Thrifty Thursday: Not paying for convenience

I needed to take 2 dresses to the cleaners last week. We happen to have a dry cleaners within walking distance and, since it was a beautiful day, B and I went for a walk.

The dry cleaner hardly looked at the dresses I presented but spent longer than I felt was necessary clicking through his screen before printing me out a receipt. He is the owner and I assumed he knew where “dress” was in his system. If there were more detailed options on dresses to select, he didn’t know them about my dresses because he didn’t bother to look at them.

He handed me my receipt and we turned to go. As I walked out of the shop, I looked down at the receipt and was shocked to see $26.58. I don’t know how he came to that price, but it was more than I wanted to pay. I went back in and asked for my dresses back because I thought the price to clean them was too high. He handed them back without a word.

I had no idea what the going rate was. The hubs usually takes care of the dry cleaning. But I’ve heard rumors that women pay more than men for dry cleaning and I was willing to try some other place(s) out. We headed back home but, the weather was so nice, we decided to just walk around, instead. We had a lovely conversation so I don’t regret going to the cleaner. It cost me nothing!

When we got back home I remembered hearing a commercial about Zips Dry Cleaners. Went to their website, saw there was one in the next town over so we went.

The woman who waited on me was lovely. She asked if I’d been there before and, when I said no, she explained my options and set me up an account. By providing my email address, I receive a notification as soon as my clothes are ready. They clean right on site instead of shipping the cleaning elsewhere. I chose to get a key tag for quick pickup. If your total is under $10, they only accept cash; credit is accepted over $10. If you drop off by 9am you can pick up the same day after 5pm and they clean comforters for only $19.99.

Now, I could have paid $26.58 for the convenience of walking to the dry cleaners or the exterm elf short drive there. However, I chose a 10-mile round trip twice (once to drop off the dresses and once to go back and get them) because Zips charged me $4.58! I get 23 miles to the gallon in my car and had just gotten gas the day before for $1.79/gal. The drive on a beautiful day, with the windows down and great conversation with my son, might be less “convenient” than a closer cleaner or one who delivers, but it wasn’t inconvenient to travel a little farther and I saved $20.21!

I don’t like to pay for the convenience of having dinner delivered  to me, either. It costs more because of tipping (and those drivers deserve a good tip!) but more importantly, or takes longer and the food isn’t hot anymore. I’d rather drive 10 minutes each way to pick up a fresh, hot pizza and be eating it in 20-30 minutes than have a warm to cold pizza delivered in 45-75 minutes, depending on the time and day of the week. In this instance, getting it myself is not inconvenient, the waiting longer for delivery and tipping is.

My opinion about choosing pickup over delivery is because it fits in with my lifestyle: I have a car to go get it, great pizza close by, my son is old enough to leave at home while I get the pizza or, if I want him to come with me, it’s quite effortless to get him in the car. I have certainly taken advantage of delivery when we were without a working car, sick, exhausted from up all nights with a young child, bundling up a young child against the elements would have taken just as long as the delivery driver, etc. 😉

So, the next time you’re about to pay extra for an offered convenience, stop and ask yourself, “Is it really more convenient?”

Yes, we’ve allowed our 13yr old to watch rated-R movies and adult television shows for years, and here’s why.

I’m angry. Why?! BECAUSE OUR KIDS ARE GETTING HURT AND ARE DYING! They’re killing themselves, killing each other, getting pregnant, getting raped and overdosing on drugs and alcohol! Sheltering them from the bad, instead of showing it, and it’s consequences, will not save them.

After hearing about a bill in the Virginia Senate earlier this week, I decided to explain why we let B watch some rated-R movies. I’ve received looks and comments from parents who disagree, disapprove, or were just plain shocked into silence, but the horrified look on their face told me exactly how they felt. I get it. There are plenty of things other parents allow/disallow their children to do that I don’t agree with and you have a right to disagree with me, as well. However, we feel we have damn good reasons. And since I don’t feel the need to get into a debate, nor defend myself, to the person who just stares in horror at me, I do have a platform right here.

First, let’s start with what inspired me to write this post. There is a bill, already passed by the Virginia State Senate and now waiting to be voted upon in the House, requiring “…K-to-12 teachers to notify parents of classroom materials with “sexually explicit content.” Parents could then “opt out” their children and request that the teacher provide an alternative assignment.” You can read the details, and find out how this bill came to be, in this Washington Post article. That got me thinking, again, about how some parents disapprove that the hubs and I do not shelter our son and sensor what he’s exposed to as much as they do. Then I found out this week that the 14 yr old daughter of an acquaintance killed herself and a 17 yr old OD’d on heroin.

