Thursday, June 30, 2005

Creative Solutions

Kids break things, its inevitable. Sometimes I think my kids break more things than most. Regardless, dealing with this requires some creative solutions. Here's a recent example from our house.

Last week we lost one of the hooks that hold up the shower curtain to a temper fit. I know its not a big ticket item but I hate to buy a whole set when I need just one, especially considering the manner in which it was broken. I had leftover hooks from who knows when but none were a full set, although one set was the same style as the one that broke. The solution? Alternate the two different color hooks making it look deliberate. We were fortunate that the broken hooks were clear and the spares were white so it blended nicely. I'm not sure this would have worked so well with clashing colors.

Did that save enough money to send a kid to college? No, but the way we look at and tackle problems like this one reflects our overall attitude toward money. There was a time when I would have just run to the store for new hooks. (Its only a few dollars, no big deal.) Now, I really try to find solutions before reaching for my wallet. Little savings really add up over time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Lesson of the Ice Pops

I've been a little negligent about posting the last few days. I'm still working on developing our summertime schedule. At home its easy, I get up with Jim and once he's off to work I'm on the computer. Its not so clear cut up here.

The lure of the outdoors is amazing. The kids, even the big ones, just want to be outside. The tv has only been turned at night, by the grown ups to watch movies (from the library of course!) It hasn't even occured to the little ones to ask to watch tv. The hot sunny weather and our lack of air conditioning has helped.

Its interesting to see how patterns of behavior develop. After coming home from the beach there is always a flurry of activity. Towels need to get hung on the line, other laundry may need to be brought in, final dinner preparations need to be completed, and some of us want to hit the shower.

Last year we got in the habit of giving the boys' an ice pop as soon as we got home to help occupy them. It didn't fill them up, it was only fruit juice and after running on the beach extra fluids are important. The first day we walked home from the beach this year, the boys asked if they could have their ice pops! There had been no mention of them from last year but they remembered.

The lesson of the ice pops is after doing something consistently it becomes habit. We've started going on a family bike ride every night around 8pm. After just three nights, the kids have come to expect that we're going to do it. Knowing how quickly things, good or bad, become habit is powerful.

What good habits are you working on?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

In the Mountain Greenery, Where God Paints the Scenery

It's the title of a Mel Torme song in case you're curious, Jim's a big fan. It just seemed appropriate.

We made it to the mountains yesterday afternoon with minimal fuss. Despite higher than normal temperatures, the worms were fat and cozy in the compost bin. We lost only a few leaves on the zucchini plants on the trip up. The basil had a basketball dropped on it after we were here but I think it will rebound.

The car hasn't moved from the spot I parked it in yesterday. One of my goals for the summer is to see how long I can go without using the car. I loaded the boys into the bike trailer yesterday eveing and rode with the girls down to the local grocery store to pick up a few essentials. Dragging 95 pounds of little boys behind you up a hill is no easy task but it makes me feel less guilty about taking the summer off from teaching aerobics.

Much of today was spent at the lake. It was 95 degrees here, I believe we set a record. The kids were just happy to splash around. For me, the pristine beauty of the pine trees when you swim out is breathtaking. I love this place!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Defered Rewards

Lately, we've been pinching pennies until they scream. No one is feeling particularly deprived, its just that our actions have been very deliberate towards our goal of keeping costs as low as possible.

Yesterday, in addition to all the clean up, we headed over to our CSA to pick more strawberries. We spent about an hour filling our containers and then another hour hulling them in preparation for freezing. Every container I put in the freezer is another bag of frozen, organic strawberries I won't be tempted to buy this winter.

As my daughter and I lugged the container gardens closer to the car for today's trip I questioned the sanity of the container experiment. But every zucchini that comes off that plant is one I don't have to shell out money for. If the canteloupes keep growing that will be an impressive savings too. I have to remind myself of the ultimate goal of the container gardens, finding out what is viable in the shadier, cooler mountain climate. I"m experimenting now in the hopes of having much success later. When we retire and are on a much lower income, I will be grateful for the work I'm doing now.

