Category Archives: Making Home

Busy… And!

  • Been working hard at the culling/cleaning effort, as I’d said. You can see that here
  • Got a contract in my inbox this a.m. for the memoir. I’d be shaking or something, if it felt real I think? So far, it isn’t.
  • Need to get back into the food tracking. We’re in full summer glut from the farm, there’s no way I’ll remember what I’ve got, what I intend to do with it, etc. without some sort a plan.

So I haven’t gone away, I’m just busy!

 

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Figuring the Cost

Farm food It occurred to me that I should figure out how much we actually spent on the farm food? I knew what the total was and how long the food is available, but haven’t done any kind of costing for it this year.

Every week we get a slug o’ veggies, usually some herbs, etc.

A week ago, Tuesday, we got: spinach, mixed greens, pea sprouts, and lettuce. We had soup 2 nights from the spinach ( a cold spinach/avocado soup, a spring tradition here, yummy!) and I used the mixed greens in salads, cooked some of it, etc. We had spinach and lettuce salads with other veggies. The last of the mixed greens and spinach were dealt with yesterday.

Yesterday I got spinach, 2 heads of lettuce, a bunch of radishes, kale, bok choy, chard, argula, cilantro and dill.

Last night’s dinner was HM hummus, with lemon and dill. The salad had a little cilantro in it, and more of last week’s lettuce. Tonight’s salad will use the end of last week’s lettuce.

Despite my not keeping track last week because I was still sick, I have figured it out. The farm costs about $28/week, which works out to about $4 a day, if you only do dinner with it. That’s almost exactly what the allowance for food on SNAP (food stamps) is.

However, because we both work at home, we frequently use some of the farm food for lunches, but don’t always. So, say we use the farm food for 3 other meals a week, that’s 10, which drives the cost per meal down to $2.80, or $1.40 for each of us, daily.

This doesn’t include whatever food I manage to put aside.

It hadn’t occurred to me to start with the $ amount for food stamps, but it’s a good idea! If, God forbid, we ever end up needing that type of help, then our expectations will already be there. The problem is of course, that the $4 a day should cover EVERYTHING, veggies, meat, shampoo, etc. And to get there, I have a LOT more adjustments to make!

What I’ve done with the menu plan idea (See here.) is to greatly reduce the amount of prefab, frozen, and restaurant meals we’re eating. Making better use of what we have (Also see this.), wasting less, etc. It all helps. Anything I set aside from the summer glut or grow here is also a bonus, as it reduces the expenses. But I need to do better reducing the other costs!

Meat I pretty much have done this with the new menu plan, we only eat it 2x a week, on Friday and Sunday. I’ve discussed how I reduced what we pay for already.

That leaves everything else: anything other than meat and vegetables. And that’s a lot! Paper products, frozen foods, baked goods, health/beauty items, pet supplies, cleaning supplies, etc.

Frozen foods here are ice cream, meats, and vegetables. I have an ice cream maker, I always plan to make ice cream during the summer, but don’t always do so. I need to more often this year, like weekly. Being us, we buy expensive ice cream, so making our own will be cheaper, almost guaranteed!

Baked goods here are mostly bread and crackers. DH has been making bread every couple of days. We actually don’t do much other baking, although yesterday I found organic blackberries on sale, so this morning I’ll make a blackberry cobbler.

Paper products except for costing out and trying janitorial supply sources, I haven’t seriously tried to find a way to reduce our costs here. I located a janitorial supply company that sells to the public nearby. I keep meaning to, and keep forgetting, to buy a roll or 2 of TP and paper towels (our usual paper products) to see if we like them?

Health/Beauty items I’m not sure how else to reduce costs here. We’re using up the end of a bulk shampoo buy I did 2 years ago. I’ll have to buy shampoo again before the year is out, but that’s the first time in 2 years. (There was a good sale, I had lots of coupons and they doubled coupons up to $1 So I bought every bottle I had a coupon for.) I get bar soap from a friend who raises goats and makes artisan soap. She makes a 10 lb block for me about every 18 months and I cut it into bars. We also use Dr. Bonner’s baby soap, cut in 1/2, for DH’s shaving soap and at the kitchen sink (my hands dry out in the kitchen, I wash my hands too often). Deodorant is the only other thing we buy regularly. I buy it when I find it on sale. I’ll have to buy some of that soon, we’re using the last tube. Toothpaste we buy about once a year, the rest of the time we use the samples provided by the dentists.

