Category Archives: New Habits

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.

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Zero Waste Idea

On my long-term goal list is the idea of buying shelf-stable foods in bulk. I want to do this for several reason: to reduce trips to the market, reduce the waste we create (and thereby trips to the dump) and stress reduction too. I think I have a great resource for figuring out what to use other than plastic or the consumer packaging to store things in my home: my old housekeeping books.

One of the best for this is a book published in 1921. She has what she calls “marketing charts” which are mostly useless as they tell you to do things like buy “washed raisins,” but there’s a column of how to store foods too. Here’s the information I pulled (my comments are in italic).

Buckets or Cans: Whole Wheat Flour, Rye Flour

Cool, Dry Place: Buckwheat, Canned Goods, Chocolate, Salts (table, cooking & ice cream)Tea, Vinegar

Cool, not Too Dry Place: Nuts

Dry Place: Bar Soaps, Sugar

Tight Container: Cooking Fats (in cool place), Cornstarch (in dry place), Macaroni (pasta)Olive Oil (in dark, cool place), Soap Powder, Spices, Syrup

Jar: Shelled Almonds, Dried Cereal, Cream of Tartar, Currants & Raisins

Glass Jar, Covered or Stoppered: Bay Leaves, Citron, Cocoa, Coconut, Molasses

Rack 2″ from Floor: Flour, white & pastry (One assumes in a barrel or at least a cloth bag? Certainly NOT the paper bags flour comes in today!)

Tight Container: Dried Beans, Crackers, Extracts (in dark place)

Tin*: Baking Powder, Coffee, Cornmeal (covered), Matches

*Any foods stored in a tin I’ll put inside a food safe plastic bag or container which I will reuse.

 

barrel

Image from fixturescloseup.com via google images.

My other observation is that this isn’t likely to be very useful unless I start buying  shelf-stable foods in bulk. Many ideas here are reflected in supermarket packaging: extracts in brown glass and olive oil in green glass bottles, for example. But if you buy them in bulk? Extracts come in white plastic bottles (or at least the commercial packages I’ve seen) but you can purchase olive oil in any bottle you wish.

Now that I’ve created this list, I’m not sure how much I’ll use it? But the idea of it made me stop and think about what I’d need to store household consumables, purchased in bulk. I consider that valuable, even if I don’t actually use the chart!

In Case You Haven’t Noticed

Rather than put up lists and get behind, I’m NOT putting up a new “to do” list until the old list is complete.

No backlog.

I have 2 items outstanding on Thursday’s list:

  • Clean the inside of a closet. Sat. 8:00 a.m., bathroom closet
  • Go through a new box. Sat 11:15 a.m.

Continue reading

New Monday List!

Okay, this is a restart of my 6-5 list idea. This is the six things on Mon and 5 each Tues – Fri, and catch up on the weekends notion.

Also I will redo the larger, long-term “to do” list sometime this week.

This will make THREE chore lists! The backlogged 6-5 lists, the current 6-5 lists, and the long-term list. Either I’ll just get overwhelmed and quit, again, or I’ll get it done.

What’s really likely is that I’ll get some of it done, for a while, then get overwhelmed and quit. That’s my pattern problem. Somehow, being organized about getting things done eventually leans on the PTSD and I panic and stop. Since many folk seem to get overwhelmed  I guess I don’t feel so bad about not being able to stick to it.

This blog has been a many-year long set of experiments to get me to be able to set a goal then get to it, ‘eh? A tidy house doesn’t seem to make most people panic like it does me, it makes them feel good. It makes me feel good too, but if I do it too consistently? I panic.

The problem has always been the panic. It took me until I was in my mid-50s to be well enough otherwise (not hurting/running scared) to be able to see that what happens to me in a tidy house is panic, and that because of that, it is instantly overwhelming. Telling me “ignore it,” [I can’t tell you how many people have said that to me!] is really useless. Telling myself that is equally useless.

