Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Communal Living

A few days ago, Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods traveled to Suriname.  Suriname is a country in the northern South American continent.  There, he stayed with a group of people who rely completely on the Amazon rainforest and local rivers for their livelihoods.  I admire groups like this.  They have avoided colonization and modernization in favor of a more simple way of living.  They all live and work together for the greater good of the group.  The women share cooking space and the men hunt and fish to provide all the food the group needs.  This idea of communal living fascinates me. 

I have always hated the way society in the West lives.  Material wealth and technology are more important than neighborly relations and gratitude.  After all, if we can go to the grocery store and buy a bushel of corn, we think that we do not owe gratitude to the Mother for providing it. 

Where I live, neighbors actually fear each other.  I always dreamt of moving into a neighborhood where a welcoming committee would visit your house and bring baskets of food, and I could do the same for new people who move into my neighborhood.  That is no longer the case.  I couldn't even tell you the names of my closest neighbor.  The only thing I know about them is that they are not very nice, are abusive to their children and keep their music up loud all night.  And that is the case with most of the people who live in my neighborhood.

I want to live in a commune.  First thing in the morning, I can walk outside and give thanks for a new day and the beauty all around me.  Then I can greet my neighbors, who are no doubt already out and about working in the commune, whether it be maintenance or cooking or working in the community garden.  I want to spend the entire day doing my chores along side people who can provide stimulating conversation and social interaction.  I want to prepare meals with them.  I have always been better at preparing large meals than just a few smaller meals anyway.

The closest thing to a commune around here are the Amish.  And I love driving through their farmland, which borders the town I live in.  I love to see them outside working together as a family.  I especially love going out to their towns and buying their produce and eating their ice cream.  They have it figured out.  Why can't the rest of us seem to?

I think, if it wasn't for the philosophical and religious differences, I wouldn't mind joining an Amish ordnung.  At least life wouldn't be so complicated.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cue the Lynch Mobs

Quick, someone call CPS.  I did a horrible thing last night!
I let my child watch an R-rated movie!

Okay, so not so dramatic, but that is the reaction some parents these days might take.  I understand that there are certain things that children shouldn't see before a certain age, but that mentality was more acceptable in the early 90s.  Now, there isn't much you can hide from children.  They are not stupid and they notice a lot more than they lead on.  And besides, even watching any regular TV exposes them to the harsh reality of life in the 21st century.  If you shield them completely from these things, they will grow up helpless and vulnerable.

Let me make it clear that, despite the things I allow my children to watch, I draw the line in certain scenarios.  I will not let them watch movies with sex in it, and I am choosy when it comes to movies with violence.  The movie they watched last night was full of violence, but it wasn't zombies-eating-my-brain violent.  It wasn't cadavers being ripped apart or guts flying everywhere.

The movie was Terminator 2: Judgement Day.  I believe I was about my oldest daughter's age when I first saw the movie and I didn't grow up to be a crazy psycho killer.  It just happened to be on TV and I let my 7 year old daughter and her 4 year old sister sit with me and watch it.  It had an interesting effect.  Like most children their age, they provided commentary all the way through the movie.  Asking questions allowed me to give explanations for some of what they were seeing and to help them understand that it was only a movie and not real life.  I also got to see them making commentary stating that "the bad cop is doing very mean things" and "thats not nice" and "thats so sad".  My kids have compassion and common sense and for that I am grateful.  Some movies like this provide a very good lesson:  There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.  If you don't want bad things to happen, you have to work to prevent them.

We all know the outcome of the Terminator movies, but they haven't seen the third one.  I think that one is still a little too high on the violence scale for them, and I don't want to have to explain to them what a nuclear holocaust is.  I'm not out to scare them about the world, I want them to understand that the world is a cruel place, but you do not have to be cruel to live and survive in it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Near Extreme Couponing Moment

Okay, I'll admit that I watch Extreme Couponing and drool.  I wish I could spend $500 and only pay $5, but hey.  Whatever I can save works.  I don't dumpster dive for my coupons.  My approach is that couponing is all about timing.  Collect any coupons you find, even if you don't need them right away.  Keep an eye on your stores ads because they are the key.  My store runs a lot of specials on a weekly basis, like 10/$10 and BOGO.  The best part of the 10/$10 specials is that you do not necessarily need to buy 10.  You could buy 2 and they will still be $1 each.  So I used my stores specials and coupons and I beat my all-time savings record.  I want to share it with you, I am so proud of myself!  I have picked out some of my best finds.  I will post commentary where relevant, but everything I bought was on special and/or had a coupon.

Sierra Mist 20 oz. 1.49 retail, was 1.00
Suddenly Salad various types 2.19 retail, were 1.00, bought 6
Folgers, had a coupon for 1.00 of two items
Nestle Candy Bars .79 retail, bought 4, had coupons for 50 cents off two, coupons double; retail value: 3.16, price I paid: 1.16
Knorr Rice Sides, retail 1.33, were 1.00 each, bought 8
Pancake Mix, retail 2.69, were 2.00
McCormick Seasonings, retail 1.12, were 1.00 each, bought 4
Wacky Mac pasta, retail 1.35, had a 40 cents off coupon, paid .95 cents
Ace of Diamond tuna, retail 1.49 each, were on sale for 10/$10, bought 8; store had a special that if I bought 8 of a certain item from a certain list, I would save $3, so I paid $5 for 8 cans
Store brand croutons were 10/$10
Store brand pasta was 10/$10
Sausage links and patties were 10/$10
Chicken leg quarters were on sale, and I paid between $2-3 for each package of about 5-6 lbs. each
Another cool sale was the Mrs. T's Pierogies, I had a coupon for $1 off and I bought 3 boxes.  My store had a sale that went with it, giving me a box of ice cream sandwiches (12 ct.) free when I bought three boxes of Mrs. T's.
Another special they had, that I also carried coupons for was buy 8 of a particular group of items and save $5.  So off of their list, I bought 6 different types of Dannon Danimals yogurts (6 ct.) and a tub of Country Crock butter.  They were both on sale, the Dannon at 2/$4 and the butter for 2.99 so I ended up paying $8.59 for all after the special and two coupons.
5 of the coupons I used doubled.  My store doubles up to .50 cents on coupons.

Grand total retail price of my trip:  $233.57
TOTAL I PAID:  $160.78
68% savings, or $72.79

My record was $52 off a purchase of $230

I love saving money!

On top of that savings, I also earned 40 cents of a gallon of gas. :D