Little Homestead on the Fairway

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A mountain of laundry, and nothing to wear. April 30, 2008

Filed under: laundry,overabundance,world of warcraft — L @ 3:07 am

I struggle with laundry, and it should be so simple. A load a day. Why can’t I achieve that? Even Flylady couldn’t get me there.

So I revert back to my old methods – if I’m not getting some household task done, start eliminating and winnowing out and decluttering.

But I ponder this: if we had fewer clothes (which we certainly could get by with here at mi casa) would I do laundry less often? Or would I just wash the same clothes more often.

OR, would we be more diligent about re-wearing things that aren’t dirty? Would I be better about putting a bib on the little one when we are at home to preserve her clean-shirt status so the shirt could be reworn? It’s not like she sweats or anything. Except her head, which sweats like a flowing river, usually when she is sleeping next to me, leading to her being adhered to my body by sweat. But I digress.

What I think would happen is this: I think that if, say, the worst it could ever get is an accumulation of four loads of laundry (except for bed linens & towels), then I would never be overwhelmed by Big Laundry Mountain. I would know “L, there are no more than four loads there, babe, and if you get your tail in there and get started, you will be done before supper.

I think I need to eliminate some laundry potential. You know, like debt potential. Debt potential is the amount of debt trouble you could get into, if you added up the available credit you have on your cards. That right there is your debt potential. My laundry potential remains high. We can go easily a week without doing laundry. Probably because I never did laundry often enough so the husband bought himself enough socks and underwear and garments in general to last him at least two weeks.

So tomorrow is laundry day, and I am sad about that. I don’t want it to be laundry day. I want it to be World of Warcraft Day, but that’s not gonna happen. I’m trying to get excited about it, like it’s a big initiative that I will feel super about when done, but I don’t feel any excitement stirring AT ALL.

So maybe it’s time to go back through and remove ten items from each family member’s wardrobe. I’ve been ruthless with mine, but the girls tend to accumulate garments from hand-me-downs and sales and me sewing little things for fun. They’ve got more than they need though. Way more. And other people don’t. So maybe I could feel a little excitement about laundry day tomorrow IF I vow to winnow out garments from each load of clothes as it comes out of the dryer. AND if I said that since it’s laundry day and that’s my primary objective for the day, and everyone knows that laundry requires about 10 minutes of activity followed by about 45 minutes of waiting, then repeat the cycle….well, what else could I possibly do with my waiting time than play World of Warcraft! So there you have it. I have a sound reason for it to be WoW Day because it will facilitate my laundry operation.

So if you play WoW, I can be found running happily through Lothar tomorrow, hoping to level up and engineering a mechanical squirrel or two. And now I’m smiling about my Wednesday plan.

L

 

A necessary read: The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Filed under: gardening,references,self-sufficiency — L @ 2:26 am

If you haven’t read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, stop and do so immediately. It was such a major catalyst for me. It’s indescribable the amount of knowledge you will gain about food production in America – about where your food comes from.  I was boggled.  He traces back four selected meals to their origins, all the way back to the farm & feedlot, and then forward.

It has made more of a mark on me than any book I can recall in the last few years. I am desperate to discuss this book with others, so if you have read it, please post about it. I’m thinking of buying copies for family members just because any book that can have me intelligently discussing farming subsidies and “beyond organic” farming is a powerful book.  The man can write, and kept me intently turning pages. Wow.

It’ll make you plant your own garden, that is for sure. And potentially stop eating meat, if you are like me.

L

 

Grocery shopping: the time suck continuum

Filed under: consumerism,gardening,groceries,homesteading — L @ 2:16 am

I was lugging the garbage out to the curb tonight (8 bags and that’s a light week for us) and thinking how mildly horrified I am by the amount of garbage we produce at my house, and also thinking that the only job I loathe more than dealing with garbage is going to the grocery store.

