Monday, December 28, 2009

Stuff for December.

Wrapping up the best year I have ever had as a DJ in my 30 yr career.

Finished a fun/serious/informative food experiment where I didn't go to any store for anything except gasoline for about 92 days. Report to follow.

Saw "Avatar" and thought that the blue people were strangely erotic.

Played at a corporate Christmas party. They hired a middle aged woman to play Christmas songs on the piano during cocktails and dinner. She worships at the shrine of Vince Guiraldi and every song sounded like "Linus and Lucy" and it was Crazy-Awesome!

Saw all of my siblings and all of my nephews and nieces- except Katie- at some point during the Holiday season.

I saw my step mother TWICE!

Bought a Wii and my shoulder hurts.

Visited Tonto Natural Bridge. Was blown away. I have travelled past there 50 times in my years in Arizona and I had never taken the 5 minutes off the highway to go see it. Well worth it.

Was in a good financial place this year to do some way kewl secret Santa stuff for a couple of people and still be in a position to gauge reaction anonymously.

Went to the home of a dying teenager with the 12-string and the tambourine and some gourd shakers and sang some Christmas songs. He passed away on Christmas eve.

Had a good visit with my 19-yr old son, Javin, from southern California. He growed up ril gud!

Almost got into fisticuffs with an old Jewish man at a retail promotion at Arrowhead mall- Westcor management at the mall set me up right next to a giant Menorah out in the courtyard. The passing shopper was quite upset- "If the Rabbi saw... oye, the speakas and the music," (cupping his hands over his ears) "OYE... the Menorah... the speakas... OYE!" (motioning with his hands) "If the Rabbi saw..."

A shopper that won the $1000 Westcor gift card that day wept and cradled that thing to her chest. It was very moving. She was so genuine and it was clear that her family needed that money very badly for whatever reason.

Paid a visit to Ruby in Winslow.

Played in the snow in Strawberry, AZ.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stick a fork in it. It's done!

Today marks 91 days without going to the grocery store, or any other store for that matter, for any purchases with the exception of gasoline. I'm actually not going to buy groceries until Monday. The van was loaded last night with DJ equipment and lighting equipment for events this morning, tonight and tomorrow night and I don't shop on Sundays, that's my day of worship. Even though I have time to go shopping tomorrow, I don't feel like unloading the equipment only to have to reload it for Saturday nights' gig. I do have a few final observations and lessons learned so stand by for a final posting on the subject on Monday.

I have a neiece that is embarking on a couple of years of Christian missionary service shortly and we are having a reception and family gathering in her honor on Sunday evening at my brother's house- Yay for somebody else's food!

Today, I got the Christmas spirit. I was on DJ duty for a Jr. High dance for all of the special needs kids from all of the middle schools in Mesa. It was rockin! I snapped a few pics of the festivities but nothing came out in the darkness so I don't have any pics to post. I have a ten-foot guitar I use as a sight gag and it was everything it was supposed to be today. Several kids played it and some of the teachers snapped some pics for each of them.

I have a corporate holiday party tonight over in Tempe and tomorrow night up in Scottsdale. It's cool that I have been here long enough to be having events for people I have already worked for and have been hired again. Next weekend, I have a Christian singles Christmas Dance and a wedding then after Christmas, another wedding and then a New Years' Eve party at one of the local golf clubs- then stick a fork in 2009!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

82 days in. 8 to go.

I would normally wait for a few days to post a weeks' worth of observations but I had a serendipitous discovery today. I was looking under the sink for something else and discovered 3 bottles of mouthwash! I was perplexed thinking that I had run out. Thankfully my mouth and lips will remain fresh and kissable for the duration.

I guess that the lesson learned is to keep an inventory list of supplies and their location and copy it in two or three places for safe keeping.

I'm beginning a major run of DJ work- 11 jobs this month. I'm off to a 40th birthday party for a major industry figure out at the Wig Wam Resort tonight.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

81 days in. 9 to go.

Home stretch!

Here's a current picture of the garden. On the left, cilantro, then arugula, peas, then tomatoes then onions and butterhead lettuce at the far end.
There were three tomato plants that grew spontaneously. One grew right in the row where there had been the failed Simpson lettuce and the failed cabbage- I left that one where it was. Another was in with the onions and another plant was in with the lettuce. I transplanted them all into one row. The operation went off without a hitch and I hope the roots take hold and they continue to grow.
It may be just a bit early for tomatoes still. I usually plant tomatoes in Feb or March and I will still plant more then. These will be blossoming at the height of Arizona's cold season (possible freeze at night) and the blossoms are too delicate for even the slightest frost. We may or may not have any bees to pollinate them.

A few dishes on the table this week: Soft pretzels with spicy mustard. Deeeee-LISH! Usually you brush the pretzel dough with egg whites to give them a bit of a crust when they are baked. In the absence of eggs, made a paste/glaze out of the egg solids and they came out fine although a bit darker than usual. Half of them got baked with some coarse sea salt and sesame seeds sprinkled on. The other half was sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and were eaten for breakfast today. The recipe called for butter which is gone. Butter solids were used with no detectable difference in taste or texture. I wouldn't spread it on bread or a pancake but it worked for baking. Sliced up a spicy smoked sausage from the freezer, fried it and served it with black beans. Refried beans and pepper sauce.

