Quantcast
 

Physics and frugality.

thRecently I had fun trying to recognize the desiccated ingredients of the boiling bag I was emptying into the slow cooker. After a few minutes of frugality CSI (cooking scene investigation), I identified the following:

Onion skins, Asian greens (they’ve gone to seed so I’m removing the last small leaves), teeny-tiny green apples (to avoid stressing our newly planted trees, DF took off most of the fruits), carrot tops and greens, potato peels, and small green tomatoes (jumpers from our greenhouse plants).

Also cucumber peels (from fruits too high in cucurbitacin to eat as-is), red romaine leaves (too bitter after bolting for salads, but fine for broth), green-bean ends, squash blossoms (from our blue Hubbard plant), dandelion greens and a little chickweed (because revenge).

After adding a freezer container of vegetable cooking water – from corn, peas, lentils, potatoes and green beans – I had quite the potage de garbage going. Cooked and drained, it smelled a lot like Campbell’s vegetable soup and tasted even better.

All this recycling reminded me of the notion that energy can’t be created or destroyed, but rather transformed from one form to another. In our home, food gets created – we grow the stuff as well as cook it from supermarket ingredients – but it never really goes away.

 


read more

thI just got back from voting in the primary election, a civic duty made pleasant by the beauty of the weather: blue skies after many days of rain, big puffy clouds and a slight breeze that stirred the faint but unmistakable fragrance of decaying vegetation.

Yes, summer is on the wane. Wildflowers and gardens alike are dying back – hence the smell of plant life sinking gradually to earth. Birch leaves are falling like golden rain in my BFF’s back yard. Most of the fireweed has spawned out, although a few defiant pinky-lavender blossoms still show up here and there.

The sun’s angle and intensity have both changed noticeably. As I noted in the linked article, “August sun compared to June sun is like a social kiss: close enough to get its point across but far enough away to feel like display rather than true affection.”

 


read more

thThe time to prepare for disasters – or even moderate inconveniences – is before they happen. This week’s giveaway can help.

The Penny-Pinching Prepper: Save More, Spend Less and Get Prepared for Any Disaster” is the latest book from Bernie Carr, she of the Apartment Prepper blog.

Ignore the stereotypes about wild-eyed prepper nutcases stockpiling bullets and Spam. Preparing for power outages, extreme weather and the like just makes sense. In fact, the government urges us all to have at least several days’ worth of supplies on hand. Just ask anyone who’s ever lived through an ice storm whether it’s a bad idea to be a prepper.

 


read more

GetAttachmentThumbnailThis vegetable plate represents summer in our yard and greenhouse. The red tomato slices are Czech’s Bush, the oddly colored ones are a Siberian variety called Black Prince, the cucumber is called Space Saver and the garish beets are Detroit Dark Red, pickled in a bonehead-simple recipe of vinegar, sugar, water, cinnamon and cloves.

In making that plate I flashed back to the covered-dish suppers of my youth. Each table in the church basement had a cut-glass dish of pickles, olives and pickled beets (or something quite like it). The suppers tended to happen in fall and winter, so freshly sliced tomatoes and cukes weren’t on the menu.

After an unusually sunny June and July, we’ve been treated to near-constant clouds and rain. “State fair weather,” we call it. Great for the rhubarb and raspberries and other outdoor crops. Not so much for the greenhouse tomatoes, which are bursting with fruit but ripening more slowly than we’d like.

 


read more

thWhen was the last time you had your cholesterol checked? How about your hearing or vision? Sam’s Club can help.

More than 600 of the warehouse stores will provide a handful of free health tests this Saturday (Aug. 13) – and you don’t have to be a member to take advantage.

 


read more

thI’d like to introduce you to an interesting website called A Gai Shan Life, run by the pseudonymous Revanche (love that name). She’s been producing AGSL for 10 years.

Ten. Years. An entire decade. Do you know how many bloggers quit after a year, or even sooner than that? (Hint: Lots of them.)

As she puts it, her site is “a senior in dog years, starts fifth grade in kid years, or could retire as a centenarian in blog years.”

The blog defies easy description. It’s a thoughtful mix of topics, including but not limited to lifestyle, personal finance, working world, chronic-illness and, more recently, parenthood.

Revanche has a serious health condition and has spent the past 10 years finishing her education, supporting her parents and brother, paying off her family’s debts, starting her own career, getting married and having a child. Somehow she has also managed to keep a blog afloat.

