Sunday, June 26, 2011

Grocery Challenge: Week 2

Bill was in on this trip, so much of what we bought was for him to take back. This is a 4 day week for him -- he'll be home mid-day on Friday. A is still down South.

Whole Foods

2 half-gallons of milk from Calder's Dairy -- 2.99 each plus 1.50 bottle deposit
2 boxes of Back to Nature crackers -- 2/5.00 plus a $1 off coupon
2 boxes of pretzel crisps -- 2/5.00
8 oz of cheddar cheese -- 5.99 with $1 off coupon
Mary Jane's Farm magazine 5.99

EBT Total: $19.36
Cash Total: $8.49


Jicama -- 2.35
4 cans of tuna -- 5.68
Greek Yogurt -- 1.63
2 avacados -- 3.58
Canola Oil -- 2.50
4 boxes of frozen pierogies 10.00
Pastry -- 3.89
2 cans of Sardines -- 1.78
2 16 oz sodas - 1.69 each

EBT Total: $34.79

Farm Food

Kale, kale and more kale (making chips with some, freezing some)

Pick apart:

- Other than the fact that I think we were charged 2.99 for one of the boxes of crackers, I have no complaints about the haul. This was a "supplemental" week -- meaning that essentially all the basics were covered at the house and we just needed to fill in here and there.

- I did ok with my $10 for Diet Cokes, but I haven't actually made the pinto beans for my daily bean burrito yet. And it ain't happening this week either (4 days in Detroit this week).

However, we ate out 3 times (I think...may have been 2) last week. Granted, it was a stressful week but what week isn't?

Not bad at all.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

I had fresh asparagus the first time a few years ago and it is now my all-time favorite vegetable. I could eat it every night and never complain. Yesterday, I saw asparagus as I had never seen it before. Like this:

We eat the early shoots, but that 5ft tall, bushy stuff is what asparagus looks like after the harvest season. After a few weeks of harvesting shoots, you let it "fern out" for the rest of the year.

Pretty cool, huh?
In the spirit of full disclosure, I really should post what I had for dinner on Tuesday & Wednesday night.

Tuesday: Strawberries, a chocolate bar and a bowl of cereal. Oh, and a glass of wine.

Wednesday: Pollo Adobe and a margarita from the Cancun Grill in East Lansing.

Neither of those were in the meal plan for this week, but so it goes. Lest anyone assume I've mastered this plan, I thought I should cop to the fact that when my stress goes up, my coping skills go out the window and food is usually the first thing that goes kerfluey.


Yesterday, I drove up to the farm to tell Bill about our cat's diagnosis of bone cancer. The drive was long and sad -- it rained most of the way. When I got to the farm, Bill and I walked down the dirt road toward the pig pen and I felt the stress of the last week leaving my body. The sun was shining and there was a breeze. The piglets thought my red toenail polish was something yummy to eat (mental note: keep farm shoes in the car). I got to cry and eat strawberries and unload. I remembered the point of all this.

Tonight's dinner? Pasta with roasted asparagus, mushrooms and some sort of creamy/cheesy sauce. And a glass of wine ;)


Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Do you know what the cure is for a brooding, resentful mood?

Visits with piggies & chickens, a walk among the asparagus and strawberries picked fresh and eaten right there in the field.

And a big hug from a handsome farmer didn't hurt either.

The "fruitbasket turnover" that is our life is hard. Being 70 miles from my husband makes it harder. When I spin out of control, he's my grounding force. Even when it's hard, I'd rather have this life with him than any life without him.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.........
If you've followed any of my other blogs, you know that I have a way of providing more than you bargained for. I tell you that this is a blog about food, sustainable living and such. Indeed, you get those things. And some days, you get oh so much more.

Today, you get a bitchfest. An "I give up, screw the whole idea, I'm going to McDonald's, then WalMart, then going to bed" post. An "I can't do this and don't even want to if I could" post. To hell with ideals. Positivity is over-rated. Pass the Xanax.

