frugal

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.  During 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.
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Stocking a Kitchen

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For whatever reason, I can blog without guilt.

I can’t do much else without guilt right now-if I’m at home, I feel like I should be cleaning, packing, or sleeping. You’ll notice eating isn’t on that list. Ha. Ha. [Now is not the time to talk about mental health and homesteading/intensifying homesteading, but I feel an entry coming on at some point.] I can’t even unwind with a movie or a book for a few hours without feeling like I’m wasting valuable time. We went to a free Shawn Lennon concert…do you think I could relax enough to recharge? Of course not.

But blogging seems to be ‘productive’ enough to let me unwind a little and regroup without kicking the guilt into gear.

This may be a 101 entry-but there are several situations that I can think of without really trying as to why you would be looking for information on stocking a basic kitchen. Fires, fast/long moves [quickly or across country, or both], first households, natural disasters are all situations where you might find yourself suddenly having to flip a kitchen with little guidance. If this isn’t the first household you’ve set up, this will be easier, but if you’re finding yourself interested in hearthcraft and have no idea where to begin, this will hopefully be helpful.

-Buy the best you can afford, and upgrade if you can

I feel like all of my lists lately have an entry that I mentally label ‘the cloth toilet paper’ entry. It’s the point where I feel like if I’m going to get any push back, it’s going to be that entry. What I mean here is really literal-whatever your price range is, buy the best you can at that point and then upgrade from there. You can almost always upgrade [or not, if the pieces you have are completely functional and holding out fine for you]. Here’s the thing, though-I am fully aware, having lived that reality, that the dollar store is sometimes your current price point. The dollar store is actually good for starter pieces, as long as your careful with the plastics. They’re flimsy and not going to go for years-but they’re cheap and available.

-Use your thrift stores

This is a great option if you have them available. The same idea applies to garage sales, estate sales, and the like.

I have a thing for measuring spoons with molded/raised size markers. I have destroyed more than one set of measuring spoons by washing off the markers. I can eyeball sizes fairly accurately but with canning, I don’t want to risk throwing off a recipe. I have upgraded several sets of spoons with trips to the thrift stores. I have also found small pieces of cookware, and when I was first starting out after school I bought all my plates and coffee cups at the Salvation Army. You do have to be careful with pricing-thrift stores are notoriously expensive for things like canning jars where they try to charge per piece.

-Give up form for function [or save it for gifts]

I love most of the stuff in gourmet cooking shops. I love the cookware, the amazing ladles, and the coffee makers. The only thing I really have my eyes set on, truly, are good European canning jars and a coffee maker. I spent six years working as a barista, loved it, and learned the value of a truly good brewer. However, about those ladles. I have an Oneida solid metal ladle that after 8 years of my mediocre household skills is still puttering along fine. I can’t justify the price difference to upgrade a solid metal ladle to another solid ladle just because it’s shiny and pretty.

But. There is something to be said for what could be called heirloom quality tools. And knives especially are aided by a little more money being put towards the cause. If you’re the type of person who celebrates gift giving situations, ask for these tools [or gift cards towards them] as your gift. People might think it a little odd that you want a $20 ladle, but you might get it.

-Shop beyond your normal zones [or your normal stores]

Goya sells a lot of inexpensive staple cooking supplies like spices, sofrito, and beans. In fact, a great many of the food staples in my kitchen are cheaper in ‘specialty’ sections of Wegmans or specialty stores. Target and Tops both want $5 a bottle for sesame oil for drunken noodles, whereas it’s $3 a bottle at T&T Grocers up the street, who specialize in several Southeastern Asian cuisines. In fact, I get my instant coffee strips for baking and camping at T&T-they’re less than half the price for high quality instant coffee compared to mainstream American grocers.

-Buy a cookbook

The Internet is a beautiful thing, but get a solid cookbook. Just one, to start. You can flesh out your collection once you figure out what you want to be cooking [unless you already know]. I actually like the workhorse basic Betty Crocker red and white cookbook, but Cook’s Illustrated have several huge, well tested cookbooks on the market.

-What fits your style?

Do you need a waffle maker?

