Sunday, September 30, 2007


I just visited the local IGA that I mentioned a few weeks ago. I must say, I was very pleased. Some of you had voiced concerns over cleanliness issues. I am happy to report that the locally owned IGA was just as clean as any Wal.Mart. It also had a great hometown grocery feel, which I enjoyed. The store was small but had everything I would need. I still plan to only go there as a last resort, for things that I absolutely can not find anywhere else (such as most dairy items) b/c I really enjoy the shopping experience that I have had for the last month (avoiding grocery stores altogether), plus I spend so much less by not buying chips, lots of dairy, etc. Shopping at the IGA solves the dilemma of finding a locally owned grocery store but still tempts me with impulse purchases that neither I nor my family needs. I have enough trouble finding will power to avoid the samples the hubby brings home (ok, I pretty much fail completely at resisting those icecream sandwiches!).
And speaking of shopping, I had the most AMAZING shopping experience ever while in Williamsburg. I went to a grocery store that put Publix to shame, called Ukrops. It was truly amazing. I think I went three times. Mom would call me on the cell "Laurel, you HAVE to leave that store now, your baby is hungry. Walk away from the eco-friendly trash bags!!" Not only did it have the most incredible natural foods/eco-friendly section (7th generation, Tom's of Maine, Burt's Bees, Method, etc.), but when you entered the store, there was a stand of reusable shopping bags, with a sign saying that you get a $0.05 credit each time you use your own bags. Love that! They also had many, many items in bulk bins (rice, popcorn seeds, millet, oatmeal, wheat, nuts, etc.). Not only does this allow you to buy as much or as little of an item as you like, but by bringing your own bags, saves on lots of unneccessary packaging. But the best part? It was a LOCALLY OWNED STORE!! Seriously, it was incredible. I would love to open a store like that here, on a smaller scale.

*These images from

Saturday, September 29, 2007


I am just back from my trip to Williamsburg and have resumed my social experiment, as of Thursday. I will be spending a lot more money this week, due to throwing two birthday parties. I hope to make up for it in subsequent weeks and I plan to purchase everything I need at locally owned stores (IGA, party store, hubby, etc.).
While I was away, we were blessed with tons of food, which I am very excited about. The deer came back from being processed, and I have a freezer full of ground venison. Yay! My grandmother came down from TN and brought me 12 jars of green beans she put away this summer, as well as a big jar of honey from their bees, and 12 ears of frozen corn on the cob. I am so inspired by my grandparents. They work hard all summer putting up food they have grown, baking, taking honey from their beehives, picking berries, etc. I love how they eat off the land and in season. Additionally, my grandmother makes oak baskets...chopping down the tree, making the splints, weaving a basket. It is amazing! She is also an amazing quilter. I wish I had paid more attention to learning from her when I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with her.

Also, the hubby brought home more samples...8 pounds of lunch meat (we haven't had lunch meat since I started the experiment), 60 individual ice cream bars (Ben and Jerry's, Chocotacos, ice cream sandwiches, etc.), 6 bread bowls, 1 loaf of italian bread, and 25 wheat hoagies. My friend, Charlotte, brought me several red and green baby bell peppers that she had grown. Our freezers are packed to bursting, and we still have to find room for a whole other deer that The Deer Slayer has killed. I filled a grocery bag of different items from our freezer for one of my brothers, a starving college student, which he was very excited about. I am thankful for God's provision in a whole new way, now that I am becoming more aware of where our food comes from, how it is prepared, how much it costs. My new challenge of spending under $200 a month on groceries will be much easier because of these unexpected food gifts. Yet another benefit of this experiment: becoming more thankful.

"And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" Phil. 4:19

Saturday, September 22, 2007


No, not me (thank goodness!). Danny Seo, author of Simply Green Parties, has put his adorable house up for sale. You can see pictures of it here.
You may remember I posted a pic of his screened porch a few weeks ago. I absolutely love his design asthetic. Very simple and sparce, yet so warm and homey. Very "vintage americana". Absolutely love it. Check out the listing to see the pics of his house. You can also find some pictures at Country Home Magazine.

