A New Week + Coffee Cake

What a busy week/weekend! We had the gas company come hook up our new stove, our counter tops came in, our dishwasher came in (although it was the wrong one, so really we got 2 dishwashers last week), and we moved our fridge back across the kitchen to its rightful spot. I also laid some brick to support a light post that had fallen over years before we bought the house (with free bricks) and upgraded the lanterns on top of the posts. The last time I did any masonry work was about 8 or 9 years ago when I was helping a coworker build his house out of autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) bricks. So, for a software developer who is extremely inexperienced at laying brick, I think the job is acceptable:

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We hadn’t used the oven to cook anything yet since the inside still smelled like the oils used in production, so after many vinegar/water wipes and running the oven for a couple hours at a time, then finally mixing up a throw-away batch of bread to cook and try to absorb the rest of the smells, the oven was finally ready! And the chickens (and kittens) got nice, warm, yeastless, probably flavorless, bread!

Saturday I whipped up a batch of chocolate white chocolate chip cookies, and by Sunday they were all but gone. So after dinner Sunday evening, we needed something to satisfy the sweet tooth. The choice was between oatmeal cookies and coffee cake. The coffee cake won. I took it out of the oven around 9:30 in the evening, then just let it cool overnight and when we woke up we had fresh and delicious coffee cake!

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The recipe is below, modified from this one. I fully intend to make further modifications, maybe sprinkling the pan with cinnamon sugar before adding the batter, or using brown sugar instead of white sugar for the filling, or adding a sweet orange glaze. You can also add nuts to it if you want, I’m not much of a nuts-in-baked-goods type of guy.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c white sugar
3/4 c butter, softened
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c yogurt
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 c white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Procedure:
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Grease a 10-in bundt pan (I just use the reside left on the butter wrapper).

1. Beat the butter and sugar (keep the 1/4 c out) with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Finally, add the yogurt.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda, then add to the wet mix.

3. Combine the remaining sugar with the cinnamon in another separate bowl.

4. Pour about half the batter into the bundt pan. Then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture onto the batter. Then cover the cinnamon sugar mixture with the rest of the batter.

5. Bake at 400° F for 8 minutes, then lower the temp to 350° F and bake for another 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

6. Let the cake cool completely, then slide a silicone spatula into the large grooves to loosen it up, flip the pan over and jiggle the cake onto a plate.

7. Enjoy!

Three Gigs and a New Heater Core

P1060133What a busy past few days. Thursday was spent finishing the job I had started almost a month ago (tough to find time on the weekends, weekday evenings are too buggy) of replacing the heater core in the Blazer (thanks to my good friend and band-mate TB for helping me find screws and bolts I overlooked). It was a royal P.I.T.A. Chevy did not make the dash removal process very user friendly – no wonder it costs an arm, leg, and your firstborn child to have the stealership or a mechanic do the work. Unfortunately, I did not take pictures from the get go, but I did include a few that I snapped throughout the process. The Haynes manual was pretty good on this one. I decided not to put EVERYTHING back together… it was way too hot outside (don’t have a garage), the bugs were getting bad, and I really don’t care that much about the plastic crap covering up the underside of the dash. I use the Blazer for hauling band equipment to gigs, garbage/recyclables to the dump, transporting large items such as sofas or tables, storing things in it because we have zero closets, and occasionally towing a trailer. Do I really need that plastic crap covering up the underside of the dash for these purposes? The above pic is what the inside of the Blazer normally looks like (it is our storage unit… bass amp, chicken feed, and a jogging stroller can be seen in this image). Here is a quick step-by-step process:

1. Remove the dash (including the underside plastic crap, and lower the steering column). I disconnected the battery and also disconnected the connection to the airbag. Don’t want a surprise deployment… There are about 943,051 bolts and screws that need to be removed, and when you think you’ve removed them all you probably haven’t. I think we used Torx, 7mm, 5.5mm, 5/16″, 1/2″, and 17/32″ bits for this process.