This has actually been a running battle in my household for years now, and with getting a much larger kitchen in the new apartment, I fear that Mid will ultimately win this war and we’ll get a waffle maker when the Christmas sales start up. So basically tomorrow in American shopping reality.

Do not buy things just because you feel like a well rounded kitchen should have one. If you don’t see yourself using it, then don’t spend the money on it. It causes clutter and eats up money. I do feel like you should have a good quality stand mixer, preferably one you can get attachments for like a Kitchenaide or similar. But I honestly can’t think of anything you need beyond that. You can live without a microwave, you don’t need a toaster oven, and I know that even my beloved coffee makers are optional.

Unless of course you actually do need those things in your household. Then get them, but ignore the waffle makers of your world.

-Multitasking items

I used my graniteware canner so infrequently as a canner and so frequently to corral kitchen cloth that during one of the waves of purges over the past two months getting ready for this move I got rid of it. I use a stockpot for most of my water bath canning. And the beauty of it is that I use the pot for more ‘normal’ pot things. Buy items that you can get more than one use out of.

-Out of the box and into the basket

One of the very, very few things I do enjoy about moving is finding the farmer’s markets and CSAs. I…have never actually subscribed to one but I like to find them and daydream. And then forget about actually signing up because I almost always find them in January when all we’re growing is lake effect snow. I do have friends however that swear by them, and for someone like me who now works Saturdays during most farmer’s markets, it might be on my to do list for next summer so I can still get my local produce without scheduling conflicts.

-Give up on matching

Pick a color. Or a color family. Or a generic print family like ‘flowers’ or ‘fruit’ or ‘flamingos’. Great. You now have your kitchen theme. My theme for the new kitchen is fall colors and harvest themes-fruit, pumpkins, golds, dusty jewel tones to pull in the colors from the living room. So now that I have a rough idea in my head I can mix and match items that I find on sale or are gifted without trying to fit things I find on sale into my kitchen without throwing off the visual of the place. You don’t need to give up personal style or your budget, you just have to be flexible with what you’re willing to work with [this is also why my Kitchenaide is egg shell white. It was less than half price because the color was discontinued.]

-Shop online

I buy my loose leaf tea in bulk via Adaigo. I know people who swear by Mountain Rose Herbs. I actually ordered both my bed and my mattress online (which I understand is not a kitchen item but you get the point). Don’t be afraid to shop online for good sales on items that you don’t need in the immediate short term. You can often get good sales on bulk items like spices, and you will most likely be able to get access to supplies you can’t get locally-I can get a lot of herbs at Penzey’s down the road, but I can’t get dried scorpion peppers or Carolina Reapers, like I can online.

More Crisis Tips-When Money is Tight, or More than Tight

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So this has really become a ‘thing’ for me.

Even if money is ‘fine’ there’s probably places where you can free up a little more. Or you can think of it as stewardship or going ‘green’. A lot of these are pretty old school, or based off of old thinking with regards to money and item usage. The idea of disposable or quick use items came about for a reason-in a lot of cases it was to free people from this type of necessity.

All things move in a circle I guess.

-Learn to reuse sheets

There’s a lot of fabric in a sheet. Use them to cover furniture, as drop cloths, or as a large amount of kitchen or family cloth. It might not be the ‘nicest’ looking fix in the world, but it keeps cloth out of the landfill and you don’t have to spend quite as much money.

-Pick 3 condiments. Learn how to make them.

Jam, jelly, mustard, flavored butters, nut butters, sauces…you don’t have to flip your entire fridge over to scratch made, just pick a few.

-Prep when you can

Whenever you have a little extra money, stock up towards your stockpile. Just don’t stockpile so much you run the risk of it degrading.

-Buy bulk when you can-

Figure out what you have access to in bulk, and buy it when you can [when it actually costs you less money]. You may not have a lot of space, or it may not be cheaper, but if you can store it and it’s actually cheaper, it’ll save you some money in the long run.

There are some things you can purchase online in bulk, like herbs and spices.

-Drink more water

I actually hate water. I know. But increasing your water intake away from stuff like juice or coffee will cut down on your grocery budget.

-Carry a water bottle

This dovetails into the last tip-if you have a bottle with you, you can find a water fountain and avoid buying something when you’re out.