I did a very perfunctory weeding in the home garden, I'm hoping to put down a layer of mulch next week. (For a multitude of reasons, I'll be heading back home for three days next week.) I think everything that is going to sprout will have done so by then. Considering how ancient the seeds were, I'm really pleased with the outcome so far. Does my husband need the extra task of tending the garden while we're gone? Probably not, he's already planning to paint and conquer a bunch of other tasks, but he's always willing to pitch in. Thanks to his help, we'll be pumpkin picking in our own backyard this year.

I've begun cutting down wood pallets for the winter. The gentleman who installed our stove gave pallet burning his blessing. They burn quickly but they can help you stretch your split wood usage. I'll be happy I did this come November but right now I'm mostly itchy from the sawdust sticking to me.

My daughter helped me sort through the boys' clothes. We pulled out the nice looking short sleeve shirts to save for the upcoming school year. No sense in letting them wear the nice ones over the summer. Who wants to hear me ranting about staining a nice shirt with watermelon juice? It makes so much more sense to do it this way. This will make life so much simpler come September. (Yuck, I don't even want to think about it yet!)

Defered rewards are a big part of frugality. You really need to be able to look down the road so you can keep sight of where today's tasks are leading you. Hopefully each thing you do is moving you closer to your goals.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

They're Here!

Summer has officially begun, all four kids are upstairs sleeping late. There was enough nervous laughter from my daughters' last night to fuel a small city. They need the sleep. Finals are behind them and the lazy days of summer lie ahead. Relax, you're on Adirondack Mountain time now (like the old coffee commercial.)

Today will be spent just organizing the remnants of this year's school experience and seeing where we stand for next year. Are the book bags still useable? What shape are you're sneakers in? What's your clothing situation for next year?

The girls are good. They have mastered the art of accumulating what others have grown weary of. They both got pairs of brand new looking sneakers this way. They always have their eyes open for a bargain.

Later tonight we will pack the car in anticipation of our summer in the mountains. The container gardens will reach their ultimate home tomorrow afternoon and, if all went well with the worm box, be treated to some fresh compost. Packing is work but no one really minds.

The best part about my kids is they participate, almost without question, in so many of my projects like the worm box, solar cooking, and the container gardens. Even when they can't clearly see what the end product will be, they are curious cheerleaders.

Last year I garbage picked an ancient looking lamp and shade. I sponge painted over the gunky gold finish with black rustoleum that we had lying around. I peeled the nasty old fabric off the lampshade and covered it with leftover wallpaper. (I did buy black cording to edge the lampshade and new wiring for the lamp itself.) The result was a lamp that fit right into our funky, country decor.

When I started the lamp project, they couldn't see how this lamp would ever be anything but ugly. As I worked on it, they asked questions and offered suggestions. After it was complete, my daughters were on the lookout for another lamp. They liked the first one so much they wanted me to make one for their room!

I love summer vacation!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Storing the Harvest

I've mentioned before Tuesday is our pick up day at the CSA. After three years we've got it down to a science. The first year we ended up with a lot of slimy green yuck in the fridge. Now, we've learned how to store everything to minimize spoilage but there's a definite time commitment involved. It takes me about an hour to get everything sorted out.

Herbs that won't be used in the next day or two can be frozen as is. Green onions and garlic scapes can be chopped and frozen raw to be used in recipes (they mush if you freeze them whole and try to chop them later.)

Yesterday they lifted the picking limits on strawberries and told members to "fill their freezers." You don't have to tell us twice. The whole family was out in the field filling buckets. My sons did a better job filling their bellies than their buckets but they tried. Storing these can be very labor intensive. You need to remove the green part before popping them into containers and freezing them. We had an assembly line going. I was too tired to count how much is now in the freezer but its a lot!

