Welcome to The Part-time Green Prepper!

I read a variety of blogs of stay-at-home moms who home school their children, prepare every food item from scratch, prepare for emergencies, have removed all dangerous chemicals from their homes, recycle and compost nearly everything they use, live frugally and are nearly self-sustaining due to their large gardens and farm animals. I would love to do all of those things. However, that is just not possible with the place I am in life right now. My husband and I both work full time. I am trying to figure out how much I can reasonably do with the time I have available. This blog will describe some of my attempts at prepping, preparing home-made natural foods for my family, growing our own food and going green. I know many of you will do all of these things better than I do, but I am trying and that's the best I can do!

Monday, July 4, 2011

My new love . . .

I have a new love . . . it's my clothesline! I have had it for just over a week now and I'm doing laundry every day just so I can use the clothesline! Our family is trying to lower our electric bill and trying to be more green, so what better effort than a clothesline? We live on top of a windy hill and have no neighbors to speak of who could complain about our clothesline, so why not give it a shot?

I researched clothesline for a few days before finally making a decision in consultation with DH. I didn't want to put permanent poles in the yard for dh to mow around (especially if I didn't stick with actually using the clotheslines). I also didn't want to spend a bunch of money on a "system"--that just defeats the purpose of trying to save money by drying outside. We don't have any trees in our "yard," just in the woods-too far away from the house- so I was at a loss as to how to put up a clothesline. We finally decided to move the kids long-abandoned clubhouse from out back to up near the polebarn and string the lines between the clubhouse and the pole barn.

I bought some eye hooks, clothes line, clothes pins and a clothes pin bag at Dollar General. (Expect for the hooks which I got at the hardware store.) It wasn't hard to set up at all--I did it all by myself! Now I have 4 lines about 25 feet long each. So far it's been more than enough space.

I have to interrrupt this story by saying that during the school year, my DH does the laundry. He has a system in which all laundry is washed, dried and put away in 1 day. It does however take an entire Sunday. Now that I am on summer vacation, I take over the laundry duties and have come up my own system that works great for the clothesline.

1. I use home made laundry soap. It's the basic hm recipe with Fels Naptha, Borax and washing soda that you can find all over the web. I add a little tea tree oil since I have it on hand. It works out to a cost of about $0.01 per load.

2. I put a load in the washing machine first thing in the morning after I get up. While that washes, I have breakfast, straighten up the kitchen, check the email and daily blogs I read and get the boys started on their days. By that time the washer has stopped and I go hang the clothes out on the line. I am still learning the best way to hang everything so I won't give any suggestions on that!

3. Once the clothes are out to dry I take my shower and go on with my tasks for the day. By afternoon the clothes are dry and I bring them in and put them away. I do put towels and jeans in the dryer for 5-10 minutes to soften them up because that's how I like them.

By doing a load everyday, I can keep the loads small and manageable. The first few days I used the clothesline it was cloudy, cool and damp. The clothes took a long time to dry and the bugs really were attracted to the damp clothes. Sunny and breezy days are the best. Yesterday I did 2 loads because it was such a hot, breezy day! Today I did sheets and they were dry so fast! I also discovered that even though it seems like the bugs are attracted to the clothes, by the time the clothes are dry and ready to be brought in, the bugs are gone!

I doubt that I will be able to use the clothesline for every load once school starts back up again and I am back to work. I know how busy everything gets and it just won't happen every day. Hopefully I'll be able to still use it for some loads on the weekends.

If you have the time, I do suggest you try using a clothesline. It's actually fun!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer is here!

At last! It's summer vacation! Actually my last day of work was last Th, but we were hosting a young woman from Chili in our home for a week. It was really a great experience, but exhausting and expensive due to the activities the sponsoring organization requested of us ie . . . expensive dinners out, lots of driving her back and forth to town (30 min each way) . . .

I've also been stressed out about getting an answer to questions regarding my teacher certification. No one has been able to give me a straight answer and now I've been waiting for 3 days for a response from a new person. The answer is important now even though the certficate is good for another year because we may need to come up with another few thousand dollars on top of the $1,200 we've already had to dish out.

On to the fun stuff:

I've been trying to do everything at once here and while it was fun, it's been exhausting! In the last 2 days I

  • weeded in the garden, which is not doing as well as last year

  • made homemade laundry detergent (and did the laundry)

  • made dishwasher detergent (and did the dishes)

  • made homemade bar soap

  • baked homemade rolls with the recipe my new Chilean friend brought me. (They were excellent by the way!)

  • made yogurt

  • baked bread

  • tested a recipe for all-natural deodorant

  • make some all natural bar lotion

  • baked muffins for dh to take to his work meeting

  • cleaned the living room carpet

  • visited my older son at camp

Today, I'm feeling a lack of gumption and a lot of stress in my back muscles. I have an appointment for a massage this afternoon. I know that sounds like an expensive treat, but it is theraputic and done in a doctor's office so my insurance covers this cost for me. I am careful not to take advantage of this and only go when I need it once every few months. I know that the rest of the day and especially tomorrow I will feel pretty sore as my muscles recover. However I will be much better able to sleep and have more energy. Right now with my muscles so tight I feel sluggish and lazy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Warmer weather is here!