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2. Drain the radiator. Getting to the drain plug is a bit of a chore, so I just disconnected the lowest hose and let it drain from there.

3. Disconnect these 2 hoses going to the heater core (I got the first one, and L got the second much more quickly since she has a Ph.D. in hose connecting/removal).
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4. Remove the plastic cover inhibiting access to the heater core (I think it was only 6 bolts).
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5. Remove the metal bars holding the heater core in place, and put the new one in. Put everything back together (or as much as you want to put back together), re-connect all the electrical connections in the dash, put the steering column back in place, fill the radiator, and you’re good to go. Easy, huh?

It was good to spend some time with TB fixing the car, gave us some good old fashioned male bonding time. And L made us delicious sandwiches with tomatoes and cukes from the garden. Thursday evening was a nice night of playing music on the Crab Deck and watching the fireworks across the river from Yorktown (mere feet from the location of the British surrender, essentially guaranteeing American independence – are we really free though?). I love doing outdoor acoustic gigs – L and WV can come and not be blasted away by the walls of speakers, it’s a lot less physical energy expended on my part, and I don’t come home at 3am smelling like an ash tray (although this is rare since Virginia banned smoking in most bars/restaurants in 2009). Don’t get me wrong, I love cranking my amp to 11 and watching drunk people dance the night away at bars, but I’m not as young as I once was and I have responsibilities that I didn’t have 6 or 7 years ago.

GloucesterYorktown_But just because we were playing a low key acoustic gig at a fancy yacht club restaurant, don’t think it was all Sperry shoes, khaki shorts, and white/pastel Polo shirts. We had a little bit of everything there: Drunk dude showing up around 7:00 (by boat…), trying to keep himself somewhat perpendicular to the floor, loving every minute of us playing, tipping us quite well), and then getting into his boat to weave his way around $1,000,000 yachts docked and the families coming back from watching the fireworks on the river. Thankfully, management handled it well and didn’t let him drive his boat home. Salty old owner telling us we were too loud (turns out we’re not special, he acts the same towards everyone). Standing room only crowd in the parking lot to watch the fireworks (the Gloucester crowd doesn’t like to deal with the traffic and tourists in Yorktown on July 4… I don’t blame us/them). I wanted to get a couple pictures, but L accidentally left the camera at home charging. Oh well.

Friday, I got my hours in, then met up with the rest of the band for a 3 hour drive down to Lake Gaston for another gig. Outdoor rock and roll with Key’d Up. We were literally out in the middle of nowhere. My droid couldn’t find it. TB’s iPhone couldn’t find it. But for some reason our drummer’s “dumb” phone was able to find it. We rocked for about 4 hours, and the cops only came out twice!

P1060203Saturday we finished our little mini tour right where we started. Another acoustic evening on the Crab Deck, watching the sun go down while enjoying a cold beer or two (or three). No crazy shenanigans this time, although the salty old owner was having a discussion with the manager (manager is totally cool, btw) about how he thought he had kicked us out last time… Anyway, we weren’t kicked out, and we rocked the place again (albeit at a slightly lower decibel level than on July 4). Here’s a pic of WV enjoying a lime and another one of L and WV enjoying the music:

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All the Chickie Ladies

This post is about chickens. Our chickens. The Chickie Ladies, as we call them. Imagine, instead of “Single Ladies,” Beyonce singing, “All the Chickie Ladies, all the Chickie Ladies…” and then where she says, “Oh, oh, ohhh, oh-oh, oh, ohoh, oh, o-oh-oh oh,” insert, “Bouck, bouck, bouuuuck, bouck-bouck, bouck, bouckbouck, bouck b-bouck-bouck buk.” You’re welcome. P1050419

Now then.

We’re one legit step closer to homesteading. This spring, we made the leap from store/farmer’s market-bought eggs to having our own dang chickens!!!! There is nothing finer, nothing I tell you, than holding a warm, fresh egg from a chicken you know. This former NYC girl is beside herself.

