The Giant Farmers Market

Fun fact: I live near the largest and oldest flea market in Florida.  It’s 40 acres.  That is also where our farmers market happens to be from Saturday-Monday!  

Our kitchen is so tiny that our fridge door doesn’t open all the way

Since I’m a waitress, I usually never got to go to the farmers markets back in Illinois.  I worked every Saturday and Sunday morning until almost 4/5 in the afternoon.  I would be taking a huge paycut to not work those days, so it just never seemed worth it.  So imagine my surprise when my neighbor down here in Florida let me know that the farmers market is open on Mondays here!  I almost always have Mondays off and, y’all, I was embarrassingly excited. 

To put it nicely: this place was huge. 

To put it in real terms: this place was incredibly overwhelming. 

40 acres is a lot, y’all.  My husband and I had to hunt for the produce area for almost an hour.  But when we found it…. I was in heaven!  Kale, corn, peppers, apples, Honeybell oranges, spinach, berries, pears, everything I could think of wanting, it was there. 

It was fantastic to see my husband get excited about picking out fresh produce as well, since he has been pretty lackluster about the veggies I pick up from Publix.  Tuesday morning, he was making a green  smoothie -which he hasn’t made in months!  The prices were amazing, the selection was amazing, and I already can’t wait to go back  again!  We thought the $25 worth of produce we got would last us 2 weeeks, but I may be going back on Monday if my green smoothie buddy stays strong! 

I’ll definitely be taking more pictures next time I go back since it probably won’t be as crowded on a non-holiday.  I’ll also be revisiting two of my favorite vendors who let me know that it was great that I was using reusable bags and had given us some extra culled produce when they saw how excited we were about their foods! 

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So The Internet Tells You To Meal Prep

It’s true, right?  It’s all over the Internet.  Meal prepping will save your budget.  Meal prepping will cut down on food waste.  Meal prepping will keep you healthy.  Meal prepping will basically save your life, according to the popular opinion of the Internet.  But you know what no one tells you?  Meal prepping is boring

I’m a creature of habit, so I do usually end up eating the same meals over and over.  I also am a horrible cook and have very limited recipes up my sleeve, but that’s just an extra detail.  I probably eat potato fries at least three nights a week, overnight oats every morning I work, and tofu scrambles for most of my lunches.  It works for me.   What doesn’t work for me is portioning all of my meals into organized tupperwares and that is my diet for the week. 

“Oh boy, look how appetizing that tofu scramble looks!” -Said no one, ever.

Now I’m supposed to portion this out into organized little tubs and be happy with my meals for the next few days (minus the overnight oats, because I’m going to demolish those tomorrow morning). 

But it doesn’t work like that.  I don’t like being forced into eating the same stuff all the time.  And when I meal prep, I feel pressured into eating only what I’ve already made and I feel outrageously guilty if I fix something else that I didn’t have prepped.  I’m also not always hungry for the same portion of food, either.  Sometimes for lunch, I only want a small bowl.  Sometimes for lunch, I want a whole platter.  The convenience is great since I work an hour away from my house and I go to a gym while I’m out there, but I just don’t like the pressure to only eat certain meals.  Part of what I love about being vegan is the options and creativity I can have with my meals.  Somehow, I feel like meal prepping sabotages that for me. 

That being said, I’m still going to meal prep.  Because it DOES cut down on our grocery bill, it DOES reduce my food waste, and it DOES make me eat healthier….. but I’m not going to be thrilled about it and the internet and fancy bento boxes can’t make me. 

Recycling In A Tiny Town

I’m from Houston, Texas.  I thought the town I went to college in Illinois was tiny and it was over 30,000 people.  Somehow, due to having one month to find a place to move with three dogs and a lower budget, we ended up in a tiny town in central Florida.  Population 657 as of last year (and I think they counted cows).  We don’t have a mailbox, but the “city” provides a PO Box.  We are “lucky” -according to town hall- that we have home-to-home trash pickup.  It was and is still a culture shock for me.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that recycling wasn’t considered a big deal here.  When I went to town hall to ask about it, it went a little something like this:

“Hi, my husband and I just moved to town, and we noticed that we don’t have a recycling bin?”

“Yes, trash pickup is every Wednesday.”

“That’s great, but I was wondering about recycling.”

“All trash pickup is on Wednesdays.”

