Prep work

This weekend I was trying to figure out how to stock up on food for the week. I’m mostly going to be writing papers, until my students take their final and then I’ll be grading that. Basically I’ll be spending most of my time in my office. I wanted to stock up on foods that I can either just reheat or be eaten cold.

When I went to the grocery store today, that’s pretty much what I kept myself focused on. I managed to really hit it this time! I decided that instead of focusing on foods that I just need to eat, I went with stuff that needed just a little prep work and it’s ready to go. It also helped that I already have stuff at home that fits that. Between getting mostly non-processed, non-prepared foods, and using what I already had bought, my grocery bill was so nice and low.

Lesson: unprepared foods cost less than prepared foods!

Anyway, tonight I’ve been prepping things. I’ve just got a few more things to prep and I’ll be ready for a week of writing and grading armed with healthy options! I’ve got:

  • Chicken tenders
  • Pico de Gallo (pre-prepped by Lucky’s. It is so good!)
  • Avocados
  • Tortilla chips
  • Farmer’s cheese cut into strips
  • Black and Kalamata olives
  • Everything flatbread crackers
  • Mangoes
  • Chicken Sausage
  • Roasted butternut squash
  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Cesar dressing
  • Croutons
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Calimari

It may seem like a lot, but it’s for at least 6 days. And I figure I’ll be going for more of a lot of small meals rather than three large ones. I just hope it works.

I almost forgot one important thing: tea. Lots and lots of tea.

Made at home: Fruit in Gel

For a while now, the hubby and I have been buying cups of fruit in gel. But the options are kind of limited. I love the mandarin oranges in orange gel. Sometimes I’ll get the pineapple in lime gel. But other than that, there’s really no fruit/gel combination that I like.

Then a few weeks ago I got new storage for my tea, which left me with a bunch of small Mason jars. A few days later I realized that the jars are about the same size as the cups. Which meant I could get whatever Jell-O and whatever fruit and make my own cups.

I finally did that tonight!

What you need (what I used in parenthesis):
Mason Jars (6 4oz and 3 8oz) with lids and bands
Jell-O flavor of your choice (pineapple, 2 small packs)
Can of fruit (20 oz pineapple tidbits)

Evenly divide your fruit among the jars. I aimed for about 2/3 of the way full on the small jars and just divided the rest among the larger ones.

Make your Jell-O according to the directions on the package. Since I was making 2 packages, I used the juice and then added enough cold water to equal 2 cups to add after the hot water.

Pour your Jell-O over your fruit. Add as little as you like, but remember you have to be able to put the lid on. I had an additional 8oz of Jell-O left and poured it into another jar.

Put on the lids. Screw on the bands. Put them in the fridge. That’s it! As they cool off, the lids will seal themselves.

It’s a great way to have a sweet treat without the excess packaging! That was really one of my biggest problems with buying them, aside from the lack of options. I was tired of having to throw out the plastic sealing it in and washing the cups out to recycle. Now I just have to throw the jars into the dishwasher and they’re clean! And I can make whatever combination works for me! Yay!

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

When I first fell in love with the idea of going raw, I knew it wasn’t going to last. It’s how I work. I get uber excited about something, especially when it comes to food, and it isn’t something that I can manage to sustain.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going back to my old ways.

Honestly, the problem is that I just can’t afford to go out and buy all the ingredients I want to make the awesome recipes. I’ve been sticking to simple dips, dressings, and fruit smoothies. It’s hard to have real meals with just dips and smoothies. If I wanted something more, I’d got and get a veggie from Jimmy John’s.

Today I did a little grocery shopping at Whole Foods and had Jimmy John’s on my mind. So I picked up half a loaf of pumpernickel bread and a few veggies from the salad bar to complement the assortment I already have at home. I looked at meat to possibly add to my sandwich and it just didn’t appeal to me. That was such a good feeling! It would seem that I have become a part-time vegetarian.

It’s kind of interesting. I know I eat enough meat for dinner every night that I’m good for the rest of the day. I think if I actually make myself some loaded sandwiches for lunch, I can snack my way through the rest of the day with veggies and chips and dips and smoothies.

It’s going to be interesting while I get this figured out.

Prepping fool!

Tomorrow night begins Silent Weekend #130! That means today is prep day.

This morning I made up another recipe from Choosing Raw, Buckwheaties. I also made up two pint jars of Chai. Then this afternoon I bought a couple more ingredients and made up two batches of Chocolate Raw-Nola (from Choosing Raw) using the Buckwheaties I made this morning. It’s more of a granola since I don’t have a dehydrator and had to use the oven.

Tonight I’m going to chop up a bunch of carrots and broccoli, clean a bunch of green beans, and make up another batch of iced green tea. I’ve got hummus and tahini dip ready and waiting. Yesterday I bought a bag of apple straws and a box of multi-grain pita chips from Trader Joe’s.

