Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Can I Afford to Eat Organic + GMO-Free?

I am not so sure, but I do plan to try.  I find that I'm generally more successful at doing this in the summer because of our CSA which is not certified organic, but Siena Farms does use sustainable techniques and do not use peticides and herbicides. 

Here are a few things I've changed in our kitchen and I few I plan to change - I've stared [*] the items we've already begun to do,  I've put this marker [~] for items we occassionally do (when the $ permits), and I've left things we plan to do with no notation

  • *Join a CSA and allow it to provide 90% of our vegetible produce from June - November & 40% from December - Allowable.
  • *Purchase Bob's Red Mill Flour to use in baking - WW when possible
  • *Cook at home from scratch! 
  • *Buy what's in season rather than what you are craving
  • *Can can can!  Can the summer harvest of local fruit and veggies (Farmer's Market) whenever possible (or freeze)
  • ~Purchase 100% organic eggs
  • Purchase 100% organic dairy products (especially milk & cheese)
  • Puchase organic GMO free whole chicken and cheaper cuts of beef
And remembering that when we can't stick to these changes, to still practice consuming healthy alternatives (instead of that cupcake... mmmm cake!)

Clothing: Trends, Habits, Choice...

I have not written anything not baby or home related in quite some time.  Today I was lead to this article: A Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes from The Frugal Girl blog.  I've been thinking about this a lot lately, especially as I pack for yet another move.

Have you ever really LOOKED at all the clothing you own?  I have clothing that: is of high and low quality, fits and sorta fits, classic or trendy, cute or unique, used & new.  I have a lot of clothing.  I used to be a shopper - I hated the act of shopping but during my moments of boredom, I'd stroll through racks and racks of sales items, picking up what I thought was a good bargain.  Please note:  It's is only a good bargain if: 1) it will fit, 2) it looks nice, 3) you'll wear it AND 4) it will last.  All 4 of these coupled with a good price RARELY happened.

I now find myself wanting to purge but purge smart!  Paul is a minimalist with clothing. He only keeps a small rotation of items he likes and wears regularly in his closet.  I'm not quite there yet.  During our packing sessions, I went though much of my winter clothing and got rid of any older items I don't wear.  I also went through my summer items and got rid of items that were either cheaply made or that I hardly wore.  I did hold on to a few newer items though... ones I've never worn and hope to one day fit into again (post baby), but who knows - it may require another purge.

Where I struggle is giving away clothing that fits me well, and is nice and made with quality but that I never wear or don't need (because how many pairs of black slacks or jeans do you need?).  I feel as if I may one day wear them.  It is a silly thought process.  I don't NEED all these items.  But at least I'm making progress.  Hopefully as I unpack in our new home, I'm able to fill another few bags of clothing to be given to Goodwill. 

Another style or group of clothing I have a hard time purging is formal wear.  Paul has convinced me to get rid of a few gowns that are out of style, but for the most part - they aren't worn often enough to really hold on to, yet are sentimental enough to keep.  It's a silly reason to keep a dress (or 10).  I am the only one in my family with this body time, and I'm the only size 8 in the family.  I can't pass them down - so I should pass them out... to someone who may love them and create sentiments of their own with the garment.

And lastly - I'm struggling with maternity wear.  I've purchased almost nothing for myself.  I've purchased: 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of cords (that already ripped... old navy), 3 inexpensive old navy dresses that I'm already too hot to wear, 3 long sleeved shirts and 2 short sleeved shirts.  All the other items I have were gifted to me or passed down from friends or family.  Unfortunately, most of those items are winter sweaters or casual wear.  I've decided to hold on to all maternity clothing as I'm hoping to have more children and the pieces are simple and can be worn again - even years from now.  In an effort to not buy so much, I have not purchased enough clothing to get me through a work week comfortably.  I know that I need at least a few more short sleeve simple shirts, 1 pair of pants/slacks/khakis and 1 dress (for my shower) and then I'll feel like I can get through July... hopefully.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Frugality + Practicality

I've been ignoring this blog quite a bit.  Mostly because I'm focused on my baby, my body & our home purchase which is all captured in 

I however have been thinking about how much or a financial investment our recent life changes will be.  Marriage, relocation & job changes aside... in the same summer we'll be home owners and parents!  That's nuts!

As a way to prepare for this we chose to live in a nice but reasonably priced apartment both in NY and Boston allowing us to save.  We also chose to purchase 1 car instead of 2 when replacing my older car.  We purchased much of our furniture used or from discount stores and have made great use of them.  But how are we going to continue to live a frugal lifestyle moving forward while still remaining practical?

1) We've minimized our use of paper products in the home.  We use family cloth for #2 and kitchen towels for all clean ups in the kitchen.  We use microfiber cloths for dusting and cleaning.  Washable cloth items have become our friends.  I also use a hanky instead of a tissue when out of the house.  I need to purchase a few more so that I can bring this habit into the home as well.  This change is not just excellent for our pockets but has been great for the environment as well.

