Me going green … and dragging my family with me, kicking and screaming!

Baby steps toward self sufficience and greenocity

Interlude for a birthday June 21, 2009

Filed under: cooking,frugal living — razberiswrl @ 10:29 pm
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Ugg … I have all these half written entries staring at me from the right side of the screen.  It’s both embarrassing and crippling.  I’m sure that doesn’t make sense to most.

Anyway …

My daughter’s 6th birthday was this Wednesday.  She had an odd cake request.  She heard the song Single Ladies by Beyonce a while back, and just loves it … She asked for a Beyonce CAKE!!  WTH?!?  LOL!!!  Who am I to say no though??  So, I gave it my best:

Now, I know, I know, that is NOT a Beyonce doll, but I’m just a mom with a budget, and I couldn’t see spending $30 or more plus shipping on a doll from 1998 on Ebay or whatever.  So, off to the store M and I went.  We scoured the aisles for a Beyonce lookalike.  We ended up choosing the lovely Sasha from the Bratz collection, which was a MAJOR gift in and of itself.  You see, until NOW, M has not been allowed to have any Bratz toys … I don’t find them all that appropriate for little girls …  Sometimes one has to bend.  *shrug*

I think it turned out pretty good, and The Divine Ms. M was delighted, so, mission accomplished.  If you want to know how to make a similar cake, just google (or Bing!)  “princess cake,” and you’ll find lots of pics and instructions.

Here’s a funny pic of Beyonce’s near miss:

AHHH!!  FI-YAH!!  Heh.

Just for fun, here are some pictures of cakes past …

For A‘s 30th birthday last month

This one nearly didn’t make it.  What a mess!  I‘s 9th birthday, Kingdom Hearts.

Easter treats

Zelda ice cream cake for E‘s 6th bday

Dragon Ball Z


Mid year resolutions May 29, 2009

I think that we start every year with good intentions, and then over time those good intentions slip to the wayside as our life carries on it’s natural course.

So, in the spirit of good intentions, I resolve to:

Actually USE all the re-usable grocery bags I have. I managed to do it yesterday, but today I ran into the store to grab a couple things for dinner tonight, and forgot them.  They were right in the back of the car too!  I WILL do better.

Actually convert to green household cleaners. I made this resolution a year and a half ago, and still haven’t done it.  Damnit!  I am GOING to make the switch!  I bought a little bottle of Dr. Bronner’s peppermint a couple weeks ago, I think I’ll dump out a bottle that’s 95% empty already (lol, great for the earth … ), and fill with a diluted solution for general household cleaning TODAY.

Pick my own produce, and can/freeze as much as I can this summer. I have tested the waters with strawberries over the last week, and found myself to be quite capable in the jam canning department.  My goal is to have enough home canned jam to last my family the year, AND to also have enough to give as gifts throughout the year (teachers, adult family members, friends).  I’d also like to have a nice supply of frozen fruit for smoothies and pies and whatnot throughout the year.   Same goes for tomato sauces, pickles, applesauce, and tree fruits.

Take good care of myself. This is a tough one.  I don’t usually take very good care of myself in a maintainance sort of way.  I have the time to really pamper myself, but I usually waste it with sloth.  I want to try to keep my nails manicured (If I just DO it, it takes less than an hour to soak, file, scrub and 2 layers of OPI, then another 1/2 hour of  “be careful” time, LOL), and my face exfoliated and clean.  I need to devote the time to straightening my hair instead of just putting it in a ponytail and pinning my bangs back.  But most importantly, I need to take care of my BODY!  I resolve to give myself 30 minutes a day to exercise.  Whether it’s a yoga or pilates dvd, or a walk, or killing myself on the elliptical or with the 30 day shred; I WILL take care of my body.  This also includes eating more healthfully.

Be positive. This is probably the biggest one.  I am a pessimist, a cynic, a doubting Denise (LOL!).  I have conditioned myself to expect the worst over the years.  The function of this conditioning was to protect myself from disappointment.  If things go the way of the worst, well, I am prepared for that … but if things work out nicely, I am pleasantly surprised.  It makes logical sense to me, but I’ve read lots of studies that show that positive thinkers are happier and have a lower risk of all sorts of ailments.  I’ve battled depression and anxiety my whole life, so I figure testing out the bright side for a while certainly can’t hurt …

Those are my mid-year resolutions.  I’d love to hear yours!


Feature a Friend day … May 25, 2009

Filed under: cleaning,cooking,frugal living,green living,recycling — razberiswrl @ 11:00 am
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While, I know that of the 10 visits I get per day, 9 of them probably already visit this blog daily … but anyway, I’m digging it today.   Her Deal of the Day is rockin’, and check out her post Look what I did! for a tutorial on DIY fancy soaps.  You don’t even have to BUY anything to make these nice scrubbing bubbles out of miscellaneous hotel bars lying around!  Talk about turning trash into treasure …  Love it!

Baby Spit is the New Black


Strawberry bounty!! May 22, 2009

Filed under: cooking,frugal living,gardening,green living — razberiswrl @ 1:18 pm
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I went to a local farm to pick strawberries this morning after I dropped the fam off at work/school.  This is the first week of the season here in New Jersey.  It will run for about 3 weeks.

