Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Pointless Lists

Um, April 30. You know, you'd think that since each month comes and goes in rapid succession I would cease to be shocked when it happens AGAIN, but yet, here I am. Shocked.

Ah, well.

Eric dreamed I bought my crisis car, only it turned out to be a navy blue convertible tractor and he was trying to figure out how to tell me it wasn't really practical for our situation. He didn't mention whether or not I listened (I can only assume I did not), but anyway, apparently I have awesome taste in Eric's dreams. I had no idea a convertible tractor was even possible. I'm terribly pleased with myself.

By the way, here's my real crisis car. Almost one year later and for some reason it still isn't in my driveway. I just don't get it.

P.S. I'm thinking that since Eric took my buying a tractor in his dream without him so well that in real life he probably wouldn't mind if I upgraded to a smart phone. I may be testing this theory soon, we'll see. (The problem is that I'd have to actually stir myself, which is kind of a crap shoot.)

Pointless list time!

Movies watched:
Whatever. No one cares. Also: None.

Books read:
Edward Adrift by Craig Lancaster. I had no idea a sequel to 600 Hours of Edward was even possible, which is a good thing because I'd never have been able to stand the wait. As soon as I learned this book was out, I bought it. Bam! Sometimes you don't even need to think things through. Edward is a wonderful character who keeps on keeping on, even when it would be easier to just not. I love this one just as much as the first. Recommend, recommend, recommend. (Why are they so inexpensive on Kindle? You're ripping yourself off, Craig Lancaster.)

Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. I've already mentioned this book and that I'm a big fan of Bea's blog. But while I am familiar with what she's doing to eliminate waste from her life, I found the book fascinating and very inspiring. And the opposite of preachy. And very practical. Bea has two boys and a husband... and still they only produce a quart jar of garbage a year. What the what? This book has helped me to step up my own zero waste efforts, as well as to let go of the guilt associated with not being able to do everything. It's also a great tutorial on minimalism in general. I also recommend this one--and hey, if you get it on Kindle, you're not missing out on anything. It's beautifully formatted for the device.

Garden update:
Eric put in the spinach and lettuce a couple of weeks ago, and we've got tiny little sprouts coming up. I'd take a picture, but you'd probably have trouble seeing them in all the dirt.

Most read post:
Math is hard. Well, it is. P.S. We are STILL selling special sections for a buck, and people are STILL buying them. Stacey calls them "limited edition." I think Eric put ours in the recycling...

Check this out:
Find Momo. You guys, I love this with my whole heart. I find Momo EVERY DAY. Almost makes me wish I had a dog.

Things I've learned:
The chocolate chips in our bulk section rock--probably that's the chocolate liqueur talking. Cleaning out the freezer is relatively painless and kind of fun. April weather is just as bipolar as March. Oranges taste better than vitamin C tablets and P.S., I've kind of been eating one a day for weeks on end. Still not tired of them.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Freezer-Pantry Clean Out Week II

Last week I spent $40-ish on groceries without a plan. This week I spent a little less than $50 WITH a plan, which is kind of going against the grain, so to speak, because while I used to menu plan like a boss, I've gotten pretty lazy about it lately. And by "lately," I mean the last eight years. Whatever. All that fancy Zero Waste readin' I'm doing suggests that menus are the way to go to eliminate food waste. I think another might be not to hoard.

I am a food hoarder, I won't lie. Well, something goes on sale and I'm all like, buy all the things! I also tend to put away a lot of food each summer, which in theory is awesome, but in practice it doesn't always get used (looking at you, quart of rhubarb).

I am trying to mend my ways. I bought one gallon of milk, one package of lunchmeat, two loaves of bread. And do you know what I learned? Buying multiples of those things is not hoarding because if you don't, you wake up Friday morning trying to figure out what to feed everyone for breakfast, let alone pack for lunch.

Good to know.

