Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wedding Economics

This will be the last post for a couple of weeks. I’m sorry about the lack, but I’m getting married on Saturday and then we’ll be out of town until the second of May. So there’s a good reason behind it all. Posting will resume the week we get back.

I wanted to do a short post about wedding economics. The cost of weddings has gotten out of control in this country –as has the complications involved with getting married. All of this burden, naturally, falls on the bride and bridesmaids. Most grooms in this country have only one job between handing her the ring and showing up to say “I Do” –having the tux she picked out for him fitted. I’m marrying another woman, so the burden of this has fallen on both of us. And we’re both about to go out of our minds.

Ours is a simple wedding. It will be outdoors, with just our closest friends and family. We didn’t realize until after we made up the list that this still comes to about 75 people. We made our own invitations. The reception is potluck, not catered. Neither one of us is wearing the tradition white wedding dress. And yet, all of this, plus the rings, is costing about $900.

The site cost us $135. There’s a pavilion there for the reception and to serve as a rain site.
Clothing for both of us cost about $100 plus shoes and haircuts. Add in invitations, very simple decorations, flatware and the like for the reception, and it adds up in a hurry. My fiancé’s parents paid for about half of it, which helped tremendously.

Both of us are in a tizzy this week, trying to get everything done –finish the tablecloths, look at flowers, get the shoes for our little flower girl. We’re about to go mad. I don’t know how people with more complicated weddings do this. Or why. What matters is that you marry the person you love –not how big and fancy your wedding is, or how much it costs, or whether it meets your idea of a ‘fairy tale’ wedding. I went to a wedding a few years ago where the bride’s dress cost ten grand –and the couple went to Hawaii for their honeymoon. I would have opted for a simple courthouse wedding and bought a house for what they spent on one day.

If you’re getting married soon, stop the madness. Sit back and assess what you’re doing. Do you really need everything you’ve planned? Remember what matters most is who you’re going to marry, not how or when. Save yourself some stress –and some money. There are other uses for it.

And aside from all of that, you don’t want to be so worn out from stress that you fall asleep on your wedding night. ;)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Climate Change and Update

We’ve been having really weird weather again. I don’t understand how people can deny the reality of climate change. Do they have no connection whatsoever to nature? Even if they don’t believe it is caused by humans, they should have at least noticed the changing climate.

We had a hard winter here in Northern Alabama. The hardest one I’ve ever seen. It snowed several times, and when it snowed, it really snowed. We had severe cold snaps intermingled with springtime weather. Now it has almost been summer for the last few weeks. The last frost date for this area is technically April 15 –Tax Day, and still several days away. And yet, it hasn’t gotten below 40 at night here for the past month or so. Most of the past few weeks the nighttime temps have been in the 50s and during the day we’ve already had several days approaching 90. The past few days have been cooler -70s in the day, down to 45 or so at night. But still.
Climate Change does NOT mean ‘hotter’ weather. It means more EXTREME weather –of all kinds. People need to understand that. And they also need to understand that spring coming a month early is not a good thing.

I’m still planning to put up a post about soapmaking, but I haven’t had time to get the pictures of my soap. Some of it isn’t wrapped yet. I have a huge show coming up next weekend -5,000 people are expected to attend. I hope I do well. The weekend after that is the wedding and then we’re going out of town for a week as honeymoon, so posting will be light until we get back. After that I hope to get back to regular updates.

We’ve been to look at two buses so far. One of them was sold before we got there and the other was not as advertised –which is a kindness the owner doesn’t deserve; he said we could drive it home and it didn’t even have a carburetor. We’re also looking into other options. We plan to leave around August 15 –four short months from now.

Today is our wedding shower at K’s workplace, so I have to go –we’re busy busy busy!

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bus Misadventures

I've had an interesting two weeks. I've been working sixty plus hours both weeks plus making soap flat-out for my first big show, which is next month. I'm going to put up a post on soapmaking in the next few days, complete with pictures.

Yesterday K and I went to look at a bus. We drove all the way to southern Arkansas. Two of our friends came with us so we would have plenty of drivers for both bus and car if we got. Friday was crazy as we tried to get ready to go up there. The guy who had the bus assured us that it was running and had been driven recently and was in good condition. The only problem was that the brakes needed to be bled. We got there and the bus didn't even have a carb on it. It hadn't been driven in months. And the brakes? They needed replacing, not bleeding. So we came back without a bus.

K is pretty upset. She arranged the whole thing and feels like its her fault, but there was nothing else she could have done. We're back to square one looking for a bus, but we'll get there.

My apologies if this post is a bit incoherent. I just got up. We didn't get in until midnight and I got to sleep in for the first time in weeks. Yay, sleep!

One last thing: I've had to turn on comment moderation due to the sheer amount of spam comments I've been getting on older posts. It should only apply to those posts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Changes Comin' On

I’ve let this blog linger unattended for far too long. I have had so much to do, and so many things going on, that I just have not been able to get back into the habit of blogging. Over the many months since my last post I have several family crises, written a lot of material I am in the process of publishing, my relationship with my gf has deepened and matured –we intend to get married next month.

