Uncategorized

Saving Versus Hoarding: Too Much of a Good Thing

juicebottle

I have been planning on writing this post for a few weeks, but I have things in my draft folder I intended on posting prior to this one.

Then I started thinking about this orange juice container.

I buy orange juice maybe 3 times a year. If that. I am really picky about my juice and I really can’t justify the price for the quality I want more than that. I’m not at the point where I think about the reusability of the packaging I buy [yet] [though I also admit that I am annoyed that Wegmans swapped out their pasta sauce bottles for plastic, at least in the bulk pack]. However, the quality of juice I buy normally comes in a bottle more often than a carton.

So I rinsed out the bottle and set it aside for the tea that Mid brings to work. We don’t know what happened to his normal Stanley thermos at this stage of the move, though I’m sure it’ll come up again at some point.

It did however get me thinking about this subject again, so I’ll touch on it tonight.

Saving Versus Hoarding

There is a certain frugality to getting as much use out of what you own as you can, instead of buying a separate product for that purpose. That’s why I use canning jars in my kitchen for storage instead of dedicated kitchen storage pieces, unless they go on deep sale. ┬áDuring my research for the money saving posts, one of the consistent tips was to never throw out anything that can be used for something else.

I’m going to tell you there comes a point where you need to let things go and throw them away.

Again, I do agree with the idea-and use it-but as with the majority of things in life, it’s a matoter of degrees. You can tip from ‘frugal, green reuse’ into ‘kind of scary stockpile of old stir fry bottles.’

My system for avoiding a hoarding situation and maintaining a useful stash:

[This system takes into account seasonal use items like Christmas decorations or winter gear, but the idea is still the same. Even if the item is only used once a year, it should be getting used during that point of the year. If you have 1000 Christmas ornaments and only really use 50, it’s time to purge.]

  1. Figure out when you use the items you already own-if you already have a stash of 50 bottles and only use 10, it’s not time to start hanging on to more bottles. It’s time to purge at least some of those overflow bottles.
  2. Determine how much storage space you actually have to put towards saving-not what you -think- you have, not what you -might- have if you were to clean things out, what you have right now.
  3. Occasionally deep clean-go through and clean out cupboards and closets and drawers. Get rid of things you haven’t used in an allotted amount of time. For example, if you haven’t used something in a year, at the very least put it into more remote storage like an attic or store room, or purge it.
  4. Forget how much you paid for it-with some exceptions. If the item was truly expensive, try to sell or trade it to recoup some of the costs. But if it was a normal sized purchase, the money is already gone regardless of whether or not you keep it.
  5. Once you have an idea of actual space, have cleared out your stashes, and know what you have-only keep things that you can name a use for. Try to avoid ‘but I might need it some day’ if you don’t have any idea what you’ll be using it for on that random future day.,
  6. Don’t keep items that need more than light repairs. A box that can be taped is one thing, an engine that needs to be completely overhauled is another.
  7. Stop saving when you stop using-every so often I have to go through and purge small bits of yarn. I do a lot of scrap knitting, but there comes a point where my small bit collection outsizes the amount of time that I spend scrap knitting. Don’t save more glass jars than you will ever feasibly use.
  8. Only keep things to ‘upcycle’ if you actually intend on upcycling them. I feel like upcycling is my generation’s answer to the Depression’s keep it because you may need it and not have resources to get it. Upcycling is awesome, but if you don’t know how to sew, now is not the time to start holding onto piles of old blown out jeans. You can certainly try to trade or barter them to someone who can upcycle them for you, and you can definitely work on learning to sew so you can eventually upcycle old denim-but there will be plenty of old denim available to play with when you get to that point. Basically, don’t start holding onto items for skills that you don’t actually have yet.

In Season Produce-June

berries-1326973_1920

What is in season for your particular region will vary. Check with local growth charts (or watch what is going on sale at your farmer’s markets and grocers) for particular harvest patterns.

Apricots

Beets

Blueberries

Canteloupe

Carrots (some, regional)

Cherries

Early corn (regional)

Early peas

Early stone fruits like peaches

Green beans

Hot peppers

Kiwi

Radishes

Strawberries (regional)

Yellow Squash

Lettuces-Boston, green leaf, red leaf

Green onions

Watermelon

In Western New York, produce this end of the month is still sort of slim pickings. It’ll pick up as we get closer to July. However, I did get a head of local Boston lettuce for under a dollar tonight. This is a good time of year for WNY to start centering on local and seasonal-local and seasonal is always a good idea, but unless you’re in a growing zone with a long time range, it can be difficult at best to do. This is the time to start freezing, canning, and drying for those of us with a three month growing span.

