food sourcing.

Huzzah! A blog post!

I was not having a good week last week. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and was feeling really, really run down. My sister, A, happened to call which was very exciting in and of itself, since she currently lives in Melbourne and the time difference makes it hard for us to talk much. When I told her how I was feeling, she didn’t really respond with the usual, you have to take care of yourself and work less etc., she asked me if I was eating properly. I realized that I wasn’t really eating properly. Apparently, sometimes it takes your YOUNGER sister to take care of you!

Though it doesn’t take just eating better to make life better, she totally had a point and so in the last few days, we’ve been eating better. Instead of toast and crackers for every meal: Homemade fish tacos! Mushroom and broccoli pasta! Stir fry! Actual breakfast! And I’ll be darned if I don’t feel better.

The crazy thing about A’s suggestion is that lately, I’ve had sourcing good food down to an art these days, so it was weird that I wasn’t taking advantage. And that’s the real point of this rambling post: acquiring good food. Back when I wasn’t running my own business and N’s wasn’t as busy as it is now, we never worried about what was for dinner much. We’d decided what we wanted between the two of us through texts and either N or I would pick up what we didn’t already have to make dinner happen. Fast forward to a few months ago: it’s no secret that going back to school and starting your own businesses mean budgeting. But, especially because N is in food industry and because we’re sorta tree huggers around here, we want to get food from the best places we can.

About two years ago we started buying an eighth of a cow at once from a farmer outside Vancouver with a group of other people. The quality, and might I add price (in a good way), of the meat was unparalleled. We’d also pilfer my parents’ freezer on trips back to the motherland for any venison they didn’t need. (This year, there’s been no venison because my poor dad spent much of the autumn sick and eventually in the hospital, but I digress and he’s well on the way to getting back to his regular hockey playing, deer hunting self.) N’s mom would also help us out by bringing bacon and other delicious pork products when she came to visit from the local butcher near their cabin. All that meant that we had to buy an apartment-sized deep freeze a couple years back, but I think in the money we’ve saved from buying/acquiring meat this way has paid for it already. We still haven’t found a great source for chicken, but a friend recently mentioned that she’s found someone so that may change soon.

That left the rest of our food. (I’m a good Albertan: meat first.) As our budget has gotten tighter, we’ve taken to buying a large amount of groceries less often. We found that that ultimately brought our grocery bill down because we were planning our purchases a bit better. It also meant that we didn’t have to go to the grocery store often, a place I really hate. A few weeks ago, we signed up for Green Earth Organics, a service that delivers produce to us once per week. N had GEO back when he lived with five other dudes in a house, and though it seemed a little bit decadent to me to have someone bring us produce, I’m now totally sold. Unpacking that box is definitely the highlight of my Thursday (unless, you know, I have actual plans on Thursday night other than watching reruns of Star Trek on Netflix or, gulp, working). One of the best things about having produce delivered is that I don’t have to go to the grocery store very often now at all AND, more importantly, I think we’re saving money because we’re more aware of the food we have and because it’s fresher, it lasts longer, so way less gets wasted. I’m a total convert.

Having a freezer full of meat and produce taken care of has turned me a little bit into one of those extreme couponing people, except without the coupons. Now I’m all about putting a grocery list together throughout the month (yes, the month) and then shopping for the rest of our stuff on 10% off Tuesday (including, OceanWise fish, just in case you were wondering if I’d forgotten that other, other white meat). That’s right, me and the old ladies, with their orthopedic shoes and grocery trolleys, battle it out on the first Tuesday of the month to fill our pantry. Life is better when I don’t have to worry about what’s happening for dinner.* We just open the freezer, pantry and fridge and make something, because we know what we have good stuff. I think our system has saved us some decent cash and has definitely saved me annoying trips to the grocery store. We run out of eggs, milk and cheese more often than monthly, but that’s all available at the drug store two blocks from our place, so it works out to be a pretty good system. So, just in case ya wanted to know, there is the way we do groceries.** Got any tips yourself?

*Truth be told, I’ve never worried much about what we’re having for dinner, since N is the cook in our household. When I’m by myself though, I do worry and since N does a lot of the coking, I don’t really mind being the grocery scout.

