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A Simple Six: 9/4/11 - 9/11/11

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Introducing Kidical Mass-Huntington, WV

Thanks to Full Hands, Shane MacRhodes of, and Critical Mass Huntington I am excited to introduce Kidical Mass-Huntington, WV.  This family friendly ride is open to everyone and you can find more information on the page linked in the tab above or as an event on Facebook.

Save the date: Saturday October 29, 3:00PM, Ritter Park fountain plaza. That's plenty of time to dust off your wheels, get your children's gear gussied up and finalize those Halloween costumes! Invite your friends and neighbors. Come out and see different "family rides" even if you don't bike.

Have questions? Please leave them in the comment area below.

Thank you for your support and any promotion and participation. We need you!

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Comparison: September 19

This tally is a total account of our joint family miles. If we bike or walk together, like we do for errands, they only count once, but if Brent's biking to work and I am biking to school, those are separate miles. I was not to sure what to do if London biked home from school but the boys and I walked with her, so I counted them separately because they were different modes. 

Our trip meter last week August 28-September 2:
Miles Walked:6 Biked: 70.4 Bused: 0 Drove: 4 This week

Today, September 4-9:

Miles Walked: 8 Biked: 43 Bused: 0 Drove: 24 This week
51.7 233.8 12.6 446.2 Since August 14, 2011

We certainly drove more this week. Twenty of those miles were Brent taking the children to school in the morning. I am driving for pick ups on Friday so we can bring home play mates. Come to think of it, the round trip miles to school are 4 and there were only 4 days of school this week, so that number should read 20. There's no doubt my tracking system is flawed. Oh well, it's something.

I am still looking for alternate ways to get to school if anyone has suggestions. Please read up on our trials and tribulations of school commuting to get the scoop on issues with biking, busing and walking. Carpooling was working, but Brent really likes seeing his children to the door, especially Avery, as it's his first year.

Special Mentions
It's been an unanticipated thrill to write A Simple Six. I would like to thank everyone for reading and if you came here because I bombard you with links on my Facebook page, sorry, but thank you none-the-less. I really appreciate the car-lite community interviews with Raine and Jenny and the traffic they have so wonderfully reciprocated toward my blog. I did a great big happy dance when Simply Bike featured our Breakfasty Bike Date today on her blog under a new tab just for mamas and papas. I am "meeting" some amazing families out there in the world and beginning some great projects here in Huntington because of them. This adventure in blogging continues to be the change I want to see in my world. Thank you. Without your readership and support, it would not be.

Looking Forward
The next couple of weeks my tracking and logging will probably diminish as I am taking a long trip to a far away land. My husband's ability to care for our children in my absence will be tested, and should I ask him to keep a record of his miles he may develop a twitch. I am preparing to travel sans-technology, but may be fortunate enough to pry the iPad from Brent's hands.

While on my solo adventure in Phoenix, where I am meeting up with hoards of other wedding goers, I hope to do something, transportation wise, to write home about. The evening temperatures in Arizona are expected to be in the 100s, so I may find myself in air-conditioned cars enlarging my dusty carbon footprint.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Bookworm's Attic

We have passed by the Bookworm's Attic countless times. It is directly on the way to school. It was on the way to my friend's house when they still lived here for three years and it was on the way to Wal-Mart when we still shopped there. It's next to the library we have patron a hundred times. We are a family of readers. My daughter's idea of going to the mall with a friend, is to visit Borders. My idea of a date is going to the travel section of the nearest book store (Brent likes to go to the magazine racks). We had never been to the Bookworm's Attic, until today.
The Bookworm's Attic--352 Norway Avenue, Huntington, WV
The reason's we have not visited the Bookworm's Attic seem trite, and now that we have walked through those doors, they are all embarrassing. I am pining to go back. I had to call a friend and gush over how wonderful it was to be in such a charming, warm and surprising place, in the path of our school commute. There were shelves of children's books, reading chairs, a Lego table, chapter books, new novels, a rare book collection, and my children's favorite, two dishes of candy. The music was good and I never notice the music anywhere.

One of the back nooks. There were several.

Discussion group space and a Lego table.

This may become our Thursday after school enrichment activity in addition to our curbside clean up project, which we also managed to do today, because we walked  home.

