Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Mr. Roy and I were sitting in front of a bank of pay phones in the Atlanta airport recently. We had just had a discussion about whether or not those phones ever got used anymore when a man came up to the phones and read the instructions, then turned and asked if we had a quarter he could borrow to make a phone call. I, sadly, shook my head and told him I didn’t have any change, which was a lie and I knew it. Mr. Roy, however, immediately bent down and started digging in his briefcase for change but could only come up with a couple of foreign coins. So then he offered to let the man use his cell phone to make the call! By this time, Mrs. Roy was totally ashamed of myself and knew it was time to fess up. I reached in my backpack and gave the man a quarter, and he was so grateful. He made his call and left but his memory has stayed with me. All Mrs. Roy can say is that if I ever find myself in a strange place needing the kindness of a stranger, I hope I run into someone like Mr. Roy and not someone like me.

Jesus says we should love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul and all our minds and our neighbor as ourselves. Mrs. Roy failed at that and I’m going to do better.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Food Stamp Challenge Update Six

We are coming to the end of the Food Stamp Challenge and Mrs. Roy has to admit it's been more difficult than I thought.  We are down to $5 to get us through Wednesday evening.  We have enough stock to  get us through but I have a pretty extensive grocery list, a lot of it staples like olive oil and Goya and milk and bread.  Mr. Roy drank the last of the milk last night so most of our remaining $5 will go toward a gallon of milk today. 

We made spaghetti sauce last night using some italian sausage we knew we didn't really like (Mrs. Roy had bought two packages on sale and we cooked the other package with some cabbage and onion but didn't really care for it).  It was much better in the sauce.  Without the Food Stamp Challenge, it might have languished in the freezer so thank you, Katy. 

Life is good.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


You may not have noticed, but my Swagbucks total just went from 450 to zero a few minutes ago.  That's because a $5 gift card to Amazon.com costs 450 swagbucks and so I bought (another) one.  I had grand plans to save my Swagbucks gift cards and buy Christmas presents or something with them but so far they have been funding my never-ending thirst for used reading material.  I can live with that.  Free gift cards, used books that I can then resell or pass along;  life is good. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Mrs. Roy's kind neighbor brought us a bag of corn yesterday, which Mrs. Roy shucked and cut off the cob tonight.  Tomorrow night some of it will be in a cast iron skillet with some butter and sugar and the rest will be in the freezer for some future delights.  Want some corn?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

cookbook giveaways

The good folks at livingonadime.com are giving away some of their cookbooks this week.  Check it out for your chance to win.  This is a great cookbook! 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Food Stamp Challenge Update 5

Mrs. Roy stopped by Sam's and bought a few things a couple of days ago.  Then our son came home for Father's Day and brought two hungry friends so Mrs. Roy made a quick trip through the Winn-Dixie.  Here's how it went:

baked lay's (30 lunch size bags) - $10.88
18 eggs - 1.38
regular coffee - 6.98
decaf coffee - 9.57
splenda - 11.87
8 cans tuna - 8.88
3 bottles ketchup - 5.78
20 skinny cow ice cream sandwiches - 9.88

2 boxes of cereal - $5 (bogof)
mini marshmallows (to combine with the cereal for rice crispy treats) - 1.29

Then Mr. Roy forgot about the food stamp challenge and stopped at Winn-Dixie and picked up a few things - ground beef, texas toast and milk, spending $17.58

The bottom line is we have about $10 left to get us through the rest of the month.  Obviously, if we really were on food stamps, Mrs. Roy wouldn't have bought skinny cows or the rice crispy treat stuff or stocked up on ketchup and Mr. Roy wouldn't have stopped and just picked up whatever we wanted that day.  I don't know if we'll be able to make the $10 last until the end of the month but Mrs. Roy has learned it isn't as easy as it sounds and I'm enjoying the mental exercise and reading about the other folks doing the Challenge so it's all good. And just for the record, I'm not blaming Mr. Roy for anything; the poor man does have to put up with all my wacky ideas up close and personal.  He's a jewel; trust me.  (Katy over at the Non-Consumer Advocate had pretty much the same thing to say about her husband which made me smile and nod in agreement.)

The good news is that our neighbor came to the door this weekend with a bag of squash, a green pepper and a huge tomato from his garden.  Thank you, Lord, for good neighbors.  Mrs. Roy offered to give my son and his friends some of the squash and one of the friends told me, "We wouldn't even know what to do with fresh produce."  Mrs. Roy thought that was an interesting commentary on how these young folks are eating and spending their food dollar, especially in light of our Challenge.  Mrs. Roy and Mr. Roy may have to open a cooking school for upwardly mobile 20-somethings to teach them about what real food looks like but that discussion is for another post.

