Category Archives: appliances

More Frugality

Because the thing I want to save the $ for is a heating/energy unit, I went looking at our electric company’s website. So they kept referencing apparently an old, Obama-era site, which of course is no longer active, but there’s no other referral.

I am, can you tell, really impressed with our local electric company. Wonder why? See here for more info.

In their defense, I will say that the 3rd time they sent us the “You’re using more energy than your more energy efficient neighbors” letter, they did at least make some reference to what they were comparing us to, a typical home in our zip code. Of course, they never actually said what that was, so it was still meaningless, but less so than previously.

DH is set on getting at least one minisplit  this year and maybe another next year. Okay. The chimney cap we’re replacing this year is the last piece of the chimney/wood stove replacement project. The only piece other than that on the chimney which hasn’t been replaced is the veneer over the pipe, a box around it. I’d love to replace the box, but it’s mostly cosmetic, not structural.

If I win the lottery, we’re going to get the minisplits, solar panels AND a new fake riverrock box around the chimney pipe with a mantel to match. Just sayin’!

Barring that? We’re getting a new chimney cap and at least one minisplit.

My husband said to me, empathically emphatically this morning, that he didn’t want to haul wood or load it into the stove another year.

Okay!

I just have to find a way to make this happen! Squeeze those dollars!


Plant and landscaping frugality: A 1 gallon potted perennial is $35 at Lowes, about $32 with a discount. If you buy them at garden club sales, they’re around $10-$20. Cheaper yet? Layer a 2nd one from one you’ve got, or plant the seeds, or divide it? — Free!

Mulch frugality: Garden centers at big box stores typically sell opened bags of mulch, etc. for 1/2 price. Cheaper yet? Use the pine needles, pine bark, leaves, what have you that you have in your yard already as mulch. Free!

The Celery Thing: I’ve run into this a couple of times, people talking about planting celery plants in their yard. I did this last fall, and the plants are gone this spring, again.

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Photo by Sole D’Alessandro on Unsplash

I went looking for more information. The best I found is a woman who’s been using the same 7 celery plants for years. She lifts them in the fall and makes them houseplants during the winter (and uses them). You can find her write up about this here. (The site is full of interesting ideas too: choosingvoluntarysimplicity.com .)


Gawd I love spring.

And I hate it; I’m always overwhelmed with things to do, ideas to explore, etc. Too much!


Despite still being sick, I managed to spread one of the remaining bags of mulch this morning on the bulb bed. I also transplanted two daffs AND moved some rock, sand, etc. I was wiped out after about an hour, which is typical these days.


On Saturday: the plant sales were a success and not as cheap as I’d hoped. The library/town sale where I’d bought a 1 gallon pot for $10 last year, they were $15. (I got 2.)

The other plant sale where I stopped I got 2 6″ perennials for $5 each.

Sunday? Our next door neighbor took out 90% of a forsythia bush (what the 1 gallon pots held)  and gave me a branch which should get us the last two plants I think I need, for free. I wish I’d known the neighbor was going to whack up his 15 year old plant 1 day earlier, could have saved us $30!

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It Occurred to Me

This morning, again, that I need to have the freezer EMPTY by Memorial Day.

To that end, I looked at what remained: a shelf of stew/soup veg mixes, a shelf of fruits, a shelf of asst. veggies.

I have ONE container of salsa verde left, a large one, and it’s not full. I have ONE container left of stewed tomatoes.


Conclusions?

  • We eat a lot of stewed tomatoes and salsa during the winter.
  • We do not eat home froze veggies for soups or stews without a specific recipe attached otherwise.
  • Same with the fruit.
  • Obviously, I need to do less generic, unplanned food storage and more prep so that I  waste as little as possible!

I made up a really basic chart, or it’s a start anyway.

Vegetable

Recipe/Used In

Asparagus

Fresh, Pickled Asparagus/ WP p 115-9

Beans, green

Fresh, Frozen? Pickled?

Chilis

Fresh, Dried, Froz: Mex Lasagna Rodale Home Freezing p 183, HM chili sauce

Corn

Fresh, Frozen Corn Casserole/Home Ckbk

Garlic

Fresh, Pantry Dried ristra

Onion

Fresh, Pantry Dried. Any way to buy with leaves for a HM braid?

