Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Consualia!

I'm a total nerd, right? In researching some things for Saturnalia, I discovered two other holidays that book end that Roman festival. December 15th is Consualia, the feast day of Consus, the God of the Storage Bins. It's one in a long line of harvest holidays.

It's a fun little holiday considering Roman holidays work good for texas because the seasons allign better than those of colder climates. My last harvest was two weeks ago when we finally got a hard freeze. I'm celebrating by putting some seed money in the silos and cleaning and refilling my flour/sugar/bean jars.

Always being one for a project, I've decided on my new year's resolution. 2009's resolution was a mixed bag. We wanted to save a lot of money. That was a mixed bag. We saved as much a we could before various things happened - major car repairs done only to have a car crap out completely. Then sulla started school. We had to replace a water heater and the windshield wiper motor on my car died while taking the boys to school during a rain storm. There went 400bucks.

So this year, rather than just saving money, I'm looking for something more holistic. It's going to be a DIY year, mostly based on home cooking. I've started reading ahead to get a jump on spring. There's been a lot of news and articles lately about food politics as well as "back to the land" recession reaction. This is nothing new to me, I'm just now feeling the fire. Lake Worth still does not have recycling and the white person in me hates throwing out all that trash from pre-packaged foods. So here's the plan of action:
  • Grow more of our own food - always always
  • No eating out at all! - this one is going to be a toughy, especially with the kids. when the weather is crappy, it's just easy to go to the local fast food place to play. But with many of the establishments still using STYROFOAM!? i cant stand it anymore.
  • Staying away from packaged foods - this has lots of benefits. No artificial flavours/preservatives, less waste, no spooky plastic chemicals. I haven't decided about what to do about town talk - I can find decent food there.
  • Crack out the sewing machine and knit more
  • Reduce, reuse, blahblahblah
  • Learn more about basic home repair and do it myself where safety and skill isnt an issue - like the damned fence in the back yard. Build a chicken coop so we can get chickens and guinea hens. And building that damned solar oven I've been wanting to do for the last two summers.

I'm even looking into recipes for condiments and basics like crackers - these will probably be more for fun than practicality. But what's life if you can't make it fun.

We will see how far I can take this.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

dreams (or nightmares) only gardeners have

last night i had the worst dream that tobacco hornworms had started attacking my tomato plants. this late in the season! It's getting down into the 50s at night so most pests are gone (with the exception of the army worms and cabbage worms noming on my collard greens, though the later are mostly gone. ive been letting the boys pick them up and step on them.) and my tomato plants have about 10 fruits on them and are growing like crazy ever since the temperature dropped and we had several months of consistant rain. ive been telling myself i need to harvest my basil before i lose all of it to an early frost - besides, it's crowding out my broccoli - so my brain must have picked that little point to focus on.

in my dream im going out to harvest the basil and i notice the typical signs of hornworms - nubby little stumps where there used to be lush foliage. i bend over and these suckers are HUGE! the length of texas brown snakes! fat like leopard geckos! cabbage worms were like green garter snakes with nubby little feet hanging out just for a change of scenery.

so im taking the hint and making boat loads of pesto. guess what we're going to be eating a lot the rest of the year.

Monday, November 2, 2009

thank gourd october is over

october was one hella busy month. ive dedicated november to staying home and nesting for the winter. also, im working on a new project for the new year and need to start getting into the swing of things now. and now that october is over, time to start freaking out about christmas. every year i say i will go simple, but then say "fark it" and go overboard.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

i'z sorry

i need to get my butt back into blogging - been reading, garage saleing, birthdaying and a lot of sleeping.

but i did add some new blogs on the side - check them out.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

try doing that with miracle-gro!

another plus for organic gardening.

i spread and watered 50 pounds of hort. molasses in the front yard and now it smells like ginger snaps.

