Menu Planning That Isn’t

I discovered that one of my war-time books has a chart with how much food should be used, how often, and what that corresponds to for stored foods (canned, brined, frozen or dried).

Yes, I know the nutritional amounts are likely off, but the last information I found like this was how many row feet of each veggie you needed to grow, per person, per year.

That’s great, if you grow most of your food,  in feet rows; I don’t. I have a few garden beds and get food from markets and a CSA. Also, I don’t regularly buy things like 25 lb bags of wheat berries from Honeyville or other such suppliers.

What I had/could find made it hard to have any idea how much food I’d need to store. Do I have room? Do I really want to do this? (Probably not.) But it was an impossible question to answer before I found this chart.

I believe in the pantry principal, as a money saver, and have for years. (See Barbara Salsbury’s Cut Your Grocery Bills in Half.) But again, how much is sane? What is ridiculous? Where will it just be too much and wasted?

I’ve been working on it. The CSA runs 6 months a year. The plan has always been to not only use the fresh stuff while it runs, but set aside enough to use the rest of the year. Otherwise, it isn’t worth it as it increases our food budget 25% for the year. But if we can buy less during the other 6 months, then it means that I suddenly can afford to feed us organic, fresh or home-preserved food.

I haven’t managed this yet. Two reasons: year one I had no idea how much food I was going to get. Last year (year two) our fridge broke then worked then broke — and we tossed a huge amount of produce accordingly.

But now I know what I SHOULD have!

On the “I’m trying to empty the pantry and freezer by June 30” quest. . . I had one large loin pork chop in the freezer. We had it baked over sweet potatoes, onion, a small amount of raisins, and water. I made gravy from the drippings. Turned out exactly the way I planned, yummy. Today we ate the other 1/2 of this, I diluted the gravy for stock, added some more Better Than Bullion (chicken), chopped the meat added some thyme and made cornbread of a sort. Great lunch. One $3 piece of meat, 4 meals. (It was on sale.)

Not only did I use the pork chop from the freezer, but sweet potatoes and onion from the pantry as well as raisins, BTB, thyme and the fixin’s for cornbread. No recipe for the entrees, no preplanning, just the seat of my pants. I did use a recipe for the bread.

Tonight we should do meatless, but I have a partially picked chicken in the fridge to deal with . . . we’ll see!

One of my other discoveries from the WWII booklet is that I probably should feed us more elaborate meals, I usually do 2  items a veg and entree, sometimes salad. When you’re trying to stretch things the plate gets a bit empty sometimes, more items would help that and also with the empty the stores project too.

Frugality, New Ways

I’ve been working hard at wasting less food. Also been working at frugality. We needed oranges (used every day) and bought organic ones. I made marmalade again this morning. Five small oranges + 2.5C water +2C sugar+ time/energy = 2 ten oz jelly jars of marmalade. This will last 2-4 weeks. [Why oranges instead of orange juice, frozen or otherwise?  (Would probably be even cheaper!) Fresh-squeezed oranges have compounds which in a study seemed to stave off cancer. Family history of cancer, so, fresh oranges, not bottled, boxed, or frozen OJ.]

I can buy jams/jellies at the local discount/big box type store for $2-$3, not organic. But that doesn’t use the peels from the oranges I buy anyway. If I don’t have the inclination to make marmalade when we’re juicing oranges, I freeze the shells, then chop them and make marmalade, or chop them first — whatever. I’m not using extra resources until I make the marmalade and that’s water, sugar and power to heat the water (for the jars/lids) and cook the fruit. Can be made with complete oranges (less seeds and stem end) or just what remains after juicing, both work.

Lately, I’ve been trying to reduce our trash. For several reasons. Having to go to the dump less frequently is better for our budget, our cars and the environment. Less stuff to store and then discard. The paper shreds being burned in the woodstove are part of this.

I’ve been lotting up things for the antique store, almost everything in the lot is < $1 so if the lot is 6 items, it’s $5, for example. I hope this works because I’d really like to move the various items. But if it doesn’t work, I have a plan B.

A semi-local auction house has box lot sales once a week. Wooden crates almost always go for a fair amount in the box lot sales and I have 5 crates for sale at a friend’s shop. I could take the crates back and put in the unsold lot merchandise and sell both the crates and stuff, for perhaps more than I could otherwise. Hopefully I won’t have to retrieve the crates at all and I sell the lots. But if not. . . I have a plan!

