Making Choices
“When I was a little kid, growing up on Martin Drive, Dr. Spock’s book, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, which had first been published in 1946, was making the rounds. It was being passed from mother to mother on Martin Drive and it came to our house and my  mother read it.Among other things, the book suggested giving your child choices so that your child would learn how to make decisions. So my mother read that and thought it made a certain kind of sense, so she started giving us choices. She would tell us what to do, then let us choose between doing it or getting swatted on the rear with Dr. Spock’s book.” ~ Philip Gulley, author of ‘Grace Talks’
I have an internet radio in my kitchen, opening up the whole world to me while I chop, stir, cook and can.  Today I listened to news about civil rights and social activism in Missouri, elephant killings in Africa, war-making in the Middle East, and  came to the conclusion that ultimately, every choice we make affects others. Examples abound, but here are a few simple ones I came up with: if I buy a $5 tee shirt from Walmart, perhaps made in Bangladesh, I’m supporting sweat shops and factories without fire escapes. If I buy Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, I’m supporting their use of GMO wheat in their pastas, while contributing to a culture of discontent amongst their employees. If I eat a Hershey’s candy bar, I’m condoning child slave labor on the cocoa plantations along the Ivory Coast. If I purchase anything made from ivory, it comes from a bull elephant. (not that I buy anything made from ivory but evidently it is a HUGE trend in Asia). On and on, ad nauseum. I get it. We vote with our dollars, so by making wise buying choices that will make things better? Maybe. Maybe not. Will my refusal to buy an occasional Hershey’s bar really stop the exploitation of children? It’s just not a simple ‘either/or ‘ choice like Mrs. Gulley made with her children in the opening paragraph, is it?
So tell me, how are we to live? How can we make the best choices that will benefit our lives without creating misery for someone else?And what does this have to do with transitioning to a way of living that’s significantly more connected,  vibrant and  fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today? This blog’s “ABOUT” statement has said since Day One: “Now is the time to take stock and to start re-creating our future in ways that are 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.” Maybe I will reword that to add: “…while considering others everywhere.”
I sure don’t have the answers folks. I’m searching for them every day. Listening to the news from around the world on the internet radio has made me ever more aware that we’re all interconnected, we are all one, and that we all share this earth. But I have to keep in mind that I can’t change anyone or anything, but I can change me. I can make better consumer choices, better environmental choices and better health choices.
I sometimes get lax and begin to slip back into patterns of consumption that I thought I’d left behind. I’m buying paper towels again for crap’s sake! I haven’t bought them for almost 14 years, and suddenly, I have a 3 pack under the sink. (It’s really Michael’s fault but I’ve cut him some slack while he’s been ill, but as of today, he’s declared cancer free so now he’s going to have to go back to a life without them 🙂 ) Pick your battles. I also realize that not buying paper towels or Roundup or styrofoam plates won’t change the world but those are things that I feel good about nevertheless. So what else can I do? Well, I can follow the lead of my church association and divest my savings investments of fossil fuel companies and Bank One holdings, and instead, invest more in renewable energies and local banks.  I can grow more, sew more, walk more, and give more. I can choose a life of simplicity. I can create peace in my personal life and my home, knowing  full well that peace in the world really does begin at home. I can even choose to turn off the radio.

Frugal Friday-with a recipe!
December 6, 2013, 11:08 PM
Filed under: Composting, Food Waste, Frugality, Herbs | Tags: , , , , , , ,

We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family, and now, a week later, I’m putting up the Christmas tree. We produced more garbage last week than normal, but much of it was things our out-of-town company brought with them and bought while they were here, but I really did make up for it this week by cutting food and kitchen waste to ZERO and by reducing and repairing everywhere else I could. Remember, these little things really add up week after week and allow us to live very well on very little. And that’s basically what this blog is all about.