*Image from

Friday, September 21, 2007

(this image from
I just held the drawing (thank you, Darcie, for your assistance) and our winner is...Lydia Sweet!! Congrats, Lydia and I hope you enjoy your present. Please email me your new address so I can ship it to you.
Thank you everyone, for reading my little blog and for all the kind words, thoughtful responses, and interesting questions I receive from you. This has become such a fun outlet for me, made even more enjoyable by your participation.
(this image from
This was a fun article by Ashton Kutcher. He writes about how to use your man as an accessory...that a well dressed man is more important than your bag but less than your shoes. :)
I especially liked his advice on how to get men to wear suits. Apparently, they don't like to be told they look nice, or handsome but if you tell them they look like James Bond they won't take it off. Duly noted. With four boys in the house, this is advice I can use!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Wow, I can't believe it has already been a full month since I challenged myself to live more simply, support our local small busines owners, and most of all, avoid large corporations (and specifically, Wal.Mart). No one was more surprised than me to find that I was spending significantly less by shopping locally, as well as eating better, feeling less stressed, and needing/wanting less. You might remember that I said my average month's spending on groceries and household items was $400, or $100 weekly. This first month of my experiment I spent a total of $233.05! That is a savings of almost $170 (about 45%) and is enough to make an extra payment on my hubby's car. Yay!
Looking back at my itemized list from each week, I see a lot of things that we don't need. Though we have almost zero junk food in our house, there have been some things (um, chocolate) that we don't need that have slipped in. Eliminating those things during the second half of the experiment will be good for our wallets and our waistlines.
I am adding a new goal for the last half of the experiment: to cut our food bill in half (spending $200 a month, or $50 a week). This will be quite the challenge, considering that I have two children in diapers. But, I plan to purchase several more cloth diapers and hope to be phasing out the disposables with my youngest (I will be posting about this soon) . I plan to spend about half of my budget on fruits and veggies.
I didn't start this experiment with the goal of saving money. In fact, I fully expected to be spending more. But, since one of the results was a dramatic decrease in our spending (and we are oh-so-close to cutting our budget in half), I thought I might as well try to get our budget under $200, by not buying things we don't need. What really amazes me is that I considered myself a pretty frugal shopper when I was spending $400 a month. I used coupons, shopped from a list, didn't often give in to my children's case of the gimmies (give me this, give me that), and tried to cook healthy foods for my family. Maybe this is like decluttering your house. You can't just go in whole hog and get rid of everything. You see things in layers and as you slowly get rid of things, the more you see that you don't need. We slowly get conditioned, I guess.
Also, I must give a little shout out to my hunka' hunka' burnin' love (otherwise known as the Deer Slayer) who has killed two deer with a BOW AND ARROW (very impressive!) in the last week and a half. My freezer will soon be stocked with more ground deer and roasts than I know what to do with! Thanks, Hon!
Here is what I purchased this week at the Discount Food store.
-Gallon of Milk
-2 Boxes of chicken broth
-1 bottle organic dressing
-1 box of microwave popcorn*
-1 can fruit cocktail
-3 small bags of animal crackers*
-2 boxes organic fruit leathers*
-2 boxes of cereal
-1 bag of pampers
-1 bag of huggies
-1 bottle of juicy juice*
-1 bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
-1 box of wheat spaghetti
-1 large can of whole tomatoes
-3 boxes of Weight Watchers chocolate snack cakes*

*These are all for goody bags for a trip we are taking next week.
My mom, grandmother, the kidlets, and I will be heading out of town on a fabulous trip that I am very excited about (more on this later)! We will be gone almost a week, so to make sure the experiment is accurate, I will not be including next week but will extend the experiment by another week at the end. We do plan to cook most of our own meals and I will still be shopping carefully, but it will be hard to document my spending, so I am just going to "disqualify" the next week. :) I will resume the experiment next Thursday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Image from
You have until tomorrow night (thursday) at 8pm to be entered in the drawing! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post to be entered!
Good night!
I am just amazed at how incredible the weather has been this week. I am equally amazed at how much happier I am and how much more fun we have when it is nice outside! We spent the whole morning and part of the afternoon outside. My friend, Charlotte, brought her three children over. Our oldest four played in the backyard for almost four hours while she and I sat with our babies at our feet. I hung laundry, she knitted. Her baby slept curled up in a blanket, mine was fascinated by the green leaves blowing in the breeze.
We had great conversation about lots of thought provoking things. It was a wonderful morning with our friends. Here are a few pictures. I hope you are enjoying this wonderful weather and spending as much of it outdoors as possible. Fresh air and sunshine is such a mood lifter! View from the master bedroom. Aren't the white curtains framing the trees out the window so pretty? I love sitting on my bed in my room. It is so relaxing and I love looking out these windows. I try to not use my room for any work, only relaxing. I don't fold laundry, do paperwork, or anything else in my room. It is very sparse and I love it that way. Who needs pictures on the walls when you can look out the window at the woods?

