Posts Tagged With: Home

20 Weeks: Nursery Done… ish.

Last week I posted pics of the before and after job I did on the basement junk room – turned guest room.  This project kinda happened along side it.  The new nursery was formerly the office and getting it in shape was pretty intertwined with the basement project.  Neither of these things were on my 20 Weeks of Organizing Challenge list.  But I did them, so here is the second part for you to see.

   

Since this used to be the office and you saw how that changed already, these are sort of “during” pictures.  Here you can see the three chairs that I’m selling on craigslist.  The book shelf went downstairs to the guest room.  The cedar chest under the shelf was packed and there were some blankets without homes.  You can see that Rick’s work clothes are no longer in the closet, but there is a new hanging organizer in there for the newbie and a nightstand that went downstairs too.

Here are the after pictures:

   

You can actually SEE the cedar chest now, blankets have been organized (some donated) and the shelf above cleaned off.  The afghan on top of the chest was made by my great-grandmother for me when I was a baby.  I kept it stored all this time, but I finally decided that, girl or boy, it’s coming out and getting used.

The closet is cleaned out and ready for some baby clothes (some are in the wash, some I need to buy yet), and a hamper.  I might (if I get ambitious) make a little curtain to hide my birth class supplies on the top shelf.  but I might not.

This corner has the crib and dresser.  I had that dresser as a little girl too, and I gave it a fresh coat of paint before H was born.  I changed out a few knobs this week, since one of the old ones was broken.  You can’t really tell in the picture, but the sheet in the crib has little lambs all over it.

 

I stole the idea for fabric in embroidery hoops from my friend Meg.  Her nursery is SUPER cute… perfect to go with her new super cute baby boy!  And the sheep and shepherd mobile is probably my second favorite item after the afghan.  Last is the shelf-turned changing table.  I’d like to get some picture frames put on the wall above this.

As you can see, it’s pretty simple.  I’m still missing some details, like curtains for the window, a lamp… a few little things to make it feel homey.

This week, the Organizing Junkie posted about Enough.  The bones of the space are essentially done.  I’d like to get a rug and some cute things for the shelf and the walls too.  But, the set up, cleaning and organizing is finally done.  The rest is just details.  That’s good enough for me right now.

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Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing, Simple Living | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

20 Weeks: Finishing What I Started

Um, if you didn’t notice, my 20 Weeks of Organizing went to hell in a hand-basket.  Yeah.  The idea was to make a list of 20 things, one to be completed each week, and then DO THEM!   Back in March, when I started, I even gave out the rules, including, “Keep the projects small – don’t list “organize office,” that’s too broad.”

So, naturally, I put items like “# 11) Completely gut and reorganize that junk room in the basement into a guest room, while simultaneously making the former office into a nursery” on my list.

Ok, so I didn’t really.  I kept my list to the rules.  The problem is, I got ahead of myself, which gave me a couple extra weeks.  And while I really wanted to listen to the wisdom of friends, telling me to taking it easy, not get in over my head, I mentally added #11 to the list, and then proceeded to work on it.  Dummy.

Then I got overwhelmed.  The basement and it’s junk room took over our lives.  I got obsessed.  Suddenly I was on a first name basis with the donation guy at the Goodwill, I was sewing curtains, my husband moved cabinets and counter tops to the garage.  I even called my mom over for reinforcements (and then wouldn’t let her do anything), like I said, Dummy.  I scoured craigslist for shelving.  I moved and rearranged and scrubbed walls.  I painted.  I panted.  I felt like passing out and giving up.  I gave up.  Then I read this post last week by the Organizing Junkie and I got up and did a little bit more.

There is still more to do, but I am to the point where I’m calling it good enough, so I can MOVE ON with my life and maybe get something else done.

So, here is the before of my basement junk room:

Suffice it to say that the other side of this room was equal to or greater than the mess you see above.