Freezer items: An inherited ham hock from Easter, chopped Walla Walla Sweets, homemade chicken broth, butter
Pantry items: Bulk split peas, bulk cornmeal from who knows when, local honey, chocolate chips I found pushed to the back
Meal: Split pea soup and cornbread*, home canned peaches, peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips**

A couple weeks ago I sent out a plea on Facebook: What the heck do you do with a ham hock? Oh, sure, I could have Googled it, but that's a lot of work. My friend Julie came through with this suggestion:

Bag of split peas, chicken stock, onion, garlic and ham bone in the crock pot all day. Homemade cornbread when you get home.

Except for the split peas, which I have never willingly purchased in my life, I had all this in the freezer. I also found some cooked taco meat from April 2012 (into the garbage disposal THAT went) and another quart of homemade chicken broth I suspect is from 2011 (such a waste). P.S. I almost donated my crock pot to the church's annual June rummage sale a couple of years ago. I am so glad I did not.

Uh, this was insanely delish. Well, ham, you know.

*Cornbread: This is close to my recipe, except mine just calls for 3/4 cup cornmeal. There was a time in the '00s that I made this every single week. I can't tell you how many times I forgot the baking powder and salt. Hint: A LOT. Also: Honey and cornbread? Yes, please.

**Cookie Recipe Note: For the love of God, do not use margarine in your cooking. Or anywhere. It's basically plastic. I don't even want to think about what shortening is...

Freezer items: Pork chops, walnuts
Refrigerator items: Salad! With feta! And homemade salad dressing!
Pantry items: Quinoa, dried cranberries
Meal: Pan roasted pork chops, quinoa with walnuts and cranberries, leftover split pea soup, salad, will someone please finish the peaches already?

I did not plan on this being a two-nighter, but you know what? Miracles.

Fun fact: We usually buy half a hog from our nephew every summer after the 4H auction at the fair. Last year we bought the entire hog, which, in case you were wondering, is a lot. This little piggy (whose name I forget, sorry, that feels ungrateful somehow) led a very happy life out in the country surrounded by alpacas. True story. Also, he's delicious.

My favorite way to cook pork chops is to do this whole pan roasting ordeal I learned from the Martha Stewart Cooking School cookbook, and I feel like that technique alone is worth the cost of the thing. We also enjoy this dry rub recipe from Everyday Food that we put on everything, meat and vegetable alike. (Um, except I can't find the variation we use... essentially, no cayenne, half the oregano and thyme, the other half with marjoram and basil. Oh, and less salt.)

I've never made quinoa before, but Martha came through again. I felt it had a rather... muddy taste... so I added more salt (kind of shocking, I know) and some dried cranberries and walnuts. And I was like, well, this is going to fly like a lead balloon, but you know what? Everyone ate it like it actually tasted good. Oh, except next time the girls don't want cranberries. (I thought that was the best part, but whatevs.) Eric was all, it's a superfood! Which is how I got my own portion down. I kept expecting to turn into an Avenger, but unfortunately that didn't happen. Maybe next time. (Insert sarcastic "yay" here.)

Oh, and P.S. This is my salad dressing recipe. I can share it because I invented it my own damn self and I don't care who copies it: 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, a squirt of honey, a squirt of good ol' yellow mustard (but Dijon is lovelier), salt and pepper to taste. Shake that up in a jar. The honey makes it thicker, which I appreciate. P.P.S. I'm afraid to Google those ingredients just in case someone else also came up with it but is more territorial than I am.

Freezer items: Pinto beans, spinach/cilantro/green onion mix, corn tortillas, raspberries
Refrigerator items: Cheese, blankety-blank peaches
Pantry items: Canned tomatoes, spices
Meal: Mexican-style Lasagna, fruit

I don't even have the words to tell you how sick I am of pork. Bring on the veggies. This Mexican-style Lasagna come from, where else?, Everyday Food. It is delicious. I make it constantly. Last summer I even made a few jars of the filling to shortcut the process a bit later on. I thought I'd used it all, but this is what happens when you clean out your freezer.

I'm at another end-of-the-week-side dish gulf, but that's why God gave us raspberries and peaches, I guess. It's not glamourous in any possible way, but you do get fed.

