Monday, June 30, 2008

ALDI vs. Publix

Beloved, Publix, you know we are close, but these are trying times. And trying times calls for drastic measures. These past few months I have turned right into your sparkling parking lot, pulled into your "reserved for new moms" spot where a smiling worker sweeps me into your climate controlled interior with a smooth rolling shopping cart, complete with wet wipes. After stopping by the cookie counter for a free cookie that keeps my son happy for most of the trip, the smell of your Publix Apron's meal station draws me close, along with the ease of each ingredient for such dishes within arms reach of the sample table. Your cashiers practically know me by name and they definitely know my children, asking how they are doing each and every time. They never ask for the penny item coupon in the Sunday paper. Instead, they simply give me the discount, knowing how badly our family needs that third bag of tortilla chips for the week. Sometimes I think I hear angels singing as I go back to my car, led by a smiling assistant who loads the groceries while chatting pleasantries, refusing the tip I always try to offer. As I pull out of your parking lot, I turn left back towards home, but for a second or two, I look across the road to ALDI wondering how long I can hold out.

You know how in high school there was that kid that is totally uncool until a couple of cool kids starting hanging out with him and then the girls were all over him? ALDIs is kind of like that. It took a few friends to taunt me but now I'm hooked. Today I did some heavy shopping at ALDIs but had to slink back across the street to get some red wine vinegar and green onions that ALDI did not have. I took my ALDIs receipt in and did a few comparisons. I was shocked and here's why. The following items have two prices listed. The first is Publix and second is ALDIs.
  • Dozen large eggs - $1.79/$1.39
  • Graham cracker pie crust - $.89/$1.57
  • Graham crackers - $1.09/$3.99
  • Strawberry frosted miniwheat cereal - $4.29/$1.79
  • Cream of chicken soup - $.99/$.47
  • cream cheese frosting - $.99/$1.99
  • Bag of buttermix salad greens - $3.99/$1.99
  • Gallon of skim milk - $4.39/$1.99

My disclaimer is that I've always bought the Publix brand on any item possible, except peanut butter because Publix peanut butter has a funny aftertaste. So all of the above Publix prices are on their store brand. I only compared the price on about 60% of my groceries but just from that, I saved $27.37. That is at least 25% lower than if I'd bought everything at Publix.

Isn't that amazing?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ideal Household - A Wish List

I could be the perfect wife and mother. Really, I could be, if only I had the following people over for extended consults:

Ty Pennington - It has to be Ty. Please Ty, come give us an extreme makeover on our house. Let's start with the kitchen. The picture above contains the exact same oven that is in our house right now in 2008, no lie. Stainless steel appliances everywhere please, along with a tumbled stone back splash over bull-nosed granite counter tops (I've done my homework). New windows please with internal blinds that never have to be dusted. Curtains as well, since after almost four years in the house, they are scarce and only in small rooms that did not provoke the anxiety of a decision. And can we get Little Philip a tree house going in the backyard along with a privacy fence?

Landscape Professional - First, we need a tree for Little Philip's tree house. It's kind of the first step if you're going to have TREEhouse. Then, remove the three worthless trees with no branches that are uprooting the sidewalk, driveway, possibly our house. Regrade the front and back yard to remove roots, and put down the soft, beautiful, St. Augustine grass that died during last year's drought. Whatever you do, do not mess with our front beds which were lovingly restored by Mama Em. They are the envy of the neighborhood and were the focus of our life support efforts through the drought. Since the trees have destroyed our walkways, we'll need a new sidewalk and driveway. The scored concrete with the Tuscan wash would be great.

Leave it to Lauri, clutterologist - fix it and teach me to never ever let it happen again.

Paula Dean, Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay (for Philip), and Sandra Lee - teach me how to be a functional chef, varying our meals, and extending our food budget. And help me get Little Philip to eat affordable but still health-conscious food like mashed potatoes and green beans.

Dr. James Dobson and Jo Jo the Supernanny- how to raise children, specifically potty train boys. Our children are wonderful and we have little to complain about, but Little Philip is starting to test us and Helen still gets up twice a night. We have this huge fear: Are we doing this right????

Personal trainer - Baby fat is only cute on babies. And dimples belong on cheeks, your face cheeks.

Toss in an on call massage therapist and beauty specialist that will make house calls, a clown and pony ride for the kids while Mommy is having her massage and beauty treatments, oh, and a shaved ice machine for mojitos and margaritas and I think that would do it. I wouldn't need anything else ever again, really.

OK - back to reality. Anyone else want to share their wish list?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blog Harassment

Recently, at least two family members have alluded in their blogs to my not to subtle nudging to be more regular in updating their blogs. I'm so excited to have the new side bar on our blog, with an automatic feature to show when the last update was for each of our family and friend blogs. That way, I don't click each and everyone with such great anticipation of learning what you are up to, only to find it still contains last year's Christmas greetings. So keep it up! Little Philip loves to see pictures of his family and friends, and learn what is happening in each of your lives!

