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Monday, September 29, 2008

Clearinghouse - Junk in my trunk.

Purge list:
  • t-shirt drawer
  • cami drawer
  • work out drawer
  • pajama drawer
  • underwear drawer & bra/swim drawer
  • sock drawer
  • junk drawer
Junk drawer.

Last on the list to purge my dresser is the junk drawer. Most people have one of these in their kitchen. Mine just happens to be in my bedroom. Kitchen organized, bedroom not so.

Taking stock:
Contents =
3 small purses
2 wallets
1 travel cosmetic case
1 sunglass case
1 pilates dvd
8 orphan socks
2 pair matching socks
2 pair new in package socks
7 receipts
1 $5.00 silver certificate
1 matchbook from the Sands casino
2 key chains with 2 old keys
1 leather journal
1 corkscrew and cork
1 paper drink umbrella
1 rubber bat
4 fest buttons
1 travel manicure kit
4 bottle lens cleanser for my glasses
5 screws
1 set bra straps
2 lavender sleep masks
1 skeleton key
a pile of love letters and cards
7 rings with boxes1 necklace with box
1 antique brooch
2 baby pictures of yours truly

Some of the items you may recognize from my underwear/bra drawer. The junk drawer seemed like a more logical location for these. There is not much in here I wish to part with. Okay, I no longer need the bra straps since I previously purged all my bras and disposed of them via the free table last week. The two key chains will probably make their way to the next free table as well. Although I have sleep issues, I have never used the sleep masks. They are outta here. Socks. sigh Yes, more socks. A comment was made during the purge of my sock drawer on how amazing it was to have 69 pairs of socks and not one was missing it's matching half. See Jennifer, I lose them, too! I have a whole bag of lost souls that these eight will be joining. The matching four will find a happy home with the remaining 43 pair I own. The receipts from purchases I was evidently hiding from Hubby will be accounted for and filed with the rest of the year's purchases. The purses, wallets and cosmetic case will relocate to my shoe closet which has yet to be purged. Sunglass case and lens cleanser will relocate, too. Maybe I will add the cleanser to the free pile? I use vinegar for that now anyway. I always knew I had a screw loose, but five? Those should be in the basement. The miscellaneous keepsake paraphernalia and letters will stay, I'm sentimental like that. The jewelry will stay put, too. If you ever want to rob me, I guess you know where the goods are. Oh, and the pilates dvd; one of these days I will stop spending so much time on my arse blogging and will use it. I have some extra junk in my trunk that could use a little purging if you know what I mean. Better put it somewhere less hidden, like the basement... where I never go.

Purge list:
  • t-shirt drawer
  • cami drawer
  • work out drawer
  • pajama drawer
  • underwear drawer & bra/swim drawer
  • sock drawer
  • junk drawer
Perhaps this post would be more appropriately named Warehouse. As in, where in the house should I relocate this stuff to?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thrifty Green Thursday

Free yourself!

At least once a year our home goes through a major purge. It is amazing the amount of crap one can collect in a year's time! Even if you do not buy much, there always seems to be unwanted gifts, something your relatives guilted you into taking, toys or clothes your kids have outgrown, and even things you may have outgrown yourself. Like the lamp that was too good of a deal to pass up a few years ago; only now, you have come to the realization it was such a steal due to its sheer hideousness. Yeah, you know have something similar in your house right now.

All of that compounded with items we gave up in pursuit of a "greener" lifestyle
the clutter has reached critical mass in our household and it is time to purge. I have slowly been clearing out my clothing collection, the chitlins have purged their bedrooms, we organized the basement, and cleaned out the garage. A small mountain of castoffs now stood before us. I highly value my time and can think of a million other things I would rather do than load up all this stuff and make multiple trips to the local thrift store. Not to mention the cost of gas! Likewise, spending the entire weekend haggling over fifty cents for a garage sale does not sound like much fun either. Admittingly, we probably could have made a couple hundred bucks having the sale, but spending time baking with the chitlins or taking a family bike ride is much more valuable to me. Free table it is!

