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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cullman Tornado Pictures

Hi, here are 281 pictures in this  C:\Users\Linda'\Desktop\Cullman tornado April 27, 2011 folder that may or may not work. Some day I will label them. The first ones are of exbf helping me with planter where I put squash plants. The knife was in the lying in the driveway after the tornado. Imagine being stabbed by a tornadic wind!

This will be rambling, not in chronological order, and not edited at all. I may put the wrong thing, ex., their, there, they're. Ignore all the mistakes.

Most of the pictures are taken in a moving car. I put the camera on fast action shot mode and shot from my side window, the passesnger window, or through the windshield, or the side window that I forgot to open. I cannot find the picture of the field where only rubble remains instead of businesses or houses. The first windows were taken on foot. The picture of the steps leading up the the overpass over the railroad track is not of destruction. I am do afraid of that foot bridge! The shot from the bridge down the rr tracks shows where cars were blown onto the tracks.

I am in debt to several people for $1049 for the generator and two 50' 12volt (or whatever 12 designates) extension cords. I went back and purchased a 12/3 extension cord, but 25' The generator is halfway down the side of the house with the two cords threaded through the window. One cord goes into the window of the living room and into the sewing room, across the room to the freezer. The other cord goes through the same living room window and into the dining room and into the kitchen. to the refrigerator.

The 25' cord goes to the den for my computer a lamp. Since the computer flashed on and off so many times as the lights flickered and I feared my computer was going to be fried. Nevermind, I have to get to safety. I will get a new surge suppressor today.

Good news! Only a package of breaded chicken tenders was thawed in the big freezer. Ham, chicken, steaks (round), all were solid as a rock. The freezer was in a coolish room, continually shaded by trees. the freezer was locked and never opened. The refrigerator freezer was my other worry. I think I am losing all in the food in the refrigerator. But, the freezer over the refrigerator had one thawed package of ground beef. Everything thing else I felt was solid. EVEN the ice cube trays had SOLID cubes, appearing not to be even in the process of thawing.

I took a bath/shower in ice water today, not fun. I do not have a shower. I don't even want one. I hate showers and prefer a tub bath. But, there is a shower thing on the faucet in the clawfoot tub. Since I have injured knee and shoulder, I no longer sit in the tub. I stand to bathe. Today, I stood and washed and sprayed with cold water. I just did not have the nerve to get cold water on my back. So, I have a dirty back. Thursday and Friday, I washed at the sink.

Wed--Tornado hit
Wed afternoon, there were so many emergency vehicle sirens that it was surreal. All night until I finally passed out/fell asleep ambulances ran with sirens on.

Thursday morning, I awoke to the sounds of helicopters and chain saws. Where were the bird sounds?

I am tired and must find a gas can for my generator gas. I only had a one-gallon can, borrowed from my favorite service station that had no gas. All I can find is a 5gal can, something I cannot lift full.
I could only put two gallons in it, but it would still be unwieldy.

More tomorrow. I am sitting in Books-a-Million. I would have bought something. I found out I have to pay here by the day or buy a $20 card. A guy allowed me to use his number after he left. Desperate for food, I finally went to the car and got my water and food from an emergency relief at a church near my house.

I have not fired up the grill. I left three gray pair of pants soaking in water and vinegar. It is 1 pm so they need to go on the line and drip forever.

Call me. If you can help, I appreciate it....forever. If you cannot help, the call would be great. Two people called last night. The conversation was great!

Oh, could not find a guy to help me with the generator, so a woman helped me with the generator.

Friday, April 29, 2011

TORNADO--Cullman, AL

Thanks to the Cullman County Extension Service, I have access to Wifi in front of the Cullman Train Depot. I have been in withdrawal, out of touch with everyone, even neighbors in town. We have had no cell because all the towers are twisted. My daughter in NYC was frantic, thinking I was dead. I could not do anything except get in car and go to people's homes.

If anyone can help, I need it now. All generators were sold, my freezer has lots of food. I have pictures that I will post tomorrow. I am allowed 30 minutes here under the tent. Oooops, forgot to put hens up and left home--Bad chickie Mama.

This was the worst outbreak of tornadoes ever, EVER. Hey, if you have doubts or just want to provide me company, call 256-739-3843. My time is up and will post pictures tomorrow. It is soo dark here at night. But, the stars are brighter.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A smile for Happy Feet

The guy wearing these Crocs and tie-dye socks had a sunny disposition and a smile on his face, talking to everyone. He was working at a lunch that a church serves once each month for anyone in the community.

Today, I sat with a friend and her husband. Two women at the table worked for an attorney in town.

For a year or more, I saw the sign about 4 blocks from my home. Finally, I went about three months ago. Anyway, I had to share these happy feet. 

Oh, you don't approve of socks with Crocs or sandals? I do! In the South, we have little cold weather. If someone has Birkenstocks, that person just wears socks for a month or so instead of investing in more shoes. Students don't have lots of money. Free spirits wear socks and sandals. 

Your turn
Do these socks put a smile on your face, too? Do you disapprove or approve of socks and sandals or Crocs?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Homemade insulation for your walls

A friend is purchasing an older home. Not knowing the condition or type of insulation (if any), I suggested making insulation from fabric or newspaper that had been soaked in a solution of boric acid. Insulation for home walls needs three qualities: insect/vermin resistance, fire resistance, and mold resistance. Boric acid provides these qualities.

The cellulose insulation made from shredding paper or blue jeans is more expensive than the pink insulation. But, making it yourself would be a step toward self-sufficiency and easier on the wallet. Granted, you cannot start buying blue jeans or newspaper and do this cheaply. You will have to collect them. Tearing out and doing a section at a time might be the best solution. However, that depends on how many people collect for you and how many people 'volunteer' for your project.

Even though boric acid will kill bugs, it will not have the same effect on humans. This project might just be perfect for insulating a small room or a shed. As a whole-house application, it will be time-consuming. But, so are many things we choose to do ourselves.

Read this study about the efficacy of boric acid in homemade insulation. It seems boric acid treated fabric or paper does all you need insulation to do.

Since we are being poisoned by so many things in our lives, maybe we could stop the fiberglass invasion of our bodies.

Here is another article for any of us who want to do it ourselves instead of playing with fiberglass.  Mother Earth News has an article on insulation making. It suggests using a piece of equipment, a hammermill, to get the paper into a fine powder. Hmmm, people say they insulate by just stuffing newspaper or blue jeans into wall cavities--untreated materials. Treated home made insulation would be my only choice. Is it possible that the fiber does not have to be ground so small? After all, there is more to insulating a space than the density of the material. If I need insulation, I will try the boric acid method, minus the hammermill.

If you want to try this, by all means start collecting materials now. However, at least once a month make/soak/dry your material in boric acid. Otherwise, your stash of jeans and/or newspapers will just harbor vermin and insects, not exactly the goal.

