Category Archives: Food

Saving $$$

Because of the new porch and wanting to pay off the loan we got ASAP,  I’ve been looking for ways to save money.

Usually, this means that I find a lot of sites/data that I already know. However, pleasantly enough, I found one this morning which had info. new to me!

(here)

I get aarp’s emails regularly and from them and other sites, most of the ideas are those I know and have used for years:

  • Drink water at restaurants
  • DIY morning coffee/snack
  • Cook at home, from scratch
  • etc.

The saving $ ideas of mine which I’ve never seen elsewhere:

  • Buy the most concentrated form of soaps, or anything else that you can. If you use it with water, you can add it yourself.
  • Buy unscented products rather than buying “his” and “her” products.
  • Use tank tops as underwear, flipflops as slippers during the winter and other such so that you can buy less stuff to start with.
  • Have a set budget for restaurant meals and plan to eat at least one other set of meals from it, whenever possible. (Our budget for 2 adults = $20, and the 2nd meals make that $5/per meal, still expensive, but a lot more affordable than it might be!)
  • Shop your fridge/pantry and use what needs using first instead of sticking with a meal plan.
  • Use a chamois to “mop up” steam from glass and metal shower/bath rather than using glass or chrome cleaners. The steam is a free by product of bathing, use it!
  • Use “snow” from your freezer as sweeping compound to clean your hard floors.

Not unique to me:

  • Buy in bulk when you can afford to, items are on sale, and you have the space.
  • Have a price book.
  • Share and borrow, as needed.

 

 

dollar sign from zazzle.com

Favorite Foods

We have a new favorite yogurt, and, knowing us, that means it won’t last, alas.

DH bought two Yoplait yogurts this week, packaged in glass. The flavor is vanilla, the stuff is expensive, because of the packaging and no doubt because of the lack of preservatives. The ingredients are very simple, something like: milk, sugar, yogurt strain bacteria, and vanilla extract — that’s all.

It’s called “French style” yogurt and their website doesn’t even have a picture of it. We have decided we love it and need to buy a lot of it ASAP, because it no doubt won’t last. Simple foods which taste good, with no crap added to them tend to be short-lived.

Remember Haagen-Dazs Five ice creams? They were around for what, a year? Ice cream with 5 ingredients, milk, cream, sugar, flavoring. It was wonderful stuff — and it’s gone.

The other ice cream we fell in love with is almost impossible to find in New England, although it CAN be found, again it’s pricey. It’s Three Twins, organic ice creams.

vanila 3 twins image

Sigh. I long for the days when simpler meant cheaper and easier to find rather than the opposite. Ah well, we are food snobs and swimming upstream is something I’m used to, ‘eh?

J

Overwhelmed Gadfly

Basically, I took about a week off. I had so many things to do, endlessly that I just got completely overwhelmed. When I took a day off to go to a party, I just didn’t start again the next day — last Monday.

Being lazy and unproductive hasn’t helped getting anything done, but it has lowered my stress.

Anyway, the result is that I still have an overwhelming “to do” list.

  1.  Deal with food, both home grown and from the CSA.
  2. Clean/cull the house.
  3. The construction is on-going because we’ve had so much rain. The two week job has become a 4 week job. Hopefully, it will be finished this week, oh, wait, there’s a holiday — next week, sigh.
  4. Yard work.
  5. Writing.
  6. House Decorating.

None of these are single item, do it in an hour jobs. They are on-going, long-term, intensive and have many pieces.

drowning

Food:

  1. Summer squash (from the CSA) is currently in the dehydrator. Finished. A new batch started.
  2. The latest batch of rhubarb is chopped on the cutting board. I need to figure out what I’m going to do with it. Froze it.
  3. I have the rest of last week’s food from the CSA to deal with. Need to figure a rough menu for between now and Wednesday and deal with the rest. Thursday we get more. No menu, but in process of using up and/or deciding to store the excess.
  4. One way I deal with food is to freeze it. I need to make a new inventory. What I have is completely out of date. In process.

