I wear your granddads clothes, I look incredible [day 12]

Being that I’m out in the country, in the middle of a snowstorm, there’s not much to report on disposable stuff.  The real issues were encountered before we came to the cabin.

A pain to others…

Buying food.  My sister took care of shopping before we took off to the cabin.  The closest store is 45 minutes away, so there’s no running up to the store for something you forgot.  My kids were thrilled that Aunt Selena did the shopping, as we are in a winter wonderland of prepackaged treats and processed foods.  I brought a few things from home, mostly containers to put food and beverages in while on the road.

IMG_7690W%*&!@#t.  We needed to pick up a few last minute things before leaving town.  We followed my sister to the store, which we were not making the connection that the grocery store would be Walmart.  We don’t shop at Walmart.  I teach my kids that where you shop is your vote for what you stand for.  It’s not that Walmart has not done any good in the world, but I don’t think they do enough to offset the “we buy American” bait and switch or make up for the way they bully their suppliers.  My kids started flipping out in the car.  We decided to go to a different store.  See?  Others are more affected by all of these things we do.  Not that I plan to change that, just an observation.  😉  Continue reading

Most say I don’t have a filter [day 4]

electrostatic-air-filters-hvacFilters: You can say I don’t have a filter, but I have proof that I do.  Yesterday, I bought a reusable HVAC filter.  I’ve always heard these are a lot of work and they’re not as effective as disposable filters.

For just under $50, I got an electrostatic life-time air filter.  I decided to take a chance and ask my HVAC guy about these yesterday morning on Facebook.  I didn’t know if I would get a reply on a Saturday, but I did!  Matco answered!  I had already done some homework on these types of filters.  When shopping for something you’re not familiar with, a little googling goes a long way.  The original filter I chose had a lot of bad reviews, to the point that I didn’t see any good reviews on it.  I had landed on this one, but I waited to hear from Matco before pressing the “send order” button.

matco-facebook-post-hvac

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It’s like having an insurance policy with no idea of what’s covered

I visited a local agency for help on my homeless journey.  Every church in the area at least mentioned it, most of them saying they support it and that’s where I must go for any help.

This is another journal entry.  I am using the name of the agency, as you would be able to guess it.  They are doing good things there, and like all other agencies, they’re under-resourced.

A trip to the food pantry

I feel the need to go someplace familiar.  I think I’ll go to the library next.  Or better yet, I’ll go to Frisco Family Services.  I’m not expecting much, but I need to see what all the hype is about.  When everyone in town is sending you to the same place, is there really any choice?  I need to eat for two weeks, and this is looking like my only option, besides dumpster diving.  I am reluctant to go, as I know they’ll have lots of paperwork and that makes pretending a lot more difficult.  I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Pretending to be homeless is stressful.  I can’t image how awful homelessness really is.  I took a deep breath and walked inside.   Continue reading

The good, the bad and the ugly: 3 church visits

Here’s a journal entry about depending on the kindness of strangers from a homeless perspective.  I visited 20+ churches, asking for assistance with food and gas money.  This journal entry details my first three church visits, encompassing the best and worst experiences.

Please understand where I’m coming from with this.  As a Christian, I believe we should help people when we can and never pass up an opportunity that’s in front of us.  I’m not trying to reveal the good, bad and ugly of churches, however I am trying to shed some light on procedural opportunities and how our practices are perceived by people in need.  How can we help if we don’t have the big picture, or all of the picture?

Depending on the kindness of strangers [journal entry]

My first stop was to a large mega-church.  Even posing as a homeless person, there is not a single part of my being that wants to go inside and ask for help.  Did I even bring a shirt to change into?  I can’t go in with this one, as it has a large coffee stain on the front.  I found another shirt in my car and quickly changed into it.  (Yes, in my car)  I sat there for a while longer, getting really hot.  I’m stalling.  This is so uncomfortable.  “Open the door,” I keep saying to myself, over and over.  Finally, I did.  Continue reading

dear fast food places, I miss you

For the first time in several months, I missed fast food.  I was craving a Wendy’s chicken sandwich and fries.  I was craving the food itself much more than the convenience of it, however that would be nice sometimes.  My anti-fast food thing is more about the paper waste.  I think we need to become less wasteful in our ways and this is my contribution to that.  It did make me think though…