This is the other half DURING the work:

You can see that I set up a bed, painted a wall, and found a place to store canning supplies.  Hey – canning storage was #14 on my list!  I got to cross something off!

Here is the basement today – guest room.  I still need to hang the curtains that are sitting on my sewing table in the second window, and a couple of pictures, but you get the idea.

It’s done enough.  Next week I’ll post pictures of the nursery, and then I’m getting back on the wagon.  One small, specific item, that’s actually written on the list, per week.  From now on.  Oy!  Wish me luck!

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing, DIY | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Conquering Fears: Homeschooling, Josie and Postpartum Depression

Sometimes you begin writing about one thing, and it turns into something totally different.  Be prepared, this is a more personal post for me than I’ve written in a long while. And it’s long.  While it started as an intro to us beginning our homeschooling journey, it became more about my fears all last year, where I was at (since I was not blogging) and where I think we’re headed(?).

The idea of homeschooling has been discussed in our household for the last four and a half years.  Since we had H, in other words.  Rick was all for it from the beginning.  Me, on the other hand, as the one who would be doing the “home teaching,” I’ve been unsure.

We can see a lot of benefits of homeschooling.  One of the biggest draws for us is that our kids can move at their own pace, and hopefully will always be able to be challenged and not bored.  Boredom, I think, is one of the worst things that can happen in education.  I know it really made school tough for me, especially in high school when we were graded on attendance, regardless of test scores.

A big drawback/fear in homeschooling has been whether I can actually teach our kids.  I’m pretty type A.  Take for example the time that we did a craft project at E’s birthday party and three year old H started putting the stickers (a sun, some clouds) at the bottom of his project instead of the top.  I started to correct him (the sun and clouds go in the sky, of course), when my sister, who is a preschool teacher, shot me the relax-and-let-him-do-it-you-crazy-control-freak look, wherein I promptly backed off.  Quite literally.  I had to leave the project table to prevent myself from squashing his creativity.  I have to constantly remind myself that he is perfectly within his rights to color an alligator purple instead of green – without comment from me. The fear is that I will crush their creativity out of them and turn them into neurotic perfectionists or something.

Oddly, my fear has never been about socialization.  That question just never made sense to me.  We socialize with all kinds of people now, and I don’t anticipate that changing, no matter what kind of education our kids get.  I also have always thought the structure of public school – where everyone is the same age together, is a little odd.  As an adult, you have to work with and live with people of all age groups, and meet them where they are at.

When we put H in preschool one day a week last summer, he started coming home with all kinds of new behaviors, habits and sayings.  Some of which were fun and cute (new songs, funny phrases), but the majority of them went from annoying (nose picking)  to down right against what we’ve been working for four years to teach (foot stomping, talking back, fit throwing).  Of course, some of those behaviors happen naturally at certain ages, but when my veggie loving four year old tells me he doesn’t like spinach (when I know for a fact he loves the stuff) and I ask him why, he says “Sam always says that – he doesn’t like vegetables.”  I find myself cursing little Sam and having to hear for weeks now about all the things H “doesn’t like” even though he goes right on eating them.  Annoying and now a habit that we have to try to change.

Of course that’s a minor example.  There have been words we have to talk about not using, even though friends at school use them and behaviors (like that foot stomping).  And it was helpful that my sister taught in the next classroom and could provide us with insights like, oh that Brady kid, he always throws fits when he doesn’t get his way… fits that look oddly similar to the ones H’s suddenly trying on for size.  This is not the socialization I’m loving.  I feel like that forces us to do more damage control than teaching.

One thing that has been extremely helpful to me in aiding our decision to start homeschooling has been the great variety of people we met at the farm that home school – all different reasons, shapes, sizes, etc.  Some un-school, some follow a curriculum put out by the state, some do it for religious reasons.  They all look different, but they all have a few things in common.  Their kids are getting educated, they are well spoken, polite and very well behaved.  And they have no problem conversing with both adults and the littlest kids on the farm.  These were never the kids that I had problems with H being around (like the kid to wanted to torture toads, the liar, or the one who pushed him down in the sandbox every week).

