Archive for the ‘Nom Nom Nom’ Category
I’m nervous to publish this post. Putting intentions on the internet just makes them more real. Well, here it goes. This summer, Hamsaps House will be participating in a CSA.
What exactly is a CSA, you ask? A CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a farming program that works like a subscription service: members join the CSA and pay an upfront fee. The farmer takes that fee and uses it to purchase seeds, raise livestock, etc. Members then pick up and enjoy the bounty of their investment on a regular basis for a predetermined length of time. The advantages are access to whole and often organic food as well as the benefit of investing in our local economy. The disadvantages are that members don’t get to select the items they receive and there is a large upfront cost involved.
The CSA we’re planning to join is called Fresh Fork Market. Fresh Fork works a little differently than traditional CSAs. Instead of subscribing to one farm or vendor, joining Fresh Fork means we’ll receive a variety of produce, meat and dairy from a range of farmers and vendors. Fresh Fork works with different vendors from different places. The program lasts 22 weeks. Each week I will pick up our “share” from the Hudson location and we will use that week’s bounty as the basis for all our meals.
We almost joined a CSA last year. Almost. One of my biggest concerns was that we were literally putting all our eggs in one basket. What if the farm we invested in went under? What if they had a terrible season? What if they only grew things we didn’t like, like green peppers and okra? Fresh Fork is an established CSA that uses a wide variety of vendors– I never have to worry about the logistics of the farm and I know I’m going to get a huge variety each week.
My other big hesitation last year was fear of the unknown. What if a share was filled with stuff I didn’t know what to do with? While the unknown is still a reality with Fresh Fork, they make every effort to make sure people know what to do with their shares. Each week they publish a newsletter featuring information about less popular items as well as recipes and meal ideas. Plus with the power of the internet and Pinterest on my side there’s no ingredient I can’t tackle.
I am so excited about this new endeavor. I thought it would be hard to convince David to spring for a CSA. It was actually quite easy though, because it fits so well into our lifestyle. We basically lived at the Hudson Farmer’s Market last summer, spending all our grocery budget on Amish zucchini and fresh local pasta. All of that (and more!) is included with Fresh Fork. I love that the CSA is going to force us to try new things. My dad used to make me eat pickled beets when I was younger and I’ve detested them ever since. I’m excited to see what I can do with fresh beets and my mad cooking skills.
Yes, this CSA is an investment ($550-$1000+ upfront based on the share size and payment option) but it’s an investment in our health and our local economy. Oh, and it’s an investment in this blog, because you better believe I’ll be posting pictures of our shares and my scrumptious recipes all summer long!
Why hello there. Did you forget I exist? I nearly did, too. While many bloggers apologize profusely for taking the kind of breaks I take, I actually like to think of my hiatuses (hiati?) as all part of my master plan. You see, while nearly everyone on the face of the planet has already given up on their New Year’s resolutions I’m just getting around to setting mine in stone. See what I did there? Let’s continue.
Last year David and I resolved to Eat More Food. We did a great job making that resolution a reality. I really stepped it up in the kitchen and I rarely buy any kind of processed food anymore. I cook dinner every night, and I make every dessert we eat (except ice cream. Still haven’t tried ice cream…)
There are a few down-sides to the success of last year’s resolution I feel I should recognize. First, David and I have a really hard time going out to eat. We think almost everything is too salty, and 90% of the time we wished we would have stayed home and cooked. We also have an abundance of baked goods in the house at all times. Since we don’t buy cookies or other desserts from the store I make something homemade multiple times a week. It sounds justified in my head– it just doesn’t fare well on the waste line or when you hear yourself say out loud: “Honey, do you want leftover cookies tonight or should I bake us a cake?” Finally, I get stressed out when I don’t have the energy/time/ingredients to make a homemade meal each night. I know cooking is cheaper and healthier for my family so of course that’s what I want to do. But on nights when I’m just drained I have a hard time throwing in the towel and going out to eat.