Sweet little red shoes on the line.

My favorite red ballet flats. Hmmm, I seem to have a thing for red shoes. :)
I hope your day is wonderful too!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Q & A
This image from

There are a few questions that have been asked in the comments that I wanted to answer.

-Which produce stand are you referring to in your posts?
L and D Produce, located behind Video Warehouse

-How do you make your vanilla?
I buy fresh vanilla beans from a grower in Madegascar off Ebay. They are yummy. I draw a slit down the length of the vanilla bean, exposing the insides. I then place two vanilla beans in each bottle (you can make as many as you like at a time). Then, I pour a good quality vodka over the beans and cork the bottle. Shake the bottle gently and then place it in a dark cabinet. Shake once a week for at least six weeks, then use! You may refill the vodka as you use the extract. The beans are good for a long time.

-Are you worried about the level of cleanliness at the non-corporate places where you are shopping?
No, I am not. While I don't love that the places such as IGA or the Discount Food Store aren't sparkling clean, it doesn't bother me either. The foods that I am buying are sealed and fresh and I always check all expiration dates. While I do love a wonderful shopping experience (Fresh Market, anyone?), the benefits of shopping at these places heavily outweigh the slight ick factor. :)

-When you make popcorn, do you do it in a popper or on the stove?
Well, I did both, whichever I was in the mood for...until last week, when my $2 popper from the Junior League Attic sale finally bit the dust.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I just found out that IGA grocery stores are independantly owned! In fact, IGA stands for Independant Grocers Alliance. Who knew? And how serendipidous...there just happens to be an IGA right on the way to the discount food store! Now my dilemma of where-to-get-the-items-I-haven't-been-able-to-find-but-don't-want-to-buy-in-bulk is solved!

Just read their mission statement "The world doesn't need more supermarkets, it needs more Community Centers." At IGA we believe that a good grocery store isn't a sprawling, impersonal example of cookie cutter commerce, but a community hub owned and operated by the very people who know the area best – the citizens." Love that!

Now that I know this, I think I should be able to buy everything I need at a locally owned establishment. Very exciting! However, I think I will still try to continue the way I have been shopping and only go to IGA when absolutely neccessary b/c I think the reason I have been spending so little on groceries is b/c I am not buying cheese, yogurt, junk food, etc. So, I will only use IGA for times (like these upcoming birthday parties) when I can't get things for a specific purpose anywhere else.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


This story broke my heart. I can not imagine being that mother (you can see the link to the video too, if you follow the link to the article), the unimaginable horror to live in a place like that. I try to imagine sometimes, if it was the US that was under attack. I try to imagine living with that fear, afraid for our safety, afraid for my children's future.
Reading about this family's response to coming to America for the first time was very humbling (are we in heaven?). I have so much. Most of what I want and absolutely everything that I need. Still, I complain. Sometimes it is good to see what we have from another perspective.

