Tennesseetransitions


It Starts at Home

These mid-winter days offer me time to ponder the meaning of life, gaze lovingly at my navel, and cross long-carried-over-to-do-items off of my to-do-list. I’ve even cleared out my sewing basket which I think has been on the list for a year now!

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January was National Radon Awareness Month and since I have lung cancer I’ve been thinking a great deal about the dangers of RADON-a leading cause of lung cancer. So, I orRdered a free home test kit here:  https://tdec.tn.gov/Radon_Online/frmRADON_Online.aspx and I hung it for 6 days for testing, mailing it back to the state yesterday.

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It’s precise but simple, and did I mention it’s free? It also comes with a prepaid mailer to return it in! Now be aware…if you find  your home has radon, you’ll need to be prepared to remediate the problem if you plan to ever sell your home, or  you’ll have to at least disclose it should  you sell. But I would hope you wouldn’t wait to sell to alleviate the problem should  you show a high reading. I understand the average remedy costs about $1,000-$1,500 if someone else does the venting work necessary to move the radon out of  your living area. It could probably done much cheaper if you do it yourself. How hard can that be? haha don’t answer that, please.  I’ll let you know when I get my test results back..we’re hoping of course we don’t have any problems.

I’ve also been making lots of soups and canning soup stock, using frozen bags of onion and carrot tops, mushroom stems, celery tops and other trimmings that I save for just such purpose. Last week I made 10 qts of organic broth, and at today’s prices, that equates to at least $20. My time is certainly worth that, and on cold days it helps to warm the house and add humidity by simmering that stock for hours. The resulting golden goodness is good for making soups obviously, but also for cooking rice, pasta, potatoes or beans in too. 

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Speaking of good food and cooking from scratch… I’ve had so many readers ask me for vegan/vegetarian meal ideas that I’ve been writing down what we eat for supper each night, always making sure there’s enough left for lunches the following day. It’s an easy process once you get used to it. I’m sharing this oh-so-exciting information with you, my readers, because maybe you’re one of the ones that have asked for ideas. (If this bores you, just go to the next section.) So, for the first week of February, here was the Jones’ menu:

Week of February 1st,2016

Monday: Good Shepard’s Pie-potato topping made with soymilk and Smart Balance vegan spread-filling contained beans, broccoli, corn, kale, green peppers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, bay leaf, dried basil, and srirachi sauce. (This is called GOOD Shepard’s Pie because a GOOD shepard doesn’t eat his sheep.)

Tuesday: Fried Rice w/peas and carrots in peanut sauce, roasted brussels sprouts

Wednesday: Aloo Gobi over Jasmine Rice with Fusion Slaw and Rolls

Thursday: Bean and Potatoes Burritos w/Guacamole, leftover Asian Slaw

Friday: Kale, Mushrooms and Potato Bake w/Salads and Whole Grain Rolls, fresh pineapple chunks

Saturday: Grill Cheese Sandwiches w/canned soup, with pickles and fresh fruit (bananas, pineapple and red grapes)

Sunday: Pad Thai w/Naan and Salad

Looking at the lengthening days and the calendar I’m beginning to think about spring planting of course. We ate our last Longkeeper tomato last week…

20160206_170333[1]...so the goal is to grow more of them and get them in earlier than we did in 2015 so that hopefully we’ll be able to grow enough this year to last the whole winter next year!  When planning  your own garden, perhaps you can find space to plant a “ROW” for the “Rest of the World.” Because I live in the city, all I have to do to share that extra produce is to set it out on my front steps.

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If  you aren’t in a high walkability area you may need to load it up and take it to your nearest food pantry or church. Please consider this one little addition to your garden this year…it can make a big difference and won’t cost you much of anything to provide good food for someone who doesn’t have it.

I’ve long advocated that we use our homes as a place of productivity, not simply a center of consumption. There’s a LOT of trouble in this big world and so I feel compelled to do what I can personally to feed and clothe and keep my family as safe and healthy as I possibly can. I share this blog with you in the hopes that it may inspire you to become more self sufficient in any way you can too. It’s my unpaid job but more satisfying than any other position I’ve ever held. It helps me to feel as secure as I possibly can given the state of things. The stock market has crashed again (no surprise there) but since I’ve not been in good health we aren’t driving much (except to doctors’ appointments!) so we’re hardly spending anything on gasoline these days. I love that we can walk to almost every place we need to, giving me an extra layer of assurance that ‘all will be well’. I need that assurance in order to BE well.

In order to create resilient and prosperous households and neighborhoods, it starts at home with me, with you, and you. 

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Zero Waste Week Fail
December 7, 2014, 4:48 PM
Filed under: Eliminating Waste, Reduce Reuse Recycle Repair, Reducing Waste | Tags:

I wrote last Sunday about how I would attempt to go through the week without creating any waste. You can read about it here. I honestly thought I could go just seven days without putting anything in the bottom of my trash can. Not only did I end up with a whole bunch of crap in it, there was more than usual. The woman that writes the blog “Zero Waste Home” , and inspired me to take this challenge, must be a big fat liar. She’s a model, and lives in Paris, so I already hated her. Now  that I know she’s a liar too… well! I’ll unsubscribe from her blog for sure.

