Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting Rid of Cable

As of March 28, 2011 we are no longer subscribing to a cable service.

For a while now I have been wanting to cancel our cable television subscription but was met with much resistance from my husband and son.  Slowly putting the idea in their head and reinforcing it from time to time, (OK it took about a year) I had at least caused them to think about their television consumption.  

As a family there was only four prime time shows that we watched.

Myself, the only show I watched with any sort of regularity was the Weather Network every morning.  i have since downloaded an app to my laptop, so I can check the weather status every day.

My husband really didn’t watch that much at all, usually just out of boredom or to watch a movie or play on the Wii.  He has never been a cable television junkie.  My son would watch the children’s channel when he got home from school to decompress from the day.  That was all.  When we actually sat down and closely inspected our total consumption it was an obvious choice to make.  Why pay for something you use only sporadically and could easily find a replacement for?  Why indeed.

Do you have any idea how freeing that feeling is not to be tied down to a machine.  I was amazed.  I am looking forward to reading more, spending time with my family at the dinner table instead of in front of the TV, playing more games as a family.  It is truly sad how much family time the television takes away from us.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Getting Rid of Paper Clutter

This week's challenge on Simple Mom was to Simplify Paper Clutter.  This is a very difficult area for me because we eliminated most of our paper clutter a year or so ago.  But I thought I would explain how we did it.

All receipts for all purchased items including food gets inputted into PearBudget .  Then the receipt either gets thrown out or if may be needed in the future (proof of purchase re electronics or to keep a warranty valid), the receipt is kept in a file in the filing cabinet

Junk mail is immediately thrown out.

Any items that are to be put into a scrapbook goes into a specific drawer to be scrapped at a later date.

School work is stacked in a basked on Sam's desk and we go through it once a month to throw out anything that is no longer needed.

Paper clutter was the one thing that was overwhelming us.  Until we took control we were drowning. Now with a bit of effort and a place for everything we are much happier with what comes into the house.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sustainable Living

Different ways of doing things.

I have been thinking about living a more sustainable life for a while now.  Starting has been slow going with all the research I have been doing along the way.  I want to do things right and I don’t want to get overwhelmed by going to fast. I know I could be doing better and get to the end result much quicker than I am at now, but there are things that hold me back and that keep me conflicted.

Is it better to throw out a bottle of cleaner or bottle of shampoo than to wait until it is all used up?  Is it really that safe to ride my bike on the busy city streets where there are no bike lanes? Is vinegar really a safe and effective cleanser for the kitchen.

I no longer buy paper towels
I no longer use shampoo or conditioner
I no longer buy moisturizer
I use only vinegar as a cleanser in the bathroom
I use a steam mop to clean my floors and don’t use chemicals any longer.
I keep the thermostat in the house below 70 degrees and it is programmed that when we are asleep or away it is down to 65 degrees.
We no longer have a bath tub in the house and only have quick showers.
We eat at least 3 meals a week that are vegetarian or vegan

This is only a small effort so far but at least it is progressing in the right direction.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No Poo

For about 2 months now I have not shampooed my hair.  Sounds crazy doesn’t it.  I have read and researched quite a bit on how to spend less money on stuff and how to become more environmentally friendly.  By not buying bottles of shampoo and conditioner and using only natural ingredients, this seemed to kill two birds with one stone.

When my shampoo and conditioner ran out I started using baking soda to wash my hair, apple cider vinegar to rinse and coconut oil to smooth it out.

I keep a jar with a sealed lid of baking soda with a tablespoon and a plastic cup (you know the kind that you bought about 5 years ago and always have around to keep beer in when you have a party and you can never seem to get rid of) in the shower to wash my hair.  I put a bit less than the tablespoon of soda in the cup and fill it with water.  I pour it over my head and then massage my scalp for a few minutes than rinse.  It took a bit to figure out what amount of baking soda worked for my head.  Everyone is different.  Too much and my hair felt heavy after washing and too little and it didn’t seem to do it’s job.

Next I have a spray bottle with one part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts water that I spray all over my hair.  I usually let this sit and soak while I finish in the shower and then rinse it out.