But, even with all these great and different examples before me, I still felt uncertain.  All last year, I really struggled as a parent.  I had major symptoms of postpartum depression (or maybe just depression?), but not the more morose symptoms, I had the angry, raging symptoms.  It was part of the reason we put H in preschool that one day per week.  So I (and he) could get some tiny break and maybe take a nap once in a while.  I was completely overwhelmed with life and parenting, and the idea of adding homeschooling to our lives was nearly enough to send me over the edge.  I felt like my sanity was hanging by a thread as it was.  I was taking supplements, trying to get out of the house and get some sunshine, trying to exercise, I even went to see a therapist twice.  I was praying a lot.  Mostly not to mess up my kids and that love would cover over everything – God’s love, since mine was not that apparent, though it was there, buried under all the rage.  I knew breastfeeding hormones were contributing, but I wasn’t about to cut E off, and I didn’t want to be on medication.

One very helpful resource for me during this time was my friend, Annie.  She is a doctor and married to a doctor and home schools four kids and has a real life and is honest and kind and genuine.  She invited me to her house and to the zoo a couple times last summer.  She shared bits of her homeschooling journey with me, and was a gentle listener as I lamented feeling alone and far from all my friends and scared of messing my kids up.  I met her at the farm our first year and I wish we lived closer to each other.

When I got pregnant unexpectedly 31 weeks or so ago, I was totally freaked.  I was overwhelmed with two kids and felt almost paralyzed with fear at the thought of adding a baby to the mix.  But a good thing happened then too.  See, when I’m pregnant, I have to eat an insane amount of food to counter the insane amount of barfing that comes with my pregnancies.  I realized that food was the thing I had been missing for all those months of anger and depression.  Not that I wasn’t eating – I love food and I was eating.  But I wasn’t eating enough.  I realized my habits went from a tiny rushed breakfast at around 7:00 to waiting until 2:00 when both boys were napping before I carb-loaded myself with lunch.  Then dinner (the only real balanced meal I had everyday) around 6:30.  This was not enough food to sustain anyone, let alone a breastfeeding mom.  No wonder I was crabby all the time.  Not to say that this was the only reason for the depression, but so much was relieved when I changed that pattern.  I just didn’t see it until I HAD to eat more, being pregnant.

Another big change happened when I got pregnant.  We finally realized we could no longer put off the bad situation we were in with Josie.  Poor Josie.  Our wonderful, horrible, funny, crazy, ill-behaved mutt.  Things were never easy with Josie.  She had food allergies that caused us to spend unreasonable amounts of money on her diet and separation anxiety that destroyed so much of our house and the apartment we had before it.  She was ridiculously athletic, able to jump our six-foot privacy fence in pursuit of a squirrel… and she did this with some regularity.  She was not good at socializing with other dogs, although we did all the right things when she was a puppy.  And she didn’t like sharing us with the boys.  Add to it the fact that at eight years old, her hips were really, finally hurting her, and we had a one-year-old with a toddler’s balance that could (and would) easily fall on her while she laid in her bed by the couch.  She growled at E every time he came near her.

One day, E fell on her back legs and she snapped at him.  All of this added up to a dog that was unhappily chained in the back yard when she was outside (so she wouldn’t jump the fence) and being shooed around the house from basement to kitchen amid a tangle of baby gates when inside (so she wouldn’t have to be afraid of getting fallen on and hurting her legs).  It wasn’t working anymore.  She was miserable, we were stressed.  After months of me “jokingly” asking our neighbor if he wanted Josie, he wisely suggested that maybe we should honestly look at either finding her a new home or putting her down.

I don’t think I would have heard anyone else.  He told us that he knew we were worried about her biting one of the kids and that it wasn’t worth the risk.  And he even offered to take her to the pound for us.  I am very thankful for his frankness in a really tough situation.  I cried and he brought us smoothies.

