April 9 Food Haul

No garden food this week, but I should be able to make a small harvest next week. Watermelon is my favorite food, and on Wednesday I could no longer wait and stopped in at a supermarket to buy a seedless variety. By no means was it the best watermelon I’ve ever tasted, but it should keep me either until my own start growing or until they start showing up at the farmers market.

First Stop: Wheatsville Co-op

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    Fuji apples, 0.42 pounds: $1.05

  • Blood oranges, 0.63 pounds: $2.20
  • Avocado, x1: $1.99
  • Red delicious apples, 1.41 pounds: $3.23
  • Yellow onion, 0.77 pounds: $1.30
  • Red bell pepper, 0.28 pounds: $1.06
  • Green bell pepper, 0.32 pounds: $1.12
  • Zucchini, 0.78 pounds: $0.75
  • Bartlett pears, 0.89 pounds: $1.59
  • Navel oranges, 0.90 pounds: $1.63
  • Kiwi, x1: $0.79
  • Roma tomatoes, 0.61 pounds: $1.21
  • Toilet paper, x2: $1.58
  • Peanuts, 0.87 pounds: $4.50
  • Rice, 2.87 pounds: $8.01
  • Cashews, 1.15 pounds: $10.34
  • Soymilk, half-gallon: $3.00
  • Eggs, x12: $3.00
  • Sandwich bread, 1 loaf: $4.99
  • Cinnamon raisin bagel, x1: $0.99

Total: $51.81

Cashews were on sale this week. I should try using some of them to make cashew milk to work my way towards getting rid of those milk jugs–a regular single-use disposable on my list.

And someday I’ll get back in the habit of making bread again. Someday.

Second Stop: Downtown Farmers Market

  • IMG_20160409_102457Strawberries, 2 pints: $8.00
  • Brussel sprouts, 1 pint: $4.00
  • Beets, 1 bunch: $3.00
  • Broccoli, 1 crown: $2.50

Total: $17.50

Stocking up on more strawberries this week. Good thing I saved some plastic pint containers from previous purchases, so they made their way  home without getting squished. (I had to eat a few to get them to fit, yum.)

I’ve been eating out for lunch two or three times a week at work and figure I’ll probably be more tempted to eat lunch from home if it’s something made with a little bit of meat. So I stopped at my go-to booth to get a chicken. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any yet, but it sounds like they’ll be harvesting chickens for next week’s market. I’ll be back!

Writing up my food haul blog from last week, I realized that I hadn’t tried any new produce for a while, so I was looking around for something interesting but didn’t see anything so decided I should give beets another shot. This time I’ll cut them up to roast with some other veggies. Anyhow, I had a team outing for work yesterday to Ramen Tatsu-Ya, where I had edamame and miso for the first time, so all’s good.

Also: Home Depot

IMG_20160409_103514As part of my Saturday morning errands, I also stopped by the Home Depot to pick up a couple of bags of compost and a packet of nasturtiums since they’re supposed to be a good companion plant for my cucumbers. Turns out they were on sale two for one so I’ll plant them in multiple areas tomorrow. The bags of compost are one of the things that create the most waste for me (big plastic bags), but I’m not prepared to give up the convenience of being able to carry a couple of bags with me on the bus just yet.

11 Reasons to Quit Soda

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For many years I’ve been trying to quit soda. It was a no-brainer. I was (and still am) overweight. I was super sensitive to caffeine. It left me feeling sluggish after the sugar high had worn off. And who knows how many other ways the soda was wearing down my long term health?

But I had varied success in quitting and never lasted longer than a couple of months before falling off the wagon. I had been collecting so many reasons to quit, but it wasn’t enough to break the addiction. Fortunately, as I got interested in zero waste and learned about the other environmental aspects of sodas, that’s what finally tipped the scales for me. I didn’t touch the stuff for several months after making the decision with full justifications. There have been a few times since where I’ve had soda again on special occasions, but it tastes less and less appetizing each time. I’m finally at a point now where I think I just might be okay without ever touching a drop of the stuff again.Water generally is enough to satisfy my thirst. And cold crisp fruit satisfies that sweet spot that often tempts me. Making sure I fill up on healthy foods and reminding myself of the myriad reasons to avoid soda keeps me from falling to temptation.

Are you like me and just reaching for more motivations to stay away from these sweet drinks that you already know are bad for you? Here are a few from my list that may also help you to remind yourself when reaching for a soda.

Avoid the obvious health issues

You’ve heard this one already and it’s probably one of the reasons you’re still reading this. Studies have shown that regular soda consumption can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, liver problems, and other health issues.

