Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March Madness Frugality

March - it is Wisconsin's snowiest month!  And today the State stuck with tradition.  The snow started at daybreak, and has kept on going, just like the Energizer Bunny.  It is still snowing as I write, with the clock approaching 9pm.

As a result of the snow, things started late today in Madison.  Unnecessary outings were scrapped, and folks hunkered down waiting for it to let up enough to shovel.  Several clients canceled meetings, a wise decision in my mind.  A seminar that I was scheduled to give tonight was canceled, and so my normal Tuesday routine was twisted around a bit. But I still went into the office for those brave (maybe stubborn is a better word) enough to keep scheduled meetings.  But in all the madness, I did not loose my frugal way.

Frugal food is a core attribute of my frugal persona.  Which means I spent a good amount of time in the kitchen.  Leftover chicken from Monday's dinner morphed into a pasta bake for lunch (and dinner for my husband who is still at his office).  Tossed together in under twenty minutes, it consisted of: 1/2 box cooked pasta, chicken, sauteed veggies (garlic, peppers, onion, and mushrooms), and a tomato sauce from the freezer (one I made two season ago -- yep, some things hang around longer than they should).  Topped with fresh mozzarella, it was ideal for a cold and snowy winter day.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Since my seminar was canceled, my normal "late night" of work was cut short.  Arriving home I found that my fairy godmother had visited.  He goes by the name Richard, and is a retired mortgage broker who now works as a school crossing guard.  In addition to having received a pacemaker this past year, he is also our neighbor.  The neighbor with a snow blower.  And once again he cleared our walk!  Before loosing the light (and warmth if you can call upper 20s warm) I headed outside to tackle the driveway while our sitter finished up the kids' dinner.  As I stepped outside, I noticed Richard and waived. He raised his hand in the way older Midwestern men do, about half way up, meaning -- hey, how ya doin'?  My appreciation for his efforts is cooling in the kitchen -- Cinnamon oatmeal raisin bread and apple sauce whole wheat muffins.  It will be delivered in the morning along with a thank you note.

My husband and I have made a decision not to buy a snow blower.  They are expensive.  They take up a lot of space in the garage.  They break.  They require gas.  And shoveling is a great work out.  So we use shovels.  But appreciation of this magical machine is not lost on us.  We adore them, but from a distance.  One day, when we are not physically able to shovel, we will buy one.  And I'm certain that at that point in life we'll have a bit more free time, and will pay forward the good deeds of Richard.  We'll clear the walk for a neighbor who is tight on time, and watches what they spend.  Until then, I will bake and bake as a thank you for neighborly generosity.

With an easier shoveling job than I expected, I was back inside in 20 minutes.  On the table was the standard dinner our sitter prepares on my late nights: pancakes (with homemade applesauce added), scrambled eggs, cheese, and sweet potato left over from their afternoon snack.  I love this meal because there are always extra pancakes that I can use for Wednesday's breakfast.  But tonight I would be at the table, and used the meal as a chance to clear out some of the food lingering in the fridge.  On my plate were greens with veggies, the last piece of crab quiche, shrimp with sauce, and a cup of green tea.  A simple, tasty, and efficient meal.

So March, bring it on.  Your snow will not cause me to buckle and spend madly on take-out meals or snow blowers.  I know Spring is coming, not until at least April.  Sorry fellow Wisconsinites, but March just started and March is about snow.  Don't let depression cause you to go into retail therapy mode.  Have a plan to deal with the mess, make the kitchen your happy place, and savor the cold.....the humidity and mosquitoes will be here soon enough.

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