I keep a running list for the grocery store. We go about once a week, sometimes once every 10 days. It costs us about $125 per week, including all the household supplies, paper goods, etc.  After putting it off as many days as possible, there comes a morning when everyone woke up before 9 a.m., and we manage to get breakfast eaten and all dressed before the 2 y/o starts wanting a mid-morning snack, and off we go to My Most Despised Event of the Week. Ugh.

The grocery store here plays particularly depressing music – like the worst music of each decade. The cart gets fuller and I start cringeing, knowing that any second the 2 y/o will want me to hold her instead of riding in the seat. So then I am holding her on one hip and pulling the full cart behind me. The 5 y/o is pretty cool about the whole thing and, while she doesn’t really help, she doesn’t hinder the operation. Which is nice.

I couldn’t really say why I hate the whole ordeal so much, except that it seems that for that hour and 20 minutes it usually takes, I fall into a sludgy pit I have to trudge through, pulling an ever-heavier cart, while the music worsens by the song.  Then there’s the whole loading of the car, the getting the girls into the car, the coming home and trying to figure out whether to unload the car first and leave the girls in the car (we live on a busy street so can’t just let them wander in the front yard while I unload) or get the girls in the house and then unload the car while wondering if they are constructing a bomb in the sunroom while unattended.

My point, you ask? It’s this: if this whole experiment in increasing production at home and decreasing consumerism does nothing else but reduce the frequency and duration of shopping trips (and of garbage – see- my points tie together so prettily) then I will have succeeded.

And so tonight, after supper, when I realized we needed to finish setting up the third square-foot-garden plot for planting (www.squarefootgardening.com) and needed to run the soaker hoses to the two existing plots, and generally do a bunch of heavy lifting of dirt and dirtying of my hands, I felt my lazy gene start to kick in.

But we got out, and we worked, and the girls had fun. There was one moment where I looked over and all three other members of my little family were raking the bed, and I wanted to capture that moment forever in my heart. And it got me thinking that working in the garden, preparing it to provide food for us all summer, is infinitely better work than going to the grocery store. 

By gardening instead of consumer-ing, we have all but eliminated food miles on any food we can grow ourselves. (We’ll quibble over the food miles for the seedlings, garden hoses, and soil later -baby steps). We aren’t driving my gas guzzler to the store so we’re saving gas. There will be no packaging on the food from our garden other than the packaging God gave those veggies.  And it’s an activity that we truly can all work on together. It felt like work to me, but it sure didn’t feel like the kind of work that grocery shopping is. It looked like play as far as the girls were concerned. That was an hour outside, sharing a project with their parents, where they could get dirty and feel productive and examine tiny green tomatoes.

I love that they will at least know where their vegetables come from this summer.  I hope that even if they don’t ever materially participate in this gardening thing, they will at least grow up thinking it is what people do.

I also know this. I get overwhelmed by too many choices in the fridge, and then I get paralyzed about what to cook for supper.  Too many options. An overabundance, as usual. But if what we have that day are some fresh tomatoes and squash from the garden, then we will have cornbread and tomatoes and squash, and maybe some beans once I get into the routine of cooking a pot of pintos or red beans once a week.

So I am pinning a lot on this garden and what it will do for our family. Beyond feeding us, I hope it will change my labor from slogging through the grocery store to working outside in the fresh air & sunshine. It will give us more time each day away from electronic media. It will give us a family project.

I think the garden may be the key to the whole thing. I think my cottage starts with a garden.

If you are a gardening enthusiast or a grocery store despiser, do share.

L

 

8 Hats in the Car April 29, 2008

Filed under: overabundance,Uncategorized — L @ 8:16 pm

Had to clean out the car today before we went to Walmart. Two kids and a husband who travels all the time = lots of accumulated flotsam in the car, and no real time to dedicate to cleaning it out. That’s my excuse, anyway.

So in the back seat, between floorboard and the space between the two car seats, plus cargo area, there were 8 hats for two girls.  My theory is to keep one hat in the car for each girl in case we end up outside somewhere and it’s sunny. But they are both hat-lovers and so favorite hats get brought to the car and left there.

