Saturday, December 24, 2011


Cripes! It's been a month. I've been busy but not that busy. I've actually been working on puzzles I got from thrift stores. 1$ total for 3 really good puzzles. The first one was missing 6 pieces. The second, missing 3. I'm hoping the pattern is 3 fewer missing pieces each time, not that this last one will be missing 1.5 pieces (half the number of missing pieces each time).

Solstice report:
We had a LOVELY day on Solstice. It was bright and cold and sunny and crisp. Warm enough to be outside but cold enough to be wintery.

Christmas: OK, it's only Christmas Eve but close enough.
My plans: Stay in jammies all day and eat and do/finish the puzzle while watching videos. Should be the perfect day. So far I've received MANY tins and boxes of tea as gifts and am on a bit of a tea binge. I've had about 5 cups today. Didn't even bother making coffee. It's all delicious. I'm making the most of the lemon and lime slices I dried. So far, they are good in all the kinlibrary or through a cheap rental to stay with the theme of thrifty):

Sordid Lives. It's not about a holiday but it is about family dysfunction and features Olivia Newton-John as a trashy country singer.

A Christmas Story (obviously)

Atanarjuat. Not about Christmas but set in the snowy icy north, and hypnotizing.

Pieces of April. Also not about Christmas. It's about thanksgiving dinner and family dysfunction ( a theme developing?)

Fargo. Still not Christmas. It is set in North Dakota and Minnesota in the winter and features perhaps the most dysfunctional family of all on the list!

Clatterford (all three series). A Brit-com about life in a small town. A Christmas special is included, I think in series 1 or 2.

Two Fat Ladies (all series). More about food and one show features Christmas dinner.

That should get us all through the holiday.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I've had a lovely Thanksgiving. An actual harvest dinner, though the 'harvest' was a bit thin.
I took the last 4 carrots out of the garden. One was a surprise as I hadn't even planted carrots there! An immaculate carrot. Well, it was only about 3 inches from the square I planted carrots in so I suppose it's not really a miracle, just a stray seed. Onions that I'd picked and stored earlier. The last of the parsley. Some kale that is still alive and slowly producing. Some of the lime thyme that is still looking pretty hardy. I added garlic and spices and a couple of sunchokes.

I also planted a bit. Some walking onions and most of the sunchokes. Had to tear out some of the mint that came from starts from Sally (Hi Sally!) because it was taking over too much real estate. It will probably like being torn up a bit.

I also made a nice apple crisp with local apples, organic oatmeal and local honey. Very nice.
As a treat (and because I didn't have to work so had plenty of time) I made a bit of vanilla hazelnut milk ice cream. Excellent.

I know it's a bit late to be planting, but everything has been so late I thought I might as well put them in. I did forget to put the garlic out, but it will still be warmish next week so I'll try some then. about 1/2 the square foot garden will be pretty much planted once the garlic is in.

Tomorrow I'm off to visit family.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thrifty Thoughts

So, once AGAIN I am pleased that I saved my money and spent some of it on tires. I went to the casino (11 miles away) for lunch with a friend. She drove. She also has good tires. In those 11 miles, we saw five new looking vehicles in the ditches. It is slick out there today, but we went slow and had good tires so we were fine. Even the most expensive tires are cheap compared to getting the left side of the car repaired after you hit the far side of the ditch (or is that the right side of the car? Whatever).

We, the members of the food coalition, found out this week that we are not alone in our admiration of the mighty (cheap) legume! We hosted a legumes cooking competition with the local community health program and expected 20 entries...there were 56!!! The featured legume was lentils, but we took entries that had any lentil, pea or bean as an ingredient. In a town of 800, 56 entries is amazing. We also had maybe 100 people show up to taste/eat/enjoy the food. Almost 15% of the local population at one event ... an event organized around beans ... is impressive. I think it will be an annual event. We're putting together the recipes in hopes of putting out a little cookbook. Is there any cheaper source of protein than beans, peas and lentils? We also had mostly new attendees who had not been at our previous events so that was also cool.

Amazingly, the black bean brownies were VERY good. The beans replaced the dairy, but not the eggs or sugar or chocolate and the brownies featured chocolate chips. These were devoured in minutes. The chocolate lentil muffins...well, they are good, but using 100% whole wheat flour and cutting down on sugar did change the flavor along with making them healthier.

I entered my Middle Eastern Lentil Soup, but rightly did not win any prize. Oh year. I will be adding the lentil apple spinach berry salad to my repetoire of dishes along with the brownies. I sent the rest of my soup home with a coworker who agreed that it was much better on the 2nd day.

Here is the recipe for my entry. It comes from the "More with Less" Cookbook that Jonny (Hi Jonny!) gave me.

Middle Eastern Lentil Soup

Put in a pot and bring to a boil:
1 cup lentils (I use red or yellow but all taste good)
4 cups water
1/2 tsp cumin
Once it boils, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the lentils are fully cooked. About 30-40 minutes depending on the type of lentil.

Heat in a skillet:
1T olive oil (butter, margarine or another oil works fine)

1 Onion chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Fry until just yellowed but not browned or carmelized.

1 T flour (white, whole wheat, anything that will thicken the soup will work)
cook just a minute or two.

Add the onion mixture to the soup and stir. Bring just to the boil. Remove from heat.

Just before serving add
2T Lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste (sea salt and fresh cracked pepper are best but anything will do).

Put some lemon juice, salt and pepper on the table for people to season their own bowls too.

It is excellent reheated the 2nd day with new lemon juice added just before you eat it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thrifty Entertainment

Last night I actually went to a concert...a real one. With musicians and everything. I haven't been to a concert since Sally's performance with the Potlatch Community Band.

This was just as much fun. It was Indigenous (google them). A band founded by a couple of Native American brothers from South Dakota. They do blues-rock or rock-blues. Excellent stuff. It was only 10$ for an entire evening of entertainment. We didn't know it came with dinner so the group of us going shared dinner at one person's house. Very lovely and relaxing.

The drive home however....not so relaxing. I rode with Sally and John (hi) as far as Potlatch, then drove from there. It was just the right/wrong temperature so the little pass at Marsh Hill (which you can see on the Idaho Transportation Dept traffic cams website) was nasty. The rain turned to giant blowing snow flakes which reflected even my low beams right into my eyes. The high beams were hopeless. I started following the yellow lines and the white lines just ahead of the car and eventually slowed to about 15 miles per hour. Then the lines disappeared and there were no visible car tracks. So I followed the rumble strips that were still pretty visible beside the car. Then those disappeared. I could pretty well see where the road became ditch and judged my path from there (an admittedly meandering path at best). Then some car tracks appeared, but soon they clearly crossed the mid-way point between the ditches so I stuck with the ditch as a guide. I didn't stop because there was no where safe to stop. I just kept creeping along. Once off the hill the weather cleared up. If I had known I would have stayed at J&S's. But alas, I didn't know.

BUT I did have the snow tires on. Expensive snow tires. It's worth being thrifty elsewhere to afford those snow tires and the concert and meal with friends was well worth the trip and the 10$.

I also noticed that the last 2 "potluck" type meals I've been too have been much better proportioned than most. Usually there is WAY more food than is consumed but at the last couple there was just the right amount. I think that is thriftier than having too much.

OK, not the most thrilling entry, but I'm trying to do them more often.

Friday, November 11, 2011


OK, how does it get to be so long between blogs?

First, Subaru owes me a car. Say a newer model used car. One of my relatives (Hi Marcie) bought one and now my mother (Hi Sher) is considering one.
Mine has 267000 miles and is still running well (well, it was 20 minutes ago so I assume it's still running).

Second...I've been busy putting apples in jars and fermenting things on the counter. The first batch of kombucha was acceptable. I'm hoping for an improvement on the second batch which I started last night (along with the third batch). The vinegar that is brewing smells pretty boozy so it might be going through a hard cider phase before it gets to vinegar.

Third, someone asked what my oddest frugal practice is. At first I thought that I didn't have any odd practices. But I spent the morning with a "normal" person. She was trying to show me the fancy face washes and shampoos available at the local spa. They are lovely but I almost said "I don't wash my face or use shampoo" and realized that that is pretty wierd. Then she invited me to a fashion show. I noted that I don't buy my clothes retail. She said I could come for the wine...don't drink much wine. Turns out, I've got many odd habits that are overtly or accidentally frugal. Which is the oddest though? Who knows. Turning the water heater off every other day during warm weather? Shutting things off at the breakerbox when not in use (to avoid the constant "ready" light electrical usage? Changing all bulbs to CFLs? Waiting for thrift store clothes to go on sale because 4.99 is just too much for a shirt? Spending more on my shoes for the year than on all other clothes combined (bad shoes are not frugal)? I can't choose. It all seems logical to me but I suppose that is no defense against "odd."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Apparently I'm Strange...

So the custodian at work, a nice young artist who makes ends meet by cleaning up after us, decided to sit down today for a chat. He said "I want to know more about who 'Jill' is." He concluded that I'm "interesting."
I think he means "odd" but I'm ok with that. He wanted to know if I kept house like I keep my office (messy)...uh, yep.
Why do I drive an old car when I have a good job. Do I have kids, pets? What do I do with my free time?
It was sort of amusing.

He was most interested in the radio show and that I have no debt. We'll see if he comes back for more information.

