Recession Mama

{September 25, 2009}   Who Wants A Little Good News…?

–by Carla

I went digging around on the Internet the other day trying to find an upside to all this recession talk…which honestly gets to be a total downer from time to time…and I  found this article.  It gives a broad overview of how the recession is “taking its toll” on various aspects of American life. But I chose to dig deeper for you and find the happy stuff…not all the doom and gloom. For example, here’s a little somethin’ about the old ball and chain: 


“Marital bliss also suffered. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans 15 and over, or 31.2 percent, reported they had never been married, the highest level in a decade. The share had previously hovered for years around 27 percent, before beginning to climb during the housing downturn in 2006. The never-married included three-quarters of men in their 20s and two-thirds of women in that age range. Sociologists say younger people are taking longer to reach economic independence and consider marriage because they are struggling to find work or focusing on an advanced education. The Northeast had the most people who were delaying marriage, led by states such as New York and Massachusetts. People in the South were more likely to give marriage a try, including those in Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas.”

The way I look at it, there are fewer people trapped in crappy marriages who are too broke to get out of ’em. KIDDING. Just kidding there.

Ok, now for upside point #2 from the article:

“The share of people who carpooled to work rose to 10.7 percent, up from 10.4 percent in the previous year.”

Recession: terrible for most other things, good for the environment. See?

Next “plus”:

“Women’s average pay still lagged men’s, but the gap has been narrowing. Women with full-time jobs made 77.9 percent of men’s pay, up from 77.5 percent in 2007 and about 64 percent in 2000.”

Right on, ladies! Oh wait, the one time in history we’re THIS close to getting paid the same as the guys (um…and exactly why AREN’T we?)…and I got laid off!? WTH!?

Anyhoo, there ya go. Some happy news to report.

Have a great weekend everyone!


{April 19, 2009}   We Can Make Our Own, Thank You

By Carla

Just a couple of days ago I talked about how I had started to see the connection between saving money and saving the environment. After all, there’s no plastic tub to throw away when you mash you own potatoes and stop buying the packaged stuff. A little later that day I read a post from my friend Connie, who just started her fabu blog called Join the Green Side

Connie is the original Super Mom. She has 3 gorgeous girls, ranging in age from 3mo to 5yr, plus she’s a full time student. (Connie, you’re makin’ the rest of us look bad…)  She actually made her own laundry soap recently and documented it, taking pictures along the way. You’ll need to go to her blog to see the amazing pics. I’ll let her share her story for us here. 


Okay, this is by far the neatest thing I’ve done in a while! I found a recipe for homemade laundry soap online and thought I’d give it a whirl! I did it today, and took pictures as I went.

hot water
1/2 bar of Ivory soap

1/2 cup washing soda

1/2 cup borax

Step 1: Grate the soap. I used our cheese grater 🙂

Step 2: Put the soap into a large pan or pot, add 6 cups of water. Turn heat to medium.

Step 3: Put 6 more cups of water to boil in a kettle or pot.

Step 4: Bring grated flakes and water to a simmer, until flakes are dissolved.

Step 5: Add 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 borax, stir until mixed well.

Step 6: Pour this mixture into a large bucket. I used a 10-quart bucket.

Step 7: Pour in the 6 cups of boiling water (from step 3) into bucket. Add 1 gallon +6 cups of warm water. Stir until mixed well.

Step 8: Let mixture set for 24 hours. This allows it enough time to cool off and gel. You will notice that the soap begins to separate from the water, and that is normal. You will have to stir it (or shake if you use a container with a lid) before using it. Use about 1/2 cup for each load of laundry.
Because I just made this today, I haven’t used it yet. I tell ya this, though, my kitchen smelled very nice and clean today! I’ll update on how it works later this week.
Here is the cost analysis: I estimate that a container of laundry soap from the store costs around $13-$15. These are the ones that hold around 150oz (like Tide) to 170oz (like Costco’s). I may be off a little on price for name brands, but we usually buy Costco at about $13.
The homemade batch made a 10-quart bucket full. There are 320 ounces in that 10-quart bucket! Nearly 200 more ounces than Costco’s! And, the price for making a 10-quart batch of homemade soap? Approximately $11. So, you can either pay $13 for 170oz, or $11 for 320. Hello!!


 I don’t know if I’ll be making my own soap anytime soon, since I should work on actually making food for now, but it really is pretty cool to know that it can be done…easily.

