This Is Not a Political Blog
Monday, March 30, 2009
...despite this month's posts!

I commented on another blog, every day I wake up and think "NO FREAKIN' WAY" (yeah, I use the word freakin' in my personal thoughts). Then I find out this stuff is TRUE.

Today, Obama fired the CEO of GM (now Government Motors). How? By what authority? Is that in his job description? I've mentioned before that my civics education was woefully incomplete. But I'm learning fast.

(BTW - there's no one to replace that CEO yet, so the company is without a leader. How are they supposed to figure out an acceptable restructuring plan if their top post is empty? Talk about poor planning. Obama doesn't know anyone who can do any better, he just decided that Waggoner has got to go.)

Then - he goes on national TV and tries to sell me a car?!!??

Sorry, I'm not convinced that having a car warranty backed by the current Federal Government is a selling point. More like a weakness, IMO. And his plan to help GM includes using recovery money to buy new cars for federal agencies. Was there a stipulation on that stimulus money that it must be used for a GM car? What about alternative energy - what if the fleet manager wants to buy Toyota Priuses?

He claims that he has no intention of running the company (he's just making HR decisions, scrutinizing their business plan, and trying to help the company avoid bankruptcy.)

Honest to Pete, what the heck is going ON at the White House?

I did have a little snicker at Hilary in Mexico City, though, asking who painted the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The State department seriously needs to hire somebody who knows about protocols and traditions in other countries - before we alienate the world.


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/30/2009 02:12:00 PM | Permalink | |
Bootlegging Beans
There's yet another piece of legislation being considered that will change life as we know it.

HR 875
deals with food, and the creation of a new Food Safety Administration.

And once again, what could be a good idea goes way too far. Now they want to prohibit people from growing their own food. Has that basil on your windowsill been inspected? You better not eat it!

The purpose of the legislation (Sec. 2):

(1) to establish an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services to be known as the ‘Food Safety Administration’ to--

(A) regulate food safety and labeling to strengthen the protection of the public health;

(B) ensure that food establishments fulfill their responsibility to process, store, hold, and transport food in a manner that protects the public health of all people in the United States;

What is a food establishment? (Sec. 3)


(A) IN GENERAL- The term ‘food establishment’ means a slaughterhouse (except those regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act), factory, warehouse, or facility owned or operated by a person located in any State that processes food or a facility that holds, stores, or transports food or food ingredients.

(B) EXCLUSIONS- For the purposes of registration, the term ‘food establishment’ does not include a food production facility as defined in paragraph (14), restaurant, other retail food establishment, nonprofit food establishment in which food is prepared for or served directly to the consumer, or fishing vessel (other than a fishing vessel engaged in processing, as that term is defined in section 123.3 of title 21, Code of Federal Regulations).

(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.

A food establishment is a facility owned or operated by a person located in any State that processes food or a facility that holds, stores, or transports food or food ingredients... that is not a restaurant, retail establishment, soup kitchen, farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, or confined animal-feeding operation. This would include people's homes.

(5) CATEGORY 1 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘category 1 food establishment’ means a food establishment (other than a seafood processing establishment) that slaughters, for the purpose of producing food, animals that are not subject to inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or poultry that are not subject to inspection under the Poultry Products Inspection Act.

(6) CATEGORY 2 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘category 2 food establishment’ means a seafood processing establishment or other food establishment (other than a category 1 establishment) not subject to inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or the Egg Products Inspection Act, that processes raw seafood or other raw animal products, whether fresh or frozen, or other products that the Administrator determines by regulation to pose a significant risk of hazardous contamination.

(7) CATEGORY 3 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘category 3 food establishment’ means a food establishment (other than a category 1 or category 2 establishment) that processes cooked, pasteurized, or otherwise ready-to-eat seafood or other animal products, fresh produce in ready-to-eat raw form, or other products that pose a risk of hazardous contamination.

(8) CATEGORY 4 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘category 4 food establishment’ means a food establishment that processes all other categories of food products not described in paragraphs (5) through (7).

(9) CATEGORY 5 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘category 5 food establishment’ means a food establishment that stores, holds, or transports food products prior to delivery for retail sale.

So, any household that keep chickens, goats, rabbits, etc. for food is a Category 1 Food Establishment.

Got a stocked pond? Clean your fish in your kitchen? You are a Category 2 Food Establishment.

Grew your own tomatoes and going to can them? You're a Category 3 Food Establishment.

How is that going to interfere with people growing food for themselves?

(a) In General- Any food establishment or foreign food establishment engaged in manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding food for consumption in the United States shall register annually with the Administrator.

(2) REGISTRATION- Registration under this section shall begin within 90 days of the enactment of this Act. Each such registration shall be submitted to the Secretary through an electronic portal and shall contain such information as the Secretary, by guidance, determines to be appropriate. Such registration shall contain the following information:

(A) The name, address, and emergency contact information of each domestic food establishment or foreign food establishment that the registrant owns or operates under this Act and all trade names under which the registrant conducts business in the United States relating to food.

(B) The primary purpose and business activity of each domestic food establishment or foreign food establishment, including the dates of operation if the domestic food establishment or foreign food establishment is seasonal.

(C) The types of food processed or sold at each domestic food establishment or, for foreign food establishments selling food for consumption in the United States, the specific food categories of that food as listed under section 170.3(n) of title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, or such other categories as the Administrator may designate in guidance, action level, or regulations for evaluating potential threats to food protection.

(D) The name, address, and 24-hour emergency contact information of the United States distribution agent for each domestic food establishment or foreign food establishment, who shall maintain information on the distribution of food, including lot information, and wholesaler and retailer distribution.

