Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Nature Shelf! {week 4, January 2013}

To round out our snowy themed Nature Shelf for the month of January, the Little Guy was really thrilled to find that the Fairies had built a snowman!

His first obsevation though? "I hope that snowman doesn't melt! He's so close to the lovely warm Fairy House", to which I asked "Is the Fairy House warm?" "Well, of course it's warm Mama, there's smoke coming out of the chimney, so they must have a fire inside"!

Of course!

What are you doing to bring a little of the outside environment into your home? Feel free to share; I'd love to hear from you!

Shared on Friday's Nature Table, at The Magic Onions

Friday, January 25, 2013

Food Waste Friday! Breaking Some Eggs ... Metaphorically!


I just love The Frugal Girl blog. Really - just love!

Each week (well - most weeks) she blogs about her food waste, a kind of public declaration, aimed to reduce her own food waste. And she invites the rest of us to join her!

So, I have had two pretty disastrous weeks in a row (here and here), and I know that on first glance this week won't look much better.

Are you familiar with the saying "you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs"? Well, this week is my attempt to make things a whole lot better, but it had to get worse first!

I've been really inspired by seeing some of the pictures of the contents of people's beautifully organized and sparse refrigerators on other blogs for Food Waste Friday. So inspired that I actually cleaned out my fridge ... and found a bunch of really expired stuff. And some stuff that was just wasted, too. But I think that the combination of actually knowing (and seeing) what is in my fridge, and better menu/shopping plans, will be just the ticket.

(So you have to know, before you see the picture of the inside of my fridge, that My Good Man is the King of Condiments (really! - that is one of my nicknames for him!) so the fridge still has a lot of his sauces and whatnot in it).

Not too shabby! Let's see if it looks this good in another week!!

(I'm realizing that I'm not very good at remembering to take before pictures, only after ones, although I'm not sure you would really want to see the inside of my former, disorganized fridge).

And now for the not so good stuff ... the waste :-(

A jar of mincemeat from at least the previous decade, moldy pasta sauce and butternut squash soup, hard sauce (for Xmas Puddings!) and a half used sachet of yeast all bit the dust. I was really upset though about the breadsticks. They were made by me from left over pizza dough, and I was really pleased that I had found a great way to utilize the leftover dough. So I baked them, and popped them in the freezer ... and when I took them out to accompany a meal the other day, they were as hard as rocks. So now they're breadcrumbs in the freezer (thanks for the tip, SimplyBurbs readers !) but still it made me sad.

Mashed potatoes pulled from the freezer for a particular meal, then our plans changed and we didn't eat them, then they got pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten, until they were all slimy and yucky. I tried to reuse these in something like potato bread, but they were too far gone. And these were potatoes we dug up ourselves from our CSA Farm, too.

Very old jar of fruit spread, jar of marmalade sauce (ditto, very old), herbal tinctures (about a decade past their best before date) and a plum pudding from a previous decade all saw the trash can too.

So, this looks bad, really bad. But actually the only real food waste from this week was the pasta sauce, soup and mashed potatoes; the rest is the result of a disorganized fridge.

How was your Food Waste this week? Feel free to share; I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Nature Shelf! {week 3, January 2013}

Each week I post new photos of our Nature Shelf (my own little nod at the beautiful Nature Tables that are found in many Waldorf classrooms, schools and homes).

Some of the Nature Tables created and posted on the web are truly spectacular; they are works of art, made of felted wool, plants, both live and dried, wooden houses for fairies and gnomes. Beautiful!

But frankly, I have neither the time, the skills or the energy to make that happen every week.

And the thing is, The Little Guy has just as much fun with the little Nature Shelf I put together for him as I think he would with an elaborate Nature Table.

And that is why I wanted to start posting about my Nature Shelf every week, to show that they don't have to be exquisite, or time consuming, or painstakingly made. All told, I usually spend less than 15 minutes on the Nature Shelf each week, and I am far from a skilled sewer or felter. If I can do this, you can too!

So each week, we add a little something new to the shelf. I always start out with a home dyed play silk as a back drop, and then our Fairy (gingerbread) House.

For the first week, I add Crystals and Rocks (week one represents the Mineral and Crystal Kingdom).

Week two, is for the Plant Kingdom, so I add something representing plants, flowers or trees. Sometimes it will be real, like pine cones or teasels found on a walk, other times it will be made, like the felt holly leaves I made for the December Shelf.

For week three, we include something from the Animal Kingdom; again sometimes I make something, and other times I will use a small toy.

