Tuesday, December 16, 2014

No more paper towels

I've thought about getting rid of paper towels for a while. We use so many of them, I would like to spend less money on them, and I would like to be a little greener. A few weeks ago I decided to actually take the plunge.

One thing that has held me back has been the upfront cost of investing in napkins and rags.  I don't have a sewing machine and wasn't going to make my own.  I looked around for napkins at Target and Pier One, but I was not spending $5 a napkin.

One day at Costco, in the stuff to wash your car aisle, was a 50 pack of white rough terrycloth rags for $19.  Aha!  I bought these, put them in a basket in the kitchen, and informed the family that we are no longer using paper towels.  This was actually a really easy switch, to be honest.  Everyone started using the rags for napkins for eating at the table, cleaning up messes, drying their hands, etc.

After a few weeks, the rags were looking a bit dingy and stained.  They were washed and clean, but not the prettiest items, especially for eating at the table with company.  One day I remembered that I had a gift certificate to Pier One that I had been saving for something fun.  I hopped on the website to see if there were any clearance napkins, and behold, the clearance napkins were $1.98.  Ok, that's better than $5 a napkin.  I hied myself off to my local Pier One, where the clearance  napkins were actually 98 CENTS per napkin.  So I bought fifty of them.  Probably a bit too many, but Princess and I enjoyed picking them out, and we now have a full week worth of napkins plus we put a few aside for when company comes.

I keep them in a lower cabinet in the kitchen, where the kids can easily reach them. I haven't found it yet, but there will be a a nice basket next to the sink, so it is obvious to people who don't live here that "here, these are the cloths you may use to dry your hands." The laundry room is on the other end of the kitchen/family room, so when we are finished with the napkins or rags we just walk over to the garage door and throw them into a basket right inside the door. We use them quite a bit, so I run a load of rags in the wash about every three days or so.

This was a very easy switch.  I should have done this a while ago.  Next up, I need to break my dependence on wet wipes (so easy! so useful! perfect cleaning tool! can be used in any situation!).

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

aspirational clutter, wedding dress, fine china

Aspirational clutter is stuff you buy or hold on to because you are going to be That Person.  That person who plays the flute, that person who gardens.  Except that somehow, you never get around to actually being That Person.  You just can't seem to find time to play the flute, and you don't particularly like dirt under your fingernails.  The flute stays in the box under the bed, and the gardening tools are as shiny and clean as the day you bought them.

I don't think I have much aspirational clutter--my clutter tends toward decor mistakes and "I bought this one really useful thing, thus I should buy five of it in every color."  But I do have one significant piece of aspirational clutter that I have been having a hard time getting rid of, because I paid a lot of money for it and ONE DAY I WILL DO THAT.  (But I probably won't.) 

"That" is canning.  

I have a brand new pressure cooker that I bought two summers ago, still sealed in the box. I have a flat of glass jars, and some expired pectin, and a cookbook on canning.

Botulism fears aside, I just can't bring myself to get started.  I read tons of slow food blogs, and we make just about everything we eat from scratch because of Peter's allergies, so you would think that I would be a natural devotee to canning.  

But I hate cooking.  Really, really hate it. I like to eat, and I am dedicated to Peter's allergy safety, so I cook a lot, but I don't enjoy it at all.

This canning stuff will probably always be clutter.  Even with our "make it all from scratch" tendencies, I try to do as little work as possible. For example, we rarely eat commercially made bread, but I am not kneading bread with my bare hands.  I either use a breadmaker (two minutes of tossing in flour, water, olive oil, salt and yeast), or I ask the Mister to throw together a batch of no-knead bread in the evening, and then next day I spend one minute tossing the bread in a cast iron pot for baking.  (Note what I did there, the bulk of the work is done by the Mister.)  

Things like canning, which involve buying large batches of fruit or vegetables, cleaning them, prepping them, cooking them, decanting into glass jars, boiling and sealing them.....I am unlikely to do something that seems like this much work.

I should note here that I did canning once--my law school professor helped the Mister and I make peach jam as our wedding favors, and we accidentally set my law professor's mother's newly renovated kitchen on fire. I am well acquainted with the amount of work and peril that canning entails.

 So I should just sell the canning accoutrements on craigslist and move on with my life.  

A while back I posted about possibly donating my wedding dress. I didn't at the time; it is currently stored in the top of the boys' room closet.  But!  I came across the organization NICU Helping Hands, that accepts wedding dress donations for making burial gowns for babies.  That seems like a worthy organization and I would be happy to send my dress there. (They are currently not accepting donations until the new year, as their organization is moving to a larger warehouse, so I'll send it in January.)

When we got married, the Mister and I registered for fine china.  I don't know what I was thinking, since I do not enjoy giving special treatment to delicate objects, couldn't cook at the time, and was unlikely to throw large dinner parties needing special dishes, but that's what adults do in the 1940s, so we received plenty of china.  

When the Mister's parents moved out to California this summer, they brought with them our wedding china that had been packed up in boxes in their basement. I now have two large boxes full of packing peanuts and good china.  We are in need of new dishes, as our stoneware ones are mostly chipped and/or broken.  

I have decided to use the good dishes instead of buying new ones. I already own them, they were expensive gifts that unfortunately are not worth much in secondhand resale, and they are pretty.

Do you use good china as everyday dishes?  Share your experience, especially if your experience is "they all broke when I ran them through the dishwasher."   (I will not be handwashing all our everyday dishes; see the above paragraphs about me not doing more work than I have to.)