The Whirly Girl

Archive for July 2009

I don’t know about where you live, but where I live it’s hot as blazes.  While this is normal for the summer months, the heat hit triple digits early this year, so everyone is good and wilty right about now.  My plants are struggling to stay alive.  The thyme actually burned up during a particularly hot spell, even with daily waterings. 

 

IMG_0710

While I chose being too hot over being too cold, I have also had just about enough.  Regardless of how anyone feels, however, we are still in for at least a month of the heat.  Then it’s just mildly uncomfortable til about Halloween–I’m barely kidding.  Anyway, given that it’s almost August I’ve had some time to think about some ways to keep cool at home without moving into your refrigerator or running up at astronomical electric bill.

  • Close off rooms/vents to rooms that aren’t occupied.  If no one is guesting in the guest room, it doesn’t need to be graced with air conditioning.  Our house is cooled by two window units (yes, window units in central TX are mildly ridiculous), one in the bedroom, that also cools the attached office, and one in the living room that cools it, the dining nook, and the kitchen.  The bedroom and office are out of direct sunlight in the morning, so I work in the office and do chores in that part of the house then, keeping the bedroom door closed and the living room AC off.  When those two rooms heat up in the afternoon I set the bedroom AC at about 84, move to the front of the house, and turn the living room AC on.  (About dinner time the bedroom AC gets turned down so it isn’t a complete sauna when we go to sleep.)
  • Run errands and do active chores in the morning.  I take care of my plants and do any cleaning and hanging out of the laundry first thing in the morning.  Then I run any errands.  Bonus: the grocery store is pleasantly uncrowded in the mornings.  Afternoons are a good time to take care of more sedate things like paying bills, folding clothes, and reading through your RSS feeds. 
  • Use your crockpot and bread machine.  Dust off these counter space-consuming appliances and put them to work.  They use less energy than your stove and oven, plus you get the good-food-is-cooking smell without heating up your kitchen.
  • Drink up.  If it’s summer you’re going to sweat and drift more toward dehydration than normal, so drink lots of water.  When that gets old, try sparkling water.  When that gets old, I switch to diet Coke or iced coffee–there are worse vices.
  • Take cool showers before bed.  Take advantage of the fact that you don’t need to turn on the hot water anyway.  A cooler showernwill help you stay comfortable temperature-wise while falling asleep.

If all else fails, eat a popsicle and google pictures of the North Pole.  Summer can’t last forever.

 

This morning I turned the cut-off legs of a pair of ratty pants-turned-shorts into cloths for my Swiffer Sweeper.  I feel very much like a Suzy Homemake right now.  I’ve been feeling like it’s a little ridiculous to buy boxes of cloths simply because of the brand name (as much as I love the Swiffer concept!) and convenience.  Then, yesterday we had a conversation about how we needed to clean the dust from the hard-to-reach spots in our house–under the china hutch that weights a ton and I’m not strong enough to help move, for example.  Thus was born the motivation to take the leftovers from a pair of Scott’s pants-turned-shorts and cut them down to fit on the end of my Swiffer.  No, I am not that clever for using old clothing for cleaning purposes; I realize this is something that has been done since the dawn of time.  But I’m a tad proud anyway.

IMG_0708

 

P.S. I cleaned under the china hutch right away.

As is evidenced by this blog, I am quite taken with cooking, crafting, and other domestic activities.  When I’m not occupied with these pursuits, and not at my school day job as a teacher, I focus a fair bit of energy on frugality and saving money.  It’s such an important sector of this whirly girl’s life I’ve decided to write a bit about it here.  I hope you’ll chime in.

The way I see it, my husband and I should be well on our way to being millionaires.  Seriously.  Everytime I see an article or book about how to save money I get all excited only to find, after one paragrah, that I’m already doing just about everything suggested.  I don’t buy my daily coffee at Starbucks.  We don’t have cable.  I don’t get manicures or pedicures.  We don’t have credit card debt.  I use coupons.  We cook most meals at home.  When we buy clothes, they’re on sale.  We use Netflix instead of going to the movies.  And so on and so forth.

