Nobody Ever Said "Doing the Right Thing is Easy"

Where to begin. I am proud to say that we have reduced our individual bottles of water purchases by approximately 80%, even with our travel. We have enjoyed using our two aluminum waters bottles purchased from The Peddler’s Wagon. Made from a 304 grade aluminum, our 20 oz. green jewel toned bottle is perfect for DD, and a bargain at only $11.00.  DH and I share a larger, 1 ltr. Steel Water Bottle, which has a opening large enough to add ice.

To up the ante, we have decided to stop purchasing bottled pop, as well. The decision is based somewhat on the plastic bottle pollution issue, partly on my readings of The Omnivore’s Dilema and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, and lastly, and probably most important, is our ever growing waistline. When we were in Kansas City this weekend, I am very happy to report that DH, nor I, purchased a pop, or a plastic bottle of anything the entire day. A couple of times, I thought we might falter, but I am very proud of us both.  To some of you, this may seem as such a simple task, but I assure you it took great fortitude to spend 13 plus hours on the road without a bottle of Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, or Coca-Cola.

 

Solar Cooking – First Attempt

My first attempt at solar cooking was not a total success, but subsequent efforts totally bombed. We constructed our makeshift solar cooker out of a cardboard box, weed barrier (which I would not recommend), glass from a screen door and a thermometer. At one point, I had the inside temperature up to 170 degrees, but when I had to reposition the items inside, I must have rearranged it enough that it did not seal as well. We had preheated the oven to around 120 degrees. After a couple of hours, I used a potholder to remove the items…a jar with broccoli and a pan of rice.


solar cooker
The rice and broccoli were not as done as I would have liked it, but it was all still edible.

rice and brocolli
The next day I was going to try some lentils and rice, but the wind knocked over my window and it shattered. I had seen a video about cooking in black jars using aluminum pans, but I just could not get the temperature up high enough. Luckily, DH is in favor of solar cooking, so I was able to order the Sport Solar Oven from the Peddler’s Wagon. I am so excited because the solar oven kit comes with two black cooking pots,  a solar reflector, oven thermometer, water pasteurization indicator and recipe book, which I am certain will come in handy.  I had looked at the other solar oven they offered, but was happy to see that the pans were included with this particular solar oven.

The Future of Food

This past week, I have had several different blog topics rolling around in my head. Most of those thoughts have been about food…either the growing of, the shortage of, the cooking of, the harvesting of, the preserving of, or, yes, the genetic engineering of…..OUR FOOD!

These thoughts have prompted a couple of movements for me.  I requested Michael Pollan’s books, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, , In Defense of Food, and A Place of My Own, from our local library. As I have begun to read, I have been wishing I belonged to a book club with members with whom I could discuss my readings and thoughts. DH has been kind enough to oglige, but it would be nice to hear what others have to say.

On another path, I attempted some solar cooking last weekend and hope to share my failures with you soon. Because of those failures with a home-fashioned solar cooker, I purchased a new one from The Peddlar’s Wagon at Path to Freedom/Urban Homesteaders. I am excited about the possibilities of not heating up the kitchen and still being able to prepare a meal.

What brought me to all of these thoughts about food and has me attempting action on those thoughts? First was the Path to Freedom Sustainable Food UCLA Lectures hosted on YouTube. Part four was just recently uploaded and now we are waiting for the Q & A video to be released. In Jules Dervaes’ lecture he mentioned Deborah Koons Garcia, the wife of Jerry Garcia, who is the producer of The Future of Food Documentary about, well, the future of food.  Immediately searching YouTube for Garcia and the future of food, I found several videos from which to choose. DH and I listened to Mrs. Garcia on a radio show broadcast, as she talked about the history of the documentary and her journey with food.

This radio broadcast is a bit longer than most YouTube clips…but you will gain so much info for a small investment of your time.