Crappy cell phone pic of Sporacio Farms:

I picked just shy of 10 pounds.  They cost me just over 13 bucks!  I think I’ll take the kids back tomorrow morning.  We’ll have to get up EARLY though.  I also stopped at Walmart for a case of pint canning jars and some accessories.  I will attempt canning for the first time tonight.  I can’t wait.  I’m going to make standard and sugar free strawberry jam.

This is actually a really important event for me, as canning is a family tradition I have wanted to carry on for a long time.  I’ve just never worked up the nerve to give it a shot on my own.  I used to can all sorts of things with my grandmother, and I can’t WAIT to call her this evening to tell her I did it myself!  She will be pleased.  There aren’t too many people that carry on family traditions these days, whether they be the art of canning one’s own food, knitting or crocheting or making traditional recipes for the holiday, and in my family, I am the only one who has any interest in all of the above.  Le sigh … hopefully I can instill the love of tradition I have in my own children.  I wonder what went wrong with my cousins that makes them not give a damn?  Oh well.  There’s no accounting for the actions of others …


The best of both worlds February 10, 2009

Filed under: cleaning,cooking,frugal living,green living,laundry — razberiswrl @ 2:06 pm
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Do something a little more earth friendly, AND save some cash!  WOW!  I feel like Hannah Montana!!

I’m a shameless bargain hunter.  When I go to a store, the first thing I do is surf the clearance sections to see if there are any really great prices on things I probably don’t need and didn’t know I wanted until I saw them … but I digress.

Kohl’s has cloth napkins on clearance right now.  Fiesta brand are $1.59 for a 2pk.  CHEAP.  Cute too, and I’m hoping high quality based on the brand name … My store had peacock blue, yellow, red and multicolor.  They has some other styles too, but they were polyester blends or more expensive or whatever, so, the Fiesta were the best deal.  Target has some on clearance too, but I didn’t concentrate on them too much.  I DID score some new kitchen towels for $1.99 for a 2pk there though.  Cute prints, and you can never have too many.  If you have a nice stock of linens, you’re less likely to turn to paper towels to clean spills or dry freshly washed hands.  You know, I was reflecting the other day on how I used to use paper products.  I would use a couple paper towels EVERY TIME I washed my hands!  We went through a roll a week!  Now, a roll can last several weeks.

I wish I could make toilet paper last that long, but you know what??  I’m not even GOING there …  😉


Here’s what my garden is going to look like April 29, 2008

I suck at drawing, but I’m pretty good with Excel so I made this the other day to see how much space I’d need to get everything in that I want.

good intentions

Pretty sweet, eh? Each block represents 1sq ft. I’ll technically need 18 x 19, but I’ll make it 20 x 20, and throw some herbs in there. I heard that planting basil in with tomatoes helps repel pests. Sa-weeet! I also heard that sage is an animal repellent. I’m guessing the person who said that was talking about rabbits and squirrels and crap. I wonder if it works on DOGS though. That’s my main problem. A 60lb doofy, old as hell, over excitable, tromps all over everything golden retriever.

Anyway, the final tally looks like this:

5 tomatoes

4 zucchini

4 summer squash

4 cucumbers

6 pole beans

6 sugar snap peas

4 cantelope

5 watermelon

27 corn

and various herbs

Think that’ll be enough for a family of 5 plus a mother-in-law??? I suspect we’ll be doing a lot of freezing and sharing this summer!


Food packaging reduction lady strikes again! March 30, 2008

Filed under: cooking,frugal living,green living,recycling — razberiswrl @ 2:49 pm
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I guess my kitchen witchery is showing.  I have, yet again, found a way to make my own version of a common household item, thereby reducing my waste.


I know, it’s not all THAT big a deal, but I won’t be throwing any little packets in the trash anymore (we use taco seasoning ALL the time) OR ingesting this common source of MSG.  I made a double batch, put a little more garlic powder and a little less cayenne (my kids are weenies, E still complained about it being too spicy), dumped it all in a jar I had saved from some artichoke hearts (I KNEW that would come in handy!), and used 2 tb of the mixture in ~1 lb of ground beef for them.  I used 1 tb  of the mix with my Morningstar Farm grilled “chik-n” strips.  To both pans I added a slurry of 1tsp corn starch and 1/4-1/3c water.  This is to get that thick sauce texture that the packets deliver.  This is the first time A has liked the DIY version BETTER than the packaged version.  SCORE!

Of course, you may be thinking “How is she reducing waste if she has to buy more containers of spices more often???”

Easy!  1) plastic and glass containers in which spices typically are packaged are recyclable, those packets typically are not.  2) spices are available in bulk at some stores, I can (and do when possible) buy little baggies to refill my existing bottles.

I think I’ve become a little obsessed about reducing my landfill waste.  Last week, we only filled 1 regular trash bag plus 1 grocery store bag (still not remembering to bring my reusable ones with me …) between Monday and Thursday.  That’s for a family of FIVE.  I’m pretty impressed!  If only I had the wherewithal to recycle our paper and compost our table scraps, we might get down to 1 bag every full week … yeah, uhh, maybe next year.