Our very chill new neighbors (who rent from the same landlords) asked us if we’d like to go in on a chicken coop and chickens, and of course we jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t think our landlords would say yes, having been struck down a few years ago in the same department when I asked if I could convert the battered shed in our yard into a chicken coop. They said no then, their intention to fix the shed P1050550…but, that, ah, never happened. We got clearance to use our (unused) large outdoor dog cage to house chickens instead. Over a few evenings we pieced together a coop using old scrap wood, pieces of torn apart pallets, and some chicken wire.

Concurrently, W and I browsed craigslist like (chicken)hawks and chicken swaps for some hens. Lots of people sell chickens on Craigslist, but we were being picky. We found our first Chickie Lady, to the right, at a swap in Toano – for $13. Colleen is a broody black and white hen (she’s a Dominique). She loves to say in a low chortle, “Buuuuuuuuck, buck, buguuuuuuck” and keeps everyone else in line.

K, our neighbor, found a woman at VIMS who was getting rid of pullets her granddaughter was not taking good care of, so we went out to her farm and picked up 4. P1060178The woman had reserved 3 for us but indicated that another, who was deformed, was going to perish. Instead, we convinced her we could take it and give it a dignified life…now “Leggy” as we call her (this is why), is a spunky member of our flock, has the sweetest personality and comes limping over enthusiastically to wiggle under our feet and get pets. She appears to be a Dominique as well. The other three pullets were all white with a few black feathers, but have since developed brown on the outlines of their breast feathers. I have no idea what type of chicken they are – thoughts? They stick together like nobody’s business, these three stooges, are super curious, to the point of taking on Ima (one of our labs) through the cage mesh, and come running like little friendly Compys from Jurassic Park to greet me when I walk out the front door with veggie scraps, “Heeeeey, Ladies!”

We rounded out the bunch with three hens from a swap in P1060145Gloucester – literally, the last three hens left for sale in Gloucester who weren’t either 1) stuck inhumanely in a cage with 100 other chickens, pecking each other to bits or 2) paired with a rooster. We don’t need no stinkin’ rooster. We saw them all in a cage together and asked the lady standing with them about them. She said her son was really the chicken person on the farm, and he’d be right back and could tell us more. I’m imagining an early-20’s fellow, her son, who helps around the farm. Up strides an 8-year-old who proceeds to expound matter-of-factly and in great detail about them – which one likes to try flying, how to catch them as the sun goes down, and what size of egg to expect. He was adorable. We kept his names, Bootsy (all white), Summer (brown and white) and Maple (brown). Maple is a skittish girl (although that 8-year-old deftly caught her without so much as a squawk or a P1060056lost feather), and is the only Chickie Ladie that I can’t catch. Her elusive ways are funny to watch. Bootsy and Summer are kinda dumb.

We get between 2-4 eggs a day, which will ramp up when the pullets mature. We split the eggs, feed costs, and upkeep of the cage with our neighbors. All 8 Chickie Ladies head into the coop in the evening and one of us manages to remember to we lock ’em up by dark and then let them out in the morning. It’s a rad set up and WV is totally fascinated with their antics. We have a little game where I make them jump for berries – it makes him laugh! I’m want him to understand from a very young age how to care for animals, how special it is to know where our food comes from. He certainly loves to eat their eggs!

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Babies Don’t Cost That Much: Baby Monitor

Welcome to the first part of a new series we’ve created called “Babies Don’t Cost That Much.” Throughout this series, we will touch on different points of interest about the cost of raising a baby. We completely resent the “You have to buy this product or you’re a horrible parent” tactic that the manufacturers employ, profiting from the fears of vulnerable parents. When companies say “Don’t you want what’s best for your baby?” I normally translate it to “Don’t you want what’s best for our stockholders?” I could continue and probably get into a heated debate about Company A versus Company B and all that, but this post is just about how we saved money on one baby item…

So many people go on and on about how EXPENSIVE babies are (because you HAVE to buy the latest product) and how much WORK it is and blah blah blah. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and we definitely don’t consider raising a child “work” with the negative connotations that word invokes. It may be challenging at times, yes, but we decided to have a baby because we knew that we were ready to take whatever life throws at us and lovingly raise our child the best possible way we can. And one part of that is to not spend money that we don’t need to, otherwise known as wasting money.