(E) An assurance that the registrant will notify the Administrator of any change in the products, function, or legal status of the domestic food establishment or foreign food establishment (including cessation of business activities) not later than 30 days after such change.

(4) LIST- The Administrator shall annually compile a list of domestic food establishments and a list of foreign food establishments that are registered under this section. The Administrator may establish the manner of and any fees required for reregistration and any circumstances by which either such list may be shared with other governmental authorities. The Administrator may remove from either list the name of any establishment that fails to reregister, and such delisting shall be treated as a suspension.

What if you don't go along with the program?

(2) INSPECTIONS- If the Administrator determines that a food establishment fails to meet a standard promulgated under this section, the Administrator shall, as appropriate--

(A) detain, seize, or condemn food from the food establishment under section 402;

Well, if my pumpkins aren't safe to eat, maybe it's a good thing to have the government come to my house and sieze them. Except there might be fines and jail time involved.


(A) IN GENERAL- Any person that commits an act that violates the food safety law (including a regulation promulgated or order issued under the food safety law) may be assessed a civil penalty by the Administrator of not more than $1,000,000 for each such act.

(b) Criminal Sanctions-

(1) OFFENSE RESULTING IN SERIOUS ILLNESS- Notwithstanding section 303(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 333(a)), if a violation of any provision of section 301 of such Act (21 U.S.C. 301) with respect to an adulterated or misbranded food results in serious illness, the person committing the violation shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or both.

Think it can't happen? It already has. A homeschooling family was held at gunpoint by 12 sheriffs while they raided their house. The feds did not have a valid warrant (it had expired) and confiscated the family's entire stock of food - including meat they had bought to eat for that entire year.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/30/2009 08:06:00 AM | Permalink | |
How Can They Do That?
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Those AIG bonuses really tick me off. Not that the employees are receiving them, but the overly dramatic wringing of hands that is going on in Washington.

Sen. Chris Dodd specifically allowed the bonuses. The Obama administration knew about them. Now, all of the sudden, they are outraged? People are threatening AIG employees with piano wire, and Sen. Barney Frank refuses to keep the names of bonus recipients confidential for their own safety?

Here's the thing.

Those employees of AIG? They have an employment contract. If they do XYZ, they'll get a bonus. They did XYZ. They get a bonus.

Can you imagine if you opened your check on payday, and found you were paid minimum wage instead of your usual salary - the salary negotiated and agreeed upon in your employment contract?

What if people in the oil industry, for example, are suddenly targeted as being undeserving of the money their employer agreed to pay them in a private contract? What if Texas decided to enact a 90% income tax on all moneys paid by oil companies?

What if it was you? What if you agreed to stay with AIG to try to steer them through the crisis, even though other companies offered you good jobs, waiting for the payout at the end?
What really stinks is that it is our money being spent - but it's legal.

I heard that it is unconstitutional, prohibited by the Bill of Attainder. Believe it or not, we did not study the Constitution in my Civics or American History class (Malcolm X - totally covered, though).

I had to look it up.

It's in Article 1, Section IX of the Bill of Rights.

Section 9: The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.
No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.
No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one state, be obliged to enter, clear or pay duties in another.
No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.
No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

Let's look again.
No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
Bill of attainder = A bill of attainder, is a legislative act which inflicts punishment without judicial trial and includes any legislative act which takes away the life, liberty or property of a particular named or easily ascertainable person or group of persons because the legislature thinks them guilty of conduct which deserves punishment.

It's supposed to keep the legislature from doing the Justice Department's job.

The real problem is that the taxpayers own 80% (I heard) of AIG - but are not doing what normal stockholders do. Normally, if someone owns 80% of the stock in a company, they hire and fire the board of directors. The Board appoints the CEO. If things don't go well, a new board and a new CEO might be in order.

The Federal government can't really (or won't) do that. No one's minding the AIG store, but we're outraged when they don't do what we think they should do. Our government instead tries to meddle in private contracts, making them null and void.

Bad, bad idea.

I think that AIG should honor their contracts. Our whole economic system, government, and the American way of life rests on the notion that contracts are binding.

Hmmm, I saw something else very interesting ...
a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.
Can't wait to see that report on the stimulus bill. We can't even keep track of the spending of one bailout of one company (AIG) - how on earth can all of those trillions be accounted for?


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/26/2009 08:13:00 AM | Permalink | |
Slavery Abolition - Works for Me Wednesday
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I promise, my WFMW are NOT usually political! But I don't have a good tip for you this week, and this really DOES work for me (and NOT work for me).

Maybe I'll post something about hair next week, but for now, the 13th Amendment really works for me!
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

What's not working?

HR 1388 - The "GIVE" bill (Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act)

Now, I think it is good to volunteer. I want my children to volunteer.

But do you know what mandatory (not voluntary) service to the government is called?


Although, it's not really volunteer work, since the "volunteers" get a payoff ($6 billion of taxpayer money to fund it, too.)

I don't like a lot of the restrictions, either. It can't be volunteering for a political party, or volunteering at church. All volunteering must be secular and non-political. One good restriction - one can't volunteer for organizations that provide or refer for abortion services, either. (Wonder why? If there is *nothing* wrong or bad about abortion, why have this provision? One could volunteer at a blood drive, after all.)

And so there will be no missions, no grass roots efforts battling cancerous chemicals in the water supply, or organizing a public awareness campaign against child labor and our import policy...


‘(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:

‘(1) Attempting to influence legislation.

‘(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.

‘(3) Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing.

‘(4) Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements.

‘(5) Engaging in partisan political activities, or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office.

‘(6) Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials.