P.S. Friday I made chocolate chip cookies again. That finished off the rest of the chocolate chips, and I even got to open a new package of walnuts. I think I'm down to like four of those now. Also, I'm premenstrual. I NEED CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES.

We went to Stayton to visit Eric's sister and brother-in-law, and also to hang out with nephew Kelly and go to some brew fest. I don't know, this is what happens when you hang around homebrewers a lot. I just smile and nod and try to find the coffee. Um, so I didn't have to come up with any kind of meal plan. You know what? I'm okay with that somehow. (Ha.)

In conclusion, these past two weeks have been pretty awesome. I've managed to get rid of quite a bit of food. No one starved (except for Friday morning, but that was my fault for not getting enough milk), and I'm not sure anyone really even noticed I was cleaning the freezer et al the hell out, aside from Eric, whom I like to bore with all the minute details of my life.

It looks like I'm down to mostly fruit in the freezer now (well, and pork), so I guess instead of Freezer-Pantry Clean Out Week III we'll have Will Trisha Ever Learn To Make a Proper Pie Week. Answer: No. Crusts confound me. I don't know, I just don't get it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Not QUITE kindred spirits

Yesterday Johanna had a 5:30 ball game. I did the math and realized dinner would be at 7:30. Fun fact: I get cranky when I'm hungry. Short story long, I decided to grab a snack at the grocery store beforehand.

Get my bagel in a paper bag, get a cheese stick in plastic wrap (whoops), grab an organic tea in a glass bottle (turns out I really do hate tea, even cold), head to the check out.

Because it's like 5:25, everyone and their brother is at the store, and the lines? Are long. I see one with only one guy, and I'm all like, score!, and plop my purchases down.

The first thing I notice: His reusable containers. He has quart jars and lids just like mine! He also has a couple of wicked looking glass bottles. Yay!

The next thing I notice: This guy has written NONE of the tare weights or bulk codes on his jars. The cashier was getting more and more flustered the longer this went on, because he had to repeat every code half a dozen times and then argued every tare weight AFTER she rang it up. She finally called the manager over and they got it all sorted out, but by that time I'd been in line ten minutes and no joke, my cheese stick had totally wilted. Boo!

The third thing I notice: He just bought 5 quarts of dried currants. Well, that's something you don't see every day.

Anyway, so he pays and he leaves, and the cashier is like, he told me I was going to die, and I was like, WHAT? because I totally missed that part, and she was all, oh, this was a while ago, he was having a bad day and he's kind of special, and he told me I was going to die, so every time he comes in my line now I cringe. And I was all, well, I say you're going to live and you were very patient, and she was like, have a nice day!

It probably helped our transaction lasted roughly 30 seconds.

Here's what could have helped that guy--and all of us--have a way less stressful ordeal:
  1. Have the tare clearly marked on the jar
  2. Have the bulk code clearly marked on the jar
  3. Don't be a jerk when you have to repeat yourself because you didn't do these things
Huh, short list. I know that some people don't like marking up their lids because it makes them look ugly, but seriously, get over it. IT'S A JAR LID. If a store is willing to let us bring in our own jars, the least we can do is make it as easy as possible on their end. If permanence stresses you out, bring a crayon. That sucker will rub off.

I like permanent marker on my lids, actually, because I tend to buy the same ol' junk time after time anyway. Makes it easy.

P.S. It's probably pointless to rant at currant dude, since he'll never see this anyway, but wow, I feel better. Blogging is weird.

To sum it all up, use your jars and be polite. Also, maybe don't tell the cashier to die.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Not my best morning


I don't think anyone would classify this morning as a success, except for maybe Oscar the Grouch, but that guy loves tears and chaos and yelling and is kind of messed up. Abby was on the emotional edge of the abyss, Johanna's enthusiasm went unchecked for too long, and I wasn't in the mood. Sometimes this whole "motherhood" ordeal is more than I bargained for:

I don't want to find your tank top.

