Monday, September 29, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
- Got rid of the "lawn guy" left over from when I was a single working mother.
- Got rid of the cleaning lady left over from when I was a single working mother.
- Got rid of cable.
- Got rid of long distance phone service. (we use our cell phones for long distance)
- We brew our morning coffee. It is a rare treat to buy coffee at a store of any kind. Think of all of those wasted cups we save! This is a huge savings. Just think: 2 cups a day at $2 each x 365 = $730 and let's face it, a lot of people buy more than one cup a day -- and $2 won't cover fancy coffee from places like Starbucks.
- Victor pretty much always brings a lunch to work. Usually it is leftovers from the night before that I pack into a glass container when we do the dishes after dinner. $6 x 5 days a week = $30 x 52 weeks a year = $1560. See how it adds up?
- Started air drying our clothes -- winter, summer, spring and fall (indoors and outdoors)
- Turned our thermostats down to 66 degrees (during the months it's cold here) during the day and 55 degrees at night.
- Put in a large garden in our back yard -- I'm in the midst of making cold frames to grow things in the cold months as well.
- We are in the midst of chopping wood (we have tons of it in our large yard -- one large one got struck by lightening and we had to cut two down to give my garden more light) to help heat our house this winter -- we have oil heat and I'm petrified!
- Put in a small orchard
- Started composting -- free "fertilizer"!
- Started driving our own trash / recyclables to the dump. With recycling and composting we generate one medium bag of trash every 2 weeks. One bag is $1.50 to bring to the dump. $1.50 x 26 weeks a year = $39 a year. When we had trash service it cost $35 a month x 12 months = $420 a year. Total savings: $381 a year.
- Committed to using things that aren't disposable that you have to keep buying -- like paper towels (use dish clothes and towels) paper napkins (cloth napkins) swiffers & kitchen wipes (rags and elbow grease) ... you get the idea.
- Cook from scratch. This is a HUGE savings, AND you will be eating better tasting food that is better for you.
- Make things instead of buying things. The sky is the limit here. Make your own laundry and dishwasher soap. Knit mittens from left over yarn. Everything you do will have a big impact. The more you do, the better.
- Use the library. Most have a network so that you can "order" books from cooperating libraries. There are few things you cannot find.
- Buy used things from thrift stores. Less expensive and better for the environment. Great combo!
- Eat less meat. Did you know that cows and pigs - their waste - causes more damage to the environment than our cars? It's the methane gas released into the air from the er .... poo. Supposedly if each family ate just one less MEAT MEAL we could dramatically effect our environment for the better. Anyway, that's the added bonus of eating less meat. Not only do you get to help the environment, you also get to save big time at the grocery store. Plus, let's face it, it's healthier to eat less meat. For the past month or two we've been eating a MEAT MEAL about once a week. Plus, if you have your own garden like I do, just eating all of the ripe veggies is enough to keep you busy and well fed!
- Started to make our own laundry soap, dishwasher soap, glass cleaner and furniture polish. Link info here.
- Make our own bread.
- Bought a woodstove -- goodbye $600 oil bill!
How about you? Are you working on ways to save?
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The one remaining loaf from Karen's Homemade Bread Recipe. The problem with fabulous homemade bread ... two huge loaves disappear in 72 hours.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Incidentally, on the way home from school yesterday, Ripley announced "I like Lions and Baseball and Dogs and Spiderman and Pencils." Duly noted.
At first I was lamenting about all of the morning drive time that I now have with Ripley's school -- which starts at the exact moment Benjamin is supposed to be at home getting on the school bus for his school, so I have to drop off both kids at their individual schools -- however, now I'm kind of enjoying it. We play kids music (that I can tolerate -- like Beethoven's Wig) and chat. They generally can't get into much trouble strapped into their seats in a moving car, so overall it's a very peaceful time with good conversation. I am thankful.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
- Set their clothes out the night before when you tuck them in. The rule is: You must come downstairs fully clothed before you get milk and breakfast. (The milk / breakfast part is a big motivator) If your children are 3 1/2 or older and don't dress themselves, start working on it with them. They should be able to do it and WOW what a time saver in the morning. Dirty clothes must go in the hamper. Bed "made".
- Disagreements: At the parent orientation at the Montessori School, Ripley's teachers explained that they have the 3-5 year olds in the class "work out" their disagreements by themselves. The person who feels "wronged" in some way is given a "Peace Rose". They get to explain why they are upset, then the other person gets their turn with the peace rose and can talk about things from their perspective. Then, they come up with a compromise. This seems like it might be asking a lot of a 3 year old, but let me tell you -- the boys have been "taking turns" talking through an issue and it's been working!!! In less then 2 minutes both parties usually have apologized and moved on! Wow. I was getting way too many "MOMMY!!!" screams or "Mmmmmoooommmmmmmmmmmmmiiiiiiiieeeeeeeee" whines -- like lobbyists in Washington begging me to get involved in their cause. I would jump in, my blood pressure would rise, their voices would increase in volume and intensity to try to convince me they were right ..... ugh. Stressful. If you have children who can communicate with each other, give it a try. It works!
