Monday, July 21, 2008

Sooooo NOT Worth It. . .

Super Wal-Mart that is. . It's just not worth it. Having just gone on a horrific shopping excursion there, I remember now why I've repeatedly sworn off the place.

It's Monday, early afternoon and I embark on my big weekly shopping trip with children in tow. For starters, it perturbs me to no end that the pet and self care products are always on the opposite side of the store as the rest of the grocery products; is there a reason we can't put all of the grocery store items on the same side of this freakin' huge warehouse disaster?? Whatever. I planned for it today and intentionally started off on that side of the store planning to get those items first. Unfortunately, some of the items I thought would be in the baby care section were actually back up front with the self care section - thus began my 3 mile route known as WaMa Shopping. And if that's not annoying enough in itself to be traipsing back and forth between both extreme ends of the store, it's crowded; Wal-Mart is ALWAYS crowded. . and they're frequently not the nice shopper types (OK, I know I'm making a sweeping statement, but mixed in with the more pleasant folks, there's been enough rude ones - myself included- that I mark the whole of the WaMa group as crabby). It's as I begin my journey back to the beginning, that Kyla begins intermittenly exercising at top volume her annoyed crying abilities. Knowing it's not going to get any prettier than the present, I up the speed a little, but alas, it's to no avail; there's too many carts and slower people hobbling around.

By the time I make it back to the food section, I'm already worn out, and little Jimmy's acquired a clearance Lightning McQueen hat he'll be able to keep if he just has really good behavior (because Mommy just might have a public lapse of sanity if I have spend one extra microsecond in this accursed store for any reason whatsoever!). I hadn't yet made it down the first aisle when a strange looking man came walking slowly over talking to my daughter "Well, hello there" he murmured with an eerily happy smile. "Ahahaha" I chuckled as I tried to keep an eye on this character while at the same time picking out the right milk as quickly as possible. I didn't stop long or really have any comment for the man, but I figure as long as I smiled and looked sweet, he wouldn't be too offended at my scurrying away from him. As I looked back at the man a moment later I saw that his glasses were now actually cockeyed on his face rendering them completely useless to the man; I wondered if he really had any sort of vision impairment or if he just wore them because he thought they made him look smart. Heck, the man was probably mentally impaired in some fashion, and here I was treating him like a regular criminal. Still, I didn't feel too bad; I didn't have time; I needed to get out of this crazy place before I went AWOL.

After a lot of hunting and a few other less odd interactions, I'd finished my shopping. I made my way to a surprisingly short line at the front, and began the checkout process. All was going well until the cashier attempted to heave the 35 lb. container of Tidy Cat into the tray at the bottom of the cart. She just couldn't do it. I actually felt bad for her, figuring she was probably in her 50s or so having to do this sort of physical labor. "I'll get it; don't worry about it." I told her as she tried again and again without success to the lift cat sand onto the cart. It was when I went over to help her that I realized part of the problem was there was something slippery all over the bottom of the container. Eventually we got the cat sand loaded, and I was left with the problem of figuring out what was leaking. At this point, I really wasn't looking too hard; there was some screaming coming from my daughter, and I just wanted to leave - regardless.

I had forgotten about the strip search (may as well have been by then) procedure conducted by the employees at the exit. When I finally did find my receipt, the woman commented that two containers of cat cat sand were rung up but she only saw one. "Yep, looks like your being charged an extra $12. You'll have to go to customer service to get your money back." Muttering under my breath I made my way to customer service where beneath a happy facade, I considered how close I really was to being fully pushed over the edge. After pondering this for a while, I decided with my spare time in line I could try to find the leaky item. It was discovered to be the baby shampoo (located in the self care section as opposed to the baby care section). When it was finally my turn at the customer service counter, I was given my money back for the overcharged item, and was told I could go fetch my own baby soap and bring it back to the customer service counter whereby I would be given permission to leave.

At last, in the sweltering parking lot while lugging massive quantities of groceries into the van and sweating profusely, it hit me that this will *never* happen again. I will never make this mistake again. When the groceries were fully loaded, little Jimmy informed me that he had to pee "really badly!". There was no way we were re-entering the facility for any reason, and there didn't appear to be any private section of grass nearby, so I offered him a large solo cup. A few moments later I was returned a nearly full cup which was placed promptly in my cup holder. In the sweltering heat, I would've loved a cold Mountain Dew, but there in my cup holder was only a look alike warm Mountain Dew.