The freezer is about empty. Two lbs of breakfast sausage, 1 bag of frozen corn, 1 bag of frozen brocolli, 1 lb of hamburger and 1 lb of shrimp. There's nothing like some shrimp, brined and then boiled with some cayenne pepper and you shell right it there at the table served with some good Henry Weinhardt's Root Beer... The shrimp will have to wait until we can go to the store again for some root beer. The two Cornish game hens are de-frosting for dinner tonight. They'll be served with some corn and biscuits and a salad from the garden. The last of the frozen orange juice was served for breakfast yesterday.

Spent a few days in California with family and had Mexican food for Thanksgiving and spaghetti the next night. I spent the afternoon with my son, Javin and we went out for pizza. Stopped for McDonalds and Del Taco on the road- one coming and one going. Del Taco in Banning CA was out of refried beans that night. HA! I have a mountain of refried beans in storage! I settled for some tacos but a bean and cheese burrito would have been nice. For the road, homemade crescent rolls- sliced open and stuffed with tuna and mayonaise. Took a bag of sunflower seeds and a bag of Cheetos and a couple of cans of 7-up from the networking mixer a couple of weeks ago.

Commentary from observers is interesting when talking face to face. I know people are reading this but there are less comments lately than when I write about other topics. I don't know if this is making people feel uncomfortable. A friend asked last night how it was going and laughingly stated that her family would have already starved to death. It was an uncomfortable laugh. I didn't laugh at it. This is someone who has the means to do so and the knowledge that it is wise to do so but seems frozen with fear or something... GET PREPARED! After the initial discomfort in the conversation, she puzzled and then asked about the lack of butter and eggs and where we found the egg solids and butter solids and whether it was against the parameters of the experiment to have gone and purchased those. No, those were purchased and stored a long time ago.

In the time of crisis, the time to prepare will have passed. There may not be a grocery store, there may not be a paycheck, the outside food or water supply may be contaminated somehow. Now is the time! I bet there are people who are struggling with the economy right now and don't have the extra means to prepare for the future. I hope that there is not an additional crisis of some sort while our economy is still struggling. Mormons have been counseled to store food and supplies against hard times since WWII. Anybody who has not heeded that counsel yet- I don't even know what to say. What are you waiting for?

As the end of the experiment is in sight, here is a list of things that I will do differently going forward: Hot chocolate was very nice to have on hand- comfort. Beans and rice and wheat cereals and such will be more a part of the regular diet so that those things get rotated properly. The freezer has been a blessing but too much of my meat and vegatables rely on electicity. If I have it, that will be great, but if those food spoiled, I don't want to have an even worse crisis. Canned meats like roast beef and chicken are fine in salads and over dried potato flakes- mashed potatoes and gravy. Increase those and make them part of the regular diet so that they get rotated. There is no way to store fresh milk. It's something you'll have to let go of so be prepared for that. I store dry milk in a quantity as if I were drinking it as well. I d0n't drink it so I've found that I have too much of that. I need enough to make bread, have cereal, make mashed potatoes etc. I used to by a gallon or two of fresh milk weekly. Now it's a quart of mixed dried milk for the week. The butter lasted a long time- thanks for the lesson, Elijah, but it's another thing to prepare to do without. Are there any recipies in regular rotation that require it? Test out butter solids and learn to deal with your breads and pancakes served without butter. The pretzels and mustard were nice, the crescent rolls with tuna and mayonaise were nice.

Seeds- They have saved my sanity! If you don't have seeds in storage you are foolish. If you have them in storage and you have never grown a garden, you are foolish. Gardens should be a regular part of a prepared family's life. Learn what works and what doesn't, what you like and don't like, how to prepare it for consumption. Gardens are crucial! I'm actually going to look into the feasability of keeping a few chickens too.

This experiment has changed my thinking dramatically. I'm not a nut case survivalist, I just want to be as comfortable as possible in a crisis and opt out of the plague if you will, by staying safe at home. Weekly trips to the grocery store will be a thing of the past. I may change to monthly. I may increase garden capacity and get better at preserving and canning. I can make jam and jerky but that's about it. I'm going to review favorite recipies that go into a monthly rotation and make sure I have all ingredients to continue to make those recipies.

I've saved about $1400 on groceries this last 81 days. That still considers what was spent on the dried long-term storage items- it's pennies on the dollar. That is a substantial savings.

I did have a bit of a meltdown Sunday night. I just had a hankerin for some junkfood while watching The Amazing Race. There was just nothing in the house. Popcorn without butter wasn't too appealing. No butter to make cookies. I ended up having a bowl of cream of wheat with some chocolate chips. It took the edge off I guess. Yesterday- made cookies with a marachino cherry, some Chinese dried noodles, some melted chocolate chips and some almonds. I think I'll live until next week!