This whole week saw us eating leftover turkey, made into several different ‘creations’. We enjoyed turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce on slices of sourdough bread, 4 quarts of turkey noodle soup, and  a 9×12 pan of shepherd’s pie, topped with the leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving. The carcass was cooked down…


… and the only thing I had to buy for the gallon of soup were the noodles and some celery. I had the onions, carrots, and herbs from the garden on hand and used a similar combination of veggies, plus some leftover beans and broccoli from the garden for the pie. Savings: 4 lunches and 4 dinners with enough for company too

I spent so much time in the kitchen this past week though, that I began to get a little silly: (that’s a Longkeeper tomato I used for the head  of Mr. Carrot that was later WASHED, sliced and added to our sandwiches-and we were thankful for fresh garden tomatoes at Thanksgiving!) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Monday- Michael received a little book in the mail from a friend, and I got an unexpected ‘gift’ of 5 uncanceled stamps that were on the envelope when it arrived! I’ll use them to mail some out-of-town Christmas cards next week. Savings: $2.30


Tuesday- My favorite very old slipper socks had seen better days, with their felted soles coming clean off. So, I sewed them  back on, repaired a few little holes, and they’re good for another winter! Savings: $15 plus shipping, comparing to a similar pair on Amazon

                                       Before:                                                                                                               After:


Wednesday- I mixed up a batch of the same laundry detergent I’ve been using for almost 15 years. It’s environmentally friendly, produces no packaging waste, costs pennies per load and works very well. What else could  you ask for?

        3 Natural Ingredients + Water=                                                     2 Gallons of Pure Cleaning Power


Here’s the recipe I have used all these years, made in the same free icing bucket I got from a bakery. Consider it an early Christmas gift.


Grate 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha soap into 6 cups boiling water. (This all-natural laundry soap can be ordered online if you can’t find it locally) I use an old box grater on the fine side for this-see photo. And by the way, it’s very easy to grate.

When melted, add 1 c. each of 20 Mule Team Borax and Arm and

Hammer Washing Soda. Bring to a boil, Stir till dissolved and slightly thickened.

In a 2 gallon bucket, put 4 cups hot water, then add the soap mixture, mix.

Fill rest of bucket with cold water. Mix until well blended. Set aside for

24 hrs; it will gel up. I ‘squeeze’ the finished gel with my hands to break it up

somewhat, then use 1 c. per load.

This works beautifully on average dirty clothes. For really oily or dirty clothes, you may want to use more soap, or hot water. I use cold, except for whites. This detergent is safe for greywater and septic systems too! These products can be found in the laundry section of most grocery stores.

NOTE: There will be no color and little scent to this detergent, nor will you see suds. Sudsing agents are added to commercial detergents to help the consumer feel that the product is ‘working’. The suds add nothing to the actual cleaning power of the product.

Savings? I’m going to estimate about $10 per gallon of detergent. This recipe makes 2 gallons or, enough for 32 loads for about $1.00 worth of ingredients.

Thursday-  I took advantage of the warm, sunny day we enjoyed before the storms came in to uncover my hoop houses so they could get rained on, get them weeded and then refilled my covered garbage cans that I keep for this purpose with dry, shredded leaves that my city  delivers free of charge each fall. I layer my kitchen scraps (greens) with the leaves (browns) on my compost piles all winter, so the finished product has a nice balance of nitrogen and carbon. Free shredded leaves + Free delivery= PRICELESS COMPOST

Friday-Printed some free ‘gift coupons’ (on the back of some pretty papers that I’d gotten years ago as part of a ‘gift pack’) and plan to fill them out for my family members for giving them the ‘gifts’ I wrote about here. Here’s the website to download yours too:



Enjoy your weekend!

Souper Food

I began January by promising I’d write about FOOD this month and have covered ways we keep food costs down, seasonal eating and the value of keeping a well-stocked pantry. Today, it’s more of the same, tied up in one big pot~of soup!

