Saturday, March 24, 2007

Time Flies.

I know it's been forever since I last posted. Time sure does fly. I can't believe it is already March of 2007!! We are still living in our apartment we found after we moved out of the camper. I am awaiting going to our home in Milo to pick up our last bit of things we left there during our last visit. I have been without some of my key essential kitchen supplies, but am getting used to not having them too. I wonder if I'll keep them when I do get them.

I have been trying to cut down on the amount of garbage we are throwing away. I really miss being able to burn our trash. And I miss the most our compost pile. I hate throwing away vegetable peels and other items. I have been working on a new post in our blog "The Wright Homestead". I have just been at a loss knowing how to get my words just right, but be looking for it. It's titled, "Homesteading in the City". Some of what you see here will be in it.

I've realized the past few months that things we talked about in that blog, we cannot do while living in the city. Maybe many of you feel that way. So, I thought, I'd post my experiments and simply share with others the changes we are making.

I found out there is a place here that I can take recyclable goods to. They take glass, tin, plastic. I hope to take the items once a month when they are open. I have found a use for my 500+ plastic grocery bags. I hate them, but they are now my kitchen trash bags. It is probably not the best way to recycle them, since they end up in the garbage, but at least they serve a purpose before ending up there. I am using a small tiny bathroom sized trash can for my kitchen, rather than buy a large trash can and have to buy the bags for them. Since we are buying in bulk again, my trash consumption is going down.

I recently found and joined a co-op and found another bulk foods store like we shopped at in Missouri. I love being able to purchase my flour, sweetener, rice, beans etc.. in bulk. I am trying to re-locate a company I found years ago that sold round plastic containers that held large amounts of food, (flour, sugar, beans...) I just can't remember the company's name or contact information. It's driving me nuts! Lehman's does sell lard cans which are nice to store food in, but I am wanting plastic containers to take with me to the co-op pickup days of dividing. I really dislike certain kinds of plastic and am in the process of clearing out my kitchen of it, but feel I will make a small exception to this for the co-op. I don't want to worry about dropping a glass or metal container and either breaking it or denting it.

The kinds of things I don't like plastic are the containers used for storing food. I prefer glass, because you can take it out and stick it in the microwave and not worry about it being ate up in there! I have ruined many a plastic tubs re-heating meat or fatty foods only to have part of my container missing and peeled back!

I would like to find some tote bags, netted or canvas to put my groceries in. I once sewed some canvas bags up but they did not hold their shape very well. I also like the netted ones because they are see-thru and store owners generally trust them more, as they can see that I'm not stowing away their products without paying for them. You get a lot of weird looks from people, but I don't really need that many plastic grocery bags. I think 500 should be my limit. What do you think? I have noticed the ones at certain stores seem to be very cheaply made and often have a side split before I'm even home. I almost dropped and cracked a jar of salsa the other day when that happened!

I have been cleaning out my wardrobe too. I would like 5-7 outfits, that I can wear in the summer or winter. I sewed up a cotton dress with a friend last year and really like the pattern on it. Jumpers are nice because you can swap out the shirts inside, but I do like the dress pattern more. I suppose I can always just wear a sweater if I'm cold. Since you can only wear one outfit at a time, it seems a waste to me to have more clothes than that. I currently have five pairs of shoes. One pair needs to go to the thrift store. I have a pair of good army boots, perfect when it's rainy outside. A pair of dress shoes, (given to me), a pair of red slip on shoes (given to me as well) and a pair of slippers. I really don't like this many pairs of shoes, but will keep them for now. When the dress shoes wear out, I won't be getting any more. I love the slip on shoes. They are from Cabela's and are very comfortable.

I recently purchased some organic calendula blossoms and I am eagerly awaiting the day I get to make some salve from it. I first have to make an herbal infused oil before I can add the beeswax to it and make the salve, but I need to get some olive oil first. The herbal oil is made by steeping the dried herb in a quart of olive oil, then straining it out. You can use the oil straight or mix it with the beeswax. It takes about a month to make the oil.

I also bought a pound of red raspberry leaf and a pound of nettle leaf with the intent of making an herbal infusion. Both of which are excellent for increasing fertility. Infusions are better for you than just making a tea. You make them by adding one ounce of herb to 4 cups of water and letting it steep for approximately 4 hours, depending on what herb you are using and which part of the herb. It is quite different getting used to, and will probably taste better when I can weigh out the herb on a scale, but I am glad I ordered them. Red raspberry leaf and nettle leaf are so good for you.

I am almost done paying off my grain mill and when that is done I am saving up for a Zo bread machine. I wanted a Bosch Mixer and while it is on my list of things to buy, there are other things I want first. I can't wait to get the Zo and be able to make bread on the timer as well as experiment with a recipe from Urban Homemaker. Only, I would use the two stage process method. Sometimes we are out and about coming home right before supper needs to be made and having a loaf of fresh bread waiting on you is just the thing we need! I think after I get the bread machine I will save up for a Zo rice cooker. I have a small microwave rice cooker but want something for when I want to make a larger batch of rice. Currently, when I want fried rice, I have to make three batches of rice on the stove which takes a good while because I have to cool the pot long enough to rinse the old rice out.

Last month, I bought some Kefir starter. Kefir is a cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your "inner ecosystem." It can be made into a delicious smoothie, which is how I plan to drink it. I'm not even sure if the starter is still good, and I've been a bit nervous to try it out, but tomorrow, I will do it! I'll post pictures from start to finish so you can see what it looks like. I got some fresh milk just for this purpose. I hope I like it!

Nick recently bought me a book called Nourishing Traditions. It is a huge book that mainly talks about lacto-fermentation of foods. How they preserved food in the old days before there were canners or how people preserve without electricity. It is basically a big cookbook, chock full of information. I am excited about trying out the recipes. It is not like any book I have ever read, but I like it alot.

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