Monthly Archives: November 2015

No Waste Holidays

Thanksgiving tableAbout a year ago I was at a potluck event. Afterwards one of the attendees surveyed the nearly-empty buffet and said, “That was just perfect.”

Up until that point, I mindless followed our cultures belief that more food is better. Shouldn’t we want to have abundance left after we’re done? That sounds foolish now, but I hadn’t even thought to question it until that night. Of course it’s enough that everyone has their fill…what more could we want?

I’m new to the No Food Waste movement. I’m not particularly good at it, either, but I’m better than I was, which I count as a victory. It’s an area where I’m continually working.

One of the times that I think it’s most difficult to think about no food waste is the holidays. Food is such a big part of our traditions.

Being a no-food-waster doesn’t mean that I need to get rid of my traditions. But they, as all other areas of my life, need to be examined in light of my convictions.

If you’re new at it, too, would you consider a few things with me as you plan your holidays this year?

1. Stop serving dishes out of mere tradition. I’m not asking you to stop serving your family’s favorite dishes. But what about the dishes that we serve because we always have, but remain almost entirely untouched at the end of the meal?

Serving fewer dishes also means less work, so it’s a win-win.

2. Reconsider the amount you need of each dish. If you cook a larger turkey than your family and guests need because you save the rest for future meals, awesome. But what about dishes that aren’t as versatile as leftovers?

3. Consider who you can invite to your meal. One way not to have food waste is by sharing your bounty with others. Who do you know that might not receive another invitation? As a single woman who lives away from family, I’m thankful for the various people who have welcomed me to their Thanksgiving table.

Photo by Satya Murthy

Breaking Rules

52501482_fcd5405228_mI think it is a pretty accurate statement to say that I follow the rules.

If a doctor tells me to do something, I will typically do it.  In school, I was the girl who adhered to every single dictate put forth by the teacher.  As an adult, not much has changed.

…except when it comes to a few financial rules.

I realize that rules–especially financial rules–become such because they tend to work well when followed.  For most people.  I also believe (and hope I have effectively conveyed on this blog) that there can be exceptions to many rules.  Each family may have a different way of going about their different priorities.  I know our family does!

What follows is just a sampling of some of the rules we don’t follow.  It should be noted here that 1) this is simply a short list of rules that first came to my mind that we also happen to break, and 2) I am not a financial “expert”–your own situation will vary, so when in doubt, get to a professional!

Rule #1:  We save more.  

Depending on which financial guru you follow, the number in your savings account should range from $1,000, to 3-6 months of salary, to many times that.  Since our family has one breadwinner, we have experienced job loss before, and we have little people looking to us to provide for them, we have always aimed on the higher end of savings.

For example, $1,000 would not provide nearly enough of a safety net in the event of a major life event, so we have made our goal higher than that.  That doesn’t mean that our savings account always reflects where our goal is (we have had to dip into emergency savings some this year), but the peace of mind this affords is priceless.

Rule #2:  We use credit cards.

This one is a tough one, because obviously one wants to avoid debt as much as possible.  One could also argue that the credit card rewards are either rarely (if ever) cashed in on, or that the potential rewards do not outweigh the drawbacks (high interest rates, crushing debt, etc.).  I do believe, however, that credit cards can be a helpful tool…when used correctly.  Obviously paying off your balance in full each month is the ideal.

Rule #3:  We pay our retirement accounts first.

I’ve mentioned here before that we have worked to find a good way to fund our children’s education.  It’s still a work in progress, but here’s the important thing to note:  our kids have many options available to them when it comes to paying for higher education.  Our retirement?  Not so much.  So, as much as we love our littles, we pay our retirement accounts first.

These are just a sampling of some of our rule-breaking ways.  While rules may be in place for a reason, it’s important to remember every rule may not be the best fit for your life situation.  And when in doubt, consult with an expert!

