Live below the line, day 4

These children live in a garbage dump

These children live in a garbage dump (Photo credit: GlacierTim)

I’m not sure if today was easier or harder…I had the day off work, so was actually surrounded by food and all of the possibilities that presents…I thought I’d go in the kitchen and bake a batch of cookies (hmm…with chocolate, anyone?).  And maybe prepare a pizza for dinner.  I actually have all of the ingredients for both in my kitchen right now, so I wouldn’t have to buy anything.  But I think that kind of goes against what this challenge is all about.  Yes, I have the food in my kitchen, but if I had to live on only $1.50 a day long-term, chances are I wouldn’t have what I need to make those yummy cookies. So I resisted, telling myself it’s just today and tomorrow.

And that’s where I think we can learn a lesson.  For us, it’s just today and tomorrow.  For the chronically impoverished, there is no end in sight.  They can’t say “I’ll make it through today and tomorrow on only $1.50 a day, then I can spend whatever I want on food and drink.”  For them, it’s a matter of how can I possibly stretch this money?  How can I buy the basics?  What do I have to give up in order to buy food today?  Where can I come up with a few cents extra today?

This really makes me sad.  When I think of how much money our country spends on our elected officials’ pet projects, all of the waste in our government, I get angry.  Angry that the people we elect have turned their backs on the poor and needy among us and are falling all over themselves to give additional breaks to the super wealthy and multi-national corporations.  Children, in our country, or anywhere else, shouldn’t have to go to bed hungry.  I would love to see some of my tax money going to provide additional funds for community gardens, for providing free seeds so people could grow a few vegetable plants on their patio or windowsill.   Helping people help themselves.

I always tell people to get out there and vote.  That voting the lousy politicians out is the only way we can implement the programs with which we agree.  But what if none of the politicians are supporting an agenda with which you agree?

Anyhow, stepping down from my political soap box now…how did I do today?  Fairly well…despite the desire for something sweet and yummy.

Breakfast:

(Surprise, surprise)…2 slices of toast  10¢,  1 T peanut butter  6¢,  6 oz oj  14¢,  hot tea  4¢

Total for breakfast…34¢

Lunch:

1 chicken tender  30¢, 1 slice bread  5¢, radishes (free), celery  8¢, 1/2 banana  9¢, hot tea 4¢

Total for lunch…56¢

Dinner:

bowl of cereal  8¢, 8 oz milk  15¢, 1/2 banana 9¢

Total for dinner…32¢

Snack:

hot air-popped popcorn…16¢, butter  2¢, Parmesan cheese  3¢, hot tea  4¢

Total for snack…25¢

Total for the day  $1.47

The popcorn really tasted good…I may actually eat that as a snack more often rather than microwave (convenient) popcorn.  So I managed to make it through another day…wow…this sure makes me appreciate my grandmother and her struggles a lot more…I bet she could have done this challenge easily…and probably preparing better food than I’ve been eating.

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Living below the line

World map showing the percent of national popu...

World map showing the percent of national populations living on less than $2.00 per day. UN Estimates 2000-2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As many of you know, I’m a BzzAgent and signed on for a campaign…Live Below the Line…to bring awareness to extreme poverty.  By taking part in this campaign, I agreed to spend $1.50 or less on food and drink every day for 5 days, which, as hard as it is to believe,  is what a lot of people live on all of the time.  You realize that means no eating out, no vending machines, no running into a convenience store and grabbing a Coke…I think we take all of those things for granted in our day-to-day lives.

So, how did I do on day 1?

Breakfast:

2 slices toast  .10, 1 T peanut butter  .06,  oj  6 oz  .14, milk 8 oz .15

So breakfast came in at 45 cents…pretty good.

Lunch:

1 frozen pot pie  .35, 1/2 serving of crackers  .07, diet Pepsi  .46

Lunch came in at 88 cents…my guess is you can see where this is going to end up…

Dinner:

2 slices bread .10, 1 slice cheese .08, 1 cookie .09

Dinner came in at 27 cents.

Total for the day was $1.60…

As I look back over what I consumed today, the cost of what we drink really jumps from the page.  That and the fact that I didn’t eat much in the way of fruit or veggies. So this was not a very healthy diet for day 1…and I still exceeded my monetary goal for the day…wow…had I not bought most of what I ate on sale, and often with coupons, the cost would have been even higher.

