In my area we have alot of farms and many people do gardening. Some are just flowers and some are orchards and many are interested in growing their own, but not all can afford to upgrade or maybe even buy new seeds or seedlings. So quite a few people have decided to join a subgroup of our Freecycle group and dedicate it to free exchange of seeds and seedlings and also anything else that is garden-related. Now I've used Freecycle in the past year quite a bit when I had more greens that we could eat and had people come and pick some directly from my garden. Having this dedicated group established gives me more options and also will allow me to trade with others for things that I probably wouldn't buy myself in the store. The group allows anyone to post on the group page what they have extra and what they're looking for in exchange. For example, I posted that I had too many strawberries and in exchange I wanted some flowers to improve my garden borders. So someone offered me to dig up their hydrangeas in exchange. Win-win for both. Come spring we'll be more active to exchange seedlings and plan is to meet once a week and see who has what. Since I will be planting my own seeds I'll be doing many heirloom seedlings for my garden but of course I always plant more than I will use in my garden - you have to plant more because never know how many will survive through transplanting process so when i have extras I'll be able to offer them to others in exchange for something else that I normally wouldn't grown on my own. Can't wait for spring :)
So the most obvious question would be - is it worth it. Let's do a bit of math.
Soda stream original price = $130 makes 130 liters of soda because it comes with full bottle of carbonator equals to 65 2-litter bottles in store. So not exactly less expensive on first pass.
Next carbonator refill pack comes with 2 bottles that can make 130 liters each so that's 260 liters for about $50. If you buy it in BedBathandBeyond then you an use 20% coupon to lower price.
This would equal to 130 2-liter bottles soda in stores on one refill. Definitely price saver. I guess it eventually equals out if you add original price and then will be savings afterwards.
And what's more important in my view - no chemicals :)
To make this chicken dish you will need:
- two small celery stalks thinly sliced on a bias
- 1/2 onion also thinly sliced
- 2 chicken breast also thinly sliced on the bias against the grain
- 1/3 cup of flour
- mix 1/3 cup of Marsala, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and tablespoon of soy sauce.
- you can add spoon of General Tsao sauce if you like it spicier.
- sea-salt and pepper to taste
Heat up a spoon of veg oil or grape seed oil on a skillet and quickly saute onions and sliced celery for about 3 min until it's softened. You can use EV olive oil but it tends to have stronger flavor and might overpower your dish. While it's cooking, mix flour, pinch of salt and pepper and toss sliced chicken until it's uniformly coated with flour. Remove veggies to the plate and add another spoon of oil to the skillet. Toss the flour-coated chicken on hot skillet in one even layer and slightly brown it on both sides (use large wide spatula to flip it) for about 3 min. When chicken is almost cooked add mix of Marsala, brown sugar and soy sauce and stir it all together. Add veggies and stir one more time to incorporate. Because of the flour the sauce will thicken up a bit so don't keep it on the heat for too long or it will start burning. Just cover with a lid and let it sit for 5 min as it will finish up cooking. Serve over rice and any additional greens (i had leftover green beans so I added to the chicken). Enjoy :)
So now I have much better solution - I keep narrow boxes of herbs in the house and available at all times. If I only need a spoonful of something I just pick it fresh and chop what I need. No waste of either herbs or money in the store. Remaining just keeps growing. And since most of the herbs get along with each other I can keep more than one variety in the same box - parsley next to oregano and thyme. Only basil and mint needs it's own space.
This year we lost alot of our crops to the hurricane but I was still able to save a bit of those veggies, including 2 crates of potatoes - roughly 40 or so pounds of them. Now I know potatoes are cheap in stores but I also know that mine are pure of any pesticide because they were grown in organic environment. No chemicals were added. We've been using them since Irene arrived and I'm only now reaching bottom of my first create so plenty left over for the rest of the winter. And more available for future pirogi that my hubby loves so much :)
•Growing as many veggies as I can fit into my garden to supplement our food source.
•Using farmer markets and local farms to get organic protein sources like meat and seafood.
•Use natural resources whenever possible to reduce bills - solar for energy and natural light to do most things around the house eliminating the need for extra use of lights at night.
•using home made cleaners whenever possible.
•Minimizing extra spending on eating out and entertainment.
This doesn't look like too many things but in reality this is what i need to focus on this year. I know that in the past year we've spent way too much on eating out, travel and out of pocket expenses. I hope to minimize that damage. What I really need to do is to save at least $10K in the next year so I can get a new (used) car. Hopefully my current one will last that long. Since I was not able to sell it because it's really not worth what I wanted for it I had no choice but to keep it for now. So my target is to save enough to pay the new one in cash. I also have secondary target - additional $5000 for future savings. Ambitious plan but hopefully it will work - one step at the time.
First step - update my hydroponic with fresh nutrient mix and get new set of seeds for salads. This week I've picked the last of the greens from the cold-frame and it's too cold now to replant in the coldframe. I also brought several containers into the addition kitchen where I can place them on the counters and plant my herbs. It's cooler than our main house but it will work best for such things like parsley and salads. Just in case you haven't been in a store lately a head of salad is now $2.99 and since I eat alot of it then I'd better get on with seeds. Thankfully salad grows very fast :)