Also, we finished off the potatoes and squash Mrs. Roy bought at the farmer's market by cutting them into small chunks and roasting them with some onion and olive oil.  Yummy!  And no waste.

Finally, Mrs. Roy has a confession - we ordered pizza Saturday night (Mr. Roy said it was for Father's Day - knowing Mrs. Roy would refuse him nothing).  We got in the car a few minutes later and headed to the pizza parlor about a mile from our house.  As we approached, we noticed that the traffic lights weren't working and, sure enough, when we got to the drive up window, they confirmed they had no electricity, it had gone out just minutes after we placed our order, and our pizza was a gooey mess of warm dough and half melted toppings stuck somewhere on the conveyor belt inside their oven.  So Mr. Roy and I returned home, opened the freezer and pantry and prepared ourselves an alternate meal with items already bought and paid for.  Yes, we were weak and sad about maintaining the Food Stamp Challenge but the Good Lord took care of it for us and helped us stay on track.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Mr. Roy was very happy to receive this nifty license plate photo album for Father's Day.  It was custom made for Mr. Roy by Laura Tagliatela through her online shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/tagliatela.  Mrs. Roy heartily recommends Laura; she was so nice and did a great job and kept me posted on the progress of my order and the turn around time was really fast.  I feel like I have a new friend up in CT now.  Thanks, Laura!  Please take the time to check out Laura's shop and buy something.  Tell her Mrs. Roy sent you.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Mrs. Roy stopped at a new consignment store the other day and made off with a whole new wardrobe!  Two dresses and three tops - all for $60.  Mrs. Roy is still smiling about it.

Mrs. Roy has been shopping in consignment stores for nearly twenty years and loving the bargains.  Then, a few years ago, Mrs. Roy and her sister read about The Compact, a group of folks out in California who decided not to buy anything new for an entire year.  We decided to try to incorporate that theory into our lives - which is sometimes easier to do than other times.  Buying used fits in well with most of Mrs. Roy's guiding principles - buying used means less packaging and no energy to produce a new product so it's good for our environment and buying used costs less which helps me be a good steward of what God has given me.

Life is good.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


It and

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mrs. Roy heard a preacher a few years ago who told us to FIDO - Forget It and Drive On.  As a Christian, I believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that if we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, all our sins are washed away, separated from us as far as the east is from the west.

So it is Biblical to FIDO.  If God has already forgiven my sins, it can only be the devil himself who wants me to keep being hurt by my memories of them.  God has so many blessings waiting for me; Mrs. Roy is not going to let my past keep me from living the abundant life God has promised.

You, too, can have an abundant life and be freed from your past so that you can FIDO.  If you would like to know more about God's promises, just send me a message in the comments below.  

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Others Who Have Walked This Way Before

Mrs. Roy came across a previous post today that references a food challenge taken by some folks last year.  Since we are halfway through our Food Stamp Challenge, Mrs. Roy thought you might like to hear from someone who has walked this way before.  I was surprised to read her perception of the challenge; it was very similar to what Mrs. Roy has gleaned so far from our challenge.

stop spending time report to go to my previous post

Eat on $30 to go directly to the Knoxville News Sentinel article

By the way, Mrs. Roy had fried squash, boiled potatoes and refrigerator pickles for supper tonight - all bounty from my trip to the farmer's market late last week.  I'll be having some watermelon for dessert in just a few minutes.  Mrs. Roy hasn't bought any food since the last update so I still have $101.20 left for the month.  That comes out to 6.75 per day for the rest of the month.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Big Ben

Mrs. Roy's alarm clock is a Big Ben.  It is my small effort to use less electricity.  Mrs. Roy has to wind it every day to keep it working.  Big Ben does not plug in nor does it have batteries.  Big Ben is a wonderful thing.

Big Ben does not glow in the dark with an eerie green or red glow.  The little hands do glow for a while after you turn out the lights but it is very unobtrusive.  Mrs. Roy has found that it really is not necessary to know what time it is in the middle of the night most of the time and, if it is necessary, I just turn on the light.

Big Ben makes a big racket when the alarm goes off.  It has a wonderful metal bell and clacker that beat together to make a really loud noise but just for a few seconds then it stops.  Mrs. Roy doesn't have to hit the snooze button because there is not one.  Amazingly, Mrs. Roy rarely oversleeps now that I know there is not going to be a second alarm.  Big Ben expects me to be a grown-up about getting up and starting my day.

Big Ben is also a blessing to Mrs. Roy because I have some hearing loss that makes it difficult to hear the electronic beeps and tweets of electric clocks.  Big Ben's metal bell rings loud and clear!

