Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Just One Word and Then Some...

One Little Word.

I'm enthralled with this idea, and especially Rainy's post. In her shop she's offering charms to help keep the focus in the right place. Rainy is amazingly in tune with my thinking so often, it's almost scary, but I am totally enamored of the idea of One Word. I'm in the process of thinking through what my word will be and am about there. I'll share when I've placed my order with Rainy (which will then make it official!).

Then in my surfing along through my Google Reader, I discovered this fascinating article from Marc & Angel to start doing for oneself. Great piece, so full of helpful, thought provoking things to do...

And of course, all of this is because resolutions don't usually work. I've long been one to make "plans." And try to follow through with them. But you know what? That's not a lot more successful than making resolutions is for me...still I really do like this discussion of "resolutions" that might work:
Just two little things. I can handle these.

One more terrific thing I found and plan to use:
2012 Declutter Calendar from My Simple Life. This really IS a smart calendar, as it gives you one thing to do each day to make your life less messy and overwhelming. Love the idea, and hope I can stick to it, but you know what? Any day I accomplish something will be one day better than I managed last year!
*wink*

Okay. One word (which will encompass many things, I can share that much), a De-cluttering Calendar that will have me accomplishing one thing per day towards making my life simpler, neater, more minimal, and 30 things to start doing for me, along with two (fairly fail safe) old fashioned resolutions! Wow...I'm tired already.

Happy New Year! I somehow like 2012 better than 2011...easier to say, let's hope it's better in many many ways!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making Changes a Baby Step at a Time: Or Use What You Have

I just discovered a new blog that's helping me do exactly that: Make Do. Okay that's not the name of the blog, it's called Frugally Sustainable, but the thrust of the article linked up above is all about that Yankee practice my Mom's generation was raised with...That "Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without."

I'm really hopeful that in 2012 I can begin to chronicle some of the things I'm planning to do, but the very first thing is to accept that I'm not in the perfect spot to live a sustainable lifestyle (specifically, I can't grow my own food which makes me incredibly sad) but there are small things each one of us can do...

Until things change so we can be even more sustainable.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Mix of Things...

Did you shop on Black Friday? Not me.

Did you shop on Small Business Saturday? I did (oh wow, did I...12 hours out of the house, and I was wrecked when it was over)

Are you eating meatless today? (being Meatless Monday?) I almost am...but being a touch under the weather, that old standby chicken noodle soup slipped in there without my think ing that it was Meatless Monday. I think I'll have to do two meatless days next week to compensate (or perhaps during this week, too?).

I saw this article on finishing the leftovers via FB and decided to share it here. Who knew that tossing leftovers could waste so much? But it simply makes sense, if you're trying to watch your pennies, and do things more holistically, to cook from scratch and then eat it all (or freeze it) before it goes into the garbage...

My next plan is to carefully decide what to shop for and what to make, and try to use up my stash as carefully as I use up the food I buy and cook...

Monday, November 21, 2011

This Week in Consumerism...

This is perhaps the most conflicted week in American capitalism...Everyone knows and is preparing for, Black Friday - the day when retail is finally placed "in the black" for their sales revenue (at least that's what they hope!) and shoppers, reinforced by the previous day's glutonny, enter the marketplace to shop till they drop in a mad frenzy of trying to get the best deals for their holiday gift-buying orgy.

Perhaps you've noticed in years past, that I, an admitted retailer, have firmly supported "Buy Nothing Day" begun by Adbusters in the late 1990s to encourage people to pay attention to their behaviors surrounding consumption. Its adherants do not buy a thing for a single 24 hour period. And hopefully, after that day, they think a bit before separating themselves from their cash...

Then a couple of years ago, American Express began what I hope will become every bit as strong a tradition as Black Friday sales. The Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday. Since small businesses are also typically local businesses, I'm all for everyone shopping small and shopping local, and then, critically - SHOP Handmade, Handcrafted items.

I can't say it much better than this blogger I came across over the weekend: the Thoughful Consumer. And I love the chalkboard admonition in the photo on that link!

Shop local, buy from your neighbors, if you can use public transportation to get there, do that. Keep the economy in your community growing in the right direction.

And let the big boxes watch from the sidelines (I wish!)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Bank Transfer Day

Will you be participating? Changing out your big bank for a locally owned credit union? One that invests in the community you live in? Bringing your money local?

Bank Transfer Day is Nov. 5 and it might be a bit of short notice to try to do that on Saturday, but lots of credit unions are open then. Here are a couple of things to remember:
1. Your direct deposit of your paycheck needs to be transferred, so get proper documentation of your new account to your payroll department as quickly as you can so they can verify and be ready to deposit your next check.
2. If you have ANY direct deposits or deductions, it takes time to switch them. Don't close your old account right away.
3. Make sure everything you've charged at your old bank has cleared before you close that account.
4. But make sure you close the old account once everything has been transfered and cleared, because they often will charge you a monthly fee, not to mention fees for balance minimums not being met!

Credit Unions are terrific places to put your funds and support your local community. I made the switch several years ago. Then recently I started moving funds into accounts with a regional bank (one that's not "big" and has never received bailout funds, as well as being very conservative with their reserves levels).

The "Buy Local" movement makes just as much sense in the banking industry as it does for your other consumer habits.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Meatless Monday!

For Meatless Mondays I made a recipe I've been drooling over ever since I saw it on the Fat Free Vegan's Blog. It's called Eat The Rainbow Black Bean Soup. There are tons of veggies in it: red cabbage, mushrooms, black beans, canned diced tomatoes, and you chop up a full onion, dice carrots, and red or yellow peppers chopped and then saute them all like this:

That's it. That's the only photo I can show you.

The very last thing you do with this wonderful soup (which I made in my slow cooker) is to add in spinach (she says lettuce is okay, too, but I just can't see it).

And every drop of this soup got put up for lunches and dinners and stored (except for the soup I had today, and it's gone).

Photos? Nope. Sorry. Look at her blog - her photos are prettier anyway!
*wink*

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to Meatless Mondays

After a ton of reading about the intermingled serious issues facing the world today - such basic issues! - I'm recommitting to Meatless Mondays (and Meatless, Most Days - heheh) and so here is a sample menu I've enjoyed:

Roasted Winter Squash: cut smallish squash in half, scoop out seeds and pulp, spray a glass casserole with olive oil spray and place face down, then fill with 1 inch or so of water, cover and bake at 400 for about 45-60 minutes (this is be dependent on how small your oven is, I used the 60 minutes without checking and my small toaster oven gets HOT, so I think I could have gone with less time, but it was delightful anyway and just peeled away from the skin easily)

Mustard greens with olive oil and red wine vinegar. I bought fresh, but will use frozen during the winter.

