Sunday, June 30, 2013

June Pointless Lists

Hey, school's out! Um, when does school start back up again? No particular reason why I'm asking, ha ha, I love summer and having everyone underfoot home! It's just that a friend of mine was wondering.

Moving RIGHT along.

I don't know what's going on here, but my classified ads for various kitchenwares are finally taking off. To the same person. True story, this lady took my cake and tart pans, my oval bakers of varying sizes, and my pie plate. All at different times. It's possible I'm on speed dial at this point as "EX Crazy Pampered Chef Hoarder." Anyway, she seems thrilled, and I certainly am because it's always heartening to see things move out the door. Eric's office looks normal again (that is to say, cluttered with only his home-brewing gear) and my reading retreat looks almost inviting. Almost. I've been bad about letting general clutter get the best of me again. (Like: What am I supposed to do with the bath salts Johanna gave me for Mother's Day as part of a class project? I appreciate the thought, and she's so excited about me taking a "relaxing bath," but... I don't fit in our bathtub. I'm 6' tall, people! I don't fit anywhere! But I can't toss these things for obvious reasons. And that's only one small part of the whole ordeal... Getting overwhelmed again, thinking happy thoughts, happy thoughts are stupid, where's the coffee?)

Anyway, between the rummage sale (sorry, last time I'll mention it) and the ads, my mental health has greatly improved. I can see the finish line. Except it keeps moving, which seems reasonable, actually, so that's cool. We're getting there is what I'm saying.

Also: 19 days and counting until the big 4-1. I am in no way as emotionally distressed as I was last year at this time. It's like, 41? BRING IT. So that's an improvement. I feel like maybe I should have something else to say about this, but I really don't.

Pointless list time!

Books read:
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. True story, I read this as a REAL book and not on my beloved Kindle because my brother-in-law lent it to me and I was like, well, I guess I should read it, then. Real books are weird. Anyway, great book, easy read, Enzo the Dog is awesome--he's the narrator, as it were. It's not exactly light reading, and bad things happen all over the place, but Enzo just does what he needs to do and helps his people as best he can. Recommend!

Garden update:
The lettuce and spinach are completely overwhelming at this point, which is kind of awesome. We're eating a lot of salad is what I'm saying. The basil is doing okay, and I've managed to make a couple recipes of pesto (although, disclaimer, one was because I broke down and bought basil at the farmers' market). Eric had us all out in the garden weeding as a "family activity," and the good news is that my pessimism went unrewarded and we didn't get killed by lightening*. Also: The onions, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes and cilantro are looking good, the blackberry bushes are loaded, we've picked three huge bowls of raspberries so far and have barely been able to stay on top of that situation. Time for jam.

So that's been fun. Um, except for the weeding, but I do what I can to set a good example. Sometimes. Plus, I really want the carrots to grow.

Check this out:
My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter. Quinoa and her friends might be imaginary, but they are fabulous.

Things I've learned:
When you start making iced coffee and vanilla syrup at home, you tend to get a little spoiled. Because what I put together in my kitchen tastes way better than what I buy at the coffee shop. I have not quite figured out my iced coffee limit, however, which may or may not explain why I'm fairly jittery these days. Also, I'm on my eighth batch of each. (Just kidding. I'm only on number seven.)

P.S. Abby is a big fan of fancy-pants peppermint mochas. Let's just say that with my coffee base, a quart of organic chocolate milk (which is apparently made with pure gold and the blood of innocents for the price of the thing), and a homemade mint extract (more on that next month), she's been a very happy camper. Unforeseen benefit: For the price of the chocolate milk, she can have a week's worth of mochas instead of one drink at the coffee shop. My wallet thanks her.

Also, wow, you guys liked the Minimalist Christmas post.  My husband's family has been doing something similar to this for years--we call it the Christmas House--with all 24 (soon to be 25) of us pooling our funds and renting a house and pretty much just hanging out together for like three straight days. It's awesome. And a good alternative for those who don't care for excessive driving, which my side of the family is generally immune to.

*FINE, there wasn't any lightening at all. Who cares, it's totally a threat, I've seen 20/20!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Meanwhile, back at the office...

