Some Very Ancient Waste

Cleaning out my fridge today wasn’t nearly as depressing as it was last week.

Until I realized how old the things I am throwing away really are.

On the right is a package of fresh basil that I bought to make a dish for Beard’s graduation party.  Which was almost three weeks ago.

And on the left is the two lonely cinnamon rolls that are left from the package of homemade ones we bought at our local Amish grocer.  These were delicious, but there really are only so many cinnamon rolls two people can eat.  We bought these definitely before Beard’s graduation party.  I’m not even sure when.  They didn’t have any visible mold, but since I know they are made without preservatives and they are over three weeks old, I made the executive decision to throw them away.

How did you guys do?  Waste anything this week?


Food Waste Friday

I haven’t yet participated in this through my blog, but oh boy have I been ever since I started reading her posts.  The Frugal Girl is one of my favorite bloggers, and I’ve been reading her for almost two years now.  One of the best things she started, in my opinion, is Food Waste Fridays:  a way to raise awareness of how much food we waste in our kitchens each week.

For my first week I didn’t do so terribly, but I was quite disappointed regardless because of what I was throwing away.

Most of this is left over from Beard’s graduation party last Sunday.  I was expecting a few more big eaters, and we had a lot of leftovers.  We sent a good amount home with friends and family, but apparently we were still left with too much.

The top container is leftover lemon cilantro potato salad.  It was an awesome recipe I found on Pinterest, but it made 5 lbs of potatoes.  And usually 15 people won’t eat 5 lbs of potato salad.  Bummer.

Underneath that is some homemade salsa.  I made it with fresh tomatoes, which is unfortunate.  I hate wasting fresh produce.

Finally, the bottom is what spinach I had leftover.  If you remember my post last week about my aversion to green salads, I was having a hard time getting through my spinach and was putting it into smoothies.  After a while I was getting nauseated from smoothies, so I had to just pass up the spinach altogether.  Of course by the time I’m starting to get my normal appetite again (yay 2nd trimester!) my spinach has gone wilty and gross.

What did you guys waste this week?


A Few Green Updates on a Usual Day Off

Somehow in central Virginia we have gone from very warm, humid summer weather back to  rainy, breezy spring weather.  I am not complaining, of course.  I am grateful for a short break before the real heat and soul-melting sun begins.

The recent bout of rain and cooler weather has meant wonderful things for our little garden.  After my a weeding extravaganza early last week, all of our food producing plants have had plenty of room to grow, and grow they did.

It looks like our strawberry patch will have another large harvest very soon.  It was covered in the familiar white blossoms, most of which have become green strawberries.  They’ll be ripe for picking in a few short days.

Our lettuce is actually having a second go around for this year’s early season.  Last year we had lettuce until about Memorial Day, then not again until late September.  It really doesn’t do well under the direct sun of summer.  Because of our cooler weather, though, some of the lettuce plants that had gone to seed have actually reproduced!  New lettuce plants have sprung up in the patch, giving me fresh green leaf lettuce again.

The zucchini and squash have been doing beautiful things, as well.  I see those tell-tale orange-yellow flowers already, and my mouth is salivating at the prospect of making my Nonna’s Patoli, an Italian zucchini fritter that I made in large quantities last summer due to our generous zucchini harvest.

Our final surprise this week was string beans.  We officially harvested our first three string beans this morning.  The plants themselves are doing well, and have been climbing the trellis Beard fashioned for them out of some pieces of old deck we had in our yard.

I’m glad to say that all of our garden successes (and failures) so far have come with them help of three very important things:  water, sunshine, and physical labor.  We do not use any chemicals to control our weeds, nor do we use a specific plant food to make them grow faster or bigger.

For weeding we just pluck weeds out as we see the little suckers stick out of the ground.  It’s hard work, and probably why organic produce is so darn expensive, but it’s worth it.  I know there isn’t anything unsafe hiding in our food.

We have started a compost pile in one of our raised beds, and I hope we’ll be able to use some of that nutrient rich soil next spring.  For now, though, we are faithfully adding organics and rotating it manually with a shovel.

Do any of you keep a garden?  What are you finding in your garden this week?


Hang it Out to Dry

At the DP household we like saving money.  That’s pretty much what I pride myself in:  finding new ways to do things that could save us a couple bucks.  I’d read in several places that an easy way to save money on your electric bill is to use a clothesline instead of a clothes dryer, at least when the weather is nice.  Since we have a good-sized yard and places to hook up a clothesline I thought this would be a fun, simple, and cheap project.  Luckily, I was right!

We went to our local hardware store and bought two very simple clothesline pulleys, like this:

These cost about $5 each.

We got 100ft of clothesline (which was plenty for our needs, but we had to make sure, of course).  This cost us another $3 (approx.).

Then we grabbed ourselves a clothesline tensioner.  That is this creature:

Beard tells me this is invaluable.  It maintains the tension of the line and just makes the pulleys function better.  This little thing set us back another $4.

Finally, in order properly use a clothesline, we had to buy clothespins and a clothespin bag.  We found a bag of 50 clothespins and a bag for $1 each at Dollar General.  (I bought two bags of clothespins, though, because I have this horrible fear of starting to hang clothes and not being able to finish because I run out of clothespins.)

This whole project set us back approximately $30.  Not really a ton in the grand scheme of things.

How hard was it to set up?

Not at all!  Each pulley came with a screw hook like this:

Beard screwed one of the screw hooks into a wooden beam on the front of our shed and the other to the top rail of our back deck.  He simply fixed each pulley to each screw hook, then strung the clothesline around the two pulleys.  He pulled one end through the tensioner (those are fairly self-explanatory and most come with some instructions), then he tied the two ends together.

We now have a cool, old-fashioned clothesline.

Our electric bill for last month’s usage was around $85, which included some air conditioning usage (we had quite a few days in the high 80’s and 90’s last month).  This month I’m interested to see just how much of a difference not using the clothes dryer every day can make in our electric bill.  I’ll be sure to update when we get the bill for this month’s usage.