Tennesseetransitions


I Swear It’s Not Too Late

pete-seeger-peace-poster

365 days in a year. That’s a pretty big block of time you know. Just because you were too tired, busy, or hung over to make some resolutions on New Year’s Day doesn’t mean that less than two weeks later, on this second Monday of the new year, that it’s too late. And you know what? Even if you DID manage to resolve to lose 20 pounds or quit smoking or to stop biting your nails, you can work on those resolutions AND resolve to begin the transition to a way of life that is more outwardly simple yet inwardly rich. Talk about PEACE in the new year! I swear it’s not too late.

Where to begin? Before we get into the how’s, let’s consider the why’s first…

Do you have any debt? Do you depend on electricity or some other source of fossil fuel to heat your home and water, cook your food, or power your car, computer, lights and phone? Do you eat? Do you have good health? Do you have good healthcare? We all deal with these issues and many more in our lives, and chances are, we won’t be able to resolve all of them in 2015, but what we can do is to set aside time to put into learning skills that may prove useful, particularly in a long emergency, a crisis or even a grid down situation. (You’re not still holding on to that same, tired argument that ‘it can’t happen to me’ are you?)

 It’s common knowledge that modern grocery stores have approximately a three day supply of food before their shelves are empty. From storms to truckers’ strikes, the nation’s food supply is precarious. It’s also common knowledge that honeybees are responsible for every third bite of food we take. From colony collapse disorder to mites, beekeepers are worried about the future of their hives and our food supply. We are also aware that our new Republican-led Congress is going to do everything in their power to prevent immigrants from entering the United States (who will work in our farmer’s fields?), repeal Obama Care and approve the Keystone pipeline. And that’s just this week. Do we really need any more reasons to begin our personal transition to a better way of life that is not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community well-being?

OK, so I’ve convinced you. Now what? Just like with any other big project, you’ll need to take small steps. If food insecurity concerns you, start a compost pile.Today. Put all your kitchen scraps and yard waste in a bin or corner of your yard, and with no help from you, eventually they’ll become rich compost that you can then use to grow something that you love to eat fresh! If personal health issues concern you, see the same advice above…we are what we eat after all, and healthy bodies begin with healthy food. Now, when spring arrives, plant some fruit trees or bushes. They will take several years to produce fruit, and in the meantime you can still be working on resisting biting your nails or getting organized. The activities of planting and taking care of your new fruit or nut trees and your compost pile will improve your health tremendously.

Are you concerned about job security? Why not learn a new skill that would provide you with a new career that could support you in a collapsed economy? Making moonshine comes to mind, as does training to become a knowledgeable herbal medicinalist, firewood or biodiesel supplier, small engine or bicycle repairman or computer repair person. Solar installers, bakers, gardeners, beekeepers, soapmakers and seamstresses do too. You get the idea. All of these ‘second careers’ take time to develop and perfect, but remember, you’ve still got 323 days left of this year alone! And if the economy doesn’t collapse? Great! You’ll still have more money, better health and barterable skills to use. I’ll trade you some of my honey for some of your soap. I’ll trade you some of my corn for some of your moonshine too 🙂 .

If financial insecurity is your yoke to bear, get out of debt. Completely. That way, if you lose your job, you’ll be able to live off the  unemployment checks you’ll receive while you look for another. Maybe you can use the time you’re not looking for ‘a job’ to work on those skills we discussed above. And if you don’t lose your job? Great! Getting out of debt will then enable you to start putting more money into your retirement fund and savings. Just one more car payment? Continue paying that same amount each month to your credit cards or other obligations, then learn to pay cash for everything. It’s the most liberating action you can possibly take to blow your world wide open and allow you to have options available in your life that may not have ever been open to you before. Ask me how I know. The quiet peace of being financially stable and having a source of healthy food is actually deafening at times.

To everything there is a season. THIS is the time for us to collectively plan and act early enough so that we can create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today. I swear it’s not too late.