Rather than take a picture of my now-garbage, I’ll just list it here:

  • A used razor blade-what does the lady do with HERS? I converted to a double edge razor years ago to reduce the environmental impact of disposable razors, but all I can say is that lady and her family must be super hairy. (Remember, she’s a model.) Just sayin’…
  • Empty toothpaste and dental floss containers…I used up both this week. It figures…
  • Used dental floss. And toothbrushes. Maybe the zero waste lady doesn’t brush or floss. I plan to go back to buying Preserve brand toothbrushes that have handles made from recycled yogurt cups. They used to be quite pricey but have come down since I last checked. When you buy them online, they send you a return mailer to return them in. Check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Preserve-Medium-Toothbrush-Mailer-Assorted/dp/B0041576DO/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1417985147&sr=8-6&keywords=toothbrush+preserve
  • Empty medicine bottles. My city’s recycling will not take #5 plastics. I save any food grade #5 containers for sending home leftovers with family and friends, but pill bottles? Maybe the lady never gets a headache? She gives me one.
  • Flea med tubes. The first day of this challenge was December 1st, the day I needed to apply the meds to my pets. Damn! Why didn’t I start this on December 2nd? Maybe the lady doesn’t have pets.
  • Hard plastic lids from stuff like soymilk, ketchup and vinegar. I bet that bitch doesn’t cook either!
  • Tear Strips. I bet she doesn’t eat either.
  • Rubberbands from the newspaper. Gah! I’ve saved 25 or so and don’t need or want to save anymore. What can I do with them? We prepaid for a year’s subscription to the paper, so when that runs out in June, I’ll just get the e-edition. Until then, let me know if you need some. I already know Zero Waste Woman wouldn’t DREAM of taking the newspaper.
  • Used tissues. I used to be good about using handkerchiefs, and slowly have gotten out of the habit. Time to sew up another batch. (and no doubt, the zero zealot has made color-coded stacks of them for all her family members)
  • Restaurant napkins or straws. We went out to eat Monday night and before I could even think about it, much less protest, our server had set our glasses of water on napkins and laid 2 straws down on the table. Health regulations won’t let them ‘take them back’, so the damp napkins were thrown away at the end of the meal, but I brought the straws home, still in their original paper wrapping. I plan to tear one end off of them when I meet HER and blow them in her face. pffftttt!
  • A phone charger that mysteriously quit working on Tuesday. Just effin’ QUIT. Oh wait, I guess that zero blowhard doesn’t have cell phones in her house either. No wait, I bet they have one of those emergency crank type of chargers. Surely even THOSE break once in a while though. I (briefly) considered offering this useless piece of shit to one of my enemies just to keep it out of MY trash can but was afraid they might strangle me with it when they found out it didn’t work.
  • A bent nail. I hung a Christmas wreath this week. Of course I bent the damn nail. I got it out of the trash can and straightened it out as best I could. Maybe I can use it in drywall to hang my feather duster on.
  • A Christmas light string that freaking wouldn’t work, even though it did last year! The string was 30 years old but still-THIS WEEK? That Scrooge doesn’t decorate for Christmas, I’m certain of it. Merry Christmas lady.
  • A bubble mailer. I have several of each size stored away for my own (re)uses, and yet, THIS WEEK, a book I’d ordered (Title: 100 Ways To Reuse Bubble Mailers) arrived. Sigh. I’m trying to find that lady blogger’s home address so I can mail her some straws and nails in it.
  • Aluminum foil. Like my grandmother and mother before me, I save this stuff, wash it, smooth it out and reuse it until it falls apart in the oven or something. Yeah, this week I was ‘foiled again’ by one of my carefully saved pieces. The good news is, I buy Reynolds brand RECYCLED foil, so sue me.

foilSo, I failed to meet the Zero Waste Challenge this week. The good news is that the experience really did manage to make me hyper-aware of just how much stuff really is going into the landfill because of me each week. My city doesn’t recycle metal cans either, and though I’ve almost stopped buying food in metal, I still have to occasionally. This week there was not one, but two cans. I’m going to wash them, punch holes and make luminaries out of them. Merry Christmas!

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Zero Waste Week
November 30, 2014, 9:15 PM
Filed under: Eliminating Waste | Tags:

I like a good challenge. Whether it’s something as simple as finishing the daily crossword puzzle or as complicated as figuring out how in the hell to replace a broken pipe, I thrive on most challenges. I always learn something when I take on a challenge, even if I’m not able to meet it fully. Most challenges simply present themselves, as in broken pipes. But my current one is different…I’m challenging myself to see if I can cut my waste to nothing, for one week. Just a week, that’s all. There’s this lady whose blog I read, that writes about her zero waste life- she and her family of four, only create ONE QUART JAR OF WASTE PER YEAR. For three years now. Surely I can go a week!

My Zero Waste Week will begin Monday (tomorrow) morning, since that’s the day my garbage is picked up. I chose this week because it’s shaping up to be a busier than usual one, with four meetings, errands to run and appointments to keep. I thought it might be ‘most typical’ of a working woman’s weekly schedule, which makes me pretty sure I won’t be able to go a full week without having something in the garbage can by next Sunday but I’m going to give it my best shot. It may turn out to be the challenge from hell, forcing me to do things radically differently than I do now. My plan is to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose everything that presents itself as ‘waste’. I’m really hoping my cat Simon doesn’t kill a rodent this week since I normally wrap his little back-door ‘gifts’ in a plastic bag and throw them in the garbage can. (Maybe I can make a special ‘stew’ instead?) I’ll take pictures (will there BE anything to take pictures of if there’s zero waste?) and post the results next Sunday.

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