Filed under: Frugality | Tags: adapt, frugal, homesteader, Longkeeper Tomatoes, New Year, Three Sisters, transition
A new year- If I were going to make any resolutions, it would be to continue to find fun ways to be frugal and thrifty. But that’s always my resolve, and I don’t need a new calendar to remind me what it once felt like to have more week than payday and to rob Peter to pay Paul. I I like paying cash for everything and letting my savings grow. And I don’t know about you, but I want to thrive, not just survive while working towards transitioning to a future 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.
To that end, my family has enrolled in a year-long analysis of our electric, gas and fuel usage. The program is being offered through a local, grassroots group called G.I.N.I. (Green Interfaith Network, Inc) and is sponsored by Tennessee Interfaith Power and Light. Hopefully the resulting audit will help us learn what we can do to weatherize our 115 year old home and about the financial incentives of doing so. Recording our gasoline and mileage will also help us prepare ourselves both physically and mentally for using our own two legs or public transportation to get us to the places we need to go. It’s hard to make myself walk to the dentist when gas is less than $2.00 per gallon, but I find the exercise helps keep me fit, we’re only putting about 5,000 miles a year on our car, and it makes me feel so much more resilient to know that I’ve structured the bulk of my life into a radius of less than 2 miles. When I’m too old to drive or walk, I’ll get an electric scooter. Go Granny go! Savings? you can’t put a price on independence.
One thing that’s become very apparent to me over the last dozen years or so, is that by always thinking and looking ahead for the things that I need or want, and having patience, I will eventually find them at a good price. It breaks my heart to buy something brand new, knowing that all over America there are thrift stores, yard sales, basements and auction houses absolutely bursting with useful items. I see them every day, everywhere.
Monday: I had asked for a very specific type of slippers for Christmas, knowing they are old fashioned and hard to find, but not wanting anyone to buy them new. Not surprisingly, there weren’t any for me under the tree but I found a pair with the tags still attached at my local thrift store this week for 99 cents! Amazon lists a very similar pair but they are ‘unavailable’. I’m happy.
Tuesday: After having friends over for food and music on Sunday, there were leftover fresh green pepper strips that I’d bought and served with hummus as dippers. I rarely buy them and sure didn’t want to waste them so I decided to make one of my favorite meals: Three Sisters. It’s simple, frugal, healthy and delicious. It uses the traditional Native American trio of corn, beans and squash and since I still have about 15 more large butternut squashes in the cellar, I seasoned and baked a few, then pureed them. After freezing all but two cups, I used it to make this dish…
Directions are simple: Spread hot pureed squash on a warm toasted corn tortilla, top with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, green peppers, salsa and (leftover from the party too) sour cream. Add a splash of hot sauce if you’re so inclined. Savings? About $2.00 worth of peppers. By the way, these tomatoes were some of the Longkeeper type that we grow each summer for, well, long keeping! While not as good as a ripe August tomato, there are 1,000 times better than a Florida-grown, gassed-to-ripen, January tomato!
Wednesday: I decided I’d best harvest some of the winter onions before this week’s frigid temps moved in. Just-picked onions and fresh tomatoes in January? Priceless!
Thursday: After putting out a request on Freecycle for a VCR player, a friend responded by bringing by one of his extra players he’d put back for ‘hard times’. Savings? Being able to watch some of our old favorite movies again is yet another priceless gift! Thanks Bryan!
Friday: I traded a wanna-be-homesteader friend a stack of Mother Earth News magazines for a jar of her home-made relish. win-win
My New Year’s wish for all of us? That this will finally be the year that we can all become part of a viable, local, food network, that our new Congress will get along, that we’ll all learn to adapt to the changes in our lives and the world, and that we’ll walk and ride our way to good health as we meet our neighbors and form ‘communities of well-being’ amongst ourselves. Oh yeah. May this be the year that we all find our dream slippers at the thrift store too. Happy New Year everyone!
The picture above was taken while we were in California last month. I’m hugging a giant redwood. The camera simply can’t do justice to such a magnificent tree! But nature is made up of so much more than the in-your-face mountains and oceans, desserts and redwoods. It’s also about earthworms and soil, seeds and sunshine, honeybees and baby rabbits. Today Michael and I went to the Earth Day celebration at the Carver Peace Community Garden, complete with music, kids, food, butterfly nets and, yes, baby rabbits, that were found almost hidden in their nest at the edge of one of the garden plots. The picture below doesn’t do this tiny creature any justice either, but look how loving and reverent the kids are being with it! They were as awed by that tiny creature as I was of the giant redwoods…
Michael and I chose today to plant our community garden plot to a ‘Three Sisters’ garden: corn, beans and squash. The Native Americans depended on this holy trilogy of food plants to keep their families well fed, and so will we. The squash seed we used is a traditional southern favorite called ‘Green Striped Cushaw’ that we just discovered last fall, the beans are an heirloom variety called “Blue Lake” that we’ve had great success with in the past, and we chose a bicolor hybrid (NOT to be confused with Genetically Modified!) corn this year, called “Peaches and Cream”. We also took part in the annual ‘Blessing of the Garden’ before planting, so hopefully, our efforts will be a success 😉
All this Earth Day stuff is great, and I’m obviously a big fan, but I really hope folks will embrace the idea that taking care of ‘that which sustains us’ is something we can all do, every single day of our lives. We must tend to it and protect it, just like we do with our families, homes, and gardens or anything else that we cherish. Why is it that we abuse and take for granted that which provides us with all that we need for life? I’m beginning to think that people really just don’t get it…
A couple of years ago I went to an Earth Day event at a different local park: the guests were served hotdogs, snack sized bags of chips, bottled water, canned sodas and individually wrapped brownies for dessert-all on foam plates with plastic utensils. There weren’t even any recycling bins to accept the leftover bottles and cans! The message was “Go Green! Save energy! Produce less trash! Reduce, reuse, recycle!” But what we all heard was, “Do as I say, not as I do”.
It’s really not so hard; we can take better care of our Earthly home, not just on Earth Day, but every day. Just as the corn, beans and squash in our new garden work together to improve the soil and to grow in conjunction with one another, we too can work together to improve the health of our living planet. Stay tuned…