There’s a good 6 more hats inside, counting the coat closet and their closet. So 14 hats, give or take, for two pre-school girls.

That right there is a red light on the dashboard of my life, indicating that I have a consumption problem. Two girls should equal four hats total – summer & winter chapeaux for each of them.  Now if hats were their passion, I could concede a bit more – I mean, I have an ardent love for shoes and handbags. It’s a want vs. need situation, and I’m not saying that life has to be spartan.

But 14 hats. Really.

It speaks for itself, and I post this only to show you what types of things I’m noticing these days. Noticing this stuff is a great step towards fixing it. SORTING your stuff and putting like things all together is a great step towards noticing you have a problem.

My goal by end of day today is to have all children’s hats report to the library table, where I will have them help me  pick some to donate, pack away the Tigger hat with the orange tail in the baby box, and then stow the keepers where they belong.

I gotta start somewhere, right? What crazy things have you noticed that you have rampant amounts of?

L

 

Analyzing my house. Issue 1: Clutter, stuff, & overabundance.

Filed under: clutter,consumerism,overabundance — L @ 5:38 pm
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Before we get where we’re going, we gotta see what’s holding us back. What’s wrong with my house, and with my household management and practices? Clutter is going to take up this first post on house analysis. Before my house can function like a well-oiled, productive machine, I have to strip it down to the essentials and eliminate everything that is not beloved or useful.

Clutter. Not as much as there used to be, but clutter nonetheless. Clutter elimination was the first step on this long journey, and I started with that after having my first child and realizing that the more things I had to pick up or put away, the more I had to clean and maintain and work. So reducing clutter was a function of my laziness. Get rid of the clutter, reduce the work.  For motivation and inspiration, I rely on:

  • www.flylady.net Flylady rules. It’s a wonderful place to start, though the personality and temperament of the site doesn’t suit everyone. For those who function well with having a little friendly housekeeping fairy telling you what to do throughout the day and keeping you on task, it’s perfect. She’s loving, kind, and can nag you without making you feel nagged.
  • www.unclutterer.com Oh, how I love this site. Discovered it earlier in the year, and it’s like hanging out with the organized crowd. If you are drawn to minimalism, this is it. Even if you will never be a minimalist, this site will be a good influence on you.
  • www.thehealthylivinglounge.com She’s feng shui-focused and has a great philosophical bent. Touches on a little of everything, but a good resource if you tend towards the “clutter has negative energy attached” view.

I’d like to hear what sites motivate and inspire you to pick up, weed out, donate, sell…

The inevitable link to clutter is consumerism. In fact, everything all ties together, but you gotta start somewhere. We’ll talk about consumerism ad nauseam, because it can sabotage everything we are trying to accomplish. But just a bit here: Unless we reduce household consumption, nothing will improve. So if you are starting to eliminate clutter from your life, start thinking about your consumption habits too. That’s what I’m doing. My grocery list sometimes has 50 items on it, my Walmart list 20. Why? Because of consumer habits, because as long as I stay within the budget, I tend to think I’m doing well. 

Ugh. There’s no good place to stop and start posts, because one topic just leads to another.  It’s a vicious chain linked together by bad habits that we all have. Sometimes we don’t even realize it’s a bad habit. It’s just there.  We buy Concord grape juice for the beneficial polyphenols (I think that’s the good thing about Concord grape but can’t remember).  We buy Simply Orange because it’s the best-tasting OJ I have ever had and, well, there’s vitamin C. We buy Simply Apple just because it’s so yummy. Mouthwateringly so. Then there’s mango nectar because of my obsession with all things tropical & for its smoothie-enhancing properties. There’s usually a pitcher of tea in there, and sometimes one of homemade lemonade.  Milk, of course…a few random Starbucks bottled drinks, some Ting (see tropical addiction referenced above), Mexican Cokes (kid is intolerant to corn syrup). On and on and on.

