Food Waste in the U.K.

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sainsburys market plums

A large grocery store chain in the U.K. called Sainsbury’s is taking food waste by the horns according to an article I found recently.

They have created a complete life-cycle for their food waste.  It is basically a genius tiered plan:  Food that is still edible, but not sellable, is donated to food banks.  Food that is not really fit for human consumption is donated to local zoos and/or animal feed production companies.

sainsbury packaged carrots

The stuff that is beyond edible is trucked off {by the same trucks that deliver the food, so no extra trips}  to a waste management company.  The waste management company uses a zero-oxygen anaerobic digester to break down the food into methane gas that is converted into usable energy–as in electricity.

The electricity will then be fed back through a .9 mile cable to power the store.  Turns out, it will be enough energy to feed the entire store’s energy needs {and then some}.

The new program hasn’t started yet, but the wheels are in motion.  Seriously, how cool is that?  Someone is really using their melon…pun intended!

I just love a happy ending when it comes to food waste.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.



How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed

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How to Calm Down When You Are OverwhelmedLet’s face it, we all get overwhelmed from time to time.  As adults, it usually stems from our inability to say “no” to certain obligations.  With back to school upon us, our schedules are about to get busy again {or maybe still}, running kids here and there, but what about the kids in all of those activities?  How do we teach them to manage their stresses?  Seriously, is it just me, or is being a kid a lot harder than it used to be?   It can’t just be me, because lately, I’ve noticed a lot more attention on kids and stress.

If your kiddos are feeling the pressure, here are a couple of ways to help them calm down when they are feeling overwhelmed:

  1. Teach them how to weed out a couple of activities.  They may love soccer, piano, student council, advanced classes, etc., but if it is taking up all of their evenings and leaving no down time, they may start to feel overwhelmed before they are even consciously aware.  Learning to let some activities go now is a skill that will serve them well throughout their life.  I think as adults, we call it prioritizing.
  2. Teach them to take deep breaths.  When stress strikes, we aren’t always in a place to limit our obligations.  Sometimes teachers assign something big on the same day as a big game or whatever.  Deep breaths help to at least limit the physical manifestation of stress.
  3. One thing at a time.  No matter how incredible we are, we can only do one thing at a time.  Teach kids that they can only tackle one thing at a time on their to-do list.  Although it seems too long to get everything done, checking off one thing at a time will eventually get the job done.
  4. Make health a priority.  Healthy eating and exercise makes dealing with the demands of life a lot easier.  Stress can be a real strain on the immune system, a weakened body will eventually succumb to illness.
  5. Schedule in alone/down time.  Having NOTHING to do is priceless when your kiddo is over-scheduled and overwhelmed.  Quiet, alone time allows your kiddo to shut off some of their obligations for a minute.
  6. Teach them to walk away when the answer isn’t obvious.  Social pressures can be super overwhelming.  The “right” response isn’t always obvious.  Walking away and putting some space and time between the problem gives your kids a chance to consider potential solutions.
  7. Reconnect with nature.  If you follow this site for my gardening, you probably already totally get this one, but kids are so technologically savvy, they have forgotten the importance of reconnecting with the out of doors.   A walk, fishing, hiking, shooting hoops in the driveway allow kids to soak up some essential vitamin D, get fresh air, and satisfy their need for exercise.

Have your kids experienced stress in some way?

How did you teach them to manage it?  How do you manage your own stress?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Back to School Lunch Ideas – How to Prevent Apple Slices from Browning

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Back to School Lunch Ideas - How to Prevent Apple Slices from Browning

My son loves apples, but has braces, so biting into a whole apple is a disaster waiting to happen–both for him and for me and my finances.  I know you can buy pre-sliced and treated apples, but they are seriously a ton of money compared to a plain old apple.

That’s why when I learned this cool little rubber band trick {it totally works}, I knew I had to share.  Just slice the apple with a sharp knife, holding it together as you do, wrap a rubber band securely around the outside of the apple and throw it in your lunchbox.  It won’t brown, because the slices aren’t exposed to air.

So simple, so perfectly simple.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Buying Meat in Bulk: Why Zaycon Rocks

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zaycon-foods-chicken-across-americaI’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over again: buying in bulk rocks. And when I buy meat in bulk, I like to use Zaycon Foods. They have super high quality meats that cook up delicious. Their prices are crazy good, plus, they are just a great company. They have excellent customer service and their events are well organized.

