Monday, February 11, 2013

A good sturdy challenge

Can I just spend the rest of the winter posting simple slice-of-life photos of things I'm cooking and baking and sewing? Please?

After waiting all day Friday for it to start snowing, (by the fire with a jigsaw puzzle) it finally did start around 4pm. The storm left us a scant six inches, but I went into full-on cozying mode anyway, cranking the fireplace and working on that puzzle all through the weekend. It's a thousand pieces, I started it Friday, I had no help, and it's almost done. It had been so long since I did a puzzle; I forgot how good it can feel.

Sunday, I slipped into my usual cozy Sunday groove: it's rehearsal day for Patrick, usually from 12-4, so I kick the festivities off by shooing him out the door and listening to This American Life. I cook the evening's dinner, and usually there is bread or a batch of muffins to be made, as well, and sometimes (sometimes) I clean. Yesterday I oiled some chairs. 

I've been beating around the bush about talking about this these past few weeks, but it's time. I've gone back to hitting the grocery store sale flyers and looking for coupons. We don't buy a whole lot from the grocery store, as I've mentioned, and it's hard not to let those coupons sway your shopping habits in an expensive direction. Call it the Coupon Paradox. But more and more I'm looking out at 2013 and seeing it as more of a gauntlet than a pleasure excursion. 

Patrick is planning on scaling back his office job to half-time, which is a fine decision he's been wanting to make for years. Patrick is a musician; he doesn't like the necessity of being an employee somewhere. The standing plan is to spend those extra twenty hours a week he'll gain working on our Binghamton house, which has been vacant for three months now. Then we'll sell it, to be rid of it, to get it off our backs. One set of tenants cured us of any grand aspirations of being long term landlords. 

We have a healthy savings account, and pretty low expenses out here in Gilbertsville, as long as I can keep myself out of Home Depot and the lumber yard. As long as I don't decide to build another $800 greenhouse anytime soon. (No problem!)

So that decision was all fine and well and good, and then pretty much on the eve of this decision, I learned I needed to trim back my working hours a little. Then Patrick's car broke down three times in three weeks. Then a pipe froze in Binghamton, flooded our old kitchen, and the insurance company won't cover all the damage. It's been like, whack, whack, whack lately. Upheaval. 

I didn't want to write about all this. The blog is my happy place, but it's also a true story. All this has been stressful, and probably will continue to be until the house is sold. BUT, it's also an opportunity, a good sturdy challenge, something Patrick and I can work on together. Our grocery bill is usually around $50, and I'm trying to turn that into $50 every two weeks. We've cracked down on our "fun money" spending-- in the past, Patrick would pay for all our date nights, and he is mighty liberal with his own money. I am stingy as all hell with my own money, so our solution for now is for me to take out $100 cash once a week, and that's what we get and when it's gone it's gone. So far, this is working out pretty well. It will be easier in the summertime, when hiking is more appealing.

I am couponing. We are finding fun, free things to do at home, like working on puzzles, playing guitar by the fire, and embarking on an online puzzle quest. Last night we took out colored pencils and gave each other drawing prompts, and Patrick drew a starfish brandishing a bow and arrow (and a ferocious war face) and I doubled over laughing. 

We're going to be fine. Things just need to settle down: we need to fix the car, work on the Binghamton house. I need to find more assignments to take. (Things are actually going really well in that department.) 

Anybody with good budgeting tips, let me know! 

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Becky said...

I coupon but I have no desire to take it to the extreme that nets us 2 baskets of food for $1. It's beyond a full time job. And I think one would end up with brands that are not as good or tasty as what we like.

I also shop sale flyers, stock up on sale items when I can.

Do you have an Antennae for TV? Shoot me an e-mail. I have suggestions there too. We may have an extra Roku box soon.

You two are so smart and resourceful. You'll be fine and dandy! Sending up prayers for the quick sale of the "old" house!

Kristina Strain said...

I have no interest in extreme couponing, either-- that is for nut cases. :) We don't have TV, unfortunately, otherwise I would take you up on your Roku box. Thanks for the chin-up cheer!

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