We set a FREE table out by the road and over the course of the weekend got rid of everything! You would be amazed at what people will take if it is free. While replenishing the table I met lots of interesting people. Everyone was very polite and overly thankful for the items they took. I heard many stories of how the items were going to help So and So, about troubles people were having in their lives, answered many questions as to why I was giving away so much stuff - No, I am not moving, and learned how my items were filling a gap in theirs. It was wonderful. The many thanks and smiles will always out weigh the potential dollars.

Some of things that went to good homes:
  • cleaning supplies I quit using over a year ago in favor of vinegar and baking soda
  • plastic cooking utensils replaced with bamboo
  • tupperware and ziploc food containers
  • excess serving bowls
  • many coffee mugs
  • reusable lexan water bottles
  • a small fryer
  • dish drainer
  • partially used cans of paint
  • half burnt candles
  • Christmas decorations
  • picture frames
  • shoes
  • all of my purged socks and bras
  • tons of toys
  • doll house
  • Barbie cars
  • remote control cars
  • transformers
  • moon sand
  • coloring books
  • crayons
  • children's books
  • vhs and dvd movies
  • snowpants
  • swim suits
  • clothing
  • aquarium and everything you would need, minus the fish
  • vacuum cleaner
  • bathroom trashcan
  • shower curtain hooks
  • toilet brushes
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste and mouthwash
  • tampons - I'm a Diva
  • cosmetics
  • many lotions
  • shampoo
  • bath salts
  • air fresheners
  • razors
  • hotel toiletries
  • pictures
  • curtains
  • entertainment center
  • bookends
  • books
  • magazines
  • chafing dishes
The list goes on and on. I realize this is not exactly a way to be thrifty yourself, but if you take into account the time and gas it would take to haul everything to the thrift store or the enormous undertaking of a garage sale you might have a different perspective. Plus, keeping all of this out of the trash is a great way to help the environment and others. On man's trash is truly another man's treasure.

Next time you purge consider setting up a FREE table. Free your home of clutter, free your valuable time, free your sanity and free yourself!

For other thrifty green ideas visit Thrifty Green Thursday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Homemade PB&J

My second attempt at baking bread definitely turned out better than my first. I followed a recipe suggested by Heather at Simple - Green - Frugal. The recipe came from The New Homemaker and is copied below.

Whole Wheat Bread--The Recipe
The Sponge
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 cup whole wheat flour

The Dough
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup gluten flour
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil*
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt

The Egg Wash
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

First the sponge

The sponge before (top) and after (bottom).
In your mixing bowl place the 3/4 cup of warm water and sprinkle the 4 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast (if you prefer to buy the packets, use two for this recipe) onto it. Then add the 1 cup of whole wheat flour. Stir them together vigorously. Then cover the bowl with plastic and let it sit for 45 minutes to an hour (see, this wasn't so hard).

You will notice, when you peer into the bowl, that a lot of bubbling and expanding has taken place. It will reach a peak of expansion and then settle back down a little. That's when it's time to move onto the next step.

When your sponge is ready, uncover the bowl and add the 1 1/2 cups of warm water and 2 cups of whole wheat flour (that's right, not all 4 1/2 cups of it). Stir this in very well.

Next, the dough
Yeast can be a little sensitive. Sweet things cause it to go into overdrive and salt and oils shut it down. Before you add the remaining ingredients to the sponge temper the mixture with flour to protect the yeast a little. Otherwise you risk reducing the yeast activity and adversely affecting your final bread.

Now add the 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten, 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1/3 cup honey and 1 tablespoon salt. Mix these in well. Now start adding the remaining flour about 1/2 cup at a time.

On to kneading
By the time you have 4 cups total of flour, you will have a stiff dough. Now you should put in your dough hook, or put your bread on a board to knead. Use additional small amounts (like 1 tablespoon) as they are needed to keep the dough from sticking. Test the dough for stickiness in the mixer. Looking at it won't tell you enough.

Keep working the dough as long as possible, 10 minutes in the mixer. If you are kneading by hand, you're looking at 20-30 minutes. Take a break about 10-15 minutes into it and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. You will find it relaxed and easier to work then.

When you think you've had enough, draw the dough into a ball by cupping your fingers around the ball of dough and drawing the surface toward the back. Is it smooth all the way around? Or do some cracks appear around the edges? If you want it perfect, knead until the cracks go away. Take breaks if you need to. Or just move to the next step. It will still taste good and will be a starting point for you to improve upon.