The other odd interaction...well, one of them...this week was a call out of the blue. On Saturday or Sunday I was at the office while I waited for apple butter to thicken up in the crock pot. I needed to leave the house (trailer) so I didn't chop up any more apples or try to dry anything else. I needed a break. My cell phone rang. A local number so I picked it up. It was a woman who lives in a DIY strawbale home, sells milk that she squeezes out of the cow with her own hands, and basically kicks my butt in all things self-sufficient. She had called the local extension agent for advice on some jam she was trying to finish on the stove. She wanted to add grapes to the plums, but was using sur-jel, which is finicky about amounts of fruit and sugar (according to the package). I advised her to go ahead and try it as long as she can tolerate slightly runny jam if it doesn't jel up fully. I also advised her to try Pomona brand pectin next year since it can be used for any size batch of jam/jelly and it is not dependent on sugar to thicken (sur-jel is sugar dependent and size touchy....just like me).
I was pretty flattered to be a local jam expert. Then I just felt sad for the county that I might be their best bet on this. I've only made jam for a few years, though admittedly I make enough to count for several years' experience each fall.

Back to the apple butter. I called Sher (Hi Sher!), or "Mom", for her recipe since she makes excellent fruit butters. She was with Gram when I called so I thought "great, 2 generations of advice." Here is Sher's recipe:
Peel core and cut up some apples.
Cook then down a bit on the stove and then in a crock pot on low.

How long? Until it's thick enough.
Do you add sugar or honey? Yah.
How much? Enough to make it as sweet as you want it.
Do you add spices? Yah.
Which ones? Cinnamon and cloves.
How much? Quite a bit.
Do you add lemon juice so it is a high acid food for canning? I don't remember.

Then she noted that she uses that hand blender I got her to make it a good consistency.

I asked if, since I'll be blenderizing it anyway, I could leave the skins on. She didn't know and asked Gram. Gram said I could do whatever I want, but the skins won't cook down like the apples will.

So, armed with that incredibly precise recipe I gave it a shot.
I had a box of mixed pie apples from the farmer's market. Johnagolds, Granny Smiths, and some random varieties of small tart apples. For the first batch I peeled them (used the peels to make apple peel vinegar that is still brewing on the counter). I chopped up the apples and cooked them in a stainless steel pan on the stove for a while (until I got bored which is what I thought Sher would do). Then I put it in the crock pot with some honey, cinnamon and nutmeg (I was out of ground cloves or at least I couldn't find them). I put the crock pot on low and got back to it after work the next day.
It is DELICIOUS! I served it at a community breakfast and when I casually asked if anyone would like to take the left over 9/10ths of a pint, one woman nearly knocked me down lunging for the jar.
Good recipe Sher!

For the further 20some halfpint jars of apple butter I've put up, I left the skins on. I just took a whole apple to the big holes on the cheese grater and had at it. I grated down until the seeds started to show. I also went ahead and put it right in the crock pot. Then I put a big scoop of honey on top, put on "a lot" of cinnamon and nutmeg. Then I put the top on the pot, put it on low and came back the next day. It was also excellent and tasted more "caramelly" than the 1st batch.

For the 3rd batch I tried quartering and coring the apples and throwing them in the crock pot with honey and spices. It was the lowest amount of labor, but I couldn't get as many apples in the pot as with grating or chopping. I think it also used the most of the apple.

For all recipes, I stuck in the hand blender (stick blender) and ran it around about an hour or 2 before I put it in jars and into the canner. The blender adds some air so it's good to do it a bit early. I just do it as I turn on the stove because it takes that long to get the canner boiling. It is SO EASY. It's even easier than jam.

Since most of my jam this year is crap (really) the winter is going to be apple butter heavy.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Consumer Society Sadness

OK, maybe I'm pretty dang far from the mainstream, but really?

(actual Spokane headline)
Crowds Camp Overnight For Trader Joe's Opening

Camping out overnight for a new store? Really? A chainstore?
I don't get it. Did you have nowhere else to spend your money? Did the lure of cheap wine overwhelm you?

I like Trader Joe's. Nothing against them. I am also mystified by folks who camp out for the store openings the day after Thanksgiving. "Thanks for this bounty, Lord. Gluttony finished. Now, I must sit in my overpriced SUV in a parking lot waiting to participate in greed." Perhaps you could stop at a strip joint on the way home and participate in lust. I wonder how many people will be killed this holiday shopping season in Walmart stampedes. Perhaps Apple will announce a postumous i-something release and humpback nerds across the developed world will crawl over each other for the first overpriced prize.

Meanwhile, I'll be home self-righteously weaving a tube-top out of plastic grocery sacs I find stuck in the shrubbery by the public library.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


OK, not much is going on and yet I'm super busy. What the Heck?
Well, maybe alot is going on.

Bookclub read Zeitoun which was wonderful and horrible. It's about a family after Katrina, non-fiction. Makes me very glad to live in a non-hurricane prone area (at least until global warming brings the ocean up 2500 feet). It does bring up an issue or two though. One person in this non-fiction book was arrested for having a large amount of cash on hand. But having a large amount of cash on hand is EXACTLY what we are told to do in an emergency. Instead of congratulating him on his preparedness, the "homeland security" worker arrested him and jailed him and his money was never seen again. Hmmm....I guess I'll have cash on hand and take my lumps. Other people were arrested for having nothing. Both were seen as suspicious. Perhaps we need to look harder at our "homeland security" and perhaps we need FEMA and security agencies separated again.

Anyway, next we're reading, at my suggestion, To Kill A Mockingbird. Aside from the main point of the book, there is quite a bit about frugality and simplicity in there. The people Scout, and apparently Atticus, respect most are those who've made conscious decisions about how to live their lives. That's pretty central to simplicity and frugality.

As for's that time of year when I take an inventory of my panty (meaning the front bedroom, cupboards and shelves in the kitchen, and the space under the bed where I store my home-canned goods), then fill in for the winter. I'm doing OK and hopefully by the end of October will be all set for winter. Last winter I was so set, I put on like 20lbs. Good work! (maybe too good...). I ordered another 4gallon bucket (48 lbs) of honey. It went up 20$ this year which still isn't bad for a year and a half of sweetening. I also bought a pint of their buckwheat honey. It's as dark as black strap molasses but delicious (molasses is a tad bitter even for me). It's also super thick but that may be the temperature in the house rather than the natural consistency of the honey.

I, on the recommendation of a young friend, bought a 20$ space heater so I can keep the furnace off longer into fall/winter this year. So far it's working. It will add 5 degrees to the living room in about an hour. The difference between 50degrees and 55 is pretty significant. The tough part is getting up in the morning. It was 49 in the bedroom this morning which makes it hard to get up. The good part is I can heat the bathroom in about 20 minutes and be able to take a shower without fear of pneumonia. I need to re-borrow the volt-meter from the library and see what this little bugger is pulling. It HAS to be cheaper than turning on the electric furnace.

On that topic, I cleaned the furnace out, put in a new filter and got it ready for the new season.

I've got one last batch of onions to dehydrate, then I might be done for the time being. I also have onions and potatoes from the CSA which should store pretty well into winter and about 5 garlic bulbs from my garden (woohoo!). I need more garlic. I've been buying winter squash for storage as well. Have 5 right now. Maybe 10 more to get me through winter. Tons of dried tomatoes, with some left from last winter. I dried a few more (meaning 3 pints dried) sweet peppers. I have plenty of medium and hot left from last year.

The next task is to harvest the remaining marble like potatoes from my garden, throw on the horse poo and chicken poo on the half that will be fallow for the winter and some worm poo on the half where I'll put in walking onions and garlic.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Great Flick!

So I just watched Forks Over Knives

A researcher who has nothing to gain from this outcome, estimates that we could cut 70% of our healthcare costs by eating healthy as a nation. It makes me wonder what it would take to convince people to do that. I'm not eating healthy right now (by my own standards and admission). I'm eating too much prepared food, too much restaurant food, too much candy. Time to go back to mostly whole veggies that I prepare at home. Not as much fun at the food someone else cooks without messing up my kitchen, but I think I'd better.

I know this stuff. But the movie is a good refresher. The filmmakers took a few "normal" know: overweight, on diabetes meds, heart disease, high cholesterol, etc...and put them on Dr. Esselstyn's diet. One of the filmmakers decided to go on the diet too. In 12-22 weeks, people reverse most or all of their issues. I need to look up the two main Doctors but they seem pretty honest about presenting their conclusions. One lost money and prestige at his research university by changing his position on the consumption of animal products. I don't think he'd have done that if he didn't think he'd done good research.

Perhaps the bit that will be most controversial is that we're eating too much protein and that leads to cancer, especially liver cancers. And even more especially, liver cancers in kids. Yikes! I've been eating more meat products and eggs. Apparently it doesn't help if the meat/eggs/dairy/fish/etc is organic (though the toxins in industrial versions also cause other problems). Too much animal protein is just a problem no matter what.

Or perhaps the most controversial bit will be that there is no one issue or nutrient or magic bullet. It's a whole system. If you want to lower your cancer risk, then eat a whole food plant based diet. Don't expect tomatoes to be "the answer." Or spinach to be "the answer." The answer is to eat a variety of whole foods...plants. Sort of a no brainer but not a "standard American diet."

I'm better off than many Americans because I don't do dairy. Small favors.

An interesting point was made about the marketing of dairy as a source of calcium. If that worked, there would be no osteoporosis in the U.S. As a nation, we consume enormous amounts of dairy as milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. And yet, osteoporosis is on the rise. My gyno is always telling me to eat dairy. I've given up explaining why I don't and just say "uh huh." It looks like we can get plenty from a veggie based diet and if we get a bit of sun and the vitamins that help us absorb and use the calcium, we don't need the massive doses of dairy or supplements. So there.

