Lifestyles of the Destitute and Obscure

dazzling and interesting on a shoestring

Tag Archives: save money

Fancy Cafes are Overrated

sideboard.pasteriesI’m a working mom who stays home with the kiddos for part of the day because now they are all in school. Seventy percent of my paycheck goes to preschool but at least eighty percent of my sanity is intact.

So while the twins are at preschool, I’m working. I had fanciful visions of going to the local chic café, ordering a cappuccino and a scone and working on my laptop… until I nearly froze in their rustic hardwood floor and vaulted ceiling eating area and spent $8 that I didn’t really have. That was nearly satisfying until I couldn’t send an email because the wifi was so blasted ineffective. Back to the warm, quiet and free library.   So now I work off-line in the car with a pre-packed snack, my favorite coffee brewed strong enough to resemble used motor oil and a lovely wool blanket that kept me warm in Colorado and still snuggles my daughter. It even doubles as a picnic blanket in the spring and summer. A fine investment if I do say so myself.

So goodbye dreams of fancy workspaces; the best one is my trusty minivan and the good ol’ fashioned public library.
I make better scones and when I can one day afford my own espresso machine, I can put my six years of barista skills to work and make a better cappuccino. Who needs hardwood floors and antique forks?

To make your own workspace that much cozier, take one of these scones with you and I promise that your cubicle, car or park bench will feel more like a chic suburban café.my.nepenthe.

Orange Oat Scone Recipe bogarted from the book, My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur which they borrowed from Stars Bakery in San Francisco (now loooong gone). And so the karmic circle of baked goods passes this recipe along to you.


3 cups flour

½ cup turbinado sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces

2 cups whole oats

zest of 1 orange (or ½ teaspoon of dried orange rind)

¾ cup heavy cream or buttermilk

¼ cup coarse sugar or turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top


Preheat the oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Combine the flour, turbinado sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor. (I use a battered medium sized bowl and a 25 year-old pastry cutter and that seems to work just fine. Also, you can measure out these dry ingredients and set them aside easily if suddenly you find you need to run a carpool or referee a sibling squabble. You can do this really quick and then finish up the mixing and baking when you have a little more time.)

Add the butter piece by piece, pulsing until pearl size. If you’re using a bowl and a pastry cutter, then cut the butter until the flour and butter mixture is fairly uniform and mealy and the butter pieces are very small. Transfer the dough to a bowl if you used the food processor and stir in the oats and orange zest.

Stir in the cream or buttermilk until just moistened. (I ‘make’ buttermilk by measuring out my milk and then adding 1-2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then voilà, you have buttermilk.)

Bring the dough together with your hands and gently pat into an 8-inch round. Cut into triangle shapes and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, separating them so they do not touch. Sprinkle the tops with course sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden brown. I always rotate my baking sheet about 2/3 of the way through because my oven is crappy and I want to make sure all the items get baked evenly.

**There are a number of variations and substitutions, including switching the orange for lemon zest and then adding 2-3 Tablespoons of poppy seeds. You can also add 1 cup of dried currants, raisins, cranberries, cherries or blueberries as you bring the dough together. Seriously, the possibilities are endless.

Note: Check out the cookbook from your local public library and ooh and ahh over the photographs of the bohemian ‘60’s and ‘70’s (there’s even a belly dancer!) and all the wonderful, whimsical décor. It is a lovely cookbook as well as a collection of history and style.

How the destitute deal with crap.

OR how the destitute save by using cloth diapers on their babes…

This article first appeared on my friend, Kristin’s blog– which will appear on my blog roll as soon as I figure that part out.  Thanks for giving me my big blogging break, Kris!

