Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful #18-21

November 18: FRIDAYS and weekends!

November 19: my mother. She came over to help me clean up before a party.

November 20: friends and opportunities to be social (we're doing more of that, will write about it soon)

November 21: freezing food ahead of time to pull out when it's a busy week. Hello stew ready to be microwaved.

A little annoyed

In the past few days, I've seen some posts throughout the blogosphere defending and supporting the SAHM.

Who are these people who are "anti" SAHMs????

Because all I see is a lack of support for women who have to work, or want to work, and have trouble juggling everything. I have trouble juggling everything NOW, and it's just me and C, and the cats. Maybe I'm reading the wrong blogs?

I had a longer post that I wrote yesterday that turned into a rant, and didn't end up posting it, obviously.

It really gets me that SAHMs feel like no one supports them, yet they are the ones (most of the time) who choose to stay home. Many times, WOHMs work out of necessity and are made to feel horrible for not being home. Top that with employers who aren't flexible or understanding, and one can feel pulled in a million directions with nothing to show for it. And for those who actually LOVE their job and want to do both--you'd think they were criminals.

Isn't there a better way?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dear Alma Mater

I know you're calling me for a donation. You do it every year. I have Caller ID, so I can see the number. I can also see "Clown College" on the screen. I know it's you. Besides, I'll never forget that phone numbers there begin with the area code, then the same 3 digits. I think I still know some of my dorm phone numbers.

I don't mind giving to the college every year. In fact, I enjoy giving my measly $50. But I don't like talking on the phone. Especially to the student workers. I'm an old lady to them, even though it hasn't been ten years since graduation.

Oh wait, it is in 2012. Carry on.

I also don't like giving out my credit card information over the phone to the college. I know, it's probably safe and I know that I could flag any charges that I didn't make. I'd much rather get a card in the mail, fill it out, and send it back. It's just me.

Tonight, I got this email from you:

Dear Mrs. Turtle,

A Clown College student tried to contact you recently as part of our annual Phone-A-Mascot program. Each year we look forward to updating alumni, parents, and friends about on-campus news and events, hearing their CC memories, and inviting them to commemorate their CC experiences through continued involvement. Because you are an important part of the Clown College community, we do not want you to miss out on the communications from the College that highlight the dynamic changes taking place.

If your contact information has changed recently, please reply to this e-mail or visit our Online Community to update your information.

We appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and hear your stories. So, when you see xxx–xxx–1172 on your caller ID, please pick up the phone. Thank you, in advance, for allowing us to stay in touch with you.

The CC Phone-A-Mascot Student Callers

Ouch. Was the BOLD really necessary? I listened to your rules for 4 years. I never got caught with booze or boys where they weren't allowed. I completed my core courses, including the two year seminar that our school is "infamous" for, along with its "scream." I can sing our fight song AND our school song. I know the play on words for our school's name, not only does it share the name with the city, it also is something from God.

I don't need you telling me when to pick up my phone. Send the card. You'll get your $50.

XOXO and see you at the reunion. Maybe.
Rabbit, Class of 2002

PS. This is mostly meant as tongue-in-cheek. The internet is in great need of a sarcasm font.

Thankful #17

November 17: my grandparents. They are both now deceased, but today would have been their 66th wedding anniversary. If it wasn't for them, my dad wouldn't be here, and neither would I. A lot of what I grew up with, I owe to them--and not just the "things." They weren't perfect, and while I'm sad to say that I don't have as many fond memories of my grandmother, I have loads of them of my grandfather who passed away a little over a year ago.

I'm also thankful for taking another go at trying to find another job, as I'm actually finding INTERESTING openings that I'm going to apply for tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankful #10-16

Okay, very behind on this. That's what happens when you go away!

November 10: NO traffic to Cape Cod and a great ride with my mom. So glad we get along better now that I'm older.

November 11: Vacation days to use. You might have had Veteran's Day off, but my company does not observe it. I haven't taken a day off for something fun in a long time.

November 12: Family time.

November 13: Homecomings.

November 14: Leftovers!

November 15: Canned black beans. I had to make soup for a work potluck, and it's much easier when the beans are already cooked!

November 16: I'm thankful for my cousin, Josh, who made me a cousin! (he's my very first first cousin) Happy birthday dude! Even if you won't read this.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankful ??

I'll be back shortly to continue the thankful posts. I honestly forgot what day I'm on! I owe many thanks :-)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thankful #8 & #9

Whoops, forgot to do one of these yesterday.

