Recession Mama











–by Carlawbap

Some pretty strong storms blew through the Dallas/Fort Worth area a few hours ago, and it was so reassuring to hear a trusted voice back on the air, telling us where the storms were headed and what we should expect. Meteorologist Brad Barton, who had been on the air in Dallas for more than 30 years but was shockingly laid off two months ago from another news/talk station, made his return to the DFW airwaves today on WBAP News/Talk 820AM.

Having worked with Brad for more than a decade, I can tell you that he is once again where he belongs: behind a microphone, and in front of a weather radar. And the people of North Texas once again have a place to  turn when the skies darken.

We’ll be hearing from Brad, in his own words, very soon…so stay tuned!

A BIG “Congrats!” to Brad and Brenda and to WBAP for this wonderful news.



{September 4, 2009}   The Anti-Recession Mama

–by Carla

I’m not sure if was the alignment of the moon and the stars or of the tide and the Big Dipper or what, but this past week was about the best week I’ve had in a very long time. My husband and I celebrated 6 years of marriage on August 30th. (For the record, I normally leave “the husband” out of all of this because he thinks I’m a nutbag for writing about this stuff…or he just things I’m a nutbag in general…I’m not sure which) Anyway, six isn’t even that big of a deal, really. Well it IS, but it’s not 10 or 15, you know what I mean? I think the common gift for 6 is iron and candy or something random like that.

 six!

We each thought the other was going to forget the date, so we hid the cards that our relatives had sent to the house. How very dorky of us. But we didn’t forget. I’d saved up my pennies and bought him a gift certificate for a round of golf since he’s always saying how much he enjoys playing but never gets a chance. I also got him his favorite dark chocolate snacks. See? Iron and candy? But what he did for me was so above and beyond anything I had dreamed up, it really blew me away. He took me to Wolfgang Puck’s “Five Sixty”, high above downtown Dallas.

This tiny little cone (a signature WP dish, I'm told) cost as much as my shoes. This better be tasty!

This tiny little cone (a signature WP dish, I'm told) cost as much as my shoes. This better be tasty!

The swanky, revolving restaurant was so very much out of the norm for our new lifestyle that I was literally giddy with excitement the entire night. He forced me to forget about how much this was costing us, assuring me that he had worked a ton of hours at his part time job to make it happen. 

...see how happy he is about that?

...see how happy he is about that?

Just kidding, he actually seemed to be having a good time, honest…

"At least I don't have to eat Carla's cooking tonight..cheers!"

"At least I don't have to eat Carla's cooking tonight..cheers!"

To be back in this wonderfully familiar atmosphere for the night, and with our two baby boys safely asleep at home with grandma Nina making sure the house didn’t burn down, we could focus on each other for the first time in a very long time. No worries about money or bills and certainly no worries about tantrums or poopie diapers. See, the layoff was tough on our marriage, I won’t lie, and I’m sure the husband won’t mind me outing us like that. I mean, good grief, I’d just had a baby 5-weeks earlier, we had an older child…a 20-month-old at the time…and those things alone can put a lot of strain on a marriage. Not to mention the fact that news people and cops are pretty stressed out folks at times. But this one night almost seemed to erase all of that.

It’s certainly an anti-RM theme for me to talk about going out for a swanky, super expensive dinner (oh and he bought me a spa treatment at a phenomenal spa that I love), but I think I learned some sort of lesson from it all. 

Honestly, I don’t know exactly what that is, but I think it had to do with letting go, not being so uptight and stepping out of my financial comfort zone if even briefly….and just enjoying life.



{August 28, 2009}   The Reinvention Continues…
–by Carla

As Heather embarks on her new, fabulash career as an interior designer and Katy gets ready to start working on her latest Hollywood hit TV show, I’m here in suburban Dallas, trying not to eff up dinner each night. And so, the reinvention of Carla the Career Radio News Anchor continues…

Yay, the stove's right behind me....mocking me...can you hear it?

Yay, the stove's right behind me....mocking me...can you hear it?

I have made a little headway in the kitchen, but not as much as I’d hoped by now. I mean, I was laid off 9 months ago. You’d think I’d have gotten the hang of being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) by now. But I was “baptized by fire” for this venture, so I try to cut myself a little slack every now and then. It’s not like I started out as a SAHM with my firstborn, then eased into baby #2. I woke up one day and was all of a sudden a SAHM of 2 baby boys…with zero experience.

