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!

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!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Old habits . . .

I am having a hard time breaking my paper towel habit. Just this morning I had one of those blueberry muffins I made yesterday for breakfast and I had to stop myself from grabbing a paper towel to put it on. I told my kids about the idea of using washcloths and cloth napkins yesterday and my oldest said, "You mean I would have to wipe my face on the same thing you wiped dog pee up with?" I told him we'd keep paper towels for that gross stuff and then he was good with the idea. I guess what I'll need to do is actually put away the paper towels and put the cloth napkins out on the island in a basket or napkin holder so they are in sight and in reach. Right now all I have is a bunch of old white washcloths that I used in the kitchen for washing dirty faces when the boys were little. Not the most attractive. Maybe I can make some more attractive napkins using some fabric from my stash. Unfortunately tomorrow is my last day of vacation at home and I do have some other things I need to do. I am going to really try to find some napkins today though!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Trash-free lunch updates

I decided to talk to my boys about trash-free lunches. They think it's a decent idea. We visited the website http://wastefreelunches.org where we found information on how whole schools can go waste-free along with examples of how to pack waste free lunches and lots of healthy lunch ideas. The bonus to parents it that it is less expensive to buy items in large packages or make them homemade and pack in a container than it is to purchase single-serving packs of everything. It is also healthier! A piece of fresh fruit is waste-free and is healthier than a single serve pack of canned fruit. At lunchtime we made a bunch of pancakes which we freeze on a try and then put into a container. When they want pancakes for their lunch or breakfast, they just pop out a couple and heat them up. We are also making fruit roll-ups for the first time today on our new dehydrator and I am planning to make some blueberry muffins for the freezer. Since I already try to pack lunches each day, packing them waste-free won't be much more of an effort I don't think. The problem is always the planning ahead to make the lunches in the first place! Now that one of our Sunday afternoon activities has ended, I am hoping to have more time for lunch planning and preparing homemade food, for eating, lunches and storage. Ah, if only I could stay home everyday . . . I'd be so organized, make everything from scratch, have an immaculately clean home, have 1 year's worth of food in organized storage . . . Who am I kidding??? Even stay-at-home full time moms don't get all that done. Well, maybe some do, but I don't think I would. At least summer vacation is just a few months' away . . . then I can pretend to be a stay-at-home full time mom for a few months! :)

My big decorating project!

When we built our house last year, I didn't have the builders put in a backsplash in the kitchen because I wanted tile, however it was too big of an expense at the time. Every little decision was costing more and more money. So I decided I would tile the backsplash myself. It took me a long time to choose the tiles I wanted and over the last 5 days I got the job done. I put up 30 ft sq of white subway tile with some accent tiles in a brushed nickel/black/gray tones that match the drawer pulls and the countertop. I really like it! It was frugal because I did the work myself, it will last forever, and I purchased the tiles from a locally-owned store instead of the big-box stores. The GM of the tile store is actually one of the neighbors I hadn't yet met. So it was good to make that connection. We live on a rural dead end road with only 9 houses, so in an emergency situation it is good to know your neighbors!
Being a frugal, part-time green prepper I try to decorate with items I can use and that didn't cost a fortune. This fall I made my own valances and cafe' curtains for the kitchen and dining room. I think I spent $20 total-including the curtain rods. I like to have nice things to decorate the house with, but hate spending money on them. As a result, most of my walls are bare. I did spend some money on 1 print for the living room I had to have. It was expensive to me -$70, but I know people spend a lot more than that on art. The other things I have in the living room include a framed Amish print from Salvation army, a large country print from a garage sale that my mom picked up for me, 2 oil lamsp-1 was a gift 17 years ago, the other is from a garage sale, some hardcover books I love-from Salvation Army and 2 metal wall hangings from a discount store. Oh in the hall I have 2 small framed mirrors I got as a birthday gift 10 years ago.
I have some greenery in a box somewhere I am going to try to find today to decorate above the kitchen cabinets. We'll see what else I get done today, though my vacation from work is half over and I've spent it all working, plus this weekend I am helping my brother move. So I may spend this day reading and baking--2 of my favorite things!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pets and emergencies

As I roamed the woods today with a bag of dog treats calling for my 2 golden retirevers to come home, I realized this would be a problem in an emergency situation. My dogs are lovaeable and fluffy, but also large and energetic. It is difficult to give them enough exercise daily in regular times without letting them run free for little while. Even so they don't always listen (like today) when I call them to come back. If I had to keep them in the house for a long period of time, that would be a problem. They would get restless and the younger one would start chewing things again. I also need them to listen better! I have been trying to train them to come when I call. In the house, that's no problem. However, outside with acres of land and the distraction of deer and animal scents, it's a challenge. Maybe I'll have to take at least the puppy to a class this summer when I'm done teaching. I was trying the call and treat method. I would let them loose, and call them back after a few seconds and give a treat. Let them run for a few seconds, call back and treat. Over and over again. It only works if I have treats. And they don't see a deer or groundhog. I am considering putting in a fence around a section of the yard to keep them contained when outdoors and not on the tie out line.