Swim in the sea.
Drink in the wild air.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
It took me a while to work up the nerve to ask for cheese to be put into my own container at the cheese counter. It's been long enough now that, as with most of these things, I can only wonder why I was nervous. When I ask I can tell that it is an odd request, but I've never felt anything but appreciated + intriguing (in a good way) for bringing my own container. My way of asking is to smile + say, "Hello! Could I please get about a 1/2-3/4 pound pepper jack...just in a block, because we like to grate it? (wait for the answer) And would you mind putting it in this?" Smile + big gratitude! "Thank you so much! I appreciate it!"
I like to get our cheese in a big block, because we like to grate it finely (using a flat parmesan cheese grater) for our meals. I believe that we eat less of the tasty but fatty stuff this way. We love pepper jack cheese (shown here), because it has a lot of taste...but switch it up too.
So in honor of zero-waste cheese, here is one of the ways we ate it this week along with a number of other zero-waste ingredients. Yum.
Zero-Waste Lemon Asparagus Couscous
pepper jack cheese, grated
Once the couscous has "cooked", add butter + salt. Assemble + squeeze lemon over. Enjoy!
Most budgets come in monthly form...mine included. My habit has been to budget for generosity, bills, gas, food, + lessons...and then to leave a portion of the budget to miscellaneous expenses. I take these expenses as they come. The flexibility of the miscellaneous category should allow various seasonal costs to factor in seamlessly most of the time. :) This has worked quite well in general, but my goal is to move on to some advanced level skills this year (ha, ha, maybe I should say 'advanced beginner')...so...
I've realized that budgeting the year would give me even greater "control" over my budget. :) I had been surprising myself with my discipline and was feeling quite satisfied at the end of January, February and March this year. Money was going toward our mortgage, and I was feeling good!
And then came April. April is a birthday month. It is also the month to plant a garden...and tend to the lawn...and add some flowers. April gave us some very warm days and all the holes in our wardrobes were exposed all at once...literally. April was the month that Mr. Tribe decided that his toes-poking-out shoes could probably be replaced (he chose Allbirds).
Yikes. April really piled it on. I sold a few things (from my closet) and we were still able to send a little bit of money to the mortgage...but it was close! And of course, some of April's issues turned into May's issues...so...
I decided to budget the year...as well as the months. I've written in expenses that I can predict ahead of time + my list currently looks like this:
January :: replacements + plan/budget replacements
February :: replacements
March :: save + plan/budget warm weather wardrobes, garden + birthday gifts
April :: birthday + garden + sell/buy clothes
May :: clothes + sell/buy school books
June :: vacation
July :: save + preserve farmer's market food (corn + blueberries)
August :: save + plan/budget cold weather wardrobes
September :: replacements + clothes
October :: clothes + plan/budget birthday/Christmas gifts
November :: gifts
December :: gifts + festive fun
As the months actually come and go, I will be able to shape this list to suit reality a little better. It just makes me feel so much better to be able to see it all in one place, to be able to look ahead...and it doesn't look impossible. Although I can't schedule car or home repairs, I think they might be a bit more manageable as I keep our spending a little bit more consistent and in check.
I was excited to finally receive the Merchant & Mills Workbook via interlibrary loan last week. On the first flip through, I knew I wanted to try the Bantam with its narrow straps + racerback shape. I was intrigued by the idea of forgoing bust darts in favor of a looser fit. It sounded like just the shape for pajamas (which I were on my list).
This Shabby Chic voile adorned the fireplace cover in the living room until recently, + I thought there might be just enough for some pajamas. I really wished that the print was a little bit more muted, so I used the reverse side of the fabric as the right side. With some creative positioning of the shorts pattern, I was able to just eek out the set. :)
I have to say that I think I have finally found my signature tank pattern! I feel that the thin, close-set straps are very flattering. The loose fit is so breezy and just the sort of simple that I love. A few more Bantams will be just the thing for summer in the form of tops + dresses.
This tank will inevitably be worn not only as pajamas, but also with jeans or shorts...and the shorts are so comfy that they will do lots of lounging outside of the bedroom too! It's the perfect minimalist set!
top pattern: Bantam from Merchant & Mills Workbook
shorts pattern: my trusty vintage Esprit Simplicity 6487
fabric: old Shabby Chic voile (I don't see it offered on their website any more.)