As usual, some of the best info is in the extras. The US has (or has had) contracts with fast food establishments like Wendy's and Subway to market cheese! Jesus...or "Cheezuz"! My tax dollars went to subsidize the marketing of the double cheddar bacon burger. I'm not making that up. It also went to put cheese on the two Subway sandwiches that used to come without cheese as a standard ingredient. My taxes also went to making sure that "cheeseburger" is the default burger! I suspect this happened about 2-3 years ago. That was when I started having more trouble with the accidental cheese when I'd ordered a burger. I wonder if this is why there is default cheese on salads now. It used to be that only speciality salads like caesar and chef's that had cheese. Now even when I order a salad with no cheese listed on the menu, it shows up with feta or parmesan on it. I've been thinking the lesson was to specify "no cheese" but perhaps the better lesson is to prepare my own food.

The movie is a tad preachy. That isn't a surprise, but it isn't as entertaining as Supersize Me. It is however more encouraging than that movie. Eating a healthy diet, even after years of a bad diet, can cure diseases and the something-thelial cells in our blood vessels can actually recover pretty quickly IF we stick to a whole foods plant based diet.

Again, this isn't new. As Michael Pollan said, "Eat food, mostly plants." This movie just clarifies that it should be whole foods, not processed foods like veggie burgers or almond-cheese or soy-milk. Eat the veggies, the almonds and the soybeans.

It's thrifty too. It can be flat out cheaper at the grocery store partly because 500 calories of plants will make you feel so full you feel bloated, while 500 calories of fatty food will leave you hungry and you'll eat more. You have to buy that "more" that you are eating. Also because you aren't paying for the processing and often aren't paying for the packaging. That's good.

One participant in the film who was on 9 meds a day, pointed out that he saved 150-200$/month by going off his meds. That's pure profit. You can buy a lot of veggies for that much money.

It was pointed out that poor folks often don't have access to whole foods so the movie is also encouraging for those of us trying to get fresh, whole, fruit and veg into food deserts.

Here's a scary bit from the flick. In WWII Germans occupied Norway and confiscated all livestock and farm animals to feed German troops. From 1939 (when the Germans got there) to 1945, the Norwegian cardiovascular death rate drops 20%. As soon as the war is over, it's right back up again to pre-war rates. Bizarre.

I was ready to revamp my diet anyway. I found that when I eat 2lbs of greens a day, 1lb raw and 1lb cooked, I feel better. Not the first few days because there is quite a colon cleanse at the start, but after that, I feel much better. So I bought lots of greens and veggies at the co-op today. I had bruschetta for supper...a bit heavy on the bread but at least it was fresh baked rustic bread with local wheat flour, salt, yeast and water as the only ingredients. I'm expecting a final CSA delivery this week too. That will be more veg to eat. Now if my officemate would just stop with the chocolate in the office! It is so delicious....and as they explained in the movie, many of us have a low-grade addiction to foods especially sugary-fatty-foods. It's the same brain receptors as opiates. Damn it. Oh well. Avoiding eating too much chocolate is a pretty bourgeois problem.

I'm not sure whether a whole foods plant based diet would cure the world's problems, but I'm positive that if everyone had the option of a healthy diet that was built on whole foods grown in sustainable ways, we'd be way better off than we are now. And I wouldn't have to buy bigger pants.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cheap Entertainment!

So now I'm in Missoula at another cheap conference. Sadly, the keynote speaker for this conference could not make it due to a health issue, and I'm not interested in the pinch-speakers so I probably DID pay 25$ for a banquet I won't attend. That's a bummer, but wasting 3 or 4 hours of my life on something that I would find mindbendingly dull just to "use" the 25$ ticket would be worse.

Anyway, the cheap entertainment is not at the conference. I left after my paper and hanging around just enough to be seen and kiss some professional-butt...I mean networking. My friend Jeanne's (Hi Jeanne!) daughter goes to school here and is a very nice young woman. She treated me to lunch in the cafeteria. Then I treated her to a dinner downtown. Then she treated me to roller derby! The roller derby was a double header so for the price of the ticket (which she paid...she's quick) we got over 4 hours of entertainment! The roller girls were great. There were some excellent athletes, and some who were on the team just to use their giant butts to block the skinny jammer girls. The jammers are sort of the quarterbacks or forwards. Then there is a pivot, who is sort of the main guard. Then there are the slammers. Some of these were BIG gals. Big butts. And yet, never once did the DJ play this:

I think that showed great restraint on his part. The jammers tend to be pretty skinny, even wiry. They slip through the bigger gals to get points. I totally want to do roller derby now.

We spent part of the evening discussing great names for roller derby teams.
For the older set: The Menopause Mob (the name my siblings and I use for Mom and her friends...Hi Mom). On that team, my derby name would be Polly Estrogen

Or: The Betty Crackers (we'd wear our tights very low). On that team my name would be The Plumber

Or: The Golden Ragers. My name: Mick Jugger

Or: The Mother Loads. My name: Saggy Maggy

Or...well, you get the drift. I think it was 10$ a ticket (I'll find some way to slip the girl some $$). 4 hours of entertainment for 10$ is a pretty good price. Some of the profits went to boob cancer research too so we not only had a good time, we helped save the world.

In reality...I'm a big chicken, a bad roller skater, and I don't like getting hurt so I probably won't pursue the whole roller derby thing.

Tomorrow morning we plan on going to the conference again....HA! Kidding. I sat through my session, since I was pressed into being the session host, and 1.5 other papers. I just cannot listen to people talk about fragments of fragments of fragments of information in 20 minute chunks. Especially when it comes to the joy of pointy rocks. I just can't do it. Ultimately, the minutea (spelling?) do not help me in my job. Big picture stuff is really where it's at. Big new areas of significance? OK, I can use that. Slight variation in sourcing methodology for chert? Don't care and can't use it. Does it make me self centered that I can no longer sit through those papers? I used to GIVE those papers back when I was in the tenure game. No more.

Anyway, enough bitching about conference papers. It could be worse. It's in a nice building and if I'm ambitious I could put on my name tag and get some breakfast rolls and a coffee. But I'd have to walk quite a ways to get it so probably won't.

Rather than going to the conference, we're heading over to some outdoor markets. It might be a tad chilly, but there will be goodies and interesting people. And we'll be in a good area for some cheap lunch.

OK, it's LATE! Like MIDNIGHT! I'm rarely up this late. Off to bed to rest up for more vacation fun tomorrow.