You should go read her. And just in case you need more incentive than my recommendation, how about this: Her 10th blogoversary giveaway features a chance to win some pretty swell prizes.

 


read more

thBack on June 10 I published a post updating the progress on “Your Playbook For Tough Times.” In the past eight weeks the work has morphed yet again. In fact, it’s become two books.

Neither of which, unfortunately, are yet available for purchase.

How is it possible that two months have passed without my hitting “publish”? As they say on Facebook, it’s complicated.

 


read more

Well, maybe not a true BFF. We don’t go to the movies or take turns hosting the holidays, and I’ve never once babysat his kid.

But he follows me on Twitter! Here’s the e-mail that proves it:

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 9.43.12 AM

 

This was the most exciting thing that’s happened to me since I got the e-mail saying “Marlo Thomas is now following you on Twitter.” Wish I’d saved that screen shot.

 


read more

th-1On the back cover of “Live Your Life For 1/2 The Price,” prolific personal finance author Mary hunt perfectly sums up my feelings about frugality:

“It’s the money you don’t spend that ultimately gives you the freedom to live the life you love.” 

You tell ’em, girl.

Hunt, who’s written a couple of dozen books and created the Debt Proof Living program and the Mary Hunt’s Everyday Cheapskate website, gives readers the tools to do things like reduce costs, get control of spending, avoid fees, retire the mortgage off early and pay a fair sum for the right car. And she does it with her trademark humor, compassion and pragmatism.

In other words, she’s fun to read and she knows what it’s like to be in debt — boy, does she know! — but she won’t let you off the hook for any of it. Instead, she’ll throw you a lifeline.

 


read more

th(Recently a reader wrote to ask me to re-run this post. So I did. And a happy Throwback Thursday to you all.)

Yesterday I had the use of a car so I stopped at the Division of Motor Vehicles to get my driver’s license switched over. The clerk asked if I’d been licensed in Alaska previously, and was in fact able to find me in the system. Fill in form ABCXYZ, take the written test and you’re good to go.

Written test? Really? Couldn’t I be grandmothered in, based on the fact that I was once a licensed Alaska driver?

Nope. Moments later questions like “How much liability insurance is an Alaska driver required to carry?” were flashing before my eyes.

The answer is “$50,000/$100,000/$25,000.” Who knew? Not me, apparently, because I got four questions wrong and the testing system kicked me out.

I’ve been driving for 38 years and I flunked the blankety-blank written test. Still can’t quite believe that. The real surprise of the day, however, came from filling out the form.

 


read more

thToday was a true Sabbath: We kicked back and  didn’t do anything we didn’t want to do. In fact, DF and I didn’t leave the property once he’d returned home from early Mass.

It was a day for naps, a bit of gardening in between rain squalls, reading and eating stuff from our own yard: cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, raspberries and rhubarb.

It was also a day for pie. Although I love the confection dearly I rarely make it. Today I decided pie was the perfect way to get rid of some of last year’s raspberries, some of this year’s rhubarb and all the blueberries that DF got in prison.

All the best stories include the word “prison” in them, don’t they?

 


read more

thOur house smells of smoke thanks to a wildfire just south of town. The recent unusually sunny and warm weather has left the area ready to burn.

The linked video above shows an uninhabited, mountainous area. Unfortunately the blaze is spreading toward a part of town with wonderful homes – and no utility infrastructure.

That’s the trouble with living in an isolated area: Even if fire trucks can get up there, they can use only the water they brought with them.

Residents are packing their bug-out bags and creating what the fire folks call “defensible spaces” around their homes (e.g., removing trees and mowing down brush) and everyone’s sort of on tenterhooks. I expect even the atheists are praying for a downpour right about now.

Down here on the flats I’m feeling sad for anyone in the fire’s path and also experiencing a bit of survivor’s guilt. Our house lot is mostly treeless; if fire broke out in tree-heavy areas nearby, we have two hose hookups that would let us squirt out any embers that blew our way.

Thanks to the city water system we’d have a steady supply. One of us could be on the ground watching for hot spots and the other on the roof to protect the shingles. Since this is a one-story house it would be a simple scramble up the ladder; DF does this every year when he sweeps the chimney.

Right now I’m praying (for real) for rain.

 


read more