Your turn
Have you ever used boric acid to make paper or fabric for insulation?  Were you satisfied?

Friday, April 22, 2011

How do you eat an Easter Peep?

Peeps technique
Everyone has a technique for eating Peeps, it seems. Some people prefer them nice and fresh, while other folk like to let them get a little hard and chewy. Maybe you like to nibble a Peep or stuff the whole thing in your mouth.

Bite or stuff
As for me, they never have time to "season," so mine are eaten fresh. I don't like biting down on them and having to stretch it to get the bite off. "Neat" is not the operative word here.  Besides, Peeps lose sugar and I then have Peeps all over me.

Gag me with a Peeps
My preferred method is plopping the whole gag-inducing mass into my mouth. Yes, I have to remember to breathe! All the sugar melts and almost sends me into a hypoglycemic, head-spinning tizzy. Since I only do this once a year, maybe I will survive.

Plan foiled
I planned to wait until after Easter and snag Peeps for a quarter instead of paying a dollar. However, someone gave me a package of 10 purple Peeps. Five were breakfast today and five a before-dinner snack.  Free is better than cheap.

Easter place mats
I made these about 20 years ago. The vivid colors and riot of pink lilies and bunnies appealed to me. These cost me about $0.50 for the entire fabric (bought by the pound) and an hour at my serger, using the rolled hem setting and attachment. I have fancier, store-bought place mats, but these suit me and the season. For an easily-taken picture, I just put the place mats on the ottoman. I don't have to stand or bend. My shoulder, knee, and back thank me for the care. 

I suppose I have had the four, second-hand, antique store, salad plates for about 25 years. They suit my sense of whimsy and are appropriate for every season.

Purple Peep eaten from a lovely plate on a whimsical place mat. Bye, bye, Peeps! Until next year....
Peeps eaten in the car with purple sugar all over me and the car...ah, life is good.

Your turn
Do you have a Peep technique? What is your favorite color Peep? I like yellow, but purple was free. Do you eat them fresh or dried out? Are you a nibble or a stuffer? 

30 Surprising and strange ways to thrive while the planet thrives--Earth Day ideas for year round

Do you really want to do something kind for the Earth? I found this list. Some I will do. Some I won't.

I will:
*Eat less red meat. I mostly eat chicken anyway.
*Live with chickens. (I do.) May I eat eggs instead of bugs?
*Hook my bike to a blender. Okay, I am just willing. I cannot really do this myself.
*Quit mowing your grass. Okay, I am sure the neighbors think I have abandoned this task.
*Buy a scythe. I have something less lethal that cuts weeds and junk using human power.
*Eat out of a dumpster. I excel at this!
*Use a dishwasher. YAY! I excel at this, also.
*Put some vinegar on it. At the rate of two gallons a month, yes, I do.
*Stick a fork in it. I do. And, a fork and spoon.
*Buy some used clothes. Done.
*Hire an assassin. Me?
*Stick peanut butter on it. That does not mean bread.
*Sniff some compost. It smells nice
*Walk around naked. Sure.

I won't:
*Eat a bug. I offered to eat eggs instead of meat.
*Wash hair with salt water. Only if I must.
*Work on a farm. I would be a poor farmhand. But, I can be the chicken lady.
*Buy beer by the keg. I don't drink beer. I tried.
*Eat weeds. Let me learn about them first.
*Open the car windows. NO WAY! Allergy meds are expensive.
*Clean my hands with vodka. I have no vodka and don't keep it around. But, I would.

There are a few more healthy thing things to do by Rodale. Check it out.

Your turn
Would you eat bugs? What are you doing on Earth Day?

Never walk behind a chicken...and, What's your color?

Never walk behind a hen that is scratching in deep mulch, old leaves, dirt, anything smallish. I was walking from the pen to the house and walked behind the three of them, scratching and pecking in the leaves they had made into mulch and kicked through the chain link of their pen. With one scratch the hen filled my sandal with dirt. Large and small pieces were now what I was walking with inside my shoe. That is so uncomfortable. My feet stay dirty all the time!

No blood clots
My left leg has no vein or artery problems, no blood clots,  since both were checked today during a venous Doppler test/procedure. That is relief. I was afraid my hens might die if I croaked during the night, die right in their cage indoors.

Red is my color
Since I needed milk, I went to the grocery and also purchased oj that was on sale. The cashier said I looked great and asked where I was going all dressed up and said I looked so happy. I am shocked and the mind is racing, but I don't say a word. Don't I always look greatDon't I always look happy? I told her it must be my new blouse. (Kmart sale weeks ago since I had nothing to wear.) She then exclaimed I really looked great and said it must be the makeup and lipstick, that my cheeks were rosy and my whole complexion was perfect.  Isn't my complexion always perfect? Is this turning out to be a backhanded compliment? I had to smile then and a huge smile. "I have on no makeup whatsoever, actually less than usual, no lipstick or lip gloss. All this good stuff is because I am wearing red." She then decided red was my color. Yes, red and hot pink.

People are nicer to me, pay more attention. Children smile. Guys smile and flirt. Women smile and speak to me. I just wonder what on earth I look like when I don't wear red or pink. Is it horrendous? Really, when I wear red, I am glad I have my happy color on. Hot pink, too.

Last Thursday, I had on a cute grey knit top with little stripes in the v neck with grey pants, a very nice shade of light gray. I was sitting at a table and had just put my red purse on the table. A woman walked by and stopped. "That red purse really lights up your face. You look great with that red purse near your face." I thought the red purse looked great with me! That was just plain weird. I really don't think she was trying to tell me I needed color near my face. The gray outfit is cute and cool. Maybe I will wear some lipstick with it. The red purse bit the dust and black has taken its place.

Even when I am sad or in pain, people still respond in the same way if I am wearing red or pink. Okay, enough of this. I just refuse to wear makeup to get the same "look" to my skin. I will continue to wear lots of red and hot pink...yessiree.

Fascination with red
When I was a child about seven-years-old, I discovered red clothing. My sister was three years younger than I. My aunt worked for  a woman who two girls just a size larger than we were. Consequently, we received really nice clothing that matched--sister outfits. Up until this point, as far as I know, all my clothing had been homemade.

We received red, hand-me-down dresses. To the best of my recollection the dresses were sort of a taffeta with a lowish neck and a wide collar. I was in heaven. Not on purpose, I somehow was bought another red item that could be worn with the dress. I just became mad to get more red. I wanted red panties, red socks, and red shoes. Yes, I had a fashion sense but not one you might approve

I hounded my mother day and night, day after day. Red was in sight. I just had to get her on board. My poor mother was worried about a child who wanted to dress in scarlet from head to toe, inside and out. The image of a fallen woman was what she worried about. Somehow, I knew that even then. Like her, I extrapolate into the future. Noooo, not for myself, for my

My mother always told me that pale blue was the color that was prettiest on me when I was an infant. Her dark-skinned baby with brown hair and black eyes looked so precious in baby blue. Now that I was intent on dressing in red, she reminded me of how pretty I was in baby blue. . . over and over again. Are you laughing yet? I am as I write this.

