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Archive for October, 2017

Let the Frugality Begin

October 31st, 2017 at 09:28 pm

We really did enjoy our French girls, but I estimate we spent perhaps $500 extra in two weeks. Is that possible? First--the food. We were in charge of all three meals--an easy breakfast, packed lunches, and dinners. Admittedly my dinners were somewhat fancier than usual; after all they were guests. I skipped out occasional leftovers dinners, bought and made more desserts than usual, and wow--the baguettes. I brought the girls to the shops with me and while baguettes may be half a Euro or so in France, the $3 baguettes--often two a day--really added up. They made me laugh with their requests for "a bit of bread." The very nice artisan loaves we usually buy were rejected and they just wanted baguette. Then there were the tickets--Haunted Houses, China Lights, movies, bowling, trampoline park, wildlife center. I grouponed a few, but yikes. And pizzas. But it was really lovely getting to know them, their family stories, the talk of French schools, their views on everything. They live in a beautiful part of Provence, and I got the impression that one of the girls comes from some serious money. They have a beach house in St. Tropez, a boat on the Med, and lots of ski trips. Her father is a dentist. The other girl just shook her head and said, "We do not have a summer house or a boat." Though it was a lot of work, we were sad to see them go. They left us lovely notes, lots of little gifts, and big hugs with some parting tears.

So--tonight I clean out the fridge, make celeriac soup, boil down some chicken bones, and try to make up some time.

Let's Do an Ultra-Frugal Apres- French Week

October 30th, 2017 at 05:29 pm

My ravaged budget will need more than one week, but I'm starting with one. The groceries left over will help us through this week. More on the French soon--fun, but budget destroying. And sleep destroying.

Leftover soup for lunch. Leftover tacos for dinner.
List a few items for sale, and come up with a plan.

Be Back Soon

October 25th, 2017 at 03:22 am

I doubt I'll be back in SA-Land before my French Mlles are gone, and there will be plenty of budget damage to report. Two baguettes a day, lots extra entertainment expenses and two more mouths to feed is adding up. But we're still having fun though I'm MILES behind in everything from cleaning to grading. See you next Mardi--see how good I'm getting!

More Non-Frugal French Fun

October 23rd, 2017 at 02:56 am

Chalk up a trip to the Wildlife Center and lots more groceries towards our French fund. Today I took them to the shopping mall, and DD got a new pair of boots and a long cardigan. I think she's watching the French girls and their clothes. One of them says her favorite thing is fashion; the other says her favorite thing is desserts. They're starting to feel very relaxed here, but my baguette budget is going to have to be much larger than I anticipated. On October 30 we'll be on rice and beans, I think.

A Quiet Day?

October 20th, 2017 at 02:28 pm

We've had another fun day with the French. They shadowed my DD yesterday at school, and are starting--slowly--to get acclimated to the time change. Last night we went out for pizza and then to China Lights--a huge display at the Botanical Gardens. It was magnificent, and they really enjoyed it. One of my university students works there and she shared a link for discounted tickets which helped the budget a bit.

Today they're in Chicago for a tour, the Willis Tower, the boat trip, etc and won't be home until 10 tonight. My DD has the day off from school, but we're attending conferences and she's working on a stage set, so I'm hoping--hard--to get some laundry and grading done.

I picked up some meatloaf mix yesterday, so if I don't have to cook much, it would be grand. One of my French girls loves "le cookies!" and the other eats mostly bananas so far, and they struggle to get up in time for breakfast. This weekend we have a trip to a nature center planned and maybe some apple picking. Sunday looks rainy so it's a trip to the shopping mall which they are eagerly anticipating.

The French Invasion

October 19th, 2017 at 03:11 am

Our French students arrived last night and will be here for two weeks. I can already tell my purse strings will have to be loosened. We have lots of activities planned, and I'd like them to have a fun time. I will search out some coupons and groupons to help, but this doesn't seem to be the time to watch every penny.

We had a fun time last weekend in our mini-trip to Fargo. It was splendid to see my old aunts and uncle and celebrate my aunt's 100th birthday. Again, my terrific brother comes through. We stayed there--about 120 miles from Fargo and saved the cost of the hotel and dinners out. They fed us, housed us, and we brought some wine and small treats.

It's midterm at the university! Where did the semester go?

Soup Weather

October 11th, 2017 at 08:25 pm

We had more than an inch of rain overnight, and it's cold and blustery. I came home from school, googled a recipe for kale and potato soup, and found my inspiration with the Pioneer Woman Olive garden potato soup knockoff. Luckily i had Italian sausage in the freezer. I added a few leeks from last week's CSA box, and it looks delicious. I subbed fat-free evaporated milk for the cream to cut the fat.
Cleaning out the fridge is one goals for the week--mostly in preparation for the French girls' arrival on Tuesday. We had an info meeting last night, and I certainly hope we don't get the ones who smoke and drink! But before then, I need to get ready for our road trip to Fargo for my aunt's 100th birthday. It's been so busy at school, I haven't had a moment to think about anything. Eeek! Lots to do. I'd better get on it!

So Close

October 5th, 2017 at 02:08 am

I thought the brilliant new bathroom (aka the budget buster from hell) would be done today, and I could share pictures. But something funny happened today; at least I think it was funny still. I came home to the dumpster gone, the floor protection all rolled up, and the bill on the countertop. But no bathroom mirror. So I gave their office a call, the receptionist put me on hold for a loooooong time, and I finally got the master carpenter who assured me the mirror was coming on Friday. I honestly think they forgot to order the mirror. Everything else has been sitting in our living room for 7 weeks, and the carpenters sounded a little flustered.And the junior carpenter mistakenly drilled a hole in the tile today when he was hanging the shower curtain rod, so the crazy tile setters are coming back tomorrow. As much as I'm eager to get in there, the extra couple of days will, I hope, mean I can wait for the cash DH transferred from the UK to hit. A long day full of students and endless meetings, but I brought my lunch and only spent the requisite $2 on coffee.

We roasted a turkey breast on Sunday, have had two dinners from it, and lunches all week. Thankfully we have another in the freezer because semi-austerity is going to have to continue for a while. CSA veggies tomorrow will help too. In a effort to keep my big goal coming, I transferred $25 from Swagbucks and am adding on the trifling interest for September. Very eager to start paying myself back for the bathroom.