Thursday, April 28, 2022

Secondhand Challenge


A few weeks ago I talked about reducing the amount of trash we produced and upping our game when it came to what we added to our trash and recycles bins each week as well as how often we needed to send those bins to the curb for pick up.  I even invited you to join me on my trash bin challenge.  Then the following week I talked about how I have resurrected our compost bin in our backyard and got it going again.  A lot of the items I typically add to our recycle bin actually go into our compost now such as cardboard and shredded paper.


I want to make more mindful purchases in the future to reduce waste and the amount of packaging.  The next challenge I've issued to myself is to see if I can get by this year with buying items secondhand before purchasing anything new.  Clothing and household items is the primary thing I'm talking about, but I'm open to other things as well.  I don't really need much, but I figured even still, I'm sure there are plenty of good "previously enjoyed" options out there for me to choose from.  I like the idea of reusing and recycling so before I make my next purchase I'm going to consider first if I can find what I want at a thrift store, yard sale or on Facebook marketplace.  Anyone else interested in doing this?


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Checking In On My Refrigerator Paint Job


Just before Christmas last year I did something I thought was a little crazy.  I painted all of the yellowed parts on the front of my refrigerator.  The handles and the trim on the ice maker had yellowed within a few years of purchasing the fridge, which is now twenty five years old, and got worse as time went on.  I'd been putting up with it for a very long time.  Figuring I had nothing to lose I grabbed a can of spray paint and gave it a face lift one day.  And!  I'm happy to report it is holding up really well.  Looks just as good as the day I did it.  I wish I'd had the guts to do it sooner.  Oh well!  Click here to see what I did back in December.



Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Economy Of Oatmeal


Oatmeal is definitely back on the menu plan a little more regularly now.  Not only is it nutritious and heart healthy but it is also delicious.  And very thrifty as far as a food source goes.  Plus, pretty versatile.  You can do a lot with oats.


I love it as a hot cereal which I can spruce up with a few simple ingredients like brown sugar and cinnamon, raisins or dried cranberries, maple syrup, just to name a few.  Some people like to add peanut butter or even chocolate chips.  The options are endless.


I often will use oatmeal in place of bread crumbs to make meatballs or meatloaf.  I also make honey oat bread from time to time.  Whirl it around in a food processor and you can make your own oat flour and oat milk is another easy and economical option too, both of which make excellent alternative baking resources.


When you break down the cost of oatmeal it is really hard to beat.  For instance one serving of oatmeal is half a cup of dry oats (8¢).  I personally find this is too much for me to eat without it feeling like a big blob in my stomach so I will only eat half a serving making it even more economical (4¢).  And compared to the cost of a gallon of milk right now oat milk is definitely a more economical option (16¢ a quart) and the residual oat pulp left after straining can be used in cookies, bread, muffins, etc.  No waste.


Rolled oats and quick cooking oats have a place in our pantry for a variety of healthy and economical reasons.  I plan to use them more often and in more ways than I've ever used them before.  That oat milk recipe is calling my name.  Are you an oatmeal fan?


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Working On Some Compost


You may have already heard that there is an extreme fertilizer shortage, along with everything else it seems.  One of the largest fertilizer plants in the United States burned down and a lot of our other fertilizer came from Russia and Ukraine, among other things.  Under the circumstances it seems prudent to make compost and create my own organic fertilizer.  The beauty of compost is that we can all do this.


We have a large two section compost bin in our backyard.  I built it myself out of four by four fence posts and cedar fence boards.  Composting requires two things - brown matter and green matter as well as some water.  Brown matter is things like leaves, cardboard and paper (boxes, paper towel and toilet paper tubes, shredding, junk mail, etc.), straw, grass clippings, wood shavings, etc.  Green matter is your coffee grounds, egg shells, banana peels and other kitchen waste.  It can also include manure.  Fortunately for us we have chicken and rabbit manure a plenty.  Combining all of these items makes for some good composting action.


