2.21.2014

rule #1, nothing goes to waste






A few of you or maybe a lot of you, have posed the question...how do we survive on so little food? That strikes me as sort of funny because after every meal we both say we are stuffed.  It's a good stuffed though, not the kind where you ate too many rich foods.  Anyway rule #1 in running any successful kitchen is that there is no waste.  If you are throwing food out then you may as well be throwing dollar bills into the trash too.  I really do hate to waste anything but especially food. Think about all the time, planning and energy that actually got that food into your house and then to trash it? Nope.  Your trashcan should not be full of food!  I urge you to take a few minutes and do a good clean out at the end of each week and see what can be saved. Every successful restaurant does this and so should you.


I gather up everything that is fresh, even if it's a little past prime time, the spinach, carrots, celery, onions, asparagus, whatever is left, and put it all in a big bowl and wash it really well.  Then it all goes into a pot of water with about 2 T of whatever seasoning I feel like using.  I don't heavily salt it.  It takes a little while to get used to soup that is not heavily salted.  But once you do get used to it, wow it's so good.




About an hour later it's done and I puree it in the blender for bowls and cups of super nutritious soup.  Now for every lunch I make for the next few weeks I can add a cup of soup that is packed with nutrients.  And it cost pennies because there was nothing wasted.  So take charge and be the boss of your kitchen, run it like the pro I know you are.

In other news...it's Friday.




56 comments:

  1. My grandmother, long deceased, grew up in Belgium. ("The Old Country," as she called it.) She once told me that when she was a girl, her mother always kept a pot of soup simmering on the back burner of the stove. Every day all of the leftovers would go into the pot of soup. This, of course, was before the days of widespread refrigeration.

    So nice to think of you, Janet, as carrying on this age-old tradition (albeit different in the details of course).

    kris

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  2. this reminds me of my trip to Ireland about 7 years ago. my friend and I were part of a tour and dinner was included most nights, but lunch was usually on your own. this usually was at a local pub and almost everybody opted for the usual fish and chips or shepards pie. every place seemed to offer a vegetable soup served with brown bread. some times it was more "squashy" sometimes it tasted more like potatoes but always delicious and just what I wanted for my midway meal when you knew a big meal was in store for dinner. I am sure this is what they did, and it might have actually been different at each pub if one at stuck around for lunch the next day. on the subject of soup, if you are going to make soup regularly a stick blender is a godsend. it really makes preparation so much easier. have a great weekend. Darby

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  3. While I do not put food in the garbage I have a compost that gets fed our scraps....I must steal your brilliant idea and make some "stone soup" you might have read that book to your children. It is a cute story...seriously Janet you could teach the poor to be rich perhaps you have a book in your immediate future. Enjoy your Friday to the max.

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    1. I agree with the above. What a wonderful idea to make soup out of leftovers! I never thought of soup. I am a fussy eater and often turn my nose up at leftover bits. But soup is a different story. And I have been telling Janet that a book, a simple one with her homemade wonders, would be great idea. I am sure that her multitude of readers would snap them up.

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    2. I would definitely buy Janet's book!

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    3. I want the book, too. (Oops, I have to watch those words, "I want"...but this is different!!)

      The thing is, it's hard to get published. You have to really research how to do it. It's better to have an agent...but no agent is going to take you on if you aren't well known.

      So how do you get known? These are things I've mulled.

      I've heard all kinds of stories over the years of how, pre-internet, somebody found a 'hook' to get thru to another writer, or a publisher...or to a TV/movie actor/producer; any authentic person to really read even their book outline. But I think it's few and far between. And publishers get thousands of manuscripts.

      Maybe I'm confusing it with somebody else, but I thought that The Pioneer Woman had something in her archive of how she got published once she wrote a book off her blog. I'm reading a book right now called BOUNTIFUL which is written by the authors, Todd Porter and Diane Cu off their White On Rice Couple blog. If you could write to these types of blog-to-book (-to TV food show) people and have them give up their secrets of how they got a book deal, seems worth a try.

      Then, there's self-publishing, and I know there's a way to do it on Amazon. I don't know how much "press" on their site they give you to get an audience, but I do know they sometimes highlight an unknown author.

      You've got to first write the thing, and writing a book isn't exactly like writing a letter to a friend although being a blog author already certainly seems important as part of the process. Thankfully, Janet keeps things simple in accordance with the whole of her life, which is good, so that you don't lose people in the rhetoric.

      But then the publishing part...I think it takes a lot of digging to try to find out how to do it. I'm just trying to be real...I've delved into this a little bit...because I don't think it's easy...but whoever said easy is the best? I was taught that sometimes the things we fight for the hardest are the best.