Zaycon-ground-beef-eventWhile I was on their website, I noticed they have so much more than just chicken and ground beef. They sell fruit, seafood, pork, and even raw honey. And you guessed it, they’re all at wholesale prices. Zaycon is quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to save money by spending money. I know it sounds weird, but when I buy in bulk I not only get a good price, but I make all sorts of meals & cook a bunch of meat in advance. So I’m not only saving money on the meat, but time. And since time is money, well, you get my point.

Right now they have some great events going on all over the country:

Fresh Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast {40 lb box} $1.89/lb

Frozen Wild Sockeye Salmon Fillets {25 lb box} $8.49/lb

Rotisserie Seasoned Turkey Breast Roast {20 lb box} $4.29/lb

Meaty Back Ribs {36 lb box} $3.99/lb

Smoked Pulled Pork {20 lb box} $4.99/lb

Italian or Tomato Basil Mozzarella Chicken Sausage {12 lb box} $4.99/lb

Find out where the nearest Zaycon event is to you HERE. Trust me you won’t regret it!

Here are some helpful hints on how to prepare your bulk Zaycon purchases:

How-to-Process-and-Prepare-Your-Bulk-Chicken
How to Process and Prepare Your Bulk Chicken
Cooking-Ground-Beef-in-the-Crock-PotHow to Cook Ground Beef in the Crock Pot

I love having a freezer stocked full of high quality meat! How about you?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Weekly Garbage Expose

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trash piled up

Remember awhile back when I told you about that woman who decided to take the plunge and create a zero waste home?  It was a mind-blowing concept–which obviously would take a crazy amount of commitment, but it is still totally commendable.

The garbage we generate must be on a lot of people’s minds because a recent series of pictures by photographer Gregg Segal features families and individuals with the garbage they generated over one week is sweeping the internet.

The photographer wanted to show what the amount of garbage we generate over one week would look like.  He had the people lay in their garbage, and then snapped a photo.  You can check out a couple of his pictures on treehugger.   It’s actually pretty interesting to see the amount of stuff {and what kind of stuff} people throw away over 7 days.

What do you think?  Would you be embarrassed to let someone see you laying among your garbage?  What packaging is in your garbage that you KNOW you could cut back on?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Make Minky Burp Cloths

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how to make minky burp cloths

These burp cloths are ridiculously easy to make–seriously, if you can sew in a straight line, you can make these. They are so much softer and cuter than cloth diapers, and they make perfect baby shower gifts.  Whip up several, and grab them whenever you need a quick gift.  It’s homemaking, only streamlined.

how to make minky burp cloths

To start, cut out your fabric.  I like the minky fabric for one side and a cool patterned fabric for the other.  Cut out 10″x16″ rectangles.

how to make burp cloths

Put fabric on table.  Place the minky side fabric right side up, and then place the patterned fabric on top pattern side down.  Pin together.  Sew the edges, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Sew all four corners, leaving one side open about 1-2″ so you can turn the fabric right side out.  Trim the corners at an angle as in the picture above to make for smoother edges.  Once you have sewed all of the edges, you can trim off any excess outside the seam.

DIY minky burp cloths

Turn the fabric right side out.

minky burp cloths

Iron all of the edges for a nice smooth finish.  Then, pin the opening and sew it closed using clear thread.  To give it a nice finished look, Sew two straight lines up the sides of rectangle giving it about a 3″ border.

how to make minky burp cloths

Roll them, tie them with a bow, and practice saying, “your so welcome,” graciously in the mirror.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Ask Mavis – You’ve Got Questions, I’ve Got Answers

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ask mavis

The questions keep on rolling in and so I’m going to, once again, pretend I’m smarter than I am and attempt to answer them. Keep in mind my answers are not scientific, are my own opinion and might, in fact, confuse you more. You’ve been warned.

Of course if you are an expert on any or all of the subjects covered in these questions, pretty please, for the love of Frank, pipe up in the comments below and share your knowledge with the masses. I’ve always said my I have smartie pants readers. Now’s your chance to prove it to me. And go…

omron-pedometer-1

Hi Mavis, I am interested in the pedometer that you use. How long does the battery last? I’ve searched Amazon to find an answer and I can’t find anything consistent. I thought I would ask the expert! Is there anyway I can give you credit when I purchase it through Amazon? I love your blog!

~ Julie

So I haven’t had my pedometer long enough to see how long a battery would last, but I read in the reviews before I bought it and many said about 2 years. As far as giving me credit, all you have to do is use my Amazon link HERE when you purchase and they’ll throw me a few cents for referring you! Easy peasy {and a huge thank you for asking. So kind of you!}.

how-to-freeze-shredded-zucchiniI have a question for you since you garden and can. I have a ton of zucchini and I am going to make some relish (when I can find the time). Can I chop up and freeze the zucchini for canning later? I thought it would probably be OK since it is going to be cooked down in the canning process, but just curious if you might have any info. I have looked online and can’t really find any info about freezing before canning.