Even as a child I knew she was glad when I outgrew the red dress. I don't think I ever had anything red to wear until I was in college. Ooops, I made a red dress in high school and received sooo much praise from others. Even then, she praised only what she wanted me to wear, so I did not buy much red.

Things have changed. Two years ago, the kids in middle school asked why I always wore the same red blouse. Some of the girls realized I did have different red tops. To the boys I just wore the same red top all the time. Middle schoolers are so kind and tactful. NOT! A boutique owner said all I ever wore was pink or red. That is patently untrue. Sometimes I buy white. Sometimes I buy apple green or lemon yellow. But, clearly three-quarters of my tops are red or hot pink.

Your turn
Did you ever walk behind your hens when they were scratching and get a shoe full of trash? Yeah, stepping in the poop is bad

Do you have a color that causes a response when you wear it, a color that seems to improve your health, disposition, and coloring...all according to others? We all know what we think looks good on us. But, do people rave to the point you get embarrassed about your other clothes and the effect they have on how you appear?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Asparagus and bacon and tilapia

Actually, this is two recipes. There are no pictures. I sampled this at the grocery store. It's really simple but time-consuming.

Bacon-wrapped asparagus
fresh asparagus, cut in about 2" lengths
pre-cooked bacon from the grocery
Flat toothpicks

He took pieces of asparagus about two-inches long and wrapped bacon around it and secured with a flat toothpick.
Cook in oil for three minutes or less, serve with tilapia

Tilapia was sprinkled with some sort of Old Maine seasoning that looked like it could be substituted with something else. It was served separately.

I know this all very vague. But, I did not get exact instructions. The reason I mention it at all is because it was delicious. Asparagus is in season, so this might be helpful.

Bacon bought, cooked, and broken into smaller pieces would easily substitute for the expensive pre-cooked kind of bacon. I can see this served as cooked bacon pieces mixed with lightly sauteed asparagus, sort of a salad. More or less bacon could be used. The way the guy was serving the samples, it was all very bacon-rich. Otherwise, it would be a delicious appetizer.

Check out this asparagus recipe at Better me, Better world. It also looks scrumptious.

Your turn
Do you have asparagus in your garden?  I wish I did!

Wasting money on coupons? Are you?

Buying habits
For years I have bought the Birmingham News or the Huntsville Times in order to get the coupons. The smaller, local paper did not have coupons. The larger Sunday papers are $2; the local Sunday paper is $0.50.

I divide my purchases between the paper machines or purchase in a store. Last Sunday, I was purchasing in a store and decided to check out another small newspaper a friend's daughter buys for coupons. Since it was not available, and I was right in front of our local paper, I checked for coupons.
The large paper from Birmingham had coupon insert, Red Plum, I think. That is $2 for one coupon insert. The local $0.50 paper had three, three, three coupon inserts. I was stunned, shocked, appalled at the money I perceived I had wasted. I did buy one of the larger papers along with two of the hometown papers. That is three papers with coupon sections--$3.

At home on Sunday
I gleefully extracted the coupon inserts from the!...7 inserts of coupons for $3. Other tasks occupied my mind and time, so I cut none of them. Then, I discovered that the fronts of the coupon inserts were different, and some of the coupons were different also. No problem. I am way ahead of this game, I decided. Yes, I do realize that two inserts from the same company are in the papers often.

Wednesday, few things
Today, I decided to take a look at the coupon inserts. I just glanced at the Red Plum and decided not much interests me, except for one or two coupons. If anyone wants anything in there, just let me know!

I looked at the sales receipt from the paper purchases and other items I bought. It seems I was charged for only one of the local papers. Soooo, that makes $2.50 for the seven coupon sections. Even though Red Plum is not very useful, I still came out ahead. Now comes the moral dilemma: the cashier made a very small mistake. Do I go back and pay for the paper? I really hate to have to rectify mistakes like this. I was still in the parking lot when I took back the jelly beans to pay for them.  That was clearly my mistake, having put something over them before I checked out. Aaaargh!

Regional coupon sections
Two of the Red Plums are L'Oreal-heavy, it appears. The other two inserts of Red Plum contain more useful coupons. Hmmm, it appears I have four Smart Source inserts--3 with Allegra on the front and one with Safe Kids on the front. I didn't mark these with the paper source, so next time I will have to pay more attention!

Not so clever
I feel really dumb for all my assumptions and wasted money. Why did I not know that there were coupons in the small daily paper? Yes, I do actually read the hometown news--online. Or, I go to the library and read a week's worth of news.

Wasted money?
Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and go on and do better. I will put on my big girl panties, pull up my boots and save even more money from now on.

Coupon Schedule
According to Southern Savers, there will be no coupon inserts next Sunday. There never is on holidays--Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and others on the schedule.

The Grocery Coupon Guide is from a man on the West Coast, but it has relevant articles and a schedule for coupons in the paper that may be different from the Southeastern US. If you check, you will find many educational sites on the blog.


3 — (2) Smart Source
10 — Smart Source & Red Plum
17 — (2) Smart Source & (2) Red Plum
24 — No Inserts

Penny Experiment
One day, I sat and read the whole two years of posts. Check out the table at the top right to see how much The Penny Experiment has donated to food banks.

The hens are calling me. They are hungry. Dishes need to be washed. THEN, and only then, will I cut coupons.

Your turn
Have you come across a cheaper newspaper insert source than you were using?  Do you find, as I did, that the cheaper, local paper has more coupon inserts?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Who's that behind my door?

L-Louise, Back-Fancy, underneath Fancy and on the right-Thelma
I put the cage inside  the back door for the hens like I always do right before the sky is dark. Then, I close the door so there will be no room for them to come in the house. I heard them clucking softly, then jumps and thumps. Okay, so everything was really quiet. Since humans don't come home from work and go right to bed, I allow them to come into the house on their own terms...unless it is raining. Then, I call them and they come right to the door.

Tonight, after all got quiet, I went to put the lid down on their cage. Nope, the hens were behind the cage, that is, in the house. They all three stood quietly on the linoleum. So, I shooed them out the door and raised the lid where it leaned on the window sill and prevented entrance to the house. Once again, I heard the thumping of jumping and landing and the flapping of wings.  Remember, chickens don't bend their knees when they land, so they land with a jarring "whump!" sound.

This time, after they all flapped and whumped, they kept twittering, little clucks, almost like when they were very young. I imagined they decided to have a conversation as they sometimes do. They kept this up for an hour as I finished two Waltons episodes. Finally, I just paused the DVD and went to cover them up. What do you know...they were behind the door, making themselves comfortable on the shower curtain and my raggedy jacket, things used to cover the cage each night.  Yes, I toss them behind the door!