Friday, September 4, 2009

more behaviourist creep-tasticness

while i was researching my last post i googled "token economy" and the first link after the wiki article was for the website kidsmakingchange.com. i cant get there banner picture to show so you might as well click over so you have an idea what im talking about.

the egg family (kinda looks like a veggie-tale knock-off) and what is in their eyes. for the mother, it's a heart. the father, a star. the child, a dollar sign. the site is not very easy to navigate. it mostly regurgitates the same thing imploring the visitor to sign up for all the secrets.

but back to the egg family's focus. the heart - is the mother acting with love as her intention? or is she looking for "good behaviour" as a sign of love? how many times have you heard "if you really loved me, you'd do...?" is she only willing to love if the behaviour warrants it? the start - does the father see the child's potential, their inner strengths? or does the father see a "good" child as a "star" and the only way to be popular/successful is through "good" behaviour?

in kohn's other book unconditional parenting, he states the use of "time outs" (the short cut of "time out from positive reinforcement") is conditional parenting. the parents' love/time/attention is all based on child's behaviour and whether it is up to snuff. his major complaint about time outs are they often arent used in a constructive way to talk about actions or their repercussions. a child who hits another may need a break to cool down and to keep from further harming themselves or others. the parent may need a break to comfort the victim and to get their own head level, but ultimately it's foolish to think a child in the heat of the moment is going to "think about what they did" simply because they were told head to the naughty mat. a more productive and longer lasting, and longer to achieve, method would be to talk about what lead to the altercation and then talk about why the current actions were not appropriate and what can be done differently next time.

this can be hard to see when one is in the mists of an angry child, a hurt child and a frustrated adult but the main point is children are not trees you can prune to grow against a wall, or dog to train or blank slates to imprint with whatever notions you have about the word. and they certainly arent wild horses that need to be broken by sticker charts and tickets and the parental cold-shoulder to get used to the yoke of civility. they are human beings worthy of respect (and one can give boundaries and regulations with respect) and dignity. eventually, given the proper amount of time and teaching, children will learn to be respectful citizens to whatever degree they possibly can.

but regardless of the parent's motivations, the egg-child's focus is plain and ultimately the most disturbing. the reward. whether it's literally money, or a prize, or parental approval and affection. whether the child has learned life is better when we are nice to others or sharing chores makes us self-reliant and leaves more free time for us all, or sometimes you just have to do things even if they arent all that fun, is left to be said.

book pairings

ive been reading a lot lately and have been meaning to put together a little list of books that really should be read together:

homage to catilona/1984 - george orwell. written roughly about the same time. orwell's hatred of communism comes from his experiences with the anarchists during the spanish civil war.

black boy/native son - richard wright. if i remember correctly native son was written directly after wright finished black boy.

gravity's rainbow - thomas pinchon/the kindly ones - jonathan littel. insanely long, graphic, complicated books about nazis/WWII. not for the faint of heart or those not wanting to marry a book for several months.

those are the ones i can think of right now. look for more.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

alfie kohn was right

buddyone has not been extremely open with what he does in school. he says "it just fell out of my brain" whenever i ask at pick up time. eventually a few little stories will bubble out during the evening. husband and i have to exchange notes because he rarely tells us the same events.

last week was the start of school and either the first or second day, the only thing he could tell me was he got 5 tickets for "being good." red flag. usually "being good" in children means being complacient/quiet/convienent automatons. and if he got 15 by friday he could get a treasure out of the treasure box. oh lord. but i said "oh. ok" and dropped it for more important school day activities.

then friday rolls around. buddyone was very excited to get his treasure - a blue jelly pencil grip. he got 21 tickets and husband asked if he got to keep them. no. that's not fair, husband exclaims. drop it, i tell husband. to buddyone, that's a really neat treasure; im glad you like it. and off we go out to jumping party for one last time on our summer pass.

later that evening, buddyone's going to the bathroom and im talking to him, trying to get a few more details about this token economy system. the following paraphrased exchange ensues. i have omitted repeated paths of inquiry.

me: do you like your pencil grip?
buddyone (b1): yep

me: did everyone get to pick a treasure?
b1: no, M (a little girl) didnt get enough tickets

me: she didnt get enough?
b1: yeah. she didnt listen.

me: oh. that's sad. you had extras, could you have shared yours?
b1: but then i wouldn't get a treasure

me: was she sad she didnt get a treasure?
b1: no (comment: maybe she's just a resilient gal, or didnt show her dissapointment but i personally know of no child that is fine being left out while everyone around them is getting something.)

me: but you had 6 extra (break for mini math lesson).
b1: we can't. that's against the rules.

me: (trying a new path) could you help M to listen
b1: but then i wont get any tickets

me: when does M not listen?
b1: she wiggles during nap time.