Yes, it's true. I "heart" fruit snacks. You may remember that my hubby recently brought home a box of fruit snacks samples. Well, C, L, and I went C-R-A-Z-Y on them. Really, it's embarrassing. With our recent junk food drought, seeing that box of fruit snacks sent us over the edge! :)
Aside from all the nasty things that are in fruit snacks (partially hydrogenated veggie oil, anyone?), it is unbelievable how much packaging there is! It is really absurd. I will be glad when they are gone (yes, I could just throw them away...but I am not sure I can go cold turkey!! haha).
Here is the thing about junk food. YOU ARE NEVER SATISFIED. No matter how much you eat, you always want more, even if you aren't hungry. I really have noticed this a lot over the last few weeks. Since the birth of baby B, 3 1/2 months ago, I have been eating very well and have lost 40 pounds (35 still to go, but that's another story). I haven't even resumed a regular exercise routine yet. All that weight was lost through eating small amounts of very healthy food. I didn't have cravings. Eating well (and I mean what I am eating, not how much) leaves me feeling satisifed physically, as well as mentally and emotionally, much more than with junk food. For people who say they can't afford to eat healthily, I would have to wonder if they can really afford not to. Besides the obvious health benefits to eating well, there are emotional and mental factors as well. Cheap food might be easy on the wallet but it comes with lots of nasty ingredients, tons of packaging, and leaves you with a craving you just can't get to go away. I don't need to eat as much healthy food to feel emotionally satisfied as I do junk food. I remember watching the movie/documentary, Super Size Me and hearing that there is actually something about eating McDonald's or other fast food that actually makes you crave more.
I am always surprised how, after eating very well for a while, I feel really bad when I do eat some grease-laden junk food. (As an aside, the creator of Super Size Me also did another documentary in which he compared McDonald's food with similar foods from the Slow Food Movement to see how long it would take for them to decompose. After the 10-week experiment had ended, the McDonald's fries had not even begun to decompose. How gross is that?!! Even more disturbing is that we willingly feed that stuff to ourselves...and our children!).

Tomorrow, I am getting back on board with eating well. I am looking forward to making some yummy foods this week. I am really excited about fall in the air. It is almost time for vegetable soup and cornbread, chili, etc. One thing I am enjoying about shopping for fruits and vegetables at our produce stand is that we are eating what is in season and the flavor is just so much better. It seems much more natural to be eating foods at the time they are ripe in your area, not when they are ripe in some country half way around the world. I am looking forward to learning to make some butternut squash soup this fall. Yummy pumpkin breads and dips, caramel apples and apple pies...I just love cooking according to the seasons.

Disclaimer: I will be eating funnel cakes and cotton candy like there is no tomorrow and without guilt when the fair comes to town. All bets are off during fair week! :)

Friday, September 14, 2007


Spent a little time yesterday puttering around my house, snapping a few more pictures of little nooks that make me happy. I LOVE to putter but don't get to do it much. Yesterday it stormed all afternoon...making the house seem cozy and a nice place to be on such a wet day. The atmosphere just lent itself to a little puttering. I thought I would share a few photos with you.
Living room bookshelf (I think books make a house so homey!)Peek into the nursery. Stacks of linens in the baby's roomMy happy door. This used to be the color of my kitchen walls. Even after I painted them blue, I loved this bright yellow door, so I just left it. I think it looks great against the blue.
Puttering is so comforting. Moving furniture, hanging pictures, polishing silver, decorating rooms in your mind....then changing satisfying. If you haven't puttered lately, I highly suggest taking a few hours to do will feel so refeshed!

In appreciation of my sweet friends that humor me by reading my random thoughts, and occasionally even leaving me a little comment, I thought I would sent a a thank you gift to one of you. I am really enjoying putting my thoughts out in cyber space, even more when I receive your thoughts in return. Now I see why people say journalling is so theraputic.

So, to say thank you, I am offering up a bottle of my homemade vanilla extract, a small bottle of sheet spray (lemongrass) from Restoration Hardware, and one large bottle of linen spray (white clover) from Caldrea. They smell sooo yummy and are made from all natural no yucky toxins on your sheets. I use the linen spray on my clothes when I iron, and I mist the sheet spray on my bed to freshen them up in between washings. In my mind, linen spray is one of those little things in life that is totally unneccessary but really pleasant and makes you feel slightly decadent. :)

The homemade vanilla is totally delish and ready to use. It is made from high quality vodka and fresh madagascar vanilla beans. You can continue to add vodka to the bottle and it will last for a long time.

