Monthly Archives: July 2011

Food Waste Friday


I can officially deem this food waste Friday a success! We have had no food waste (so far!) I think this is either the first time, or only one of a handful of times that I haven’t had any waste. I think it’s the Food Stamp Challenge that’s getting me moving on using every last bit of food in the house!

How did you do this week?

The Hunger Games


 As part of my new series and attempt to read regularly again (I am, after all, a librarian), today we will be discussing The Hunger Games, by Susanne Collins. This book is classified as young adult, but
As a side note, this is an excellent article on why it’s OK to read young adult books. (Thank you Elizabeth for that link!) Plus, it has an excellent title: “Are you reading YA lit? You should be” which is pretty much how I feel in a nutshell.
But I digress.

The Hunger Games is a dystopian novel (how I love those! Probably my favorite genre) which is set in a world presumably in the future, after the world as we know it has disintegrated (or fought each other to death) into a small world called Panem. Panem is divided into 12 districts,and the further out the get from the Capitol, the poorer the districts become. In the Capitol, people throw up at parties, so they can eat more food. In District 12, children frequently die of starvation. There used to be 13 districts, until the districts decided to unite and fight the Capitol, a fruitless effort that resulted in the demolition of District 13, and The Hunger Games.

The Games are the Capitol’s way of reminding the districts who is in charge, and that should another rebellion occur, the Capitol would win. It keeps the districts in line, and though they are despicable, no one has attempted to challenge the Games in their 74 years. You see, in the Games 24 children, ages 12-18 (one boy and one girl from each district) are placed in an arena and forced to battle each other for the pure enjoyment of the Capitol until one Victor is left. Worse, every single district is forced to watch as their children turn to killers and, ultimately, die gruesome deaths.

It is on the Reaping day, when the names are chosen, that our story begins. Katniss Everdeen, the main character, is forced to watch as her little sister, only 12 and, therefore, her first year into the reaping bowl, is chosen. It’s important to note, at this point, that the Capitol has added one more stipulation, something else to remind the districts who is in charge. Children get one entry every year they are placed in the bowl, but they are also allowed to take a monthly, meager allowance of coal and wheat, to help them through the month. For every tesserae that the children take (and they are allowed one per family member) their name is entered into the bowl again. So it is pure luck (or un-luck) that Prim’s name is chosen.

Immediately Katniss volunteers to take her place, and she is off on a rollercoaster of emotions, as she is forced to fight for her life in the arena, all the while knowing her fellow tributes, especially one: Peeta Mellark, her fellow District 12 tribute. In order for Katniss to live, she must kill (and live with the consequences) not only fellow tributes from other districts, but also Peeta, whom she has begun to know, and become friends with.

The book is amazingly well-written, and sucks you in, not only with the gruesome fascination that the Games provide, but also the characters and the relationships that they build. Because at the end of the day, there can be only one victor.

True Confessions


I have a confession to make. I’ve been avoiding my local public library like the plague.
It’s completely ridiculous, of course. The reason I’ve been avoiding them is because the county library system has turned me down for a job twice, now. Of course this isn’t their fault, and I know it, but for some reason I have felt so bitter towards the library that I didn’t even want to take books out.

I’m working on this. Last night I put holds on 5 different books. I’m coming back to the library.
This brings me to a new series I am going to start. A semi-regular (meaning, don’t count on an every single week update) where I review books that I’m reading. Fair warning, most will be books found in the young adult section, but I can assure you that they are not for teens only.

So come back tomorrow when I discuss the Hunger Games trilogy. You may have heard of these books or even read them yourself, but they’re still new because the final book of the trilogy was published just last summer.

Help me work through my bitterness…and get back to reading like the librarian I am!

Menu Plan Monday


This weeks starts the last week of July which means the last week in the July Food Stamp Challenge. I’m both relieved and a little sad to see the month end. I feel like I did pretty well with the challenge, though it was, obviously, a challenge. I’m pre-writing and scheduling this post while I think about it, so I don’t have the total of my Monday grocery shopping. As I write this, I have $49.53 left which, I believe, will definitely get me through the week, especially since this week is full of recipes with ingredients that are already in the house. Most of the grocery shopping this time will consist of fruits and vegetables, since I have leftover money. Those things are expensive!

Anyway, here’s what we’re eating this week:

Monday: Weigh-in and bible study, which means take-out

Tuesday: Tuna steaks (from the freezer) and corn on the cob

Wednesday: Chocolate chip pancakes (frozen from a couple weeks ago) and fruit

Thursday: Shrimp and pasta, zucchini and/or yellow squash

Friday: I’m at Petco, so Geoff’s on his own. I usually get a smoothie

Saturday: Chicken thighs and some sort of veggie tbd

Sunday: Homemade pizza (which may or may not be sourdough, depending on my mood/if I activate the sourdough this week)

That’s what we’re eating this week…how about you?