Miles Walked: 4 Biked: 38 Bused: 0 Drove: 16 This week
47.7 228.8 12.6 438.2 Since August 14, 2011

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From Drizzle to Light Rain

We had a successful drizzly bike ride on Tuesday. Yesterday it was a steady rain and I decided to bike anyway. How else was I going to test the elements and prepare for year round car-free living?

 The trailer is a great napping location as well as warm and dry. When we get our new bike (in two weeks?), I will be keeping and using the trailer for such occasions.
 My perfectly grumpy gus had a disappointing experience at the end of her school day which impacted her attitude the entire way home. She never once complained about the rain. She's probably got the "Pacific Northwest Gene" that Brent and I have. We love the rain and the cloudy days, as long as we get some mix of occasional sun. Snow is also very much appreciated. Anything over 80 is dreaded.
Avery's new helmet. The boys are have been in "no pictures" mood lately, hence the many covered faces.

Everyday we stop at the blue mailbox on the corner of Woodland and Washington. We feel it's about 1/2 way home and after the tough uphill with stressful traffic on Norway, we are all ready for a snack. During those weeks of 80 to 100 degree days, this was the perfect place to stop in the shade and stretch in the grass. Turns out that on rainy days, those mature oaks are also nature's umbrella. The sidewalk was dry, the grass was just damp.

Rain Lessons
In preparing for the rain, I was most concerned about my glasses. I don't wear contacts and probably never will. I read a couple of forums online Monday and felt there were two basic options, Rain-X or a ball cap. I didn't have Rain-X, and the forums all suggest testing it first, for compatibility with your lens type. I slipped a ball cap on under my helmet and found it did the trick nicely. I still got misted, but my glasses stayed clear enough to see well.

Another lesson of biking in the rain; fenders are important. The children's backs were splashed with the muck of the sidewalks and roads. Brent reports of the unpleasant via-duct material (sewer, car and train muck?) that splashes up on him during his commute. My back tire was spitting mud on the trailer and consequently the children when I had the rain cover up. The new bike will have fenders, Brent's looking into getting some for his soon.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 33 Bused: 0 Drove: 16 This week
43.7 223.8 12.6 438.2 Since August 14, 2011

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Great Bike Purchase

Huntington Cycle and Sport, 1455 4th Avenue Huntington, WV

The bike debate left me with two choices, the Madsen or the Yuba Mundo. I emailed more with Carfree with Kids, Full Hands and Family Ride. I called Madsen directly, I left a message with Yuba. I read reviews over and over again. I browsed Flickr pools. I made lists and held conventions. Once I knew what I needed and wanted, I called Huntington Cycle and Sport to see if they could order the Yuba Mundo for me.

Not only could they order it, they called Yuba and got my questions answered. Huntington Cycle and Sport explained to me all my options and which were necessary and why, which ones would be beneficial and why, and which ones I could consider adding later. I had a good idea of all of the above, but some of the details were sketchy. I wasn't sure if I needed those wheel skirts or what bags would fit on the rack if I used two child seats and is it possible to put a front seat on with a front rack? Questions answered.  Wheel skirt is good but not necessary, bags with one seat, but not two and we are still working on the front seat issue, but I have some time.

Inside Huntington Cycle and Sport. They have electric assist bikes, those beautiful Linus bikes on the left and children's bikes. What they don't have, they can probably order, as they have been doing for us all summer.

Oliver and I went to the shop this morning to make our order official, or as Brent would say, to pay the man. We left very happy to know that we will soon be sporting a very sweet ride, dare I say "coolest" bike in Huntington. Ordering with Huntington Cycle and Sport gave me the advantage of a year of free standard maintenance and 10% discount on future accessories for the Yuba Mundo. More sweetness.

While we were there, Brent stopped in with his bike to get the front wheel looked over. The bike shop is two blocks from his office, huge convenience. He had some squeaky brake issues. All taken care of now. We also purchased new helmets for Elliot and Avery. We hope they like them. London's is being ordered because she fell in love with the Raskullz and it was an easy pleaser.

Before the bike shop, we went to get our eggs and to deposit checks at the bank
I finally spotted a bike lane sign on 4th Avenue, but where is the lane?