Coming soon, a video conversation with Baby Helen. Seriously, she's quite a talker, but the batteries are dead in the camera right now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Strange Week

All week long, everyone has been asking me "are you exciting that this is your last week at work?" To answer that question, I have a choice. I can lie and say yes, faking a sheepish smile or I can tell the truth and say it's been a emotionally difficult week. That usually makes people feel awkward so I shoot down the middle and say it's an interesting position to be in. I wonder if some people judge me for loving my job and loving my family at the same time.

I want friends and family to understand and respect that this is truly a very difficult decision we've made for our family, albeit the right one. I love, love, love, my job working with college students and I will miss this environment so very much. I thank God for having the ability to work these past eleven years and be happy going to work virtually 99% of the time. Ultimately, I know I've made the right choice and come next Wednesday when I wake up to spend that first day with my two beautiful children, I know I'll feel at peace. Right now, I'm struggling with the anxiety of it all. If you know anyone in the Porter family, this would not come as a surprise. I pray that being a stay at home mom will provide me with the opportunity to dig deeper in my faith, helping me to turn all my control issues, fears and anxieties over to Christ. As I often tell my sisters ,who also share the control freak gene - I need to give the steering wheel back to Jesus. We coined this phrase well before Carrie Underwood came onto the scene.

So as the weight of the countdown to my last day next Tuesday wears on me this week, God comes in at just the right moment. I am creating the last of the transition notes for my replacement here at BSC, listening to A song comes on by Sara Groves called Remember Surrender and these are the words I hear...

Remember surrender • Remember the rest • Remember that weight lifting off of your chest • And realizing that it's not up to you and it never was • • Remember surrender • Remember relief • Remember how tears rolled down both of your cheeks • As the warmth of a heavenly father came closing in • • I want to do that again • Why can't I live there • And make my home • In sweet surrender • I want to do so much more than remember • • Remember surrender • Remember peace • Remember how soundly you fell fast asleep • In the face of your troubles your future still shone like the morning sun • • Remember surrender • Remember that sound • Of all of those voices dying down • But one who speaks clearly of helping and healing you deep within • • I want to do that again • Why can't I live there • And make my home • In sweet surrender • I want to do so much more than remember • • Remember • Oh surrender • • I want to do that again • Oh why can't I live there and make my home • In sweet surrender • I want to do so much more than remember • • Remember • • Remember surrender • Remember the rest • Remember that weight lifting off of your chest • And realizing that it's not up to you and it never was • •

What a peace washed over me. It's going to be ok.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

You can eat my tomatoes

No salmonella scare in our house. Late this spring, I decided that with the rising cost of food, particularly dairy and fresh fruits and vegetables, I wanted to grow a garden...again. In Kentucky we built a huge fifteen foot long raised garden bed, filled with yummy Kentucky wonder beans, sugar snaps, red, orange, yellow, and green bell peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, cherry, roma, and big boy tomatoes. The entire garden was bordered by marigolds (a natural bug deterrent), cilantro, basil, oregano, and other yummy herbs. It was a delightful summer and I must say I was darn proud of the garden. But then we moved to Birmingham, providing us with only that one tasty summer's harvest and a few failed attempts at winter veggies like broccoli.

I wish our current backyard offered us such a huge space to recreate that garden but we just don't have that luxury. Instead, I created a container garden, modeled after the "Earthboxes" fancy garden stores sell. I found an awesome site called where people post how-to instructions on virtually anything and everything. Included in their stash was how to make fake Earthboxes out of rubber maid tubs. It's not beautifully bordered by wooden garden rails like in Kentucky but we are about to have a huge tomato harvest, along with bush beans to feed the family. I also planted salad greens but only two plants survived what I think was a bird attack. Aunt Lizzy and I enjoyed a tasty gourmet green salad last night with our pasta while Big Philip was away in Starkville.

The Earthbox is $50 which does not include the necessary potting mix and fertilizer. My version of the Earthbox was $22 each and they are weed free and never need any fertilizer added for the entire growing season. If you have a small space and a weak green thumb, this project is super easy and affordable. Let me know if you want me to send the link on how to make these earthboxes!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Moss Beach Week 2008

We've just returned from another memorable Moss Beach Week in Perdido Beach, FL. Some of you may recall that this annual family reunion was the first date Philip and I had. This first picture has 48 people in it, four generations of Mosses. Talk about first date anxiety! If you need the background story on how Philip and I met, let me know as it is complex to explain here. Anyway, this year's time with family was so very enjoyable and we loved sharing the newest member of the family, our Helen. Little Philip was off and running with his cousins from the time his feet hit the ground. He is going to have a hard time this week without so much excitement!


A little over an hour after we arrived home from the beach, Little Philip fell off the back of the couch (where he knows he is not allowed) and spiked his head on the foot of a wrought iron plant stand. We ended up at Children's Hospital after hours care center where we received two stitches on our head. If you ask Little Philip what happened, he will tell you that he received two stickers, juice, and a water gun (irrigation syringe). Our brave little boy never even cried.