The last two items are from a couple of local spots: I went out to Jameson's Orchards (which is a lovely farm not far from me) and picked up a couple of rice mixes they had prepared. The Brown Rice and Lentil mix is shown above. It makes six 3/4 cup servings for a very Weight Watcher's friendly 4 Points Plus, and is just wonderful! Then I wanted a corn muffin but wasn't in the mood to make my own, so when I shopped for my mustard greens, I picked up a couple of these. A tad pricey, but just simply wonderful. I love my Fresh Market grocery. I also picked up 4 MacIntosh apples that I think might not be local, but if they're Vermont Macs? So much the better for my tastes!

Today is MM's Food Day which focuses on healthy, affordable, sustainable food choices so I'll be participating today and all year with the Meatless Mondays project (at least that's the intention...hopefully I can get posts up each week in time...)

With concerns about the use of water in agriculture, and diminishing farmland and grazing land (see below and the link to the Institute for the Environment in the sidebar), the less meat I can eat, the better.

I should make that, "the less meat WE can eat, the better!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This Is Where My Head Is These Days...



That video shows a highly complex issue in an extraordinarily succinct manner.

Food production. Water preservation. Population explosion. Environmental degradation.

Can we all (and I do mean ALL) get along long enough to solve this issue? When I look at the US political divide, I can't help but be pretty pessimistic about it.

And it's never been more important that we get along.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Local Fibershed...

I'm here, I'm reading a lot, when I can, and this popped up on my radar just in the past day or two. I couldn't help but bring it to your attention as well...
Fibershed: Grown & Sewn Close to Home.

She has a blog and a video, too. You can check them both out here.

I've decided that, while I can't grow most of my stuff (either to eat or to dye with, or even to bring from one season to another to shear for the fiber), I can strive more and more to use fibers made locally.

The first step is to source the fabric and the fiber. It might be easier than I think (or not)...

Monday, August 08, 2011

More Interesting Reading...

I've been busy as a bee working on stock for my two upcoming events in September and as a result am quite behind the times in getting back to you, but I did want to share a couple of things of interest:

These are the result of my Farmers' Market excursions (to two different markets!) on the weekend, and I'm enjoying those gourmet cherry tomatoes, especially!.

But I also found a couple of spot of good reading and wanted to share them. I've "liked" the New Dream folks over on Facebook, and the other day discovered an interesting piece about becoming Financially Independent using Vicki Robins and Joe Dominguez' plan found in YMOYL. I'm going to try to keep up with her posts on the New Dream blog, as I think they'll be interesting. Here's the first installment.

Then the same subject showed up over on Be More With Less but she had a different perspective so I thought I'd include this post.

Part of where I hope to go with this blog is toward a sensible reassignment of my own finances, alone with doing more with less (and getting rid of a LOT of the MORE in the process!).

I did manage to divest myself of a large garbage bag of too big clothing and a spare cat carrier (to a friend with a new kitten)...but I'll have to replace the carrier with a rolling hardshell case if I can find one, so maybe that doesn't count?

Either that, or they're gonna have to go on diets. I suspect they'll toss me out of the house first.
;)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

So Maybe We'll Start Right Here: Why I Believe Designing & Making Handbags is My "Calling"

Seven years ago, I was faced with a rather difficult diagnosis after losing 1/3 of the sight in my right eye: Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus. I'd been in and out of doctor's appointments all over town, and even down to Duke University to their Eye Center and evaluated by an excellent Opthamologist and also a Rheumatologist there. The vision loss made it difficult to continue to work in counted cross stitch which had been my "drug of choice" in the craft world for many years. I still happen upon those uncompleted projects every so often and sigh wistfully. (Since then the diagnosis has changed a mite, to one not quite so serious - whew!)

At the time, tho', hand-sewn fabric bags were all the rage, and one afternoon, I dropped into a quilting shop on my way home from work to discover a delightful cat fabric which I promptly purchased, along with a pattern and a couple of coordinating prints. I'm afraid I fell apart (sort of) at the store, in discussing why I was suddenly venturing into a fabric shop after years of denying my sewing abilities, but as a result the owner and I have become well acquainted, and I trust her eye as well as my own when it comes to fabric selections! She's an excellent resource I would never have met without this sad time in my life...I'm terribly grateful that I'm so wealthy in friends.

But I digress...For years, my sister and I had been looking for the "perfect pocketbook" which would keep us organized and pulled together, but after numerous disappointments, I became convinced such a bag was nonexistent. The possibility of making one hadn't occurred to me before, but the pattern I picked up that day I ended up being totally disenchanted with, because, once again, it just wasn't what I wanted in a bag. Still, a seed was planted in my mind. Over the next couple of days, I worked away on designs and finally created the very first "Nana Sadie Rose" bag: what has become known as my Mera bag (named for my daughter). I carried the prototype to a friend's Fourth of July picnic and was begged to make more for the women present. I carried it to my vet, and she begged for one just like mine (and she has the only EXACT replica of any of Nana Sadie Rose's bags, as each one is original in some respect).

Since that time, I've had enough customers fall in love with the Mera to determine it is my best selling bag, but I didn't stop there, of course. As customers asked for various items, and as I expanded my crafting horizons (adding in knitting when I realized I could make those fun-fur scarves that were in fashion back then) the items available at Nana Sadie Rose have skyrocketed. (At least it feels that way)

Now fashion might seem an odd "calling" to have, but hear me out: the bags are practical. In every respect, I try very hard to design with practicality in mind. Pockets, fasteners, and accessories are all incorporated because they serve a purpose, a need.

And then I add fun.

You see I'm a firm believer that life should be fun. When the economy began to tank, I kept right on designing. I've continued to operate my quiet, small corner of the world of fashion, because it's in my home (no overhead) and because I know I provide a quality product. In fact, quality is my first requirement. If I can't make an item that will serve it's purpose and wear reliably (the fabric IS cotton, so it's not going to be immortal, after all) then I look elsewhere. It's why I try very hard not to use materials that I deem sub-standard. But once I find the good ones, then I add in whatever interest my customer has. It's why the cat show circuit loves my bags, as I'll go to great lengths to find interesting and novel cat fabrics to satisfy their interest.

And knitters know they can count on fabrics that reflect our mutual love of knitting, as well as accessory items that protect their serious investment in their supplies - I don't use velcro in my knitting related items, for example, because it snags yarn badly, and I cushion all the needle cases to protect bamboo, fine steel, and wooden needle tips. So many needles available today are exquisite and quite pricey!