I let my hair air dry and if my hair has a mind of its own and becomes frizzy or goes every different direction then I take a small amount of coconut oil, rub it in my hands and then smooth my hair down.

I have found that I have to wash my hair about every 3 days.

In the two months time, this is the changes I have noticed with my hair.

  • Much more body – not as limp and lifeless
  • Less tangles
  • Holds its colour much longer
  • Less hair loss

Cost of this was

1.00 baking soda container
1.00 vinegar spray bottle
3.00 apple cider vinegar (I have used only ¼ of the bottle in 2 months)
2.00 baking soda (I have only used about 1/3 of the box in 2 months although I also use the same box for)
4.00 coconut oil (I have used 1.3 of the jar in 2 months although I also have been using the same jar for cooking and as a moisturizer)

Total cost of 11.00 which will last me probably the entire year and the environmental impact for the year will be nil.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meal Planning

Continuing with the Plan to eat and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution the next item was the Cracking Burger (Page 147)
Called the Cracking Burger because it is just so cracking good.  Got to love the British and their terminology.

This burger was perfection. I did use ground chicken over beef, bread crumbs instead of crushed crackers and basil instead of parsley (I really think I need to go out and buy some fresh parsley for next week’s recipes).  This recipe I found very similar to the meatballs in the ingredients used.  It made a very sturdy burger the cooked up quick enough and the flavours were marvelous.  It took about the same amount of time as thawing and cooking frozen burgers and these were so much more tasty.  It was a hit with everyone and I will be making this again.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Crunchy Garlic Chicken

To continue with the Jamie Oliver and Plan to Eat meal plans, although I am so far behind because of illness, I am posting the Crunchy Garlic Chicken (Page 241) with Dressed Asparagus (Page 215)

This was the second time I have made this chicken recipe and we loved it just as much as the first time.   Again I substituted bread crumbs for the crushed crackers and the only other substitution I made with this recipe was to but in rosemary and basil instead of parsley, not that I have anything against parsley, just that I had the rosemary and basil on hand.

The Asparagus was wonderful.  Sam ate it which was a testament to how good this recipe really is.  For the dressing I placed all ingredients in a jam jar and just shook it up to mix, which was much easier than whisking it together in a bowl, less dishes too.

I also made the Fruit Scones (Page 331) dessert that evening as well.
I didn’t have any clotted cream so butter had to do.  They were not my typical biscuit recipe, these scones were much more dense and heavy, but tasty none the less.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Food Revolution and Plan to Eat

Over the next while I will be making and reviewing recipes in Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Food Revolution .  Plan to Eat has a great challenge going on right now to plan meals around the cook book and since I already own and frankly love the cookbook, I thought I would follow along.  This is also great that someone else will be making the meal plan decisions for me for the next little while.

Day 1 was Spaghetti and Meatballs (Page 149)

I loved the meatball recipe.  It went together very quickly although I did use bread crumbs instead of crushed crackers.  I also substituted ground chicken for ground beef.  The meatballs stood up very well and cooked quickly.  For the sauce the only alteration I made was to whiz it with a hand blender to make a smooth and not a chunky sauce. Personally I would have preferred the chunky but the boys in my house do not like tomato chunks.  Woe is me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Simple Mom Challange

Simple Mom  has started a challenge regarding cleaning the house.

I have decided to join because I always need an extra boost in motivation when it comes to cleaning.

Week 1 is focused on the closets.  This is difficult for me because I think I have weeded through my closet as much as I can, but we'll see about that.  We have a slit closet, which we had my clothes in one side and Shawn's in the other.  About a month ago we switched around so that both of our clothes were in one side and the other had the off season clothes.  The side that we combined our clothes in is easier to get to which made it much less frustrating for the person who had the unfortunate luck of having the hard to get to side.

But to accommodate both of our wardrobes we had to pare down quite a bit.  About 3 garbage bags full went to charity.  Who knew closets held so much.

This week will be my challenge to see if I can make the closet even more roomier.  I will also add the dresser drawers to the challenge.  I know I can get my drawers down to be a bit more sparse.  I seem to have an unexplainable attachment to t-shirts though.  I will post again on Friday with progress.

Todays Closets

Left side is all winter clothes, right side summer

dresser drawers