It's Drizzling, We Biked, We Didn't Melt

We also didn't wreck, get wet, complain or do anything else I thought we might do, or would expect someone biking with four children in a drizzle to do. It was just a drizzle and only on the way to school yesterday afternoon. The ride/walk home was dry. Yet, it was a great introduction to biking in the rain for us. I like gradual transitions.
Attached rain cover on the trailer. Very handy. The hose was from us draining our rain barrel before the recent rains. Free lawn and garden water.

Murky skies. We love the rain. Brent was reminiscing about Vancouver, BC and I about Seattle. We are pacific North Westerns at heart.

Oil slick.

London snagged a photo of me with the three boys. Oliver in the iBert, Elliot and Avery in the trailer. I thought I would see if I could haul about a 160lbs of children and books. I could! It also proved that Elliot could fit.

London wanted to find out if she could do it too. She was wobbly for about a 1/2 block then decided she just couldn't see around Oliver, but she was strong enough! (We were also going downhill)

Leaves at the library. We have designated Tuesdays as Gallaher Village Library day.

Elliot reading the Guinness Book of World Records, Avery on the right getting a drink.

London was checking out a flyer for Bear Bucks. An incentive program for children.

Shared reading time.
 London ended up biking Elliot and Oliver home in the trailer. Avery and I jogged alongside or I piggy backed him home. We had a great time with the cooler temperatures, the library and the cloudy day.

I am also excited to report I spoke to three different companies about their bikes. Turns out our own Huntington Cycle and Sport is a dealer for the Sun Altas Cargo bike. I am heading downtown today to discuss with them ordering the Yuba Mundo for me. They were in contact with Yuba yesterday to see if they could resale for them, and they can! I could certainly order directly from Yuba, but I like the rapport and service we are getting with Tom and his family at the bike shop. We are also so inexperienced about all this bike stuff I needed an advocate. Maybe we can transform Huntington Cycle and Sport into a family and cargo bike dealer...How about it Huntington? Would you like to see more family bike options?

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 14 Bused: 0 Drove: 8 This week
43.7 204.8 12.6 430.2 Since August 14, 2011

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Feeding Six: The Meal Co-op

Three meals of cantaloupe, Waldorf chicken salad, pitas, and tabbouleh, packaged for trading.

Introduction and History
Four years ago I read a magazine article about some women who all lived on one block and took turns cooking meals for each other. One family would cook a full meal for everyone and deliver packaged warm meals to the other two families at a designated time, keeping one for their own family to enjoy. Brilliance, in my opinion.

Since most of my ideas are just modifications of others greatness, I brought this one to a friend and we discussed the options. None of my friends lived on my block. They actually lived all over the county. We devised a list of potential cooks, keeping in mind family sizes and cooking abilities. I admit we were pretty picky at first, almost snobby about who we asked, as we were concerned our great idea was going to interest everyone, but it didn't. We started with about four families and devised a plan to have everyone cook for the other three families on Sunday, package their meals and trade them on Monday morning during a play group. If you chose to cook a fourth meal for yourself, was up to you.

Our group met weekly with packaged food in reusable plastic containers with our names on them and a food label with instructions. We had an online forum to track our menus in advance and "secret" polls to offer feedback. There were lists of food preferences made and things to avoid because it wouldn't be eaten or someone was allergic. After a couple of months we opened the group up to other families and enlisted substitutes and part time swappers. Our group grew so much one year we had ten full time families so we broke into two groups based on eating habits and family size.

In the Now
As the group currently stands, we are much more relaxed. There are four families (I am the only original member left living in Huntington) who use a group on Facebook to post menus and questions. The family sizes vary greatly; ours having six, two families with four and one with three. This works well for all of us as my little four are picky and Brent and I eat a lot of our meals for lunch. The family with three does some of the same but then they have more for dinner.

I love my meal co-op. During crazy busy after school weeks, dinner is done. When I feel a bit ill/tired or Brent's working nights, dinner is done. If I decide I haven't seen my neighbors in a while or they seem super busy, dinner is done. If I am away for the evening, Brent can put dinner together and it won't be toast and spaghetti (although the children prefer this). I have been able to eat moussaka a couple of time without the labor. I have indulged in more shrimp and had several loaves of artisan bread without looking for my yeast or removing any shells. These families have me spoiled. It's also been the case that when one of our members are ill, we cook for them anyway, without anything expected in return. It's a great food community.

