Real Life Math

Today, Ari’s math didn’t come from a book or a worksheet. Instead she budgeted for a shopping trip and made the purchases for our family! It was a busy afternoon; we planned to go to the library (free!) and then we needed to visit the farmer’s market, BJ’s, Michaels, the grocery store and a local farm store. Before we left we made a list of the items we needed and I estimated what I thought each cost. Then, we built some money into the budget because I inevitably forget a lot on the lists!

It started off well as she noticed a sign for $.05 off gas on Thursdays just as my tank was about to hit “empty”. She calculated it out and we saved $.42 due to her “eagle eyes”.

After our weekly visit to the library, we decided to go to Michael’s first.  This is the place we can spend the most money AND it was the furthest, so I decided to test Ari’s budget skills! She passed with flying colors, though I did insist we buy something on “one-day-only” sale.

BJ’s went just as well (darn, we forgot bananas from the list too), and we carried on to the farmer’s market. Our budgeting was a bit trickier here because some of the needed items were not what I regularly buy and I had to estimate. Ari kept us on track and as we figured out what we could spend to have enough for other items, she made sure we weren’t going overboard. I was not allowed to buy a second dozen eggs “just in case” or any shitake mushrooms that were a surprise (she hates mushrooms) and she reasoned with me that we needed to buy some milk and chicken, which I had forgotten on the list… sigh.

We worked in a bit of math with Abby too, as she was given $1 to spend and we informed her honey sticks (her favorite) were 4/$1 at the farmer’s market or 5/$1 at the farm store. She resisted the immediate temptation and saved her money for later.

Ari reasoned we needed to go to the grocery store next so we knew just how much we had left for the farm store, where we obtain our milk and meat. We ended up with enough left to buy our milk, chicken and some fruit with a tiny bit extra! As a thank you for a great job Ari and Abby were each given $2 to spend (black cherry soda and chocolate milk respectively) and adorably, they switched drinks halfway through the ride home.

Ari was really proud of herself for not only sticking to a budget but also not losing the money(!). I can’t imagine why I didn’t do this before and I’m pretty sure this will become our weekly ritual.

But I just remembered I forgot to get something we need at BJ’s 🙁

Review of Lunchopolis lunchbox

As a self-proclaimed “green mom,” I knew I couldn’t let my daughter Ari start Kindergarten with a lunch packed in disposable containers. I set out to look for a lunch system that was safe and healthy for her and eco-friendly. I was really impressed with the Lunchopolis system when I saw it. Consisting of a 15 oz drink bottle and 4 containers (one large one medium, and two small containers), it fits perfectly into the insulated lunch box.


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I Can Eat My Weight in Food Each Day

What am I?

  • My babies look like very small versions of me.
  • I love moisture (80-90%), but I also require oxygen.
  • For my home, area is most important. I don’t care so much about the height of my ceilings.
  • My eggs look like tiny straw-colored lemons
  • One pound of my friends and I usually contains 1000 individuals.
  • I can significantly reduce levels of pathogens in waste materials, such as biosolids (gross sludge from waste treatment plants).

Did you guess? I am a red wiggler worm, Eisenia fetida. I am used to vermicompost, which is the breakdown of organic wastes using yours truly, worms. Other microorganisms do most of the work, and I eat the microbes and protozoans. When you feed me organic waste, I make compost that can provide essential nutrients, stimulate growth, and help suppress disease in your plants. My home doesn’t smell and as a pet, I’m cheap to feed and don’t make any noise.

A home can be made or bought for me. There are a ton of designs if you surf the ‘net! I’m a surface dweller, so I prefer shallower bins or stacked bins for me to travel up to the food. In my home I like to have bedding such as leaf compost or manure. To feed me, just put your fruit and vegetable scraps in my bin and cover them with bedding. Although my 999 friends and I can eat a pound of food in a day, to keep my bin from getting yucky it might be better if you stick with a quarter to a half a pound per day. I also like coffee grounds, tea bags with the staple removed and adding eggshells can help stimulate my reproduction.

Check back at for more vermicomposting information, pictures and products in the future.


Spaghetti and Romas

What do you do with twenty ripe Roma tomatoes? Make sauce! Today I used my harvest to make a fresh tomato sauce for our spaghetti dinner. It took some time but the end result was superb!

First, I rinsed all of the tomatoes.


Next, I put 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and sautéed onions (1/4 onion or more) and minced garlic (4-5 cloves) until they were browned.


As I sautéed, I also cut up the tomatoes. Once the onions and garlic were done, I added in the tomatoes, some basil, a pinch of oregano, parsley, a tad of salt and pepper.


I set it to simmer for 20 or 25 minutes,


and was added to pasta and served.


Compared to the store-bought sauces we’re accustomed to, this sauce was rich and flavorful and the taste of the fresh Roma tomatoes was evident in every bite. After this meal, I don’t know that we would be satisfied with sauce off the shelf again!

But They’re Blue!

I’ve always thought there was something wrong with eating blue or purple colored food. I admit it. Eggplant? Ew.  Figs? Ick. Blueberries? No way. I was biased! I had my exceptions; grapes and plums were good, but they’re really dark red. All of that changed on Tuesday. If you read my post Tuesday, we went blueberry, raspberry and peach picking. I was excited about the raspberries and peaches, but I picked the blueberries because my Dad and Chuck love them. Then, it happened.


I actually tried a blueberry. My taste buds burst with the sweetness! It was delectable. I ate another and another. I could not believe how good they were. I was hooked! Now I know that I was wrong all along. Those tiny little berries that I have detested since I was small are really good, and good for you!  It seems those little blue berries, along with red and purple fruits, have anti-cancer properties as well as a whole host of other benefits. They are incredibly good for you. Of the 84 calories you consume by eating one cup of blueberries, only 4 calories are from fat, yet they have 4 grams of fiber (14 % DV), 24 % of your daily value of vitamin C and a whopping 36% of your daily value of vitamin K.


This is my plea: if you are like me and dislike foods for no apparent reason, try them, you may find you actually like them.