Friday, July 27, 2007

Shopping for the Basics

We made a run into town today for soymilk (Silk $2.79, generic $2.49), whole wheat bread ($1.69) and bananas (3 pounds for $1.00). They must think we're nutty whent hey see our cart filled with 17 loaves of bread, 18 1/2 gallons of soymilk and 22 pounds of bananas. By shopping this way, we've been able to keep our trips to the store down to once every 2 weeks. The only other foray we make in the car is to our weekly CSA pickup. This pleases everyone since none of my kids like grocery shopping anyhow.

Jim discovered an unexpected use for the cotton dishcloths that I just finished knitting yesterday. It turns out they make great washcloths too. I have to agree with him. They have a great texture, good for scrubbing off the sweat and grime of the day but not too abrasive. I think my next knitting project will be the granny squares. It seems to hot to think about knitting a whole blanket. Doing it one square at a time sounds more manageable.

Rob's got his own little project going on right now. He's in the process of making a new rack for the pool table. (I'm talking about the triangular thing you rack the balls in.) Biscuit chewed the one that came with the table and we're all tired of doing it with our hands. There's nothing quite as deliberate looking as an eight year old with a miter box.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Need What??

I'd like to start today by dispelling a high cost myth perpetuated by the office supply industry. When I bought my paper shredder a few months back, they tried to sell me lubricating sheets to keep it running smoothly. I'm suspicious of any add-on items that are offered at the cash register, so I said no.

Lubricating sheets cost about $9.98 for a 12 pack. They are meant to be used every 4-6 weeks. That is going to add up over time. Why couldn't I just use the same can of WD-40 that I've been using for years but never seems to run out? The answer is, I can, I did and it worked beautifully. The moral of the story is: Say no to pushy selling practices and allow yourself time to figure out if its something that you really need!

In other news, I've begun knitting some cotton dishcloths again. I should have three by the time I run out of cotton yarn. This is a good thing because all of the dishcloths around here are from the early days of my marriage and they are either holey, see through or a little of both.

I ran around the lake without stopping today and followed it up with about 45 minutes of yoga. Thanks to everyone for all the well wishes yesterday. I'm off to make some raspberry fig bars and do some puzzles with the boys.

Monday, July 23, 2007

What Do You Do With the Doggy Poo?

I finally jogged around the lake without stopping today! Its about three miles and I did it in 40 minutes. I know this is a pathetic time overall, my daughters can do it in about 29 minutes, but its my personal best. I'm also extra excited because I haven't jogged at all since 7/13 due to the yoga training I was attending. I did bike around the lake several times during the week. Ultimately however, I was able to maintain and actually improve my performance with a week of daily yoga. Its just one more reason to love yoga.

The summer is going well. We're keeping our spending and overall product consumption very low. I'm really trying to think about every purchase and every discard we make. For purchases I ask myself:
Do we need it? If we do need it, is it durable enough to last? Is there a better choice that might cost more but would work better in the long run? How much waste results from this purchase? Is there a non-electric option that would work as well?
For discards:
Is this still useable? Do I know anyone who can use this? Can I do anything with this before I throw it out? Is there a way to avoid having this garbage again?

Our little upstate town has forced us to re-evaluate our doggie poo disposal habits. We've always picked it up in old grocery bags and tossed it into the garbage can. I've always figured, I don't want anyone elses dog poo on my property so I'm not going to leave it on anyone elses. Here's the conundrum, our town doesn't accept animal waste in regular garbage pickup. As a result, my dogs now do their doody in the same wooded area that everyone elses dog does. But what to do when your dog does it somewhere else? Jim came up with a very simple solution, dig a hole and bury it. There are doggy septic tanks for anyone who's interested.

I never gave the plastic bags and doody a thought. Although, since I've been using cloth grocery bags, I don't have nearly as many plastic bags as I once did. Its so important to think things through, even when its something you've been doing for years.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

My Training is Complete!

The last week has just flown by. For seven days everything I did centered around my Yoga for the Special Child training. The class ran from 9:00 to 5:00 every day. That meant I was up and out of the house by 8:30 at the latest and home just in time to make a quick dinner. Jim really picked up the slack for me with the kids which made the whole experience possible.

The training itself was amazing. Sonia Sumar is just an inspiration to me. Her training was a unique blend of lecture, practice and observation. Of all the trainings I have been to in my life, this was the first one that got me so excited. It wasn't just the subject, it was the people that I met while I was there. All of them had such a commitment to helping children and they were so down to earth about all the hard work they were doing.

We were able to observe Sonia working with several children but the highlight for me was when Sonia worked with Kyle on Wednesday. I feel so much more qualified to help him realize his potential using yoga now that I saw Sonia working with him.

When I began the training I was thinking only in terms of working with Kyle but now I'm leaning towards working with other children with disabilities. Its funny the paths you suddenly find yourself on.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Yoga For the Special Child Training Begins

I start my Yoga for the Special Child training session tomorrow. I'm so excited. Its one thing to read a book but its another to have someone to guide you through the poses.