2)  Meal planning.  I don't plan ahead however I do plan to cook what is available in our home.  We eat left overs and we try and bring our lunch... we don't always succeed but that is what we strive to do.  This saves us a significant amount of money and cuts down on our waste.  We also eat almost all our dinners in the home.

3)  Travel less... We traveled quite a bit during our pre baby pre home years.  We took trips out west and vacationed when possible.  I still think the family time is important, but the trips don't need to be as far from home or as costly.  A few more camping trips with a few more days at the beach or a trip to the mountains of the NE will do us well.  We also travel a lot to NY.  I don't think this will be avoidable as our families and support systems are located there, but with baby in tow, it may create less of an opportunity while drawing family to us a bit more (the house and extra room help as well).

4)  Frugal Soaps!  We make our own laundry detergent using a mix of baking soda, washing soda & grated ivory soap.  We've eliminated the borax with Baby on the way.  We also use white vinegar purchased in bulk as a fabric softener.  We purchase an eco friendly dish soap that we buy in bulk and use sparingly for hand washed items.  We haven't found a good dishwasher recipe and have reverted back to using store bought dishwashing soap.  We currently use Cascade Complete.  We only run our washer when absolutely full.  In the bathroom we use Kirk's Castile Soap.  It is all natural and vegetable based just like Dr. Bronner's Soaps but it's a bit cheaper.  We opted to purchase a box of fragrance free so that it'd be gentle enough on baby.  It's nice how you can swipe your hand accross the top and that small little touch of soap lathers and lathers and lathers.  We also use Dr. Bronners Tea Tree liquid soap.  On our hair we try to use a tea tree based shampoo and conditioner and sometimes head and shoulders (I have dandruff).  I began washing my hair only once a week years ago so shampoo generally lasts us a long time.  Our general household cleaners focus mostly on vinegar & baking soda.

5)  Hand Me Downs - we love them!  When we don't have an item and someone offers it to us used, we take it with gratitude.  Towels, dining tables, co-sleepers, clothing... sure!  It's free, it's useful, and it keeps the items from the landfill!

6)  Live Simply - Fancy things cost more than simple things.  If we chose to live simply and still be happy than we automatically save money.  So yes, we eat simple foods much of the time and only indulge on occassion.  We also try not to over complicate our lives. 

7)  DIY or Not - I think something we'll have to find the balance of in home ownership is knowing when to DIY and when to... well hire a professional.

8)  Don't buy into trends - we dress in classic traditional clothing.  We don't purchase based on trends which allows us to keep our clothing in rotation for a very long time.  We also began rotating our closets by season which I've found to both reduce our hoarding of clothing we don't like, don't fit, or don't wear and creates a surprise excitement each season when we remember a piece of clothing we forgot we had.

9) Repurpose especially for storage.  We hold onto almost all glass jars that come through our kitchen and reuse them for leftovers, cheese, dried goods, etc... We repurpose old sheets and clothes to clean with.  We mend clothing.  We try to be creative!

I'm sure that we'll learn other tricks along the way.  By living simply, we've been able to contribute more to our retirement plans, save enough to purchase our dream home at a great interest rate, put money away for the babies needs, travel regularly to NYC, be generous with charitable contributions, go on vacations, and go on date nights.  We hope to continue to live frugally yet practically.  The minute these tips become impractical for our lifestyle, we will need to evaluate their worth.

Do you have any frugal or simple living tips?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Things K Says

K is almost 9... and he still says the funniest things.

If you haven't guessed it by now.. Paul and I are expecting our 1st child.  My baby bro will not touch me... he says I have pregnantvitis... it is more contagious than gingervitis (turning into a red head with freckles).

He will however eat breakfast if I make it... because he has had the vaccine.  You know... he got spayed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All I Want for Christmas...

is - nothing.

I feel like I have everything I could want or need.

I'm blessed.  But I do know Paul wants to get me something.  I'd like to get him something too.  We are both stumped ... haha  I guess that's better than wanting EVERYTHING.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I voted

Tonight as I filled in little circles on the right of the candidates names I was sure of who I'd select. At the end I was asked my vote on certain issues. One was if I'd vote yes to legalize marajuana use for medical use.

I filled out no. I truly believe its a gateway drug. In a elementary school with signs hung everywhere and thought of their future.

It looks like they are thinking of it too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy Stinks

That Frankenstorm, Super Storm, or whatever people are calling it was horrendous.  It's aftermath left NY in shambles and left me feeling helpless.

It's not about it ... it shouldn't be, but I'm emotional seeing what my home is going through... for many transplants that left NY ... NY will always be our home.

It irks me how people are calling it a joke... the people who are saying that... I'm quick to delete.  I don't need to associate with people who have zero compassion.

I'm just venting.