Photo by Jem Stone

Joint Book Review: Enough is Enough by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill

enough is enoughThis month’s book review is of Enough is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill. In this book, the author’s propose replacing our “more” economy with one of “enough.” This principle is called the steady-state economy.

They also propose replace GDP with a measure called a “happy planet index” that takes into account life expectancy, subjective measures of happiness and ecological footprint to achieve it.

Amanda’s Take

Although I agree with the over-arching tenets of Enough is Enough  (“enough” is the new “more”, building a sustainable economy, etc.), I found myself doubting the practicality and feasibility of the authors’ proposed solutions.  While we can all take a stance in our day-to-day lives of making enough be enough, it seems that the solutions proposed by the authors would be better presented to governing bodies.

As Ronnica notes in her review below, the authors do state that it is simply impossible for all seven billion people on this planet to implement each of their solutions; as such, I would have preferred a more concentrated approach, tailored more to what an individual can do.  The solutions Dietz and O’Neill propose are doable, but only if entire governing bodies back them and aid in implementing them.

A prime example of this is found in Chapter 6–“Enough People:  Curbing Population.”  Certainly providing methods of birth control and promoting education among girls would aid in stemming the population boom in our world, but only with mass mobilization among every person on this planet…and even then there is no guarantee that everyone would go along with certain elements of the solution.

Overall, I found the book to be thought-provoking, if not always relevant to the ordinary person.

Ronnica’s Take

I have little training in economics, so I can’t really judge the merits of the theory espoused  in this book. However, I will comment on the foundation it’s built on.

I absolutely love the idea of pursuing “enough” instead of “more.” This begins with each and every one of us. I don’t know how to get 7 billion others to do the same thing (though some of them undoubtedly already are), but I can live my life (including my failures) openly in front of others. I can make better decisions and be an encouragement in the areas where I have influence.

The authors make an excellent point that it’s not possible for the entire world population to continue to pursue more forever without great peril to us all. And we’ve all seen the studies that we Americans are not necessarily happier than those who live in countries with less wealth.

One statistic mentioned is that once a country’s national income reaches $20,000, there is no additional happiness to be had from additional income. I think if we take a moment to reflect, we can all recognize that to be true.

May we all be content with “enough.”

First Year of Striving Stewardess: Amanda’s Favorite Posts

Happy birthday to us!

On Tuesday, Ronnica noted that since it is our first birthday here at Striving Stewardess, we are reflecting on the posts that spoke the most to us.  Today, it’s my turn.

10477069_10102174195861029_5966045097752372786_nWithout a doubt, my favorite post this year was also one of my most personal ones:  Community Resources for Young Families.  I share a lot with our readers, but to be able to impart valuable information regarding children who may need a little extra help is a passion of mine.  Navigating the services available (and there are many) can be overwhelming, but writing that post reminded me that we are not alone, and that it does indeed take a village to raise a child.

208488_503387731554_467_n

Another memorable one for me was the “Green Things I May Never Be Brave Enough to Try.”  I want to reiterate:  I am a “tree-hugger,” a minimalist, etc…but I am also human, and yes, there are things that I will probably never be able to bring myself to try.  More power to those of you who go that extra mile!

unnamed (9)Finally, another favorite was when I got to share how our family gets along with one car.  In “How It Works:  One Car,” I hope I was able to convey that it is indeed possible for many families to make things work with one car (or none!).  All it takes is the first step, a lot of organization…and a stroller!

We continue to be grateful to you, our readers, for joining us on this journey, and we look forward to another year at Striving Stewardess!

 

 

First Year of Striving Stewardess: Ronnica’s Favorite Posts

single candle cakeAs of November 1st, this blog is a year old.

Over that year, Amanda and I have worked to find our voices in this platform and the right rhythm for posting. I’ve enjoyed having this outlet to discuss the things that I’ve learned and publicly challenge myself.

In the past year, there were a few posts that were closer to my heart than others. To reflect on this time, I want to share these post with you.

