I had some dreams ... they were klowns in my koffee.

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

This is my journey through job transition from a toxic environment to a better life. Join me for a few thoughts and a few laughs along the way.
What are "klowns in my koffee"? They are the factors large and small that make you less than you are. A "klown" can be a grossly incompetent boss,
a short-sighted policy or a moronic coworker. They won't kill you, at least not immediately, but they abrade the soul
as you scrape past them to get through the day. Sometimes it's best to dump them out of the cup.


Day 101 - Eat Like a King, Spend Like a Pauper

Daily Kup (What I Did On My Reality Vacation)
Spent a peaceful day gardening, writing, and going to the Farmer's Market. (And, yes, looked at job ads, networked, blah-blah-blah.) Attila the Son wants to learn Chinese more than he wants to weed the garden, so we have a new deal that he doesn't have to weed as long as he sits in the garden while I work and does some approved form of homework. If there is a suspiciously long bathroom break, I check whether the Xbox is warm. People often mistake him for being Chinese, though he is not, so perhaps he's simply tired of explaining it. In English.

Fresh Ground
There's something intoxicating about creating healthy and appealing meals very cheaply. In time, it becomes a game, something like the Sims ... but with vegetables. I've learned from others and from trial-and-error about simple tools that make this easy once you get in the practice.

1) Price book
2) What to use up (WTUU)
3) Grocery List
4) Coupon Box
5) Meal plan

The queen of hardcore frugality in the 1990's was Amy Dacyczyn aka "The Frugal Zealot" and publisher of The Tightwad Gazette. She had the last laugh since she retired after six years of selling the newsletter; she and her husband walked away with the financial resources to be debt free and live on his military pension, some rental income and the royalties from the newsletters compiled into book form. One of Amy's methods for food shopping success was to carry what she called a "price book."

She used a looseleaf notebook with a page for each food item type ("peanut butter", "whole wheat bread", etc.). Since she shopped four or five different stores, she noted the store, date, brand, size and price and then calculated a price per pound. With a few quick notes, she was able to build a tool to help herself identify a good deal when she saw it.

Yes, I know that there are cell phone apps that will help you do the same thing while shopping item by item, but that is way too much overhead for me. My aim in food shopping is to never let the cart wheels stop completely unless there's a body in the aisle. With a small spiral notebook with the 15 or 20 items we buy most often at 2 or 3 stores, that's as complicated as it needs to be. And you don't get taken by "deals" like when Target advertises 2 liter bottles of Diet Coke for 4 for $5 instead of the $1 each that it often is. Stores like Cub Foods that use unit pricing labels make the math easier in case converting from liters to gallons with a kid or two screaming (yours or someone else's) is not your thing.

I admit that sometimes I keep the price book in my head instead of writing it down like I should. I started working in my family's grocery store when I was seven so I got a lot of exposure to remembering prices, as well as learning that I never, ever wanted to work in a grocery store. In those days, prices were either stamped directly on the product in nasty purple ink or there was only a sign over the product and the cashier had to know all the prices. Yes, this was BBC -- Before Bar Codes. But I digress...

All this talk about work is making me tired. Tomorrow, I'll post my grocery list template and share one of the best weddings gifts that I've ever received -- the fantastic coupon box that I still have almost thirty years later (Thanks, Mom and Sister Jennifer!).

In the vein of the recent post that demonstrated how the words to the theme from Gilligan's Island could be sung to Stairway to Heaven, here's a little early Christmas on this melting summer evening. Sorry, Kurt ...

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