If we look at our busy lives, we can all find ways to make small changes that use less electricity or less gas or less natural resources.  Do you really need an electric toothbrush or an electric blanket?  Would an old-fashioned razor work as well as your electric razor?  Can you chop those veggies yourself instead of using a food processor?  Isn't there some way to get the wrinkles out of your clothes rather than tossing them in the dryer for a few minutes?  If we all made just a couple of little changes, the world would be a nicer place for us now and for Mrs. Roy's grandchildren and their children when they grow up.

As mentioned earlier, Mrs. Roy has to wind Big Ben every evening.  While some people may think this is just one more thing to keep up with in an already busy day, there is something very satisfying about the ritual of winding a clock daily.  It gives me that Little House on the Prairie feeling; it's a small piece of self-sufficiency in a hectic, tech-driven world.  It helps Mrs. Roy slow down and remember how things used to be - and could be still, if only we remembered how.

Life is good.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Food Stamp Challenge Update Three

Well, Mrs. Roy hit the farmer's market a couple of days ago and got some great food at a low price (13.50) - and I had to stop at Save-A-Lot on the way home from work yesterday and pick up milk (2.69), peanut butter (2.49) and garlic salt (1.39). Here's what I got at the farmer's market:

Watermelon - $5.99
20 bell peppers @ 10 for $1
5 cucumbers @ 10 for $1
2 tomatoes - .89 per pound
5 yellow squash – 3 lb for $1
1 Vidalia onion - .89

The bell peppers were an exceptional deal - they had packaged them in bags of 10 for $1 because they each had a bad spot on them or were starting to get too old.  Mr. Roy cut them all up and we put 4 gallon bags of chopped peppers in the freezer.  That will keep us for a long time.  Mrs. Roy will be making refrigerator pickles with some of the cucumbers today, one of the squash got sauteed with some onion last night for dinner.  Mrs. Roy asked the lady at the farmer's market for a "sweet" watermelon and this one is wonderful!  We've already eaten nearly half of it.

Remaining food stamp funds for the rest of the month - $101.20.  That's 5.62 per day for the next 18 days.

This morning, Mrs. Roy asked herself why she was doing this whole exercise.  Mrs. Roy can't really say it will make me more sympathetic because I deal with folks who call themselves indigent at my job.  I don't recall anyone only getting $101 per person; it's usually closer to double that amount or more.  And 99.9% of those folks have cellphones, wear lots of nice jewelry, are chronically unemployed (as in NEVER had a job) and live with an older family member who pays all the other household expenses.  There's a lot of abuse of our social welfare system in this country.

Mrs. Roy is continuing this challenge because I started it and I'm going to see it through.  It is good for Mrs. Roy to have to stop and think before running up to the Winn-Dixie for this or that.  We are eating well and eating plenty with what we had on hand and what we are purchasing.  Mr. Roy is an exceptional cook and he's taught Mrs. Roy a trick or two so I don't think we'll have any trouble staying within this budget but I don't think we will have proven anything by doing it. 

You might want to visit Katy over at The Non-Consumer Advocate - she's having some interesting discussions about food waste and habit shopping and being judgmental of other folks' food purchases.  http://thenonconsumeradvocate.com/june-food-stamp-challenge/

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Food Stamp Challenge Update Two

Mr. Roy made an unscheduled run to the Winn Dixie a couple of days ago but he saved his receipt so we can publish it.  Here it is:

2 boxes elbow macaroni - 1.25 each
Ketchup - 1.99 - the real reason for the unscheduled visit to Winn Dixie; we HAVE to have ketchup
butter - 2.50
canned tuna - 2.50
rice cakes - 2.59
salad dressing mix - 4.99
2 lemons - 1.33
milk - 3.39
2 bags of spring mix lettuce - 3.79 - bogof
red cabbage - 1.90
bananas - 2.17
green pepper - .67

total 31.23 - remaining food stamp money for June - 121.47, which comes out to 5.78 per day for the rest of the month.  I'm hoping this will even out as I don't think we'll be going back to the store for at least a few days.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Food Stamp Challenge Update One

Mrs. Roy just got back from the grocery store since we had to have a few things - like bread and butter.  Mrs. Roy also needed some zipper storage bags which is something I usually buy and lump into my "grocery" budget.  Since we are working the Food Stamp Challenge, I need to have separate money for the things that real food stamps would not pay for.  So Mrs. Roy is wondering - when I say I can feed our family well on about $300 a month (it's just me and Mr. Roy), is that really a false number?  I don't buy a lot of non-food items but there is usually something we need - aluminum foil, etc.  Mrs. Roy even includes cleaning supplies and laundry detergent in her normal food budget so how much do we actually spend on food?  Hmmmm.