All three were lying down. Louise got up when I went to get the camera. The reason they were making little sounds was because a lamp was on between me and them, causing them to stay more awake than usual after they get into the cage. I think they would just live comfortably in here if I would allow it. Ummmm, not until I get chicken diapers. There is such a product. I don't think my children think I am crazy. I wonder.

Hens are so interesting and sweet. Thelma has been broody for six weeks. I really need to get fertile eggs so she can raise some chicks. Yeah, like I need more to tend to right now. 

Tonight, I am cooking chicken and sweet potatoes, all in the same oven. It is almost 70 degrees here, so I won't like the heat at all. But, it will be in the mid 80s tomorrow. Tonight, I can bear not to use the ac. Tomorrow, I would definitely run it.  

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Meal moths
They are back after the cold winter in lesser numbers, but into my arsenal has come a cordless vac. These critters cannot fly well, so they fly erratically, making it hard to swat or clap my hands upon them. Hopefully, the vac will just suck them up. Yeah, good idea, but the vac has a handle on the end, making it unwieldy to handle...gone back to store, unused. Thankfully, almost all my food is now in Tupperware or half-gallon Ball jars. The rubber canning seal protects from an invasion of even the smallest of pests. I just screw the lid on very tightly.

The celery now has 5 stalks. The taller of the two original stalks grew 3/4 of an inch in two days. Indeed, it does taste like celery. I ate a leaf. now, there are now two 5-inch stalks, up from 4-inches when I first wrote about them.

Hen security
Two people donated to their security. Thank you. I still have a long way to go to protect them from predator raccoons.

My health
Knee (L) has tear in meniscus and will need surgery. An open MRI has been scheduled for my shoulder. The doctor also believes it could be a torn rotator cuff.  I cannot go into the hospital for the knee until the chickens have a secure place because I won't be able to get them into my house each night. I had knee surgery on the right knee a few years ago and know exactly what I face.

Egg production
I now regularly get three eggs each day once again. Now that winter is over and the days are long, the hens are all back in business. The hens were two years old around March 21. They are doing well.

Raccoon attack
Did I tell you that one morning I awoke, fuzzy about the dream I may have had? A squirrel had been caught in the live trap. Was it a dream? I went to the trap and there was a squirrel head. Raccoons pull their victims though the bars, ripping them into pieces in the process.  No, I did not mean to leave the squirrel to die. But, its demise just proves that at least one raccoon is still around here, a threat to my hens. Since there are woods nearby, there will always be raccoons....sigh.

My son turned 43 yesterday, April 16, 2011. How did he get so old, so fast? I have vivid memories of him as an infant, a toddler, schoolboy, young man, student. Now, he is married to a very lovely young woman and father to a six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter. He was seven in this picture.

Friday, April 15, 2011

You made me love you!

You made me love you

I didn't want to do it, I didn't want to do it
You made me love you
and all the time you knew it
I guess you always knew it.
You made me happy sometimes, you made me glad
But there were times, Dear, you made me feel so bad
You made me sigh for, I didn't want to tell you

I didn't want to tell you

I love color, especially the pink and apple green together. As I stood and lusted over these cups, I said to a woman, "Isn't that beautiful?" She smiled. "That's to make us want them." Of course, she was right. She did not reveal anything new. But, both of us were aware of why these cups were in such luscious colors.

Immediately, I thought of the song. "You Made me Love You." Hefty made me love these cups. I was this ( ) far from buying all four colors! They did make me happy; they did make me glad. Yes, I was sighing for them.

Dear you make me feel so bad for several reasons:
*I try to avoid buying disposable anything
*I rarely need a disposable cup
*Disposable cups fill my cabinets
*Disposable cups are plastic
*Landfills don't need more disposable plastic cups
*Fossil fuel is used to make the disposable cups
*The cups cost more money than I am willing to spend
*Actually, I don't have that kind of money to waste
*Some people are actually buying these cups, because there were few pink and green left when I returned later
*Manufacturers spent lots of money to determine just the right shade of each color
*Manufacturing and consumer purchase money could have gone to a better cause
*Hefty is luring me with my biggest temptation--color
*These are so frivolous
*Other people are buying with money they probably should not spend
*All the time you knew it

Time and again
In the past week I have revisited this display because it is soooo pretty. It makes me glad. I sigh for the purchase I will not make. Finally, I took a picture to save and look at. Silly? Perhaps.

I guess you always knew it
Sure, Hefty knows me and my kind, the clan who will be flipped over the buying cliff by color. Why, just look at Easter displays.

I didn't want to tell you
This has been on my mind for a week. Not once have I decided I would purchase these cups. But, I have been close to the fire. I think I was singed as the edges of my bangs swooped too close. At least my eyebrows and eyelashes were not singed off like when the grill exploded. 

I do have the pink tinge of guilt on my hands and cannot wash it out. My black eyes flash green momentarily. My mood can be blue over this. My face turns sallow when the yellow reflects off my makeupless face.

It is pitiful here right now, raining in my house. Finding color on a gray day is difficult. Thankfully, I have no money. Settling for just the pink and green would satisfy me.

How does this strike you?

This shelf of cups does nothing for me. Okay, these would never tempt me. Thankfully, we have color. But, this does nothing for me!

Your turn
Is color ever the tipping point, the point where you will purchase or want to purchase something frivolous? Something harmful to the environment? I think I met my match--color on the shelf. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Blueberry vinegar, fresh bacon, and MRI

locally made vinegar and bacon--three mile diet?
Farmer's market opens
Today is the first day of the Farmer's Market. It was wonderful to see the plants for sale, rosy strawberries, and fresh bread. I had little left in my monthly food budget. Here it is the middle of the month, and I splurged a bit. Maybe not. Maybe the farmer's market opened last Saturday?

I sat to talk with the hens and took this picture. Yes, it is summer because the yard has needed mowing for two weeks. I hate the neighbors block building!

Pecans for a snack
All winter I have bought shelled pecans from one couple--Lee and Marie. One quart of halves cost $7. One quart was my healthy snack for a month or more.

Blueberry vinegar
Today, they had blueberry vinegar. Since I have decided to cut back even more on processed food, I will try this and oil for salads. I really cannot eat much vinegar, so this is an iffy project for me.

12 ounces blueberry vinegar+ cute bottle=$6

I am going to ask them if they will sell me this in my own fruit jar. Of course, if it is too much trouble for them, they may refuse. We will see.

By the way, this tastes and smells just like a bit of blueberries that lingered too long at my house.

My father died of pancreatic cancer after nineteen long months with no intervention. (his choice) His mother died of "stomach cancer." Since I was too young for the details, it may have been pancreatic cancer or started there.

I have read that processed foods and the nitrites are implicated in pancreatic cancer. I ate very little before he died and even less now of  bacon, hot dogs, or bologna. Oh, deli turkey and such are favorites but not so much. All other processed/nitrite meat holds little allure for me. 

