Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Independence Challenge - Week 22

My preciousssss....

I got my freezer Tuesday! DD15 and I picked it up at Sears, and then I carefully drove down the unpaved back alley. DH and DD15 wrestled it out of the Cherokee, through the yard, and out of its box. That was the easy part.

I opened the cellar doors for the first time in 5 years, and had to do a lot of spiderweb clearing in order for either DD15 or DH to agree to go further. Getting it the last few feet down the cellar stairs and through the door required removing some door trim and a little bit of knuckle skin. The ceiling is very low and DH whacked his poor head several times. But we saved the $65 delivery charge.

Came down these steps and through a low, narrow door we never use.

I let it sit overnight to settle the coolant, and plugged it in this morning. I've put in all my oats and rice to freeze any bug eggs they might be harboring, and I will do all the flour next. There is lots of meat on sale right now, and the holidays will bring sales on butter, nuts, and spices. I need to do some research on how I can stock up on cheese. Oooo, I am so excited.

Planted: Frost is on the horizon, so I took more cuttings to root over the winter: coleus, begonias, false indigo, salvia.

Harvested: Only some peppers, cabbage and broccoli are left and not quite ready. Not much harvesting will happen from now on, aside from the winter-hardy thyme I use in making stock. I still visit farmers and markets for local produce.

Preserved: Tried drying a few sweet peppers on a tray, but they got moldy. Better use the dehydrator next time. I would help if I stopped piling things on top of it.

Bought 10 pounds of Gala apples, part to dry and part to try storing in the basement. I plan to get some other varieties to try storing. I want to buy local, but the prices are 3x the supermarket price for Washington State apples. Even u-pick costs more. I need the volume right now. I've been trying to accumulate 10-15# of dried fruit, but the kids don't like raisins much. I have raisins, prunes, apricots, currants, and craisins. I need to flesh that out with dried bananas and apples.

Cooked: Shrimp curry and some pasta dishes came completely from storage. All of our baking does, too. We still need to shop for meat, eggs, and dairy, but more meals are coming from storage. Need to work harder on having "stuff" in the fridge for casual eating, without someone needing to cook a whole meal. Reheatables, and things for sandwiches and munching.

Not quite cooking, but we used some gourds to make Gourd Birds with black-eyed peas for eyes. I might put some skewer legs on them and put a few out front.

Stored: Starting to store tap water in recycled milk jugs. Six gallons, so far (plus the 45 gallons always in the water heater). I am planning to salvage jugs at church. They empty a few jugs of tea or punch every week at coffee hour. DD15 will also bring home the ones she empties and washes at her coffee shop job.

I studied the grocery store ads carefully, and shopped the sales from a list on Friday. Not a lot of extra driving. I mostly avoided impulse buying - just a bag of grapes, a big Rubbermaid canister for bread flour, a bag of my fav Goya soup bean mix, and a can of white hominy to try.
Redner's: whole chickens .68/lb, 2lb blocks of cheddar for 2.98/lb, Italian sausage for 2.18, and a pkg of beef shin to make stock. We ate some stuff from the little freezer, so I had room to cram in the chickens and meat.

Giant: 6 bags of pot pie noodles, 6 boxes of cake mix for doctoring up, 2 bottles of Hershey's syrup, 10# of unbleached flour, 4 boxes of Red Zinger tea (triple coupons), 6 jars of peanut butter, 10# apples, 2 quarts shampoo and 4 of conditioner, 4 boxes of jar lids.

Save-a-Lot: 5lb bags of white potatoes for $1, along with bananas at 3#/$1. Twenty pounds of taters for $4 is a good price to see how long they last in my cellar. Also got 6 cans of pineapple, bleach, band-aids, dandruff shampoo, garlic, 4# of brown sugar.

Found 2 large canisters of Sunmaid raisins for $5, at Rite-Aid. Drug store food is usually over-priced, but when they want to move old stock, they really mark it down. I had to go to Wal-mart to pick up a $4 Rx, so I snagged some ibuprofen, more allergy meds, and some toothbrushes.
Prepped: Installed bamboo pole to dry clothes, and bought more plastic hangers. Washed BR windows to prepare for bubble wrap and insulating curtains later this month. Heart-breakingly, the bamboo pole did not hold up under use. Back to the drawing board. I am going to try huge drywall screws right into joists.

This week's rummage sale loot included a roasting rack, 2 pair of gloves, three glass measuring cups, some sweaters for DD15, a few books. I've told each kid to expect the winter to be long and cold. They need to start doing their own rummaging for warm clothes at sales. Sweatshirts, bathrobes, socks and gloves, etc. Socks are often only a dime at sales - people think that "used" socks are icky, but I often find like-new socks for almost nothing. If nothing else, they make good dust cloths.

