Sunday, January 31, 2010

lunch a la carte

People make fun of the way Mrs. Roy takes lunch to work.  One friend told me that she just loved to see me open my lunch bag and see how many little containers I would pull out each day.  And yes, I use up all the little condiment packages that seem to accumulate at home and work.  Yes, I use plastic utensils, which I put back in my lunchbox and wash when I get home.  Yes, I use divided plates and create my own "Lean Cuisine" from last night's dinner.  Yes, I even have square boxes so that I don't have to use plastic wrap to keep my sandwiches fresh. 

The lunch stuff started years and years ago.  It actually began with my kids wanting to take their lunches to school.  That's back when people were becoming aware of waste in all new ways and all these little containers started showing up on the market.  The trick was getting my kids to bring home the containers while leaving the trash at school.  It was also a lot cheaper for me to buy family size chips, etc., and put a serving in a plastic container for them instead of individual packaging.  Now that it's just me, I sometimes buy the individual packaging and try to recycle what I can.  Mrs. Roy may be crazy but I'm not a maniac!

Anyway, after the kids started taking their lunches, I started taking my lunch more often and I found that it was better to assemble some things at lunchtime than in the morning - to keep stuff from getting soggy.  It also helped me be able to pack lunches the night before, ie. the leftovers from dinner.  If I just pack my lunch as I'm cleaning up the kitchen, sometimes there aren't any other leftovers to deal with.  

I have also found it simple to put soup or other things that freeze well directly into their lunch containers and then into the freezer.  When I want to take it for lunch, I just take it out of the freezer and into the fridge the night before, into my lunchbag in the morning and it's pretty much thawed and ready to heat up by lunchtime.

So call me weird but I have really good lunches when other folks are eating stuff that isn't good for them and these containers paid for themselves years ago.  Plus I know I'm not creating trash.  Plus I know I'm making people think about their lunches because they make fun of me which tells me I've made them uncomfortable on some level.  I sleep fine at night, thank you, so laugh all you want.

This is another area of my life where my commitment to God, conservation and our family's economics have all merged into one.  God wants me to be a good steward and taking my lunch is one way I can do that - I am being good to the planet and good to my checkbook and good to my body all at the same time.  

Nowadays I read about people being concerned about using plastics for food storage and they suggest we start over and get metal or glass.  I'm not jumping on that bandwagon.  I think that's a bridge too far. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mrs. Roy the Sandwich

Mom’s coming to live with us.  That’s a good thing.  We’ve got some new demo going on getting ready for her. 

Being a part of the sandwich generation has its struggles.  We have parents who aren’t really young anymore and sometimes we question their decisions but when do you cross that line and try to interfere with their right to live their life their way?  That’s one reason I’m so thankful Mom wants to come live with us.  It makes it easier for me to take care of her and be sure she’s safe and secure.  Mr. Roy’s dad lives far away and we are having some issues because of that. 

There was a trend the past couple of generations for elderly folks to move to retirement homes or assisted living centers or anywhere except their child’s home.  Mr. Roy’s dad says it isn’t good to have more than one family under the same roof - but I think we are one family.  The Bible tells us we should honor our parents and I believe that is a lifetime commitment.  Jesus scolded the Pharisees for their custom of korban, in which they would give money to the church instead of taking care of their parents.  Jesus said that wasn’t right. 

I love the idea of having our parents living with us - think the Waltons.  I grew up with my great-grandparents living with my grandparents on both sides of my family.  Maybe that’s why this move seems so natural to me.  Besides that, my Mom is just a fun date!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Doing Things Differently

I got home from work this afternoon and realized my neighbor, who has a very green thumb, had trimmed back his rose bushes and crepe myrtles.  So I, not having a green thumb AT ALL, immediately got my pruning clippers and went to work on my rose bushes and crepe myrtles.  I may not be a very good gardner but I am smart enough to copy those who are.  So there I was, in my dress shoes, hose and skirt, pruning away when my other neighbor pulled into her driveway.  She got out of her car laughing at me for pruning in my high heels.  Said she wished she had a camera.  I explained myself but she still went inside chuckling.  And so it goes in the life of Mrs. Roy.

