Lando Calrissian: “Lord Vader, we only use this facility for carbon freezing. If you put him in there it might kill him.”
Darth Vader: “I do not want the Emperor’s prize damaged. We will test it on Captain Solo.”
Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
Here’s a shout-out to anyone that is getting more and more afraid to look in the back of the pantry or the bottom of the deep-freeze. Kethry announced tonight that she is going to participate in Catz’ Corner’s Use it up April, and so am I. To be honest, I didn’t even know there was such a thing when I decided yesterday to try not do any but the most essential grocery shopping for April, but I think Catz is on to something. Waste is waste and reducing it is in all our best interests. This can only help to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out next month’s lean income and will be a real help in getting us ready for the bounty that will be coming with the next growing season at the CSA.
Count Dooku: ”Brave, but, foolish, my old Jedi friend. You are impossibly outnumbered.”
Mace Windu”: ”I don’t think so.”
Count Dooku: ”We’ll see.”
Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones
One of my projects this week has been to get our photo albums back under control. WooBoy. Just shoot me now.
I’ve finally gotten our 2006 album completed, after ordering double and triple copies of some photos. Oops. I just have to finish our 2006 vacation album now to be done with the traditional albums. *I think I can. I think I can.* From here on out, I’m going to make digital albums (a la, Shutterfly or SnapFish) and have those printed out with a few blank pages to tape in movie tickets, assorted mementos and handwritten notes. I feel lighter already. I was even able to give away my scrapbooking bag and some no longer needed supplies Tuesday night to someone who lives right in the neighborhood. Oh, how I love Freecycle.
Now, to just finish up that 2006 vacation album…
“Impressive. Most impressive. Obi-Wan has taught you well. You have controlled your fear. Now, release your anger. Only your hatred can destroy me.” – Darth Vader, Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
People who know me, know that I’m quietly environmental. I feel strongly, passionately about keeping my place on Earth as environmentally neutral as possible – and I fail stunningly at that, and often. Maybe I don’t do enough to “get the message out”, but I do try to live what I believe. In reality, I don’t think it does any good to lecture people with the “You’re bad. You’re killing the planet. You’re acting selfish” mantra. It’s rude, and rude rarely gets anything worthwhile done. But I do what I can.
I first became afraid of what was going on in our world (and what I might be contributing to with my actions) when I started to travel around the world a bit. Seeing how other people lived (in both better and worse conditions), what was considered essential and worthwhile, what other countries are like overall was very eye-opening and thought-provoking. Then I got angry. Angry at my waste, greed, laziness and entertainment mentality. I hate my own participation in poisoning the planet, keeping large portions of the world poor and ill, and sucking up more and more “easy energy” reserves through my choices, actions and inaction. So day-by-day, I try to do something about it.
I think about so many things and probably keep quiet too often. But, in the end, I think we all have to come to our own understanding. That said, I think this little video, called The Story of Stuff, does a nice job of treading the line between informative and obnoxious. I’ll have Padawan Learner watch it later. It’ll be sure to prompt a good conversation later. I can’t speak to all the numerical fact tidbits she mentions, but then I’m a little leery of all facts that don’t have reference notes attached for me to follow up on. Still, I think the basic theme of the video is worthwhile.
Side note: I want to make it clear that I don’t agree with everything in this video. I don’t think the government should “take care of us”, for instance. I think a government should care about us and consider the implications that its actions and edicts have on its citizens individually and collectively, but we should take care of ourselves, ultimately. I just wanted to make that clear.
“I can feel your anger. It gives you focus. It makes you stronger.” – Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith
I heard a couple in line behind at the grocery store the other day complaining about the high cost of food. I turned around, ready to feel sorry for them in this tight economy, and saw what was sitting on the conveyor belt. Junk food (e.g., chips and cookies). Highly processed, convenience items (e.g., taco meal kit and pre-sliced chicken strips). Liquid sugar (e.g., soda and “orange drink”). That made me mad. They weren’t buying food so much as pre-purchasing a few bags of garbage for trash day. And then… I was sad, because I realized that they probably didn’t know any better than to grab things that are supposedly “easy” or “fast” for dinner, or how to make a healthy and yummy meal out of real ingredients, and how to really stretch every penny out of each food dollar. I hope their frustration leads them to look past the world of convenience and toward homemade foods.