Got two unappealing paintings via Freecycle, so we can reuse the canvas. My kids are both good artists, and canvas is expensive. A few months ago, I was talking to an artist that went to the local Disney store when they had a going-out-of-business sale. He bought a huge number of printed canvas Disney poster for $1 each, to reuse the canvas. I have been keeping that in mind ever since.

Managed: Continued to re-organize the kitchen, now that so much food moved downstairs. Put away lots of pots, and jarred up the nuts and dried fruit. Still no good place for the stack of cast iron. I want a pot rack pretty badly, but I am afraid of damaging the (rental house) acoustic tile ceiling while poking around for a joist, and then being charged for damage when we leave.

I asked about 5-gal buckets at the Giant bakery department. They said they no longer save them for anyone, because it is too hard to manage with 3 shifts of bakery workers that don't communicate well. Apparently there was drama. I don't see how that stopped her from giving the empties immediately on hand to someone standing right in front of her, but it did. I will try some other stores.

Reduced Reused, Recycled: We had already replaced most of our incandescent light bulbs, but not the ones in our ceiling fan fixtures, which require a different shape. We found 5-packs of them at BJ's for $15 each. Pretty expensive for 10 light bulbs, when I can buy 40-watt chandelier bulbs for $2/6-pack. I hope to make up the difference in fewer bulbs and less energy used. We used to have to replace the bulbs pretty frequently, although we don't use those lights very often. The three fans (BR, LR, and kitchen) are in rooms that all have other light sources. I only turn them on to clean, when I want to see all the dirt. (No one wants to see it otherwise!) The new bulbs have a 2 year warranty, so I taped the receipt to the empty package and stashed it.
-->> Isn't it ironic that CFL bulbs come in huge hard plastic packages that cannot be recycled, and the old-fashioned bulbs come in recyclable paper and cardboard?
Got some free pallets from the playground construction project up the street. I am going to see what else I can scavenge. Posted a curb-alert to Freecycle so other people can get pallets. It so pays to have a sturdy teenager to haul your pallets down the block.

Local/Family: Getting ready to start a major effort at my Mom's house. I want to pack up the front and back porches, the living room, the kitchen and the hall. I hope to put a lot of it in the dining room, in numbered inventoried stacks of boxes, donating the tired old furniture. My goals are to make the outside of the house look tidy and to make room for a plumber to fix her pipes and fixtures. All of her bath/kitchen fixtures and hot water heater need replacing, along with the kitchen counter top. Long-dead washer and dryer need to be removed.

I dread it. There is so much stuff, and each item has emotional significance. Each piece of paper represents something she meant to do. It's like ripping off band-aid after band-aid. Getting rid of some moldering item she saved for 15 years represents a failure to keep something from the landfill, a failure to carry out a plan, and an acknowledgment that she has simply run out of time. I am getting professional support for her, but it will still be very upsetting. There is no choice - no matter how the future pans out for her, she needs to be able to tap the value of her house in order to live.

Learned: Signed up for a free self-study course online, about canning, through the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia. I want to start pressure canning soup and other non-acid food, and I want to make sure not to poison us all.

Library: Found Tarot Made Easy at a sale. Thought it might be fun over the winter. We have a tarot deck in a drawer somewhere.


amanda said...

thanks for the tip abou tthe UGA course...signed up! also is my alma mater!!!

Matriarchy said...

I haven't heard anything from them since I registered. Did you? I wonder if I missed something.

Verde said...

Yea, precious! Fishy, squishy... oh sorry hanging out with kids.

I LOVE having a freezer! We have the same one since we were first married - it has traveled on every move with us even when it simply held our down comforter.

Cute goards.

LisaZ said...

Love your commentary on the huge plastic packaging around the CFLs! Absolutely right.

Christina said...

I've read that gallon milk jugs are not the best reused containers for storing water - 2l soda bottles are, because of the type of plastic. Just something you might want to look into!

Matriarchy said...

I read that, too, Christina. Milk jugs break down and leak over time, according to most people. I am only going to use them short-term, because it's what I have. We don't drink anything that comes in a 2-ltr bottle. When I feel like I have a handle on the food part of preparedness, I am going to find better water containers. Meanwhile, I will have *some* water stored, just in case. I have them in an area that is well-drained, so a leak won't hurt anything.

Country Girl said...

Great post and nice freezer. I have a creepy cellar too. I signed up for that self-study class, thanks for sharing the link.

Gina said...

I am going to look into that course!

You are going to so love having your freezer. The stairs look really challenging (my husband would have been cussing all the way down, LOL!)