      Janet, it would be worth it, though. You are helping a lot of people, for free. You may as well do it for income and watch that mortgage continue to drop.

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  4. I find that the freezer helps me avoid wasting food, too. Whether it's just enough for a small meal that isn't going to be eaten soon enough or veggie soup parts. If time is not on your side, or you only have a small amount, freezing things that will not be used before they spoil, then making a pot of soup at the end of the month is handy, too. Very much enjoying your blog!
    Paula W.

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  5. Although I am highly prone to decadence this is actually something I'm quite good at as well. I think it's from when I used to cater. If I have veggies that aren't desirable to be used fresh I will roast them in EVOO, vinegar or wine, and a litttttttle sprinkle of sugar and then purée them for what usually becomes some type of pasta. Or with tomatoes I add it and rosemary to bread dough which is so good. Enjoy your weekend! And I hope you don't fall off any more ladders.

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    1. I meant some type of pasta sauce

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    2. Not a cook really at all....a littttle sugar? Okay, would have never thought of this? Contrast of flavor? Browning? No clue here. Thx Stephen!

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    3. You're exactly right! Just a little bit of sugar helps the veggies caramelize a little faster. Because older vegetables have lost more water, they will burn faster than fresh. The little bit of sugar + acid + oil encourages your vegetables to brown quickly but not burn. Keep an eye on them! I set my oven (convection if it's an option) to 375 and roast 7-15 min.

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    4. Stephen, do you have a blog about cooking?

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  6. I loathe waste! With our fresh veg I tend to par boil it and freeze it in small bags so I've got a ready supply to add to curries and casseroles. I'll make soup out of absolutely anything and the tortoise eats any extra salad stuff! Have a fab weekend! xxx

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  7. Dear Janet,

    You are a no-waste, frugal badass (compliment). I need to make a "stone soup" as well (how you make this soup reminds me of the folk tale). Considering how many people around the world don't have enough to eat it is shameful to throw away perfectly still-good food.

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  8. HI Janet, just followed up on your great post about quieting the wants and linked to you. My tips are not as good as yours' just realised mine more about stopping yourself from shopping rather than gratitude... It's a start anyway. Great post Happy Friday.

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    1. I'm still thinking about that post, too. Have to say...as I continue to develop long-needed awareness on a few things about frugality/budgeting, etc.: I had to go to another town today and stopped for lunch at a sandwich place which is a kind not found in my own town; it was my little treat, although I could have packed lunch from home (got a mini VEGGIE flatbread pizza, service for one; water to drink...do I sound defensive?!). The gal next to me in line was ordering such a pile of food; she did have kids with her. I think I tripped a step when they revealed her total bill; I mean, it was A LOT (eating out is just getting more and more expensive, isn't it...). At the same time, she was on a phone call with what appeared to be her spouse and she was telling him not to order his meal where he was, and instead let her order it from where SHE was, because "Your card is maxed; you can't use it...but I have about $20 left on mine...so what do you want me to order for you?"

      I'm throwing no stones because I've been down a similar road in my past life but it does make you want to whip around, get in her face and say, "You are going to RUIN your life. WHAT are you doing eating out and having THAT kind of expense for lunch when you are BROKE?" Maybe she needed a treat, too, just like me...but we both could have gotten our 'reward' in a more sensible way. But I've seen this happen again and again; when people are sort of at rock bottom, they'll do something like that to lift themselves up; it's almost like denial and refusing to believe things are as bad as they are, so just pretend they're not; at least you have the moment. Again, not judging; it's complicated behavior and I'm no psychologist.

      Since Janet's 'quieting my wants' post, and comments from a reader(s) which caught my attention about following the 'frugal' blogs where the blog owner herself still has the shopping mentality. OMG, I never saw through that before but now I'm seeing it left and right. The post, for instance, would be 'saving' for the week, yet every day some little thing is bought because "I just had to have this and it was on sale!" or it was a flea market "great buy." I just hadn't picked up on the contradiction. Eyes open wider now. Those blog owners are apparently still having their own struggles of quieting their wants; justifying their actions/compulsions. Human, of course. But still consuming; still buying; still shopping; still accumulating.

      I went by stores today that I never would have bypassed at a past time in my life; not all that long ago. I don't have those come-hither stores in my town. Today, yes, I was a little under the weather but, still, the desire was just gone. I'm much more interested in decluttering than buying. And decluttering is pretty time-consuming, for me; shopping takes even MORE time. And there's never enough time in the day to start with...so, I'm cautiously optimistic but I think I may be approaching a cure. I felt a little victorious; it was sort of a relief...to just go home. I didn't feel deprived at all. I liked that things went simpler today. Simple is good. Simplicity. I want it.