I have a guy who promised to drop some pallets off at my house soon. I hope he does--they will be for my compost bin! I am going to build it right next to the garden so it will be convenient. I am also going to get some manure from the neighbor who has alpacas and horses on Friday. I got started on the this weekend and plan to work on it some more today since I took a day off from work. I also have to take Hunter in to the vet and go pick up our beef order from the processing plant-an hour away. That should take up my whole day off. I cannot wait until summer vacation! It's really too bad teachers can't work from home! :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

New habits

I am getting better at not grabbing paper towels! I am now reaching for a cloth napkin or tea towel. The consciousness is carrying over to work. I find myself pausing at the paper towels in the restrooms. I have also moved the recycle box closer to my desk where the trash can was previously. Every little bit counts!

I have also started a compost can in the kitchen and my 13 year old is actually remembering better than I am to use it! I also put all the grass I dug out of my flower bed into a bucket this afternoon for the compost pile. I haven't actually started the compost pile, but maybe this weekend I can build a bin.

There are buds on my blueberry bushes and apple trees! :) It's still too early to plant my garden. Michigan weather can be tricky in the spring--I'm waiting! I only want to plant once!

What habits are you working to develop?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Time to re-stock

About five months ago, I was feeling quite comfortable with my food stash. I figured I had about 2 months of food in the house. Well, certain items are almost gone! I try to buy food only when it's on sale and I need to stock some. Apparently we've been doing a lot of eating from our pantry, which is ok--I bought the food to eat of course! We're not having a financial crisis or anything, but we've had a lot of large unexpected bills (taxes for one!) that ate into our budget recently. The result being I had less money for groceries, which wasn't a problem since I had food in storage to eat, sometimes just bought produce, milk, juice, bread, cheese and some of the junk food my husband thinks he can't live without.

I got on my step stool yesterday to look for something in the pantry and I discovered a bunch of empty space behind our cans! Apparently when you keep taking out cans and pulling them forward, the back gets bare!

So now I am hoping our budget gets back on track so I can begin the process of stocking back up! I am also going to try to buy groceries every 2 weeks instead of every week and see if that makes any difference. Even if it doesn't save money, it will at least save time and gas--two valuable things! Our next payday is a week from Friday, so I'll try it then and let you know how it goes.

How often do you shop for groceries?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Really liking the trash-free lunches!

I am loving the challenge of packing trash-free lunches each day! It's become part of our "clean up the kitchen after dinner routine." While food and dishes are out, we pack up lunches for the next day. Tomorrow the kids are having pancakes from the freezer packed in plastic sandwich containers, syrup, fresh fruit with yogurt dressing, and water in a re-usable bottle. Kind of a sweet lunch, isn't it? Today they had whole wheat pitas with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese, peaches, and crackers.

This week end while I was grocery shopping I saw a "sandwich wrap" in one of the aisles. It was regularly $6, on clearance for $3. I decided to try it out. It is lined with a food safe plastic and the outside is a cute red and white checked fabric. You put your sandwich or food in the middle, fold the sides up and over and velcro closed. I actually made the sandwich on Sunday night for Monday's lunch, but DH surprised me by picking me up for a lunch date on Monday, so the sandwich had to wait until today. It was still soft and fresh! I am too frugal to pay $6 for more. I would need at least 2 more-1 for each kid. I was trying to figure out how to make my own. I wasn't sure how I could get the food-safe plastic for the interior. As I was typing this post, I realized I could probably use vinyl designed for tablecloths. That is really inexpensive and can be sewn. I think I have a good idea!!

I am still making a few cloth napkins each week as I have time. I have been putting one in my lunch, but no napkin in the kids' lunches. I guess if they need a napkin, they'll have to get one from school. Maybe a damp washcloth would be good for the younger one tomorrow for the sticky pancakes and syrup. I have some old ratty ones from when the kids were toddlers. I can wet it and put it in a zip-lock . . . AH! There I go with the zip-locks again--such habits are so hard to break! Maybe he could just go in the restroom and wash his hands. That might be my best bet!

I have dreams of sewing sets of cloth napkins and co-ordinating sandwich wraps and selling them at the farmer's market this spring and summer. I doubt it will happen. I was also going to make a bunch of baby quilts and sell and craft shows a few years ago, too . . . But napkins are smaller, quicker and should be easier to sell to the farmer's market set. I am still working on the best way to finish the edges of the napkins. I am making a variety of edges for our personal use to see how well they launder. I'll see what works best and maybe . . . just maybe I can make enough for the market.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Stocked pantry, high fiber snack and napkin update

It's nice to have some extra food stocked up. We were out of town all weekend helping my brother move into his first house. It cost us $145 in gas alone. Fortunately we didn't have to stay in a hotel. Today I had to put more gas in the Saturn to get home from work. The price of gas today jumped $3.99. These fill-ups have taken a chunk of the budget for the next 2 weeks, so I had less to spend on groceries and household supplies. Fortunately, I just needed to buy some cheese, yogurt, milk, fresh fruit and veggies, and bread. We had some great fajitas for dinner tonight and extras for tomorrow's waste-free lunches! While I made the fajitas, my boys mixed up some more trail mix and baked up a large batch of granola out of our pantry ingredients. Our granola is really high in fiber--it has oats, wheat germ, ground flax seed, sunflower seeds, and cornmeal. The trail mix has a fair amount of fiber as well. My younger son has had an ongoing problem with severe constipation for 3 years now and requires fiber supplements. I try to teach him about the benefits of eating high fiber foods and drinking plenty of water. Oh remember the cloth napkins? I got a few made the other day! Of course only enough for 2 meals and now they are all waiting for laundry day. I have a bunch cut out, but need to stitch the edges. Perhaps this weekend I can get some more done. (That's the "part-time" part of my green prepping--I can only get a little done at a time!)