Clean/Cull the House:

  1. I’d love to take a chunk o’ stuff out of the house, put it on the lawn and go through it. I may, if I have time today. But having time is strictly deciding that I’m going to do this rather than something else.
  2. I still have about 3 or 4 batches of laundry to do. I may break down and go to the laundromat in town to get them done, maybe. There are many places I could find enough “stuff” to make this worth doing: the living room, the kitchen, the attic, our bedroom, the office.
  3. Keep working on the “dump” areas: my office and the attic. My idea with this is that if I get these cleared out then I can move some of the excess stuff from the other rooms there. Especially the attic, as that’s what it’s for — right? [Started working to clear out one of the two sheds. The sheds are the outdoor “attics” and they need to be culled and cleaned as well.]

Construction:

  1. Most of this isn’t on me, but they’ve unearthed a lot of rocks and I want to use them elsewhere in the garden. They’ve also covered over a lot of bulbs and they need to be moved to the bulb bed before they’re all dead. In process.
  2. Finally, the big equipment moving across the space did in my stepping stones and the wildflowers I was trying to cultivate as ground cover. This area when they finish will need to be relandscaped.

Yard work:

  1. I need to weed the veggie garden plot. I’m not growing much this year, but it doesn’t do to let the weeds get a firm hold on the space, ‘eh?
  2. Finish distributing the old compost.
  3. Add the new L to the compost heap and organize the leaf pile.
  4. Make up the tutorial for and redo the kindling stand for next winter.

Writing:

  1. Finish the memoir (again).
  2. Write the new novel, at least a draft.
  3. Finish the article for your friend.

House Decorating:

  1. Get the shower curtain liner done.
  2. Get the bookcase boxes painted, if they’re going to be.
  3. Paint the stairs and baseboards in the living room.
  4. Repaint the bathroom.
  5. Move things in the hearth area as per the new design.
  6. etc.

First commentary added 7/4/2017. Includes all 4 food items, cleaning one of the sheds (partial), and moving some of the rocks.

More Work: Tues & Weds

More was done on the roof and new patio on both Tuesday and Wednesday. This makes doing extensive things in the house awkward, but not impossible.

Tuesday:

I bought a bookcase last Friday. It’s shallow (12″) but long (48″) and wonderfully, it has 5 cubbies, 3 of which fit my notebook boxes. Hurrah!

Because of the new bookcase, yesterday I cleared and cleaned most of the space between the jelly cabinet and the end of the stairs, along the stair rail wall. (It’s cutaway to let heat from the woodstove migrate upstairs in winter.)  Anyway, I removed the 3 bookcase boxes from that wall, cleaned things, sorted the books, etc. into “outs” and “keeps” and put the new bookcase into place along that wall with the only one bookcase box and the short bookcase box on top (it had been on top of 2 larger bookcase boxes). The decorative stuff and the CDs and field guides which live in the short bookcase box have been replaced. I need to refill the bookcase with “keeps” from the sort and box up the “outs” so that they can be further sorted into “try to sell” and “donations.”

The donations get donated ASAP, the others will be put up for sale for a limited time. If they sell? Great! If not? They become donations. I am only keeping expensive or signed books these days for possible future sale. Regular books < $20 aren’t worth my time any more. . . .

Anyway, that’s the next step for the house culling.

Otherwise I have to remove everything from the new cap for those drawer units so DH can make a riser to go under it and the top drawers will move again. Then the top will be replaced, and the bookcase will be empty! The milk crates will be put to use in my office and the bookcase will (hopefully) be put into the attic fairly quickly. (If you’re keeping count, the bookcase will be the 3rd piece (the others are one bookcase box from the living room and the trunk) waiting to go into the attic.

Clearing out the attic has become a priority! So I will work on it and my office a bit more today.

This morning I worked on the compost heaps. I need to distribute the compost from the old heap into the vegetable garden and EMPTY the bin. I have 3 pallets made into a U shape which form the original bin. After way too long, I now have two more pallets to add, so  it will be W shape instead! I need to buy the pieces I use to anchor the pallets. I don’t have any just now. When I get the second leg added, the structure will be complete. There’s a “yard” attached too, for a leaf pile. Right now, that is holding the 2nd (current) compost heap and the leaf pile is a mess piled up on the side. I want to make this a LOT neater!