This week, I did manage to cook a few dishes that didn’t end up crossed out on my “Can Cook This Again” list. I whipped up a chicken and rice casserole Sunday that was inspired by the one and only Campbell’s soup can. Yup, I got me some inspiration at the grocery store last week. I thought, “This looks pretty easy…even *I* can’t screw this one up”. And it was pretty ok. My next bit of inspiration came at the checkout line and one of those little books about “fun cooking for kids” or something. You know the ones…food that looks cute and fun and MAYbe, just maybe, your picky, doesn’t-want-to- ever-eat-anything-at-all, toddler will actually want to eat this stuff. So I then cooked up some chicken strips breaded in crushed corn chips and some other stuff. The breading didn’t even smell appealing to me, but whatever, if Toddler Boy eats it…then fine. I also made some Italian breading-coated chicken strips to go with the giant batch of pasta and sauce I’d made earlier (bc I’m up to HERE with chicken most days). If you’re following along (and I am not), that’s roughly 4 semi-successful meals in about 3 days. I also whipped up my always enjoyable Mexican Casserole which is a lot like what ya get at Chipotle…and even *I* can’t screw up that dish. I’ve made baby Dean several home-cooked meals in the Magic Bullet (bless you, PopPop and Granny for THAT Christmas gift)..and last night I cranked out perhaps the greatest banana bread I have ever cranked out. (For the record, baking does not freak me out like cooking does, for some weird reason)

Success!

…Not really. See, my palate is accustomed to a certain level of yum that my current culinary skills simply cannot deliver. That is a terrible feeling. Talk about champagne taste on a beer budget. It stinks when you’ve eaten at some of the tastiest places on earth, yet you are serving up stuff that a 3rd grader could cook.

It is nice, though, to cook things that my family will actually eat. My very favorite morning this week was when Donald ate my banana bread for breakfast and Dean had a few bites as well, along with his standard baby grub. My heart was huge with joy. Still is.

And lastly this week, in an attempt to save a little money …since I was accidentally poking the boys with my crazy, out of control nails…I hacked them off myself. A good old-fashioned “Recession Manicure”…

Wow, practical AND sexy

Wow, practical AND sexy

…and the tips of my fingers are STILL numb. TOO SHORT. Plus I sliced open the ring finger on my right hand the other day opening the knife drawer. In all, I had 1 bum thumb and 2 bum fingers on the same hand…all while trying to do all of this cooking …just this week. Not to mention the vacuuming, dusting, laundry, laundry, laundry, baby care (all of it), play dates, time-outs, and the who-knows-whats.

Most days I feel like all the other moms are doing a waaaay better job than me…and that I should be waaaay better in the kitchen that I am, that my house should be cleaner, that I should get out more often and host play dates more often and try to meet other moms more often and lose more of this baby weight …and so on, but I also know that I am doing the absolute best that I possibly can.

I also know that I am having the time of my life. A lot of people really don’t understand that, though. I mean, how can you be happy about having lost your nearly six figure income? Easy…

1624a

…I feel like pinching myself because I am living my dream. So what if my cooking stinks right now and money is tight. I’ll learn to cook. In fact, one of my awesome girlfriends …who is very awesome in the kitchen…is organizing cooking classes at her  home coming up soon. I can’t WAIT! (I’m sure I’m not alone on that one…)

…and yes, I do know that there are about 14 different fonts on here. My eyeballs are glazing over. I need a font czar.



By Katy

A lot has happened this last week in the world — one of the worst typhoons in my native Taiwan’s history, hurricanes near Florida, North Korea releasing journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee… and while my fellow recession mamas were mourning the lay-offs of two veteran journalists, I was wrestling and wasting trivial thoughts on…clothes and shopping.

As a little girl, I loved shopping for back to school clothes.  When I turned 15, the ginormous annual September issue of Vogue would serve as my inspirational fashion bible.

Charlize Theron graces Sept 09 cover

Charlize Theron graces Sept 09 cover

I would earmark pages, memorize the new fall colors, and clip out anything I deemed to be too good to stay in the actual magazine.  Now, mind you, I grew up in Texas where most people think big hair is still synonymous with beauty.  But to me, Dallas is home to Neiman-Marcus, the most elegant department store in the world, well at least to my young, impressionable mind.