So my commitment to quality, my recognition of my customers need to protect their investment in the tools of their craft, and my insistence in having fun with the fabrics all make Nana Sadie Rose a labor of love, and a true "calling," in my mind. I think most of my customers feel that they've spent money wisely when they've purchased any of my items.

I'm a very grateful Nana!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

There'll Be Some Changes Made...

Things have been so dark and so stressful for so long now, in this country, as well as around the world, that I’ve been challenged sometimes just to get up in the morning, have you? But since women tend to keep everyone else’s boats floating, we can’t sink into despair, even if we want to. We must find ways to carry on. I love that phrase from WWII England, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” (I also love the corollary “Keep Calm and Carry Yarn” and I make sure I do!)

And so I’m up every day, heading in to work, then home to work again, and trying, in the process to hang on by my fingernails. Prices rising, earnings stagnant, debt ceilings cracking, interest rates going up on everything, joblessness and layoffs, and politicians who only think of the next election cycle: this scenario has plagued me, and I’m sure you, for months now.

But I will carry on, and this is where I want to focus – I will carry on, with style and beauty, and a grateful heart. Because for all that times are very tough, and politicians elected to do the right thing can’t seem to understand what that means, the saving grace, for me, is thrift (in the nicest sense of the word – that of “Oh! A bargain!” and “Oh! Look what I unearthed from the attic!” and “Oh! This room looks so much better with less clutter!” and “Oh! Thrift shopping is a terribly fun game!” and “I’ve been trying to eat healthier and testing out vegan recipes is au courant and also good for the planet while being less expensive, too!” and “Yes, my mind is so much calmer with quiet and focus and gratitude.”

Thrift and Gratitude.

Can you tell I’ve been reading Ban Breathnach again? I have. And she’s got something, you know. We each control our emotions and our thoughts, we can choose what we focus upon. And in this respect: the abundance and plenty of love and friends and not of the angst and "stuff" that has been cluttering our homes, our lives, our minds...

It’s a matter of working with your head, recognizing that hours alone by the computer or in front of the TV just closes you in on yourself, that getting out into the world, taking a walk, meeting friends for coffee or tea, joining a book club or a walking group, dropping by your favorite yarn shop for an hour of knitting with whomever drops by - these take you out of yourself, away from the incessant, stress-producing “name-calling and blame-game-one-upmanship” of cable TV news. How about a potluck supper party with your neighbors – find out who has what and resolve to share(lawn mowers, hedge clippers, slow cookers, pressure canners, sewing machines, novels?), and who is up for a morning walking group?

So this blog will be changing it’s focus from a haphazard "environmental, craft, shop local" blog to one that looks at these elements as a means to creating a beautiful, sustainable life. One steeped in gratitude, one that does, indeed, seek to keep more wealth (not just $$, either!) than slips through one’s fingers in what used to pass for “normal.” Buying less, saving more, but doing thrift with style. Care to come along with me? We can share “elegant economies” together as we do!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Farmer's Market Saturday...

Yesterday was hot, sticky, but I had to go to the Farmer's Market and pick up some fresh veggies:

I dragged around before I finally pushed myself out the door (Saturday's are hard to wake up early for) so by being late, I get one of two things, and sometimes both, as was the case yesterday: smaller selection, and deals and steals from folks trying to sell what's left over before the morning ends. Up there you'll see I picked up a bunch of the ruffly squash that I refer to as patty-pans. They're delightful steamed up with a little butter and seasonings. Then a basket of gourmet mini tomatoes (I plan a special salad tonight!), and 4 ears of corn. I saw his sign that read "6 for $3" and said, I'd like 3 if that's okay...well the four he had on the table were what he had left so I got them for the price of 3. The peaches, of course will be snacks and desserts.
Sis-in-law grew the tomatoes and peppers in her garden and I was gifted with those, as well as some of her first pickings of green beans. I've already done away with two of the tomatoes...in sandwiches!

Before I walked out my door around 11 a.m. yesterday, the kitties were riveted to the windows, tails twitching. I moved carefully to see what squirrel or cardinal it might be:

And this is what I saw. She's a matter of about 25 yards or so from the house! She'd been closer but had moved by the time I got the camera...the lawn has many violets in it, and I saw her picking thru the greenery, so expect that was what she was feasting on.

It's actually sad that she's so close. I'm only a block from a busy business district and I know the herd she's a part of live in the narrow stretch behind my house and between my back yard and the businesses below. Not exactly safe territory...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Whole Month? Plus?

I'm sorry! I've been AWOL.

Really, I didn't intend for things to go this long. I've been reading, and sewing, and having a birthday, and having company, and more reading and sewing...

I've been reading Diet for a Hot Planet. And spending some time with these websites and reading articles along the same lines.

I'm formulating something, it's not ready yet, but I'm still here, and I promise I'll be back.
:)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Meatless Mondays & Still Cleaning Out The Freezer

So when I saw this recipe over at Stitch And Boots, well, I just had to try it.

(I did have to pick up a few things, but I had more than half of the ingredients and this used up some of the eggplant from the CSA - that really needs to be used up! Oh, and the cheap Trader Joe's red wine on my counter, too!)

The only thing I did differently, was to add a bit of Parmesan cheese to the top. I'm not a vegan, but if you are, leave it off!

I'm proud of myself. I used up, in addition to the wine and the frozen eggplant, two cans of diced tomatoes and then an onion, a bag of spinach, and garlic cloves in the fridge. I picked up kalamata olives at the deli bar (I love them, they're very satisfying as a snack, too and quite few in points (if any). I'm a bit sorry that I didn't have any mushrooms in the veggie drawer, and next time might have some to add in...

All in all, this is a lovely recipe. I completely enjoyed it and there's plenty left. I expect I'll end up freezing some of it as there's at least 5 more servings here.

And I love cooking once and enjoying it again and again!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kroger Has More to Recommend It!

I've gotten quite savvy (and my DD thinks this is quite amusing) about online coupons and all sorts of ways to save money at the grocery store. I was so excited to learn that, once I got my change of address filed with Kroger and tied my info to my shopper card, that suddenly I was getting good coupons relating to the things I buy in the mail every couple of weeks or so. Then, I go online to their website, and add coupons they offer there to my card. I don't have to cut anything, I just have to remember to buy the item. And since what I get coupons for are things I buy anyway, eventually I luck out and use them.

So it was kind of fun tonight, to decide I wanted one of their roasted chickens for dinners this weekend. I had a 70 cents off coupon. That chicken makes 4 meals for me. And when I got it home, I immediately portioned it out into those four meals, and took the meat off the carcass. Once that was done? I tossed it into a pot of filtered water...