Kyle will be attending on Wednesday afternoon. I still can't believe Sonia Sumar will be working with him. This is such an amazing opportunity for us. Jim will be bringing Kyle so we'll have two sets of eyes to pay special attention to what she does with him.

My posts will be very sporadic next week since the trainings run 9-5 for the next seven days.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Power Failure

As Chile suggested, I tried soaking my steel cut oats over night. It really did cut the cooking time down and there was no difference in the taste. I'll definitely be using that trick again.

The boys have really enjoyed the first few days of camp. I've enjoyed the way it tires them out. It really helped yesterday evening when we lost power due to a very strong and destructive thunderstorm at about 7:30pm. They were tired and ready for bed with no argument. Poor Biscuit, he is really terrified of thunderstorms. He spent the evening hiding in his crate.

The girls and I spent the evening sitting around a table with a bunch of candles talking and listening to music. I tried to cross-stitch but I almost went cross-eyed
from the dim light. We also had two of the shake type rechargeable flashlights. These were very handy, although one stopped working for no apparent reason. We cant' seem to get it recharged or maybe the bulb blew out. I'm not really sure. I'll ask my technical advisor when he heads back up Friday evening.

Today was so hot and humid that I walked around the lack rather than jogging. The air was just too thick. Of course there was another reason for walking. When the power came back on at about 4:00am the radio in the ktichen came back on, LOUD! I jumped out of bed to turn it off and promptly fell onto the floor when my foot caught on the blanket. At least it doesn't hurt.

It looks like we really didn't lose anything in the fridge except a half empty container of soymilk, although I'm a little leery about the Vegenaise. I'm just grateful when have power back and no trees hit our house.

Monday, July 09, 2007

What Do You Mean Free?

Sometimes I feel like a spy. No, I'm not peeking in my neighbor's windows at night! Instead, I get a peek into how two very different communities offer services to their residents.

I live part of the year in a very bustling, bedroom community. It's filled with people who moved there because of the excellent school district and the services the community has to offer. (You can ask anyone, no one is shy about telling you this.)

However, for two months out of the year, I live in a sleepy Adirondack town. My kids' high school has more students in it than this town has year round residents.

As you might assume, my school and property taxes are significantly lower in the Adirondacks. I always assumed that the services offered here would be significantly less than the ones offered at home, but I was wrong.

In the Adirondacks, my garbage pick up is included in my town taxes. The day camp at the local school is free to year round residents and seasonal residents. (This was the revelation that prompted today's title. Its what I said last year when I found out about this program.) My boy's actually attended their first day of camp today and they had a blast. There are free swimming lessons for year round and seasonal residents. We have a town dump that is open year round and accepts things like used motor oil to recycle. We have a voluntary lake association that oversees the quality of the lake water and dues are only $25 per year to join this very worthwhile organization. The town's three beaches are free and open to residents and visitors alike.

In the Hudson Valley, we our garbage pickup is not included in our taxes. We have to pay a seperate company for this service. Day camp is definitely not free. There used to be free swimming lessons offered at the local gym but this program was discontinued. You have to pay to go to the local pool, there is no beach. The town dump is open two times per month April thru October although sometimes they skip months. They also do not accept things like waste oil.

Both communities offer free concerts during the summer months.

I have one burning question to ask. Why is it that an upper middle class Hudson Valley community offers so few services when the taxes collected are at least three times the amount taken in the Adirondacks? Services offered for tax dollars paid is definitely somthing to check out before choosing a community to live in.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Odd Simplicity of Summer Eating

This morning my son asked me if I would make his favorite breakfast. Would you believe its steel cut oats with a handful of currants sprinkled in? If I put the steel cut oats and water into a covered pot on medium heat they are done by the time I get out of the shower. Rob sprinkles in the currants and tops with soymilk before eating. Simple and delicious.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I've spent a fair amount of the last few days gardening. I transplanted some Jerusalem artichokes yesterday after debating for several days where the best spot to plant them was. My herb patch is doing well and so are my tomatoes and purslane.

The tomato plants are a bit small but very hardy. I think I put them in the ground too late this year but time will tell. The blueberries are all growing nicely. They aren't as lush as I'd hoped but it is only their second year in the ground. I'm spoiled by the currants at home. Those plants took such abuse with the transplanting but they are flourishing.

We had our CSA pickup today. I really like our new CSA but I miss the familiarity of our old one. I also wish it was close enough to bike or walk to (its a half hour drive away.)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Pick a Project

I don't have a particular craft project going right now. Instead, I've been doing a bit of mending and altering. Things like tightening straps on a bathing suit, adding elastic into the waist of my son's bathing suit and cutting an old pair of capris to make a plastic bag holder. Along the way I also did a very necessary fix that saves me quite a bit of cash, tightening the band on my bras.

Ladies, I can't be the only one who has this problem and heaven knows its not because I buy cheap bras. After just a month or two that bra that fit so well starts riding up your back. It makes me nuts. To extend the life of your undergarments try this nifty little trick. Right behind the fabric where the hooks sit, just fold a bit of fabric under and stitch. Do the same thing on the side with the eye portion of the hook & eye. Voila, your band is tighter and your assets are held firmly in place!