November 8: I am thankful for courage, even for the small things.

November 9: I am thankful for communication, even after a little fight. Also, I'm thankful for C getting more involved with our finances/budget.

Tomorrow evening I am off to Cape Cod for a much-needed long weekend. I don't have Friday off like most people, but I used a vacation day, and will be at my aunt's house along with my mother, two other aunts, and my three girl cousins. I think I know what I'll be thankful about tomorrow, even if I don't get over here to post about it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thankful #7

November 7: Today, I am thankful for a job.

It may not be my dream job, I probably could be making more and doing more interesting things, and I don't want to be there forever (or at least if certain people remain there) but it brings in money, gives us health insurance (now more fairly priced), and gives me somewhere to go everyday. :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankful #5 & #6

Yeah, I didn't get back online last night to do #5.

November 5: I am thankful for my parents.

November 6: I am thankful for my husband, impromptu dates, and NAPS.

Hope you all had a good weekend--I did, but it's flying by FAST!!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thankful #4

November 4: I am thankful for forgiveness.

I'll do #5 tonight.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Scatter. Brained.

I just looked online at our checking account balance, which I do daily (if not more than once a day, yes I'm a little OCD about it*--don't judge!), and saw that a bunch of checks had cleared, leaving us with really only $80 something dollars in the checking account until next week; I get paid on Thursday and C is paid on Friday.

Great. This is after I just set up a new budget for us now that C is back to work. We're going to try to live how we were while he was laid off, banking most of his paychecks since they are significantly more than he was bringing in via unemployment. So, as I am looking at the numbers, I'm already a little discouraged because things aren't going according to plan so soon and I just put a little bit into savings last week, attempting to make our new goal of at least one of C's checks. Of course, like always, unexpected expenses pop up!

I still needed to write out a check for Sunday's collection at church and we need a few things for the house that cannot wait any longer (like, oh, TOILET PAPER). I'm debating on whether or not I should transfer money from our savings to the checking so that I can buy TRUE necessities and you know, maybe fill up the cars with gas since they'll probably need more before pay day. And if we want to get paid/have jobs, we kind of need to GO to work...

So what do I do while I'm debating this? I write out the collection check for five dollars more than usual. I know, it's not like I put an extra 0 or two, and we can live without that extra five dollars. Either way, I'm still going to have to transfer money back into the checking, but still. And yes, I'm thankful I have the money in the savings to move back.

At least I'm laughing about it. TGIF indeed.

*one of the reasons I'm so OCD about it is that C & I have debit cards for this account and it's easier for me to check in daily to see if he filled his car with gas or stopped for a snack on the way home rather than hounding him for receipts or him panicking if he forgot to get one.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful #3

November 3: I'm thankful that I've never gone hungry (involuntarily).

I hope I never have to find out what that's like.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thankful #2

November 2: Today I am thankful for the ability to hold my tongue. (even if other people are laughing at this right now)

My boss. Passive aggressiveness. Acting like an idiot. Enough said.

Re: people laughing: usually I can't shut up, so I'm sure some might be surprised to see that I do have some self-control.

Being Thankful in November

One of my college friends posted on her Facebook that for the month of November, she's going to comment each day on what she's thankful for. I figured I'd do the same, but over here as well. Since I started late (ha, I'm never ready for anything), this post will be from yesterday, and tonight's will what I was thankful for today. Easy enough, right?

November 1: tonight I am grateful for power, warmth, and a nice evening with my hubs.

(OK so I used grateful instead of thankful, but whatever...)

I'm not going to be able to share why I'm thankful every day, because some things need no words. Just to give a few words to yesterday's post: many people in my state have been without power for days now, following our lovely freak autumn snow storm. We never lost power. The difference between losing power now vs. back during Hurricane Irene is that it's 30-40 degrees colder. If we had lost power this time, we would be using our wood stove and sleeping in that room, but we'd have no water. AT ALL. And I don't know if that cemetery pump up the street would work!

As for the nice evening--we both had crazy days yesterday and I ended up having to work late while C got home before me. So dinner kind of fell through and we had to resort to takeout. But we managed to enjoy each others company and just relax. And then, at 10:30 PM, I revamped what was supposed to have been last night's dinner into something in the crock pot, it cooked while we slept, and this morning, dinner was ready! Crisis averted...sorta.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Babies babies everywhere!