Our office is undergoing a major remodel. This is a good thing, of course, because things are a little iffy out there in the world for newspapers, and the mere fact that ours is expanding (albeit the printing part of the business) is kind of amazing.

So now that I've got THAT out of the way, let me tell you how I really feel.

Since the print shop is taking over half of the space previously used for editorial (everything fits, no biggie), there's a lot of moving and sorting and purging going on. We've got a dumpster and a shredder, so you know it's legit.

We've all been encouraged to "go through" our things and "take advantage" the dumpster et al (we have a recycling bin too, of course, and a couple people have put stuff outside with a "free" sign). I have managed to not accumulate much, so I was pretty smug about my lack of participation in said purging until Joe the Publisher announced he was trading his office for the conference room (makes sense, his current office is bigger) and all those awards on the wall? Needed to come down.

By the way, this is when my full 6-feet-one half-inch comes in handy. I GOT those awards on the top shelf, yo, and I got them good.

And then I spent two hours taking awards out of their frames (we kept the first place awards, but the honorable mentions from 1964 got tossed). What this left was a huge stack of frames by my desk. I was feeling a little stressed out anyway because I was trying to figure out a place to store a huge stack of archival books--I'm putting together a column these days of the "what happened on this day X number of years ago" variety and had previously kept them in the conference room--and it just wasn't working. I could literally not find one square inch of free space. There are stacks and stacks of things that no one knows what to do with because they've been there since Day One, but no one can make a decision because they're not sure if they're the proper authority for that kind of thing. Which I understand because I'm fairly sure I am NOT an authority able to move any o' this crap on to its final resting place(s) and therefore just spin my wheels a lot.

Anyway, though, eventually Joe came out of his office to encourage the front office staff to take home frames, and Chris the Office Manager was all like, Trisha's a minimalist, she's got like one electronic picture frame for the entire house, and I was all, well, I don't actually have an electronic picture frame because I've never understood the point, but yeah, none of this is coming home with me.

Also: I guess I talk about my minimalistic tendencies more than I thought because I had no idea anyone at work even knew what I was up to over here.

Anyway, after the minimalist door was opened, so to speak, Chris felt emboldened to ask me about my "lifestyle choice." She was mostly just curious whether or not we had anything on our walls.

That made me laugh. Our house has stuff in it, people. We have furniture, for one thing, and photos of the girls and even a quilt rack with some antique tea cups on its shelf.

So we talked about my home's wall situation, and how for me, minimalism is mostly about mindful consumerism and choosing experiences over stuff. Maybe there's still a general conception of minimalism being all about stark cold interiors and self denial, I don't know, that's the impression I got talking with Chris, and I think she felt better knowing I'm not looking at blank walls all the time.

And then I embraced my title as an Honest to God Minimalist and I tackled my desk. I tossed (yes, tossed) things that had been under my counter untouched all 2 1/2 years of my employment with the paper (dude, we don't even OWN an Cannon copier, what the hell has this empty cartridge been doing all these years?), I had Cranky Steve kill the spider that was living behind a stack of newsprint, I recycled papers and catalogs, took a Clorox Wipe (or six. It was disgusting) to everything, stacked the homeless archival books up on the floor and called it a day.

Chris, noticing the stack, commented that maybe someday we'll get the shelves behind my desk cleaned out for my use (she thought it was a shame the archival books are on the floor, which it kind of is, I guess) because it would be nice to have the shelves used for something other than a dumping ground.

Word up, Chris. Word up.

Um, so that's what I've been doing. The end, I guess.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lessons in rereading and a rummage sale update


The other day I was feeling self indulgent nostalgic, and I went through all of my minimalism posts just to see how far I've managed to come with this whole ordeal.

Apparently I am a big fan of the church's annual rummage sale because I mentioned it in practically every post. I also learned that I say "shit" a lot. (Sorry, Mom. I don't really swear in real life, but for some reason when I write, it kind of comes out.)

The good news is the St. Mary's Rummage Sale was last weekend, so probably I won't have to talk about it anymore.