And lastly, week four sees the addition of something from the People or Elemental Being Kingdom. I like to add little homemade Gnomes for this week; they are so so so easy to make (I should add a post about these some day!) The Little Guy just loves to see these little folk!

This being the third week of the month, I added a little creature to the shelf. Here in the Mid Atlantic states we are just beginning to truly see King Winter this week; it is quiet outside, but for the squirrels busy busy busy about their days!

I had half planned to make tiny origami birds to sit on the tree branches, but I'm not a skilled origami maker, and ran out of time, so this little squirrel (from our Spiel Und Holz Birthday Ring) stepped in!

What are you doing this week to bring a little of your outdoor environment into your home? Feel free to share; I'd love to hear from you!

Shared on Friday's Nature Table, at The Magic Onions

Friday, January 18, 2013

Food Waste Friday! Not Again ...


I just love The Frugal Girl blog. Really - just love!

Each week (well - most weeks) she blogs about her food waste, a kind of public declaration, aimed to reduce her own food waste. And she invites the rest of us to join her!

After the debacle that was last week's Food Waste Friday (posted about here) I vowed to pull it together and turn myself around this week.

Let's see ...

One of the things I like about oranges is that you can keep them in the fruit bowl for more than a couple of days, and they will still be fine ... apparently that isn't so with these ones :-(

I found this container in the freezer, with some serious freezer build up! I'm not sure is in it, to be honest, but I do know I haven't used those containers for a while.

The sad state of cleaning out the cheese drawer ... those sad little remnants of moldy, dried out cheese. And the ginger? I always think I love ginger, buy it and then realize that actually I don't cook with ginger often enough to warrant buying it fresh like this.

But the salad made me really sad; salad is pretty expensive, and I really hate to waste it. This was just too far gone to use.

There was also two kiwis, one popover and half a Chinese carryout meal that went out (My Good Man got to them, before I had a chance to take pics).

So ... what is my lesson learned here? Buying too much? Unclear planning? Eating on a whim, rather than checking the fridge? All of the above?! I'm not sure, but seeing these photos every week, is making me realize that Food Waste (something I would have previously thought I had under control) is somewhat of a problem in my kitchen.

And how was your Food Waste this week? Feel free to share; I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Fairy Tale, Part 1

Last January, we made a gingerbread house (this one from IKEA); after sitting lonely on the top of a bookcase for a while, it was adopted to become part of our Nature Shelf.

The Little Guy decided pretty quickly that this gingerbread house was where the Fairies in our home lived, and he just loves to go and visit the shelf to see what the Fairies are up to.

So when I made a trip to IKEA last week, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to buy another gingerbread house kit. We quickly assembled it, and when I told The Little Guy that he (he!) could decorate it, he was thrilled.

We made a simple icing of egg white, confectioners/icing sugar and vinegar, and added to a couple of drops of food coloring. Then I just divided it between four small zip lock bags, snipped a tiny bit of corner off each bag, and hey presto! - we have icing bags!

Then The Little Guy set to decorating his new Fairy Home.

He let me decorate a little of it too, which was more fun than I had anticipated. I also found out that piping is *not* a natural skill for me ;-)

The icing dried really quickly, and TLG added a garden, a shed and a skate board to the Fairy Home.

He has a spot all picked out in his room (right next to the head of his bed), and he reported that the Fairies loved their new home.

Such sweet and simple pleasures, building a Fairy Home!

Part 2 of a Fairy Tale posting soon!

Linked to The Magic Onion

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Nature Shelf! {week 2, January 2013}

For this week, the second week in the month, we are introducing the Plant Kingdom to the Nature Shelf. And we are truly bringing a little of our outdoor environment inside, with a bare tree! No leaves or buds for us here in Virginia.

The frost on the trees and the smoke coming from the chimney are touches I just couldn't resist adding! Let's hope the Fairies who live on our Nature Shelf like them too :-)

What are you doing this month to bring a little of your outside environment in to your home? Feel free to share; I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Upcycling Sunday!

Upcycling, def. the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.

I started 2013 with a lofty goal; to give, sell or donate 2013 items from my home in the year 2013 (without bringing a bunch of stuff in to replace it!)

As I approached this project, it seemed unbelievably large. Almost too big, something that I would struggle to achieve.

I also thought that removing 2013 items from my home would make a huge difference. The response I most often get when I tell people about this project is "I don't think I even have 2013 items in my home!"

Well, we are nearly 2 weeks in to 2013 and my 2013 items project and I've come to a big realization on both of those assumptions.