The Doing
Preparing for our exchange has taken some practice. I now have a great system of knowing how to batch cook and pace my dishes. I documented my cooking last weekend to help illustrate.

My menu: Waldorf chicken salad, tabbouleh and cantaloupe.
Started by boiling in my 8 quart pot, as this would take the longest to cook and cool.

Chicken cooking next to bulgar wheat soaking. The wheat for the tabbouleh would take at least an hour.

While the chicken and grains were doing their part, I diced up veggies.

I lay out all my glass containers on the counter, separated in groups of three (for each family), and add ingredients as I finish prepping them. We choose glass for the ease of reheating and baking straight in the dish we are swapping.

Tabbouleh is seasoned and drizzled and is just awaiting wheat.

I moved onto chopping grapes for the chicken salad.

Assembled straight in my swapping dishes.

Two dishes for three families (and a plastic container for the extra). Everything is dressed and ready for the last ingredients (chicken and wheat).

Adding the bulgar wheat.

Stir right in the serving dishes.

Add lids and set aside, in this case they went into my refrigerator.

Chicken was taken off the bone and skins removed, then chopped.

Added to the prepped salad bowls.

Everything is ready to go. I went with store bought pitas this week, but it's not unusual for us to trade homemade breads, naans, desserts, rolls, and more. Keeping the cantaloupes whole means they are "fresher" for the families.

Single family serving.
The Swap
A few things to note
  1. We agree ahead of time on the menus, to avoid everyone making lasagnas. We choose to have one protein main course and two sides of fruits, veggies and/or grains. This group is very relaxed and sometimes our main protein course is vegetarian with grain and the sides are more veggies. How do you complain about more veggies? We love it.
  2. We all purchased nine glass containers with lids. Three of those containers are large (about 11cups in volume) and six of them are medium size (about 4-6 cups in volume). We don't "own" the containers once they enter the swap. They are just evenly exchanged each week. I hand out 9 (1 large and 2 mediums to each family) and I get 9. As seen in the photo above, there are only two glass containers, as my third dish was a whole melon. I do pass an empty container and lid to this family as well, to keep the exchange even. Some weeks we are all bringing empties, so we leave with the one we brought.
  3.  We transport our glass containers and meals in coolers with ice packs in the summer. They are heavy, but we are strong!
  4. We used to label our meals with the contents, re-heating instructions and the cooks initials. We are bit too lazy for that now and just settle on memory or chance. I do recommend a tighter plan and labels when you first get started. If you do label, painters tape and a sharpie works the best, but do it before you refrigerate.
  5. Cooking this way hasn't saved me money, nor has it cost me more. Some weeks are less expensive than others, but I am not doing it to be frugal with my dollar, but more frugal with my time. I like having my evenings with my family and not with my stove top. I like snacking a well balanced meal at lunch time instead of any old thing in a bag.
Two complete meals that are being brought to me. Note the empty container in the left stack. She made Phad Thai, thus satisfying the grain, meat, veggie requirement in one dish, and added green beans for the side. The right stack is an enchilada lasagna, re-fried beans and stewed tomatoes.

All the meals being sorted and distributed for swap.

Many have blazed this trail before me, and since, and they have also said it better. If you are looking for a way to incorporate meal swapping into your life, check out these links.
 *Little House in the Suburbs talks about child care sharing as well. This is something we have done in the past, but being a family with four children now, we haven't dared to trade children often. Yet, this is a wonderful option for those on a budget!

I love my meal co-op! I know everything is not explained well, as it wasn't really meant to be a "how to" post. Yet, if you have questions, I would love to answer them. Drop me a line or post a comment.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Living Car-Lite in Huntington: The Hobson/Green's

Living without a car in Huntington is not just for those with DUIs, as Jenny Hobson explains in my second interview with a citizen of Huntington, WV who chooses to live with fewer cars than adults in their household. If you missed the first interview last week, you can find it here. I hope you enjoy what Jenny has to say about family life with one car and a bicycle.

The Hobson Green's at the 2011 Buns on Bikes ride.

Jenny Hobson and Chris Green: Huntington, WV
Could you please introduce yourself and your family? How many adults and how many vehicles?