I'm overwhelmed. I'm exhausted. I'm broke. One dog craps in the floor at least once daily. One cat harks up his dinner in the middle of my bed and then wipes his ass beside the puke-pile. I have about $5k in outstanding invoices that I can't seem to shake loose. The car that is almost payed off has a bent axle. I've had a headache for 2 days now, and my cat is dying (yes, the one that pukes on the bed, but that's beside the point). There are a million and two details that need to be addressed around here.

And yes, I am resentful that my husband plays in the dirt all day while I'm drowning. OK, that's not a fair statement. He's working -- physically working -- in the sun & rain. 8-10 hours a day. But you know what he has to do when he's done? Nothing. Goes home, showers, eats, maybe studies and goes to sleep.

Know what I do when I'm done?

Oh, wait....I'M NEVER DONE!

I'm sick and tired of wearing my big girl pants so I'm ripping those puppies off and I'm going to just wallow for a while. Maybe tomorrow, I'll tell you about how beautifully my eggplant is doing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dinner Menu

Tonight I made/used:

4 Spinach, onion, cremini mushroom enchiladas
2 chicken, onion & swiss enchiladas

I used:

6 El Milagro - Blancas corn tortillas (store bought from Dos Hermanos for .99...6 are probably .10 worth)
3/4 of an onion from the farm (free)
1/5 of the bunch of spinach (approximately .50 worth)
1/4 of the Chihuahua cheese (approximately $2 worth)
Leftover sliced swiss cheese (too hard for sandwiches)
Half a chicken breast from the freezer (at 2.39 per pound for free range organic chicken, we'll say I used $1 worth)
Salsa verde from the freezer that was left over from lunch at a restaurant last week (tee hee)
1/2 of the cremini mushrooms purchased today ($1 worth)
Sour cream from the fridge (not sure of the price, but we'll say we used $1 worth)

Dinner spending = less than $6 to feed 3 people (Claudia has a friend over for dinner).

There will also be strawberry shortcake for dessert with strawberries from the farm (FREE!), cakes that Bill bought somewhere and left for us when he went back to the farm ($2.99 for 4) and heavy whipping cream (who the heck knows).

I'm going to say less than $10 to feed 3 people and I predict we'll have leftovers. Stay tuned!


Grocery Challenge: Week 1

I know I said I'd start in July, but patience is not a strength. Points of note: Bill was not in on this grocery trip, therefore his food for the week is not included. A is also not around for a few weeks (she's off doing her summer thing), so theoretically, I should only be feeding Claudia & I this week. Also, there is no meat in this week's run as I bought a few whole chickens to cut up last week and I'll be using them this week.

** Pre-post-script: After writing this post, I had the distinct feeling that I'd hung my underwear out to dry on the front porch. I had no idea I would feel so vulnerable posting my grocery list -- good thing this isn't the "house cleaning" challenge!

From Whole Foods

Calder's Dairy Milk - 2 Half-gallon bottles (they only come in half-gallons) 2.99 each plus $1.25 bottle deposit
Yellow Tail Cabernet 7.99
Casillero del Diablo Carmieniere 9.99 (my favorite red wine, on sale)
365 Calcium-enriched Orange Juice 4.99
Organic dry bulk pinto beans 1.27
Goat cheese 4.95
Cheddar cheese 4.84
Corn muffin mix 2.50
Oatmeal muffin mix 2.50
Kashi Go Lean Crunch 3.69
4 cartons of Organic Stonyfield Yogurt @ .99 each
Chihuahua cheese 8.99 (YOWZA!)
Organic fresh spinach 2.49
.36 of a pound of organic cremini mushrooms 2.16
Organic bulk carrots .87
Bunch of fresh local kale 1.99
Bunch of fresh local asparagus 6.46
5 organic potatoes 4.04
1 yellow onion 1.57

Bridge Card Total: 69.23
Cash Total: 21.56
Total: 90.79

Now, to pick it apart:

Calder's Dairy Milk - I realize that each time I buy a gallon of milk, it's $8.50 out of pocket, but I'm willing to do this because 1) it's hormone & antibiotic free; 2) it's local; 3) I get bottle deposit money back each time. My kids drink a ton of milk -- about 2 gallons a week.

