Thursday, May 31, 2007

update: gas prices ruin budget min-vacation

I found two provocative pieces of recent commentary regarding petroleum:

"How to Win the Energy War" is an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times on May 23.

And, I'm not familiar with the website, but I found this column about the relative cost of gasoline at different points in the 20th century at

Please let us know if you've read anything provocative on the subject.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

gas prices ruin budget min-vacation

I can't resist. To celebrate Memorial Day weekend, I have to add one post to the maelstrom of observation, speculation and general complaint regarding the current price of gasoline. Last Friday we made our first trip with the baby to grandma and grandpa's cabin in the north woods. We haven't made the trip in some time, and I hadn't thought much about the cost of driving up there until recently, when we outlined our new budget. I was shocked. Rapidly rising gas prices are quickly eroding the traditional expectation that a family could spend very little money on a short road trip.

at the cabin

Case in point: Round trip, travel to the cabin runs about 540 miles or about nine hours, and our semi-efficient vehicle needs about two tanks to complete the trip. Prior to departure we filled up in the city for $3.13 per gallon; a total of $32 to fill the tank of our four cylinder Japanese sedan.Factor in the inflated cost to fill the tank up north, which on Friday equaled $3.29 per gallon ($46 per tank), and our total gas expenditure was roughly $78 for round trip travel. Prior to the summer of 2006, we could buy a full tank for about $28, ($56 for a round trip to the cabin) so the current price of gas represents a 21% cost increase....

Now, let's assume gas prices do, in fact, hit $3.90 ($54.60 per tank) in the city, as many analysts are predicting. The total round trip cost then exceeds $109 and represents a 49% climb from 2005 prices.

The point? It's depressing to think that at some point we may have to limit the number of times we visit the cabin, as fuel for our seemingly cheap getaway may become cost prohibitive. On the other hand, the scenario described may require us to more consciously consider carpooling with family, which is perhaps the most sensible way to travel, regardless of the price at the pump.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

from Stay-At-Home Mom

As mentioned in our first post, this is a co-blog - we're hoping to provide a male and female perspective on single income and stay at home parenting. I expect Mom to post more in the future, but for the time being she's simply too busy feeding the baby and transitioning into her new role to post anything of real value; however, she does send a friendly "hello."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

easy: homemade granola

As promised, here's an excellent granola recipe from Jonni McCoy's "Miserly Meals" cookbook (see books on right). We've tried several different recipes, including a fairly good one from Mark Bittman, but this version has the right amount of sweetness for us. It tastes very good with plain yogurt and will keep indefinitely if refrigerated in an air-tight container.

Once you try it you'll be appalled that grocery stores and co-op's charge so much for boxed or bulk granola....

not just for hippies

5 C. rolled oats
3/4 C. brown sugar
1/3 C. concentrated apple juice
1/2 C. nonfat dry milk
1/3 C. honey
2 T. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. dried fruit
1 C. nuts (almonds, pecans, etc.)

Mix sugar, juice, dry milk and honey in saucepan and heat over medium heat only until sugar dissolves. Combine dry ingredients and fruit in mixing bowl. Pour sugar mixture slowly over dry mixture and blend well. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Options: Be creative by adding peanuts, sunflower seeds, coconut, sesame seeds, peanut butter, or whatever else your family enjoys.

Cost analysis (1 pound): homemade = $1.00 Store-bought = $2.39 or more

p.s. Speaking of Mark Bittman, I saw this article yesterday on NYT online. I'll bet one could eat very well in Istria on $60 dollars per week. Too bad it costs more than sixty bucks to get there...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

it's what's for dinner

Last night was good. We fed the baby regularly during the day and she let us sleep during two lengthy periods: 12-3 and 4-7. As a result, my mind is working again and I feel strong enough to cook something for mom and baby. My mother-in-law (who is very sweet) deposited in our fridge, among other things, two well marbled steaks and a lovely wedge of blue cheese. To round it out, I found some fat asparagus leftover from the farmer's market and discovered a baguette in the freezer.

steak dinner

The menu:

first course

  • pan-seared steaks with chive butter
  • blanched asparagus with lemon and olive oil
second course
  • bread and blue cheese
dessert course
  • strawberries and yogurt

Lastly, upon reading my last post, Stay-At-Home Mom reminded me that we have also made the "Miserly Meals" recipe for granola. This is the best-tasting version I had yet, and it goes very well with plain, unsweetened yogurt... Recipe to follow.

Monday, May 14, 2007

all-nighters part deux

With some apprehension, we let the baby sleep between us from 2:30 am to 8:30 am. It was a vacation. The thought of doing it again tonight is very tempting, but I need to spend some more time reading about cosleeping before I rest easy (figuratively), as it seems to be very common despite what you may hear. Even our pediatrician, who cannot officially endorse the practice, alluded to the fact that it is safe if done correctly. Stay tuned for an update...


The whole situation leaves me very hungry, and for the single income family, the lack of sleep poses a nutritional challenge: to eat well on minimal sleep for minimal dollars. Our present budget provides the three of us with $60.00 per week, so ordering takeout is definitely out of the question. We typically cook most of our meals from scratch (or near-scratch), which requires a considerable amount of time and motivation but is ultimately the most cost effective option. Thankfully, our parents and friends have stuffed our refrigerator and freezer with all sorts of good, wholesome meals, and an ample supply of leftover pizza from a Mother's Day family gathering. These rations will likely keep us alive until Friday, when we must officially begin our more modest menu.

I like to cook, so I'm looking forward to the challenge. Rest assured. The best recipes will end up here.

p.s. In case you didn't see it, the "Miserly Meals" book featured on the link to the right is an excellent resource for cooking healthy meals on a budget, including many meals you can make for less than 75 cents per serving. So far, we've only made the hummus recipe, but it tasted great...

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Side note - This is a co-blog, so moving forward, any content posted by me will have a "Working Dad" tag and anything posted by my wife will have a "Stay-At-Home Mom" tag.

OK, the main point? I'm presently laying in bed realizing how frustrating it is to be forced to stay up all night. Trying to calm, swaddle and feed your baby until 4 is not the same deal as sipping pints at the 'ol watering hole. It's a raw deal.

I'm guessing that most parents (at least in the US), regardless of lifestyle, face a dilemna about whether to cosleep with their infant. Personally, I'm too tired to decide right now, but an article I just read in Mothering Magazine has nearly convinced me that cosleeping safely is perhaps the best thing for my daughter, who has just fallen asleep on our bed.

I'll let you know how it turns out in the morning...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

numero uno

Let's start from the beginning. A short while ago we decided it was time to start a family. We were both working and recently move into our first home. After a quick assessment we laid the groundwork in early 2006. Upon becoming pregnant, several questions became clear: Will we have enough money? Who will take care of our child? Why is everything so expensive?

congratulations, it's a girl

Following our newfound parental instincts, we decided it would be best - for us - to live off one income. The benefits were clear: more time with child, more time with spouse, less work-related stress. The drawbacks were daunting, but not inhospitable: less money (much less), massive lifestyle overhaul (as a result of drawback number 1).

One year has passed since that time, and our daughter only recently arrived. We're not living off one income yet, but the July 1 deadline is fast approaching. Therein lies the purpose of this blog. To document the experience and hopefully, share one approach to living in this way.

Are you raising a family with only one breadwinner?

Are you thinking about starting a family on one income?

Have you raised a family on one income?

Let us know what you're thinking, or if you have any advice. We need it.