Saturday, May 31, 2008

Free Wi-Fi and the Farmer's Market

I've been having trouble with the public wi-fi connection at the apartment and figured I'd better blog before it gave out again. I must be addicted to the blogging already.
Who do I complain to when the free wi-fi is broken? Will they do anything? It's not like we're paying customers.

This morning I walked over to the farmer's market in the city where I have the apartment. It was better than the only other time I'd been to it. The previous time it was crowded and loud. This time, there was almost no one there. Unfortunately, there also wasn't much to choose from. I think there was more bread than veg! Good bread, but I was hoping for veg. Still, managed to find some onions, rhubarb, bok choy, and spinach. I've eaten some of everything except the spinach.

I'm thinking of making rhubarb scones tomorrow morning. Mmmmm....scones. After the scone fiascos of late (too wet, having frosting, and too sweet), I'm thinking I just want my own freaking scones. The older I get, the more I cook for myself because I know what I like and how I like it. Is that a form of "high maintenance"?
Do I care?

I found a lovely scone recipe at vegweb, which looks flexible enough to use any fruit and nut combination I have lying about. What sort of coffee goes with a rhubarb walnut scone?
Can you put mango in a scone? (and by "mango" I mean the fruit, not the character from SNL)

Wow, I talk about myself a lot. Why do you people read this?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Why All the Clothes?

So here's what I'm wondering about today.

Why do I have tons of clothes I don't wear?
I wear about 3 or 4 pairs of pants during winter and a different set of 3 or 4 during summer. I have a few favorite sweaters, some basic work shirts and about 8 or 9 t-shirts that I wear consistently. 3 sweatshirts got me through winter.
Leaving socks and undies and bras (oh my) out of the equation for now, why do I have all the other clothes?

I have gone through my wardrobe twice in the last few years to get rid of unwanted or unworn clothes, and yet there is still a ton of stuff I don't wear. Some, a small proportion, is from gifts but honestly those usually get worn so are not part of the clothing clutter.

Maybe it is time to simplify the wardrobe AGAIN. I'll start with stuff at the trailer since my most worn clothing is at the apartment, but even then...there are things at the apartment that have crept in over the past 6 months and taken over the closet space.

I am a clutter magnet.

No 'Poo update: The hair has lots of body today, though is on the verge of looking dirty so time to wash it. Still very easy to comb as long as it gets brushed twice a day.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Fantastic Film

A friend (Hi Ange!) once told me that I should rank my favorite films according to how many times she'll want to kill herself during the viewing. With this one, I'd say just once, but it will last from beginning to end.

It's The Cats of Mirikitani by Linda Hattendorf, 2007 (some sources say 2006).

Absolutely amazing. I learned more about Japanese Americans, internment camps during WWII, and the personal experience of Hiroshima than I've ever learned from books.

Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani is one of the world's unique characters. Quite funny and tragic and open and expressive and a self proclaimed master artist. I tend to agree with him. His art is fascinating. The comments he makes about Hiroshima and his choice between the U.S. and Japan are wrenching (he has double citizenship). If you have netflix you can watch it online, but you need to see the extras that are only on the DVD too. The extras include his trip back to Japan and his meeting with family after 60years of believing he had no family left. 60 YEARS he thought he was alone in the world.

And still he talked of peace, and forgiveness and war by telling his story to people on the streets of New York.

He's alive (as far as I can tell) and as much as I want his art, it isn't for sale right now. Oh well, that's his right.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stormy Weather

I have been watching the reports of storm damage around the midwest after the weekend tornadoes. Very sad. Where will all the people of Parkersburg live now? Will they leave?
That much damage could be the end of the town.

It makes me feel very lucky to have 2 decent (by my standards) homes. If one gets ruined, I still have another. That probably means I have too much. I'll narrow it down to one home once I know if I have the boy for the long term or not. That way I can pick a location.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Floods n Such

Walking around by the flooded areas here in town makes me think. Mostly it makes me think people are stupid.

If you build a sandbag levee to keep out flood waters, please fill the sandbags only 1/2 full, then tie shut or fold over the top as you stack in a way that allows the sand and bag to settle into complete contact with those below it. If you fill the bags tight as a DRUM, then tie TIGHT so they hold a nice sausage shape, the bags will just pile up leaving holes between them that I could stick my arm through. If my arm will go through, so will water. If you MUST fill your sandbags tight, then you need to use tarps too, but that's more complicated and you'll screw it up so never mind and don't expect me to come help you.

If there is water going across the road and lapping at someone's stoop, DON'T drive your freaking SUV through it fast because it's fun. It also forces water into these people's homes. Douchebag.

Don't swim in flood water it's full of crap. Often literal poo.

If you must ride your bike through it because you are a douchebag, at least don't splash the old people who wheeled their chairs out of the old folks home to see the flood and talk about how it isn't as bad as the floods of their youth.

Stop hassling the geese and ducks. They've been flooded out of their homes too and are trying to find a place to settle the young'uns in for some rest. If you keep chasing them in the water, they get exhausted and die. It is a hunting method known as 'persistence hunting' and it's very effective at killing things so stop it. Remember, you are not the only person hassling the critters.

If you MUST come down and look at the flood from your lovely uphill neighborhood, don't walk through people's yards and look in their windows. It's rude. Douchebag.

OK, I think that is the entire flood rant.

Monday, May 26, 2008

More things I love...

OK, this is going to get old, but I read once that we have bunches of crap we don't appreciate and thus it is not worth it. I've started trying to make sure I do like the crap I have.
So here are a few more things I have that I love:

From Angela, Jonny, and Diana: the David Sedaris recordings. I'm listening to them now. I listen more than once a week to at least some of them.

From Bree: the mosaic he made me during a craptacular christmas craft exchange. (it's the opposite of's actually good-tacular)

From Pam: the scarf, the Juno DVD, the washcloth, and much much more

From Sher: the set of silverware she got me when she visited me in grad school. It came from Coldwater Creek in Sandpoint during our road trip. Later, I bought a second set at Target or Kmart because I really like it and want to make sure I have enough to last a lifetime. I do. (it's actually stainless steel, not silver). I've never met anyone else who has the same set.

From Jake: once I was feeling bad that I hadn't thought of something my therapist told me to do. Jake said "well, he IS a professional." I try to remember that when I'm beating myself up over not being perfect or not knowing something. I'm not supposed to know everything (yet).

From Diana: furniture and art for the temporary apartment! she set us up with lamps, a comfy living room chair, side table, folding table, dining/office chair for Jake, and some framed artwork. It really made the place instantly livable and homey rather than feeling like an emergency situation.