Sliced Pork Belly--the facts
$2.39 for 0.96 pound=fourteen slices
14 slices=7 meals
2 slices=one meal=$0.38/meal

Not too bad?

I have never freaked out in one of those machines. Today, I did. It has been over an hour and my head is pounding. The adrenaline, increase in blood pressure, and increase in pulse have gotten me down. All I was saying was, "Let me out! Let me out!" I was not screaming or anything and did not move a muscle as she put me in. Yet, she said, "You are okay! You are OKAY! I don't want you kicking around with your feet!"

Pardon me? I thought I was being very orderly. I was lying motionless and was not screaming or getting hysterical. I just spoke in a panic. This would have been my sixth MRI and I have never yet felt this way. I think it is because with inactivity I have gained weight and I could feel the sides of the tube. I knew where the boundaries were and could not handle it. The panic was unavoidable.

This afternoon
I have blueberry vinegar, fresh pork belly aka bacon, and a headache.

Your turn
Is my sliced pork belly going to be bacon-like? I have the grease from the last bacon and could add a bit of that for flavor.

Any suggestions for the blueberry vinegar?

Did you ever feel the MRI machine was too much?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Produce Run

Produce transportation--little red wagon

Since I discovered that there is something torn in my knee and I injured my shoulder, I have not gone for produce for the hens. I cannot carry even a light or small box to the car. My left knee just keeps collapsing! Asking the people who give me the produce to then carry the box to the car just seems all wrong.
Today, I did ask. The young woman carried it for me without seeming to be annoyed. They never seem annoyed, but I don't want to "ride a good horse to death." When I got home, as usual, I dragged the box into my little red wagon and pulled it to the hens. 

The hens have already had an ear of corn, a cantaloupe, and an apple from this box. From the house they have had two sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread, and a banana. Later today, they will get more of this plus oats. Since I have to go 50 miles to the doctor tomorrow and be gone a long time, lots of this will be saved for my time away. Yes, they will get food other than this during my absence. 

Notice the Bell pepper. It will be rescued before I feed it to hens. I will get some of it for the roast I will cook for tomorrow. Since the onion is growing green sprouts, I will try planting that and see what happens.  The rotten oranges have a special compost place. There is some sort of hole next to my fence. All onions, garlic, potatoes, and citrus go there.  I just fill the hole and don't plan to use that for soil.

After a getting a pen full of cantaloupe, corn, and apple, plus plenty of water, Fancy stood at the gate and pleaded in her long, drawn-out, squawky way, talking also, begging to get out. So, I must hurry and hang out clothes, and run out for an errand. Then, I can let them all out for their daily spa--dusting in a hole. They make their round for greens, eating short weeds, not these tall, unsightly ones that need to be eaten.

Getting produce for my hens makes me so happy. Am I just getting senile and overly sentimental when I think of them? Yes, I plan my life around hens. All was well in paradise until the raccoons showed up!

The sweet potatoes they eat are the natural loss from having bought 120 lbs of sweet potatoes last fall...25 cents/lb. The banana is one that was in the house, but gotten for hens.

In the box are grapes, strawberries, squash, onion, tomato, corn---many foods that were not rotten, just oldish, not much older than things that have lingered in my refrigerator. I rescued the red sweet pepper to cook with. The onion will be planted. Except for the moldy oranges, everything else was edible this morning. Okay, the cucumbers were turning yellow. Produce waste is my hens' gain.
onion sprouts in bottle
On the laptop was the only place I could get the short sprouts to show in the bottle. The inside of the sprouted onion was rotted on the sprouts. This will go into a vinegar jug to see what happens. I sliced and froze the whole red sweet pepper, forgetting to show the end product and all the pepper that was free-to-me. Well, you know what a Bell pepper looks like! Next time.....

It's almost six o'clock and I am sitting here, finishing this post. For the last thirty minutes, I have heard a noise I cannot identify. Finally, I figured out it has been hens in the box still sitting in the wagon by the back door. They help themselves!

Your turn
If you have hens, do they complain about not being let out of their house or pen to run free? Do you ever get old produce to feed hens or other animals?  Is there anyone else amongst you who spends $0 on food for your hens?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Protecting tender plants

My neighbor had a garden until she was 92. She prided herself on having beans in the ground before the men and having the first beans to harvest BEFORE THE MEN. She was very competitive with men and women. She took chances. Most of the time, she put things in the ground too early, but had a solution.

She cut the tops off milk jugs and used them as mini-greenhouses for the cold snaps that threatened to freeze out her seedlings. Her garden was full of milk jugs some mornings after a frost or a cold snap.

One day, I stopped by all dressed up. I had freshly done, expensive nail tips, white dress, white dress shoes...looking nice. "Oh, honey. Help me!" She was in panic mode, very distressed and feverishly working wielding a knife that frightened me. So, I traipsed into her garden, white shoes and all, knowing this was the right thing to do.

When I arrived that day, she had a knife with a blade over a foot long, furiously sawing off tops of milk jugs she had saved all winter long. She cut them just where the milk jug starts to have straight sides. I just knew she was going to kill herself on that knife.

After you sort of screw and shove the jugs into the loose soil, you have to scoop dirt with your hands and press it against the outside of the jug so the wind won't blow it off. Yes, I ruined my nails, cuticles, and hands! You know that dirt-roughness that comes with working in soil, unprotected?  And, the tips came loose. But, she had thanked me and hugged me. Yes, now the bodice of the dress is dirty. That was sort of okay since the full skirt of the dress-to-the-ankles had been dipping regularly into the dirt during our work. Squatting is best not done in a long skirt.

I was very dirt-averse back then. At this time in my life, I had severe allergies. I still have bad allergies, but can at least go outdoors without suffering most of the time. Just standing in her garden was a problem. I was ill for three days, allergies, sinus, ear, and throat problems. AAACK! Plants and dirt were so foreign to me. I never told her how I suffered.

After I was thoroughly medicated for days and scrubbed, I was almost fine. But, my day's ordeal with milk jugs left me with a lesson I learned: jugs make mini-greenhouses. These must be removed from the plants by sunrise. If left on for even a little bit, the plants will suffer. I did not volunteer for removal duty.

About the competitive nature of my elderly neighbor: She owned the first pressure cooker canner in northern Alabama. The county extension service sent her to Auburn University to learn how to use it for canning. When she came back, she gave lessons all over several counties. You should have seen the pride on her face as she regaled me with this story.

She prided herself in the fact that her sister was the first woman in the area to own and drive a car! Imagine, in all of the northern half of the state, Birmingham northward,  only one woman was driving. AND, my neighbor did not have to have a date or depend on a man to be able to go anywhere she wanted. She only had to ask her sister! She, herself, drove until she was 92. When she made me go with her, I was terrified. Believe me, I always offered to drive!