My obsession for style also came from my beautiful and fashionable mother.  She had a wardrobe that I had hoped to blossom into one day. (I later realized that although I love her style…I had my own distinct fashion sense.) My mother was also a champion shopper.  Not only could she negotiate anything with anybody, she also had exquisite taste.  Just by touch and sight, she can tell you where a particular dress was made and the exact fabrics used to make it.  Such a gift!

barneyssale

Well, last week, Barney’s held its semi-annual warehouse sale in my neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles.  This is a big deal because for the first time in its history, this venerable sales event came East!  The store in Los Angeles is in Beverly Hills, of course, and its annual warehouse sale was always, as far as I remember, held at a hangar at the Santa Monica airport.  And this year, I could actually walk to the warehouse sale, and that’s exactly what I did!  First day of the sale…I walked, OK practically skipped, the 12 or so blocks from my loft in the fashion district all the way to the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Once I got there, I started at the beginning.  I had all day, you see, so I really took my time.  I perused every rack, starting in the couture sections and found a delicious plum colored Prada cashmere v-neck sweater, a Dolce tan and black lingerie top, a Stella McCartney tan pencil skirt to match, and a colorful Pucci maxi dress.  I then scanned the tables for a pair of James Jeans in my size and made sure I didn’t need any of the shoes that were displayed in disarray.  If you’ve ever been to a sample sale, you’ll know what comes next.  I staked out a rack next to a full-length mirror.  I put all of my clothes on one side, and I started trying on everything over my thin t-shirt and shorts.  What didn’t fit or didn’t look right got discarded to the other side of the rack.  What I ended up with was the plum-colored Prada and the jeans.  I made a quick decision to discard the jeans.  I have a lot of designer jeans, and this one needed hemming.  I don’t have the time nor the money to hem jeans at this point.  Now, what to do about the Prada sweater?  It would go with everything!  It fit me like a glove.  It was so well made in Italy.  And isn’t purple THE color for this Fall?  Then, I looked the price tag.  Originally, the sweater costs $895.  It was on sale for $250.  Now, that’s quite a mark-down, and in better times…I would never have even hesitated.  But I did.  I thought about how many cashmere sweaters I’ve seen at J Crew or Banana Republic that were not even $250 at the regular price.  Why was I going to buy a sweater for $250?  Was it just because it was Prada?  That didn’t make any sense.  I’m not a label-whore.  I like clothes that are well made and that will last and not go out of style…so this did fit into those categories.  But $250 for a sweater?  In this recession?  No, thank you.  So I put everything back, and I walked out into the sunshine and bought myself a fat-free yogurt instead.

Now the story does not end there.

This week, my mom and I went to the Carolina Herrera Bridal Sample Sale.  Everything was marked down 30%-70%.  We didn’t find anything we loved, so we went to…where else?  Neiman’s in Beverly Hills.  While there, my mom found a Chanel bag she really, really liked.  I also thought it fit her perfectly.  It was $2870, and although I think that’s outrageous for a handbag, she told me that it was quite reasonable.  She checked out this bag for what seemed to be hours!  She dumped all of her personal belongings from her current Chanel bag to the new one.  She walked around with it.  She was on the verge of buying it.  And then, something miraculous happened.  After finding out that we were from Taiwan, the sales lady told us how sorry she was to hear about the typhoon and the deaths.  My mom said, “Oh I think that’s the very reason why I should not buy this purse.  It wouldn’t be right.”  She put the bag on hold (just in case, I guess), and we walked out without buying anything at all.

I also spent some time this week with a dear friend of mine.  She also loved to shop, and she was also great at finding deals.  And she told me, “This recession was the best thing to have happened to people like us.  Before this recession, we never thought something like this could happen.”  Oh so true.  Now, we think twice before buying something nice.  OK a bit corny, but I’ve been watching “Mad Men,” so give me a break if some of the 1950’s corn-ball sensibility rubbed off on me.  And yes, I’m completely obsessed with the clothes on this brilliant TV series!



–by Carla Marion

It’s been a few days now, but word continues to spread about Brad Barton’s shocking layoff from Dallas/Fort Worth News/Talk CBS radio station KRLD (1080AM).

brad

The longtime meteorologist/news anchor/morning news host is among the most trusted names in Dallas/Fort Worth media and his unceremonious termination is still sending shock waves across North Texas, as you can read in the comment section of the previous post. Brad and I have been in touch quite a bit these past few days. I worry about him and Brenda more than he knows and having just been through the “your position has been eliminated” axing myself, I can bet I know exactly what he’s going through right now. But he is a man of extraordinarily strong faith with a family equally as strong and those two things matter more to him than any job could have ever mattered.