From Lynn: all the effort for the tribe and to stay connected after I left ISU in unpleasant circumstances. She also sends way grovy presents.

From Maia: hand knit washclothes and bathmit! What could be more fun than a custom made hand knit bathmit? Perhaps the matching afghan and slippers??? All very very cool.

From Kathy and Phil (you don't know them): The little leatherman with flashlight

From Stan: floor lamp that I've used for years now. And didn't he get me the mixer which I use all the time?

From Sher, Marcie, Chris and Gram: lovely silver jewelry

From Laurie: The handcrafted pillow representing Iowa with matching piggy eye-pack cozy with hot/cold gel insert.

From Gram: bunches of kitchenware, but especially the 9X13 pans with sturdy slide-on lids.

From Sher: hand made pottery colander and bowl for fruit (I accidentally typed "bowel" which would also be cool).

From Gramp: hand tools that I use all the time.

From Gram: cool baskets handmade at a museum in Wisconsin

Ok, that's enough for today. The point is that much of my crap, I like and appreciate and use. It isn't all clutter ruining my life!
However, some of it is clutter ruining my life. For a while, I kept a goodwill box going and put crap in it as I noticed it. I need to do that again. Then when I take the recycling, I would also take that box and drop it off. This is both decluttering, and a tax deduction so win-win.

The No'Poo update...I got up late and stuffed my hair into a ponytail without even brushing it so it's probably pretty bad. I'll have to brush it tonight. But, it is not a dreadlock so that's nice.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Putting Closure on the Worms

Well, I got dirty fingernails picking through worm dirt and then a middle aged woman showed up and took a cardboard box of worms. But she was VERY excited so that was nice.

Got the boy the suit yesterday. We pick it up on the 10th (alterations) and then very nicely two friends called and took us out to dinner. That rocked.

Today was mellow. I did go check on the flood. It's still floody, but going down.

Hope all those affected by the Iowa tornadoes today come out OK.

No 'Poo update: did another baking soda scrub and vinegar wash. My hair looks fantastic!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Of Worms and Birthdays

Tomorrow is my temporary kid's 15th birthday. Last night he went out with his "Big Brother" (from the program, not an actual brother). When he got home at like 11pm, he tried to get me up to look at his birthday present but I was tired so asked if I could see it today. I went in the living room (it's only 6:24am here so the boy is not up yet) and it is an ELECTRIC GUITAR! How cool is that? Since the boy is a champion at "Guitar Hero" this is a very nice gift. He has talked about a guitar off and on for a few years and I even have someone who may be able to give him a lesson or two while I'm at the radio show. Cool.

I'm getting him a suit (which he asked for). I also got him a few things from DigiPen, the college he wants to go to. But, the guitar will be the best present even if he never plays it.

As for the worms...these are my vermicompost worms. A friend is taking some today to start her own colony. They are pretty cool and eat quite a bit of my left over veg. Another colony was podded off last year. Those worms are showing development of a separate identity from their parent pod. My pod of worms (is that a "wod"?) does not eat banana peels. But they love watermelon. Last year's pod does eat banana peels. Since the population is pretty much totally replaced every 3 months, it isn't surprising that they have developed along separate lines, but it is interesting to me. I've tried banana peels on and off with mine and it just ends with me having to pick dehydrated or mouldy peels out of the worm-bedding. But put in a watermelon rind and in a day all the worms have moved over there and are fat and happy. They really do get fatter when they are eating watermelon rind! Wierd. Anyway, I will need to spend some time this morning picking worms out and putting them in a temporary home for transport. Maybe I should wear tiny chaps while I wrangle a several hundred head of livestock. I could make some out of a paperbag and wear them on my fingers! and a vest across the back of my hand. Then of course I'll need a holster for my tiny six shooter and a tiny saloon for my hand to hang out in after the roundup. Tiny tables will be smashed as the tiny piano player keeps playing through the brawl until finally a shot shatters his beer mug and he joins in the melee.

I'll let you know if it's this exciting or if I just get dirty fingernails picking through vermicompost and then a middle aged woman shows up and takes a cardboard box of worms home.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I now have FOUR (4) readers (welcome Jonny and Ange). Wow. I'm like totally famous now and you'll be seeing me on

Anyway, one new reader (Hi Ange!) said something in an email about my chicken and potatoes recipe so here it is:

chicken breasts (1 or 2 per person you'll be feeding)
potatoes (1 or 2 per person you'll be feeding) (I like yukon golds but anything will work)
olive oil
lemon juice
garlic or garlic powder (not garlic salt)
cayenne (or paprika if you don't like cayenne)
cumin if you're feelin' all fancy
salt (sea salt is nice)

Make sure the chicken breast are boneless and skinless (cut the bones out and the skin off...kill chicken if necessary) (free-range chicken breasts are WAY better than those bags of chicken boobs in the cheap freezer bin at the store. organic is nice but prohibitively expensive) in the other ingredients. Go easy on the olive oil. Use more lemon juice than you think you need.
Slice the potatoes about 1/4 thick. Leave the peels on them.
Marinate the chicken and taters in a glass or stainless steal or plastic bowl or pan for however long you have (10 minutes to overnight...don't use aluminum because the lemon and salt make a serious acid and the food will get a metalic tang taste in aluminum and the aluminum will get pitted)

Preheat the oven to 450 or more. You can even broil this or use your contact grill, or charcoal grill or gas grill.
Spread chicken and taters in a single layer on a pan or two (avoid aluminum if you can. don't use your cast iron unless you want to start all over seasoning it).
Bake/broil/grill until the chicken is done through and the taters are soft enough to eat. I usually put a lid on the pan for all but the last bit of time to keep the chicken from getting too dry.

Serve and enjoy. It's good with a side of tabouli or noodles and steamed veg. Or salad.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Flood of '08

I'm just back from checking out the highwater on the Spokane River. Quite entertaining.
It's over some streets in places and people are sandbagging driveways and whatnot.
Some are sandbagging can see daylight through the bags. Unless we have very polite floodwater, I'm thinking it will go through the holes.

Many of the rivers around here are high and now it's raining. I don't think it will get much worse, but I've been wrong before. People are saying it's as bad as the floods of 1996...or was it 1997? Or maybe it was worse then, or now. People don't remember well.

Sorry this is brief, but I'm tired.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pangea Day Redux

The movies are up! The movies are up!

Go to and watch the movies. So many of them are wonderful. I've been sitting here for an hour thinking "just one more and then I'll blog." They are all short films or excerpts.

The one about the guy on crutches is hyp-mo-tizing. The one about the slap is pretty funny. The one about the wild snowman is cute but they used some technical process to speed it up which is too evident and it seems forced. The one called "My Mother's Daughter" is INCREDIBLE!

