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I read recently that people dream of being rich, only to find that once they attain whatever level of wealth they envision, they learn that they indeed have no time to enjoy those things they expected money to bring them.

I say, “give me the money, and I’ll let you know.”

Seriously. Send me the money. It’s Christmas after all. Don’t you have any spirit of giving? I’m standing here with open arms, ready to receive I tell ya. I’ll surely send you a thank you card. You can count on it.

You see, I have a lot of wishes. Mostly for having my own team of elves to do all the dirty work. Clean the house, bake the goodies, do the shopping, buy the presents. (I’ll wrap. I like that part.)

Weather-wise. Not  so bad. We may get a 1-3 inch little storm come Friday, but the temps, until Saturday are in the high 20’s (remember when 60 was cold?).  We are (not actually we, but we in the sense that marriage makes us a team, so what the Contrarian does, I get credit for) stacking up wood in these nice days. (Stacking up means cut down dead trees, wrap a chain around them, drag them to the splitter, chump them up, roll them to the splitter, sit down, split, throw, and then throw again, and then stack on the cart that comes in the house! Phew.) Just talking about it is really tiring!

I’m cooking hearty meals to sustain all that work. I made sugar cookies yesterday. I have truffles to make tomorrow, and nut clusters on Friday. Then comes the ham and all the goodies for Saturday. So I’m doing my part. I mean we, we are doing our part.

I so hope you aren’t in a place in America where the snow is 15 feet, or the rain has been falling for days. I hope it’s not too cold, too hot, or too anything. Lot’s of folks are really hurting now, sleeping in airports and stranded in shelters. Houses are knee-deep in water, or buried under snow. Lot’s of folks probably won’t make it home for Christmas. It’s a sad ending to a sad (mostly) year.

But we hope in the future don’t we. So maybe January might be better. Maybe 2011 will be better, and people will get jobs, and save their homes, and have a little extra to enjoy a few things. You know, not jets and ski lodges, and diamonds, but maybe a trip to the lake for a weekend, or a patio set to sit and enjoy the yard. A second car, used of course. We hope anyway.

Amen.

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Go over to Ree Drummond’s blog (Pioneer Woman) and leave a comment and get in the running for 3 KitchenAid mixers she is giving away. You have until Noon Thursday, Pacific time.

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Picture this: me doing the happy dance. I, after long years of suffering, have been proven right once again. (I figure in an infinite universe I’m likely to be right on everything given enough time.)

Okay, I used to say with great sincerity, that the collective IQ of a jury was below that of the lowest member of it.) Meaning, that the average jury is incredibly stupid and makes its decision often on the most bizzaro ideas (most of which they glean from TV shows like Perry Mason).

Well, a new study from MIT suggests that group IQ has little to do with the IQ’s of its respective members. It doesn’t even follow the smartest person in the group. It’s an independent factor.

I think they suggest that having brainiacs is less important that group think on problems, implying I guess that groups collectively equal one awfully smart person, but heck, I think I’m still right in my initial theory, and I’m suspicious that MIT has somehow picked up on my “research” of many years past. Which means, I’ll be searching their research for mention of my name, and expect my share of the Nobel prize next year.

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I just realized that its been a couple of months now since I employed my new “monthly menu planning” scheme. First evaluation is that it’s working pretty good. I start with my “menus” page here and then count the Fridays and Sundays off, since those are leftover days. Then I choose menus until I’ve filled up the other days.

Then I create a full menu for each item. In other words, with the choice “Pork Chops” I would then add, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, salad. I print this off, and create regular calendar, adding the main choice for each day. These are both posted on the fridge.

From the full menu, I create the shopping list, first from a “monthly” list of almost always need items (including cleaning and pharmaceuticals), and a separate list for specifics for the meals. So I take two lists to the grocery store.  I shop for all non-perishables for the month, including meat, which I freeze, and two weeks worth of fresh veggies.

I also have by menu, listed all the ingredients,  for each  menu item: Pizza would entail yeast, flour, pepperoni, tomato sauce, etc. These are put in a folder. That will eventually be finished, and it’s a good way to not forget the “mushrooms” or “red onion” that is essential to a dish.

So far things have gone really well. We eat up our leftovers much better, and I don’t have a lot of fresh vegetables dying in the fridge from lack of use. We’ve not thrown out lettuce for instance in the last two months. Amazingly, I have used up celery each month so far too.

I allow for changes of course due to unforeseen circumstances. I think I’m spending less and managing our food much better as well as eating more balanced meals.  And I don’t have to rack my brain trying to think of something to make. It’s already decided!

Do you have tips for how to manage the food in your budget?

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What’s on the stove: skillet mac and beef, salad, rolls.

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