While I can definitely see how we are benefitting from our current life style, I can’t help but feel like we can do more.  I would classify us as your average, middle-class, early in marriage couple.  We most assuredly have everything we need and then some.  Perhaps it’s that perfectionist streak in me that keeps pushing me to save MORE and spend LESS. 

I hope you’ll join me as I keep figuring this out.  I don’t think money is nearly as much fun as making magnets and growing tomatoes, but it sure is useful to have around.

IMG_0706I am still plugging away at the infamous ’09-’10 school bag, so all other crafty projects are still on hold.  However, I did make cute desserts today, though I almost, almost regretted it because using the oven made the kitchen so hot.  I adapted this from the Peach Kuchen recipe found in More-With-Less, always a staple cookbook in my mom’s kitchen and now mine.

Nectarine Baby Kuchens

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Combine:

         1 c. whole wheat flour

         1/3 c. white flour

         1/4 t. baking powder

         1/2 t. salt

         2 T. evaporated palm sugar (or sweetener of your choice)

3. Stir in:

         1/3 c. coconut oil

4. Divide crust mixture between five small, greased ramkins and press over bottom and up sides of ramkins.

5. Peel, slice, and arrange in ramkins:

         4 nectarines

6. Top each ramkins with:

         dusting of cinnamon

         drizzle of honey

7. Place ramkins on cookie sheet and bake for 15 min. in 400 degree preheated oven.

8. Combine:

         1 egg

         1 c. plain yogurt (I use low-fat)

9. After 15 min. are up, top each ramkin with yogurt mixture.

10. Bake kuchens 30 more min. or until custard is set, then serve hot (but don’t burn your fingers on the ramkin), room temperature, or cold for breakfast the next day.

 

IMG_0704          

My newest domestic experiment is coconut oil.  That’s right, coconut oil.  My mom recently passed The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife on to me.  So as to completely jump on the bandwagon before I really learned anything about it, I bought some coconut oil at the grocery store and started using it in my kitchen.  Then read the book.  According to the book, this miracle product of nature does everything from helping you lose weight to clearing up your acne to preventing heart disease and cancer.  Well, sign me up for all of the above, if that’s even possible. 

My dad had a heart attack in his early 40s, so we were very well-versed in every heart-healthy edible option from that point on.  Coconuts and their by-products did not fall in that category.  I actually felt guilty everytime I ate coconut, which I happen to love, and envisioned my arteries becoming more and more clogged with each bite.  Yes, I had a very active, 14-year-old imagination.  And chose to indulge and feel guilty, rather than exercise restraint and lose the guilt.

Well, according to this book, the fat from coconut oil actually doesn’t stick to your arteries, but is immediately processed by your liver and turned into energy.  All that guilt for nothing.  It does a host of other things as well, which you’ll have to read about for yourself.

I am rather intrigued by the whole idea and have decided to give it a shot.  For now, I’m using coconut oil in place of other fats in the kitchen and using it as a skin moisterizer, as well.  I’ll keep you posted on how it’s working.

I made some more magnets the other day.  A friend of my mom’s gave Mom a souvenir from her trip to Paris in a bag with some great designs.  Mom gave the bag to me and I turned it into some pretty magnets and then gave them back.  It was a typical, lightweight giftshop bag, so I mounted it on some cardstock that I think was leftover from our wedding programs.  It was hard to decide what little scenes to capture, but here is how they turned out.  I also made a few from a frappuccino label and salad dressing label.  Not quite as chic as a French bag, but still interesting.

 

 

 

IMG_0614

IMG_0641

IMG_0634

I just bought a year-long subscription to Real Simple magazine from Amazon.com for $5!  I love this magazine and was sad when my last subscription, given to me by my sister as a Christmas gift, ran out earlier this year.  I try really hard not to spend money on small, non-essential items so I didn’t renew it (we try to skimp on the little things and save for the big…this allowed us to pay cash for our vacation to Mexico last month!).  However, I just read about this great price on Bargain Briana’s money-saving blog and jumped at the chance for Real Simple for .42/month.