OK, here is the short list of my favorites (though the list of the ones I don't like so much would be shorter...all are worth a look):
Stranger in Her Own City
Stille Post
Sili (The Slap)
Mutual Recognition
Operation Homecoming: Roadwork (WARNING: I needed a hankie) (OK, I just watched it again and I still need a hankie)
Dancing Queen
Combatants for Peace

I haven't watched all the films yet. They look fabu but I'm trying to spread it out a bit.

The one with the cupcakes looks less sad so I am waiting until I think I can handle it if it IS sad.

No 'Poo* update: My hair is still in good shape. I can now go out on a windy day without pony-tailing and come home with hair that is not in a dreadlock. This is progress.

*note new larger apostrophe for clarity

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Breakfast Bars

Laurie asked for my breakfast bar recipe so I'm putting it here. I'll never remember to send it to her directly.

A couple of notes:
This is a VERY forgiving recipe. I've never made it the same way twice.
It's quite "frugal" and quite healthy. Beware of the fiber if you aren't used to it.

3 cups rolled oats (NOT quick cooking)
2 cups of assorted fiber and protein (I mix ground flax, oat bran, wheat bran, protein powder, nutritional yeast, ground oats, ground nuts, sunflower seeds, whatever)
2 apples grated with skin on, or a cup or so of apple sauce
1/4 cup sweetener (maple syrup, sugar, honey) OR a tiny bit of stevia
1 cup fake milk (I prefer almond milk)
dried fruit (however much you like up to about 2/3 cup. I like dried cranberries or cherries)
bit of vanilla
bit of cinnamon
bit of nutmeg (I think some ground ginger could be nice depending on what you're putting in)
bit of baking soda
2 eggs or egg substitute (e.g. 1T ground flax in a bit of hot water = 1 egg, or EnerG egg replacer)
Anything else that strikes your fancy
If the lack of flour bothers you, you can put some in, about 1/2 cup seems to do well if the apples were pretty juicy. I leave this out now as it makes the bars even more dense.

The batter should be almost a dough, but still a batter. It's HEAVY. This is not a low-calorie breakfast bar.

Press into a greased and floured 9X13 or 8X11 pan

Bake at 350 until a knife comes out clean (or cleanish). Since I use fake-eggs, there really isn't anything that has to be cooked so I just go until they are dry and look like they'll come out of the pan ok.

Cool in pan.

If I've greased and floured the pan well enough, I can tip the cooled bars out onto a cutting board in one piece and cut them in chunks more easily. If they don't want to come out, you can cut like brownies and dig them out of the pan with a spatula.

Really, these are SUPER fibery and you WILL poop.


No 'Poo update: it is rainy and humid here today and that might be contributing to my bouncy, wavy, slightly frizzy hair. BUT I can run my fingers through it (which previously could only be done after a good brushing) and even after a day in a tight ponytail, once I took the tail out my hair popped up rather than staying stuck to my head like a peeled grape. It is less stringy than with shampoo. My head is a bit itchy, but not like before and no one called me "pickles" so it must not be too vinegary.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bag Rant

OK, here is my bag rant:

That's it. Please USE WHAT YOU HAVE before you buy new crap. If you really don't have tote bags that will tolerate the load of groceries, then fine. Buy a grocery bag. But you don't need one just because it says it's a grocery bag.

It's like the people who comment negatively when I use a bread sac for a sandwich. What? It's only for bread without crap between? Who cares if it's bigger than the sandwich. Why must it be tailored? It's a sandwich. I'm eating it.

I had a sandwich today from the St. Maries (pronounced "Saint Mary's" Not "Saint Marie's") grocery store Subway. You get a ticket and take it to the checkout to pay because the Subway is embedded in the grocery store deli. I asked that we skip the plastic bag. Girl was worried about me sending a sandwich down the conveyor belt without the plastic bag, so couldn't I just throw the bag out after I pay for the sandwich. I said "how about I just hand them the ticket and I don't send the sandwich down the belt?" She was very confused but went with it after she taped the paper closed around the sandwich. Then at the check out the lady tried to put one bottle of pop and one candy bar (both organic and overpriced) in a FULL SIZE SAC!! I said "I don't need a bag. I'm going to eat it immediately." Again I got stared at. oh well. I managed to avoid having a sandwich wrapped in 2 layers of paper, a candy bar in a plastic wrapper and a bottle of pop all jammed into 2 more plastic bags. Sometimes I'm afraid that we're going to drown in plastic.

That's my bag rant.

Here's the No 'Poo update: I did my third baking soda scalp scrub tonight. My head is non-itchy and my hair is quite fluffy but I'm not sure I got all the vinegar rinsed out. I'll let you know. If anyone at work calls me "pickles" or "douche" I'll assume it's the vinegary hair.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Where Are The Recycled Containers?!?!?!?

So I'm in Moscow Idaho for my bit on the Peace Radio show on Radio Free Moscow and make the most of the trip with a bit of shopping at the Moscow Food Co-op.
They USED to take in used plastic containers like yogurt tubs, margarine tubs, cheese tubs, get the idea. There were none to be found and mine were full of stuff in fridge so I had to GET A NEW UNUSED CONTAINER to put my tofu in! Dang it!

I noted when checking out that I hated taking the new container but couldn't find those they usually have that have been returned and run through the sanitizing bit on their dishwashing machine. Turns out, the health department decided this could no longer happen. CRIPES. The check out person said that I could still bring my own containers (which have NOT been run through an industrial dishwashing machine's sanitizing cycle), but they were not allowed to accept them, wash them, and put them out for re-use. This is stupid, but I understand that the Co-op cannot mess with the health department. This is the same health department that admits that if one eats in restaurants in Idaho, one should probably have the hepatitis vaccines that are available.

I do not buy plastic containers and since I eat mostly homecooked food and no dairy, I don't come by them naturally. I got them from the Co-op's recycled containers program. Now where will I get them? I'll be notifying a few friends to keep their lidded yogurt and other tubs for me.

I've already started taking some of my lunch stuff in mason jars so I guess I can increase my use of mason jars and the containers I have. It looks like the co-op IS allowed to recycle glass jars so I'll try to use those when necessary rather than the new plastic containers.

Really, this is such a drag.

I was going to blog today about people who have piles and piles of totebags, and still feel the need to buy new ones specifically for groceries. But that will have to wait (...if you've given me a grocery sac or other carrying device know that I appreciate it and use it. But don't get me anymore, please).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lovely Day Trip but soooo not eco...

