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Shopping deals during COVID-19

There is so much going on in the world right now between the COVID-19 pandemic and the long standing pandemic of racial injustice in the world. Although I’m an optimistic person, it’s no wonder that many people including myself have been feeling mentally drained.

Like a lot of people, I’ve engaged in some retail therapy to help me cope. Some of this is normal in the sense of using distractions to help ourselves feel better….like self-soothing. However, shopping can become addictive, so be careful. If it’s not in the budget, then you don’t have the money to spend. This sounds simple enough, but unfortunately that doesn’t stop people from spending what they don’t have.

I had my last big shopping hoorah last week. I’ve pumped the brakes on shopping because I have everything I need and want. I’m able to discipline myself when needed, plus I have long term goals. Also, there is no space to keep a huge accumulation of stuff. That’s the bonus side of living in a small townhouse.

I admit I get a massive boost of dopamine from a great sale. And lately, I’ve found great sales which I attribute to COVID-19 effects on the economy. Retail stores are struggling. I find the few I’ve visited barely have inventory or places like Kohl’s have huge inventories of winter pieces that they want to get rid of. Also, many stores are not equipped to process massive online orders like Amazon. It took The Container Store one month to send my order which was delivered on 3 different delivery dates.

Brand new sweater $3.50 (after additional discount) from Kohl’s. LPC
Simply Vera by Vera Wang less than $4 (with additional discount) at Kohl’s. LPC

If you have a few extra dollars, this is the time to stock up on winter items. I purchased 7 sweaters at less than $4 a piece because of the extra 30% off on clearance at Kohl’s. Occassionally, Kohl’s offers cash back on certain amounts you spend, plus additional coupons.

Costco also has been having cheap prices on clothes. Cheap as in $5 dollars for name brand pants and tops. You have to really pay attention or you’ll miss it. The sweaters plus a few other items are stored under my bed in the storage boxes I bought from The Container Store.

Since I work in a professional environment, I’m usually looking for professional pieces. I like variety. I got really excited when I found coats on clearance I could wear to work.

Cathy Daniels $25 final price. LPC
Chaps sweater/coat $14.22 final price. LPC
Apt. 9 jacket approximately $15 final price. LPC

I know winter is a few months out, but these are great deals. I honestly thought we’d be back to the office by now. With the increase in COVID-19 cases in Texas, I’m wondering if we’ll be back to the office at all in 2020. I hope I’m able to wear these pieces I bought this year. If not, I’ll hold onto them for winter 2021.

My whole household benefited from Kohl’s sales. I found some major deals for my husband, Bryan, and my two kids. I also brought several items on clearance I needed for the kitchen such as a Pyrex glass dish, mixing bowls, and cooking/prepping utensils.

Randall’s tea clearance. LPC

Not only have I been finding deals on household items and clothes, but my grocery store has been clearancing out some items including expensive, organic, responsibly sourced teas such as Mighty Leaf, Numi, Traditional Medicinals, Organic India, Yogi, etc. for $1.97. To my surprise, the expiration dates are fine: 2021 and 2022. There were too many teas to capture in the picture. Randall’s is also having a clearance on coffees, including some organic ones and fancy nut butters and organic jams. I stocked up and may even reserve some as gifts.

Overall, groceries have been more expensive, but I’ve found my Randall’s has been slowly bringing back their weekly sales and ads. Shopping is no longer like a scavenger hunt, at least for now. I’m able to find what I need which is great. However, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Texas makes me think there will be another lock down. Whatever the case, I’m prepared. What about you?

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Cooking new recipes during COVID-19

Starting in April and lasting through May, I reduced the amount of cooking I was doing for several reasons, none of which was planned. The reduction in cooking wasn’t due to a lack of groceries either. As I’ve indicated in previous posts, I’m grateful for a well stocked pantry, deep freezer, and refrigerator/freezer.

In April, I was still getting used to teleworking and initially was finding it difficult to make time to eat in my newfound virtual reality. I continued to drink my nutitious green smoothies daily, but I’d begun relying on convenience foods. Example: Trader Joe’s fish nuggets and orange chicken paired with salads or soups.

We were also in celebratory mode for a while because my husband, Bryan’s, disability was approved. This was such a relief for him because his life has been in limbo. He deservedly received compensation for back pay which has allowed us to live comfortably during a pandemic. We’ve paid off many debts in a matter of months. We also have the emergency fund that Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman have been preaching about for years.

Also, May is a special month in that Mother’s Day and my birthday are one week apart. We celebrated with takeout from the same delicious Italian restaurant for both occasions. This was the first Mother’s Day since my mom passed three years ago that I didn’t cry.

No matter how good convenience foods and takeout foods are, I always return to craving my own cooking. Also, I didn’t like gaining a few pounds since teleworking. I know when I cook, I’m able to control how healthy the meal is and add my own flare. I’ve been tracking my calories on my Fitbit since the end of May, and thankfully, the scale is going back in the right direction.

I’ve been doing weekly meal planning…nothing fancy. There are so many YouTube videos of meal planning, shopping on a budget, and being frugal. Since shelter in place, I’ve increased my viewing of these videos exponentially. I enjoy them so much. Some youtubers have their own products to help people get organized, but I created a simple hybrid system which is tweaked here and there.

