Babci is Going to Poland

by Sandy L on January 10, 2011

December is always an expensive month.  I rarely open my wallet for anything other than food, absolute necessities and vacations for most of the year.  Then December rolls around. It’s the holidays and despite my hatred of shopping, I must shop regardless, so I spend my time and buy the things I’ve been putting off all year long (like new undergarments, replacing my broken measuring cups, getting some much needed work tops, etc).   I have some chipped dishes that need replacing too but I’m still holding off on that one.

The other thing I have is some time.  I always take the last week of December off because I have no daycare coverage and this gives me some time to plan for 2011.  Over the holidays, I booked one of our family vacations.

The other thing we’ve been talking about is sending Babci to Poland to visit her identical twin sister. I have to tell you that there is nothing more fun than seeing those two together.  Babci kept postponing the trip because it is a super long journey for her…about 18 hours of travel time between car and plane + the 2 hours of checking in etc before the flight.  Plus, it’s a lot of money and she hates spending money.  My kids call the other Babci, Baba (which is a shortened version of Grandma).  Anyway, Baba’s kids spoke with my mom and said she was a little down due to her health problems and asked for her help.  Well, that’s all it took for her to agree to get a plane ticket and in a week, she’ll be in Poland for the last 2 months of winter. She’ll come home right in time to start planning for gardening season.  We’ll miss her dearly, but everyone’s looking forward to the trip. I contemplated taking the last week she’s there and going with my youngest son, but my husband said I was insane for trying to do that with our schedules right now.

How Do I Take Advantage of This?

Cable -The very first thing I did was cancel her cable service.  She had a great introductory offer that I was able to get for about a year, and she previously had dish, so this has been the first few months in 5 years where she’s had to pay $72/month.  I tried calling, etc, but they played hardball with me and my husband wasn’t about to allow another dish back on the house. (He just spent time undoing the mess the last dish guy had made on the roof.)  I’ve been mad at cable ever since and resent every bill I send to them so I was psyched to do this. That’s $150 saved with the hope that I can get another introductory offer when I rejoin (although I heard one teller saying it has to be off for 6 months before the offers become available to old customers again).

Heat – Her heating bill will be lower because it’s freakin’ cold here right now and 1/2 of her upstairs is gutted with no insulation. She’s been living downstairs but it’s still been pretty high.  In addition to that, some of her radiator pipes are leaking very badly which my husband patched with some fancy tape stuff. It is a temporary band aid, so we now have the opportunity to fix some major issues while she’s gone.  A lot of the radiator valves are also shot.  It’s going to be expensive but hopefully her heating system will be more efficient as a result. We meant to get to it this summer, and the leaks weren’t quite as bad last season, but it just didn’t happen.  She has a new furnace which we bought when the oil tank started to leak (we converted over to gas at that time), but it’s still far from ideal.

Kitchen – Babci uses the kitchen all the time.  While we are remodeling the bathroom upstairs, we had a little bit of an accident and the ceiling now has a hole in it that is currently being secured with some packing tape.  I’m contemplating doing a little work there.  Her cabinets are fine, but she definitely needs her ceiling fixed as well as a refresh from her 1970’s flooring and countertops. If I farm out the countertops, that won’t take much time..I’m still on the fence about what I want to do there.  We bought the house in 2005, so it’s worth way less than we paid for it. I do want a nice place for her, but the money we put in we likely won’t get back (but should make it easier to sell as it was a total dump).

I doubt I’ll have time to do anything with all the other work in the house. It is functional, just fugly. I would love to try a cork floor there although I’m not a big fan of floating floors in general. I know she’ll hate tile because it’s too cold and hard, but most linoleum is cheesy and rips too easily. I swear they used to make it much thicker back in the 70’s because that older stuff is indestructible.