Monday, October 3, 2011

CHEAP working vacation

I'm writing to this in Denver CO. I'm here for a conference which will increase my skillz at work. Nice. The registration fee is 0$, so that is pretty thrifty. Flying to Denver from Spokane is pretty cheap as well. And, I can stay with Jonny (Hi Jonny) for free...also pretty thrifty. I thought I would be taking the bus to the conference (which starts tomorrow), but as luck would have it, Jonny's new job is in the same area as the conference so I just ride along and get dropped off in the neighborhood. Such a deal.
To make the most of the trip, I arrived a couple of days early. Jonny had called and asked if I wanted to see a theater production, a "play" I believe they are called. Sure. Then he says to me he says, "Grapes of Wrath or Night of the Iguana?" How could I choose??? The Grapes of Wrath is playing at a local community playhouse that is tragically underfunded. Night of the Iguana is playing at a better funded playhouse in Golden, Colorado. I've been to both theaters before and loved both productions for very different reasons. So, we went to both. The Grapes of Wrath needed to be better funded...and better staged, cast, scripted, scored, and etc. It was a valiant attempt and several of the actors were very good in most of the parts they played (all but the 2 or 3 leads played multiple characters which got pretty confusing given the fairly subtle costume changes available to them). I must say, these were the best fed Okies I've ever seen. Of course, casting this must have been a real challenge since it required not only folks willing to work for free, they also needed to be able to sing, act, do make-up, costuming, set design and construction, and hopefully play an instrument! I was actually impressed with how well it came off, especially that it had been scored by a local bluegrass group who appeared in costume on and near the stage to provide the music. The music was very good. Still, it was too much for the resources the theater had at its disposal, as evidenced by the silent auction going on in the lobby...Star Wars memorabilia anyone? ANYONE?
Then there was the LENGTH of the play. Over THREE HOURS! Our butts were barking by the end of it. There was a "talk back" scheduled after the performance where the audience could talk with the director and actors...but we bolted. As did much of the audience. We had come for some entertainment, not an overnight stay. We got there at 7ish and left at 10:30. Wow.
Last night was "Night of the Iguana" which I HONESTLY believed would be a cheesy horror show done on stage. I didn't know that it was Tenessee Williams. OOPS. Jonny let me know before I got there that it was an real play by a real and respected playwrite. I was a bit scared that it wouldn't be crappy. I do love crappy community theater. It wasn't crappy. But it was SO GOOD that I was not at all disappointed. Unfortunately, we showed up 15 minutes late. Just scheduling problems with trying to do too much on vacation. We thought maybe we'd have to wait for intermission or at least a scene change to be seated and were OK with that. The manager, however, is a pretty intense guy and rather than offering options or sending us away in shame, he chose to focus a great deal of anger and some prize winning stink-eye looks on us. We wandered up to the boarded "box office" in the lovely theater facility above some store fronts in Golden. Then meandered into the lobby/beverage-service area. In there we were "greeted" by a tall, bald, finickily bearded man with actual FLAMES shooting out of his eyes "WHAT DO YOU WANT!?" Jonny cringed and stammered and I just stared, enjoying the show. The flame-eyed man continued to berate Jonny while a meek woman behind him said "Hostager?" (Jonny's last name) and handed ME (the one out of the direct line of fire) 2 tickets and a receipt. The anger-management-manager said that we would be seated off to the side (he had frog marched us out on to the landing to give us more daggery-glares). Fine. He ran to the first side door and opened it, then said, "NOT HERE" and frog marched us all the way through the lobby again to the other side door and stomped in and pointed us toward the ENTIRELY VACANT (other than one old woman) side section. There were a total of 40 audience members so being crappy to 2 of them, 5%, was perhaps not his best plan. We sat down and enjoyed the show. The old lady asked if we wanted to move past her but I said we'd settle in during intermission.
At intermission I tried to go for a pee, dodging the glares of the manager, but there was a massive line at the ladies room so I went back in and chose better seats. The old lady returned from what was apparently a vigorous smoke break, her breath was pretty intense. She was very nice and said that if you come late you can sit anywhere on the side section that you like, then talked about other plays she'd been to. In my head, I'm naming her "Maude" and taking notes for a character in my next film (see below). She had glittery costume jewelry, shiny but dignified polyester shirt and sensible old-lady pants. She was at least in her 70s and reminded me of my Gramma and GreatGramma on my mom's side. Tiny body, big personality. Jonny came back in and sat in front of her. I asked if his big head was in her way and she said, "No, because I'll just move over here" and changed her seat.
The play was wonderful, moreso in contrast to the struggling production of the night before. One actor has TV as well as stage experience. All the actors did excellent jobs and of course Tennessee did a better job with dialogue than the local folks could manage with the Grapes of Wrath. The first play was awesome in its craptacularity. The second was just really good theater.
At the end of Night of the Iguana, the cast bowed to the 37 audience members seated in front of the stage, then the whole cast came to our side and bowed to the three of us. Perhaps they thought we were some sort of rag-tag family troupe with Gramma treated the grandkids to a night out.
Afterwards, we had to walk out through the whole lobby. In hindsight, we should have crossed in front of the stage inside the theater and gone out the far door, dodging the manager's domain, the lobby. But, we didn't. He was stationed at that end of the lobby shaking hands with everyone who went by. The woman infront of me got a full body hug and a thank you. While he was doing that, he was GLARING at me. I waited a moment to see if he'd release his captive and shake my hand, allowing me a moment to apologize for my tardiness and compliment him on the production...but he continued to hug and glare for an inordinate amount of time. So I said "Thanks" with probably quite a dose of sarcasm in my voice, and headed through the lobby and out onto the landing. Jonny waited a bit longer to shake the guy's hand so I check the restroom line again. It was long so I gave up. When I turned around Jonny had joined me, looking stunned. The guy had never released the captive hug-ee and Jonny had had to just continue on. I looked over Jonny's shoulder into the lobby and there was the manager STILL glaring at us! He had crossed the entire lobby, passing people with the manners to show up on time and who were chatting happily about the production, just to GLARE at us with his arms folded. This made me laugh so I headed down the stairs and outside. I didn't bother to look up at the windows but assumed he was shooting eye daggers out the window at us. Jesus. I'm pretty sure he spent more energy hating us for being late than he spent enjoying his successful production! Crazy. I had been thinking of getting Jonny a membership to that theater for christmas because it comes with 2 free tickets and some recognition as a patron of the arts...but now I'm afraid Jonny will be on the black list and get refused or glared at. By the time we hit the street I was laughing so hard I had to stop for a minute and get ahold of myself. Really. All that energy spent being angry and hateful to 2 people who were 15 minutes late for a community theater production? Really? Jonny took it more personally than I did. I figure we can put this guy in the next movie as well (see below).
Our other thrifty (ish) fun has been making our first, well second, film. The true first film was lost to history. Maybe when we're famous it will resurface. Personally, this is my third film since I did make the epic "Killer Beagle" in high school. That has also been lost to history.
Jonny, Gino and I shot a very very short film (it's currently in post production) called "Late September Supper" inspired in part by "Mid August Lunch." It has more in common with the first play described above than the second. Our costumes were what I brought plus Jonny's supply of wigs and glasses and crocs, as well as a few items found at thrift stores on the way to Jonny's house from the airport. I'm afraid that there will be more "outtakes" than actual content. Oh well. We had fun and WE think it is HILARIOUS. It's one major flaw, well, the majorist of all the flaws, is that Angela was not available to join us. As a result, the character she would have played is referred to but never apears on screen. Maybe someday we could have someone shoot her infront of a blue screen and we can cut her in that way.
Other major flaws:
-We had no camera cinematographer if you will.... so each of us filled in. Also, I got the camera Monday and we shot the film Saturday. I had not practiced at all really and didn't know that each time the camera went to sleep between takes/scenes, it moved to a neutral level of zoom. This meant that I am only partly in the frame sometimes. Oh well. Not missing much there!
-Jonny and Gino had not read the script I sent them. None of us was particularly interested in sticking to the script...but still, it's polite to read the script.
-and much much more.
I'll post the flick if it ever makes it out of post.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


OK, I know that is sideways but I can't be arsed to change it around. I'm getting complaints about not blogging enough. (Hi Sally!)

So that is a picture of the best deal EVER! See the price on it? $8.00. Well, I actually paid $2.00. What is it worth on the retail market?
75$ at ebay. 100$ at amazon. Seriously!
Lots of people gave them bad reviews, but for 2$, what the heck. A few said the charger burned up their devices. I charged my 5 year old phone and free ipod with it. If it burns up my devices, I'm not really out anything since they are old and/or free anyway. A few people at amazon give it good reviews. And they paid RETAIL. Losers.

I found it at St. Vincent de Paul's in Coeur d'Alene. It was in the dishroom. That room was 75% off that day. Cool.

Is it wrong to wait for sales at thrift stores? Does that make my purchases redundant? Thrift AND on sale? I just waited a week for a shirt at Goodwill to go on sale. I didn't want to pay an whole 4$! I mean really. 4$ for a shirt? I'm not made of money. I waited for that tag color to go on 50% off sale. I don't make special trips, just when I'm in town. Sometimes things get sold but oh well. That's just more savings.

At another thrift store in CdA, I got a pair of jeans for 50cents (they will fit as soon as I lose each thigh), and a shirt for 50cents which will go under the above shirt to make an outfit for an upcoming conference. Everything is "namebrand" for Idaho (columbia, eddie bauer, LL Bean, etc).

I also got 2 pairs of ALL COTTON jeans (you know how I feel about spandex in my jeans) at the CdA women's shelter thrift store. The wealthy middle aged women who just went back to California must have dropped them off. Sadly, most of these women have very short legs. I need a 32 inch inseam MINIMUM and most of the jeans were 28...and then hemmed. Who are these people? Chimps? No, if they were chimps the sleeves would be long enough for me and those are too short too. Anyway, if there are any beefy long limbed women in CdA looking to get rid of some all cotton jeans, you should totally call me. I'll pay up to 3$ a pair.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Green Acres...

So, this weekend I'm getting a bit of practice at farming. Some friends asked me to farmsit for them. I've done it before with some backup, but decided to try this weekend without anyone else around. If I want to have a farm or otherwise live in the boonies on my own, I should see if I can do this. This is not a totally realistic test because there is a nice house with internet, flush toilet, working well, garden, fence in place, etc etc. But still, there are animals and I'm on my own.

So far things are going pretty well. The first day everything went pretty well. The only difficulties were very minor. A chicken who likes to steal other nests and sit on the eggs for a day, then abandon them...she wouldn't let me get under her to get the eggs out. She pecked me! That bitch. So I got a short hoe from the shed and cornered her with that while I went for the egg. Then on the way out of the coop the rooster came at me with his sharp talons. He had me cornered against the door of the coop! That bastard. I called one of the dogs over and he backed off but it was pretty embarrassing. Those were very minor issues. The dogs and I spent the hot afternoon napping in the living room.

This morning the rooster, who HATES me, came over close to the bedroom window and specifically crowed at me starting at about 5am. At 7:30 the dogs decided they'd had it, and sent one up on the bed to dance on me. That worked. I got up and let them out for a pee. I went and checked and fed animals then brought the dogs in for their breakfasts. They had apparently spent their night plotting to exploit my weak points. First, they went for "groggy before has coffee." There are 3 dogs and they get fed 2 different foods (one is a pup) in 3 different spots and in a specific order. You start with the pup out in the back room. I got her fed and started eating and brought the chubby lab his breakfast. When I turned around, the pup had come into the dining room and horned the lab out of his dish and was snarfing it down! I grabbed the pup and was taking her back to her own food. The lab, who is a piggy, finished his and had half his body down in the giant garbage can of kibble by the time I got back. I hadn't closed it because the third dog still needed her food. I was pulling him out of there when the pup showed up. So the pup and the lab got thrown out of the house. The third dog was being very good. She got fed and ate politely. Then she tried to jump on the couch which is not allowed so I threw her out too. It was like a dog version of the three stooges or that "I Love Lucy" episode where Lucy and her friend are working at the food factory and food just keeps coming at them and they can't keep up. I was Lucy.

The drain plug on the horse/mule-water bathtub got dislodged while I was topping up the water. I don't like to be in the corral when the mule is in there, but they need water and he came over. He kept eating, but I don't want to be found face down in a pink bathtub in the mule corral. I think I have that fixed, but will check again later.

Overall, no disasters so far, and I think if I were more used to the routine, it would be easier. Also, I'm thinking of making cold brewed coffee in the fridge tonight so I have coffee the minute I get up and before I need to deal with animals.

There are a few acres here the owners would be willing to sell me. I'm going to go over there and take a look again today and see what I think. It's too far to drive to work...but who knows what the future brings.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Yet Another Laudry Tip

This tip is from Gramma. She's done laundry for longer than the rest of us have been alive...starting with fish-slimy clothes scrubbed in a bucket (her brothers and father ran a fishing business in the Mississippi), and ending with a nice washer and dryer set.