The first rise

The dough is ready when a finger poke doesn't fill up
Place this dough into a large greased bowl (preferably not metal) and cover with plastic. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until it doubles in size. So what's a warm place? My house is kept rather cool, so I typically put my bread dough into the oven with the light on. Or leave it out on the counter and let it rise longer. Remember a cool rise for a longer period of time is a good thing when making bread.

When you think enough time has passed, pull the plastic back and make a big poke in the dough with a finger. Watch the hole. Did it fill up again right away? Did it fill up slowly? Or did it just sit there, a big hole, doing nothing? If the answer is either of the first two, it's not ready yet. Pull the plastic back over and go do something else for a while. Check it again later. If it's the last answer you're ready to shape the loaves.

Shaping the loaves
Shaping loaves has been a bit of a puzzle for me I've had to work it out on my own. Words cannot convey exactly what you do and pictures never seem to get at the critical bits of information. There are a couple of things you are trying to accomplish by shaping your dough that will make for a better loaf. One is getting all the air out. This kind of bread does not benefit from large air pockets. The peanut butter just squishes through them and it makes a big mess!

My first objective when I dump my now large puffy bread dough out onto the counter is to gently press all the air out of it. I'm not kneading it at this point because I don't want the relaxed dough to get stiff and elastic. That would make it difficult to shape. I ease all the air out and cut the dough in half.

The second thing I'm trying to accomplish is a high standing loaf with a perfect symmetrical mound coming out of the pan. The way I shape it will greatly affect this. I flatten each piece of dough out into a longish shape. At one end I begin to roll it up like a towel, although I'm very careful to pull the dough tight and not let any air spaces in. By pulling the dough towards me as I roll I create tension along the outside surface. This tension will improve the smooth outline of the finished loaf.

When I get to the end of the piece of dough, pulling the edge firmly I pinch the edge to the loaf. You actually pinch the dough along the seem and it will hold together. Don't tear the dough, but pinch firmly. At each end I shove the outside edge into the middle of the dough and grasp the remaining flaps and pinch them to the underside of the loaf. This takes some figuring out, but it has done wonders for making loaves with ends that don't sink down into the pan but rise up with the middle of the loaf.

The second rise
Place these into greased 9 X 5 pans. They will need to proof (another fancy word for rise) one last time. Cover them with plastic. This last rise will take an hour or less, again depending on how warm the room is. The dough should come at least an inch above the top of the pans before you put them in the oven. A finger poke is still a good option here to decide if the dough is really ready, but in this case you want the hole to fill in slightly. You need some good yeast action in the oven for a final push.

Turn your oven on to 350 degrees. While you're waiting for it to heat up, mix about a tablespoon of water with one egg and paint the top of your loaves when they are proofed. Then put them in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes. To test for doneness, pull the loaf out of the pan and tap the bottom with a wooden handle. It should have a hollow sound. This takes a little experience but a loaf with no reverberation isn't quite done. Put it back for 5 minutes and check again.

Cool these for at least an hour before slicing. If you don't wait that long the structure of the bread will not support a knife and will mush down and stay permanently mushed when you're done mangling it. Try to be patient.

I have to admit I was not very careful with this recipe. First off, I did not have any gluten flour. I used plain whole wheat flour for the sponge and used organic bread flour for the remainder of the recipe; including substituting 1/2 cup bread flour for the 1/2 cup gluten flour. Secondly, I am pretty sure I used too much flour. Things were going great, the sponge was perfect so I added the water and two cups of flour as the recipe stated. Then I added the rest of the ingredients and began to add the remaining flour a half cup at a time. This is where something went awry. Not realizing what I was doing I counted out the amount of flour going in. Half cup, 1 1/2 cups, 2 cups, 2 1/2 cups...hmm, that's funny the dough is already stiff. I still have a cup and a half to go. 3 cups Doh! I forgot I had already put in two cups and should have started counting there. Now I had an extra cup of flour in my dough. No wonder it was stiff! Third, I made it on a Sunday when we were busy cleaning out the garage, washing the car, doing laundry, baking Mississippi Mud Cake, preparing the week's ration of waffles, and a million other things. So, I did not pay much attention to the rises and perhaps it was left a little too long. Fourth, my daughter used all the eggs making waffles so there was none left for the egg wash. And lastly, I have no idea what done bread sounds like. I tapped it like the directions said, but it didn't really sound hollow. It didn't really have any reverberation either, probably from the extra cup of flour. It was nice and golden and I didn't want to risk burning it so I pulled it out.