So  tomorrow I’m going to see if I can skip the diet Pepsi (won’t be easy) and add some fruits and veggies.  After only 1 day, 1 not even successful day, I’m getting a glimpse into how difficult it would be to live like this all of the time.  Definitely makes you think…

The Litigators

All 24 John Griham novels as of June 30, 2010

Image via Wikipedia

“The Litigators” is the latest John Grisham novel.  Well, actually it won’t be released until October 25, but I just found out tonight that a free copy is on its way to me as we speak (or as I write and you read, however you want to look at it).  I’m getting the free book simply because I’m a BzzAgent and have created a buzz about John Grisham and one of his books that I’m reading and reviewing, “The Firm”.  That’s a pretty nice perk for doing something that I enjoy anyhow. 

What a pleasant surprise after a long, hard day at work.  It really does pay to be a BzzAgent.  If you get the chance, check it out.  And I’m looking forward to reading “The Litigators”  and giving you all of the buzz on it.

BzzAgent Hill’s Science Diet 11+ Age Defying cat food campaign

Yes, I am a BzzAgent and I am taking part in a campaign for a new cat food for cats that are 11 years old or older.  I received my packet for the new Hill’s Science Diet 11+ Age Defying cat food a while back.  I eagerly opened the packet and read the info.  Wow, a cat food that will help my older cat, Goldi, be more alert and agile, be more playful (she’s been sleeping a lot and is not a playful cat at all), and have fewer accidents.  Ahh…yes, the accidents that happen with older cats, not something we like to talk about, but they do tend to happen occasionally.  This sounds like it was made especially for Goldi.

Let me give you a little background on poor old Goldi.  I’m not exactly sure how old she is because she just showed up one cold fall day about three years ago.  Fully grown, obviously an older cat, just as obviously she had been someone’s pet at one time.  She wasn’t afraid of people, wanted in the house, and would come right up to me to be petted and loved on.  I didn’t want to take on the responsibility of another cat.  I already had my little Spooky girl and wasn’t looking to get another animal.  But I couldn’t just leave her out there with no food and water, so I did put out food for her and kept fresh water available.  Then, on one especially cold morning, I saw her sleeping under the dryer vent trying to stay warm.  What can I say?  I brought her in and put her in the spare bedroom until I had a chance to take her to the vet.  No major health issues, just old age.  The vet’s nearest guess was 10 to 12 years old.  So I slowly introduced the two cats and they now tolerate one another.  Honestly, Spooky would love to have a playmate, but Goldi wants no part of that.

Over the past few months I’ve noticed Goldi not moving as fast as she was, not eating as much as she had been, and sleeping a lot more (yes, cats sleep a lot anyhow, but this seems excessive).  Again, the vet said nothing major wrong with her, just old age.  So, when the opportunity came about for this new BzzAgent campaign, I thought it would be perfect for Goldi.

You can see, by the picture, that Goldi likes to get anyplace warm.  I think part of that is just being a cat…they all like warm places to sleep.  But I also attribute part of it to the fact that she’s thin…hard to tell with all of that fur, I know..and it’s harder for her to keep her little kitty body warm.

I like that they included a feeding guide along with my coupon for a free 3.5 pound bag of cat food (along with several coupons to share).  I immediately put out a small bowl of the dry food for Goldi.  She sniffed it and delicately ate a few bites.  The thing with Goldi is, she never eats very much at one time, but nibbles throughout the day.  I noticed she came back to the bowl several times over the course of the day.

Oops, did I forget to mention that little Spooky also likes this food?  The problem with that is she’s only 5 years old…goodness knows I don’t want her reverting back to kittenhood…she’s manic enough right now.  So I (hopefully) solved the problem by feeding them in separate areas.  I think Spooky may still grab the occasional bite, but not like she was.

Now that I’m feeding this new cat food to Goldi on a regular basis, I’m going to do weekly updates on my observations about her health and behavior.  Who knows?  Maybe, just maybe, Spooky will get her playmate after all.

BzzAgent campaigns..now a new way to get your invitation

I’ve been a BzzAgent for several months now.  What’s a BzzAgent, you ask?  Well, this is only the leading word of mouth advertising site around…you sign up, become a BzzAgent, and are then invited to take part in campaigns where you receive free products to try and then share your impressions, reviews, likes and dislikes with your friends, family and social networks. 