(this part is extremely ironic because buddyone is an insufferable wiggler in general, but especially at bedtime. talks a lot, too.)

me: maybe she's not tired
b1: no. she just wont listen and then everyone will start talking and wiggling.

me: did you fall asleep?
b1: yes
me: did other people start talking?
b1: no
me: than she didnt disrupt anyone.
b1: augh! i dont wanna talk about this anymore.

there was more, but it was of the "second verse, same as the first" variety.

M and buddyone seem cut from the same cloth. they could be best of friends.

ok, you are saying. what the heck was the point of that and who the heck is alfie kohn? in a nutshell, the exchange i had with my son is the quintessential example of why rewards, praise, token economies, and other crap doesnt work. and alfie kohn is an educator and writer and formally trained in psychology. he writes about education and parenting in his fabulous book Punished by Rewards he takes a hard look at what is considered vital parenting (and adult management) practices.

in the most basic form, rewards/praise/bribes take kids in a classroom and turn them into pigeons in a skinner box. do this, get that. dont do this, dont get that. i swear, when i here parents saying "good job/boy/girl" it sounds like they are talking to a pet. and big affectionate responses work. for animals. you wanna train your dog to stop barking at the mail carrier, by all means whip out the treats and belly rubs. but for your kids? come on! have a little more respect for yourself and your child.

in PbR, kohn gives five main reasons why rewards dont work (in any meaningful way). they are:
  1. Rewards Punish
  2. Rewards Rupture Relationships
  3. Rewards Ignore Reasons
  4. Rewards Discourage Risk-taking
  5. Rewards change how people feel about what they are doing

Rewards Punish - This boils down to basic control. do this, get that. dont do this, dont get that. Kohn also shows evidence of people who use rewards often also show a greater tendency to use punishments.

Rewards rupture Relationships - rewards rarely lead to collaboration and instead foster jealousy and strife between parties as they work for a single prize or "if we are all good" prize and inevitably some one isnt. Later in the book Kohn also mentions that rewards can polarise a person's view about their abilities, based on rewards received, and other's abilities, based on rewards received.

Rewards Ignore Reasons - Some people are not good test takers, other's arent interested in the topic at hand, other's have a higher energy level. (i would hate to think i couldnt have gotten my job several years ago because i had a horrible sinus infection and couldnt type "Egyptian" at 80wpm) this doesnt make them stupid, ill-tempered, hyper-active. but when rewards are based only for limited parameters, those who cant obtain them for whatever reason, are left out.

Rewards Discourage Risk-Taking - Kohn finds study after study showing that people will do exactly the "this" to get "that" and little more. people will often go out of their way to find the easiest "this" to get "that."

And lastly rewards ultimately kill any joy in doing the "this." Study after study has shown the more people are rewarded for doing something, the less actual interest they have in it. way to take learning and being a good citizen and strangling all meaning out of it.

really, the book is fascinating. It's a scholarly read but well worth plugging through. highly recommended if you are a parent, work with children or "manage" adults.

So let's recap. Can you spot all the "reward fail" in the exchange between me and my son?

  • because of the token economy, the tickets/rewards were some of the most enthusiastic things i heard from my son about his first week of school. not friends names or what he did at recess.
  • he was unwilling to help a friend for fear of losing rewards/was not able to help a friend with his extra tickets.
  • a child was forced to sleep/punished for inability to sleep simply because it was naptime and they werent tired
  • he "assumed the worst" based on M's inability to sleep during the scheduled time and couldnt think of a reason why she wouldnt be sleepy.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

quickie post

i may get my wish of a new water heater. our maude-knows-how-old one has cracked or rusted through. and of course it's leaking in a really akward spot so we cant put a drip pan under it. so im posting quickly before i research how to drain a gas water heater.

i love saturdays.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

some new mama-related stuff

as opposed to new-mama related stuff. nope, none of that in this house.

i found a new blog i really like - it's all about the hat - found her on feministing - she's an AP mama who also does no 'poo.

and it's weird, now that the little people are getting older, a lot of the trappings of AP arent so obvious anymore - im not nursing constantly, i dont wear agrippa anymore. it's not like i can bring up crunchy pregnancy/birth much anymore. but it's fun to read about it.