Now that we’ve properly reflected on 2011 it’s time to move on to 2012. This year’s resolution is to buy less stuff. What is “stuff,” you ask? Stuff is anything and everything that fits in that little magic Target bag. Or the grocery bag. Or the Banana Republic bag. Basically anything that comes in a bag. It’s stuff we want and even stuff we think we need. It’s the stuff you wonder “what the heck did I even buy?” when you’re standing at the checkout, trying to figure out how to pay for the $40 total, when you just came in for cupcake liners and only have $3 cash.
One instance in particular really solidified my desire to buy less stuff this winter. David and I had spent the afternoon running errands and shopping. We went to Target while out and about, and subconsciously knowing we had extra money in the bank we bought lots of stuff we NEEDED around the house. We got busy later that weekend (not THAT way, sickos. Well, probably that way, but I digress…), and the Target bags sat on the kitchen table for days. By the end of the week I decided to finally unpack the bags, more out of my frustration with the clutter than because I needed anything from the bags. As I glanced at the bags and wondered “what’s in these, again?” I realized I was in a ridiculous, elitist, only-in-America situation. Where else in the world do people buy stuff just to buy stuff? (For the record those mystery bags contained gift wrap, razors, a few Christmas presents we ended up returning, and a few other miscellaneous items I can’t even remember).
So what exactly does this resolution mean? At it’s core it’s about a lot of things. It’s about simplicity, it’s about money and it’s about consumerism.
Here are the guidelines:
1. No impulse buys of any kind. This means no unplanned Target runs and no carry-out for lunch. No internet purchases and no Groupons (gasp!).
2. Make and stick to a list. If I’m going grocery shopping I will have a list and I will stick to that list. This guideline is going to take some practice. I get so caught up in “deals” at the grocery store that I just throw things into my cart because they’re on sale: not because I need them for a recipe.
3. Contemplate every purchase over $20. If there’s a single item we want/need that’s over $20 I’m going to think about it for a week before actually buying it. This guideline is like a sneaky one-two punch, because while there’s a good chance I’ll talk myself out of the purchase during the week of contemplation there’s an even better chance I’ll just forget about it.
4. Consider buying second-hand, and don’t throw away ANYTHING without thinking about how to repurpose it. I love the concept of garage sales and Craigslist, yet I feel like I’m not very good at them. I think it’s because in the past I would just browse– this year I need to go with specific items in mind. I think having Pinterest in my life is going to make my DIY/homemade intentions a lot more successful this year.
5. Focus more on experiences than things. David and I have no problem with this guideline: we would both rather go on vacation than just about anything else, including going out to eat, drinking, going shopping, or buying the latest gadget. I think making the connection between shopping less and experiencing more will help keep us motivated throughout the year.
I’m hoping this year’s resolution with help us achieve a lot of things. I hope it helps us save money. I feel like we do a great job 90% of the time sticking to our budget. But then there’s those unplanned, listless trips that set us back a pretty penny. I hope it makes us greener and establishes habits for the rest of our life. I also hope this year’s resolution will make us more mindful of our consumerism. I hate knowing that I contribute to slave labor, or that I am reveling in excess while people struggle around the world without food and shelter.
So do you have a problem with “stuff?” If so, what do you do to simplify your life and reduce the clutter?
Psst. Anybody out there?
Hi. Remember me? No? Oh, well that’s okay. I took an unexpected leave of absence from Hamsaps House over the past few months for a number of reasons. All the reasons are quite trivial, but seemed significant at the time. Perhaps I’ll reveal more later. Perhaps not. Regardless, I’m here now, so on with the show!
First, I want to give a shout out to my inspiration for this post, my friend Carrie. Carrie and I went to high school together but were really more of acquaintances. Since then we have lived semi-parallel lives and stayed in touch via Facebook. We both graduated college in May 2010 and work in communications. We both adopted furbabies in the fall of 2010, and we both got married in May of 2011.
I really wish Carrie lived closer because I think we were bosom buddies in another life. We both love dogs, champagne and buffalo chicken dip. She’s an avid Harry Potter fan, and I just know she’s going to dig my AGG reference above. Carrie blogs over at http://pghstevensons.blogspot.com/ so be sure to check her out!
