HOME ENERGY USE:
We just ran through the last of the oil we prepaid last fall and likely there will be one or two more deliveries before summer. fitzw
and I were wondering last night how soon other people had run through their prepaid oil, considering we're relatively frugal. The office oil is shut off at night now (and the door closed of course), to further minimize fossil fuel use. I'm determined to use even less next year somehow, without freezing to death. Plus we have the older kitty to consider. We'll be building some of those solar panels from builditsolar.com this year....
I'd like to both save us money and save oil for future use. Since it does seem like alternative fuels are not what they're cracked up to be -- most of them are more trouble than they're worth, and since it's taking a while for most everyday folks to be able to afford the fancy solar panels, wind power, etc., the only responsible thing to do is to not use so much of our resources.
Btw, now that we've had the passive energy users (microwave, tv, dvd player, stereo) on power strips for over a month, the latest electric bill is even lower! And of course being more mindful of not leaving lights on all over the place, which we've been working on for sometime... plus watching less tv, I suspect, and turning off computers at night... Our usage for this past month was 361 KWH --- one year ago it was 640 KWH! Woohoo! And I actually like having the stereo and stuff on the powerstrip -- easier than trying to get at the outlets to unplug them, which is quite difficult in some places in our house. Plus, I like having control over the power, not wondering if they're sucking extra energy during peak hours or something (important during a heat wave or when storms have downed a lot of lines and stations are overworked).
INDEPENDENCE and FOOD:
That's why I'm getting more into making some of our own clothing, and cooking from scratch -- hence the need to broaden my cooking horizons, for more variety. And for clothing, at my height I usually have to alter stuff anyway, so why not just make the whole thing?
When you buy premade meals, you get whatever they put in it. Granted, you can shop carefully and choose better prepared foods, but sometimes they just don't have what you want -- or need, if you have dietary concerns. If we do the cooking, we _know_ what's in our food. Even now, when we're still using more premade foods than I'd like, I think we're both feeling better, healthier. It's been a slow road the past year, but some things we stuck to really well, like having yogurt, oatmeal, cheese & eggs, or occasionally ham & eggs, for breakfast. Lunch has been the iffiest part, because sometimes fitzw
really wants to get out of the house, so we'll go out to lunch. Now we're starting to have lunch here, then go out and do errands or go for a walk, to get away from things. Dinner has improved since I stopped working at the chiropractors office. And, I'm actually starting to get more interested in cooking again.
And a lot of this is happening for two reasons: 1) we want to be more environmentally responsible, and 2) we want to save money, pay down debts, and move to Ashfield.
You'll note that "health" wasn't listed as one of the reasons. We tried that, but it didn't have the staying power of the other two. It has been a nice side benefit of the other two -- walking or biking instead of driving, for instance.
Now, I'm not going to go crazy and raise 100% of our food. Just isn't going to happen. BUT -- again, I like the idea of knowing what's in my food. So, if I grow it, I know it doesn't have pesticides all over it. And if I get food from the farmers market, unless it's marked 'organic', I can't guarantee it's pesticide-free, but there's a good chance that it's still less than on veggies or fruit from a conglomerate farm, and around here, it isn't too hard to get organic, really. My father-in-law has a nice truck garden, not organic in that he doesn't buy organic seeds, but he doesn't spray it either (altho' apparently he dusts potatoes, but he hasn't grown those in a long time). So, lots of good places to get good food.
Confession: My mom got me started in gardening when I was a kid. Loved digging and planting, hated weeding. Then I discovered mulch :)
This year we'll be growing lettuces, tomatoes, beans, peas, carrots, maybe potatoes. Squash, zucchini, and cucumber we can get from the farm. Maybe beets, but I'm undecided. We already have onions and various herbs in the ground.
My first two choices for home grown veggies? Tomatoes and Lettuce. Why? Because they're easy, they're good in salads, sandwiches, and straight off the plant. I try to grow both large tomatoes (esp. for sandwiches and cooking), and grape or sweet cherry. For lettuce, having a bunch of different kinds is good. I took a class with bunnyjadwiga
last spring in VT and it was terrific! There's nothing better than being able to grab some leaves and tomatoes from the yard, maybe a few sprigs of herbs too, and throw together your own personal salad.