and speaking crunchy, or anti-crunchy, stuff here's some new crap in a can being sold.

there is no mention on enfamil's website about what this thickening agent is. all i can think is that it is supposed to curdle in the stomach and react. yuck!! and what about choking hazards? both boys were pukers and having to hork up this murm, i cant even imagine. and what about malnutrition issues with the "feeling" of being full, but not calorically full? im sorry enfamil, the "natural way to help keep your baby feeling satisfied" would be to feed your child when they are hungry, no matter what hour. there is also the notion that an infant's restlessness at night is a protective measure against SIDS. but fuck that, get yourself the binkie-buddy and never have parent your child between the hours of 9pm-9am again!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

sulla survived kindergarten

just came home from school. im slowly coming to realise besides tuition there's also going to be "opportunity" costs. unless i can find someone to carpool with, i'm going to use up the same amount of gas in one week that would usually last me two. that's not counting if i have to go somewhere outside the direct to and from route - like to the fort worth library or to the park. and there's a sonic on bryant irving - when it's hot, like today, and my ass is dragging, there's 2bucks for beverages (i wonder why their "happy hour" is during school pick-up time.)

but im making the most of the trips by picking up mulch/manure every time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

a freebie

i lucked out and got one more day alone yesterday.

it was productive and i made cookies. yeah! and read and knitted. im going to put of a picture post later.

i ran around to 4 different stores (though i did find a pair of kahkis for husband and two shirts for agrippa and a new bathingsuit) looking for more shirts for sulla for school before finally settling on target. i only got two. they might even be to big so i will have to return them - im going to keep looking though.

Monday, August 10, 2009

it had to come to an end

today is my last full day without sulla and agrippa. so im:

  • getting stamps
  • going to two libraries
  • going to green mama's (i found a coupon!)
  • getting a hair cut
  • thrift town - for a toaster oven and shirts for sulla

last friday, husband and i went to his co-worker's house for a party thing. they just bought it and it festooned with BUTLPs (pronounced butt-lips. kinda unattractive, right? that's the point, keep reading) - Boring, Unimaginative Texas Landscape Plants - crepe myrtles, boxwoods, youpon holly, photinia. the only thing they were missing was asiatic jasmine. plus they had some lantana that's taking over. one plus is their beautiful vitex (chaste tree). it was late and there was alcohol involved (diet coke for me!) but i told them i would love to be their landscaper - i thrilled everyone with my plant knowledge. i told husband to get on them about it. maybe that could pay for agrippa's school.

selling out, part 2

the ads are now up. you know what to do.

Friday, August 7, 2009

baby's first ball-gag

there seems to be a glut (yukyuk) of stupid child products ive have the pleasure of learning about in the last few days.

first one is the binky buddy. the general idea is, if your baby cries because it's binky fell out of it's mouth, make the fuck sure that sucker stays right in there. because there's nothing a baby couldnt be crying about that isnt worth getting something artificial shoved in it's mouth. with the exception of the use in the baby bjorn (in video) the whole point of this product seems to be to keep the baby quiet and "happy" with minimal parental involvement.

in the "about us," we are informed the binky buddy was originally designed by NICU nurses, in an attempt, i suppose, to give it some legitimacy. but think about it. nicu babies, with all their wires and tubes and machines, with no other comfort than a binkie. a few nurses in charge of several babies without the time to give them the personal touch and comfort. it is heartbreaking (i dont suggest doing a google image search without a box of tissues). and that's the tenor you want to give to your parenting? this, besides the fact kangaroo care has been show to give better outcomes for premie babies and their parents. but why attach, when you can detach, eh?

from the site, bolded for emphasis:

It provides a soft and cuddly extension to the pacifier which helps the baby independently retrieve the pacifier. The Binky Buddy keeps the pacifier from falling away when not in use which allows the baby to retrieve the pacifier without parental assistance when wanted. Both parent and baby feel proud when baby maneuvers their head in order to retrieve pacifier all on their own.

hell, why not get your 3 month old a job at the local fast food joint while you're at it, they can start paying rent. the only "soft and cuddly extension" a young baby needs is it's parents' arms and mom's boob. but why do that when you can strap on junior's ball-gag, close the door and VOILA, your baby is "sleeping through the night" and you can pat yourself on the back for being such a doubleplus good parent.