If our children are blessed to live long, healthy lives, we will only have them under our roof and under our influence for the first quarter of that time. Our job is to ensure our son has the education and tools to take care of and protect himself when he leaves home. One of my personal goals has always been to make sure B won’t become a college freshmen brain-damaged or dead from alcohol poisoning. My son will know his mother was raped, will know all the different  scenarios of rape and will be taught to intervene on behalf of ladies who are not giving, or cannot give, consent.  The storytelling in movies can be great tools for learning about life. If we waited until B was the legal age to watch rated-R movies, 17, we’d have less a year to utilize these particular tools.

We’d be fooling ourselves if we thought that by not allowing B to watch or read certain things, and only letting him visit the homes of friends who aren’t allow to watch or read certain things, that he would never be exposed to them. He’s bombarded by them all the time, in (phone/computer) and out (friends and strangers) of our house. I don’t want other kids “educating” our son based on something they saw, overhead, misinterpreted or made up to impress their friends.

Here’s a scenario that won’t happen in our home. B is forbidden to watch rated-R movies. While hanging with a friend, the friend tells B that last Saturday he couldn’t sleep, snuck down to the basement TV and watched a late-night, “soft-porn” show on cable. Or maybe this friend was searching the web for something harmless and a typo led him to something completely inappropriate and he told be, in detail, what he saw. Something that the friend described was confusing to B or he didn’t understand what a word meant, but he doesn’t want to look stupid to his friend, so he doesn’t ask questions. But he has questions. If he’s forbidden to see such things, and the friend hasn’t told his parents what he saw for a reason, what’s the likelihood that B’s going to come home and feel safe bringing his concerns to us? He doesn’t want to get in trouble. He doesn’t want me to tell his friend’s parents and get him in trouble, either. And he probably believes he’d get the standard answer of, “That’s not an appropriate discussion to have at your age.”

We talk, we discuss, we share real-life examples from our own experiences, we read biographies and we show him with TV and movies.

Movies are rated-R for several different reasons. Language – I’m a cusser. B has been raised hearing cuss words so they have no shock-and-awe value to him. I don’t take the Lord’s name in vain and neither does my son. But kids he hangs out with cuss. Kids your kid hangs out with cuss. And your and my kids cuss when they are not around us. My son knows what cuss and slang words mean and their context. He knows which ones are degrading and insults and are not to be used in joking conversations with friends nor talking about others. Now, do I wish my son didn’t cuss at all? Sure. But you need to know that your child is hearing and using bad language when he or she is not around you. Don’t you want your child educated on what those words actually mean? Don’t you think they’d be horrified to find out they or a friend was using a word casually to describe another person? It’s happened with my son. The difference is that my son feels safe and comfortable coming to his father and me to ask questions and ask for clarity. Does yours?

B knows how babies are made. However, we don’t show him movies that have people having sex in them. If we come upon a sex scene by surprise, we skip the scene. If B asks why, we calmly, nonchalantly tell him he doesn’t need to see that and continue on with the movie. We don’t freak out, turn off the TV, eject the DVD and get it back to the store ASAP. He’s involved in the storyline! We all want to know what happens next, how it ends. Skip the scene and move on and he’s so engrossed in the story and quickly forgets the skipped scene.

It’s easy to send the wrong message when labeling something “inappropriate” and I don’t want my child to feel he is inappropriate for thinking about/being curious about things. Sex is not inappropriate. God created our bodies to have sex, to receive pleasure from sex and to create life. My 13 yr old watching a couple having sex, or he himself having sex, is inappropriate. Alcohol is not inappropriate. Cooking with it and having a couple of drinks at the end of a hard day or with Christmas dinner is not inappropriate. A teenager getting drunk at a sleepover or an adult drinking and driving is inappropriate. Taking my prescription properly for a condition or disease is not inappropriate. My son taking my prescription and selling it on the playground, is. These are important distinctions that needs to be made to our children.

My son will not learn what he needs to know about alcohol if his only exposure to it is adults having a glass or two of wine with dinner. His first view of, or experience with, a drunk person or a party full of drunk people cannot be when he’s hundreds or thousands of miles away from us in college, because he won’t just run back to his dorm room, lock the door and call home or open his Bible. He needs to know what drunk looks like, acts like. And although there are movies that can scare him with the worse case scenarios, that still won’t empower him to deal with college. Why not start out with something a little lighter, a comedy movie about college, sororities, or fraternities. Just like we do with all movies we watch (because we’re homeschoolers) the remote would be in my hand to PAUSE the movie and ask him questions about what’s going on in this scene. What’s his take? How does he feel about it? Any characters acting how he would? Any characters acting how he would not? Why, or why not?  Lectures telling him alcohol is bad, illegal at his age, tastes terrible and will make him feel like shit the next day won’t mean a thing to him when he walks into a college party with underage drinkers who certainly look like their having a lot of fun.