By the way, it is Mrs. Roy's experience that the best way not to spend money at the grocery store is not to go to the grocery store.  Mrs. Roy has found the key to living on any budget, food stamps or otherwise, is to only buy what you need.  Perhaps you have more willpower than Mrs. Roy but I can always find something to buy if I go in a store.  So if you want to save money, stay home.

Here's what I bought today.  
2 bags frozen french fries - store brand 2.99 each
1 box Wheat Thins - on sale for 2.49 plus I used a $1.00 coupon = $1.49
jar of pimento - 2.49
tub of margarine - $2.50
paprika - $1.49 - always buy spices in the international foods aisle = much cheaper
Coffee - 5.99 - on sale
Ground Beef - 13.14 - this was a big pack that had a used by date of today so I got $1.47 off
Wyler's Beef stew starter - 1.99 - in the clearance buggy
Sourdough bread from the bakery - 2.99 - okay, I splurged; I love it
Kraft American singles - 2.99
2 packages of Sandwich rolls - 2.99 - bogof
2 loaves sandwich bread - 1.00 each
bananas - .61
1 roma tomato - .48

total food purchases with tax = 49.30

I also bought 14.86 worth of non-food items which I would normally include in my food budget.

remaining food stamp money for June = 152.70 which comes out to $6.36 per day for the rest of the month (down from $6.73 per day before I went shopping).  However, I did get an extra loaf of bread and an extra package of sandwich rolls that went in the freezer.  We also put six large burger patties in the freezer after preparing some for our dinner tonight so that is at least two more meals.  I think we are doing okay so far.

Mrs. Roy's Homemade Freezer Waffles

Mrs. Roy has been busy this morning making waffles for breakfast - and for the freezer.  I learned a long time ago that my waffles freeze just fine and fit in the toaster and are better than the store-bought frozen waffles.  So when I want to have some waffles for breakfast, I just whip up a batch of batter and cook it all; then I don't have to do that again for a while.  This process is so easy and so cheap that it gets the double gnome seal of approval!

The recipe for these waffles comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, "Not Just Beans" by Tawra Kellam.  She has changed the name of the cookbook and now sells it as "Dining On A Dime" but it's the same recipes.  These are real basic recipes that use ingredients you have on hand and it contains things you really eat.  http://www.livingonadime.com/ is the link to her website.  I recommend both the website and her cookbook.  Here's the waffle recipe:

2 eggs
2 cups flour (I use self-rising but if you use plain flour, add 4 tsp. baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil, margarine or butter, melted
1 2/3 cups milk

Heat waffle iron.  Beat eggs in a medium bowl until fluffy.  Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth.  Do not overmix.  Pour batter onto center of hot waffle iron.  Bake 5 minutes or until steaming stops.  Remove carefully.

As you can see, I put mine out on a baking rack and let them cool.  That way, both sides stay crisper.
I store my waffles in a zipper freezer bag and pull them out individually as needed.  I put them in the toaster just like the store-bought version.  And one batch of this recipe made all the waffles shown in the photo plus the two I ate.

Yes, making the waffles myself from scratch might take a few minutes but I save money, use ingredients I have on hand and I avoid all the preservatives and packaging associated with store-bought frozen waffles.  It's just another example of Mrs. Roy's way of doing things.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ballerina by Universal Refrigerator Jars

Mr. Roy and I were cleaning out some of Mr. Roy’s mom’s stuff last week and came across these pretty bowls. The smaller one has a lid and there is a smaller lid that is missing the bowl. I looked online and found out these are called refrigerator jars and they are semi-valuable. The large bowl, without the lid, is worth about $45 and the smaller bowl with the lid is worth about $30. I was hoping to find a lid for the big bowl and a small bowl for the extra lid, but no such luck. I’ll keep looking.

These bowls are pre-plastic which makes them interesting to me. The lids have a rim on the top so that you could stack the bowls in the refrigerator. The lids don’t have the air-tight seal we are used to with our modern storage bowls. The bottom says they are guaranteed ovenproof, which I assume means you could put your leftovers straight into the oven and warm them up, which might not be as quick as a microwave but is probably just as convenient.  I have all these really cool images in my mind of a refrigerator with these pretty china bowls stacked with leftovers and not a zip lock bag in sight. What a wonderful world!

I’m going to enjoy using these refrigerator bowls. I’m not sure they will ever hold leftovers in the refrigerator but I intend to put them to use. I’ve thought about using them in the bathroom to hold bath beads or cotton balls or talc powder. Last week, we used them to hold the Splenda and Equal and the fast food salt, pepper and catsup. The extra lid may become a coaster or a candle holder. One thing is for sure; I’ll be smiling as I use them!

Life is good.

p.s.  If anyone out there has the missing lid or small bowl and would like to sell them, please let me know.