She puts a couple of big bath towels (dry ones) in the dryer when drying small loads. This speeds the drying process and saves electricity and $$.

Aunt Chris vouches for the effectiveness of the towels.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Ok, I don't know if I've ranted on this before...but I feel like ranting on it today.

The "headlines" so often seem to be aimed at the stupid and/or fearful. So many times I want to say "No Sh*t." Or perhaps "So what?"

Here are a few plaguing the interwebs today:

Health Tip: Get Kids Moving (Really? I thought letting them sit on their fat butts was the best way to keep them healthy. This isn't news.)

Health Tip: Keep Kids' Lunches Cool (But little Jill Jr. LIKES hot mayonaise.)

Health Tip: Binge Eating May Lead to Weight Gain (Well then, I need a new weight loss strategy. I was SURE that cramming loads of donuts in my fat face would make me lose weight or at least stay healthy. WHO KNEW that eating lots and lots of food in short time spans would make you fat?!?!)

5 Apps With...Lauren Bush: Model, Designer And Philanthropist (How exactly is it news if some rich white chick likes her Ipod? Why not run this in the advertising section?)

Apple To Buy Hulu? (I don't know. You're the reporter. You tell me.)

Laid Off On Wall Street: Lowest-Paid Workers Losing Jobs (NO! You mean the people at the top don't just fire each other???? Are you telling me that the people at the bottom get the shaft? Well, that IS news.)

In Chrysler Bailout, Taxpayers Likely To Lose Up To $1.3 Billion: Treasury (While we may not have know exactly how much, we knew when the bailouts happened that we weren't going to get that back. It was a loser. Not news unless you concentrate on the exact amount.)

Michelle Obama Films 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition', Repeats Target Dress On Thursday (Since when is someone wearing clothes for a second time "news"? I'm wearing a shirt today for about the 100th time so apparently I'm way ahead of Michelle Obama. Why aren't reporters banging on the trailer door?)

This is why I rarely read or watch mainstream news. It used to be news. Then it was "infotainment." Now it lacks both "info-" and "-tainment." I quit.

If anyone has suggestions for a news site where fewer than 1/2 of the headlines are questions or warnings about how I might die from random household items or updates on the current favorite products of celebrities, I'd like to know where it is. The BBC is starting to let me down. CNN is filled with crap in the "health" and "living" type sections and the international news is largely based on asking how serious tragedies in other countries might affect US citizens...then speculating that it's all bad or otherwise fear mongering. I read Dahr Jamail's articles and follow Greg Pallast, but there must be more journalists out there doing some good work. These two guys can't cover everything.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


So, the other day a friend called and asked for budgeting much was a minimal amount in each category (groceries, gas, etc).
Well, I answered and to each his/her own. I have done a budget and probably should be doing it again next month.

First: Check out this bit of advice since this guy is a pro, then read on:

It's important to keep spending under control if one cares to live within one's means (which obviously I think is a good plan).

When I started, I did a budget and strove to keep within it. But I also tracked actual expenses and that is something I still do a couple of months a year. Starting with target and goal amounts to spend/save is one thing to do.

Another is being realistic about how much one IS spending/saving (or not saving). Until I figured out where my money was actually going, it was tough to even figure out what my budget categories were. After a few months of tracking, it became clear that some of the lines in the budget book didn't work well for me. So I changed them. I separated the cell phone and the land line. I included a meal out once a month in the entertainment line along with Netflix. And I realized that I spent more in thrift shops for kitchen gadgets and "neat stuff" than was necessary.

So, once I knew where the money was going, I started picking the low hanging fruit. Pretty easy to skip an espresso or two a week and make coffee at home. That's 20$/month ($2.50 per americano roughly twice a week) so 240$/year. Then I started, for other reasons, cooking at least one meal per week entirely from scratch. That cut the "food budget" eventhough it raised the groceries budget. This summer I've slipped from the cooking at home a bit, lots of time on the road make it easy to stop for a sandwich, so will be making renewed efforts to do that again. Cooking at home is way cheaper, but it's also a lifestyle choice anymore. It means taking the time to cook rather than driving to get food. It means more time in the house and alone. I like in the house and alone so that is a good budgeting method for me.

Other low hanging fruit were shopping trips. If I didn't need something, I didn't go to a store. Not even a thrift store. I spent an entire year not shopping other than for groceries or if I had a specific need. Need, not want. Like underwear is a need if the old ones are actually worn out. A new shirt is a want if I still have a closet full of shirts that bore me. The need then had to persist for at least a month. And then I started with a thrift store run to see if it was there. If not, I gave it some more time until it was there.

Washing clothes in cold water is another low hanging fruit. Saves on heating water.
Cutting back on the amount of detergent was easy and my clothes are as clean as they ever were (I've never been that picky and don't buy white things anymore...too many stains).

There's more. I'll make a list some day.

It took years to get this cheap. One habit at a time. And there is much back sliding when my schedule is disrupted.

Once the easy stuff was done, I worked on the not-so-low-hanging fruit. Buying more bulk products. Making fewer trips to town (by now I'd moved to the boonies). Turning down the thermostat a degree or two a week one winter until I found my minimum long term comfort zone (55 degrees). Then, I figured out that in the summer I can turn off the water heater during the day and whenever I'm gone for a few days. If the showers are short (another common area for backsliding ... I loves me a long hot shower), I can go 2 days without turning the water heater on in the summer. The water is hot enough.

I hadn't used a clothes dryer in years...never did use one much after I moved out of the house. When I've used a laundromat the savings was very obvious. Then when I did have a dryer, I just never got in the habit of using it. Never did buy softener or softener sheets. Soft clothes are for weenies. Line dried clothes are often too stiff to be clingy anyway. And since most of what I wash is cotton...that is not probe to clinging. (Aunt Chris sent me a birthday card this year with a reference to someone whose fashion choices are based entirely on what doesn't itch...I thought it was very appropriate). So...what more savings can be had on laundry when one has cut out everything but the washing machine, cold water, and detergent? I went for the detergent. I mix most of it at home. Grate a bar of soap (I like coconut oil based castile soap, it rinses nicely), add 1/2-1 cup borax and 1/2-1 cup washing soda (which is not baking soda...but if you have hard water you can throw in a cup of baking soda too). I use 1-3 tablespoons per load depending on how grubby the clothes are. If they are super grubby or sweaty, I stop the washer for 15 minutes or so during the wash cycle and let things soak. Stains get pre-treated with fels-naphtha or a bar of laundry soap I found at a thrift store a few years ago (it's a big bar). About once a month I wash it all in bulk purchased detergent. And I also alternate with soap nuts. They aren't particularly cheap, but they get all the soap residue out of the clothes and in the winter, my clothes aren't all that dirty.

Getting in the habit of shutting off or unplugging everything but the fridge most days (except in winter when they furnace (electric) and water heater stay on, helped the electric bill so much that a couple of summers ago the meter reader stopped by to ask what I was doing. I don't know what level of "fruit" that is, but it's a more recent habit.

And then there are a few more things. I don't know if these are low or high hanging budget fruit but here goes:
Not replacing things. When something breaks down or dies of old age or gets passed on, I don't replace it for a while and see if I miss it. Right now I'm missing my rice cooker which went to a new home. But I'm going to try cooking grains in the solar cooker and see if I need/want a rice cooker.

Going to the library before the bookstore or Interlibrary loan is the cheapos friend.

Giving more away. Because why not? Why store and keep things in my house if I don't enjoy them.

Driving slower. 10-15% gas savings by going 55-60 miles per hour, coasting down hill, and starting slowly from stop signs. Add advanced techniques like avoiding the brakes by slowing down way ahead of the stop signs or intersections, keeping a very steady speed, and other hypermiling strategies can save 20-30% of gas. I'm not so good at the more advanced especially maintaining a constant speed on the flats.

Walking more and driving in town less.

Not paying for things that can be had for free.

Changing expectations. I no longer expect to get new shoes every year. I no longer expect to get "new" clothes at all (other than bras or undies because used undies would be gross). Used clothes have 50-90% of the lifespan of new clothes for 10-25% of the price, less if you shop at yard sales. Of course, one must be careful not to spend on gas to go get these clothes. I only thrift shop if I'm in a town with the thrift store for another reason.

And pay down debt! Paying interest is a straight loss. If the budget and whatever other techniques save money, putting it toward debt and an emergency fund (to avoid future debt) can be very helpful.

I never was much good at selling things but others have saved/earned quite a bit that way and paid down debt.

There are many many more, but those are the things I wish I had mentioned to my friend who called. I hope the budget she works out makes a good start for her and I hope that she finds which savings/budgeting techniques work for her.

I found that a strict budget does work for me in the short term to start a habit of lower spending, but it's not something I monitor full time anymore. I wonder why strict diets don't work as well for me? Still fat...oh well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fire Update

They didn't evacuate as the winds are blowing the fire away from them. Of course that means the winds are blowing the fire toward someone else. And winds shift. But for now, situation is better than it was.
Thanks to all who expressed concern.

Monday, June 27, 2011


My Aunt Marcie and Uncle Jerry live at Cochiti Lake outside Santa Fe. There is a large wildfire very near by, the same one threatening Los Alamos National Lab. They've named it the Las Conchas fire. It's burned 43,000 acres in 14 hours. Pretty serious fire. They are on notice for "voluntary evacuation" but are still at their home.

She's sent out an email saying that packing for evacuation and thinking about the potential losses is making her evaluate what is important to her. Right now her choice is her collection of original artwork. It is a pretty amazing collection. I hope she can get it packed and stored...or better yet, the fire goes away and everyone gets to stay home and be fine.