Cooking is a lost art these days. I know. I wasn’t taught how to cook and was completely overwhelmed in college and my early married years. It wasn’t until I started to think about what we were eating, what we were spending, what our bodies needed, and how our food was grown, that I started to change my food buying ways. It is a skill and it needs to be learned. (And yes, I do occasionally grab the nearly worthless, might as well eat the cardboard box it came in, taco meal “kit” or pick up a 12 pack of soda when company comes over.) While reading a dollar stretcher email (love those) earlier today, I stumbled upon this and wished I could have handed it to that couple behind me a few days ago.
10 Things You Can Stop Buying at the Grocery Store
by Carol Charron
Live less expensively, eat healthier, and be more environmentally responsible
1. Packaged Meat – What’s so great about buying a chicken whole? It’s like getting Thanksgiving dinner any day of the year. You have this easy to cook, beautiful chicken and it becomes a Sunday dinner on baseball night with a simple rub of oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Who can’t pull a chicken out of the fridge and do that? You can even prepare it the night before and have your teenager put it in the oven at 3pm the next day. With the leftover bones and loose meat, do what Grandma used to do. Put them in a stock pot or slow cooker and make soup.
As for the other cuts of meat, the bigger the quantity, the better the price. If you can’t afford to buy beef by the whole or half side, find a sibling or a neighbor that will go in for half with you. No more living at the whim of market prices. You will save money and have a freezer full year-round. You can even inquire at the local 4-H fair for an animal you can buy after prize time. This is going to be a shock to you city folk, but that’s where they go after the show. The piggy goes to market!
2. Juice – It’s healthier to eat your fruit whole. You get necessary fiber from the skins and the flesh. Stop paying for packaging and do it right. If you need to drink something, squeeze it from whole fruit one glass a time.
3. Microwave Popcorn – I had no idea how far removed we had become from the real thing until I recalled memories of my dad shaking the old pot on the stove to make real popcorn to my kids. I thought it would be fun to share that experience with them. When I made it, my kids loved it so much they won’t let me buy the microwave stuff anymore. I now have a jar of kernels that I keep next to the stove near my bottle of oil. Yeah, it has real butter/margarine and real honest-to-goodness salt, but I control how much. It’s a lot cheaper than the packaged stuff, and the taste will drive you wild. You’ll wonder how we ever became converts to packaged microwave popcorn. You won’t miss it.
4. Vegetables – You should be buying them locally at the Farmer’s Market to support your local farmers and local economy. We are simply slaves to our grocery store habit. When you grow it yourself, you can use everything. Recycle cuttings to make soups, and what you have left over you can compost, supporting next year’s garden. If you don’t have land, make a potted garden.
5. Cookies – The sky is as limited as your pantry and your Betty Crocker(r) Cookbook. Make them from scratch. Your kids will like your cookies better than the packaged cookies.
6. Spray Cleaners – You could pay $3 or $4 for that spray cleaner. That said, check the prices on vinegar, ammonia and bleach (not to be combined with each other, of course) at your local dollar store. Most of the time, when you buy a spray cleaner, you are getting the same ingredients in better packaging. Save your spray bottle, and when it’s empty, you can clean it and refill it with these money savers.
7. Bottled Water – By now, you have heard how awful all that packaging is for the environment. Here’s another case of paying for convenience. Buy some portable bottles and save a bundle by doing it yourself.
8. Herbs – Most of us only use four or five herbs in our kitchen. From seed, you can have herbs fresh and ready to cut in just a few weeks. My basil plant is thriving.
