Buying Local, Vacation Recap and Favorites

by Sandy L on June 7, 2011

The last few days have been the greatest. My family did a road trip to Baltimore and DC and it was just so much fun.  It was all good until my 2 year old got car sick 20 minutes into our 7 hour drive home and threw up all over the back seat and his big brother.  He was fine after that though.  I got a killer deal on a nice hotel in DC right by the White House.  Note, if you ever go to DC for vacation, try to stay over a weekend, because midweek rates are 2-3x weekend rates.  All the lobbyists and government people clear out on the weekends, so good hotels can be had at crazy low prices.  We stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn for $119/night and it was a great location and very nice. That being said, I still had to remind myself not to be too stingy while I was out and about.  After all, most of the sites were free, so I needed to remind myself that an extra $20 here or there on parking or snacks was okay.  I love deals but I’ve got to fight my urge to become a tightwad. I enjoyed the nice restaurants and on our last night, I even bought 2 mixed drinks that cost almost as much as a meal on their own.

I am always bad at picking restaurants and got vetoed after I decided to try an Afgani place.  My littlest son and I loved it, but the rest of my Irish Potato eating family were none too pleased.   A small part of me thinks I did it on purpose so that I wouldn’t be charged with dinner picking duties the rest of the trip and it worked splendidly.  What inspired me for Afgani?  I was taking a walk with my son and I asked a biker dude who stopped for takeout for dinner recommendations.  He looked like an older single guy and from my experience waitressing, it’s the old bachelors that know all the good places to eat.   Well, it’ll give my mother in law a good story to talk about anyway.

I was almost brought to tears when we went to the Smithsonian and there was a breast cancer walk that brought thousands of people to the Capitol.  I was doing fine until I got closer and most people had signs on their back that said “In memory of (insert loved one).”  How inspiring that people can take something so painful like the death of a loved one and turn it into a powerful community action event.

I personally hate staycations because I just don’t have the self control to keep myself from doing work around the house. My project list is a mile long and it never feels like time off when I stay home.  It just feels like a different kind of work.

Buying Local

I’ve finally started reading Animal Vegetable Miracle on this trip as well. It talks about the local food movement and my cheese making teacher was featured in it.  I don’t have the luxury of living in a climate where I can eat local food year round without hundreds of hours of canning. However, I’m definitely on board to try to reduce my carbon footprint by going out of my way to buy more local food.  I get loads  of home grown food from Babci’s garden every summer and I’m already buying local dairy, maple syrup, honey, flour and eat at an organic pizza place, but there’s still lots more to add to the list.  Next is eggs and meat and narrowing down our snack food list.

I was first grossed out when I learned that what I thought was a “local” dairy chain actually trucked their milk around about 2000 miles before it gets to my table.   You milk the cows in VT, then send the milk to Texas to be pasteurized and then send it back to MA to be sold?  That’s just a crazy waste of fuel and not at all what I’d call “fresh milk.”  I swear the local skim milk tastes thicker and creamier than the generic brand.  The reason is simple. All those thousands of miles of churning in an 18 wheeler breaks down the proteins in the milk.  That’s why you can’t even make a basic mozzarella with most of the store bought stuff.

I’ll probably never go to the extreme and be that person that denies myself citrus because it’s not locally grown,  but there are still many small things that I’ll start incorporating into my buying habits to do my part and support the local farm movement.  This is an area of my budget that will be expanding.

It’s definitely catching on. Many of the restaurants in DC advertised where their food came from, so I know local is finally getting it’s fair share of attention.  Hurray for that.

Here are some of my favorite reads that I’ve been compiling for a few weeks, but just now have gotten around to publishing:

Frugal Girls have a great list out of summer activities for the kids.  I love summer and road trips. One of the best things about New England is that you can drive 3 hours in any direction and be in a totally different place. Oceans, Mountains, Big Cities..love it.  The hardest part is doing it on a reasonable budget.

Money Reasons must have read my mind because just the other day I was wondering if dividend stocks offer a better return on investment vs a CD or Bond.  Specifically if we just assumed that the stock price was a sunk cost and not a money making vehicle, how does the investment look from a purely dividend standpoint.  Looks pretty darn good if you ask me.  I know my husband’s grandparents worked at the phone company for like a million years before they retired. The dividend from their phone stock kept them in nice financial shape in their golden years.

If I ever get serious about making money off a blog, I’m going here to this list of affiliate companies.

Everyday Tips writes an informative article about Target vs Walmart and how target is cheaper on many things these days.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Walmart’s latest series of commercials have gone from “Everyday Low Prices” To “Match it”.  I interpret this as our prices aren’t as low as our competitors but if you go out of your way to prove it, we’ll match the lower price and then we’ll charge everyone else more.  I almost never used to go to Target except for clothing and now I’m in there much more regularly.

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff talks about the Best Gift Ever - Faith. in your Spouse. Crystal is running around like a nutcase working around the clock to pursue her passion, blogging full time.  This is just a sweet article that show’s crystal’s appreciation for her husband’s supportiveness of her dream.

