Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CSA Weeks #7, 8, and 9

Has it been this long?! I'll admit I've been neglecting my blogging duties (more about that in my previous post), but I hadn't realised I'd missed so many CSA updates. And there's another one to come for tonight!

I won't get into the ins and outs of where all the food has gone, but instead just generalities. First of all, we've lost a lot of greens. Our fridge tends to freeze stuff when it gets too full and it has been too full. (Frozen greens are limp and gross!) I've dialed down the temp and hopefully that will help. Also my youngest (still breastfeeding) gets terrible gas pains whenever I indulge in a green salad. This has been a major deterrent, despite how much I love them.

Next, I can't seem to keep the beets. Why do they always go soft on me? I can't figure it out. The potatoes and sweet potatoes are kicking along, as are the onions, except that they're now sprouting on me. The garlic is piling up (another gas-maker) and so are the celery and carrots. Fruit is not a problem - it generally gets eaten long before the week is through. The challenges lately? Avocado, cauliflower, and cucumber (we were overloaded in the summer).

My biggest problem lately however, has been focus. I've been busy with my new business and have not been cooking as much. The push is now easing and I'm starting to cook again. We've all got colds now, though, so that might put a hamper on things for a few more days.

As for recipes, well I've made chili, lasagna, and shepherd's pie recently using some of the produce. All are easy, frugal stand-bys and are especially welcome with the cold weather we've had lately. (I'll post recipe links soon!)

FrugalMaman's Fall CSA Box Week #7
Mushrooms (bag) 103 g
Yams (2) 501 g
Onions - medium (5) 585 g
Onions - small (4) 255 g
Beets (5) 390 g
Avocado (1) 193 g
Spring Mix (bag) 220 g
Baby Swiss Chard (bag) 238 g
Celery (bunch) 688 g
Green Pepper (1) 229 g
Garlic (2) 100 g
Tomato (1) 176 g
Apples (6) 571 g
Total - 5.041 kg

FrugalMaman's Fall CSA Box Week #8
Yams (2) 430 g
Onions (3) 493 g
Spring Mix (bag) 147 g
Baby Spinach (bag) 154 g
Carrots (bag) 996 g
Garlic (2) 98 g
Apples (6) 707 g
Pears (2) 325 g
Oranges (4) 664 g
Cauliflower (1) 649 g
Bananas (5) 1020 g
Potatoes (4) 591 g
Total - 6.274 kg

FrugalMaman's Fall CSA Box Week #9
Red Onions (3) 459 g
Spring Mix (bag) 156 g
Spinach (bunch) 222 g
Garlic (1) 51 g
Apples (4) 516 g
Grapefruit (1) 371 g
Lemon (1) 127 g
Bananas (5) 1034 g
Avocado (1) 180 g
Green Pepper (1) 318 g
Potatoes (4) 615 g
Green Beans 366 g
Summer Lettuce 233 g
Celery (bunch) 689 g
Slicing Cucumber (1) 335 g
Total - 7.672 kg

Oh and I have to mention that I have been enjoying immensely the Beretta Organics ground turkey I bought from Goodness Me! last week. I have never tasted anything like it! It tastes like 'meat'. I can't really describe it except to say that it is soooooo good. To paraphrase Michael Pollan, it tastes the way ground turkey should taste. It actually tastes even better than I ever thought it could taste. Am I exaggerating? I don't think so. I've had ground beef from Beretta in the past and raved about it. I've also got some of their bacon sitting in the freezer for a special occasion and I'm sure it will be the best bacon I've ever had. I've already looked into buying in bulk from Beretta, but since we don't live in their delivery area we'd have to drive to King City to pick it up ourselves. I'm seriously considering placing an order to do just that. Not only does the meat taste better, it feels better to know that the animals have been respected and raised in a humane and healthy fashion.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Life Less Simple

Well, this is not simplifying at all: I've started a new business. I had no intention of working from home, but it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I am now a consultant for Usborne Books at Home, a company based in the UK that makes wonderful books for children and teens. As a consultant, I do home shows, exhibits, and promote literacy. Once I have a little experience under my belt, I aim to get certified to sell to schools and do literacy fairs.

I got hooked a few weeks ago when a friend of mine hosted a party and I was blown away by the quality of the books. I wanted them all. Better yet, they have a large French language catalogue. My husband is French and we are endeavouring to raise the boys bilingual. Trying to find French books for purchase (the library is pretty well stocked) in Hamilton is a losing battle. We're limited to a very small rack at one Indigo store. Usborne has almost 500 French titles in Canada. They sell very well in Quebec and I hope to find a wide audience in our area.
Recycling things to make and do
So why didn't I just buy instead of deciding to sell? My husband asked me the same question. I already have my hands full already with two little ones and a university course on the side. (Not to mention my poor, neglected blog.) Despite this, I was craving another challenge. I'm lucky to be surrounded in my life by small business owners and there's a part of me that has itched to try my hand at it. I attended my first Social Mamas mamapreneurs meeting this month and found a welcoming group of creative and talented businesswomen full of helpful ideas to get me started.
The Story of Rubbish
But how does my new job fit into my philosophy of simplicity, self-sufficiency, and frugality? That was my big stumbling block
- Simple? Not. My life and the life of my family will become more busy and complicated for sure. We will also have a lot more 'stuff' in our home, but books are something I make an exception for and we've already got a ton of them. A little more won't hurt and they are useful, reusable, beautiful, and educational.
- Self-sufficient? I will be providing access for my children to a wealth of high quality, engaging reading material for very little cost to us. I will also (I hope!) be bringing a little more money into our budget, thereby allowing us a little more financial freedom.
- Frugal? The initial investment was very very small and will be made back quickly. In return, I have LOTS and LOTS of great books. Assuming I would have been buying the books anyway in the future, this is a very frugal decision.
Le temps et les changements climatiques
Now, can I run a business in a way that supports and promotes my principles? This is where I'm looking for suggestions. Usborne itself has impressive ethical and safety policies, which pertain to the manufacturing of its products. But how do I advertise and communicate and package in an eco-conscious fashion? I'd rather not give customers their orders in plastic bags, so I'm trying to find a greener way to meet the need to keep the books safe from the elements. I'm not seeing many options yet. I've got a theory I'm about to test and if it works, I may have a solution. More on that another time. If anyone has any suggestions, please comment, I'm all ears. As for advertising and marketing, I'm relying on word-of-mouth and the internet. I've got a temporary website set up and will be making a more customized one myself (once I learn a little about web design). Facebook and Twitter are also becoming fixtures in my life as I learn how to use them as business tools rather than pure social networking arenas.

This is a strange new world for me and having done no research ahead of time, I'm scrambling to catch up. How do you balance your work life and home life and manage to adhere to your personal philosophy of life?

Update: find my new Usborne website here.