Demonetize Your Life

I often feel as though we live in a world where things are valued by society only if they cost money or make money. Have a hobby? Put it on Esty—because the value lies in the profit not in the joy of creation. We aren’t left with much room to be, create, feel, experience—our space for living shrunk somewhere along the way. This world, lacking in space to breath and clean air to breath, comes at a high cost. But what if there was another way? What if we came together and helped ourselves or others get out of the trap? What if you started today?

Take a Financial Inventory

Take a moment and think about your life. Many of us are stuck inside, quarantined, living on limited funds and feeling as if we need another way. What do you spend money on? Make a list of everything. Everything. Do you live in a building with coin operated laundry? Write that down. Do you use a lot of disposable products? Put it on the list. This part of the process could take some time, so take your time with it. The more detailed your list, the better picture you’ll have of where you stand. Some things you won’t be able to change now and that’s ok. Of those things what could you learn to do yourself, to create, to cut out the middleman, and to find some freedom from this trap? The things often referred to as “life hacks” at one point were just life skills and everyday ways of living.

Start Small

I’m not here to tell you to jump up today and buy a giant farm or to run off to the woods and never see society again. Change starts small, it starts with us, and it has to start today. Now that you’ve taken an inventory of your life and where you spend money, pick one thing to change. This will be different for each of us. Is there a skill you can learn, or one you already have, that you can put to use? Do that thing, don’t give up on it, implement it into your daily life, then look at your list again and add another. In this way, with each small change, you are learning to reduce your dependence on a system that was designed to keep you in debt.

Collaborate

We all have that friend that’s really good at something. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to be the only friend with a truck who gets called every time someone buys a new couch. But learn where you can share and trade with people. Barter your time or your skills for those of others and keep your money in your pocket.

Somewhere along the way, we lost our way. We lost our power to major corporations and to a world where multi-tasking on multi-tasking was the norm. We sped up and up and up again. In that process we needed to spend more money to keep up. In the keeping up we needed to make more money to keep up. It’s an endless cycle unless we stop it. Change starts with you and me. Change starts with that first loaf of bread or tomato plant or hanging your clothes up to dry. Give it a try and see where it takes you.

Covid-19 Storm Prep

Growing up, one of my parents worked in emergency management. I can tell you how to respond to tornadoes, hurricanes, nuclear attacks, and what to do if you are about to be stuck by lightening. I have long-term food storage items in my pantry and an in-date supply of potassium iodide should there be a nuclear disaster. I know, it sounds crazy…until you’re inside during a global pandemic and about to be hit by a tornado.

Maryland is expecting a strong storm system to move through in the next day along with many other states in our region. Covid-19 has caused many things to close and many services are operating on a delay. We’re all stuck inside so it’s best to do what you can to prepare for extended response times, and other things that may arise. The following are some suggestions to make the potential storm damage easier on you.

  1. Take a shower (now)-Normally this would go without saying but let’s be real, not everyone is in their normal routine and the last thing you are going to want is to have to go another day or even longer feeling gross. Same thing goes for anyone else in your household. The last, last thing you are going to want is to smell your stinky kids running around for the next few days.
  2. Fill your fridge and freezer and turn the setting to its coldest-A full refrigerator and freezer hold the cold better than an empty one. If you have things out like bottled waters or other things you can store in the fridge for now add them in to fill the space. If your power goes out temporarily, do your best not to open the fridge to keep your food from spoiling. Perishable food is not meant for long-term storage disaster preparadness and a lot of people who bought 100 packs of chicken may soon find that out the hard way. If you have a generator, make sure it’s easily accessible and operational. If not, make some beef jerky today so you don’t lose everything.
  3. Fill your bathtub with water-This applies to anyone on a well that requires power for a water source. Once you and the rest of your smelly family has showered for the first time this week, fill your bathtub with water. The last, last, last thing you want is to be stuck in a house where you can’t flush the toilet.
  4. Charge all of your electronic devices-If you’ve been doing nothing but scrolling facebook since lockdown and your phone battery is on 5%, put down your phone and plug it in.
  5. If you have outdoor space, secure all your items that may blow away in 60mph wind gusts
  6. Locate emergency equipment-Stuff like flashlights or candles and make sure they work. I have a solar powered flashlight that I leave in my window. While it may be too late to purchase one for tomorrow, definitely something to think about for the future if you don’t have one.
  7. Have a tornado plan-This will look different depending on the type of dwelling you live in, but for reference, here is mine. I live in an apartment on the third floor with a dog. I have a bag by the door that has 2 gallons of water, snacks, basic necessities, the dog’s leash, and my keys. In the event of a tornado warning, I can easily grab the dog and the bag and head down three levels into the basement, and if things get bad and we get stuck in there we will have access to food and water until someone finds us.

Stay safe out there guys. This list is not fully inclusive but rather a short list of things you’ll be glad you did if these storms are bad. Feel free to leave any additional tips in the comments.

Easy Crock Pot Veggie Broth

Learn how to make vegetable broth in your slow cooker with just a few simple ingredients.

Simple vegetable broth in my slow cooker

Times have changed rather quickly, and while I’m not happy with the state of everything, it has certainly put me in my element. Many people are reaching out online and sharing knowledge about how to make things for themselves and become more self-sufficient. One thing I was recently surprised to learn was that many people aren’t aware they can easily make vegetable broth at home. Even if you have no cooking knowledge, you can do this. I promise!

