Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The February Project Continues

Yes, it continues to suck! Just kidding. We are halfway through the month...a month without the mall, without Target, without a single trip to my beloved Red Onion for dinner. I'm not saying we have obeyed the ground rules perfectly. I made a desperate trip to toys r us to purchase diapers after my homemade laundry detergent idea fell through and I had to manually scrape a few too many BM's out of the cloth diapers and into the toilet. I understand if anyone just threw up in their mouth a little.

I also had a little indiscretion involving a stop at my local ridiculously priced kitchen tools store for some equipment and supplies to make valentines day cookies. They were adorable. I made them heart shaped and used royal icing to pipe EKG tracings on them, to bring to work.

Other than that though, I've been a model of thriftiness. Buying produce at the local farmers market, where we faithfully go every Wednesday. Using up all the 12 bags of assorted flours in my cupboard to make homemade bread with. Ditto with the 12 assorted bags and boxes of various pastas in my cupboard. Substituting things I don't have for things I do have. Searching for recipes that utilize stuff in the house. It's about to kill me though, because I found a new food blog that I absolutely love, Annies Eats (ohhhhhh, the recipes...) and I'm dying to go to the store and spend a thousand dollars on groceries so I can make every single one of the things she has on her blog. The cookie indiscretion was directly attributable to Annie, in
fact.

But I'm being good. I have made some penny wise/pound foolish discoveries though, along the way. I resolved at the outset of all this to send leftovers to work with Hugo every day, since we wouldn't be going to the store and couldn't, therefore, keep the freezer stocked with his frozen dinners that he normally brings to work to have for lunch. I now realize I would have been better off to go to the store one last time and stock up on 10 or so of the frozen meals. Most days he's been good about taking leftovers, or I've made him a sandwich or something, but let's face it... We don't always have leftovers. It seems like at least once or twice a week, he ends up leaving for work in the morning without a lunch and then has to go downtown at lunch and buy a sandwich. He usually spends 8 or 9 dollars. So it doesn't take too many of those oops moments to add up to much more than we normally spend on his lunches when he does frozen. That's in addition to the fact that he often eats lunch at his desk and can therefore justify staying on the clock, while he has to clock out for his lunch break if he leaves the credit union. So, yeah, the $4 Annie's meals are probably well worth the sticker price ( even though the Smart Ones entrees that I made due with when I worked days are MUCH more economical at $2.50 apiece). Just sayin...

Tomorrow I'm going to the mall to get my hair done. I will probably spend 75 dollars or more. What?!!! Yes, I'm going to the mall to get my hair done. I temporarily thought about delaying my hair appointment till the end of the month in the spirit of the February experiment, but I decided not to. First of all, the idea was to cut out consumer/consumption type spending. Hair care is a service. It supports the local economy by supporting my local hairdresser, creates no waste, and only involves a teeny tiny tube of hair color that, ok, fine, DID have to be shipped here, probably from China. The money for my hair appointments gets automatically saved, a little each pay period, in a separate account which accumulates enough each 6 weeks to pay for my haircut, getting my roots done, purchasing my make-up and getting an extremely occasional ( as in, once or twice a year) pedicure. The money is there waiting to be spent on my hair appointment. Delaying my appointment until the beginning of March would accomplish nothing beyond requiring that I walk around with offensive roots for the next two weeks and then probably have to spend extra at my eventual hair appointment dealing with the consequences. We've already been over and around the hair thing in separate experiments during the course of our 6 year marriage (in January! Yay!) and Hugo has agreed that A. He likes when I get my hair did. B. It is EXTREMELY penny wise and pound foolish for me to pack the kids up and drive all the way over to Daytona Beach for a whole day to have my hair done for free by my sister, in terms of wear and tear on the vehicles and the hassle factor. And C. Being married to a woman means there are going to be certain beauty maintenance costs and those costs have to be factored in to the budget or else fighting will ensue.

When the February experiment is over, I will go back to the grocery store. I will go back to the mall. I will go back to the ridiculously priced kitchen gadget store. However, I will do so with a heightened awareness of my own consumer choices and how they are multiplied by the millions every single day, resulting in potentially negative effects on our communities and our planet. Hugo and I discussed how trade has been going on, globally, for hundreds of years. We don't necessarily think thats a bad thing. The spice of life, literally, is trying new things from different exotic places. However, when I was searching through the fridge at work the other day, I grabbed a little package of Dole orange segments and tore into it for a snack. As I was munching away on the little treats, I saw on the label that they were mandarin orange segments grown and packed in China. I have bought those same packages at the grocery store and I know that they are cheap. Very cheap. You could buy a locally grown orange (yay Florida!) for about the same price as a whole package of those little individually packaged oranges. So, if you do the math backwards and figure that the distributer is making the most money on packaging and shipping that thing halfway around then world, how much do you think the guy who actually grew and picked the orange got paid? When you buy fresh oranges from the farmers market, it's all going to the guy (or girl) who grew and picked it. Someone who lives here, in Florida, and might even return the favor by coming to my hospital for a procedure or to have a baby or something.

So the long and short of it is, we will continue to visit the farmers market and take advantage of whatever local stuff is available. Even if it's a little more expensive. Even if it's a little inconvenient. We will also make the effort to go to Ward's, which is a locally owned grocery store that keeps a lot of local products and also sells bulk stuff like oats and grains and nuts that aren't uber-packaged. It's kind of a pain since their store has super tight aisles and doesn't have shopping carts that accommodate two kids, but we will do it anyway. They also sell dairy from a local farm that has grass fed cows. I've been reading a lot about grass fed and a lot of it makes sense. We still aren't going back to the milk-drinking thing. The kids have been off milk (routine drinking of it, that is) for two weeks now and haven't developed any signs of impending malnourishment. Their pediatrician is going to be very surprised by that...

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