All you have to do to be entered is leave me a comment on this post sometime before 8 pm, Thursday (Sept. 20). I will randomly draw a winner then. Make sure you don't leave the comment as 'anonymous'!! Good luck!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


It just keeps getting better and better! Look to the left to see how much (or should I say, little?) I spent this week. You might look at those numbers and think that I am intentionally skimping on our groceries to make the numbers unnaturally low. I promise you, I am not! You may remember that last week I bought 7 different bars of chocolate! I didn't do that this week...not b/c I wanted to keep the spending low, but because I didn't lose any weight last week! :)
Also, other than spending a lot less money on our groceries, and a lot less time buying them...our lifestyle has not changed. We have had friends over for dinner 3 times since I began the experiment. I have taken food to a church potluck. I have made cookies and shared them with my brothers. I have purchased two gifts. Eating out of our freezer, not making impulse purchases or buying junk food, and shopping at the discount food store have all made the biggest impacts on our grocery spending.

Today I purchased green beans, wheat bread, eggs, apples, and grapes from our produce stand. Here is what I bought today at the Discount Food store (for $26).
-Gallon of Milk
-56 Pampers Diapers
-3 bottles of Method Handsoap (no I am not a germaphobic...two of these were for a friend!)
-1 bag of chopped Walnuts
-1 jar of tomato sauce
-2 boxes of cereal
-1 jar of marinara
-1 box of penne
-1 box of orzo
-2 packets of dry italian dressing (I make balsamic vinagrette w/ this)
-1 pizza crust mix

This experiment has definitely opened my eyes to a new way of shopping and I am going to continue to shop this way after the experiment officially ends. The question is...what am I going to do with all this money I'm not spending on groceries? :)

There are a few things that I will eventually either have to 1. learn to make 2. not have anymore 3. buy in bulk from the hubby, or 4. go to a conventional grocery store. A few things I have thought of are
-Yogurt. We ran out this on week one. Although we miss it a little, it isn't a big deal. I need to ask the Saulsy how much I would have to buy at a time to get it from him.
-Hotdogs. We don't eat these that often but C has requested them at his birthday party. I can get turkey dogs from Saulsy ($15 for 60!)
-Mayo. We don't eat much of this. I would personally rather have hummus or pesto on my sandwiches. But every once in awhile, I need it to make chicken salad or such.
-Whipping cream. I love homemade whipping cream to go with cake or pie. Or to use in making ice cream. If I can freeze this, it won't be a big deal to get it in bulk.
-Lunch meats. I can cook a roast or chicken and cut up the meat for sandwiches but it isn't quite the same. Sometimes it is better!
-Cheese. I can buy some cheese at the produce stand and bakery but not everything I typically use.

There are a few other things I thought of the other day (but can't remember now). For now, when I have run out of something I typically use, I have either substituted something else, made it, or just done without.
I was really nervous about committing to this experiment. I expected it to be much more expensive, time consuming, and all around frustrating than it has been. This has been so positive all the way around, I just can't say it enough. Because I am not in stores anymore, my desires/wants/perceived needs decrease with each passing week while my desire for simplicity and living with the "essentials" (though lets be honest, our idea of essential is pretty skewed) continues to increase. I am really enjoying eating foods that are in season, making more of our food, cooking out of the freezer, and becoming more creative in our food preparation.
If this isn't something that you are doing already, I highly recommend trying it for your family. If you already are, I would love for you to leave a comment and share your experience.

Ok, my sweet hubby just showed me how to upload pics from my camera to the mac. Woo Hoo! This is just a couple I already had taken, but I am looking forward to posting more soon. Much more fun to have a picture to go w/ the posts! :)
These are just a couple of places/things around my house that make me happy...childrens sweaters hanging on a hook, a little peek into my laundry room...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I started cleaning my house at 6:30 this morning. At 11:30 tonight, I threw in the towel, and flopped in bed, worn out. My house doesn't look much better than it did when I started almost 17 hours ago. The clutter monster has been rearing its ugly head and it is time to tackle it once again. You can't organize clutter, you can only get rid of it (wise words from flylady) and I have always held to that. Nothing is safe in my house. I am not very sentimental and would much rather have an empty shelf than one crammed with things that I am only half hearted about.

I find myself so frustrated when things start to pile up. My life feels so much calmer when I have a decluttered space to exist in. I have more mental space too. I like having visual space...being able to rest my eyes on a blank wall, or white bedding, or an empty table...frees my mind to think, plan, create. The less I own, the simpler and more fulfilling my life becomes.

