Monday, October 31, 2011

Friendly Friday

When Allison at O My Family started Friendly Friday a few weeks ago, I thought it was a great idea. Let’s actively seek out persons to help and, of course, blog about it. But who would I help, I thought? I don’t interact with that many persons on a daily basis. I see my students and the persons in my lab. That’s it. And just like that, I had lost my desire to help.

I read her posts each week and thought, hmm, I guess I could do that. But then, I don’t talk to my neighbours so baking them something would be a bit strange. I don’t know what the postman looks like either. My car is dead so there’s no giving old ladies rides to the bus stop. I had, once again, given up on helping. Besides, I didn’t want to help just so that I could link up in a Friendly Friday post. I wanted to help just to help.

For class this week we were scheduled to talk about prosocial behavior. I cringed. I would be prepping a lecture on helping. I’d be reading all the psychological reasons why we don’t help and pretty much nodding in agreement.

Another Friday passed and I had no Friendly Friday post. I hadn’t helped a soul. Sure, I had made copies for my students. Sure, I had critiqued a paper for a friend but that just wasn’t the same. I headed to the supermarket to get my Friday night movie. As I walked out the supermarket, it started to rain heavily. A lady, her baby, her older daughter and husband stood next to me watching the rain.

The husband decided that he’d brave the downpour and go get the car. After all, it did not seem like the rain would end anytime soon. We could be standing there forever. This is your chance, Kelster. Offer your umbrella for the trip to the car. I froze. I decided to wait. If the husband didn’t come back with an umbrella, I’d offer my umbrella so that she could cover the baby. Finally! I could link up in Friendly Friday.

Uh. What? Was I only doing this so that I could link up in Friendly Friday? No, no, of course not. FF had certainly giving me the extra motivation but even without FF, I would have offered to help this family. I knew this was true but there was the nagging doubt in my head.

The husband drove the car as close as he could and I quickly offered to shelter them on their walk to the car. The wife thanked me profusely. The husband, however, was not as friendly. He walked up to us, picked up his daughter and said, “It’s not raining that badly anymore.” I shrugged. I didn’t care how lightly it was raining at that point; I was not going to have a drop of rain fall on that precious sleeping baby if I could help it.
After they left, I started thinking. Does it matter why we help? Should it only matter that we helped? Three theories of helping exist. One, the empathic-altruism hypothesis, states that we help simply for helping’s sake. The negative state relief hypothesis states that we do it because we feel bad when someone is in distress and helping relieves this. The empathic-joy hypothesis says that we help so that we can feel good. The latter two seem to be more about the helper than the helpee. But again, should it matter why we help? I will address that another time. For now, I am just glad that I did.

Épinards et fromage Vol-au-vents (Spinach & cheese vol-au-vents)

Later this week I am going to do a detailed post on my current love affair with Willow Bird Baking. However, for today I leave you with the beauty that came out of my oven last night.

Spinach and Cheese Vol-au-vent on HOMEMADE Puff Pastry. Yes, I needed to use caps for that. At the beginning of this year, I was still avoiding most recipes that required working with dough. I have just never been a fan of kneading. What was that about me baking bread? Ha. I try to choose recipes that don't call for a lot of kneading. I do everything by hand because I don't own a mixer or a food processor. Therefore, I do not attempt recipes that would be best done with equipment. However, after some success with sourdough croissants, I decided to try puff pastry and these vol-au-vents. I have Willow Bird to thank for this. I would have never ventured out of my comfort zone if it were not for her.

Go check out Willow Bird and her gorgeous vol-au-vents!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Not Extreme Couponing

I have always been a frugal shopper. I realised pretty early that most items went on sale at some point. I live near to a Publix, Sedano's and Winn Dixie and typically do most of my grocery shopping at Publix and Sedano's. Publix always has great Buy One Get One sales and Sedano's usually has great deals on meat and produce. I rarely buy anything at full price.

I always got Red Plum and Procter & Gamble inserts in the mail but I never really used them much. Slowly I started going through them but I found that there were never coupons for items I really used so I would use them only rarely. I started reading more and more about couponing and following couponing websites such Two Frugal Friends (no longer active) and I Heart Publix. I started seeing that I could get great deals. But I also realised that it took a lot of work. I would also need to have multiple sets of inserts to really take a great advantage of coupons. Too much work, I decided.

I started really understanding how these persons used coupons and decided that it was time. I got myself a coupon boxes and started clipping. Of course, a few months into clipping (and still not fully catching on), the inserts stopped arriving in my mailbox. ARGH! I guess I need to now subscribe to the local newspaper to get them. I still haven't done that because I am not yet couponing full time.

I feel a little awkward sometimes because there is NEVER anybody else using a coupon at my store. I don't want to hold up the line. And I also worry about the language barrier. I live in a predominantly Spanish area and it's not uncommon to have a cashier that does not speak a lot of English. There is usually no English whatsoever in Sedano's. I would not dare to try to use coupons there or ask about the coupon policy.

I am ready to take the plunge, subscribe to the newspapers and print internet coupons. Join me as I try to save a few pennies here and there. It won't be extreme but there will savings.