The only real answer has been to find ways to turn tidying into habit, so that I don’t think about it, I just do it. Fine. Except that the process of doing that causes me to panic too — and the rat wheel goes around — again.

So. Here I am, again. With another shot at it, again.

Monday’s 6:

  1. File something. 5:11 p.m.
  2. Clean the front of the kitchen cabinet that hasn’t been cleaned the longest (I put stickies in the drawers/cabinets that tell me when I cleaned them last.) 6:30 p.m.
  3. Clean the cat food bin. 10:28 p.m.
  4. Straighten an underwear drawer. 10:20 p.m.
  5. (fill in). Bathroom floor & counter clean up. 1:40 p.m.
  6. Get the planner started.

Paring It Down for the Holidays!

I’m not quitting. But I was getting overwhelmed, and starting to panic about all the outstanding chores. Instead of fighting it, I just listened to my body — time to quit for a while. Okay.

I really, really would like to have the living room cleared out for the holidays. I also would really like the dining room to be clean too!

What I did this morning? I swept the entry and the hearth. I cleaned the tools and put them away. The kitchen needs to be caught up, I was gone most of yesterday and didn’t cook, so it just accumulated dishes to wash, the usual.

Here’s the last list, with the things I’d done before now removed. I’ll do the usual strike thru and bold dates when I get something done.

 

  • Work on pantry. Put back together sometime in the past few days. 11/17
  • Make sure there’s enough storage containers for the last glut. Used up the containers I had, gave away some food. Happy Thanksgiving!
  • Dust the cuprack. Mon. 11/20 10 a.m.
  • Get some of the cleaned laundry hung up which isn’t.
  • Do a short inventory of the meat in the big freezer. (Probably something like 1 chicken, 3 lbs ground round, and 1 other package of mixed chicken parts. . . but I don’t know exactly!)
  • Get the rice in one place, instead of 2-3, as it is now.
  • Clean, wax, organize the snow scoop, shovels, etc.
  • Use the commercial napkins for their intended craft, or get rid of them!
  • Get the odd pieces of insulation into the basement.
  • Check the water heater’s filter, does it need to be cleaned?
  • Sand some of the marks from the floor, at the edges.
  • Deal with the squashes from the farm. Thurs. night
  • Make room with the cold cereal for the hot cereal to go too. Decided against this, as it will make it both harder to get to AND visually it’s much more cluttered. If I’m going to do this, I need a new spot for both to go. . . .
  • Get the island/kitchen side cleared.
  • Update linked in.
  • Work on the house binder.
  • Clean out the small ice box.
  • Get through the last of the tomatillos. Sat. 11/18
  • (fill in) Get things put away in attic which need to go there and pull something out which needs to go elsewhere. Sat. 11-3 pulled something out.
  • (fill in)Put laundry away.
  • Clean the oven, so it’s clean before Thanksgiving! In process 11/22 10:15 a.m.
  • Dust the electronics in the office.
  • Eat the last watermelon.
  • Cull or add to the candle collection, as needed. 11/18
  • Get the salt & sand next to the front door.
  • Clean the couch.
  • Get the coffee ad framed.
  • Clean part of the upstairs that hasn’t been touched in some time.
  • Double check the emergency supplies. (fill in) Not sure of the date this was done, but it was.
  • Put away the canning supplies if not in use.
  • Put up the 3 missing hurricane clips
  • Put the grill away.
  • Put the tile in the basement. (I recently acquired a LOT of mosaic tiles.) 11/18
  • Get the ladders put away for the season. DH did this Sun. 11/19
  • Get the supplies for the knitted pillow all in one place so you can finish it!
  • Clean the office chairs.
  • Find a place to put away the dehydrator racks and do so when appropriate.
  • Recaulk the bathroom as needed.
  • Figure out a new way/place to store the yarn and put it away.
  • Look at the stored snow tires. Need new ones? In the budget?
  • Examine winter coats for flaws, etc.  Friday.
  • Find a new home for the cat towel basket. (Old towels used for car washing, spill clean up, whatever!)

