Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 5 - Paper

The Slow Cooker White Chili turned out great. I do need to note that I added a little salt to the pot that the recipe didn't include. I crushed a couple of hearty tortilla chips into the bottom of each bowl, added a bit of shredded Jack cheese and then ladled in the chili. We nixed the salsa and sour cream. Yum. This is a repeater. Will be really great in cooler weather.

Work day at the school park was productive. I got to shovel pea gravel and sweat a while. David helped build a bridge. Andrew got filthy playing in the sand. It was all good. The hot dogs were cooked on the grill and served in wheat buns. Of course, we had Cheetos, Doritos and Ruffles too. Someone brought home-baked chocolate chip cookies, so I'm afraid that whatever benefit I gained in working hard for a couple of hours I lost in cookies.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to make pancakes before church so that we don't run into opposition about going straight home instead of the usual Sunday brunch place. Then chili for lunch. We'll see. The main thing is we have options ready at home and do not need to go out.

I've been thinking about paper products today. We used paper plates today at the park that looked like the old classic white ones, but these were thick, sturdy plates. I was surprised that I could stand and eat while holding it with one hand. We haven't used paper plates in a while and we tend to use plastic for large parties, but since these are compost-able, I'll be sure to look for them next time.

The problem: I've stopped the daily use of paper napkins and paper towels at home for a couple of reasons. One is environment, and the other is expense. We were going through a pack of 100 napkins and a roll of paper towels in no time. I felt like I was buying them on every other grocery shop. Cha-ching. I tried using the least expensive napkins, but they disintegrated with little use and left a grainy residue on our hands. So I bought the top of the line inexpensive ones (if that makes sense), but we still went through them quickly, it just cost more. We tended to use them for everything: wipe up spills, blow noses, pick up dead bugs, shred them for fun. I'll not point fingers, but let's just say each member of our household had their own way of wasting napkins. I have been buying really good soft paper towels for a while because I couldn't stand using lots of cheaper paper towels just to clean up a small mess, plus there's a texture thing. I'm very tactile. But even so, I realized that we were using these products constantly, thoughtlessly. Bad for the budget, bad for the environment.

The solution: I have collected cotton dinner napkins for years. It's a thing. I'm tactile, remember, and I'm also textile. But, I had them stashed in a linen drawer and only broke them out once in a while for special dinner nights or for small dinner parties. It was silly to have a huge stash of good napkins and not use them. So now every meal is special. Then, a few weeks ago, I found packs of 12 plain white wash cloths at Target for $3 and bought 2 packs. Now, when we would normally reach for a paper towel, we reach for a wash cloth instead. They're absorbent and white, so I don't care what we need to clean up, I can bleach them and voila, clean again. I have already paid for them by not buying more paper towels. These habits have changed fairly easily. Of course, it helped that I took away the napkin holder and the paper towel holder is now empty. I still have paper napkins and towels because sometimes they're great tools (think lunch boxes and microwaving bacon), but we just don't keep them in plain sight. As a side effect, I've cleared off a little more counter space. Bonus!

Day 5 and counting...

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