Category Archives: frugality

Herbal Zero Waste

I grow herbs and spices here: parsley, sage, mint, oregano, chives, etc. I dry some every year. I do this because if you look at the price per lb. of spices at your local market, you’ll discover that they are among the most expensive, if not THE most expensive foods by weight.

The way I dry them is mostly in lunch bags, plain old brown paper lunch bags. I write on the bottom: the herb, date, and source. (The CSA grows herbs/spices too!) and hang them with rubber bands around the bag’s neck and a peg rack.

After about 2 months, I have dried leaves of whatever: parsley, sage, oregano, basil, etc.

I took down all but the last two of these today.

The spices/herb leaves were added to the appropriate containers, the stems were added to the kindling box, and the rubber bands were returned to the appropriate container as well. The bags? The bags got filled with the “trash” that sits in the bottom of the wood or kindling box (leaves, small twigs, dirt from the logs, pieces of bark, etc.). The bag’s neck was retwisted and

Shazaam! 

You get instant, free, zero waste all-natural fire starters and a clean wood or kindling box!

It makes the messy business of cleaning the wood box kind of fun.

I felt the same years ago: we put corn out for squirrels and I used the dried cobs as fire starters. I thought that idea was original! My MIL told me that one of her jobs on the farm, when she was growing up, was to get the cookstove’s fire going, with dried corn cobs saved for that. [I didn’t grow up on a farm in the midwest, but in L.A.; it was new to me!]

This idea, of stuffing the kindling “trash” into lunch bags will probably also be old to many, but it was a new idea for me again. I’m glad I thought of it, whether it’s a new, or not.

Advertisements

Destroy!

Well we demolished the bathroom closet. It was a floor to ceiling closet, but located in such a way that its door and the bathroom door could bang into each other in the doorway. There is also a cabinet door and a drawer which open into or block the door way.

We bought a fawncy bath vanity at the Habitat Re-Store. But, it won’t work as a replacement for our current vanity. However, it has more storage than the vanity we’ve got. So? We demo’ed the closet to put the new vanity (without a sink) into the closet space as useful storage. Removed the closet door. Vanity is in the closet “niche” which was primed and painted, first. Feb. 10

We have talked about for years putting in a pedestal sink or wall-mounted sink because of the space crunch in the room. That’s likely what we’ll do, because the vanity as built-in storage solves the biggest problem with that idea: loss of storage.

We haven’t decided what sink we’ll get or what we’re going to do with the floor (which will have to be redone), and so:

the new vanity cabinet will get a temporary plywood top [We bought a fancy piece of limestone for the top.]

while we figure out the rest of the closet configuration [We know what we want, the vanity’s top is higher than we expected, so it may change?]

…and then the sink, mirror and then the floor. I’d love to nuke the bath/shower too, but that’s another whole order of magnitude money wise. What we’ve bit off we can do in chunks. A tub/shower tear out and replacement isn’t a small chunk….

That’s what’s going on here!

My Rose by Any Other Name is a Cacti

Came up with a name for my personal style, not that it will help me find things!

I guess it’s not supposed to? Newer decorating books talk about people’s decorating styles as “raspberry coolatta meets Bullwinkle,” well, no not that, but you get the idea!

If the name doesn’t actually have to be *useful* in telling others what you’re looking for? Well, mine could be:

Funky industrial/retail meets modern, or functional & simple lines are best!

( If you put that into google? You get a bunch of pinterest hits for industrial decorating, which is nice, but . . . .)

An example could be our hearth: the wood box is an old crate we bought at auction: on one side it has a label which reads “American Consulate.” On another it says “Mrs. (somebody) and “silverware.” Who the woman was, what kind of silverware, which consulate? There’s history and an untold story in that crate.

We use it for firewood, 2 wine crates for kindling, an old leaky pressure cooker holds fire starters, and a counter display for carborundum blades holds matches. Oh — and two steel US Quartermaster’s bins hold paper.

The club chairs were bought used at an antique store, the table between is a small library catalog, with a step stool behind it with a plastic cube on that we got as a wedding present, lo those many years ago. The end tables are picnic baskets, also from an antique store.

That’s my style — whatever it is!

Maybe?

repurposed/interesting/useful/retail/military/frugal/industrial — or functional & simple lines are best

Almost none of the stuff in the room was new when we got it. Exceptions: the plastic cube, the ash bucket, the hearth materials and the stove.

So, another revision:

repurposed/interesting/useful/retail/military/industrial/frugal —

or used & functional: simple lines are best

The last bit is the reality, really, I don’t go looking for the industrial or military or retail things. When I find one? It’s a plus, but not a requirement. That makes it:

Used & functional: simple lines are best

Put that into google? You get info about linear regression. NOT helpful!

Sigh.

(You can find the first description of this problem here.)

Wall of Shame

Another company we will no longer do business with: Swing A Way Can Openers. Why?

My Dad bought our first Swing A Way in the 1970s, as far as I know, it’s still working fine in the house where I grew up.

So, when DH and I got married in the 1980s, I bought one for us, the first one was in a box which disappeared in the move. I bought another, about 1985, it survived moving from  FL to New England and two households here, about 10 years or so, then it suddenly didn’t cut correctly. I kept thinking I just had to clean it, and did, and then I got tired of that, and got a new one in a fit of “self-care” about 5 years ago. Seeing a trend here?

Yep. They moved their operations to China a few years back, and the cheap cr*p can opener I bought last has just been replaced.

Note to marketers: Selling me cheap crap isn’t a sustainable business model. I remember your name and I WILL do the research to find whatever new names you adopt.

In the meantime? I will add Swing A Way’s name to the others on my “Do not buy” list.

J

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.

