Category Archives: Sustainable Living

Celebrate the Small Stuff

One way to stay positive making progress on goals is to get excited about the small stuff. For me that was signing up to take test #4 of my architecture registration exams and make major inroads on paying off debt. How is that going? Well last year I started using mint.com to track how much my husband and I spend on everything. Once I had the benchmarks established we realized we were spending way too much on food. The changes didn’t happen overnight and there were many days where someone runs out of the house without their lunch, but 99.9% of breakfast is eaten at home and 4 out of 5 days a week lunches are brought into work from home. The last hurdle was dinner. When this process began we were eating out whenever we were too tired to make something  or whenever we forgot to defrost something to make. This was clearly a problem. Last year we purchased a chest freezer for the basement and have kept it well stocked with everything from meat to veggies to prepared meals. If it’s on sale we stock up. Part 2 of a good pantry is the grocery storage. At the new house there are 2×4 shelves the entire length of one wall. This is the perfect depth for 2 cans so I never forget what I have buried in the back and enough length that you can get some serious storage!

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Armed with a crock pot and dutch oven meals are a lot simpler to prepare ahead of time, easier to make in large batches, and I am happy to say we are down to take out 1 night a week, just as a treat. This saves a significant amount from the joint pot and means that our individual spending money isn’t all gone by the next paycheck and can be saved.

Bulk chicken for the week

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Stuffed Peppers

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Another small victory is the compost pile. In the old house we had a compost pile out back but the carbon/nitrogren balance was completely out of wack. It took years for anything to degrade with all that carbon! Once of my joys was getting my little composting container ($5 Marshalls) out on our porch and I fill it with all the kitchen scraps, especially coffee and egg shells. This weekend I’ll set up the “green machine” and start putting my compost in progress together. It feels really good to get a fresh start on that project!

 

Next hurdle: find some time to exercise

 

Meditations: What small step did you make this week?

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Active Living

For the past five years my other half and I have been interested in preparedness. As residents of New York City it started off simply as a logical possibility of needing to evacuate a large metropolis quickly, or shelter in place depending on the situation. Having grown up in a small New England town power outages, difficult weather, and other situations were a part of life. We always filled the bathtub, put the contents of our refrigerator in the snow, had oil lanterns, a well stocked pantry, and a cord of wood on standby for the fireplace so I thought it was only natural for my SO to get on board with these basic requirements.

Over the years we’ve gone camping (even in the winter), built up our gear, both been licensed for amateur radio, and purchased a chest freezer and amassed long term food. What I didn’t realize was how passive of a role I was taking watching my SO acquire skills and knowledge beyond what I had grown up with. It took some serious occasions like a massive blizzard and tornados back home and a hurricane and a tornado here in the city for me to wake up to the fact that there is no such thing as “preparedness” if you can’t cook with your stored food and rely on your knowledge when the internet goes down.

The other part of the wake up call is my position in life. In the not-too-distant future we’ll be married and looking to settle down somewhere more rural than the five boroughs. Having the abilities to take care of myself and my own when you are cut off from the rest of the world for any reason is paramount when you might be unreachable by first responders. On a more basic level, having a sustainable lifestyle makes a person take a long hard look at their life, their priorities, and what they can do to be independent on every level.

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