Photo by Crystal de Passillé-Chabot on Unsplash

Cleaning products — this is an area I can work on! Because I’m so scent sensitive, I’m careful about only buying unscented products. The availability of these ebbs and flows. Six months ago, there were 3 different types of unscented dish soap at our local market. Last time I looked, there was 1. This means I tend to buy mulitples when I can afford it, because I may not be able to find the product in the future. I wouldn’t mind decanting a gallon of dish soap into smaller, more usuable containers, if it didn’t make me sick! Laundry detergent I have the same issue. I should check with the janitorial supply company for these. Wood cleaner/polish I finally found a set of products which doesn’t make me sick. Also fortunately, their office is nearby. My plan is to stop by before winter and see if I can’t buy a gallon of the stuff! And then there’s trash bags, but I finally found a cheap source of those, UNSCENTED, at our local cheapo market. Dh bought a box of hefty bags that is so stinky I opened it outside 2 months ago. They still stink! He can use them for workshop stuff, NOT bring them in the house or put them in my car to go to the dump! After 2 months outside, open, they STILL stink!!!

The usual/standard advice in “save money” books is to make your own cleaners or buy whatever is on sale. I do make some of my cleaners and use vinegar, baking soda, etc. as much as I think is sane but I can’t just use whatever is cheapest because of the scent issue. This means that except for buying in bulk or from a janitorial supply company, I really can’t cut here, unless I’m willing to live in a house which makes my allergies worse.

No one has convinced me yet that microfiber cloth or essential oils actually clean things. As far as I can tell, microfiber cloths are just fine terry cloth and essential oils just make things smell good! I can and do mop my kitchen floor every now and then with lemon oil and water, but it’s not to clean the floor, it’s to make the kitchen smell good! I do it AFTER I’ve swept and then mopped the floor!

Fortunately, I can use some scents, as long as it’s scented with natural oils, like lemon. I do this myself, because it’s just not worth it to use something that’s supposedly all natural scent to discover the binder, which they didn’t count, is something which I react to!

This cost/expense reduction project needs more work!

Sunshine!

One, I finally feel NOT sick, which is a real blessing after 2 months of being sick!

Two, it’s a not too hot, not too cold day out there. The bean trellis got planted yesterday, it rained so I didn’t have to water the seeds in. The greens I’d planted last week are starting to sprout. Although I won’t get any where near as many plants as I’d hoped, all my seed is at least 3 years old.

The plan this year is to use it ALL up, and start fresh next year. This is what happens when you don’t do a garden for 2 years….

The car is loaded with flea market items going to the storage. At the moment, I’m waiting on the chimney sweep guy, who’s supposed to be here in the next 1/2 hour. After he leaves, I’ll haul a load to the storage and a load back (there’s no room in the storage for a car full, so something has to come back too.)

But, it’s also DUMP DAY, so a load or three of leaves and books and asst. stuff will go to the dump today. And that, if nothing else, will create a small hole in the pending stuff waiting to be dealt with. Hurrah!

There are 3 rugs on the lawn waiting for DH’s help to shake them. The 2 smaller ones will come back in the house, the bigger one is slated for the flea market, and will go into the car.

It’s spring, I don’t feel wretched, and I’m finally getting things done I’d planned to do two months ago. Hurrah!

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Photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash

This Week & the Neat Muscle

This week is going to be centered around the upcoming flea market. (If you’re local and want info, let me know!)

Afterwards, I hope to have a hole here AND a hole in the storage. As with April’s flea market, I’ll set aside a wadge of the unsold items to donate, hopefully to the thrift shop down the street. If we can’t donate it there, I’ll put it in storage to donate it elsewhere or take it to the dump’s swap shop.

A major purge: a box of books and 10 bins worth of leaves, that’s 260 gallons were taken to the dump! There remains 2 small leaf piles I missed on the lawn and a larger pile next to the compost heap, I just had to get them off the grass!

Today’s work:

  • The bean trellis needs to be anchored further and the beans planted. That’s the next step in the veggie garden. Of course, more leaf raking.
  • The dryer is acting up, so clearing the porch under where the clothes line is getting put up for the summer is another. Moving the dryer away from the wall and see if the drain is plugged? DH did this. The dryer is back in place, hopefully usuable — I had a large load of rags, kitchen towels, etc. to wash and did so!
  • The living room also needs to be cleaned, amongst other things, our chimney will be swept Weds.

Other projects:

Dining Room & Rug:  The rug effort made great progress yesterday. I got the 3 rugs stitched together and started on the first border. I need to do 2 sets of border stitches. Then I need to clean up the stitching, knot and tie off the ends. THEN I’m done! Still several hours away, but definite progress!

The rug effort required the dining area be cleared out a bit, which it was. Still more to do there as well, quite a bit, with the furniture move I have in mind, but it will happen, eventually! We are loaning our old table to a gallery, that will help, but the table top detaches from the legs, so that’s only 2 pieces in what is an overcrowded room. Still, every bit helps!

Electronic Purge: Re the electronic purge? I have about 2800 emails in my email’s trash folder. They are purged automagically when they’re there for 30 days. That leaves approx. 25,300 in my in box.

