Recession Mama

{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)


…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…


…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.


{August 3, 2009}   The Best Cheap Week Ever

By Katy

I’m starting work again in two weeks.  I’m very excited about it.  In the meantime, what’s a recession mama gonna do when she’s not pulling in a regular paycheck?  Well, I’ve discovered that I can work out for FREE and dine cheaply by going to all the happy hours I miss when I do work.

Matthew McConaughey running at Runyon

Matthew McConaughey running at Runyon

On Monday, I attended a free yoga class at Runyon Canyon…where the beautiful and famous people in L.A. go to work out…or find a date?!?  It’s quite the meat market during the week.  Guys usually hike the trails without a shirt on, and girls wear tiny bikini tops and short shorts.  My hiking buddy tells me she’s gotten hit on many times while hiking alone.


Well, besides hiking trails high above Hollywood, yoga instructors teach 3 classes…for FREE…during the week!  And two classes for FREE on the weekends.  It was a hot day in Hollywood, but besides the little gophers popping their heads up from giant holes in the ground, it was a lovely class.  The yoga instructor was a sweet girl with a soft voice who made it just challenging enough that I want to go back today.  In the evening, I hit up a Recession Mondays happy hour in downtown Los Angeles.  It’s $3 for well drinks, beers, wine, and appetizers!  I tried all of the appetizers — cheese plate, butcher’s plate, hummus plate, and guac and chips, and I washed it all down with a yummy Cabernet Sauvignon.  Final tab?  $15.

On Tuesday, I found out about a free pilates class at The Grove — an outdoor shopping mall, for those of you who don’t live in Los Angeles.  But unfortunately, they canceled last week’s class.  Hopefully, they’ll be back this week!  Tuesday night, a friend won a free room at the Westin Bonaventure hotel in downtown Los Angeles, so I met her and another friend for happy hour at the Brewery inside the hotel.  A real burger and sweet potato fries for just $4!

Westin Bonaventure in downtown L.A.

Westin Bonaventure in downtown L.A.

On Wednesday, I hit up a free work out class in my own loft community.  Mondays and Wednesdays, there are free workout classes downstairs.  It’s a combo cardio kickboxing and strength training class, taught by a super nice and energetic guy.  I only discovered these classes recently.  And since I’ve been going to Recession Monday happy hours, I haven’t attended the Monday classes.  But I have now gone to the Wednesday ones 3 weeks in a row.  I get my butt kicked, and I like it!  That night, I decided to have dinner at home.

Someone hiking at Runyon

Someone hiking at Runyon

Thursday, I went hiking at Runyon.  Yes, the same one that has free yoga classes.  In the evening, I went to my new favorite restaurant, Bottega Louie.  They serve small plates at reasonable prices.  On Friday, I rested from working out.  Instead, I took the 12 year old girl I am mentoring to the aquarium.  The tickets are a bit pricey, but I got discounts online through a work perks card.  That night, the Fiance and I splurged at dinner.  My neighbors and I went to Cole’s for French dipped sandwiches, and afterwards, a few people came over for poker.  Too bad we weren’t playing for money because I cleaned up.

A cheap but nice week, wouldn’t you say?

et cetera