Thursday, 28 February 2013

Authenticity, Commitment and The Blog

You won't normally find grand statements or opinions expressed here. This is a place where I want to find positive connections between myself and what I'm doing. For that to happen, I want to strip this platform of any inclination to preach, complain or boast. And I want it to honestly illustrate my attempts at a more authentic life, including the failures and bugger-ups.

When I talk about authenticity, I mean the real me--the timid, terrified, self-conscious child the woman struggling with confidence that resides within. I mean the kitchen that needs swept, the baby that needs a bath, the supper I've made 100 times that suddenly doesn't turn out. I am no expert on any of the topics I've written about. I've got no discernible talent at all, really. I forget when to use an apostrophe and I take most of my pictures with my phone because it's one step closer than the camera. But yet I choose to write a blog.

This blog has already forced me to ask myself: how committed am I to keeping our home/ lifestyle/ choices environmentally friendly? The reality is it is often less expensive to chose less environmentally friendly options. In the short term it is tempting to save the money and commit to doing it "later". We have had to go with power and natural gas since solar and geothermal would add upwards of $55,000 CD to our mortgage. Cost is a very real barrier to making major lifestyle changes that we would otherwise make. As I find rebates and grants I will provide links and information. As it is, the geothermal grant ends this month and the shelterbelt program, after 111 years, has been discontinued by the Harper Government. Discouraging, really.

It is easy to write a post about what we want to do. It is quite another to go about doing it. So I'm using this blog to keep me honest. I tidy a couple feet of counter top in order to take pictures for the blog. It's tempting to come across like my whole house is spotless but it isn't--not usually--especially when I'm taking time to write and take pictures. My recipes are not the best ones out there, they are the best ones I have. I have felt inadequate a million times before realizing that a craft or recipe or flowerbed or home has been prepared and displayed on blogs and websites (read: pinterest!) to look its very best. It's like the burger in the commercial that has had the cheese melted and ketchup placed just so. But when you go to the drive-thru and some kid tosses it in the bag without so much as a hello, goodbye, or go screw yourself acknowledgement of any kind, there's your real life. There's your authentic. I'm not saying real life can't be beautiful and touching, I'm just saying I (and this blog) won't just be showing what turned out. Sometimes you learn more from what doesn't turn out--this site is about the learning.

I'm done now, I have to go make supper. I'm putting it out there for myself to remember: keep trying to do better, forgive yourself when you don't, and then try again. And blog about it.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

This weekend Husband had a couple days off, so we took the boys to my parents farm to see the first of the baby calves born there.

While the baby slept and the 3 year old played with gramma, we went to the acreage site to have another look:

this is where the house will go

this is where the large garden shed will go
It is nice to get a look at the property in all seasons. Although I've seen it all my life, I've only been looking at it through the eyes of a homeowner for a few months now. Have a great week!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Before and After: The Kitchen

February is a hard month to write about gardening. Everything is dormant under a blanket of snow, and my new garden only exists in my mind. But who doesn't love a before and after?

We bought this house four years ago, in fact, when we move out it will be four years to the day. Before moving in we painted while the house was empty and put down new laminate to replace shag rug in the master bedroom.After that we did things as we could afford.

Kitchen before:

 It took a year and a half to decide (and save for) what we wanted to do with the kitchen.

note the icky California-style ceiling

What we ended up with is this:

This picture shows the old stove, and the window has not yet been replaced. Once spring (finally) arrives and we get that window switched, I will update with a new picture. A new window will help with drafts, as that old one is no longer efficient.

I'm so pleased with how our kitchen turned out and, if you're interested in a similar update in your own home, the figures were approximately:

laminate countertop $1200
paint, primer $220
hardware $90
lighting $100
new window $350
backsplash $65

My figures are approximate, but this is basically what we paid. We were very fortunate that the ceiling above the ceiling tile/flourescent lights was finished the same as the rest of the house, otherwise it would have been hard for us to complete this project on our own. We painted the cupboards with a 10 month old in and out of everything, and I'm so proud of the job we did. We had the help of Husband's brother (wiring) and my mom (painting, hardware installation, childcare, sanity saver). I did not include the price of the appliances in the overall makeover budget because the fridge and dishwasher that came with the house died on us within weeks of moving in and we were forced to replace them then. I got a new stove and exhaust fan on kijiji this winter to complete our renovation. I would say the grand total is approximately $3200 but the difference in the style of our home is priceless.