After THIS post, I mean. You're welcome.

I took two big carloads to the church two weeks ago--as in, the trunk was completely full, as was the backseat--and this has done a lot for my mental stability. Visual clutter is depressing. So is realizing that you've spent so much time and energy and money on things you don't even need, but I try not to dwell on that. Forgive and forget, my internet friends. And anyway, our mindset is different now. We've learned a valuable lesson from our previous consumer driven ways. That's worth the price of admission, right?

Rereading those posts gave me a lift, though, because I realized that we have come a long way. Sometimes I forget about that. I've been a little frustrated with my efforts lately, maybe because I'm a big picture kind of girl and details stress me out, and just to see that I've actually accomplished something here was good for my self-esteem. Our lives are different than they were only eight months ago. That's kind of amazing.


I went to the sale to check things out on Thursday and to say hello to my mother, who was working. She must have told the ladies about my minimalistic tendencies because as soon as I walked in the door I was bombarded with questions. That's cool, I'll talk about it. So they're nodding at my answers and I'm thinking that maybe they don't think I'm too weird (because apparently people worry that you don't own furniture when you're a minimalist and are relieved to hear that you do), when one says, "Well, but what does your FAMILY think of all this?" in a tone that implied that she thought I was weird after all, or at the very least didn't believe that this was possible with a husband and kids. And I was like, um, Eric is on board, Abby is a minimalist until you get to her bookshelf and closet, and Johanna is a hoarder. Although that doesn't give Johanna enough credit because, well, yes, she IS a hoarder, but it's not like everywhere we go she requires new things. She's just attached to her old things. And likes to take stuff out of the recycling closet because she sees their potential. Or something.

Oh, and then I found the most gorgeous blue long-sleeve button down, a soft beautiful grey sweater, a white waffle-weave long-sleeve t-shirt, and a lovely grey skirt. All for $7.50. The t-shirt and sweater will replace items in my closet, but the blouse and skirt I purchased simply because they are amazing. The benefit of shopping at your church's rummage sale is that everyone knows who you are so you can go try things on in the bathroom and then model. I haven't been very keen on wearing used items in the past (well, I have issues), but I figure this is really the next logical step in my personal minimalist / zero waste journey, and you know what? Experiences like this one (seriously, $1.50 for that skirt... it's a thing of beauty) show me that I'm on the right track.

Update: Rereading this, I see I forgot to mention that I've been going through my closet again and am putting aside any item that doesn't make me feel a rock star. Because of this, my closet is slimmer by six. Sorry, felt like I need to explain myself because people get weird when you mention minimalism and shopping, no matter what kind of shopping it is. Johanna likes to screech, "YOU'RE A MINIMALIST!" if I so much as glance at anything remotely consumer-ish, which is probably not as fun as you'd think it would be. Anyway, I am currently on the lookout for used items to replace my worn black sweater and hole-y long-sleeved black t-shirt. This is also not as fun as you'd think it would be. Well, at least I'm in no hurry. P.S. I have come to the conclusion I will never be able to find a used pair of pants. Too tall. Good thing I'm in a skirt phase, I guess. Reminds me of the '90s when pants styles were so short I just wore shorts and tights all the time...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Very Minimalist Christmas

Sometimes I am a genius. It's not bragging if it's true. This whole minimalism thing? Genius.

Just so we're all on the same page, my idea of minimalism is more about mindful consumerism and choosing experiences over things than, say, sitting around in an empty house. I mean, that's cool if you ARE sitting around in an empty house (um, if you choose that yourself and didn't just have your furniture repossessed, I guess) and you like it that way. I just really enjoy a couch.

So all of that is to say that for Christmas last year, my parents gave our little family of four a choice: Presents or a mini-vacation?
TALL trees.
We chose mini-vacation. Sometimes the decisions just make themselves. My brother Tim wanted in on that action, too, so this family vacation? Included a lot of family.

My parents made all the arrangements and didn't tell us anything, not even a hint, about where we would be going until Christmas (or, in my family, December 23. That's just how we roll*). I am not really a fan of surprises (it's a control issue I'm working on), but I tried to just enjoy the suspense. Also, Mom always makes sure I have Almond Roca, so, you know, that helped.