“So recycling is picked up on Wednesday?”

“No, trash is.”

Great talk, right?  After googling, I realized we don’t have a formal recycling program set up in my town or nearby towns.  The county does, kind of.  So, today, I went on a mission to recycle.

So far we have been keeping our recycling in an old box for eggs that my husband had and a box leftover from our move that has some convenient handles.  This is about a month’s worth of recycling, not including all the boxes from when we first moved in.

The drive took about 20 minutes, but it’s nice outside today and I got to pass by lots of beautiful farmland and gorgeous oak trees.  This is what the majority of the area looks like around where we live, other than the lovely Turnpike.

Hidden down a road with little signage, I had to check in at a gated entrance and confirm I was just recycling household items before I could enter the area to actually recycle.  So I check in, go in, and there are 4 green bins in the 4 corners to recycle in.  In the middle is an area clearly devoted only to scrap metal like old fridges, coke machines, and parts off of vehicles.

The first thing I noticed was the smell.  This recycling area is a part of the Solid Waste Management for the county and the landfill is actually closed.  The landfill, however, is huge.  It’s huge and the smell is horrible and it is RIGHT next to the Animal Services building.  I just found out through searching the local articles in my county that the landfill has been closed for 11 years.   Eleven years, y’all.  And it’s still a mountain of waste and stench.  And the clearest thing I could make out of that mountain of waste?  Plastic grocery bags and water bottles.  It was heartbreaking.

Also heartbreaking?  How little we can actually recycle.  I couldn’t recycle any plastic containers at my recycling center.  So, when and if my Tupperware’s lives come to an end in our home, I can’t recycle them here.  I don’t know of anywhere around us I could.  So what am I supposed to do with them when they’re completed ruined and phased out of our lives?  Throw them in the trash, so they can sit in another closed landfill in the future?

Recycling is supposed to be a thing we do to help the earth.  But then a third of the “recyclable” items I have in my home, I can’t actually recycle anywhere that I know of.  And what use is it if the plastic items I recycle get turned into a plastic bag that can’t be recycled?  I don’t want what I do recycle to end up being in a landfill.

If I wasn’t already interested in being zero waste and trying to go as plastic free as possible, I would be now.  Now I’m committed.

The Dog Question

“Are your dogs vegan? Because I read…” If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if my dogs were vegan in a weird stage whisper the second they find out I’m a vegan pet-owner, I would have enough money to shop at Whole Foods.

The short answer: No.

The longer short answer: No, because I don’t feel comfortable or like I have enough knowledge to make 4 different dog’s food.

 

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Kitty hiding from dumb questions

 

The long answer: No, because I don’t know enough about each of my dog’s diet to custom make them food nor can we afford to do that right now.

Ronnie suffers from head tremors when he is stressed or eating certain dog foods.  He also has recovered from skin issues and joint issues due to his rough upbringing.  He takes a vitamin and has dog food specifically for keeping his skin nice and it also happens to not give him head tremors.

Kitty had Parvo when she was young and almost died.  She lost every bit of muscle she had.  We spent over a month mixing high-calorie wet dog food with dry food and continued that process until she became a healthy weight for her age.  Now, she eats over 5 cups of dry food a day, gets a vitamin, and her dog food is aimed towards large dogs in order to keep her joints healthy.

Cyprus eats sticks in the backyard, bugs, lizards, and just about anything we don’t pull out of her mouth fast enough.  She’s our little hunter.  If I could switch any dog to a vegan diet, it would probably be her just because of how easy going she is.  She eats 2 cups of food a day, inhales that food, and immediately wants to go back outside to try to catch squirrels or birds.  She’s just not picky and has yet to present a single health issue.

Buddy is a recent addition to our family and came with two buckets of dog food.  To be honest, I think he deserves some better quality dog food.  But he’s also currently our foster dog and I don’t want to get him or his digestive system used to a vegan diet, only for his possible new family to be upset that he doesn’t eat normal dry food.  He’s not a huge eater anyways, and I don’t have a comprehensive health background for him, so I’m not going to risk it.