My name is Jenny Hobson, and I live with my husband, Chris Green.  We have two children, one in elementary school and one in preschool.  We have one vehicle, a ten year old Honda Accord.
How long have you been car-lite/free in Huntington (and before living here)? How did you come to the decision to have fewer automobiles than adults?

We've been car-lite for so long that I can't quite remember when we got rid of our second car.  It was some time shortly after we moved to West Virginia, and it became clear that our mid-80s Toyota wasn't going to pass inspection without more costly repairs than the car was worth.  Inspired by some friends who had also recently donated a dying car and became a one car family, we donated our Toyota to the Good News Mountaineer Garage.  We've been car-lite ever since.  I think maybe we donated the car in 2006.
What's your current transportation situation? What are your methods for getting about Huntington? What about leaving town? Or when one adult stays and one goes?
Chris bicycle commutes to Marshall every day of the year.  It's around a 3 mile round trip.   If it's icy, I drive him to work.  Otherwise, he bikes.  We live within walking distance of my work and the kids' schools.  When we can, we walk or bike.  When the weather's bad, we usually drive.  Because I'm a preschool teacher, I often have large props or materials to take to school, and that necessitates a lot of driving, too.  I have to say that I don't hesitate to drive around town to run errands though I work my hardest to consolidate them.  It helps that I loathe driving, not necessarily from any ethical point of view.  I just don't enjoy it and never have. When one of us has to leave town, we often rent a car for the adult who's staying in town.  Thankfully, neither of us has jobs that necessitates frequent travel.  Chris travels five or six times a year, and we usually rent a car.

One new thing that we're currently trying to do is increase our overall car-free commuting.  For example, if we go all week without using our car to get to/from work and school, then we're ordering pizza from Papa John's on Friday night.  The kids love Papa John's, so this is a big motivator for them.  On the other hand, knowing how often I have to transport big stuff to the preschool in my car, I also know that I'll be buying pizza often enough to motivate the kids, but not so often that I break the bank.
What makes this work for your family?

We live close to work and school, so that's a big help.  It's also a help that we do own one car.  I would find it a challenge to do what needs to be done in Huntington without the option of a car.  I work part-time, and I think I would find transportation to the store, doctors, etc. a full time job if we were completely car-free. I think it can be done in Huntington.  I don't think  it can be done by us, with the needs we have in our lives.  
What have the challenges been? Does anything change with the seasons?

One unexpected challenge has come from Chris's bicycle getting stolen.  We're now on his third bike since we started this adventure.  Both previous bikes were stolen from Marshall's campus where they were locked up outside the building where he works.   It's certainly less of a hassle and less expensive to replace a bicycle than a car, but it's still demoralizing.  And it's now something that we kind of have to count on.  

There aren't really any seasonal changes for Chris, because he's got appropriate weather gear and he's stalwart.  For the rest of us, I definitely drive us around more in the murky months.  I look forward to doing less of this as Paul gets older, longer legs and a more focused mind that can take us to school more rapidly in the cold.  I don't mind walking in the cold for umpteen hours, but I do mind listening to a preschooler whining about it.  In the realm of parental "battle picking," I've found that it's not one I'm interested in fighting. 
What have been the responses of your peers/colleagues been when they find out you live a car-lite/free life?

Initially, people were concerned that Chris, as a dad, would take the risk of biking around Huntington. When he first began, I remember that some older colleagues had some serious conversations with him about it. I cannot emphasize how much the culture for bicycling and walking has changed since we first began this adventure.  I used to joke that, when we started, the  bicyclists were just Chris, Dave Lavender, a few other Marshall profs, and then all those guys with DUIs.  You could tell the bicycle dads from the DUI guys because the dads wore helmets.  Now, you see lots of folks out on bikes, including more and more Marshall students.  That makes me super happy. And of course, there is the Critical Mass ride,  recreational bike rides like Buns on Bikes, and even some bicycle lanes on the streets.  We're certainly not a perfect community for car-lite living, but the changes in the last 8 years give me a lot of hope.  

At this point, I'm not sure that most people even know about our car situation.  I think it's probably just one of the many weird things that we do, like own one TV, go to a very progressive church, eat dinner together, and minimize structured activities for our kids.  
Were there any unforeseen benefits to living with the decision to have one car? Or if you foresaw them all, what have been those benefits?