June brings a lot of greens to the Northeast. We divide them into two categories. The greens that are milder are kept in the fridge for salads. The greens that fall into the "ewwww mommy its bitter" category, are steamed and frozen for fall/winter meals.

Traditional cookbooks are helpful with food storage questions but they only go so far with how to use unfamiliar foods. I'm always trying to figure out how much of the plant is edible. Can I eat those greens? These questions are better answered by The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery or a similar book. (I realize that Carla Emery has whole chapters devoted to animals as food but I have found the rest of her information helpful enough to simply avoid those pages.) Our CSA members are a great source of info as well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What is a Veggie Burger, Really?

Its that time of year when a person's palate craves things that fit on a bun. There's something mystical and uniquely summerish about a burger on a bun. We've been vegetarian so long its just understood that when we say burger, we mean veggie burger.

As you might imagine, veggie burgers for a family of six can become a pricey proposition. I stumbled onto a solution to this by accident, as I do with so many of my culinary achievements. One morning I was making a big breakfast and we were out of tofu. I wanted some type of veggie sausage to go along with the pancakes so I played around with some leftover beans and rice. The results were pretty good.

Since then I've discovered that almost anything can be made into a veggie burger as long as you include a binder (flaxseed meal and water along with a cup or so of uncooked oatmeal is my binder of choice.) Make sure any spices you add complement the spices in the original dish. A squirt of Bragg's Aminos goes a long way to improving flavor. Sometimes I puree the ingredients but more often I just mix them together with a heavy spoon. I cook mine on a cast iron griddle and viola!

Of course ketchup makes many culinary disasters edible, so its best to have some on hand, especially for the early experiments!

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Weekend and the Day Ahead

We had a very productive weekend reorganizing the living room. We actually had no choice, later this morning a wood burning stove is being installed there. Motivation comes in many forms.

Today is locker clean out day in the middle school. I expect my daughters to come home with huge bags of stuff. However, the little clutter queens will be sorting their bags out before being allowed out to play. There will be much groaning, as my younger daughter tries to convince me to wait for this task until the sun goes down. I'm steeling myself for the attack even as we speak.

Here's the thing about leaving the pile for later, not only will it not move from the spot it was dumped in, it will probably grow larger. Have you ever noticed how the two or three pieces of paper you place on the counter grow? Clutter causes you to misplace things and you can't be very organized, a big key to frugality, if you can't find what you're looking for.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Mom, I need to bring in cookies tomorrow...

Announcements like this one tend to come after I've put my pj's on. It's a rare day when one of my kids says this immediately after getting off the school bus. Here's my frugal veggie way of handling it.

First, know what you're up against. It's June and you can bet someone is going to need something to share with the class at least once or twice a week. Have the ingredients for some family favorites on hand to avoid expensive/desperate trips to the convenience store.

Second, ask the important question, how many people are in your class? One of my kids is in Special Ed, although in most of her classes there are 20 kids, she has only 2 kids in one class.

Third, what's the food allergy situation? Interestingly, the teachers do a really good job of making all the kids aware of the food allergies in the class. My kids can all tell me who is allergic to what. Of course if time allows, a call or note to the teacher is best but the night before its usually not an option.

I took out a cookbook "Grandma's Wartime Kitchen" a while back. It was a fascinating read about making food under less than ideal conditions. Definitely frugal, not so very vegetarian although it had more veg recipes than you might expect. One of the recipes it had was for Icebox Cookies, like the slice and bake ones from the refrigerator case.

