15 reasons my clothes are hanging around

Spring is in the air and that means it is time to begin hanging my laundry outside to dry again.  Here are my favorite reasons for relying on my clothesline all spring, summer, and fall-long.

  1. Everything hung outside smells like fresh air and sunshine.
  2. Gets me (and often the boys with me) outside for more time.
  3. I get to enjoy early morning sounds like birds singing to start the day.
  4. More sustainable because it uses zero electricity.
  5. Saves me about 40 cents per load.
  6. Saves some wear and tear on my clothes because they don’t shed all that lint.
  7. Sheets hung to dry outside feel amazing to sleep on.
  8. Sunshine removes stains and odors from cloth diapers.
  9. Makes towels feel more absorbent.
  10. Socks are matched in the hanging process.
  11. Causes me to be more aware of the weather and when it will rain.
  12. Often gives me a chance to see my neighbor on her way to work and have a chat.
  13. Hanging clothes is a very relaxing chore for me.
  14. I quickly notice if the washing machine did not remove some dirt or stain.
  15. Hanging laundry reminds me of my grandmother.

What about you?  Do you have a favorite reason for hanging laundry inside or outside?

thiscrunchylife_clothesline
NapaneeGal via Compfight cc

Two tiny words that changed my parenting in a big way

I just finished reading the new classic alternative parenting work Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming parent-child relationships from reaction and struggle to freedom, power and joyand let me start by saying, “WOW!”  This is a great read and I am so glad that I came across this title and asked my library to borrow it for me. Not everyone will agree with the author’s message or her methods, but I think most of us would say that we want to enjoy a peaceful and joyful relationship with our children, and at least this book offers some ideas of how one can reduce or eliminate the need or desire for coercion or other means of controlling these pint-sized human beings in our care.

I’m still processing the ideas I read about in this book, but I’ve been surprised over and over by how one little change inspired by this book has lightened things up around here.  Those two little words that have changed everything?  Oh, no!  Yes, they are “oh, no!”  Accompanied with exaggerated begging and exasperation, they have transformed situations where I could have nagged, corrected, coerced, or physically prevented them from doing something, into opportunities for us to connect, be lighthearted, and share the absurdity of worries about the “small stuff”.  For example:

  • When the kids begin taking frozen items out of the freezer: “Oh, no!  My Brussels sprouts! What will we have for dinner! “
  • When Peter “steals” my toiletries bag when I’m packing: “Oh, no! How will I brush my teeth?  They will rot out of my head!”
  • When John takes the hat off Peter’s head: “Oh, no!  He stole your hat!  What will you do if your head gets cold?”

It is so easy and natural to want to pack your bags without interference, or to be able to cook dinner without wondering if a misplaced bag of frozen chicken carcasses will get forgotten in a couch cushion.  But instead of providing tension by trying to force them from doing things that I wouldn’t do, even if it is done in the most peaceful, redirecting, and gentle way, we’ve been laughing and playing.  Hopefully, I’m teaching them what I’m learning—-that little things are not worth bothering about and that enjoying each other as we are is more important than making sure things go my way.

But what about those Brussels sprouts, toiletries, and hat?  After a few times of my “pretend” over-the-top antics of putting them away and begging the children not to touch them again, they tend to stay right where they “belong.”  But regardless, my children are right where THEY belong in those moments . . . laughing with mama and knowing how important they are to me.

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Digital Diet: update 3.

Week 2 was the hardest so far and now all is calm again in week 3. I’m not sure why but I really started to create excuses and reasons to why we would need the Internet at home. What if I need to complete a business need? What if my wife needs it to work from home? I have a global company, I can’t be disconnected at all? These are a few of the reasons I concocted in week 2 but have settled into week 3 comfortable with the idea of no home Internet. In fact, I’ve begun to look at this as another step in my minimalist lifestyle. Un-wiring my house from the digital world. Here’s what’s been done thus far.

1. Internet disconnected.
2. Apple TV swapped for an iPod Touch with a composite cable.
3. Apple Time Capsule moved to my office to backup my iMac.
4. Sold 3 extra iPhones. I had a backup device for myself to use while my everyday iPhone would be charging. Didn’t want to miss an iMessage.
5. Our iPad Mini does not see as much use nowadays.
6. I’ve been playing more Legos with Porter.

Last thing I need to do is swap out my Nest thermostat for a none networking device and then our house is back to analog. It’s really weird to have a disconnected house but it feels good. This move has sparked some ideas for home products for those of us without Internet. I’m currently gathering a team to construct a prototype.

All in all, I’m happy with the change and my wife could care less. I was the one who was all geeked out about not having Internet. We’re saving nearly $800 a year and we made some decent cash to put towards a deep freezer for this seasons wonderful harvest of fruits and vegetables.

Now that I’m not distracted by pixels I’ll be out back making mud pies with Porter.

Another vegan disappoints

I was excited to request the new cookbook Betty Goes Vegan: 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Family from my library when I learned it had been purchased.  Clearly my love of kefir, bone broth, and other dairy items currently preclude me from veganism.  That being said, I love vegetables and try to eat as many of them as possible.  I am always on the look out for easy and tasty recipes that will work more vegetables into my family’s diet.  In fact, for many, many years, Matt and I cooked almost entirely vegetarian.