Wine - Yellow Tail is my standard "every day" wine. It had been being 5.99 at Meijer but recently they raised the price to 6.99. I paid 7.99 for the convenience because I wasn't going to Meijer on today's run but I could have saved a dollar here. $3 if both bottles of wine had been Yellow Tail from Meijer.

- I wish I could find another way to do this. Milk, water and OJ (and wine!) are the staple drinks in my house, and OJ is the one that I'm not satisfied with. I tried buying the frozen kind, but it ended up costing just as much because they added less water than recommended to make it "taste right". I despise the amount of waste that is inherent with this plastic carton, but at least it is recyclable. If anyone has any suggestions on a good OJ that comes in a glass bottle for a reasonable price, I'd love to hear it.

Cheese - I spent more on cheese than any other one thing this trip. And guess what? We will eat it. I only drink milk in cereal so cheese is my primary dairy. And I've never met a cheese I didn't like......except Processed American Cheese Food or anything that comes in a can.

Muffin Mixes - These things are so yummy and easy to make. But, I could make corn muffins out of corn meal and egg for a fraction of the cost.

Produce - I'm pretty sure dude charged me for an organic onion and it wasn't. Onions are actually on the 12 LEAST contaminated list so I don't bother with paying extra. I didn't realize how stinking cheap local kale is, so I need to work that in a couple times a week (kale chips, stir fry with soy sauce & honey, soup). Carrots more carrots. Asparagus was pretty pricey, but I'll get 2 meals out of it. Potatoes are a staple and go pretty far.

Pinto beans: This is for my attempt at making my own bean burritos rather than eating them from Taco Bell each day. I can also make burritos for the kids to eat during the day while I'm working (if there isn't something easy and quick, they'll eat anything that isn't nailed down claiming there was 'nothing to eat'). I have not yet decided whether to make the tortillas or buy them, though.

Overall, I am neither dissatisfied with the amount that I spent or the quality of food that I bought. I realize that I'll be supplementing quite a bit from the freezer this week -- and probably most weeks. Maybe I'll post what I actually MADE for dinner each night as well so that we can dive in to how well I'm making good use of the food I buy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

As I type, there is an almost empty jar of sauerkraut sitting beside me with a fork in it. I've been experimenting with how much of it I need to eat to take full advantage of the probiotics present in fermenting food, and I've pretty much decided I need to eat about 2 oz a day before it has the same impact that my $20 a month probiotics do. Good thing it's easy & cheap to make. I'm even getting used to the taste.


On another blog I read, they are talking about "The Food Stamp Challenge" - a project where people who are not on food assistance limit their food budgets to what they would receive if they were. I'm surprised to hear people say that they can't imagine limiting their food budget to what they'd get were they on assistance and that their children/families would hate them. When I got my Award Letter today and it said we were getting $418 a month, I actually spoke the words "How will we spend that much money on food every month?". So, even though I actually am on Food Assistance and the "rules" don't apply to me, I think I'll participate and log my food spending here.

Frankly, I still eat out way too often. I have a bean burrito from Taco Bell almost every day for lunch. Sure, it's only .89 but what would it cost me to make it at home? .20 maybe? I also get a Diet Coke every day which is $1 at McDonald's. I could buy a 6 pack a week and keep it at home, but I wonder if I would have the self-control to limit myself to one a day. The burrito, I'll try to work with, but I'll have to put some serious thought in to my caffeine addiction and whether I can be trusted with Diet Coke in the house.

So, here's my commitment for July:

- Once a week, I will log here all my spending (groceries and eating out)
- I'll also log free food that Bill brings home from the farm which is quickly being worked in to our food plan.
- I will limit myself to $10 a week for my daily DC (sometimes there are 2 a day) and any other "drive thru" stops

At the end of July, I'll evaluate how much I have spent, how healthy the choices were and where I can improve and make a new commitment for August.

Easy-peezy, right?
Bill brought home a lovely bunch of green onion from the farm. A lovely BIG bunch of green onion. Way more green onion that a person would use in a reasonable amount of time. I have the same problem with cilantro -- the bunches are so big that half of it goes bad before I use it. And I don't want dried cilantro, ya know?