~Robin

I freeze zucchini all the time {cubed, diced, sliced, shredded}! When it grows like crazy and I can’t keep up, my favorite way to use the excess is to shred it up in 2 cup packages and freeze in my extra freezer. When winter comes and snow covers the ground, I thaw it out and feed it to my chickens.  They love it.  Or if I get overly ambitious, I make zucchini bread.

organic-garden-pictures

Do you think it’s possible for a mother of 4 to leave an office job and survive solely from my suburban back garden (yes the property is paid for except for monthly taxes and municipal fees). I am dying at my desk – literally. I sit the whole bloody day, pushing around paper – creating more pollution which I’m totally against. No exercise – too tired when I get home, and/or I think of excuses not to exercise. I’m totally anti-materialism and anti-capitalism. I SO WISH I had a backyard-mentor.

~ Magda

This is such a loaded question. On the surface, yes I do think it is possible. Do I think it’s worth it? Hmmm. You see if you love love love gardening and you convert that hobby to a full-time gig, that love might be lost and it might begin to feel like an awful chore. If you are just trying to feed your kids with your garden by consuming and/or selling/bartering your produce to buy other staples {rice, oats, wheat, meat, etc.}, it’s certainly doable.

But if you are thinking of growing a garden large enough to sell your produce to make  a living, that’s another story. It would require a lot of work, and then I’m not even sure you’d be able to support your family by doing that. So I guess the answer is, what you want to do is commendable but I’d need more info to give you a more definite answer.blueberry jam with mint recipe

So about 4 years ago I planted two small mint plants that I got from the local farm store. One spearmint and one apple-mint, and now they have taken over the herb garden!  What can I do with all this mint!?  Can I dry it for recipes or am I just doomed for the mint to continue to take over?  Now that it has flowered and the bees are dropping seeds I am sure it will come back bigger and badder next year!

~Jen

Oh man, mint plants are such aggressive spreaders! They’ll totally take over unless you show them who is boss! As your new mint seedlings grow, you will need to thin them, removing the weaker plants and allowing only the strongest to remain.
The best time to thin mint plants is when they reach 6 inches tall. You’ll want about 18 inches between them to help keep them from spreading {although they will anyway, so you have to be vigilant!}. You will probably need to go in there and cut a bunch out if you want your other herbs to survive! Oh and mint can totally be dried.

can you mail a peanut butter jar

Hey Mavis, I sent you an unusually shaped piece of mail and a regular card (to determine how much longer, if any, the unusually shaped piece of mail takes). The card came back to me today, undeliverable. Hope the non-card makes it to you. A regular piece of 1st class mail from Wisconsin typically takes 4 days to Seattle.

~ Jann

I got the unusually shaped piece of mail and it totally made my day. All I could think about was how long it took you to clean out that peanut butter jar! Ha! I so wish the letter would have arrived as well, because that would have been fascinating to see the difference in delivery times. Thanks for the fun surprise!

broody-chicken

What is causing my hens to lay eggs out in the compost.  I do not have a rooster and just 2 hens.  All of a sudden they won’t lay in their hen house.   This is the second time I had to hunt down their nest.  How can I get them to lay in their box?

~Linda

I’ve heard this is fairly common. Try plastic eggs or golf balls, because those are really handy for encouraging hens to lay in certain places.

Also, keeping your hens closed into the coop for a few days to get them used to laying inside again can be the answer {if weather permits, etc}. From everything I’ve read, they’ll probably just go back to laying in their nest on their own, if you have the patience to wait it out!

carrot cake jam

I noticed an orange tint to the water when I poured it out that I had used to sanitize and then can your carrot cake jam in. Turns out it was rust from the canning rack. Do you know if the jam is still safe to eat after sanitizing in this water with rust in it? BTW the jam is very, very good! Thanks.