9. Bread – Like the chicken in the oven, throwing four or five ingredients into a bread machine is the easiest thing in the world. Do it at night before you go to bed and wake up to fresh bread the next morning. You can even make use of the dough-only function to make a pizza.
10. Trash Bags – If you buy fewer packaged foods, you will have less trash. If you compost your fruit and vegetable stems and peels, you will have even less trash. If you recycle your cartons, milk jugs and egg cartons, you will have less trash.
We’ve been sold a lot of imaging and branding through advertising that has convinced us that we need to buy this brand, that bag, this carton. What we really need to do is live less expensively, eat healthier, and be more
Take the Next Step:
It’s a win-win-win situation! You can be friendlier to your waste, wallet and earth all at the same time. Start with the list above. Is there something here that you’re willing to stop buying? Give it a try. You’ll love the rewards.
Healthy wishes to you all.
“You must do what you feel is right, of course.” ―Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker, Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
We’ve wanted to do this since we moved in, a decade ago, but found ourselves constantly with other draws on our disposable income. OK, maybe not essential draws but what seemed like important purchases at the time (travel to Ireland, England, The Netherlands, California, British Columbia, and a car that doesn’t rain on the inside when you’re driving in inclement weather - you get the picture.) Well, we’ve taken the plunge. A year ago in October, we got estimates on making the house more energy efficient. Then I cringed in horror. And cried a little. And maybe died just a little on the inside. We had already replaced the front and back doors, which were so bad the fanlight windows on top were, literally, falling out but knew we had to take it up a notch.
Our house was built in 1949. Did you know that here in the great, snowy north, until the 1960s, houses were not built with insulation in the walls? That’s right: nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zero. Basically we have clapboards on the outside and plaster on the inside, with 6 inches of breeze blowing in between. No wonder our place quickly becomes an icicle when the power goes out! We’ve chosen to remove all the current siding and have insulation blown into each and every little spot possible. After that, the house will be wrapped with 1/4″ closed cell foam board before new siding is put up. I feel warmer already. Our attic insulation depth is “a 7 out of 10″ according to the contractor we’ve chosen to use, so it only needs a little help.
Our windows are even worse, if that’s possible: the 1949 originals - huge and very drafty with single panes of glass and loose-fitting storms. I think they’re an R-value of about negative 13. We’ve been putting plastic up in the winter to keep some of the heat inside, which has the added bonus of keeping your shirt from waving in the breeze as you pass on a cold, blustery day, but it has to come down in the spring, summer and fall to let the breeze in and so we don’t have to run the air conditioner as often. Therefore, new windows are going to go in at the same time as the insulation. They’re also going to insulate that recess back behind the edges and sills of the window frames. That’s why we’re biting the bullet and having everything done all at one time, so that everything will be as sealed as possible.
In the end, it’s going to cost us a boatload of money (almost as much as my first car, a new mid-sized sedan – that’s still in my garage 13 years later) but it’s worth it. Say it with me. It’s worth it. Repetition will, hopefully, make the gasping sound lessen as I write the final check. We’ll probably even be able to get a smaller furnace when the time comes to replace the current one (according to the furnace guy). So we’ve saved and saved and saved and cashed in an investment and saved some more. I have to write the first of the two checks tomorrow night. Barring any holdups, it should all be done by the beginning of September. For the record, I’m glad it’s getting done, but I sure can think of more exciting things to spend so much money on – like travel.
“Why do I sense we’ve picked up another pathetic life-form?” ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace
After Padawan Learner left for lunch and a movie with his grandma today, I biked over to the super-mega-regional-chain grocery store to pick up the things I needed for the week’s recipes. Although I’ve got a boatload of veggies in the fridge, many of which I’ve never cooked with before, I still needed to buy some staples that I’d run out of and some things to round out the recipes.
After locking up my bike, I headed into the store and grabbed one of those half-carts that I love so much. Throwing my helmet into the top basket, I headed back to the can return area with a few beer bottles and my (cat sitter) niece’s 2 liter soda bottles. After dropping them off, I began cruising the store.
