Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's the Right Time for Applesauce!

It's that time of year again! The time to go buy apples by the box and spend whole mornings jarring applesauce!
Every year my mom and I make homemade applesauce out of local apples. This year we had Fuji and Granny Smith apples from an orchard near my grandparent's house (we were visiting). Unfortunately, my mom didn't look at the name of the farm, so I can't tell you exactly. They were oh so delicious though. And now we have small footprint apple sauce!
My mom and I were trying to think of all the reasons why our sauce is better than store bought while we waited for the apples to cook down and here is our list!

1) Ours is flavored exactly the way we want it, not too sweet, and not too bland
2) The apples were bought directly from the farmer, so they didn't need to get waxed or have any funny preservatives sprayed on them, and all the money went to the farmer, not to the grocery store execs
3) The jars are reused for years and years, over and over
4) No added preservatives other than a little lemon juice
5) It didn't get shipped, so it used less limited fossil fuels
6) It costs a fraction of the store bought stuff
7) Exactly the right amount of chunks
8) The peels and cores (that didn't get eaten) got composted in our backyard
9) It was fun to make!

Here's Kenneth helping to dispose of the apple peels.

Sierra the dog helping dispose of the apple cores (apparently this is one of her favorite foods)

Mom cooking the apples. Yum yum!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Saving Some Money

One of my favorite things to do is save money. It's my father's brainwashing in action (if you think I'm cheap you should meet him!). In any case, my family discovered a great way to save ourselves some money every month, and have a smaller footprint on the environment all at the same time! What is this magical wondrous thing you might ask. Well, all we had to do was call up our city, and ask for a smaller trash can!
It turns out we were paying $33.00 to have the city pick up our big black can full of garbage. Now we have a 32 gallon can that we pay $23.12 a month to get emptied! That's almost $10 a month, or $120 a year! Just by being aware of how much packaging we consume, and how much stuff we throw away we saved ourselves the city fees, and the money we would have spent on disposable stuff. Think of all the Christmas presents we can buy in December with all those savings, or we could invest it and do something extra special with it, like pay for grad school. That would be nice.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Today I loaned $25 to a woman in Azerbaijan who runs her own business. I feel good. I'm very picky about what kinds of charities I donate to, and I like this one. Kiva makes what are called micro loans to small business owners in third world countries. In this way I can support someone who is pulling themselves out of poverty without giving a handout. In twelve months when she has paid back my loan, I can loan the same $25 to someone else. Even though I'm working a minimum wage job, and attempting to finish college, I can help someone else out. I highly recommend this website. Kiva.org

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Oh so Bitter

When someone starts to get on my nerves, I try to ignore it. It's what my mother taught me to do. But sometimes I develop a little irritation that won't go away. I complain and gossip. And then everything that they do that didn't irritate me starts to. I begin to harbor the bitterness.
Now, many years ago I promised myself I wouldn't let other people control my decisions or my life. By harboring that anger, I am letting other people control the way I feel. I am trying today to let go of some anger and bitterness. We'll see how that goes. Perhaps at the end of the day I'll be a slightly better person. Or maybe not.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Trivet

I needed something to set hot pans on when I move into my apartment, and my parents were not going to let me take their nice wooden cutting boards. I don't like to buy things that I can make, so my first instinct was to go out into my father's wood-shop and find a pretty piece of wood to turn into some sort of trivet. Unfortunately my father's wood-shop is under a fairly thick layer of junk. His shop is worse than my room, why do I still get yelled at? I can't wait to go back to school. If I had to pay rent here, I would move anywhere else. Anyhoo... That idea didn't work out... so on to the internet I went. I can't remember where I originally saw this idea, but making my trivet out of corks was genius. I love it for so many reasons. It's beautiful, and better for my pocketbook, and maybe even better for the environment. The corks would have gotten thrown away anyway (I got them from my relatives who saved them all summer for me) but the hot glue was perhaps not the best option environmentally speaking. Oh well. I love my trivet the most of all because it is completely unique. One step closer to who I want to be.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

My Super Cool, High-tech, Solar Powered Clothes Dryer

I dry clothes on a clothesline even in the middle of the creepily 50's style suburbia that I live in. Not very many people in my neighborhood do this, and I don't understand why! It's not that much more work, it works just as well (particularly in sunny California), and it uses less electricity. My brother would tell you that I'm a crazy hippy to be worrying about electricity, and maybe he's right. Despite his efforts to rain on my parade I am still convinced that I can help by drying my clothes outside, instead of in a machine. Besides, electricity costs money! That at least we know is in short supply. One more inch towards the ideal me.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

My discoveries in Yosemite

I recently spent several days in Yosemite with some very dear friends of mine. Beyond the beautiful scenery, stunning displays of lightning, adorable chipmunks, delicious camping food, and refreshing hiking that I expected, I enjoyed several other unexpected discoveries.
First I rediscovered my need for independence. It wasn't that other people were planning the trip, or that I wasn't in control of what we were having for dinner that bothered me. It was the little things. I needed a chair, but they were locked in my friend's car. I had to wait for everyone to wake up to start on a hike (I am a die hard morning person) or have the planned breakfast. My need to be completely self-sufficient made this trip very difficult for me. Fortunately my friends are so wonderful and fun that I enjoyed being dependent on them anyhow. I just need to remember this quirk of mine when deciding which friends to vacation with.
Second, and vastly more interesting, I discovered that you can get to Yosemite by train/bus! It didn't take me any longer than driving, the connections were really really easy and short, and it didn't cost much more than that much gas would have! There are four different stops in the valley, and Yosemite has such a fantastic shuttle system that once you're there you can get anywhere within the valley. If you're staying there, or backpacking out of it, Amtrak is definitely the way to go. More time to watch the scenery, and it's better for the environment, AND you don't have to deal with parking or the crazy one way roads in the park.