Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Making do in "it's-not-a-recession"

Good gracious, but grocery shopping has gotten more expensive. Just a couple of years ago, I could feed our family of four on an average $85 a week budget, and that included quite a few splurges. Now my grocery bill is doubled, just purchasing the basics. Unbelievable.

I'm baking more, cooking simpler meals, and deleting splurges left and right. Every time I scrub vegetables I picked up at the farmer's market or get out my Grandma Lois' bread bowl to mix up some biscuits, I feel connected to my childhood. Grilled molasses-coated chicken thighs and rice, homemade buttermilk biscuits and crispy turkey bacon, tomato-basil soup and grilled provolone sandwiches, homemade chess bars and fruit cocktail cake, cold iced tea and tart lemonade: I can just feel the SOUTHERN flowing through my veins. Yes, it's all yummy. No, it isn't trendy or vetted by Cooking Light. But it's amazingly cost-efficient, plus the recipes suit my mood and fill the kids' tummies quite satisfactorily. (And since the number of kids in my house multiples dramatically during the summer with the constant flow of friends, feeding the masses on a budget is even more important!)

One of my "secret" pleasures is treasure hunting at consignment and thrift stores. During our Savannah trip, I discovered that many of the other moms are in on the game. When I complimented MK on her classic shift (hello, Lilly P!), she said, "Oh, I found this at my favorite boutique, GW." At the blank looks of the other moms, she finally 'fessed up. Goodwill! Her favorite is in Alpharetta. "But I almost didn't tell you, because I don't want you hitting the racks before I get to the good stuff!"

You go, girl.

In the past month of rack-roving at GW, I've landed a mint condition Abercrombie & Fitch top for AG, a bag filled with 12 skeins of sock yarn that became the Sox Shawl, several Chico's and Coldwater Creek items for myself, REI and LLBean shorts for A, and a huge television for the kids' basement game area. Who cares it isn't digital? With the feed from Comcast, that $40 TV is more than satisfactory for the Wii games.

On the making do front, I just picked up six skeins of wool in a lovely chartreuse for a fall sweater . . . for just $2.50 a skein! I get the pleasure of knitting and the enjoyment of a warm, stylish sweater, all for $18. I'm sure I scored the yarn because the color is so unusual, but it's perfect for me, and it'll look beautiful with a hand-dyed skirt I love to wear in the fall.

Making do is FUN.

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