So tonight, I echo the words of St. Teresa of Avila, in true gratitude.
"Thank God for the things that I do not own".

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


We are in the beginning stages of planning our soon-to-be five year old's birthday party. He wants an all-boy dinosaur and baseball costume party. Uh huh.
With birthday parties comes lots of things to think about, beyond the cake versus cupcakes question. First, there is all the disposable plates, cups, goody bags, utensils, wrapping paper, etc. I am looking at buying recycled paper plates and cups but even that is problematic, since I am not shopping anywhere that would sell those items, unless I buy them online. I am going to try to have foods that don't require silverware such as hotdogs, cupcakes, chips, etc. I could use the tin plates I have that are awfully cute, since a sink will be available but do I really want to hassle with lugging dishes around, plus having to wash them?
As for the goody bags, I am on the fence with this one. When I was a kid, you didn't get a goody bag when you went to a birthday party. The birthday child got the presents. We were there to have a good time and celebrate with him/her. We didn't expect a gift of our own. Somehow since then, it has become standard practice to have goody bags for all the kids. We must have equality, after all! So, what's a mommy to do? I could just ignore the standard social practices (and make myself look either really mean or really cheap) and not do goody bags at all. Or, I could give the normal goody bag (plastic bag filled w/ sugary candies and cheap toys that will break and frustrate the kids and annoy the parents with the excess junk that is invading their home). Or, I could give goody bags made of recycled paper (or I could make little cloth bags) and give some healthier options (fruit leathers, sunflower seeds, etc.). Or, maybe I could just have a basket that gets passed around to all the kids with just one little treat for them to take home. Since we will be doing a pinata, would it be enough to just have cute little bags (maybe I could make little cloth bags w/ their names on them?) that they could put the candy from the pinata in?

And my biggest issue: PRESENTS. My child doesn't need anything. He has enough toys (though admittedly, considerably less than many of his friends). He would rather play with a cardboard box (my boys have been making forts, trains, houses, etc. out of two old boxes for 10 straight days). I really having a growing distaste for our consumeristic, materialistic society. Especially with all the toy recalls lately, I would rather just avoid the cheap toys altogether. A friend suggested that I have a themed party (books, puzzles, etc.). My friend Charlotte has had book parties for her little girls birthdays and it was great. C loves puzzles and leggos and doesn't have many of either. Those are things that are great for his creativity and learning, so I don't mind him having more of them. So here is the thing, is there a non-tacky way of saying on the invitation "when you buy my kid a present for his party, please only buy puzzles or leggos"? I really hate for the parents to spend their hard earned money on something that my child will only play with for a few days, then just becomes clutter in his room.

Ideally, I would love to have a no-gift party, but I think C would be really disappointed to not have presents. He is old enough now to know that presents are a big party of one's birthday! I would really appreciate input about this. How do we strike a balance between living a simple, uncluttered, satisfied-with-less life and constrictive social norms and children's expectations? While I want to shape my child's world view towards being outwardly focused, content with less, not materialistic, etc. I also don't want him to feel "deprived" and like he is missing out on the good life! :) Hmmm, lots to think about and work through...

Monday, September 10, 2007


One of my cloth diapers came today! I have to admit, I was really excited to try it. I washed it as instructed, added the doubler to make it more absorbent and then put it on baby B. It is really cute. It is blue and he looked awfully sweet in it. It was very satisfying. I don't know how to explain it without sounding weird, but it felt like I was doing something really GOOD. It felt wholesome or something. I don't know how to say it...but I liked it. About an hour after I put it on him, we went to dinner and took the kids to the park to play. I thought about putting a disposable on him before we left and decided against it. We made it through dinner and halfway through playing at the park when I saw the telltale signs of baby B filling his diaper...and I panicked. I looked at my friend and said "oh no! NOW WHAT DO I DO?" I was a little unnerved...I hadn't actually thought about the fact that it would get DIRTY.
He had soaked completely through the diaper (even though it has a built in waterproof barrier) and his clothes. That almost never happens with a disposable diaper. I changed him, wrapped up the cloth diaper as best I could, and put it immediately in the washer when we got home to soak in very hot water. It wasn't too big a deal. I am not sure what I think of our cloth diaper experience so far. Cloth gets one point for making me feel all warm and fuzzy putting it on him :)
Disposable gets a point for being so convenient, and well, DISPOSABLE. It also gets a point for containing the mess better. Hmmm...have to keep at it and see what I think.
I think a good compromise might be using cloth at home and disposable when we are out. My hemp diaper arrives tomorrow, so I am excited to try it out. There is something awfully sweet about your little baby wrapped up in a natural, clean, cloth diaper. And won't they look cute hanging on the clothesline? :)