- OK this is classic. It works with my very boyish 9 year old. I don't know about you, but my 9 year old loves to go outside, run around, dig in dirt, mess in puddles of water -- like he is 4. Good clean fun. Well, maybe not clean. This boy is not prone to being neat. Without thinking he will not only play in dirt, trees, water, etc., but he will wear the dirt and water like he's 2. My "beef" with that is, I feel like he doesn't consider the people who have to clean up after him ... like he's a billionaire with a full-time maid service. He will stain brand new clothing without a second thought. The discussion I've had with him is: If you were living in the Northwestern mountains of China and only had one pair of pants, you would treat them like gold -- like your most treasured possession. I'm a BIG fan of playing -- but there is nothing wrong with respecting your possessions and most definitely other's possessions. ANYWAY ... if he treats his clothes with disrespect he has to get out laundry soap and scrub by hand the knees (of his pants for example) until the dirt is out. He's starting to think twice before diving up to his neck in mud.
- Another clothing issue, do your kids start playing in a pool or puddle of water -- get wet -- then they want to come inside and put on new clothes? Just what we need, more laundry to clean. (back to that full time maid service remark earlier) The deal I have is: If you want to put on fresh clean clothes, you have to help me with the laundry -- like folding. Sometimes he goes for it, other times he sticks with a little moisture around the wrists, and hopefully he's thinking before he literally puts his whole arm -- sleeve and all -- into the little turtle pool in the back yard.
- Have the kids help out around the house. Both of my kids love to help. Here are some good -- actually helpful -- ideas. Have the kids strip their beds when it's time to wash the sheets. Have the kids ... young and old ... sort socks and fold them together. Have your kids fold towels, wash clothes, rags and cloth napkins - older kids can fold the clothing too. Of course the more obvious like set the table ... 3 year olds can do this easily. Clear the table. For the older ones ... load and unload the dishwasher. A popular one ... wash and vacuum the car. (of course conserve water please) Help weed the garden (my personal favorite).
- If you want to bring that toy into my car you MUST take it with you on the way out. I swear, in no time my car can look like a bad yard sale.
These are the ideas that are in the forefront of my mind. I'll add as I think of more. Do you have any suggestions to add? I'll put them in.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
As you are going through your clutter and your home to organize and reconsider how it functions, consider examining your use of disposable anything. One blog I often check out issued a challenge to get rid of disposable items in your house. I love that idea! We can call it:
Disposing of Disposables Challenge!
Not only does doing away with disposables save the environment, it saves money and time at the grocery store! Here are some suggestions, send me your suggestions and I'll add them in! Let me know if you're committed too!
- Swiffers - Use old stained shirts and towels.
- Disposable Household Wipes and Dusters
- Take-Out Coffee Cups -- especially the Styrofoam ones!! Bring your own and have them fill it.
- Plastic Grocery Bags!
- "Disposable" tupperware and sippy cups -- invest in long lasting glass, plus glass won't leech chemicals into your food and drinks.
- Seemingly "disposable" plastic toys that people give as gifts at parties that break in less than 15 minutes. You know the kind, "Buy 100 for $2.00 ... Oooooo what a savings!"
- Bottled Water
- Kleenex -- use old fashioned hankies
Your WAKE. Committing to PEACE.
Another thing that has stuck with me all week is from Sunday Morning at church and a conversation with one of my girlfriends about PEACE in your home. Our Pastor, Dennis, asked the question "What wake do you leave when you go through a room?" Wake -- as in the mark that a boat makes in the water as it pushes through a body of water. What came to my mind immediately is that time zone at the end of your day when you're getting tired, the kids are getting tired and bickering, you're trying to prep dinner, ask your school aged kid(s) how their day was and make sure they are doing their homework, keep the young one out of the hair of the old one and entertained in some way -- and then your husband walks in. Not a wake of peace. Nope. More like the wake of a hurricane or an ocean liner. Committing to a non-disposable lifestyle is a lot easier for me that committing to peace. I like the idea of peace, but it sure it easy to get sucked into the chaos and join in the chorus "AAARRRRrrrrrggggghhhhhh!" Regardless, I'm committing to pursuing peace. This is all interconnected because organizing, simplifying and planning do help to create a peaceful home. Am I the only one? What's you're story?
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
First, I got started and inspired by The Real Food Revolution blogger. Check her site out.
Second, my first effort was a failure. Hey, it happens. I've made some bad bread and pie in my day too.
Third, I did some more research to see what I could have possibly done wrong and this is where I landed:
How to make your own Greek Style Yogurt
- 1 Gallon Milk
About 1/2 cup (or less) scoop of plain yogurt for your "starter" (must have "live active cultures")
1 Large Pan large enough to handle the gallon of milk
1 Candy Thermometer (or any thermometer that can measure liquids from 100 to 200 degrees F, a candy thermometer is nice b/c it clips to the side of the pan.
- 1-2 heating pads
- 2 bath towels
- 1 large colander
1 large bowl that the colander can fit into
- 1 large square of muslin, cheese cloth, or in a pinch a thin pillow case
- 2-4 very clean large glass jars with tops. Most people write that they are fine with jars cleaned very well with hot soapy water -- but you could sterilize them in your dishwasher if it has that feature, pour boiling water into them before filling while the yogurt is in the fridge draining, or actually go all the way and sterilize them in a boiling water bath. Your choice.
