Category Archives: Saving (Money & the Earth)

Organic or not?

I oftentimes find myself standing in front of the sink washing some non-organic produce wondering a few things:

  1. Is this veggie wash really doing anything?
  2. Will I someday end up  in a cancer ward taking care of my ailing husband or son? (for some reason I don’t imagine getting cancer myself)
  3. If I am in a cancer ward somewhere, will I be kicking myself, thinking “Why did I buy those non-organic grapes?!?”

Now that I put my stream of consciousness out there, it seems kind of ridiculous. But does anyone else get as stressed out at the grocery store as I do?

If I buy organic then I feel comforted that maybe my family is consuming something that’s generally better for their bodies, in the short and long term.  At least that’s what I hear organic does.  But if I buy organic, I practically hyperventilate at the end of the month when Jason attempts to balance the budget.  Money stresses me out.

Regardless of my decision (which really varies with how I’m feeling that day), I know it is 1) influenced by some level of fear and 2) a mostly ignorant one.

So, I would like to educate myself and develop some kind of generalized philosophy/strategy when it comes to organic vs. non-organic purchases.  For me, this looks like taking what I’ve learned, confidently making decisions at the grocery store, and trusting God with the rest.

Here are some questions I’ve come up with that I’m working on answering for myself:

  • What is considered organic? How is it produced?
  • Is organic really better or am I just buying into the trend?
  • What is non-organic?  Why do some people think it’s so evil?  Is it really that bad?
  • Is organic really more nutritious that non-organic?
  • Does produce wash really do anything?

I am also very interested in what this looks like for other families.  If you would, please comment on some or all of the questions below. I would love to hear what you do and how it works for you–no matter whether you are on one end of the spectrum, the other end, or somewhere in the middle.

I should also clarify–I am talking mainly about food when it comes to this issue, but also cleaning, baby, and hygiene products.

  • What (if any) do you buy organic and why?
  • What (if any) do you buy non-organic and why?
  • Have you found any good alternatives (ie, grass-fed or natural but not organic, produce wash).  What was your reasoning behind choosing these alternatives?
  • What resources were helpful to you in making your decisions?
  • If you buy some or all organic, how do you do so in a cost-effective manner (ie, where are the deals)?  If you have to make sacrifices in other areas, what does that look like for you?
  • Do you have creative ways you acquire healthy or organic foods or natural products besides purchasing in the store (bartering, gardening, co-op, etc.)?  What does that look like?
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The new way to say I love you: cancer-free lungs

My Valentine’s present this year from Jason?  Well, first he made an effort to actually celebrate Valentine’s Day with me, seeing as how he thinks its commercialized, made-up holiday. I am much too superficial for that, and so enjoy Valentine’s Day immensely.

Second, Jason surprised me and stayed home from work on Monday.  To me, that is one of the best gifts he can give.

Third, he gave me these:

Aren’t they incredibly romantic?

You could say the longer you’re married the less showey and more practical the gifts get.  I admit there’s some truth to that.

But I would submit that the more you know someone, the more thoughtful and caring the gifts become.   My two new indoor plants are certainly that.

A few weeks ago I told Jason about an article I’d read that discussed air pollution.  I learned that the most polluted air one breathes is actually in your own home, particularly if you live in the city.  This is mainly because polluted air from the outside comes into your house and just sits there stagnant, no wind or change in weather to clear things out.

The bright side of this was that certain indoor plants have an amazing way of cleaning the air in your home.  The article listed several species but the only one I could remember was the spider plant and I didn’t know what that looked like.  Here’s a similar article I found on the web with a listing of plants.

Now I must say that up until this point I have been against foliage inside the home for this reason:  I’m perfectly fine with being a weird cat lady, but being a weird plant lady bothers me.  The only exception I make is the viney-looking thing on top of our fridge which was a gift and which miraculously remains alive to this day.  It has had many droughts and as a result, many near-death experiences.

But because we had been discussing getting an air purifier (and those things aren’t cheap, I’ll tell ya) and this was in our price range and a natural alternative, I was willing to reconsider. At the time, though,  I just chalked it up to “Maybe one day I’ll . . .” and that was that.

Jason remembered this conversation and so on his surprise day off he took me to Sky Nursery with a list of the best air-purifying indoor plants.  The lady there was also a wealth of information and in the end, we came home with a peace lily and a snake plant.

The snake plant is pretty indestructible, seeing that it has thick, tough, prickly-edged leaves.  Lizzie’s little fangs can’t do much damage.  The peace lily, on the other hand, is vulnerable.  We’ve managed to make a wall of picture frames around it so she’s only been able to mutilate three of its ferns.

(Don’t worry, we made sure we brought home non-toxic species.  A dead plant is sad enough.  A dead plant and a dead cat is more than I can handle.)

So there you have it.  All I have to do is find some attractive looking pots to re-plant them in.  I’m even thinking of getting a few more plants to put upstairs in our bedrooms.

As you can see, my chances of becoming an old weird plant lady are increasing dramatically. But at least I’ll be a healthy old weird plant lady, one that’s not attached to an oxygen tank or a respirator.  And I’ll be surrounded by all the plants my loving husband has bought for me.

Haggard homesteading

Although I haven’t spoken much about it in a while, the homesteading continues on here at the Haggard Ranch.