This ice cream bucket is an excellent collection bin for our kitchen

Our compost bin has been largely ignored and neglected in the past year so I was eager to get outside and get it started back up.  One side of the bin was two thirds full and inactive while the other side was empty.  I had been saving cardboard and paper in the garage, plus what little kitchen waste we had I was collecting in a one gallon ice cream bucket.  Most of what was in that bucket was simply coffee grounds, tea bags and egg shells, but every little bit helps.


I emptied my shredder into the compost bin as well

I began by placing a nice layer of cardboard in the bottom of the empty section.  A couple Amazon boxes, a cereal box and a worn out egg carton.  The card board attracts earth worms and that is a good thing to have along with your compost.  Next went the ice cream bucket of goodies I had been collecting and some bunny manure mixed with hay and wood pellets.  Then a good dousing of water before I added a layer of dried leaves, more bunny manure and then water and repeat.  By layering the brown and gray matter with a bit of water you get a good mix of carbon and nitrogen matter that will work together and begin to breakdown.


Every few days I will take a shovel out and give it a good turn to help the breakdown process and within about four to six weeks we should have some really good compost to add to our garden beds.  Then we'll start the process all over again.  Another good way make sure nothing goes to waste while giving back to the earth what we've been taking from it.  And it keeps more stuff out of our landfill.  Even better!



Thursday, April 14, 2022

Let's Grow Something


I promise you I am not a gardener.  Many times I've tried and failed.  Sometimes though I tried and did okay.  I think we all know food shortages are going to be a real thing soon and with the rising prices on groceries, it makes what we can get much less affordable.  We aren't completely powerless, however.  There are still things we can do.  With a little bit of effort we can do something.  Grow something.


I might be building one of these

I'd like to encourage you all to grow something this summer.  It doesn't matter what it is, but we need to grow something.  A tomato plant in a bucket on your patio, herbs instead of flowers, lettuces in a planter box, whatever you can do I think it prudent that we do it.  In my backyard I have three good sized planter boxes (all built out of old fence posts and a pallet) and a two section compost bin, all neglected.  This year I will be giving them some much needed attention.  I don't have a lot of space to put in a big garden, but thankfully you don’t really need a lot of space to grow food.


I've literally used garbage to start my seeds in this year.  I made my own seed pots out of spent toilet paper tubes and they work really well.  When one of my co-workers was going to toss out a stack of Starbucks coffee cups I glommed onto them and brought them home and have planted seeds in them too.  Egg cartons, yogurt, sour cream and cottage cheese containers work too.  The seeds I'm using came from the dollar store and I've also recently picked up a few more packets from the feed store and Fred Meyer.  I purchased a bag of potting soil, but dirt from the yard will work too, probably better to be quite honest.


Join me on my garden adventure this year.  Whether you plant your own seeds or pick up some starts at the store, lets grow something.  We can totally do this!  What will it be?


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Trade Offs Are A Great Option


There is nothing quite like a health scare or life events (or even world events) to really make a person take pause and reevaluate the path one is heading down.  Often in life we are faced with wondering if the path we travel is truly the path we should be on, however far too many times we will just continue on.  It takes a lot of strength and courage to realize the path you are traveling isn’t correct and actually do something about it. 


Fear is a powerful opponent when it comes to making changes.  Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear that you might get hurt or sick, fear that you might be wrong.  Most of our fears when it comes to change are typically completely unfounded and we need to be realistic about that.  The things that we worry about and lose sleep over usually never come to pass.  So, it is with that knowledge that we need to set aside our fears, power through and carry on.


I have always wanted to retire early and when my health became compromised I realized I needed to retire early.  That desire now became a priority and I began to work really hard to get ready for my retirement.   As I was doing this I also realized that if I was willing to live more thriftily I could retire even earlier than my original plan. 


At first I was hesitant, but then I re-read a book I had, Your Money Or Your Life, and I quickly realized that not only could I do it, but that I should.  It is all about trade offs and I am quite willing to stop the 9 to 5 rat race and live my life frugally in order to gain my freedom.  I am definitely quite willing to live frugally and stop working to make someone else wealthier.  Time and freedom are now my preferred currency. 


If you have any desire to change your current situation, leave the daily grind, retire early or just change jobs I want to encourage you not be afraid to do it.  Read books, watch videos, do your research.  Get ready.  Take the leap.