‘(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.

‘(8) Providing a direct benefit to--

‘(A) a business organized for profit;

‘(B) a labor organization;

‘(C) a partisan political organization;

‘(D) a nonprofit organization that fails to comply with the restrictions contained in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 except that nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent participants from engaging in advocacy activities undertaken at their own initiative; and

‘(E) an organization engaged in the religious activities described in paragraph (7), unless Corporation assistance is not used to support those religious activities.

‘(9) Conducting a voter registration drive or using Corporation funds to conduct a voter registration drive.

‘(10) Such other activities as the Corporation may prohibit.

It passed the House, and is in the Senate under the Serve America Act.

It's being widely reported that the service will be less than voluntary, but I haven't seen the language that would seem to make it mandatory. I haven't made it through the whole bill, yet, either.

Do we really need to spend billions on making Americans volunteer when we've already spent trillions on everything else?

So doesn't Work for Me.

For more tips, head over to We are THAT family!

H/T Mommylife!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/25/2009 08:47:00 AM | Permalink | |
Food Stamp Challenge, week 12
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Big plans this week! My parents and sister are coming for a visit, so our plans are a little out of the ordinary. Also, I'm still stocking up the pantry/hurricane stash after eating everything last month!

I spent $133.94
I'm planning to add to this, so watch for an update. I need to buy more meat for our cookout - just waiting for a new loss leader on Wednesday. I'll update the weekly average when I know I'm done.

I'm down to one store for meat - I had to return a vacuum packed pork tenderloin to Kroger! (I subtracted $6 from this week's total to reflect a more accurate account of what I spent last week)

I think they leave their meat out for too long before wrapping it. I've had to return meat (more than once) to both Mexican groceries and Kroger; looks like HEB is my one-stop meat shop right now. I usually shop late at night so butcher shops are out for me, and we looked into ordering half a cow but it was much too expensive, averaging $4-5 per pound of meat.

I got:
4# small red beans, 2# lentils, 8 # pinto beans, 2# black eyed peas, 2# black beans, 1# split peas, 8# brown rice, 4# white rice, 28 oz. alphabet noodles, 4# white sugar, 7 oz. mesquite barbecue seasoning

24 oz. light sour cream, 4 gallons milk, 2.5# shredded cheese, 10 qts. powdered milk

12# pork ribs, 4# hamburgers, 14 oz. jalapeno smoked sausage, 32# beef brisket, 2 pkg hot dogs

4 cantaloupes, 6# oranges, 2 heads red leaf lettuce, 2 bunches fresh spinach, 6 bunches green onions, 5# carrots, 6# apples, 2.6# Roma tomatoes, 1 bunch cilantro, 2 jalapenos, 3 2/3# zucchini, 2# bananas, 6 mangoes, 3# strawberries, 4# bananas, 1# eggplant, 2# calabacita, 1 1/2# green cabbage, 4# green grapes

28 oz. can whole tomatoes, 1 lg. jar dill pickle slices, 1 jar Chili Garlic sauce, 1 bottle oyster sauce (MSG free! Yay!), 3 cans crowder peas, 3 cans picante sauce, 4 cans Ranch beans, 2 large jars unsweetened applesauce, 1 gallon white vinegar, 5 bottles (2 qt) apple juice, 48 oz. canola oil, 1 bag mini marshmallows, 3 cans corn, 18 oz. ketchup

1/3# sliced jalapeno cheese, 1/2# roast beef, 12 slices cheddar, 16 ct. fried chicken, prosciutto wrapped mozzarella cheese ball (see why I shop alone?)

1 bag Texas shaped pretzels, 1 bag pretzel twists, 16 hamburger buns, 200 corn tortillas, 2 loaves whole wheat bread (I have my oven back! Hopefully the bread expense will go down. After baking our own for a while, bagged bread doesn't taste as good, either!)

We're eating:
Sunday, 3/22:
peanut butter sandwiches, apples, milk
hot dogs, ranch and navy beans, broccoli/cauliflower mix

Monday, 3/23:
egg salad sandwiches, cantaloupe
Red beans and rice w/ okra mix (It's not jumbalaya, it's not red beans and rice - it's Louisiana casserole, I guess!) (I also ate 3 oz. roast beef and two slices of cheddar)

Tuesday, 3/24:
Grape nuts with milk, apples
Eating at sister's house w/ parents

Wednesday, 3/25:
Oatmeal, oranges
Pintos and cheese, corn tortillas, salad
Eat out at restaurant (probably)

Thursday, 3/26:
Scrambled eggs, hashbrowns
Pasta salad - olives, white beans, chard, whole wheat penne
Cookout - hamburgers, ribs, grilled zucchini, salad, pretzels, cantaloupe

Friday, 3/27:
Oatmeal, cantaloupe
Apples w/ peanut butter dip, roasted chick peas, or maybe eat out.
Lentil enchiladas, refried beans, pico de gallo

Saturday, 3/28:
Macaroni and cheese w/ broccoli, oranges

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/24/2009 09:55:00 AM | Permalink | |
7 Quick Takes 8
Friday, March 20, 2009
We got our tax refund, and spent way too much money at Ikea (which has been quite a disappointing experience all the way around, requiring 2 trips to Customer Service for returns and I still have to take one more thing back!).

Does it count as stimulating the economy if I send $500 to Sweden?

Shame on Obama. Not only is he the poster boy for demagoguery, going on The Tonight Show, he has to make fun of disabled people, too. He compared his bowling score (129) to being in the Special Olympics. Because, you know, those Special Olympics people are just so pathetic and underpar, right?

Parenting According to Monster Movies
Sums it up nicely, don't you think?