And so, with much fanfare and quite a bit of clapping, we learned that our mini-vacation was to the California Redwoods and Wildlife Safari. Fast forward six months, and there we were, having Christmas in June.

There was QUITE a bit of driving involved--Redwood Day we put in 12 hours, although not all of that was in the car, of course--but wow, it was fun. The weekend included swimming, bacon for breakfast (a prerequisite with Johanna when this whole idea came up), a walk through tall trees, Paul Bunyan, the Pacific Ocean, cheetahs and like seven baby emu. Dude, baby emu are CUTE.
It's kind of like the Ugly Duckling in reverse.
Also, Tim caused quite a stir in the Crescent City Information Center. When you're 6'10", people tend to notice you and want to ask questions. He is a very kind, good soul, and I got a kick out of watching him interact with that teeny older woman who was ever so pleased with herself for initiating the conversation.

But the best part was family time. Time for our little family, sure, but also time with an uncle the girls don't get to see very often, and exploring and adventure with grandparents they do. The girls will remember this trip for a lot longer than they'd ever have used... I don't know, whatever else they could have gotten for Christmas. Thankfully the girls have been beaten down so much that they don't require a present every time we hit a gift shop--because we visited plenty of those--so besides a couple of squished pennies (one for Uncle Tim) and a keychain (Johanna wanted to put it on her backpack and I caved), our purchases were limited to consumables. Buying ice cream cones instead of stuffed animals? Again, I say unto you: Genius. Mom really tried to sell me on some Paul Bunyan and Babe Salt and Pepper Shakers, but I stayed strong, yo, and walked out of that place with nothing. I know, sometimes I don't know how I do it, either...
Photo via Trees of Mystery Gift Shop. Also: That's a lot of chest hair.
We've been to both places before, so it wasn't technically anything new, but can you get enough tall trees and cheetahs? I would argue, quite successfully, I think, that you cannot. Because the Redwoods? Those trees are amazing. We saw one that had been completely gutted by a fire--but it was still growing tall and strong. Dad said that's because they're indestructible. I guess you'd have to be to last a thousand years.

And Wildlife Safari is just cool--I've been going their fairly regularly since I was five (no joke, my parents love that place), and it holds a lot of memories for me. And, yes, cheese, but I like sharing memories there with my kids, too. The circle! Goes round and round! Or something, I don't know, it's too early to think of proper metaphors. Here's the thing: Where else can you just drive past a giraffe, or have to stop your car because the yaks decided they want to cross the road? Not too many in Oregon, anyway. We don't have a terribly large giraffe OR yak population, which is to say, zero. Plus Johanna is a huge fan of cheetahs. I'm a big fan of youthful enthusiasm.

Afterwards, Mom was all like, mini-trip again next Christmas or do you just want the presents? And we were all, trip!

So that's fairly awesome.

I took about 4,000 photos with my iPod--some of which, yes, ended up on Instagram, I can't help myself--and now the Sorting of the Pictures begins. THAT will be a fun addition to the ol' 2013 scrapbook, I tell you what.**

So in conclusion, I'd just like to say that our Very Minimalist Christmas was a Big Hit. And I'm not sure why it took me so long to pound this post out... the words will do what they will, I guess.

*Relax, people, it's just that with all the celebrating going on, my parents decided long ago to have our gathering on Dec. 23. We just celebrate Christmas for three straight days is all.

**Snapfish. I don't know, it's just what I started using to order prints when we got our first digital camera. If there's another site out there that's awesome-er, I'm open to suggestions. Also: I'm still working on 2011 and 2012 albums. Oopsies.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just checking in...

So you guys, I'm sorry, I just haven't had the time to blog lately, what with the children being home from school and daily life generally cutting into my writing time. I've been working on a couple posts this morning but the words are not coming, maybe because deep in my heart I know I should really be weeding the lettuce and folding the laundry.

What to the evs, words.

In the meantime, here's a teaser:

Hints: Christmas in June, the west coast, REALLY big trees and a couple of crazy monkeys.

