A Downsizer’s “No Thanks” and “Yes Please” List

I loved The Spark Collector’s Simple Living “Yes please/No thanks” list (see it here). Now I’m inspired to make one of my own.  I switched the order, to end on a positive note, and came up with the Downsizer’s Illustrated Guide, as follows:

No thanks!     Christmas tree
Yes please!     Christmas cactus

I'm having a hard time downsizing my Christmas cactus collection.

I still haven’t downsized my Christmas cactus collection.

No thanks!     making a Christmas list of “stuff”
Yes please!     receiving donations to charity instead (Thank You friends and family)

No thanks!     too much “big picture”
Yes please!     sometimes taking a closer look

An ant explores my back yard.

This ant takes a closer look at my back yard.

No thanks!      grass to water, mow, and feed
Yes please!      groundcover that blooms and attracts pollinators

No thanks!     formal landscaping
Yes please!     native plant rescues

Bob rescued the Bloodroot, it still comes up every year.

Bob found the Bloodroot on a plant rescue; it still comes up every year.

No thanks!      my basement, alas, still full o’ stuff
Yes please!      my future basement sorted out, sparklingly clean, everything donated or recycled

No thanks!     me, staring in despair at my still-messy garage
Yes please!     future me, finally finishing the garage project a year after starting in Jan-2013 (*blush*)

No thanks!     a mega-cruise-ship vacation
Yes please!     a companionable trip, personally planned, frugally executed, with pizza-tourism for Sam

DeVito's Pizza in Reykjavik.

At DeVito’s Pizza in Reykjavik.

No thanks!     bug spray
Yes please!     plenty of spiders, especially if they’re as pretty as this one

Backyard spider

A spider from my backyard.

No thanks!     Captain Kirk
Yes please!     Captains Sisko, Picard & Janeway!

(Yes, it’s off-topic; I geeked out on this one but we all need a little humor in our lives)

A Starfleet officer gets a shoeshine at Dragon Con.

A Starfleet officer gets a shoeshine at Dragon Con.

Could it be Kirk-in-a-Box? -- two Shatner Action figures at a past Dragon Con.

Could it be Kirk-in-a-Box? — two life-sized Shatner Action figures at a past Dragon Con.

Phasers on stun, folks… now, do you have a No Thanks/Yes Please list to share?

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Witches Fingers, Hot Watermelon Ice Pops, and Hoarding Fresh Fruit

My applesauce: not as good as my mother used to make.

Trying to hoard apples: my applesauce is not as good as my mother used to make.

I love fresh fruit. It’s one thing I’d love to hoard, but the best we can do is preserve it, and then it isn’t fresh fruit anymore is it? I follow the seasons, so I’m eating pears and apples now. Peaches, plums and blueberries are in season somewhere else, and for me a distant summer memory. To you lucky folks elsewhere: enjoy them while you can.

Here are a few ways to ALMOST hoard fresh fruit.

Take a picture. I just found some very-old photos I took of berries we used to pick in the country around the small town where I grew up. Wild blackberries, raspberries, and dewberries went into pies and jam. Oh yes, and there was a cow in my past, so we sometimes ate the berries fresh with cream. Ticks and poison ivy were no object. When I look at these photos I don’t just remember how the fruit smelled and tasted, I’m there, hearing the birds and insects, seeing how the light falls, and feeling dewy morning air on my skin.

Wild berries along the railroad tracks, midwestern US.

Wild berries along the railroad tracks, midwestern US.

We had wild grapes back then too. But fast forward to the present. Grocery store and market grapes appeared this year in varieties I’ve never seen before. I’ve been guilty of recreational grocery shopping — I found “Witches Fingers” grapes at Fresh Market, once only.

Grapes: Witches Fingers, Seedless Concord, Midnight Beauty, and Cotton Candy -- plus a couple of figs... guess which ones are the Witches Fingers.

Grapes: Witches Fingers, Seedless Concord, Midnight Beauty, and Cotton Candy — plus a couple of figs… guess which ones are the Witches Fingers.

For a couple of weeks in September, “Cotton Candy” grapes were available– big green globes of crisp sweetness. ‘Thomcords”, half Thompson, half Concord, and seedless, have an equally short season. In the last few weeks I found yet another variety I’d never seen before — “Gold N Sweet”, and are they ever (sweet).

Freeze it. It’s tough to get a whole watermelon eaten, so I started making ice pops. Cantaloupe and honeydew work well too: blend, then freeze, no sugar needed! I still have a couple of these last bites of summer in my freezer.

"Hot" summer ice pop, cold winter yard.

“Hot” summer ice pop, cold winter yard.

Here’s a twist on watermelon ice pops. I found a recipe for spicy watermelon online here at allrecipes.com. I had some spice mix left over, so the next time I made watermelon ice pops I got creative.  Just pulse watermelon in the blender, add spice mix to taste, a twist of lime, then halve a few grapes and sprinkle pieces in the molds. Cover with watermelon mix. Freeze.  Hot Watermelon Ice Pops –yum.

Make wine. Next up is my brother’s home-made elderberry port. It’s ruby goodness is born of hot August afternoons trudging through the country to find a berry patch (he suffers for his art).

Elderberry port.

Elderberry port.

Witches Fingers grapes.

Witches Fingers.

Here’s one more look at the Witches Fingers. Don’t you think they should grow them to harvest at Halloween time?

What’s your favorite way of hoarding fruit?

P.S. …and thanks to Sam for a gift box of superb pears. I love the boxes they come in, because the first time I saw one at the door, the air-holes made me think  “baby chickens!”  …No, no, I don’t need any baby chicks, I’m just sayin’.

Royal Riviera Pears in a chicken box.

These wondrous fresh pears are “Royal Riviera”.