-Weatherproof your home

Make sure your doors and windows are weatherproofed so your heat and AC isn’t working harder [or in the case of the heating system in my old apartment…basically not working at all when it’s windy]. Even if you just get the shrink wrap for your windows, make sure your home is as efficient as possible.

-Turn up your A/C slightly [or your heat down]

I do mean -slightly-. Just a couple of degrees in either direction will save you some money. You don’t have to freeze all winter, but you don’t need to make it July in January either.

-Shop your pantry

Every few weeks, pick a day [or a week] and eat out of your pantry. Set your ground rules-this week I’ll only purchases dairy and produce, I won’t buy anything, I want to eat as much canned food as possible, etc, and attempt to make as many meals as you can with what you have in the house already.

-Cut your meat

One of Mid’s favorite meals is nachos. But I make my nachos in a completely weird way-I cut the meat with wheatberries. Add grains or beans to your meats, especially ground beef, to make it go that much farther. And the grain makes it feel just as heavy as it would be with nothing but meat.

-Look into other protein sources

Tofu, tempeh, grains, nuts beans…your protein doesn’t have to be meat and it’ll cost you slightly less in the long run.

-Take a few free courses

Craftsy and other sites offer free learning opportunities. And there’s always podcasts. It’ll keep you entertained, and engaged.

-Vinegar, bleach, soap

There are some things that I have to buy name brand. Tide really is the best thing on Mid’s work clothes-and I can’t afford losing an income over off brand laundry soap. But there’s a lot of stuff that can be cleaned by soap, vinegar, and bleach. The best part is that they’re really, really cheap [dollar store bleach is going to get you as far as name brand. Or even just store brand bleach.]

-Wash your clothes less frequently

I feel like this might be the ‘cloth toilet paper’ entry for this list. But we as a culture really do have a habit of washing our clothes much more frequently than we need to-or even should, for the lifespan of our clothes. Jeans especially can handle not being washed every time you wear them. They’ll last longer and you’ll save on water, time, and soap.

If you’re really weirded out by not washing-try layering camis or tanks under your shirts and sweaters at least. You can wash the camis and avoid washing the heavy sweaters for a longer period.

-Learn to cook grains and beans from dry

You’ll save a lot of money over instant and canned.

-Buy a bottle scraper

They make little scrapers for both food and cosmetics. There’s a lot of stuff left in the bottom of jars.

-Flannel sheets

You’ll notice a winter theme going on this list. It’s 90 right now, but we’re only a month off of the unofficial start of snow season. Getting an electric blanket is awesome, but have you ever tried to sleep on flannel in summer? They’re much warmer than people think.

-Scrap crafting

Knitting, sewing, quilting, and even woodcraft I imagine can be done with bits and pieces left over from other projects. I like to make blankets with leftover bits of yarn, and I keep left over handspun to overdye for one of a kind shawls.

-Wear more wool

If you’re politically inclined. Natural fibers are better for temperature regulation than manmade, as a general rule.

-Cut raw sugar with conventional white

I really should be cooking with nothing but raw sugar. But it’s pricey. Cut it with ‘regular’ white sugar, and you’ll be eating a lower processed, lower cost item.

-Learn how to use and care for cast iron

It holds up much, much [we’re talking decades or longer] long’s er than ‘normal’ cookware on the market. Seriously, it’s a chunk of metal.

-Give up on matching everything

What’s your favorite color family? Pastels, jewel tones, black and white? Buy everything in that family, but give up on matching patterns or monochromatic. Your household will still match, but you can buy everything as you find it on sale.

-Give yourself a cool down period

Unless it absolutely does not fit in your budget, give yourself a cool down period before you buy it. A few days, a week, whatever, don’t buy it right then and if you still want it at the end of your cool down go get it. There are a few exceptions. If you think you’re never going to see it again, if the sale is just that good and ends tomorrow, or if you’re looking at a one of a kind item while at a place like a thrift store, then get it.

-Ask your bank if they’ll work with you

This works best if you’re a long term, loyal customer in good standing. When you’re looking for a loan, or want to refinance, or just want to try to work on your credit, point out that you’ve been with the company for x number of years and if they’ll work with you as a loyalty bonus.