~ Diane

Rust is really just iron oxide, a rather benign substance in small quantities. You probably shouldn’t eat a pound of it though! ;) But your jam should be just fine.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Remove Mildew Smell from Towels

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How to Remove Mildew Smell from Towels

You know how after the years that wet dog smell starts to build up in your towels?  You wash them, you dry them, and when you pull them out to use them, it feels like you are drying off with a dirty dish rag.  If you don’t want to toss all of your towels and start again {which I am pretty sure no one wants that}, try this quick, easy and CHEAP fix:

vinegar baking sodaYou’ll Need:

Vinegar
Baking Soda
Washing Machine
Smelly, gross towels

How to Remove Mildew Smell from TowelsDirections:

First, turn the washer to the HOTTEST setting.  Add two cups of distilled white vinegar and add the towels.  Do not add detergent or anything else, just the vinegar and towels.  Run the wash cycle.   When the cycle is complete, leave the towels in the washer and repeat, only this time, use one cup of baking soda and nothing else {use the hottest water setting again}.  When that cycle is complete, remove the towels and dry completely.  If it is warm enough to line dry, that’s perfect, otherwise, throw them in the dryer and make sure they get completely dry.  Repeat the process every couple of months to maintain {go back to just washing them normally in between}.

How to Remove Mildew Smell from Towels

Your towels will smell like…well, absolutely nothing–which is the freshest smell in the world when you’re used to pulling in a whiff of mildew.

Happy Homemaking,

Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Renting vs. Buying Textbooks for College

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Renting vs. Buying Textbooks for College

I was talking to my neighbor Hulda the other day about the crazy high prices colleges are charging for textbooks, when she told me her daughter RENTED her books last year and saved some serious cash doing so.  I thought that sounded genius–I actually didn’t even know renting books was a thing.  I started looking around so we would know all of our options when The Girl heads off, and here’s the breakdown:

Buying textbooks new is basically like throwing good money away.  There is no reason unless it is the first year of the requested edition or it is a book you will need to reference for several semesters.  Buy used if possible.  Amazon has an entire section devoted to new, used, and rentable textbooks.  {Go HERE for more information}.  The beauty of finding books online is that it connects you with college students all over the country–and odds are, you will be able to find used options.

rent buy sell textbooks

Basically everything I found said to avoid the actual school bookstore at all costs.  They jack the prices up {new or used} to offensive levels and most larger college towns will have privately owned “used textbook” stores that will swing you much deeper discounts.  The only time you may have to actually grace the school’s bookstore with  your presence is if the professor has put together a printed package required for the course.

If you go with the buy option, make sure to do some research on the buy back price.  Some buy back prices make the book worth buying instead of renting.  For example, if the book is $50, but the store will buy it back at the end of the semester for $25, then buying it, instead of renting it for $30 is the better option.  See how I just did crazy math there?  A little research up front is totally the way to get the most from your money.

If your student decides to rent books, make sure they know exactly what they are getting into.  How long is the rental period {i.e. will they get to keep the book until the end of the semester}?  What is the policy on highlighting?  What constitutes a “damaged” book?  Make sure you factor in shipping when it comes to rentals too.  Most of the time you can get free shipping to you, but you have to pay for shipping back.  Some of those textbooks weigh a ton, so shipping might not be worth it.  Once all of those questions are satisfied, compare the cost vs. buying.  It is still very possible you will come out ahead with a book rental situation.

Finally, for literature classes with several novel requirements, consider the library {you won’t be the only one to come up with the idea, so the public library might be your best bet versus the school library}.  That way, you can check out the book, read it, write about it, and then turn it in and move on.  Zero financial liability means more money in your  pocket.

College is expensive, I say, save where ever you can!

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Is Happiness Directly Related to Expectations?

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mavis butterfiled Lucy the Puggle Dog

Happiness is such a funny concept.  It is kind of one of those privileges afforded to our culture because {for the most part} most of our basic needs are met, and we can focus on achieving the ever-allusive “happiness.”  With that thought in mind, I ran across an article about happiness the other day that blew my mind.  I repeat:  Blew. My. Mind.  It suggested that happiness is directly related to our expectations.  It’s such a simple idea, but I guess I had never really thought about it in those terms.

Researchers on happiness {how can I get that job?} have found that happiness directly relates to our immediate expectations of the situation. If our expectations “aren’t bigger than the size of the payoff” we seem to pretty happy.  If we are disappointed by the outcome because it didn’t meet our expectations, then we are unhappy.  It’s basic happiness math.

It made me start thinking about all of the events, situations, etc. that I have been disappointed in during my life.  And yep, when I really think about it, they were disappointing because they did not live up to my expectations.  Had I not had such high expectations of them, I might’ve been able to enjoy them for what they were.  I wonder, does that mean that somewhere in our expectations lies the key to happiness.  I think so.  In my opinion, having realistic expectations of life and all of its events, relationships and situations would contribute to overall satisfaction in a major way.  Easier said than done, of course, but mind blowing, right?

What do you think, have your expectations affected your happiness?  Do you think consciously re-adjusting your expectations would lead to immediate improvements?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

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