The first post of this series will be about the baby monitor. Not the ones that look like a baby walkie-talkie that our parents used back in the 80s (although they probably could have bought walkie-talkies and duct taped the send button down for a continuous audio feed from the crib for a cheaper version), but the new, fancy-shmancy video ones that transmit not only audio but a video signal as well throughout your home using your wireless router. More secure from random creepsters trolling radio frequencies (I’m sure the NSA creepsters can see my baby sleep though), and the video can help us keep an eye on him and make sure he’s breathing without having to open the creaky door, walk on the creaky floor, and risk waking him up. And you can watch your naughty dog sneaking licks…

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Have you ever shopped for these things? Pretty expensive. And what if you want another receiver so you can watch/listen for your baby while you’re moving around your home doing things like cooking and cleaning and hanging pictures and gardening and everything you can possibly think of doing while you have the time and not have to worry about remembering to carry that monitor with you everywhere you go (when your hands are probably full anyway)? Keep on ratcheting up that price…

My solution: Wireless Security Camera. Bought it online for $60 with free shipping. That specific model is now discontinued, but both TigerDirect.com and newegg.com, have similar items in stock. And you can search other stores as well. But for $60 (and free 2-day shipping since it was right around Christmas) I was able to score a wireless security camera that I mounted above the crib, set up to work with my wireless network in the house, and I can access it from any device attached to the network. Multiple receivers = no extra cost because of the existing computers we have in the home. I can have it open on my computer in the office while I’m working. L can have it open on her computer wherever she’s working. I can have it open on my “smart” phone. And if I ever get un-lazy enough to set up remote access to my network, L and I can go out to dinner, leave WV at home with a sitter, and see/hear him from my phone while we’re enjoying duck confit and seared salmon…

And once it has served its time as a baby monitor, I can mount it near an exterior door and record if any intruders want to come inside the home with the fancy motion activated recording capability. Or run an extension cord and spy on the chickens. Or watch the garden grow. Or point it to the sky and do a cool time-lapse video the next time a hurricane comes through. Or sell it. Or never use it again and still be better off than I would be had I bought a $250 system that does the same thing.

Stay tuned for more money saving posts, and feel free to share any ways you and your family have done the same!

Our CSA Experience, so far

Remember the failed $50 grocery experiment? Well, not to be discouraged, we have continued to search for ways to lower our monthly food budget.

The past few summers, we have been pretty reliant on the Yorktown and Williamsburg Farmers Markets on Saturday mornings for our fresh, local vegetables and eggs (and sometimes meats). We knew it was a little more expensive to eat this way, but figured it was worth it to have the peace of mind that we know what we’re putting into our bodies and we’re supporting local farmers rather than giant companies with their franken-foods and huge distributors. And yes, we do grow a lot of our own, but we can only grow so much with the amount of space we have.

Our neighbor came to us to ask if we would be interested in going in together on a full CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share. This is something I had considered in the past, but never put too much thought into it because of the upfront cost. Well, we did just a teeny tiny bit more research and found out that it is definitely worth the upfront cost, and signed up in a heartbeat. It comes out to just a little more than $13 a week for fresh, local produce from May through September. And it’s a lot of produce. We essentially get an overflowing brown paper grocery bag each Friday, which we split in half and still is an overflowing brown paper grocery bag, and we’re pretty much set on veggies for the week. With a nice note attached each week from the farmers themselves (see below). Can’t get that at the grocery store OR the market.