Spring brings some fresh tastes onto our plates, and I'm so grateful for them after a long winter. All the flavors in this bowl go really nicely together + it's a colorful way to have all kinds of different combinations in each bite. We thought that this could be called a bunny bowl, because I know all the rabbits in our yard would enjoy a lot of the things here. :)
Zero-waste Spring Bowl
chickpeas, cooked and seasoned
quick pickled carrots
-I steam asparagus by cutting it into about 1 inch pieces, discarding the woody bottoms, and adding all but the tips to a pot with about 1/2 inch of boiling water. Cover and let boil for about 5 minutes. Add the tips + continue cooking for another 3 min. Drain + salt.
-I like to add a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper flakes to the warmed chickpeas. Tossing them in the drained asparagus pot browned them up a bit.
-The pickled carrots can be made quickly by adding vinegar, salt + a bit of sugar...tossing periodically. The excess "dressing" was poured onto the spinach.
-I seasoned the rice this time by adding salt, cinnamon, a touch of brown sugar, and cayenne.
I've always had a budget...and I've always tried to keep the budget. I think the bulk of my problem had to do with the fact that we never had much wiggle room...none really. If our car broke down (and it often did)...the budget became almost irrelevant. We just hunkered down + tried to hack our way out of the hole that had been created (often with the "help" of credit cards).
It took a lot of time, but we have been able to save some money and now have a buffer. We do our best to only spend what we have in our monthly budget. The vast majority of the time that works out very well. But sometimes a large expense can't be sourced from our monthly budget. This is where the buffer comes in. We can use some of the buffer money to pay the excess portion of the bill (avoiding credit card interest). We then work to pay back our buffer (from our monthly budget) in months to come.
Saving money for a buffer can be really tough, when there is just enough to make ends meet. Cutting expenses + indulgences is imperative...but another thing that has really helped us build our buffer is that we let the government take more than their share up front. I know there are two ways to think about this:
1. We could use/save that money now.
2. It's easier not to spend it, if we don't have it.
To each his own, but we choose #2. When our refund checks come, we top up our buffer (to the amount we feel wise) and then send off the rest to our mortgage. It feels spectacular!
"It'll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom.
And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket.
And they'll be sowing summer barley in the lower fields...
and eating the first of the strawberries with cream.
Do you remember the taste of strawberries?"
-The Return of the King by J R R Tolkien
As with most things around here, my pledge to first try to make my clothes this year reveals the intersection of many of my values. As I think about what I want to make, I'm considering not only my wardrobe needs + desires, but also budget, zero-waste, and minimizing. I've made a jacket from a loved dress, a project that wasn't going to see much wear + the leftover scraps from both. I've looked at the fabric I already had to make a little jacket + pants + shorts + pajamas. The "projects" that prove this intersection most, however, are probably the ones that involve Liberty of London fabrics.
This fabric is often seen as the pinnacle of treasures in the fabric world. There are only a few prints that truly speak to me, but when they do, it's loudly + with passion. :) This top has shown up in this space before. Its scraps became little drawstring bags...the perfect size for bulk cookies or brussels sprouts. This top though...it's gone from top...to pajamas...to a little bit more cropped top...to a little bit more roomy top.
This weekend I spent hours unpicking seams and grafting in just a little bit more breathing room. It got me thinking about how valuable all fabric is...the resources that go into the materials, labor, and energy used to grow it, make it, dye it, and print it. What if I treated all fabric like Liberty?
If I had known last week when I was making my grocery list...wearing a sweater + jeans...that I would be making this on a day when it was 85 degrees (!)...I might have decided not to put it on the list. It was hot outside (and inside), but we still enjoyed eating it very much! We just let it cool a bit longer. :)
Zero-waste Ginger Vegetable Soup
boullion (we use this + save the jars for bulk spices)*
fresh ginger root, peeled + grated*
Set some water to boil and add *. Once pot is boiling, turn down heat to simmer + cover. When rice is cooked, add lime + peas. Yum!
daring to choose fair one choice at a time