Tomorrow I’ll just have to fill up my Klean Kanteens with water, load everything into the cooler and bags, and get ice for the cooler.

Can you tell I’m excited for the weekend?! Aside from a wonderful weekend of ASL and camping, it’s also an opportunity to eat healthy and high raw!

There will be pictures!

New Years cleaning

Forget spring cleaning, New Years cleaning is the new thing!

Isn’t it?

Eh. Either way, I have been on a bit of a cleaning kick these past few days. Tuesday at work I got my desk in pretty good shape before leaving. And I’ve worked on it more today. Yesterday I did some cleaning in my room (so now there’s more than a path leading to my computer) and did some magic in the kitchen.

I had cleaned the stove top earlier in the week. Yesterday I got us completely caught up on dishes, and I cleaned some of the counters too. I kept looking into the kitchen amazed at how clean it was. There were no dirty dishes sitting out. Period. I thought it was kinda weird to do that. Hubby said it was sad. I’m sticking with weird.

And that reminds me of something. I have another reason to love baking soda. It is great for scrubbing things that you don’t want scratched up! Just baking soda, a damp paper towel, and elbow grease removed a ton of baked-on grease and dirt from the stove top. It even helps to get my French White dishes cleaner than the dishwasher can get them. It’s awesome!

The cleaning will continue. Tonight I’m going to fold my laundry, thus reclaiming even more of the living room. This weekend I’m going to get my room in shape. At least enough to get it so I can use my sewing machine.

It should be obvious by now, but just to be clear, I really don’t like cleaning. This is weird for me. I’m sure Hubby is wondering “Who is this? What did they do with my wife? Can I keep her?” My tendency toward clutter kinda drives him nuts.

Finished! No Impact Man

I just finished my annual re-read of No Impact Man. Every time I read that book I get something different out of it. As I was reading along, I would feel guilty about everything that I do or don’t do. I buy too much. I waste too much. I don’t do enough. Then I got to the end of the project and the epilogue after.

In the end, the point of No Impact Man, isn’t to be extreme and follow his lead. It’s to show that it can be done and it makes you think about what you can do without making yourself miserable. There are so many things that I’d like to do to lessen my impact, but they’re just not possible right now.
-I’d love to do most of my shopping at Whole Foods and buy as little prepackaged foods as possible, but we can’t afford that right now. So I buy what I can and try to be smart about the rest.
-I’d love to compost, but we live in a small apartment that barely fits all of our stuff. I have nowhere to put a composter, and I don’t think my hubby would be too pleased with it being in the apartment. So I try to make sure we throw out as little food as possible.
-I’d love to use my car less, but we live in a large city with little transportation options in Ohio, which means I can only really use my bike about half of the year. So I simply try to use my car wisely and make that tank of gas go for as long as I can.

Then I think about all the little things I do manage to do in my life and I feel a lot better. It’s amazing how we forget to focus on the positives instead of the negatives. Yes there is a lot more that I can do, but I already use soap made locally, baking soda and vinegar to wash my hair, non-toxic cleaners for laundry and dishes, and some kick-ass non-toxic toothpaste and mouthwash. Instead of going out and buying a brand-new desktop, I made it so I can use my laptop like a desktop. Instead of going out and buying a net bag, I looked up a pattern and am using yarn I’ve had sitting around (I’m finally on the handles!).

And yes, one thing I kept feeling guilty about was my spending habits. Let’s face it, it’s the holiday season and we’re all spending money when we can. But by buying a few awesome tea accessories, I improved my ability to use amazing loose leaf teas and keep my use of teabags at zero. It’s also helping me to kick my Wendy’s sweet tea habit. I just bought some silicone baking sheets today on Amazon because they were on sale and they’ll help me use a lot less parchment paper.

Sorry if this sounds like me tooting my own horn or justifying spending money. But it’s my way of reminding myself of everything I already do, and it’s a reminder that you can do some amazing things to reduce your impact on the planet while still enjoying life!

I am good!

Near the beginning of No Impact Man, Colin mentions wanting to get a net bag to use for his shopping. That made me think. A net bag would be really easy to carry in my handbag and would cut down on the very rare instance of needing a plastic bag. Not that the plastic bags are all that useless around our house. The bathroom trashcan is designed to use them, it’s really nice.

But back to the point. I thought about getting one and then realized going out and buying one wouldn’t be lessening my impact. Luckily I have a crafty mind. Literally. I went to Ravelry and did a search for net bags. I found a few patterns and eventually settled on one I liked. I have a bunch of yarns of different weights at home, so I started in on my first net bag last night. After starting over three times, it’s looking really good. I’m hoping to get at least two made, maybe a third smaller bag if I have enough yarn. Oooh. I just remembered more yarn of the right weight I can use. Yay! Lots of bags will be made! Hehehehe.

