2 years ago today…

There must be something about the day after Christmas because 2 years ago today was the last time I posted anything on this blog. Here I am again, the day after Christmas, without an idea as to when the last time I posted was until I logged on. In short, I’M BACK!!!

I’m not going to pretend that I will pick up right where I left off because a LOT has changed in these past 2 years. For one, I’m married now, have a acquired a 3rd dog (I’ll have to tell you that story later), have moved back to Tacoma (which is something that I never thought in a million years that I thought I would do), graduated from USC and am now an MSW, a LICASW actually. I have a kid in high school now, too. Lots of changes.

Now that the holidays are mostly over, I find myself reflecting on what to do now. I am thinking about how I am going to clean up my diet after all of the cookies, pies, and other goodies these past couple of months. I am also thinking about how to clean up my finances because I don’t know about you all by I spent a lot of money on gifts this  year. I am grateful that we’ve been blessed with the ability to give nice gifts to the kids and our family members but still, it was a lot. Man, kids’ gifts get more expensive as they get older don’t they? On top of that, my grace period is ovnew year new me BSer and I have to start paying back my student loans (eek!).

Ok, now, please be advised that this is NOT a “new year, new me” manifesto. Those are annoying, no offense. I am making a promise to myself that I will do more of what I want to do from now on. What are those things? Well, cooking and blogging of course. Grad school kicked my ass and sadly I have not been cooking as much as I used to. No cooking, means no blogging. So there will be more blogging, too. Running. I have had “half marathon” on my list of things to do for about 5 years now. That’s just ridiculous and indicative of the how many excuses I have given for why I have not done it yet. This post is already getting long so I’ll spare you those. Travel. Now that I’m back in the PNW I have to make to Canada this time. I say this time because during the 12 years I lived here before I never went (I know, a shame).

For the first matter of business, I will be coming back with a new project to overhaul our finances like I was saying earlier. We are like most American families and have a ton of debt. Most of it is mine from student loans and I won’t tell you how much because I’m embarrassed to but I will tell you I should have about 6 master’s degrees by now with the amount of student loan debt I have. We also have a bit of credit card debt from our wedding. What does this have to do with food? The grocery bill, duh. I am super meticulous when it comes to tracking our bills but other than bills I am lazy when it comes to our spending and that includes groceries. So, to remedy this, I am considering going to the envelope method where I will budget out our expenses and put cash into the respective envelopes. I’m wondering who else have actually done this and have it work. I see a million Pinterest pins from people who explain what it is and how it worked for them to pay off a trillion dollars in debt in a year but are they for real? That can’t be real, can it? Irregardless (I know that’s not a word leave me alone) I am going to try it and see how it goes.

The budget for groceries for our active family of 4 is going to be – drum roll please – $500. Is that insane? No seriously, I want to know. I did a quick calculation in my head, and I think that’s about how much we spend. I am going to take out $200 every 2 weeks and use the last $100 as a buffer so we don’t go over. Whatever is left over I guess can roll over into the next month, or we can save for a nice dinner out or something.

Ok so that’s about it for now. You will be reading a lot more from me and could really use any suggestions on how to lower costs for food for a busy family. That’s if anyone is reading this… Oh well, if you’re not. See you soon!

Manny’s hash browns

20121226-150628.jpg

Like mother like son. My son, Manny, loves to cook. Today he made his famous hash browns for an afternoon snack. He used three large russet potatoes, bell peppers, hatch chile, garlic, green onions,white onions and cilantro. We cooked them first with the top on the skillet and then the last few minutes with the top off to let them crisp up. I enjoyed mine with a Blue Moon and it was awesome.

Seriously Mentally Ill adults need Thanksgiving, too

ImageI work at an outpatient clinic for seriously mentally ill adults (SMI) and today was our annual Thanksgiving lunch for our clients. On this day more than any other day, I felt proud to be a part of this organization. Today was yet another example of how to show people love with food.

There were about 15 turkeys cooked, about 10 trays of stuffing, crock pots full of mashed potatoes, green beans, ham, gravy, bread, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Everything was donated and prepared by staff such as myself. It was a group effort, totally organized, and a huge success! About 100 of our clients and their family members were in attendance.

For some, today was the only Thanksgiving they were going to have. Some people have no family to spend the holiday with. Some people have a very limited income and food stamps making Thanksgiving dinner almost impossible. Others just came to get a free meal and socialize which is sometimes really difficult for people with Agoraphobia or Schizophrenia- Paranoid type. For some people who came, the food we provided may be the only meal they will have today.

When I hear some of my clients’ stories about the daily struggle with symptoms, medications, putting food on the table, of being homeless, of being abused, I have a whole new perspective on what I am grateful for. I am grateful for having life’s basic necessities at my fingertips – heat, electricity, clean running water, and a stable home. I am grateful for my car and the money I have to keep it gas in the tank. I am grateful to be able to go to the store whenever I want to buy food. I am grateful to have healthy relationships and a loving family. I am grateful that I am healthy. I am grateful for a job. I am grateful to have the opportunity to help people lead happier lives.

I have a lot to be grateful for and I only hope that my SMI clients know how much I care. Tomorrow is the big day and I plan on cherishing the time I am going to spend with my family that I am so grateful for.

I encourage everyone to take a moment to recognize something that you are grateful for. There is so much that we take for granted that lots of people just don’t have. These people may be all around you without you knowing it – at the grocery store, at the bank, at the movie theatre, or at the bus stop.

Smile, and give thanks.