Frugal Friday- November 14, 2014

As the earth makes it slow tilt away from the sun, my life has begun to slow down. I love it. Perhaps now that Michael is beginning to feel better, and now that the garden is put to bed, I’ll be able to post more often. Because I love that too. I have had conversations with family and friends lately that indicate many of us struggle with day to day expenses, not to mention the big things-like cancer treatments, or… (feel free to fill in this blank with your own money sucker: ____________)

Personal finances are not something that our ‘polite’ society is accustomed to talking publicly about, at least not in the South it seems. So, never fear, I will, even though my parents and grandparents would roll in their graves if they knew I discussed money issues in public. We all depend on money. Whether it’s a weekly paycheck or a monthly disability check, it’s a common denominator for everyone. So, it we can discuss religion and politics, social issues and sex, relationship or health problems, why don’t we feel we’re able to openly discuss finances?

Let me begin this week’s fabulous assortment of thrifty and frugal activities by saying that if I didn’t apply the values of patience, simplicity and frugality to my spending habits, I simply wouldn’t be able to enjoy the “life well spent” that I do. I’m not ashamed to admit that we have a small income, while feeling quite content with the good life we have. I don’t ever feel like I”m sacrificing anything for this lifestyle. The sacrifice for me would be having to go to a job every day. Instead of working to earn money, I work to save money.  Just sayin’.

For example:

Monday: We went to a showing of a documentary at the local university, called “Good Ol’ Freda”. Freda is the woman that served as the Beatles personal secretary for ten years. The cool part was that afterwards she held a Q and A session with the audience, there was a really nice reception with heavy hor d’oeuvres, and I got to have my picture made with my friend while standing right there in front of the Beatles. sort of. Priceless fun, and free!

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Tuesday: I’ve thought for years that I’d like to have a steam juicer but wasn’t willing to pay $70 or more for one. My reasoning was that the payback period might prove to be too long. I can buy a lot of juice for that kind of money! But the wait is over now; I found the perfect steamer right after I completed a major planting of strawberries, blackberries and blueberries in my backyard  Serendipitous? Perhaps. Price? $3.49 at a thrift store- it appears to have never been used and came complete with the users guide. Patience pays off!

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Wednesday: Speaking of those berry beds…I was quite lucky to score a bunch of 4×4 fence posts from Freecycle  that had only been in the ground a year. They too were like new. (I’m still wondering why someone would replace a one year old fence…) Anyway, I’d been wanting to put in more fruit this fall and had hoped to find an attractive looking border with which to surround it. A friend had gladly let me dig blueberry slips that sprouted from his established berry plants, and I’d been babying them in pots in my backyard nursery since last spring. Yet another friend happily let me rake the pine straw from her front yard to use as mulch on the new beds. Win-win-win. No money was involved, but I’ll be able to repay my benefactors for their generosity eventually with fresh berries, jams, and now- JUICE!

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Thursday: We celebrated my grandson’s 16th birthday. We enjoyed a homemade cake with our ice cream, but the store didn’t have the ONE candle to go with the SIX candle. No worries, and lots of laughs! Savings: $2 on that ONE since we already had a box of the little candles…

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Tuesday thru Friday: We enjoyed an out of town guest for a couple of days this week. I took him on a walking tour of downtown to show him all the progress that’s been made since he was last here, we attended a wonderful art show of social and political artworks at the University gallery, and got to see the visiting Buddhist Monks that are here this week working on a sand mandala. What a unique and cultural treat that was!

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We also enjoyed an early Thanksgiving dinner with our guest and my brother. The turkey breast I bought was on sale and I saved $7 on that one item alone, since I also bought it on Tuesday, the day Krogers gives a senior discount. The meal included home canned green beans, mashed potatoes made from our stored tubers, fresh roasted brussels sprouts, and canned peaches with homemade vanilla yogurt for dessert. We all ate leftovers for lunch the next day, and today Michael and I enjoyed the last of the turkey for our lunch tucked into big fat sammiches topped with slices of red onions and tomatoes, both fresh from the garden. Now I have a small bag of bony parts, broth and turkey bits in the freezer that will make a great meal of turkey and noodles in the near future.