But not a one at this house...not yet.

I've heard of the phenomenon: you start thinking more and more about starting a family, and suddenly EVERYONE is pregnant! Or at least it feels that way. Of the blogs I follow, three ladies are pregnant. No, FOUR! And I don't follow that many. At work, we have one girl (she's my age, can I still call her girl?) who is on maternity leave and we've got two more moms to be in early 2012, as well as a guy whose wife is due any day now. On a message board I frequent, we have two little boys and one little girl born in 2011 and a few of the girls are thinking about TTC very soon.

And church, I guess we can say we are having a baby boom? TWO ladies are expecting--1 with number 7, the other with number 4. Another woman had her second a few months ago. This is unheard of, given we are a very small parish with not many young people, even if two of these ladies are part time parishioners since they come from a distance.

I can't say I have the fever, but I am thinking about it more. If you can't tell, this is the hardest thing for me, and C too, to just "let go and let God." I hate that, because with every other issue we've dealt with, it's been so easy (or, at least easIER) to give it over. Why is this so difficult? Is it because it's the most serious? Yes, marriage is serious and we believe it's forever, BUT one could get out of it if one really wanted to. Same with a job. I can quit or I can be laid off or get fired. I have no control over what my boss or the owners do to me. I can sell my house, the cars, anything, if I didn't want it any more.

Kids are yours until you die. (OK fine, you could give them up for adoption, but I'm not going there.) They cost money, true, but I think we will be able to manage if the health insurance doesn't kill us first, ha. Parenting isn't just about the material goods or taking a sick child to the doctor. They are important, but so are things like being a good example, being selfless, not being bogged down with other issues that distract you...being present in your childs' lives in a healthy way is vital to raising productive adults. To me, being a good parent is harder than making sure the material needs are met. It's scary to know that you are responsible for molding that little mind and soul. What if I'm a bad parent? What if I can't do it? What if my own issues pop up and are serious enough that they get in the way? Am I mature enough to handle this enormous task? These are serious questions, and they've scared me off from taking the next step, but they aren't the only issues at hand.

I feel horribly guilty for some of the things that I've written above, because, as Catholics, we must be open to life at all times. Who is really open at all times? We don't truly know, and honestly, I believe that is between a couple and God. Me writing what I have here could come
off as controversial, especially since I've just said that this has been the hardest thing for us. Me worrying about being a good parent is fairly rational fear, since last I checked, no one knows how to do it, and kids don't come with manuals; you just learn as you go. If I worry about money, is that a good enough reason not to start a family? If C doesn't have a secure job (or ANY job, as we have experienced twice now), is it prudent to wait? Some might tell me that we are wrong, and we just need to let it all go. Some might say that we are right, that only God knows what is going on in our hearts and minds. If my doctor tells me it is not a good idea to get pregnant just yet because of my health and that of a fetus developing, am I smart to listen to her, or silly for taking medical advice, because God knows MORE than my doctor? But didn't God give my doctor intelligence and knowledge? I know that people say things like babies come with blessings or a loaf of bread or something like that, but for me, it's hard to trust in something when an innocent life is involved. Like there not being enough money or one of us losing our jobs. Maybe that's only because we have experienced those things?

Is that funny? Weird? Crazy? That I care about my not even conceived children enough to want them to be born under the best circumstances possible? It's a little bit of all three, since nothing is perfect and any sort of control is really an illusion. It doesn't help that I've
battled anxiety for over 10 years, mostly regarding things out of my control. I guess I'm my own worst enemy.

So, what's it going to take? First things first. Me. How can I be really open to life if I'm not healthy enough to ensure a healthy (or even a live) baby? I don't have any diagnoses of what WILL happen or what WON'T happen, but it's not wise right now to even just see what happens. Let me spell it out: I need to lose about 100 pounds. Yes, that's a lot, and thankfully I have a large build so I carry it well, but that's not enough when the insides are affected more than we can see.

When I get closer to goal weight, hopefully signs of fertility will return, because that will make things much easier when discussing any issues with doctors. Right now, I got nuthin'. And, I can stop taking the many meds I'm currently on: not only because they aren't fetus-friendly, but if I'm thinner, certain health conditions should resolve themselves. Like high blood pressure.

I'm giving myself about a year to get my weight in check, then I'll have about 3-6 months of reducing or changing meds, getting an idea of what my cycles are like, a time where I'm not avoiding, but not actively seeking a conception either. Just letting my body do its thing. I'll be 33 in less than 18 months and time is ticking.

