Thursday, May 21, 2020

Pantry Stocking on a Budget

Right out the gate, I will ask your forgiveness 
as I might get a little overzealous about the pantry.
I think a well stocked pantry is a thing of beauty.
(My Pantry)
We've all seen or at very least heard about
the recent "shortages" in stores due to panic shopping.
We had no such panic at our house,
but there might have been a little grumpiness 
when I couldn't find a bag of spuds,
not realizing that folks were going nuts.
I told hubby, it was actually a sad state.
Most people eat out and are away from home most of the day.
Home has become little more than a parking spot
and place to shower and sleep.
Upon hearing the news that they might have to stay home
for two straight weeks,
with no knowledge of what would be required,
they went shopping.
I've heard of some folks buying things based on expiration date,
some buying what was left on the shelf,
some filling a cart, and so forth.
None of these are sensible ways to stock a pantry.
There are a number of ways to sensibly go about it,
and I will offer some of those methods here.
Take as much or as little of the information as you like.

The very first thing to know is what you need.
Make a list of the things you use.
I find it helpful to categorize the items:
food, hygiene, pet supplies, auto, etc.
This is much like the departments in a store,
but it will be within your own home.
(I wouldn't be able to handle the disarray of this one;-))

Next, is to know about how much of each given item you need.
Yes, here is where the mountains of TP in the garage
makes the perfect example.
I understand not wanting to run out so in some ways
I don't blame the folks who "stocked up."
But the other side of that coin is "C'mon. Really?"
If you don't know how much of a product you use,
simply date it when you open or purchase it.
When you use the last of it, you will know that you use that amount
of that product in the time that has lapsed since opening it.
For things like canned goods, just date and number.
6/1/20 1/6 on the first can of the 6 cans of green beans purchased,
date and 2/6 on the second can, 3/6 on the third...
At the end of the week or month, you will know how many cans
were used in that time period.
Simply multiply that times 52 if weeks or 12 if months.
I know we go through about 40 jars of green beans per year
so I can plan accordingly.  
I try to have an idea of how much I use by year.
Some things are seasonal so really only get used a few months
out of the year, but I've found that "per year" works for me.
This also enables me to look for those items towards the end of the season
when they are more apt to be on sale.
The next piece of information necessary is a price.
This is something that can change of course,
but having a general idea of what is reasonable
will aid in budgeting.

And the final 2 pieces are:
 how much of each is already in the pantry?
what is my budget amount per month?
That last question is one that many might not know.
Much like how much TP is used in a week or month,
some folks don't track their spending.
Now is always a great time to start.
If you don't know how much you spend each month,
choose an amount you think is reasonable for your household.
Don't get too stuck on it at the moment.
There won't be a test, and you won't be graded.
It's almost as though folks don't want to try,
because they don't want to fail.
Learning is not failing~
it's a series of trials and errors and figuring out what works best
in any given situation.
What's best for me probably isn't best for you
and vice-versa.
Go easy on yourself and be okay with it being
a work in progress.
It's fun to see how it develops.
(Source)  Wow!

With the above knowledge,
we can begin to really put it together.

