Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Eating on Food Stamps

The question that Chambanamoms posed was "could your family survive on food stamp budget" because Amy is taking the Feeding Illinois challenge. The rules are pretty simple. You $4.50 per person day for your grocery budget. A family of 4 would get $18 dollars a day or 126 for a week. You aren't allowed to eat out, and you aren't allowed to use food already in your house, unless you cost out the portion that you use from your budget.

I don't know about your grocery budget, but the reality for me is that I would really like to have a food stamp budget. For our family of 4, we budget $300 a month for groceries (if you did the math, the SNAP budget is $504 a month), $150 out of each check. Occasionally, I go over budget (which I realize isn't an option for food stamps) like my last trip when I hadn't been for over a month because of the move. And we also eat out occasionally, which, again, I realize isn't a reality for food stamp participants. However, included in our grocery budget is our paper goods and cleaning supplies, which wouldn't be included in a food stamp budget and the food for the kids' packed lunches for school. If we were really on food stamps, we would also be getting free or reduced lunch at school and the kids would eat what was on the menu so those things would be slashed from my budget.

I understand the point of the challenge. If you have a $200 a week grocery budget, it can be pretty eye opening to see how little food stamp participants get. But I don't. I have an even smaller budget and I manage to eat just fine. None of us are going hungry, we eat meat, we get fresh fruits and vegetables and I even buy convenience foods.

My question to you is where is the break down? This budget is livable and workable with very little effort. I shop at 2 stores, both within a block of each other, I don't clip coupons and we survive just fine. I even kept to my budget while doing Weight Watchers, were I only ate low fat, high fiber foods (which is another point of contention. Why is my bag of spinach $1.99 but a bag of Doritos is $.99?).

The change isn't more money being thrown at the program. Perhaps the program should come with some basic budget, shopping, and nutrition classes to help the participants get more for their money? I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that not only will I take the challenge, I live the challenge every day and have for years and have no problem living that way.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kitchen remodel

Part of the reason we wanted to buy this house was that there was nothing that HAD to be done to move in. There were, and still are, things we want to do but we didn't have to do anything to be able to live here. The kitchen was probably the ugliest part of the house but it still wasn't that bad.

Because the living room and kitchen are all one big space, we had J and K Painting go ahead and do the kitchen the same color as the living room, which is Latte. As it was going on, I kept thinking "This is ok", then it started to dry and looked almost chocolate and I didn't like I would be able to tolerate it. Once it dried completely, it was a nice medium brown color that really looks great with the white of the cabinets.

You can sort of see the sink in the above picture but what you can't see is that it was a beat up, white porcelain mess that didn't have a sprayer or a garbage disposal. The faucet was too low to be able to fill my tea pitcher with and it was a very shallow sink. I was able to put one bowl and one plate in the sink before it looked like it was overflowing.

Somewhere along the line, I got signed up for ReStore newsletter and I told RF I wanted to check it out a couple of weeks ago, while we were looking for a table. Worst case, they had nothing and we had wasted 20 minutes. While we were there, we saw that they had some pretty decent stainless steel sinks. We ended up picking one up for $15. We got it all apart this morning and I threw it in the bathtub and scrubbed it clean. It looks almost brand new! We had planned to use the hardware that was on the current sink because while it wasn't the latest, greatest, it was here and it didn't cost any extra money. While we were out getting a few things last night, I ran across a nice high neck faucet that came with a sprayer. It was in brushed nickel so it looks like it matches the sink pretty well.

RF and my FIL spent the morning getting it all installed

And installing my fancy new garbage disposal. We run into old school copper pipe so FIL recommended a better grind and one that was safe for septic systems. We got it and are just waiting for him to run power to it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My super fab table

Since I haven't really had a dining room in 7 years, I haven't had a dining room table, either. The table that RF and I had when we were first married is s small, cafe type table, with a glass top that I never thought would work well with kids. We've just used TV trays or lap desks on the floor and it has been fine. Since our new house has an eat in kitchen, we decided we needed an actual table to eat at. I have a friend that owns some property and she said to me one day "I had a tenant move out and leave a bunch of stuff behind and one of the things is a table, do you want it?" I said sure since free is free, even if it is junk.

We picked it up and the side rails (made of crappy pressboard, you can see the cracks in the first two pictures) were cracked at the screw holes and the top was a mess. The top was real wood though and I decided that I could give refinishing it a shot. I called my FIL and got his electric sanders and RF and I went to town on it. This picture is right after we started sanding for the first time

When RF was dragging it out the second day, he pulled one of the legs off because the press board was cracked under there too. He sent me to Menard's to get 2x4s and have them cut to fit the table. He attached them for me and we were ready to paint. This picture is after the final sanding.

After it was completely sanded, I had to wipe it all down with mineral spirits to get all the dust off and then I put on 3 coats of varnish to the top and sides (I felt like it could use another couple so it was all perfectly glass like and smooth, but 3 was really plenty). After that was all dry, we flipped it over on some towels and painted the legs and the new side rails white. This is the final picture. As soon as I get all the boxes out of my kitchen, it is ready to be used. Total cost of the table: $15. Total time investment:5 hours.

Now that I have figured out that it is oh so easy to refinish a table, I'm having RF take apart my OLD ugly dark wood end tables that my parents bought when I was about 3 and then gave to me when I moved out 10 years ago and I'm redoing them in a nice light color.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Wild Freak's room

This is a view of the door of WF's room before we painted it.

Do you know how hard it is to paint for a little boy, who isn't a preschooler but wants something cool in his room? They make a ton of stuff with Disney characters, etc but not a whole lot for the tween set. After much struggling, we settled on green for the walls.

In a few weeks, he gets to put up stickers like these and he has a cool orange floor light to go with it.

PS, this is a nicely done J&K room, instead of the sloppy painting we did in the pink and purple room. They did such a great job on painting. We managed to get the entire house done in a day with their help. If we had tried to do it ourselves, we might still be over there painting.

Final picture

A couple of days ago, I posted pictures of MF's room in the new house and the new wall we had to put in. We finally painted it last night and it is ready to be moved into. It is pink and purple and she will be putting up pink princess and castle wall stickers like these in a few weeks. If you look over the door, you can see a little bit of the pink that we did 2 walls in.