I've been saving the ends of celery, carrots, peelings from those carrots and any odd veggie leftover I could find in freezer boxes. I had three of them (and only used two for this), but I tossed them in with the carcass, added in some spices, and ended up with the chicken stock you see up there in the photo. I've frozen it.

I wonder how many people actually throw out the bones without stewing them to smitherines?
:)
OH! And one more thing that Kroger has going for it? I earn points with every dollar I buy and those points translate into cents off per gallon of gas at their pumps. Their prices are competitive with the lowest gas chain in town, Sheetz. So for 100 points ($100) I get 10 cents per gallon off on a fill-up...and so on...

(I also save on gasoline running to other stores...dontcha know?)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reducing Plan

I lost weight, a lot of weight, and now my home needs a reducing plan, too. I have a two-bedroom townhouse – with full basement – and it’s packed to the rafters (ok, not really, as I believe there is an attic, but I haven’t been up and don’t want to go – that’s all the clutterbug needs, is to find more space to fill). I refuse to grant myself permission to expand any further.

Oh, yes, I’m a devoted clutterbug. Over the years, following the voluntary simplicity philosophy I so admire, I’ve had short spells of trying to rid myself of much of my stuff. I’d make a bit of a dent, but that’s all – this decluttering is hard, and it goes against the grain of everything I’ve ever done, who I’ve ever been. Of course, I’m NOT my stuff – or am I? I’m a diehard collector. What have I collected? Hmm…?

1. Stuffed Teddy Bears (they are all boxed up)
2. Ceramic cat figurines (they are all boxed up)
3. Swanky Swigs (I use about 5 of these, but most of mine are boxed up)
4. Rose-strewn china/porcelain decorated pieces (hmm…most are boxed up)
5. Depression glass – no specific pattern and while most of it is unpacked in the pie safe that houses such things, I don’t use them…might as well be boxed up.
6. CDs, 33-rpm vinyl records, cassette tapes (at least there are no 8-tracks)
7. Magazines, books
8. Fabric, yarn (ok the fabric is for my business, but there is a lot that’s not)
9. My mother’s stuff (I didn’t collect it, she did, but when she died, I couldn’t face giving it all up – it was HERS and I’d lost her, so I could keep her stuff – I’m still working on that one)

This time, encouraged by having to open my closets and rid myself of all those FAT clothes (they’re gone, or rather, they’re waiting in a couple of places to be either sold or donated and at the rate I’m going I just had better donate them), I have begun to look at other things carefully. And I’ve discovered I have a long, long way to go.

There are methods to this, of course, and one of them is that you will never be "there," as in, there will always be purging to do. I love the "one-in, one-out" idea but I need to try to do the one-in, two-out, at least till things are under control).

One decision that I’ve reached is that I will not, under any circumstances, allow myself to think that this time of decluttering is in advance of redecorating. I will admit that I might well find things in my “stuff” that I could repurpose to "redo" my space, but at least that won’t be spendy…and I won’t let myself KEEP things just for that purpose (unless I truly love it). Minimalism for me will not necessarily be Spartan. I like "My Grandmother’s Parlor" look. However, since I admit that it’s a PITA to dust and clean in that environment, I’ll keep the style, just cut the clutter and reduce the amount of stuff...

I'm putting myself on a different sort of reducing plan...

Thursday, May 05, 2011

OMG - Something to Aspire To?

I found this over on Laurie's blog today, and once I went to see the video? Well, I just knew I had to share it here...


Can you imagine? I'm actually totally in love with that little space - she's got everything she needs!
(hmm...did you see any way for her to wash her dishes? I didn't - I guess she uses the bathroom sink? Hopefully not paper plates, because of the waste.)

I love the Tiny House Blog and I have this romantic notion that I want to retire and live in a vintage camper (or maybe not such a vintage one, as I'd want a shower/bathroom...) so perhaps an efficiency apartment for most of the time and a vintage camper so I can meet up with the gals over on Sisters On The Fly (but I'm not into fly fishing, and frankly, if you put me on a horse, you'd end up taking me to the hospital in short order...I love horses, and used to love to ride, but my spine can't take the pounding anymore.)

Of course, the truth of the matter is? All of this is pretty obviously my subconscious mind telling me I have to get a handle on the STUFF in my home...weed out, give up and away, organize, pare down, and get serious about minimalism.

(But isn't it interesting how much of this is popping up all over the place these days?)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Simplicity Itself!

There are times, I wish I could write really small so I could emblazon things that have special meaning to me on a Post-It to carry in my pocket. This is one of those posts...

Monday, May 02, 2011

Why A Nook?

I've mentioned it a time or two here...now I'm going to discuss it a bit in detail. I bought a NOOK!

Frankly, I waffled a long time. I'm an insatiable reader...or I used to be. About 6 years ago, I started knitting again, very seriously. It's truly my passion and when combined with my handbag business and sewing, well, that takes up most of my free time. I did pick up audio books occasionally from the library, but I found that if the reader was good, I stayed focused on the story, but there were way too many readers whose voices simply enabled me to zone out. Well, I'm really not reading a book then, if I can't remember what it's all about, right?

So when the e-readers came out, I was intrigued...not because I could read and sew, that's pretty much impossible, but I can read and knit.

The other major issue with my failing to read was that physically I had problems - holding the books (they've gotten so heavy, even paperbacks are big) and reading (seeing the print...and let's face it, I'm only getting older, the vision is getting worse, and bifocals don't cut it, so I was reading without my glasses and the book had to be 3 inches in front of my face - not very appealing).

Still, I am a library gal. I believe in them, I even don't feel bad if I have to pay a late return fine, because I'm supporting the library! If I don't have to buy a book, that's a good thing.

E-reader creators mostly want you to buy their e-books (altho' there are some good free, or mostly free, options out there, which I'll be exploring soon).

I can knit with my Nook, I can read (there are 5 options of print size!) with my glasses on. The Nook, while a bit heavier than I'd hoped, is fairly easy to hold and read in bed.

My only complaint? I have spent a good deal on e-books. And I'm trying to console myself - with the exception of knitting books, I've not been buying books for the past few years. So...I suppose buying a few now isn't really the end of the world? I've had the Nook a bit over a week, and have finished 3 books.

I.LOVE.MY.NOOK!
Love.It.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Changing My Spots?

Well, I certainly hope so...at least a little bit. Tho' I'll always love leopard! *wink*

Sandra recommended the Miss Minimalist blog in my contest a week or so ago, and I've spent quite a bit of time poking around on her site. Then, after finally buying my Nook last weekend, I downloaded her book, The Joy of Less and have been reading and thinking (I'm not one who just plows thru these types of essays, I savor, and consider, and think about what's worked before and what hasn't.

