Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Myrtle Math...

My recent bartering netted many good things, two of which are gift cards to Target and Walmart.  If I use them for the rest of the month, I will actually be ~$77 under my targeted, crazily-severe goal to shave $281 off my credit card bill, which comprises the bulk of my budget (grocery, household, medical, car, etc.).  And I will have a bit left over on the Walmart card, despite the anticipated purchase on Friday of a much needed windshield wiper blade) for next month's spending.  However, if I do not count that which was not in my budget in the first place (the gift cards), I will have fallen short of that crazily severe goal by ~$23.

In my mind, that is a failure.  In other people's mind, I'm sure, that would be a ginormous success (still a savings of 29% in my monthly budget).  Do I castigate or celebrate?

[Yes, I am aware the budget period still has 16 days left, but remember that I have projected math worked out all the way through December 31, 2014, because my end goal is to find a way to live on only 80% of disability since that is the oft-repeated-in-the-news solution (cutting distributions) to the insolvency projected for 2016.]

However, another factor is the justification math I do in my head.  For example, I discovered that I had $9.22 of points available to me and I was surprised to learn that a DVD series I had forgotten was still listed at Amazon.com sold.  Without a moment's hesitation, upon learning of said windfall, I immediately put the points credit and the selling credit together and ordered the set of measuring spoons I have been lusting after since January for the bargain basement net cost of $3.00.  That is $3 of the ~$23 overage.  However, without Myrtle Math, the measuring spoons (high contrast, magnetically nesting, double-ended, stainless steel ones) still actually cost me $18.67.  Only, well, I used a different card, so, technically, that money is not even due until April's budget's expenses (which has money available for household items), so I didn't actually add to the expense bottom line of this month's budget.

You see?  I understand now how something like Enron can happen.  Budget justifications are very, very, very easy to make.  SIGH.

And then, how do I factor in the goods I received in barter, most notably the honey liquor (oh, how glad I am that was picked from the list!!!), the butter, the chicken breasts, the white cheddar cheese, the eggs, the flour, and the missing ingredients needed to make a second pot of Chipotle Chicken Chili?  And where/how do I penalize myself for the Blue Bell that I just bought to go with the honey liquor, but bought only because it was literally half-price this week and the sale price of the milk I bought nearly covered the cost of the Blue Bell?

And what about the (surprise) grocery money from Becky and her mother and the cash I got for a small task?  I don't count such things in the budget at all because all cash (even birthday or Christmas money) goes into the wooden box on the mantle for work that Firewood Man does (or for actual firewood).  For example, an upcoming project is to dig two trenches in the front yard to extend the current gutter extension pipes from the front of the house all the way to the sidewalk, so as to minimize any water getting into the channels of the basement.  Since my neighbor has absolutely no plans to repair her gutter that dumps water onto her side sidewalk that then runs into my yard, down the slope to corner of the house, and on into the basement channel, he is also planning to put catch basins of a French drain type in that area and have them funnel to the newly extended (and buried) gutter pipe on that side of the house.  I have a list of six projects I hope to have completed by the end of 2014 that are all not in my budget (unless you count stealing household funds that are earmarked for things like paper products, plastic products, and cleaning supplies) and that will all, hopefully, come out of the wooden box, filled magically by unexpected gifts or teeny tiny jobs.

So, basically, I think I have become a very boring (if not actually irritating) person, because, if you won't talk to me about the Book of Concord, pretty much the scope of my conversation is either food-related or budget-related.  Okay, you probably should throw in there Amos-related.

For example, if not distracted by his curls or his hanging-on-to-my person, I find that his stretching ability rather mind-boggling.

And then there is the fact that Marie's compassion, patience, and kindness toward my fluffy white beggar warms the cockles of my heart to the point of tears whenever I think about it.

[Did I mention that Marie wore a GREEN shirt for me last Friday because she knew it would cheer me up even though I was feeling so poorly with my innards malfunction?]

Also, what I really want to know is:  How long do I have to go without breaking my budget (once I finally understand what breaking a budget constitutes) so that I can reward myself for keeping to my budget?  Because, well, I already have my reward lined up.  I want these ... shoes ... that I think would be like a casual version of my leather boots that would be fun to wear with my jean skirts.  It is only by the grace of God (and a colossal amount of pre-meditated guilt) that I have not already caved and bought them.  After all, I discovered them last summer.  In case you are wondering, I have absolutely no clothing allowance for all of 2014 and, most likely, 2015.

Finally, since I don't think there is enough food-related talk here, for the record, my next three dish-conquoring goals are, in no particular order:  1) carne asada tacos; 2) a roasted pork tenderloin; and 3) a beef and broccoli dish.  I am also on the prowl for an authentic beef schwarma recipe.  Plus, well, I need some recipes to put that contraband hoisin sauce to work.

Plus, being a merciful person myself, I conducted an experiment for Marie.  You see, she has so little time to prepare dinner.  I made her a batch of Texas Flour Tortillas dough balls and wanted to know if they could be cooked cold—thawed from the freezer, but still cold from the refrigerator.  So, last week, when I had my Dr Pepper Spicy Pulled Pork tacos, I did not allow the dough balls to come to room temperature.  They rolled out fine and cooked fine, but the texture was not quite right.  Although less than a week has passed, I forced myself to eat the tacos again and, this time, I took the dough balls out of the refrigerator and allowed them to come to room temperature before cooking them.  They were perfect!  Hence, the result of my experiment is that the tortillas are best cooked when at room temperature, although they keep in the freezer just fine.

I will also note that I believe the key to making good tortillas is to work the dough as little as possible.  That even includes handling them as you roll them out.  So, I did not form a ball before I wrapped them up in wax paper for storage in the freezer.  I just used the pastry cutter to divide the dough.  I also did not even form a ball before I rolled them out for cooking, because I am not opposed to slightly misshapen tortillas as my tacos ... they are so very, very, very tasty.

And, for the record, I got the whole idea of pursuing bartering from Becky.  She actually traded house cleaning for sign language lessons.  How cool is that!?!

So, there you have it.
I have become a boring person.
And I am besotted with my puppy dog.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

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