Sunday, January 11, 2015

Waste Not {and a No Spend Challenge}

sunset sunset string games through the girls' window through the girls' window (and screen - hence the blurriness) waste not (making tea and saving the peels for a cleaning solution) waste not (making tea and a cleaning solution)

Budgeting, debt, healthy food... these topics seem to be constantly on my mind

Where do I begin? Steiner quotes are always a great place to start. I came across this one recently and it really resonated with me:

On trappings
Many people believe that the materialism of our modern time arises because so many materialistic writings are read. The occultist, however, knows that this is only one of the lesser influences. What the eye sees is of far greater importance, for it has an influence on soul processes that more or less run their course in the unconscious. This is of eminently practical importance, and when spiritual science will one day really take hold of the soul, then will the practical effect become noticeable in public life. I have often called attention to the fact that it was something different from what it is today when one in the Middle Ages walked through the streets. Right and left there were house fa├žades that were built up out of what the soul felt and thought. Every key, every lock, carried the imprint of him who had made it. Try to realize how the individual craftsman felt joy in each piece, how he worked his own soul into it. In every object there was a piece of soul, and when a person moved among such things, soul forces streamed over to him. Now compare this with a city today. Here is a shoe store, a hardware store, a butcher shop, then a tavern, etc. All this is alien to the inner soul processes; it is related only to the outer man. Thus, it generates those soul forces that tend towards materialism. These influences work much more strongly than do the dogmas of materialism. Add to these our horrible art of advertising. Old and young wander through a sea of such abominable products that wake the most evil forces of the soul. So likewise do our modern comic journals. This is not meant to be a fanatical agitation against these things, but only indications about facts. All this pours a stream of forces into the human soul, determining the epoch that leads the person in a certain direction. The spiritual scientist knows how much depends upon the world of forms in which a man lives.
Rudolf Steiner, Stuttgart, 14th September 1907

Oh the trappings. Kevin and I have fallen prey to many trappings leaving us nothing but debt and unhappiness. It's a bit embarrassing for me to admit it but it's the truth. I know I am not the only one and that many of us spend what we don't have. It has become such an American norm.

Kevin and I have been dealing with debt for a long time, pretty much as long as we have been married, and have tried fighting it off and on. But we were never fully in. Our debt has now grown and I think a portion of it is that I tried to buy myself happiness since we moved from Portland. I know, I know, big mistake. We had this vicious cycle going of falling short on money for groceries so we'd use a credit card to pay, just to get by until the next month but then the next month would come and it would be even worse because we would owe the money we used to pay for last month's groceries (with interest) and still need to somehow buy that month's groceries. This cycle just kept on going, getting worse and worse with each month.

But where was all of our money going?! We had been budgeting yet we still were blind to the obvious. A huge chunk of our money was going to credit card bills (and groceries, but I'll get to that later). Last December our eyes finally saw the truth and Kevin and I were finally ready to take this on. Being on the same page as your spouse really is key, I can see why we failed so many times before. We took action immediately and cut up our credit cards. No more! We watched some Dave Ramsey DVDs I picked up at the library and listened to his shows, thanks to quite a few of our friends recommending him to us. We felt we had the right tools to make this work and become debt free. I know it won't be a fast process nor will it be any easy one but we are committed to not give in and use credit cards again. AKA Cheetahs!

Of course this means I am now on a yarn diet (sigh) and we will have to be very careful with (as in pretty much not buying) any extracurricular spending including things like our homeschooling curriculum, art supplies, etc. But instead of allowing self-pity to set in, taking this on has inspired me to see just how little we can buy. Really I need a challenge to keep my head in the game (no more yarn!! Sob, sob). So I decided to do my own "No Spend Challenge."  No spending on anything outside of my absolute necessities (such as food and rent). I thought I would document it for a year (maybe more) and check in each month to see how I am doing. Would any of you be interested in joining me? It's always great to have accountability partners.

I was hoping to write about how our budget is changing while still staying with healthy, organic food and share some recipes tonight but I think I may have already said quite enough! I will come back to that but in the meantime I have to mention a book I found back in December that inspired me to make the changes - Wildly Affordable Organic. I am so grateful I found it!

I will close with a very budget friendly cleaning solution recipe. One thing I learned from the aforementioned book is to waste nothing and use every last bit of anything you have. I had that in mind as I was juicing some grapefruit for a batch of my favorite tea a few weeks back (recipe found here).

We were just using vinegar to clean our home but I never could get past the smell. I remembered a friend back in Oregon making her own cleaning solution with just vinegar and citrus peels and it smelled great. Not to mention the citrus helps the vinegar become even more powerful for cutting through grease and grime.

All Purpose Citrus Vinegar Cleaner

All Purpose Citrus Vinegar Cleaner

You'll need:

A glass jar (we re-used a honey jar)
Citrus peels (orange. lemon, grapefruit, etc.)
White vinegar
A spray bottle (I just re-used an old Mrs. Meyers spray bottle)


Every time you eat or use citrus fruit, peel or cut the skin off and place it in your glass jar.
When your jar becomes full (takes about a week or less for our family), fill it with vinegar to the top, twist on the cap and let it sit for two weeks. I like to mark my jars with the date I closed them up so I know when they will be ready.
After the two weeks are up, remove the peels, (I put mine in the garbage disposal and they still had enough scent in the to make it smell nice) pour the solution into your spray bottle and dilute 1:1 with water.
That's it! Now go clean your home. We use it for cleaning everything around here and since we already have everything on hand or were going to buy it anyways, this ends up basically being free!

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