It was still a few months before we decided to actually do something.  I loved Josie, and I didn’t want to be one of “those people” who treated their dog like a child until they had kids and then just tossed the dog to the wayside.  But we were in a holding pattern with her and no one at all was happy.  We couldn’t risk a bite to one of the kids, not to mention the fact we now had another on the way and we couldn’t possibly ask Josie to wait out one more toddler.

We went round and round with trying to find her a new home, versus a shelter, versus putting her down.  We really felt like we were asking a lot of anyone to adopt an eight year old dog with hip problems, food allergies, separation anxiety, who liked to roam and that could not be with other dogs, cats or kids.  We really felt that no matter what, in the end, she’d end up in a shelter at least once, but most likely multiple times, finally getting put down.  I couldn’t bear the thought of her thinking we abandoned her and then having her put down by strangers regardless of how we tried.  We decided to put her down ourselves, out of respect for her… she’d never have to be frightened in a shelter and we’d be with her until the end.

We should have done it right away after making this decision, but by then it was only a couple weeks until Christmas and we wanted to wait until afterward (I don’t really know why, looking back now).  So I spent that few weeks, incessantly crying and questioning whether we were making the right decision or not.  We tried to make the last few weeks extra special for her – spoiling her with every kind of food and table scrap and letting her on the furniture.  Then Rick took her and we switched roles.  Now he cried and questioned.

Oddly though, as soon as it was over, a huge weight was lifted from me.  I was suddenly much more patient with the boys and I realized I was yelling a whole lot less.  We were all happier, even though we all missed having our dog.  I’d like to get a dog again at some point (Rick says when the new baby is around two we’ll talk), but I have large reservations about it even then.

Now, I was missing H on his school days too.  It was nice to have extra time with just E, but I dreaded the two days recovery H would need after his school day to get back into our routine.  And we realized that his school’s new curriculum was not teaching anything to help him prepare for kindergarten.

Additionally, he missed the cutoff for being able to start school in 2011 because his birthday is in November.  I have huge reservations about holding him back a whole year based solely on his birth date.  The school district we live in is one of the worst in the state, and when I called to get info about School of Choice to enroll him out of district, I was basically laughed at for wanting him tested to see if he was ready for kindergarten early and wanting him to go out of district.  The people I talked to were condescending, rude and impersonal.  I couldn’t help but wonder why these are the same people who are always harping on the socialization question for homeschoolers.

I got off the phone and cried to my mom about not being able to put H through all the drama and cog-making that I saw happening in public schools.  Once, Annie shared on her blog about how the neighbor kids “learned to stand in line” on the first day of school.  Barf.

So Rick and I decided that I’d home school H for kindergarten.  We figured it’s a year “early” for him to start anyway, so if it doesn’t work, we can always have him repeat kindergarten in public school (or private or charter?).  And, maybe I’d find that I liked it.  I already had plenty of friends from the farm doing it, offers to join home school groups, etc.  I feel pretty supported in the decision.

And I feel good mentally and emotionally.  I’m a little afraid of what it will be like with three kids.  A little afraid the postpartum will come back and bite me again.  But I do know that I learned a lot last year, and Rick did too.  And we’re planning on being proactive on that front this time around. And I’m taking joy in my kids instead of just trying to manage.

All in all, I’m excited to start school with H this year.  And for what the future holds for all of us, including the new little baby who helped clue me into what was wrong with me and nudged us towards taking care of things that needed taken care of – no matter how hard they were.

Categories: Community | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

Weekend Update: Memorial Day Madness?

This past weekend, we tackled more items from the seemingly endless to-do list around here.  The weather was nice for most of the weekend and we were able to get a lot done.