Look! They've cured a spinal cord injury using stem cells! Wait, they are adult stem cells? No big story on how the Feds need to throw more money at dismembering babies for their body parts embryonic stem cell research? Call off the press meeting.

We have a snake. And turtles. And minnows. Remind me why we moved into a house that backs up to a bayou?

After our trip to Ikea, I got several shelves. We've moved the playroom to the room just off the kitchen, and the living room to the front room, and I wanted to set out some Montessori type works.

I made a flower work, a color matching work, a rainbow work, a toothpick and clay work, set out plastic Easter eggs in an egg basket, and arranged our Easter books on the shelf. So the kids ignored all that and chased each other with a spray bottle, instead. Sigh.

Slowly learning sign language. This site has been a big help. Unfortunately, Baby X's favorite things - buses and garbage trucks - have no signs, only finger spelling. But we're doing the best we can.

Check out other Quick Takes over at Jen's!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/20/2009 11:19:00 AM | Permalink | |
A Little Story
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Once there was a family that had rented for 10 years. There were many moves to many states.

After one particularly far move across the country, it appeared that the family had some job stability. Their landlord sold the house they were renting, though, and suddenly they were without a lease and having a difficult time finding a new place to live.

The family explored every option.

The manufactured home people promised to make sure their application (for land and home) would go through. They'd be "extra helpful" by multiplying the family's largest (and with an unusual amount of overtime) paycheck by 52 to get a very inflated yearly salary. Because the family had no credit card debt, the salesman was sure that they would be able to meet the payments.

The family thought that lying on their application was a bad idea, and said "No thanks."

The family explored rent to own options. They were shown houses that were way above their price range (4x their annual income or more) with a high-pressure tactic of affording the payments on a 40 year mortgage.

The family thought that even if the payments were affordable, the houses were too expensive, and said, "No thanks."

The family explored traditional homes with a bank mortgage. The mortgage broker was eager to help this family get into a house, because "they deserved it." The wife thought that the houses that were in their price range were unsuitable, overpriced for the market, and would be tough to sell should the family be transferred. The mortgage broker offered attractive financing, with low payments, 100% financing, and an adjustable rate mortgage. The broker was sure that rates would never rise to the maximum level allowed in the contract.

The family decided that they could not afford the payments if the interest rates increased. At the current income level, they could not pay the theoretical maximum payment (even though that would never happen.) The family said "No thanks."

The family found a rental at the last minute, even though it was a little small (133 sq. ft. per person), was a fixer upper, and only had dirt in the backyard.

One year later... the family that did not buy a house they could not afford is paying for everyone else. ($145 million to California, alone).

The family that did without instead of using credit cards, the family that paid cash for a very used station wagon that smelled like an old lady even though they wanted a Suburban, the family that bought all of their clothes at thrift stores in order to operate on a cash budget - they're paying for it now!

And they are still renting.

Thanks, Obama.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/19/2009 05:04:00 PM | Permalink | |
US Armed Forces: Works for Me Wednesday
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Ya know what's working for me this Wednesday? The Army. And the Navy, and the Air Force and the Marines and the Coast Guard (and I hope I didn't leave anyone out!)

America is an amazing place. Not only are our armed forces an entirely voluntary corp, enlisting is a fantastic opportunity for so many people who otherwise would have no career prospects, no self discipline, and no hope of going to college.

Yo! Soldier, sailors, and pilots! Thanks for everything you do for my family.

(A side note - totally NOT working for me this Wednesday: Obama plans to take away VA benefits from our soldiers!)

That's right, Obama has a grand scheme to raise half a billion dollars by billing soldier's private health insurance companies for care for service related injuries and disabilities. Benefits that the VA should provide.

Why is this a problem? The American Legion explains:
The proposed requirement for these companies to reimburse the VA would not only be unfair, says the Legion, but would have an adverse impact on service-connected disabled veterans and their families. The Legion argues that, depending on the severity of the medical conditions involved, maximum insurance coverage limits could be reached through treatment of the veteran's condition alone. That would leave the rest of the family without health care benefits. The Legion also points out that many health insurance companies require deductibles to be paid before any benefits are covered. Additionally, the Legion is concerned that private insurance premiums would be elevated to cover service-connected disabled veterans and their families, especially if the veterans are self-employed or employed in small businesses unable to negotiate more favorable across-the-board insurance policy pricing. The American Legion also believes that some employers, especially small businesses, would be reluctant to hire veterans with service-connected disabilities due to the negative impact their employment might have on obtaining and financing company health care benefits.
Imagine that someone is in a wheelchair or has a prosthesis. Can they afford the copays, the deductibles, and the ongoing care? What if one has PTSD from battle? Most insurance companies are skimpy on the mental health benefits.

We owe our soldiers our lives and our liberty. They deserve better.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/18/2009 07:36:00 AM | Permalink | |
Food Stamp Challenge, week 11
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
My goal? To feed my family of 10 for $2, per person, per day.

Well, I didn't manage to buy a full 30 day supply of staples. WalMart is where I buy most of them, and they were out of powdered milk, salsa, brown rice, the pasta I like to get, and unsweetened applesauce. We'll try again next week.

