On groundhogs and chickens and when you know it’s working

Happy GPunxsutawney Philroundhog Day everyone!  Or, for those who subscribe and will have to wait until tomorrow for this post to appear in your inbox, Happy Belated Groundhog Day!  Today is one of my favorite family holidays.  Seriously.  All of my children look forward to this day in order to participate in our slightly crazy family ritual.  Chinese takeout and the movie Groundhog Day.  The tradition started at least 20 years ago when I was teaching elementary school.  I was tired after a long day and suggested to the kids that we pick up Chinese food on the way home and rent a movie.  We’d seen the movie previously and thought it would be fun to watch it on the real Groundhog Day.  Once we got home my husband suggested we move our small dining table into the living room so the kids could watch the movie while they ate dinner – after all it was a school night and they had homework to finish.  What a hit!  I usually didn’t let the kids eat in the living room since I didn’t want chocolate chip carpet from their food spills.  You can imagine their delight.  We all enjoyed our dinner and movie and vowed to make it an annual event.  We did.  Every single year after that we’ve gotten Chinese takeout and watched the movie.  When my kids grew up and moved away they continued the tradition on their own.  My girls watch the movie with their families and my son watches it as well.  He even ordered the DVD online when he was stationed in Iraq so that he could be with us in spirit and have some semblance of normalcy in a crazy war-torn world.  Each year we vie to be the first to send a group text message with the lines when the radio goes off……”Rise and shine campers. You better bundle up because it’s cold outside today. It’s cold outside everyday.  What do you think this is Miami Beach?”….  This year Lindsey won the prize.  In a strange way it’s comforting to know that we all will be recreating a happy memory and thinking about each other.  Do you have any fun, sorta strange family traditions similar to ours?

On another note, I was cleaning up my inbox today (not that many since I’ve been going through and culling the ones I don’t really care about by unsubscribing) and saw the weekly rewards deals from my local Vons store.  I clicked over to the site and started scrolling through the seven pages of “deals”.  It was a happy surprise to discover that I only clicked on two items.  Two, out of at least 100!  $2.00 off Starbucks coffee and $.75 off of natural Brie cheese.  Why was it a happy surprise?  Glad you asked.  I realized that my quest to eat and buy natural whole foods is working.  No packaged foods made the list.  No pseudo dairy products.  There was nothing listed that I wanted to purchase and eat besides cheese and coffee beans because I can make pretty much anything I want to eat out of whole, real foods.  They taste better, too.  I’ve also stopped eating all grains, except for the occasional rice, because I just feel so much better when I’m grain free.  Feeling good and having loads of energy is quite a strong motivating factor while shopping.  Junk makes me feel junky so I simply don’t buy it anymore.  Such a simple concept that took me so long to figure out.

To illustrate how I know it’s working I started keeping a list of things I use daily or weekly that I’ve made myself.  It is a partial list since I didn’t eat any of the jam or pickles or sauerkraut or kimchee that are currently living in my refrigerator, but you’ll get an idea:

Apple cider vinegar

Seasoned cast iron that works better than my “green” no-stick pans (that I will be donating even though they were very expensive!)

Chicken stock

Dog food


Bleu cheese dressing with garlic and rosemary infused olive oil

Laundry soap

Body lotion

Face wash


Toilet bowl cleaner

Glass cleaner

Spice blends

Dried herbs

Cut up whole chicken (I didn’t raise the chicken, just saved money per pound by knowing how to cut up a chicken myself, turn the bones into yummy stock, and create three meals)

That’s not too shabby, right?  When I look at the monetary savings I feel all warm and tingly, but when I also factor in the health benefits I feel like a proud momma.  I can do this!  So can you.

Now, lastly, I wanted to share something exciting……for me anyway……..you might just be grossed out.  I will be going to a chicken processing workshop this Saturday.  By processing I mean grabbing the chicken, killing it (humanely, of course), plucking it, taking out the innards (not looking forward to shoving my hand into a still warm chicken, but what are ya gonna do), cleaning and shrink wrapping it before placing it in my ice filled cooler to transport home and into the stew pot.  I know most of you would pass on taking a class like this, but I am super excited to be taking this first very real and practical step on my road toward living a more sustainable life.  There comes a time when you have to stop talking about it or just “get ‘er done.”  This is my moment.  I’ll take some pictures and share those.  Don’t worry I won’t post any gruesome shots, just perhaps a before and after.

Okay, campers.  Until next time, stay warm and dry in those super cold climes (six more weeks of winter according to Punxsutawney Phil) and I’ll be enjoying my last winter of 70+ degree weather here in So Cal.  Oops, did I just let the cat out of the bag?  Guess you’ll have to stay tuned………….


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