It was dense, but tasted good and made the house smell wonderful! I enjoyed two slices for breakfast today with nut butter made in my food processor and strawberry freezer jam we made earlier this year with berries picked from our neighbor's farm. Yum Yum!

Anyone have a multi-grain recipe worth sharing?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Meatrix

I first saw this posted on Earth Friendly Weddings and felt compelled to pass it on. I showed it to the chitlins last night hoping it would help explain why I buy organic food, shop at the farmer's market, and prefer grass fed meat from a local farm. My daughter was horrified and asked if what they said was true. I think I may have opened up a can of worms. Their mother and stepfather own a family/factory farm. They raise chickens for Gold'n Plump for a living. This is part of the chitlin's everyday life, caught between two extremes. I am sure we will be receiving a phone call when they go visit her this weekend. Ugh.

The Meatrix II

The Meatrix II 1/2

The Meatrix films were created by sustainable table and Free Range Studios. The Meatrix website is packed full of facts and information on how to get involved. There is also an Eat Well Guide where you can find meat, poultry, dairy and eggs raised sustainably on small, family farms in your area. (US and Canada)

Everyday I find reinforcement that organic, sustainable practices need to be a priority for my family, in all facets of our life.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hot for Teacher.

1984 Remember this?

On Friday I was so hot under the collar over a Freshman Tech Ed assignment that it prompted me to write a letter to the teacher. I was a little skeptical of the outcome and second guessing if I should have wrote it in the first place. Was I inadvertently turning my son into the "weird kid"? Would I suddenly become "that parent"? It is so hard to know the right thing to do. We are trying to make this a better world for our children, but at what price? Is it better to speak your mind and practice what you preach or stand silent so your child appears normal in an effort to fit in? We are already dealing with bullying, so I worry if I am compounding the issue by not allowing the chitlins to graze on refined sugar and pack a plastic pop in their lunch bag. I try to explain the reasons for my actions, but when none of their peers are doing it and they are constantly being bombarded by conventional marketing, plus their mother allows all the things I do not, I just come off looking like the Wicked Stepmother. If I push too hard they rebel, if I say nothing then what am I teaching them? How do you other eco-moms find that balance? Any eco-stepmoms out there that can offer some advice?

Anyhoo....on with the good news. So after sending my letter to the teacher, I received a phone call at noon from Mr. Liethen. He thanked me for my letter and apologized profusely! He went on to explain that he, too had children and had no idea of the effects of styrofoam on the environment. He decided to drop the assignment and asked if he could read my letter to the class as an explanation. I was elated! Yes, read it please! Any reinforcement outside of my rantings at home might help the chitlins realize I am not crazy.

After exclaiming my victory to the dirty dishes and doing a celebratory dance in the kitchen, a horrible feeling fell upon me. He didn't know. My God! They do not know! How naive of me. Of course, he didn't know. If he had known, he would not have assigned the class to bring foam egg cartons in the first place. One year ago I did not know half of the stuff I do now! Looking back on my own naiveness I am angry and appalled. How could I not know this stuff was bad? You use pesticides on bugs and it kills them, but it is not harmful to humans. Come on! Steroid use on animals we eat is okay, but bad if we shoot ourselves up? What?! Plastic is a wonderful invention that never degrades, so let's surround ourselves with it and make more, More, MORE. I can always just take it to the curb and poof! it goes away. Ha!

I am an idiot! How could I allow, no welcome this stuff into my life? Should I blame it all on the government, TV commercials, society? No. It is my own damn fault. I research manufacturers, read reviews, compare features, and shop around when buying a TV. But, when buying groceries don't think twice about where that food came from and how it was grown. If it was grown at all. I prefer my food to be in the shape of a box and the cheaper the better. Shame on me.