I've read before about people storing herbs in ice cubes so I decided to give it a shot. I chopped each and put 2 TBSP in each cube-spot (what the heck is the correct term for that?). Filling the tray without blowing the contents out of the cubey-thing was the trickiest part and it took me a couple tries to figure out that the easiest method was to start with the empty spaces and "flood" the water slowly over to the spots that contained herbs. I had to poke a few wayward onions back in place, but overall - a cinch. We'll see how it holds up.

Here's how the process looked:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Time passes so quickly, doesn't it? I've been consumed with work and trip-readying the past several days so not much of interest has happened.

Except this text - which has exactly SQUAT to do with food or farming or sustainable living but made me laugh at how wonderfully insane my life is. Who else can say they've gotten a text like this?

"Did I ever tell you about the time a trick paid me with a counterfeit $20? Man, that was a bummer"

Go ahead. Raise your hand. No one? Didn't think so.

I find so much relief in the absurd things that have been a part of my life: Talking freely about the woes of being in the sex industry. My grandmother's ashes forever preserved in a Ziplock bag (upgraded from a Marlboro Red box). Having a designated "Vicki Wrangler" at my wedding in case my mother got out of hand.

Wondrous absurdity in the midst of the mundane.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I have totally mastered home made corn tortillas so I decided to branch out and made whole wheat tortillas from this recipe . While the tortillas themselves weren't as I expected, the dish I made with them was FABULOUS! I started off planning to make burritos from this recipe. Alas, my tortillas were not "burrito friendly" -- they were too stiff to fold in to burritos. So I made enchiladas instead....leftover chicken, half a slice of swiss cheese that was too hard to put on a sandwich & diced onion on the inside. I topped it with a can of stewed tomatoes mixed with a packaged salsa seasoning and shredded cheddar cheese. The result was OUTSTANDING! I can easily see making a vegetarian version of this with black beans & rice inside or just potatoes.

Thoughts on the tortilla recipe:

1) I used vegetable oil instead of shortening - a possible culprit in my tortillas not being flexible
2) The recipe made far more tortillas than I needed - probably 20. I'll halve the recipe next time.
3) The tortilla press doesn't make tortillas thin enough to suit me, so I rolled them with a rolling pin after the initial press to make them "burrito sized" and thinner.

Let me know if you try it and have any improvements.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A couple days a month, my energy completely bottoms out and I can barely stay upright - this is that time. It probably has something to do with my cycle, but I have yet to figure out where exactly in my cycle it occurs so that I can plan for it. I have napped every day since Wednesday (totaling 12 hours of sleep in each 24 hour period). Even after napping, getting motivated to move is difficult. YAWN.....

My Bridge Card came! About 1 week after applying for Food Assistance, I actually have it. I couldn't be more thrilled and immediately went to the market and spent about $70 on staples. Between produce that Bill brings home from the farm and getting Double Up Food Bucks at the Downtown Ypsilanti Farmer's Market, my vision of feeding my family fresh, local, nutritious food shouldn't have to be canned due to financial concerns. For all the bad experiences that people have with the Department of Human Services, I have to say this process was easy-peezy with the exception of their website crashing on me several times during my application.

As summer kicks in, I will look for seasonal stuff that I can put up to use the 8 months of the year when living in Michigan means nothing is green. Last year, I put up a little corn, carrots & green beans but not NEARLY enough for us to subsist off it. This year, my goal will be to buy nothing frozen or from South America that actually grows here. I haven't quite reached the point of swearing off bananas and avocado so I can't call myself a Locavore in the truest sense. As with most things in my life, I take the middle road ;)

On a very happy note, work has exploded! I've booked about 8 new classes in the past week in addition to what was already booked putting me at about 3 a month through the end of the year. Another big project is also kicking off that will fill in quite a lot of the remaining time. I'll be in Detroit quite a lot over the next several months, but it'll all be quite worth it to be able to relax a little about being able to cover basic necessities. I hope to pay off my car ( I owe less than $2k on it) very soon and between that debt being gone and the resulting insurance decrease, you'll hear a huge sigh of relief.