Today the boy and I took a trip up to Republic Washington to see some of his relatives. It was a gorgeous drive through mountains and valleys. The relies showed us around some cool lakes and campgrounds. Sunny and in the 70s the whole time.

But, alas, I burned a great deal of gas and will again tomorrow to go do a radio show about peace and justice. The driving is one of my major non-eco practices. I don't know how to get away from it without giving up those things that maintain my sanity (such as it is).

I'll keep the car in good shape. I've cut back on the trips to Moscow, Idaho and I rarely drive in the evenings after work, or on a day when I'm not working or making a roadtrip for a specific purpose. I'm better than before, but not as cool as that guy in Wisconsin who gave up driving all together to protest the price of oil.

The trip today was also for the boy's mental and emotional health so I'm hoping that makes it better!

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Most Crap Purchases

I have to blog quickly today because it is HOT and the computer is shutting off randomly.

To follow the good items, time for a few of the bad. It's actually tougher because I don't use the stuff I don't like so I don't even remember it's there.

--SUV that doesn't run well. This was clearly a midlife crisis purchase and now I'm too lazy to find the title and get rid of it.

--Shirt at full retail that while lovely, is WHITE, semi-sheer, and formal. I have about 3 "formal" events a year and I should never EVER wear white or semi-sheer white. With the semi-sheer, I need a good shell underneath and I don't have one. With white, I can't eat or touch anything so I never wear the shirt. Note to self: don't buy white.

--Doc Marten Boots. They are cool, but I have high arches and they hurt my feet, so I don't wear them. they were only 25$ and still not worth it for the 3 times I wore them and got compliments. I get more compliments on the 7$ leather goodwill coat I bought a decade ago and wear all winter (that should have been in the "good" list)

--Earth Boots. I count my Earth sandals as a good purchase, but the boots have WIDE cankles and I don't so the leather folds and wears holes in my ankle. Also, it's tough enough walking on ice and snow and adding a 3% uphill grade does not make it better.

--(this is really hard! I so rarely buy on impulse anymore that I can't think of much)

--most of my boyfriends! I didn't pay for them upfront, but I paid for them later.

--a hat. It's by a northwest coast native designer and cool as art, but I don't wear hats (other than the hardhat I wear at work). Also, it's a TINY bit small so leaves a red ring around my head making me even less likely to wear it.

--nope, sorry, can't think of anymore right now. This must be the heat making my brain mushy because I know I have many things I should not have bought. I just can't think of them right now.

That said, it's time to go make the most of my netflix subscription.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Things I Love and Why They Are Frugal...

This is another in my series of self-serving posts about frugality and voluntary simplicity.
I've found that buying quality, whether at thrift stores, yard sales, or retail, is better than buying crap at any of these places.

Here are some of my favorite purchases and gifts over the years:

*Toyota Corolla. Paid 6000$ minus the 1000$ they gave me on trade-in, minus the 3500$ insurance paid when hail hit the car a few weeks after I bought it. It was used, and ran and ran and ran until some b____ with a cellphone killed it in an accident. I still got the insurance from it and used it to buy my Subaru.

*Subaru Legacy. Paid 6000$ minus the insurance money from the aforementioned Corolla. I've put thousands of miles on it and it runs like a top. Some b____ who wasn't looking rearended it this winter and I got over 2500$ for the damage (which I of course did not fix)

*Sweater from the Territory Ahead catalog. This cost 80$. A price I normally would never pay. But it is the perfect color, pattern, and cut for me and I wear it at least once a week 6 months a year. If I'm seeing people who won't see me again that week, I'll wear it a second time. It's lambswool so should last for a long long time.

*Sweater from Goodwill, 4$. It's virgin wool and made in Scotland. Warm, fits, and is blue and again, will last forever.

*Smartwool socks. About 15$ a pair. I've bought 3 or 4 pairs of the hiking sox and my aunt got me a couple of pairs of the sport sox for a christmas gift one year. They last forever! My other wool sox are wearing through at the toes and heels (after a couple of years...but still). The Smartwools are still in perfect shape. This will sound gross to those who don't camp and/or do a lot of fieldwork, but you can wear them a few times between washings. I hang them up outside or by a window to air out between wearings. Real wool will not get stinky. I often wash them by hand so they will last even longer.

(I'm seeing a wool theme...)

*Carharrt workpants. They are brown (I look hot in brown), heavy, and will last forever. I paid about 40$ for them last fall and often wear them for the entire week at work if I'm doing fieldwork. I know, it sounds gross. But if you're going to be working in mud, sometimes it's mud contaminated with heavy metals and poisons, there is no reason to get multiple pairs of pants that dirty. I shower before work, put them on, then get home and take them off and shower again. The pants hang up to air out. In the summer, I don't wear pants as many days in a row without washing, but I probably could when doing fieldwork. It is so hot and sweaty that you stink about 15 minutes into your day anyway.

*Carharrt coat and overalls, insulated. This was a christmas present. These are the warmest things ever. Actually, it is rarely cold enough to need both the coat and the pants, but camping last thanksgiving when it was 10below upon arrival and was starting to get dark...and thus colder, I was VERY VERY happy to have these (and my wool sweaters, and long johns and several pairs of socks, and thinsulate 40below boots). This is considered a sexy outfit in the northwest in winter.

*A wooden hair comb. Gift 14 years ago!!! It is still the best detangling comb I have.

*Hand embroidered cloth napkins from my Aunt Billie! These are so cool and cute and eco. Mom and I took them to Wales with us last fall.

*Handknit scarf from my sister. I haven't got it yet, but I saw it in process and it's very pretty.

*PLO scarf bought in France when I was 18. It's big enough to use as a shawl, or make a bag out of for carrying crap. It's cotton and cool and versatile. I use it for everything. Now this is gross...I've never washed it.

*Kitchenaid mixer. It was a gift. It mixes EVERYTHING and never groans. Love it.

*Big enamelware coffee mug from the Gathering of Nations PowWow. I use it almost every day.

*Chair and shelves from the garbage cans out back of the apartment. These are free, don't stink, and in use constantly.

Why are these things frugal?
Because I use them all the time and enjoy using them. It doesn't matter that one sweater cost 80$ and the other just 4$. Both are excellent values. Things aren't frugal or simple when you don't use them no matter how little they cost. If they are just crapping up your house then they aren't worth it (which would be most of my stuff).

There are many many many more purchases and gifts that I love and use all the time. But it's time to stop. Perhaps next I will go over my stupidest purchases...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hobnobs and simplicity

After eating an entire package of hobnobs in two sittings (actually, two drives), I started wondering if I could make them at home. I read the ingredients and other than "glucose-fructose syrup" I think I can get them.

