Monday, February 18, 2013

Unusual Heirlooms

My parents came to visit yesterday, and brought along a package for me from my Grandma.  It contained the following items, all of which originally belonged to my Grandpa, who passed away 3 weeks into my freshman year of college.

That's two safety razors, some blades, a brush, a styptic stick, what I think is shaving soap, and Grandpa's shaving mug.

I've been wanting to try shaving with a safety razor for a while.  I ran out of disposable razor heads in November, and stopped shaving as I typically do over the winter.  I kept meaning to find a safety razor for myself, but I never got around to ordering one online. I was nervous about choosing and buying one one, and then potentially having it work out poorly.

Enter the heirlooms.  I emailed my Dad to ask if he had a safety razor, and he asked my Grandma if she still had Grandpa's.  Turns out she'd been trying to find a new home for these, so now they're mine :)  I'm really glad to have them.  It adds a new excitement for testing out a safety razor.  I get to use something that belonged to my Grandpa, even if my use is slightly different than his.  I'm not sure what he would think, but I hope he'd be proud of me for saving money by reusing something he has no use for anymore. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Countertop Compost

I've been taking my compost to the Greenmarket for nearly 6 months now, but I upgraded my home compost collection a few weeks ago.

I used to collect my compost in a brown paper bag in the freezer.  This was great for controlling the smell, but less great in terms of having useable freezer space.  And if I produced a lot of scraps that week, the bag might not fit very well.

Enter the countertop compost bin.  I found it on sale at TJ Maxx when I was home at Christmas, and got it at an even lower price because someone had stolen the charcoal filters that are supposed to come with it.  I found some cheap filters on Amazon, and set myself up a few weeks ago:

It turned out that the filters I got were the wrong size, so I just sewed one into the lid of the pail.  Thus far it's worked out pretty well, and I like having my freezer space back.

Although my goal was to stop using a brown paper bag for my compost every week, it turns out that composting in a pail still requires some extra paper.  Because I'm only taking the compost out every week or two, I have to line the bin with paper.  I use about 1/3 of a brown paper back, torn up.  Newspaper would work too.
This helps keep food from sticking to the bottom of the pail, and absorbs some of the liquid from wet food scraps and general decomposition. 

The only problem I've had so far was when I threw a couple of moldy items in, and then wasn't able to take the compost out for 2 weeks.  Everything got moldy, and the smell permeated the filter a little bit, and when I finally got to the Greenmarket, there was a fair amount of liquid in the bottom.  The compost guy told me it's not a harmful kind of mold, but it was just a little gross.  The label on the pail said only to wipe it out with a damp rag, but it got washed with dish soap that day.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Books, books, books

I wrote over the summer about how I'd purged a bunch of books that I'd bought but never read. 
So, I've been fairly restrained since the summer, but I figured I would dissect the books I've bought since then, and what my attitude was at time-of-purchase.

Books are my "Gazingus Pin", as Nicole and Maggie put it the other day: "A gazingus pin is something that you just buy.  You may not have it in that color.  You may not have quite that flavor.  You tend to have a lot of them, far more than you really need, and sometimes you may even have more than you can use...They’re tiny pleasures, but if overdone, the pleasure can be diluted because it has become a habit more than a treat."

I've tried to become more selective about shopping for and buying books, but my book purchases haven't (and pretty assuredly won't) stopped completely.  So here are the books I've bought since the summer.

Baba Yaga's Daughter and Other Tales of the Old Races, by C.E. Murphy.  I dearly adore Catie's two big series: the Old Races and the Walker Papers.  A trilogy forms the main part of the Old Races series, but she's since written a bunch of short stories taking place in the same universe, usually related to secondary characters.  My favorite dragon and vampire feature heavily in these stories, particularly in the ones in this book.  I knew I was going to purchase this at least six months before I ordered it (in July), and a year before I received and read it (in November).  That didn't make Subterranean Press's price much easier to swallow, but since I planned for it, this was my singular book purchase for the summer.

The Avengers: Fury's Big Week.  Two words: impulse. buy.  I bought this the first week I was in NYC, I think.  Maybe the second.  It's the only book in that picture that I bought from Barnes & Noble.  It was enjoyable and fun to read.  But I totally could have gotten it from the library.

Walking the Hudson From the Battery to Bear Mountain, by Cy A. Adler.  I will admit that I haven't read it cover-to-cover, but that's because it's kind of a guide-book for this trail that runs 56 miles starting from Battery Park at the southern end of Manhattan.  His outlook on cars and city living is...interesting.  He definitely writes with passion.  This was an impulse buy, though - purchased when I was Christmas shopping at the indie bookstore near me.  I had a stack full of books I was going to give away, and I decided I needed one for me.  I like having it.  I'm not convinced I needed it yet, but I like it a lot.

Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat, by Naomi Moriyama and William Doyle.  I read my library's copy between 12th grade and freshman year of college.  Moriyama's description of Japanese people's passion for freshness and movement stuck with me since that time, especially as I've been discovering those passions in my own life.  I stared at and debated buying this book the last 3 times I went to Kinokuniya in Union Square, and the first week in January I finally caved.  So...kind of planned. Also kind of regretted; I didn't remember how flowery and nostalgic her writing style is.  Part of me wishes I had checked it out from the library first.

The Fire of the Word: Meeting God on Holy Ground, by Chris Webb.  My church is reading this book for Lent.  This purchase wasn't planned, but wasn't really an impulse buy either.  We got a half-price deal though.  And it's a very good book.  A little touchy-feely for me, but it's meaning a lot.

There's one book not pictured because I don't have it yet, but it's on order at my local indie bookstore so I'll get it when it's released in a month: Mountain Echoes by C.E. Murphy.  It's the 8th book in Catie's Walker Paper series.  The Walker Papers are my favorite of her books, and I eagerly await each and every one as it comes out.  Books 1-7 are sitting happily on my shelf.  They aren't incredibly popular, so they aren't at the library, but I would want to own these anyway.

So that's 5 (6) books.  I am completely happy with 2 (3) of those purchases, one is a happy impulse buy and 2 are iffy.  Thankfully (I guess?) the expensive books aren't the ones I'm iffy on. 

Also, these are all new books.  For some, like Baba Yaga's Daughter and Mountain Echoes, used isn't really an option because they're from a limited-edition company or they're new.  But I've mostly stopped shopping at used bookstores because my impulse to buy is too strong there, and I wind up with more books than I have time to read.  So volume-wise, my purchasing has gone down.  Cost-wise, however...that's a different story.