Dare I say it? I feel.....happy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I think I live a self-imposed sheltered life. I know there are people in the world who approach life differently than I do. I just don't know many of them. And I think that's on purpose. I realized today that I have severely limited my social circles to people that think as I do. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of people to debate with over a beer. But even those Master Debaters operate within the same wide boundaries that I do. There aren't many (any?) in my inner circle who would take drastically different positions that I do on most issues. And I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Granted, I do have people in my life that I've known and loved forever that are VERY different. But we have (for the most part) figured out how to peacefully co-exist without incident. And of course, there are biological family members that span the spectrum - landing mostly in places far from where I do.

But those who are not already "in" aren't likely to get in. Maybe it is that as I've grown older, I've become less tolerant. Maybe I don't think those folks have anything to teach me. I've noticed that rather than seeing "learning moments" in those instances when it becomes clear that someone operates in a different space that I do, I shut down, turn off and hit "delete", never again to hear anything they have to say. Or if I do hear it, I take it with a grain of salt.

There are just some things that are not worth debating for me any more. Religion, for example. I've thought it through, refined my thinking. Researched. Read. Reread. I've asked people how they came to believe what they do and really listened to their ideas. And I'm pretty sure that there isn't anything that anyone could say that would change my point of view. I'm always interested in learning more about people's religious beliefs & customs, but new information no longer goes through my "Does this work for me?" filters. I would be willing to debate politics if I could find someone on another side of an issue that I felt had a solid argument to debate. Unfortunately, those who have a sound argument are usually on my side of the issue (sometimes data will do that).

Perhaps I need to invite some new thinking in to my life. Or, not.......

Monday, June 6, 2011


I had a little bit of a whiney day yesterday. On top of getting a text from Bill that we were overdrawn at the bank, the dishwasher died. I wish I'd had the grace to put it in perspective, but yesterday just wasn't my day. Hey, I'm entitled to a temper tantrum once in a while!

In researching ways to make better use of our resources, I've happened across many blogs written by women who are moving in the same direction I am. They all make it look so easy - like sunshine & roses. They all seem so graceful and committed as they hang their clothes on the line and bake bread. Never once do you hear anyone write about secretly wanting to put a massage on the credit card. Maybe they are more zen than I am. Maybe they made the move more out of desire than necessity. All I know is that most days for me include at least one freak out spell where I'm teetering between hitting Careerbuilder to look for a job and telling Bill to screw the farm, he has to come home. And yelling at my kids for being wasteful little twerps is usually in there somewhere.

Meanwhile, back on the farm......

Well, no soap making happened. I was too deeply involved in ranting yesterday to do much productive. The lower level of the house is CLEAN and the second level is on its way. PROGRESS!

We are supposed to be going to S. Ohio this weekend to look at the farm. I'm kind of "eh" about it, frankly. On the one hand, I've had some great fantasies about building an intentional community there (instead of a B&B where I would have to be attentive to people -- YUK!) surrounded by people I love drinking wine, keeping bees, goats & chickens, veggies growing, a huge state park right next to the property. Room for the doggies to run. Ahhh. Then I remember that it's in SOUTHERN OHIO...too far from A's school & where my existing client base is.

This week's goals:

- Remind myself as often as needed that this is a choice made by carefully weighing my priorities. Being available to guide A through her healing and being a better citizen of the planet are guiding my decisions. I am in a position of power.

- Take down the yukky shower curtain and clean it. (This time last year, I would have tossed it and bought a new one @ BB&B)

- Build a chart to help the kids be aware of what we're spending on a daily basis including suggestions for how we can save or make $$.

- Finish the Food Assistance application stuff.

- Weed the raised bed and try to figure out what the hell I planted in there.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I had a very grown up conversation with my kids this morning. It wasn't about sex. Not about their school work. It was about money. We have, for the most part, protected the children from the realities of our finances. They knew that when I left ECA and went to work for myself that we would have to tighten things up a bit, but frankly, I can't think of a single time when they had to do without (I"m sure their teenage priorities would interpret things differently). When Bill lost his job, we had another "come to Jesus" meeting with them about money, but they haven't felt the impact much. Today, I had to tell them we are out of money.