It will be much easier to get 2013 items out of my home than I had first thought. And I'm not sure it will make as big a difference as I had initially hoped either. But are we down-hearted? No!

Right now I have donated, sold or gifted 375 items, leaving just 1638 items to go.

If you are considering joining the 2013 Items challenge, I'd love to hear from you! Or maybe you just want to start a one month challenge of 168 items in a month (12 x 168 = 2013!). Or even 5 items in a day (just 5 items each day, would total 2013 at the end of the year). And don't worry that the year has already begun ... it's never too late.

For some reason, I was so focused on getting things out of the house, I totally forgot to to take any pictures, thus the random pictures of my Little Ones playing!

What have you been de-cluttering, organizing, gifting away, and donating recently? Feel free to share; I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Food Waste Friday! Really, Very, Incredibly Not Good.


I just love The Frugal Girl blog. Really - just love!

Each week (well - most weeks) she blogs about her food waste, a kind of public declaration, aimed to reduce her own food waste. And she invites the rest of us to join her!

And ... well, the title of this post says it all really.

My only defense would be that we had house guests over the holiday period so there were lots of bits left over from meals (it's hard cooking for a large group and getting the portions just right every time!) and that we were busy-er than usual.

And now for food waste Hall of Shame ...

We have left over Chinese carry out sauce, macaroni and cheese, mushroom risotto, spicy pinto beans and (gulp) salmon.

And we're not done yet ...

Next we have a Pannetone, that had been opened and then left to go stale.

A wedge of pecan pie, bought because we all thought we would like pecan pie, only to find out that we didn't.

Asparagus that was left out on the counter overnight (which I'm usually so picky about, but this seemed distinctly slimy the next morning.

Fresh pineapple that was left to go fizzy and fermenty.

And a heel of (nice) bread that was left to go so stale, there was no use for it.

And the really, truly most awful thing about this? I started to clean out my refrigerator this morning, saw that there were more things that should really be added to the list, and decided to put off cleaning it out, so my list wouldn't have to be longer.

The title of this post says it all ... really, very, incredibly not good :-(

How was your food waste this week? Feel free to share; I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

King Winter Now is in the Land!

Ah! - the magical combination of King Winter and Jack Frost from this verse has just enamored The Little Guy; each morning we have been checking for evidence of them outside, and at night we wonder if they will be visiting while we sleep, and bring frost or snow!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Nature Shelf! {week 1, January 2013}

A new year, a new week, a new Nature Shelf!

We've been a little snowflake happy at the Simply Burbs home this past month or so, but they really are just so pretty. Who can resist?!

What are you doing this month to bring some nature into your home this month? Feel free to share; I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Simplicity by Default (aka When Everyone is Sick)

In the middle of the holiday celebrations, we suddenly had one, two, three Little Ones all come down with the nasty virus that has been going around. Then both of our house guests got sick, until it was just My Good Man and I who were still healthy and well. Not good.

Aside from the weepy children, the incessant hacking cough and the interrupted sleep though, there was a certain comfort to those days. We retreated from our schedule, and took to the couch with books and blankets. Simple meals and (gasp) a little television were the only distractions.

My Little Boy having a snuggle, with a Snuggie!

It was rather nice to have that snuggle in time; nothing to do and nowhere to go. It made me wonder if we shouldn't have those days more often!

I read a post by another blogger some time ago who called them Cocoon Days, those days of curling in, nesting and staying close and cozy.

So, here's to more Cocoon Days (hopefully, without the sickness next time though!)

Do you have a 'sick day' routine? Feel free to share; I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Glad to See You, 2013!

I'm not much a resolution maker these days. If you are anything like me, I start the new year with unreasonably high expectations, only to have my resolutions bite the dust with a week or two.

So, this year I'm setting some goals, rather than resolutions. Which I'm hoping will be more achievable. Hopefully!

The Little Guy and his Grandpa D., taking a moment to watch the world go by.

- I'd love to get my home a little more organized. I've been talking about this for a while, but I'm really making a priority of de-cluttering. in fact, I'm so determined that I'm vowing to de-clutter 2013 items in 2013. I'll keep you posted!

- I'd love to work on simplify-ing more too. Simplify-ing our routine and schedule. As much as I aim for a simple day to day routine, it could certainly use a little more tweaking.

- More fun; less angst!

- Less computer; more creativity!

- And ... perhaps most importantly, I'd like to be a little kinder to myself this year. Take more time for me; slow down; indulge every now and then. Doesn't that sound lovely?

What are your goals for the coming year? Feel free to share; I'd love to hear from you!