Sometimes I wish I was one of those girls who got married right out of college and pregnant on my honeymoon, because now I'd have a 7 or 8 year old and we wouldn't have gotten used to two incomes and be worried about if time is running out and all that. I'm sure there are women like I've just described who would have liked to been single for a few years, then get married, then have kids bit later, to get to work out of the house and do something different. The grass IS always greener. You know what's funny? It's only within the past few years have I really figured out who I am and what I want and that's not easy the older you are and the more responsibilities you have. Maybe if I didn't have all the life experiences I've had (and they are probably tame!), I wouldn't have figured myself out. That doesn't help with the biological clock though....

I'll get there though. I always do, even if it's not on everyone else's timeline.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two years (and an overall update)

Today (well, it was today [Wednesday] when I started this post, now it was yesterday) is the two year anniversary of our house closing. Wow. To use a cliche, time really does fly.

On the left side of my blog here, you can see what we've done over the past two years. Everyone who told us "home ownership is never-ending," you were right! I've always got a to-do list going and we are always thinking of the next season, the next project, etc. In fact, I just added a few more items to the "things we've done" list AND the "things to do" list after typing my previous sentence. Our garden has been ripped out and plowed down, but C is thinking about what to plant next year. I have bulbs to plant, BUT I noticed we have some mysterious holes around the house...almost like a little critter is looking for something. Do I want to give them free food if I plant the bulbs?

Some things will need professional help, other things we can do on our own. This house is starting to feel more and more like OURS, which is great. While I'm itchy to work on them, I still have to be prudent with my time, money and energy; what's smart to do when, what will need more money then we have on hand, that sort of thing. Thankfully, C is better with that sort of strategizing than I am!

Onto my update...

As you may have seen a few posts back, C went back to work! He is now working an hour from home, versus his old half hour commute, for the same money and same position. Honestly, it was NOT ideal, and actually, in a word, sucks, but he had no other options. For all the applications and networking he was doing this time around, he wasn't getting any bites. I never shared the story of how he landed this job. He didn't apply for it; they came looking for him. Following the hurricane (I first typed earthquake, I have NO idea why!), a guy who he'd worked with briefly at his old job (he filled in for C's old boss for a time) called. He had an opening at HIS facility and was wondering if C was interested. There was a lot of back and forth, especially as he wasn't an internal candidate but not really an external one, and everyone wanted to make sure the hiring process was on the up and up, but he started three weeks ago, and already things are changing!

Not only does C drive an hour each way, he has a weird schedule. M 8-4, T 12-8, W 9-5, R 12-8, F 9-5. This also isn't fun, since C can't get on a good sleep schedule, we can't get on track with other things, it's just not good. But we've dealt with it because, you need to work. One night last week, I was cooking dinner (yes, I reluctantly resumed this task, even though C is sooooo much better at it!) on one of the late nights, and I thought "it would be lovely if he could just find a job closer to home." It wasn't a prayer, at least to me, but someone heard me. The next day, C emailed me with news that there was a possibility of him getting a transfer to a facility in the closest city. Only a 20 minute drive!!!!!

The catch: a new schedule. The time was fixed, 8-4 every day, but it would be Sunday-Thursday. This had been a possibility with another
job awhile ago, but C wasn't offered the job. We'd talked with our priest back then, who told us that we needed to do what was best for our
family. The great thing about being Catholic, you can go to church on Saturday nights, and while our church doesn't have a Saturday liturgy, our sister parish does, which is the same distance from our house as the other church! So we knew we had a way to deal with the religious aspect of our life, even though it wasn't perfect. We've grown to love this parish and to feel at home. I know we will be missed, and we feel crappy for not being able to make it work. We will pop in for holy days as well as if C's schedule should change.

If C were to stay at the far away job, we were looking at buying a third car that was better on gas, since his current car isn't great on gas, but is paid off. I wasn't happy about that idea, especially since the company wasn't budging on more money for him. Why should we have to work harder to make this work? Now we won't have to buy anything, and will be saving money with less gas being used. He'll also be home sooner and won't be as tired when he gets home. We will also be able to get more of a routine down, which will be much better for me, as I thrive with structure. Our "new" church, which is actually the parish C grew up in, is close by to his grandmother's house. She's in her early 80s and is just starting to slow down; seeing her at liturgy each Saturday, and being able to stop over afterwards to help her with something is an added bonus. It's not only good for the family in this house, but the extended family. C will work at his current locale until 11/16, then he's taking an unpaid vacation for hunting season, and will start at the new place the Monday after Thanksgiving.