I don't really mean to do things differently than other folks; it just somehow turns out that way.  At least I know it is not a midlife crisis sort of thing; I found a book last night that a friend had given me in 1996.  Inside, she wrote:  "You are better at being "who you are" than almost anyone I've ever known and I love you for it!  I just couldn't resist getting this little book for you - hope it lightens your day."  The book is "How to Be Who You Are" by Rita Sherman. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Stop Spending Time

Mr. Roy is off on a business trip – so that means it is stop spending time.  I like to see how little money I can spend when I am home alone.  It isn’t really fair or possible to do this experiment when Mr. Roy is home; he isn’t an extravagant spender and I don’t want to be a scrooge.  But when I am alone – it’s time for the fun to begin!  I’ll be eating out of the supplies on hand and only making emergency food purchases – right now that means milk.  I also need dishwasher detergent so I guess that means I’ll be washing dishes by hand for the next two weeks.  Because of our schedule at work, I’ll probably be having to buy some lunches out instead of brown-bagging it but I can’t really change that.

God has blessed me with enough in the bank to buy groceries if I want them but I enjoy testing myself.  I also know there are a lot of people out there living on a lot less than me who don't have the luxury of pulling out the debit card if push comes to shove.  It's good for me to remind myself of that - and here's the clincher - I've never, never gone hungry or ended up with an empty pantry in all the years I've been doing this.  That means I have way more to be thankful for than a lot of folks. 

Years ago I read a Jeanette Oke book about a young girl who goes to rural Canada to be a missionary/teacher.  The community supports her mostly by giving her eggs - one thing farm women usually have plenty of.  The problem is that everyone gives her eggs and nothing else, not even a little money, but she doesn't want to complain and appear ungrateful so the people don't realize what they are doing.  She eats the eggs in every imaginable way until she just wants to cry rather than eat another egg.  Finally, the people realize what has happened and get a little more organized about sharing their bounty with her.  When I go into stop-spending mode, I always think of that girl eating eggs and not having enough money even to buy a little flour or oil to make them more palatable.  Mostly I remember that she tried her best to be thankful for the eggs even when she hated them because they were a blessing to her.  I want to be like that.

So, stop spending time, here I come!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I had one of those ah-ha moments years ago when my young cousin’s hairdryer quit working.  She took it out on the porch to my grandpa, who looked it over, took out the screw holding it together, cleaned the coils and the exhaust screen, put it back together  - and it worked!  I was ready to trash it and go to Wal-Mart for a cheap replacement.  It never crossed my mind that you could actually repair a hairdryer! 

That was about twenty years ago and I’ve been looking at things differently since that day.  I’ll never forget my grandpa looking at that hairdryer and figuring out how to make it work.  It never crossed his mind to throw it away.  My first instinct was his last response. 

So how old is my hairdryer, you ask?  Well let me put it to you this way – does Vidal Sassoon even exist anymore?

How old is your hairdryer?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Home Improvement

Mr. Roy and I (mostly Mr. Roy) just finished redoing our laundry room.  Picture old vinyl flooring, shutters on the window and open shelving on the walls.  U-G-L-Y!  New ceramic tile on the floor, new lighting, new paint on the walls, new curtains, new cabinets and it's a thing of beauty.  Mr. Roy and I seem to be in perpetual fix-it-up mode; Lowe's is our favorite place to browse and dream.

But the real home improvement around our house came a few years ago when the Lord got hold of Mr. Roy and brought him closer.  It is magnificent to know I am serving the Lord beside my husband.  I sometimes am moved to tears with joy sitting in church beside my husband instead of with my friends whose husbands also stay at home on Sunday.  I love to pray with Mr. Roy, coming before the Lord's throne in unity as God intended.  And while Mr. Roy and I are in perpetual fix-it-up mode in this aspect of our lives, too, that's okay because we are doing it together.

Life is good.  Thank you, Lord.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Girl Scout Cookies

One thing Mrs. Roy does her own way is to buy cheap!  I've sort of gotten past the buy cheap even if it's cheap stuff stage of my life - mostly because I have more stuff than I know what to do with.  However, it's hard to pass up a bona fide bargain and these cookies are a perfect example.  Dollar General Store has a line of cookies that are replicas of Girl Scout Cookies - and they only cost $1.85 a box!  These taste exactly like Samoas.  My daughter has tried the Thin Mint version and says they are wonderful!

Maybe if I ration these out, I won't have to go to Goodwill and buy bigger jeans!  Yes, I am weak and sad.

I haven't been hit up by any girl scouts yet this year but my sister says they have a special program this year where you can buy bundles of cookies to send to the troops.  I'll have to hunt up a girl scout so I can take part in that!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What I Read

What I Read

Homelife magazine
Guideposts magazine
Decision magazine
Mother Earth News
Country Woman magazine

Right now I’m reading “Winter Birds” by Jamie Langston Turner.  All of her books are good.  I am also reading “The Hole in Our Gospel” by Rich Stearnes, the US CEO of World Vision.  I have Glenn Beck’s “Common Sense” waiting on the shelf.  I want to read “One Second After”.