I don't want to remind you to brush your teeth.

I don't want to get your swimming bag packed.

I don't want to come when you call.

I don't want to see that.

I don't want to deal with your contact lens issue just now.

If I were being honest, it's mainly my fault. I went on my iPad for just a teensy minute, and the next thing I know, 15 have passed, we need to leave in 20, Johanna is still in bed, Abby can't figure out what to wear and her eyeballs hurt, and I haven't made any coffee. Or packed a lunch. So panic sets in and bam! We have tears and everything.

Mother of the year is what I'm saying. Johanna is naturally oblivious and has the happiest heart of anyone I've ever met, but I probably ruined Abby's whole day.


I'm sorry, Abs.

Update, April 24
I would totally classify this morning as a raging success, mainly because I kept off the damn iPad and focused really hard. Boring. But I was able to put out all those little fires that come up no matter how many mornings we've managed to get under our belts. And pack fairly decent lunches. And no one cried.

I'm pretty amazing sometimes.

P.S. I was worried about Abby ALL DAY yesterday and when I finally got to talk to her, I was like, was your day okay or did I ruin it? And she was like, what? No, it was horrible because of State Testing, and I was all, oh, okay.

The end.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Freezer-Pantry Clean Out Week

Probably no one will care about this except me, but I like to keep track of this stuff, and since I don't keep a journal anymore, the blog it is!


I declared this Freezer-Pantry Clean Out Week, with capital letters and everything so you know it's totally legit. When you can't open your freezer without things falling at your feet, it's probably time to see what you've even got in there. Plus it's April and my favorite farmers' market opens in May (!!!), so it's go time, people.

Fun fact: I didn't go into this with any plans... I just opened up the freezer and went from there. Tossing random foodstuffs on the counter and coming up with a meal was way more entertaining than I'd expected. I enjoyed the challenge very much.

Also, I might be a food hoarder. Next week is Freezer-Pantry Clean Out Week II.

Freezer items: Cooked leftover chicken, corn tortillas from who knows when, walnuts
Refrigerator items: Leftover homemade salsa from Friday's taco night, sour cream from Abby's celebratory Confirmation cheesecake, cheddar slices, leftover salad and dressing
Meal: Enchiladas, salad, chocolate chip cookies

You could successfully argue that these weren't real enchiladas, but come on! My ancestors were Scandinavian. Apparently. That's another post. Um, anyway, I whirled the chicken around in my food processor (chop, chop chop) and dabbed a good spoonful on a corn tortilla. I placed a slice of cheese on top and rolled that sucker up. And repeated that process like seven more times. Then I put salsa over everything and covered it with a few more cheese slices and presto, enchiladas. If I'd have had more salsa, I'd have mixed some into the chicken, too, but I did not, and I did not feel like opening up another can of tomatoes, either.

I had mercy on the family and made chocolate chip cookies--using the walnuts--and then claimed the rest for lunches only. Surprisingly, the cookies lasted through the week. I can't believe everyone listened to me. P.S. I got the chocolate chips in the bulk section using a pint jar. It's a good thing I'd only bought enough for a batch of cookies, or I'd have polished off the rest in one sitting. Those things were tasty.

This was the best received meal of the week. Even Johanna went nuts. That did a lot for my self-esteem.

Freezer items: Chopped Walla Walla sweets, Sungold tomatoes (whole and dried), zucchini, blackberries, rhubarb, cooked leftover shredded pork, pan rolls
Refrigerator items: Fresh mozzarella
Pantry items: Penne pasta, powdered sugar, canned cherries
Meal: Pasta, rolls, leftover Confirmation salad (Tuesday), cherries (Wednesday), Rhubarb Crumb Bars

The thing I like about pasta meals is that you can throw all kinds of crap in there and no one is any wiser. I caramelized onions, added zucchini and tomatoes and let that simmer around for a while. Then I threw half of that ordeal in my blender... only to remember that Sungolds are orange and look really gross when blended. No matter. I added both the blended and the non-blended portion to the pasta, then mixed in the shredded pork and bits of mozzarella. I had planned on putting in the oven to melt the cheese, but the pasta and sauce were still warm, so I didn't need to after all. The end. It still looked kind of iffy, I won't lie. Also, I learned shredded pork is not my favorite mix-in when it comes to pasta sauce. But hey, we got fed. Yay us!