I have more to update on, but this was/is the biggest news and I figured I owed my few followers the story about what happened!

Something I don't get (food)

(If you're friends with me on Facebook, yes, this is my current status, so no, you're not seeing things)
What's awkward: when you're heating up your lunch and someone compliments you on it, then you say something like "thanks! leftovers from the other night" but that's not the end of it. Then they share what they had for dinner last night, which was something like fast food or sandwiches. I never understand this; are they trying to make me feel sorry for them? I've had this happen repeatedly, from different people. It was nothing elaborate* either--a chicken leg quarter (drumstick & thigh), sweet potato, and asparagus.
Why the need to comment on my food (or about yours) besides "that looks great" or "what are you having?" I didn't ask what you had. I don't know how to reply to your statement. Should I say "sorry" or "you can cook like this too?" Or just nod and smile?

One other thing: yes, I eat healthy MOST of the time. There's no need to proclaim that loudly in the kitchen or at the lunch table. I know I'm overweight, but guess what? I still like to try to eat healthy. I don't get why it's always so amazing to other people that some people like fruits and vegetables for lunch. I'm always thinking "okayyyy???"

*not elaborate to ME, I understand that some people out there are daunted by the oven! :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Favorite things

Hey, Oprah has/had(?) a list, why not me!?

1. Cardigans. I love them, year-round. Perfect with almost everything, and essential when you work in an office with strange climate control.

2. Flats. I cannot do heels for long stretches. Plus, I'm rather tall (5'7") and C is only an inch or two taller than me.

3. Broth. I know, it's got loads of sodium in it, but I can't drink coffee all day (milk + sugar = unnecessary calories) and tea gets old after awhile. But a bouillon packet in hot water is a warm, delicious treat.

4. Lined post-its. Genius invention.

5. Crusty bread. (Note to self: pick up a loaf on the way home to go with dinner tonight.)

6. Order and schedules. Now that C is back to work, things are slowly back on track in that department. I owe a post about what's going on these days, how we're coping, our plans for the future now, etc. As we say in publishing, TK.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

So thankful

C got a job. He starts Monday, and will be actually going back to the company he'd previously worked for until May, when he was laid off. While we're happy, I'm not jumping up and down just yet. Longer post later, but I wanted to keep things over here as up-to-date as possible.

For those of you who prayed, thank you. Knowing that we had supporters on the spiritual side of things was awesome.

For those of you who checked in with me, thank you. Your friendship and care helped me through some dark days.

For those of you who just sent lots of good thoughts, thank you. I think positive energy can move across the miles.

For those of you who blew off my concerns and worries, I will pray for you, to learn sensitivity when people are going through rough times.

For those of you were mean to me or unsupportive, I am sorry that you lack kindness.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Good news?

I might have some good news to share with all of you, very soon.

Details to follow, but please keep us in your prayers. ;-)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Laid Off Spouse Part 5: What about money?

I used to worry a lot about money, sometimes unnecessarily so.* Which is ridiculous, given that I didn't have much need to worry, especially when I was first out on my own, and working my first job. I wasn't one paycheck away from homelessness. I didn't have debt collectors knocking down my door.

It's just how I am. When C got laid off the first time, I worried more than usual, which seems to be the reaction most people have when someone is laid off and income is lost. When he found a job, I worried a bit less...but not much. (We did buy a house soon after he started his new job, which might or might not have been a good idea, but it's worked out and we can't go back even if it didn't.)

During this lay off, I often think, "Come what may!" Why? You might be wondering how we're surviving, especially as new homeowners and going down to one income. No, I'm not paid THAT well, haha. Here are some truths that have made me feel better.

We're holding our own. Our current weekly/monthly income is taking care of our needs. Notice I said NEEDS. Not WANTS. That's important to point out. There are lots of things we want to do, but cannot. Vacation and home improvements are big on our list.

We have savings. The goal has always been, even when we were both working, NOT to dip into it because we want something random. It's always been for emergencies. Which came in handy during this layoff, as I went to get an oil change a few months ago and left with the diagnosis of needing new tires that week. I didn't enjoy moving $700 from the savings to the checking, but on the other hand, I enjoyed it MORE than handing over the credit card and paying it off slowly, with interest added in.