      If I'm getting better at all that, I know I can get better on the food. I know nothing about behind-the-scenes at restaurants or how they run a kitchen but, of course, it IS a profit-making enterprise so, although I never have thought about this too much, of course they are going to want a zero-waste policy. If they can do it at a restaurant, we should be able to do it at home. This blog sure makes me wake up and think about things.

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  9. oh, i am SO with you about wasting food ~ my kids have this rant of mine deeply etched in their psyches.

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  10. Love the soup idea. I am trying to avoid over-buying produce. If it means an extra trip to the store to get what I need, fine. I have time and the store's close. I may miss a sale now and again, but it's still cheaper than throwing produce out. debby

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  11. Totally agree! I don't buy that much, and I eat it all :)

    Have a great weekend, Janet!

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  12. Love this! I go through the fridge and cupboard now before I go replenish at the grocery store! Is making a huge difference! this month we have saved $500 on groceries, which coincidentally was the cost of the bill yesterday for fixing the brakes on Barry's car.... gotta love it...

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    1. You are also a badass (like Janet) in the way of not wasting food! You saved $500. this month on groceries? That's fantastic, that amount alone could feed another entire family for a month! Good job :)

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  13. Janet - Havent been a cook since my children lived at home and even then - not a good one. I am picky so don't buy much produce as I don't like it and will only do salads in the warm weather (my food groups are red licorice, dark beer, donuts, bread), but I have to say, you have me itching to maybe learn to be a better cook/try new things. This is such an awesome mindset. I could see me dicing up a large potato after stick blending this to make it my own and serving it with crusty bread. Loving your blog...

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  14. Wow, I'm totally opposite than you.

    I can't believe how much food I've wasted or have in the past.

    Since you have brought this up I have been really thinking about my purchases more. I'm trying to look in my pantry or my freezer and eating THAT before I buy something new. I get now why you have a empty (TO ME! ha ) pantry. If you buy buy buy it becomes wasteful. If you have fewer things in your pantry it is easier to see it, make it etc. I'm totally trying it! Unfortunately I've taught my family that MORE is better. If the pantry is getting low they all (especially the teens) say we have NOTHING to eat. I've had so many things in the my freezer that a lot of it was freezer burned. So packed I had no idea we had it so I went and bought more.

    Love your soup idea with leftovers. My goal is to see what I have easily in my pantry and my refrig/freezer.

    LOVE THIS! Can't wait for Rule #2!

    Jennifer

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  15. i could go on and on about why i read your blog....but everybody else seems to capture my thoughts ..,.so in keeping with the quiet person that I am. I will just say...thank you. - Pam Atk

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    1. Now, see, why can't I be like that, like Pam? I always overshare and 'talk' too much. I swear, the next post, I am going to just sit back and 'listen.'

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  16. I found a new cookbook called Root to Stalk. It tells how to use every single ounce of produce. The peelings are good for soup, puréed and made into wafers, etc. it seriously is worth it's cost. No waste with her, just like you. I feed my extras to my little princesses. While I no longer eat meat or cow dairy, I do love eggs. They aren't disrupting the natural process. They will lay those whether I take them or not. They are pets and my reward for their elevated lifestyle is eggs. When they want to keep their eggs to "set" I let nature take its course. I do eat goat cheese as well. My liquid dairy is soy, coconut, or almond milk. I froth those for my latte.
    Love your blog and I hope you keep up the food postings. There are many that will be inspired to start a healthier eating because of your motivation. I'm lucky as we grow all our own produce in keyhole gardens or in a huge greenhouse aquaponically. I get a huge amout of fresh. I just go outside and pick. You need to research "keyhole" gardening. You would so enjoy it. It's great for drought areas as we have and is only 6' diameter but can feed a large family year round. Right up your alley. We must all do "due diligence " as our food supplies are getting very compromised with weather issues and now radiation moving in from Japan and it's hitting the western coast. That's scarey.

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    1. This is so interesting! If I'd ever heard of a keyhole garden, I'd forgotten; just googled and there's good info on the web about it. Certainly is definitely something Californians could consider for their veggie gardens in this year of extreme drought. I haven't gotten out of my valley much lately but I did today and, oh dear, I cannot believe how dry and brown the foothills are, all the way to the sea...breaks my heart; we are parched. What will it be by summer?