For dessert, I made this snack cake from my now defunct but still beloved Everyday Food magazine. I bought six bags of powdered sugar in November during a baking sale. Why did I do that? The snack cake uses powdered sugar, though, so win. Add blackberries and rhubarb, and I got to use all kinds of junk! P.S. This season, I am not going to freeze rhubarb. There are limits, people.

Freezer items: Pan rolls
Refrigerator items: Very ripe avocado, that jar of cherries from the night before
Pantry items: Sweet potatoes
Meal: Sandwiches, sweet potato pancakes, cherries

Thursday was Abby's high school open house night. You can insert a few choice swear words here and maybe some mumblings about how she cannot possibly be old enough to go to high school, but the fact of the matter is she's really excited, and she's going to have a ton of fun opportunities (way more than Eric and I had when we went there, it's okay, we're not bitter, much), and I just keep repeating that to myself and maybe someday I'll believe it even in my heart.

Anyway, there wasn't a lot of time for dinner in a general sort of way, so I made this sweet potato pancake recipe (before work, and I modified it, but you can do what you want). Eric opened up a can of whoop-ass... I mean cherries... and made deli sandwiches with avocado slices. Avocado makes everything better. Felt kind of lame, but there was literally three minutes to eat dinner before leaving, and anyway, no one complained. We'll count that as a victory.

Freezer items: Cooked leftover pork, homemade barbecue sauce, those damn never-ending pan rolls, raspberries
Refrigerator items: Confirmation cheese slices that had been previously overlooked
Pantry items: Huh. I guess none.
Meal: Barbecue pork sandwiches, leftover sweet potato pancakes, raspberries

I have some honest to heck hamburger buns in the freezer, too, but I wanted to use up the pan rolls once and for all. Also, it's Friday, man! No one wants to cook or think. This is something I make on purpose quite a bit (thus the leftover pork... a roast makes a lot), so no one noticed the freezer-pantry clean out elements. Since the salad dried up Tuesday night, side dishes have been a challenge, but I suppose that's the point. Plain ol' raspberries aren't the worst thing.

Um, we had take-and-bake pizza with my parents after Mass. Because they invited us! And also because we'd have to do that anyway, I guess, because the cupboards were bare. And when I get hungry, I sort of forget things like "minimalism" and "Zero Waste."

You know what, though? I feel good about this project. Especially since I spent like $40 on groceries for the week (lunch stuff, fruit and milk). My freezer is a little emptier, which makes me happy. It looks manageable in there. And I have a very good idea about next week's ordeal now that I can see what was pushed to the way back.

Also: I feel very zero-wastey. Mostly.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Math is hard

Every spring, the newspaper publishes this huge special section--or actually four special sections--and the public? GOES NUTS. Well, it is beautifully illustrated and is packed with some cool stories et al. Anyway, traditionally extras have sold for 50 cents, but this year Deb and Stacey decided to make it a buck.

The newspaper it was inserted into costs 75 cents. We still have copies of the entire paper. This is an important detail.

Stacey told me about how this lady came in and wanted four, and Stacey was all, do you want the entire paper? and she was all, nope. And Stacey was all, she spent an extra dollar! And I was like, that is impressive, but I'll probably never get to see such awesomeness myself.

Except I did!

A gentleman came in asking for the section, and I was like, this is a dollar, or I can sell you the entire paper for 75, and he was all, I just want the special section, and I was all, sold!

The moral of this story is that I'm an English major, so I'm probably missing something here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Talking to myself

I am writing this AND eating lunch AND trying to keep a blanket wrapped tight around my body because I'm freezing. I know. Multitasking is AWESOME.

It's just too bad I have nothing to say.