I used the wood ash pile up this morning too. Then used a layer off the old compost pile. The effort to make the new pile, use up the old pile, and neaten up the leaf pile(s) is going to take time and a few sessions of working on it.

It just started to rain here, again, so it’s possible that no more work will be possible until tomorrow. If it dries out? Great! If not, well, tomorrow I guess.

What I really, really wanted to do late this morning on the attic effort was haul everything from the “island” in the middle of the attic out onto the lawn so that it could be sorted into culls and keeps. The culls could either go to the storage, the dump (Weds.) or antique store.

Sigh. I do not have a “good” Plan B. It’s approx. 11:30, I guess Plan B is to have an early lunch and then examine the stuff in the attic and see what I can do otherwise.

Wednesday:

They brought the posts over which will support the new piece of the roof, this is going to be real sometime soon — or so it appears!

Aside from that I spent a lot of Wednesday processing the end of last week’s produce so that the new batch I’ll get tomorrow will go into a mostly cleared out fridge.

Did 3 loads of laundry, the laundry is finally starting to get caught up. Hurrah!

Did 3 loads of dishes too, and DH did some. If I wasn’t chopping, etc. food thru the day the kitchen would be clean, but it isn’t, because things get used as fast as other pieces get washed and put away. Oh well.

Did a dump run this afternoon. DH and I did another this evening. The sheets got changed on the bed. Fourth load of wash in the machine, 3rd load in the dryer.

Lots of work getting done around here. I think I should get another job, I might be less busy!

The Road Goes Ever On. . .

Okay. Today we did the “great fridge move” and pulled the 2nd cabinet out of the kitchen to go to the antique store.

Right this instant, it’s a disaster down there. The fridge part of the big fridge has been cleaned, but not the inside of the door, the freezer section or the outside. The little fridge has been cleaned, relocated, and refilled. The outside of it could use cleaning too, but that’s it. The freezer has had a layer of frost removed from it (I use an ice scraper, the stuff is really soft).

The cabinet is in the middle of the room. The area where it stood has been swept and has been partially refilled with asst. other stuff.

As I said, the kitchen is a disaster. The sink is full of the dishes which haven’t been washed as well as various containers holding “science experiment” foods and containers of food which just need to be pitched and the containers washed.

Clearing the kitchen counters alone is about an hour’s work. That plus the rest: removing things from my car, putting the cabinet/top IN the car along with whatever else I can fit will take some time and effort. I would dearly love to be nearly done for today, but I’m not!

We’re doing some kind of “instant” dinner. Maybe more of the breakfast burritos we bought for flea market mornings (The market opens at 6 a.m. I’m not cooking breakfast at 5 in the morning!)

J

Today

DH is working on upgrading the electrical system on his motorcycle. He helped me with some of the leaf moving (rake, then relocate). Later today, we’re off to the storage to work on that.

There are probably more books here ready to be gotten rid of. I gave one  to a neighbor. Have another to ask a second neighbor about and the yard is tidier than it was. All good.

The fertilizer I used up (we’d had it for 2 years, why?) was rained on for the next two days. A lot of it went into the bulb beds, and the daffs. and other bulbs are shooting up green sprouts all over the place. Partly because it’s time, but partly because they got fertilized just as they were starting their spring push. The rain was a blessing for them.

So we need to buy more mulch for the bulb bed to keep out the weeds (grass), but the bulbs should spread out quite a bit this year because of the timely fertilizer and rain.

I’ve been working on the spring/summer food/garden plans,  Between the farm we belong to and the garden I grow (sometimes, didn’t last year) we are usually drowning in green stuff by June. I want a better plan for what comes in/when and what I intend to do with it this year! I’m about 25% done with this piece. Finished the initial data gather yesterday. Pulling it together.  There are 2 or so more data gathering steps before I can make an actual plan, but it should get there.

Off to the storage — ho!!!!