I have learned a lot over the past year. The most important lesson learned has to be that I am in control of my life. I have this gray matter inside my head called a brain. It is what allows me to read package labels, books, scientific studies. I can call upon my senses with it. Does this cleaning product irritate my skin, burn my eyes, smell bad? One super awesome function of my brain is the ability to reason. I can look at all the factors, stop and say; "You know, that really doesn't add up!". I have the ability to choose. Choose to use my brain or not.

"Hello Brain."
"Hello Human."
I think it is time we work together.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Out of my shell.

Okay, so now I have done it. It's official. I have come out of my shell. I have outed myself. Up until Wednesday my poor family have been the only souls, well besides you all, that have been subjected to my eco-madness. Wednesday I attended a picnic sponsored by the Coulee Partners for Sustainability. I was so thrilled to connect with kindred spirits that I signed on for a sustainability study circle starting the very next night. My county and neighboring city are working to become eco-municipalities using The Natural Step Framework. Yea!

Upon returning home last night all charged up from the study circle, my Freshman son says he needs a foam egg carton for Tech Ed class on Friday or the whole class will have to take a quiz. Hmm, what? Come again? I don't think I heard you right. You did not seriously just ask me for a foam egg carton, did you?! Bad timing kid. After a lengthy lecture on the detriments of polystyrene and a sleepless night, I awoke early to draft a letter to his teacher.

Dear Mr. Liethen,

I writing regarding today's assignment for the Freshman Tech Ed class. From what I understand the students were instructed to bring in a foam egg carton. I am asking you to please excuse ******* ****** from this assignment.

I try very hard not to do things that could cause harm to my children and the world they live in. Foam egg cartons are made from polystyrene. Styrene, the basic building block of polystyrene, is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). A 1986 EPA report on solid waste named the polystyrene manufacturing process as the 5th largest creator of hazardous waste. Polystyrene is not recycled by our municipality, therefore being sent to Xcel Energy's incinerator for burning. The National Bureau of Standards Center for Fire Research identified 57 chemical byproducts released during the combustion of polystyrene foam. Toxic chemicals leach out of these products into the food that they contain (especially when heated in a microwave). These chemicals threaten human health and reproductive systems. Foam products are made with petroleum, a non-sustainable and heavily polluting resource.

For these reasons and many more we do not buy eggs in foam cartons. ****** is concerned that if he does not comply with the assignment the class will have to take a quiz. It is hard enough to teach our children to voluntarily live simple and have respect for the world they live in when all of their peers are not. I do not want him to be ridiculed by the class for causing a quiz. Please respect my stance on this issue and excuse him from this assignment. If you should ever assign a project using cardboard egg cartons I would be happy to supply the entire class.

****** ******
(***) ***-****

*Names removed to protect the innocent.

I do not know what will come of it. Wishfully, the teacher will dig his head out of his ass and no one will notice my son did not bring a foam egg carton because his wicked step-mother is an eco-nazi. Practically, I will be labeled a whacked eco-nazi, the teacher will continue to enjoy the smell of shit, the class will have to take a quiz, and my poor son will swear off environmentalism forever after being ridiculed by the class for my beliefs.

Alas, what's done is done. I have broke free from my shell, but I am not sure coming out is all it is cracked up to be.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thrifty Green Thursday

Draft Stopper.

With winter quickly approaching I shudder in remembrance of the icy drafts coming from beneath my doors. A lot of resources and money are wasted due to the extra heat needed to combat these drafts and the extra money you have to spend to fuel the furnace. People have been using door snakes for years. Maybe you even have one. I find them annoying because you always have to put them back in there place. I am lazy, I know. A quick and easy fix to this problem is using a twin draft stopper. Now, you could pay $19.99 and order the twin draft guard, but that would not be very thrifty. And these are so simple to make!

The materials:

All it took was a pair of my daughter's recently purged jeans and two foam pipe wraps from the hardware store. These come in different diameters and are dirt cheap. 1/2 inch should be sufficient to cover most gaps.

  • Cut your foam tubes to 1 1/2 to 2 inches shorter than the width of the door you are covering.
  • Cut your jeans in half and trim to slightly longer than the tubes. I got lucky, these were already nearly the length I needed.