Friday afternoon my mom came over to help me get a few things organized for the baby’s room and the basement spare room.  We sorted through some of our food preservation items and then I realized that using that spare room as a place to store all our outdoor gear and Rick’s tools and workbench wasn’t really working anymore.

So Saturday, the first thing we did was move his work bench, cabinets and tools out of the basement and into the garage.  Rick had surgery the previous weekend and was on weight restrictions for a week, so he, of course jumped into lifting heavy objects again the moment the restriction was up.  He’s getting a pretty cool workspace set up in there, and that made a lot more room to convert the room in the basement into something useful.

We did various projects around the homestead.  I’ve lost count, but no less than five were worked on, and some even got completed.  Some of the projects turned out good enough to warrant their own future posts.  ;)  Rick spent more time cutting down the tree and we cleaned out the chicken coop since the weather was finally cooperative.  We replanted the cukes, since none had come up and it had been about two weeks since the seeds went into the ground.  I picked so many greens for every meal this weekend, and we grilled four times in two days.

I went ahead and put shingles on the roof of the beehive.  Rick’s parents gave us some spare shingles they had up in their garage rafters, and it was enough to cover the hive.  A good thing too, since the naked plywood was not loving our rainy spring.  Then, to be honest we were wiped out.

By Sunday evening, we were both pretty tired.  Monday we did a few projects (a very few) before I looked at Rick and said that I was spent.  Rick was tired too, probably from doing too much too soon.  Did I mention I’m 8 months pregnant?  Yeah.  And Rick just had surgery?  Oh.  Right.  That’s why were were tired.

Rick put the bike rack on the 4Runner and we cleaned up all our tools.  And then we went inside, made some pad Thai and watched a movie in the basement.  I’m pretty sure we’re mad.  Maybe we’ll try to rest next weekend a bit?  Maybe.  Only eight more weeks until baby (plus or minus a couple, of course).  We’re feeling the last…erm… push, if you know what I mean.  ;)

Categories: Beekeeping, Garden | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Summertime Top Five

To me, this weekend is the official kick off for summer.  To celebrate, here are my top five favorite things about the upcoming season!

Sun-warmed tomatoes, straight from the garden.  We have thirteen varieties this year.  I truly, truly can’t get enough.

Farmers markets  Even though we have a big garden and a CSA membership, I really love strolling around a Saturday farmers market.  We always come home with a treasure.  Like the time we bought five kinds of mushrooms – just because.  Or some late-season strawberries that we had eaten practically before we left the stall.  Amazing breads, greens to die for, radishes in the colors of the rainbow.  And all the varieties of squash at the end of the season.  Such an adventure.

Dining alfresco  Whether an impromptu picnic lunch with the kiddos, a late-night backyard BBQ with friends or an everyday dinner on the back patio.  Eating outside is fun.  Bonus points for cooking outside too.  Sun tea, s’mores, and grilled corn on the cob to name a few.  Through some experimentation, we’ve managed to grill a few somewhat unusual things too, like pizza, biscuits and peach cobbler.

The Fourth of July  I love, love, love the fourth.  A BBQ with friends, sparklers and spinners with the kids, popsicles, watermelon, staying up late.  One year (2005) we saw fireworks from the beach with our friends in San Diego.  Last year it rained, so the neighbor invited us all to pile into his Volkswagen Bus.  We drove to an empty parking lot, popped the top and watched the fireworks display through the window of the top bunk.  We’re hoping for a repeat (with or without the rain) this year.  Every year, I can’t wait to get my patriot on.

Bare-feet and Line-dried Clothes  Ok… I know it’s really two things.  But I love being barefoot in the cool grass.  I’d run around barefoot everywhere if I thought I could get away with it.  And I love the smell of line-dried clothes in the summer time.  Particularly sheets.  We hang clothes to dry throughout the year, but laundry that’s been crisped by the summer sun and kissed by a warm breeze is just better.

What are your favorite things about summer?