Introduction to The Future of Food

The Path to Freedom Sustainable Foods UCLA Lectures began with Part One……

I had not written a post, because I was not certain what I, as an individual, could say about the mess that we appear to be heading toward. My head is reeling from everything that I am learning. Today, at Prairie Dreams, Anita posted an entry about farmers being thrown out of the Food Shortage Summit in Rome and though Rome is on the other side of the earth, I know that we are all in this together…farmers, consumers, and unfortunately, large agribusiness corporations. As Jules Dervaes often speaks…it is time for a HOMEGROWN REVOLUTION. While our backyard and patio “farms” will not head off world hunger, it might just make a difference in our own household.

I encourage all to “do your own research” and take some baby steps toward sustainability. That is all that we can all do….each take baby steps toward a success.

Do Not Think While in the Shower!

Whatever you do, don’t think while in the shower!

With all of the constant daily input from the television, the telephone, the children, noisy kids next door, the lawnmower across the street, the weed-eater down the street, and DH with whatever noises he is prone to make, my brain sometimes does not process thoughts as well as it should.

Recently, I realized that I had not taken time to think things through and that I was being coerced by outside elements to do something that I knew I might regret afterwards. Just a side note here…feeling regret afterwards is a common event for me. This past week, I have been impatiently waiting for the movie Sex and the City to come out. I was fearful that it would not make it to our small market theater located about 35 miles from us, but was ecstatic that it was indeed coming to our “local” movie theater. The very first showing was at 12:55 PM and I planned to be there….with a friend, with my husband….with myself…it didn’t matter…I was going to be there!

My DDH (dear, dear husband or darling, dear husband..whichever you prefer) took off from work, so that he could have me present at the very first showing and wanted us to get there early, so that I could buy the very first ticket. Is that not amazing? Friday morning, we sat on the sofa together sipping coffee…him watching television and me on the internet. For a few days now, I have wanted DH to watch the new Path to Freedom Sustainable Food UCLA Lecture videos on YouTube, so I plugged the stereo speakers in to share all three segments with him. (I suggest these videos for anyone who might be on the fence about the importance of growing your own food and saving your own seeds.) Anyhow, the two of us, together, and YouTube generally ends up being an all afternoon thing, but in this case it was an all morning deal with the hours passing quickly. While watching those videos, we shifted gears and began watching solar cooker videos. I am supposing the shift might have had something to do with Anais at PTF posting a photo of her solar cooker. For quite some time, I have been excited at the possibilities of building my own solar cooker or maybe even purchasing one from PTF, but DH is now on board with at least the option of building our own at first. What a great idea!

Well, before we knew it, we were at the point where I needed to jump in the shower to get ready for my movie date with DDH. Do you know that feeling in the shower, where you only hear the water and the thoughts in your own head? Well, there I was thinking…..and thinking…and thinking while I was in the shower. My thoughts wandered in and out of….MAN! I want a solar cooker! Geez..they’re a couple of hundred dollars…..well I could build one. How much would the lumber be? Paint? Could I use a Fresnel lens? …and then back to …geeeez…that’s a lot of money…and we’re about to go into town and drop a hundred bucks…you just watch. It never fails…
Movies~$14
Popcorn/Drinks~$8 (we share our drink)
Gasoline~$12
Bookstore, Wal-Mart, Meade Lumber, Dollar Store~$50
Thai Restaurant~$30

In my head it was all adding up and then I turned to, a whiny “Now, why do I want to go see this movie?” I mean..come on…it’s  about 4 indulgent women who spend money as if it grew on trees and are so far removed from the lifestyle that I have chosen…for the life of me I could not give a good reason why I even wanted to go to the movie in the first place. While still standing in the shower, I shouted out at DH, asking if he really, no I mean REALLY, wanted to go to this movie or was he just doing it because he thought I wanted to go?
Me~Honey-I was thinking…if we go to Dodge…we will end up spending quite a bit of money.
DH~So? You want to go.
Me~but you know, $20 or $30 would go a lo-o-ong way towards the supplies to build a solar cooker
DH~Yep, but you want to go to the movie…yes, I want to go, so hurry up, get dressed…let’s go
Me~but I REEEALLLY want  a solar cooker.