    Chores on hold or in process, for whatever reason

Pick up the yard, put more items away for winter. 11/3 Chairs put away, hoses, hose table. (All need to be covered.) Also not-so-great paint in the shed. Raked around the house, or most of it. (Need to pick up leaf piles.) Mostly done now., there’s an endless list of chores for the yard! 11/19

Make up/try the Naval Academy brass polish. Deferred because I have THREE containers of general metal polish. I want to use up at least one of those before I make up more. I sure don’t need 4!!!

Go thru the record collection, cull. First part done. Moving to in-process 10/27, 2nd piece done 11/2, 3rd 11/21, forgot to note it!

Wash the net curtains. First pair pulled from over the dry stores 4:30. Washed Tues. 10/24 a.m. One pair to go. Two pairs to go.

Fertilize the lawn. Did the dooryard lawn and the lawn on the street side of the bulb bed. Tues. 4:30 p.m. Lots more to do! Finished Fri. 11/10 

Cull books from one “holding pattern” bookcases. Either they’re out or they stay!, in process Thurs. a.m. (I did the 1st shelf.)

Put family photos in the album. Can’t be done. Photos located, album missing!

Clean off DH’s desk. This is going to be delayed until he and I catch up. I pulled everything from the top drawer on his side of the dresser, we’re still going through all of that.

Finish the freezer/fridge cleaning. More done, but not complete. 7:00 p.m. Move to on-going.

 

5/35 or 14.3% 6/35 or 17.1%

 

Wednesday’s & Thursday’s 5, backlog, etc.

I was right; I shouldn’t feel virtuous. Between doing what I did: going to the dump, the hardware store, packing DH’s car to go to the dump the second time (which he did), going to the thrift shop to drop off goods to consign/get $ from the last time, tutoring my student, etc. I did NOT get Wednesday’s list done, much less posted.

Me bad.

However, here it is, along with today’s. And there are some things which have been removed from the backlog as they were done. Nothing significant perhaps, but just the same, they’re gone.

  1. Dust the cuprack.
  2. Get some of the cleaned laundry hung up which isn’t.
  3. Do a short inventory of the meat in the big freezer. (Probably something like 1 chicken, 3 lbs ground round, and 1 other package of mixed chicken parts. . . but I don’t know exactly!)
  4. Get the rice in one place, instead of 2-3, as it is now.
  5. Clean, wax, organize the snow scoop, shovels, etc.
  6. Use the commercial napkins for their intended craft, or get rid of them!
  7. Dust the stair fan.
  8. Get the odd pieces of insulation into the basement.
  9. Check the water heater’s filter, does it need to be cleaned?
  10. Sand some of the marks from the floor, at the edges.

Backlog:

  • Deal with the squashes from the farm.
  • Make room with the cold cereal for the hot cereal to go too.
  • Sew the area rugs in the pantry together.Tues. 11/7 2:15 p.m.
  • Get the island/kitchen side cleared.
  • Update linked in.
  • (fill in) Send checks to publisher and BIL.
  • (fill in) Finish the freezer/fridge cleaning. More done, but not complete. 7:00 p.m. Move to on-going.
  • Work on the house binder.
  • Clean out the small ice box.
  • Get through the last of the tomatillos.
  • (fill in) Get things put away in attic which need to go there and pull something out which needs to go elsewhere. Sat. pulled something out.
  • (fill in)Put laundry away.
  • Clean the oven, so it’s clean before Thanksgiving!
  • Dust the electronics in the office.
  • Eat the last watermelon.
  • Cull or add to the candle collection, as needed.
  • Get the mittens, etc. (winter gear) out of the attic and swap in the summer bill caps, etc.
  • Get the salt & sand next to the front door.
  • Clean the couch.
  • Get the coffee ad framed.
  • Clean part of the upstairs that hasn’t been touched in some time.
  • Double check the emergency supplies. (fill in)
  • Put away the canning supplies if not in use.
  • Put up the 3 missing hurricane clips
  • Put the grill away.
  • Put the tile in the basement. (I recently acquired a LOT of mosaic tiles.)
  • Get the ladders put away for the season.
  • Get the supplies for the knitted pillow all in one place so you can finish it!
  • Clean the office chairs.
  • Find a place to put away the dehydrator racks and do so when appropriate.
  • Recaulk the bathroom as needed.
  • Figure out a new way/place to store the yarn and put it away.
  • Look at the stored snow tires. Need new ones? In the budget?
  • Examine winter coats for flaws, etc. 
  • Find a new home for the cat towel basket. (Old towels used for car washing, spill clean up, whatever!)