As you can see from the video back in May we were about to plant a full garden complete with corn, strawberries, and all kinds of leafy greens from seed as well as tomato, red onion, and strawberry starters. This is a big feat for me, since I am a novice gardener. But, with my very common sense husband by my side (who can usually figure out how to do just about anything) we set to work creating the raised bed and put our seeds and plants in the ground.

While we waited for life to spring up, we enjoyed our own little piece of farmland oasis in the midst of all the big city livin’.

Like last year, I also did potted herbs and some annuals on our deck, but this year I expanded my horizons by adding dill, oregano, thyme, and sage.

Now that we’re halfway through the summer, take a look at how it’s going

Although we realized later that the location of the raised bed isn’t the sunniest spot in our yard and despite the fact that we don’t really know what we’re doing, I think we are making out quite well. The plants aren’t growing up as big and hearty as those of our neighbors, but we’ve got plenty of leafy greens and maybe (cross your fingers) a few tomatoes and strawberries will be had soon.

View the rest of the photos here.

Memorial Day 2009

By Jason

It is Memorial Day 2009. Memorial Day is always an interesting holiday for me. It didn’t mean much more to me than a day off of school/work, until Iraq and Christian’s death. In Iraq a friend, Bruce Smith, died in a helicopter crash. Years later, my good friend Christian Skoglund died, also in a helicopter crash. What was a day off now has a lot of meaning. Saying happy Memorial Day doesn’t really cut it.

Now this isn’t why I am posting, but I do want to say thank you to all the service members today and the families of those no longer with us.

About this post. Two things really; ok, three. One, I have been feeling quite industrious lately. Saturday I was planning on going on the first bike ride of the season, but my bike pump was broke. I needed this little part that could not be found at Gregs or any other place. So I went down to Recycled Cycles and found this other part, that wasn’t the right one, but with a little surgery, it works. Saved me from having to buy a new pump, $30.

Second, I have this American Flag that I have never flown. I decided today was the day. I went to Fred Meyers yesterday, but flag poles are $23. I didn’t want to spend that, so I rigged a great flag pole out of spare wood, some wire and a few screws. It looks great. I am watching it now as I type and there is a sense of patriotism that simmers in me.

Third, the aforementioned flag was acquired while deployed to Iraq. When I was stationed at Baghdad International Airport, there was a way to purchase a flag and then the Rangers I was working for would flag it over the base and give it back with this cool certificate. This flag is the best thing I have from Iraq besides my memories.

Jason

Now open for egg-laying business

Yes, it’s taken us longer than we promised, but we finally finished Coop de Haggard!

It all started with a spontaneous conversation about chickens at Community Group, which ignited a dream in my heart, which was followed by a deal struck with Shelley to take two of hers.

This got the artistic genius of CPT Jordan Francis going. It’s amazing the kind of things one learns in the army.

And then there’s my husband. Three words: Got. It. Done.

For your viewing pleasure, the grand opening of Coop de Haggard.

And because that’s not certainly not enough, view the photos of how it all went down.

Judging on the lack of comments on what we should name our chickens a few weeks ago, we’ll give you a little help: are our chickens kindred spirits, the perfect lunch combo, or Golden Girls?

Whether you’re reading this via email, reader, or visiting our site, please click through to the poll and take a second to vote (it’ll be up for a week).

Mini cows continued (and what to name our chickens)

Stephenny sent this to me and it TOTALLY made my day. Those of you who know about my dream of having a kitten farm will understand (or at least love me for or in spite of it).

I like the gopher who reminds me of Caddyshack and the border collie and, of course, the mini cows.

I don’t like the implied fact that these cute little cows are going to be turned into mini sirloin burgers and that Jack will someday be humming a tune with his campfire friends as he bites into the meat of one of their cute little behinds. That is a bit disturbing.

But then I just tell myself that those mini cows probably aren’t really real and so them being mass slaughtered for the average American’s consumption is all just a marketing farce. People love mini cows and would never do anything to hurt them.

I also don’t like the Shetland pony because I have heard they are mean little suckers.

On an unrelated animal note, we are in the process of building Coop de Haggard. I think in a week or two it will be complete and ready for our feathered friends.

We don’t have names yet for our girls, but are taking suggestions so please give us some ideas in the comments section. If we pick yours I will send you a special prize.

Fun photo project

I’ve been working on some photo projects and thought I’d share one I just completed.

It was super easy to do and pretty inexpensive. And, I think it looks really cool.

I took the photos with my camera, not thinking of using them for anything in particular. When I downloaded them I thought I’d convert them to black and white with my very basic photo editing program. Somewhere along the way I came up with doing a mosaic of sorts.

I ordered wallet-size photos through Kodak Gallery. They were $1.59 each and I wondered why that was so pricey until I got them in the mail and one wallet was actually a sheet of four wallets (of the same image). So, if you’re going to do a project like this it might be a good idea to replicate it for gifts.

One bonus is that they were running a special of 30% off prints and I bought through Ebates which gave me 12% more off. Each wallet with the discounts was about 44 cents = $5.28 total (but the total cost for the wallet sheets was $11.08).

I also bought some white matting board ($5.50 x 40% off coupon = $3.30) and a simple silver frame ($12 x 40% off coupon = $7.20) at Aaron Brothers.

Jason cut the matting board to the size of my frame (16 x 20″) and I mounted the photos with double-sided tape. This took me a while because I get obsessed with everything measuring perfect.

The best part about it is that it displays how incredibly cute my son is. The second best part is that I got to use my right brain. The third best part is that it was relatively inexpensive, costing me about $16.