Feeling lighter already

June 30, 2010

Back at the end of May I promised to start getting rid of stuff.  1000 things to be precise.  Last night I got a good start when I took my summer things out of the bins they’ve been sitting in for about a month.  I now have 68 less pieces of clothing, shoes and travel gear.  I could have probably gotten rid of another 68 things but I love them.  And while they don’t fit right at this moment, I am hopeful that by next summer they will.  Honestly, there is not much less that is demoralizing than emptying four 70L tote bins of clothes, 85% of which are too small.  On the upside though, I have more room in my drawers and closet for the stuff I did unpack.  But the weight issue is another rant post for another time.  Right now I just want to bask in the joy of feeling good about divesting things.

And on the stash knitdown front, the college I work for has a Early Childhood Education program.  In fact the daycare is right outside my office.  Well, my office building to be precise.  I emailed them last week and they are thrilled to be getting my odds and ends of yarn and fabric and what-the-hell-was-I-thinking-when-I-bought-this-yarn purchases.  I’m thrilled that someone will be able to use it and it won’t sit in a landfill for the next million years (yes, some of it is acrylic and that stuff probably never biodegrades).

So baby steps.  68 things gone from my life and 932 (or more) left.


The roads not travelled

June 29, 2010

So it’s a well known fact that I do a lot of driving to get to work.  Too much driving some days.  I’m trying to find the shortest (distance-wise) route to my office and so far am not having much luck.  I lease my car, which made sense when I drove 100 kms a week.  Now I drive that in a day.  So I’ll be buying my next car outright.  And it will probably be a diesel.  Or a standard.  Or maybe even a standard diesel.  I am very concerned with good gas mileage so I’ll have to look into all the options.  And I don’t want to hear that diesel is bad for the environment.  I know it’s not great but I also know it’s better than it used to be.  And let’s face it, it’s also not so environmentally friendly to fill my gas tankup twice a week either.

But enough ranting.  The best part of my drive is that it is mostly through farmland and small towns.  And I see a lot of animals and have watched the fields go from empty dirt to bursting with corn and potatoes and who know what manner of deliciousness.  I also see a lot of roads going who knows where.  And I’m nothing if not nosey curious.  I’d love to see where they lead to.    But I’m on a deadline.  I have to be at work on time and after work the last thing I want to do is meander home. 

One day though, I’m going to take a day off work and, mileage be damned, spend the day slowly driving down the county roads and concessions I see every day but don’t get to drive down.  Who knows what will be waiting for me?  A farm stand?  A herd of deer?  A beautiful garden or an old farm house?  It’s a mystery and it’s one I can’t wait to solve.

The madness continues

June 22, 2010

So along with making bread from scratch every few days, I’ve also decided to make my own yogurt.  It’s been something I’ve been meaning to do for a few years now and about a month ago I finally got off my butt and did it.

I eat a lot of yogurt.  A LOT of yogurt.  I eat it to get my calcium allotment and I eat it for my digestive health.  I also eat it because I love it.  I like it plain, with fruit, with crazy flavours, on granola, in smoothies.  It’s my go-to morning breakfast food.  And I spend a ton of money on it.

So I was reading the Cheap Healthy Good blog and came across a post (or a link…I can’t remember now) about making your own yogurt in a crock pot.  In any event, I printed off the instructions, bought some organic whole milk (holy CRAP is that stuff expensive!!!)  and had at’er.  The end product was ok as the DH would say.  It was yogurt but definitely on the thin, runny side.  It was also a little on the yeasty tasting side which was odd.  I added some fruit jam and managed to choke it down.  And went back to the drawing board.

I stumbled across this recipe and have stuck with it ever since.  It is a little, well ok a lot, more labour intensive than the crock pot method.  But some of that is partially my fault as I stand there and stir the milk to cool it down.  If I walked away and let it alone I’m sure I’d get more accomplished.  But, it’s worth it.  The yogurt is thick and tangy and tastes just like Liberty yogurt, which to me, is the gold standard. 

I don’t use organic milk anymore either.  It’s expensive at $8.99 for a 4L bag and I didn’t find that the initial batch of yogurt tasted all that great.  In fact, it tasted kind of crappy.  In Canada, dairy farmers  aren’t allowed to use growth hormones and use antibiotics under strict conditions so I figure that regular milk is probably fine. 

So yogurt and bread are now made at home by me.  I’m not sure if I’m saving money on the yogurt, although I’m sure I’m at least breaking even, given that I’m not spending $10 or so every two weeks, but it tastes awesome and that’s reason enough to do it.  And now that I have a recipe that works I’ll forgo the freeze-dried starter and just use a bit of yogurt from the last batch to “season” the new batch. 

DH rolls his eyes at all this but let me tell you, when the Rapture/G20 riots/2012/end of the world comes, at least we’ll have food to eat.

One less purchase

June 21, 2010

Two weeks ago I declared a moratorium on bread for the forseeable future.  Not the actual eating of bread but the buying of it.  I’m not buying it anymore.  

Instead, I’ve decided to start making my own.  It has to be cheaper than buying it at the store, although that isn’t really the point.  (This is more an exercise in good nutrition than saving money.)  A regular loaf of whole wheat bread is about $2.79.  If you’re lucky, there’s a 2 loaves for $4 sale on at the grocery store, which makes it $1.43 a loaf.  Which is a pretty good deal.  Except the price seems to have gone up lately to 2 loaves for $5, which works out to $2 a loaf, which really isn’t a tremendous savings.  And I have three or four (or 10) books on baking bread.  That I never use.  Also I’m tired of tossing half a loaf the last few slices of bread in the green bin because they are stale or dried out from being in the fridge for two weeks.  Which is probably a week or so longer than it should be in there. 