When we got rid of our other car, I thought it was going to be a pain.  Owning only one car has been nothing but joy.  Very occasionally, there are scheduling hassles.  I've been astonished by the spiritual and mental health benefits of owning only one gigantic hunk of metal that needs maintenance, insurance, etc.  Owning only one car just takes an enormous amount of stress away.  It's like Calgon!!   When you have two cars, I think that maintenance and repairs become hassles because somewhere in your mind there's the thought that there's always the other car.  When you have just the one car, there's no choice about fixing the car when it breaks down.  There's no point in stressing over it.  It has to be done.  Same thing with the bicycles.  It's demoralizing when Chris's bike is stolen, but it's his mode of transportation.  When it's stolen, it has to be replaced. 

Also, although making the decision to go "car-lite" takes some set-up, it doesn't take much time once you've got your infrastructure in place.   When we moved to Huntington, we came from an old suburb where we could walk almost everywhere we needed to go, and we lived in a "front porch" neighborhood.  We wanted to do that again when we came to Huntington, so that's how we found our house.  Coincidentally, it turned out that what we were looking for in a neighborhood worked very well for "car-lite" living even though we were not thinking about that when we moved.   When we got rid of our second car, there were a few adjustments, like making sure Chris was properly geared up for biking in all weather and making sure our car was reliable.  Beyond that, there haven't been many adjustments.  
How could Huntington, as a government or it's citizens, improve or change to make your situation more beneficial, safer, convenient, etc.? What resources or advocacy would you like to see?

I would love to see universal bike safety education for children, something along the lines of the "Safety Town" program for 2nd graders.  We teach our kids, but I think they would all "listen" better to official grownups.   I would also love to see improvements to the sidewalks, especially for walkers.  I think the sidewalks are a major barrier for safe walking for people with children, elderly people, people with disabilities, etc.  I would love to see the addition of flashing yellow/red lights at some of our more dangerous and weird not-quite intersections (e.g., near the park).   I would also love to see better lighting at night in all of our neighborhoods, not just for bicyclists and walkers, but for everybody.  
Do you have any advice for other families similar to your own who may want to reduce the automobiles in their lives?
I'm thrilled with all the changes in Huntington's bicycling and walking culture since we moved here.  Frankly, we haven't been too involved in those changes.  We've just been quietly living the "car lite" life we'd probably be living wherever we were.  In fact, when you asked me about answering some questions about "car lite" life, my first question was "How on Earth is our family 'car lite?'"  It's been so long that I just don't think about it.  So it's just to say that once you set up your infrastructure,  minimizing your car use can take as little or as much time as you want.  For us, having one car frees us to focus on our passions for our families and for our work.  Chris is passionate about his job working with college students in Appalachia; I'm passionate about my job in Early Childhood Education; we adore our family.  For us, living with one car is a sideline.  If you want it to be a sideline, it absolutely can be.  But if reducing your auto use and your carbon footprint is your passion, it absolutely can be, too.  God knows, we need many, many people who will make it their passion if we want to see our planet survive and thrive.  I say, if you can go "car-lite" or "car-free," go for it!   You will love it! 

Jenny chronicles her adventures at Hobson's Choice.  Learn more about Chris Green, professor/poet/bicyclist/juvenile diabetic, here.  To read an article local journalist extra-extraordinaire Dave Lavender wrote about Chris several years back (and to see a pic of Chris nobly astride his old bike!), click here.

Many thanks to you Jenny for taking the enormous amount of time from your day to share your story of living car-lite (unknowingly) in Huntington, WV.

*Do you live car free or car lite in the Tri-State area? I would love to hear your story. Please contact me, asimplesix[at]

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Feeding Six: The Shopping Experiences

Feeding six people is not cheap, nor is it quick and easy. Not for this family. Over the years our eating habits have been modified by education, taste preference, prep time available, interests, friends, and finances. We have been in a pretty frugal period, or a beans and rice stage for a couple of years. Regardless of how much we spend at the store, I still manage to spend between 30 and 40 hours a week planning, preparing, cooking, and cleaning up. Fortunately I like my kitchen, I love cooking and I enjoy eating. Planning is another love. Cleaning up, not so much. I try to clean when I am talking on the phone, but I don't spend that much time on the phone, so the kitchen is never very tidy. As it is we run the dish washer twice a day and request the children clear their own places at the table, but you know, it is just not enough. Having a galley kitchen with an attached dinette (no dining room) also helps. Less to clean.