Our old dining table is for sale at the antique store where I have a booth. Someone there offered to take it to the 2nd shop where he works and thinks it will sell there. I told him this week if that doesn’t work I’ll take it back. (And crate/ship it to the relative who wanted it if it didn’t sell.) Sold!

My car is going to the shop for critical repairs. After that, I can drive things around, as needed, but not now. Right now, I’m housebound or have to borrow DH’s car.

Bread is freshly baked and filling the house with wonderful smells. A winter pleasure is warm bread with HM marmalade or jam. Yum!

Found a simple recipe for vanilla ice cream. Not as complicated or extensive as the recipe I have used before. (I make fresh strawberry ice cream in summer.)  DH loves ice cream, year ’round. I will try the new recipe when he’s eaten up what we have. If he likes the new ice cream? I’ll make it for him, if the ingredients cost less than the market product.

For a time, I was making granola for us. Then I figured the cost was about equal to buying it, around $10/lb. So I only make it on occasion (I like mine better than commercial stuff.) and I gave up the idea that I could save money making granola.

The same yardstick applies to the ice cream. If it isn’t actually cheaper, I’m not going to do it routinely. If it is? Of course I will!

The difference between the ice cream/granola and marmalade is simple. The marmalade makes use of food we’re getting anyway AND DISCARDING! The granola and/or ice cream is replacing something we buy (sometimes in the case of granola) with home-made.

 

 

To Do List: 1/11/17

  • Living Room: caulk & trim paint, as needed. Furniture is being replaced without a plan. Decide about coffee tables. Sell unused table. Add wall art. Bring down round coffee table. Maybe? Black & white rug: Finish up fabric strips.

to do list 1

Long Term: Trim piece against kitchen wall, window trim, stair rail. Replace interior trim on double window. Mod baseboards. Caulk/paint floor/baseboards. Move kitchen door? Replacement ladders for blinds. (http://www.fixmyblinds.com) Buy material, shorten blinds. (Buy a used blind to learn how.) Blue plaid project. Blanket project.

  • Hall: Replace smoke detector (future). Add corner detail on doors (future), caulk & touch up as needed. Sell the records, replace the cubes with the black table currently in living room.
  • Kitchen: Make plan without the Hoosiers and dismantle too-large counter. Install shelves where window used to be. Sell Hoosiers. (First one up for sale 12/10) Remove crates from counter. 1 of 3 removed 1/11/17 Finish new window/shelf. Final paint on sidelight, new shelf. Find new homes for the pieces stored in the crates  — sell/donate or discard.
  • Dining: Remove crib rail? Candlebra? Reuse the hanging baskets and/or rail elsewhere. Rehang cabinet. Paint drawer units? Paint china cabinet.
  • Laundry: (longterm) Get switch thing set up. Storage bins.
  • Attic:Decide what to sell. Get bookcases upstairs and bays built.
  • Office 1:Clear/clean counter & take it upstairs. Remove everything from bookcases move them.  Get sewing machine legs detached from base. Recycle, reuse, or dump. Put dresser in office. Stack on top of it (same size, and small) the 2nd dresser, currently in the storage. Red rug?
  • Entry: Caulk and trim paint, as needed.
  • Pantry: Add trim and final paint.

Cull/Clean (general): Take old window bits to dump or store elsewhere. Put window trim in woodshed. Take stuff for sale to antique store or to storage so that it isn’t cluttering up the living room! Clothes & cloth need a serious culling! Started 12/15.

  • Bathroom: Clean corners, window. Caulk as needed. Repaint room. Match trim to the rest of the house. If new gallon is enamel paint and not flat, paint bathroom? Replace floor and sink and required wall upgrade.
  • Bedroom: (Cull/Clean) Get tapestry on stretchers. Quilt rehab. New: Start making pattern to reupholster chair.
  • Attic: Get the remaining  base cabinet from kitchen, after fridge rehab. Move the bookcases. Build bays.

Storage: Remove the 2nd Hoosier. (Base is in my  car, top piece also needs to be moved from the storage.) Move to smaller unit. Get the 2nd dresser home and bookcase donated/sold.

Get the windows done. SR door panel 27.5 x 64,

Get the online and computer files cleaned out. (Drafts here = 40 11/30 43 10/11, “Tally” page information (tab, this blog) moved to history 9/17.) Unsubscribed from 5 mailing lists. 11/30.