I spent $221.30 on food this week. My receipts are very complicated this week, because our tax refund arrived and I spent a lot of money on non-food items (such as pencils, erasers, 20 pairs of socks, a new trashcan, and more...)
Our new weekly average is: $104.24

I got:
18 boxes of whole wheat pasta, 15# AP flour, 25# whole wheat flour, 5# cornmeal, 4# brown sugar, 1 box vital wheat gluten, 2 cans salt

4# popcorn, 4# navy beans, 3# garbanzo beans, 1# pearled barley

2 bottles spicy brown mustard, 1 large can diced tomatoes, 1 large can crushed tomatoes, 3 small cans tomato paste, 2 jars spaghetti sauce, 130 oz. creamy peanut butter, 1 jar grape jam, 2 cans black olives, 1 can sauerkraut, 1 gal. white vinegar, 16 oz. salad dressing

100 tea bags, large can Folger's coffee, 1 bag mini-marshmallows, 4 loaves of whole wheat bread (still no oven), 8 large cartons (42 oz.) oatmeal, 1 bottle pancake syrup, 1 box raisin bran, 1 box frosted mini-wheats

4# butter, 5 1/2 doz. large eggs, 4 gallons milk, 2# cheese

17# corned beef (we froze some!), 3# pork tenderloin, 1 frozen pizza

3.3# onions, 5# bananas, 11.5# cabbage, 3# asparagus, 12# apples, 10# frozen veggies, 1 large cantaloupe

75 cookies from the bakery, 1 box of Rice Krispy treats

What we're eating:

Sunday, Mar. 15- ate out after spending a fortune at Ikea. Does it count as stimulating the economy if all the money goes straight to Sweden?

Mon., Mar. 16 - oatmeal, apples
taco beans and rice
Spaghetti, broccoli

Tues., Mar. 17 - oatmeal, bananas
peanut butter sandwiches, milk
Corned beef, potatoes, cabbage, and cookies for dessert. St. Patrick is one our
family's patron saints, and I still don't have an oven!

Wed., Mar 18 - cold cereal with milk
egg sandwiches, green beans
White bean pasta salad with black olives and chard, salad
*** Update - we had angel hair with white beans, caramelized onions, and asparagus. I *forgot* that I had bought a ton of asparagus this week! Also added a pound of frozen peas so it would have more "green" than "brown". Served with balsamic vinaigrette. I double the white beans in my portion, and finally ate a bowl of pasta that didn't make my blood sugar go crazy!

Thurs., Mar. 19- oatmeal, cantaloupe
macaroni and cheese w/peas and carrots
***Update - we ate leftover pasta instead. I made 2 boxes of angel hair with 3# of veggies and it created a giant pot o' stuff that I might have to freeze before we get sick of it!
Pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli blend
*** Update - making this in crockpot - still don't have an oven! Pineapple/apricot jam on the pork is really, really good (even if husband dear prefers green chile anything on it instead.)

Fri., Mar. 20 - oatmeal, misc. fruit
Lunch? Hmm... we'll see how much bread we have left. We might end up with deviled eggs and veggie sticks (Love deviled eggs, hate DEVILING 2 doz. eggs for the hungry masses!)
vegetarian chili, corncakes, salad

Sat., Mar. 21 - oatmeal
sandwiches, leftovers
Pizza if we have an oven, if not... dunno...

Are you a frugal foodie? How did you save money in the kitchen this week?

Leave your link here and don't forget to link back!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/17/2009 07:44:00 PM | Permalink | |
How To Plan A Month of Food
Monday, March 16, 2009
We need to restock the pantry in a bad way. I plan to buy a month's worth of food (shelf stable staples), and make weekly grocery runs for the perishables (milk, produce) and loss leaders.

But how much to buy? There are many online calculators you can check, but they weren't specific enough for *my* family. Fortunately, I know how much we eat at a meal, how many meals we eat, and how often we serve certain foods.

So, if I figure out how much it takes to make one meal's worth of a food, and multiply it by how many times per week or month we eat that as part of our meals, I'll know about how much I need in a month.

This is the part where 5th grade word problems come back to haunt you!

Breads, Rolls and Baking:
I make my own bread, and use 3/4 c. AP flour, 2 c. WW flour, and 1/4 c. bran for each loaf. Each bag of flour contains 16-17 c. 5# of AP flour will make 20 loaves of bread, give or take; 5# of WW flour makes about 8 loaves of bread.

We eat about 8 loaves of bread per week (including making pitas, rolls, and pizza crust which use a similar ratio), so I need 5# of WW flour each week to make bread, or 20# a month. 2 bags of AP flour will make bread for the month, plus a little extra for birthday cakes, treats, and gravy making. I'll also need 8 c. of oat or wheat bran, but it weighs nothing so I'm going to eyeball it.

We seem to go through 4# of sugar a week. I know, it's a terrible amount! I blame Texas Sweet Tea, which I can't stand but husband lives off of. So, 16# sugar. (I'll break that up to 12# white sugar, 4# brown sugar)

Oil - 48 oz. canola oil every two weeks, or 96 oz. a month.

We also use about 5# of cornmeal per month.

(How do I know the oil and cornmeal? I saved my receipts and looked back to see how much I bought!)

Rice, Grains, other starches:
We generally eat rice at least 5 times per week, whether it's in soup or stir fry for lunch, or as a side at dinner. My family eats 3 c. of uncooked rice per meal, approximately 2#. So, I need 10# per week, or 40# per month.

We eat oatmeal almost every day. One 42 oz. carton contains 30 servings, and I make 10 servings per day. So, we'll go through 2 cartons per week, 8 per month.

Pasta (whole wheat or fiber enriched) - 2 boxes per meal; eat 4-5x per week. So, 10 boxes per week, or 40 boxes per month.

Other misc. grains: Barley, maybe 1-2 times per month; popcorn, 1 1/2# per week or 6# per month; quinoa, maybe 1x per month.

We eat beans at least once a day, whether it's split pea soup for lunch, roasted chickpeas for a snack, or a side of pintos with enchiladas. I'm guesstimating 30# for the month (although I really thinks it's probably higher!)