I read “Our Daily Bread” every day and I have a devotional called the Miracles of Jesus, a compilation of writings based on Jesus’ miracles, that I read daily also.  Both have scripture as part of the reading.   

I read a couple of blogs regularly:

Some of my favorite links:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Might of the Mite

Saving isn't sexy.  I learned a long, long time ago that saving is kind of like brushing your teeth - it just needs to be done consistently.  I started out literally saving change, then moved up to having $10 taken out of my check and put in a savings account in a credit union in another state (so it was a pain to get to and could not be accessed for instant gratification) and now a chunk of my paycheck goes to savings (thank you, Lord).  The little bits add up when you just let them do their thing.  And you don't really miss that little bit each pay period but it sure comes in handy when an emergency hits.

The rule of thumb most Christian financial people use is 10% to tithe, 10% to saving and 80% to live on.  I can tell you from experience that is a good beginning distribution but if you are already struggling from paycheck to paycheck, that seems impossible.  So do 5%, 5% and 90%.  Just start saving something.  My grandma always said you better have some money saved for a rainy day because it IS going to rain. 

As my savings have gotten more significant, I've been able to categorize my savings - making sure I have the money for the semi-annual car insurance payment, the deductible on our health insurance, car repairs, Christmas gifts, etc.  I have an excel spreadsheet to keep track of all of it.  By breaking it down into categories, I trick myself into believing I don't have much money available.  And my bills get paid on time without any stress. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

the nut doesn't fall far from the tree

Here's a picture of my son's new bed.  He bought the frame today for $40 and his roommate had the mattress and box springs which he traded for the one my son had been sleeping on (full vs queen).  I love a bargain and my son has certainly inherited that trait.  Not only is this bed going to be really comfortable when he crawls in it tonight, he's going to go to sleep with a smile on his face knowing that he got a nice bed for a low price and that he left all the new stuff sitting in the store for someone else to waste their money on.  I'm proud of you, son!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

getting started

You won't find me on Facebook or any of those other social networks because I don't like them.  I think they get people in trouble by making them feel anonymous.  This blogging thing might do the same thing; I guess we will see.  I've heard that a good blog has lots of pictures so we'll see about that, too.  Maybe I'm too private for a blog.

One of the things I do my way that other people (i.e. my children) think is sort of out there is to keep track of our electricity usage on an excel spreadsheet.  I've been at it for four years now.  I can tell you how much we paid each month and what our usage of kilowatt hours was.  I'm concerned about that for lots of reasons - 1.  we all need to use less electricity because it adds pollution; 2. we all need to use less electricity because it's expensive and I'd rather spend my money on other stuff; 3. we all need to use less electricity because we need to break our dependence on things that might not always be around; 4. God made us stewards of this earth and we need to be stewarding better; 5. we all need to be less wasteful.

I've found that a lot of things I am concerned about have two common elements - 1. I like to save money wherever I can so I can retire when I want to and live how I want to and so I can bless others as the Lord leads and  2. God made me a steward of everything around me and I need to recognize that (i.e. ecology, recycling, energy savings, etc.).  The electric bill is a good example of how those two elements dovetail.  Right now there is a fire in our fireplace insert that is warming my house instead of the electric heat, burning wood from a tree that fell in our yard.  Bless Mr. Roy's heart for all the chainsaw work he put in last year to get that big stack of wood in the backyard! 

I also don't do a lot of shopping for shopping sake, I love finding bargains at the second-hand store and I recycle as much as possible.  Speaking of recycling, I've been doing it for over 20 years now; I got to thinking about that the other day and realized that's a bunch of paper, plastic and aluminum that's been diverted.  Our community just started a single stream recycling program that lets us recycle more than ever before and I'm so glad.  I know the recycling people aren't making much money right now but those markets will come back around.  I just hope our local governments don't try to pinch pennies in the wrong direction and cut back on the recycling programs.

Have any of you heard of the Compact?  A group of people out in California started it a few years ago, trying not to buy anything new for a whole year.  Lots of people have picked up the challenge since then.  It's good to at least think about all the new things we buy and how we might be better off finding a used whatever.

And finally, how does God expect me to use the blessings He has given me?  Not just money but time and talents, too.  Have you ever considered that God wants you to tithe 10% of your money, 10% of your time and 10% of your talent?  How does that translate in  your life?  The money part is simple math and the time is also.  The talent part may take a little thinking. 

These are the things I think about and try to incorporate into my life.  We'll talk about it more as we go along, I guess.