There have been other changes as well. This August, should everything go well, we will finally be moving out to our new homestead. It is not in Alabama, but rather in Northeastern Missouri. We have a lot of friends up there, and there are several intentional communities. The land is beautiful and productive. A lot of Mennonites call the area home. I finally have a camera, and when we go up there again I’ll take some pictures and post them.

The next step in our journey is to find an old school bus. Why? We are going to convert it into a temporary home while we build our new house. A full size school bus has around 300 square feet of usable floor space. Not a lot, but better than a tent or most RVs. You can generally find an older school bus in decent shape for under $2000. We are currently searching and hope to find one to buy within the next month or so.

I intend to document this transition step by step on the blog. Buying the bus, converting it, moving to the homestead, and starting up the homestead. I hope to detail all of it (with pictures) on here for everyone to see. I am also going to post about other things, such as my soapmaking, gardening, and the like. If you just found this blog –welcome. If you’re coming back to read it after my long absence, welcome back.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Weird Weather and Garden Update

We have been having some really odd weather lately. Both this weekend and last weekend were abnormally cool. Last weekend wasn’t that far off –maybe high 80s. But this weekend it never broke 80, and last night it went down to 52. That is unheard of around here in July –normally we have that kind of weather at the beginning of October! But that seems to be a pattern occurring across the country. If this keeps up, I don’t even want to think about what it portends for the harvest. Oh I will –I must –but that doesn’t mean I want to.

The bounty of peaches is finally slowing down, and none too soon. We’ve eaten them raw, cooked them in pies, crisps, and cobblers, stewed them, froze them, and last week I made my first ever batch of peach jam. It came out great. The jars are so pretty! I wish I had a digital camera so I could take pictures and upload them.

Everything else in the garden is doing well. The one lone tomato plant affected by blight is still hanging on. The others are thriving. The peppers are coming in, right on schedule, but this weather may change that. It’s not supposed to really warm up for several more days. Our basil is doing well, in particular one plant that is juxtaposed in between three tomato plants. I think that has something to do with it –the other basil plants that are near tomatoes are doing particularly well too.

No rain for five days. Other than that and the strange temps, things are going well here.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Free Food Storage Buckets!

I got some free food storage buckets Sunday from the bakery at one of my local supermarkets. I had heard you could do this, but had never before tried it. The ones I got are 3-gallon icing buckets. The lids on these won’t seal air-tight, so I’ll need to either use mylar bags or find another way of sealing them –K thinks silicone sealant will work. But they were free. All I had to do was clean them out and deodorize them with vinegar. That certainly beats paying nearly $10 each from some of the supply houses.

With things going the way they are, I am becoming more and more concerned about keeping enough food stored up to get us through. I’ve read several reports that each estimate global grain production will go down by about 15% this year –and that is an utter disaster. Then there is the Irish Potato Blight, which is devastating gardens and farms alike across the country. All in all, having food stored in the pantry makes me feel a lot more secure. Before K moved in I had enough food to last me three months. That, of course, halved when she moved in. We both agree that building up the pantry is a priority, so I am working on that as much as possible. Our eventual goal is to have a year’s worth of food on hand. That will not happen tomorrow, but we think we can do it in about 6 months.

If you don’t have any idea how much food one person eats in a year, go take a look at the LDS food calculator. It will give you a rough idea. There are several other calculators out there that do the same thing, and have roughly the same numbers. Those numbers are sheer calories –grains, beans, fats, cooking aids. They don’t include fruit and vegetables. The water requirement listed is for one week, as its generally considered impractical to store more water than that.

Here are the numbers for two people:
Grains -600 lb
Legumes -120 lb
Fats and Oils -26 lb
Sugars -120 lb
Milk -170 lb

It’s quite a lot, but my estimates indicate it can be done for around $1000. Less, with really smart shopping. But remember, ANYTHING stored is better than nothing if things go south. A year is a goal we’re striving for, but not one everyone can or even wants to meet. If you don’t have anything stores, start small. Buy an extra jar of peanut butter or a pound of dried beans the next time you go to the store. Every little bit helps.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Peaches, peaches, everywhere!

Peaches, peaches, everywhere!

My peaches are ripe. Last year was the first year I had any peaches from my tree and this year it just exploded. We literally have peaches everywhere –on the counters, the table, in baskets, in the cast iron skillets. The first ones were of course eaten properly. That is, we ate them underneath the tree with the juice running down our chins. The only bad thing we’ve discovered is that these peaches don’t keep well off the tree, so we’re rushing to preserve them.

Georgia peaches or Chilton county peaches? Neither, thank you, good sir –I prefer the ones from my own backyard!

Some more about my peach tree: it’s a Belle of Georgia peach, planted four years ago when it was about a year old. It is a semi-dwarf tree, which means it’s “only” about 15 feet tall. Currently it has a roughly 12-foot spread. It has never been affected by serious disease or pests, but some of our peaches developed a harmless fungus. These were mostly lower on the tree, and we’ve learned how to prevent that next year.

Happy peach season, everyone!

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