I've adapted this recipe and try to keep some in the freezer just for times like this. Fortunately, we had made several batches over the weekend. Instead of slicing them we used a melon baller to make them round and put a little dent in the top. We filled the dent with the leftover chocolate frosting that was sitting in the fridge after they were baked. (I had planned to use a chocolate chip instead but we were out and there really wasn't enough frosting to do anything else with.) With cooking time, the whole project didn't take more than twenty minutes and they look really impressive.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Parable of the Spare Car

My husband's 1994 Saturn SL1 has almost 222,000 miles on it. My brother-in-law (hey Big T!) moved back to the city and decided to sell his 1994 Prismm, which had about 90,000 miles on it, for a very reasonable sum. We bought the car with the thought that I could use it around town rather than my minivan when it was just me and the kids. Also, Jim could use it if his car broke down. (If I've learned only one thing in my 34 years on the planet, its that an affordable car will never be available when your car dies.)

The car wasn't in our possession a week before the Saturn broke down (which it had never done!!) A tensioner belt, pulley and $300 later, the Saturn is up and running again and the Prism has already proven itself a good investment. You may ask why invest $300 in a car that has such high mileage? That car has been paid for since 1999 and we don't put more than about $300/year into it in maintenance above and beyond oil changes. Its still a cost effective vehicle. When it is no longer cost effective, we have its replacement ready to take over full time.

I love it when things go according to plan!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Container Garden Experiment **UPDATE**

Let me start by saying that yesterday didn't really go as planned. Everything took longer than it should have. So cleaning the cabinets has begun, but it is no where near complete. Fortunately, today's schedule is much lighter.

The container garden is doing well. The zucchini and canteloupe are growing beautifully. I'm hoping to avoid putting in a trellis of some sort until they reach their final destination in a week. Only one of the many peas I planted sprouted but I expected that might happen. The seeds I used were all leftover from a garden I planted in 2002. Everything I've read seems to indicate that 3 years is about the longest seeds would be viable. Decreased sprouting seems like a natural consequence to me.

The regular garden, also planted using 2002 seeds, is doing well also. Actually, considering the way it was planted, its positively thriving! This garden will be my hubby's summer project. While I'm tending the container garden with the kids, he'll be turning the sprinkler on and checking for produce in the regular garden. By the weekend I think we'll be ready to through down some more mulch to keep the weeds down and the moisture in. This will make my husband's job that much easier.

Team work is probably the biggest key to successful frugal living. In our house we are forever dividing up the tasks. Sometimes its based on who has the time to do a particular job. Sometimes its based on ability. Sometimes the job just needs to be done and everyone has to make a contribution regardless of time, age or skill level. There might be some moaning (from the kids not the hubby!) but pride in their accomplishments has a way of shining through.

This was the case with the tomato sauce. My kids didn't necessarily enjoy the canning experience last season. It was all new to me and I was a little stressed about possibly poisoning the whole family with botulism. I probably was a little unpleasant to be around. There were a lot of pots and utensils to clean. My daughters truly hated the feel of slipping skins off the tomatoes. Unfortunately, washing dishes and peeling tomatoes were the tasks they ended up with. But when people ate over and tasted the sauce that resulted from those efforts, my daughters were puffy with pride. They talked about canning as though they loved it all. I hope they remember when it comes time to do it again!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Looking Ahead While Cleaning Out the Cabinets

Today promises to be a busy day. I'm teaching fitness classes in the morning and evening. My son also has a doctor's appointment in the afternoon. My goal for that little bit of free time is to clean out the cabinets.

When I first really got into frugal living, I saved every container that passed through my door. Some were great, like the huge containers that my mom buys pretzels in. Some were a little ridiculous, like the tiny jars that Polaner All Fruit comes in. Every few months I need to weed through the cabinets to make sure everything has a lid (where do the lids go to?) and that the container is usuable for my needs.

Pick ups have started from our CSA and I've set myself a goal of freezing at least one thing each week. For June, the majority of the veggies are greens. After steaming the greens, the large containers that deli potato salad come in are a great size for freezing them. Obviously, square containers would fit better in the freezer but I haven't been able to find those free anywhere. I label EVERYTHING that goes in the freezer. One year I just assumed I would remember what was what and it was a disaster. A roll of masking tape and an indelible marker are essential.