And then there are the rated-R movies that are just plain enjoyable to watch and we’re OK with B watching them with us. The Wedding Ringer, Spy, The Heat, MI-5, Kingsmen, to name a few. Friends, family and complete strangers always compliment us on B’s behavior, maturity and inclusivity. He doesn’t go around cussing, making crude gestures nor hiding things from us. He has not been corrupted, ruined nor driven towards drugs, sex and alcohol merely by watching movies with his parents and having open, non-judgemental discussion about them.

The world is a big, scary place, people, if you aren’t completely informed about it. I was sheltered as a child and inexperienced & unprepared for college life. I was told and talked to about the bad things in this world. But I was never shown. The words used to describe the evils and pitfalls of this world were not enough to help me recognize them in person. Telling me what and who was bad did nothing to teach me what to do when I encountered them. I learned, the hard way, about the bad things that can go on at colleges and I suffered for years because of it.

My son will enter battle fully trained and fully armed. Will yours?

Because…pants. 

It’s been one of those weeks. We’ve been running hither and yon constantly. We haven’t been home long enough for me to make real meals until today. And when I tried to make breakfast this morning, I realized we had no food! Thank goodness the hubs forgot to take his leftovers from last night’s drive-thru dinner to work. However, the boy chose to go hungry rather than eat the cold, popcorn chicken. So I typed up a grocery list while eating the cold, popcorn chicken and dreaded going to the store.
“Don’t you want REAL food in your house,” you ask. “Don’t you want to be able to nourish your family with wholesome goodness so they have go-power and live long, healthy, prosperous lives?” Yes! Yes, I truly do!
But here’s the thing: it involves putting on pants. I don’t need every hair in place, flawless makeup nor stain-free clothes to leave the house, but I do need pants. And I’ve “panted” enough this week. I panted all over the DC Metro area this week: interacted with strangers while volunteering at a concession stand, having conversations with other basketball parents before, between and after games, matching the loud cheers of the other parents so well that I caused my own hearing aid to squeak and whistle and ensured the uniforms were washed daily so the teenager didn’t leave the house in stinky pants. I’ve even shamefully tried to convince my son to skip at least one, if not all three, of the 4-H activities he has this weekend, by telling him he’ll miss out on playing with his neighborhood friends, so I can stay home. So, TODAY, I need a break from panting. I just. Don’t. Want. To pant today. 
I went upstairs to shower and pant but put it off by visiting the boy in his room, instead. “You know what I’m in the mood for,” he asked. Please say staying home all weekend, I thought. “Pizza!” I didn’t explain to him that we are NOT going to get food out AGAIN, that we are going to the grocery store, because I knew couldn’t be convincing. I left his room and, instead of going into mine to pant up, I wandered back downstairs. 
I saw I had a missed call from the hubs so I called him back, if only to put off the inevitability of panting a little longer. 

 
Me: Sup?

The hubs: Back from grocery shopping?

Me: No. I’ve been busy. Going to get ready now. 

The hubs: Oh, good, I caught you! I’m in the mood for sushi!

Me: Ugh! The boy’s in the mood for pizza, but we need real food in the house!

The hubs: I’ll bring home sushi & pizza and then do the shopping tomorrow while you and the boy are at 4-H. 

And just like that, I got a “buy” (yup, I’m a sports mom, now). A buy that includes sushi. And I’m taking it. Because…pants. 

UPDATE: The boy just walked by with something crinkling in his hand. “What’s that,” I asked. “I found a cheese stick and ate it,” he replied. 

I burst into tears. “I’m sorry we don’t have any food but I just can’t pant today!”

He wrapped me in his arms and patted my back. “You don’t have to pant today, Mom. And it’s OK that we don’t have any food. You know why? Because we have ingredients and we’ll make food.”

Thrifty Thursday: FoodSaver

My FoodSaver

My parents gave me this TOTALLY AWESOME FoodSaver for Christmas!!!! It came from Costco and included reusable zipper-top bags and a roll of make-your-own bags (shown in the picture, above) as well as a small container for quickly infusing foods with marinades. They also bought me an extra box of bags & rolls, which I’ve broken into since I used up the roll that came with the FoodSaver already!

I wanted one of these for SO LONG, but truly worried how soon, or even if, I’d make back my investment in saving food. Do I really have that much food waste? Yes. Yes, I do. And I’m going to show you how I’ve prevented throwing bad food out and kept foods fresher longer in the 5 weeks since I started using it.

My husband is a hunter and we have the meat from 2 deer in our freezers. All the meat comes back from the processor, broken down into roasts, steaks, ground, etc., wrapped solely in butcher paper. That is not enough to protect it from freezer burn. And I have tried several different brands of zipper-top freezer bags and none of them have been able to protect my foods completely nor for any period of time more than a month or two. I have lost foods that I bought in bulk when they’ve gone on sale at stores because a freezer bag could not protect my foods. Look at this beautiful venison roast, completely sealed up with no air inside the plastic with it. I was thawing it in order make a delicious stew.