and RLY? you're "proud" when your baby moves zur head to reach the pacifer? proud of what? your laziness? proud your child has realised mom and dad cant be buggered to do the most minor task of retrieving an errent binkie? and the baby is proud? really? i call BS. my boys, for all their high suck needs, gave me nothing but looks of incredulity when i had the gall to attempt using an artificial nipple (there's a reason some countries call them "dummies.") on them. and if youtube is any proof, and it will be for me, crying babies dont want to be pacified, they want to be held and loved and fed. but nope, it's shut up time for you!

the next piece, is spain's bebe gluton, a mechanical doll specifically for nursing play. im not going to get into the whole "boobies are gross unless they are selling beer" and "this will sexualise young girls" or "this puts feminism back 150 years" wank.

sorry for the image cut off. click to see full.

im going to pick some nits instead. what's that in the baby's hand? why is a breastfeeding baby given a pacifier (does it need a binkie buddy?), which can cause nipple confusion and can otherwise hamper a breastfeeding relationship? and the picture second from the left (next to the one where the girl is holding two. hell, i gotta give some props for tandem/twin nursing), is that a bottle? that's the classic holding something to the baby's mouth pose. so nursing is good, but only with supplementation? argh!!!!!!

for children who with play nurse their dolls, do they need one specifically for it? this doll is a one-way, one-use, one-function. what's with companies sticking batteries in things that otherwise dont need them? it's not the baby that's the glutton, it's toy companies, alway looking for something to separate parents from their money by creating some useless piece of trash that will be forgotten in a month. let your child nurse their teddy bears, trains, cars, buzz lightyears or baby dolls. if you want to promote breastfeeding, nurse your children early and often. point out nursing when you see it, even if it's other animals - we like looking for nursing at the zoo or the local farm. read nursing-friendly picture books. i particularly get a kick out of finding birth-positive, pro-nursing passages in adult fiction.

selling out

i was on my way to town talk this morning and heard a commercial for google ads for "mommy bloggers" *vomit. i hate that term* but hey! money right? at this point any little bit will be helpful. just today i was mulling over markers and glue and the 20 odd cents difference between crayola and elmer's and whatever cheaper generic wal-mart carried. i stuck with crayola crayons and fiskar's for scissors because they are better, but for everything else, my desire for brand purity and to buy american just couldnt compare to the money i would save. also, the school supply list had some communal products on it that i would never normally buy - namely anti-bacterial crud and paper towels. buying more, there wasnt extra money for "the real thing."

so come on google, gimmee gimmee gimmee. (ads should be up in a few weeks or so. i will try to keep anything objectionable off the list - namely formula, weight loss, adoption crap.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

childless day...what is it now?

i think it's day five. they are all blending in with each other at this point.
  • the shrubs are gone - except for the last one being guarded by some hornets
  • playroom, living room and boys' bedroom cleaned (just leaving the computer room and kitchen)
  • legos organised
  • did some minor toy weeding, there's not much left that the boys dont play with consistantly
  • slept a lot, yesterday i was feeling particularly out of it
  • reading a lot
  • later im going to the library
  • tomorrow is pay day and i will do grocery and school supply shopping maybe go to green mama's to get some ideas for the spring
  • fed some hornworms to my two resident preying mantises (mantisae?)
  • unsuccessfully tried to feed some leafhoppers to a banana spider i found in my rosemary

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

childless day 2

  • 4 loads of laundry
  • mopped bedroom
  • set up sewing table
  • mopped bathroom
  • went to St. Peter's PTO meeting and got to talk to adults

Sunday, August 2, 2009

childless day 1

today was the first full day ive had without the kiddos. hurz wat i did:
  • slept till 9am
  • mowed the backyard
  • took down and cleaned the pool
  • started attacking the wood pile
  • read over 145 pages in a single sitting
  • put up the mail box post in the ground (technically i helped husband do it). tomorrow i finish it - i had to wait for the cement to cure
  • went out to dinner with said husband
  • took a shower

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

topical gardening post

it's july in texas so while everything is dying around you (or at least looks like 13 shades of death) you start thinking about next year. and as gardening is a constantly evolving learning process, this is what i learned this year.