Directions (this really isn't hard ... at all -- my long winded-ness just makes it seem long and labor-intensive. It isn't!)
- Set 1/2 Cup plain yogurt starter aside at room temperature
- Put the gallon of milk into the pan and heat it to 185 degrees F over medium heat to kill of any "bad" bacteria -- stirring from time to time to prevent the milk from sticking (or worse) burning on the bottom of the pan.
- Remove the pan from heat -- and if you'd like to move quickly -- put the pan into an ice water bath in your sink with the top of the pan on -- thermometer sticking out of the side until the milk is brought down to 105 degrees F. If you use the ice water bath method it's really very fast. Otherwise, stick the pan on the counter and wait.
- Stir 1/2 Cup of the room temperature plain yogurt into the milk - well.
- Turn your heating pad(s) on medium heat and set them on the counter.
- Take your pan of 105 degree F milk with yogurt starter stirred in and put it on top of the heating pad. I put another heating pad (set on medium) on top of the pan (with the top on the pan, obviously), but this might have been overkill.
- Then, cover pan / heating pads with two towels, tucking in the ends to avoid drafts.
- Let sit for 12 hours -- over night is great. (I made mine during Ripley's nap -- set it to brewing at 3pm and woke up after a good nights sleep at 5:30am - perfect!) The longer the yogurt "brews" the better it is for you -- that good bacteria really gets going. As you pass the 12 hour mark the yogurt is supposed to taste tarter (not necessarily a good thing in my book). I "brewed" mine for 13 1/2 hours (because I was sleeping) and it isn't sour or tart at all -- go figure.
- In the morning - line your colander with your clean cheese cloth or muslin and set the colander inside a large bowl to catch dripping liquid -- or Whey.
- When you take the top off your pan and peek in, the yogurt should have formed into something that looks like a custard. There will also be a clear yellowy looking liquid on top and around the sides -- this is your Whey. (as in Little Miss Muffet ... you know) Pour as much Whey off as you can without dumping out your yogurt -- keep the Whey and use as you would buttermilk for baking, or if you're feeling adventurous -- homemade Whey Ricotta.
- Dump the sloppy yogurt into the cheese cloth / muslin that's inside the colander. Pull up the sides of the cloth, twist and tie a knot on the top so that the cloth is tight around the blob of sloppy yogurt.
- Put the Yogurt, cloth, colander, bowl into the fridge for 2 hours. I poured the Whey out of the bowl a couple of times to be sure it was draining well, but that might have been overkill.
- Spoon and scrape the yogurt the yogurt off the cloth and into clean jars.
- Chill in the fridge
- Serve with honey and homemade granola.
My sister-in-law Tanya (a Greek Yogurt connoisseur) taste tested and agreed that it was .... YUMOLA!!
Incidentally; Ripley, Benjamin and I are downing homemade granola and homemade yogurt like mad ... can you believe it?! Ripley, eating super good for you homemade granola? He even asked for it for lunch. I'm going to have to make more next week at this rate -- I'll take pictures and update this post. Good Luck!
The chemical is BPA or bisphenol A. It is found in millions of plastic bottles and other containers. It is back in the news and will be for a while. BPA has been known for decades to mimic the female hormone estrogen. It has also been known that tiny amounts of it can leak into the liquids the containers hold. As a result almost all Americans have tiny amounts of BPA in their bodies. Some animal studies, including the one we cover tonight, indicate it could be a hazard But is it really dangerous to human health? There is no definite answer yet.
But this week the National Toxicology Program, an interagency group set up to advise the government on questions about possibly dangerous chemicals in our environment issued a final report on BPA.
That agency concluded there "some concern for effects on the brain, behavior and the prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current exposure levels" Is your plastic bottle safe? by Robert Bazell
- Buy glass storage containers for your leftovers.
- Use and reuse a metal water container to drink your water -- like SIGG or Kleen Kanteen.
- Get rid of plastic sippy cups.
- If you have access, order you milk locally from the milkman. We get Monroe Dairy here delivered the old fashioned way in glass bottles.
- Buy food stored in glass whenever possible.
- Just look through you life and household for places where your food and drinks run into plastic and ask yourself if you can eliminate it.
- Can or freeze fruits and vegetables - and cook from scratch as much as possible. Unfortunately at some point aluminum cans started being lined with a thin plastic film. The aluminum can lining may actually leech more BPA than a water bottle -- read about it here.
- Make your own yogurt! (more on that later -- easy!)
I've gotta go put dinner on the table, but you get the idea -- right?
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Aren't they cute? Today Benjamin started 4th Grade and Ripley started Preschool. Both were excited to go and enjoyed their day. Ripley only has 1 1/2 hour days this week (???ugh!) so there wasn't much free time for me, but I did put my laundry out on the line in complete peace -- listening to the birds and the goings on in the woods behind our house. I also tried to make my own yogurt for the second time. Stay tuned.