I know it isn't easier to make them myself, but it would mean that they weren't shipped from England (and god knows some of the ingredients were probably grown in the US or elsewhere and shipped to England for assembly in the first place), weren't packaged in that unrecyclable plastic crap, and didn't have weird "glucose-fructose syrup" in them.

I'm also going back to making my own scones after two VERY disappointing experiences in the local coffee shops. The most disappointing was the local, 2 blocks away, organic coffee shop. It's new and the ingredients for the baked goods are supposed to be local. I tried the coffee at the drive-through once and it was crappy AND they forgot I'd handed them my reusable cup so they'd made the americano in a plastic cup, then poured it in my cup and thrown out the plastic one. Sigh.

The next time I went inside and tried again. This time the americano lacked the hazelnut I'd asked for AND the "scone" was some sort of overly moist concoction that had been wrapped IN PLASTIC! while still warm so had steamed itself to a soggy mass. It was like a muffin top, but without the crusty goodness. No way to dunk it.

The other bad scone incident was this morning at a better coffee shop. You know it's a good shop because they always admire my Simpsons car seat covers which I rescued from my environmental disaster of a sister who was throwing them out when they were still good. Anyway, the coffee was good and the scone itself was fine. But what the f--- was up with the super sicky sweet blaze orange frosting??? There is no frosting on a scone!

They said they'd changed the recipe because people complained that the scones were DRY! duh. (Reminded me of when my ex who was a chef at the local yuppie restaurant got complaints that the caesar salad tasted fishy...NO SHIT. Perhaps that's the anchovies in the dressing as is not only traditional but noted on the menu in red.)

Anyway, I make a mean vegan cranberry almond scone so I'm no longer putting up with substandard sconage.

We'll see how the homemade hobnobage goes.

No 'Poo update: Did my second baking soda scalp scrub this afternoon and I must say my scalp feels all tingly and clean. My hair was a tad harder to comb perhaps because I washed it bent over so I could clean the back of my scalp which I think got sort of missed last time. I also did the cold water rinse. I managed to do that a lot when I was a teen because I heard it sealed the cuticle on each hair shaft and would therefore give me shiny bouncy hair like Valerie Bertinelli (Oh you editors of Seventeen Magazine with your empty promises...the photos of my fried, frayed, frazeled hair in the '80s gives lie to your recommendations). A cold water rinse when you are 41 is worse than when you are 14 and still have the metabolism to re-heat your head in a reasonable amount of time. I may have scalpular frostbite.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Today, I didn't love my job.

Oh well. You can't love it every day. Today, I was at a meeting. It wasn't that bad. But after the meeting one attendee was supposed to go on an unpleasant site visit with me. He refused. He just didn't want to. No warning. Nothing. So I come prepared to hash out an interagency issue and nope. He doesn't feel like it because there is nothing more that can be done about this site. My thinking was that we could sort things out for FUTURE projects and sites. I guess not.
It didn't help that the meeting had run through lunch and I'd had coffee and HobNobs for breakfast leaving me with a crashing caffeine AND sugar low.

On the upside, I got to town early for the meeting so I drove down to a boat ramp on a lake and read a book. An oriole kept tapping on my window and admiring him/herself in the mirror of the car. Pretty cute.

As for the hair...hard to say. It is soft and manageable, but my scalp is peeling from yesterday's burn. Ow. The shea butter does appear to have saved my face though.

Tomorrow could be a bad day at work. very bad. very very bad.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sometimes I love my job...and a no 'poo update

Yes, many times I hate my job, like this Wednesday will probably suck giant wangers.
But today, it rocked.
I spent the day on a power boat being driven from site to site around one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. I'm not kidding. We were stopping and viewing sites related to my job. There were 14 of us in 2 boats and everyone played nice. The people who live around this lake could easily buy and sell me and sometimes are not nice to people stopping here and there and doing their jobs. But today, they were nice (well, the ones who were home. One was just back from his other home in KONA!!!).

The weather started out iffy, but got fabulous. I have a sunburned topped with a windburn and some chapped lips. My hair part looks like I've put vermillion on it. Alas, just a sunburn.

One island we stopped at is for sale so I called some relatives who have more money than me to see if they want to buy it. They are going to look into it. This was an entirely selfish move since clearly they will need someone to watch it when they aren't there. Cool.

As for the no 'poo hair. I must say, it was easy to comb/brush when I got off the boat after having it wind whipped and dragged through shrubbery all day (I have a weird job that sometimes involves crawling through shrubbery). Usually, I would have had to get in the shower with a big bottle of conditioner and a big comb and spent part of the evening coming out the dreds. This time, I could run my fingers through. And I found my old brush in the glove box of the car so I could brush it. My scalp is a bit flaky but I'm hoping that will improve. Also, my hair is very fluffy rather than being stuck to my scalp and leaving me looking like a peeled grape.

To deal with my face (which was radiating heat after the boat ride) I stopped at an organic store to try to find aloe vera. I couldn't but I did find shea butter. I've read that I can use that on my hair too (just the ends) if it gets too dry. So I figured I'd give it a try. I greased my face like I was going to swim the channel and it did feel better.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My sister says I have to blog

I don't have anything to say today, but my sister says I have to blog.

She sucks.

I did watch a good movie today. 84 Charing Cross Road. An oldy but a goody. True story of Helene Hanff and her correspondence with a bookseller in London. A nice presentation of human relationships.
I'd seen it years ago and it was worth seeing again.

That's it for today!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

No 'Poo

This will gross out some people, but possibly neither of my readers (hi Pam and Laurie).

As Pam knows, I have the world's dryest skin. I once had a GYNECOLOGIST pop up mid-swab and say, "You have the dryest skin I've seen on a living human being." She wrote the word "eucerin" on a piece of paper for me and told me to go to the local drug store. This is not a drug. It is a "lotion" that is so thick you pretty much need a trowel and once you've got a layer on, you could swim the channel. It's made of mineral wax.

I've stopped using Eucerin because it is too chemically. But I still go through buckets of lotion.

Anyway, lately my scalp has been suffering more and more with the dryness. Right after I shampoo, for about the last year, I get cradle cap! It's more than dandruff and just less than peeling skin. Gross though. I've tried tons of gentle, organic shampoos but still the giant globs of skin coming off my scalp. If I go a few days without washing, it gets better.

So, I'm giving up shampoo. It's been done by others with some success.
I'll give it a couple of months to see if it works for me.

There are some options. One can wash with conditioner only. This is done by globbing on tons of conditioner. Combing it through and massaging into scalp, then rinsing out. Given the sensitivity of my skin and the cost of organic conditioner, I'm not trying this first but will keep it as a Plan B.