-Learn mark down cycles and schedules

I rarely buy meat at full price anymore. I’ve figured out when Target marks down their meat and check those mornings. I also know when they clearance their cosmetics. As I said last entry, RVs go on sale after the shows at the end of the year. If you know when things are supposed to go on sale, you’ll have a better feel of how to work out a shopping schedule.

-Don’t buy just because it’s on sale

Here’s the thing though. You aren’t saving money if you’re buying something just because it’s there and it’s on sale. Don’t drag stuff home just because you can and you might use it some day. You’re better off paying slightly more if you need something in the future than constantly making a stream of ‘sale and clearance’ purchases just because they’re cheap.

-Buy bone in meat

Use the bones to make broth and stock. It’s generally cheaper per pound as well.

-Ask for necessities as gifts

It’s not cuddly, and I feel like this is my ‘last true test before adulthood’. I ask for groceries and gift cards for holidays and my birthday now. I’m asking for a coffee maker for Christmas. It helps with budgeting.

-Set a price limit on what you buy. Hold to it.

I do this with clothes and groceries. I won’t pay above a certain limit for produce per pound, and I rarely pay more than $20 a piece for clothing if I can avoid it.

When Your Back is at the Wall-Crisis Homesteading

Yep. Reusing a photo.

This might go slightly beyond Homesteading 101.

I have had to move, quickly and harshly. My new landlord is a thousand times more pleasant and my actual living space is going to be of significantly better quality. However this is also going to cost me.

Enough that I’m basically losing any financial gain I might have made over the past few years.

It happens. You get sick, you lose your job, there’s a natural disaster. In a perfect world we would all have the best case nest egg and nothing would ever hurt. Life doesn’t work like that. Homesteading, even urban homesteading, can help stretch small budgets that much farther.

In no particular order-

1. Use as much cloth in as many places you can 

And I do mean as many places. Paper towels, feminine supplies, toilet paper, diapers, napkins-these are all places you can cut back on.

Before you say it. I know this is where people get hot. Use as much cloth as you’re comfortable with, and don’t wash them separately. I don’t use cloth as toilet paper and I used paper towels during this summer’s roach debacle. But any place where you can mentally handle cloth is a place you can drop your paper budget down.

2. Whole use cooking

You want to get as much food out of your food as you can. Broths are a good place to start.

3. Trade

If you have a skill, use it to get other services or items.

4. Just ask

This one really pushes my limits. It’s not in my character. But if there’s something you need, just ask if someone can help, whether it’s old furniture, rides or $10 for groceries.

5. Bartering 

Slightly different from trading, you might be able to pay friends and family in skills over cash. I have paid for rides in jam before.

6. Learn new homemaking skills

Carpentry, knitting, spinning, soapmaking-new skills open up new opportunities.

7. Process food

Learn your way around a canner, a freezer, and a dehydrator.

8. Seasonal eating

Track sales and google what should be in season when. If you have growing space it’s that much easier. Cook around what’s in season, and attempt to do your processing around the same. 

9. Go 1/2 or more vegetarian 

Dedicate days to go meat free. Meat is much more expensive per pound than produce.

10. ‘Beer money’ sites

These are sites like S.wagbucks that let you earn gift cards for small tasks. It’s how I earn some play money when times are lean.

11. Thrifting and sales

Try to not pay full price for anything. It might mean waiting for something you want, but you can save serioys money.

12. Upcycle or repurpose

Rework an item you would normally toss into something you need. Just be careful not start holding onto everything because it might be useful some random day in the future.

13. Budget for comfort

Try to leave space for creature comforts, even it’s just a bag of good coffee. Or whatever your thing is. The happier you are, the easier this will be.

14. Meal sharing

This is a hold over from my grad school days. Rotating family style meals amibg a social circle will get you out of the house, and pot lucks mean making less food at a given time.

15. DIY supplies 

Make even a couple of your cleaning and beauty supplies. You’ll save a lot of money. 

16. Avoid single use items

I mean things like k cups and parchment paper. Get a brew cup and a silpat. Only use single use if it legimately saves you something over reusable.

17. Canning jars

Canning jars are way trendy right now, but for storage purposes they’re cheaper than kitchen sets and come in a range of sizes. You can hold onto food jars for the same reason, but again, be aware of your space and actual need.