Natural disasters suck.

Below is a map of the fire area, the red hashed blobs, from a satellite image of heat sources at 3:55am today. You can see Chochiti Lake is pretty close. The yellow circled "Cerro Grande" fire happened in 2000 and is just there for reference. I got this from

I guess if people lose things in a natural disaster that is "involuntary simplicity."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

By Popular Demand...The Canjo

Ok, "popular" here is defined as 1 comment.
Here is a link to a very very very short article on the canjo (cheese-can banjo played in the Potlatch community band concert reviewed a couple of entries back)

and a video of the dude playing one of his canjos (he does indeed sell them)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Damn the Torpedoes...I mean pops

OK, so I don't drink much pop/soda anymore. But still, if I've got stress-gut I like some gingerale and have become quite the connoisseur of high end gingerales.

And now this:
and this:

SO not fair. I've suspected the flavor-shift for quite a while. When I was heavy into the diet cokes fruit and veg did not taste that great. I wasn't much of a fruit/veg cook at the time either and always hoped that was the problem. When I got off the pop, veggies tasted better.

I can only pray that they don't discover that peanut butter cups have the same effect.

OK...OBVIOUSLY they do have the same effect but you have to have SOME joy in life. I'm sure the tightness of my pants has NOTHING to do with increased peanut butter cup consumption. I must have accidentally washed everything I own in hot and put it in the dryer. Of course I have to manually turn on the water one spigot at a time when I do laundry and I don't own a dryer so I admit that the odds of my tight pants being some sort of laundry accident is pretty low.

Back to my honey-vinegar soft drinks and frozen fruit smoothie treats.
But first I better eat up the rest of those peanut butter cups...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

And the Band Played On...

So, last night I was invited to hear a friend's band play. Only this wasn't like a rock band or a garage band. It is the Potlatch Community Band. It was great! I had to force myself not to put on jammy-pants the minute I got home because if I do that, I don't leave the house again. I kept the real pants on...and the foundation garments.

The concert was in Potlatch, ID (just down the road from here) (don't bother asking which road. There aren't that many.). I got there early because I'm me. I got to listen to the last bits getting rehearsed. I must say, it's quite the mixed group. Trumpets, clarinets, flutes, baritone, french horn, saxophones, trombones, tuba, piano, vibes, drums and an electric guitar. Also featured during the concert was a very cool hand made cheese can banjo. It was constructed by a guy who tunes pianos and builds instruments and sings. He was a hoot. The cheese can is from "Cougar Cheese" made and sold by the WSU dairy. The lines are fishing line. I believe I heard him say that he wanted to make something sturdy enough that kids couldn't bust it, but then it sounded pretty cool. He also played clarinet in the main band, soussaphone in the brass quintet, and dulcimer. Sally (hi Sally!) was featured on vibraphone and piano which meant she had to cross the room several times since her instruments were at opposite ends of the altar (it was in a church). She was like both the angel and the devil sitting on the shoulders of the band.

They said they'd been practicing since after Christmas and this was their first concert. It sounded great and everyone had a lovely time. There was quite a good audience! No empty pews. The kids who were gathered in the basement came up for about 1/2 the concert. Snacks were available after the festivities, but I listened to Sally jam on the cheese-can banjo (chanjo? Cheecanjo? Chukulele?) instead.

I think it counts as frugal AND simple since the band is all volunteers, there was no charge, and some of the instruments were handmade (beautifully handmade).

Can't wait for the next concert. Maybe Plummer should have a band. Maybe the Potlatch community band could play the next Plummer Market Event. We'll see.

Monday, May 30, 2011

More potatoes!

More potatoes have come up. Very exciting.
Today I also planted most of the rest of the raised bed. Herbs mostly and a couple of squash and watermelon seeds. Those take up space but I was sick of planting little squares of this and that.
Most of the peas are peaking out of the ground as well. They don't seem to mind the drizzly rainy chilly weather as much as other things.
The strawberries seem to have given up the ghost. They looked so promising as first and now...nothing.

Thank god for the mint. It continues to thrive and I may have my first cup of homegrown mint tea this week.

My other "excitement" for the holiday weekend...sharpening the mower. Woohoo. Actually, I think it needs a professional sharpening and adjustment and greasing. It's hard to push mostly because it's just ripping the grass and weeds off more than cutting it off.

Still, Pam (Hi Pam) sent me the entire "Good Neighbors" collection so I spent the rest of the weekend watching that and thinking how awesome it would be to have pigs and a goat in the back yard. Partly for the meat and partly because they'd eat and/or trample the grass and I wouldn't have to mow. Maybe an angry sow would keep the riffraff out of the yard.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Peas Are Up!

Sorry it's been ages again.

BUT the peas are growing! Of course we had a bit of hail today so maybe the peas WERE growing.

We had a couple of warm days and I put in most of the garden a while back.
Also showing growth are the tater buckets planted on May 1. I find potatoes oddly fascinating. You keep burying the growth and making them do it over. You'd think they'd get sick of it.

They lime thyme from last year is looking great. The mint from Sally (Hi Sally) is doing AMAZING and smelling delicious. The strawberry pot came back and now looks dead. It is a tease.

Some parsely is coming back from last year. I think it's a bienniel so I should probably plant some seeds this year again.

Spinach is up. Some lettuce or chard is up.

And a pot I forgot to label is doing very well. It's radishes or carrots or a green of some sort.

The walking onions suffered a setback when rain crushed the plastic down onto them so now they are open to the air and have to fend for themselves.

On June 1 or so, I'll plant the rest of the garden. I'm cutting back on tomatoes and sticking with the small hot peppers just in pots so I can bring them in when it gets too cold.

That is all for now.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thrifty Flicks

I read some blogs and books about thriftiness, but there are some movies and shows that also make me think thrift and about voluntary simplicity. I'm not always sure why and some have been mentioned before.

Goode Neighbors / The Goode Life.
BBC series from the 1970s. We used to watch it on PBS growing up and I loved it even then. I think it was the independence. A couple at midlife/midcareer who live in a semi-detached house (like a duplex but you own your half and the half of the lawn on your side) decide to become self sufficient with their tiny yard and allotment (garden plot elsewhere in the town). It's cute and was inspirational to many who joined the "back to the land" movement at the time.

Squarefoot Gardening.
A PBS classic show. I've got a square foot garden that is 4feet by 9feet and did pretty well as far as growing stuff, though the final yields could have been better but I'm learning! Maybe I'll even do the fall garden stuff this year. The series, and book, does recommend buying various fertilizers and soil amendments that aren't organic while I went organic and am not great at co-planting so I think it went well considering.

Clatterford / Jam and Jerusalem.
It's not really about thrift but it's a BBC show, recent, about life in a small village. It does focus sometimes on the importance of community and having local shops and pubs and whatnot. One character lives without a job but she's a load on people so not a role model. Others are farmers who are fairly poor but still managing and providing food for the area. The point is really about the women's guild and just amusing. Maybe it just makes my life in a village seem slightly more charming rather than disturbingly surreal.

Northern Exposure.
Obviously. Many strange characters, quite a few living off grid. NO chain restaurants, stores, or anything else is portrayed. People shop at the local store, make due, eat at the tavern and even have a local radio station and no one really envies the one rich guy. I think this and Clatterford are both respectful of those who don't base their worth on their income and that might be the draw for me. Also both have a lovely dry humor about them.

The Vicar of Dibley.
More with the BBC! One rich guy and a village full of largely poor idiots. There is quite a bit of overt discussion of the importance of community and local folks as well as some overt opposition to development as ruining village life and exploiting the poor.

Movies are tougher...
The food documentaries make me want to garden and shop local and cook and not waste.
Classics are:
Food Inc. (shows the issues with industrial food)
Supersize Me (dangers of eating nothing but fastfood crap...and I remember it was playing in Saint Paul during the fateful college-friends-reunion when I had an EPIC gallbladder attack in poor Bree's bathroom while many friends sat on the other side of the wall listening to me wretch. For hours. Good times.)
Dirt. About soil and the importance of building soil.
The Real Dirt on Farmer John. A midwestern eccentric struggles to farm organically and get along with the locals. I like this both for the food/farming issues and the life of a real eccentric who decides to be who he is no matter what people think (including thinking he was having murderous orgies)
Fresh. Interesting characters talk passionately about growing healthy food and working with, rather than against, the land.

And some that romanticize food and celebrating abundance (promise to get off the food shortly)

Babette's Feast. Babette is poor and comes to cook for spinster Scandinavian sisters. Not knowing she's an amazing chef, they have her soak lutefisk and prepare other grim meals that are part of their community's devotion to food asceticism. Simple food doesn't have to be bad even if you're poor or cheap. Babette serves an amazing feast and all hell breaks loose in a good way.

Like Water for Chocolate. The intersections of food and emotion. I'm not that into emotion, but the food bits are good.

Eat Drink Man Woman. The food in this is extravagant and expensive. Many of the feasts are sort of culinary potlatches meant to demonstrate the wealth of the host, and yet the ingredients are actually not that spending and really enjoying food is part of a frugal mentality...fix what you love and you won't waste it. (Don't bother with Tortilla Soup which is a scene for scene remake that comes off like a 10th generation photocopy...a blurred and distorted version of the original)

Mostly Martha. The GERMAN original. Really, don't watch the American remake. Intolerable I'm sure (haven't seen it). Again, many of the meals are extravagant, but the cook is offended when people waste or send back the food. And it's more of the enjoying food thing. It makes me want to cook, which is thrifty.