The next couple of days are forecast to be some cold ass days, so what better way to feed the fam than by making a big ass pot of soup? There are entire cookbooks devoted to soups but it seems most of them start with “saute chopped onion, garlic and celery”, add broth, then the main ingredients. In preparing for the coming cold, I  decided to harvest some kale, parsley and lettuce from the hoop house before tightening the plastic…


Then as usual, I took a quick survey of what I had on hand and decided  last night was Minestrone night, since I had small amounts of lots of different fresh veggies on hand. I added tomatoes that I’d frozen in bags last summer, fresh potatoes and carrots that were grown by a fellow gardener, the remaining cabbage and broccoli that I’d harvested from the hoop house last week when the weather was warmer, herbs and peppers that were dried last summer and stock from my pantry.


Stock+Veggies and Leftover Beans+’Store Bought’ Bay Leaves, Fennel and a handful of Pasta=This:


Total Cost: About $1.00…at most. There’s at least a gallon of delicious, healthy and filling soup in this pot with enough to share with my brother and a cup over the dog’s kibble too! We enjoyed a salad prepared with the lettuces I’d picked earlier in the day, topped with another fresh vegetable from my windowsill ‘garden’:

100_1135This pint jar full of fresh alfalfa sprouts was made from one tablespoon of seed. Sprouts are considered to be a ‘super food’ meaning they have benefits that are so nutritious they’re considered a superior food. Right up there with blueberries, which I don’t have a lot of this time of year 😦  But I’ve got a LOT of sprouting seeds that will last for many, many years if I keep them dry in a sealed glass jar in a cool dark place. For about a dime, I can have fresh sprouts of any kind to add to casseroles, salads, soups-even breads-in 3 days! The sprouts we enjoyed tonight were exceptionally fresh and tender, and can really perk up an otherwise ‘plain’ winter salad. Dressed with our own honey/mustard dressing, we ate like kings for under a dollar, with plenty left for lunch tomorrow.

Learning the skills of growing some of your own food, preserving some of that food for winter time use, planning and cooking meals from scratch, and taking care of your health by eating a nutritious diet will help you stretch your food and health care dollars while offering you resilience and self-sufficiency during uncertain times. Learning to ‘make do’, whether it’s in the kitchen, keeping an older car running, living in a smaller house, or repairing and wearing older clothes is a mindset that can help us truly learn to ‘live MORE on LESS’. Ain’t that souper?

Hung up on hanging up
March 15, 2012, 9:33 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Today was the day I’d been waiting for… a warm, sunny day absolutely meant for hanging out clothes! You can see in the picture how the pants are positively dancing they’re so happy to be there! I’ve always loved hanging my laundry out and never even think about buying an electric clothes dryer. Not having one is one less thing to take up room in our small house, one less thing to buy and replace or repair, and one less thing to add to my electric bill.

For me, hanging clothes on the line while listening to bird songs brings a sense of peace to my small world every time I do it. Time seems to kinda stand still during the five minutes it takes to hang a load of freshly washed clothes. I’m often amused by watching our resident squirrel run up a nearby tree or happy to hear the pileated woodpecker that lives in our woods drumming on the dead tree that he seems to love, during my morning hangup. And of course, depending on solar rays for drying our laundry necessitates me keeping in tune with the weather, which serves to put me in touch with the garden as well,  but it’s the quiet time spent outdoors that I’m most hung up on.

Hanging the wet clothes on a folding rack inside during the winter months raises the humidity in our dry, wood heated home and extends the life of the clothes as well so I’m certainly glad I have that option, but with the return of warm weather, you’ll find me at the clothesline! This morning I saw the curled, green heads of fiddlehead ferns pushing through the earth, and-ta da!- the stinging nettles that I planted on the edge of the woods last summer are also beginning to push up too. Oh yeah, I also found the faded mate to a long-lost sock laying under the lines, hidden by last  autumn’s dried leaves.

My grandkids say they’re  just “hangin’ out”.  Me too  🙂

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