J

We took a file box full of books and a few besides to the market which has the book bin. Gone! I have gone through one box since we got home and have started the 2nd. There’s about 10 more books in a bag to be donated, wherever it is we go next that will take them.

Zero Waste?

We have always recycled. That is for nearly 40 years now. Before you get on me about recycling and its virtues: in college my husband (then roommate) and I recycled our glass bottles at our college’s glass blowing program, had the local boy scouts cued in that whenever they had a paper drive we’d contribute, etc. Later we drove to the base recycling, because it was the only one available to us, it wasn’t the town’s dump. So, okay? I believe in recycling and have always practiced it, for for 39+ years now.

So, zero waste as a concept isn’t new to me. The “movement” I see is new. I agree with it, but I think the ludicrous “posts” I see of a family of 4 having only a quart jar of waste a year to be a cheat. Why? Because if you read these blogs, etc. a lot of what you see is what you’d expect: use vinegar, home-made cleaners, permanent cleaning tools rather than paper towels, etc. But you also see things like the cheat (well, I consider it a cheat) I found which turned me off of all such blogs.

The cheat? The person bought a pair of shoes and left the shoe box with the store. That ISN’T zero waste, it’s just being nasty, giving someone else your garbage. You might just as easily take all your other waste in a plastic bag and stuff it in a municipal trash can.

recycling process

Yes, there are things you can do to lower your waste. You can deliberately find a use for something you might otherwise discard. You can buy big packages of supplies (food and otherwise) and make smaller, more convenient collections of those things yourself (preferably in something other than disposable bags). You can use rags instead of paper towels. You can not buy things with pieces which are trashed every time they’re used. You can pay attention to what you buy and what winds up in the trash. How many bags of garbage does your household generate? Can you do better? (We use 1 a week, plus recycling.)

You can also save money and avoid a huge amount of waste if you just use more of your food. Or learn how to cook, right? Prefab food generates container and packaging you don’t have if you cook yourself. Think about it: when I buy a package of ground meat at my local green market, it’s wrapped in 2 pieces of paper. [I admit, if I’d remembered, I could take a lidded, freezer-safe container with me and use that. I didn’t last time, hopefully I will next time.] Anyway, because we make our own bread, the packaging for us to get hamburgers on the table is the wrapping around the meat. Everything else comes in a big package (like a head of lettuce or bottle of catsup) and is used multiple times. Contrast that with the paper napkins, wrappers, receipt, salt, pepper, catsup packets and bag which make up a bag of 2 hamburgers from your local Mac’s. Is it cheaper? No. Is it faster? Well, my local Mac’s is 25+ minutes away, so yes it is.

food waste

But don’t tell me you’re zero waste and go to a store, buy a pair of shoes and leave the packaging. Get your shoes repaired rather than buying a new pair. Buy a used pair? Donate TWO pairs to a charity when you buy that new pair? Try making it a policy to have minimal shoes. For me that’s 5 pairs: daily shoes, snow boots, fancy shoes, sandals, house shoes. My fancy shoes, if I have them, (I don’t at the moment.) are usually either solid white or black. My daily shoes are shoes I wear when I’m going out, they tend to be walking shoes. The house shoes are slippers or slip ons I use in the house, sometimes I use socks. Honestly? If I wasn’t in a snowy climate, I could manage without the boots and could use the sandals as house shoes and for the fancy shoes too, I have previously. That would leave me with daily shoes and sandals.

For restaurant take out, you can do what a friend of mine has done for decades: put a picnic basket in your car with real plates, cloth napkins, food containers, etc. in it and ask the restaurant to package your food that way. Some fast foods may not be able to cope with that, but some can. Pay attention, do what you can, and keep looking for new ways to lower your impact on the world.

I’m not zero waste, but I admit what I do and don’t foist my garbage off on others as if that somehow makes it “vanish.” It doesn’t. The idea that the things we discard don’t count or will vanish is a lot of the reason we got where we are. So, don’t tell me you’re zero waste and foist your garbage off on someone else. If it comes with the goods you buy, it’s yours. Deal (and be honest).