When freezing things like pumpkin, bananas, zucchini or anything else you might use in a specific recipe, freeze them in quantities you will use. For example, the pumpkin bread recipe I use calls for 1 cup of pumpkin puree. Our old margarine containers fit 2 cups of pumpkin puree. This is a perfect container for us since I usually make four loaves at a time. I could use a container that holds up to four cups. When I am ready to make the bread, I just defrost the quantity I need, no measuring and minimal thought. BTW, It helps immensely to keep an inventory of whats in your freezer.

While cleaning out the cabinets, I will also be checking the sandwich container, thermos, lunch box/bag situation. I need to know now if I should be on the lookout for anything during the summer tag sale season.

Monday, June 13, 2005

End of School Countdown

We're down to 8 days of school. 8 more days of snacks and bagged lunches. That equates to roughly 7 more days of homework, 2 more PT and 2 more OT appointments. There is talk of long days at the beach and riding bikes to the grocery store. My kids are beginning to relax and switch into summer mode. They've begun to anticipate July 6th, the day our Fresh Air Fund daughter arrives to spend two weeks with us.

Even my job is winding down for the summer. By this time next week I will have only two classes left to teach until the summer ends. I have a few writing assignments to complete over the summer but there is no time clock to punch.

There is much to do before the kids are here all day, every day. I'll be sharing my goals and accomplishments over the next few days. Today is pick up day from our food cooperative so the goal is simply to get the food home and put away without incident.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Teacher Gifts

It's that time of year when we need to think about saying thank you to our children's teachers. One thing I know for sure, no teacher needs another coffee mug or desktop trinket. How have I learned this valuable tidbit? In my own experiences teaching my preschool nutrition program, I discovered how quickly mugs and baubles accumulate. Also, both of my sister-in-laws are teachers and they confirmed my suspicion. So what do you give a teacher who made a difference in your child's world?

When time runs short, I'm a big fan of everyone in the class chipping in and presenting the teacher with the cash or sometype of universal gift certificate. If you want it to be aesthetically pleasing, make a money tree. Take a branch from your yard, I've seen them spray painted silver but its certainly not a requirement and anchor it in something to make it stand up. Fan fold the cash and ties it to the branches with brightly colored ribbon and you're done.

I'm a big fan of edibles when time permits. I've made the donut recipe from while back, put in a loaf of pumpkin bread and created a breakfast basket for the morning after school ends. Add in some coffee or tea and you're done. The teachers I did that for really liked getting up the next morning and not having to think about breakfast for their kids.

The teachers at the preschool where I do my nutrition program, love flowers. Yesterday I picked a huge bouquet of roses from my garden to give them along with a handmade candle each. Each year they give me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. For next year, I'm going to try something I read in The Complete Tightwad Gazette. I'm taking the roses from the bouquet and attempting to root them. If all goes well I'll have three small rose bushes for them (there are three teachers) this time next year.

I've also done cross stitched ornaments and bookmarks in the past. No matter what you decide to do, planning is the key to keeping it frugal.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

15 Years!!

My hubby and I are celebrating our 15th anniversary today. Looking back, our wedding wasn't particularly frugal, although our honeymoon was. That was mainly because after paying for the wedding we didn't have much left for the honeymoon. In fact, we came home from our honeymoon a day early because we ran out of money.

Our apartment was frugal, low rent and utilities included. Our first house was a fixer upper, priced below market value. We fixed it up and sold it for a decent profit. Definitely a frugal move there, although the thanks have to go to my inlaws. They found the house and helped immensely with the renovations.

That brings us to the current house, bought before the huge real estate boom in our area. That was frugal too, although we didn't realize the way values would go up in our area. That was a lucky break.

The cabin is a vacation spot and an investment (a much better one than the RV we initially bought.) I think its fun and frugal.

Along the way, four kids have come along (future frugalists.) That's funny, even our adoptions were frugal.

