Friday, July 29, 2011

Food Waste Reduction

Americans in general waste a LOT of food. Usually the waste is in kitchens and homes of everyday folks. It's a big deal, and something where action by individuals can improve the situation immensely. Unlike other huge problems I won't mention.

The biggest challenge we face in my house is gracefully handling the fresh produce coming out of the garden every summer. It comes in waves, in bunches and, often it seems, right before a big trip. :-D Squash and green beans tend to be the worst, with lettuce close behind. We did lose some lettuce this spring, I had a gal at the farmers market who was desparate to get rid of lettuce and I took more than we could eat.

But, I'm happy to say, we've not let any green beans die in the fridge. Hubby can take some well deserved credit for that, as he stepped up to the canning plate and canned 4 quarts of green beans out of the garden. So far we've only had one of the summer squash go bad, and that one I think I harvested poorly and shortened it's little life. There's still a lot of summer left, but I'm really hopeful that we can keep up this streak and take full advantage of the bounty. I'm getting better about just getting it cooked, instead of waiting for that perfect recipe. We're both getting better about saying, "No, let's eat in and use up that bag of green beans."

It's not earth shattering, it's not going to save the world. But, when I know there are starving people in Africa, at least I can face myself in the mirror every morning knowing that I didn't leave perfectly good food to die in the fridge.

In related news, Riot 4 Austerity should be starting up August 1st. Sharon over at Casaubon's Book is leading the charge. I'm waiting anxiously for word on where the Riot will be living online.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Solar Dehydrator

Calamity Jane over at SHTF blog is doing a solar dehydrator build. I am soo in on that!

I've got a window, and I'm thinking I'll build something along these lines, but smaller.

Join in the build if you're interested, either here or over on SHTF. Should be a lot of fun, and who doesn't want to keep the hot air outside this summer for our drying needs? I dry a ton of fruit and herbs, and often my little plug in garage sale dehydrator just can't keep up. It doesn't do any good at all with jerky and fruit leathers.

Some of the comments there suggested old cars as DIY dehydrators. I guess I'm unusual in that I don't have any old cars sitting around. I've only ever owned one car, and that's the car that's still in use as the only vehicle for our family. Using it as a dehydrator would be an inefficient use of resources I think.

If I make it right, I'm hopeful it can double as a base for a solar oven. *cross fingers*

Friday, July 22, 2011

American Redoubt

I hang out in some prepper/survivalist groups. Let me say upfront, I don't think end times are coming, I don't think One World order is about to declare martial law, and I don't think the gubment is about to put us all in camps. There has been a growing movement lately that just gets my dander up. It seems like a bad idea all the way around, and I have NO desire to participate. I'm speaking of Rawles "American Redoubt" movement.

Believers gush about the concept, "it is time for freedom-loving Christians to relocate to something analogous to 'Galts Gulch' on a grand scale."

Early proponent and settler Chuck Baldwin, "I read the letters and emails from people all over America who feel the divine urge to come to the Mountain States. And many are coming to Kalispell, Montana, specifically to be part of Liberty Fellowship and the band of patriot Christian brothers that are assembled here." Did you notice the militant language in use? "Bands of patriot Christian brothers," I wonder what SS members called themselves? Further reading brings up mention of building bunkers and prepping to repulse attackers if needed. Who are they planning to be fighting? Answer: other Americans.

These Christian nut-bags hate anyone who isn't the right type of Christian or the right type of prepper.
Putting their persecution complex in high gear, this movement encourages like-minded families to move to a select few states in the western part of the US. "If you aren't in agreement with most of those precepts, then I don't recommend that you relocate to the Redoubt--you probably won't fit in." and "In calamitous times, with a few exceptions, it will only be the God fearing that will continue to be law abiding." Fear mongering isolationist twaddle. Millions of Americans are good without god. Millions more manage to remain decent human beings using an amalgamation of spiritual beliefs.

Are hard times coming, yes I think that's unavoidable. Is it time to circle the wagons and give up on society at large, no. This is the time to knock on your neighbor's door and ask how they're handling the heat wave. This is the time to review your personal safety nets, and keep a close eye on your financial well being. This is the time to start community gardens and food gleaning programs to improve the food security of your hometown. This is the time to brush up on your making/repairing skills and sharpen your tools. Abondoning your community/town to relocate to an undisclosed location out in the middle of nowhere, that's just foolish and shortsighted. What happens when the utopia doesn't pan out or your fellow Christian soldiers decide, for whatever reason, that you are not the right kind of kindred? Don't kid yourselves, any group that starts out with a long list of people they don't like, will only find ways to make that list longer. To those individuals who already happen to live in the Redoubt area, you have my sympathies.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jobs - The Plural Form of Job

It's been quiet here on the blog front. The reason is 2-fold. Firstly, the garden is going gangbusters and I've got a lot of work keeping up with it.
Secondly my primary-paycheck job has been busy. And I've finally rounded up a secondary job in this new town. Which brings me to today's musing.