Vegetable broth makes meals more flavorful and nutritious than cooking things in water. I frequently have a pot of this going in my crock-pot and as such I’ve gotten into a habit of saving the bits and pieces of other vegetables and placing them in a freezer bag and freezing them until I am ready to use them. You can save the otherwise discarded vegetable pieces like onions and garlic including the skins, celery ends, mushroom stems, certain leftovers from juicing, really anything that you would normally put into a broth. Be sure to skip leafy greens as well as anything you wouldn’t want to impart flavor on broth. I recommend starting the habit of saving things so the broth you make is essentially free. But for the sake of those who may not have a freezer stash yet, below is how to easily make veggie broth using whole vegetables.

Supplies

  • Slow Cooker (You can also do this stovetop but it requires more monitoring)
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Mesh Strainer
  • Optional coffee filter
  • Slotted spoon

Ingredients

  • 1-2 Yellow onion with skin
  • 2-4 garlic cloves with skin
  • 4-6 pieces of celery
  • (optional) 4-6 small mushrooms or mushroom stems

Prepare all of your ingredients. Roughly chop the onion with the skin on as well as the garlic cloves. This will impart more flavor as it allows more of the surface area to come in contact with the water. Wash and chop your celery to a size that will fit in your slow cooker. My slow cooker is small so i cut mine up into 3″ pieces.

Place all of your ingredients into the crock pot and cover with filtered water. The timing from here will depend on your slow cooker and how long you want to wait. When I do this before heading to work for the day I set the temperature on low. When I’m home or in a rush I set it on high to cut cooking time. Place the lid onto the slow cooker and leave for a minimum of 4 hours. Your broth can stay in much longer than this and I find it gets better the longer its left to cook. I prefer 6-8 hours on high and 12 hours if left on low.

Remove all the large pieces of vegetables with your slatted spoon and discard or set aside for composting. Filter the broth using your mesh strainer or place a coffee filter inside of the strainer. Depending on what I’m going to use the broth for depends on the method I choose. If I need the broth to be really clear for certain soups or rice, I use the coffee filter, but if it’s going to be used as a base for something like vegetarian chili I normally skip it.

If you’re not planning on using your broth right away, just store it in an air tight container in the fridge. It should last you close to a week stored this way, but you’ll probably find you use it much more quickly once you discover how much better it is to cook with homemade broth. Making your own broth may not only save you during Covid-19 when shelves are bare at the store, but it also helps save the planet by reducing your food and packaging waste. Try this for your self and add some extra nutrients to your diet.

Sprouts in the time of Corona

Growing your own sprouts is easy. Follow these steps to learn how to grow quickly and cheaply all year long.

Sprouting seeds, jars, and clean water. Everything you need to grow your own sprouts!

There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and seemingly also absolutely nothing happening. Coronavirus has changed all of our lives and it seems like every day something else is changing. I’ve always been a person who likes the process of figuring out how to do things myself and have been sprouting for years. With the shortages in grocery stores and limited budgets of a lot of people, it’s a great time to learn some new things–like how to grow your own sprouts. Sprouting is easy, quick, and much more affordable than buying a tiny pack at the store for $5. Look below for what you need to get started growing your own sprouts today.

Supplies

  • Clean water
  • Sprouting jars with lids
  • Sprouting seeds

Start with the items listed above. I’m a sucker for clean water, and living in the city our water is treated with chemicals so i use an Alexa Pure filter. I bought the one pictured above from http://mypatriotsupply.com, but just a heads up they are on a really big shipping delay right now due to the pandemic. If you have to use tap water for now it’s not the end of the world.

Sprouting jars make sprouting really easy. They are clear to allow light to get in and have a mesh screen on the lid to allow for rinsing without losing the seeds inside. I grabbed each of these jars at different times from our local organic grocery store but they can easily be found online. If you don’t the ability to purchase one yet, you can use any clear glass jar and fashion a top out of cheesecloth or a coffee filter and a rubber band.

Sprouting seeds can be found online in abundance. I haven’t seen them in locally in any grocery stores so you may need to order them online. They might seem expensive but you only use a tablespoon each time so they last forever. Order non-GMO seeds if possible.

To get started, take a heaping tablespoon sprouting of seeds per jar and place them in the jar. Fill the jar with an inch or two of water and allow the seeds to sit for 12-24 hours in the water. If you find seeds floating at the top of the water, these are bad seeds and will not sprout. Remove them if you can. The bad seeds wont make you sick but they will add an unpleasant crunch to your sprouts when they are done.

Drain the water from the sprouts and place them in a cool dark place. Check on them at least twice a day by taking them out, rinsing them, and placing them back in the dark. The amount of rinsing required will vary by time of year and the climate you live in. Hotter, dryer climates may require additional risings to ensure some moisture stays in the jar. The goal is to keep the sprouts clean and damp, but not have them sitting in water that can go stagnant.

After just a few short days you will notice a lot of growth in your sprouts. When this happens, bring the sprouts out of the dark area and allow them to get some light while continuing your daily rinsings. It only takes a few days total for your healthy and nutrient rich sprouts to be ready to add to salads or other dishes.

At all times, but perhaps even more so now, we need to take care of ourselves. Sprouting has a long history of use when access to other fresh foods may be limited, and is a great way to get necessary vitamins into your diet. Give it a try and you might find you never spend $5 on a pack at the store again.