And in thinking about her steps to take towards minimalism ... towards paring down, sweeping out the clutter and such, I had to factor in the hard commitment I have to two shows in September. My personal decluttering/mind reversal/spot-changing will have to take place around that deadline.

So this weekend, I made some progress:
That is a huge stack of knitting patterns that have been purchased or were offered free online. I had printed everything, some were in plastic sleeves, some were duplicates, and some were just ... well, just there. Now, everything has been gone thru, put into a logical sequence (I didn't have dividers, but that's on the shopping list), and slipped into page protectors...this was a job that confronted me every single time I walked into the knitting room/office, one I just couldn't face. It took about 35-40 minutes total. What was I waiting for?

Then I did this:

Saturday was our second Prescription Drug Take-Back event. I couldn't go last time, but a friend took the few odds and ends I had at the time...still I knew there were more - meds I'd been prescribed and ended up either being unable to take for my own sensitivities, or co-mix issues with other meds I take, or samples that didn't work, and sometimes just a regular drug I'd been taking and suddenly the doc thinks there's something better - you know how this goes, right? Well...the police, in conjunction with the DEA, have these opportunities to bring the drugs in, no questions asked, and you hand them off for proper disposal - not flushing them down the drain or tossing them into the landfill where they contaminate the environment...

I knew I had things in the back of that cabinet that I could drop off at this Take-Back, and I also knew there was a lot of stuff in that overstuffed cabinet that could be pitched. Friday night, I got down in the floor and tossed, left and right - you should have seen the personal care products, toiletries, cosmetics and such that aren't there anymore...(I'm notorious, if I spend money for something, I hang onto it until I either pitch it in sheer disgust (like now) or I use it up...sometimes that's not such a good thing!

And can you tell there's lots of SPACE behind the things at the very front of this cabinet.

Space. Room to breathe...
That's a nice feeling...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Another Meatless Monday!

This weekend was the Earth Day celebration in Grandin Village, where I take yoga classes and visit the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op for neat ready-made dishes at the Happy Belly Deli as well as pick up lovely organic fresh food. While at the Earth Day event, the Grandin Village Farmer's Market was also kicking off the season and I picked up a dozen free-range chicken eggs (he also had duck eggs). I knew that would mean I'd have to eat them fairly regularly till they were gone, so the Meatless Monday meal is an omelet (which frankly is a little crusty because the burner was higher than I usually use and I failed to note that when I was cooking it...still the crusties were also very very good:

The omelet has gruyere cheese in it. Then there's fresh asparagus and a wonderful salad called Alpha Omega from the Happy Belly Deli. It has cranberries in it. I also picked up a Nantucket Cranberry Crumble bar for dessert (ok, more than one dessert because it's pretty pricey calorie-wise!)

I also picked up the season's first fresh Swiss Chard. YUMMY!

I am so glad it's spring and the Farmer's Markets are back!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Earth Day! (Celebrated) & A Winner!

I spent today in Grandin Village - well, part of the day - got a parking ticket (and no, I didn't see a "No Parking" sign, if I had, I wouldn't have pushed my luck on such a day...) and then came back home and with a helpful assistant
drew a name for the contest winner!


Can you read that? (I know it's fuzzy, he was moving fast, trying to get the paper to play with, and knowing I was planning to get it away from him.)

The winner is Sandra! Both of you had great ideas, and by the way, this obviously tells me I don't have all that many folks reading this little blog...which is something I'd love to change...Any ideas???

Friday, April 22, 2011

Contest Continues Thru Friday at Midnight!

But oh, my, I'm so pleased to have learned of the Miss Minimalist blog! Thank you, friend Sandra! That link, btw, will take you to a specific entry, one that just felt so completely satisfying to read!

Don't forget to post a link to a blog to be included in my contest - it ends tonight!

Please note the link to the contest is no longer valid and has been removed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Decluttering the Clutter Inside and Out...

Things have been a bit frenetic, and they're only going to get more so, as I finish one fiber festival and begin to prepare for two major shows in September, and when my life gets stressful, I hunker down into what I call "survival mode." It's not just keeping my nose to the grindstone, with blinders on, but that's part of it, I suppose. No, more likely it's a retreat to the practices that help me feel as if I've got a little control.

If, like me, the world is getting a bit out of hand (oh, wow, let's talk about earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear accidents, out-of-control oil prices, a third war, a group of politicians that can't seem to get together to do the right things regardless of how painful they are and how unlikely re-election might be, debt crises, oil and electricity sky-rocketing costs, ad nauseum) the one thing I know that keeps me sane and focused is making sure I have some things under control.

Things like:
1. Making smart choices about what I spend my money on: and here, I'm talking making choices that fit your priorities (for example, I do buy yarn and patterns for knitting, because that's the one thing I do that drops my blood pressure quickly and makes me feel calm, it also helps me have gifts that are personal and lovely at a reasonable price).
2. Cutting corners on the things you can: I dropped some very basic services on my cable bill and halved the monthly fee. I know there's another step down I can take and I'm about there in my decision-making process...more savings. I'm choosing to eat less and less meat, making my lunch every single day, and about to start using the bus for at least a couple of days each week to commute to work.
3. Spending my time in activities that improve my health (I'm currently training for a 5K - I'll walk it, but hey, that's exercise and it's cheap amusement, too, plus when I finish, I'll feel powerful and accomplished (not to mention, I hope to keep reducing my medical expenses by choosing to exercise!)
4. Splurging a bit to finally buy my ColorNook from B&N, but I am missing reading, and when I knit, it's hard to also hold a book. In fact, as I'm getting older, I'm finding that holding a book is just plain hard now - heavy. Lying in bed, holding a book is virtually impossible. Listening to books on CD is doable, and I've done it, but it's a little harder to focus depending on who is reading the book. The ColorNook, I hope, will help me reduce my library shelf-space. Fingers crossed, as the decluttering bug bites big every single spring, and I'd LOVE to make a dent in the poundage of books that get moved whenever I do.
5. Continuing to look for new websites that deal with Voluntary Simplicity and the idea of doing more with less. I'm hoping to find good sites that deal with the environment, vegetarianism, frugality (not in a negative way, please), the sorts of values I'm committed to.