  • mulch, mulch, mulch - didnt do near enough of it. the leaves from last fall and the wood chips put down from the previous owner have pretty much all but decomposed into the soil.
  • fertilizer - again, didnt do near enough. besides some soil ammendments in march and watering with fish tank water and menstrual blood (yep, im that crunchy and now you all know it) i havent added much new stuff.
  • compost - gotta get a better handle on composting. im hoping to get a better composting set-up if we can swing it and find a new location for it.
  • dont wait until you see bugs eating your plants to get the beneficial ones - i waited until May to get preying mantids and tric wasps and by then, my greens and squash were toast
  • better place for carrots - i made the mistake of putting my carrots right next to the dirt patch where sulla and agrippa play. they took to pulling them all out to see how they were growing. well, they didnt grow much.

Friday, June 12, 2009

does the gate keep people out, or keep you in

yet another reason, while i may live in a rube part of town, im glad i dont live in a subdivision.

You missed your dues, out to the curb.

editted: to insert obligatory malvina reynolds

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

another interesting developement

im outside enjoying the relatively mild june weather, reading a book about bugs to the kiddos and i read about the atlas moth and what does this moth's caterpillar eat? according to the book, ailanthus or tree of bane of my existence. but they live in the tropics and subtropics of china and india.

google also gave me tree of heaven silk moths. the scientific name is completely different though they look very similar. actually the above gal's website looks like a good resource. she's from the UK and it appears she rears her moths inside. we've got enough non-human animals in the house, im not really interested in mothing.

but, as im already on a beneficial bug kick - im anxiously waiting for my preying mantids to hatch and hope the trichogramma wasps hatched - i need to find out if these moths are safe to release into the wild. from the looks of it, the tree and it's moth was already released in the US hoping for silk production so that gives me hope. the next step would be calling Texas A&M or some other extension.

Friday, June 5, 2009

god, i suck at bloggin

been on a reading tear and have a lot of things to catch up on. and while it's a day late and a dollar short


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

an interesting development

several months ago, i blogged about pelleted pine bedding as cat litter. (for the record a 40 bag lasted 3 and a half months. for a little over 2 dollars a month).

with three boxes, ive run into the "problem" of what to do with it because i dont want to add it to my food compost bin. ive added it to my acid loving hydrageas without any burn out and noticed it was killing some weedy vines. interesting. on a whim i dumped some on a sucker of this motherplucking tree. someone on teh interwebs told me they thrive in horrible conditions so if you baby them, or dump tons of fresh manure, they will burn themselves out. i forgot about it for a few days, and then noticed the sucker was all wilted away.

hey. i might be on to something. i think the combination of cat urine and pine is just too much and maybe it will kill off some of the kudzu-esque vines growing there. i wacked away at a few trees along the fence with the neighbours (reminder to ask them/the landlord about digging on their side) and started dumping the boxes on a few suckers to experiment. we will see what happens.

sadly im going to have to stay on top of it forever because the only thing between our living room and the western sun is a huge mature tree of heaven. i had thought it was a pecan when we bought the house.

Monday, April 27, 2009

stop the ride, i want off!

husband is on day 5 of a nasty URI. he got sick right as this whole swine flu thing came out - that's a fun feeling. tomorrow, if he's still out of it, it's a trip to the ER. he tried work today, but he might have had a bad reaction to the medication they gave him - or he could just be getting worse.

so it was a crazy past few days with the busted car and trying to explain to the boys that just because daddy is home doesnt mean he can play. and then we had a case of the crazies because of the rain today.

it's a good thing i dont drink cause this week has been up there.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

woohoo! two months since a post

im back from a long hiatus of illness and vacation. ive got lots of stuff to post about and tons of pictures to put up eventually.

in the meantime, today was one of those super awesome productive days. i:

  • took husband to work cause the car is in the shop
  • went to target and got said husband socks, teeshirts and a new lunch bag for buddytwo
  • also got anti-bug stuff so we wont get eaten alive when we go for after dinner walks
  • took the kids to school and renewed our public radio membership
  • got a boat load of work shirts, again for said husband, at thrift town for an insanely low price
  • found fan blades, also on sale at thrift town, and replaced the broken one in the boys' room so now they have a working fan, just in time for "summer"
  • went grocery shopping
  • went to braum's and used 5 dollars in coupons
  • am doing laundry as we speak and emptied the dish washer.

