Category Archives: home economics

Family Friendly Farmer’s Markets

Despite the fact that I froze this morning when daring to wear a skirt, I am determined to believe that spring is finally here. For me that means the return of my ritual visits to the Portland Farmer’s Markets! 

I mark dates on my calendar, and try to make at least one a week. This year I plan on buying much more produce, since we no longer have organic home delivery.

Not surprisingly, Portland made the Apartment Therapy’s Top 10 List of Farmer’s Market . But they don’t share that the PSU Saturday market is really one mostly for visitors, and locals visit the others all across the city on different days of the week. Here are my favorites:

Here are some tips for saving money at Farmer’s Markets:

  • Buy in season – pretty simple, but you’ll pay more if you get impatient
  • Bring a list, but be flexible – it’s obviously harder to predict availability and sales, so flexibility is key
  • Buy in bulk – freezing fresh produce is a great way to save and eat healthy out of season. But there’s a caveat…
  • Don’t buy more than you have time to eat/store – nothing worse than wasting food!
  • Shop at the end of the day – no vendor wants to schlep home wares, so deals are to be made…and don’t be afraid to negotiate, but remember market etiquette 

While it won’t likely reduce your grocery bill, I think bringing kids to farmer’s markets encourages lifelong healthy eating habits. We’re lucky that our kids go to the market almost every week with their childcare classes. The kids pick out veggies that the cook uses on healthy pizzas, and as you would guess the kids come up with some really creative combos. Portland Farmer’s Markets even offers cooking lessons for kids, which  reminds me of my niece, Kid Foodie 🙂 

Do you frequent farmer’s markets with your family?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Eco Shower Curtain

I try not to buy into our consumer culture by putting off purchases as long as possible. But after hearing Hubby bug me for months about buying a new shower curtain, I was finally ready to shop. 

After watching Blue Vinyl, a documentary about the environmental and health hazards of the vinyl industry, I knew that I wanted a PVC free shower curtain. This Green Planet also explains how vinyl curtains are bad for your family.

Instead of trying my luck at the most convenient big box store (Target last time), I decided that I could likely find a more   eco-friendly option shopping online .

I quickly found a lot of great options, here are my favorites:

Our family bathroom is a bright orange sherbet hue, and our last shower curtain was a bright world map. So, I really like the colorful/playful/teachable style. We also agreed that we’ll need a new world map for somewhere else in the house.

I want to reiterate that I did my best to keep our previous curtain clean and presentable for as long as possible. I diligently washed it, but once it started to tear, Hubby insisted on replacing it. I found some great tips on cleaning shower curtains from Create Plenty, a new group in Portland that is teaching these type of eco-life skills.  Apparently most households replace their shower curtains every 1-2 year,  I feel pretty good that I managed to use our for 3 1/2 years. 

So, if you’re still mulling over a new Earth Day commitment, how about washing your old curtain or buying a new “eco” curtain?!

Does your family you have an eco shower curtain?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

EcoMaids Chi

There’s no doubt I now have a favorite day of the month, which coincides with our EcoMaids cleaning service . It’s hard to put into words, but it’s such a relief to come home to a spotless house. It just puts my mind at ease for the entire weekend, and I simply don’t have the angst that I used to – either feeling guilty for putting off cleaning or too exhausted to clean in my precious spare time.

The monthly cleaning service doesn’t get me off the hook entirely, but it gives substantial relief. I am much happier to sweep regularly than to haul out our “beloved” vacuum and Shark steam mop

The irony is that my moment of cleanliness bliss is often abruptly stopped short by the inevitable kitchen spill or misplaced potty attempt (which despite a few floor accidents this weekend is still going very well). We tease each other about this fate, but I’d still much rather clean up a fresh spill.

It’s not even really the absence of cleaning that elates me, it’s how that time is freed up to do any given family oriented activity. For example, this weekend instead of cleaning together all day (yes, it does take all day with two small kids “helping”!), we were able to spend the morning at a t-ball breakfast fundraiser, then a t-ball game and after nap we headed to the Pearl to hit the REI member sale and grab some Cool Moon cones at Jamison Park…all before heading to a friend’s b-day party! It was a delightful day, and truly courtesy of EcoMaids.

Having a clean home also allows me to focus on the “feng shui” details that create a peaceful home. Instead of scrubbing the tub, I’m able to pay attention to accumulating clutter. It seems that we are constantly putting things back where they belong, but on our “clean” weekend I usually take on one type project to improve our “chi”. This time I put fresh flowers around our home and replanted our big front porch pot and hanging baskets for the season. Again, these projects simply wouldn’t get done if we had to spend our time off cleaning.

On a previous post, I was criticized for spending family money on such an ephemeral luxury, rather than saving/investing the money. I understand the argument, but at this point in my life I think it’s well worth the percentage of my paycheck. I’ve literally earned it. Although that’s not to say that we couldn’t live without it, and surely under the sugar mama scenario the service would be dropped until we could afford it. It’s not something I take for granted, but it sure is nice to look forward to each month.

Do you think a cleaning service is a worthy family expense?

Sustainable Family Finances  
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Grocery Delivery – is it worth the price?

I’ve raved often of my love for Spud, for our organic grocery delivery service. So, I was dismayed to discover they are going out of business in the Portland area, effective immediately.

Ironically, this past week I had been inspired by Parent Hacks printable grocery list and started a draft of our ongoing grocery list. I had smugly colored all the items that we got regularly from Spud. Yet, before my list was even print ready, the sad news was sinking in…I’m going to be heading to the grocery store a whole lot more often again.

Naturally, they recommended two other delivery options in the Portland area – Organics to You and New Seasons

Organics to You surely has great produce, but they lack the dairy/staples that I’ve grown to love from Spud. The other problem is that Organics to You operates essentially like a CSA – there are no substitutions for orders – if you don’t like brussel sprouts you’re still stuck with them. 

New Seasons is a full service market, but they charge $10 for each delivery I love New Season’s, but the closest one is a 15 minute drive and I almost always spend more than I expect. I suspect that the $10 charge may be worth the savings on impulse spending.

Update:  New Seasons announces that they will soon stop their  grocery delivery service

The other problem is that time feels like money, and I have a feeling that I’m going to spending more of my valuable free at the grocery store…

For tomorrow, I know I’m now out of cream for my coffee…

Do have your groceries delivered?
Is it worth the price?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Kid Foodie

Today’s post is a shameless plug: 

My adorable niece is making a name for herself as “Kid Foodie.” She does live interviews with farmers at the Chappaqua Farmer’s Market, and writes a column about her experience of learning about where her food comes from. Our family is so proud of her, and it’s exciting to see a new generation that cares about where their food comes from and how it’s produced.

While specialty food can get expensive, I agree with Amanda about how important it is to support local farmers. We buy as much organic and local food as possible.  Spud really makes it easy . Even during the winter our food related carbon footprint is much less than the average household, and I love how Spud tracks it for you.

A co-worker of mine is very passionate about food, and has a “hobby farm” where she raises and butchers her own animals, and naturally has an organic garden and puts away much of her produce for the winter. Although she not as extreme as the Portlandia couple, she does ask which farm they got the meat from and if they don’t know she’ll go veggie. If you are a foodie/farmer, you should definitely check out her Hobby Farm blog.

Here’s Kid Foodie’s interview with Big Girl Bakery:

Can’t you just see her as the next Katie Couric?!

Do you try to buy local?
Do your kids care where their food comes from?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.