Now, onto the actual post within this post. I’m going to share the start of my 101 in 1001 list. I’ve seen this list on multiple blogs and really love the concept: list out 101 things you want to accomplish within the next 1001 days (approximately 2.75 years). Carrie recently updated her list, so I’m using her as my inspiration!
A few things to note:
1. This list does not feature 101 items– I’m working on it.
2. Green indicates items in progress, while purple indicates items I’ve completed.
3. Because I’m the type of person who writes completed tasks on her to do list just to experience the satisfaction of crossing them off I’m throwing in some already completed tasks.
Hamsaps 101 in 1001
1. Clean out the room of spare. (This is literally on my to do list THIS WEEKEND. Watch out).
2. Work on decorating our apartment by incorporating more interesting and classic pieces.
3. Budget for groceries each week and actually stick to it. (Super tough for me… I actually caught myself self-talking in the grocery store the other day, trying to justify buying king crab for dinner because it was *only* $13.99 a pound)
4. Make as much food from scratch as I possibly can (including homemade pumpkin puree, bread, crackers, cookies and pizza dough)
5. Stress less about David’s schedule.
6. Do something impressive at work.
7. Do something really nice for my parents (trip to Hawaii for their 25th anniversary is booked!)
8. Work on Luna’s obedience. You know, so she actually comes when called instead of running under the coffee table and doesn’t greet people by jumping on them and biting them.
9. Volunteer with an animal organization.
10. Volunteer for Make-A-Wish.
11. Become more involved with a non-profit I really believe in and serve on their Board.
12. Become a Disney Vacation Club member. (May 2011– Welcome home!)
13. Go on an adult Disney vacation where the goal is to get our drink on and eat at the type of restaurants where grownups scowl at children. (Oct. 2011)
14. Keep in touch with important people in my life through email, regular mail and social media.
15. Keep the dates and commitments I make.
16. Actually call people back when they leave me voicemail.
17. Buy a new car for David.
18. Save X in our online savings account.
19. Go back to the Bed and Breakfast where we celebrated our 1 year anniversary.
20. Get a passport.
21. Use my passport.
22. Make an extremely complicated dessert.
23. Read more books, not just book reviews.
24. Make homemade pie crust.
25. Buy a king size Heavenly bed. (We slept on one of these recently in Disney and had the best, most restful sleep of our lives. David actually woke up on his own one morning, completely rested. I’ve already looked them up and know how I’ll reconfigure our bedroom to make it fit…now I just have to save up the money :/)
26. Find a really good doctor David and I both like and actually go there for wellness purposes.
27. Start a petition to change the BMI recommendations currently in place in America. Or, you know, lose 16 pounds so I’m no longer considered “obese.”
28. Buy a really great pair of shoes.
29. Host a dinner party.
30. Stick to the cash system we currently have in place.
31. Workout 3 times a week and go on as many walks as possible (this one is so close! Sometimes I only get 2 workouts in a week, but when I do I workout for 50-65 minutes. Walks really depend on the weather at Hamsaps House… but we need to make them more of a priority.)
32. Create and send fabulous Christmas cards that are even better than last year’s each and every year.
33. Organize all my recipes.
34. Clean out and reorganize my baking supply cupboards.
35. Clean out and streamline my cookware, bakeware and utensils.
36. Find and buy a perfume I really, really love.
37. Perfect 10 recipes that are my signature dishes I know by heart.
38. Get a bikini wax (May 2011)
39. Visit NYC with my husband.
40. Expand HamFam by procreating with my husband.
41. Design an affordable, adorable nursery in the room of spare for said expansion package.
42. Deliver said expansion package naturally without any intervention, either at home or at a birthing center.
43. Plan X for David. (Secrets secrets are no fun…)
44. Help my grandma organize all her photos and make albums/photo books for all the kids and grandkids.
45. Locate or start building our dream house (dream house = fenced in yard, 4 bedrooms, ginormous master suite and a loft!)