A quick story, maybe. On Monday, when I was proofing the classified ads, I found a five-foot electric salad bar listed in our $500 and Under section--with a Plexiglas sneeze shield. Are you kidding me? Who doesn't need this? So I was like, Stacey! and then I proceeded to read her the entire ad. Because we have made Eric's garden shed our playhouse and we like to fill it up with all the cool stuff we find in the classifieds.

Theoretically, of course. We don't really have a broken mechanical bull or neon bar signs or slot machines or an Easy Bake Oven. Well, the garden shed isn't big enough. And also, this is one of those times where the thinking is better than the doing. 

Although a broken mechanical bull would be quite a conversation piece.

Anyway, so Stacey didn't say anything about our new playhouse find, which was confusing because this is the kind of thing that totally warrants a response, so I look around and realize I'm all alone.

"Oh, you're not here," I say.

I may talk to myself, but I rarely answer. That makes it better, right?

The end.

This makes me laugh.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Zero waste-ish

I've been attempting to write this post for months now, but I never seem to get anywhere. Mostly because I'm afraid I'll sound all preachy, I guess, and also because I'm still trying to get it all figured out.

Here's the crux of the thing: I've started taking quart and pint canning jars (with plastic screw on lids, I won't lie) to the grocery store when I do our weekly shopping. I've been a fan of reusable produce bags too, although that's kind of hit and miss, depending on how organized I am. I'm not opposed to just tossing produce in my cart unbagged, though, so.

A couple of weeks ago, I about took a picture of my cart because it was a thing of Zero Waste beauty: Fresh feta and mozzarella cheeses, trail mix, thyme and quinoa in my jars, apples and pears and salad stuff in my cloth sacks. I was feeling like a pioneer of minimalism.

And then I hit the rest of the store.

Pretzels for the girls' lunch (Johanna likes hers with mustard, who am I to judge?), cheddar cheese, loaf of bread. Probably other prepackaged crap, I don't know, it was two weeks ago.

But it was a high. I'd done what I could. You could argue, I suppose, whether or not we needed the pretzels, but overall, I felt like I'd made progress with my kitchen waste battle.

The next week, we went shopping after Mass, which means the whole fam was involved. I went to the customer service counter to get tare on a jar*, and by the time I made it back to the cart, Eric had put plastic bags of pears and apples into the cart, and was going for another plastic bag of carrots. I handed him a reusable sack, and he put the new plastic bag he'd just taken off the roll into the cart, empty.

Not really zero waste. And my fault because I'd taken the whole shopping kit with me and left him nothing to use.

Maybe it didn't matter, because I hadn't brought enough reusable sacks for all our produce needs anyway. And I certainly didn't bring enough jars to get everything I wanted from the bulk sections.

So my high was followed by a deep, deep low.

But! Abby is getting Confirmed this weekend, so I had an opportunity to redeem myself while shopping for her party yesterday. And I mostly did. I made sure I had plenty of jars and cloth sacks.  I've pre-ordered ciabatta rolls from a local bakery that uses recyclable packaging (my grocery store says it can't put bread from behind the counter into one of my sacks, which confuses me since no one seems to care what else I'm putting into them, but whatevs). And I decided that instead of buying packaged cookies for a cheesecake crust, I'd just make Mom's sugar cookie recipe. Bonus: I only need 1/2 cup of crumbs, so eat up, family!

Um, and then I threw in two bags of potato chips, some strawberries in clam shell, grapes in their own plastic bag, and packaged mozzarella and lunch meat.

I'm not sure if I did better or not is what I'm saying.

It's kind of depressing because there is no way I will ever be able to eliminate packaging completely. For a little town, our grocery store has a great selection of bulk items, but it doesn't have everything, and obviously, I'm not perfect. But the whole concept of Zero Waste fascinates me. Maybe that's just my OCD talking. But doesn't that sound nice, less trash and recycling to deal with at home because you didn't bring any home in the first place?

