This Is Not a Post About Church — It’s About Target.

So hi.

I had this big long post all typed up for y’all about the church drama aftermath, but I forgot to save it.

Just kidding. Jesus saves my soul, and I save all my writing just about every other sentence. The truth is that it’s long and messy and super sad and I’m trying really hard to have a positive attitude and not get trapped in the quagmire of crap surrounding this particular situation.

There’s more to life than that. Which is why I use words like quagmire — because that’s seriously a great word.

So I’ll tell you that Leif, to his credit, has decided to take the girls to church elsewhere on his Sundays.

And that’s all I have to say about that, because a dead horse is not worth beating.

Now onto more interesting things — like shopping at Target.

You may or may not have heard, but I’m a single mom now. And single moms aren’t exactly rolling in dough. Also, I’m the one that moved out, and I took very little with me. So now I have this mostly empty house that needs some stuff.

The girls took care of the lack of a dining table by turning the dining room into a campground. Done. And they have beds, I bought a couple cheap couches, and there are stools at the kitchen counter. We’re making do, and honestly, I’m enjoying the minimalist lifestyle for a bit. Cleaning is much easier this way.

But I really wanted some backyard furniture. The girly girls have been loving having a yard after years of condo-living, plus I’m one of those I-love-nature girls, so I’ve been wanting a place to park my rear that wasn’t the retaining wall or the plastic child-sized picnic table my parents let us nick from their house.

Enter Target. I took the girls to get some sunscreen, a kiddie pool, and a box-o-wine, and looked up to see this:


And then I saw this:

Which led to this:

But then on the way to the register, I saw these!

And this:

And so with one hand pushing the loaded cart, the other carrying one stool, Thing 1 diligently carrying the other, and Thing 2 dancing along backward behind us, we made our way to the register.

The lady took one look at us and asked, “Would you like some help out today?”

Yes. Yes I would, thank you.

Then this happened:

And that, my friends, is Target done like a boss.

Home Economics Lesson 3: Your Car

What happens without proper auto maintenance.

Inflate your tires to the proper levels. When your tires are properly inflated, you will get better mileage and therefore save money buy having to purchase less $4/gallon gasoline. Plus you’ll be saving America from spending money on foreign oil AND you’ll be saving the planet, because there’s nothing polar bears hate more than gasoline fumes.

Hahahaha! Sometimes I really crack myself up.

But seriously, proper auto maintenance is key to keeping your finances in order. Without regular oil changes and tune-ups, your car will end up needing some major (and expensive) repairs. It’s not a gamble — it’s a certainty. Your vehicle is a complicated piece of machinery, and it needs clean oil and filters and regular inspections to avoid running into big problems like your head gasket busting. I don’t even know what that means, except that it happened to me once when I was 17 and stoopid and didn’t think to keep an eye on the engine temp gauge.

Which reminds me … keep an eye on your dashboard indicators! First of all, make sure you’re not breaking the speed limit, because tickets are expensive, and you can’t always talk your way out of them. Also look at the ones having to do with engine temperature. If it goes over into the red Danger Zone, for the love of your car, pull over, Silly! Then whip out your cell phone and call AAA or someone that knows more about engines than you do and ask them what you should do.

Another easy way to save money in the garage is to wash your car yourself. Duh, doing anything yourself is cheaper than paying someone else to do it – it only costs elbow grease. If you have kids, put them to work. They want a ride to soccer practice? They can contribute by helping sudsing up the taxicab minivan. All’s fair in love and war, and parenthood is definitely both.

When you do take your car in, do a little bit of research first. Google your car’s make and model and find out what some common repairs are and what you can expect to pay. Fifteen minutes online could save you hundreds at the mechanics. There is a TON of information out there, and in this case, knowledge is money saved.

I would love to hear more money-saving tips for cars – leave ‘em in the comments if you have some.

Update: Flyover Country has some great suggestions, inspired by this post. I inspire people! Who knew? Click here.

Home Economics Lesson 2: The Water Bottle

I’m an obsessive water drinker. With wine and salt being my two favorite food groups, it’s sort of a necessity. At home, I’m rarely more than 10 feet from my plastic, insulated Starbucks cup filled with ice water. When I’m out and about, I still want access to water because I hate being thirsty and not knowing where to find a drink. It makes me panic. Which makes me thirstier. And panickier. It’s a vicious cycle, is what it is.