I use white beans a lot, because they are so versatile, the kids love garbanzos, pintos are great because we eat a lot of Mexican based dishes. So we'll get a variety.

Seasonings and Extras
These are the key to making those from scratch staples taste delicious!
Salt, pepper, spices, vinegars, chiles, onions, and garlic all need to be stored, as well. We use 12-15# onions a month, and they keep well. I usually buy a giant jar of already minced garlic - it keeps better and is often cheaper per oz. than the equivalent amount of fresh garlic.

Peanut butter - 36 oz. a week, or 144 oz. a month. Jelly - two large jars. Powdered milk (to have on hand, right now fresh milk is cheaper per gallon!), 10 qts., 100 ct. tea bags, and don't forget coffee!

If we were in a dire situation, I'd just stick with rice and oatmeal, but it's nice to have variety!

We also eat a lot of unsweetened applesauce. Mr R won't swallow pills, so we mix it into a cup of applesauce, and I also try to use it in place of oil when I bake sweet breads. I'll guesstimate a large jar per week - it really depends on if I baked or not.

So my "list" includes: (Prices are what I expect to pay, based on past receipts)
25# of Whole Wheat flour (a little more than I *think* I need, after all Easter is coming!) ($15)
15# of All Purpose flour ($5)
oat bran/wheat bran ($5)
5# cornmeal ($2)
12# white sugar ($5)
4# brown sugar ($2)
2# powdered sugar (in case I need to make frosting) ($1.50)
96 oz. canola oil ($5)
40# brown rice ($32)
8 cartons (42 oz.) oatmeal (I haven't found a bulk source that is cheaper than buying it in the cartons, where it costs 5¢ an ounce or 80¢ per pound) ($18)
40 boxes pasta ($50)
2# barley ($2)
6# popcorn ($6)
30# dried beans ($30)
8 sm. jars peanut butter (the small jars are cheaper per ounce than the large jars, I don't know why!) ($11)
2 jars jelly ($4)
salt (.50)
white vinegar ($2)
garlic powder ($5)
cumin ($4)
black pepper (???)
tea ($1.50)
coffee ($6)
powdered milk ($7)
15# onions ($4.50)
400 corn tortillas ($3)
garlic jar ($5)
4 jars unsweetened applesauce

I figure that all this should cost total: $240 (I'll also pick up a bunch of canned goods, TBD, and check out the meat sales. The freezer is part of the pantry!) I'm budgeting $300 total to stock a month of food (plus $100 or so for this week's groceries, produce, meat, milk, etc.)

$240? For 300 meal's worth of beans, rice, grains, and spices? That amount sounds awfully low.

I'll let you know if the planning worked, or if we ran short next month!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/16/2009 09:33:00 AM | Permalink | |
Food Stamp Challenge, week 10
Saturday, March 14, 2009
My goal? Feed my family for $2 per person, per day. ($140 a week)

Last week husband dear did most of the shopping and lost the receipts. He used his debit card, so I do have amounts, I just don't remember a lot of what we bought!

For week 10, we spent $90. I did get some sesame oil, mung beans, nori wrappers, and spring roll wrappers at the Asian store. Kroger had some awesome over-ripe produce deals - I got 16 nectarines for $2, 10 plums for $1, 3 artichokes for $1, and two bags of vine ripe tomatoes for $2. I bought 4 heads of lettuce for 88 cents each (wish I could really stock up on that, but it goes bad too quickly!) We also bought oatmeal, and eggs, and some premade meatballs... it gets fuzzy after that! Randall's had some deals, and I got 40 lbs of potatoes for $8 (and a bag of Oreos for $1.29!)

At the Mexican grocery, I got 8 lbs. of dried pintos for $4 and 8 lbs. of white rice for $3. I cannot eat white rice, but I still have some brown in the pantry that I'm making for myself. One night we spent $29.00 on rotisserie chickens (3), macaroni salad, and tortilla chips (my birthday!) and that amount is included in the $65.00 total.

Basically, we ate everything that was left in the pantry and our meals weren't planned, either.

We ate: spaghetti and meatballs, homemade pizza, cream of potato soup with whole wheat bread, pancakes and eggs, white bean pasta salad, and had a meal of rotisserie chickens, macaroni salad, and tortilla chips. We ended up with a chicken left over (we bought 3) and also made chicken tortilla soup.

Today I'm going on a major run to the stores. My goal is buy a month's worth of staples to restock our empty pantry, and I plan to spend $300 on food. You can see a nifty calculator here, to see how much they calculate your family needs for a year. I had to laugh to see that for my family, they recommend I lay in a store of 45 lbs. of KoolAid and 10 lbs. of Jell-O!

This is why I keep a running total of food costs. I did not start out with empty cupboards, but I *will* have to replace what we use. Over the course of months, everything will even out, and pantry stock accounted for. Yes, we ate some bulgur that was in the pantry before I started tallying the food; but when I replace the bulgur we eat, the cost will show up in the totals (even if we don't eat it that week or month).

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/14/2009 12:28:00 PM | Permalink | |
7 Quick Takes 7
Friday, March 13, 2009
We're having a cold snap - the heater's on! I had grand plans to bake a bunch of bread, and try this out. Then the oven door exploded into a thousand cubes of safety glass. Hmmm...should I give up the oven for Lent?

(Gratuitous shot of curly red baby head - cuz it's my blog and my mom reads here!)

Baby Faith has anencephaly, and was supposed to die (actually, "be terminated" if the doctors had their way.) She's 3 weeks old now, and so beautiful, fat, and pink! Her mother is a single college student, and she is so encouraging!