52 Letter Challenge, week…who knows!


I’ve been slacking again. (On a related note, notice that I’m too lazy to use the calendar sitting right in front of me to count the weeks in the year so far.) When we last left off, over a month ago, I think I said that I was behind again. Oops. However, I keep telling myself not to give up but to keep going, because even if I don’t send out 52 letters this year, at least I will send out more than I would have without doing this project.

Anyway, this week I wrote 3 letters, (or 1 last week and 2 this week, if Saturday counts as last week, which I suppose it does). Last week I also finally mailed out a postcard that I picked up in Chicago in May. It was an old fashioned picture of Wrigley Field, so I sent it to my grandmother, who is a baseball fan. She emailed in response and said she really liked it!
On Saturday I mailed out a letter to my penpal, Lydia, and earlier this week I wrote 2 letters to 2 different people who have yet to receive a letter from me! One was a good friend who I have actually never met. We “met” online, and became friends. She’s seen me through a lot, and has served as a wonderful sounding block on more than one occasion (via email) but I don’t think I’ve ever written her a letter.
The other was to my best friend from high school. We used to write to each other all the time, both via mail (later, when we were apart) and through notes in class, passed quickly in the hallway. This was simply a chatty note, with a quick update on life for me, since we’ve hardly talked since she came to our wedding a year and a half ago.
I picked up a Heartsy deal last week for $10 (a $32 credit that completely covered my purchase! Score!) for an Etsy shop that makes stationary. (If you haven’t heard of Heartsy, check it out, it’s awesome) I used my new stationary for my 2 letters this week. I didn’t exactly need more stationary, but I have been going through a lot of what I had, and for $10 I figured it was worth it. I got about 20 cards (I think) so I’m really happy with that!

Are you doing the 52 week letter challenge? Are you behind like I am? How are you doing??

Food Stamp Challenge update, week 3


Due to last week’s Harry Potter series, I haven’t posted anything in the way of menu planning or food stamp updates. I wanted everyone, like myself, to focus on the new Harry Potter movie. Ahem. I’m back to business now, however.

Earlier this month I insisted to Geoff that it wasn’t a good month to do the Food Stamp Challenge because it was a longer month than usual. He pointed out to me that this was, in fact, untrue, to which I replied that we should have done it in February.

The truth is, this has proven to be a very difficult challenge for me. When we last left off, I had $141.47 left, which was before I did a little shopping for our camping trip. That was $15.22, and when we got home I did have to buy a loaf of bread for $1.69 so I now have $124.56 left.

When I was looking at The Non Consumer Advocate’s blog the other day, I noticed that there are a total of 7 people, including the Non Consumer who are doing this challenge. I confess I was disappointed when I saw this. Why aren’t more people attempting to save money for a month, or live like the many, many poverty level people in the United States? I think the answer is because it is very difficult to live like this. I find myself pouring over every single thing I put into my shopping cart, and I even look over it all before checking out. I passed on cereal this week because I didn’t think we could afford it, we were already spending more than I thought we would. I stretched the last bit of oatmeal out so I didn’t have to buy any more until the next week, even though oatmeal is about the cheapest thing I buy.

I do look forward to seeing how the rest of the month plays out, and I do challenge you to try this challenge some time. It’s actually inspiring me to attempt to lower my own grocery budget to challenge myself every month (it will still be more than I’m spending this month, though).
Are you trying the food stamp challenge? How are you doing? Do you think I’m crazy??

Swagbucks, revisited


Today, we are revisiting the topic of Swagbucks for a couple reasons. First, because it’s awesome, and the last time I talked about it was back in February. Since I started Swagbucks back in November, I’ve earned $75 in gift cards. That is $75 worth of free money. I like free!
Of course you can get many many more prizes through Swagbucks, but my personal favorite happens to be (only 450 SB) because you can get so many things there!
I’m currently saving my money for a wedding gift for a wedding this fall, but since I started I have bought:
The 4th season of Supernatural (used, of course)
A book which I can’t remember for my sister for Christmas (again, used)
Big Bad-Ass Book of Cocktails for my sister-in-law’s birthday (do I have to say this was used too?)
A gift for Geoff for Christmas, which I’m not going to mention here because he does occasionally read my blog
Lysine Treats for Clarabelle, because she has what is called cat herpes, something many shelter cats get. It gives her runny eyes and the lysine keeps it in check. I need more of these.

I think there are a couple other things I’ve bought, but that happens to be all I can remember. Note that that is 3 gifts (free!), something I would buy anyway (Supernatural) and treats that I usually wouldn’t get for the cat, but is still a good idea. All free.

Swagbucks can be confusing, however, so I encourage you to revisit my original post which explains exactly how to get Swagbucks on a daily basis. Sure, it takes a while to earn enough for a gift card (about a month to a month and a half for me, depending on how diligent I am) but in my opinion, it’s totally worth it! Plus, it takes so little time to do! So check it out!

Do you use Swagbucks? What have you bought with your bucks?