Have you given your home any major updates or done anything to make it more energy efficient?

Monday, 25 February 2013

Our Wish House

The point of this blog is to organize my plans for the acreage we will build and move to in the summer of 2013. My goal is to record our progress for my own satisfaction, and perhaps provide some examples, resources, links, how-tos and "what-not-tos" for any interested readers.

This past summer we made several trips to the acreage site to plan, measure, dream. One day when we loaded up to leave home (an hour drive from the acreage location) our then two-year old asked if we were going to the "witch house" (see above). I thought that he said "wish house" and thought, "genius" and that it was an appropriate nickname for the new house. We have been wishing and planning for  a couple years now.

About a week later I realized he was calling it the witch house (I can't say I blame him, the old house would be spooky to a little boy!) but by then the name had stuck. We now talk all the time about what we will do at our Wish House.

We have made some changes to this, but it is the original floor plan of our wish house. Most notably, we have added an attached garage and thus made an entryway by the half-bath on the main floor.

We chose rustic natural hickory for cabinets (the cabinet place doesn't do white cupboards so I can scrap the 40 pictures of dream kitchens that I have on pinterest!). I was disappointed but went with a natural wood shaker-style door so that we can eventually paint them white (many many years from now) if I still really want to.

Next I get to fret over and pick paint colours...I've got it narrowed down to about 50 or so! There is a mind-boggling amount of selection.

These are my far...

It is exciting to get to pick what goes in our new house, but a little stressful too! Have you built a house or done a major renovation?

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Peanut Butter Cookies

We are just so sick of winter.

After a walk to the school playground, at least a dozen "second last" trips down the slide, and a game of "catch" in the living room, we were still at a loss for what to do. I poked through a couple of granny's old cookbooks and found a quick and easy recipe. Even if it doesn't turn out, it's something to do and not that expensive to try. These cookies took about 2 minutes to prepare and were very tasty--perfect for a lazy, restless day.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used peanut butter chips)

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine peanut butter, sugar and egg. Add flour, stirring til well blended. Add chocolate chips, drop small amounts onto cookie sheet and press lightly with a fork (I rolled them into small balls, dipped in sugar, then pressed with a fork). Bake at 325F for 15 to 17 minutes.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Owen's Rolls

Most mothers nowadays like to tell the birth stories of their children. When I was pregnant with our first I was petrified of young mothers, knowing they were about to fill me in on the "gory" details. What is truly magical and the most intense experience of a woman's life can sometimes be recounted in a very graphic way. But bear with me, this is not one of those stories. In fact, it's actually the lead-up to a recipe.

I was two days past my due date and had buns in the oven (literally). It was a new recipe I had found over at My brother texted asking if I was having the baby that day; I replied, "not unless I fall down the stairs". Our first had been induced, a slow labour. Why would this one be different? I got the two year old down for a nap and removed some nice looking rolls from the oven. I went for a nap and my labour started. To make a short story shorter, Husband flew home from work to get us and we barely made it to the hospital in time. A 35 minute drive took under 20 that day, and felt like an eternity. Our baby boy was born less than an hour later.

Now, for the point of the story (and a look at the rolls).

These are not the rolls I made that day.

We had a bouncing baby boy, 9 lbs 9 oz, in under 5 hours. We have always called these "Owen's Rolls" because he was such a rolly-polly baby, and I was making them when I went into labour. I don't know if I'll ever make them without thinking of that day. This is a simple and delicious recipe that always turns out for me. From someone who regularly bakes below expectation, that is high praise indeed. Thank you to Susy at Chiot's Run for permission to link to her recipe . Here is my adaptation:

Owen's Rolls
1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2 beaten eggs
4 to 5 cups flour (1 cup whole wheat)
1/4 cup ground flax
2 Tbsp yeast