As you begin to look at what you have and what you need,
you will begin to see patterns.
You will make realizations.
And you will know what you need.
But for starters, if you've never stocked a pantry
and have a minimal supply,
the first thing to do is make a shopping list
for one week.
Try to think of what you will need for each day.
Consider what you have on hand
and what additional items will be needed.
Just as an example, let's use a budget of $500/mo.
That makes it $125 per week for groceries.
When you go shopping, if you only spend $100,
you have $25 left.
With that $25, you can begin "stocking up."
If there is a sale on something you use often,
you can purchase extra of those things.
If there is no great sale,
you might choose to buy an extra of a couple of the items
you are already buying,
or you might choose to keep it for the next week
and watch for sales.
One other thing to keep in mind is that 
most items are cheaper when purchased in bulk.
If you don't spend all of your weekly funds,
you might look into purchasing a larger quantity
of often used items.
By doing so, over time and without a shock to the budget,
you will create a store of items you use.
A bulk example:
We actually purchase a whole grass fed beef each year.
We pay roughly $3/lb. (varies slightly by year.)
That's a reasonable price for hamburger, but we get steaks
and roasts and all for that same price.
That is a considerable savings over store prices.
(My Pantry - pints two high)
Once your store is created, you will want to make sure 
you rotate things to keep the oldest up front.
In my pantry, I have foods stored 3 deep which makes it 
pretty easy to pull the oldest to the front and put fresh behind.
My shelves are 11.5" deep and 10" space between them.
This also works nicely to stack cans (or pint jars) two high.
I don't like to stack things more than 2 high 
with the exception of tomato sauce.
I am just clumsy enough to cause an avalanche.
This is another area that requires pantries to be personal.
We each have a different space to use for storage within our homes.
The space I have now, I actually love
due to the fact that it's better than what I've had in the past.
But it is also behind the refrigerator, so it can be warm in there.
That's not ideal since I can't keep things like spuds or squash
or other fresh veggies in there, but I am still appreciative of the space.

You will find the same method for such items as
oil, filters, and fluids for the car, or
laundry supplies, deodorant, and toothpaste for hygiene.
Just start with your "auto" budget per month
or your hygiene budget per month.

It doesn't happen all at once.
It's something that takes a little time to do wisely,
but you will have the peace of mind knowing you'll be okay
if something unforeseen presents itself.
If there is something I've completely missed,
or if you have a question,
give me a jingle - down in the comments.
If you have a tip that you find helpful,
go ahead and let us know in the comments.
I actually like when y'all offer input -
makes it all so much friendlier:-)

Also, I am working on a post in response to the questions posed
in this post.
 I've not forgotten, just need to have things in order
so that they can actually be of some help - hopefully:-)

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Path to Yesterday

I've read that Tasha Tudor
had found the path to yesterday.
I love the imagery of that.
Just image if we could go wandering down a path
and end up in another time.
Sounds a bit fantastic, I know.
Rather like Alice in the Looking Glass and a rabbit hole.
But there's something more to it really.
It's not that far of a stretch once we are ready to see it.
And once we see it,
it's like opening a magic Wardrobe
and stepping inside to another world.
I'm not really throwing books at you:-)
I'm guessing with the mention of each of those tales,
a little spark of excitement and youth
fired up somewhere deep inside you.
As children, the thought of "roller skating" with scrub brushes
on your feet like Pippy scrubbing the floor/deck
 sounded like a brilliant alternative 
to the way we knew of hands and knees scrubbing.
Living in a tree-house or on a ship was a real possibility.
These stories strike a chord with us for a reason.
These adventures are taught to us as children,
but then somewhere along the way
we are told we shouldn't give them any thought.
((( Wham! )))
The door to that Secret Garden slammed closed
and no key to be found.
What is that and how do we not see it coming?
I am as clueless as you on that one.
I can't tell you when it happened,
but I grew up to 'want' certain things that were touted as 
cool or necessary or whatever.
And after school and work and career and dragging on 
and wanting and achieving and wanting more and. . . .
hang on a minute.
What is that?
I don't even like that.
I don't like how I feel.
That's not what I want.

What?  What's wrong with you?
Everybody wants the latest whatever.
It's progress, and progress is good.
What do you mean you don't even like it?
It's sooo cool!
And that's when it clicks - right then.
Nooo. . . not cool.
How did I get here?
How do I go back?
And so we begin looking.
Quietly at first,
until we find a little deer trail,
then a partially overgrown foot path,
then a real way.
And that's it.
The way.
It's the path to yesterday.
And that little bit of excitement that sparked above. . . 
when you remembered~
it comes alive and flares up.
And when you finally see the way,
you want to run like a happy 8 year old
back to where/when you know it was right
or at least better.
At first it's almost like fleeing from something.
But around every turn of the path
is magic and excitement
that feels good and healthy and alive.
And gradually that fleeing sensation subsides
and falls away to a seeking of a different something.
Just like each new page of the storybook,
each day is met with anticipation of possibilities.
It is a wellness.
And then, over time,
there is a peace,
a knowing.
The anxiety of being pulled along in the channel
with all the others is a dull ember
easily squelched.
That's what Tasha had,
the peace and knowing.
Only she didn't let herself be pulled into the channel
in the first place like most of us.
I think that's part of what was so admirable about her.
She was a flawed human like the rest of us,
but she knew the way.
She had found the path to yesterday.
I have a feeling she had also been down a rabbit hole,
beyond a wardrobe and up a tree.
So when that excitement sparks,
maybe don't try to squelch it.
Go ahead and let it flare up and see where it leads.
You just might end up in a fantastic place and time.
Just watch out crossing that channel.
It has a powerful undercurrent.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Mrs. Kirksey's Quilttop