52 in 52 Challenge-An update

book-759873_1920

I knew it had been awhile since I updated the list.

I didn’t realize I was 11 or so books behind.

I am giving myself a challenge for the next twelve months: I want to read 52 books between November 1st 2015 to November 1st 2016. I am horribly, horribly backlogged on books. I have something like 1,100 in my Kindle library…that level of backlogged.

So I am putting myself on this goal. I will be reviewing the ones that strike me to, but I read -a lot-of cozy mysteries and I don’t want overwhelm you, readers. To that end I will be updating this post with a running list and total.

  1. A Murder in Mount Moriah
  2. Hairspray and Homicide
  3. A Mouthful of Murder
  4. Green Lake
  5. Pineapple Lies: A Pineapple Port Cozy Mystery
  6. Who Murdered Mr. Malone?
  7. The Shining
  8. Dead Leaves
  9. Mechantula
  10. Ted Saves the World
  11. Haunted New York
  12. Murder Under Construction
  13. Murder on the Page
  14. Death Takes a Trip
  15. Sharcano
  16. I Bring the Fire Part 1
  17. Dead Shifter Walking
  18. A Head Full of Ghosts
  19. Shifty Magic
  20. The Long Way Down
  21. A Feral Darkness
  22. A Narco History
  23. The Virginian
  24. The Halloween Host
  25. Halloween Tales
  26. At the Sign of the Jack o Lantern
  27. Crazy Little Thing
  28. Only Yesterday
  29. Grim Tidings

Good, Better,Best-The Resources Conversation [Learning to Homestead]

flower-meadow-1344494_1280

I bought a bottle of cold brew coffee. One of the $5 ones near the milk section of the grocery store. And it’s really good, I’m quite enjoying it. The thing is, part of my seven thousand dollar dental work need is for this one tooth, which is basically dead and crumbling (this oddly runs in my family). It broke twice, I had a root canal-and part of it broke again yesterday. I go for my post and temporary crown on Monday. What would have been ‘best’ would have been to just make my own cold brew, but I what I -wanted- was Starbucks. Which would have been close to $5 for a single drink, and not the half gallon of coffee that I got to have right away. I know we’re supposed to delay gratification, but my tooth was crumbling, and this was the better (and faster) coffee fix.


I have effectively given up on paper towels for my kitchen work. I use tore up sheets and flour bag towels for most everything now, including straining coffee and ferments, and I even use them at work for small spills and paper towels. I bring them home, wash them, and rotate them out of my bag. I really hate paper towels now. I didn’t throw one into my current work bag today, and was deeply displeased when I had to clean up a coffee spill with paper. It just didn’t work as well, and it actually angered me a little to have to toss them after. I’m not that person that will whip one out at someone else’s house or if we were to go out, but for work and my home needs, these really are the best option.


Everyone talks about gardening like it’s a skill that -everyone has by default-. That’s not true. And even if it were, what these discussions about how everyone can definitely grow their own food takes a lot for granted ranging from a stable, clean water supply, dirt that’s not practically within walking distance of Love Canal…and time. Because you’re talking a lot of time if you’re aiming for a truly usable food supply (not like, say, my one onion in a pot). Every little bit helps but sometimes it’s really the best option to just go buy produce.


The point of these three examples is that homesteading is about balance, and part of that balance is figuring out where to put resources to their best usage. And resources here means everything that you have to put into a homestead to get it to run properly, or at least smoothly. That includes things like skills, money, and time. Never underestimate the need to factor time into the homestead.

I do work a forty hour a week job, and I don’t drive, so I have to add transportation time into my job as well. Public transportation is great for many reasons but it means that I have to leave that much earlier, and if I have to leave work for whatever reason I have to try to figure out how that’s going to work. I actually don’t have the time, let alone the space, right now to do much more than a patio garden with some buckets. That’s the ‘best’ balance right now. Same with some processed foods, cleaning products, and why I don’t pressure can yet. I have to decide where my limited time is best used in the relatively small space I have to work on.