The last night he was with us, I made a large pot of Minestrone Soup for supper. I tried to price it out, but there were too many ingredients to make that possible. Suffice it to say that those bowls of goodness probably only cost just a few cents each since, once again, I was able to use the good food that we grew and put by this summer to add to it. After supper we stopped by two nearby coffee house/listening rooms, where we enjoyed beers and chai teas while listening to free music. The last comment the friend made before leaving was this: “I’m so envious of this peaceful and fun life you have here. I wish I could quit my job.”

Now I’m not advocating for anyone to just up and ‘quit their job’ but I do advocate for finding alternatives to consumerism. Creative use of our resources, whether cooking from scratch or taking advantage of your city’s resources benefit your wallet, the planet, and your connection to what really matters in life.

Consume Less

Now, why not share your frugal Friday moments with me in the comments below? I LOVE hearing from you! Have a great weekend friends.



Frugal Friday- October 17, 2014
October 17, 2014, 10:23 PM
Filed under: Frugality | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I can’t believe it’s already Friday again! I’ve worked hard this week to get some of my fall ‘householding’ chores completed, while taking some time out to just chill after a couple of stressful weeks. I’ve nursed a cold this week too, so I took extra time for rest, relaxation and reflection as well. Living frugally and healthfully allows me to live fully, while using fewer resources and less money. Sweet.

Monday: I’m on a fermentation kick. After 2 weeks in the hospital, many tests, scans, and invasive procedures, Michael’s doctors came to the conclusion that his chemo and surgeries had left him with “Paralytic Ileus”, or simply put, a sleepy colon. In order to ‘wake it up’ he needs to eat probiotics. Read: pricey. His surgeon specifically told me to buy yogurt made with RAW milk, since pasteurization kills a lot of the ‘good bacteria’. Well, raw milk sales are illegal in TN but luckily, I have friends that have bartered jugs of their fresh, raw, goat’s and cow’s milk with me for some of my apple cider and homemade jams. My yogurt maker is working overtime, with delicious results. After doing some research on my own, I learned that yogurt only contains two types of gut-friendly bacteria, while there are several other types of the ‘good guys’ in some of the lesser-known fermented foods. Enter: sauerkraut, pickles, kumbocha tea, kefir, chow-chow and Kvass. What the hell is Kvass? A simple to make fermented drink made from beets…

20141014_125056Since I have a rather large supply of beets this time of year, it was an obvious choice. Peel and chop 2 large or 3 medium organic beets into a half gallon container. Add 2 teaspoons of sea salt, 1/4 cup of whey (from that raw milk), and fill with filtered water. Stir to mix, then cover lightly and keep at room temp for 3 days, then refrigerate. When most of the liquid has been drunk, you may fill up the container with water and keep at room temperature another two days. The resulting brew will be slightly less strong than the first. After the second brew, discard the beets and start again. You may, however, reserve some of the liquid and use this as your inoculant instead of the whey. If  you’re a Diet Coke freak you MAY not care for Kvass  😉   If you love beets like I do, this may be your new favorite beverage. It’s full of vitamins and minerals and the fermentation process kicks them into high gear. I drink 4 ozs, twice a day and am feeling renewed, especially after tending a head cold this week. My friend tells me she sautees the leftover beets in butter and they are yummy. I’ll try it when this jar of kvass is gone. If all else fails, the chickens will like the bottom of the jar beets I’m sure.

Tuesday: Speaking of beets…when I planted my fall beet bed, I transplanted the thinnings to a different bed, since I can’t bear to waste anything. They looked awful!

Beet TransplantsBut I kept watering them during August’s drought and was surprised this week to spot this gorgeous root where those straggly, sad transplants had been…

20141014_083616Savings? I saw organic beets for $3.99 a lb this week at the store. If all four of those little thinnings grow to the size of this half pound one, I figure I’ve saved $8.00 on something most folks throw away!