To ward off panic attacks, I can almost always be found in possession of a water bottle. I know I should be all eco-friendly and stuff and get one of those aluminum ones, but I like plastic water bottles. The same way I prefer to drink my sodas out of aluminum cans, I like my water out of plastic. I know, I have issues. Moving on.

Here’s what I do. Every time I find myself out in public in a dehydration-induced state of panic, I buy the cheapest plastic bottle of water I can find (ok, sometimes I buy the square Fiji ones because they’re cool. I’m not perfect. If I were perfect, I wouldn’t have forgotten a bottle from home.). I down the entire thing, then find the nearest drinking fountain and refill it.

Today I went to the Del Mar Fair with my mom and the Things, and I carried around the same plastic water bottle I bought in the San Diego airport last Thursday. I had planned to buy a bottle once I got past security, because you know 28-year-old blonde chicks are constantly trying to blow airplanes up with water bottles. So I wasn’t allowed to bring water in, but I didn’t have a sealable vessel at home, so I just bought the $4 bottle of water in the gift shop. And yeah, I needed it, since we’d had friends over until 2am the night before and much wine had been consumed.

That water bottle traveled everywhere with me in Minneapolis. It was sort of like my sidekick, always there in my purple laptop bag that I should really replace one of these days in an effort to be all professional and stuff. I stayed (mostly) hydrated the entire trip.

There was a moment at the airport headed back, when I forgot to drink the last 2 tablespoons of water before heading through security. Of course I got pulled aside and frisked, and they had to hand search all of my carry-on stuff and run it through the xray machine 27 times. Gah! And then they said they were going to confiscate my water. And I almost cried, right there in the middle of airport security.

“Well, you can go out, drink it, and go through security again,” offered the agent.

“I can’t! *sniff sniff snort* I don’t have time!” I’m really eloquent when I need to be.

“It’s just water … you can buy another bottle inside,” the agent consoled.

“But … but … but … it’s FOUR DOLLARS!” Ok, I may or may not have actually shed a tear. It was hard getting through that airport!

Thankfully, the kind and lovely TSA agent decided that since it was the liquid and not the bottle itself that was the problem, she dumped the teeny bit of water in the trash and handed me my water bottle back. God bless common sense.

Long live my cheap, crappy, economically efficient water bottle!

Home Economics Lesson 1: The Stock Bag

I’m going to start a new category on here to help my eight readers do some economizing around the home. Let’s face it: Every dollar counts in this economy. I’ve come up with a variety of ways to save a buck here or there so my beloved wine doesn’t have to get cut out of the budget.

That would be a sad, sad day marked by a trail of my financially destitute tears.

Enough with the jibber-jabber and onto money-saving tips!

Frozen veggies getting ready to be transformed into chicken stock

The Stock Bag in the Freezer

I’m super into healthy eating for my family. Exactly half of us have sensitive insides that get bothered by pesticides or hormone-riddled meat, eggs, and dairy, and no, I won’t tell you which half. Gots to respect dah privacy of my peeps.

Organic is expensive, yo. I buy hormone-free chicken in bulk when it’s on sale and freeze it. I get in-season organic produce only. Even staying on sale and in-season, I cannot afford organic chicken stock for making soups, sauces, rice pilafs, etc too.

Enter my stock bag.

Every time I wash and chop veggies, I save the ends. Carrot peels, onion skins, tough asparagus ends, mushroom stems … basically any part of the veggie that I wouldn’t serve. These ‘leftovers’ get added to a gallon-sized ziplock bag that I keep in my freezer. Whenever I roast a chicken or have leftover chicken bones in general, I stick ‘em in a big pot with the contents of my stock bag, cover it all with water, add a couple of bay leaves and a few shakes of poultry seasoning, and let it simmer (covered) for 4ish hours.

I stir about every 30 minutes, and add more water if it looks like too much has evaporated. Then I kill the heat and let it sit for another hour to cool down so it’s easier to handle. I use my mesh strainer to get the solids out, and freeze it all in quart-sized Tupperware containers.

Voila. Free chicken stock.

Start your stock bag today!