I’m a blogger, so I blog my reviews, then share them via twitter, Facebook and various other social networking sites.  I also talk about the campaigns I’m fortunate enough to be a part of with my friends and co-workers, often sharing coupons that have been provided for just that purpose.  If I really like something, I want my friends to be able to experience it too.

Well, now rather than waiting to be invited to campaigns, we have the opportunity to say, “Hey, I want in.”  Every day, a new campaign is posted and we can blog about it, talking about why we want in that particular campaign.  Our request is reviewed and (hopefully) gets us an invite to the newest campaigns (fingers crossed).

I’m really excited about this new way of getting involved in more BzzAgent campaigns.  The one I’m talking about today is for the

Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender – 200W

This little handy-dandy blender allows you to blend your ingredients right in the bowl (or pan, or pitcher, or glass, or even the clear plastic beaker that comes packaged with the blender).  How cool is this?  It has a 200-watt motor and one-touch control, so it’s a little powerhouse that you hold right in your hand, allowing you to puree soup (I’m thinking squash or sweet potato now that fall has arrived),  mix up light batters, puree fruit for pancake or waffle topping,  any kind of drinks you might be interested in, homemade salad dressing that would be so easy to whip up in a few seconds with this blender, really the list is only limited by your imagination.

And did I mention this is a Cuisinart?  You just can’t get any better than that when you’re looking for new kitchen gizmos.

Cute, sleek, and powerful…heck, if I can’t BE those things, could I at least own a product that IS those things?

New BzzAgent campaign…Grisham

I was invited to take part in a new BzzAgent campaign.  I have to tell you, I was really excited about this one.  I was given the choice of two Grisham books…The Firm and The Confession.  Now many of you may already know, I just posted a blog about The Confession not that long ago.  So that made choosing which book to receive, read, and review just a little easier. 

I received The Firm yesterday.  It was just sitting on my front porch waiting for me when I got home from work.  Of course, I ripped open the package as soon as I brought it in to the house.  There’s nothing like having a new, never-opened book to read. 

Yes, I have read The Firm, many years ago.  I was surprised to learn that this is the 20th anniversary edition of the book.  It certainly doesn’t seem like I’ve been reading Grisham’s books for twenty years, but there you go.  The numbers don’t lie!

I’ve never read a Grisham book that I didn’t like, but I’m anxious to see if The Firm is as enjoyable the second time around.  I’m thinking it most likely will be, I doubt if it’s lost anything over the years.  How exciting is it to be able to do a review about something that you love (reading, Grisham, books)?  I love these BzzAgent campaigns!

Stay tuned for my review once I’ve read the book again.  Have you read The Firm?  More than once? 

BzzAgent…first campaign

I signed up with BzzAgent.com to try actual products, share my opinions, and often coupons, with my friends and give honest reviews of the products I try.  I thought it sounded like a fun way to get to try new products and possibly have some influence over what companies produce.

My first campaign is with CoverGirl‘s new NatureLuxe collection.  I received my kit yesterday…

…a full-sized tube of the NatureLuxe Silk Foundation and a full-sized tube of the NatureLuxe Gloss Balm, information about the products and five coupons to share with my friends.

In reading about the foundation, I really like that it’s made with a lot of natural ingredients such as jojoba and rosehip extracts.  I haven’t used a liquid foundation in several years.  When I discovered mineral foundation, I gave up the heavy liquid ones.  I’d always had problems with the heavier liquid foundations causing my skin to be irritated and break out.  Those problems disappeared when I began using mineral makeup.

So I’m a little leery of going back to a liquid foundation, but I’m going to give this a fair trial and report back honestly about whether or not I like it.  With that in mind, I used the new foundation yesterday and was surprised at how lightweight it felt on my skin.  It provided good coverage, actually better coverage than the mineral makeup I’ve been using, that lasted all day.  It was easy to apply with just a little tingle when I first put it on.

The color of the lip balm kind of scared me when I first saw it in the tube.  I’m very fair-skinned and bright lip colors just don’t work for me.  I was pleased with the soft look once I applied it though.  The color was nowhere near as intense on my lips as it was in the tube.  It wasn’t sticky at all and the color lasted for quite a while.  I can see myself using this every day for work.

So far, I’m pleased with the CoverGirl NatureLuxe products.  I’ll have to use the foundation for a couple of weeks to make sure it’s not going to cause problems with my skin, but I’ll definitely keep everyone updated regardless.  Now, which of my friends want those coupons to try these products for themselves?