{April 17, 2009}   Save Green, Go Green

–By Carla

Let me make something perfectly clear: I am not a tree hugger.


Ok so I did hug this ONE tree. Fine. But there was a perfectly good reason for it. It was a really beautiful day in downtown Dallas and my sweet Grandmother and I wanted to give this tree a great big hug, so we did. I mean seriously, look at that thing…it’s a monster. Gorgeous. Just to be clear here, actually wrapping your arms around a tree does not make one a radical “tree hugger”. I don’t go around keying Hummers and burning down new home developments like those crazed ding dongs. I’ve just always felt I had a duty to do my part, small as it may be, to not junk up my little patch of Earth.

Oh and happy Day!

My big brother and I were raised to “think green” even before being “green” was anything other than a queasy physical state. Best example: Mom made us bring our lunch bags home from school each day (do kids even use those anymore?)…and it really drove the nuns  at St. Pius crazy. After lunch in the school cafeteria, the nuns would go around to make sure we all threw our trash away properly but noooooooo, Carla had to neatly fold up her little brown bag and bring it back home. Drove the nuns insane. But that’s how Mom wanted it. And to this day I still cannot see Mom as an environmentalist. She’s not, I don’t think… I don’t really know what possessed her. But anyway, the seeds were planted years ago.

Using canvas bags at the grocery store is second nature for me these days. And because of  the loss of my income, I’m at the grocery store more than ever…picking out things that I actually cook now (and occasionally torch by mistake).

We used to buy packages of everything. If we wanted mashed potatoes, we picked up those plastic tubs of potatoes you stick in the microwave. (SO wrong on SO many levels, but that’s another story) If we wanted lemon or lime juice, we snagged those cute little plastic bottles of juice. Our orange juice came in gigantic plastic jugs. Soap Shower gel bottles clogged up our shower. We bought bagged lettuce and so on and so forth. We both worked crazy hours and figured this was the only way to go.  

Talk about change. Since my layoff…we do things quite differently when it comes to our groceries, mainly out of a need to save money. Then I started noticing the environmental impact of those changes. For instance,  if I’m going to whip up mashed potatoes, I now actually MASH potatoes. What a concept! That means no more plastic tub. We try to buy fewer of those shower gel products. A couple of bars of soap do just fine. That means no more plastic bottles. We now buy cans of frozen orange juice. Again, no more gigantic plastic bottles. And sure, most of those plastics CAN be recycled, but I think about it like this:  it took petroleum to make (some of) the plastics in the first place and it will take energy to recycle that jug or bottle into whatever it’s going to turn into. So we just skip it now, when possible.

Even though we are trying to save money, we do still buy quite a few organic products mainly for the boys, since they’re so little now. But you don’t have to buy EVERYthing organic…and that’s where you can cut corners.

As for beef and poultry, I actually buy raw beef and poultry now and (attempt to) cook it myself. Again, what a concept, right!? We used to buy meats that were prepared and packaged in their plastic tubs…the ones that you toss into the microwave. We’d also buy chicken that was pre-marinated. Now, mama’s doing all the marinating. I’m a marinating fool and I love it. I won’t lie, it was a HUGE adjustment for me to start cooking beef and chicken on my own. For the record, I honestly do not know one other girl my age who knows as little about cooking as me. No one. (I’m rollin’ out the bus…here we go) Up until just a few months ago, I, RecessionMama Carla, had a totally irrational fear of raw chicken. Just couldn’t bring myself to touch it. Not unless I was fully protected against our evil friends, Sal, Moe and Nella….


…but since buying a Hazmat suit was totally not in the trimmed down budget, I had to put on my big girl britches, ask Mom to step aside (yes, she was helping me cook chicken for a few weeks..I’ll admit it. Thanks Ma!) and just grope that chicken while trying to keep from fainting. But it got easier. Now I’m an old pro at it. I was tested recently however, when…covered in chicken juice…I discovered hundreds of millions of ants had invaded my pantry. The old me would have passed out, come to, then called 911, but RecessionMama stood firm, rinsed off, grabbed some ammo and opened a can on those pantry ants.  

Who knew that cutting corners would actually lead to 1) good things for our planet and 2) repeated examples of britch hitchin’.  

(Maybe I am a tree hugger after all…..)


et cetera