Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Goal for August - Just One Makes a Difference

I'm about a week late on my goals, but that's okay.  My new goal for August is getting 30 mpg in my wagon, as opposed to the 29 mpg I get now. It seems a really strange goal, but that would give me another 11 miles to drive before fill ups. That one mpg difference saves me $1.28 each fill up, or about $7 per month.

How Will This Work?
Slow down. Since I live in the metropolitan area of not one but two major cities, I have a lead foot. I must admit that I regularly travel 15 mph over the speed limit. I've tried a number of times to slow down, but my speed always creeps up.

Better maintain the car.  My brother taught new how to change my oil... 8,000 miles ago. I am more than due for another change. This one will be all on my own. I'll actually post on this when I do it.

No more idling. Miss F has always fallen asleep in the car on the way home from my stroller-based exercise class. No one ever wakes a sleeping baby, so I often sit in the car with her in my driveway, sometimes leaving her there while I pick weeds in the front yard. Once it started getting warm out, I worried abut those stories about babies dying in hot cars. So I'd let the car idle with the air on. It was a lovely side effect that she'd stay asleep longer when idling than when just sitting. Since the weather is unseasonably cool, I'm now turning the car off and opening the window. I won't leave her alone anymore so that I can monitor the temperature.

Drive like there's an egg on the pedal. My dad taught me this when I first learned to drive, but I blew it off once I became more confident. By driving this way, you're less likely to accelerate and brake hard. Fewer changes in speed equals less gas consumption.

Fill up at halfway empty rather than waiting for the light. There are mixed thoughts on whether the level of gasoline in your tank affects your mpg. But it's irresponsible of me to transport a baby in a car whose emergency gas light is frequently on. So if it helps my mpg, great, but it's not my major motivation.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Can Do": Overcoming Canning Fears

I have a very hard time canning because I have a small kitchen and no dishwasher.  But I desperately want to have the shelves lined with gorgeous home-processed canned goods.  Every time I get large quantities of food, I end up vacuum sealing it and freezing it because it's easier than sterilizing jars, filling the canner, finding unused lids, and processing the jars.

But now we have a cow coming in.  My freezer is FULL.  I have no room for the meat we're about to pick up.  So I put my big girl pants on and got to canning.  I started out easy, with half of a bushel of peaches.  They were on the seconds rack at our farm market.  I only lost four or five out of the whole batch to mold, which is a big deal for me.

I also reprocessed the strawberry preserves that I had made.  It didn't have enough pectin the first time around.

Canning those were so easy, that I asked my brother to pick up some more peaches.

With 16 quarts of peaches under my belt, I moved to tackle a big fear and source of anxiety:  pressure canning.  My mom gave me her old Mirro pressure canner a while back.  It has a weight instead of a gauge, and I had no idea what I was doing.  But I consulted the internet and my Ball canning book, and voila!

There are still some green beans in the fridge from the half bushel I bought.  I think that 6 quarts is enough for storage (for now) and that these will become ham and green beans for an easy dinner.