Monday, January 4, 2010


A belated Felix Natividad et Próspero Año y Felicidad.
I ushered on Christmas Eve, daughter's worked the church nursery, and husband was able to join us @ the last minute for a very well attended service. Once home we had snacks & opened a present @ midnight.
For New Year's we stayed home huddled around the wood stove snacking, watching DVDs, & napping. Promised daughters that next year we would go watch the ball drop in downtown Buffalo and perhaps attend a few First Night Activities. I'm sure that they will make me keep my word since banging pot lids & beating on stock pots no longer holds a deep fascination for them as it once did.
Besides the usual weight loss/self improvement resolutions my goals for the New Year is to go more solar but in MacGyver style. Solar panels from recycled parts or just hack'ng an existing application into solar I'm not sure. Diffacult due to our cloudy climate and disrupted sunshine due to buildings & trees. The 2nd (ongoing) major goal is to increase/document our garden harvest.

After an afternoon of studying charts, reading NYS Public Service Commission website twice, and one very long drawn out phone call to National Grid ( the customer service # published on my bill has been disconnected freaky huh?) I was able to make an informed decision with regards to switching my electric & gas suppliers.
Stay put for now & monitor the ESCOs (energy service companies) for a better rate than what both my eclectic & natural gas companies are charging then make the switch.

The kww rate the ESCO I was considering is currently @ 6.5 ¢ per kww hour, gas is .65 ¢ per ccf. Both higher than what I currently pay. True only by a few cents but here a penny there a penny.
Pity as the ESCO I decided on was offering a $75 Visa gift card to switch.
Plan was to use the Visa to get a subscription to Netfix which would help curb the pro cable voices in the family. And fill my need to view alternative documentaries on sustainable subjects & episodes of Leave it to Beaver.
For us the new digital t.v. revolution has been bogus.
Reception is still defined by buildings, weather, and flight patterns. Upside is that my 15 year old tele has outstanding picture quality when we do get reception. Oh foil wrapped around digital antenni makes no mind.

Speaking of gift cards I received two this year both to Wally World = $100. One was in September from a fellow Presbyterian as a reward for working the church garden. After consulting with my pastor I decided to keep the card. The second was a Christmas gift.
So after much thought & discussion we decided to use the cards on items that would give us the most value from a homesteader's point of view;
  • Coleman Portable Camp Oven - $39
  • Rechargeable solar batteries for garden lights
  • Vinegar - white
  • Outdoor/Hunting clothing for daughter #2
  • Canning lids, pectin
  • Garden Seeds ?
  • Hand Cranked Radio
  • Special needs that can't be gotten elsewhere

The stove top oven is my 1st priority since I bake about every other day - bread, cakes, & pies. Hope to be able to barter bake goods for toiletries & other items that I can't manufacture like canned tuna.

Solar batteries for our hacked garden lights. I have plans to hang these lights in the bathroom, stairwell, & front room near the wood stove for low lighting. Also the garden lights outside are due for replacements.

Now that I clean green (I'll let you all think I'm this big environmentalist but those who know me well know that I'm just cheap) I go though allot of white vinegar so if it's not too much more than Save-a-Lots price/can coupon then I'll stock up. Vinegar is a hard to barter for item. Much like powdered milk.

DD#2 needs a good two piece hunting ensemble now that we know she enjoys hunting. Hopefully we can score a great deal now that deer season is over. Will check WW's website.

Canning lids & pectin if I can snag some for a better price than my usual sources. 3 or 4 years ago I bought pectin @ Save -a-lot for 69¢ a box. Best price on lids is anything under 99¢ per 12 count box. This purchase will be delayed until Sept./Oct. when canning supplies are generally clearance.

Garden seeds if I can score them on deep discount yeah that's what I'm telling myself now. But wait til oh February when the garden displays start showing up and I absolutely need that package of black eyed peas.

Hand cranked radio so I can listen to NPR as I do the wash.

Special needs ... yeah what exactly is that? It's items like photos that I promised to DB#4's gf, of him as a baby for example. They are expecting their 1st in February. Also under that column is really anything that is a must have that can't be bartered or bought second hand. Pantyhose come to mind. DD#3 plays bass & violin in school orchestra, I usher @ church, an occasionally DD#2 wears a dress so pantyhose can be a need.

Even though our local mega mart has a grocery section IMHO my savings have always come from my alternative methods so as a last resort food items. And only if I have a coupon. Shame Aldi doesn't sell gift cards. Is it wrong to suggest stores that we would perfer gift cards to?

Any other ideas for sustainable homesteading items that can be bought main stream ?

~~ pelenaka ~~