I found this one last week and have been working my way thru the archives. But I'd love love love to find more...I've shared some others with you here over the past few months, but I've decided to have a little contest:

I'm giving away a book I found helpful in all this: Use Less Stuff by Lilienfeld and Rathje, it's from 1998, but is still valuable. And B&N indicates that it's out of print, tho' used copies are available. This is a very gently used copy. Here's all you have to do to win:

1. Leave a comment here with a website you've found helpful in the key areas of voluntary simplicity, vegetarian/vegan living/cooking, green living, frugality, environmentalism, fiscal responsibility. That will get you entered in the drawing once.
2. Post the contest on your blog encouraging others to come visit and share their ideas with me. Come back here and post a comment that you've done that with a link to your post. That will get you entered in the drawing a second time.
3. Post the link to the contest to Facebook, and come back here and tell me you did that, too. There's your third time entered into the contest.

I'll draw the winner on my local Earth Day (Saturday) morning - you have until midnight, Friday night (April 22) to enter. Oh, and please make sure when you leave me a comment that you make it possible for me to find you...(in other words, make sure Blogger has your email addy tied to your screen name, or leave a way to contact you if you can (I do have my email addy in the sidebar over there...) If I can't locate you, I'll be forced to draw another name!

(OH...and I promise to try to be here more often - but remember those shows upcoming? Well, I'll have my head down, and blinders on for the next 5 months...if I seem to have dropped out of sight, email, okay?)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Still Cookin' And Cleaning Out the Cupboards

I'm still trying recipes I've found on food blogs!

Today I managed to use up a can of tuna and a can of white beans...not to mention all the spices, oil and vinegar were in my cupboards, too:

I did buy the veggies and the wraps. And this is really good.

You can find the recipe for Tuna and White Bean Wraps here.

(And in yesterday's Meatless Monday recipe, I used up 2 cans of tomatoes, 2 cans of beans, and fresh root veggies from the crisper drawer as well as veggie stock.)

There's still lots more in the cupboard tho' so don't go away, I expect you'll see more!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Meatless Mondays: Be Careful with That Stick Blender!

I have wanted to try this recipe for Moroccan Lentil Soup ever since I saw it. It took me a bit to find the garam masala (my Co-op had it) and the red lentils (again, check the Co-op, in the bulk aisle for both items). Then I had a dickens of a time finding vegetarian pinto beans!

I was so excited when I started smelling everything cooking away today...and it looked wonderful. The last instruction on that recipe is "with a stick blender, blend some of the soup." Note that key word, "some?" Yes, well, I used my stick blender for the first time. And before I knew what was up, I had the puree you see above!

I love it though - both the blender AND the soup - What a great meatless recipe this is!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Not Meatless but Pesca-Veggie

I was a pesca vegetarian for several years, and when I begin to think about doing this again, it's the route I know I can take without losing the benefit of the omega fats. So I was tickled today when I went to catch up on my blog reading and found this over on Cheap, Healthy, Good: Tuna & White Bean Wraps.

I have some of this in the cabinet already (which will help me *Clean Out The Cupboards* a little more...), but will need to pick up the veggies. I think it would make a nice lunch for work next week.

Things have been a little hectic around Nana Sadie's Place lately, so I've been scarce. I'm hoping to rectify that...Keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Been Cleaning Out the Cupboards

And the fridge is really amazingly empty! Tonight, made a neat crab fried (brown) rice dish that I love and is really easy to make: 1 cup brown rice cooked, 1 package surimi, 1 package - 16 oz - of frozen peas and carrots, 2 Tbls vegetable oil, 1 bunch of green onions sliced (I use as much of the greens as I feel comfortable with), then a 2 egg equivalent of Egg Beaters. I saute the onions in the oil, add in the chopped surimi (bit-sized pieces), then toss in the rice, the peas and carrots, and once everything is well heated through, add the Egg Beaters in a well in the center of the mixture. Scratch this all together, letting the egg cook. Transfer to plate or bowl, and add in low-sodium soy sauce.
YUM
But everything was in the freezer except the Egg Beaters - oh and the rice was in the cabinet.

So with gas prices rising thru the roof again, and a corresponding increase in the grocery store, where are you thinking you're going to adjust your spending? I'm working on the idea of changing up my lunches to being totally meatless all the time. PBJ sounds boring, and humus and veggies, while easy aren't the most cost efficient. I don't do eggs much (just the egg beaters) so egg salad is out.

Vegetarian lunch ideas are welcome, just leave a comment if you will?

And give me other ideas, too, okay?

By the way? I managed to beat the electric company this year, but only barely - by about $1.20 a month. Still, I'm delighted that I came in under their estimate for my budget plan, even with our cold winter. I'm soon to begin thinking of ways to reduce the bill even farther, so let me know what you're thoughts are there, too.

Am I focusing on costs too much? In this rocky time, it's hard not to, but I'm bound and determined to make this a game, not be negative about it, but see how low I can go on my expenses...

And, my grocery bill this month? Well, I managed to come in under $150 - of course, there's still a few days left in the month, I could cave...

But I don't plan to.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's Monday, Must Be Meatless!

I have nothing to show you...I've been away all weekend, and I didn't make a bit of what I ate, but I had meatless at every turn...

Friday night, a grilled portobella mushroom sandwich with roasted red peppers and an interesting mustard concoction. Saturday afternoon, Indian Dal Curry and rice at a local stall in a food court in downtown DC. Saturday night, La Madeleine's in Old Town Alexandria where I had their signature Tomato Basil soup and a field greens salad with bread. Sunday night was another Indian restaurant that I'd not been to, and I had a Vegetable Vindaloo that was incredibly spicy - but very very good!

In amongst there, I had one meal with meat, and it was a salad with chicken. The rest of the meals for the weekend (hey, I think that's almost only breakfast left, right?) were yogurt and Kashi.

Ok. Starbucks, too.
*wink*

It was a good weekend...you can see where we went and what we did over on my knitting blog.
:)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Continuing Cleaning the Cupboards...and A NEW Challenge!

I'm about to let you know about my latest endeavors of Cleaning Out The Cupboards and also about something else mentioned there...that UWMD Challenge (you know, "Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without?")...

No photos (I know, shoot me), but over the past weekend and into this week, I've pulled single serve leftovers out of my freezer to eat for dinner, making a considerable opening in the space available...there's much more to do, however.

Last night, I used up a container of vegetable beef soup and leftover artisan bread (both in the freezer), then made up a batch of Pumpkin Fluff (WW friendly) which used up a container of Cool Whip, a can of pumpkin, and a package of Sugar-Free, Fat-Free vanilla pudding (and milk, but I am having to continue buying that). I pulled a can of beets off the storage shelves and opened that this week, too.

When it's just me, it takes a lot longer to eat my way through all this! But tonight? Another frozen serving of that goulash down below...

As far as the UWMD Challenge? Oh, I'm all over that. I'm working hard to use up my stash of fabrics in making products for my shows and craft festivals this year. Trying hard to work through my yarn stash to create holiday gifts and charity items (and those hats mentioned below). But I'm also hoping to get through some of the things in the basement, the closets, all through the house for either a yard sale this summer, and of course the regular drops to charities and Freecycle.

