Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sweet Tea on a Budget

I love sweet tea.  I used to be hooked on the stuff from Starbucks.  When that got too expensive, I started buying gallons at the store (you can get a gallon for what a Grande costs!).  One day, our food budget was gone and so was my tea.  I did what any reasonable poor person does... and hacked it.  We make about a gallon a week now and, aside from water, it's the cheapest thing we have in the house.

I know some people may be Kool-Aid pushers because it's cheap (≈ 43¢ per 1/2 gallon), but the amount of artificial flavoring and food coloring in that stuff makes me want to shake the parents of every child that I see walking around with a glass. 

Making the same amount of sweet tea at home is not only cheaper (≈ 28¢ per 1/2 gallon), but it has less sugar, ditches all the artificial stuff, and offers up all the benefits of drinking black tea

We use Great Value brand products, the generics from Walmart.  I'm not proud that we shop at that soul-crushing giant, but our budget wouldn't make it if we didn't.


1.  Measure 10 cups of water in a pot.  Heat to a boiling, then turn off the burner.  Add 10 bags of black tea and leave alone for 15 minutes.  Don't poke them too much. 

2.  After 15 minutes, fish the tea bags out (do NOT squeeze, this will release tannins that make the tea bitter).  Stir in 1 1/2 cups of sugar, while the tea is still warm, until it is dissolved.  

3.  Put a lid on the pot and allow to cool.  Pouring hot tea into plastic will cause the plastic to expand and release toxins into your tea... so really, wait until it is cold.   If you're in a hurry, add a cup or two of ice.

4.  Once cool, use a funnel to help you pour into the gallon container*.  Add 6 cups of cold water.  Shake and stash in the fridge until you're craving the wonder that is 'sweet tea'.

Done.  A gallon of Sweet Tea for less than a KitKat.

If black tea is too bitter for your children, or you'd like to trim the caffeine, you can use GV Green Tea (raising the price slightly to .43¢ per 1/2 gallon).  And, of course, green tea comes with its own load of health benefits.

If you want that slightly crisp citrus tinge of Starbucks' Shaken Black Tea, add frozen lemonade concentrate.  (1tsp to your glass or half of a can to a gallon)

Also, a neighbor of mine cuts the sugar by 1/2 a cup and still loves it.  
* It makes my skin crawl when I go to a friend's house and they pull out a plastic orange juice jug from 1998 with blue Koolaid in it and offer me a glass.  So, we buy a real jug of Arizona Sweet Tea every few months so that we maintain "the look".  It is thoroughly washed and dried between each filling.  The plastic on these guys is very thick and durable.  If reusing a disposable container isn't your thing, use whichever gallon container you have.

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Bitch Fuse Flipped

Today, I yelled at my neighbor.  Why?  Because she asked me to stop by for a moment. 

This woman has been a friend for a long time.  We both lived in a previous housing complex together.  She's babysat my son.  She's celebrated holidays with us.  We've gone camping together, we go shopping together, we are good friends.  Yesterday, she gave me $20 just because I need it and she had it.  

Today, she needed a friend and I told her I was too busy.  I was an asshole to my sweet, 50-something year old friend.

In my defense, I was having one of those mornings where I wanted to be doing something for myself and everyone in the world needed me to be doing something for them. 

The Girl was crying for me, not to nurse or be changed, she just wanted up.  The elementary school had called to say that The Boy was throwing up while I was on the phone scheduling his therapies for this week.  Justin needed me to schedule some doctor appointments and finish a discussion with him about returning to temp. work.  My mother was texting me (a sore spot for me right now) and someone was Facebooking me.  I'd just opened up the mail to find that our insurance check bounced and that our car is in danger of being taken away

And, of course breakfast needed to be made, but the dishes needed to be done first and the garbage needed to be taken to the dumpster....  All on a morning that I really just needed some time to myself.

My friend slammed her door and I had myself a little tantrum in the middle of our snowy parking lot.  I growled something about not being a free psychologist for everyone in our apartment complex.  Then, I took a breath and knocked on her door.

What did my friend need? 

She had accidentally locked the touch panel on her stove and couldn't read the small print in the manual to figure out how to unlock it so she could make some tea. 


Poverty is this disease that causes you to stress about EVERYTHING.  It occupies all the bandwidth in my brain, assaulting me 24/7.  Trying to sort budgets and meal planning and who won't get paid this month and which shutoff I can get help for and which one I need to put on the credit card... all in my head.  To stay sane, I need a lot of alone time throughout the day and needy children and clingy friends don't allow for that. 

The phone constantly rings or there is someone at the door.  Student loan debt, electric bill past due, people selling things I could never afford, a preacher and his family wanting to share the word of the Lord with me.  Even at night, either The Girl wants to nurse and climb all over me or Justin wants to have grown-up time.  I have taken to retreating to the bathroom, but they find me anyway.

So, instead of making myself some breakfast and relaxing this morning, I was pulling my boots on and doing a bunch of stuff for other people.  My neighbor's door opened, she shouted to me across the parking lot about needing some attention...

And I snapped.  Thank goodness she's forgiving.

BTW, if you ever accidentally lock the control panel on a Whirlpool Electric Range, just hold the lock button down until it beeps.  {Stacey}