Categories: Garden, Simple Living, Top 5 | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

20 Weeks: The Space Between

So you may have noticed that it’s been THREE WEEKS since I last posted an update on my 20 Week Organization Challenge.  The good news is that I’ve given you plenty of evidence to support the fact that I haven’t just been laying around this whole time.

I’ve entered into my third trimester with this baby, and the need to get projects completed has gone into some kind of overdrive.  Poor Rick.  We hammered out the garden and he’s been working hard at the tree, and we’ve been collecting materials for the various other to-do’s this summer. Mostly with the beautiful weather, my head and heart have been outside and I’ve let the indoor projects sit on the back burner.  I’m so grateful to the wise woman who suggested that my updated 20 Week list might have a couple of gaps in it for a reason.

As I sat with my midwives, giving them a run down of all we’ve been up to and all the projects on the list yet to do, they asked what we’ve done to get ready for the baby.  Um…. I looked at Rick.  He grinned.  The crickets chirped.

So, as prescribed, a shift in focus has come about.  Not completely or anything.  Outside is still getting plenty of attention, but working inside is alright too.  We ordered our birth kit, the new car seat, and a grub hoe (see).  I got serious about cleaning out the former office-turned-storage room that will become the new baby’s room.  That of course meant that I had to get the downstairs junk room (let’s just call it the “spare room” for simplicity’s sake) reorganized quite a bit as well.

I had stored craft supplies on the changing table in the spare room, as well as a 4Runner’s cargo area full of stuff for the Goodwill.  The bookcase from the office was going to need to move downstairs to the spare room, the end table Rick was mending needed to move up.  Half my canning supplies are down in the spare room and three chairs we’re trying to sell on Craigslist are still in the nursery, leaving no room for the crib.  The area rugs we used in the office will need to go downstairs too.  These rooms are, in other words, impossible to organize separately.

I’ve shifted and shuffled, and taken that load of junk to the Goodwill.  I painted a wall, set up a bed, and cleaned out boxes that I’ve gone through twenty times since we moved seven years ago but never gotten rid of.  I moved two book shelves, reorganized DVDs and board games, got the end table upstairs and my business library put in order.  I’m nowhere close to done.  And, to be honest, my back hurts.

I’ve enlisted Rick’s help.  He helped me set up the bed, and I’ll need him to tackle the organization of his tools that are in the spare room.  I’ll also need him to carry the remaining furniture pieces from one place to the other.  I knew all this was coming.  The after picture on it will be worth three week’s wait – trust me.

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing | Tags: , | 4 Comments

We Call it an Icebox

May 1st, we officially began our experiment.  We unplugged the fridge!  I was encouraged at how on-board Rick really was.  On Saturday night, he even made sure that we had jugs of water in the freezer, in order to be prepared for the first day using our freezer compartment as an icebox.

Yesterday was really only a half day with the new system.  I should have prepared better on Saturday by doing all the cleaning and stuff ahead of time, but I was distracted by trips to the garden center.  So, on Sunday morning, Rick cleaned out the freezer while I went to the grocery store.  When I got home, I cleaned out the fridge and we set up the new system in the former freezer compartment (what will from here on out be referred to as the icebox).  The actual unplugging took place around noon.

Here’s what the icebox looks like now.  This is our full week’s worth of refrigerated food, including two gallons of milk, a few condiments I wasn’t sure about leaving out, some leftover greens that we bought last week, and the eggs for my sister that were already in the fridge before.

I’ve done a little rearranging already, putting the less perishable items like carrots, in the door, and keeping the soft cheeses further back by the frozen water jugs.  Also, that container of left-overs on the very bottom left was promptly eaten by me after cleaning out the bottom of the fridge.  It was after lunch time and I was hungry!