Well, I like the idea very much. It seems a natural extension of my minimalistic tendencies. Our house could be an oasis of peace! Um, what, too cheesy? You've got a point there, sorry. But do you get what I'm trying to explain here? Less stuff makes me feel better, so it follows that less waste would, too.

Oh, here's a victory, though, and it was all Eric's idea. He's a home-brewer, but he hasn't had time to brew anything lately, what with all the painting he's been doing. He priced it out and discovered that he could take one of his kegs (five gallon, what, it lasts a while) to a local microbrewery and fill it up for $62, which is, in his words, pretty close to what he'd pay for bottled beer. I was like, no bottles, bottle caps or packaging and supporting a local business? That's Zero Waste! And he was all, um, that's better beer, and I was like, well, you get credit anyway. He totally does, too.

Hey, did you know my grocery store has bulk maple syrup and bakers yeast? Yeah, me neither, until yesterday. I am totally jacked. I don't need either of those things now... but I will someday.

*When you bring in a reusable jar, you can go to the customer service desk--or anyone, really--and have them weigh the thing for you. That's the tare. Then, after you've filled your jar and brought it to the checkout, they subtract the tare from the weight so you're not paying extra. It's kind of genius and sort of fun to be all poser up there, throwing words like "tare" around.

I don't know, everyone brings in reusable grocery sacks for bagging purposes--it's to the point that it's almost weird to see paper or plastic in a cart going out the door--so maybe someday it'll be common place for people to bring in cloth sacks for produce and jars for bulk. Which is kind of the point for writing all this, now that I think about it... to let you know it's possible. What you do with that is up to you.

P.S. I've been following The Zero Waste Home blog for a long time now, and I find it completely inspirational. I've also just purchased Bea's book by the same name (on my Kindle, of course) and am finding it to be a great resource--she goes into much more depth in the book than she does on the blog. Recommend both if you're thinking about dipping your toes in the Zero Waste or minimalism waters.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Phone calls and phone books

When Eric's alarm went off like three minutes ago, and I woke up from some crazy dream about being in an earthquake in a national park, except there were trees flying around horizontally (does that happen in a real earthquake? Probably not) and then all of a sudden my parents and in-laws were there and for some reason we were going on a hike with the girls, and I was all, is this safe?, but no one else seemed to be bothered, and after mulling that over for a minute and wondering why there were cathedrals in the national park, I realized I hadn't updated the blog for like five days or something, so that's why I'm up. You're welcome.

Work Phone Call #1
Little Old Lady: I put an ad in that $500 or under section, and the girl told me it would go on the internet. Which internet? I can't find it.
Me: Um... the newspaper's website.
LOL: The paper has a website?!

When I told Stacey about this--because apparently it was her ad--she started beating her head against her desk, which was sort of alarming but also completely understandable. Then she was all, why didn't we get coffee this afternoon?, and I was like, I'm drawing a blank on that one.

Work Phone Call #2
Little Old Man (who later I discovered was Murray): Hey there, can I talk to your husband?
Me: ...Wait, what?
Murray (laughing): Uh, is this Stacey or Trish?
Me: It's Trisha, and yes, our voices are often confused.
Murray (still laughing, perhaps we need to call in the medics at this point): Ha ha ha! I was sure you were Stacey!
Me: Trust me, Stacey is going to love this story. Let me get you Tony.
Stacey: Was that Murray?
Me: I guess he didn't want to talk to my husband after all.

P.S. Stacey's husband Tony is the print shop manager, and Murray is always going back there to talk with him. I have no idea what Murray does, but since my first day, everyone's just sort of let him wander where he will, so I figure asking questions at this point would just be embarrassing.

Also, half the phone calls I get start with "Hi Stacey!" But no one had asked to speak to Eric before. I wasn't too sure how to transfer to a completely different office...

Phone Books
So Cranky Steve threw a mother of a fit on Wednesday all over phone book delivery, and the post office claiming to own mailboxes and posts and the air around it, and drivers tossing phone books on the ground as a result. It was bad enough that people were coming out of offices to watch. No one stopped him, mind you--just watched. Then he stormed out and Chris the Office Manger was all, well, better he blow up at us then the public, and I was all, uh... I'm kind of not getting your point. Well, yes, I do get her point, but why is it better to freak out in front of all of us? Aren't we real people?

