Looking Back on 2019, Ahead to 2020

New Year’s Resolutions are not my thing. In fact, I normally spend this time of year tidying and relaxing before The Young Human Factory starts up again.  If anything, I tend to melancholy and nostalgia. If only I had done…

But I can’t help being happily circumspect this year. It’s ending better than it began.
Continue reading

Five Planned Expenditures for 2020

In anticipation of my 2020 challenge A Year of Mindful Shopping, I put together a list of above-and-beyond expenses. I was going to estimate their cost, but I really can’t.

  • Four nights in hotels. A family reunion and a weekend trip are in the works.
  • Materials for sprucing up the powder room. Labor is free, thanks to BabyBro’s generous nature. (Honestly, I think my MacGuyvered flooring pulled at his heartstrings.)
  • Admission to at least three museums and five gardens.
  • A new water heater.
  • A new headboard for the guest room.

Year of (gulp!) No Shopping

It’s that time of year again. The season of Black Friday sales and the slow trickle of tax documents.

And a horrible urge* to try a Year Without Shopping (YWS). according to my field notes, it consists of the following “rules”:

  • No new additions to the wardrobe
  • No new _______ until current supply of _________ is used up
  • No entertainment purchases with the exception of experiences (This seems to be popular loophole; for example a learning experience or roadtrip.)

If anything breaks or wears beyond prepare, there is a process:

  1. Substitute.
  2. Borrow.
  3. Buy used

I have already incorporated some practices into daily life. However, I’m daunted by the idea of committing to no sales or no stocking up.  And there’s the haunting sense that once I commit to it, sinister stars will align to break various necessities…

But I’m going to do it anyway. This coming week, I will make a list of five (5!) planned expenditures.  Wish me luck.


*By “horrible urge,” I mean a horribly sweet Puerto Rican has been urging me to follow his footsteps, if not hus vagabond ways.

 

The Veggie Jar

Between garden supply runs and appointments, I’ve been driving around quite a bit. Last week I found myself looking for someplace to have a quick-and-cheap bite to eat. Of course, my budget doesn’t allow for fast food.

So I cheated without cheating.

I often drove by a grocery store between two fast food joints. Neiman’s Family Market has an in-store cafe that allows you (or me in this case!) to nosh on goodies in between grocery shopping.*

One delicious offering was sliced raw vegetables – not just carrots and cucumbers, but radish medallions and brightly-colored pepper slices. The produce sections of most grocery stores carry large plastic bowls of prepared vegetables or fruits, particularly in the summer. Nothing beats the heat like refrigerated snacks.

It occurred to me that the appeal of these bowls – besides the avoidance of cleaning, peeling, and slicing everything oneself – is their beauty.  The variety of colors attract the eye like a jar of hard candies on the counter of a sweets shop. It’s much more tempting to “eat your vegetables” when they’re enticingly pretty.

And the convenience of popping the lid and reaching in for a handful of snacks can’t be beat. Unfortunately, the price of convenience can be steep.

7959E1F9-A3D9-4CC1-BF74-9995B784B4A3

My version of a vegetable medley with the freezer container of “odds and ends.”

I decided to make my own version using the Anchor Hocking 7-cup container. I used celery, carrots, radishes, and two bell peppers. Not counting the amount I didn’t use, the cost is less than $5. I could have made it cheaper by using cucumbers and eliminating the celery, which is more than $3 a bunch.**

Not only is it less expense than the store-bought version, it had the added benefit of using all the “ugly” parts like the thick, whitish sections of bell peppers. I threw oddly-shaped pieces into a freezer container for vegetable soup in the autumn. A separate glass container holds sliced celery leaves ready to toss with salad.

Related

This celery soup recipe by The American Moms is easy and delicious, and they give an nice overview of how Michigan farmers created the US celery industry.


*Grocery shopping while hungry can destroy a budget. However, some people become hungry after handling or smelling food. An independent grocer offers free coffee or tea for adults and free fruit to children. Putting food shops inside a store is a genius idea; just ask Michigan old-timers about the Purple Cow.

**Not heart of celery, the tender and leafy center, which is even more expensive. Michigan has had a late start this year in many crops due to cool rainy weather. I haven’t seen any local celery, just California produce. This doesn’t bode well for the price offrozen mirepoix packets, a winter staple.

2019, the Year in Review

“What?” says my Dear Reader. “It’s only May! You can’t do a year-in-review post yet.”

Au contraire, mon ami. (BTW I haven’t kept up on my French studies.)

I ended 2018 still in physical therapy after getting hurt in November. I rang in the 2019 with a group of young men screaming obscenities in bad Spanish and literally knocking down the fence between La Casa de Tontería and the neighbor whose parents-are-gone party got out of hand.

And I that has set the tone for the year so far.

HOWEVER, spring has sprung and the official fiscal year at The Young Human Factory is winding down. Although I have seen next year’s batch of Middle School Mafiosi in all their puny malevolence, I will go forward in joyful hope. (And denial…)