Well, the weekend has come and gone, and nope I didn’t go to the movies. DH and I hung around the house and enjoyed each others’ company the remainder of Friday. We wrote up some specs on our own home built solar cooker, worked in the yard a bit, and DH even constructed a make-shift, prototype solar cooker from a cardboard box, some weed barrier, meat thermometer, and a glass window. We found out that we could get the temperature up to 180 degrees, which meant we were on to something. With a little ingenuity, we could be solar cooking in the backyard in no time. Over the afternoon, on more than one occasion, I confessed to DH that I felt guilty going to the movie when I have been trying so hard to be more frugal, a bit greener, and less oil dependent. Going to watch that particular movie seemed to present too huge of an inner “responsible vs. frivolous” conflict. Now, if it had been a documentary from Path to Freedom, there would have been NO CONTEST!
The PTF Groupie in me would have insisted we camp out in the mall parking lot the night before to ensure tickets.

The remainder of the Friday afternoon, I researched garden totems, and frugal decoration ideas, which resulted in me running to the hardware store at five minutes to closing to spend $5. When I returned, DH remarked, “Well, we almost made it through the day without spending any money.”

Saturday came and I awoke to find my usual morning cup with cream, sugar, and spoon waiting for the coffee to be poured. DH had to be at work before sunrise, so I would be pouring my own coffee. No one makes a better pot of coffee or mixes the cream and sugar in a cup better than DH.

We planned to attend the local farmer’s market in Greensburg around 9:00 AM and so off to the shower I went. There I was again..thinking…hm…I sure liked some of those garden totems; I wonder if the thrift shop would have some inexpensive items that I could use for my own totems and birdfeeders? Hmmmm…after Greensburg, I wonder if DH will want to head over to Pratt? We could go to the farmer’s market there also. Well, DH arrived home and away we went…yesterday’s frugal homebodies-today’s consumers. We did attend the Greensburg farmer’s market, and were very pleasantly surprised to see Anita from Prairie Dreams and her family arrive shortly after we did. (I recognized her and Rick from her online photos.) We visited for a short bit before each of headed off in our own directions.

Greensburg turned into Pratt, which turned into hitting the garage sales, almost every thrift shop in Pratt, a flea market junk shop in Cullison, and an antique shop in Belvidere. My car was filled to capacity with plants and junk. On the way home, we stopped in Greensburg to buy fuel ($35 for 9 gallons thank you very much), milk and bread. While waiting in line to pay, who do you suppose walked in? Rick and Isaiah! What are the chances that on two occasions in the same day we would show up at the same location at the same time? Wow! Anita wasn’t with them, but we did get to visit for a bit while the cashiers were dealing with computer issues and the registers not working.

For our only plans being to visit the farmer’s market, we sure covered a lot of ground that day. I told DH that I felt like it was my birthday or something because of how he accommodated my every whim…well, almost..there was a brief moment of disappointment over a wonderfully vintage garden gate that I wanted to buy. It was a joyous day spent talking, dining, *shopping* in a greener fashion, seeing some countryside that I had not seen in a long while with the one I love!

So now that I am at the end of my blog post, I am wondering about the original premise for my writing. Sunday, for a brief moment, I took a look at the SATC reviews hoping to find out whether Carrie and Mr. Big actually tie the knot. , I thought….”what the heck have I done?” I wanted to see SATC! I wanted to know the end!! Was I crazy? Then my thoughts turned to …what would DH say if I told him that I really did want to go? All day as I dug in the garden, washed clothes, dishes and cleaned, all I could think about was..why in the world would I have said no, I don’t want to go? At the end of the day, I had just about decided that I would sneak away on planned “in town”, during the day, by myself (no witnesses). Being grungy from my chores, I decided to take an early shower before settling down to my writings.