In these days of environmental consciousness, we’ve all heard the statistics about disposable diapers in landfills- 50 million every day. What if cloth diapers were easier on your bank account, and not just the environment?
When my husband started doing research on-line and found out that the cost of disposable diapers would come to roughly $2,500 during her first two years, he was all for cloth, too, even if it meant changing a few (okay, way more than a few) himself.  $2,500!! I knew raising a child was expensive, but disposable diapers are thrown out!
I wanted to use cloth instead of disposables, primarily because of the environmental impact, but also because of the desire to have something more natural on my baby.  Disposable diapers are made of plastic, and chemical gels and are frequently bleached with chlorine, and I didn’t want that in constant contact to my baby’s skin.
My first vision of disposable diapers made me think I would need to wield diaper pins and be able to fold cotton like an origami master. After a bit of research, considering ease of use and availability, we settled on using the gDiaper system, and then ended up modifying it to fit our needs.  Here is a short, but not definitive, list of cloth diaper possibilities:
gDiapers– a system that combines cloth and disposable.  They call it ‘the new hybrid’.  This system consists of a cloth pant with a snap-in plastic liner, and either a flushable or compostable insert that resembles the inside of a disposable diaper or a washable hemp/cotton one. Here’s why I love them: the cloth pants are doggone adorable, making that cute little bottom even more wiggly and squeezable (okay, maybe I’m nuts, but just look at the pictures on the website, and you’ll see I speak truth) but because they’re easy.  No pins (that’s so last generation) and the Velcro closures make them go on just like a familiar disposable.
bumGenius– these cloth diapers are an All-in-One variety, meaning the cloth and the waterproof outer layer are already put together for you, and you won’t need waterproof plastic pants like you would with traditional cloth diapers.
Bumkins– this company offers a wide variety of products, with plenty of colors, styles and accessories to choose from.  They carry the All-in-One’s as well as cotton diapers with Velcro closures that also require a plastic cover.
Snazzipants- my sister-in-law turned me on to these guys, and is useful for ordering only if you live in New Zealand (and I did a lot of it when I lived there), but it’s also a fantastic, honest resource for what’s out there.  They candidly review and carry products from Canada, Europe and the US, as well as their own brand.
Now that you’ve gone shopping, you’re ready to make it happen, with your baby’s help, of course.  Where else did you expect to get the poo?

15-20 cloth prefolds or flats (thinner, bigger, and not folded)
6-8 cotton boosters- these are inserts that can increase absorbency, and are great for a heavier wetting period, especially through the night.
5-8 pairs of cloth pants- gdiapers sells these as gpants, and has them in a constantly updated and dizzying array of colors.
10-12 plastic liners- for gdiapers, each pair of cloth pants comes with a couple, but it’s worth having a few extra.
4-5 pairs of plastic pants- just in case of leaks for bigger babies and through the night
For cleaning: A five-gallon bucket of water with one cup of white vinegar, baking soda and eco-friendly laundry detergent.
If you’ve just got a wet one, rinse the cloth insert in the sink, then dump it into your bucket. If the cloth pants got wet, dump them, too, but leaks are pretty infrequent.
If you’ve got a dirty diaper, it’s going to take a little more work (about three minutes) and some down and dirty cleaning.  Start by washing the plastic liner and let the cloth pants air out, unless they’re dirty, too, in which case, they get washed with the rest.  Just like our mothers and grandmothers before us, I dump what I can from the cloth prefold into the toilet and flush it down, just like the adults doo, I mean do. Using a little bit of liquid soap, rinse, and toss into your bucket.  Some stains may remain, but it’s well on it’s way to getting clean, and either the washing machine or a little added bleach (for cloth only, not the pants or plastic liners) will help.
Don’t be turned off by these down-and-dirty details.  It’s not that bad.  Really.  If you’re going to have to wipe up a dirty bum, cleaning out the diaper isn’t any worse.  And at least the diaper doesn’t wiggle while you’re trying to clean it.
And, of course, after all this, WASH YOUR HANDS!
Every two or three days, dump the bucket into the washing machine, with plenty of detergent and a little baking soda, maybe a tablespoon, and wash in hot or warm water.   The best way to dry cloth diapers is the old-fashioned way, out in the sunshine.  Sunlight and fresh air are two of the best disinfectants, and they’re easy and free. Drying racks are great, because they’re less obvious than a backyard clothes line, and mobile, which is especially nice when it rains.
I haven’t kept an exact count over the years, but a quick glance at all these numbers has me calculating that by using cloth diapers and washing them myself, we’ve spent less than $400 on diapers.  And we can use them on consecutive children, too, which of course, you can’t do with disposables. By using cloth, we’ve saved over $2,000!
So go Green, and save some green!  Everybody’s dooing it cloth it’s so fashionable these days- just think of all those cool hybrids running around full of groceries in reusable bags. Yes, that’s right, poo can be fashionable, too.





Under the Nile


Cotton Babies .com

(the link’s so stinkin’ long because you’ve got to get through all the patio furniture, baby clothes and expensive disposable diapers first. You may have to copy and paste.)

Good luck with this crap 🙂  and let me know if you have any questions or comments.  I’ve been at this for a few years now– I’m a pro!
Ciao, ya’ll!
Destitutin’ Mama