I've been working two jobs since I was legal to work. When I was in high school, I wanted to go on an honor choir tour of Europe. I worked at a Maidrite and at a PakMail in addition to school and extracurriculars to earn the ticket fare and program costs. In college I worked at another sandwich shop, plus did campus tours for prospective students. That transitioned into sandwich shop/modeling, and so on.
As with the other plurals in my life, there is a primary and secondary. The primary job pays most of the bills/food/rent/savings. The secondary job pays for fun things, hobbies, and entertainment. For the past 5 years my second job has been very different from my first job. I find it's more interesting that way. But, there is something to be said for secondary jobs that occasionally add value to the primary job.
Really, I think it doesn't matter so much, *what* the job is, as much as it matters that you *have* a second job. If you're like me, you primary job makes a fairly set amount of money. You can count on x dollars every week, balanced out by (hopefully) less than x in bills. There's savings in there, of course, (you do save, right?) but what if you need 2x one week for car repair or dental bills? That's where a second job can come in handy, something that you can schedule a few more hours with and pull in some more cash. This could be work out of your home, sewing clothing or work at the nearby minimum wage shop. Anything that can flex to accommodate the primary job, and if it brings in freebies that's even better. (The sandwich shop would give us a free sandwich for shifts over 5 hours in length, the modeling gigs would get me occasional free passes into art exhibit openings.) Online work can be nice, as that isn't bound by location and can help ease the transition when moving long distances for the primary job.

I know I can't live off of the secondary job, but I know they can expand to fill gaps, which often can't be said of my primary job. By diversifying I keep more options open. Options that are important when unemployment rates are skyrocketing and government safety nets are being slashed.

I find that organization is key when you enter the realm of multiple jobs. Most people can handle it, we organize more than that on a daily basis. But, I find that calendars and planners (I'm a paper sort of gal, but go digital if that's better for you) are essential. I have to keep track of my work load and manage expectations from multiple bosses, including myself and my spouse. It's worth keeping in mind how you'll deal with the job come April 15th. Is it a contractor/independent worker type of thing where you'll be on the hook for all the taxes? Or is it a paycheck type gig where the employer takes care of withholding every week?

I know people that can't even keep 1 job. I don't understand that at all. Jobs that I could hold down in my free time with one hand tied behind my back, are routinely walked away from because the person in question found an aspect of it not to their liking. I get anxious when I'm only working 1 job, I can't imagine being totally without. I imagine I'd start a home based business that day and carry on from there. I think it's just not in my nature to sit around and wait for the safety net to catch me. I don't have any answers for those of you dealing with a no-job situation. My belief is that everyone has the tools and the abilities to do *something.* If you can't "find" a job, quit looking for one, and just do your work from home, and find someone who's interested in paying you for it.

If you're intrigued, and want to try a secondary job, take stock of what time you have available, be realistic, and start putting out feelers. Whether it's 2 hours a week of home daycare or weekend dog walking, it can add up and it can make a difference. Don't put too many pre-suppositions on the search, be open to new opportunities, even if it's something very different from what you normally do. It may surprise you!

"I live to fulfill my purpose in life, it is a daily struggle."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Little Man, Big World

Another Kindergarden post. If you want in on the fun, hop over to Inadvertent Farmer.

I let Rowen have the camera this past week. At just over 2 years old, he's not real good with keeping steady while pushing the button. Plus, he kept crawling into the bike trailer, instead of clicking away in the garden. Here's the view from inside his trailer, looking up at my legs. lol

After that, we settled for a walking tour of the beds around the house, and I let him point at what we should take pictures of. That worked a little better. :-D We have some really pretty lilies open right now. Next to lilacs, lilies are my favorite. These guys don't have as much sun as they'd prefer to have. So, they are leaning over and a little leggy. Still really pretty though.

We saw a big moth on our large ash tree. Can you spot him? I hesitantly identified him as a catocala. If someone thinks otherwise, let me know! :-)We had a playdate Weds with Sue (the gal from the community garden) and her grandson who is 4. Rowen enjoyed having another small person around. We all sat outside and let the kids play in the wading pool. Sue, of course, would love to see us join her church and dropped hints whenever she could politely fit it in the conversation. :-D I, of course, was frazzled from a long day of remote startup support with a plant in Ohio, and was in no mood to be preached at. She never took it that far, and even said at one point how, "unique" she finds our family to be. lol But, we enjoyed the visit anyway, and the kiddo's sure loved that pool. And so, the collaboration continues, politely and at time tentatively, but it's worth it to see that garden full of veggies for people in my community. Does anyone else find that kids can ease socially awkward situations?