Tennesseetransitions


Frugal Friday- January 9
January 9, 2015, 3:15 PM
Filed under: Frugality | Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

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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…

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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

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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!

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Just Getting Started

This is my 200th post on this blog but I feel like I’m just getting started. Some of those posts may have you rolling your eyes by now (growing food, building community and frugality are my personal favorites) but today’s post covers all of those topics in one! I am a recently elected co-chair of the local Livable Communities Group, a group that’s been meeting for about ten years, but has recently partnered with Community Partnerships, another group that was originally established under the direction of the Washington County Economic Development Council. Recently we’ve become re-energized by all the good things that are happening in our town and have adopted a long range plan to address some of the issues that Johnson Citians that attended the Economic Summit in 2011 felt were key in making our community more livable and lovable. Not surprisingly, green spaces, hiking and biking trails, public safety, expanded public transportation options, community gardens, farmer’s markets and a more localized economy topped the list. One answer that stood out in the survey was to “grow and connect to our local foodshed”, and that drumbeat seems to be growing louder and louder.

Farmer

It was announced in the local newspaper last week that the city doesn’t have the funds available to do the site preparation work for the long-promised new Farmer’s Market, and conversations that I’ve had recently with the market manager (he’s also the market board president-isn’t that a conflict of interest???) lead me to believe that if we really want to ‘grow and connect with our local foodshed’  the time has come to consider other options. And THAT is what the Livable Communities meeting being held tomorrow morning at the One Acre Cafe will be about. We’ve invited the director of Appalachian Sustainable Development to speak with us about the possibility of forming a food co-op; a worker-owned, community-based cooperative effort to help our residents be able to make that connection. I’ve been told that if our current Farmer’s Market vendors had a venue for selling their stuff during the colder months, that they’d be more willing to extend their growing seasons. This sounds like it might be a doable solution for that problem, allowing the summer-time market vendors to have a year-round income while allowing us eaters to have AFFORDABLE fresh locally-grown produce in addition to meats, cheeses, kitchen staples, home brews, and canned and baked goods, all in one location, all the time. If you eat, you’re part of this conversation.

I’ve been a member of two different food co-ops. The first was in the late 70’s.  I joined a worker-owned co-op that operated a store front which became like a second home and provided me with affordable, healthy foods like natural peanut butter and rice cakes, whole grain flours, eggs, oil, honey, cheeses and so much more. Four kids can go through a lot of that stuff you know. By paying an annual membership fee you got the food at a reduced price, but if you volunteered to work in the store a couple hours a month, you got an even larger reduction! Everything was ordered in bulk then divided up once it was delivered to the store. Our family refilled the same peanut butter and honey jars and Tupperware containers (remember Tupperware?) over and over and over, keeping endless amounts of trash from the landfill in the process. This was before curbside recycling was available-hell, this was before bottled water! Which makes me wonder if the ease of recycling now is truly progressive or simply relieves our conscience? But I digress…

The second coop I belonged to never had a store front, so the food was delivered to a remote parking lot, and was then taken home by members to divvy it up before it landed in the proper kitchen. The truck was always late, the orders always had something missing, and it was not ideal by any means. I don’t want to do that anymore.

After the ASD presentation of different co-op models, we’ll break for lunch at the cafe, then our group will be taking a tour of a possible location for such a store, right downtown, just a couple of blocks from the not-gonna-happen ‘new’ Farmer’s Market. If this is something  you’re truly interested in, feel free to join our group at 10 AM Monday, June 9th for this information gathering meeting. 

Last, but not least, keep in mind that I write this blog to offer you what I hope are resilient and creative, if not challenging, solutions for living well while transitioning to a world that holds the triple threats of climate change, energy and resource depletion and the ever-growing income inequity in the US and our globalized world.  But after 200 posts, I’m just getting started!

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