The next day I just talked to him like I always do because I figured he must have been embarrassed about that, right? It must be hard to be Cranky Steve all day long, every day...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spoke too soon...

I had to do a cold interview on Thursday with this kid who's managing a painting business this summer, and hey, small world, his mother was the nurse who helped deliver Abby.* That has nothing to do with the story, it's just a clue so my mother knows who I'm talking about. Anyway, this kid is a mechanical engineering major, and he's extremely articulate and probably a genius because he came up with all kinds of quotes without any notice at all. At the very end of the interview I'm like, well, I need a photo of you, but if you're still in Corvallis... and he's like, no problem, I'll email one.

In my inbox yesterday was the promised picture. The subject? "Mug Shit."

And I have been giggling about that ever since.

*She brought in a newborn and was all like, this is what you're working for! And I'm like, uh, transitional labor, no one cares. Memories! Are fun.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A whole lot of nothing

I know, I know, it's been a while. Jeez, people, I have a life. And also: Easter. And also: My mother is obsessed with putting together my grandparents' 70th anniversary scrapbook and thinks I am obsessed to. (Hint: Not so much.) Um, but I try to be patient because their anniversary was in September and Mom wanted me to do this last year, but I suck.

So yesterday at work I thought Cranky Steve was going to scratch my eyes out because he left like fifteen minutes early and I was all, leaving already? That was a joke because Steve's life involves the paper and his cats, and he's always at the office until like 10 p.m. or something, I don't know, I leave at 5. And he was all, TRISHA! and I thought I saw him roll up his sleeves and that's when I put my hands up and was like, joking, joking! and I got to keep my eyeballs after all.

This is the first week back after spring break and the girls are not feeling it. Abby's supposed to be at school at 7:40 a.m. (does the school administration even know any teenagers?) and we left the house this morning at 7:38. Abby was blaming Johanna, but I was like, um, your shoes aren't on either. My goal in the morning is to simply get everyone out of the house without any crying (myself included, obviously) and this week has been a complete and utter fail. 'Cause I'm not feeling it either.

We had a rather lovely Easter and Holy Week. We had a little playdate with Johanna's friend Savannah on Thursday, and then on Friday my best friend Mara came (hi Mara!), but I couldn't feed her anything because her body is in revolt. Hmm. Well, I get the whole food sensitivity thing, but man, no coffee? Suddenly my own afflictions aren't looking so bad.

Oh, and my grandparents were in town, which is kind of why I spent a lot of my time on my parents' computer trying to crank out the anniversary scrapbook. (Thank God for photo books, honestly. I don't even want to think of how much time it would take to put this thing together the old fashioned way.) We also spent Easter Sunday with Eric's side. It was a completely gorgeous day, and we spent as much time outside as possible.

Right now Eric is ripping the carpet out of my retreat in preperation of putting in hardwood flooring. We have leftovers from the living room et al project. Also, gross: When Madie would get mad at us, she'd pee in there and that smell? Is impossible to remove. I'm trying to be generous with her memory, but at the moment it's a struggle.

And I am making dinner. This is going to be a rather thrown together affair consisting of stuff I want out of my freezer and pantry. Except for all it's thrown togetherness, it's taking a hell of a long time to prepare. Well, whatever, I guess. Oh, right: Pasta with tomatoes from our garden last year and fresh mozzarella, zucchini pancakes on the side, probably a jar of cherries because I think there's one in the back of the fridge, plus anyway when you live next door to a cherry orchard, you tend to have a lot of that in your pantry. Johanna is not a fan of spaghetti (let's face it, that's what this is) so I left out some noodles for her and she can dump all the parmesan she wants on there from that green can my parents got her for Christmas because that's just how Johanna rolls.

Um, the end. Will post pictures of my gorgeous new retreat later.