      Anyway, thanks for this information. I looked up the cookbook, too. It's on Amazon.

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    2. Your soups sound wonderful Janet!
      It's possible to save water to use on the veggie garden by having a bucket or two in the shower to catch the water and then pour it over the garden. Of course it means you have to be careful with the type of soap you use and try to avoid any nasty chemicals, like many cleaning products. In Canberra, we had a really serious drought and water restrictions for some years. To save as much of our gardens as we could many people used the shower-bucket procedure. Of course it doesn't work for trees that are drought intolerant and we lost quite a few.
      We love our veggie garden - at this stage it's high summer and we're practically living out of it! All fresh and healthy, and we don't use any chemicals. Just good soil with cow manure, full sun, lots of mulch and water. Also lovely herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley (two kinds) and chives. I don't add salt to food. There is so much natural flavour in fresh vegetables and herbs. Best wishes, Pammie xx

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    3. I've been trying to read about gray water and figuring out how to do that correctly. Apparently a little of the right soap isn't too bad because it acts like an anti-fungal. Californians need to get creative, now not later.

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    4. More people are putting in grey water systems, as well as tanks to catch rain from the roof. I grew up in a house with a roof water tank that we used for washing dishes and clothes. In Oz, country people have done this for many years. It's much easier if you're designing and building a house from scratch as it can then be designed into the plumbing. But just using a couple of buckets in the shower costs nothing. Just a little effort to remember and then take out to the garden. Cheers, Pamela

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  17. I agree with Leslie, I think a book is in your future! You already have tons of advice in your past posts that you could put into a book on living simply.

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  18. I've been doing so much better reducing our waste since you started this series!! I make a weekly menu before I go shopping, so I finish and reuse partial ingredients the following day. We are saving so much money. When I think of how much I have wasted in the past, I'm horrified. Thank so much for inspiring!! Enjoy your weekend. xoJennifer

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  19. I have gotten so much better about not wasting food...I used to throw out part of my packaged baby spinach but now that I put it in my smoothies I haven't tossed any in months. I have been putting any unused lettuce that is a little past it's prime out for the rabbits and squirrels. With the drought there aren't as many things for them to eat, so I figure at least it's not totally going to waste!

    Have a great weekend!

    Linda
    xo

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  20. What a concept! I've previously heard about saving vegetable scraps for making soup, but it never made sense to me - now it does. Thanks for this.

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  21. I'm with you on this one - and I love making meals from leftovers. We have a great system here of weekly collections of food waste (for turning into fuel, apparently), which makes us very aware of what we throw away. I aim to fill the counter top food waste container only with things I haven't found a real use for - onion skins, banana peel, scraped-out squash seeds, that sort of thing. Occasionally something slips through the Leftover net though - that last spoonful of hummus that's gone fizzy, for example!

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  22. What a great way to use up some leftover veggies. I rarely waste food, but sometimes teensy bit of leftover veggies (like a little left over spinach in a bag) sadly end their life in the very back of refrigerator without me noticing it. Have a lovely weekend, Janet! xx

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  23. janet, once you make your soup, how long do you keep it in the fridge.or do you freeze them? due to a drastically reduced income i am getting better at making homemade, and using leftovers. i cringe when i realise how much money i wasted in the past by eating out so much, and also each week throwing away so much.
    Janey

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    1. janey i usually freeze half and then we eat the other half over the next week.

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  24. And I thought I was the Queen Of Soups!! Sometimes I overestimate the veggies I buy every two weeks at the grocery store, and in the summer, the farmer's market. And I should shop weekly, but I go every other Friday. We eat about 85% vegetables. We have soups and stews and salads a few times per week. And I check the fridge often for vegetables looking a little bad. To salvage every bit of your veggies, save all the tips and ends and trimmings and when you have a nice bunch, throw it in a pot of water and simmer for a few hours. You will have a lovely broth! And I avoid salt so I season my soups with herbs and spices.

    XO,
    Jane

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  25. you're going to have all of us whipped into shape real soon. :)

    if you use this as the liquid and mash with potatoes to make twice-baked potatoes topped with lots of cracked black pepper ...that's delicious too.

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  26. Guilty as charged. Hubby refuses to eat leftovers and I don't like his leftovers (we don't eat the same things)...but not blaming him entirely, because I think I throw out produce sometimes which maybe could be revived and still used. Too often, sad waste of food. Thanks for the nudge to do better. Food is too expensive to waste. If we don't get rain soon in California, we're not going to even be able to grow it in the first place.