I created a master list of the foods my family enjoys. I asked them for ideas. When I get some time, I plan to type up the list, but for now, I keep track in my journal. Weekly, I write a menu I create on the dry erase board on the refrigerator. I also get inspiration for new ideas from the YouTube videos and sites I follow. Although I don’t recall what inspired me to make the vegetarian lasagna roll ups, it doesn’t matter because they were so good. My family loved them.

Spinach & ricotta lasagna roll ups with salad. LPC

On my birthday, I got to speak to one of my long time friends for a while. We were talking about everything and then the conversation inevitably landed on food. We both love to cook. I noted that I’ve never tasted mussels or oysters. A couple of days later, I began asking myself why I was limiting myself from trying these foods. Next thing you know, I was in Costco and bought a frozen bag of mixed seafood. Seafood soup popped in my head. Then, I learned something for the first time.

Seasoned seafood ready for the pot. LPC
Beautiful sauteed veggies for seafood soup. LPC
Seafood soup. LPC

Mussels are actually quite delicious. I don’t like that it’s taken me so long to learn this.

Sunny side up egg and mashed sweet potatoes. LPC

In January, while participating in the green smoothie challenge, I blogged about the importance of people setting themselves up for success. Prepping ingredients on the weekends sets me up for success during the work week. A couple of weeks ago, I roasted my last 5 or 6 sweet potatoes and mashed them with only cinnamon. There was no excuse to not have healthy options. I tried a new breakfast combination of a sunny side up egg with mashed sweet potatoes. It was delicious!

Peaches and biscuits. LPC

I caught a video of vegan, social media superstar Tabitha Brown (google her) making a vegan peaches and biscuit recipe. I’ve never heard of this combination, BUT I was inspired to try it. On Saturday, I found myself buying Fredericksburg peaches from a lady who was deaf on the corner by the park by our house. Ten dollars for a large bag.

Fresh peaches simmering in maple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon, cinnamon, and freshly grated nutmeg. LPC
Nothing says summer like fresh peaches. LPC

What a delicious treat! I was careful about ensuring I had enough calories in my daily allotment. I’ve found tracking my calories to be helpful because occassionally I get too lax. I was able to eat this treat and not worry about exceeding my calories. WIN! WIN! WIN!

I’m so glad to be back into my cooking groove. I’m even more excited to be adding new recipes to my meal rotation. Homecooking is not only healthier depending on what you’re cooking, but it’s more cost effective for your budget. Even if I can afford it, I want to live below my means and save money where I can.

What inspires you to cook? What new foods or food combinations have you tried recently? What are you cooking up this week?

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Father’s Day message

Happy Father’s Day! In case you struggled today, this message may be for you.

enlightenedsocialworker

There’s no denying the impact a present father has on his child’s life. In my culture growing up, he wasn’t “father” or “daddy”…he was called “poppy”. Whether positive, negative, or mixed, it’s an impact that lasts. I think when a father hasn’t been in his child’s life, especially from an early age, the impact becomes more tricky to assess. My perspective is personal because my father was not in my life. In fact, I barely speak of him. He was dangerous. He was irrational. He was bitter. He was defeated. He was misunderstood. He was broken.

My father was around, but he didn’t raise me because he was incapable of raising his family at the time. People whispered about him in my presence. When visiting my uncle, his brother, he couldn’t sit in the living room…he could only go to the basement. My uncle would arrange for me to see…

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What breast cancer has taught me…

In recognition of National Cancer Survivor’s day June 7, 2020

enlightenedsocialworker

Breast cancer awareness month is nearing its end. I often spend September and October reflecting on my life after my breast cancer diagnosis, mostly because I was diagnosed right at the onset of breast cancer awareness month.

About 10-12 years ago, when my mom was attending to her breast cancer treatment, I had no knowledge of the disease. She told me she was struggling with how to proceed in her course of treatment considering how much her breasts meant to her. My mom had a mastectomy and breast reconstruction with an implant. I didn’t think she needed to get a breast implant. Admittedly at the time, I thought it was odd my mom was talking about her relationship with her breasts, considering she was in her late 60’s. I thought she wouldn’t care so much since she was in a different phase of life. Looking back, I was insensitive.

She…

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Dominican Republic (DR) Chronicles 2019: Food

I have fond memories of this trip. One day, I’ll be traveling again. In the meantime, I have memories.

enlightenedsocialworker

For my blog readers, my son, Caleb and I are finally on our mission trip in Santiago, DR. We arrived in the middle of the night to the Mission of Hope (MOH) Santiago Campus Sunday morning, June 2. I’ll be blogging about this experience while I can on the trip and for the next several weeks. I’ve shared pictures on my Facebook page, but I really want to unpack this experience through blogging. Update: This is the only blog post I’ve managed to type thus far. I intended to post more, but I think several things are at play: I’ve been more tired than usual, been getting settled into my normal routine, and still mentally and spiritually processing this trip.

This particular post is focused on the food. These almond butter packets I brought have saved me to a point.

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At the time that I posted this, I only…

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If you’re not angry…

“If you’re not angry, you’re either a stone, or you’re too sick to be angry. You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of displeasure. So use that anger, yes. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.” Maya Angelou