P.S. The problem with making really great iced coffee at home is that when you order an iced coffee out in the world, it doesn't taste nearly as good and you're all like, I wish I'd have brought all my coffee stuff with me because seriously, where's the vanilla in this thing? 

It's not easy being a poser.

Monday, June 10, 2013

There are no words to adequately describe how proud I am of myself

Confession: I'm sort of addicted to Pinterest. And by "sort of addicted," I mean "I check it like six times a day." This is slightly hilarious and kind of unexplainable because I cannot take anything on there very seriously. Half of the pins are for things that are completely unattainable and the other half are crafts (or "craps," as Johanna used to say, which is way more accurate). I guess I just like seeing what crazy shit people are pinning. I like a good laugh, as well as self-righteous snorting.

But anyway, last summer this pin from The Pioneer Woman blog was making the rounds:

Pioneer Woman Perfect Iced Coffee
Perfect. Iced. Coffee. Really, what about this isn't a win? So I pinned it. And then forgot about it. And then when I remembered again it was winter.

I've been going through an iced coffee phase lately, though, and those things are starting to add up (even when you use the gift certificate your husband kindly gave you for Mother's Day. Which reminds me: Anyone have a good idea for Father's Day? The pressure is on). So I'm all like, hey, didn't I pin something like this once? and then I scrolled through my recipe board and yep, sure enough, sometimes my optimism pays off.

Scanning the blog, I quickly deduced that Ree's recipe calls for one pound of ground coffee and two gallons of water. Let me repeat that: TWO GALLONS OF WATER. While I have no doubt that my family of four could put away two gallons of coffee-infused awesome, I don't have anything that would actually hold that amount, both in the soaking and in the storing. So I adapted it, if you can call it that, because: You're just soaking coffee grounds in water all day. This isn't rocket science, people.

The Trisha Way: 1/4 pound of ground coffee, 2 quarts water, stirred up in my biggest pot. Then I added a little more water to rinse the coffee grounds from the side, which immediately went back up the side as soon as I moved the pot. Whatever, just let the coffee be for at least 8 hours. I went more like ten, I think, I don't know, details are boring. It's the concept anyway, not the amounts.

I don't own cheesecloth, so I put a couple layers of paper towel in my mesh colander to separate the grounds from the liquid gold. This worked quite well. I put the liquid gold in a couple quart jars and capped them off and stuck them in the coldest part of my refrigerator. I waited until the next day to see what I'd accomplished here. I know, sometimes I amaze even myself.

Because if I'm going to go big, I'm going to go BIG, I did a quick search for homemade vanilla coffee syrup, and thank you, Google, I found one from Paula Deen. Iced coffee with a shot of vanilla? That's like my favorite thing ever.

Since this was my first time to the dance with this recipe, I halved it. I like to know what I'm getting into before I make a commitment, you know? What I learned is that I should have just made the full amount because at the rate my family is going, it's not going to last probably two days.

The Trisha Way: 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 3/4 cups water, all stirred up over medium heat for like 10 minutes until it gets syrupy, and then 2 tablespoons homemade vanilla extract when it's cooled down, put into another quart jar because apparently that's all I own.

Putting it all together: Fill a glass with ice, add liquid gold/chilled coffee base half-way up the glass, then add milk the rest of the way up the glass, and then, of course, add vanilla syrup to taste. Stir that puppy up and be ever so pleased with yourself.

I'm serious, people: Aside from the cleaning recipes I gleaned online, this is the best thing the Internet has ever done for me, period. Abby is ever so impressed with me, and even Eric announced he could drink that all day--and he's not a coffee person. Johanna, who IS my coffee person, took a drink and then promptly forgot about it. Huh. I CANNOT WAIT to take this into work with me today. It's like I have a coffee house in my kitchen.

Repeat, repeat, repeat, all summer long. Hooray! I love when something works out better than expected!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Minimal frustrations

I've been experiencing some minimal frustration lately, and by "minimal" I don't mean "hardly any." You'd think that being a minimalist would be easy, but sometimes? Really, really not.

