Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Frugal and Green

Frugal: simple and plain, costing little.

Green:  not harmful to the environment.

It’s odd how these two principles go hand in hand. It’s been easy for me to be green because I was raised in a frugal family. For example, my grandma used to sew my well-worn books together with twine so I could go on reading them.  As an adult, I haven’t sewn books back together, but I have prolonged the life of books by gluing fabric on their spines and covers. I used to use packing tape, but prefer fabric.

Today I cleaned the kitchen and bathroom floors using a mixture of half water and half vinegar. This was greatly facilitated by my Swiffer. I don’t buy the manufacturer’s Swiffer covers, but use cheap washcloths instead.

I bought a bundle of washcloths for about the cost of a package of Swiffer covers. After using one, I put it in the laundry. When they’re all dirty, I run a load of my Swiffer washcloths and start anew.

Sure they are all stained with dirt, but who cares? Their only purpose is to clean the floors.

There are many ways to practice green frugality. Take those plastic produce bags the grocery stores provide for example. Why throw them away after you remove lettuce or oranges at home? I just put them back in my cloth shopping bag and use them again the next time I shop.  

I don’t buy plastic wrap either, but use my supply of gallon-size zip-lock bags. I just slip the bowl of food I want to store into a plastic bag and stick it in the refrigerator.  These plastic bags  are easy to wash for reuse. This gadget from Amazon makes drying them easy.

So that’s the idea: save money and protect the environment in one fell swoop.

Copyright 2017 by Shirley Domer

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Making Stuff Up

Not fake news, if that’s what you’re thinking this is about. I believe fake news is created by malicious, evil people. Such stories, like the so-called Pizzagate conspiracy theory – about Hillary Clinton  being involved in child trafficking in a Washington, D.C. pizzeria – are manufactured by an evil person’s sick mind, a person who wishes to harm others.

Nope, I like to make things up in the kitchen. The only harm that can possibly do is to ruin someone’s dinner. Usually I make things up when I haven’t planned a meal and have to make do with the materials on hand.  Although such meals turn out so-so – edible but certainly not memorable – once in a blue moon one turns out to be a family favorite, and that’s the one this is about.

This made-up dish is called Kielbasa Stir-Fry. It is best served with mashed potatoes, but rice also works. Everybody loves it and people sometimes comment how the flavors all complement each other. It has only three ingredients and, once everything is chopped, it's easy to make.

Kielbasas Stir Fry

For each kielbasa use two onions and two sweet red peppers. I use half a kielbasa, one onion, and one red pepper to feed two people.

Cut the onions into quarter-inch half moons. Cut the red pepper into quarter-inch slices. Heat a skillet or wok over medium heat with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped ingredients to the hot oil and stir to coat them. Cover with a lid. Remove the lid and stir the ingredients every 3 minutes or so. When the vegetables are soft and the sausage slices begin to brown, it’s done.

Make the mashed potatoes and serve it up.

P.S. The photo misrepresents the ratio of sausage to vegetables. Sorry I don't have a more representative batch to photograph.

Copyright 2017 by Shirley Domer

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Remember that hokey movie device where calendar pages flit away to show the passage of time? Recently I’ve had a recurring mental image of that same device going in reverse – pages rapidly reattaching to the calendar.

And that’s how I feel now, as if my life were going backwards to a much earlier decade in our country. Laws and regulations are abolished so rapidly my head swims. If the House of Representatives has its way, there will be no restraints on making a buck when it hurts masses of other people. Dodd-Frank will be down the tubes. Discrimination in our schools – that’s okay now. Mandatory sentencing will be enforced! We must keep our private prisons operating at capacity. Is a big hunk of Antarctica’s ice shelf about to break completely off and float away like a giant ice cube? Gosh, maybe someone can make a profit on that.

The list could go on, but I’m sick of thinking of all of the daily insults to our common sense and the common good, I want Bernie, a true man of the people, and a dammed smart one. When I think of his campaign, I get pissed off all over again. Why didn’t our major newspapers and other media give him decent coverage? The truth ­– and Bernie tells it – is that millions of ordinary people are being massively ripped off by our wealthiest citizens.

All of this has made me extremely cranky and outspoken. I don’t know what might save me, but my hope is that the Millennials will wake up, speak up, and vote! Without their participation, all of our rights will be lost. The calendar is rapidly flying backwards.

*Perpetually Pissed-Off.

Copyright 2017 by Shirley Domer

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Along the Country Roads

This journal isn’t about my personal life, but I must offer a brief explanation of my absence. We arrived back in Kansas the second week in April, but I’ve been occupied with reconnecting with doctors, dentists, and friends. I’ve also had cataracts removed from both eyes. Then, when I was all set to write, I carelessly downloaded malmare. I had to shut the machine down and wait several days for the technician to clean it up.

While waiting, I started giving the house a thorough dusting. I felt quite virtuous  and was about to start working in the living room when Dennis suggested a Sunday afternoon drive. I dropped my dust cloth like a hot potato and set out on the road that exits our rural subdivision.

Then we headed along the country roads south of out house. We sit atop one of the many ridges that stretch north and south of Lawrence, home to forests that snake along hillsides and creek valleys as well as what must have been prairie before settlers disrupted the landscape with plows and fences.

Our meandering route took us past a local landmark: the quarter-house.

About fifty years ago a man from Kansas City bought this piece of land, built a garage and put up a tool shed, and then started building a house as a surprise for his wife. When he showed it to her, she declared, “I will never live here.” Somewhat daunted but determined, he finished the part he had started and declared it his weekend getaway. Both he and his wife have no doubt passed on, but here the quarter-house stands today a testament to their story.

Soon, we came upon an Angus bull and his harem. When we stopped, he threatened us by lowering his head, snorting, and pawing the ground. He didn’t seem to care that a fence separated us, nor that his butt was covered with his own poop.

The next bull and his harem behaved quite differently. They simply turned away and moved farther into their wooded pasture. Different breed, different temperament, I assume.

Atop the next ridge we found prairie phlox and  antelope horn milkweed blooming next to a fence made with Osage orange fence posts. The posts have been there for decades and will last many more.

The climax of our drive was seeing a 40-acre prairie remnant abloom with thousands of prairie phlox and a few scattered white penstemon. This photo gives just a hint of its scope.

Life in the country is good and it's good to be back.