18. Pay cash (when you can)

One of my pet peeves is credit judgment. Sometimes things just happen, and it’s not my place to tell you how to pay for things. But cash will be cheaper in the long run, and seeing your money will give you a better feel for what you have.

19. Couponing apps

There are a few apps on the market like Ibotta that will repay you for purchases as long as there’s a rebate available. I don’t use them that often, but it is a way of boosting coupons if you use them. 

20. Loyalty cards

Especially multi vendor cards like Plenti. I use Plenti points a lot at Rite Aid for things like milk. 

21. Sturdy staple pieces

My purse is 13 years old. It looks like new. It’s not stylish, but I’m not replacing it all the time. Buy as high quality as you can on at least a few pieces.

22. Thrift your furs and leathers 

Assuming you wear them. They’re so much cheaper, and this gets into whole use for me-they’re on the used market, they might as well be worn. I saved close to $150 on my bike jacket last fall.

23. Thrift or make as much furniture as you can

Buffalo is a bedbug city. I will mot thrift soft surface furniture. But I might thrift a table, and Mid is going to build shelving.

24. Furniture wholesalers 

We got the couch at the top from a wholesaler. We had to go with what was on the show floor, but it was hundreds cheaper going that route.

25. Utilize mirrors

Mirrors will reflect light and cut down on the number of lamps needed to light a space.

26. Crisis cooking

Come up with a list of truly cheap meals [think rice and beans] and rotate them through every so often.

27. Exercise outside 

If you live in a place safe enough to exercise outside, walk or jog over a gym membership.

28. Youtube for exercise 

You can also find many videos online for free or cheaper than a membership.

29. Use public transportation 

This is for the urbanites but even a few trips a month would cut down on gas [if feasible. It’s not always, speaking as an urbanite.]

30. Spices

Learn your way around your spices. You will be happier in the long run with scratch cooking if it’s well seasoned.

31. Unconventional shopping places

We get our light bulbs at Pep Boys when they go on clearance. Think beyond the obvious.

32. Bread Outlets

I admittedly forget about this one. It’s normally day old, but much cheaper.

33. Figure out your comfort points

You’re going to have to cut corners, but figure out what is easiest on you mentally and start there.  Don’t try to overhaul everything in a week, you’ll get overwhelmed and possibly feel deprived. Work out what you have to have to be happy and work towards cutting back.

34. Amazon wishlists

This one always makes me cringe a little but I do it anyway. Put stuff on your Amazon wishlist and then check for items with price drops. The site will tell you when stuff goes on sale. I almost never, as in less than twice a year, pay full price for Kindle books.

35. Share accounts

There are a few services that will let you share family accounts. Spotify just announced it will. If you can trust people to pay you, splitting accounts may be cheaper.

36. Ditch cable

Use a service like Netflix or Hulu. Even with recent price increases it’s still cheaper than cable.

37. Keep a spare change jar

Let your change build up. It’s called found money and it seems to ve a blind spot for a lot of people. Especially pennies.

38. Fizz but not soda

Seltzer water and fruit syrup is a lot cheaper than soda, if you’re into such things. 

39. No poo

My scalp doesn’t like no poo, but if you’re up to it, ditch shampoo and look into the no poo method.

40. Seasonal sales for big ticket items 

RVs go on sale in January. That’s what I’ve been told by salesmen. Try to find out the pattern to sales and wait if you can until your big purchases are at their natural lowest price point.

41. Switch to glass

Nothing is more annoying than vermin. Packing your food in glass will help cut down on bugs and mice. It also holds up better than plastic for things like travel mugs. I’m not even going to touch on plastic politics, I just feel like glass works better and holds up longer.

42. Organize

Nothing is more annoying than having food go off before you remember you have it or buying yet another package of thyme because you can’t find the other 3. Organize and reorganize.

43. Bring your own bags

A lot of places are now offering admittedly small discounts if you don’t use their bahs. I’ve also heard from exterminators that bugs like plastic bags, and after the Summer of the Bug I’m avoiding plastic shopping bags.

44. Travel in the off season 

I call this the Cooperstown effect. Go when it’s cheaper and less crowded.