My favorite post this past year was “How I Paid Off $10,678.28 in 10 Months.” In spite it’s slightly click-baity title, it represents my biggest accomplishment over the last year. Now that I’ve been debt-free for six months, it’s easy to forget the weight that debt carries. Now that I’m on the other side, I’m determined never to get back there again.

Another post I wrote on the subject is the post I enjoyed the most writing: “Sacrifice What?” I always love “what if?” type stories and I loved getting to write my own story about what would have happened if I had continued along the same financial course I was on previously. The story was a good reminder to myself that the sacrifice is worth it.

The final post that I’ll discuss today is a more recent post, “Why it Matters.” I wrote this post for myself as much as for anyone else: I need to be reminded why I make the choices I make. Remembering the “why” keeps me motivated to make the decisions I want to long-term.

Thursday Amanda will share her favorite posts. Thanks for sharing this past year with us!

Photo by Sophie

Reasons for Thanksgiving

Last week, I noted a couple of challenges facing us recently–“challenges” being a bit of a misnomer, because in reality things are going fairly smoothly. *fingers crossed*

This week, I want to highlight some awesome things–some reasons for thanksgiving.

We are all healthy and happy.  I don’t want this to be a cliche, but it is something definitely worth celebrating.  Good health is a gift, and one to be thankful for and cultivate as much as possible.

We have no student loan debt.  While we do carry some debt (hello mortgage!), I cannot tell you how many times I have been thankful that we do not have any student loan debt or a car payment.

Thankfully, this fall our storage space looks nothing like this.
Thankfully, this fall our storage space looks nothing like this.

I have managed to keep toy clutter at bay…sort of.  This is sort of an odd one to end on, I realize, but you must understand that this is HUGE for a household with small children.  As the holidays draw nearer, I am also aware that a bit more purging will have to happen, as well as a gentle reminder to gift-givers that experiences are preferred over “things” to bequeath the kiddos (and us!) with.

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, what are you finding is a blessing in your life?

My Winter Garden

As the nights (and days) started getting cooler her in Denver a few weeks ago, I transitioned my balcony garden to a living room garden.

Between powdery mildew and a cool/overcast May, I didn’t have as much success outside this summer as I would have liked, but I learned a lot and know steps to take to have a more productive garden next year. (Vinegar water did nothing to the powdery mildew, but watered-down milk did.)

One thing that will help my garden next year be more productive is if I can get a head start. I don’t have the space to make a makeshift greenhouse, but I can take advantage of my sunny living room.

So this year, I’m growing a winter garden.

I brought the herbs I had left inside. I’m hoping to keep them growing through the winter so I don’t have to start anew from seed next year. Having them inside has had the added bonus of making them more accessible to use fresh. These are the herbs I brought inside:

Basil
Oregano
Rosemary
Sage
Parsley

I’m also trying to grow again a few that I didn’t have a lot of luck with outside this year. I already had the seeds, so it is definitely worth trying. I’m trying this with thyme and cilantro (and may try chives, too).

And then there is the final plant I’m attempting to grow: a tomato plant.

A month ago, I cut off a few suckers from my tomato plants and placed them in containers of water. I refreshed the water a few times, and after 2 weeks roots had grown that are 3-4 inches long:

tomato sucker roots

I then planted the now-rooted suckers in new containers. One shriveled up, but the other successfully took root and now looks like this:

planted tomato sucker

I don’t know what will happen with this plant, but it doesn’t really hurt to try.

While my winter garden has settled in front of my sunny sliding glass window, I know that won’t be enough light as the days are getting shorter and shorter. I’m supplementing daylight with an LED grow light (the first purchase from my homesteading fund…much better than Diet Dr Pepper!).

Here’s my entire garden set up:

indoor garden under grow light

I’m happy to see what happens with my little garden going forward. So far, they seem to enjoy their new set up, and it’s great to have so much green inside as everything outside is going brown.

Are you trying to grow something inside this winter?