Food Challenge– I won’t feel obligated to do a long shopping trip every week and I’m glad I can avoid Walmart. I can’t seem to leave that place without spending $100.   Plus, babci has a bit of a food challenge for me too. She makes a lot of things out of eggs including her own noodles, so she goes through a lot of them.  She currently has about 6 dozen eggs, 20 pounds of onions, 60 pounds of potatoes and 20 pounds of beets in her food storage. Oh, and also 9 pounds of hamburg and  15 bags of frozen zucchini.   I don’t eat nearly as much as she does of these things, so I’m now going to try to add potatoes to 2 meals/week to try to get through some of her stockpile.

So, those are my random thoughts for this Monday morning.  If you have any suggestions on how to use my excess produce, please let me know. Also, is there anything else I should try and get done while she’s gone? It really would be good to take a few days off from work while Babci is gone so we can make some headway at her place.  My husband’s doing most of the work, but come spackling, painting and tiling time, I will take over.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly On Money January 10, 2011 at 7:59 AM

Quiche for the eggs. You can freeze it and pull it out on a night you don’t feel like cooking dinner.
It’s too bad you can’t go for a quick visit. Traveling is so dang expensive!


Sandy L January 10, 2011 at 8:02 AM

Molly, you’re right. It was so much easier when I only had to worry about paying for myself. When there’s 5 of us, budget vacations still end up being expensive…and then I start getting annoyed that I still have to pay daycare for that week even though I’m not there, so I try to align my vacations with my home daycare person instead. I’ll go again..just maybe not all of us at once.


Everyday Tips January 10, 2011 at 8:22 AM

I like cork floors, it may be perfect for Babci.

Looks like you have things pretty well covered. I would have no problem going through those eggs. I boil eggs all the time, and as Molly said, Quiche is a great idea. No suggestions for the beets except to see how far you can throw them.

One thing I love to do with potatoes is just wash them, slice them, mix them with a little olive oil and sea salt, and bake at 425 for about 30 minutes, flipping every 10 minutes. They are ‘healthy’ fries that go great with a lot of meals the kids like.

You could consider just switching cable companies all together, then you don’t have to worry about the 6 month thing.


Sandy L January 10, 2011 at 6:43 PM

Everyday Tips-unfortunately, we don’t have more than one cable company to choose from in my area, so there is no competition and no incentive to compete on price. I make those potatoes too, but I cut them to look like fries so my kids will eat them. I need to expand my options. I used to make these homemade au gratin ones that were really good but haven’t made them in ages.


Nicole January 10, 2011 at 8:49 AM

The Victory Garden Cookbook has a lot of recipes for getting rid of large amounts of produce:

Though who knows, maybe some of those root vegetables will last a couple months in the cellar. Can you pickle and can the beets? I love beets, but that does sound like a lot of borscht, even if you don’t add the cabbage.


Sandy L January 10, 2011 at 6:45 PM

Nicole – thanks for the tips. It may be a good book to put in my library because in the summer it seems like I’m always battling with using up this or that from babci’s garden (a good problem to have btw..i’m not complaining). The interesting thing is that I never see my mom eat beets but yet, she always grows them and buys them. She must eat them in secret or something. My cousin in Poland makes this shredded carrot, beet and apple salad (cold) that was really good, healthy and refreshing.


MoneyCone January 10, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Looks like you have it all covered! If you miss TV, you can get one of those $10 rabbit ears – works pretty well even gets HD channels.

BTW, the flag of Poland is beautiful!


Sandy L January 10, 2011 at 6:46 PM

Moneycone – we got a dvd player for xmas that can stream netflix, so we just brought the old one to babci’s and some dvd’s. That worked just fine.


Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 10, 2011 at 12:49 PM

This sounds like a wonderful opportunity that will create many “cherished moments” for Babci. You guys are being so considerate in helping her see her identical twin sister 🙂

Perhaps you will be able to make the trip after all 🙂


Sandy L January 10, 2011 at 6:46 PM

Roshawn – yeah, the tough part is not getting there, but the journey. It’s harder and harder the older she gets, so we better do it while we still can.


Linda January 10, 2011 at 6:08 PM

Eggs last a crazy long time, so don’t feel like you have to use them up super quickly. And if properly stored, beets and onions last a long time, too.