-In large bowl, mix 1 cup whole wheat flour with 1 cup white flour and yeast. In medium saucepan combine milk, sugar, butter and salt and heat til butter starts to melt (120-130F)*.
-Add milk mixture to dry mix, along with eggs. Mix til incorporated then beat on high with hand mixer 3 minutes.
-Mix in as much remaining flour as possible--once it's too thick for mixer, transfer to counter top and knead. Dough should be soft but not too sticky.
-Knead 4 to 5 minutes til dough is smooth and elastic. Shape into ball and place in oiled bowl, let rise 1 hr or until doubled in size.
-Turn dough onto counter and divide into desired size rolls. Place on greased sheets, cover and let rise til doubled (45 mins)
-Bake at 375F 12-15 minutes (rolls) or 15-17 minutes (hamburger buns) til golden on top.

*now that I've made these several times I microwave the milk first to bring it nearer the desired temp. (too impatient I guess!) I use my candy thermometre but if you don't have one, remove from heat when butter starts to melt.

Have you got a favorite bun recipe? Or have you got an interesting baking-related story?

Friday, 22 February 2013

Friday Favorite: Newfoundland Dressing

The Husband is from Newfoundland, a place with unique culture, language, and food. For the most part, the people are extremely laid back, friendly, with a great sense of humour. Of course this has been my own experience, but I've never heard anyone say different. It's a wonderful place to visit, and all of this is before you check out the scenery.

Cape Spear: most easterly point in North America

Cape Spear 2007

Fort Amherst, viewed from Signal Hill

Aside from wonderful people and rugged, historical scenery, you haven't experienced Newfoundland until you've tried an authentic Jigs Dinner. This is a traditional Sunday dinner of salt beef boiled with turnip, cabbage, carrot, potato, greens, and peas pudding (yellow lentils). Quite often this feast is accompanied by a turkey and Newfoundland dressing, with gravy. Don't think about your diet, or your heart, and enjoy.
I would be remiss if I didn't include a picture of a lobster
 when talking about Newfoundland cuisine!

Cod, fries, dressing and gravy.
If I had known anyone would ever see this picture I wouldn't have
 added that dark piece of cod!

We love dressing. I make it with pickerel or jack fish, and for our regular holiday meals it has replaced stuffing. This is a big deal for me to admit, as stuffing was always my favourite part of the meal.

To make (4 servings):

 grate fresh bread with cheese grater, approx 3 cups*
melted margarine or butter, just to moisten bread crumbs
1/3 cup of onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp savoury (we use Mont Scio, available in Newfoundland and Sobey's in western Canada) I hope to grow my own savoury next year.

*do not use dry breadcrumbs. Must use fresh bread! I save my crusts or any dry bread that would otherwise get composted or thrown out.

so easy a three year old can do it!

This is a very approximate recipe and, much like stuffing, anyone who makes it themselves will give you a different one. Our friend often adds cranberries and I've never had dressing that I didn't love. I'm leaving you with one last image, called "Kelly's Arse", found on the rear side of Kelly's Island, in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland.

Have you travelled to (or are you from) Newfoundland? Or, have you replaced a family recipe with one you've picked up travelling? Please share!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Coldest Night of the Year, and a bit about gratitude

How grateful I am.

How grateful I am for my home, my family, my friends. I have the opportunity to build a new home and nurture my hobbies because of my wonderful Husband and two beautiful healthy boys. How grateful...there are no words.

So it is hard to imagine doing without. I have never really done without anything important. I've never felt the pain of abandonment or addiction or the humiliation of "taking a handout". I have always been healthy, had shelter, been fortunate and frankly, I've never even had to work that hard.

Today I'm providing a link to a local cause but I encourage everyone to think about those in the cold near you. I'm going to discuss the problem of homelessness in Lloydminster (and in general) with my 3 year old and we are going to make a monetary donation, as well as clean out the basket of toques that is cluttering the hall closet. While on the subject I will go through the linen closet and take some old blankets to the SPCA. If you have extra to give those who need it, I hope you think of those out in the cold this winter and do something about it.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Blackened Salmon

Who doesn't totally love a meal that can be ready in under 20 minutes? Or the chance to singe hell out of supper, on purpose?