Up until now, this whole simplicity, sustainability thing has been largely theoretical. We've been bopping along at a slow pace, making changes in our spending & living habits, for sure, but nothing that has really felt like sacrifice. And it's always felt like we could go back if we wanted to. This is the place where the rubber meets the road. This is the place where my commitment is tested. This is a turning point -- will I forge ahead and figure it out or will I cave and go back to "that other life" we had before?

This is going to be quite a transition for the kids, so I'm hoping that involving them in the process of working it out will help them feel more in control. I assured them that we will be neither hungry nor homeless. Everything above that isn't guaranteed. I'm thinking about kids during the depression. Parents during the depression. It's one thing if you're born in to it, but quite another thing to go from a relatively wealthy happy-go-lucky childhood to being on food stamps.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Today was the annual neighborhood yard sale and I"m proud to say I only spent .50! And the purchase was a hand-made pottery bowl -- TOTALLY worth it. To be honest, I also bought a food dehydrator from a friend that was technically going to be sold in the yard sale, but that transaction took place outside the parameters of the yard sale, so it doesn't count. My first dehydration project will be the Lion's Mane & Oyster mushrooms, but I'm sure over the summer I'll have tons more to dry. Kale chips, anyone?

Walking around the neighborhood today, there were a couple of times when I stopped to ponder whether I had the MASSIVE amounts of stuff that these people seemed to have. One family had at least 10 dining room chairs for sale. How do you have that many chairs to sell and still have enough to seat your family? Then there was card table after card table of .... junk. Crap. Shit. I don't think I have MUCH of that kind of thing. I don't really do knick-knacks or anything, really, that isn't functional. Very few things in my house don't serve a purpose. Which makes my mantra of "If I don't use it or love it, it goes" quite a bit easier to comply with.

I've got about 4 boxes of kitchen stuff that I'll be taking to a newly single woman a few towns over tomorrow. I am even parting with one of the sets of Pyrex mixing bowls (yes, just ONE of the sets). It's taken me 6 years to be willing to part with them because, frankly there are few things in life I love more than Pyrex. Melamine is a close second, but isn't quite as functional. If it's the Amish Farmer pattern, I'm positively in love. Sad, I know. Especially since up until a year ago, I didn't really cook at all.

The Amish Farmer has a history with me: It's the pattern my grandmother had. We have never been a big family for passing things down, but I ended up with one. Recently, I started to notice them everywhere I go and decided that it would be fun to build a full collection around that bowl and then pass them on to my girls. I've gotten a few more bowls at the Thrift Store and commitments from family members to get theirs when they are done with them (you heard that, Peg!). One friend happened to have a couple that she was willing to part with. I know that MY grandmother didn't use them, but SOMEONE'S grandmother did!


The house has really gotten away from me since Bill has been staying at the farm full time. I just got the yard cut for the first time last week. There was enough dog hair in the corners of my house that I'm surprised Maxx & Ezra aren't bald. Laundry is never completely done. I know it's silly and no one really cares but it bothers me for people to come in my house when it's messy. It also impacts my frame of mind. Not that I am very good at relaxing at all, but I really can't relax if the house is dirty. Hopefully getting rid of some of the extra stuff will help.


I applied for Food Assistance (formerly known as "food stamps"). The process was WAY easier than I remember it being. I did the application online and got a call from a worker the next day for a phone interview. I have a few verifying documents to send it and then we'll know if we qualify for anything. Yes, it feels weird. I know there are so many other folks who are worse off than we are. Hopefully, we will work out way out of qualifying for anything within a year but in the meantime, I'm going to take advantage of the help to ensure we are able to continue to eat FOOD rather than food-like substances.

Which moves us to food & farming stuff.........

I got a nice bag of goodies from the farm on Thursday....some mushrooms (to add to my collection), kale, a few onions, leeks, bok choi. I started a new crock of Kim Chi today with the bok choi and leeks (added carrots, ginger, garlic & red pepper). This time I left the chunks big since I was recently told that "people expect big chunks" rather than the shredded version I did last time. I'm experimenting with how much fermented food I have to eat before I can lay off the probiotics, but I haven't found the magic number yet.