We've gotten better at being frugal over the years. In the beginning, it was hard to separate wants from needs. We also weren't really sure what our goals were. They evolved along the way. (We were just kids when we got married.)

Its been a good fifteen years!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Monday Morning Tag Sale

There is a phenomenon in my area that occurs every Monday morning throughout the warmer months. People routinely put things that didn't sell at their weekend tag sale near the curb with a sign saying "FREE."

This past Monday on my way to my son's preschool we discovered a beautiful wood framed mirror, a scatter rug (it passed the smell test), a chair, and an end table. The mirror will brighten my sons' room which tends to be dark. The rug will make my dogs happy and look better than the towel they've been sleeping on. The chair was a "just in case" grab. My desk chair has a crack that has been repaired but in case it doesn't hold. The end table I would have probably left but my 6 year old kept insisting I could "make it into something beautiful" and "Daddy could put records on it." It will be a summer project for us to work on together.

My 12 year old spotted a pair of brand new looking boys sandals in her travels. It turns out they fit my 6 year old perfectly. I was especially delighted by this find because he already destroyed his sneakers and his work boots are looking a little shabby.

The thing I like best about the Monday freebies is it allows me to be a bit frivolous without spending cash. If something doesn't work out the way I planned, it can be freecycled or put out at the curb at my house.

BTW, to avoid crashing while eyeing curbside piles, it definitely helps to have a spotter in the car. My 12 year old daughter has eagle eyes and my 6 year old is learning the craft well.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Grasshopper and the Ants

Sunday morning the installer for the wood stove stopped by to measure everything and set a date for installation. It was so hot and sticky outside. I'm sure we were the only people in Dutchess County thinking about wood stoves.

Later we cleaned out the garage, cut wood for the upcoming winter and worked in the garden. It seemed like we were the only people moving around for miles. I told my husband that I felt like ants to everyone elses grasshopper. (Was it a Disney cartoon with the grasshopper singing, "Oh the world owes me a living...")

I guess in many ways being frugal means being like those ants scurrying around. The rewards are paid back to us in money saved and less time spent at work. Most of our projects net long term savings like installing the wood stove or replacing our older innefficient oil burner. It can be hard to wait for the fruits of your labor but let me give you an example of how it can be.

Last year we replaced our oil burner. We also went on the budget oil plan where your usage from the year before is divided over 10 months into equal payments. At the end of the heating season we should have a zero balance. Instead we had a credit of $264.45! When the new budget payment plan starts, our monthly payment will be lower despite rising oil prices.

Frugal and cheap aren't necessarily the same thing. To be frugal, you need to spend money wisely, simply spending less is not enough.

Monday, June 06, 2005

My Little Black Book

My little black book is actually paisley and swirly. I keep it next to the computer so I can jot down web addresses and ideas that I discover while on line. It prevents me from randomly printed pages when all I need is a tiny bit of info off them. This in turn prevents clutter and saves me money on wasted paper. It also helps me keep track of my thoughts. With four kids, I need all the help I can get!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Requested Recipes

Here are the recipes I mentioned in my Memorial Day weekend post. As with most recipes I use, they have been tweaked a bit from the original versions.

No Fry Donuts(from The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery a few changes were made to veganize the recipe)

2 packages of dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)
about 3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup soymilk or other vegan milk
1/2 cup sugar
equivalent of 2 eggs (we use 1 Tbs. flax seed meal + 2 Tbs. water for each egg)
1/4 cup gluten (this is optional but it makes it rise faster)
1/3 cup canola oil
1tsp. nutmeg
4 1/2 cup whole wheat bread flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients. Knead , cover and let rise for about 1 hour. Turn onto floured surface and roll until about 1/2 inch thick. Cut with drinking glass for donuts or a shot glass for donut holes. Place on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. Bake 8-10 minutes in a 425 degree oven.