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Now, we still have to go to the store to buy a few things, but we really enjoy picking up a bag of fresh produce each Friday afternoon. And we play a little guessing game as to what we think will be in the bag each time. So far we’ve had some absolutely delicious strawberries, lettuce, mixed greens, green onions, cabbage, radish, Swiss chard, Pac Choy, arugula, and broccoli. It also forces us to come up with or find new recipes to eat what we have on hand (stay tuned for additions to the recipes page throughout the next few months).┬áSo between the CSA and our own garden, we should be pretty set for not only eating fresh produce throughout the summer, but saving what we don’t eat (need to buy a pressure canner… any advice?).

I won’t go into full details on the cost breakdown of our food budget just yet, as we have to wait a few months to see the results of the initial upfront investment, but I just wanted to share about our experience so far with the CSA and the delicious produce we have received. Here’s a link to the farm if you are interested in finding out more information: Dayspring Farm.

Replacing the Third Brake Light – 2009 Honda Civic EX Coupe

DO NOT TAKE YOUR CAR ANYWHERE TO GET THIS DONE! IT IS SUPER EASY!

“But I don’t know anything about cars, I’m too afraid that I might mess something up and then have to take it to the shop to get more work done,” you might say. Fine with me – you’re not spending my money. But doing your own work on your vehicle, even if you’re not a mechanic, saves you a TON of money* and gives you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. And I’m not saying don’t ever go to a shop. There are things I can’t do, I don’t have the necessary tools, I don’t know how to weld, etc. Definitely support your local businesses, but support yourself too. Mechanics have to put food on the table for their families, but you have to keep food on the table for your family.

So here’s the story: I take my 2009 Civic in to get new tires installed. I don’t have the necessary tools to mount the tire on the wheel, so that’s one of the instances I take it to the shop. My inspection expires this month, so I say go ahead and inspect it while it’s there. Normally I check everything myself before I take it in so I can fix whatever’s wrong before it fails, but it was already there and it’s a 4 year old car, I figured I was safe. WRONG. The third brake light (the one in the middle above the trunk) was out. And Honda has decided they need to make more money, so instead of replacing a bulb like you would do in any normal car, you have to replace the entire LED strip. And you HAVE to get it from Honda, as AutoZone does not carry it. The shop wanted $175. $90 for the part, $85 for the labor. Holy cow!

They said it was so expensive because they had to entirely dismantle the rear portion of the car and it’s a very time intensive process ~ around 2 hours. I figured if it takes a mechanic 2 hours, it will take me 4 (or 8, or 2 weekends…), so I waited until I had a free afternoon to take care of it. That afternoon was this past Sunday. I dropped off my thesis to get bound on Saturday morning, then on the way home went to the Honda stealership to pick up the part so I would have it for the next day. It looks like a cheap piece of plastic that some 5 year old Chinese kid made for a total cost of about $3.87, but it cost me $88.59 after tax.

L and I had spent the hottest part of the day in the garden, which was good because I could wait until it cooled down a bit before I started my auto repair work. (I hate having to crawl around under an engine, under the hood, or contorting my body to squeeze into the back of the 2-door Civic and work with tools while I’m dripping in sweat.) My Haynes manual didn’t have anything about replacing the third light (second time they have failed me – first was when I was replacing L’s timing belt in her 2007 Accent), so I did a quick online search and found a text-based walk through on a Civic forum. This post, however, is complete with pictures and my own snarky “humor”. So enjoy!

1. Remove the jogging stroller from the trunk.

2. Lay down the back seats, feeding the center seat belt through the slit so the seat lays down easily.
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3. Disconnect the wire that leads to the brake light. This is the view from inside the trunk, looking up.
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4. There are indentations on the front of the rear panel. This is where the panel attaches itself to the rest of the car. Put your fingers under there and pry up. It pops off easily. Don’t break anything (on the car or your body).
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5. The wire that you disconnected from the wiring of the car is still attached to the body. See the little plastic thingy sticking up in the picture below? (You should, it’s circled.) Squeeze it and feed the wire through the hole.The panel is also attached near the rear windshield. Apply a little bit of pressure back there as well, and lift the panel.
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6. Get out of the car, turn the panel over, and remove the screws attaching the speaker protector to the panel.
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7. Remove the non-working LED strip, replace it with the new one.