Your turn
Have you ever implemented milk jugs to save your tender plants from the weather? Or, do you cover with cloth or plastic? Aren't old people amazing? I hope to be amazing some day!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What is this?

What is this wooden thing that is about 13 inches long? It is handcrafted, acquired at a craft show. A forest ranger makes these.  He gave it to me because of the large quantities of his products that I bought for others who did not want to travel to his venue, but who wanted to give his products as gifts at Christmas.

This was acquired at the Christmas Village Craft Show in Birmingham, Alabama. The crafter, Doug, lives in Mississippi. He made all my wooden spoons. They were not cheap! And, I bought these years ago when I could afford them.

No guesses? Another hint--it is an item used for safety. It is maple.  It is a "cooking" item.

Today, because I could not reach up far because  of my injured shoulder, this was used to poke, prod, and finally drag a bag from a shelf over head. The bag held three, empty egg cartons. This is not the original purpose. However, an assistive device is how I used it last. It is really helpful for dragging quart fruit jars full of beans or other stored food from equally high shelves. It adds excitement to my day when I try to catch the glass jars as they come hurtling off the shelf and tumbling into my hands.

Okay, this item was made to pull the oven rack out, so you don't burn your hand. The puller part is the notch in the side. You hold onto the other end. The end with the notch is for pushing the oven rack into the over. Yes, I use it all the time. The curve is natural to the wood.

If you get burned using this, heavens help you. There is no hope for you. I wonder if this is something new he thought up.

Handmade wooden items from craft shows or individuals in my community delight me. The wood was gotten when the tree was cut, not cut from bought boards. He has access to all varieties of wood since he is a forester. He even traveled to New Zealand to buy rare wood. He makes bowls, spreaders, spoons, ladles, gumbo stirrers the size of oars!

There is something supremely satisfying in using a handcrafted article, one that is crafted from forest refuse, but from still usable natural material. This tree might have lain and rotted in the forest while we pay to ship items from overseas, items made on machinery. There is nothing wrong with a tree rotting on the forest floor, going back into the earth to nourish the earth. However, there is something really wrong with using fossil fuel in the production of something easily crafted from a fallen tree.

Your turn
Have you even seen one of these? Is it a wooden version of a commercially made item in metal? 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Eating Bradford Pears

As I sat in my friend's yard, I pondered the questions I posed to her. "Do Bradford pear trees have pears?" She said, "No."  Why, yes they do. I got up and looked and there they were. "Are they edible?" I don't experiment with eating fruit to see if it will kill me or not, give me diarrhea or not, destroy organs or not.

At home, I found out; indeed, you can eat Bradford pears. The Internet and extension service okayed eating the tiny fruit. The next time I was there, I ate one, then several. This year, I will try to get enough to make some jelly or jam or something.

Some sites on the Internet say Bradford pears are inedible. That only means that they are not a desirable fruit. The taste is pleasant to me. They will not make you sick or poison you at all!

They are tiny, almost invisible! Really, they cannot be more than 3/8 inch in diameter. They problem is that I am not getting on a ladder to reach enough to work with. Only trees with low-hanging limbs will work for me.

No, that is not in my yard. It is from the internet. I believe most Bradford pear trees are though blooming. My gasoline won't go look for one.

Your turn
Have you ever eaten or jammed Bradford pears? If so, how did it go? Any advice?  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Celery--free plants to grow

April 8, 2011--celery on day ten at 4 inches

No, I do not like to buy celery. It is rather over-priced in my opinion. As long as I can grow even what I have in the last ten days, cheaply, I will not buy the expensive, poisoned vegetable, celery. This is the first of many plants I intend to grow with the bottom, usually discarded, celery head. No more pesticides for me. I never see organic celery. Maybe I don't look in the right place in town.

This will be a cut-and-come-again plant, used for fresh and eventually cut for dehydrating. My plan is to dehydrate as much as I can with this plant and future celery plants gotten using the same method. Then, I can put dehydrated celery in my coffee bean grinder and make single plant powders and combinations as I experiment.
Someone had a blog post with a tutorial on how to grow celery from the end of the stalk, you know--what you cut off and do not eat. I just knew I would remember who wrote the blog post and refer to it when I grew my own celery. If you know who had the tutorial, I will be glad to reference it.

When I did the celery rescue  and froze it, I had cut off the end with the intention of growing celery like the blogger did. It was just too cold and wet to sit in the back yard that day. I put the end of the celery in a small bowl of water. Too late, I remembered that the water with fluoride and chlorine might kill the possibility of sprouting. Never fear. It did start growing in the water.

Today, April 2, I got all my supplies out for this experiment. Yes, some time ago I had purchased soil in which to germinate seeds. No, I have not done that yet. Anyway, here goes:

These are the supplies I took outside. Of course, the box holds more than the pots. The gallon vinegar jug is cut around the top. Just below the handle about two inches is uncut. No picture except this one. I put three V-cuts in the bottom of the jug for drainage. Then, I decided I needed to take pictures. To germinate seeds, I would cut only about 5 inches from the bottom, leaving the top as a tall greenhouse. Since the celery may need more soil, I chose to cut the jug higher.

Cut the holes or slits for drainage before you cut the top. Since I cut around the jug first, it was unstable, leading me to fear I was going to cut myself as the jug kept collapsing as I struggled to cut with the utility knife.

Here, I have filled the jug with soil, heaped up. In the bottom of the jug you can see the natural, unbleached coffee filter I used to retain soil in the jug.

in water for three days

planted at three days, just after the above picture in water

I will be planting more celery as I get the bottoms, from where I have no idea at the moment. The plan is to dehydrate and make some celery powder by putting the dehydrated celery in with other vegetables I grow, dehydrate and grind. I am thinking of using the combinations I use most often--garlic, celery, onions and bell peppers. Of course, I don't have or use the powders. I use the fresh or frozen vegetables for the taste. Or, I could have the plain specimen of each powdered, dehydrated vegetable.

The celery at the top of the page is the result of five minutes work. It took ten days to reach this point, six days of the ten were days spent in soil.

Your turn
Have you ever planted and grown celery this way? If so, how tall did it grow? How successful would you describe your efforts? Who is going to try to grow celery this way?

Exercising my brain

I finally went to Flickr and figured it out yesterday. Then, I went back today to work with it and put pictures on my blog. Whew, what a workout my brain had!

I have read that it is good to work the brain to learn new things. Well, new connections were definitely formed yesterday and today. At first, I decided to just go find someone to show me. Then, I decided that I want to be a mentally fit old lady some day, so I did the work myself.

Since I want to stay abreast of technology as long as I can, I am soooo proud of myself. However, I am physically exhausted!

Your turn
Do you deliberately take on difficult brain tasks in order to maximize you brain "muscle?" 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Better Batter for Fried Green Tomatoes

Since I cannot post pictures, it won't matter that this post is out of season for most people. I would not even know where to get a green tomato on April 7, in northern Alabama. Actually, I could find one but would probably have to steal it from a greenhouse. I mean, buy it from a greenhouse.