 Mrs. Kirksey and I have had a wonderful time stitching together.
She's made a very nice top
that now just needs some attention from yours-truly
in order to get it quilted.

It will have dark binding - 
the same fabric as the narrow inner boarder.
It has it's imperfections,
but overall, I quite like it.
The pattern was called "Rob Peter to Pay Paul" in a 1970s
McCall's quilting magazine,
but this is not what we know as that pattern.
With the help from a couple others, 
it appears to be more of a "Kansas Dugout" variation.
I don't think names of quilts were as important in the past
or it could have been a typo or over-site at the time.
The pattern was just for the center design,
but I can't leave well enough alone and added borders:-)
It will be a full/double size.

Soon Mrs. Kirksey will be wiped down and 
returned to her cupboard for a bit of a rest.
No rest for me though.
Instead of quilting on the quilt I showed here,
I decided to put a UFO in a hoop
and work on it.
I know - I'm the only one who has UFOs calling. :-)

It will be nice to get Gracie back in her spot
and to get the rest of the space back into 
some resemblance of order.
(Feel free to do that teen-ager eye roll thing at that comment.)

Also, I am working on a post in response
to my last post - 
specifically in regards to soaps and shampoo.
But. . . I wanted to share this with you
in the mean time.

Have a beautiful day all.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Uncharted Territory

That's what our accountant called it
when we were discussing our taxes recently.
You see,
I am a planner - not much for surprises,
especially if they impact my finances.
Mr. LB and I have had several talks about this.
Haven't we all?
We don't have a crystal ball.
(Voodoo dolls maybe, but no crystal balls - heeheehaha.  Not really.)
So what do we do?
We live pretty organically - that word seems cliche any more.
But we are not extravagant.
We've decided that the best thing we can do is to get ourselves
into the best situation we can be in heading into the unknown.
There are hundreds of posts and tips on "how to save money."
This is a little different.
We've been rolling along on cruise control,
not paying much attention to the fuel gauge.
We don't give it much thought when we expect
a fuel station around every corner.
Isn't it pertinent to top off the tank when we have the chance?
That's what we are doing.
We don't generally carry debt but do still have a mortgage on the mountain house as well as rent here in town.
Many folks have at least one or the other and possibly other debt.
In the last post, 
I spoke of circles.
I like circles.  They flow with no abrupt corners.
We can't omit a portion of the circle and still call it a circle.
There have been several breaks in our circles recently:
supply/demand, social, travel, and on and on.
We've been fortunate in that we haven't had to cope 
with a real travesty as a whole society.