And thus concludes my shopping trip to WaMa. Upon arriving home and comparing receipts to Publix, I have found that with all of Publix's buy one get one sales, it's just as economical, if not more so, to go there. The decision has been made; goodbye forever WaMa, hello old friend, Publix.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Homemade Goodness

I've recently come to the conclusion that just about anything is better homemade. Not only is it usually cheaper but also oftentimes produces a higher quality end result; this is true not only of various home prepared foods, but also standard household items. Over the years I've gathered some sweet thrifty ideas from various friends and family members, so here, for your viewing eyes only, are some hush-hush homemade helpers:

  • Vinegar - A useful cleaning solution- chemical free and cheap. If you plan to use it for large areas just add a few drops of an essential oil to give your home an enjoyable odor (sweet orange, clove and sage are just a few). *idea from an old friend who cleaned houses for a living*
  • Freezer Soup - This stuff is awesome. Just gather the leftovers you can't bear the thought of eating again, and throw them in a baggy in the freezer. Strangely, the varied and odd assortment of foods you've had over the last few weeks when mingled together with some chicken broth and diced tomatoes usually turns out quite well. One tip to give some serious flavor to this recipe: add some bacon or ham; it'll be irresistible! *idea from Auntie Noel*
  • Baby Wipes - A simple way to save on baby wipes. Pick a sturdy paper towel (such as Bounty or Viva), and using a bread knife, cut into thirds (you'll want to do this over the sink as it does shred some); cut out the interior cardboard piece too. Place one section in a cylindrical plastic container (Rubbermaid #8 works well), and add a dash of baby soap (approximately 1 Tbs.) and a cup of water. Allow the mixture to stand for 20 minutes or so, and viola - baby wipes. (Pull wipes from center first where cardboard was removed) *idea from a dear friend who cares for 3 children in diapers!
  • Diapers - No I don't make my own diapers, but in an effort to conserve, diapers are limited to no more than 2 per day. . . NOT (to revive a favorite American phrase). No there's no conserving on the diapers, and I'd venture to say everyone with whom we come into contact with is happy about that one ;)
So if you should get a *wild hair*, give one of these ideas a try! Sure it takes time, but you may discover in the process the joy of conserving and creating.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


For the sake of providing *amusement* to my readers, I have a funny little conversation to share. Here goes:

Little Jimmy (staring in the door of the fridge): This says "project."
Me: What are you talking about?
LJ: This says "project." Can we do the project? PLLEEEAAASSE!
Me (finally seeing what he's pointing at): Honey, that's just a bottle of salad dressing; it's to put on food. It's really not to play with.
LJ: No, see right here (pointing clearly at the label)? It says "P-R-O-J-E-C-T." That means it's a project we can do, Mom.
Me: No, Jimmy, that says "Kraft;" it's a brand of salad dressing.
LJ: Ya, so can we do a craft?

OK, so I was pretty slow in figuring out his reasoning, but once I finally got there, I found it VERY amusing.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Ever had a song just stuck in your head? How about this one:
Click on track #9: Kotin'ka

Last night while cleaning up after dinner, I found myself meowing. Because the rest of the words are in another language, it sort of sounded like my own version of Indian with intermittent meowing.

I had purchased this lullaby cd used after Kyla's favorite cd started skipping. The first night my husband was putting Kyla to sleep and this song came on, he
actually thought one of our cats was trapped in her room; eventually he figured it out. I actually really like the cd on a whole; it's very different, though at times mildly neurotic.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Latest Fixation

Lately I've become quite the frugal mogul. I find it fun and also challenging to get the best deals conceivable while not sacrificing on quality. This latest hobby of mine encompasses not just grocery shopping, but general shopping, utilities, and even gas (I know, I'm really a very exciting person to be around).

Stinky once posted on her ridiculously low electric bill after scrimping and saving all month, and as of the last 2 - 3 weeks I've taken up her cross. Not only are all lights and fans off while not in use, but I've switched from using a clothes dryer to using a newly installed backyard clothesline. I'm hoping to see big payoffs on this one as it has already created some *issues*. For starters, the dog initially thought the clothes were hung there as toys for him to play with. Once that issue was resolved, my son thought they made a great sort of doorway shield (think of the hippie era beads that people used to hang in order to create a really groovy ambiance) to run through. And just a couple days ago while hanging out some clothes as my daughter toddled around, a nest of wasps become infuriated at her curiosity upon her opening the door of the outdoor electrical outlet and opted to attack her (having been stung 4 times, I'm VERY happy to report she has no allergy to them). Despite the immediate setbacks, I'm sticking with it at least until I complete my first full month and see what I've saved on my electric bill. And hey, with a little bit of liquid fabric softener things come out pretty well - though not as soft as using a dryer (which is why towels are still dried electrically) but good enough.

All trips in a vehicle are weighed. I plan outings so that any and all excursions within a 10 mile vicinity happen together. I'd love to switch to biking, but unfortunately we're a bit too far removed for that and also there are no sidewalks out here. I'd even consider using public transportation, but again, there isn't any where we're at.

