Monday, January 29, 2018

Frugality & Swedish Death Cleaning

It's rare for one book to hit the trifecta of my interests: frugal ways, Nordic living, and Estate Planning and Probate.  Yet, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson hit the mark!

Magnusson's book is a quick read at just over 100 pages, and hit my work desk after I was invited to be a guest on WPR's Central Time to discuss this idea of "Death Cleaning", which is defined as "remove unnecessary things and make your home nice and orderly when you think the time is coming closer for you to leave the planet."

As I read the Nordic follower in me loved Magnusson's blunt words and apparent lack of emotion for "things".  The Estate Planner in me nodded, and made notes about how Wisconsin Statutes relate to her suggestions.  And the frugal in me screamed -- don't wait until age 65 to start.  Stuff costs money to house, to maintain, only keep what you love and you'll save money, and maybe the Earth.

This is a great book to read to spur you into Spring Cleaning action.  I highly recommend getting a library copy.  It can be read in an afternoon, and is charming in the blunt and resourceful ways of my Swedish ancestors.  If you want to learn more, join me Feb. 10th at the Cross Plains library where I'll be leading a book discussion!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Citrus & Mushrooms -- Embracing Plants at Mealtime

Nine days left in January, and we are doing well on increasing our plant consumption at mealtime.  My husband and I have declared weekday breakfasts to be meat free.  Last year I'd routinely make him egg sandwiches with some sort of lunch meat or other breakfast meat.  Gone!  Instead I've added chopped veggies (onions, peppers, or tomatoes) enhanced with some hot sauce.  My go-to remains old-fashioned oats with berries and honey.

Embracing the season of citrus, I've been adding an orange to many of my meals.  It fills me up, tastes like sunshine, and allows me to limit any meat I might be enjoying. 

Opting for mushrooms!  Last weekend my book club went out for our monthly meeting (we meet for a meal and talk about what we've read in the last month, no pressure to all finish one book or nominate something everyone would like).  My food option was tea, a cup of cream of mushroom soup, and a dessert.  The bill was reasonable, and once again I limited meat consumption.  At home I have been enjoying leftover Wild Rice Mushroom Bake -- the kids and my spouse are not fans, but it freezers well and tastes lovely on a damp winter day.  Here is the recipe:

  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice, combine with 2 cups boiling water, let stand for 1 hour
  • saute 1 pound fresh mushrooms and 1 medium onion in 2 tablespoons butter
  • Mix it all together plus: 3/4 cup uncooked long grain rice; 1/2 cup sliced almonds; 3 cups broth (chicken or veggie); 1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream; 1 teaspoon salt; 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  
  • Spread into baking dish.  Sprinkle 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese on top
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 75 minutes
What's your favorite way to enjoy mushrooms or citrus?  Help me keep creative in the kitchen with plants.  It's better for my health, the earth, and my budget!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2018 -- Our Year of The Plant!

Finding our rhythm in 2018 has been a challenge.  The first week of the year found us on an unexpected flight to Tampa, Florida for the Memorial Service of my mother-in-law.  Having fought cancer for 3 decades, her final days and departure moved with lightening speed.  Thanks to frugal living and a solid emergency fund the last minute flight, hotel, car rental, and incidental purchases (our son boarded the plane wearing winter boots.....leaving his tennis shoes back in Madison!), the trip was not a financial worry.

As we settle into this second week of January work and school routines are returning to our frugal home, some with modifications with hopes of making 2018 a bit less stressful.  Integrated into those modifications is my new years resolution -- more plants!  Inspired by the reporting and stories of The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People by Dane Buettner, my goal is to drastically increase the number of plant-based meals our family consumes.  Without question it is the frugal choice.  Meat and dairy products are the most expensive items to go into our grocery cart.  Production of meat and dairy requires far more water and oil to produce the final product, taxing mother Earth.  And plants seems to be the magic ticket to living to 100 years of age; and not just making to 100, but thriving at 100, free of the common diseases suffered by many Americans: heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

This week's efforts started small.  Cutting up more fresh veggies and fruits to go on the dinner plates.  All four of us are eating varying amounts of rolled oats every morning, adorned with our favorite way to make it more enticing.  Frozen blue berries with honey for me, butter and cinnamon for my daughter, and maple syrup or brown sugar for both my son and husband.  Simple, filling, and very affordable -- we love our old-fashioned oats.  We've also increased our consumption of herbal tea in the house, serving it alongside dinner, and for me I've been steeping a pot in the afternoon instead of nursing another cup of coffee, one often picked up in a to-go cup.

Help our family embrace plant-based eating with any suggestions you might have for recipes, new things to try, and even what to plant in our 2018 summer garden.  Leave a comment and join the adventure down our frugal path.

Be well, and thanks for reading!