There’s no ‘right’ answer to what your priorities should be-the question should be ‘what’s a good fit, what’s a better fit, and what’s the best fit’. I didn’t make that up, I’m not claiming it for my own idea. But it’s effective here, and it’s not one that has to be an active thought when making a decision. The test is finding out if you can justify the choice afterwards (or during, or before, or whenever you’re judging the idea for fit) and deciding if the best fit is being achieved. There’s plenty of things I don’t do, that other people do without any strain at all-I don’t make soap, I don’t play with a lot of herbals, I don’t pressure can, I don’t have a dehydrator. Maybe someday. Right now I don’t have the time or the space to put into these tasks-I would be snuggling down with the canner every night at this point if I brought it into my kitchen.

That means that my list isn’t going to look like anyone else’s, or even my own over stretches of time. I now have three days a week off instead of two, which means I have more open time, but a need to rework my priorities so my apartment isn’t stacked with mountains of dirty dishes by the end of the work week (I’m still working on that one).

Sometimes what this will mean is making good choices instead of best ones, or settling for a consistent better option for certain decisions. I will buy cold brew coffee as a treat, and I will probably always buy my pie crusts.

Mexico Barbaro

Two things to remember before I get into the meat of this review: I enjoy international horror more almost as a rule above American horror, and I love folkloric horror with a passion-and have a much wider definition of what falls into that subgenre than I think a lot of reviewers are willing to work with.

I will admittedly give folkloric horror that plays with themes from outside the horror mainstream a lot more give than I do horror with more common themes, just for showing me something. New here is being used loosely, I’m just tired of seeing the same three movies being made in American horror over and over again, just with a new cast. But I digress.

Mexico Barbaro plays with a lot of themes and images, some of them probably more familiar than other. Ranging from ghosts into echoes of folk saints, all eight segments rework traditional folk stories. These are not just ‘dark’ fairy tales though, and this is -definitely-a horror movie, with a fair amount of violence, gore, bodily injury, and sexual content. However…I almost love it for that. I love seeing world folklore get down and dirty with its shadow side [not to sound like a cultural tourist. I’m just tired of Little Red Riding Hood being used as an example of how ‘dark’ folklore was and is.]

Is it a ‘good’ project thought? If you like projects like V/H/S you’ll like this film. But it has the same weaknesses-some of the segments feel forced, some are rushed, some are a little vague. Some feel like a study in gore with a slight attempt at a theme [I’m not a fan of the closing segment]. But it’s fun, in the way that a slasher can be fun. And some of the images linger impressively. So it’s not an instant classic, but it’s fun for the gore hounds.

A Head Full of Ghosts

A Head Full of Ghosts

Paul Tremblay

309 Pages

Accessed as an Ebook

$11.99 at the time of writing

This book is one of those genre spanning books that can be so slippery and hard to pin down that you end at dark fiction and call it good.

With some novels that becomes a burden-the reader is forced to wade through so many style changes and tropes that it becomes almost more work than what the pay off is worth. However, in this case, it works for the plot and in a lot of ways the plot throws side way glances at genre, like the way that Tremblay pulls from so many genres is the point of the entire thing.

Tremblay doesn’t give us a true academic horror novel, but there’s enough depth here to keep a reader who needs complexity in their horror happy. The book is meta, but stays within the bounds of mainstream fiction enough to not require too much thought-up until the last chapter (and arguably the last 10 pages or so of the book) when the reader is forced to confront who, or what, the driving force of the novel has been the entire time.

I am not using the word conflict here deliberately. At its core, the book centers around the tensions of the Barrett family when the family patriarch, John, decides to approach his elder daughter Marjorie’s mental illness as a possession-and then decides to use reality television as the site of her healing. The plot is narrated by Merry, the younger daughter, both as an adult in the near future and as her 8 year old self at the time of the possession in what is roughly now.

The possession plot is actually solid enough that if the novel were less complex (and again here the complexity isn’t forced or overly dense or artificial), the book would still be interesting. Tremblay manages to find several rather novel additions to the demonic possession subgenre, enough that it doesn’t feel like a replay of the Exorcist or other possession classics (though in one of the meta zones the novel questions its own ability to avoid that). However. It is truly the end of the book that forces the reader to sit up and question who or what was the real villain or force at play here-because the ending of the novel is both disquieting and a touch confusing in all the best ways, and certainly forces a perspective change on everything that has come before.