men of the 80's could have taught our Lord a little bit about AquaNet. A little hairspray never kept anyone from walking on water as far as I know.

Speaking of hair, Josh got a "Mohawk! Mohawk!" chant from some Carni's so I may have to rethink my analysis of his hair. But mine still looks fab! All in all we had a good time at the fair and Jack just loved it, the trucks, the french fries, the corn on the cob, everything. So we should probably put our judgements aside because we may just be a little more trashy than we like to admit!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Presenting The Graduated Bob!!

OMG!! I. love. my. haircut!!!! It is easy, it is trendy, it is slenderizing and most of all, it does not scream MOM! The bangs look a little funky in the picture but they are cute in real life. And the back is not a super dramatic angle, just a little layering and texturizing. Agatha (Mario Tricocci, Vernon Hills) did an awesome job and she totally laughed at my witty comments and strange hair references. I may have asked her not to give me a fanny pack but I can't be sure. Anyways, love the hair, will totally keep it for a while. I may even go back for the bang trims that they are always recommending instead of letting them grow out and then trying to bobby pin them into place! Well, I think that I have used up my allotment of exclamation marks for this post so I will leave you with a pic of the hubsters new 'do.

Gosh, I have come so far from triangle hair, frizz and stiff bangs! We are a crazy bunch I tell ya!