Sleep better

Caffeine can stay in your system for many hours and the changes in your blood sugar levels won’t help either. During college I’d sometimes go crazy with the caffeinated sodas to keep me going during finals and then be miserable because when I finally went to bed, I couldn’t get to sleep.

Save money

Sodas at restaurants normally cost two or three bucks these days and even if you stock up at supermarket sales, it adds up. Use that money for something that will give you more than fleeting happiness.

Avoid sugar crashes

I use to drink soda at work to get a bit of energy when feeling sluggish, but that energy doesn’t last long and can lead to a subsequent brain fog. Instead, make sure to get enough sleep at night, and a super quick bit of exercise also works for a pick-me-up.

Save your teeth

The acid in soda can wreak havoc on your teeth. And the enamel can be harmed even more if you brush within 30 minutes of drinking.

Conserve water

It takes around 40 gallons of water to produce one bottle of soda.

Fight monocultures

Many American farms now grow monoculture crops thanks to subsidies on corn and soy. Avoiding all products with high fructose corn syrup and other corn derived crops is a way to vote against the practice.

Stay away from GMOs

For corn, genetically modified is now the standard. So guess where the high fructose corn syrup in your soda comes from. There are many reasons to avoid GMOs but include crops that are designed to thrive even with more herbicides (Roundup Ready) and the fact that big corporations actually own the varieties of crops we rely on.

Reduce -icide use

On that note, these crops do use a whole lots of herbicides and insecticides to get the fullest crop possible, devastating the soil at the same time and letting loose many of these chemicals into our waterways.

Avoid chemicals like BPA

Both plastic bottles and aluminum can linings may contain BPA or other disruptive chemicals without any labeling whatsoever. Fortunately many people have already moved away from BPA use, but without knowing what goes into the containers, there’s no way for us to decide if the material is truly safe to store our beverages in.

Say no to single-use disposables

In addition to the soda ingredients, a lot of resources go into the making of the bottle or can for the container, and most are designed for a single use before being tossed. Recycling doesn’t solve the whole problem as much energy, water, and chemicals are required for transporting and transforming the used containers into new products.


 

I originally wrote this blog post a few months ago and hadn’t published it. But in the past couple of weeks I wasn’t getting enough sleep and reached out to the drink fridge at work for a quick pick-me-up. I had already done it once, so what was the harm in reaching for another the next day? The harm was that each time made it harder to stop. Even if the soda didn’t taste that good and made me disappointed with myself, my body remembered that little bit of temporary energy and provided me with fresh cravings every day.

Work is hard with the free sodas just steps away, but fortunately soda is less convenient on the weekend, making it more easier to abstain. This weekend I made sure to get some extra sleep and this week I’ve done without so far. It’ll be another couple of weeks before the cravings fully fade away again, but hopefully keeping this list on hand will help me make it through and get back to sanity.

 

The Thrift Life

Thrift – the quality of using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully

Thrift is one of the core principles by which I live my life. I’m not hardcore thrift, but here are a few examples of thriftiness that I do practice.

Socks

When a sock is beyond repair, its partner doesn’t need to be thrown out. Here I paired a lonely sock with one I picked up at the Really, Really Free Market. I may never buy socks again. And as for the holey sock, it may still have some use for the elastic–a hair band or cushy rubber band replacement. Or at worst just a rag.

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(You may also notice the DIY insoles that should help these shoes to last longer.)

T-Shirts

I reuse all my old t-shirts by making them into tshirt yarn and transforming them into rugs, bowls, and more. I’ve even stockpiled extra shirts from the RRFM when I needed more to complete a project.

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Braided Tshirt Rag Rug #3

Buying Bulk

Rice. Lentils. Laundry detergent. Eggs. Spinach. I make the best use of resources by reusing the containers that I already have instead of disposable packaging. (This is a work in progress.)

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Cooking Food

By cooking dried beans or making my own bread, I can avoid both single-use packaging and food waste, plus save money.

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Growing Food From Seed

Getting food right from my backyard? I need to do more of this.

Small carrot fresh-picked in the backyard garden

Library

Want something to read? Something to watch or listen to? Looking for an air-conditioned free place to hang out in the summer? I use my library for all these things.

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Furniture

Furniture shouldn’t be disposable. I buy second-hand and am not afraid to reupholster furniture that I already have to make it last longer.

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Personal Care Products

The deodorant recipe below may not have worked out for me, but a simple deodorant powder works for me just fine. I’ve been doing the baking soda wash and apple cider vinegar rinse as a replacement for conventional shampoo and vinegar. For some products like eye shadow and blush, I’ve found that it’s just as easy to do without.