I tip my hat to anyone who can feed their dogs vegan, gets it approved by their vet, and has a wonderful, healthy vegan dog.  That’s just not in the cards for us right now.  My dogs are all healthy, which seems like a miracle after all the health issues we have had with Kitty and Ronnie.  I will do anything within my power to keep them healthy and right now they are all flourishing on their specific dog foods.  Down the line, when we have a more stable and increased income, I may do more research on vegan dog foods for future dogs in our lives.  I’m definitely not opposed to the idea.  My top priority is keeping my dogs healthy and happy though and, as of right now as they are sleeping and relaxing in the cooler weather, I’m succeeding.

The Laundry Situation

We are living in a 500sqft studio-style house that does not have a washer or dryer hookup.  I went from being able to throw my clothes in the dryer to dewrinkle them to having to drive 10 minutes to go waste money at a laundromat where some older ladies judge me for wearing sweatpants and boots (clearly I’m only here because I’m out of socks, Gertrude, go back to reading your outdated Good Housekeeping magazine). 

My husband wants laundry to be convenient and I understand that.  But I’m tired of spending almost 10 dollars to wash one full load of laundry just about every week!  That doesn’t include any towels or bedsheets.  So I need some help. 

  • Do I get one of those Wonder Wash tub things off of Amazon?  I’m washing delicates in my sink already, so this wouldn’t be a huge shift. 
  • Do I only dry clothes at the laundromat?  It’s the cheaper of the washing/drying combo. 
  • Do I try to find a way to hang a clothesline that my dogs won’t mess with in our large yard?  A cheap one, because we’re on a budget.  

We’re working our way through our leftover laundry detergent before I DIY that, but do any minimalist and/or zero-waste people have any tips for getting laundry done without a laundromat and without a washer/dryer?  And a clothesline that doesn’t have to look Pinterest-worthy, but is dog-proof?  

The Relationship

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I did not go to college expecting to find my husband there.  In fact, if you would have told me that I would be married at 21, I would have thought you were insane.  The biggest plan I had was to try to spend my 21st birthday at Disneyland.

Then I had an American History class my freshman year with a very good looking guy who wore tank tops and his arms were very distracting.  Somehow, he was everything I never knew I wanted.  On my first date with him, I felt like I never wanted to spend any time without him.  We had to spend time apart as I got accepted to the Disney College Program and spent nine months there… But that was it.  When I got back, we moved in together, we got engaged four months later, got married six months after that, and now we live in Florida with 4 dogs!

Now, I have been a vegetarian since we met.  He has always been an omnivore. I became a vegan last year, he’s still an omnivore.  I want to live a more “zero waste” lifestyle, he has no idea what that movement is but is on board with producing less trash and recycling more.  He also eats a lot more fruits and vegetables than he ever did before!  I don’t plan on trying to change him, because I love him.  Would I love for him to at least be vegetarian?  Of course!  But I think it’s a decision you have to make for yourself in order to stick with it.

So, here’s the start of our new adventure together.  We’re in Florida, we want to buy a house in the next 12-18 months, we want to start a family next year, and I think part of the way to budget to do that is for me to adjust to a better plant based diet and for us to live a more zero waste lifestyle.  Here goes nothing!

Meet The Rascals

My husband and I never planned on having 4 dogs running around in our backyard.   Ronnie was an intended adoption.  After moving in together, we adopted Ronnie three months later from a humane society over an hour away.  He didn’t do too well with larger dogs, so we planned on adopting a Cane Corso puppy (Kitty) in order to establish a better relationship with larger dogs.  My husband found Cyprus literally on the side of the road just over a week before we were supposed to pick up Kitty.  I became too attached to give her over to our lackluster humane society.  We were a family of 5 for a while.

Then came Buddy (legally, Budweiser).  After moving to Florida, we wanted to help out at our local humane society.  We were appalled at how short of a “safe period” these dogs get since they are paired with our local Animal Services.  The Humane Society is “no kill”, but they can “transfer” the animals to Animal Services right next door.  We met Buddy and we need we couldn’t let him die just because he had attacked his previous owner’s ~free roaming~ chickens.

So, without further delay…

Meet The Rascals

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Ronnie

Age: 5-ish?

Breed: Pitbull/Bulldog

Most  Likely To: Sleep Through Breakfast

 

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Cyprus

Age: 1-ish?

Breed: Mystery

Most Likely To: Dig A Fully Functional Tunnel

Kitty

Age: 1

Breed: Cane Corso

Most Likely To: Accidentally Knock Over Everything

Buddy

Age: 3

Breed: Pitbull

Most Likely To: Slobber Over Everything