Impact!

Last night I finished getting caught up on the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire, which I will be posting about soon, and decided to go reread No Impact Man.

I’m only about 25 pages in and I’m already looking at how much I can improve my life. That’s part of why I read that book. It helps to remind me of all the little things that I can do to lessen my impact on the environment. Once I finish it, there’s going to be a great big post. But there’s probably going to be more green posts in the meantime. I’m really looking forward to it!

Soap Box: Plastic Bags

Please allow me to dust off my soap box for a minute.

Sundays my husband and I go get our groceries for the week. I prefer the self-checkout lanes because I know everything will fit into my reusable bags and I don’t have to point them out to the cashier. It works well: he scans, I pack. Sometimes he’s finished and paid for everything before I can get everything packed.

But this also has its downside too. Mainly watching the customer ahead of us use 20 plastic bags when they probably could have used 5. 10 at the most. The gentleman on Sunday was using one bag for a gallon of milk. Why would you bag a gallon of milk? It has a handle! You don’t need a bag! He also put a bag of oranges, one of the net bags of oranges, in a plastic bag. That was it. Again, it doesn’t need a bag! I really wish that bag tax would catch on. Stores would make so much money because people would either be paying for every bag or they’d be buying reusable ones. If everyone in a state would do it, no one business would loose business. One flat tax all around would solve this problem!

This is why I love my Whole Foods reusable bags. They’re huge! I can usually just use 2 to get all of our groceries packed. This includes anywhere from 6-12 bottles of Vitamin Water, plenty of boxes, and lots of fresh veggies and meats. If I doubt that only 2 can handle it, I grab one of my various other bags from the back of my car. It’s not hard. It’s actually really easy to find yourself with more bags than you’ll probably need. Which isn’t a bad thing necessarily. It just means that it’s not the end of the world if you forgot to bring your bags back out to the car because you still have 5 in the car.

Hopefully I can let my soap box get dusty again now.

Goodwill

Goodwill is such an amazing store. It’s amazing that only around a decade ago I thought that it was the last place in the world I would want to get my clothes from. I mean, “Come on, Mom. I already get grief for what I wear. What if they somehow found out it’s from Goodwill? I’d never hear the end of it.”

Sadly this is how I thought at 18. Then I went to college. Then I was introduced to the concept of cosplay. Yes, cosplay, dressing up as a character from an anime series or comic book, is what changed my mind about Goodwill. Maybe it was the fact that the one near campus is large, well lit, and doesn’t feel like it’s being hidden in the backroom of a store somewhere like the one in my hometown did. It felt like a clothing store.

I first went there to get some clothes to pull off Milly from Trigun. I figured I could find a jacket and a shirt that I could modify to make look like hers. And I did. The next year I did Wolfwood, also from Trigun. Eventually I decided to check it out and see what kinds of clothes I could get for my regular wardrobe. Yeah, there are some really hideous and outdated pieces of clothing in there. But there’s also a treasure trove if you know where to look.

When you live in a bigger city, like Columbus, there are many stores in very different parts of the city. There are a couple that are smaller and more like a higher-end clothing store. The racks aren’t stuffed with clothes, the clothes are all really, really nice, and sometimes they’re individually priced. Those are really useful if I’m looking for something specific. I’m probably going to visit them soon to find a couple of pieces for some cosplays.

But if you are just browsing for clothes, the larger ones with the stuffed racks are really useful. Especially when they run a sale on one of the tag colors. The one near campus, which has moved closer to campus and is really nice now, always has something on sale on Sundays. I’m sure they run sales during the week, but I only stop in after church on Sundays.

This Sunday they were running a 50% off sale on the yellow tags. So after a little browsing, I start down the Women’s Capri isle and only look at the pants if they have a yellow tag. I walked out of there with four new, to me, pairs of capris, three of which I can wear to work, for the price of two.

I love it! I don’t have to worry about the fiber content of the clothing. I don’t have to worry about where it was made because it’s from Goodwill. I’m not supporting the Chinese or Taiwan clothing industries and I’m not supporting the use of man-made fibers. All I’m doing is supporting Goodwill, an American organization, and all that they do and keeping the pants from getting thrown out for a little bit longer. Hopefully I’ll simply wear them out and when they’re done they’ll either get turned into rags or will be past the point of being useful and I won’t feel bad throwing them out.

I’m just hoping that more people are starting to realize that it’s not the end of the world if you go to Goodwill. It’s good for your wallet, the country, and the earth. And most people out there are worried about at least one of those things. 😉