Wednesday: I have some ‘yard art’ that I bought at a junk store before yard art was even cool. About 5 years ago the top sphere broke off, so I took it to a local shop to have it welded back on. That cost me $16 then. But recently, the guy with the backhoe that dug up my bushes for free, accidentally knocked it over and broke it again…

20141014_130346So this time I called the local high school welding shop teacher to see if one of his students could fix it. Sure did! Savings: $16

20141014_141044Thursday: A nearby potato grower let me glean his plot after he’d harvested…

TatersSavings: $10-$15? I don’t know their value since they’re misshapen and different sizes, BUT there’s enough ‘taters here to make many meals in the months to come. Ain’t it a shame the food that’s wasted  in this country? Not on my watch!

Friday: Recently, my beloved rice cooker quit working. Just quit, no power! I remember when I first bought it 6 years ago (on sale of course) that I liked it so much I took it on vacation and used it in the kitchen of the condo we stayed in to cook rice with steamed veggies in the top, oatmeal and soup. (Of course the others that were vacationing with us thought me strange…who cares?) For me, it’s a must-have appliance. The day after it quit working I went to a yard sale and there.it.was…

20140908_152403The same brand as my old one, but a more deluxe model and looking brand new inside and out! Price: $5.00.  Savings: About $40. It works perfectly.

Good food, good health, good friends. That’s all there is folks, and that’s enough. Have a great weekend!

 

 



Alternatives

“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy – sun, wind and tide. I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”~ Thomas Edison, 1931.  That’s right~Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb and founder of General Electric said that.

We’ve put a man on the moon, invented computers and the internet and a bajillion other things since then, but our dependence on oil and coal has only increased, even though ‘sun, wind and tide’ have proven that they can be strong contenders for powering our lives. I’d like to add ‘human power’ to that list of renewables. These infinite energy sources will never be able to produce the amounts of energy that cheap oil has allowed us to waste use, but if a person were to first reduce their energy usage, they could sure make a difference between surviving and thriving in a lower energy world.

When I think about what I might miss most if we were to have locally the ‘rolling brownouts’ that I experienced first-hand while living in central California, it would be: lighting, cooling, and communication with my family. For others it might be refrigeration, your computer or a washing machine. Our individual wants and needs are as varied as we, the people! I remember one hot summer day at work, in a corporate office on the second floor, when the brownouts began. The first time it happened, we were sent home from work early. The next time we were told to do paper work in offices nearest the windows (for lighting only mind you-the ‘modern’ corporate office windows didn’t open and close!) My job was telephone and internet-driven, so the paper work was quickly caught up with. The next time it happened, we had phone service, but still no computer-or air conditioning! In no time I was sweltering hot and the interior bathrooms were pitch black, and like walking into an oven. Those short-lived brownouts left an impression on me: BE PREPARED!

But how can I be prepared, when practically everything requires some form of energy? I’ve found a few things that really can make life easier when the grid goes down, whether for an afternoon or indefinitely…

1. Wind:

2. Sun:

3. Tides:

 

4. Human (AND solar!)

I rarely endorse buying new things, but this hand-cranked or solar application is an exception because of its’ practicality, reliability, low-cost and safety:

This little jewel is an AM/FM/Weather Radio that also includes a light and cell phone charger!

And this little jewel gets me where I need to go:

OOPS! Wrong picture! Let’s try that again…

These ‘alternatives’ certainly won’t take the place of everything that electricity and cheap oil provides in our lives. When combined with staying out of debt, learning to grow and preserve food, maybe raising a few hens in the backyard, tending a hive of bees, insulating our homes or learning a barterable skill, they can help us keep our heads above water when shit hits the fan! And if shit never does hit the fan, you still win because you’ll have no debt, good food, comfortable shelter and a skill that you can trade.  The end.




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