 

Thursday’s Five, no Eleven

Here’s what’s outstanding from earlier in the week: (I had forgotten the last two when I made this list, but did the vacuuming and couldn’t find it on the list, and searched til I tracked it down. I had dropped two items from Monday’s list, the last two just below.)

  1. Deal with mail
  2. Work on the wood piles (also on the to do list).
  3. Update grain storage: review/cull, clean containers, etc. A tiny piece of this was done as part of clearing the kitchen counter. Weds. 10 a.m.
  4. Prep for the Christmas ornaments I’m making. Started Friday 10:15, requires more work than I thought!
  5. Finish the cull/storage of food from last week’s farm trip.  Finished: onions and tomatoes Wednesday. Peppers and tomatillos finished Thursday a.m.
  6. Vac. under the bed. Done Thursday 8:11 p.m.
  7. Dust the stained glass.

Of these, the most time-sensitive is dealing with the food. If I start a large batch of green salsa, that will take care of most of it. Three small bowls of tomatillos salted, first step for salsa as of 10:30 a.m. 

The fastest will be do deal with the mail. There’s not a lot hanging around, as I tend to do it as soon as it comes in the door. What I do have is the backlog from days gone by. . . .

Here’s Thursdays’ new five, well four. (There’s a reason this isn’t a cheat, but I’m not going to explain just now.)

  1. Clear/clean a dish cabinet shelf Friday 9:40 a.m.
  2. Clear/clean a freezer shelf  Done! 9:40 a.m.
  3. Work on the house notebook
  4. Clear/clean a silverware tray or drawer Friday 9:50 a.m.

Hopefully, this will give me a chance to get maybe one more of the back items finished.

My experience earlier this week has affected how I designated today’s work. Instead of mandating that I clean the dish cabinet, I’ve limited it to one shelf. Same with the freezer and silverware trays/drawers. Hopefully, this will cut the chore time to the 15 minutes or less it’s supposed to be, instead of starting chores which require hours to finish, as I did at the beginning of the week!

That said, this is farm day. The farm is 1.75 hours away. The work there takes about 2 hours, and it’s 1.75 hours back. In other words, farm day from start to finish (the cloth bags I use are in the laundry now) takes about 8 hours: prepping, transportation, food gather and storage. And of course, none of it includes cleaning shelves, drawers or working on a notebook!

So, I expect to be even more behind, even with only 4 items to do tonight, because farm day wipes me out.

Other news: the book rack sold — hurrah! On the not so great side: they’re working on the street in front of the antique store, my sales will be accordingly much smaller — rats!

 

 

And Again. . .

The chimney people were here yesterday. We need a new connection to and chimney pipe, $xxxx money — again. Considering we heat mostly with wood, this isn’t optional,  it must get fixed, ASAP.

We figured out how we’d pay for it last night and have a few questions for the guys before we say “Do it.” But this is one disaster we sure weren’t anticipating! DH left them a message today, so we’re already in process.

My long-term lesson from this is that we need to change when we get our chimney inspected and cleaned. NOT at the end of summer, but at the beginning or middle. Much longer to recover from unforeseen issues! If it was June or the beginning of July, I wouldn’t have panicked as much as I did.

was diligent. I think I called for the appointment a month ago but they were busy with a large construction job. Just the same, next year the chimney gets inspected in MAY, not August.

Re coming up with the money, I took down my beloved 6 slot candle fixture. I love it and have since the day I found/bought it. However, a wall-mounted candle fixture is not practical in a LOG home. Especially a log home with only one place it might be safe to use it (the stairwell) and that’s impractical because, oh, it’s the wall facing the stairs and over 6′ off the ground. Soooo. . . . I’ve debated and thought about it and left it where it was, several times, until today. Today I took it to the antique shop.

Tomorrow I talk to the fellow who manages consignments for the high-end antique shop hereabouts. Assuming things go as expected, the marble/wrought iron table will go to them some time next week. (I’ve already talked to the delivery guy once, we’ll talk again the beginning of next week.)

At the antique store, I marked down (a lot!) the Hoosier. If it doesn’t sell for that price, I’m prepared to haul it to the auction house where we bought it, next Tuesday. I also took the Victrola horn I’d gotten at auction earlier this year. I fell in love with the images of pendant lights made from them, but hadn’t realized they were so BIG! Even looking at it at the auction preview didn’t really get that point across. But when we got it home? Yep, same problem as the six candle holder. Nowhere to put such a thing! (The image is from etsy, NOT mine!)

victrola horn lights from etsy

There’s one of our fave white elephants this weekend and although we’re up to our eyebrows in home improvements which require us to work like dogs to get them done ASAP, I still came up with ideas about how to sell at a flea market this weekend AND donate the unsold stuff to the white elephant.

If that doesn’t work because the home improvements take too long? We’ll go anyway, and there’s another white elephant in the town on the other side two weeks later we can donate things to! I’ve always planned that whatever unsold stuff I had left by Columbus Day would be donated, somewhere, or 90% of it anyway. I’ve already done major donations twice this summer of unsold stuff. I find things (mostly those we already own) put them in the booth for a while, mark them down if they don’t sell. If they still don’t sell? I pull some of them and just donate them to a thrift shop. Or, I pull the stuff and set it aside as flea market fodder. Then I do a flea market. If it doesn’t sell there? It’s usually donated. I pack the car so that one side of it is made up of things going to the dump’s swap shop.

Other news: the memoir is approx. 1/3 retyped and the reformatting is in process (Well, Word is winning the battle, but I’m determined!) The first third has always been my bugaboo, it’s the background, about the years of abuse. The middle section is about meeting my current husband and more healthy behavior slowly but surely becoming my norm.

Anyway, had two breakthroughs: got the first 1/3 of the memoir redone, again, and got through the first major headache in the reformatting. So, onward!

J