Peppers

Fresh, Roasted Froz: HM roasted pepper soup base

Potatoes

Fresh, Pantry Dried

Radishes

Fresh, Pickled, HM Radishes from Hell

Tomatoes

Fresh, Froz: HM stewed

Tomatillos

Fresh, Froz: HM salsa verde

Zucchini

Fresh, Puree Froz/Rodale Home Freezing p233

 

I’m not likely to do all of this, we get about 1 bunch of asparagus a year and it gets gobbled up right away. I make my spring risotto with sausage or ham, the asparagus, onion, etc. I don’t have a recipe for this, I’ve been doing it so long I long ago lost it. When I went to make it a few weeks ago, I had to do an internet search to remind myself how much rice to how much broth. After that I just used what I had, like always.

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Photo by Julian Hanslmaier on Unsplash


Three containers of mixed veggies are in the composter. There’s 4 more waiting to go.

I think I need to make a cobbler or fruit pudding or something with some of the fruit. I have peaches, rhubarb and apples to use up. I have a rhubarb cobbler we like I use it for, so that’s easy. The apples I don’t have anything for. I’m not fond of cooked apples, I’m not sure why I put them aside, except it was an unexpected bonanza of cheap apples. The  peaches will probably be used in a peach-blueberry cobbler I make too.

So the apples need to go. I think there’s 4 or 5 packages of apples. There were 3 large containers of apples. I forgot the persimmons when I made the list too. I don’t know where the recipe is, but I know I have one. Persimmons are used for persimmon pudding here.


Assuming I get rid of the obvious above, that’s about a dozen packages of food going in the composter. That’s great, but it’s still only about 1/2 the problem!

Sigh.

Status

The work piece got done. I have more, there’s a glitch and it’s being fixed (above my paygrade).

The kitchen has a temporary counter, a piece of plywood, covering the dishwasher and a drawer unit while DH figures out the necessary changes. The new dishwasher wouldn’t go in the space where the dish drawer had been: it’s too high and wide. So… the nuking began.

The writing piece has been completely reviewed by my co-editor: comments made and corrections applied. After > 10 years working on the piece, I am both relieved to have it done and terrified because it’s done.

Other things pending: waiting for the reviewer at a site to tell us who he wants the book file to go for the last book to get it reviewed.

I made some $ from the new online job. Hurrah!

Life is in flux, and stressy accordingly: new online job changes, writing project changes, and kitchen demolition.

My plan is that after the book project goes to the publisher mid-month, I will seriously start working on the cleaning plan and the house. I will have the other, biggest, long-term project complete, so it’s about time, right?

(Excuse me while I freak out!)

For a long time I didn’t understand why I was so afraid of finishing things? I talked to my therapist about it. She said, “If you finished something, it was subject to attack by the Abuser, right? It was much safer for you to not finish things, then she’d attack you for being lazy and/or not finishing things, but you controlled that and it wasn’t a surprise.”

Which made total sense.

The panic/terror of finishing things applies to the house cleaning. Also it’s part of the PTSD, not wanting to be too visible, because you see yourself as a target.

If I think about what I’m doing, really think about it, I will totally panic. I’m not letting myself think about the big picture, just the little one. Just getting the next step done; that’s all.

But I’m running out of road.

end of road

(Image from JimmyBuiPhotography.com, via images.google.com)

Well

The writing project got done, the writing group did a preliminary review. And those changes got made.

I sent the book off to others, as necessary.

What else is going on? DH has nuked the kitchen. We had the world’s worst peninsula, 3′ x 10′, just WAY too big.

That’s gone. The old dish drawer is gone. The old washing machine is gone. The kitchen, the biggest room of this house is a complete disaster.

When everything is replaced we’ll have a working dishwasher again, a smaller island, more functional cabinets and more sane traffic flow from the kitchen to dining room and out. It will be wonderful!

But right now? Now it’s a mess disaster!