Wood stacking: 1 2 3 4

Writing:

  • Memoir retype effort: 62.5% complete (I’m amused that I seem to do this in 3% chunks. I’m not counting or anything, it’s just that the sections are short, and it’s difficult emotionally, especially the first 3rd, so I’ve been doing it until I felt like quitting, then I let myself stop.)
  • 3 stories into novel:  Worked a little on one of the stories, call it 07% 9/20
  • kitchen book: nothing new
  • possible future editing jobs: no good news

Other:

  • All-In-One Organizer: clean up & print
  • Make stickers/stamps
  • Books out, boxes?
  • Canister labels designed. Most supplies procured. Still to do: print labels and use! Various technical issues which need to be resolved:
    • My wordprocessor doesn’t have the right label template.
    • Avery doesn’t let you do a merge for their online template designer, etc.
    • Order the correct magnets. Make tutorial.
    • The simple answer would be to cover the labels with scrapbooking or other paper and print some clear labels to go over them. I may do that, or may not. My last step was always going to be putting clear shelf liner over the label to make it waterproof.

Most of the label issues have been resolved, mostly. Still a wrinkle or two before I make a tutorial!

Decorating: Looking for Versatile, Cheap, Minimalist, and Easy to Clean

Don’t want much, do I?

I’m looking for things I can change that aren’t too fussy,  I can get cheaply (or already have), and are fairly easy to clean. In the past I acquired boxes of decorative stuff. To be fair, some of it was store decoration, but honestly, some of it wasn’t. So I have too much and I’m trying to be sane about culling things.

(Along this line, I removed the unsold Christmas items from the booth. Some of it was donated last week. I have a small bag to try to wholesale. If that works, great. If not, those pieces get donated.)

My “rules” so far:

  • Pottery: crackle glazes don’t look dirty as fast as clear glazes. For that matter, mottled, mixed colors don’t show up dirt/grime as quickly as solids or geometrics. (But personally, I prefer solid colors to most pottery patterns.) Also, “muddy” colors show dust and dirt less than “clear” ones (jade rather than forest green, for example).
  • Clear glass isn’t popular, so it’s easy to find nice pieces, really cheap. You can find interestingly shaped vases, bowls, etc. at thrift shops etc. Buy plain, bigger pieces for their shape.
  • Metalware: Silverplate platters with minimal detailing also look great and can be found cheaply. (I have 2. I think I paid $3 for one, the other was $1.50 because no one had polished it in Gawd knows how long!)
  • Don’t buy ephemeral decorations: fresh flowers, live wreaths, etc. Use silk, dried, metal or whatever otherwise, buy it once and use it continually. Less cost, less storage, less to remember, less waste. If it’s got to be “real,” use citrus, pomegranates or winter squashes which can be eaten when you’re through or as required.
  • Limit decorative space. Right now, I have 3 and the door: the middle of the dining room table, the hall console, the strap table, and the front door. (My goal is to have 3 and that’s it.)

Fairly plain containers of clear glass, china or silverplate can be instantly decorated with nearly anything colorful and look fresh. Add a ribbon or two, beads, or tissue, or fabric or . . . and you can make an attractive, nearly unlimited display, year round.

I have smaller pieces I love which are swapped in and out. If I decorated for each holiday, I’d have iridescent beads as filler in one or more vase right now. I don’t decorate that way; I decorate seasonally.  The only holiday I decorate for is Christmas.

My winter decorating needs to be bright, cheery and colorful. It’s a deliberate contrast to the gloom, bare trees, snow and slush outside.

My plan today is to redo my decorating, so I don’t have to do it again, until March or so. If I get “cabin fever” and just need a change or something green, well, I’ll do something else.

Here are the pieces:

  • wide clear bowl, type flowers are floated in
  • 2 round silverplate platters
  • various vases, bowls, and plates, mostly either crackle glazed or with a “muddy” glaze.
  • large clear glass vases
  • clear bonbon dish
  • candlesticks: clear glass, and otherwise

I have beads, fabric, paper, candles and other stuff. Not sure what I’ll use yet, where.

I pulled glassware and pottery from the display atop the kitchen cabinets. Some of it instantly became merchandise — it’s going away. A vase was put in the living room. Other pieces are part of the list above. I need to get the rest of that display down. If the “stuff” up there gets forgotten, I probably don’t need it and should get rid of it

We’ll see!


The idea is: fewer areas to decorate (4 now, goal is 3), fewer decorations or decorative stuff stored (in process), fewer changes of the decorations (seasonally & Christmas = 5 turns a year).

General Purging: I’ve lotted one lot of yarn, another of my sea glass “filler” and marbles for the antique store. (I kept a sandwich bag of marbles, that’s it, the rest  are going!) I pulled 2 yellow pitchers from the top of the kitchen cabinets, they’re going too.