Made some buttermilk dill salad dressing with the last of the buttermilk. Stuck the eggplant plants in some dirt. Tomorrow's plan is to dive in to soap making. ..I've put it off long enough. I'm down to 2 bars of commercially produced soap and I hope to not have to buy any more. Tallow, shea butter & coconut oil are the basic ingredients. I found some nice molds that will make the bars pretty, but let's hope they don't smell like rancid meat.

I'm toying with an idea I read in this blog: I'd like to get rid of our garbage cans and replace them with bins for recycling & compost. We do reasonably well with both but every week when I take down 2 garbage tanks to go to the landfill, I wonder how much of it should have gone to one of the tanks. I would guess 50%. I'm not sure how do do the bathroom garbage -- maybe I"ll start with the kitchen?

Speaking of compost, the counter top compost crock that I bought is too small. It's going to the above-mentioned person who is getting my extra, useful kitchen ware. It will be replaced with a plastic bucket that has a larger capacity and allows more air flow to cut down on the slimy, smelly anaerobic process that happens with the fancy-schmancy crock from Bed, Bath &Beyond. The bin doesn't look as pretty on my counter, but since I'm committed (COMMITTED, you hear me?) to severely limiting anything new coming in to this house, it'll have to do. Frankly, I think it will work better than the current plan.

Still managing to hold my anxiety about moving at bay. Today I was working in the yard and had a fleeting moment of melancholy. I like our yard (when it's mowed!). I love this house. I wish we could afford to stay here, frankly. But we would both have to go back to work in ECA to do that and this is just not something we are willing to do. There's a cute little place out there with enough room to grow some yummy stuff, have some chickens & goats. Close enough for A to stay in her current school & me to stay connected with the people I've come to love. And without having to sell our souls, right?

Please, god, tell me that's right.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Here's my new favorite slogan.

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without"

I wonder how this will go over with my teenagers?


I've hit the point where I am *ready* to move. Patience is not my strong point, and I'm ready to make this transition. Of course, all logic tells me that moving now doesn't make sense. Still.....

So I've decided to focus on getting READY to move. I've been cleaning out cupboards & drawers and putting tons of stuff on Freecycle and I'm reasonably pleased with the results. We have WAY too much stuff and I'm glad to rid myself of it. It's funny to me how I spent so many years of my life with the objective of having more stuff. Now I've reached a point where I want it all to go away. Anything that doesn't add value to my life and support my priorities is going. With few exceptions*, it's easy to tell the difference.

*Potential Exceptions:

The 55 gallon aquarium. I do love cichlids and have been keeping them on and off for over 10 years. But the aquarium takes up a lot of space. Bill has always been the maintenance guy and his time is scarce these days. We could probably get a little cash from it, so I'm thinking it needs to go ahead and go.

The antique dining room suite. It's a table that seats 8 with the leaf, a buffet and china cabinet. It's the only thing we bought when we moved to Michigan and I love it. It's held up reasonably well through kids and animals.'s big. Again, probably worth some $ if we sold it. I'm undecided on this one.

The 60" TV & sound system. I could sell it right now and not think twice about it. Unfortunately there are other folks in my family who are quite attached to it. It's great for video games (especially the Wii Fit games) and I have to admit that watching a great movie on it ROCKS. And I do those things fewer than once a month. Others do it more often, so I'll defer this one to the people who care.

Books. Oh, the joy of books! I love to be surrounded by books! And......I've got way too many and need to let some of them go. My goal is to cut my collection by half. This will be hard.

Meanwhile, back on the farm........

It's been the wettest spring in SE Michigan history so much has gone undone. My eggplant seedlings aren't in the ground yet and my oyster mushrooms aren't done. Sprouts in the raised bed are coming in and BOY do I wish I had documented what I put where! A few more weeks should help me identify what's there - details, details.

The Lion's Mane mushrooms are ROCKING but there's a problem. The humidity tent is impacting growth. I took it off and the mushrooms are drying out. Maybe I should put them outside? The fruit is supposed to taste like lobster when you cook it in butter, so I'm really excited to keep it going until I've got enough to do some sort of creamy pasta with it.

I'm going to visit Bill at the REAL farm tonight, so stay tuned for pictures of piggies, chickens and green, growing things!