Monday, May 19, 2008

Bits and Pieces

I think I mentioned a few posts back that yard saling is a waste of my time. For the most part I guess I still agree with that. I have a tendency to discover a need for things I find at dirt-cheap prices and if I set out on a yard-saling trip with needs in mind I am sure not to find them. It’s too bad because there are really a lot of yard sales in my neighborhood (despite the almost total lack of yards—we should make like Brooklyn and call them stoop sales). On a typical Saturday an intrepid yard-saler could easily hit four or five sales on foot around here. But in my efforts to spend less money and reduce clutter in our house I’ve mostly avoided them this season. Our immediate neighborhood isn’t big on yard sales, anyway, so it’s a bit of a hike just to get to yard sale territory.

This past weekend our parish held its annual, enormous yard sale to which we donated a large box of lovely toys—I’m so glad all that stuff is out of here. I sort of intended to go but then got to enjoying my lazy Saturday morning. By the time I decided to check it out there was only one hour left and on my way out the door I noticed that a house on the next corner had a sale going on. I wandered over with low expectations and was just about to leave when the home owner mentioned the books on the porch. I browsed a bit and all my frugal, decluttering vows disappeared. I called Eric who was home with sleeping children and started reading him titles. I boxed up fantastic, hardback books—some we’d been looking for for a long time and paid. I ran back home and sent Eric to pick them up and I think he found five or six more in the process. It’s hard to resist books at yard sale prices. Never mind that we have absolutely no place to put these books. Our shelves became officially full when Eric cleaned out his dissertation office on campus. In fact, there was already an unshelved stack of theology titles on his “desk” in the back room. We cull our library pretty regularly but this is a recurring problem for us.

By the time I got to the parish yard sale there were a mere thirty minutes remaining. The selection was dwindling but the prices had dropped to $1/bag—anything you could cram in a plastic grocery sack cost $1. I snagged a CD and three books, including a lovely illustrated guide to trains and an illustrated King Arthur which Joseph has already spent a good deal of time devouring. I also got these two jars.

I never seem to have enough glass jars around even when I save nice-sized ones from the store. I buy in bulk pretty much anything that can be bought in bulk and it all needs a place to go. We bought a whole lot of glass storage jars when we moved here and discovered all the critter problems.

And can I just interject, because I don’t brag enough about my husband, that Eric installed this shelf on a brick wall many months ago and it still hasn’t fallen down. He even decided to put those jars up himself while I was out and it still makes me happy every time I walk into my kitchen. They are just cheap IKEA jars but I like them and these two at the yard sale are part of the same set so I picked them up. The smaller one is providing a home for some of my coconut. My coconut stash is sort of an example of bulk-buying gone bad: I got fourteen pounds of the stuff a long time ago. I’ve been storing it in the chest freezer which does not motivate me to use it any faster. But now it finally has a jar even if the jar itself has yet to find a home. The tall jar is tinted blue and is too tall for any of my cupboards. I was a little worried about the blue, actually, because I don’t like to see my food through colored glass. I don’t even like blue freezer bags. But I filled it with granola and the blue seems a bit muted once there is food inside.

Its granola season again. I buy oatmeal in bulk, too. Usually 25 to 50 pounds at a time. Eric was highly skeptical the first time I bought that much oatmeal but we really do get through it. We eat oatmeal hot quite often all through the winter and every day during Lent. Then when the weather heats up I switch to making granola. I love cold cereal, I confess, but I’m firmly convinced that breakfast cereal is completely useless as a source of nutrition. When I’m pregnant a bowl of crunchy cereal drowning in cold milk is about the only thing that staves off morning sickness so I resolved to find a way to make myself yummy, crunchy cereal before I’m pregnant again. I have a high ideal of soaking all our grains a la Weston Price but I’m very bad at following through on my ideals. This winter I remembered about half the time to soak our oatmeal overnight. I had a recipe last summer for soaked granola that was, frankly, a major pain. I burned the first batch I made in this kitchen (love gas stovetops, hate gas ovens) and gave up for the season. As I was ramping up for granola making again Eric gently announced that he does not like my granola. He generally loves the food I make so I wasn’t offended but I decided to set out to improve my granola this year. I’m sort of tweaking one thing at a time and, so far, I haven’t tried a soaked batch. I’ve learned to only cook the oats and then add everything else in afterwards. And I’ve learned to use a combination of wet and dry sweetener and some salt. The batch in the jar right now is oats cooked with coconut oil, raw honey, sucanat, salt, and vanilla. After cooking I added cocount, almonds, crystallized ginger, and dried pinapple. Very yummy. Maybe I’ll give soaking another try with the next batch. Anyone out there have a fantastic granola recipe?


Robyn said...

Holy Blogging Superstar, Batman! It's like you've awoken from a blog coma and are filling us in finally! So good to read up on what you have up to!

I love picturing you yelling at people. I've never seen I can really let my imagination go wild. ;)

a note to the Other Reader's of Susan's Blog: I honor myself with the title of "One of Susan's Closest Friends". So if I have never seen her yell at anyone...I think that might give you some insight that the line "I start yelling at people" is either something that is quite rare, or a bit of an exaggeration! But still, fun to imagine.

Robyn said...

I just realized that the 'yelling at people' line is in the other Ember Days post. oops.

Susan said...

Well, Robyn, I would definitely agree that you are "one of my closest friends." But I do yell. Not at you, of course. I think its actually a testament to how well you care for your friends that I never seem to have occasion to yell when I'm visiting you or you are visiting me. You help me stay well-nourished and relaxed whenever we're together. We should get together more.

Robyn said...

I'm all for it!

Actually I was thinking of you this week in terms of..."they could come visit!" My brother and his family of 5 are coming on Friday and I have figured out the sleeping arrangements and they are not so bad at all. My mom gave Andrew an early birthday present of a sleeping bag! So he is now a portable sleeper (I hope...). So my brother's fam is taking over his room...blow up mattress and all. It should work out fine!

This is probably more email-y stuff than comment-y stuff. sorry!

Anyway, you guys should come this summer!