The fellow is scheduled to come and get the marble table Tuesday. I should put him off, but I really hate to, as it has taken me months to get where he could do it at all. I have a business meeting tomorrow, but aside from that, and the holy terror the kitchen is, I jut might be able to get to the table enough to do what needs doing. Maybe. Marble table was removed over the weekend.

I have a work thing to do before the meeting. Bought instant food for dinner, but it’s microwave food and the micro is NOT on the counter, because nothing is on the counter.

Sigh. We’ll figure it out!

I Do This — Do You?

I buy used durable goods, like blankets.  We have quite a few blankets, almost none of which were bought new. A few were, one’s an heirloom, but more were bought used, especially the wool ones. I love wool blankets, and even used they’re rarely cheap!

So, buying a blanket with moth holes, or missing its binding, is not new for me. I’d rather pile them on the bed and just enjoy the warmth, than be bent out of shape because I can’t find the perfect piece.

I was thinking about this because I’d just looked at a few sites pushing the idea of buying something only once. That by buying quality items, then the inevitable replacement isn’t necessary. I like the idea, and as I was going through the blankets today I was thinking about it:

  • Two of the blankets I bought new in 1984. They were replacements of two blankets I’d bought the year before and had taken to the dry cleaners, which burned down before I got them back. The plastic carrier for one of them has split and was put into the trash today. I can store both of them in the other carrier when I put them away next spring.
  • Two LL Bean Polartec blankets we bought shortly after we got here. They’re over 20 years old. The used-to-be-feral kitty loves Polartec, all happy claw kneading and deafening purrs, so whichever one we aren’t using is her current bed.
  • We have a hand-quilted matelese piece which is literally falling apart. This is one of those supremely comfortable pieces you fight the guy to get rid of. We got it at auction about 10 years ago.
  • We have another hand-quilted blanket which DH’s grandmother made. (She made enough quilts for all the grandchildren.) It’s starting to wear, but we’ve had it 30+ years now.
  • There are 3 wool blankets, (white, pink, green) with moth holes. I got these at a church sale on the seacoast 6 years ago. I intend to actually felt these this year, somehow that just hasn’t gotten done.
  • Finally, there’s a plaid wool blanket I got last year from an antique store. It’s nearly the same colors as the 3 wool blankets from the church sale. I felted it right after I got it. Works fine.

The first blankets weren’t cheap, but we’ve had them 30 years, so how much is that? I don’t remember how much the Polartec blankets were, but they’re weren’t cheap either. The others were all cheaper and bought second hand.

Buying used stuff makes it harder to get matchy-matchy if that’s what you want (not my thing).

I have 4 duvet covers, which is quite a lot for just one bed, ‘eh?

We bought one this year and it wasn’t cheap, but we’ve been looking at buying linen sheets. We want to stop buying sheets for at least 5 years. [Buying used sheets is a crapshoot. You get something wonderful which lasts every now and then, or you get a sheet you put your feet through the second time you use it.]

Sheets are insanely expensive for what they are. Okay. If I’m going to have to spend premium money, I want premium goods which won’t need to be replaced in two years! So, we got a duvet with linen content, as a test. Without a quilt in it, we used it as a top sheet this summer to see if we hated the feel of the fabric (No.) We plan to use it as a regular duvet cover this winter.

Two of the duvet covers are home made (not by me) from sheets. I got these used, somewhere, don’t know when. I don’t use them as duvet covers, but heavy pieces of cloth over veggies in the car on the way back from the farm, to haul laundry, etc.

The last duvet cover is a fancy Umbra one we got at BB& B, on last markdown, about 9 years ago. It’s spring green and I break it out mid-winter when I’m completely sick of white, mud brown, black, gray, drab and other grim wintery colors. Combating those winter blues!

So I buy a few premium new pieces and keep them for decades, or buy good used things — and keep them for decades. I’d love to have the $ to just go out and buy premium stuff if I wanted to, but I’d miss the hunt and satisfaction I get from knowing I’ve paid little for something which will help me be a happy non-consumer.

One reason I went through the linen collection this week was to determine WHEN I need to start worrying about buying sheets? When we do, I’ll go looking for linen content, but in the meantime, what we have should last another year or more. The same is true of duvet covers and blankets.