I usually triple the recipe, cooking one batch and freezing the raw dough of the other two batches. The day before I want to make the donuts, I just leave the dough in the fridge to thaw and the next morning we have fresh baked donuts.

These taste similar to old fashioned donuts.

Peanut Noodles (from Cooking With Peta with a few changes to make it more frugal)

1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy work fine in this recipe)
1/2 cup water
4 Tbs. tamari
2 Tbs. maple syrup or brown rice syrup
2 Tbs. brown rice vinegar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp. chili powder
Optional add ins:
black beans, peas, snow peas, broccoli, red pepper, black olives

Wisk together peanut butter and water. Add remaining ingredients and wisk together. You can add more water if it seems to thick. Add any optional add ins.

Cook enough past for 4-6 people, drain and rinse with cold water. Combine with sauce and serve. My kids love this and its a great quickie meal.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Container Garden Experiment

The long range plan for our family involves leaving the expensive area we live in currently and moving to the more affordable area that we spend summers in. The move itself is a long way off (between 5 and 12 years) but the preparations we make now will ultimately make the transition smoother. This is how the container garden experiment came about.

When the move north occurs, it will coincide with my husband's retirement and we will likely be on a tighter budget. I want to see what can be grown in the cooler, shadier environment that we have up north now while we are not depending on the outcome.

Last year I tried tomatoes. The spot was too shady and the season was just too short. This year I'm trying plants that like cooler weather like peas and green beans. I'm also trying that favorite prolific standby, zucchini. I even planted canteloupe. I figured what the heck, I have the seeds. I'm hoping to plant a few more this weekend.

So far everything is sprouting nicely. One of the books I read recently suggested using the water from soaking beans to water plants. We eat a lot of beans and the plants seem to be enjoying the bean water. The only flaw is, they stink! My clothesline is right next to the container plants. The other day while hanging laundry, I kept accusing my six year old of passing gas until my husband pointed out that it stank whether or not my son was out there. I'm not sure how long the bean water portion of the experiment will be allowed to continue based on the stench.

Moving day for the plants will be the last week of June. I'm hoping they have a nice head start by then. Like the small garden in our backyard, anything this container experiment produces is a bonus. The added benefit of the container experiment is it allows me to try different locations in my yard. The yard itself is quite small and the long range plan is to make the landscaping edible.

I'll keep you posted on any additional plantings and the progress of it all.

Tomorrow's post will be late in the day but will include the recipe for Peanut Noodles and Baked Donuts. Happy Friday to all!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Sticking Together

I had planned to blog about my container gardening experiment tonight but I have to share something else based on the events of the day.

I have four kids and have planned since January to take the summer off to be with them. We're planning on spending the summer living simply, experimenting with solar cooking, walking to our destinations and generally exploring a kinder gentler lifestyle. Tonight, at a staff meeting, my coverage for August fell through.

I left the meeting in shock. The odds on me getting coverage for certain classes is almost nil. I teach once a week at a psychiatric center and, aside from the coworker who bailed on me, none of my coworkers are willing to go there. I can't blame them. Who really wants to take a deep inhale and be assaulted with the aromas that accompany incontinence?

Before I had time for my shock to turn to rage (and believe me it would have!) my phone rang. My coworker Jay, who has always been there for me, volunteered to take over my shifts for August. I am so grateful to her for her generosity.

Jay and I trained together, got our fitness certifications together and often cover classes for each other. That's what friends are for!

So for tonight I'm going to revel in the warm fuzzy blanket of friendship. Tomorrow I'll tell you about my container garden.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

What I'm Reading

My latest library search turned up an intriguing cookbook topic, fireless cookery. I assumed the books listed would be about solar cooking but I was mistaken. Fireless cookery involves bringing your dish to boiling for approximately 10 minutes, removing it from the heat and placing it into an insulated box of some sort to continue cooking on residual heat.

To learn more check out:

Cooking Without Fuel by Julia Older

Fireless Cookery by Heidi Kirschner