We have no debt beside our mortgage. Part of it is luck or circumstance, and part of it is common sense.

Luck/circumstance--we both graduated with zero student or personal loans. Our grandparents were very generous to either pay for school outright (C) or with monetary gifts while growing up which were invested appropriately (me). I will toot my own horn for a second and let you all know that I also had a scholarship for all four years that, in the end, equaled the full bill for freshman year. So we were responsible only for three years. My mother also returned to full-time work when I was a senior in high school.

Common sense--we don't spend more than we have. And we hardly use credit cards. If we do charge anything, it's because it's easier to put it on a credit card and pay it off when the bill comes in (like a large purchase) or when we're ordering something. I know not everyone has this ability, but we do and since we've seen so many people jeopardize themselves or get tied up in debt, we made a promise NEVER to do this.

Part of it comes from my upbringing. I grew up in a house very similar to how C & I live now, where "you never spend more than you make." You go without if you don't have it, or figure a way to do it cheaper. So while my mom's salary went to my college, which was a bummer for my parents, she was putting money into a retirement fund and was the benefits holder for our family, too. And, they weren't putting themselves (or me!) into debt so that I could further my education. My mom going back to work was a good thing, financially, for my parents. When we had health insurance through my dad (self-employed), it cost my family a LOT of money, especially since my mother has a benign brain tumor (aka, pre-existing condition) and has been living with it for years, with very few side effects. She just needs to take a daily medication to keep it from growing.

Side note: I really don't understand how people who make more than me and live in a cheaper area can have running credit card balances. It's like they have no self-control when it comes to saying no to things--be it shopping, gadgets, trips, etc. Yes, I would like those things too, but I don't like bills. Maybe they look at me and wonder why I'm overweight--is it a lack of self-control with something else? Then again, maybe if I had more of a social life, I would then need to spend more to "do" more, if that makes sense? I guess not having a happening social life is saving me money? Haha.

Anyway, back to where I was.

You're probably wondering, "Okay, so you don't have consumer debt, and you're holding your own, but you're down one paycheck. When both of you were working, you must have been either crazily spending with cash or have been really socking away the money! What's going on?"

Good question. To be honest, I don't know. I've combed through our spending spreadsheets and I don't see much change. The obvious things are that C's car isn't taking as much gas anymore since his mileage has reduced to almost zero, and piggy-backed with that, there's lower maintenance costs. But his gas and maintenance weren't almost his entire paycheck! His work clothes weren't dry cleaned, and he rarely bought lunch.

It could be the little things. But then again, I'm not really pinching pennies here. I'm not saying "no" to an afternoon Starbucks run with coworkers or not buying shoes when I need them. I think it might be that C's lay off came when we had reached the sweet spot of home ownership. We had already bought a lot of bigger ticket items. We had work done on the house that we needed to--either hired someone or did the work ourselves. I can't see anywhere else that our spending has changed. It's strange, especially when you think about how gas and food prices have both increased.

During moments of clarity and optimism, I think "wow, maybe this layoff happened to teach us that we CAN make it on one income, that it WILL be possible for me to stay at home when we have kids." Of course, that all depends on job stability for C, which is a joke these days for everyone. I wouldn't mind working part time, if necessary, but I feel that lately, I've been ignoring my inner voice, that I'm being called to stay home. Obviously I can't respond to that calling right now, as it would be selfish and irresponsible, but at least I know what I want to do. While I might be slightly unhappy because I'm working and am getting very little satisfaction from what I do all day, at least I know WHAT will make me happy. Even if I have to "play house" at night and on weekends.

So, what about money? What about it, indeed. That is not my biggest worry anymore. Stay tuned, the next installment will cover what I am worried about.

*And to be honest with everyone, I still do, from time to time. I blame it on my genes. Not only did I inherit blue eyes from my dad's side, I also got their obsessively conservative nature about money!

A recipe post: Roasted Tomato Sauce

I don't share many here, probably since I hardly ever cook. I am blessed with a husband who enjoys cooking, and, as a bonus, is fabulous in the kitchen. I've preferred to take a back seat, performing more sous chef duties or scullery maid chores. C says that I'm lazy about cooking, but to me, it's not so much that I don't CARE about food...it's just that there are other things more important to me rather than spending hours in the kitchen!