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Today marks the end of the second week of my social experiment. Lots of good things happened this week. As you may notice in the column to the left, I spent just a little more than last week.

Here is what I got this week at the discount foods store.
-24-roll pack of our toilet-paper-of-choice, Angel Soft ($4!)
-1 bottle dish detergent
-2 boxes of cereal
-1 box of cupcake mix
-1 large bottle of all natural apple juice
-4 bars of Ghirardelli chocolate
-2 boxes of bouillon
-3 Steel Wool
-1 jar of spaghetti sauce
-3 bars of Fels Naptha Laundry Soap
-1 Scotch Tape
-1 box unsweetened Chocolate (for making brownies)
-1 bag of chocolate chips (I bought a lot of chocolate this week!)
-3 BOTTLES OF METHOD HANDSOAP!! (this was definitely my big find of the week!)
-1 bottle of pepper oil (I wanted to try out this interesting sounding recipe)

Of the $60, about $25 was spent on fruits and vegetables. The rest was spent at the discount food store and on the lavendar detergent I bought off etsy.

Several things worked this week to keep the food costs low.
1. I organized my freezer and pantry and found TONS of food that I was overlooking. For example, in the freezer were 6, eight pound pork loins. Yeaaaa....
So, I have it all organized, and made a master list of everything in the freezer and pantry, so I know at a glance what is there. I have been cooking out of the freezer a lot this week.

2. Matt brought home tons of samples from work. Things I don't ever buy, and they were some fun treats. Fruit snacks, fruit by the foot, chex mix snacks, mozarrella cheese sticks, chicken fingers, etc. We have been enjoying all that stuff!

In spite of spending nearly 50% less on our food, we are still eating very well. In fact, we had unexpected dinner company two times this week and it was great!
Another added benefit of not going into Wal.Mart (or other such retail establishments), is the exposure my boys are receiving. For example, the last time I went into Wal.Mart, we are standing in the checkout line...and right at C's eye level is a magazine with a topless Britney Spears, making out with another woman!! I REEEAAAALLLLYYY am not ready to have that conversation with my four year old. Guess what my son is looking at when we are checking out at the produce stand? A picture of Jesus!! No, I am not kidding. Hmmm, what would I rather talk to my son about? Hot lesbian love, or Jesus? That's enough incentive right there to quit shopping at those places!

So, this is the end of the second week and I have not yet darkened any "big box" company's doors. I have to say, it is a great feeling. I am spending tons less money, am more calm and relaxed, am losing weight from lack of junk food in the house (well, except for all those samples!), cooking better food, and saving my children from viewing lots of unneccessary raunchiness! It's a good thing, all around.

It is 9:15 AM. I have been pooped on three times and spit up on once this morning by two different children. As a result, I have scrubbed down the ottoman, changed clothes twice, changed two sets of sheets, and done three loads of laundry. Did I mention that it is only 9:15 in the morning?!
You know the saying "Some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue"? Looks like I am definitely the statue today.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

(Or, Laundry Nirvana)

Today my clothesline went up (thanks mom, for the help!). It was a beautiful day today. A nice breeze, not too hot. I couldn't wait to hang my load of laundry out to dry. It was just as divine as I had anticipated. While the others slept, I took C out to help me. He carried his little red stool and together we hung out the laundry. Every time I walk by my kitchen window, I see the freshly laundered linens blowing in the breeze. I haven't been this excited about doing laundry since...well, ever.

