Thank you for keeping me up to speed on this.

This is Potlatch weekend, our annual attempt tp derail the holiday train. We send out the call for people to come to the church vestry and drop off gift quality items and take home the same. We also take holiday decorations and outerwear as well as good quality household things. The biggest problem is that some people see this a sway to clean out junk before the holidays and we get stuck getting rid of it before Sunday services. Puzzles with missing pieces and electronics that don’t work are not gift quality but we always get some of them. The junk is a small price to pay for keeping a lot of useful stuff out of the landfill and helping folks provide gifts without spending any money. In the midst of taking donations I snagged a bookcase and a carpet for Ben and Maggie’s new place from a woman who was downsizing.

I’m on an apple rant today. I had been reading about arsenic in apple juice so I got online and did some research. It turns out that upwards of 60% of our apple juice originates from China! The problem is that China allows some arsenic based pesticides that are banned in the US. It just boggles the mind that we are importing apple anything. This country has an embarrassment of apples. I find it impossible to believe that we need to rely on some other country, a long, oil soaked boat trip away, to grow or process something so adapted to our ecosystem. The solution is to buy only organic juice but organic juice in my little market is nearly $5.00 a quart. I can get it for less if I buy a case but this still leaves most poor people, and lately that seems to be most people, out in the cold. They are forced by economics to purchase juice they know is unhealthy.

The only solution is to stop buying juice at all. I know that going juiceless would be hard for me and I can imagine for many others. I still have nearly 50 quarts of home-pressed cider and cran-apple juice as well as some grape juice in the basement. I am committed to canning much more next year. I’m delighted every time I open a jar of the canned cider. The flavor is wonderful, the process easy and the price unbeatable. For those who don’t remember. I heated the cider to 160 degrees, held it there for 60 seconds, then bottled it in sterile jars and capped it with sterile lids. They all sealed and the resulting juice has none of the cooked flavor of commercial juice. My summer kitchen will be perfect for this kind of assembly line food production.

I made a chicken for dinner last night and, while we ate, I cooked up a stock and thickened it while I did the dishes. The chicken was really expensive and I don’t want to waste a shed of meat. I did the math and turkey is much better value. I am hoping I can order a few more but I’m betting that I can’t. I think the farm I get them from only does birds for Thanksgiving. Part of food prepping is figuring out value and attacking waste. A simple calculator and a few minutes is all it takes.

Bruce replaced two more windows last night and now the whole upstairs is finished. The windows were in terrible shape and this will help keep the girls’ room a bit warmer. I’m still going to add a layer of plastic film as these windows are on the north side of the house. Doing the widows one or two at a time is a pain but it means that we can do them as we have the money to pay cash and the time to get it done. Doing all at once would have meant taking out a loan (I don’t think so) and hiring help (again, I don’t think so). Patience is a virtue. I keep telling myself that.

I did some thrift store shopping and came away with some nifty educational stuff for Phoebe. I have a used bin and I’m putting all of the school things in there and that’s Phoebe’s big gift. She loves to play school with her dolls and she’ll be delighted with this. I also picked up some sleds for kids and grandkids as we have a terrific hill. A lot of the younger kids end up sliding here as the hill is safe and extra sleds are always welcome. My criteria for gifts is to buy used whenever possible and to concentrate on things that promote health and well-being. That means few things that pug in although I an on the look-out for a small CD player for Phoebe. She loves music and loves to dance but has no way to play music in her bedroom. I saw one in the potlatch and if it doesn’t find a home it just may do.

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