This recipe came to me by way of an aunt, via a cousin, years ago. Rather than pay a ridiculous amount for ready-made seasonings, I mix up a batch and keep it in my spice cupboard. Since I already have the spices for cooking, I consider it a frugal recipe (depending on the cost of the chicken or salmon). It is a special treat in our house and is wonderful on salmon or chicken, BBQ'd or broiled in the oven. Here 'tis:


1Tbsp salt (scant)
1Tbsp paprika
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion salt *
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne

*note: since this is already a salty mixture, and because I don't have any onion salt, I omit the onion salt and have never missed it. This mixture will last us several meals.

Yes, those are no name spice bags in the background. I plan to grow
all my own  herbs next year. What can I say? We are a work in progress!

Sprinkle liberally over salmon or chicken, broil 7 minutes per side (or until thoroughly cooked. Cooking times vary depending on portion size). Voila! A nice spicy dish, served over salad for lunch or paired with salad, steamed veggies and rice, quinoa, or pasta and ready in 20 minutes for supper. The best part is you will look like a superstar or, as my 3 year old puts it, "the best cooker ever!"

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Before and After: Flowerbed

We moved in here on a shoe string. Like many first time home buyers, getting approved for a mortgage, paying for a move, buying a few necessities and paint stretched the budget to the max. I always like to keep a cushion available for emergencies, and getting started in a house was exciting but stressful and the cushion was gone.

At the same time, a person wants to invest time, energy and, yes, money, into their property. We were very lucky to have a friend with lots of flat rocks on her land. We spent an afternoon visiting and picking rocks, and that summer turned a rather neglected bed into a focal point.

It doesn't help that it was early May, everything was very drab looking

Although we had no budget for flowers, the few perennials that were in the bed helped fill it out. My mom gave me columbines and a day lily that she was thinning out, and I got some fillers for a dollar each later in the spring when things went on sale. As I recall, barren strawberry and a couple different mosses helped fill space and do keep returning each year. Also, a friend gave me some hen and chicks that have exploded even as I've given more and more away.

I gave in and bought a hosta because the bed is on the east side of the garage and shaded almost all day. As far as annuals go, I had great luck throwing down a pack of bachelor buttons, but I really wanted it to be a pretty spot that didn't cost me more money every year.

Much like the rest of the yard and house, there are memories bound up in all the work we did.

Have you found inexpensive ways to "fill" a flowerbed? Can you recommend any annuals that are easy to start (for those of us that have no luck starting plants!)?

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Back to Basics

Knowledge is so valuable, and no amount of book learning can replace good old hands on experience. When it comes down to doing it, research and planning are a start but it comes down to giving things a shot, working hard, and not giving up. We aren't going for a summer of landscaping and then never thinking about it again; we want a lifestyle that includes composting, working outside, conserving, reusing, re purposing, sharing, and learning. Eventually we want a few smaller animals (the three year old says he wants "all kinds of dogs", but I'm thinking possibly a couple sheep, or pigs, maybe chickens, hopefully bees....oh dear!).

I think that when you are armed with some good advice, a can-do attitude, and a determined work ethic, you do stand a chance at success. I'm so loving the book Back to Basics by Abigail R. Gehring. What a wealth of knowledge and how wonderful to read. The pictures and instructions are easy to follow and even make a greenhorn like me feel capable.

We plan to learn by doing but we are enormously thankful to have resources like this great book to help us on our path. Are you working toward a greener lifestyle? What are some books you've read that have helped?

Friday, 15 February 2013

Drawing and Dreaming

I spent a romantic valentine's evening hovering over graph paper, imagining the view from our covered porch (imagining the covered porch, even, as it won't be built for awhile yet), and picturing a stone path that wanders down the gentle slope, lingering by a pond, then continuing to a firepit adjacent to two, let's make it three, raised beds for vegetables. Ah, 'twas a fulfilling evening of drawing and dreaming.