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  27. Janet,
    You can be the boss of me!
    I would only say good things about you. Book of rules to live by.
    I'll buy it.
    P

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  28. I hate wasting food too! You just have to get creative, non?
    I love making this kind of soup, but I also add in a can of white beans. Makes it so rich and creamy, plus it adds protein!

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  29. This is so true! My Grandma ALWAYS said "Waste Not Want Not"
    Thank you for reminding me!
    Betsy

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  30. I have always cleaned my plate because that was how I was raised, by Depression parents. Years ago when I worked as a server in a family restaurant , I was shocked at what people would leave on their plates. They would compliment the food and say they were stuffed and couldn't eat a bite more and push away half of their plate. I would always offered a doggie bag but most people would refuse and I actually think some foods taste BETTER the next day!
    I couldn't help think about all the homeless people that were going without. Even now, it upsets me to read diet advice of eating half a meal and not finishing it all. Such horrible waste.
    It's pretty rare for anything in my home to go to bad and get tossed, but I do love this soup idea.
    I'm not much of a cook but you have made a difference in my life. I no longer go through drive-throughs at lunch time and get things off of the dollar menu. Nope, I've been bringing oatmeal and blueberries for lunch!
    You got me thinking about both my health and my finances.
    xoxo

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  31. I try to abide by this rule. I am better some days than others. I am making your mushroom pasta dish for dinner. Organic mushrooms were $1 a box! I actually thought of you and smiled. I hope that does not sound odd. I am just fine! Oh, and beautiful blackberries were 2 for $1!

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    1. I wanted to add the mushroom pasta dish is beautiful and delicious. Will be happy to have the leftovers tomorrow!

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  32. Thank you Janet. I do believe you just saved me about $6....and that is just this week. Who knows what amount was wasted in the past. I have a pot on right now, and looking forward to soup with dinner.
    blessings, jill

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  33. Like you, Janet, I am appalled by the waste of everything, but particularly food. The freezer is my best friend when it comes to saving food. If in doubt, I pop 'whatever' in a container and freeze it. I also salvage other people's cast offs.

    On Friday afternoon I was at work in the large office where I work and late in the afternoon I went to empty my mini trash can from my desk. I opened the trash drawer in the office kitchen and noticed a drink can which should have been in the adjacent recyclin bin. I moved that and underneath it was a perfectly good, unpeeled banana! What the?? I brought it home and this morning my husband and I had smoothies for breakfast. I used 1/3 of a pineapple (picked from our garden) a tub of frozen mango puree (mangos salvaged from the neighbour's front yard as they are in season and just rotting everywhere) and, you guessed it, 1 lonely banana. It was perfect.

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    1. It sounds like you live in an exotic land...pineapple in the garden and mango in the front yard.

      I guess it's no diff than we who live in in SoCal/U.S.A. with our oranges, lemons and avocados; most anyone I know has one, the other or all in their yards around the home, which seems to stop out-of-town visitors in their tracks who have never seen citrus grow. Yours sound more tropical and intriguing, though!

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    2. Vicki, We are blessed to live in one of the most temperate climates on earth. http://www.weatherzone.com.au/climate/station.jsp?lt=site&lc=40121 We also have excellent soil and good rainfall so it means we can grow almost anything including all citrus and we have a huge old avocado tree up the back as well.

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    3. I was TOO intrigued so did click to go into your blog; I see you are in Queensland! I'm going back in there to read you when I have more time! I love hearing about wonderful places in the big, wide world.

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  34. I despise waste of any kind. Money is awfully hard to come by and to be wasteful in ultimately being wasteful with your own time. Of course it took me to middle age to learn this. :)
    I have a request for a blog post. At the late age of 50 I've decided I want to take up camping. Husband thinks this is a bad idea because I've never been camping in my life. Can you kindly write about your camping trips? What do you bring? Where do you stay? Is it expensive? How do you cook? Personal hygiene? Safety? It's just a request, I know you have plenty keeping you busy, but I just thought I'd ask. Thanks! :)

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    1. i will keep this in mind for a future post. but in the meantime, i'd see if any friends or neighbors would be willing to lend you some basic camping equipment for you to try before you jump in and purchase what you will need. camping equip can be expensive but if you use it a lot then it is a great investment. other than that i think it is super clean, safe and inexpensive. :)

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  35. perfect use of all the leftovers!
    when i was a child it was a very bad behavior to throw food away. my grand parents and parents clearly remembered the hunger years after WWII. so i have it in the blood to eat up all the food in the storage - and not to buy more then i can use!
    beate from bahnwaerterhaeuschen.blogspot.de

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kindness is never out of style.