I've just discovered Twitter, but I doubt I'll ever be this addicted. Mama Says: If someone breaks into your home, call the cops. Don't twitter it and then set up a live stream!

Tide laundry detergent has a program that provides washing machines, dryers, and free laundry services to victims of natural disasters. Who knew? You can buy a t-shirt to support the cause.

Interesting article about organic food from MotherJones magazine.

Food Stamp Challenge - husband did the shopping, and lost the receipts. Also, I didn't make a menu plan. I'll add in the numbers to next weeks post, to keep and accurate tally going, and blog new menus next week!

Speaking of organic food - we have our first harvest!

(We ate some chard shoots that I had to thin, but I don't think that counts.) The chard is growing fabulously, but the spinach is anemic and slow. Maybe this cold snap will wake it up!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/13/2009 07:54:00 AM | Permalink | |
When She's Right, She's Right
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The Anchoress has full coverage of the canceled financial crisis.

The links are great too - settle in with a cup of tea and get your clicking finger ready.


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/12/2009 10:53:00 PM | Permalink | |
Vegan Lunchbox Review
I got The Vegan Lunchbox by Jennifer McCann at the library, and the recipes sounded so healthful, so tasty, so easy! I was really hoping it would help make our lunches a little more varied and exciting.

The recipes all sound good, and the ingredients should work, but I've found most of the recipes to be far more trouble than they are worth. The food is, at best, mediocre, no matter how pretty they look in those darling bento boxes.

The Golden Cauliflower soup was a hit. It's carrots, onions, potatoes, cauliflower cooked, then blended. Stir some extra steamed cauliflower florets into the puree. The 2 and 3 yo loved it and couldn't get enough, the other children thought it was good, and husband dear liked it, too.

The Honeybee No-Bakes were... meh. It's kind of a countertop cookie, with oat bran, cocoa powder, almond butter, a little milk, coconut, and honey. I used peanut butter instead of almond butter, because that's what I had. They were not very good (even for something with coconut and chocolate in it!) and took effort - you hand roll the mix into bee-like shapes, then add almond "wings". I make a countertop cookie concoction that is much tastier and easier, since they are essentially drop cookies that harden up as they cool.

The Baked Cream Cheese Spirals were a flop. I doubled the recipe, and it still didn't seem to make much; it tasted like Bisquick despite having lots of oil and whole wheat flour. If I wanted something that tasted like Bisquick... I'd just use that! Much easier.

I make cream cheese spirals when I can - I LOVE them. My version is whole wheat or spinach wraps (store bought), cream cheese, and misc. fillings (green chilies and tomatoes are good, so is ham and black olives.) I think baking them diminished the flavor (and dirtied two baking pans unnecessarily.)

Someday I'll learn to make a decent tortilla and they'll be healthier, too!

The Tennesee Corn Pone muffin were, again, merely mediocre. Frankly, "my" cornbread recipe is much tastier, even if it does include an egg; adding the beans with the cornbread baked on top was unnecessarily complicated. I also seasoned my beans way more than the recipe in the book called for, and it still tasted bland.

I had made the vegan Goldfish Crackers a while ago, from the recipe on the website, and was very disappointed; I thought that was due to my own ineptitude but now I'm not so sure. We do eat nutrtitional yeast around here, so I don't think it was that taste that was off.

Frankly, the vegetarian and sometimes vegan recipes that *I* invent on the fly taste a lot better than these, and I'm not that great of a cook! Good for inspiration, but I recommend finding your own recipes.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/12/2009 08:58:00 AM | Permalink | |
WFMW: It Don't Work!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
What doesn't Work For Me:

Fun crafts with dryer lint? Doesn't work for me.

Glitter for any reason? Definitely doesn't work for me!

And my dirty little secret - I hate my Jacuzzi tub. Sooo doesn't Work for Me!

I always thought I'd love having a home with a jacuzzi tub, but I was sadly mistaken. It's annoying, uncomfortable, uses too much water, and the jets are too confined - it irritates me after about 5 seconds of bubbling nanometers from my skin.

The kids do love it, though! Maybe it'll grow on me when I'm 9 months pregnant.

What are you supposed to love, but don't? Share your dirty little secret with me! Or, for something actaully helpful, check out more Works for Me Wednesday at the new site, We are THAT family!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/11/2009 08:50:00 AM | Permalink | |
Dear Mr. Samuel
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Thank you for commenting on my little blog. I would like to refer you to my long standing commenting policy, for your information, should this not be a one-hit wonder and should you decide to type into my Haloscan box again.

Your comment is baffling irrelevant, coming on a post more than 15 months old, but I can see how you might feel passionately about Church and State not wanting you to see a movie that's been out on DVD for months.... wait, no, it's simply irrelevant.

I did post more on the same topic, a few days later. You could find it by clicking in the top left search box, typing in "Golden Compass", and reading. It appears that reading comprehension may be challenging for you, but that's the beauty of the written word. You can come back to it. With a dictionary, if need be.

Had you read the post, or the follow up, you may have noticed that my objection to the movie was not that the writer of the book was an atheist. Rather, my objection was that the movie promoted "familiars" and "demons" as appropriate playmates for children - which actually isn't an atheist world view. The author has also stated that his agenda in writing the books was not to provide harmless entertainment with "heart", but to specifically drive people away from organized religion. As this is diametrically opposed to my worldview, I am opposed to the movie.

It is quite interesting that you would seek my blog out to rant how I'm "in your face". I'm also not sure how posting two separate entries is "denying the existence" of the materials. And if you want to talk about the Catholic church, bring it on. But don't just say that Catholics are lying perverts and then run away. That's called stereotyping, and it's generally frowned upon by modern, civilized people. For you to say that I should not post my beliefs on my blog is asinine.