We went to the dump THREE times yesterday, so aside from the 10 bins of leaves, there are definitely fewer items here!


Much of this process, which now has gone on for years, has seemed futile. I keep relearning what I’ve happened on every once in a while. That is, that the people with neat houses make it a priority. To them, the mess is simply unacceptable. For me, for years it was inevitable and another sign of how “flawed” I was.

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Photo by Kristian Seedorff on Unsplash

I’m not flawed, I just need to learn to think in new ways. The bins being used in the leaf effort is an example.

The bins were bought to hold twigs and other kindling. Fine. Most of them were empty on the porch this spring, making a bit of a mess, but not much, they stack. However, I’d run out of trashcans, used most of my reusable leaf bags, and still had many piles of leaves in the yard. A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that a summer use for the kindling bins could be holding leaves before hauling them to the dump’s leaf pile! And the yard became instantly more attractive as the full bins were stacked in front of where the cars park and the leaf piles disappeared.

I just don’t have the “neat muscle” yet.  But I’m working on it!

 

 

Other Work

The small wood pile at the bottom of the drive was moved today into the wood shelter. More misc. stuff was removed from the porch and more of its floor has been swept. Some of it was put into the basement, where it will be used.

I placed tongue depressors next to the spent daffs where the plants can stand to be divided. I need my weeding stool before I can do that or the leaning over will kill my back. The weeding stool was stored away, it’s being used as a stand right this minute. When it’s free, then I can divide the daffs, so there will be more flowers next year! First 2 divided, more to come!

I planted an heirloom crabapple. Whether we’ll get a tree or not, who knows?

The wood pile tarps which were scattered around the front yard have all been gathered up. The plywood for the wood pile has been put away,

The Menu Plan, Working?

I had come up with a general menu plan. Last week I managed what’s in column 3. (I skipped week 2 as I was sick again and the menu was abandoned!)

Day Plan Actual wk 1 Actual wk 3
Monday Double Veg Lentils & Yams green rice & salad
Tuesday Soup/Stew/Salad Garlic Soup avocado toast, roasted red pepper soup, braised greens**
Wednesday 2nd Veg Lentils & Yams green rice, sauteed mushrooms, salad, fruit
Thursday Egg Asparagus & herb omelette HM hummus, fresh bread, salad
Friday Double Meat BBQ Beef blackberry cobbler (a.m.) and restaurant food (dinner)
Saturday Sandwich BBQ Beef Sandwich None, did flea market, followed by ice cream, then home
Sunday 2nd Meat Lentils & Yams*, salad lemon chicken, salad, corn

*The 3rd portion of lentils & yams was frozen Weds. We finished the beef Saturday, so we ate the last portion of lentils & yams from the freezer.

** The roasted red peppers were a container from the freezer, frozen last September!


I can say that menu planning this much it hit a few of my goals:

  • less waste
  • less meat
  • cheaper meals
  • set aside excess for “instant meals” so we don’t buy frozen food

But this is Memorial Day weekend, which means my big freezer needs to be EMPTY next week. Ack!

pointing fingerThe fridge’s freezer needed to be cleaned first. That’s now been done. 5/27/19 noon.


There is one empty shelf in the fridge’s freezer and one empty shelf in the big freezer. More work required! 6/4/19

Craft Supplies: What to Use or Cull?

I have too many craft supplies, of course. I need to either use the stuff up, sell, toss or otherwise cull this collection down A LOT.

I have been trying to think what I have to do/get rid of/cull next? And I don’t know. I have fabric at a seamstress currently to turn into \ throws. I don’t need more, those will do us year round, with the one my MIL made.

So, then what? I have pillow forms, fabric, beads, yarn, basketry material, and paper crafting supplies.

The obvious thing to use some of that up would be to do the knit the pillow covers project. The not so obvious thing is whether I have yarn in the right sort of colors/textures for the living room. That I do NOT know, I’ll have to look.

After that project and making myself a new hat. (Remember this? I decided to make myself another hat.) I have no idea how much yarn I’ll have left, how many pillow forms I’ll still, and what to do with what I DO?

I also have no ideas about the rest of it. I need to work harder to find projects or just decide to get rid of the stuff, in quantity!


Okay I sorted. I have enough, with an additional skien or two, to make pillow covers. One or maybe two? We’ll see. I also seem to have enough to make another hat. After that? I have a bin full of yarn, most of it with no particular use in mind. The one exception is the rug which was being knit/crotched for the bathroom, the one that takes about an hour to get 1/4 of the way around and 1/4″ thick  per row. In other words? To make that rug takes a LARGE amount of time/effort, which is why it got dropped to begin with. I either need to ‘fess up and admit I won’t ever finish it OR I need to actually finish it. Storing the tools and supplies and 1/2 finished rug just is dumb!