Well, simple is never simple, right?

When I went through my kitchen last year at the start of this whole minimalist ordeal, I got rid of a lot. But as time has gone on, I've noticed the things I thought I couldn't bear to part with have not been used. At all. In eight months. Cake pans, tart pans, stoneware, kitchen gadgets. Lots and LOTS of kitchen gadgets.

So last week I put everything on my counter, and nothing went back that hadn't been used since my last clean-out. I just didn't think about it, that's how. I am emotional. All of my everything is associated with a memory. Even my lemon zester. So yes, I am at war with myself sometimes. That's why I don't think, I just act. You might be surprised how easy it is not to think. (Ha!)

And you know what? My cabinets are gorgeous now. Sometimes I like to just open them up to admire the result. Well, I don't get out much, that's why.

But anyway, right after the big second culling, instead of feeling shiny and happy* like I'd expected when I FINALLY moved that unwanted stuff on out of my kitchen, I started to feel frustrated. I was a little depressed is what I'm saying.

For one thing, my once clean retreat is brimming with crap again. All my unused, unwanted, stupid crap. I feel like I'm making such great progress, and I bask in the glow of my uncluttered cabinets, and then I come into my room and I have to look at piles of crap.

I've started up the classified ads again. Things are not moving as quickly out as I would like, i.e., so far not at all. (Why do I always get the lessons in patience? Dude, it gets old.) I guess the upside is that the church rummage sale is coming up in a couple of weeks, and this will soon be just a bad memory.

I'm also frustrated because my big ideas often go nowhere. I've cleared off a lot of counter space because I love the look of nothing. True story. Plus it's just easier to clean. Anyway, I have two crocks of utensils on my counter, and I thought that having no crocks would be even better. So I dumped everything out, and picked through, and discarded. Then I found an unused plastic basket in the freezer (don't ask) that I cleaned and tossed everything into.

That's when I discovered that A) Not everything even fits and B) My counter might be clear, but finding stuff in this basket is going to be practically impossible. Plus: Where the hell do I put the basket?

Frustration Part C is my silverware drawer. I used to have three crocks of utensils, and since I have two now, I guess it doesn't take a genius to figure out where THAT all went. (In case it doesn't translate: My silverware drawer.) More dumping on the counter, more ruthless culling, more clean uncluttered after to swoon over.

It's lovely, all right, but there are a few things I use and don't have room for now if I want to keep things uncluttered--looking at you, three sizes of cookie scoops--so those got tossed into my General Purpose Kitchen Tool Catch All Basket of No Return, too.

Also, can someone please explain to me why I am keeping a set of biscuit cutters I've used like twice in the three years I've owned them? Sometimes not thinking doesn't solve everything. (I'm tossing them in the rummage pile right now.)

The normal thing to do would be to just put everything back in the crocks and forget about it. What's a little clutter, really? Instead I went online to see if I could find some stainless steel, made in America, multi-use utensils to weed out even more of this shit.

What I learned is that finding stainless steel, made in America, multi-use utensils is HARD. And by "hard," I mean impossible.


Okay, fine, having two crocks is just the way things have to be in this house. I put one back on the counter and the other, with the less used stuff, is in a cupboard. When I do my baking, I take it out, and when I'm done I put it back again. Sure, it's an extra step, but it's a compromise I'm willing to make. Someday I might decide to upgrade my cooking utensils, but for now I'm going to let it go.

The General Purpose Kitchen Tool Catch All Basket of No Return has become simply The General Purpose Kitchen Tool Catch All, and is also in a cupboard. It hold the things I use on more of an occasional basis--the cookie scoops, my steamer basket, my two funnels--but because not everything is in there, I can easily find what I'm looking for without having to rummage through the thing.

I still need to go through the food storage area and under the kitchen sink, but for the most part, my kitchen is now a shining, happy spot in my house. And because it's literally like the center of the house, when it's shining and happy, the everything else tends to be shining and happy, too.

So it's not perfect yet by any means, but it's better. My frustration level has gone down, maybe not all the way, but let's say at least by half. I'm trying.

