Sunday, July 21, 2013


As in, we are going on one. Because there is nothing quite like going away in the middle of the gardening season. Timing is not up to us, though, so here goes nothing.

Gratuitous Garbanzo bean (chick pea)

See y'all soon :D

Happy Pinching

Monday, July 15, 2013

On the economics of small economies, aka OMGosh, that's so not worth my time.

When you find yourself spending hours to save pennies it's time to look at your notion of what your time is worth.

Clearly, being awake is not worth his time :)

Now, I don't mean to say that you can't ever do anything that doesn't make or save you money, Goodness no, that's so not my point. What I'm talking about here are the small things we adopt that save us a few cents or fractions of cents that are tedious and time consuming and that we simply hate doing, yet we do them because we feel that we must because they save us some money.

We here at Pinch manor are in the early throes of seed saving, which is actually what made me think of this post: Cleaning radish seeds.

It's kind of boring, it's sort of time consuming (if you know of a quick, easy and free method, please, please, PLEASE let me know?) and the payoff is minimal, radish seeds are relatively cheap.

From a purely financial standing I have so far spent at least 8 hours cleaning seeds that I could buy for about $5. And I'm far from done. That's an hourly wage of about $0.625. I went to college for that?

Here's the question, then: WHY do I do it?

Well, I actually do this while watching TV and I have a hard time sitting still, simply letting entertainment rain down on me passively, so this actually makes it more enjoyable for me.

I know that these seeds are organic, even if the USDA doesn't stamp them.

It's a small thing, but it is a way for us to be more sustainable. And it means that I can use those $5 for some other, new seed that we don't have yet. Very limited seed budget, I pinch those pennies HARD.

Would I do this if there was something more profitable I could do during that time instead? Maybe. It's boring, mindless occupation, kind of relaxing, so I wouldn't be able to directly switch it to writing or crunching numbers and I can't cook while sitting on the couch, so that's out. I do peel cooked potatoes there, but I do that less than once every other month and to my eternal shame I watch more TV than that.

I could make jewellery while couchpotatoing, but that is a creative process, so it's something I can't do all the time or on command, it is however something that I do in preference of gleaning seeds. I enjoy it more and it has the potential to garner me a higher hourly wage. Win-win :)

One thing is sure, though: If I really hated doing this task, I would not do it. Things I don't like doing have to 'make' me significantly more money than $0.625.

Crocheting is a prime example of OMGosh, that's so not worth my time. I know how to do it. I've done it. I've crocheted our dish rags. I hate it and I think it saved us just a few bucks. It's also not happening again. partly because I knit faster, I enjoy knitting more and it works just as well, and partly because if I had to crochet them I'd buy or trade for them instead from/with someone who enjoys that particular task, while chanting OMGosh, that's so not worth my time.

Cleaning my house is another one. If there ever comes a day where we reach an equilibrium and the 4 hours it takes me to clean my kitchen to my standards can be bought cheaper than what I can 'make' in those same 4 hours I'm hiring someone to do it for me so fast I'm likely to get whiplash.

And that's what I mean by what is your time worth. I know people who LOVE cleaning. Poor, sick individuals. I just love having a clean house.

If I can make $25 an hour doing something I enjoy, and pay someone else $20 an hour to do something for me that I despise, I think of that as making $5. And that's more than I make grubbing through radish seed.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's not about numbers, but in a way it is. And they are YOUR numbers.

You could not pay me enough money to change a dirty diaper, it's just not possible. But I'd do it if someone in my life really needed me to (and I could not find a way to weasel out of it). In other words, you can't have it for money, but you can have it for love.

That's all I got for now.
Happy Pinching :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mosquitoes and Catnip

We have both in abundance. Only one of them on purpose.

Catmint/Catnip flower, purdy, ain't it?

We also have quite a few vanilla beans on hand at all times (hey, vanilla, how can one go wrong?) because we like to throw them in when brewing...

So, here's a little recipe I use to fend off the mosquitoes when I do a half hour of yard work. That's about as long as this concoction is effective and I do small increments of work to break up the larger tasks, it all works out.

Catnip (also known as Catmint for reasons that elude only those who have never seen the plant next to spearmint), a few handfuls of mostly leaves.

Vanilla bean if you have it, vanilla extract if you have it, has to be the real thing and probably shouldn't be sweetened. (Don't use the vanilla flavoured coffee sweetener you have in the cabinet, it doesn't work. At all.) This is optional and smells good, the main thing is the catnip. Also, for the vanilla, a little bit goes a long way, think drops for a quart of infusion.

Alcohol. You can use cheap vodka or other cheap, clear, unflavoured distilled alcohol that is at least 50proof/100%, but I personally consider this alcohol abuse, so I use rubbing alcohol of the 91% variety. Significantly cheaper and since noone will be imbibing this it's all good.

Cut the catnip and vanilla beans (if you have them, if you are using extract you would add that to the final infusion) into small pieces, you want to get a lot of surface contact without creating mush. Put the whole shebang into a container, add the alcohol and shake it up.

Every day or so. We keep it on the kitchen counter by the coffee, so we don't miss it ;).

For at least two weeks, but longer is better.

catnip infusion, better late than never, right?

Mix this infusion 50/50 with water in a spraybottle and apply just before exposure to mosquito infested areas (Amazon jungle, Mekong delta, Michigan/Florida, my back yard). You'll be good for about 30 minutes, after that you will want to re-apply or go back inside and eat ice cream while the bloodsuckers bang on your back door, pretending to sell girl-scout cookies.

For the price of rubbing alcohol and a spraybottle and if you so chose a bit of vanilla you have all natural mosquito repellent that actually works. How cool is that?

That's all I got for now,
Happy Pinching :)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Follow up to dehydrating potatoes

This is a follow up to this post, to clarify something and answer a question:

The question was why do I peel the potatoes before I rice them, rather than let the ricer do that work for me?

I peel potatoes before I run them through the ricer because I do batches of 20 to 40 lbs at a time in order to maximize my savings. Running 2 trays on the dehydrator is only marginally less energy intensive than running 12 trays, so I load that baby up.
At that point it becomes more work intensive and time consuming to pull the peel out of the ricer after each half potato than it is to sit in front of the TV and peel them en masse, then rice them ditto.

If I was ricing four potatoes I would not peel them first, as this does add an extra step.

It's all in the application and what works best for you ;)

K, back to work here at Pinch Manor.