  • What if I brought my own packaging?  Yes, this would be weird, but I wonder if the fast food places would use the things I brought?  They have strict rules to follow, not only corporate rules, but health department rules.  This might just be my next mini-challenge.
  • What if fast food places provided non-disposable options?  They would need more labor costs for washing dishes, but would save on paper supplies.
  • Is recycling enough?  No.  Most of these places don’t recycle, although they say their stuff can be recycled.  ??!!?  Look at us!!  We’re being green because this is biodegradable!  Great.  Huge landfills with lots of stuff that will still take many years to disintegrate.

Just a few thoughts.  Fast food is not evil.  Without my challenge, I might partake once or twice a month.  Every time I have, I feel terrible that I’m supporting something I don’t believe in.

Dear fast food places,

Please put those top CEO’s to work on coming up with some non-wasteful ways for you to do your business.  Our entire world will benefit from it, and you will too.

Sincerely,  A person that missed your food

food with more color than the package…

I don’t usually blog about food, but clearly this is a topic that falls into the “living differently” and “downsizing” categories.

Flashback to 6 years old.  I remember eating cereal called Kaboom.  Do you remember it?  The cereal itself was more colorful than the box it came in.  “100% minimum daily requirements of vitamins and iron in 1 oz. sugary oat cereal with marshmallow stars!”  As a child, I always wondered where they were hiding the vitamins in this stuff.  If I saw a funny shaped piece or a burnt piece of cereal, I would avoid it because surely that was the vitamin.  I didn’t need it, I already took my Flintstones vitamins, so leave my cereal alone.

My mom didn’t leave my cereal alone.  Apparently she didn’t think there was enough sugar in the sugary oat cereal, so she dumped 3 or 4 tablespoons of sugar into it.  When I was done with the cereal, I ate spoons full of purplish milky sugar from the bottom of the bowl.  I’m pretty sure I never got the hiccups.

So what’s the big deal?  They don’t sell this anymore, right?  As of about 10 years ago, I did find some at Big Lots.  An what makes Froot Loops any better?  I would love to get my hands on the nutrition info for this stuff and compare it to other cereal.  Here’s an interesting article I read this morning on the use of food coloring in food:  The dangers of artificial food colors  There’s always been lots of controversy about this topic.  Why chance it?  If there are non-colored foods available, why not buy those?  They taste the same.  The color is only for presentation and marketing.  Yes, I buy foods with coloring, mostly because I don’t pay attention to this very much.  I do buy low fat and healthy foods when there’s an option for it.  Honestly, I spend more time price shopping food rather than nutrition shopping our food.  I should be doing both.

The thing that made me think of all this food stuff is bacon wrapped asparagus.  I love grilled asparagus and I can even get my kids to eat that way.  My friend that was coming over to cook dinner with us said he would bring bacon to wrap around the asparagus I was cooking.  My kids would love this without a doubt, but I don’t want to even let them know this is an option.  If they like it grilled, without butter, fat or covered in cheese, why would I mess with that?  Trust me, I let them eat plenty of unhealthy stuff, but I do try to teach them to eat low-fat and low-sugar options when they are available.

This is an area where I really need to be rethinking good.  And if anyone can find me a box of Kaboom cereal, I would be forever grateful!

is it really any different because you buy it somewhere else?

I said, “No fast food through the end of the year.”  Why?  Mostly because of the wastefulness of it.  The amount of disposable plastics, paper and styrofoam bothers me.  We do fast food places out of convenience.  I just wanted to see how badly I needed fast food in my life.  My kids have missed it a little bit, but not much.  I also miss it on occasion, but not too much either.