Okay, I never knew anyone battered fried green tomatoes. I thought everyone dredged in egg or buttermilk and dipped and turned in cornmeal. NOW, I found out differently! Rats!
Upfront: I detest fried green tomatoes. However, I will fry up a batch. Why? Well, friends and boyfriend do eat them and love them. It seems I can cook without sampling. For certain, I am not tasting these little nasties. That just means the person or people eating must submit themselves to untried fare.

Some days, I am brilliant. One day, my brilliance was born of the despised task of frying green tomatoes along with the other food I was preparing. Okay, I was exhausted and trying to pretend nothing was wrong so my friend would not feel guilty.

We were having about six or seven dishes. That included cornbread and friend green tomatoes. No problem since leftovers are my strong point. I do remember that ripe tomatoes were for me and we had chicken something. So, that leaves two other vegetables. Probably slaw and fresh peas. Thankfully, ripe tomatoes don't require cooking.

As I poured the cornbread batter into a cast iron iron skillet and the batter sputtered and bubbled as it hit the hot grease in the skillet, like a flash the idea came. As the edges of the cornbread were crisping up and the skillet was slid into the oven, my problems were over. I could eliminate one task from the meal preparations.

Use the cornbread batter to cover the sliced green tomatoes for the equally hot cast iron pan of oil awaiting the slices of green-as-grass tomatoes. Brilliance! Brilliance! Now, I don't have to dredge the tomatoes and dip them in cornmeal.

Instead of scraping almost every bit of cornbread batter from the bowl, I left about a quarter of a cup, maybe half a cup. Now, you and I know that amount will never be missed.

The tomatoes were sliced. I am not wasting lots of time on these green nuisances, as you can tell, so I just dumped all the slices into the batter and stirred them in the bowl, using the batter spatula. I took a fork and placed them in the hot cast iron skillet with a bit bubbling of grease/oil and listened as they sputtered and fried while I quickly situated them all in place. Then, I scraped the last bit of cornbread batter and spooned bits of it onto the circles now frying. I smoothed it out on the tops, and sometimes I just left globs of batter on the tomato discs.

When my friend ate these, I watched surreptitiously. Finally, after he had swallowed the first bite, I asked how they were. He was very complimentary.

I confessed.

"Really?" He could not believe it was cornbread batter. "These are as good as I have ever had, maybe even the best."

Yes, he loved me back then. Actually, he must have loved my cooking and library. But, I have hens now.

No more dredging in buttermilk or eggs and cornmeal for me. Done and done.

Here is a recipe that calls for batter, not anything like what I have seen and been told.

Your turn
Just tell me how clever I am. LOL...seriously, have you found a shortcut in cooking that seemed like a bolt of wonderful brilliance at the time? The idea came as I was scraping batter from bowl to cast iron skillet. That is my best tip that I never use, well, almost never because I cook these little nasty things about twice a year. Do you dredge and place in cornmeal or use batter? Or, what?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Will you help my poor hens?

Okay, I am desperate and so are the three hens. I cannot afford all the measures to make their pen (10'x10'x6' dog pen) secure from raccoons. If you can get to the two or three posts before and after this one in blue, there is more about the raccoon problem. This blogger blog is so messed up, something in code I am told, that I could not find the previous posts!

It is making me and hens crazy having them cooped up in the house from 6 pm to 8 am or later. They are upset because they cannot live a normal chicken life. They are in a hamster or gerbil cage or something like that, about 24" tall, 22" wide, and 30" long.

Plus, they need more than a Rubbermaid container to live in. I have asked on freecyle for wood, all manner of things, like the little children's playhouses. There is no one to help me haul home things on the side of the road--no one that can/will come and help until three or four days and by then free stuff is gone. Yes, lumber yards and new home construction sites are not willing or the lumber is thrown directly into a dumpster that I cannot get into. Or, someone else gets what they leave me. My energy level and the cost of gas are not conducive to making free happen. I do have a bit of wood stashed here, not much. Wood that I have found that is free and long enough is treated, so that won't work.

Carrying their cage with them in it, even without them in it is hurting my shoulder and back. Next week, I have to be driven an hour to the doctor for a late afternoon appointment. So, I will be on pins and needles, worrying about the few hours at dusk and after dark that they will be in danger. The appointment is for back, knee, and shoulder. I may have torn my rotator cuff. So, this is for me as well. If I cannot care for them....cannot think of that.

Like I said, this is desperation. I have been putting them in the house since August 18th, 2010. If I have to go into the hospital, they cannot stay in or out until I get back. If they are out, I can just leave water and food. Nope, not much help available here.

I really HATE to ask. You notice I have no ads....for a good reason...just wanting this to be all fun. I live on less than $700/month.

Since my mail gets misdelivered or tampered with, my friend has said he will bring it to me from his address.

Your turn
Would you rather I did not post the "help" plea on the top right of the blog? Is it tacky? My face is getting hot as I think of hit "PUBLISH POST" button. Here goes!

Will you contact me at pparsimony if you do send anything?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

If you will build it, I will buy it

Nonexistent goods
This is a good post for no picture. No picture exists of what I desire. It might not be frugal, but here is where I would splurge. When you hear my story, you may decide the uni-tasker is really a cheap way to do what I have attempted the last few days.

What do I want this unitasker to do?
Boil water.
Lower a basket of pasta into the boiling water.
Raise the basket up when the pasta has boiled enough.
Turn itself off.
Drain the pasta.
Sound a honking, blasting alarm to alert me.

Because I have managed to boil pots dry twice in one day. Plus, I did the same thing on three previous days but with one pot per day. (My "pot" for boiling pasta is a CorningWare casserole.)

Because my back hurts. or
I stay at the computer too long. or
I go to the mailbox and dawdle in the yard pulling privets. or
I have to go to the bathroom and just forget to go back to the kitchen. or
The chickens come to the door and call me outside. or
Someone telephones me and I talk too long. or
The Waltons is fascinating and I watch enraptured. or
I decide to give in to worry.

Of course you don't. You have not made of career of boiling water with olive oil in it, boiling the water until so much is gone that the Corning Ware casserole you are using scorches.

Your turn
Have your repeatedly committed the same error in the kitchen? Are there any inventors in the audience? Seriously, I have already submitted this idea! What do you think?

Update on copyright of "Urban Homestead"

Eric at Root Simple has a blog post full of links that are most interesting. I will allow him to take it from here....

Monday, April 4, 2011

Picture this: how I saved $30 or $40 or $12

Dear readers, help me by using your imagination for a moment. I can take a picture, but cannot post it as yet. When I get around to following your advice, maybe I can.