Right now dreaming is the best I can do. Somewhere beneath five feet of snow is a garden and many, many rocks that will be hauled out to the acreage. Husband is able to scavenge and bring home rocks for me--we have huge ones, pink ones, interesting ones, flat ones, perfectly round ones....of course I didn't think to take pictures before snow covered the yard. Although it will take many years of collecting stones to complete the many projects I'm dreaming of, we have a few to start with and a clean slate to work with.

Until spring arrives there will be much reading and scheming, and posting here so that I don't forget what my plans were!

Are you planning any new beds this spring? What kind of research and planning do you put into a new project?

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Lost in the Details

I'm really looking forward to being on our acreage. It's where I plan to live out my my children grow...see seedlings turn into towering trees. On one hand it gives me a feeling of peace, stability, continuity...on the other hand, it's frickin' terrifying.

Right now I'm battling fear of the unknown. So much of what we have yet to do, and plan, is dependent upon some other thing falling into place first. We can't dig the basement, or get the power or gas out there, until spring. I can't really plan my yard until I know where the basement will be. But I do have a rough idea, so I'm trying to draw and dream and not get lost in the details.

When I sit down to make a list of plants, or draw my yard, I feel intimidated and that it is all too daunting. I don't know where to start and I'm afraid of wasting money on the wrong plants and ending up with an embarrassing mess. It is such good timing, then, that I came across the blog . I've spent two days devouring the information available there (to the point of child neglect, in fact) and I am just so darn thankful for people that share their knowledge just for the sake of it.

Author and master-gardener Melanie J. Watts says in her July 13, 2010 post "Designing a Garden":

To lessen the amount of work or to avoid undoing mistakes it is better to approach garden design slowly, letting it evolve naturally. Take time to see where the sunny spot is in the morning where you drink your coffee and the shade where you escape to on hot afternoons. Notice how the path to the shed takes the quickest route and how the children's ball...always seems to end up in the flowerbeds. Design your garden for the life you have now. You can always make the sandbox into a flowerbed after the children have grown out of it".

Aaaaaaand....exhale. How silly that I was worrying about putting plants in the wrong places rather than enjoying the opportunity to learn and dream now and tinker with design throughout the seasons. I'm in this for the enjoyment, after all. So nice to have been reminded of that!

Before and After: The Garden

It's February and if I can't be in the garden, I find myself thinking about the garden! We will be leaving this one before planting time this year, and will have to break new ground for a garden at our acreage. As a sort of send off to this yard and house, I'm going to do a small series of before and afters to show off some of the work we did in our four years here.

This was taken the day we made an offer on the property, 2009
While going through pictures I came across one of our first garden. I was pregnant with baby number one and didn't end up working in it as much as I wanted. I was also working shiftwork and the overnights were very hard. But I do remember eating beets almost everyday, and green beans by the pail, so the garden was a success and I have a healthy little boy to prove it.

The first thing we did was build a compost bin (you can glimpse the blue tarp to the right rear of the garden). When we had a little extra money we made the garden just a bit bigger and edged it. That sure helped to keep the grass from invading, but we do still dig out a bit of encroaching lawn every year.

Two years ago we added a second compost bin
As far as yield goes, I would end up with enough potatoes for a couple months when it was just the two of us. I would blanch and freeze beans, make a couple batches of pickles, and we would eat onions and beets to our heart's content. The potatoes and onions were small and the carrots especially started out a failure. After adding compost each year I noticed a great improvement in the carrots and onions this past year. The garden is partially shaded most of the day and the spruce trees steal moisture and shed needles and cones everywhere. Attempting to make more room for vegetables at the "good" end, we cut the raspberry bush back to the point that we didn't get any fruit from it last year. From this little garden I have learned that placement is everything. In the new yard I won't put raspberries or spruce trees so close that they compete for moisture and nutrients. 

Do you have competing interests in your garden and, if so, how have you managed?  

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Granny's Zucchini Relish

I enjoy the process of pickling and canning more than I enjoy eating the final product. A pickle on a burger is okay, and I love my homemade summer sausage with a cheese, cracker and pickle tray at Christmas, but I've never stood at the counter and polished off a jar of dilled carrots. Husband has. So the arrangement works well, I get to do something I enjoy and he equally enjoys the results.