later im picking of the boys, going to the park and picking husband up from work. and after i hit publish post, im cleaning out the fridge.

go me!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

finally something good this weekend

im so tired of sickness. the four of us have been swapping germs for the last two weeks. first a cold, then a stomach bug, and then another cold/respiratory infection thingee. my voice is gone and agrippa is on the nebuliser again and is hardly eating or sleeping and is just in a nasty disposition.

but!! we finally sold the diamante that had been sitting in the driveway for almost a year. ive got 300 bucks to play with. oooh, the projects i can finally start. whee! at this point, im mostly thinking gardening, but i might get some stuff for the house too. yeay for money.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

in which i live up to my uberhausfrau name

it may be rather embarrassing to say, seeing as we are trying to save money, but up until yesterday husband bought his breakfast.

so i now get up when he gets up and make breakfast - that should be a savings of at least 15 a week.

also, i planted some carrots - it's still fairly early, but i covered them with some hay i found on the curb.

and i made dinner every night last week. it may have been leftovers or something from the freezer, but we didnt make a taco bueno run cause i didnt feel like it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

i'm still here, if anyone gives a darn

im on a huge reading kick so ive been wanting to finish all the books i have out from three different libraries (great in theory, not in practice). the blog has been very low on the list.

so here's so more thrifty stuff, in no particular order.

cat litter - just like the diapering continuum, where you go from using disposables diaper and wipes up through complete potty training, cloth diapers and wipes or elimination communication, there are different ways of going about dealing with the issues of kitty litter. the cheapest and easiest would be having your cat go outside. but then you also deal with a whole mess of other potentially costly situations - like injury/illness, monthly parasite treatment, yearly vaccines to protect your cat from the myriad other animals they will encounter in the big bad world. indoors is best for cats, plain and simple so lets not even think of that option.

the other no cost would be toilet training your cat - which again, might be great in theory, not in practice. honestly, after dealing with training the bowels of two little people, the last thing i want to do is train my three cats and any of the other random cats i will probably have in the future.

so the other option is cheap clay litter or more expensive natural litters. (now the analysis will depend greatly on the number of cats and boxes in the house).

you average large bucket bag of scoop-able clay cat litter will cost between 9.99 and 16.99. with multiple cats, this will probably last about a month, maybe two.

the natural litters - newspaper, pine, wheat or corn will be 15.99-35.99. again, the bag will last a month, but you can compost the waste (though i would only use it on non-food crops, personally).

so what's a thrifty person to do? your money or your environment?

of course, the answer is neither! feline pine and world's best cat litter are two of the most popular natural litters, and the most expensive. but they are pressed pine pellets and cracked corn. all one needs to do is go to the local feed store and look for kiln-fired pine pellet horse bedding and chicken scratch. 40 to 50 pound bags of this will cost you under 10 dollars. (though feline pine currently has a rebate program where the first bag is free, so by all means get some if you are intrigued.)

now there is a lot of concern in the pet world about pine for any sort of bedding. generally, pine/cedar with small animals is a big fucking no-no because of the phenols in that lovely pine smell humans love so much. if your cats are prone you any sort of upper respiratory issues, it would probably be best to stay away. apparently there are non-pine pellets for wood burning stoves, but then you also have to worry about what wood is being used, as it can also be poisonous depending on the woods used.

as for corn, i havent used it but ive been told it's prone to mold if you dont clean it out often enough, but i clean the box everyday so it's no big deal. if you are one of those people who only want to clean the box once a month (and i known a few like that) this option will not work for you.

ive got three cats, plus a stray and three boxes. i purchased a 40lb bag of horse bedding two weeks ago for 8.99. ive got more than half the bag yet. even if it lasts the same time as the litter i was using before, that's still more that half the money i was spending a month for a savings of almost $200 a year. i noticed the smell is more "pine-y" than feline pine, but it's not overbearing. kinda like new pressboard ikea furniture.