And I mean that in the sense of the second definition.

Have a nice day!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/10/2009 08:35:00 AM | Permalink | |
The Dow Jones Doesn't Believe in Obama
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Actually, the stock market falls whenever the government starts meddling, starting with TARP back in October.

I couldn't find a graphic of Obama's actions and what the stock market did, so I made my own.

(Click to enlarge - it's down 37%)

I think it speaks for itself.

Now he wants to discriminate against the successful Americans. Under his plan, they can't write off their mortgage interest. Is creating a disincentive to invest in large, expensive properties when the housing market is suffering really a good idea? How many people are put to work when a wealthy individual decides to build a million dollar mansion?

They won't be able to write off their charitable donations, either, even as charitable institutions a straining under the burden of providing services for even more people who have lost everything - job, house, retirement plans... Oh, yeah. Government will take care of them. They've done such a stellar job of taking care of education, securing our borders, and eliminating illegal drugs, after all. Surely we can trust them to make sure our babies don't go hungry, right?

I wish he'd stop appointing tax dodgers and pick a few people who actually had a clue!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/05/2009 07:40:00 AM | Permalink | |
Works for Me Wednesday Greatest Hits!
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
We are THAT Family, the new hostess of Works for Me Wednesday, has a themed edition today: greatest hits.

According to Blogger, I have published 85 WFMW posts! How do I pick just one? Which are my best?

Hmmm, maybe it's the homemaking tips:
Stomp on the TP

Organize the Kitchen so the slaves children can clean it

When You Have to Chisel the Oatmeal Off the Floor

Or the cooking ones?
This post is the one that gets the most hits! Make Your Own Hamburger Helper. Despite the fact that I think "use some water" is a valid recipe direction.

Maybe money management:
Invisible Clutter

Hmm, surely I have a good laundry tip!
The Family Closet

Ah, I'm an expert at parenting. Occasionally.
Cure Sibling Rivalry

Aw, heck, check 'em all out!

But, I think my #1 most useful post is If You Have a Toddler.

Because Ikea is a dangerous place. And so is a house with a two year old.

What's your favorite tip I've offered on Works for Me Wednesday?

Check out the other WFMW Greatest Hits!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/04/2009 12:24:00 AM | Permalink | |
Food Stamp Challenge, week 9
Monday, March 02, 2009
My goal? Feed my family of 10 for $2, per person, per day. ($140 a week).

I'll admit it - we are scraping by this week until Friday (payday!)

Now, the amount I spent was a little complicated. That pork roast from the store I buy produce - never meat -from had to go back, because it spoiled before it's sell-by date. Yeah, that's why I never buy meat there... but it was such a good sale and it looked so nice on the shelf...

So I got a refund of $6.93 from last week's receipt.

Food Stamp Challenge receipts week 9
I spent:
$37.71; take away $6.93 that was already accounted for last week, and the total is $30.78
Average per week - $92.81 (watch for this to go waaaayyy up next week, the pantry's bare and we've eaten through my stock of food!)

I got:
4# green cabbage, 5# carrots, 3# onions, 10# potatoes, 2 heads Romaine, 2# strawberries (wash them well!), 9 golden delicious apples, 12 red pears, 3# tomatoes, 1 large cantaloupe.

2 doz. eggs, 2 gal. milk,

8 cans Hatch picante sauce, 42 oz. oatmeal, 18 oz. peanut butter, 1# chickpeas

14# ice, a Butterfinger bar.

We ate/are eating: (for more menus than you can shake a stick at, check out Laura's Menu Plan Monday!)

Saturday, Feb. 28: b- oatmeal
l - leftovers
d- Green chile pork chops, spanish rice, salad

Sunday, March 1: b - pumpkin "cake" (it's baked in a bundt pan, but I use applesauce, whole wheat flour, and half the sugar in the recipe so it's actually healthy!)
l- taco beans and rice (another surprise kid hit - pintos, rice, tomatoes, taco seasoning cooked up and topped with cheese)
s- popcorn, chard (had to thin the garden!)
d- Chicken soup w/ onions, potatoes, carrots, and alphabet noodles

Monday, March 2: b - oatmeal
l - chicken soup
s- red pear, sprouts w/salt
d- curried bean stew (minus tomatoes) - HEB, your "hot" curry powder is shamefully mild!

Tuesday, March 3: b- chocolate malt-o-meal
l - egg fried rice (3 c. rice, 3 eggs, 2# asian style veggies)
s- strawberries
d- whole wheat pizza w/fresh tomatoes and peppers, salad

Wednesday, March 4: b- oatmeal
l - peanut butter and honey sandwiches, apples
s - carrot sticks w/ sesame garlic yogurt cheese
d - chicken tortilla soup

Thursday, March 5: b- corn muffins
l - hummus on pitas (again, but the kids love chickpeas), sprouts
s- cantaloupe slices
d- colcannon (bacon, cabbage, and potato casserole type dish)

Friday, March 6: b- oatmeal
l- macaroni and cheese
s- uh, hmmm, well... dunno. But it's payday so I'll hit the store for more fruit)
d- vegetarian gumbo (didn't eat it last week due to lack of planning on the beans. We had spaghetti with white beans last Friday instead).

Check out The Grocery Cart Challenge to see how to feed 6 on $60!

Are you a Frugal Foodie? Share how you saved money in the kitchen or YOUR food budget here!

Leave your link here and make sure to link back!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/02/2009 08:00:00 PM | Permalink | |