Ever since my granny gave me her zucchini relish recipe when I was about 20, I have loved making relish and pickling. But since having kids, especially the little crawly-type ones that are into things, I have found relish to require too many steps (so I don't have a picture of the relish to share). I've stuck to just pickles and jam the last couple of years. Next year I intend to make relish again--the boys will be that much older and we will be in the country where they can play on the deck or lawn where I can see them. Although this is a sleepy town our yard is not fenced so they haven't had the freedom to play without me right beside them.

Granny's zucchini relish is a nice golden colour and just sweet enough in a sandwich...well, it is one of my very favourites. I don't make it or eat it without remembering getting it from her basement--how grampa helped her with the canning because her arthritic hands could no longer turn the rings. I think the type of teamwork that older couples like that use to stay independent in their own homes is a real lesson to us. It takes commitment and love to help each other fill the gaps in our capabilities, and you don't need to be a senior citizen to admit that. They were married 58 years when grampa passed away in 2003. Granny is now immobilized due to a stroke this past summer. I take some comfort in keeping her old recipes alive, and in passing them on for other families to enjoy. I have several of her recipe books and many handwritten recipes as well. Some of the handwritten recipes are duplicates, so I plan to decoupage a memory box for my mom using the recipes and notes that are in granny's handwriting. I will also pass on some other favourites as time goes on, but for now:

Granny's Zucchini Relish: 

  • 12 cups ground zucchini (I peel it and remove seeds)
  • 4 large onions, chopped
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coarse pickling salt
Let stand overnight, rinse well, transfer to large pot, then:
  • Add 3 cups vinegar
  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp mustard seed
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • Boil 20 minutes and put into hot, sterile jars

I hope you try this recipe when you are searching for things to do with your zucchini glut next fall. What do you do with your zucchini crop? Are you fortunate enough to have inherited family recipes? If so, what ones, and have you done anything special with them?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Our Flowering Crabapple Tree

As near as I can tell, the tree that was in the front yard when we bought this house is a "Thunderchild Flowering Crab apple".

The beautiful blossoms have been a real treat every spring, except last year when it did not bloom at all. We had  a LOT of snow in March and April, so that might have cost us this beautiful view in the front yard.

Although the fruit is inedible for us, it is common to find deer feeding around it in the fall and winter. It hums with the activity of bees while it is blooming, and is a year-round shelter for different birds. We want to provide beauty and habitat in our new yard so I will definitely plant a flowering tree or two, hopefully where I can see it from my kitchen window as I could this one. In the four years we have lived here, I've spent countless hours admiring this tree from my kitchen and out on our deck.

The pink blossoms are such a cheerful contrast in the spring when all the different shades of green explode in the yard. It is equally as beautiful when it sheds its leaves to provide us with a week or two of raking and playing. Yup, gotta get another one in the new yard!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Using What We Have

I have a couple different types of tea that I enjoy, and the Husband has one alone that he likes. We are out of all of these, and since our local Co-op had to close due to issues with the building, it is 65kms to town for groceries. (We could go 13kms to the nearest town but would pay higher prices). In February, and with two kids to bundle up and haul along, it is my intention to use up what we have before going anywhere.

The tea we still have to drink
There are many reasons to use up these last bags of tea, although we would prefer to go buy our favourites. For one thing, we will be moving in a few months and I can't see packing them up, hauling them, storing them, unpacking them, and then still probably not drinking them. It's either use them up or throw them out. As I mentioned, getting groceries is a distance in the cold, on often slippery roads, with two children. I go once a week or even less often if possible. Until we have a sizable list, we aren't venturing out on the highway at this time of year. Another reason is the cost of fuel and the intent to make the most of our miles. We grab our groceries on the way to gramma's house.

These remnants of tea are just one example of the things I intend to use up before we pack and move. There are a couple bags of rice that we didn't love that eventually worked their way to the back of the pantry, some cans of vegetables, likewise in the freezer. The list goes on. It is easy to just pick up more of our favourites when we get groceries, but if we find ourselves here in a snow storm with what we have, we thankfully use it up. I want us to carry that attitude forward this year: be glad to have it and use it up so that we don't waste time, fuel, money and food.