After a few aisles, the following conversation took place:
A kindly older woman looked at my helmet and asked in a very concerned voice, “Honey, did you ride your bike here?” (I really, honestly do love it when older people call me Honey. It’s so cute.)
Smiling my best and friendliest, biking is for everyone smile, I replied, “Yes, ma’am I did.”
“Well, you’re going to need to put some of that back then,” pointing into my mini-cart, “because there isn’t any way you’re going to get it all home on your bike.”
“Oh, it’ll be alright. I’ve got baskets on the back of my bike to carry stuff in.”
“Still, there just no way,” she said, shaking her head at silly ol’ me.
A few aisles over, another woman said roughly the same thing. Tsk, tsk, tsk-ing, as she looked at my growing pile. And another woman in the dairy section said the same thing, with agreement from a man who looked over to see what the situation was.
Getting into the checkout lane, the cashier began ringing up my order and I asked her to please bag my stuff in the bags I’d brought (one of which is an insulated bag so my Dove dark chocolate butter doesn’t melt). For the record, doing this appears to drive cashiers batty.
Pulling my helmet out of the way as I unloaded the mini-cart, the cashier did a double take, stopped scanning, and said, “Girrl, did you ride your bike here?”
“Yes, I did. It’s only a couple of miles from my house and my bike has baskets on the back for the groceries.” I was getting into a groove saying that.
“Well, you ain’t gonna be riding your bike home today. You’ve got too much stuff for doing that.”
“It’ll be OK. I’ll rearrange the bags a little once I’m outside. I’m sure it’ll all fit.”
“Um huh.” And with that, she dismissed me as a hopeless case and continued scanning my groceries.
“Seriously, I’ve got an extra backpack for the stuff that I can’t get into the baskets.”
At this point, the people behind me in line, including the guy from earlier who I’m pretty sure followed me into the checkout lane just to see the show, began to voice their agreement with the cashier. “Uh uh.” “No way.” “Girrl, you’re plum crazy to think all that’s gonna fit.”
Well, by this point I was determined to get home with all my groceries in just two bags and a backpack, on my bike, if it meant that I’d end up eating half my groceries out in the parking lot! “Oh, I just love the taste of peanut oil on a warm summer day!” I am a determined woman. Perhaps also a bit pigheaded, but certainly determined.
“I have got to see this!” a voice behind me said and wouldn’t you know it, a little group of people followed me out to my bike and watched me pack all my stuff up - in two bags and a backpack, thankyouverymuch. While I was shifting things around, they asked me a few questions about my bike and why I ride it to the grocery store. “Don’t you have a car?” (Yes, but I’m not driving it this summer. I like to ride my bike whenever I can.) “Do you think that gas is just too expensive now?” (Not really, I’ve lived other places where gas is much more expensive. I like the exercise.) ”Did you have to get a special kind of bike?” (No, it’s a normal, everyday bike. The style is called a hybrid.) ”Did your bike come with those baskets?” (No, I bought them online but you can order them from the bike shops around here. They’re around $25, less than a tank of gas.) “What if it’s too hot or raining outside to ride?” (I take the bus, wear a rain jacket or get a little damp.)
As I rode away, my little group actually cheered me on for being able to get everything packed away. I even heard the guy say, “Screw $4 a gallon gas. I’m getting a bike!” My first convert.
Here’s the bags packed:
And the bags unloaded:
What was included in the bags:
- four bags chocolate pieces (ostensibly for Dad Windu)
- peanut oil
- 2 bottles olive oil
- bag cashews
- pound butter
- package tofu (don’t tell Dad Windu)
- large container yogurt
- 3 small containers yogurt
- parchment paper
- 2 boxes cereal
- canned artichoke hearts
- soy sauce
- large onion
- 2 heads garlic
- 3 boxes of chicken broth
- 2 large cans whole tomatoes
- bag of onions
PS – I completely stole the idea of pictures and a list from aLex over at Hank and Me. I hope she will forgive me.