No-Buy/Low-Buy

No-Buy July – 15 Days In

In which I document this first two weeks of No-Buy. I won’t go day-by-day as most of it’s been pretty good. There’s been a couple of bumps, though. I’d love to come in here and write about how everything I did was perfect, and I was able to mindfully consider each purchase, the ramifications, etc – but life doesn’t work that way, and I personally feel I learn more when I see people’s mistakes and how they fix them. Also, I am trying to be honest about things in a world where you can’t tell if a blog post is an ad or somone’s authentic experience anymore, FTC disclosure requirements be damned!
Continue reading “No-Buy July – 15 Days In”

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No-Buy July

Something that I’ve been doing the past couple of years is a no-buy twice a year, usually in December and July. I actively avoid shopping during December (pretty much anytime after Thanksgiving) and appreciate the peace and quiet this afford me. July seems to be another heavy hitter time for sales and stores sending ads and everything, so I decided since it was my birthday month, I’d start no-buying there as well.

This year, I’m kicking off my no-buy July and thinking about extending it into a low-buy August and September, especially in the craziness of getting ready for back-to-school.

Something that I notice is that while there’s a generally agreed upon definition for “no-buy” (if it isn’t a necessity, don’t buy it), “low-buy” definitions are pretty lax and dependent on the person committing to them. I’ve only really come across them in communities that I followed while trying to break out of my pretty serious make-up compulsion.

It helped a lot – I was on a low-buy for almost three years while I worked through a lot of my other things, and have ended up with a collection that I use constantly and adore – so I decided to work towards applying that philosophy towards other aspects of my life.

My low-buys tend to be “allowance” driven, and center around things that I have absolutely no self-control when it comes up. Right now, it’s things for the kids, especially Lily. Band t-shirt in her size at Target even though I only came in for diapers? In the cart. Shoes on clearance? Done. Cute toy even though she has a gazillion others AND its on sale? snagged. Art supplies even though M has sketchbooks she hasn’t cracked from Hannukah? Bought.

It’s a problem, and one I’m working on. I grew up with a lot of financial uncertainty so I tend to overcompensate with the kids. I know that’s the root of it, and I know that I want to raise my kids to both have a nice life with some luxuries but also know the worth of money and that it’s okay to go without.

I’ll work out the terms for my low-buy and write about those later. Right now, I’m going to keep focused on the cleaning purge, balancing that lifestyle with our goals of decreasing our overall footprint on the world, and maintain my no-buy this month.

Have a great week!

 

 

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Recipe – Midsummer Honey Cake

This recipe is modified from the one found here, published by a woman named Caitriona who manages The Pagan Journey and Recipes for a Pagan soul sites. I’m not sure if she’s the original author, though.

I’ll put the recipe first, and then our impressions and suggestions afterwards.

CAKE
1/2 C butter
1 t baking soda
1 C honey
1/2 t salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
2 C soft white flour, sifted
1/2 C buttermilk

FROSTING
2 C powdered sugar
1 T butter
1 1/2 T milk
1/2 T honey
Sliced Almonds

Cake Directions:
Grease and lightly flour a 12 – 13″ round pan. Preheat oven to 350 fan.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter. Add in honey and egg, and mix at low speed until completely incorporated. While this is mixing, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, alternating with buttermilk. Mix until everything is incorporated. Pour into baking pan. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Frosting Directions:

In a heat-safe bowl, microwave the butter, milk and honey for about 30 seconds, removing as soon as butter is almost melted. Stir in the powdered sugar until the consistency is thick but not stiff. Once cake is removed completely, spread over the cake, allowing some drips off of the side. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top if desired.

IMPRESSIONS

While I kept the batter nearly the same as the directions, it is a stiff batter, almost like brownies. I would recommend if you like a moist cake to take the cake out around 18 – 20 minutes into baking or adding about 1/4 – 1/2 C buttermilk until it reaches a looser consistency. The original recipe called for baking about 45 – 55 minutes, which is absolutely ridiculously drying in the size pan this calls for. I added nutmeg because I think cinnamon and nutmeg go hand-in-hand. I also added a splash of my mother’s bourbon based vanilla I have on hand which was a nice taste. Next time, I think I’ll also include some orange zest in the icing – ooooh, or maybe some lemon zest.

I nearly doubled the powdered sugar called for because it was SUPER thin as was. I think that this might help negate the dryness issue if you were to overbake it, however we didn’t need to compensate for that as I kept a close eye.