Thursday, April 7, 2022

The Trash Bin Challenge


The state of our economy, and the world for that matter, is in shambles.  I think we can all agree on that, and although we may feel powerless and helpless to do much about it, there is still a lot of things we can do that will have a great impact.  I am a firm believer that a small change creates the big change.  If each of us takes steps to be more mindful, careful and more sustainable I believe it will create a ripple effect.  I also think it can start with something as simple as our trash.


We all know that dealing with our trash has been an issue for a long time so I won't get into all that, but what I'd like to do is ask you to not only create less of it but also to really look at it.  Without a thought Americans set out gobs and gobs of trash at the curb each week to be hauled off and dealt with.  What if we just dealt with it ourselves?  What if we didn't need someone else to do this for us?


We need to create less trash to begin with by making more intentional and mindful purchases.  And when we do make a purchase we come up with a plan for what we will do with it.  Not just the item we buy but all that packaging that goes along with it.  What can we recycle?  What can we reuse?  What can be composted?  What can we avoid in the first place?


We have a wheelie bin for trash, a blue wheelie bin for recycling and a sizeable compost bin in our backyard.  We have orange bags to collect the harder to recycle items.  Our city offers green compostable items bins for curbside pick up as well.  In our garage I keep one orange bag hanging up to collect primarily Styrofoam and plastic bags.  A five gallon bucket collects mostly cans and some plastic bottles that we cannot find a useful purpose for.  Another five gallon bucket collects our glass.  Glass recycling has to be taken in to a special collection center, but they make it easy on us by placing collection bins in various areas of our city.  We have one at the supermarket.  Anything hazardous is set aside to be taken in to the same supermarket once a month on hazardous waste collection day.  We have loads of options for dealing with trash.


Here is my challenge to all of you.  How long you can go before you need to set your trash at the curb for pick up?  What are other things you can do with your stuff before it is considered garbage worthy of a trip to the landfill?  How minimal can you be with your waste?  It will take some thought, but can you imagine how impactful this could be?  And, what if you challenged your friends, neighbors and family members to do the same thing?  And then, what if all of those people challenged the people they know?  Can you imagine?  What if we made this go viral?


Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Why Now?


I am 57 1/2 years old.  Two years ahead of Plan A and a year ahead of Plan B+, but the truth of the matter is I'm exhausted.  I am mentally and emotionally drained and completely burned out.  I have been coming home from work and literally collapsing into my recliner each evening with no energy left in me to do another thing.  It would take half the weekend to recuperate and rally once again on Sunday.  Then I'd start over.  The pace of work and overtime hours combined with all the stress and pressure a pandemic adds has been taking its toll for a while.  My entire team is completely wrung out.  And as much as I hate to abandon them and make their situation worse, I just couldn't do it anymore.  I was traveling a similar path from a year ago and we all know how that turned out.  I was headed for disaster.


In February it hit me full in the face, I don't think I can do this anymore.  I loved my job.  I was a VA patient care coordinator and I worked with veterans.  It was an honor for me to serve those who have served so many and sacrificed so much, primarily their health and wellbeing.  I am very proud of how I did my job and took care of those men and women.  But now, I have to take care of me.


I was able to determine that if I live very frugally for the next two years retiring early will not impact my finances nearly as much as I feared it might.  The difference will be nominal compared to what might happen if I were to persevere and ended up with another health setback.  Not to mention, I really don't want any health setbacks.  Which brings me to another thing.  Like my veterans I was sacrificing my health and wellbeing.  And the truth of the matter is that the corporation I work for could really care less about that.  The only person this was affecting is me and I don't owe them my life.  In fact, I don't owe them anything.


Add in the office politics (things have become messy) and a boatload of daily drama (insert eye roll here) and it begs the question.  "Why am I still here?"  It is a question my colleagues and I found ourselves discussing almost daily.  Nothing changes unless something changes.  So I mustered up the courage and submitted my resignation.  And I made the leap.  It isn't what I originally had planned but…..  I can do this.


Friday, April 1, 2022

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...