Some that make me appreciate what I have:
Silence of the North. Tom Skerrit and the Mrs. move to the north and homestead. She gets to spend the winter alone, in silence, with a baby in a one room cabin with a canvas roof. She has almost nothing. And then loses the rest of it. And yet, things ultimately work out OK.

Trouble the Water (I think that's it) about how bad things got for so many people after hurricane Katrina. Renters got no relief! They didn't lose a house they owned or had a mortgage on thus no assistance! Many people rent because they can't afford to buy so the poorest got nothing. What they did have they lost and no one came to help. The importance of community.
(there are many good documentaries about Katrina and the aftermath that make one happy just to have a roof to sit on if it does flood. Which reminds me...I need to get that disaster kit with potable water put together).

The Lemon Tree. Life on the border of the Palestinian territories becomes even more complicated for a Palestinian, Muslim, widow who scrapes by on the income from her lemon grove. An Israeli official moves in next door and her grove is recast as a potential threat and must be destroyed. Compared to her, I'm a pig in shit.

My Name Is Joe. Don't try to get it. You can't. Scottish flick showing some serious urban poverty and the circular trap of getting involved in drugs because one has no hope, and how drug trade can be some people's only way out of poverty, and yet keeps them on the edge of disaster. It's a pretty amazing film. I have it on VHS but I don't think it's on DVD yet.
Precious. Hey! I haven't been raped by a relative today so life is good! Also haven't had to steal food for my psychotic mother. Even better.

My Life as a Dog. Fantastic Scandinavian classic by Lasse Halstrom. It's semi-autobiographical but they had to tart it up a bit as Lasse's actual childhood was even grimmer than being beaten by a dying mother, abandoned by his father, and left to share a bed with his gassy elderly aunt. In reality, he lived alone in an apartment starting when was in about 4th or 5th grade. His father paid the rent and just wasn't there. Then...he can't have his dog anymore and it gets sad.

These validate going one's own way:
Sordid Lives. It's just damn funny. It's more small town characters ultimately accepting one another while sharing food when gathering for Mama's funeral (she dies when she trips over her boyfriends fake legs at a cheap hotel and hits her head on the sink).

Spinal Tap. Not because it is representing anything thrifty...but because I finally got a DVD player when that came out on DVD. It reminds me of how I make choices to buy or not buy technology. And I've watched that movie many many times. Got my money's worth out of that one.

Napoleon Dynamite. Napoleon lives with his grandmother, his uncle lives in a van.

The Straight Story. Not only the greatest film about Iowa ever made, it also shows the sort of odd practicality common among the economically challenged in the flatlands. No license or car? Drive the lawn mower across the state. If it breaks, fix it yourself. Camp in cemeteries and eat hot dogs.

I'm sure there are lots more. But this is enough for now. There are also TONS of excellent books beyond the few that I cite frequently. I'll do another post on some of my recent thrifty reads.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Plummer Gets on the Earth Day Band Wagon...41 Years and 1 Day Late

(apologies for the delay. I was busy and ran out of free-interwebs time)

Plummer celebrated Earth Day for the first time this year. It was done one day after the 41st Earth Day (it started in 1970).

Still, we're here now so...hopefully an even better celebration next year.
The food coalition I'm in organized the event...though "organized" is not in the sense one would have seen in Iowa. It was a looser event.

There were 3 presentations...I did two of them. Interesting.

The first was a demonstration of how to make a compost barrel from a rain barrel (the woman didn't understand why her husband was a tad peeved that she was using his rain was a 40 or so gallon food-grade plastic barrel. Those are going for 50 to75$ in Moscow right now and those are the used ones). Oh well, now they have a lovely compost barrel. Of course she also explained that one did not need a barrel, but watching her pour a bucket of food on the ground and cover it with a bucket of shredded paper would have been less impressive than watching her drill holes in a barrel and then pour the two buckets of stuff in it.

Next was my demonstration of vermicomposting. It was surprisingly well attended. I think about a dozen people came over to watch. The kids LOVED it and they all wanted to hold a worm. I donated the new worm bin (which WAS a hamster pen until Hammy croaked and was a rubber storage tub before that) to whomever wanted it. A young girl jumped up and grabbed it and said it would be the bin for the youth club. She was pretty interested and organized so I think the worms (I put a few in there to get it started) will be in good hands. A colleague from the food coalition brought her own bin to start so I gave her some worms as well. A few more people may be interested in worms but I only have so many at a time. If I give too many away, the food in the bin rots rather than becoming the world's best seed starter.

My other presentation was with the aforementioned colleague. She and I took a class on solar cooker construction a couple of months ago and agreed to do a SHORT demonstration at the event. As it turns out, it has been super rainy/cloudy since the class so neither of us had the chance to try cooking. Saturday April 23rd was a BEAUTIFUL day with lots of sun so the solar cooking went well. I did coffee in a quart jar in a panel cooker and sushi rice in a littl covered pot in another cooker. The jar and the pot were spray painted black on the outside with non-toxic spray paint. That is a tough item to find. I was afraid that things would not cook or clouds would come up so I started the cookers 3.5 hours before the presentation. Uh...there was plenty of sun. The jar of coffee actually pressure cooked for that long. It was quite delicious especially after the woman giving samples of raw milk came over and let people use the raw milk in the tiny cups of coffee (she provided the tiny cups too...she's nice). The rice was basically paste but it was very cool that it cooked. I totally admitted that I'd never actually done any solar cooking and opened the coffee up as people watched. It was impressive when it boiled over the top and I exclaimed "oh my god! It actually worked." A woman high-fived me and several people took pictures of the spewing coffee. The rice was less impressive since it had steamed until it was a solid block of starch, but was cool that I'd left rice unattended for 4 hours and it was not scorched.

Anyway, I had pre-cut a sample of the panel type cooker (a "panel" cooker is any solar cooker that uses flat panels to focus the light on the cooking vessel) with just a 1/2" bit left connection at each corner so I could quickly finish the cut out while they watched. It is a pretty interesting bit of engineering really. It was developed by a woman in Viola, Idaho. (for those in Iowa...that is about the same as gas station, no store, and I don't know if they even have a post office anymore. Not even a bar.) Anyway, take a cardboard box. Pick one bottom corner. Put the top flaps up and put on a little bit of tape so they stand up. From that corner you picked measure 12" along each side of the bottom and 16" up the corner. if the 16" goes up onto the flaps that is fine. Now draw 3 lines. On each side of the corner, connect the 12" marks to the 16" mark at the top. Across the bottom, connect the 2 12" marks. now cut along the lines (cut through both layers of flaps on the bottom of the box). When you get done, you will have detached that corner and it will be pointy at the top. Find the little flap-bit that will fill in a gap in the bottom. Keep that. Flatten the corner you've cut off and cover the entire inside with foil (glue it with any all natural glue...e.g. elmer's school glue (cut this with water to double the amount of glue), rice paste, flour paste, whatever) and rub it smooth with a clean and dry cloth. Clean off any glue schmears.

Let dry. If you covered the "crack" between the bottom flaps with foil, cut it open again. Now fold it back up into a box corner and put the whole thing in a turkey size oven bag. That's it. That's what boiled water and made the coffee. Actually, I had an oven thermometer in there and at one point the temperature got up to 250degrees. I was impressed. I made an extra reflector to set in front of the box-corner-cooker and propped it up to reflect more light into the cooker. I don't think I needed it.

The other cooker we demonstrated is made from a sheet of poster board (the flimsy stuff) and an aluminum foil turkey roaster. Cover one side of the poster board with foil. Let dry. Bend up the side rims of the turkey roaster and attach the bottom corners of the poster board to this with binder clips. Then use something to raise the cooking pot about 2inches off the bottom of the roaster. I already had my wire trivet in use keeping the coffee jar off the bottom of the panel cooker so I used a roll of tape. Put the cooking pan (already full of whatever you are going to cook) in an oven bag and twist the bag shut (I blew the bag up a little so there was a bit of airspace around the pan). Put on the trivet and fiddle with the poster board so light is mostly reflecting onto the pan. That's it. It's almost fool proof. Someone did let a pole fall on it at one point and that screwed up the cooking for a moment. I spent most of the day saying "could you step to the side so you're not putting a shadow on my cooker."
My landlord was at the next booth promoting a potential local credit union which was cool. He thought my antics were quite amusing.

We're thinking of having another festival/market later in the summer. I should find something to sell. ....Any ideas? Perhaps books from the "free books" bin at the recycling center?
Envelopes cut from those books? Notebooks make from recycled paper? Biscuits? Jam? (it probably won't be late enough in the summer for jam).