The idea is that I need to empty/remove the stacked crates on the kitchen counter. There’s not much decorative stuff up there any more (it was entirely that at one point) but it’s where my mixing bowls, etc. are stored. Working on paring down the kitchen tools and china and so that I can make the space I have work.

More to change: the herb rack will come down. The grid wall needs to be replaced by the other ladder. I may combine the herb rack and new ladder, as the ladder is short. That detail hasn’t been determined, yet.

 

Lapfull of Warm: Completely Unexpected Result

DH and I went to my fave yarn shop last weekend. My holiday gift was yarn this year.

While we were checking out, the woman working asked about my muffler. What yarn had I used, how big were the needles? Would I tell her the pattern? She wanted to make one!

OMG!!!

I was shellshocked. The 2nd piece I ever finish and someone who works in a yarn shop wants to copy it???

I haven’t posted anything because I think it’s like the first book. For months I was waiting for someone to say, “No. Sorry, we really didn’t mean it.” and I refused to let myself get excited about the book. This was similar. I haven’t really let myself even think about it. But I sat in the car last Saturday afterward, and nearly cried.

Long way in two years ‘eh? From a 10 stitch square which traumatized me so much it took me 4 hours to knit to a piece which is good enough for someone who works in a yarn shop to want to make!

I still shake when I’m knitting and I think about it. If I knit and I’m not distracted by something I still want to cry. I still have issues with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th stitches casting on and casting off. But if I distract myself enough? I can knit some, and I guess I do all right. . .OMG!

J

 

 

More Learning & Being Minimalist

One thing there are still a lot of here are boxes of unfiled papers. I started going through one of these today.

After I realized I was looking at cancelled checks from the 1980s and 1990s, the batch was going in the shred bin. . .  .

paper-pile-google-images

Except it occurred to me that the old paperwork, if shredded would work just fine instead of the newspapers we’ve been buying to help with the wood stove. (We’ve been predominately heating with wood for the past 2 years.) Instead of buying a local paper, or two, I figure I have enough old checks, statements, etc. for our burn paper for the rest of the year, and maybe more than that. This means a few things:

  1. We won’t be paying Staples to destroy these papers.
  2. We won’t be buying as many local papers.
  3. There will be fewer boxes of “stuff” (papers) in the house.

All good!

This is like the bit with the boxes from the ornaments. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before! If I was still counting things, I’d be estatic, as I’ve probably shred or marked to shred 200+ pieces of paper today.

This may seem obvious to you, but the shift in mindset from having kept this stuff, including the paperwork, because we might need it, to using it as firestarter is huge.

One more indication things are real different here than previously!

Note: we burned everything I’d shredded the first day. The following day (today) I’ve shredded more and added it to the paper bin. A big check on being consistent!

x

Happy New Year: Toss List

I tried to do what I’ve done in the past, that is take one of those “get rid of these 30 things” lists as a new year’s step towards minimalism.

I couldn’t get past the woman’s graphics, links to snapchat, etc. It seemed that I would clutter up my life with her or other’s lists about decluttering.

image-from-images-google-com

I made my own, smaller list.

  1. Deal with anything which is broken. Fix it, dismantle it for its pieces if you have a plan for them, or take it to the dump.
  2. Dispose of or deal with anything which is out of date — almost always consumables, food, health or beauty products.
  3. Donate things which aren’t broken, have nowhere to be put away (so you’ve moved them around for a while) and you haven’t used: food, clothes, books, tools, etc.
  4. Shred financial paperwork more than 10 years old unless you have a compelling reason to keep it — keep mortgage and insurance papers which are still current, but shred old paycheck stubs, deposit slips and such. (Ten years is how long the IRS keeps files active.)
  5. Go through the stuff you’ve kept (this will likely take all year): books, magazines, knicknacks, clothes, frozen food, etc. and decide if you really want or need this now? If not, donate, sell, or toss it. If you keep it, make sure it’s clean and has a spot to be put away neatly. If you try to donate or sell it and it doesn’t work (I’ve tried to donate things thrift shops wouldn’t take, I think most people have!) have a back up plan.

That’s it. This covers everything: furniture, art, clothes, health/beauty products, food, building materials.

If you need to be reminded of specific items to toss, cull, edit or whatever, there are a lot of lists out there. Seems simplier to me to use principles instead of specific lists. I’ve never found a list which fit me, so aren’t they a waste of time?

Hopefully, this list isn’t!

Happy New Year —

Jenny