I love the idea of pickled beets, though you can also enjoy them in so many dishes. My favorite ways to eat beets are: roasted beet salad with chevre (soft goat cheese) and walnuts (cube the roasted, peeled beets; toss with olive oil, a bit of salt and balsamic vinegar; sprinkle/spoon chunks of goat cheese on the same plate; top with toasted walnuts then consume with gusto!); raw beet and and carrot salad (peel and shred beets and carrots separately; toss with a bit of olive oil, fresh squeezed lime juice and salt. Yum!)

Eggs, onion, potatoes, and zucchini are perfect ingredients for making breakfast burritos that you can then freeze for later consumption. Just run a search for frozen breakfast burrito recipes and use those ideas for inspiration. Lots of folks who do that once a month cooking thing freeze breakfast burritos. I tried it recently and really loved having such a healthy quick breakfast on hand. I make mine with lots of veggies and no meat; the egg is enough protein for me.


Sandy L January 10, 2011 at 6:48 PM

Linda. mmm…those all sound good. I love goat cheese. In fact I still have some that a friend had made for me. Thank you. Now I’m inspired


Freckles January 10, 2011 at 10:11 PM

Off topic, but I’m curious about the picture of the hut and tree in your header. What/where is it?


Sandy L January 11, 2011 at 4:34 AM

Freckles – I took this picture in Africa. It was one of the places we stayed while we were on our honeymoon. I call it “rock camp.” I believe it was in Tanzania, but I forget which park we were at. It was one of the places where the great migration of wildebeests occurs. I thought it was an appropriate image because many of the African people live in dung huts with no electricity or running water. They also live with their cow if they are lucky enough to have one. My mother grew up with no electricity or running water either, so it was the closest thing I had that represented her life before America.


101 Centavos January 11, 2011 at 7:34 AM

Sounds like the other commenters got things covered with the excess produce. I might add that sauteed zucchinis make a good base for a frittata. Potatoes are great cubed and boiled, and served simply dressed with kosher salt, ground pepper, olive oil, and lots of chopped parsley. Onions and potatoes thought will keep for a while if stored in a cool pantry or basement.
Good for you guys sending Babci back for a home visit.


Sandy L January 11, 2011 at 8:16 PM

101- You’re right. I think the spuds may actually keep. I mainly use zucchini in my bread. But a frittata is a good idea.


Invest It Wisely January 11, 2011 at 12:28 PM

What about laminate flooring?

60 lbs of potatoes :O You could make a gratin and throw the zucchinis in there. Could also make a lot of omelettes with those eggs…

I hope she has a safe and enjoyable trip!


Sandy L January 11, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Invest it – my husband hates laminate, plus the reviews say it’s slippery. I would like to try one of the products as the price has gone way down…<$1/sqft on some products. We're excited to have babci go. She's very close to her sister.


Money Reasons January 11, 2011 at 5:49 PM

I would go through the eggs quickly too, so I agree with ” Molly On Money” and “Everyday tips and thoughts”, but instead of quiche, I think I would experiment different cooking techniques with omelets…

Oh don’t worry about the cholesterol in the eggs, they (the scientists) now say that the good and bad cholesterol balances each other out. 🙂

I use to live on hard boiled eggs that I would warm up at work. Hard boiled eggs that are heated up are actually pretty darn good… (if you use the microwave, make sure the egg doesn’t exploded, this has happened to me before).

Good luck!


Sandy L January 11, 2011 at 8:19 PM

Money Reasons – we usually have a jar of hard boiled eggs on hand too. It makes for an easy snack. I swear the cholestorol thing is just one food lobby going against another. Everything is fine in moderation (well except maybe crack or heroine).


Invest It Wisely January 11, 2011 at 8:43 PM

Doesn’t the liver produce between 1000 to 2000mg of cholesterol? I’d rather eat eggs than some weird processed food with statins in it anytime…

… but, maybe not hard-boiled eggs. My stomach (and the room I’m in) don’t fare too well on those :S


101 Centavos January 11, 2011 at 8:44 PM

Ah yes, but guaranteed if you have a couple of pre-teen boys around, they will find it funny as all get out.


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