    Chores on hold or in process, for whatever reason:

    Pick up the yard, put more items away for winter. 11/3 Chairs put away, hoses, hose table. (All need to be covered.) Also not-so-great paint in the shed. Raked around the house, or most of it. (Need to pick up leaf piles.)

    Make up/try the Naval Academy brass polish. Deferred because I have THREE containers of general metal polish. I want to use up at least one of those before I make up more. I sure don’t need 4!!!

    Go thru the record collection, cull. First part done. Moving to in-process 10/27, 2nd piece done 11/2

    Wash the net curtains. First pair pulled from over the dry stores 4:30. Washed Tues. 10/24 a.m. One pair to go. Two pairs to go.

    Use up the eggplant from last week. Used the first one for Sunday’s dinner. 2nd one used Fri. lunch. (2 to go!) done, 11/2

    Fertilize the lawn. Did the dooryard lawn and the lawn on the street side of the bulb bed. Tues. 4:30 p.m. Lots more to do!

    Cull books from one “holding pattern” bookcases. Either they’re out or they stay!, in process Thurs. a.m. (I did the 1st shelf.)

    Put family photos in the album. Can’t be done. Photos located, album missing!

    Clean off DH’s desk. This is going to be delayed until he and I catch up. I pulled everything from the top drawer on his side of the dresser, we’re still going through all of that.

    Still 4/35 or 11.4%. 5/35 or 14.3%


Just noticed that I SKIPPED Tuesday, sigh. Fix later!

Becoming OCD: Symptoms

I have many indicators that I am slipping to the other side:

  1. I’m scraping off the “dirty” part of the soap bar and using that when I wash my hands.
  2. I’m thinking that scissors and other tools with dark handles save cleaning fingerprints from them.
  3. When I toss something, almost anything, I think, “One less piece of clutter . . . “
  4. I started wrapping the cord to the upright vac with crossed loops. Fewer loops, much neater!
  5. Our TP holder has room for a 2nd roll behind. I stopped putting the 2nd roll hole forward and instead put it the same way as the roll we’re using… less visual clutter.
  6. I’ve been cataloging, pricing, and tagging items before I leave home. No more wondering if I’d paid $2 for something or $4? I know the mark-up is adequate, and since I know my pricing schema, I know enough when I start mark downs what I likely paid for the item.  $3 is my bottom price, if I can’t sell something for $3 in a week, it’s not worth bothering with. That is the hard-won knowledge of years of retailing and my old inclination to keep things. I’m getting ruthless!
  7. Becoming OCD is catching, did you know? DH is reorganizing his workshop. He’s using a Space Budget (although he doesn’t call it that).
  8. I’ve decided that I love contractions, abbreviations, ampersands & question marks: shorter and tidier writing. (I really am OCD! Tidy writing??? )

Any minute now, I will become that monster: the woman who won’t go outside because her hair gets messed, who wipes the table whenever anyone lifts a cup from it!

If you know me IRL, please TELL me if when I go too far. Please! How do you avoid falling off a cliff?