Another option is scrubbing the scalp with baking soda, rinsing a LOT, then using very diluted apple cider vinegar on the ends of the hair and rinsing a ton more.

For both options daily care is to brush with a natural boar bristle brush morning and night, including a scalp massage. I already have the brush.

I did my first baking soda scrub this evening after supper. It's a bit hard to get the baking soda on the scalp because the hair is in the way, but I'll probably get the hang of it. Rinsed the ends with a bit of diluted a.c. vinegar and rinsed a ton (nice the we don't pay for hot water at the apartment...).

I'm already surprised. I've always had to use a ton of conditioner in the shower, then leave-in conditioner in order to comb my hair out. This time, my hair combed right out, no problem!! That's a first. I do not detect any vinegar smell. This is good because even I would have to call me "douche-head" if my hair smelled of vinegar. I'm very scent sensitive so I'm sure I'd smell it if it were there. And, my scalp is not itchy. It's been itchy post-wash for many months.

Since I'd already cut back to shampooing about once or twice a week, I guess I'll keep the baking soda scrubs to a minimum too.

If the hair gets gross or smells bad, I'll go back on the quest for a shampoo that works.

For now, even fewer chemicals on my skin will be good in general. And it's quite frugal and simple!

Here are a couple of sites about no-shampoo-hair-care:

Pangea Day

I managed to watch Pangea Day online! Woohoo!
I missed the first few minutes, but saw the rest, even had popcorn to eat.

Some of the movies were great, some were good. Others were...well, OK.

The one about Combatants for Peace (check them out at pretty cool. The comments after the film by one of the participants were even more wrenching than the film.

The only critique is that there was too much chatter between films. Too many celebrities (or people who think they are celebrities) and some of the music seemed gratuitous.

The goal of promoting peace seems pretty cool and this could become a regularly occurring event.

The movies will be available online for a while. In fact more movies than were shown during the 4 hour event, will be available online. I intend to watch them all.

Enjoy the films at:

Friday, May 9, 2008

Pangea Day on SATURDAY May 10. Be there or be square

SATURDAY May 10, 2008 is Pangea Day.
Check it out at

It all started with a TED conference award. Find out more about TED at

While I find the whole TED thing a bit elitist, I must admit that the elites are the ones with the money to make Pangea Day happen.

Film maker Jehane Noujaim won a 2006 TED Prize which fulfills a "wish." Her wish was to bring the world together through film. I love film so I'm all for this. On Pangea Day, films will be shown throughout the world at the same time. Check the website above for your local time. These will be streamed online, shown at venues, broadcast on various networks, and even shown in private homes. This will give people all over the world a shared experience of 4 hours. The films come from around the world as well. Shorts so there is time for more and it is cheaper/easier to make. One I read about was shot with a cell phone.

I adore film as an artform, as a mode of information sharing, entertainment, and anything else a film might do. The irony is that I'm probably not going to be able to watch! CRAP! I've tried to find out about a local event to no avail. I'm going to try to stream it online but my computer is not the newest and my wifi is sometimes tentative.

I'm hoping the films will be available online for a while so those of us who can't see them the same day can at least see some later. Perhaps a DVD about the event and with the film will come out. I can hope.

I hope at least one of my two readers will be able to join in on part of this amazing event.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

They like me! They really like me!

Well, they don't exactly "like" me. I just won a drawing on for a free book. Cool. It was a contest on a blog. Commenters were asked to make a pledge for the year having to do with using their spending power to make a greener, better world. I pledged to shop only at thrift stores for everything but socks and undies. This won't be too hard as I mostly shop at thrift anyway. One challenge will be coming up with an outfit for a wedding this summer. In writing the comment, I also thought about what I've done so far to be greener.

Here's a short list:

--replaced almost all my lightbulbs with CFLs in both homes
--buying used whenever possible for household goods, kitchen gadgets, etc (e.g. I just bought a used rice cooker at thrift store. I did have to break down and buy 2 new fans for the tiny windows in the kitchen and one bedroom of the apartment after 2 months of trying to find them at thrift stores)

--re-using what I've got rather than buying new (e.g. furnishing the new apartment with what I already had, driving a 14 year old car)

--repairing what I've got rather than buying new (e.g. I actually darn my socks. This is also frugal since I wear mostly good wool high performance socks that go for 15$ a pair or so)

--reducing my trash stream by recycling what I can, putting some veg in the vermicomposter and some more in a pile in the yard at the trailer

--buying quality items when I do make a purchase, whether new or used, so that the item will last

--cooking from scratch for the most part (I don't make my own pasta yet, but I use dry beans so I'm fairly advanced)

--learned to can and dehydrate food during harvest season to avoid expensive low quality produce during the winter

--container gardened (but not this year...not yet anyway)

--avoided commuting for 10 years! I'm back to it now, but that is temporary. I walked or took the bus to work for 10 years. Actually, while in college and grad school I did that for another 12 years so my lifetime total is pretty good

--eat partly organic. About 1/2 right now

--eating less meat

--gleaning trees for fruit and making jam. There are many cherry trees across the "street" from my trailer that no one harvests. Last year I got about 40pounds of cherries and made jam. I also gathered plums from 2 trees that no one harvests. I hope to get some apples this year as well.

--drying laundry by hanging rather than using a dryer. It's been years since I've used a dryer on a regular basis. Every once in a while I'll use one for a sleeping bag or something that will take more than a day to dry by hanging. This saves electric or gas, as well as wear-n-tear on the clothes.

--using non-toxic household cleaners. I have citra-solve for some big jobs, but otherwise use borax, baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. Occassionally I'll mix up a bit of oxygen bleach powder (which is peroxide) to leave in the tub or toilet just to make me feel like I've killed some germs.)

--using non-toxic body cleaners (organic locally made oatmeal soap, baking soda based toothpowder or just baking soda, herbal no-aluminum deodorant (sometimes I go commando with no deodorant at all), organic non-toxic shampoo and conditioner but may be switching to baking soda for that too)

--I'm sure there are more but now it is time to eat the lunch I brought to work packed in a cooler with a sandwich in a reused candied-ginger tin, fruit salad in a mason jar, and all eaten with the organic bamboo spork and mopped up with my cloth napkin.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Holy Mole

OK, this has been too many posts in a row about food. But with the recent removal of my gall bladder, food is no longer a threat. I hadn't been able to eat fatty food, or any delicious food really, for years. So the past few weeks have been an adventure finding out what I can eat.