I had to work today, and right after work, I had to bring a main dish to a potluck lunch.  I went to Cane’s Chicken.  It’s clearly a fast food place, complete with a drive-thru and lots of paper waste.  I bought in bulk, only buying the tailgate 25 piece pack.  Now I could have stopped at Kroger and picked up some chicken that was already prepared.  It would also be in disposable containers, although I could have placed it in a reusable bag.  So my big questions is…

Is it any different buying prepackaged (prepared) food at the grocery store versus a fast food place?

I have to answer, “No.”   I will still continue my no fast food places, but I need to add on these simple shopping changes.

  • Compare.  If the paper waste is the thing that’s bothering me, whether I shop at the grocery store or anywhere else, I need to consider the waste involved.  Just because I buy it at the grocery store doesn’t mean that I’m not being wasteful.
  • Call it what it is.  The grocery store has fast food.  It’s in the form of deli sandwiches, sushi, fountain drinks and many other forms.  If I buy a ham sandwich already made at Tom Thumb, that’s the same as buying a burger from a fast food place.  Same container, same pre-made food, same waste amount.
  • Plan.  I should have done a better job planning ahead for my potluck meal.  I could have made something the night before and picked it up on the way over there.  My bad.

There’s a new container-less grocery store opening this fall in Austin, TX called in.gredients… if they meet their fundraising goals.  I love this idea!!  Listen to the radio talk about it.  This is such a cool concept!  See how it works.

This is greatness.  Maybe I should help them get rolling in Austin, then I’ll open one here.  Check out the in.gredients website.

young man! you will eat every bit of that candy!!

Yes, I said candy.  If I ever needed to question how much I dislike wastefulness, this would be the telltale answer.  A few months ago, my youngest asked if he could get some Jelly Bellies at the grocery store.  I agreed after glancing at the rack filled with small packages of assorted beans.  I proceeded to finish my shopping when Joe says, “Mom, they came out really fast.”  What came out fast?  The lady with the runaway shopping cart?  No, the Jelly Belly dispenser.  The bag of beans cost Joe $15.81.

Fast forward to vacation a few weeks ago.  We were on vacation, and in a candy shop.  I told my kids they could each get one thing.  Here we go again…  My oldest wanted rock candy.  Those ‘fill your own bags’ might as well have drugs in them for as much as they cost!  I prefer my candy with price tags, none of this ‘by the pound’ stuff.  $10.00 later, we leave with rock candy.  

Once we returned from our trip, I found the leftovers and gave it to him.  My son says, “I didn’t like it that much.  It’s not as good as I thought it would be.”  Wha??!!!?  Dude, you will eat all of that candy!  I spent over $10 for it and you will eat it.  Seriously?  On my budget, $10 is a lot of money.  It’s so difficult to teach kids the value of a dollar when society says you can have, and should have, everything you want, no matter what the cost.  The candy might not be good for him, but hopefully the lesson will be.

a not-so-edible mini challenge

My new mini-challenge… no fast food through the end of the year and no eating out for a month.  (one exception: my friend’s birthday dinner)  It pains me to see all of the paper waste from eating fast food.  Not doing the fast food thing through the end of the year should give me a good idea why I’ve done it in the first place.  It’s convenience, but is it really necessary?  I really dislike cooking, but I will have to cook more now.  As for the not eating out for a month, that’s more due to money.  We ate out almost everyday on vacation, so it’s time to cut back for a bit.

We really don’t eat a lot of fast food anyway, so my kids won’t go into culture shock… at least I don’t think they will.  Fast food is not really healthy either, so this is a good choice to make.  Here’s a few tips I’m using to make this work:

Menu planning.  I will have to plan meals a little better than I have in the past.  I won’t do this everyday, but I will have to do it more often than I do now… which is never.

Get the kids involved.  What do they want?  And my boys need to learn how to cook, although Cole will probably tell me his future wife will cook for him, right before she washes his dishes.  Yes, he really said that.

Travelling and field trips.  These things will have to be planned in advance.  I could bring a cooler and / or pack a picnic.

Wish me luck!  Here we go…

food jars [minimalist challenge item #105]

[item] Ball canning and preserving jars

[purchase info] Got these for free

[time in my possession] Approximately 4 months

[last used] Never

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Fundraiser

[info] I will never find the time to use these as much as I would love to.