The faucet was turned on full blast (no this was not a “green” shower….I was covered in dirt) and my thoughts began to wonder, yet again. Why am I going back and forth about a silly movie? Geez…it isn’t like I have watched every episode or anything…and besides it will eventually be out on DVD or better yet…free on television. So my thoughts kept wonderin’ in and out, back and forth, and then my brain jumped track and reviewed my day’s successes and failures..like my first solar cooking attempt (to be reported upon later) and then it came to me….my desire to see the movie again came from outside input (internet/television) and had nothing to do with anything but that… and ….because of my thoughts wanderin’ over to the review of my solar lunch challenge I knew that I wanted a better built solar cooker more than I wanted to watch those four perfectly coiffed women extravagantly sip Cosmopolitans for two and a half hours.

So now, I say to you…while in the shower….turn off the outside yammer….be one with the water (okay I know a little hokey, but you know what I mean!) and …Whatever you do…THINK while in the shower!
 

Vacationing in Your Own Backyard

For a very long time now, I have been trying to get our backyard hard-scaped with a privacy fence, a concrete patio, and a walkway to the alley. It seems as though so many other things get in the way. Last week I think I wrote about having a date set to finally get my patio poured. Well, guess what? It’s not done. With the threats of a week worth of severe storms and rain, we thought it best to put it off…yet again.

I am not certain, but I think we may have a break from anything severe for today. Today’s weather is my favorite for camping…cool, cloudy and overcast. The dampness makes me crave a campfire. Last night after the last storm passed through, DH and I simultaneously looked up at the sky and said, “Man, this would be a great night for camping.” Knowing that wasn’t the prudent thing to do, we thought about just laying out on the trampoline to watch the stars and the satellites pass over. I mentioned that we could go “camping” in our backyard like we used to when the kids were younger.

My dream for my backyard is for a place in which we would want to spend time…..a place for reflection…for entertaining or a breath of fresh air.  Money is always tight, but we generally get away to somewhere every year…even if it just over to Meade State Park for a weekend of camping and fishing. This year, I am afraid that the only “vacation” away from home will be associated with DD’s travels and it will be frugal, no frills travel to say the least. The gasoline budget will be eating up any of the entertainment dollars we might have had. To me, this makes my dream for my backyard retreat even more important.

On Path to Freedom’s Journal today, there is a post about Staycations and Staying Closer to Home. Staycations are vacations spent at home enjoy what it has to offer. That is what we are planning for this year’s “getaway”. We will getaway to our backyard. Tonight I will set the date with DH. All hard-scape will be finished, so as to not make it a working vacation. I am looking for a relaxing, maybe romantic few days of togetherness. I found the Top 10 Staycation Strategies at about.com and plan to put some in place.

What would your strategies be for planning a Backyard Staycation?

ABC Nightline Path to Freedom TONIGHT 11:35 PM

The Dervaes Family will be on tonight on ABC at 11:35 PM EDT.  This story was filmed last week at the Dervaes Institute and Path to Freedom. The Dervaes are role models to many on the build to a more sustainable life. Living on a city lot in Pasasdena, California, they raise most of their own food, as well as enough vegetables/fruits to run a thriving fresh market delivery business on 1/10 of an acre. Their accomplishnments are amazing!

Edit: Well, it was definitely worth the wait! Makes me want to go out and rip up my yard :).

Second Edit: For those that missed it, Path to Freedom states that it will be on youtube soon. See below….

Does this make me a Dervaes Groupie??????

Path to Freedom on ABC Nightline This Week

Heads UP!!!

I just read my e-newsletter Tracks from Path to Freedom and it says that Nightline will air their program this week on Thursday or Friday pending breaking news.

There is a post about it in their online journal. Another interesting find in today’s post is the NPR Radio Day in the Work Life:Urban Farmer Podcast from last year.  You can listen here.