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Our first source for “free” food is our garden. It’s not exactly free, since we paid for the seeds, and we’ve watered it once or twice. (Although the insane amount of rain we’ve had lately has taken care of that for awhile!) And of course, we’ve poured tons of labor into tilling, planting, and weeding. We’ve eaten a lot of fresh green beans recently, because it’s the only thing that’s producing so far. But man, are they ever good! Steamed green beans are Alice’s new favorite food, as long as they have plenty of parmesean cheese on them.
I can’t wait until the rest of our garden is producing! From the looks of things, it’s going to be fantastic.
Of course, there are even free-er sources of food than the sweat and labor of your own garden. Like…the sweat and labor of someone else’s garden. Our dinner last night included green beans from our own garden, and spinach greens from Ryan’s cousin’s garden. Two whole bags full of fresh spinach greens for free. Not bad!
Ryan spent an hour picking cherries for his grandma and brought home a nice size bag of fresh cherries. I spent an hour pitting them, and they are currently in the freezer, awaiting their fate as a cherry crisp. (Can’t make cherry crisp until I make it to the store for whipped cream. Who can eat crisp without whipped cream?)
Thanks to my awesome aunt’s awesome mom, we also get all the farm fresh eggs we can eat, and they’ve given us some (butchered) chickens. Delicious!
So despite our super tight budget, we’re eating better than ever. You really can’t beat organic, garden fresh food. My mother-in-law handed me a squash the other day, and I’m sure there would be more where that came from…if I knew what to do with it! She suggested that I chop it up and put it in stir fry, or fry it up, southern style. I’ll probably go with the latter, even though frying it probably negates any health-benefits of fresh squash!
In the fall we pick up pecans from my mom’s yard, and my stepdad has blackberry bushes on his farm that we may take advantage of this summer.
This is the great thing about living in a rural area. Even if you don’t grow it yourself, you can usually find someone else who does. I’m going to have a ton of watermelon this year, and I hope I can find someone who would like to trade me for blueberries!
Now that I’ve gone green, one big change I made is in the cleaners I purchase to clean my house. I’ll be the first to admit that my house isn’t the cleanest in the world. I could use the excuse that I have two kids, but it’s always been like that, so I won’t.
However, now that I’ve switched to natural, cheaper cleaners, I find that I actually clean more often. I always hated the smell of Pledge (too fake lemony) and Comet (blech! Too bleachy) and whatever other chemical laden cleaner I was using at the time.
The picture above depicts all the cleaner I use in my entire house now. A squeegee, vinegar, baking soda, Arm and Hammer Essentials laundry soap, a squirt bottle with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water, microfiber cloths and Swiffer Sweeper refills.
I use vinegar as a fabric softener in the washing machine and as a rinse aid in the dishwasher. I use the vinegar-water spray for windows, mirrors and the bathroom shower stalls. Ryan was a bit doubtful about this at first, afraid that the house would smell like a pickle. But amazingly, the smell disappears as soon as the vinegar dries.
The microfiber cloths pick up dust fabulously without the assistance of any cleaner at all. I bought them in the automotive department at The Evil Megastore. I also use them to wipe counter tops, clean windows and mirrors, and whatever else needs swiping.
Baking soda makes a great scrub for the tubs and sinks in the house. I think it cleans my stainless steel sink even better than Comet ever did, because it doesn’t leave that funky film that needs to be rinsed multiple times before it disappears.
The Arm and Hammer Essentials is a plant-based laundry detergent, and was the greenest detergent I could find. I use about 1/4 the recommended amount and my clothes are perfectly clean. (Anyway, if we smell, no one says anything to us.) However, my best friend has shared a recipe for making laundry detergent at home, and as soon as my Essentials is gone, I plan to try it.
You may be eyeballing the Swiffer refills, wondering how that plays into green housekeeping. Well, I bought that box almost two years ago, and it’s still half full. Don’t worry, that doesn’t accurately represent how often I sweep the floor. I prefer to use a regular broom for sweeping, and I’ve pretty much given the Swiffer to Wesley. He’s not picky about how clean the pad is, so it doesn’t get changed too often.
The best thing about it, I don’t have to worry about my kids getting into the cleaning cabinet and eating poisonous chemicals. Baking soda and vinegar are food items, and although they may not taste good in large quantities, I don’t think they’ll kill anyone.
I have gotten several e-mails from people telling me that they are going green, but it’s purely for selfish money reasons. They have told me that they are using dish towels instead of paper towels, and conserving water and electricity to save on the utility bill. They say, “Surely that doesn’t count, does it?”
I have news for you people: Mother Earth doesn’t care!
Seriously, no matter what your reasons are for living a more ecologically friendly life, it’s all good. Saving money is a great motivator, and a good one at that. The awesome thing about living green is that it saves you green. There’s no need to buy forty-seven different cleaners for different purposes, because baking soda, vinegar, and maybe a little tea tree oil can do just about everything. And as an added bonus, you aren’t sending disgusting chemicals out into the world, which will later seep back into the water tables and poison us all slowly. (That’s a pretty big added bonus, if you ask me.)
When you live green, you start getting more creative. Instead of tossing out that plastic baggy that held today’s ham sandwich, you think, “Hey, I could save that bag and put tomorrow’s sandwich in there, too.”
I started going green in December. Since then, I have saved money by not buying certain things. I’ve saved about $10 on paper towels, $3 on paper plates, $25 on baby wipes, and maybe $10 on cleaning products. That’s $48 in less than three months on just four little things. We used to spend about $100-120 a month on diapers (the cheap-o brand) for two kids. Instead I spent $300 on enough cloth diapers to last us until both kids are potty trained. In less than three months I have more than broken even on my purchase, so I’m home free from here on out. (As long as I don’t spy any super cute diapers. It’s an addiction, people. Truly it is.)
So keep on saving money, and know that you are doing your part for the environment!
I’ve been searching for made in America Lincoln Logs for EVER! I finally found some here and they are on sale! Wahooo! Guess what Wesley’s getting for his birthday in May?