Tuesday, April 21, 2015

More Decluttering - People Actually Get Rid of Books?!?!

Because I like decluttering my house and I live with people who like to keep me busy by cluttering up the previously decluttered,  I spend a lot of time reading about organizing.  Lately a lot of people online have been talking about "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up".  I was tempted to buy it but there is so much online about it, I don't feel like I really need to.

I followed along as people on You Tube purged their clothes.  Easy - I do this on a regular basis anyway.  I even went through my daughter's clothes (with her help, I didn't just get rid of her clothes on my own!).  She was able to get rid of 75% of her pants!  We condensed all her stuff from 2 closets down to one and emptied 2 dresser drawers.

Then everyone online started doing their make up and jewelry collections.  I only have a couple pairs of earrings, 2 necklaces and one bracelet so that was unnecessary.  I also have only one basket that holds all my make up but, for a laugh, I went through it and actually found some things to get rid of.

Not sure why I was digging around these items everyday to get to the things I actually use.
But then it came to books.  I'm pretty sure you aren't allowed to get rid of books, ever.  Right?  That has to be a rule somewhere.  I love my books.  I love reading them, I love holding them, I love looking at them.  (I also talk about my love of books in my birthday post.)  We have bookcases in almost every room of our house.  In the family room I keep my old hardback books which I use as decoration (I have actually read all of them).  The other bookcases are hidden away in spare rooms and the basement.  I ran out of space quite a while ago and slowly started filling the computer room closet, hall closet and my bedroom closet.  I was considering buying more bookshelves but then I was forced to admit that I probably didn't need to keep all these books.

A couple weekends ago, I grabbed a bag and quickly looked through my books.  I was shocked that I was able to relatively quickly and painlessly come up with 4 bags of books that I didn't think I'd ever look at again.  Then I had my daughter go through her one bookcase and she came up with 4 more bags.  Hers was a little easier because she is 18 but still had books in there for 3rd graders.

My husband is not a reader but when he saw what I was doing, he immediately protested.  Turns out he likes having the books around, just to look at apparently!  I promised him that the bookshelves would still look quite full and that I wasn't touching any of the old, hardback books in the family room.

Then the question was what to do with the books.  We found a group called Better World Books.  They resell what books they can and donate others to libraries, schools and hospitals.  A portion of the money they raise goes to help various literacy programs.  I did some research and felt pretty good about them so that is where our 8 bags of once loved but no longer needed books went.

So far it seems that I have survived although I do have an urge to buy more books!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spicy Tempeh Sandwich

This is going to be a quick and easy post for a quick and easy recipe.  I came home to a completely stressed out Kayleigh and we literally threw this together.  We all loved it and I've been craving it ever since!

Spicy Tempeh Sandwich

1 tablespoon oil
1 package of tempeh, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup hot sauce similar to Frank's Red Hot (we used the Aldi version)
2 tablespoons vegan margarine

Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the tempeh until it is lightly browned.  Add the peppers and cook another 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the margarine and hot sauce and cook until the tempeh and peppers are coated and everything is heated through.  Serve on hamburger buns.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Chickpea and Kale Piccata

I'll start off by saying that I'm not sure if this is a piccata or not.  I was calling it that but then I realized that anything with capers and lemon juice, I tend to label as piccata.  I really should research what that actually means.  Oh well, it was delicious, and I loved it, and that is the name I have in my head so I'm sticking with it!

The great thing about kale is it holds up well which makes the leftovers perfect for lunch the next day.  It might turn a little olive green because of the lemon but it tastes just as good as the night before.

Chickpea and Kale Piccata

4 tablespoons vegetable broth (for sauteing)
1 cup sliced onions
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
3 tablespoons capers
2 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 cups kale, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

In a large skillet, saute the onions in broth until they are soft.  Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add the vegetable broth, salt, pepper and thyme and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat slightly and cook for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chickpeas, capers, and kale and cook until the kale is wilted, about 5 more minutes.  Remove from heat and squeeze lemon over the top.  Serve on  mashed potatoes.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Our Pantry is Empty! What We Learned From No Spend March

We survived a month of "no spending".  Overall we spent about $150 in groceries and only paid our regular expenses.  We didn't buy anything extra or spend any money on entertainment.  Although we weren't able to keep our weekly groceries under $20, we did pretty good.  Here are some of the things we learned through the month:

The Italian and Mexican shelves suffered the most!
  • Things last a lot longer than we thought.  The whole month I thought we were going to run out of ketchup and my facial cleanser but we never did.  Turns out I was really bad at judging how much is left in the container.
  • Meals can be easy, quick, and cheap and still taste really good.  We went back to our old favorite recipes and remembered why they used to be our favorites.  We didn't get bored at all although by the end of the month, I was craving more fresh vegetables.
  • You can survive a month without peanut butter and all purpose flour but not tamari.  We ran out of all of these the first week but the tamari is the only one we bought in March.  
  • The world doesn't end when you pull the last non-dairy milk carton from the closet.  I always have at least 4 or 5 cartons in the closet so that I never run out.  By the last week, we were on the last soy milk but it lasted and I didn't even have to skip a smoothie.
  • Speaking of smoothies, it is fantastic having a month's worth of greens and bananas in the freezer.  I'm going to buy those in month-long quantities from now on instead of every week.
  • Lemons and limes make your life happier.  We ran out of both mid-month and our meals suffered.  
  • There is something very satisfying about seeing the food in your pantry actually decrease.  It made me just as happy as when I would see it fully stocked.
Overall it was a really good experience and worth the time and effort.  We saved a lot of money and learned what to buy and what not to buy.  There are a lot of pre-made sauce kind of things still sitting in the pantry which we obviously don't like so I am determined not to buy them ever again.  Bill and Kayleigh were very supportive through the whole thing and very patiently waited for April to arrive!