Here, once again, Brad gives us an update on what life has been like the past few days, seeing all of the comments on not only this blog, but the various others in the area:

“Wow.  I feel like Jimmy Stewart at the end of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ “the richest man in town.” 
I can’t thank Carla enough for setting a match to this little firestorm as only she can.  I never realized I had so many friends and not just listeners, of course, with friends like Carla and Don, you don’t need many others. ;}
 
The public comments here and in the media blogs have been kind beyond measure and almost all positive.  One negative was a former radio announcer who liked “my predecessor” better.  My most recent predecessor (several years ago) was Mark Watkins who co-anchored mornings with none other than Carla Marion.  As a former radio announcer myself, I can say Mark’s combination of voice, script delivery and recall puts him among the elite talents in broadcasting.  If I were in charge of finding network talent for a new national network, Mark Watkins would be the first one I called.  Compare him to any of the current radio network anchors and he’s already in the top ten percent.  I’ve been Mark’s supervisor, trainer and co-worker but I’m happiest just to be his friend.  I hope we can get together next week.   If the former radio announcer was referring to “my predecessor” in the KRLD Weather Center, there was none.  I started it from scratch on a borrowed desk with an HP 386 in the “wire room” of KRLD.  Maybe I’ll write a book. 
 
And to hear from David Conner and remember his great family was an extraordinary treat.  I hope we can meet again soon.  I finally broke down and put up a Facebook page to keep from sponging off Carla, but I warn you, I’m just a neophyte.”

Keep those comments coming, I know it means the world to Brad and Brenda.



{May 27, 2009}   Feelin’ Confident

–by Carla

spring

I recently caught myself thinking (or maybe daydreaming) that this recession was over, that we were all better and that we could all go about our business like nothing ever happened. I mean, it’s spring, the trees are green, flowers are blooming, the weather here in the Dallas area is amazing, I’m taking the boys to the park just about every single day…

...thanks for bringing me to the park, Mom!

 

 

...thanks for bringing me to the park, Mom!

…and I just got a pedicure. So, we’re all better, right?

I’m no economic brainiac, but I did hear the news this week that consumer confidence was up and that made Wall Street stand up and take note. Ok, fine…so we’re not completely out of the woods just yet, but doesn’t it kind of FEEL that way?

Think of it this way, when did our fancy, cozy, wonderful little bubble burst? Around October, right? SEVEN months ago. For a country with A.D.D, that’s a ridiculously long time. And then think of this: We were all completely freaked out by what had just happened with our money…

winter

…It was fall, almost winter. No more green, lush leaves on the trees, no pretty flowers, no going out to play and frolic, no reason to get a pedicure. That sort of environment really messes with a person, don’t you think? I mean, it’s entirely possible that we had the economic equivalent of S.A.D., seasonal affective disorder. So have we just shaken it off and come out to play in the sun, or does the economy even work like that? In other words, does Main Street drive Wall Street, or is it the other way around? I really don’t know the answer to that. But if we THINK it’s getting better out there, maybe it really is. 

And hey, look, I know that not every American is in some sort of economic distress. But some ARE, and of those, some are worse off than others…and this occurred at every economic level. Along those lines, something hit me the other day while listening to “Funny The Way It Is” by the Dave Mathews Band. Just a little something to think about. Here’s just part of it:

Funny the way it is, if you think about it Somebody’s going hungry and someone else is eating out

Funny the way it is, nor right or wrong Somebody’s heart is broken and it becomes your favorite song 

Funny the way it is, if you think about it A kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out

Funny the way it is, nor right or wrong Oh, a soldier’s last breath and a baby’s being born

(It’s a crazy good song…you should check it out.)

I’m feeling this consumer confidence thing, I really am. I’m also thinking that maybe a little dose of sunshine and a ride on a tiny horse at the park is exactly what we need right now.



{April 6, 2009}   Meet Carla

Picture 6

I was supposed to have my hair done at my fancy Dallas salon just before Christmas, 2008. In fact, my appointment was for 10:30 the morning of December 12, 2008. Cut, color, style, the whole mess. I would drop about $200 including tip that morning. But the universe had other plans for me that day. I was called into the office (a major radio chain) for a 10:00am meeting on the last day of my maternity leave with Dean, my 2nd son. My highlights would have to wait. My “position had been eliminated”. I had just been laid off. And just like that, in the snap of a finger, my life was sent spinning. Everything was up in the air. And since no one is exactly handing out radio news anchor jobs right now, for the first time in my life, I’ve joined the ranks of the unemployed, just like millions of other hard-working Americans.

I’m Carla Marion, wife and mom to 2 super cool baby boys. I’ve never had to budget or save money a day in my life. Until now, that is. And boy what a learning experience this has been so far! (Coupons, seriously…? And I have to cook my own meals now? Lovely)

I will, at times, be brutally honest about this new journey … but most times I try to laugh about it all. So join me on my penny pinching adventure as my family and I learn how to make do with the money we do have.



et cetera