And now...I must go try to make my potatoes chit so I can get them in the ground...well, in the buckets.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Free Hotel Night in Exchange for a Sternly Worded Email

So, I gets back from the Santa Fe and stays the night at the Ramada by the airport in Spokane. I didn't plan on that but getting back on a delayed flight meant it was nearly 1am when I got in. I was too tired to drive so stumbled across the road and rented a room for MORE than it cost me for a night in the grand suite in Santa Fe. I get up and try to use one of those tiny coffee makers they leave in the rooms of industrial hotels. Well, the water ran out as fast as I poured it in and the coffee maker would not turn on. This was after getting to move the bed around to plug in the lamp upon arrival (it was that or take a toe off trying to find the bed in the dark as no other lights are accessible once one is in the aforementioned "bed"). On checking out, shortly after NOT having coffee and deciding that using the hair-trigger-between-scald-and-freeze shower was not going to happen, I said, "The coffee maker didn't work." or something like that. The response: ......... [insert sounds of crickets]...... Nothing. Not "please get a complimentary cup of coffee to go from the restaurant." Nothing. I stared a bit and got "Sorry." Oh well..."sorry" perked me right the f up...didn't it. (nope). Nice. That covered it. Especially since on the way out to Santa Fe I stayed at the same place (6am flight) and found that the coffee maker was unplugged. I had to move it across the room but at least it worked when I plugged it in. I wish I'd taken a photo of the nest of cords all going into the same outlet using a conglomeration of power strips and extension cords and one of those things that turns 2 outlets into 6 outlets. Very safe. After I get home and HAVE A CUP OF COFFEE, I sit down and compose a sternly worded email to Ramada stating that while 100$ rooms aren't much to some people, given that I just rented a 100$ APARTMENT with breakfast included IN SANTA FE, I thought that for the same price in Spokane I could at least expect a cup of coffee. I went on for 2 paragraphs about how the last 2 stays there have not been worth the money but based instead on my wish to not drive between the hours of 1am and 4am and that in the future I would strongly consider sleeping in chairs in the airport since I knew I could at a minimum get a decent cup of coffee. Today I get a voucher in the mail for a free night's stay at that hotel. We'll see. I only stay there when I'm flying in or out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Relatively Thrifty Vacation

Vacations are optional. The thing about being frugal is that I choose where I spend my $$. I like to spend some on vacations. Of course, my vacations are fairly thrifty affairs compared to some (people who go on Carnival Cruises spend WAY more money than me) and not so thrifty compared to others (people who pitch a tent in the backyard and wash up in hose water spend less than me).

This vacation was a long weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Pam (Hi Pam) and I went to surprise our mom (Hi Sher) and her sisters (Hi Chris and Marcie).
Pam cost me big bucks on the flight by saying 'if we wait until tuesday the price will go down' went UP for me. Oh well.

We spent 4 nights at a B&B, Casa Pacifica for a total cost of 460$ (there is a 15% hotel type tax so the room rate was 100$/night). I'll stick the link to the place in here when I'm not on dial up.
It was a lovely room. Really it's an apartment with a loft for the bed and a good size deck.
Breakfasts were wonderful and healthy and generous. Every day you get a fruit plate. This is followed by a full breakfast made according to your dietary restrictions or preferences. The first morning we had banana pancakes with bacon. Pam doesn't like bacon so I got double.
The second day Pam got asparagus and I got more bacon with our omlettes. 3rd day was french toast made with texas toast type bread (thick!). It was amazing. I think the meat was bacon again.

The last day was even more impressive than the other three. We had "chorizo eggs". Pam had hers without chorizo (mexican sausage) and asked to eat light. So as Linda (the owner) served us she said, "Here is your one sad scrambled egg." I got 3 or 4 eggs scrambled with chorizo mixed in and red chili sauce on top! it is my new favorite breakfast and I'm not a fan of recognizable eggs (I prefer them on french toast, hidden in pancakes, or chocolate cake). Sides were toast and black beans. My beans came with no cheese. I needed a nap after that meal but alas, no rest for the wicked.

We arrived on March 31st and made our way with a rental car (thanks Rob) from the Albuquerque airport to Santa Fe. Pam did a very good job driving in the morass of construction and bad drivers that is NM. After checking in and being stunned at the size of the place we were getting for the price, we went to whole foods to stock the kitchen a bit (full kitchen with side-by-side fridge freezer, full size front loading washer and dryer, gas stove/oven, dish washer, double sinks and about 1 acre of counter space). We didn't end up cooking there much, but you need snacks and ginger ale for a nice vacation.

Then we relaxed. We didn't want to do too much running around since the old ladies were out and about in the same town and did not yet know we were there. We did go out for dinner at Tomasita's. It was delicious. We scoped out some jewelry at the vendor outside the restaurant (for those unfamiliar with Santa Fe...folks who make their own jewelry sell at tables or off blankets on the sidewalk around town, by restaurants, along the plaza, or wherever...this is NICE stuff, not junk made in a factory).

On the morning of April 1 (get it?) we started walking towards the old ladies' rental. We knew the street and general area of that street from the information Chris had sent. But, we didn't have the specific address. We were looking for Marcie's car. We couldn't find it. So, we stood somewhere we thought was pretty close, and I called Sher's cell phone. I said we were having something delivered and needed the exact address. Sher said they were headed out to Albuquerque shortly but I said the delivery would be there in 10 minutes. She was suspicious but gave me the address anyway. Turns out Pam and I were about 30 feet from their door. We had to go down a sort of alley/culdesac thing. I rang the bell and heard "well that was too fast" or something similar. Sher opened the door and the dramatics commenced. Marcie as of course the most dramatic. All were good sports about us crashing their vacation.

Their rental was a condo but really a new adobe home with 2 bedrooms, 3 beds and 2 bathrooms. Really nice. Lovely patio (but it was so windy when we were there that sitting on the patio was not in the cards). They also had a kiva fireplace where Sher showed off her girl scout skills.

Our rental had more "cache" and theirs had more class and convenience (e.g. they could park right in front of the door and get to their place without climbing a long exterior stairway). Something for everyone.

I, of course, had packed my travel clothesline and enjoyed doing the odd load of laundry and hanging it outside or in the room. (It seems odd saying "room" since it was an apartment). Pam guided our exploits with her ipad (very handy mapping options on it).

So for the first day, we joined the ladies in Albuquerque for some shopping and then had dinner with them at the Range Cafe in Bernalillo (burn a LEE yo). Delicious.

The next day...what did we do? Oh, shopped the outdoor vendors on the plaza, bothered Marcie at work, and had dinner with Marcie's husband, Jerry, at the Amaya restaurant in the Hotel Santa Fe. Jerry was not informed ahead of time that we were there so we got to surprise a second person. Pam had gotten over heated during the day (it was WARM and SUNNY...gorgeous) and came to dinner a bit late. I was forced to order dessert in French as the restaurant hostess, Sophie, is french. She did a great impression of a french instructor, while being helpful. She reminded Pam and I a bit of Julie Ferrier's "Prof des Artes Plastiques" (she's on youtube but don't watch it at work...there is a bit of nipplage).

On Sunday we met Marcie at the shop for a chat and also ran into Gerald Nailor Jr., artist and governor of Picuris Pueblo. Then we headed out for shopping and lunch on Canyon road. WE lunched at the Tea House which offers organic light meals with vegan options (always nice for the nondairy folks). There I learned that one can dehydrate slices of citrus fruit for a delicious addition to ice tea. I would have known this already if Jonny (Hi Jonny) hadn't taken my dehydrator cookbook. Or if I wasn't stupid. One or the other.

I REALLY wish I could have stayed longer. On the way home my flight was delayed (all southwest flights were delayed) and I didn't get in until after midnight. I was too tired and disoriented to drive. I considered driving a ways away from the Spokane airport to get a cheaper room, but I could barely stay awake to walk. So I checking into the airport Ramada...I'd parked the car there before leaving anyway. Well, I get to the room and have to move the bed out to plug in the reading lamp. It was either that or shut the light out by the door and then grope my way to the bed trying not to lose a toe on some unseen obstacle. But I thought "oh well"...still, the room cost more than the apartment in Santa Fe! In the morning I woke up and got a pot of coffee going. Well....I poured the water in and it promptly ran out the bottom, onto the fridge, behind the entertainment center and on to the floor. I mopped up with one of their shiny white towels. The coffee pot would not turn on. No coffee. The day before I'd been in a great and reasonably priced room in Santa Fe, served good coffee and a big breakfast in a lovely kitchen with dogs coming by to say hello (I like dogs). This morning I got no coffee and no breakfast. Oh well. Vacation must be over.

Still, it was a pretty good deal for a vacation in Santa Fe in easy walking distance to the plaza.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Long Between Posts..

Sorry it's been ages. I ran out of free internet at the house (OK OK..."trailer") early in the month and haven't had time to get online elsewhere and post. I have a few posts written so there may be an onslaught early in April when the free internet timer resets. For now: I have leads on 2 pieces of land. Many options and much to consider. It's hard to pick between bare land where I could do exactly what I want, and land with a house on it that would need a lot of re-doing (or "undoing" may be more the term...getting rid of the electricity and whatnot) but I could live in while I did that. The land with the house on it also has an option to rent it and see if I REALLY want to live out in the boonies (it's only a mile from town) without power, collecting water, and having chickens and bees. So...we'll see.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cheapest Movie Rental Deal EVER

The selection is unreliable. The price is right.
The Goodwill in Moscow, Id is selling out many many VHS movies for 49cents. I still have a working VCR (knock on wood...) so I can take advantage of this.
It's an extra good deal if the colored tag deal (50% off of a particular color price tag) applies to the movie I want. Generally, I won't buy the movie if it's the full 49cents. I wait until it's half off for 25cents (they round up that last 1/2cent those greedy thriftstore bastards).

For a quarter, I buy the movie. Bring it home, watch it a time or two, then take it back. No late fees. No membership to buy. No corporate policies to investigate and see if they are in line with my environmental goals (admittedly, Goodwill is moving into shiny new box-like stores but I'm not ready to boycott them yet).

I've gotten most of the Anne of Green Gables series. Star Wars. A Beautiful Mind. Il Postino. Shirley Valentine. Tracy Takes On... and much much more.

Most go back. I haven't watched Il Postino yet and may hang on to that is a classic and considered one of Marcello Mastroiani's best. I'm also hanging on to Shirley Valentine because it's cute and funny and has some of my favorite lines.

Occassionaly I find a DVD worth having but those go for $2.99 so even half off, they need to be pretty compelling. Another thrift store sells them for $1 but their selection is mostly self-help and exercise. Their donation clientel are not my people.