  • Turn inside out and sew bottom hem shut.
  • Slip tubes inside pant leg and slide under the door so that one tube is on each side of door.

  • Pull fabric taught so tubes are snug against the door.
  • Pin along edge of tube on cut side and sew a straight seam along pins.
  • Trim excess fabric off.

  • Turn right side out, insert tubes and fold over open end to be flush with tubes.
  • Pin hem and sew edge, leaving the end open.

  • Reinsert tubes and slide under door with open end towards door frame.
  • Make sure door can open and close freely.
  • Never bend down to put the door snake back in its place again!

The finished product will move with the door. There is no need to constantly be putting it back in its place. Just slide it on and forget about it. I like to leave one end open so the tubes can be removed and the cover washed when needed. You could certainly add Velcro or sew it shut if preferred. These work great for drafty windows, too!

The side by side comparison says it all. Save your money and your sanity with a simple twin draft stopper.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Clearinghouse - Sock it to me!

Purge list:
  • t-shirt drawer
  • cami drawer
  • work out drawer
  • pajama drawer
  • underwear drawer & bra/swim drawer
  • sock drawer
  • junk drawer
Sock drawer.

Ahhhh yes... my sock drawer. I saved the worst for last. Well, last of the clothing in my dresser anyway, I still have the junk drawer to do. I have been dreading this one because there are a lot of socks in there - 69 to be exact! and I will not be parting with many of them.

Taking stock:
Contents = 69 pairs of socks.

Despite the fact that I own enough socks to outfit a centipede, I cannot bring myself to part with many of them. I am keeping all of the boot socks. The snow gets pretty deep here in Wisconsin so I spend most of the winter in boots. I managed to whittle my trouser socks down to five pair. One each to match the three pair of dress shoes that I would wear socks with and two neutral pair to go with any of them. All five of the athletic socks are going. Refer to my workout drawer as to the reason why. I am keeping five of the long and twelve of the short everyday socks. I know it may sound like a lot, but I really do wear all of these everyday. Not all at once everyday! I am not the centipede in the picture. I could only part with three of the winter socks. They were wool, which drive me nuts, otherwise I would hold onto to them, too. And lastly, the four house socks are a must keep! House socks? Thick fuzzy socks I only wear in the house as, or in conjunction with slippers. Wood floors are cold!

43 pair still seems like too many. Nearly half of them are specifically for the winter, so it is really more like 23 pair, right? My feet are so cold I sometimes sleep with socks on. Right now, at 2:00 in the afternoon on a beautifully sunny September day, it is 64 degrees in my house and 75 degrees outside. Without having the AC on! I told you my house was cold. I am posting in socks, of course, slippers and a sweatshirt. Admittingly, I am making excuses to justify the amount of socks I am keeping. I warned you I would way back here.

This week's weight loss is three pounds. That brings the tally of clothing removed from my nine drawer dresser no longer full to 29 pounds. It is mind boggling that I had to work to deliberately remove 29 pounds of clothing, which seems like a lot, yet according to the EPA Office of Solid Waste, Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year! Without regard to where it is going or the benefits it could provide to someone else and the environment by staying out of the landfill. If we are throwing away that much clothing per year, it makes me stop and wonder did I ever need to buy it in the first place?

Running Total = 29 pounds of unnecessary clothing purchased.

To see it all: Clearinghouse

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stripping for money.

In Friday's post, Down to my skivvies, I eluded to stripping in regards to my recent shedding of clothing. Today I would like to talk more seriously about stripping. From what I hear it is a good way to make money. Particularly lucrative is the power strip.

What did you think I meant? Pervert.

We have six power strips in our house. Basically everything that does not require a constant power supply (i.e. refrigerator & freezer) is either unplugged or plugged into a power strip. Now, electronics are not just plugged into these because we have so many they will not all fit in the outlet. No, their purpose is that everything can be turned off, really off, with the flip of a switch.

From the US department of Energy:

"Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. These "phantom" loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance."

