Hello dear friends! Hope you all are doing well, this April morning! We've had "hang the clothes outside" weather at last! For us, that's a celebratory day.
What We Learned From A Week Without Hot Water
Well, the first and very obvious thing you learn is that hot water is pretty important! When you have to boil your water for every dish you wash and are washing your face and hands with ice cold water you can learn to conserve on it quite a bit. Now, as much as I abhor paper plates, I will keep a supply in my pantry for emergencies. You'll want to keep some one-pot meals, such as soups and those meals prepared with boiling water in your pantry. Believe me, boiling water doesn't stay hot for very long, so you want to be able to wash up dishes quickly. Therefore, dirty as few as you can. So this year, as I can, I will also be thinking about canning up more meals-in-a-jar type meals.
Sponge baths are OK, but there is nothing compared to a nice long shower or a soak in a tub. So this garage sailing season, I'll look for a tub that's big enough to sit in, for bathing. You know, the kind you wash your dog in? Imagine if there was a solar flare of EMP that they all are predicting. How long would you want to go with out a bath? Now I know, my limit is about one week, before I really start to feel itchy. You can always resort to the old "dry shampoo" method of washing your hair in between baths if you have oily hair. My girlfriends and I used to do this when we didn't have time to wash and dry our long 70s hair before a big date. Just sprinkle some baby or talcum powder on your the top of your head, in the areas where it is oily. Then comb out the powder, using a comb with a piece of terry cloth (cut from an old washcloth or towel) fitted over the teeth of the comb.
Clothes can be washed in cold water. I don't think it does as nice of a job, but when pinch comes to a shove it works. Try to conserve on dirtying your clothes. There's a reason why everyone wore aprons and pinafores in the olden days. It's a lot easier to wash an apron, then an entire set of clothes.
OTHER THOUGHTS ON PREPPING
I think it is a good idea for families to every once in a while, turn off all the electrical devices, shut down the furnace or air conditioner and experience a weekend without any modern conveniences. Just a weekend will show you areas you need to work on. Do you have a way to prepare food and keep it? How can you keep warm or cool? Do you have enough food? Can you get water? What are you going to do to amuse yourselves? Fortunately for us, we live in an area where high winds take out our electricity periodically, so we have had some good "tests", like the week in the middle of winter when we were without after an ice storm. I've learned that while it's nice to have a fridge stocked with sandwich makings, that will not last long without electricity. You need longer storage food. And that food better be things you like. Although it's possible to live on beans and rice, would you want to? I think it's better to choose a few meals that your family likes and stock up on those ingredients, such as; tuna casserole, spaghetti, bean burritos, pancakes, etc. Just buy what you can afford, stocking up when there's a sale or you have a few extra pennies.
Gardening is another thrifty way to stock up. We started our garden this week, planting our lettuce, beets, peas, spinach and onions. People often tell us that they would love to have a garden, but don't know where to start. I always tell them to start small. Find a sunny spot in you yard. Remove the grass from a 3 foot by 2 foot area. Dig down a foot or two and turn the soil. If the soil looks sandy, buy a bag of peat and dig that in. If you have a lot of clay, buy some sand and dig that in. Now rake over your little plot and get it all nice a smooth. Buy a package of lettuce seeds and plant them in a row. Buy some tomato plants and stick them on both ends. Maybe an herb plant or two, also Make sure you monitor your plants and water them when the soil is dry, which you can tell by sticking your finger in the soil. Every couple of days, check to see if any weeds are coming up and pull them. By the end of summer you should have a nice salad garden. Once you've had success with this little garden, add on a couple of more feet to your plot. And so on. Eventually you can become an urban homesteader. Really gardening is not rocket science!
A SOW"S EAR OUT OF A SILK PURSE
DON'T BUY IT, MAKE IT - RECIPE FROM THE PANTRY
It is a tradition in our house to have a formal sit-down meal complete with dessert on Sundays. The rest of the week, we might have a fly-by the- seat-of-our -pants meal, where the silverware gets place anywhere within reach and the food is scooped out of the pot and onto the dishes, but on Sunday, we take care in setting the table properly, use our fancy serving dishes, and take time to converse. Even when times are hard, we find a way to make something for dessert. Old-fashioned chocolate cornstarch pudding is thrifty and wholesome and if you serve it in fancy glasses it can look rather elegant.
Chocolate Cornstarch Pudding
In a medium sized heavy saucepan, combine:
2/3 C. sugar
1/4 C. cornstarch
3 tbsp. cocoa
pinch of salt
Gradually stir in 3 cups milk. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Stirring constantly for about 1 minute or until pudding starts to thicken. Take from heat.
Stir in 2 tbsp. butter and 1 tsp. vanilla. Refrigerate.
THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THIS WEEK
Aside from the usual things of eating from the pantry and hanging our laundry outside, we:
Started our garden.
Made a pair of booties from some thrifted yarn.
Turned our heat completely off for the summer.
Made an apron from a recycled skirt.
Repaired our lawnmower ourselves.
Cut our electricity usage by unplugging all our electricals in the evening.
Well that's it for this week! Hope to see you here next week, God willing and the creek don't rise!