8. Put everything back together, connect the wire, drink a celebratory beer.

Total time: ~5 minutes.

I then proceeded to make a chocolate cake, which took way longer than replacing the brake light.

A side note: I was fully expecting this to take all afternoon, not 5 minutes. This prohibited me from fixing it right away and bringing it back the next day for re-inspection (in the middle of the month). I ended up having to wait almost 3 hours on 4/29 because of everyone else waiting until the last minute. Chalk this up as another life lesson and add it to the list of reasons why I find it extremely difficult to trust mechanics. Had I allowed them to do the work, would they have been honest and tell me that it only took 5 minutes so they were not charging me the quoted price? Or would they keep that their little secret and pocket that extra cash? It sickens me to think of the latter, and to think that so many nice, well meaning people get taken advantage of by sneaky sharks trying to make a buck.

If you still find yourself reluctant to do the work, bring me your car, the part(s), and something awesome (beer/pie/bratwurst/baseball tickets/baby sitting promise) and I’d be more than happy to do it for or with you!

Join me next weekend (or next next weekend, or next next next weekend) when I replace the heater core in my 1997 Blazer!

———————————————————-
*1 ton of pennies = $3,628.74, rounded to the nearest cent.
*1 ton of nickels = $9,071.85, rounded to the nearest nickle
*1 ton of dimes = $39,999.30, rounded to the nearest dime
*1 ton of quarters = $39,999.25, rounded to the nearest quarter
*1 ton of half-dollars = $39,999.50, rounded to the nearest half-dollar
*1 ton of dollar coins = $111,998, rounded to the nearest dollar
*1 ton of dollar bills = $907,185, rounded to the nearest dollar (each US bank note, regardless of denomination, weighs 1 gram. You can figure the rest out from here…)

March: Less Lion, More Lamb

Ok, this metaphor is inherently flawed. Lions are cool (I wore a tutu on my head for some months as a child because I was a male lion), endangered, beautiful big kitties. W likes to hold WV up and pretend he’s Simba. Lambs (and their adult counterparts SHEEEP!), on the other hand (as opposed to cows, and definitely lions), wreak havoc on the root structure of grasses by cropping them too close and killing them. This has lead to anthropogenically intensified erosion in New Zealand (for example), causing the rivers there to be some of the most sediment laden in the world (intrinsic to the topic of my Ph.D. dissertation). However, for the purposes of maintaining the Marchified metaphor, I shall equate lions with destruction and lambs with tender do-gooding. We know the truth.

March was all about reevaluating our home life and reducing or removing certain things from it that are wasteful, not economical, or generally make us cranky. I wanted to make some changes that would be easy for us, as W is pretty much ensconced in his office either working or finishing his thesis and doesn’t have much time to get down and dirty with other creative projects and family extracurriculars. So, my three lambs:

1. We went paper-towel-less. I’ll pause here, while you get in a good eye roll.

Now I’ll brag about how AWESOME being free of paper towels has been (and we’re not going back). For starters, I hated using paper towels. And running out of them. So wasteful of trees and money. I always felt bad when reaching for one to dry my hands (but I still did it, even though we have plenty of kitchen hand towels) – and ended up with a soggy lump of wet-but-clean paper towels waiting to be used for a real mess later. Good for cleaning up WV’s squash eyebrows, true.