Most of us have heard about phantom loads, vampire power, and wall warts, but what does it actually mean to us? Money. Lots of money. Adding up to more than $3 billion in annual energy costs for the U.S. Through the use of power strips, daylight, line drying, and an overall awareness of energy consumption we have cut our energy use from 1,386 kw in August of 2007 to 693 kw this August. Half! Holy crap! $138 down to $88 and the price of energy has gone up two cents per kwh.

It took some time for the family to adjust having to flip on the power strip before the remote for the tv would work. Placing the strips in easy to access areas has helped mute the complaining. I still hear some grumbling from Hubby, but a quip "half" usually silences him, too.

We moved into this house in May of 2007. Comparing last year's electric bills to corresponding months this year, our energy consumption for 2007 May through August was 4,696 kw - May through August 2008 was 3,072 kw. Over four months we reduced our energy consumption by 1,624 kw and saved $104.11! Indeed, stripping is a good way to make money.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Clearinghouse - Down to my skivvies.

Purge list:
  • t-shirt drawer
  • cami drawer
  • work out drawer
  • pajama drawer
  • underwear drawer & bra/swim drawer
  • sock drawer
  • junk drawer

Underwear & Swim Drawers

Well folks, I never thought I would be telling you about my underwear, but I am. As embarrassing as that is, the contents of these two tiny drawers is even more so. Brace yourselves.

Taking stock:
Contents =
4 bralettes
7 swimsuits
(including various pieces and wraps)
11 bras
40 pair of underwear
2 lavender sachets
1 journal
3 greeting cards
2 fest buttons
1 rubber bat
1 paper drink umbrella
1 broken corkscrew
1 cork

What? You don't have a corkscrew and rubber bat in your underwear drawer? No? No, not that. What then? Small print. What small print? Oh, that small print. I was hoping you wouldn't catch that. You mean the small print, lengthy list, and oddities weren't distraction enough. Damn, you're good.

All right fine, I will say it. I have 40 pair of underwear! Happy now? I suck at strip poker and wanted to be prepared. Well. There is nothing like tallying up what you own to give you a good hard smack in the face at how much of a consumer you really are. Good grief brief!

I am keeping the four bralettes, they are all wear anyway. Ten pair of underwear should suffice. Sitting on my fat ass blogging has caused the other thirty pair to shrink in the drawer. All eleven of the bras can go. I really hate these torture devices. The amount of money I spent on them trying to become an Angel makes me sick. Ugh. Three of the swimsuits are unflattering. Okay, honestly none of the swimsuits are really flattering, but these three more not so. The other four and a half (one is just the top) I will hold on to.

Now, these garments people are a bit squeamish about reusing. So, what do I do with them? I have yet to find a place where I can send my clothes for recycling. Help me out folks. Throw me a friggin bone here.

This week's weight loss is again 4 pounds. Four pounds of unmentionables mentioned removed. That is a lot considering I am not really wearing Granny Panties here. From 62 articles of clothing down to 18. Talk about taking it off!

Running Total = 26 pounds of clothing shed.

See the stripping from the beginning: Clearinghouse.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thrifty Green Thursday

Need a bag? No problem.

My daughter entered 7th grade this year and has to start changing for PE class. In need of way to transport sweaty gym socks without stinking up her entire back pack and reduce the mountain of clothes recently purged from her closet we decided to combine the two.


She picked a purple skirt that no longer fits from the purge pile. It is everything she loves - purple, sparkly, and has bells that jingle. I made her rip the seams to separate the two halves and inner and outer linings. Then she released the elastic from the waistband and removed the ties holding the jingle bells. We only needed fabric from half the skirt to make the bag. I think the other half will be turned into an apron for her. She's a good kitchen helper.

  • First we sewed in the drawstring, which came from another purple skirt, and attached the bell ties - purely for decoration.
  • Then we stitched the two halves together. Inner and outer lining.
  • Turned it inside out and sewed the inner lining closed.
  • Turned it right side out and closed the bottom of the outer lining.
  • Used some scrap pieces to fashion straps.
  • Attached the straps and inserted stinky gym socks. Done!

From last year's skirt to this year's must have accessory. Sew easy!

Another simple reusable bag you can make from cast off clothing is the camisole tote. They are both great ways to spend an afternoon teaching your child a life skill. There are so many lessons to be learned here. Problem solving, frugality, wasting less, consuming less, self sufficiency. Plus, she just likes that fact that no one else will have a bag like hers. Priceless.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shattered Dreams

Today I am lamenting the loss of a dear friend.