I love the idea of the UWMD Challenge...I'm IN!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Reverb10: February

February Prompt:
One month into 2011, what question(s) are you living? Are there any prompts/questions that arose during #reverb10 that are still resonating in your life? Are you living new questions?

Wow. Dropped into my inbox at precisely the time I was giving myself mental slaps about falling behind (ok, failing, totally) in my attempts to corral my spending and improve my financial picture! I hadn't anticipated hearing another thing from the Reverb10 folks! But this certainly appeared at just the right time.

Finance was my personal tripping point, discovered in the midst of rethinking who I was, and how I'd come to be in this world. The Single Mom who struggled to survive without the child support due (and when any of it managed "magically" to arrive, spending it quickly for the things we were doing without - a twin bed set for DD when she outgrew the crib...clothing for her, shoes...and always treats that we couldn't normally afford, because "we deserved it," for doing without all the rest of the time).

It's a rotten, hard mindset to break.

I'd set for myself a goal of reusing what's in the cupboard in January and not buying the $300 at the grocery store I'd averaged every month of 2010. For one person that seems too much.

Well, apparently even when I'm cleaning out the cupboards, nicely, I can't stop myself from picking up those "specials" when they appear at the store! I've admitted that I include the cat's food & litter in my grocery budget line: one store had such a good deal on the canned food that I bought $10 worth on January 31.

(of course, I realize that means that they're set for February, which should mean I don't have to buy much for them, except the dry and the litter, right?)

And the freezer gets packed back as fast as I clean it out.

We won't talk about the savings account just now - I'll just say that it's being robbed as fast as the funds go in for routine maintenance stuff...Once again, there's very little at the end of the month, and someone keeps moving the ends...I think it's time to reconsider how I go about addressing this issue and must force myself to become much more aware. Tracking works in Weight Watchers, so I'll try it for Finance in February!
;)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Still Cleaning Out the Cupboards!

Years ago, my mom made a dish she called "Goulash."

I never did get the recipe - and the reason was, it never tasted the same twice. Mom always did what I did tonight:

Pull out what's in need of being used before it goes bad, and put it together with tomatoes, cheese, and whatever pasta you have on hand.

The one up there is a layered dish:
13.5 ounce box of whole wheat rotini (boiled in lightly salted water)
2 cans of diced Italian flavored tomatoes
1/2 an onion, chopped
3/4 of a yellow pepper, chopped,
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of chopped black olives, drained
1 pound of ground chicken, sauteed in 2 Tblsp. olive oil
1 container of sliced fresh mushrooms, cut in half

then I shook in (without measuring) sage (just a bit b/c I couldn't decide if I'd like it or not), thyme, oregano, basil, and pepper.

I layered all the above (I mixed the chicken mixture in with the cooked rotini first) with shredded part-skim mozzarella and shredded parmesan cheeses. I topped the casserole with those as well, and baked at 350 for about 40 minutes (to heat everything and melt the cheese).

It was yummy.

Which is a darn good thing, because there's a ton of it! I suspect I'll be putting some of this in the freezer by Wednesday, but at least it will last awhile longer than it would have if I hadn't done something with all that stuff!

(and I think I'm skipping Meatless Monday this week, as a result)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Local, Local, Local...It All Starts At Local!

If ever that were true, it was today.

I left my office at 4:30, veered down the road a piece in one direction to my Local Yarn Store (which closes at 5) for needles, tangent-ed (is that a word?) off towards Salem (the town next door, but only barely) to pick up fabric a customer had requested at one of our nice local quilt shops (which closes at 5:30), then circling back around to the local druggist (who closes at 6) where I tend to buy generics OFF my health plan because the Big Health Plan insists I can't get them locally if I run it through them - so to HECK with them, I'm supporting my local guy. Not as often as I wish I could (which is always) but when I can afford to pay out of pocket, I do. I dread the day I drive up to the store and find it shuttered. The pharmacist and I have discussed just this...

Then unfortunately, I had to stop at the grocery store. NOT local. {sob!}

But sorta, kinda regional...a tiny bit better than Kroger. Thanks to their good price on cat food, the furkids will be cared for for another 25 days...

Now, do you know why I scurried for needles? Because my friend Ellen and her sister Jan, and friend Alison have all gotten the idea of knitting Warm Hats for Hot Heads. This to honor those folks in Tucson who lost their lives and the others whose lives will never be the same. We're knitting hats for each of the Representatives in Congress and all the Senators. It's a tall order. We want them to do more than the token "date night" for the State of the Union speech. We want them to return to civility. To treat every single one of the colleagues with respect and the firm belief that every single one of them is there because they love their country. They have different ideas of what is best for the country, but there isn't any doubt at all that they love it. We have to honor that, draw that out, and work to build the kind of responsible government that doesn't put people in danger. No yelling. Use your inside voice. Discuss. Don't tear each other down, work to persuade and learn to compromise. Like your Moms' all taught you.

Can you knit? Do you want to help? Let us know (we've also got a group on Ravelry). If you can't knit, can you spread the word thru your various knitter communities?

Thanks. Knit On.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Clean Out The Cupboards On Meatless Monday

You know, I'd have a terrible time following a macrobiotic diet. I love tomatoes too much (peppers, eggplants, and potatoes, too, frankly). But once again, a tomato-based dish is on the blog for Meatless Mondays:

I cleaned out a bunch from the cupboards, too! This was fast and easy, a can of black beans rinsed and drained, a can of corn (I did the same here, rinse and drain), a can of chili-ready diced tomatoes, and then I shook in a goodly amount of hot sauce, because I couldn't find the frozen chili peppers in the freezer (it's still too full!). Heated everything and tossed it over brown rice (again from the cupboard, there's a lot of rice in there). The corn muffins were left in the freezer, too, so all in all, EVERYTHING in this dish was in my house!

And by the way, as of this moment I've spent about $80 this month so far at the grocery! (Some of that was stocking up on kitty food, too, so not for my own use, but since they're family, I include their food in my budget.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cleaning Out The Cupboards...er..Freezer?

It's my first real contribution to the Clean Out the Cupboards Challenge...

and this turned out nicely!

My spaghetti sauce is based on a Barilla jarred sauce (the Tomato Basil flavor), then I add a couple of tablespoons of dried onions, 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced, and this time, I added in about a cup of Morningstar Farms Recipe Crumbles (NAYY), a couple of links of spicy Italian chicken sausage (remove the casings first and then brown with the recipe crumbles), and a medium sized container of sliced mushrooms that I'd frozen because I couldn't eat them fresh at the time...saute it all in some olive oil, then add the jarred sauce.