I met a friend for lunch today and had enchiladas mole with rice and olla beans. OMG! It was delicious. I meant to be good and eat half and bring the rest home. But, alas, I sucked it all down along with a basket of chips and some salsa. Wow. I'm going to be a blimp soon. But a happy blimp.

Lunch was with my friend Nancy who's been off doing research for most of a year so we had lots to catch up on. She is perhaps the world's best storyteller. Nancy is one of the few people I enjoy listening to when she's gossiping about people I've never met. The stories are simply fabulous. And for the most part, they are true. Or as Amy Sedaris says of her brother's work, "True enough."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

One down! One to go.

OK, I managed to eat vegetarian all day! Fruit and oatmeal and coffee for breakfast. PB&J with veg and fruit for lunch, another snack of guessed it...fruit. Supper was beans-n-rice with some veg. Not bad. Oh, and one giant candy bar mid day because I am weak. But candy bars are vegetarian, right?

Tomorrow I'll be out and about so probably won't maintain the strict vegetarian diet, but Thursday might be a good day to try it again.

A friend, Laurie, recommended I do the "mostly vegetarian" as an option if I don't go full vegetarian. I'm trying! But cutting back and cutting back, I'll get there. Right now I'm feeding a second person who is not up for the vegetarian lifestyle and frankly has enough other things he's working on that I'm not willing to push vegetarianism on him right now. So mostly veg will be easier than always cooking 2 separate suppers.

Laurie also recommended another website for good veggie recipes: The recipes look good AND doable.
I've been a longtime fan of The recipes there are vegan so get around the dairy issue I have with so many many vegetarian cookbooks and websites. Of course, I'm sure the people at vegweb would be appalled that I sometimes put the chicken or eggs back in the foods they'd so carefully veganized.

The thing that surprises me is that I'm rarely hungry when I've eaten a decent vegetarian meal. I've always thought that without some meat, I'd never feel full. And yet, a few cups of beans and rice really stick to the ribs. Yesterday's teriyaki tofu with steamed veg and rice lasted pretty well too. I think it will be easier to cut back on meat than I thought.

Of course by my family's standards, I'm practically vegetarian already. These are people who served 3 meats for a holiday meal and at least one at every other meal. My uncle, a former army cook then short order cook then farmer and now retiree, used to make us breakfasts of pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, and milk from the bulk tank (you know, with the cream still in it) and a side of heavily buttered toast. It was an all you can eat affair. The last time I was home for thanksgiving we had turkey and pheasant and duck. I've been to holiday do's at an aunts house where once the deepfryer got going, anything in the freezer that used to move of its own accord was fair game (some of it was actual game meat). I must say, deep fried walleye chunks in cajun seasoning IS delicious.

Compared to the meat-fest of my youth, I eat very little meat now. Sometimes not even once a day. Compared to most of the people on the planet, I eat massive amounts of meat (and everything else for that matter!). I'll be shooting for somewhere in the middle, but leaning toward the lower consumption folks.

Monday, May 5, 2008

No Meat and Two Veg

I read somewhere, probably on a blog so you know it is true, accurate and well researched like wikipedia, that eating a vegetarian diet would decrease my carbon footprint more than getting a hybrid car. Since I'm not getting a hybrid car and have increased my daily total commute from 0 to 93 miles, I'm trying to eat less and less meat, especially beef and pork.

The decrease in meat started a while ago and was helped along by a bad gall bladder. The gall bladder recently came out and the world of fatty meaty foods including fatty meats re-opened to me. And yet, even without the threat of extreme pain and the potential of pooping my pants, I still don't want to return to the days of my youth when redmeat was a large part of my diet. I just don't see the need.

Meat takes up too many resources that could be better spent. Industrially produced meat with the hormones and antibiotics and inhumane (imbovine? imporcine?) treatment of the animals appalls me anyway. For years my meat consumption has been largely free-range, antibiotic free, hormone free etc. This includes wild game and wild fish. There has been the occasional fish from a stocked pond or the regretful farm raised salmon. But for the most part I've applied pretty strong ethics to my meat consumption.

Keeping it going should not be too challenging. I've found a source for local free range buffalo who are given meds only when they are actually ill and the farmer can't remember when the last time that happened. When I called to ask if they were free range, his wife answered the question with "well, the field IS fenced." That's OK. It's not like they are stuck in a barn and artificially inseminated, spending years standing in their own poo on a hard surface without sun. The meat is not too expensive and is very good, stores well, cooks well. I need to order another 40pounds. That is the comes in large quantities. I haven't found a good source for local free range chicken or turkey so am still buying a bit of that from the Moscow Food Co-op in Moscow, Idaho. It's spendy, but with the reduced consumption, it can be done.

To keep the meat consumption low, I'm trying to start with 2 totally vegan days per week. No dairy (not a problem as it gives me sinus infections), no eggs, no nothing. I think I did it yesterday with a tofu salad sandwich for lunch and a collard-potato-tomato saute for supper. I forget what breakfast was but I'm sure it was fine .... OOPS! It was a chocolate croissant made with butter. So much for the vegan. I guess I need to try again. I already had tuna for lunch so today is out. Must remember to bring beans and rice for lunch tomorrow.

Anyway, the lower meat consumption also means more fruit and veg. I used to rot those in the veggie draw then throw it out. I no longer use veggie drawers for anything other than my vermicompost (and that's not in the refrigerator). I know this is obvious, but I also discovered that if I prep the more labor intensive fruit in a big batch, I eat more of it. When the neighbor gave me the pounds of fruit last week, I made melon salad with orange juice and a bit of sugar. I ate about 8 cups in 2 days because it was easy. I made some more last night when I got home from groceries and have already eaten 4 cups. When I get strawberries I cut them up and freeze individual servings for smoothies. Those get eaten more and with less sugar than previously.

Any fruit that doesn't need processing stays on the counter in plain sight. If I'm staring at it, I'm more likely to eat it.

So far this is working.

I've been using for recipes and to make sure I'm getting my nutrients and not eating to many calories per day.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

On The Radio...

Today was radio show day.

Every other week I'm on a show called "Peace Radio" on KRFP Radio Free Moscow, out of Moscow, Idaho. You can stream it from this site: The station is all volunteer community radio. There are one or two "paid" people like the station manager, but the pay is so low it's worse than volunteering.

I'm actually on this show due to an error. My officemate John came to work and said that his wife Sally had said I was going to be on the show! The show was just getting organized by the Palouse Peace Coalition ( with which I'd been tangentially involved.
I started wracking my brain to remember if I'd committed to something. I couldn't remember saying I'd actually DO anything, but e-mailed Sally, the wife in question, just to see if I had.