Photo Feb 17, 10 07 20 AM

Something really strange happens with lunch meat in my house. If I buy 1/4 lb or 1/2 lb of lunch meat at the store, it is devoured in 24 hours and the beasts howl and pound their chests until I go back and get more. If I buy 1 lb of lunch meat, it will sit in the fridge for weeks until it starts to smell! *sigh* I haven’t thrown out any lunch meat since I started using my FoodSaver and their zipper-top bags. I bought 5 different kinds of lunch meats and 3 kinds of cheeses and sealed them up in the bags. When someone opens the bag to get out lunch meat, I simply use my attachment to reseal the bag before putting it back in the fridge. Yes, I have to reseal after each times a bag is opened, but it’s better than throwing away bad meat I paid for and going to the store for more.

Photo Feb 17, 10 07 01 AM

I made a loaf of French bread in my bread machine last month and we only used half of it. Being homemade without preservatives, it won’t last long, so I sliced it up and sealed it in a bag that I custom cut from the roll. I also made a batch of pumpkin spice muffins for snacks. We ate half and I wanted to preserve the rest for another time. I know what you’re thinking: if the food saver sucks hard enough to remove all air out of a bag, won’t it crush your baked goods? Nope, because my FoodSaver came with a Pulse Vac option! I select Pulse Vac, slide the end of the bag in and then I use the Pulse Vac button to slowly remove the amount of air I want to. I can suck out most of the air, get the bag to a point where it’s hugging my baked goods but not crushing them, and then seal the bag. The next pix is of my first lot of sealing: chicken thighs I bought in bulk, the French bread and the muffins.

Photo Feb 17, 10 07 37 AM

Besides lunch meat, another item that is wasted a lot in this house are bagged snacks, such as chips and pretzels. Even on those rare occasions when my guys do close a bag up with a clip, it’s still not sealed and they will never taste as crisp and fresh as they did when the bag was first opened. My FoodSaver has solved this problem for me with the Pulse Vac option! I can suck as much air out of a chip bag and I want, starting and stopping to check how close the bag is coming to the chips, and then seal it up until we’re ready to eat chips again. We haven’t lost a single chip nor pretzel stick! You can see in the picture, below, that plenty of air has been removed from the chip bag, but there is still room around the chips. This Pulse Vac option alone is so worth pulling the FoodSaver out onto the counter to use (we have very little counter space, so I don’t leave it out all the time).

Photo Feb 11, 5 04 20 PM

And I’m still not done! This machine has 2 other things it can do to save money or add convenience. Remember that green & black attachment in the lunch meat picture, above? I pull that out and set it on a particular spot on the zipper-top bags to seal them. However, I can also pull the top off of it and, along with a reusable bottle stopper, reseal a bottle of wine! I don’t drink wine, but the hubs does. He won’t drink a whole bottle by himself and sometimes we’ll just open a bottle and use a little wine in a recipe. Yes, you can stick the cork back in and keep the wine in the fridge for another day or two, but the quality & taste of the wine suffers. My FoodSaver attachment will suck out the air and seal that bottle back up for when I’m ready to use the rest.

Photo Feb 17, 11 36 05 AM

I mentioned in the beginning of this post that my FoodSaver included a small container. You can store fragile items in it and seal them up, like my lunch meat in the picture below, or fresh berries that tend to start dissolving as soon as you bring them home from the store or farm. But you can also quickly marinate food in it! Were you looking forward to having a specific dish for dinner, only to come home in the evening and find you forgot to get your meat or veggies in the marinade before leaving the house in the morning? No problem! Put your marinade and food in one of FoodSaver’s containers, snap on the lid, pull out the attachment, place it directly on the gray oval in the lid and press the Marinate button on the FoodSaver. Once’s it’s sealed on there, you can let go of the attachment. It will cycle through a bunch of sucks and releases (for lack of a better description) for 10 minutes, infusing your marinade into your food.

Photo Feb 17, 11 44 17 AM

So there you have it: all the reasons I love my FoodSaver and am so glad my parents gave us one for Christmas! I am not associated with FoodSaver in anyway, nor did they ask me to review their product. I just like to share products I love. If you have been thinking of getting one, and you’re a Costco member, why not go for it? Costco has THE BEST return policy and you can just bring it back if you don’t like it or don’t use it enough. Part of me wishes we’d gotten one sooner, but I’m so glad we waited. These extra functions and accessories offered currently make my life easier and my wallet thicker.

Soft Hair, Clean Shower

 
I keep this guy, filled with Dawn Platinum dish detergent, in the over-the-shower-head organizer in our bathroom. I only need to wash my hair 2 days a week so, while my conditioner is doing its thing, I scrub the shower with this. 

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