We had a ton of fresh tomatoes that needed to be used up. The inspiration for this sauce came to me a few weeks ago. At that time, we were making a Rick Bayless sauce which we then froze for later (will be great over some enchiladas or huevos rancheros!). While we were making it, I commented on how much it looked like pasta sauce. C replied that there was a sauce recipe out there, with a similar method, and that I needed to watch a video first. Then we could make the sauce.

It look me a few days? weeks? to watch the video. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure. The guy is a genius--C found him months ago and has been eating up (ha!) his ideas.

After viewing, I knew I could make the sauce--it was that easy. So last night, while C was hunting, I noticed that the tomatoes we had picked during the week were starting to look scary. I didn't want them to go to waste.

Now, due to poor planning on my part, I had to deviate from the recipe. I'll share with you what I did as well as the REAL recipe. Guess who didn't have any onions in the house??? I don't know HOW that happened. And we didn't have any fresh oregano, but...we don't often have it, so whatever.

Here's Chef John's recipe, in case you didn't want to watch the video or did and forgot to write it down:


1/4 cup good olive oil
28-oz can San Marzano plum tomatoes, regular or packed with basil

1/2 onion, sliced

6 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

2-3 springs fresh oregano

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups cold water

  1. Preheat oven to 425*
  2. In casserole dish, pour in olive oil.
  3. Cut up tomatoes and onions. Peel and crush garlic.
  4. Add tomatoes to dish, then onion, followed by garlic, red chili, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix.
  5. Roast, uncovered, for 1 hour.
  6. Take out, stir, and put back in oven for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Pour contents into saucepan, add water.
  8. Mash up vegetables.
  9. Simmer (to reduce liquid) and season to taste.

My Version:


Enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the casserole dish
3 pounds of raw tomatoes (I used mostly 4th of July and some heirloom)

14.5 oz can tomato sauce

1 head garlic (to make up for the missing onion)

red chili flakes



onion powder (to make up for the missing onion)

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups cold water

PLEASE NOTE: I didn't really measure much here, so bear with me :-)


  1. Preheat oven to 425*
  2. In casserole dish, pour in olive oil. I used enough to coat the bottom. The point is, you don't want anything to stick.
  3. Cut up tomatoes—not too small, mostly in half. Peel and crush garlic. It was at this point where I decided it would be a GREAT idea to use the entire head, you know, to compensate for no onion. More on this, later.
  4. Add tomatoes to dish, followed by garlic, red chili, and oregano. I just sprinkled the last two over the tomatoes until it looked "good." Because that's a measurement!
  5. I added about 1/3 of the canned sauce on top, since Chef John's canned tomatoes had sauce.
  6. Roast, uncovered, for 1 hour. I don't know how long it was in there when I realized I never set the timer. Oops. Probably 20 minutes. The tomatoes on top and around the sides might get a little blackened, but that's OK.
  7. Take out, stir, and put back in oven for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Pour vegetables into saucepan, add water.
  9. Mash up vegetables.
  10. Simmer and season to taste.
I was at step 9 when I realized that just salt and pepper were not going to make this anything great. I then added:
  • onion powder. By the time I was done, I ended up using a lot. Maybe 1/2 cup?
  • dried basil. Probably a tablespoon, maybe two?
  • more salt and pepper
Stir, taste, add. Stir, taste, add. This went on for awhile, also because the sauce was too thin for my eye, so I needed to reduce it. Oooh, I made a REDUCTION; that's some fancy restaurant language for you. I did add the remainder of the can of sauce at some point, just because I didn't want to waste it. The need for reducing could have been because I used fresh tomatoes, versus Chef John using canned.

My husband's reaction tonight when I heated it up for dinner, serving it over penne and some grilled chicken sausage??? "A plus, excellent job. I don't think I could have done this better." Which is a HUUUUUUGE compliment coming from him. He's so good, he's often a harsh critic on other peoples' cooking.

Some of you might be wondering how long this took. It's no thirty minute meal, that's for sure. Obviously the prep, then roasting of the tomatoes will take you about an hour and a half, if not longer, then the reduction of the sauce will take you time. I started this sauce before I made dinner on Saturday night, and finished it well after we were done eating. So it's a good thing to make if you're going to be sitting around the house for a bit. I'll guesstimate 3 hours, tops?

It made about 5 cups of sauce--enough for us to have two generous helpings for tonight's dinner, AND I have enough for Monday and Tuesday lunch! I love when that happens.