It seems there is another Jill who had committed to helping on the air, but by this time, I was pretty interested and said I'd come on and finally settled on doing movie reviews for peace. That has expanded to pretty much anything I'm watching since any joy in life tends to promoted peace, love and understanding.

I've branched out and also do some of the interviews on the air, a bit of pre-recorded stuff and even learned to run the board...more or less. The other Jill mostly runs the board but Sally and I can do it if pressed.

Sally, me and the other Jill have become the core group for the show and we're over a year into it now. When we started another peace coalition member ran the boards and we tried rotating the "dj" duties, but it didn't pan out for the long term. The group of three seems to work well and a woman named Miriam comes about 2/3rds of the time to do a bit for kids at the end of the show.

We have a few listeners...especially my sister and my friend Jonny because I call them and make them listen and then tell me I was great.

The show is a nice outlet for my liberal diatribes and I get news that I don't hear elsewhere. The other Jill usually brings in headlines. Sally does book reviews and most of the scheduling as well as many of the hosting duties.

If anyone out there in Blog-land (hi pam!) would like to listen to the show, check us out every other sunday (we were on today), from 2-4pm Pacific time. Unless we couldn't make it that day or we go two sundays in a row and throw the schedule off...the station is pretty casual about that.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Thrifting I Will Go...

It's Saturday, the lord's day. The lord of THRIFTING that is.

Part of my frugal/voluntary simplicity practice is to almost always buy used. Used stuff is great. It's cheap, you know it will last because it outlasted one owner, and it's fun to see what you can find to meet your needs. Used stuff is also recycled, is not generally outgassing toxic fumes (though is occassionally a little musty), and comes with its own history for you to contemplate when you're bored.

Here's my thrift system:

1) The first step is to make sure you actually need what you are buying.
Buying crap you don't need is financially and spiritually stupid even if you buy it cheap. For years I've used the 30days rule. If I think I need or want something, I wait at least 30 days before buying it (obviously this does not apply to food). If I still feel I need it after 30days then I start checking thrift shops and freecycle, or put it on my birthday/christmas list. Occassionally I will pay full price but that is pretty rare. I think the last thing I paid full price for is the sweater I wear about twice a week for 6 months a year. I waited the 30days to decide to buy it...then tried to wait for it to go on sale. It didn't, it just got dropped for the new season of clothes! Since I STILL wanted it the next fall when it showed back up in the catalog, I went ahead and got it. It's been a good purchase because it is wool (lasts well, is warm), it is the perfect color and shape for me, and I wear it constantly. I do buy my underwear new and so far my shoes have been bought new. Otherwise, thrift is my first option.

2) The second step is to know your thrift stores.
There are 4 good thrift stores within walking distance from my apartment. I like to shop, so on many Saturday mornings I get my exercise and my thrift fix by walking to the stores. By shopping a bit when I will not be buying, I've learned which stores have the best selections of various items. The local Volunteers of America store has almost EVERYTHING. I was in there a while back and heard a young man with dreads and a mohawk (and interesting hairdo) exclaiming that this was the best thrift store he'd been in and that there was nothing like it in Seattle. It really is pretty amazing. The furniture room is particularly good as is the selection of kitchenware. I recently got a sushi maker and little sushi plates for 5$. This was an extravagance but it's also been a great way to get my kid to eat more rice and vegetables and to expand his palate for varied spices, dishes, and flavors. And of course it's fun. Another thriftstore, Value Village, has a better selection of clothing and another good selection of kitchen goods. I got a rice cooker there. They also sell bags of candles for ridiculously low prices. I use candles at home and when camping so a good supply of cheap candles is always nice. The Classy Rack is a christian based thriftstore supporting our local mission that cares for the homeless. They have a good selection of kitchenware, some nice clothes, and for some reason a nice selection of craft items and office supplies. They also serve espresso drinks which I find highly amusing. The local Goodwill is not the best of the stores here, but it isn't bad. There are even more thrift stores in Coeur d'Alene Idaho which is just 35 miles from here. I'm there for work fairly frequently and when I am I use my break or lunch to stop at the Goodwill, St. Vincent DePaul, and a couple of other thrift stores. That town has a high population of wealthy part-time residents. These people throw out and donate the most fantastic things. Perhaps more on that at another time.

3) If you have a need, don't expect to fill it on the first trip.
Give it a little time. Once I decided to replace plastic items with metal or wood, I took my time. It became clear that my main cooler was dying. I started looking at thrift stores and antique malls. It took a few months, but eventually I found a nice metal cooler from the '40s. It was not particularly cheap, but it is an excellent cooler, the right size, and has already lasted 60years with little wear and tear so I'm fairly confident that it is the last cooler I will buy. It also gets plenty of attention when I camp or bring it to the food co-op for my frozen items. I know I've converted at least one person to metal coolers so there's a bit less plastic dragging around the world's campgrounds.

4) Be flexible.
When I decide it's time for a new workshirt, I don't decide on the color and style beyond "button down" or "sweater". I just wait to see what shows up. The last thing that showed up was a lovely "travelsmith" brand shirt with the tags still on it! It is in a good color for me, the right size, and it fits. Quite nice really.

5) Enjoy.
If you miss something during your 30day wait, it's OK. Something else will show up. Enjoy the history of the items you buy.

6) Know your limits.
If you are creeped out by the thought that someone else's private parts may have once touched the thriftstore jeans, will that keep you from wearing them? If it will, then don't buy them. Personally, if I wash them first then I feel that thrift clothes are ritually clean and therefore just fine. I haven't bought thrift shoes yet and think it's because I'm so picky about the fit of my shoes. But there is an undercurrent fear of foot fungus too. That may be the real problem with thrift shoes.

Yard sales and craigslist and freecycle all count as thrifting. Enjoy. I'm not an e-bay'er, but I'm sure many good bargains can be had by the careful. I get too caught up in bidding so auctions, whether live or online, are not thrifty for me. I just get too competitive with the other bidders and my good intentions go out the window.

Now I will take my shower and go out to thrift.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Food Exchange

Thursday my wonderful downstairs neighbor (obviously downstairs from the apartment, not the trailer), stopped me on my way out of the apartment at 6:30am to give me about 8 pounds of ORGANIC fruit! I love her. She gets fruit and veg delivered to her home and this is the second time she won't be able to finish it, so rather than waste, she has shared with me and the kid.

I love that. There are actually more apples than we'll be able to eat in the next week so I'm passing some along to a friend at work.

I'd like to see more of this sort of exchange. More people sharing rather than wasting. I have many friends who will participate.

Of course, I'm too lazy to be the person setting up the exchange, but maybe I can get something going with one or two friends.