So I told the DH two weeks ago I was done.  No more bread buying.  He didn’t say much.  In fact I don’t even know if he’s even noticed that there’s been no store bought bread in the house of late.  Instead there is always a loaf of fresh bread on the cutting board and I have to say, it’s pretty delicious.  And I know exactly what goes in it – flour, water/milk, butter/oil, salt, yeast, baking soda and honey/sugar.  That’s it. 

Also I’ve noticed I rarely throw out bread now.  If there is a bit left, I cut it up into cubes and freeze it for croutons later.  Or breadcrumbs.

Overall making my own bread hasn’t adversely affected my life.  I have a bread maker that was languishing and figured it was time to show it some love.  Did you know you can bake regular, non-bread machine recipe bread in the bread maker?  I didn’t.  But I tried it and it turned out just fine.  I’ve now got it down to a science and quite literally three mintues of prep time and three hours of bake time makes the house smell awesome and provides enough bread for two adults to eat for two or three days.  If it lasts that long.  And I’m in the kitchen anyway so another three  minutes tossing ingredients into the machine is no big deal.

Pre-bread buying moratorium, I bought an enormous bag of flour at Costco and I’ve hardly made a dent in it after six loaves.  I’ve also got an enormous bag of whole wheat flour that isn’t even open.  At this rate I figure I can make bread for the rest of the year for pennies a loaf.  I haven’t figured out the actual costs and probably won’t (I am lazy) but it can’t cost all that much to make my own bread. 

Currently, I make one loaf at a time right now.  But I figure, once some freezer space opens up, I’ll make two or three different flavours over the course of a day and freeze them which will further simplify life.  And add more variety to our bread-eating options.

And it won’t be just bread machine bread either.  Once the weather cools down I hope to spend one weekend day a month baking bread.  And it’s not like you spend the whole day hovering over the bread anyway.  A stand mixer with a dough hook does the kneading and then it’s just a matter of letting it rise and baking it. 

My dad made bread a lot when I was a little girl and I can still remember how good that warm whole wheat bread tasted, right out of the oven, dripping with butter.  And speaking of butter, I just found out yesterday that DH has a cousin who has a contact for fresh goat and cow milk.  I think some homemade butter would taste pretty damn good on the homemade bread.

A bit of a slap in the face

June 2, 2010

I guess it’s my own fault, but really, people could show a little more professionalism. 

A few days ago I saw a job posting.  Let me state for the record that I am happily employed  at my current job and the only real downside to it is the fact that I have to drive 90 minutes round trip.  And even that’s not so bad given that I have Hinterland Who’s Who experiences every day.  Mostly, my disatisfaction about this job comes from  feeling guilty about my increased carbon footprint but overall I have very little  to complain about work-wise.  I’m very lucky I know.

So I mentioned the job posting to DH.  And told him that while I probably should apply for it (I was eminently qualified) I wasn’t going to as there was no real benefit  – my commute wouldn’t be considerably shortened, the work was not something I was especially interested in, the pay would likely be on par with the current job (or less) AND most importantly, I had applied to that company many years ago and thought then that the person I’d be reporting to was a bit odd.  That person is still there and would be my boss.  I also knew, within minutes of beginning that interview way back when, that I didn’t want to work at the organization so I essentially dialed it in.  I also didn’t get a second interview, so no farm no foul right?  Clearly I was not what they were looking for and that was fine for all parties involved. 

So I had reservations when I saw this posting.  And I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it to DH who is all about applying for jobs just for practice.  After some discussion, which entailed me saying I wasn’t interested and him saying I could always say no if I got an offer, I decided against the whole thing.  I mean really, what’s the point of jumping through hoops if you don’t really care about the outcome?  DH said I should do it but it was my decision in the end.

But this morning I figured oh, why not?  What did I have to lose?  Maybe it was a different environment now even though none of the players had changed.  So I fired off a resume and figured that would be the end of it until the closing deadline passed.  I figured I’d likely get a call for an interview and I would deal with the whole thing if and when that happened.  I was not going to devote any more of my time to this.

Until I happened to go back to my “professional” email box for another matter and I saw an email from the person I sent my details to.  They had written back three words…Oddly, no interview.

That was it.  Not sorry, you don’t meet our qualifications.  Not sorry, we’ve selected someone else.  Not even a thank you for applying, we’ll call you if we want to see you.  Just those three cryptic words.  I even went back to the documents I sent to see if I had any glaring errors….nope, they were good.

I have to say those three words make my life easier.  I don’t have to worry about a future job interview for a job I don’t particularly want.  Nor do I have to deal with thinking about weighing the pros and cons of taking a new job two months after taking, well, a new job. 

But the unprofessionalism bothers me.  Would it have killed this person to be a little more polite?  After all, that’s what social lies were invented for.  And better yet, they could have not bothered to contact me at all.  Email silence is better than email rudeness.  And I think we’re all used to applying for jobs and having our resumes disappear into the ether never to be heard from again. 

But the manager will be someone else’s problem thankfully.  I’m staying where I am, with my awesome boss.  This is the last time I listen to the DH with respect to applying for library jobs.  I told him it wouldn’t end well but  I have to say that I didn’t think it would start off badly either.