We have one bedspread. I will probably sell it. The duvet covers work just fine.

 

Going Down for the 3rd Time

I can’t do this.

No matter how much stuff I get rid of, there’s more. No matter how many books I get rid of (and I’ve been doing that for 13 years now, ‘eh?) there are still more.

It will never end.

I have (literally) gotten rid of 1,000s of items. And I’ve done it for years. I’m still drowning in stuff.

See? I can’t do this. It will never end.

The old storage unit still has stuff in it. I don’t have anywhere to put it. I don’t know what to do, donate boxes to Salvation Army tomorrow I guess. I have a bookcase in the old unit which came from S.A., I can donate it back. The library is taking books again. But that’s one piece of furniture, there’s at least 3. One of which has to come home (no room for it either). There’s about 25 boxes of books, maybe more still in the old unit. I have given away books every-single-day for the past 3 weeks. EVERY day. As few as 3 and as many as 3 boxes at once.

drowning

This isn’t quite as bad as figuring out I couldn’t beat the PTSD (or whatever it was, before I •knew* what it was) by just being stubborn and being willing to work at it, for 42 years to diagnosis, 50+ for most of the rest of it. So, the last piece, the very last piece is this stupid, neverending purge o’ crap, which believe it or not hurts on occasion, and is terrifying on occasion too. I do better and worse and I’ve kept going. I have been determined that I’d win — at least this battle.

But I think the abuser won instead? Can I just blow my brains out? (No gun.) You can bury me under a pile of books and papers and put on the headstone: she never actually accomplished anything and couldn’t finish anything, except her life. I really have no desire to commit suicide, but if suicide is the absence of pain, yes, that I DO want! How squishy does your brain have to be from beating it into the wall before you just give up?

Maybe the abuser was right after all? There just is something “not right” about me. I can’t do things.

Or maybe I’m just discouraged? I wonder why! And I suppose that tomorrow will be different. One of my largest life lessons was that I learned to “skate” when things are bad. Just let it go and don’t do anything permanent or dramatic: don’t break up a relationship, don’t hurt yourself, don’t drink & drive. Just find an emotional rabbit hole (for me that’s a book) and jump in, and hope you keep falling — at least until tomorrow. And tomorrow? Tomorrow you may find your life is completely different?

It usually is.

Let’s see, tomorrow starts in three hours. Can’t be here soon enough!

J

Note: Tomorrow, having come, isn’t perfect, but I’m not as overwhelmed as I was yesterday. Of course I didn’t sleep well, which never helps, but it is what it is.

Minimalism in Food Storage: refrigerator & freezer space

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/10/the-huge-chill-why-are-american-refrigerators-so-big/280275/

Because our big fridge broke earlier this year, we’ve learned to live with a 10 instead of 18 foot fridge. Having one copy of the 18′ refrigerator die three months or so after we bought it, we don’t have a lot of faith this one will keep working for long, after these repairs. We’re planning to replace it in the next year. We think we’ll buy a small, 8 foot or less fridge and perhaps a 10 foot or so convertible fridge/freezer.

We get produce from a farm, 6 months a year. The idea has always been that we’ll put aside food during the months we get farm food to help feed us the other 6 months. So our need for fresh and frozen food storage varies hugely.

The used commercial freezer we bought this year works, not as well as we’d like, and it’s a dedicated freezer. It should be nearly empty by winter’s end.

We have decided on counter depth units, as they’re shallower; there’s less space for food to “hide.”

We’re working on our minimalism. This includes making the best use of the farm food, something we haven’t managed.

  • The first year I had no idea how much food we’d get.
  • The second I tried but got overwhelmed.
  • This year I managed at the beginning of the season, but the fridge dying being fixed then dying and being fixed again and other factors made it impossible.

In the meantime, our 18′ 4 year-old fridge/freezer is working again and we’ll use it.

I like the idea of the underground fridge thing, but I think it would likely be expensive and impractical here. (Look for underground refrigerator, it’s a plastic bubble which is buried, with a walkway out of it.) I want a California closet (Not the brand of closet organizers but a form of unpowered food storage.). I would love a root cellar, but that’s not practical here.

We’ll see!