I’ve actually had a hard time resisting the temptation to continually open the icebox to feel if things are cold in there, but I know keeping the door closed is crucial to the success of the experiment.  Rick has suggested getting a thermometer that we can keep in there so we won’t worry, and we’re going to experiment with different ice-jug configurations to make sure we’re making the best use of the space and coolness (is that a word??).  He also suggested that we keep the jugs on a towel or something, that way we won’t have to constantly be wiping down the interior of the icebox, since the jugs will probably sweat as they melt.  For someone who thinks I’m crazy, he seems awfully involved, huh?  I guess it’s not just me after all.

Categories: Food, Simple Living, Unplugging the Fridge | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Getting Ready to Unplug

I’m not crazy.  Really.  I’m not.  I just read a lot of green-type articles and blogs, and I think .  I think a lot.  When I mentioned my latest idea to Rick, he became very quiet.  You know, the kind of quiet where someone clearly thinks you’re off your rocker, but is trying to figure out how to say so and if it’s really true?

Perhaps it’s because he’s experienced with my “thinking episodes.”  He calls it a ‘wild hair,’ or my ‘latest project.’  But I know he hasn’t forgotten how those nagging little thoughts of mine plague me until I drag him and the rest of my family into some project or other that the rest of society at large would consider crazy.

Consider for example when I started thinking about chickens.  In our back yard.  In the city.  Or when I started thinking about bees.  BEES!  Now we have a coop, eight hens, and an empty bee hive waiting for a second try with a new swarm.

Then there was the time I started thinking about the microwave.  I’m pretty sure this is what Rick’s mind flashed to when I mentioned to him this latest “wild hair.”  You see, lately I’ve been thinking about our fridge.  I’ve I’ve thought about it a lot actually over the last few years.  Our fridge was here in our house when we moved in.  So we knew it was at least 8 years old… and recently, I can’t seem to stop thinking about how much energy it’s using.  As the appliance that consumes the most energy in American homes, the refrigerator, running 24/7, I have been concerned about all the kilowatts leaching out of our meter.

I called the manufacturer of our refrigerator, model and serial numbers in hand.  I was surprised to learn that our fridge was not as old as I thought.  Made in June of 2001.  But I was dismayed at the big 863 kWh that it was consuming.  New refrigerators of the same size and style are consuming less than half than that.  Ours is consuming more than the old 15 cubic foot chest freezer from 1984 in the garage – that consumes a whopping 601 kWh, nearly fifty-percent more than what a similar modern freezer consumes.  This seems like a big problem to me.

Initially I thought the solution to this problem would be for us to get a new fridge and a new freezer.  See that was my first thought (i.e. not crazy!!).  But we don’t really have the $600 to shell out for a new freezer, let alone $800-1400 for a new fridge.  Then I started paying attention to what our fridge was actually doing.  The freezer on top usually stores the frozen CSA veggies and random meats brought in from the chest freezer for the current week’s dinners.  The refrigerator only really contains our eggs, dairy, condiments, and an excess of greens and celery.  Sometimes there are left-overs in there for a day or two (max, we’re good left-over-eaters around here).  I defrost foods on the counter the day I need them.

In other words, we’re not really using much space in the fridge, and some of the things we have in there don’t really even need refrigeration.  Eggs are shelf stable for quite a long time, and in Europe, they are even sold on the grocery shelves unrefrigerated.  Many condiments are shelf stable as well, despite warnings to “refrigerate after opening.”   And, around our home, lots of them get used up way before they’d ever spoil in the cabinet (peanut butter and jelly, soy sauce or sesame oil, for example).  So my second thought was to look for a smaller fridge.  An apartment-sized or even a dorm-sized fridge.  But I found out that they consume a lot of energy as well.  Nearly what a large fridge consumes.  And they have a pretty hefty price tag, even on craigslist.

Now I was questioning what we really needed.  For basically just storing our milk, yogurt, half and half, and the occasional bowl of left-over noodles or extra head of kale, what did we need?  Do you see where I’m going here?

I’m thinking about going without a fridge.  Let me say it again, so you know it’s not a typo… I’m thinking about going without a fridge.