It has occurred to me that there are some thing in life that I am always going to have to do. No matter how much I do it, how great a system I have, whatever, there will always be more. Laundry is like that. So, rather than fight it, grumble, be annoyed...I have decided I have to make it the most amazing experience it can possibly be. Whenever we move, I always paint my laundry room first. That is a room I spend a lot of time in, I want it to be nice. My laundry room in this house is truly one of my favorite rooms. It is divine. It is very small but it is so cute!

Yesterday, I ordered some handmade lavender laundry detergent. It is very easy to make. But I thought I would buy a little sample and see how it worked before buying all the ingredients and committing to make it myself. I bought it on etsy from this great WAHM, who I went ahead and purchased a hemp diaper from (I figured it would be good to have a different kind or two to compare).

So, with the natural detergent, happy clothesline, wooden clothespins, cozy laundry room, and a sweet little helper, what's not to love about doing laundry?

*BTW, I PROMISE I will be posting pics soon. Got the cord today and was so excited...until I realized the batteries in the camera were dead!! Argh! Hopefully, the "dented can store" will have some tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Ok, I did it. I just ordered a cloth diaper. Yes, I only ordered one. With shipping, it cost $20!! But, I used the diaper calculator and figured out that even purchasing 20 of these diapers, and with the energy and water usage, I would still save almost $700 over the next year and a half by switching to cloth. That savings would be doubled if I used them on my two children in diapers.

I have been researching diapers for over a month and am still clueless. Who would have thought diapers could be so complicated? There are so many different kinds! Then, even after you narrow it down to the type of diaper you think would work best for your family (prefold, indian, chinese, stuffed, all in ones, etc.), then you have to pick the different stuffers to go in the diapers. Do you need pins and diaper covers? What brand do you want to use? The website diaperpin was a very helpful resource, with lots of reviews. Ultimately, I went with the cotton babies Bum Genius 2.0 One-size cloth diaper. It seemed the least complicated, most like a disposable, and received really high ratings from other moms. Plus, you can use the same diapers from newborn until they potty train. So, I could even use the same diapers on both of my little ones. That would be really handy. I thought this would be a good starting point. I am hoping to get my flannel wipes and homemade cleaning spray made this week. I will keep you posted...

Saturday, September 01, 2007


I started recycling about two and a half years ago. At the time, we were filling up about two hurby curbys a week in trash...just with the three of us! That seems like a lot of trash for one little family. Then, I started recycling. I began with magazines, glass, metal, and plastics. That reduced our trash by 1/2, to one hurby curby a week. Better. In the last few months, I began recycling other paper (junk mail, used copy paper, etc.) and cardboard, as well as other plastics that I was previously throwing away. I have had several discussions with the man that runs our closest recycling center and he has given me a few lessons in what the numbers on the bottoms of the plastics mean, what can and can't be recycled, etc. which as been very helpful.

Then, as you know, I began composting. And bringing my own bags to the grocery store. I have been taking it slow, adding in a new element at a time, so I don't burn out. It took a while for me to get over my fear of what people would think of me bringing my own bags to the store. So, it has been somewhat slow going for me, but over the last 2 1/2 years since I began recycling, I have seen a reduction in our family's trash outgo by 75%, even though our family size has almost doubled. We are now a family of five (three children four and under with two in diapers) and usually fill up one hurby curby about every two weeks.

I am now considering switching from disposable diapers and wipes to cloth. I have read various arguments about this...that it isn't really more environmentally friendly to use cloth because of having to wash and dry them and the amount of energy that takes. But I wonder, if I am air drying them on a clothesline, how it could be worse than using disposables? We go through a ton of diapers. Honestly, I am a little grossed out by cloth diapers. And it is a pretty big investment in the beginning, which I am not willing to make unless I am really dedicated to the cause. So I am going to start slow, like I have with the other aspects of reducing our family's waste. I am going to make my own flannel wipes and spray and try using those for a while and see how I like it, how easy it is to get them clean, etc.
I raided my mom's flannel pile and found all kinds of cute flannels in different colors and patterns. Having happy wipes will make it easier. Won't a little stack of pink, blue, yellow, floral, stripes, etc. wipes look sweet on my bathroom counter, with a spray bottle of lavendar and olive oil baby spray next to it? Hopefully the astethetic quality, as well as further reducing our trash, will be the impetutus I need to continue. I will let you know how it works out!