You could easily (and I do) make this completely vegetarian, you could add in all sorts of veggies (and I have).

Cook up some whole wheat pasta (even if what you have in the cupboard is elbow macaroni!) and toss on some decent grated parmesan cheese (or not...I thought I had some, and I was mistaken, but it was still wonderful tonight!).

I'm really pleased that several things came out of the freezer, the crisper, and the cabinet. I've got another couple of meals here, and then I'll get to work on my next pantry feast. Maybe with some of the brown rice and canned beans I have in the larder...

Stay tuned!
:)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Clean Out The Cupboards Challenge!

I was surfing around over the weekend and discovered a blog and a challenge that, frankly, seemed to be quite suited the some of the plans and goals I set for myself at the start of the year here:

1. Lower the food bill
2. Use what I have!
3. Eat more Meatless meals, particularly participating in Meatless Mondays again
4. Continue increasing my awareness with regard to the environment and local food availability and community building...

Ok. The blog has taken a decided turn towards this over the past couple of years, and I wanted to go a step further. I also wanted to not have such a stuffed freezer (just the fridge part!).

I really love the old New England ("Down East") saying: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

Yes. Yes. Yes. Now...using up what's been in the freezer for a bit began with the vegetable soup I showed you yesterday - and Rebecca has this wonderful challenge that I only just discovered. I'm hoping she won't mind that I'm linking to today without a recipe and referring her to that post for this weeks "Clean Out the Cupboards Challenge."

Photobucket


I am going to try to buy less food, but I have to have fresh fruit and veggies or I'll start to regain my weight and that's not happening. So I'm going to meal plan, and use up the things in the cupboards, freezer, and fridge, and buy much less this month.

My first real recipe will be my tried and true spaghetti sauce this weekend. I've got whole wheat pasta, sauce, frozen Morningstar Farms Recipe Crumbles, frozen mushrooms and peppers and onions. All in the house. Oh! There's even parmesan (real stuff, not the shaker cheese!).

I have whole grain bread, too. The only thing fresh will be the greens I bought tonight for a salad!

Oh...that was the other goal: Meal Planning!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Meatless Monday-On The Cheap!

Here we are, Meatless Monday again! Amazing how fast the time goes, right? It's already the 10th of the month and January is virtually 1/3 over!

In the interest of keeping my food expenses down this month and also because of the brrrr-isk winter chill we've been subjected to here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I decided to make a sort of "clean out the fridge" veggie soup:

Ok, some of the ingredients were in the pantry, not the fridge, but you get my drift?

The base is vegetable stock - you can easily begin one of these with the water left from cooking veggies for other meals, but add in a stalk of celery, some herbs (to your taste), an onion. Or like me, you can rely on canned (this time). In fact, this soup doesn't have any real onion on it, because truly I had none. I used dehydrated flakes from the spice rack. Another flavoring was my Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb. I opened a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, one of which was Italian seasoned, and then I opened the veggie drawer and the freezer. There are canned kidney beans, frozen peas, crisper drawer celery, carrots, and potatoes (those from the market in November), and frankly? I can't remember what else I put in. Oh. Except that after it had cooked a bit, I felt as if there was something missing...I opened the fridge and peered into it, especially the shelves. And came out with balsamic vinegar! There are a couple of good slugs of it tossed in and it made a HUGE difference. I can tell you that the flavor draws out the earthiness in the root veggies (or I think it does...)

So now, with some artisan bread, Vermont cheddar cheese and a bowl of this? I can stay warm and full from lunch time till evening tonight when I may just make an omelet. Oh. And of course, I'll be eating fruit - since it's now free on Weight Watchers! I have enjoyed keeping bananas and oranges on the counter to pick up and eat. While I know they're not local, they make winter bearable.

I've been rereading some voluntary simplicity books and rethinking my knee-jerk reactions...I drove down past my favorite grocery store last night and I didn't stop. While I will have to go tonight, I need a list, and I need to organize carefully what I need to buy. And I need fortitude against the wonderful book store next door - my favorite Barnes & Noble...and I have a gift card. But that card is reserved for a Nook and it's not quite enough for me to get that right now...I'm saving up. By staying away last night, I didn't spend the $15 I probably would have on a magazine. Hmmm...another bit of cash to stash for the purchase.

(I'm also thinking thru how fast I want to make the Nook purchase, because the payoff of holiday debt and a couple of other things right now are important to accomplish. So I'm mulling all this over in my mind...

Most of all, it's consideration, deliberate consideration of whether I believe that I'll use the Nook. I'm convinced I could downsize my book collection considerably and that would leave more space for yarn and fabric...

We'll see how this goes...enjoy this soup if you decide to make it, and if you do? just tell me how you made it YOURS!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Meatless Mondays (continued)...

I have just made a promise to myself for 2011 to eat more vegan meals (not to become a vegan, the two things are different!), and decided to recommit to Meatless Mondays (that's the Facebook link as I get updates there!).

Today, I've got the day off (sorta...payroll waits for no holiday), so I have Susan V.'s New Orleans Style White Beans in my Cuisinart Slow Cooker. May not actually get to eat these tonight, because I have to be at a TKGA chapter meeting tonight, and I'm not sure the beans will be ready (or that I should have them before I sit in a room full of friends for a couple of hours! *wink*).

But after spending last year saving every single register receipt from the grocery store, I'm committed to eating less - from the money standpoint. I simply can't imagine that a single gal like myself should be spending $300 a month on groceries!

Of course, early in the year, I promised myself that I'd spend whatever I wanted as long as I had fresh produce to facilitate my Weight Watchers weight loss. Ok. I did that. Now, it's time to rein in my propensity to overspend, and keep to a smaller budget. There are two easy ways to do that:
(1) Plan my weekly meals
(2) Eat even less meat than I already do

I won't be giving up meat and dairy entirely. But it's certainly a challenge I'm ready to try, to whittle down the budget a bit more.

Susan V's site is one I'll be checking out routinely, as will the Cheap, Healthy, Good Blog.

What are your plans for 2011? I'll be adding to mine here in the next few days, so be sure to check back!!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Crafting a New Year

In addition to all those New Year's resolutions (okay, I call them PLANS) along came a post that really spoke to me: Crafty New Year.

And the thing that intrigued me was the challenge to find unexpected ways to create with recycled items. So I'm in. I'll be trying to consider items in new ways. This on top of promising myself to work more out of my stashes (yarn and fabric) in creating my own artistic endeavors.

Sounds like a great plan, and I promise to share with you. Happy New Year!