Sunday, September 21, 2008

Independence Challenge - Week 20

I like a beneficial bug as much as the next gardener, but not ON me. This Wheelbug was crawling on my back at soccer practice Monday night - flicked off by another parent (thanks, Earl!). It bites - a long-lasting, painful bite that is reportedly worse than a bee sting. It was huge. Ugh!

This will be a short update this week, because we spent a lot of time preparing for a trip to Washington DC for a family birthday party. I spent a shocking amount of money ($102) on an appointment for hair cut and color. I like the result, but I just can't stand spending money on that, even if I only go a few times a year. I can get a similar cut at lots of less expensive places, and I will ask a friend with a cosmetology license to help me buy and apply my own professional color.

Planted: Nothing new. Still clearing the remains of summer.

Harvested: Last of the basil, mint, and parsley. Cherry tomatoes.

A neighbor gave us some pluots. They are a cross of about 70% plum and 30% apricot, like large plums, but sweeter, right down to the pit. They are not brand-new, but our family just discovered them this year. I brought some home from a market to try, and DD15 bought some in Baltimore and introduced them to some of her friends. A neighbor also gave us some of a branded variety called "Dinosaur Eggs." I just love pluots - too bad they are only available from July to September, and apparently only grown in California so far. Maybe I better find place to plant my own tree.

Preserved: Dried mint and chopped parsley. Froze one-cup bags of sliced peaches. Froze blanched cauliflower in soup-recipe-sized bags. The freezer is officially crammed, and we need to get moving on buying a chest freezer.

Cooked: Roasted tomatoes with onion, garlic, and basil. It was very thick and I put it in a container in the fridge to decide how to use it - but DD15 discovered it and has been using it like a condiment on sandwiches and pasta. I am out of tomatoes, but I think I better find more and roast them up.

Our bread machine bread started coming out funny, and I wasn't sure why. Then I figured out that not everyone was firmly seating the baking bucket in the machine - the base has to lock into the socket, or the ingredients don't mix thoroughly. Now we are back on track with baking, and ready to experiment with new recipes.

Stored: Pasta, popcorn. Another dozen half-pints, a dozen pints, more plastic lids, new lids and rings for jars I got from Freecycle. Hair conditioner.

Reduced, Reused, Recycled: DH goes through about 3 leather belts a year. He has one everyday belt at at time, and replaces it when the holes rip through. I had a "D'oh!" moment when I realized we were throwing them away. I took the most recent one out of the trash and we cut it down and burned new holes in it for DD15. They both like simple leather straps with silvery buckles. I'm sure there are a lot of other things to do with a leather strap, so I'll be keeping them from now on.

Local/Family: Had dinner (Vietnamese Pho soup) with a friend that works for Penn State's Cooperative Extension. I am not sure of her exact job title, but she works with farmers who grow fruit and veggies. She frequently gets quoted as a source in the local paper. We had a long chat concerning my ideas about living in a city that often feels like a food desert, surrounded by the huge food-producing rural county. One fascinating thing she told me: small groups of people go to the large produce auctions and watch for the best stuff to be offered. Then they find the former who grew it and make their own deal to pick produce, presumably feeding large families or reselling to city shops. A problem across many types of farm-related business, she noted, was that people with farming ideas are often not equipped with practical business management experience. She will try to let me know if she hears of events or news that match my interest in exploring ways to connect city consumers with the food producers that surround them. She also recommended that I look into joining the Pennsylvania Assoc for Sustainable Agriculture as a consumer member.

More next week - we are planning some big food and equipment purchases.


Christina said...

That is one killer bug!! How big is big exactly? And I wonder how easy it would be to take of the buckle end of the belt and reattach it in a new location so a different hole could be used? They make reversible belts, where the buckle has a compression attachment so you can flip it back and forth (usu. black/brown). If your DH buys a belt wider than he needs, he can start at a skinny hole and work his way toward the end!

Thanks for a great blog - I connected here somehow, Riot 4 Austerity maybe, and am enjoying it!

Matriarchy said...

Sorry I didn't get reply sooner, Christina - busy week! The big was maybe an inch and a half. Hard to say with legs waving around.

The belts we've had don't have detachable buckles. Hm. Maybe we should look for good buckles, and have a leathercrafter cut straps for us.

I'm glad you are enjoying the blog. We didn't riot, and probably still are not ready for it. We enjoy our indulgences too much. But at least we are more mindful about choosing how to define and choose our luxuries. Overall, our lifestyle is slowly changing.