One of the perils of a plastic free kitchen is that things will get broken. And that's exactly what happened. I had baked a batch of Oatmeal Raisin cookies (with zucchini and banana) and had the bowl soaking in the sink. Later that evening after making dinner, I balanced our cast iron skillet over the sink, as I often do, to soak it as well. I distinctly remember seeing my beloved batter bowl in the sink below it and had a fleeting thought of maybe this isn't such a good idea. But alas, I let it pass. No one will mess with it. We're all going to bed and I am the only one who bothers with the dishes anyway. Or, so I thought.

The next morning Hubby wakes me with "I've got some bad news and you're not going to like it". Like anyone ever actually likes bad news. I already knew the inevitable. You didn't?! Yep. I wanted to chew his ass up one side and down the other. Why couldn't he leave those four plates sitting in the sink?! It not like he needed to use it. Or, was putting them in the dish washer. No! He thought he would tidy up by placing them in plain sight on the damn counter! Only for me to place them in the dishwasher as soon as I came down stairs. WTF. Was that extra move really necessary? Arrrrgh!!!! But instead I whimpered silently and shed a tear. It was my own damn fault for putting it in harm's way. He was so apologetic and only trying to help out, albeit in his own unnecessary annoying kind of way. He even asked if it should go in the recycling bin. How can I be mad at that.

So, good bye dear friend. We've had some good times - the cookies, the pancakes, giblet stock at Thanksgiving. *sigh* You will be sorely missed. *sniffle*

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Am I affluent? I'm no millionaire, my house is half the size of my neighbor's behemoth, I do not drive fancy cars or wear designer clothes; hell, I even filed for bankruptcy in the last decade. So accepting the A in APLS, was a category I did not consider myself in. Thinking locally, it is like comparing apples to oranges. I am not one of them.

But on a global scale, it is a much different story. After calculating my rank on the Global Rich List, it appears I am far better off than I had perceived.

Reading other bloggers' take on the subject altered my perception, as well. But I still was not convinced. Then I decided to consult Mr. Webster.
Main Entry:
1af·flu·ent Listen to the pronunciation of 1affluent
1 : flowing in abundance <affluent streams> <affluent creativity> 2 : having a generously sufficient and typically increasing supply of material possessions <affluent society>

2 : having a generously sufficient and typically increasing supply of material possessions <affluent society> Oh, bloody hell. If any of you have been following my posts Clearinghouse, then you know damn well I have a generously sufficient and typically increasing supply of material possessions. Yep, I am affluent.

Now what? Well, owning up to it is the first step. Isn't funny how we live in a society that constantly strives to accumulate more material possessions, is overly career driven chasing the almighty dollar, and seemingly obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses to showcase our affluence, suddenly becomes sheepish when asked point blank about our wealth? Well, we're not rich, but we do okay. Why is it a social faux pas to ask someone how much they make? We are flaunting our wealth all over the place basically screaming our salary anyway. But when someone outright asks, egads! Now you are going to be humble?! Come on.

I learned the hard way that money and possessions do not bring you happiness. The cure for my affluenza was giving rather than getting. I gave up my salary to focus on my family. They appreciate the time I take to make homemade meals from food we have grown more than me being gone for 40+ hours a week working to pay for ready made meals. I volunteer - a lot. I became more connected with my community. No matter how strapped for cash, I give it away. I am aware of my impact on the world around me.

I freecycle the possessions I once coveted but really do not need. I buy less stuff and learn to make do with what I already have. I shower my children with time teaching life skills rather than toys to keep them occupied. I ask for donations to charity in lieu of birthday/Christmas gifts. I always grab a tag or two from the holiday giving tree. I save my change all year in hopes of filling a red kettle at the end. I dole out baked goods to anyone who steps foot in my house. And, I count my blessings that I entered this world affluent and find solace in the fact that I will leave it flat broke, tired, yet fulfilled that I gave it all away.

September's APLS Blog Carnival topic is Affluence.
Stop by Green Bean Dreams on September 15, for the full list of bloggers posting on this topic.