What I was getting at was the groceries. Since we have taken to getting our vitals by bicycle we have been very mindful of the weight of the items we put into the cart. We also try to stick to one cart. One cart full seems to equal one trailer in both space and weight limit (100lbs or so). Growing up in a family of six, my parents would get two carts, shop every two weeks and take the whole family. If it wasn't on the list, it didn't go in the cart, but we never bought one of anything. We needed green beans, we got a flat or two of cans. Stock piling. I have tried this in the past with my own family, but then we feel this compulsion to eat it all. Sticking to the list is about the only habit I have kept.

Simple Shopping
When we set out to do our car-free August I speculated I would drive to do my grocery shopping when the month was over. I am very surprised to report that we are going to continue ferrying our groceries by bicycle. It may mean more trips initially and slightly more planning for weather and time. It may mean only going out for groceries and not looping in extra errands. It doesn't mean we have to give up our family shopping, as we have shown a few times this past month (here and here). It also doesn't mean we can't get frozen goods on 90 degree days or our seven loaves of bread. We have transported glass, produce, eggs, many gallons of milk, and ice cream without any incidences. The children gripe because the store we now shop, because it's closer to home and closer to the bike path, doesn't carry as many toys. This little Kroger on the western side of town just doesn't have the variety I have come accustom to, and like. Yet, this makes things simple. Less choice is often a great thing. I needed quinoa last week and they didn't have it, but they had bulgar wheat. I made the tabbouleh the traditional way because the choice was made for me through a reduction in options. Simply.

Now about those two trips. Brent, Oliver and I went to the store on Friday morning. Brent wanted to go with us. We just love biking together that much. Other than the company I kept for him, I was only useful to putting things in the cart and bags. Brent did all the work of hauling it home. Yet, this is good time for us. Away from our screens and our roof and away from the distraction of house responsibilities.

Friday's Trip
Things of note on our Friday trip were the cabs we saw coming and going to pick up passengers and groceries. First Friday of the month? Perhaps. We also got home and realized our "quick trip to get a few things" was still a 100lb load.
Yellow Cab in Huntington.

We really did go in for a light trip....but since was hauling, I added some heavier things.

Full load, front and back. The pool noodles were $1 each and Brent is a spoiler.

I lost my co-pilot on the last mile. Nap time.
Today's Trip
I didn't get anything I needed to cook for my meal swap when we went on Friday, knowing I would need to come back. London and I set out today, she on my bike and me on Brent's. We made it a quick trip, two hours there and back, and it was a lighter load, roughly 60lbs. This was technically our third grocery trip in 8 days as we went last Sunday as well. 260lbs of food in 8 days. Yet, I feel we are stocked up and can survive the stormy weather in our forecast this week.

London towed the trailer to the store, with her stuffed animal raccoon, "Raccoonie" in the cat carrier.

I think this is the first original "punch buggy" London has spotted. She was pretty excited about her find.

Hard to see, but London said she loved her new short do because she can spike it up when she is sweaty. Think I ought to ask Kroger for bike parking? We have yet to go and not see at least two other bikes. Yet, I fear they might stick us in the lot with the cars, and I like my door side spot.

This is our light load. It all fit on the belt. I forgot it was Sunday and no beer sales till after 1pm...just meant an even lighter load!

This may seem dull, but finding the water fountain to fill up is very important.

Busy Sunday at the park. Our small space on either end of the path that is not chained is now blocked by cars. We had to ride over the curb and around the rack on the right (no real issue, just an irritant).. I know that being close to the action is important but there were plenty of empty spaces in the lot.
I like those temperatures, don't you? How about those rain drops? Hmmm.
 You can read about most of our grocery shopping by bicycle adventures by clicking the Grocery tag in the right margin. It's actually kind of fun to just sort the posts by tag. Rather, fun for me.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 5 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 This week
43.7 195.8 12.6 422.2 Since August 14, 2011

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