45. Train travel

Look into Amtrak. It’s slower but cheaper.

46. Freeze grains

Another Summer of the Bug thing. Pantry moths are annoying and gross. Freeze your grains for a week and store in glass to avoid feeding them before you can feed yourself.

47. Check your plans

Call to see if you’re on the right insurance and phone plans, especially if you’re a long term customer.

48. Split your payments 

Try to pay bills across checks, and try to avoid late fees. I read someplace that late fees are basically stealing from yourself and it’s stuck with me.

49. Comparison shop for everything

You may not save a ton of money but you’ll get a feel for what things cost on average, to tell if you’re really saving money.

50. Keep a price database

When you go grocery shopping, start a file of what you pay and where, so you know who is cheapest.

51. 1% changes

Change slowly. If you change hard and fast, you’re more likely to burn out. Go for small changes frequently but over time. 1% a day.

52. Give up fabric softener

It’s an added expense and not great for fabric. Get a tennis ball or formal dryer balls.

53. Learn to cook cheaper cuts of meat

It takes more work but saves money

On gardening and food production 

I feel like I need to add gardening to the list because it’s always pushed as tge ultimate tip. If you have the space, time, and skills, let alone soil quality and lighting, go for it. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t. The pinnacle of [urban] homesteading doesn’t have to be farming.

52 in 52 Update

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I can’t tell if I’m well ahead of schedule (5 months to finish another 11 books) or if I’m behind (5 months to finish another 11 books…). I did reactivate my library card-I want access to free Ebooks. The upside to this is that a good chunk of my Amazon wishlist is relatively new releases-which is primarily what Overdrive offers. So I should be able to read books I’ve been wanting to read, for free, with no commitment (the fact that you can’t get a late fine with Overdrive is also appealing). Buffalo, if you have a Kindle, get an Erie County card and use Overdrive.

  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
  30. Walking After Midnight: Tales for Halloween
  31. Death of Addie Gray
  32. Owning Your Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche
  33. Urban Shaman
  34. Just Add Trouble
  35. Misadventures of the Laundry Hag: Skeletons in the Closet
  36. The Sweet Dreams Bake Shop
  37. The Creature from the Bridgewater Triangle and other Odd Tales From New England
  38. Three Promises: An American Faerie Tale Collection
  39. The Bucolic Plague
  40. Money Secrets of the Amish
  41. The Worst Noel

 

In Season Produce-June

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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.

Jalapeno Mash

It actually is that shade of green

It actually is that shade of green

It’s not exactly any sort of secret that I love hot food, and I am the type of person that thinks that if 10 bottles of hot sauce are good, 25 will certainly ensure that I will never have to be without both variety and heat.

I’ve been slowly getting back into fermentation again. This is a simple enough project, that can be scaled to fit the amount of peppers you have-which means it’s a good project to have in your box for summer harvests.

This can be done with any peppers, but I used jalapeños because I found organic at a decent price.

Notes:

Doing a fermentation in this style requires the produce to stay under the water level at all times. The easiest way I’ve found to do this, for the amount of peppers I ferment at any given time, is to weigh the peppers under with a small (quarter or half pint) canning jar. Clean a wide mouth jar, at least pint size, place the peppers into the jar, cover with brine. I like to skim off as many seeds as I can but I’m not actually sure that it’s necessary. I then place the [cleaned] smaller jar, which will fit into the mouth of the larger, into the larger jar. It will push the peppers to the bottom of the jar and brine will displace around the jar and make sure they stay submerged. Do this in a sink in case it floods. If you pack loosely enough you can cover it with a lid.

jalepenos

Fermentation:

Make a brine-I used warm water and salt, at a ratio of 4 cups water to 3 tablespoons salt. Sea salt is best.

Cut the tops off the peppers and if fermenting whole cut a slit in each pepper. You can also chop or slice.

Cover with brine, and cover with a lid. See the notes regarding weights [you can see the smaller jar in the above photo]

Ferment for at least a week, or to your normal time frame for peppers

Mash:

Drain the peppers but don’t rinse

In a blender add 1/4 to 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, dried turmeric (about a tablespoon), 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, and the peppers. Blend until pureed. Place in the refrigerator.