We buy these things because they are available, because we have a food budget that is reasonable, because I am as much a gourmand as a gourmet & food makes me happy, so being able to drink whatever I have a whim to drink pleases me. As long as there was no corn syrup, limited ingredients, sorta kind whole food-ish, I haven’t felt any guilt about it in the past.

But how much packaging is wasted on us (in my house)?  My kids only truly NEED water, breastmilk til they weaned, the occasional juice for a little variety and fun, milk or rice milk or almond milk for cereal, and hubby and I can’t function without our beloved tea. Instead of having 10 or 15 beverage options in our house, we are gonna reduce that down to four or five.  To me, gluttony is consuming because we can, because it’s there – not because we need it.  Fewer beverages purchased means more money saved, less packaging wasted on us, less clutter in the pantry and fridge. This is a win-win and my first attempt at curbing overabundance is to stop buying so many beverages.

Talk to me, Goose. Let me hear about it at your house.

L

 

Turning the lawn into a garden…a metaphor. « Little Homestead on the Fairway

Filed under: Uncategorized — L @ 5:08 pm

Turning the lawn into a garden…a metaphor. « Little Homestead on the Fairway

 

Turning the lawn into a garden…a metaphor.

Filed under: Uncategorized — L @ 4:51 pm

Why are there six different varieties of juice in my fridge? In large plastic or glass bottles produced at considerable expense to the environment, no less. What am I teaching my kids about consumerism, stewardship of resources both earthly and personal-financial, and gluttony?

That was the question that finally perfectly condensed all of the thoughts whirling around in my head for the last six months or so.  Hyper-consumerism, food miles, frugality & thrift, unplugging from the grid, raising my girls to be self-sufficient & capable both in and outside of the home: it’s time for me to teach them a way of life that draws on the best of the old ways while allowing them to thrive in a new and changing world.

My family currently relies on a lot of outside entities to function smoothly.  We buy everything from others and produce nothing ourselves. That’s normal, right? Yes. But normal does not = right.  I don’t currently wear a tinfoil hat, but stop for a moment and think about what your family produces or procures for itself, and what your family is utterly dependent on others for. If all of those resources were gone, or prices went up sharply, or your income went down sharply, where would you be? Same place we would be: up a creek with out even the teeniest paddle.

I’m out to change that. We live in a big house on a golf course (hence the fairway descriptor in the title). We bought it before I awakened to what the heck was going on, so we live in a vast house. Too big for four of us. Lest you assume I am wealthy, let me say that we live in an area with extremely low cost of living, have been living off of one income for years, and had operated debt-free for so long (thank you, Dave Ramsey) that we were able to purchase a home that would normally have been out of our reach, had it been sited in a city or larger town.

So I tell you that my home is large not to boast but to confess. We have a big house on a big lot on a golf course. And I am ashamed of it. It’s beautiful.  But it’s worthless. All it does right now is sit here, consume energy, and give my girls the perception that everyone lives in a great big house with six bottles of juice in the fridge, and five kinds of chips in the pantry, and that an unlimited variety and supply of food just flows endlessly direct from the grocery store into our three refrigerators and one deep freeze. 

I’m embarking on a new road and taking my family with me.  This road is going to eventually lead away from Walmart and the local big chain grocery store.  It will lead us down gravel country roads towards independent farms & local cattlemen who practice sustainable and humane food production.  This road will become a well-worn path between my back porch and the garden that is newly growing in my back yard.

I’m going to convert this big old energy-vacuum of a house into a cottage.  Over time, I’d like to see every room in this house, and the half-acre of yard, have a blessed, productive function. Food, clothing, daily bread: we can produce most of the good things that we need here, while still living in the normal world. We can unplug, one input at a time, until we are mostly self-sufficient, even here in the middle of town.

I hope you come with me. I want to share ideas and dreams and progress and setbacks with as many people as possible.  It’s so much better that way. If you come with me, we can work together on providing for ourselves in a way that protects the environment, gives us some blessed independence from big business retailers, and gives our children a set of skills, knowledge, and abilities that are priceless.

Let me hear from you so I will know I’m not just speaking into the void.

L