So you can see why I was surprised that Rick didn’t immediately pass out when I mentioned to him a few weeks ago that I’ve been thinking about the fridge.  I have to give him a lot of credit.  He silently listened to my idea.  I explained my idea, talking fast because I could hear the doubt oozing through his silence.  We have coolers and I had an idea about using the top freezer portion of the fridge as sort of an ice box.  His next question, an incredulous statement really, was “you really expect me to run out to the freezer during the freezing-cold winter to swap-out ice packs because you don’t want to use the fridge?”  but he had answered his own question.  In the winter it would be cold.  We could keep things outside the back door on the patio.

As what I was suggesting started to sink it, I think I heard a muttering or two of “my wife really is crazy” and a sort of stifled laugh.  But there was some weird resignation coming through the phone.  I broke the news to him while he was at work, you see.  Safer that way, I figured, and it would give the idea a little time to stew in his head before he got home and could really talk about it. I was afraid he’d dismiss the idea out of hand.

When he got home I had my argument all ready.  It would be an experiment.  For just a month.  One month.  And we’d keep the freezers.  And it wasn’t as if we couldn’t use refrigeration… the ice box idea was just a old-fashioned, lower energy form of that.  I promised that we’d only unplug the frige for now, and if it wasn’t working we could just plug it back in and bag the whole thing.  Rick asked surprisingly few questions.  He sort of shrugged.  I asked if he told his co-worker of my idea, and when he admitted that he had, he told me his coworker’s response was, “Do you encourage her?”  I think he must have confessed that he does, so he really didn’t have a lot of argument against it.

After a few minutes, he asked about the summer, when the CSA is in full force and we have more veggies than we know what to do with.  Won’t they all just wilt and go to waste without a fridge to keep them in?  I had thought about this and confessed I didn’t have a total solution… yet.  But my tentative plan was that since I wasn’t going to be working on the farm this year or driving an hour each way every week, I’d have six extra hours and a lot more energy on farm day to get veggies washed and put up properly before anything wilted.  We’d put the things we were going to save for the winter in the freezer the day they came into the house instead of waiting a day or two, and we could use coolers for the melons.  Rick eyed me suspiciously.  But he said I could try it in May if I wanted.  We’d tackle the summer if we decided to continue the experiment.

I have read a bit about going without a fridge in the past, and since deciding to embark on this project.  Proponents like Sharon Astyk and Greenpa give me a lot of hope.  I’ve read the arguments that Deanna at the Crunchy Chicken makes against unplugging the fridge too.  But I think that this really can work for us.  Sharon Astyk has a fairly simple system going that I plan to emulate.  No, we won’t be drinking gallons of milk in a single day.  We’re not the first to try something like this.  And if things work, we’ll probably unplug the fridge for good.  We’ll turn that space into a pantry area to store our canned goods, and we’ll save money for a new, energy-efficient freezer.

Crunchy asks if it’s cheating to use a freezer in your effort to not use a fridge, but the truth of it, at least in my eyes, is that it’s not.  I see them as two different tools.  (You really should read  all the comments on that thread, by the way – you might just get converted by Sharon & Greenpa).  Rick hunts and that is the greenest, healthiest, most organic and humane way to get meat.  Not to mention most economical.  But it would be a waste if we couldn’t freeze it.  The CSA share provides more local, organic veggies than we can eat in a summer.  But local fresh veggies are a rarity here during Colorado winters, and what ever you can find is usually very expensive.  So canning, drying and freezing summer’s excess is another economical, practical, and efficient way to eat well all winter.   And, sadly, even our very out-of-date freezer is running more efficiently than our less out-of-date fridge.

So, let the experiment begin.  I hope you follow along with me in May as we try unplugging the fridge.  If anyone out there has done something like this in the past I’d love to hear your experiences.

Categories: Food, Independence Days, Simple Living, Sustainability, Unplugging the Fridge, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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