cat food - just like people food, you can really sacrifice quality when you go cheap and then you are open to a lot of other, often costly, repercussions. i raw feed my babies and i highly recommend it to others. for under 20 dollars a month i can get enough food to feed my brood. they get a variety of chicken portions, chicken feet, livers, pork and beef neck bones, turkey wings, tails, drumsticks, gizzards, and lamb and buffalo when i can find it. they've also gotten raw shrimp and salmon when it was really really on sale. and even though i can spit into farm country, ive yet to find a local contact for rabbit and other exotic meat. i buy bulk trays and bags when they are on sale and am able to find a lot of "scrap" meat at grocery stores like sack n' save and fiesta which caters to latinos, though "white" grocery stores have started carrying more stuff like pigs feet and the like. among the cost effective benefits of raw feeding are: less offensive smelling poop which means less need for heavily fragranced litter or other odor-controlling additives, naturally "brushed" teeth so no messing with tooth brushes and pastes, and over all healthier cats.

books - this is going to be like lent but a billion times worse. last year, we spent over $200 on books, and that's not counting stuff i paid in cash. generally, i only buy keeper books anyway, but for the year, ive decided to hold off any purchases of reading materials and utilise any and all available libraries and inter-library loan privileges. of course the more i read, the long my wishlist grows, but im trying to follow the principle of delayed gratification, and if i can survive a year or so without it, do i really need it? but i already know of a few books that will be purchased for gift giving reasons. and those i will attempt to get as cheaply as possible.

screw the dryer - so far for this year, i think ive only thrown a load or two in the dryer. seeing as we've hardly gotten any rain, the weather's been fairly decent and it's dry as fuck in the house, ive been air drying just about everything - even socks which i used to consider too much a pain in the ass to hang. the only downside the limited space for drying which keeps me from doing more than one load a day, which just doesnt work for me. all it takes is needing to do diapers, or the sheets or needing to split a colour load and im scrounging for socks or work clothes for husband. i might break down and buy some drying racks from lehman's on the principle that i would use my dryer even less and with our electricity rates going up, they would pay for themselves in a year. and this summer, i WILL make a solar oven but that's another post all together.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

finally, a post

now that the holidays are over, agrippa is healing from surgery, and stomach bug and the cold, kinda, and both are back in "school" ive got time to sit and think about posting.

the number one resolution husband and i made was to save roughly 23% of our income. so this year will be all about being uber-fucking-thrifty.

my first thrifty tip is going "no 'poo." holy cow, people. ive been intrigued by it for a while but now i am a true believer. i was going to try it once what we've got ran out our current stuff, but screw that. it's going on freecycle.

for the record, i usually only take a shower 3 times a week, my hair gets pretty grungy and my scalp flakes during the dry months. ive also have really thick hair. i had been using tresseme's hair repair shampoo with extra murm in it to help "damaged" hair and the "dry" formula for conditioner. my hair would always feel blah out of the shower and would puff up into that 'i air dried my hair' poof and then would deflate the next day. it's also that length where it's sitting right on my shoulders and would tangle at the drop of a hat. i was constantly running my fingers through it and pulling out snarl after snarl of hair.

this time i did 2 tablespoons of baking soda (in a little bowl) i made a thin paste and focused around my forehead, temple and back of ears and what i had left over went on the crown of my head and worked down from there on my scalp. after rinsing, my hair felt a kinda brittle and 'stripped.' it was still tangley and i wasnt sure what to think. then i did a rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar. it went soft and smooth and it even made my face feel nice when some dripped down my temples. and it sure tastes better than soap suds. combing was a breeze. my hair dried with a lot less poof and hasnt tangled near as much for the rest of the day. there is a very very very faint smell of vinegar but that's it. my scalp is still a bit flakey but not near as much.

im hoping the boys might like this better than shampooing, too. i lurve the way the burt's bees shampoo smells, but it's "no tears" isnt really true and both of them hate me washing their hair.

i havent done the complete break down of costs but stuff ive read online puts it at pennies a wash. we really dont spend a lot of hair products anyway but if it saves us 50bucks, that's a start. which reminds me, i have to get my hair cut, and ive got a coupon. woot!

more info on no 'poo
there is tons and tons of info over there. it's kinda like clothe diapering. it seems really overwhelming at first, but it's ridiculously simple once you get through it.