Today I went shopping for groceries and came home with five bags of groceries and a new pair of sandals. When I am stressed or feeling uneasy about something two things help to make it better, chocolate and shoes. Mind you I did not need a new pair of shoes. In actual fact, like others of my kind I only have two feet. Try as I might these two feet alone, no matter how adept at keeping me erect, could never accommodate the shoes already residing on the floor of my closet waiting to be filled. However, I’m feeling much better about my world knowing these little bejeweled sandals are mine. They were on sale, so as I explained to my other half, practically free.
My other half does not seem to comprehend fully the “on sale” hypothesis, nor does he view this as a viable reason for purchasing something you do not need. Several times I have endeavored to explain the concept to him complete with reviewing store brochures, explanation of savings margins, and even factoring in the “fad quotient”, which in layman’s terms means, “if you bought it twenty minutes ago, it is now outdated”. Still, he seems to hold to the premise if you already have twenty pairs of shoes and only two feet, this should keep your feet covered for some years to come, unless, naturally, new feet begin to grow then he promised to revisit the discussion along with explore getting me a spot on Letterman. Try as I might he refuses to see a clear picture when it comes to this subject. So, my work here is done. Even at my most persuasive, I cannot move a rock with an ice cream stick. I’m just sayin.
For the most part I am a fairly thrifty being. Several months after I first met Rick he and I went shopping to fill a grocery list for a party he was planning. Somewhat of a high roller I thought when it came to his choice in foods. As we walked the aisles the cart was filled with expensive cheeses and high-end olives and appetizers. By the time we arrived at the check stand he looked down to find several baguettes, a flat of steaks, two boxes of mushrooms, a bunch of fresh asparagus and a bag of red potatoes. Without even realizing it, used to several years of stringent budgeting, I had unconsciously put all the unnecessary items back on the shelves. That, he said, was the deciding moment for him. I was definitely the woman of his dreams. When things were tight for me financially in the years when my children and I were on our own, I had a system which worked beautifully for cutting spending. If I saw something my heart really desired, I would load it in the cart to enjoy while I did the rest of my shopping. Before paying for my items I would return the object of my affection to its rightful spot in the store, say my goodbyes, and purchase the things I actually needed. I guess some of that frugality lingers beneath the surface in my makeup because even now I think a while before tossing something frivolous in the cart. Rick will report to you, however, under his tutelage I have made great progress in overcoming this handicap over the years, as would be reflected in our monthly grocery bills.
Growing up I can remember my mother being a bit of a spendthrift. Not entirely her fault really, for she was raised in an affluent household with little denied her. As she will recall, even during the war years in the 1940′s when luxuries were hard to come by, she felt little in the way of deprivation other than perhaps suffering a shortage of nylons or chocolate. Although many foodstuffs were rationed, my grandfather was a physician with many farmers listed as patients on his accounts receivable list, so spring lamb, newly butchered poulets, fresh eggs and seasonal vegetables arrived at the doorstep even in the leanest of times.
Born with an innate sense of good taste, Mother really should have pursued a career as an interior designer or personal shopper so she could spend other people’s money. On our shopping expeditions together these days, I am the one holding up the white flag on behalf of my feet, long before she’s ready to quit and go home. In high school, bags from the mall were smuggled in while my stepfather tended his beloved rose bushes in the back yard. Stashed in the closet or attic crawl space they were reintroduced later as “this old thing” or “that, I bought it last summer”. Drawn into the subterfuge by blood ties, I remained mum hoping no questions came my direction. A terrible liar, I literally lose a dress size in perspiration when interrogated, making detection inevitable. Although my parents earning scale would have been considered upper middle class for the time, we lived on the teetering edge of disaster most days, each paycheck accounted for before the ink was dry on the signature.
Mother compensated for her joy of spending by working hard, bringing home a tidy paycheck. Rarely do I remember her taking a day off, and our house, in her defense, was always beautifully appointed and a pleasure to walk into, our food beautifully prepared and presented, and my closet was never lacking for something to make the hangers feel they still had a job to do. For my stepfather, keeping up with the expenses meant scrambling every summer, as his principle job was, well, principal. He could choose to have his salary distributed equally over twelve months at a lessor amount each month or get paid more for nine months with no paycheck during the summer. With the spending on full throttle, the latter became the necessary option. The man sold Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door, extension courses, worked in a gas station pumping gas, redeemed tickets at the movie theater, and scanned the papers and magazines every weekend in search of every get rich quick scheme out there or any contest requiring no purchase to enter.
In the end they taught me well with regard to money, in a backwards kind of way. I learned to respect money, enjoy it, and most certainly learned the work ethic to earn it. I also learned not to keep too tight of an eye on it while at the same time not letting control of it get out of my sight completely. All in all I am certainly not rolling around in bills tossed in the center of my king sized mattress but I’ve formed a friendship with my finances and found I can live well with quite a bit in the bank and equally as well with just enough.
This hummus came to me via a friend’s pool party recently. It is so quick to put together and a lighter touch served with vegetables rather than pita chips or pita pockets, although good with both. When I make tahini for falafels, I freeze the extra tahini in small bags to be used down the road for hummus. Lovely on the patio in the summertime. Happy Mother’s Day!
1 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced thin lengthwise
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 can garbonzo beans (chickpeas) rinsed and drained
3 cloves garlic, quartered
3 Tbsp. tahini
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Sliced vegetables or pita chips for dipping
Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over med-high heat. Add sliced zucchini to pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown on one side for about 3 mins. Turn over and repeat. Cook until fork tender watching not to burn. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Coarsely chop zucchini. Add chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and zucchini to food processor. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with pita chips or sliced vegetables.