Overall, it was a great tasting spice cake that definitely reminded me of the best of both Summer and Fall. M and I enjoyed making the cake together and sharing it with our family. I love that it wasn’t overly complicated and that it gave a chance for all the ingredients to shine. That makes this cake a lovely beginner bake, especially for those who might be searching for ritual cakes but are fearful of baking and cooking!

If you make this, please let me know your impressions – especially if you try some of the corrections listed here! Have a wonderful Litha!

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Litha Celebrations

Today I got to spend a lot of time with M, my oldest bonus daughter. She’s going on 13, and she’s been asking lots of questions regarding how I practice my faith and what it means to her. It was really nice, actually. She’s been doing a lot of research on her own, and coming to me with her thoughts and whatever else she wants to know. We get to have a lot of unstructured conversations about it, usually when we go to the Farmer’s Market.

I mentioned to her that Midsummer, or Litha had passed (in fact, today was the last day), and some of the things we did to celebrate. She asked me what a ritual for Litha would look like, which was the first time she’s really been interested in the spiritual side of things. She started looking at my books and her research because she wanted to fly like in Harry Potter, and talk with her cat. She’s moved past that in these two years and I’m pleased that she’s making her decisions that guide her in a direction she’s happy with.

I explained to her that there’s all sorts of way to do a Midsummer celebration, and it was great to fall into my Paganism 101 stuff that I haven’t really been seeing in a while. She asked me how I would do it, and I told her “Well, really every time I cook dinner for us, I’m doing a ritual”.

She asked how, and I got to explain my point of view of what magick can mean, and how I work as a hedge/kitchen type, celebrating my roots and family traditions. While I love the props that can come from high ceremonial magick, I don’t have the time or space to go full-out, casting circles and calling quarters like I did when I was younger. The ritual for me starts with gathering the ingredients. Preparing the tomatoes, mixing the meat, chopping and dicing the veggies. Then cooking with the thoughts of what I’d like to accomplish. In this case, my thoughts focused on gratefulness that we live in an area where I can help celebrate the harvest of farmers and share in our fortunes.

So today, she’s helped me prepare a meal from harvested goods that we got at the farmers market. We picked up some tortellini that was on sale (because as good as I am, I’m exhausted from cleaning out part of the garage and don’t want to fuck with fresh pasta). We’re using fresh tomatoes, garlic and onions grown by local farmers, fresh mozzarella from a local dairy, eggs from my husband’s aunt’s chickens, basil from the garden, and the meat for the meatballs is also from a local producer.

We visited a local “Real Food” store and picked up some soft white wheat, which M got to watch as they ran it through the mill to turn it into flour. She was fascinated by it! We’ll use it tomorrow to make a honey cake, with raw honey from a local beekeeper.

I say all of this and I know that you can read it and think “God, what a pretentious twat” and I totally get that. But it really makes me happy that I have gotten to a point in our lives where, with minimum effort, we are getting back to locally sourced food. I’m able to trace where the food on my plate comes from, and the kids know what it means. Sure, the pasta comes from a mass producer for Lidl, but I feel very good about everything else. I’m showing them that a life with the goals I have, living mindfully and being purposeful in our choices, is obtainable – and fun. I hope you had a wonderful Midsummer as well, and get to share in the harvest this season – no matter where you get it from!

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Turning off, Dropping Out

I’ve realized that I get about fifty emails a day across two email accounts that are nothing but advertisements. My personal facebook page followed some content sites that have merged into nothing but ads. My instagram follows not only artists and poets that I admire, but also lifestyle brands I purchase from.

So I kept track for two months of what influence this stuff had on me. I noticed that nearly every time I opened my email or Instagram, I ended up window shopping at a site. I made a few impulse purchases. I felt envy and a rush of all sorts of emotions in viewing beautiful things that I have no room for, no use for, and no need for, but somehow wanted by virtue of them being in my feeds.

This week, I’ve been cleaning up. I’ve been unsubscribing from everything. Sending things to junk. Unfollowing lifestyle profiles. Unliking pages. And I am saddened and ashamed to realize how  much of my friends I was missing. My excuse for using social media has always been keeping in touch with family and friends after countrywide travels made connections in places I no longer live. But with my feed cluttered with all manner of advertisements (because even if it’s a pretty shot of candles and incense, it’s still an advertisement), I was missing them.

I went through my phone before writing this and the last conversation I had with a friend was on June 11th. I’ve somehow blinded myself into believing that I’m using these things to maintain connections but they are falling into disrepair because I’m not keeping them up – instead they are overgrown.

It’s time to weed the garden. So that’s my task this week for minimalism and mindfullness: weeding out things to make room for the people again.