**I always feel weird writing posts like these … like who cares about how anyone gets groceries, but I care! For some reason I LOVE reading other people’s tricks for this kind of stuff, so I figured, why not? Now that I’m not blogging here more often, but am updating my professional website pretty frequently, I figure that this blog is going to become more of a diary for me anyway, so you may get more and more stuff like this.

start with a cupboard.

 When this whole William Morris thing started, I read on Pancakes and French Fries that the best advice to take, when starting this project, was to start with a drawer. Well, that’s exactly the advice I took when restarting this project, only it was a cupboard, not a drawer.

This weekend, we’re having a large Thanksgiving dinner (that I’m very excited about). Our big dinner parties usually consist of a gaggle of our friends coming over to cook, eat, drink and clean up. This often starts in the middle of the afternoon and often ends in the middle of the night and often involves various people taking naps on our couch. In anticipation of the big dinner, for what is definitely my favourite holiday, I figured that we’d better get the kitchen in ship-shape since cupboards and corners will be poked into. N already cleaned the fridge out last week so I took it upon myself to tackle this cupboard. It really didn’t need much, just some reorganizing, tossing of chip bags with only crumbs in them (?) and moving medicine to the bathroom.

When all was said and done, it wasn’t the most exciting of reveals, but it does feel good knowing that I won’t be embarrassed when anyone pokes around for some sage this weekend. I even decided to show our very high tech budgeting system that resides in the cupboard, even though it’s a little embarrassing! But hey, it works.

 With the season rapidly changing, I’m actually looking forward to sorting out our apartment more. This summer was rough on the old girl, and she needs some TLC.

This post is part of the William Morris Project. I’ll be linking this post to the inspiration: Pancakes and French Fries.

i heart grey sweaters.

{Addie being really helpful …}

As I mentioned last week, I was planning on going through my dresser for quite a while. I finally did it this week, mostly because I couldn’t get most of the drawers closed anymore.

Since I moved out of my parents’ house almost ten years ago, I haven’t had a proper dresser that was mine and that actually holds everything properly. I currently have two dressers. One is tall and skinny and doesn’t hold much and the other has two large top drawers with a cabinet underneath, which is helpful for blankets etc. but not really ideal for clothing storage. One day I’d like to by a proper extra long dresser, perhaps one that N and I can each have one side on, because I always prefer to have less pieces of furniture than more, but for now, what I have, will have to do.

Anyway, I started out with the unmentionables and socks. I got rid of things I never wore and paired many wayward socks. I also moved the unmentionables into the shallow top drawer in the larger dresser so that I can actually see everything I have at a glance.

{Ignore the stuff on top.}

After that, I was on a pretty good roll, so I got through the shirts, pants, shorts and sweaters pretty easily. From all of this, I learned a few things about myself:

  • I apparently love grey sweaters.
  • I need to buy myself some new underpants.
  • Most of my pairs of pants have holes in them from biking. I’m contemplating how to fix them but some of them may be beyond help. Harumph.
  • Long underwear are difficult to find a drawer category for.
  • I am apparently obsessed with wooly socks (though Canadian winters will do that to you).
  • Ironing is really not my forte.
{Under this layer, they’re all grey.}

 I’m thinking that next week, I may tackle the closet (see my note about ironing) but in the meantime I’m glad that everything has a place and that I know where the place is for now. Unfortunately, dresser organizing is one of those things that has to get done a couple of times a year. I wish I was one of those people who folds everything neatly and puts them back in the right drawer, right away, but I’m never going to be. For the next few months though, this will be a major improvement!

This post is part of the William Morris Project. I’ll be linking this post to the inspiration: Pancakes and French Fries.

filing. {or any excuse to use a label maker.}

Spoiler alert: Contains info about winner the of The Bachelorette. (And yes, it does have to do with filing.)

A subtitle had to be included on this post because, let’s face it: filing? So. Not. Sexy. But, it’ll make your life a bit easier!

For this week’s William Morris post, I was planning something a little more glamorous (if you can call sorting through my dresser glamorous) but frankly, I wanted a project I could complete while watching the season finale of The Bachelorette (soooooo glad she picked Jef, BTW, even though he’s missing an ‘f’ from his name). (I love me some bad TV, especially when certain computer programing languages are causing me all sorts of want-to-throw-computer-equipment-out-of-the-window type feelings.) This left me with the filing cabinet.

