Electricity: Holding steady — about 20% of US average. Next week Ben is going to go to the Home Depot and pick up a switch for the dining room so we can install the dimmable CFLs (really, this time!). Other than that, there’s not really much we can do here. I may seriously start thinking about getting a chest freezer and shutting off the fridge for the winter. At least in the winter, it would be totally doable except for adding yet another large object to the kitchen.
Transit: Holding steady. Train tickets have been ordered for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Food: We’re probably eating slightly more local food than before the winter crops started coming in, because our starches have been more root veggies and less grains. At least, counting stuff we’ve made ourselves. There have also been an impressive number of potlucks recently, featuring food of unknown origins. But I have been bringing tasty apple-based desserts and other such local food to the potlucks.
I made Pretty Bread today! I have an Austrian bread cookbook with instructions for making elaborate many-stranded braided breads, and I now have one standard flat loaf and one four-strand braided loaf. They are both challah — it really is structurally well-suited to braiding, since it’s not as sticky as some breads. We ate some of the flat loaf for lunch spread with leftover spiced lentils.
In gardening news, the two potato plants which died in the frost yielded three beautiful little round potatoes! That’s a rather unuseful harvest, but it was very exciting getting to find them in the soil. I want to have small children to help. That sort of thing must be even more enthralling when you’re six.
The “mud room” (separate little alcove leading to the backdoor — one side has the back door, one side has the door to the kitchen, and one side has the door going down to the basement, and the other side has shelves) stays nice and chilly, yet won’t freeze. I think it will make an excellent tiny little root cellar once we insulate the inside doors better. Currently the garlic, extra cabbage, and giant bucket of sauerkraut are sitting in it.
Heating: Our first hard frost was this past Thursday. We’re both doing reasonably well with the cold, but our toes have been getting particularly chilly. I think I may try modifying some slippers so that microwaved inserts full of barley or cherry stones or something can be put in them. The heat has been turned on twice total, both for very brief periods. The Home Depot run next week will also include buying weatherstripping. We’ve been drinking lots and lots of tea.
Trash: Holding steady at a very small amount. At some point, it will probably jump up when we decide we are not actually going to use all those grape juice jars and recycle them. The juice is organic but not local, and it lasts at least two weeks per jar, so I figure that it’s a reasonable indulgence. I wonder whether frozen concentrate or bottled juice is lower-impact? Probably bottled…both freezing and concentrating use a lot of energy.
Consumer Goods: I bought a calendar for doing garden planning last week. It was a bit of an impulse buy, but at least it’s a genuinely useful impulse-buy, just one that I could do just as well without. Otherwise I didn’t buy anything this week.
I’m trying to decide what to do for Christmas presents. Some people are getting jam and things, and some people are getting charity donations. I may do Amazon gift cards. Books are always useful, and the gift cards are good for used books as well. I hope I’ll have enough yarn spun in time to be my sister’s present. I haven’t been doing a lot of that lately.
Water: I think I’m holding steady at about 20% of US average. I could get it down a bit lower with more mindfulness, but as with electricity, I think we’ve done pretty much everything we can that doesn’t require home modifications. The new cafe at the co-op has a dual-flush toilet! I actually flushed it when I didn’t quite need to (Ben was going to go after me, so he wouldn’t have minded me not flushing), but I wanted to flush the nifty toilet. *sheepish*
Random community stuff: There was excellent community Friday night. This has lead to lots of soul-searching as to what I need in a spiritual community, but mostly the good kind of soul-searching. The NYC urban agriculture people have a material packet with advice on how to start an urban farm. I think I may order one — it seems like lots of very good networking and gardening advice that would be applicable even if one wasn’t trying to start a city garden in New York.