I had high hopes that this cookbook would include comfort food vegetable-heavy dishes that would be easy to prepare since they are for the “modern family” who is always on the go.  Much to my disappointment, instead of whole foods dishes filled with natural, minimally processed goodness, this cookbook was filled to the brim with highly processed fake meat, fake vegan cheese, and soy products.  My family does not have time to follow three paragraph instructions on how to craft “vegan hard-boiled eggs” out of tofu shaped into half-egg shapes and then stuffed with spiced tofu and baked.  If we didn’t want to eat eggs, we would just skip the eggs and eat cauliflower, or green beans, or pretty much anything else that comes in the form that it was grown on this earth.

I’m not trying to trash vegans here as I am sure there are many who despise mock meats, cheese, and soy as much as I do. But what does it say about veganism when this is the cookbook that is supposed to appeal to the masses?  Personally, I do not think it is more ethical to eat mass-produced soy, corn, or beans, over-processed and shipped huge distances, then to eat local pastured animals, but everyone is entitled to their own food ideals.  To past muster in my kitchen, a meal must be whole foods, affordable, and delicious.  Tonight, our grain-free, vegan dinner was a turnip, carrot, onion, lentil soup, seasoned with bay leaves, salt, pepper, olive oil, and parsley.  Simply delicious, and no fake smoke, flavor-injector, or soy needed.

thiscrunchylife_lentilsoup

Peasant Soup very slightly adapted from This Good Food

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 cup rice (or sub more lentils)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced
  • 2-3 turnips, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional, but recommended: fresh parsley and extra virgin olive oil

Optional step: Soak lentils in water plus a few tablespoons whey (which you can get from straining yogurt through cloth) for about 7 hours. Drain.

Step 1: Combine lentils, rice, carrots, turnips, garlic, bay leaf with enough water or bone broth to cover by an inch in a pot.  (About 12 cups if you did NOT soak the lentils, less if you did 🙂 )

Step 2: Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for about an hour, adding more water or broth if needed.

Step 3: Add salt and pepper and any optional ingredients.

Bike Trailer Time!!

Ready to roll!

Ready to roll!

So, I have been waiting and waiting to be able write this post:  The weather is finally nice enough to break out the bike trailer!  I’ve mentioned before how much I love commuting to work on a bicycle, and Jen has mentioned why we love being a one-car family, so my enthusiasm for the bike trailer should come as no surprise.  This weekend, the weather in central PA was beautiful, and as if that weren’t enough, Jen took the one car on a trip to visit a friend in VA for the weekend, so if Pete and I wanted to go anywhere, we were going to have to either walk or go by bike.  (We don’t have a second child’s helmet for John yet, so it was also convenient that it was just me and Pete this weekend).

So, after working in the garden on Saturday morning and eating an early lunch, Pete and I got suited up and performed the necessary safety checks: filled the bike and trailer tires, checked for corrosion in the trailer frame over the past year, and ensured all the straps and harnesses were likewise intact.  It always takes me a little bit longer to assemble the trailer when I haven’t done it in a while, so Pete had to wait a little longer than he wanted, but he was excited to hop in and get his helmet on when the time came.  Naturally, when we headed out, our destinations were all free sources of fun: first, the giant playground, then on to the banks of the scenic Susquehanna River where we shared a snack of cookie bars (home-made, of course) and clementines (bought on sale, of course), and finally over to a smaller playground near our home.  It was a full, exciting day and it didn’t cost anything but time and snack supplies.

But wait–what about the cost of the bike trailer and the bike?  To be fair, the bike did cost a few hundred dollars, but it’s also basically my primary vehicle, and thus at least an order of magnitude cheaper than most other Americans’ primary vehicle.  The bike trailer also was not free; it cost 30 bucks.  I bought it a few years ago from a coworker who was selling it for her neighbor, and I’m pretty sure I haggled it down by 5 or 10 bucks.  Brand new, such trailers can cost at least $100-200 (much more for high-end models), and this one was in great shape (though a bit dusty from being in someone’s basement for a few years).  I have also used it (though not as often as I’d like) to carry things in addition to a child, like groceries from the store.  If I did this more often, I would make the bike and trailer investment stretch even farther, and save even more on gas and insurance.

Hopefully we’ll get that second helmet asap, and I can look forward to cruising around with the boys all summer long!

A new way to save at the grocery store

Every year at this time I find myself visiting the grocery store more than usual.  It is the in between time for my local food options as my winter CSA is finished, but my local farmers markets is not open and the little green stuff that is available from local farmers for purchase is a bit too dear for our family’s food budget.  So, we eat from our pantry and supplement our stores with the sales found in our grocery store circulars.

I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to save 57% off my grocery bill (I know it isn’t really 57% because I wouldn’t have bought this stuff at full price, but it was 57% off retail), by matching the sales items in the circulars with the coupons listed in the coupon database at Surviving the Stores.  All you have to do is search for a product or product type and the search will give you links to printable online coupons, including ones available at the manufacturer’s website, or information about unexpired coupons distributed in local newspapers.

Here are a few tips to get the most out of the database:

  • Save coupon inserts from newspapers with the newspaper date written on them.  This database and other couponing websites always tell you whether the coupon was published in Red Plum (RP), SmartSource (SS), or some other insert and the date it was published.  Now I don’t clip coupons unless I decide to exploit a deal I find online.  You can often get coupons or inserts for free from a library or family member.
  • Use it in conjunction with a sales circular to get the best deals.
  • Only buy things that you need or that will contribute to a healthy meal your family enjoys! Couponing does not need to equal hoarding.
  • Using two coupons on items available for a buy-one-get-one-free sale is an easy way to save a large percentage.

Do you have any other easy ways you save at the grocery store?