As far as clothing and odds and ends, you'd be really surprised at the awesome deals I've found at the local Goodwill store. Perfect condition Anne Taylor and Izod shirts for $3.50 each?! New dress shoes for Jimmy that presently sell at Target for $12 were a low $4! But beware lest you try to steal something (I know that's something my readers regularly consider), there is some pretty tight security. While my kids marveled over the small toy area, Kyla dropped her paci out of her mouth. Horrified at the obvious germ factor, I quickly snatched it up before she could grab it and shoved it into my purse. A moment later an employee startled me when he rushed over to the area with walkie-talkie in tow. He didn't say anything, but he tried to look like he'd suddenly developed a bizarre interest in children's toys whilst keeping a discreet eye on myself and my children. Clearly the man had assumed I'd swiped some little toy up and popped it in my purse. I tried to look normal, but you know how it is when your trying to look normal, but feel like you look abnormal? - well, you just end up looking weird and conspicuous. Eventually I opted to head for the checkout, and while paying for my goods made a specific point to brazenly display the guts of my purse clearly for all security cameras to see while chattering away about Kyla's dirty paci which had fallen on the floor. Still, for the amount I saved, it was totally worth it.

If your looking for something specific try Craigslist. Our lovely new Ashley microfiber couch with chaise that fits perfectly was purchased here at a savings of at least $800. A little steam cleaning and this puppy looks brand new!

Need to clean out some old junk but don't want to toss it or waste gas dropping it off someplace, use Freecycle. There's not a whole lot that someone doesn't want or need who'd be willing to pick it up from your doorstep.

Competitive grocery shopping can be lots of fun too. I try to get the absolute best prices known to mankind, and then revel in my savings while studying the receipt. Mommysavers posts stores with sales in your area and also has coupons which you select to print.

OK, so maybe I'm rather simple, but this whole business of saving is pretty exhilarating to me. Now you know my dark and rather drab little secret.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Saga Continues

There seems to be no shortage of material for my "Locala" posts.

Sunday we were out and about and passed a sight we'd witnessed before but had assumed was a one time oddity. Now we know this is a more regular occurrence in our new hometown. What we witnessed was a man, several men really, and a woman or two, standing on the corner of a *busy* (I use that term very loosely) intersection with a megaphone in hand. They were declaring their religious beliefs (I hate to use the word "Christian" as it just struck me as stranger than anything I'd want myself to even be vaguely associated with) of the damnation of the world and all who didn't repent (I'm assuming that repenting in their mind would involve the innocent drivers within earshot turning away from their own normalacy toward the fanatical and cult like verbal demonstration of beliefs held by those possessing the megaphone). It really was quite odd. Put yourself in our shoes: you're stopped at a light with no place to go while a few madmen who are only a mere yard or two away shout angrily at you and other drivers held captive at the intersection; you try to ignore them, but at the same time, the spectacle is bizarrely captivating; you're forced to look, thus inciting the freaks to direct their hell and brimstone sermon at you specifically for several frightening seconds. Yes, there's nothing like the love of God being shared so vividly. . .

After bearing witness to the roadside sermonette, Jim recalled another great story along the same lines told by a coworker. His coworker was at another *busy* intersection recently where a different odd spiritual guru frequents. I've seen this guy there myself. He's got some sort of van covered with messages to the tune of: "Jesus is coming back, repent or go to hell," along with various scripture verses likely taken out of context and most definitely portrayed inaccurately (please folks, let's just let the Bible speak for itself. . there's no need to try to be a visual symbol of it. . you're falling vastly short of the mark and quite simply making a public mockery of yourselves. . I digress. .). Anyway, this man basically parks his van at the corner and holds up a sign with a similar message. I'm genuinely curious as to exactly how many persons seeing his message think to themselves, "Hey, that sounds right! I'm going to go talk to that scary looking guy about this right now!". According to Jim's coworker, it was a busy afternoon, and somehow a bit of honking started. I can see it quite easily: everyone is tired and crabby and sick of wasting gas sitting at stoplights, and then there's this man telling them where they're gonna go if they don't develop his same enlightened viewpoint. Well, needless to say, the honking spread; soon nearly all the cars at the light were honking at the man as people jeered with great annoyance at him. A few more bold individuals even began making fun of this odd duck. At that point the evangelist flipped the bird for an extended time period to convey a new message whilst verbally articulating the same message he was signing. Lovely. Just lovely.

You may wonder why there are so many religious fanatics out here trying to convert others. If you've read any of my other Locala posts, there should be little left to ponder. For such a small town, there's an abnormally high ratio of flagrant drug induced behavior, which brings me to my final Locala story. I was driving down the road today near the sight of several other bizarre observations, when I noticed an odd spectacle in the middle of the road. A white haired man, fully clothed with jeans and even a sweater, was pole dancing on a sign in the median. . . there I've said it. There's really no way to brace the reader for what's just been said, and that's about the way it hit me as I drove past the man who was flinging himself sensually around and up and down the "Construction Zone" sign; when I first caught sight of the man he was really giving quite a display of flexibility as he balanced on one leg while the other was stretched over his head resting on the sign. . . Wow. . .wow. .

Just another normal day here in Locala.