For months I have been lurking in Office Max, wanting to buy with my maxperks rewards a pencil sharpener that is not hand operated. I really have wanted to buy it for my daughter and her children. I supply them with the tiny ones with a plastic case to contain the shavings, lots of them. And, they promptly lose them....sigh.  Thankfully, I get them all on sale.

In all this pondering, shopping, and wishing, I decided getting one for me would be nice. Decisions have to be made: Do I get top of the line for her? Do I buy mid-priced for each of us? Do I buy cheap one for both of us? How large might be too large for her desk and limited desk-top real estate? Should I get an electric one or battery-powered one? If electric or battery operated, should it be the type where you stick the pencil in the top or the one where you stick the pencil in the side...vertical or horizontal?

What if the electricity goes off and they need to sharpen a pencil? Can I use my Max Perks rewards for a better purchase? (I am not paying a dime in cash for this.) Will batteries be a pain when the nine-year-old needs new ones to do some desperately-must-be-done-now project with the only pencil she owns? (She is dramatic. I don't know where she got Will my daughter kill me if I get the old-fashioned kind that screws onto the wall and has the little hand crank? (She is dramatic. I don't know where she got See where this is going?

Finally, I just bought a box of ten reams of copy paper to use my perks before they expired. No, I did not take a picture.

Later. When I came to my senses, I figured no one will suffer by having a hand sharpener. Of course, I have a hundred pencils to sharpen and it will hurt me. Another epiphany coming in---> I don't have to sharpen all 100 at once. Whew, that reception is hurting me.

Before the storm
So, today before the storm comes and blows away my roof completely or drowns the inside of my house, I have to work off the nerves. (most of roof gone from my house anyway) I have my tiny pencil sharpener and three cups of pencils to sharpen.  This will make my hands hurt and take me longer than it should.

Nature appreciation
Outside on the picnic table will be a nice place to do such a boring boring boring job. When I taught GED, I kept a plastic pencil box of sharpened pencils ready each day. I sharpened about two dozen pencils twice each day. Yes, students could have done it themselves, but my doing it kept down noise, distraction, wandering around, and excuses.

When I get this done once, I will transfer pencils in need of sharpening to another pencil cup and do this once every few months.

Three pencil cups
I know your burning question: Why do you have a hundred pencils in three separate cups? A friend asked me that the first time he came to my home. The answer: So I will have a pencil in any room in which I happen to need one. Okay? Got it? Next reason: I will not throw away pencil nubs, so why would I discard mostly whole pencils?

Maybe I will put a rubber band around half the pencils and store them in the file cabinet with office supplies. Honestly, these things just happened.

Pat me on the back
Today, I saved $40 by using a $0.39 cent pencil sharpener. I can send my daughter a hundred of those with the money I saved.

Parsimony is painful
but satisfying. The painful part was thinking, planning, anticipating. Not spending my "money" on even the $12 sharpener was satisfying. Besides, the box with ten reams of paper will last longer than a $40 electric pencil sharpener.

Your turn
Have you ever agonized about a purchase and then found that all you really need is something you already have that is  soooo simple and cheap that is is just too obvious?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New uses for old things--baking

I love new uses for items I already have. Don't you? I also love Real Simple, an online magazine. Today's list of 50 things to reuse in a different way lists favorites I already use, some ideas that will be incorporated into my kitchen, and one thing I would never, ever do. Do not use a golf tee to decorate your food--think China, toxic paint, poison.

Right now, I cannot post pictures until I pay Picasa $5. It seems my picture capacity quickly "became full" on the very day that marks a year from when I started this blog! So, it is $5/year from now on. Does anyone know a free way to get pictures onto my blog?

I know--$5 is not a lot of money. Here is where my parsimony kicks in and I dig in my heels.  Also, do you know if anyone can access my web album? The Picasa sight did not give me lots of clues. Or, I missed it.

Back to the "reuse" list. You can submit a hint to Real Simple and maybe get it published. You can enroll and receive this mag in email. Check it out for some great ideas. I will be posting other reuse hints from the site in the future.

Your turn
What is your favorite new use for an old thing in the kitchen?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Waltons and the Great Depression

I read all the blogs I follow and more, occasionally getting off track and reading new ones. People on many blogs are talking about gardening, raising animals, keeping bees, killing wild animals and fishing in order to feed their family or keep expenses down. At the least, they, like me, have eggs or are planning to get hens. They are grateful for what they can do.

For the last three weeks I have been watching The Waltons. I am on Season 2. John Walton makes similar statements all the time about: catching fish, killing game, raising animals, and how rough it would be if he could not. They have a cow to milk and hens for eggs and eating. They are continually discussing how they are so much better off than people who don't have their advantages. Grandma said she did not know how people in the city managed. They discuss starving people in other places.

The Walton family was incredibly poor, living a hard-scrabble life that is not entirely or even quite borne out by the scripts of the TV series. They count themselves as wealthy in the food arena. Many people on blogs I read have the same ideas and feelings about their incredible good fortune for the opportunity to help feed themselves without always going to the grocery for every bite they need. Of course, some bloggers are straining to reach a certain level of self-sufficiency as far as food and other items they need, canning, sewing, raising a garden, and honing or learning skills that will make them capable of providing for themselves. The Waltons always cook from scratch and make and remake clothing for the large family. Quilts have old clothes and household textiles as their only basis for the pieces in the quilts.

Oh, to have seven children to pick berries for pies and jam! Of course, with the family of eleven members, it takes eleven times as much to feed them as it does to feed me. However, their combined agricultural and homemaking efforts produce more than eleven times what I produce.

Everything any one of the Waltons says resonates with me, echoed by bloggers, unknowingly. Watching these very old episodes reinforces what we may be going through in the short future. Some people actually are having the same hardships and level of deprivation that the Waltons experience.

The Walton family through John Boy's stories and narration values the closeness, family cohesion, and love. I know it is sappy, but I wonder if this economy will bring families closer or divide them further. No, I don't think love will conquer hardship.

Working together seems to be the key for the Waltons, along with mutual respect, and, of course, hard work.

And, I am in love with Ralph Waite (the father) all over again! He really does it for me. It is not just his "John Walton" persona. I like him anywhere I find him. Unfortunately, I have never found him in person, not that I have looked.

Your turn
Have you ever watched The Waltons? Do you see the similarities in the Depression and now? Would you like to emulate the efforts of the Waltons? Even if it meant giving up a few comforts? Remember, in the first episode, John Boy bought his mother, Olivia, a washing machine. We DON"T want to go overboard with the deprivation part. LOL What would be your greatest deprivation that was also their deprivation? Mine would be AC. Oh, yeah, the Internet and computer. They had electricity and an indoor toilet, so you cannot say those or the least we did not go back another 100 years to determine what we would miss.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Free chips

Remember, at Kroger's you can get a free bag of chips between 3pm and 8pm today, April 1, 2011.

Novella Carpenter Update

From Ghost Town Farm--an update about the growing and selling of crops in her backyard. It seems the "rabbit people" may be involved.