46. Take my family to Disney World on points and stay in the Treehouse Villas.
47. Celebrate our expansion package’s first birthday in Disney World.
48. Update my blog more regularly.
49. Make/eat less sweets.
50. Be more sensitive to other people’s feelings.
We returned from our honeymoon on Sunday to a mostly clean apartment. We had left everything in good shape before we left, save for the pile of presents in the dining room. It felt good to walk into a clean apartment.
Once we got settled I realized there was a poignant odor lingering in the kitchen. Nothing was leaking and the garbage had all been taken out, so I headed toward the fridge. When I opened the door I slapped in the face with a wiff-a-something nasty and a reality check.
My fridge contents included but were not limited to moldy grapes, stinky watermelon, funky cheese and fermented pineapple. Everything was rotten. I probably could have thrown the pineapple in a blender and bottled it as moonshine it was so bad. But what did I expect? I didn’t have time to clean out the fridge before we left and I am a notorious overbuyer.
Now that all the festivities are over David and I are focused on saving for a house. This means we’re on a tight budget, which in turn means I have to cut down on the overbuying.
I hate going to grocery stores, but I love going to Kreigers in Cuyahoga Falls. It’s so close to the apartment and everything is always so fresh and interesting. I’ve heard people swear by Trader Joe’s, but I’d have to argue it’s got nothing on Kreigers. In fact, I think I’ll do a whole post about Kreigers sometime soon… but I digress.
This is how a typical Kreigers trip goes for me: I walk into the store with my list in hand. I see bananas and want bananas so I buy bananas. I see they also have ripened bananas on sale so I decide to buy those, too, and do some baking that night. I walk past the tomatoes and even though David doesn’t like tomatoes and they’re not on my list I grab a cluster. Mmmm, juicy tomatoes. Then I think about what goes good with tomatoes. I head to the cheese section and pick out some fresh mozzarella. Then I start searching for basil leaves. While on the hunt for basil I see a head of cauliflower and it looks really good and I think $2.99 is a good price and I know that David likes cauliflower so it cancels out the tomatoes. I find the fresh basil right next to the green onions and I think about that yummy soup David makes with onions and mushrooms. I grab the onions then head over to the mushroom section and my mind is consumed by the variety and freshness of the fungi. I absent-mindedly pick out some mushrooms as I ponder why anyone would ever even go in a supermarket when they could go to Kreigers. As I throw the mushrooms in the cart I drop my list.
Oh, my list. That’s why people must go to supermarkets… so they follow the damn list.
I obviously take the Kreigers experience a little too seriously and end up with far more items on my list then I intended. What makes it worse is that because I’m at Kreigers and not at Giant Eagle everything is fresh and perishable. It’s not like I’m grabbing 5 boxes of cereal that will last for 6 months– I just bought 12 pounds of produce for two people!
In an effort to switch up my shopping habits I came up with a plan for future trips. Hold me to it, okay Hamsapians?
1. Only plan for 3 or 4 days of meals and go to Kreigers more frequently. I have the time and I don’t waste any gas if I go to Kreigers on the way home from work.
2. Only buy the exact ingredients I need for my planned meals. That means if I’m making baked potatoes for me and David, I buy two potatoes, not the 5 lb. bag.
3. Stick to the list; don’t get tempted by the colors and flavors and freshness of everything at Kreigers. It’ll all be there next time, too.
4. Only buy a few fruits at a time. Believe it or not David and I can’t eat 8 bananas, 2 packs of strawberries, a pineapple AND a watermelon before they rot. Again, the fruit will be there next time.
Wish me luck! Now where did I put that list…
Tomorrow I am volunteering with the Akron Vegan Bake Sale to raise money for disaster relief in Japan. All the proceeds from the bake sale will go to Direct Relief International and the Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support coalition.
The bake sale will be held at VegiTerranean in Akron from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. VegiTerranean is super easy to get to– exit on Perkins and turn right. Take a right at Summit and head down a BIG hill. Take a left at the bottom of the hill and VegiTerranean is straight ahead, on your right.
I am so excited for tomorrow I can hardly stand it. My stomach is already growling, and I can’t stop thinking about cupcakes and jelly beans and cake pops. YUM. Hope to see you there!