101 Centavos talks about how to make sprouts. I wish I could do this kind of stuff all the time.  I want to bake my own bread, make my own pizza dough, cheese, yogurt, grow everything. Lately, I’ve done none of it.  My schedule’s just too unpredictable and most of these things need daily tending.

Invest it Wisely Speculates about an How to Prepare for an Uncertain Future. The article has so much in it, I didn’t even know how to respond, but it’s a nice peek into Kevin’s introspective side.

Dr. Dean discussed the Debt Ceiling and why we should care. I personally don’t understand how the richest country on earth can be in so much debt.  I just don’t get it.  What would we say if Bill Gates suddenly was billions in debt? You’d say, dude, scale back on your solid gold cars.   I still believe that it is possible to spend within your means even as a government…especially if you’re the biggest economy on the planet.

On a Similar Note, Suba at Wealth Informatics shares President Obama and Biden’s balance sheets.  It’s interesting that the President is a Saver. Hopefully that’ll rub off on his policies, but so far, it’s not lookin that way.

Grumpy Rumblings praise an old fashioned dying art, Mending Clothes.  Babci mends all our clothing and I just love her to death for it.  She also gets a lot of joy knowing that she made a sock or pants last a little longer.

I’m loving this article by Len Penzo on When Good Personal Finance Practices go Too Far.

Single Mom Rich Mom talks about how she Maintained Motivation to Save. I’m personally in a bit of a saving funk lately as most of my current savings goals are long term ones. It’s great reading how others do it.  Thanks Jacq.

Bucksome Boomer goes on a rant about $2500 bottled water, but her article is more about conscious spending vs wasteful spending. Good read.

Sandy at Yes I’m Cheap shares 7 inexpensive things that can save you money.  I love these lists because I always look at them to see how many I’m already doing. Admittedly, I could do a lot better at using a clothesline. I have one in our basement, but in the summer it gets musty down there and the air is filled with pollen, so I’m still a big waster in that area of my life.   It’s still something I want to work on though, even if it’s just a few months of the year.

MoneyCone has a great article on Stocks that Survived a lost decade.  He basically picked a bunch of stocks that have done well since the nasdaq peak of the market…ie, they survived the crash and rebounded better than most. It’s an interesting read to see who comes out on top.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole June 7, 2011 at 10:21 AM

I LOVE that Afghani place in DC. (Ok, maybe there’s not only one… but there’s one that everybody talks about). We’re doing a DC trip in conjunction with a conference this summer. (That’s the subject of our next rant, I believe. :) )

DH has tried and failed to make mozarella 3 times so far. I think we’re out of non-ultra-pasteurized milk options to try unless he wants to use raw goat milk (blech).

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Sandy L June 8, 2011 at 7:29 AM

Nicole – Making cheese is much harder than I thought it would be, mostly due to the fact that it’s hard to find good raw materials and that even if they are good, they vary batch to batch, so you do have to adjust things on the fly. I don’t have time to make the hard cheeses and my family doesn’t like the soft ones. Boo hoo, but I still think I’ll get back into it sometime.

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Crystal June 7, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Thanks so much for the mention! I really loved writing that post since my husband is the most supportive person ever. I’ve been using my desk already in the evenings when I need quiet time to write, woot!

I was also going to mention using goat’s milk for cheese since I seem to like it a lot more than Nicole, lol.

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Sandy L June 8, 2011 at 7:30 AM

Crystal – hmm. around here, raw goat’s milk is hard to come by because most of the farmers find it much more profitable to convert it to cheese.

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Mutant Supermodel June 7, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Aw what a great time you guys had! I’d like to do a road trip myself this summer but I’m not really sure if the finances will play out that way and I just found out the Ex is taking them to Disney this summer. Maybe it’ll be overkill but I’d been hoping to go to Busch Gardens. Maybe we’ll do something else like St. Augustine. Florida’s a pain to get out of but it has plenty of nice places to visit inside. One of the things I’m dying to do is work with the CSA once the income steadies itself. I love eating locally as well.

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Sandy L June 8, 2011 at 7:31 AM

Mutant – It’s nice that you can drive to some of the best tourist destinations around. Hurray for the kids.

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Suba June 7, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Looks like you guys had a great time. We just got back from a 10 day conference/vacation from Orlando. We visited the mouse but oh boy was it expensive… I love road trips. We are hoping to do one this summer.

Thanks for including 2 of my posts :)

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Len Penzo June 7, 2011 at 9:29 PM

Thanks for the mention, Sandy! :-)

All the best,

Len
Len Penzo dot Com

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Invest It Wisely June 7, 2011 at 10:45 PM

Sounds like it was a good vacation, aside from one brother puking on another. :P I’m for the buy local thing only to a certain extent. I think it can make sense for some foods, and I feel iffy about buying food from Asia but I’m perfectly happy to buy computer parts from there. :) I wonder, why can’t they pasteurize the milk somewhere more local? That does seem like a waste unless for some reason it’s even more wasteful to have it pasteurized locally.