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And More

These are just a few of many examples of thrift. How does thrift surface in your life?

Sidenote: although “thrift” is in the name, it’s no accident that I didn’t mention thrift shopping. Thrift isn’t about shopping. That’s just a fallback for when I can’t make do without, repurpose something else to fill the need, and can’t or am too lazy to make it myself.

Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets are one of my favorite things about living in Austin. The first of the season were popping up a month ago.

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And now they’re out in full force.

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This is the path behind the Home Depot heading over to the transit center. I’ve been passing by this field for many Springs, and it always amazes me to see it so full and lush with wildflowers. The bluebonnet fields of my youth have all been turned into commercial properties, so I’ll hang onto this one as long as possible.

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I would love to have my own yard look like this but know thatwildflowers have a mind of their own. Still, I may stop back once the pods on these thriving wildflowers have dried out and grab a few to plant in my yard in October. They might just like it.

April 2 Food Haul

Buying a house and everything that entails has really thrown me off my rhythm. It’s been nearly two months since my last visit to the farmers market. Today was a great day to visit, though. They had strawberries!

First Stop: Wheatsville Co-op

I already have a variety of beans cooked and frozen in reused jars, so this week is mostly about accompaniments.

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    Goodies from Wheatsville

    Potatoes, 1.12 pounds: $1.67

  • Plums, 0.48 pounds: $1.34
  • Avocado, x1: $1.99
  • Cucumber, 0.74 pounds: $1.10
  • Mango, x1: $1.79
  • Oranges, 1.29 pounds: $1.28
  • Pear, 0.36 pounds: $0.72
  • Kiwi, x1: $0.79
  • Garlic, 0.08 pounds: $0.48
  • Bell pepper, 0.33 pounds: $1.15
  • Cinnamon raisin bagel, x1: $0.99
  • Fake provolone single: $0.99
  • Spaghetti, x2: $3.00
  • Toilet paper, x2: $1.58
  • Wild rice blend, 1.28 pounds: $5.62
  • Brown rice, 1.15 pounds: $3.21
  • Liquid laundry detergent, 0.26 pounds: $0.91
  • Soymilk, half-gallon: $3.00
  • Butter, half-pound: $2.99
  • Vegan hot dogs, 1 pack: $3.99

Total: $38.72

The butter was to make some oatmeal cookies, which my husband has been craving. I also got him a special little serving-sized cheese.

I’ve been getting lazy about making my own laundry detergent, so I was glad to discover that Wheatsville gets large jugs of detergent and lets you dispense just what you need into your own container. Sometimes a lot of bubbles come out of the dispenser, but this time it was beautiful liquid soap all the way.

By the way, I know that pear looks really beat up in that picture. Now I know to be a bit more gentle with pears and to not accidentally rough them up on the way home. No worries, though, I ate it already and it was still 100% delicious.

Second Stop: Downtown Farmers Market

  • IMG_20160402_111538Strawberries, 2 pints: $8.00
  • Mushrooms: $3.00
  • Tomatoes, x3: $3.00
  • Spaghetti squash, x2: $5.00

It’s strawberry season! My husband and I love berries but have only been buying them on rare occasions due the plastic containers they come in. I still have a few of those containers and will make good use of them next week for transporting more berries safely home. This batch was de-leafed and halved almost immediately and quick-frozen (spread out on a tray in the freezer) so there’s no risk of any of these beauties going to waste. In a glass of lemonade, or on a hot day all on their own, frozen berries are to die for.

Third Stop: My Mom’s Backyard

Until recently, this is where I’ve been doing my gardening. It’s been a couple of weeks since I last checked in, and the garden beds were already getting overgrown with weeds. It is Spring after all. There were a few pods on the peas but all empty. The lettuce had long since gone bitter. The broccoli was a tower of tiny flowers. But there were some good foods to be had.

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I dug out a row of carrots (there are only a few left) and grabbed enough some spring onions to get us through the week (turns out I greatly underestimated how many we needed).

Bonus Stop: The Office

My office supplies us with apples, oranges, and bananas. (And maybe once a year, peaches!) Sadly, bananas are delicate and sometimes quickly become unappetizing to my coworkers, sometimes even being tossed in the trash bin.

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Banana that has partially split open

This week I noticed that a few bananas had split open. I grabbed this one to eat immediately and peeled and froze the others for more delicious frozen goodness during the week. These would be great with those strawberries!