...And Abby wants the computer, so I guess this is done.

*You're welcome.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It all depends on how you look at it. And which filter you choose

You guys! Instagram is THE BEST. Don't ask me how it all works because I have no idea. Abby hooked me up. Go ask her. What I do know is that now I can take all kinds of artistic photos without even trying! That's called "filters." I guess.

I have a very patient husband, by the way. On one of our walks this week I brought my iPod along just to take photographs. I was being silly, but instead of telling me to grow the hell up, which would have been completely understandable, Eric gave me suggestions.

Probably I should quit my job right now and do this full time. I mean, right?

The awesome thing about all of this is I didn't even have to leave the neighborhood. Or take a class. Or worry about things like "talent." That is so 2012.

So... this is why I haven't had time to call, Mom. I know, it sounds stupid to me, too.

Monday, June 3, 2013

My bulk reality

After experiencing the joy that was The Future of Bulk (which, rereading my post, sounds like one big advertisement for Market of Choice. Huh. Well, I was really excited about all that bulk, don't change stores on my account, which is probably impossible anyway because they're not everywhere), I had to come to terms with my limited options here at home. And the more costly prices.

But ever undaunted I move on, because really, what choice do I have? I can rage against the machine, or accept it and get on with my life.

You don't live with an optimist for 17-plus years without some of that shit rubbing off on you. (Looking at you, Eric.)
Huckleberry's Natural Market
Anyway, on my most recent trip, I took a good second look at my options. Sometimes I get into such a rut that I fail to see what else is even out there. This is what happens when you are very pro-routine.

So I looked. I filled a jar with dried plums, I got some spelt flour, I picked up two mozzarella balls because emergency Stromboli* happens often in this house. I stuck to the perimeter of the store--forget you, inner aisles--and you know what? My bill was lower than usual. But mostly I was thrilled because I had very little that would need to be recycled or end up as trash at the end of it all.

I will never get to a true zero waste, but I might get close.

Oh, and maybe I should mention that we ate very well all week and at all three meals (plus snacks for the girls). There was no starvation. There was also less "MOOOOOM! What can I eaaaaaaaaaaaat!" because they had so many options. That week was full of win. It was very good for my self-esteem.

One thing that I've learned with my Adventures in Bulk-land is that bulk is not one section of the store, but everywhere. There's the main ordeal, all right, with its grains, sugars, dried fruits and herbs et al (even lotion and shampoo and liquid soap), but there are also nuts and trail mix in the produce section, fresh feta and mozzarella at the olive bar, and fresh yeast and maple syrup in the organic dairy aisle (not sure why that is, but whatevs, it's awesome).

And I guess you could count the loose fruits and veggies as bulk, too, right? I told you bulk is everywhere. My store also has bulk coffee and tea, but I like going to a local coffee roaster with my jar because it's fun to chat with other people who love coffee AND get a free pound after buying ten. That is math I can get behind.

Some bakeries have bulk bins for breads, but ours does not. Since we're in Oregon, there are "rules and regulations" about putting stuff into bags and jars from across the counter, apparently. Question: If it's MY bag and MY jar and MY germs and I'm okay with that, why do you care, The Man? We have two kick-ass bakeries in town that use paper bags--and one lets me use a pillow case at the farmers' market, so I'm willing to bet they'd let me do that in-store--that I know I should be utilizing but just don't. I'm a one-stop shopping kind of girl, and going to different locations is hard for me to get behind, even if they're just down the street.

What I'm saying is that this is on my list. Baby steps, y'all.

Anyway, I am very grateful for the bulk selection I have in my teeny little town, that my store lets me use bags and jars for some purchases, and that my family tends to not notice my zero waste efforts on the whole. This change has, for the most part, been easy. I wish all my minimalism projects were this simple.

*I've linked the recipe that taught our little family about the joy that is Stromboli. Since we don't believe broccoli belongs on a pizza--come on, nothing is THAT desperate--I use this as a guide and then do my own thing. Good recipes let you do that. Oh, and someday I'll have to post my favorite Naan recipe. That stuff is gold. And makes killer pizza crust.