Another reason to tackle the files, is that I recently read a chapter or two out of the book Getting Things Done, which takes a very early 2000s, let’s work ourselves to death approach to life, but is none the less super helpful when it comes to organizing one’s files. In the book, David Allen says that if the systems in your life aren’t super easy to use, you won’t use them. (Why didn’t I think of that? I could be a millionaire book author by now … but I digress.) This made a lot of sense to me so I followed his advice and organized my files in a way that makes them easy to use. That meant that I got rid of the actual files and put all of my papers and crap straight into the hanging files that came with our second-hand filing cabinet. That way, I can actually see what’s in a file and move it around with no interference. Easy-peasy, right?

I also labelled all of them with a label maker, something Allen also advises, though let’s get real, besides loving crap television, I also love any excuse to use something as type-A as a label maker. Also on the  David Allen list o’ wisdom, was to organize my files alphabetically. My inner librarian sort of cringed at not using some sort of Dewey decimal or similarly categorized system, but hey, who’s going to knock best-selling organizational wisdom? When all was said and done, I was really pleased with how it all turned out. I know where everything is now and I don’t have to remember whatever system I put in place several months ago, every time I want to figure out if the phone company is trying to screw me or not (which they usually are).

There was another piece of David Allen wisdom I took, which has proven to be pretty golden. I tend to worry about things that I can’t deal with right away. You know: things like having to wait for some form to arrive by snail mail before I can actually apply for the right health coverage etc. It’s silly, I know, and the obvious solution is therapy or some kind of zen living in the moment thing. However, I feel like I’ve solved this worry-wort problem by employing what David Allen calls the … well, I can’t remember … but the long and short of it is, have a folder (and a corresponding to-do list, but that’s another post) that contains all of the ‘Waiting for …” items. The stuff you can’t do anything about until so-and-so gets such-and-such to you or what have you. This has helped me feel less stress because all of that stuff is somewhere handy, waiting for me to do what I need to do with it when the time comes. I’m keeping that file, as well as a few other frequently used ones (not the phone bills, but the file for receipts that will turn into tax deductions and the like) close at hand, in a little pouch tacked to the wall above my desk. Handy and dandy.

Now, you might be thinking that I am totally compulsive and a little obsessive, and I am but, my friends, I do all of this because I know who I am and I know that if I can just get stuff out of my head and into my files (where I don’t have to think about it) it leaves me much more time and mind space to be spontaneous, have more fun and even be more productive. So there you have it, complete with some rhymes. I think William Morris might approve.

P.S. If you’re considering reading Getting Things Done because of this post, I apologize. Depending on what type of person you are, reading it before bed can either be good (it’ll put you to sleep before you can say ‘filing cabinet’) or, bad (if you’re like me, you’ll stay up half the night thinking about how much better your life will be once your files are organized). Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This post is part of the William Morris Project. I’ll be linking this post to the inspiration: Pancakes and French Fries.

my office (in a corner).

 Now that I’m back in school and hoping to run a full-time freelance business after I’m done with school, I definitely needed a better office. So for this week’s William Morris project I decided to get on an idea I’d had formulating for the last several weeks. Since we live in a one bedroom apartment, dedicating a section of the living room seemed like the best plan (N has his office in our living room too).

I wanted to make my section of the room seperate from the rest living area and from N’s office. I’ve always wanted to use chalkboard paint so I decided that this would be the project! On the weekend, I painted a one-metre strip of chalkboard paint above my desk and added a few of my favorite pieces of art from around our apartment. I’m hoping to add a few small things to the wall collection but for now I think the art chunk in the middle of the chalkboard breaks the stripe up pretty nicely. (The left side is close to our front door so will work well for notes and grocery lists and the like.) Though it might seem a little strange to have a deer skull hanging in our living room, it gives us a touch of Alberta (home) which I’m pretty fond of.

Note: My “desk” is really one part of a drop leaf table that we are hoping to get rid of (know anyone who wants it?). It will be replaced with something like this, which I understand is in the works since my birthday earlier this month. I’ll update once the desk is sorted (I’m super excited about the desk!).

This post is part of the William Morris Project. I’ll be linking this post to the inspiration: Pancakes and French Fries.