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Sandy L June 8, 2011 at 7:32 AM

Invest it – I agree. I think doing a combination of the two is good. I’m not going to stop buying rice just because 80% comes from asia. Rice is compact and not that perishable so I think the transportation is no biggie there.

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Invest It Wisely June 8, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Oh definitely, rice is a good example. I don’t think there’s anywhere local where rice is grown within a few thousand miles anyways. ;) It’s the meat and canned stuff I’m more afraid of… so that I will make more of an effort to buy “local” though local might still be a thousand kilometers away, but in Canada or the US.

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Money Reasons June 7, 2011 at 11:23 PM

Sounds like a great trip to Washington D.C.

I try to support local businesses too. Not necessarily for the green benefits, but more for supporting the local businesses and shops. Aftre all, how wants a ghost downtown…

Thanks for the mention, and great ideas (I’m really thinking about seeking out local community organizations, after I’m done coaching spring soccer) :)

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SpruceUpYour June 8, 2011 at 12:28 AM

Buying local is one way to help the environment and the local businesses. or economy.

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Teresa Grabowski June 8, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Hi,

Not sure how I found your site. I’ve been reading since March or so.
I think the combination of frugality , being the daughter of a Polish immigrant ( my dad was a displaced person after WW2). My mom’s parent’s immigrated to Canada at the turn of the last century also from Poland.
I was drawn to your photo of Africa initially ( I spent 3 weeks travelling,visiting and on Safarii with my middle daughter in Feb.(Kenya/Tanzania/Zanzibar) of this year). She worked 5 jobs to make the money to travel and volunteer in East Africa for 5 months. Because of frugality I was able to decide on short notice to seize the opportunity to travel with her once she was there for awhile.

Anyways, the real reason for the comment is I also have searched for a more “local” source of rice. Yes I could use “wild rice”. Indigenious to this part of the world.
What I did find out in my research is that commercial rice is one of the crops in the world that uses heavy weed/insect control/spraying. I then found out that many of the original native rice species were being lost because of commercial production . The workers were also exposed to high levels of the chemicals in the water and on the plants. I have moved to purchasing fair trade/ organic rice from 10,000 Villages an arm of Mennonite Central Committee.
Yes, it is expensive to purchase, there is no way around it.
Please don’t flame me I know this is a personal decision for everyone as to how you decide to do your purchases. I have 4 almost adult children along with my husband so we are feeding 6 adults, when I decided to change my purchasing habits for rice it has only been in the last couple of years.
I’m more conscious of the rice I make now (rarely is thrown away) and the workers involved in it’s production and transport to me. Just a thought, again everyone comes to theirown decsions in their own ways:) Great Blog, Sandy ( sprayed coffee on my computer monitor many mornings when I am reading and laughing at your statements, they are so familiar:))

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Sandy L June 9, 2011 at 2:55 AM

Teresa – thank you for reading and commenting. I’m so glad you enjoy reading. I’m not offended by your suggestion. I always love to know better/local sources of all foods. We only eat rice maybe 3/month, so it’s not like we go through pounds of it a week like some families, so it may be something we can incorporate without breaking the bank. I’ll check it out.

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Laura|move to portugal June 8, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Hi Sandy
You’re definitely right to change to a more local diet over time and product by product. As you know I tried to do too much all at once and became overwhelmed.

It sounds like you had a wonderful time in Washington. We stayed at a Hilton on our visit, although a different one I think…I’m saving your recommendation for next time :)

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SomeFinanceForThought June 13, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Thank you for the informative article! Recently I have become very involved at the local farmers market and buying locally produced goods. The complaint I hear most often from those I discuss it with, is that local food is more expensive. While this can be true for some items, I believe it comes down to getting what you pay for and that is a fresh and healthy food item. My response to the over priced food argument is this; plan accordingly and follow a budget. Save time and money from long supermarket lines and bulk purchases by riding a bike to the local co-op a few times a week.

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Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer June 19, 2011 at 9:27 AM

I love Washington DC and it sounds like you and the family had a wonderful trip (outside the bad start,LOL).

Thanks so much for including my post.

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101 Centavos June 19, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Hi Sandy, thanks for the link (I missed the trackback)
LOL on the two-year old’s projectile vomiting!
We also try to buy as local as possible but are not fanatic about it. I swung into a local farmer’s market the other day on impulse, and ended up with a flat of green pepper plants, pickling cukes and marigolds (1/2 off sale). Both finds were serendipitous: I needed to replant a 4′ x 8′ bed after digging up the red Nordland potatoes, and the peppers fit the bill. The remote garden is also underplanted with attractant flowers, so enter the marigolds. For her part, Mrs. 101 wound up some hand-crocheted items of dubious practical value but of immense eye-candy points. One in fact is little crocheted mini-apron for dishwashing liquid bottles. Too cute for words.
In any event, the money spent is all cash and it stays local.

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