cloth paper towelQuestion: Do you know what cloth “paper” towels clean up better? Answer: Everything! From the mess at lunch on the chopping block to WV’s chin to the wet rails of the sink after washing dishes. They are more absorbent (seen here drying washed spinach), they are reusable, they are better for the earth and our family! C’mon, I’ve got to believe you have a few towels you can cut up from bygone room mates and relationships. Join me in cutting them up and wiping up messes! I put them in a small muslin bag and hung it on our paper towel rack. I took our small bedroom trash bin, since we never use it, and put it behind the kitchen trash, and that’s what I’ve been throwing the used towels into for laundering as a bunch. They don’t look terribly pretty, I’ll give ya that, but then again, neither does an expanse of land devoid of trees – and is a paper towel’s role supposed to be aesthetics? My mom totally agreed it was a good idea, when she visited and pointed out that, in the same vein, she uses cloth dish rags around the kitchen. It’s always good when your mom approves. Gave me a much needed boost of confidence.

2. Shoes are banished from the inside of the house.

details (2)If you know me, you know I LOVE shoes. Once in a while, I’ll put on my wedding shoes (at right, *le sigh*) and think to myself, gah, how did I wear these and when can I again?!? I wish there were things I could wear nice shoes to more often. I get giddy just thinking about the insanely expensive shoe parade that is Sex and the City (see #3; a girl has to have a vice, ya know). These days I rotate between my all purpose crunchy mama Toms, all purpose weary cowgirl boots and treading-on-air Mizuno running shoes that I’m breaking in and trying to keep clean (a much-needed gift from my MIL).

But, finally, after a long-standing “let’s take our shoes off once we come inside” fairly unenforced policy, we’ve relegated our everyday shoes to the vestibule. We’d tracked in enough grime and crud…I was tired of constant sweeping up, and the mess o’ shoes by the front door would slowly migrate to the kitchen and living room (cray-cray, I know, but W has way more shoes than I do). More importantly, if you think about it (I did. A lot.) where have the soles of your shoes been?!? They keep your feet from touching the floor of a public restroom (and any other non-home floors); but if you wear them inside and then take them off, you are essentially spreading the germs of the public restroom to your feet…then you get in bed…ok, gross. I’m done with shoes in the house. Socks, slippers and bare feet are welcome, but we are adopting the cultural traditions of Japan, and many other countries, when it comes to shoes. Perhaps I’ll chance upon a nice wire rack to organize them. Further impetus is that WV is about to crawl. The floors need to be clean. Period.

3. “Hey wait, I can use that!” and “Hey wait, I can use that!”

I got to using more food and household items in non-traditional ways I hadn’t before.
These included (you decide if the emphasis is on “use” or “that”):

→ Saving the bones from a roast chicken to make yummy bone broth, thereby eeking a lot more value out of that expensive organic bird. This “lamb” is more like the proverbial Native American buffalo.
→ Cleaning the bathroom with baking soda and vinegar, thereby avoiding harsh chemicals and all that is intrinsic with their use.
→ Finding yummy recipes to use the pulp leftover from our juicing endeavors. That just makes sense. Since I’m prone to buying multiple 5-lb bags of carrots: Carrot Banana Bunt Cake with Cream Cheese Icing.

I’ve enjoyed browsing through the Year of Living Less blog, even though it is defunct. It gets me thinking. We all have our limits, though – while I admire purposeful simplifications I won’t dread out my hair to live without a comb (there was a time in high school I had wanted to…ah well, opportunity missed) or reduce our towel stockpile to the number of people in the house! But I’m really happy about our March’s worth of intentional living. I’m committed to observing my household with a keen eye for what can be replaced with less expensive, safer, and/or more sustainable options (not surprising, how it’s almost always all three), and will keep in mind what I change and find for further posts. I’m taking cues from family, friends, and frustrations. Another thing I’m going to give up is straws. Yes, I love straws, but W pointed out that they are wasteful pieces of plastic and, well, he’s right. Maybe I can get a glass straw? That sounds like a bad idea.

So tell me, what have you changed, repurposed or cooked in your household lately? What are your March “lambs?” Looking forward to hearing and getting some good ideas from ya’ll…

PS: W defends his MS thesis in early April and will be back to blogging thereafter. Send him happy math thoughts!!!