Instead of trying to "save money" so to speak,
we are trying to build security.
"Saving money" implies that we are still going to spend it
and purchase whatever products, just for a lesser amount.
Building our security is an attempt to eliminate as many expenditures
as possible so that we are no longer dependent on those items.
It's not a simple task!
I already track our expenses and challenge myself to try to set new lows.
Now, the challenge will be to completely eliminate
 as many of the expenses as possible.
To do this, we must prioritize those things that cost money.
In looking at what we spend money on,
I'll put those in order of importance.
Obviously, those items towards the bottom of the list
will be the first items nixed.
I'm not trying to make predictions or
saying anything awful is going to happen.
I hope it doesn't,
but like the accountant said, we just don't know.
There are a few things we are doing now
"just in case."
As always, I am continually trying to lower our power bill.
I've mentioned before, where we live now,
everything is electric - not my first choice.
We are keeping our possessions in good repair.
From changing the oil in rigs to mending clothes, and
making healthy personal choices.
Now is not a time to take our health for granted.
Whatever our things are that we have,
we are keeping them up the best we can.
By doing so, we are decreasing our chance for needing them
repaired or replaced down the road.
That one alone can seem a little tedious.
It's like nagging at myself to get some of those little tasks done.
As spring progresses, 
I am planting the garden - still kinda early here.
I even planted the garden up the mountain.
I planted carrots, onions, beets, beans, and lots of spaghetti squash.
The deer don't bother those things (as much) and they are 
pretty low maintenance.
If it comes down to it, we will have the extra food.
It would make for a pretty boring diet, but it would be food that stores well.
Here at home, I am planting a "normal" garden with items
that will require a little more care and proper preserving.
If all goes well and the garden up the mountain produces, 
we will just have lots to preserve and/or share with others.
I'm keeping our stores topped off of things that we use 
to make our own household cleaning and hygiene supplies.
It is amazing how with just a few items/ingredients, we can actually make
most of the things used to clean ourselves and our homes.
If you think about it,
they didn't have all the variety of products in the past
and were able to keep their homes and families clean.

Again, this takes some doing.
We've been moving this direction for years,
but now it seems 'there is a chance' that it might be necessary.
Again, maybe not.
I know many of you already do quite a few of these things.
If it's all new to you, and you're just digging in,
start with what you can and build from there.
Right now, at least here, most things are still available.
I know it might be different in different areas.
We're just trying to top off that tank a bit :-)

We are really evaluating what money goes out
and if there is a way of eliminating the expense.
Just to get the juices flowing, 
here are a few of the things we no longer purchase:
paper towels, laundry detergent, fabric softener, soap, saran wrap,
waxed paper, napkins, shampoo and conditioner, multiple misc. cleaners,
toothpaste, deodorant (for me), furniture polish, air fresheners,
packaged foods, candy, seasoning mixes (taco, chili, etc.), garbage bags,
lotion, internet, television, games, lawn and garden fertilizers, . . .
(I'm still thinking.  At first all I could think of was paper towels.)

A few things we will purchase until we really can't:
coffee, tea, olives - we can't grow these things where we live.
Hubby just went to the little place where we buy bread
and on occasion a few produce items.
They use/provide all organic items so he can actually have their bread.
While he was waiting for the kind he wanted to come out of the oven,
there was a gentleman about 30ish who walked in to talk to the owner.
He was looking for work and/or a handout
since he's not able to work right now.
He evidently said he couldn't afford food or diapers.
(They had stepped outside so Hubby didn't hear them.)
That puts the owner in a tough situation.
He wants to help, but he has to make money too.
He's already paid for the supplies and ingredients to make the foods.
If people are paying for diapers right now when they can't afford food,
I would question their ways.
I mean that in a "Are they aware there is another option?" sorta way.
Every household has its own ways and capabilities.
There are no right or wrong ways, just different ways.
Some ways cost a little more than others,
and that can even vary by what prices are in different areas.
I will say, this is where there was value in having
 multi-generational homes in past times.
A grandma could mend clothes for the family and 
help the mother in the kitchen
while those who could were out working.
There were rolls, and it took everyone doing their part to make it work.
For a single person or a couple (like Mr. LB and me)
that makes quite a bit for each person to take care of.
And on the other side of that, there is far less in the way of
laundry, food prep. etc than with a large family.
It will be interesting to see if changes occur 
once we are able to get back to "normal" whatever that might be.
My hope is that we heed warning and make positive changes.
Source This has become a lengthy post
and rather heavier than usual,
but there is definitely a bright side.
We have options and opportunities to improve upon what we know.
We still have access to most of what we need.
If there's something on the list above that you are curious about,
just leave a comment.
Likewise, if there's something that you don't purchase and have found
 a better way or option, please let us know.
We can be here for each other.
The more we share, the better off all of us will be.

And one last little note:
The dogwoods and lilacs are blooming.
They are absolutely stunning!
Don't forget to recognize your blessings.