gathering up fragments (and some homemaking)

I had to smile when I read Renee's post yesterday.  I have been feeling the same sort of conflict about this space.  Lately, I've had homemaking things on my mind and that's what I feel like writing about, but I also want this space as a place to muse and write poems and work out my faith.  I wonder if this seemingly haphazard kind of blogging is simply a reflection of how a woman lives life.  As deeply engaged as we are in ideas and theology and passions and words, we are just as much engaged with work (mine happens to be in the home) and creation and serving others in ways that overlap and layer and are hard to separate.

In any case, this is a (woman's) journal, nothing more, so feel free to glaze over and look away when I start writing about almond milk.   (Which I shall, in a moment. *grin*)  

I can't remember if it was in a comment here or elsewhere, but the other day someone shared with me John 6:12, the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  After everyone had been fed, Jesus instructed the disciples to "gather up the fragments, that nothing may be lost..."   I have been thinking about that quite a bit, especially after we were talking about using the old t-shirts for yarn, etc.  Several people commented or emailed that they tried that before and then got overwhelmed with the amount of things they had to reuse.  Have we really made any progress if we turned our t-shirts into giant bags of yarn that have to be stored?  Goodness, I've been there, done that.  I mentioned in the comments that I have been known to virtuously cut up a bunch of rags and then go to the store and BUY rags for painting or something.  It's really unbelievable.  For a person that is doing a huge downsizing and decluttering, it might be better to just give those things away and not try to reuse everything.  It's too overwhelming.  I'm starting to think that the key to a "use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without" lifestyle is a great deal of margin.  If I only allow myself to own 7 t-shirts and one wears out, I replace it with one new shirt and I get a couple of new rags or a ball of t-shirt yarn out of the old one.  That's manageable.  But if I buy 7 new t-shirts every year and the old ones don't even get a chance to wear out, now I have 14 shirts to deal with.   The only way this "reuse" idea works is if I create margin - stopping at the edge of "enough" and not going any further.

Can I tell you about almond milk now?  It relates, I promise.  I buy a big bag of almonds to make milk.  But making almond milk is kind of a pain and it doesn't last very long, so I would also buy a carton of almond milk, just so we wouldn't get caught without it. I've got the supplies to make almond milk if I'm in the mood, and I have a carton of premade milk in case I'm not.   I'm finding those kinds of overlaps everywhere.  These are small things, but they add up.  To create margin, I simply needed to quit buying the pre-made almond milk and create the need to use the almonds.   

Are you still with me?  OK, here's a little homemaking thrown in for free:

I do this every other day or so:  soak a cup of almonds in water overnight.  In the morning, drain them and add 2-3 cups of water and blend well.   Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag (or cheesecloth).  I hang mine from a cupboard door and leave it for an hour or so.

I come by a couple of times and squeeze the bag until the leftover pulp is pretty wrung out.  

You can put the milk back in the blender and sweeten it with a couple of dates, add some vanilla and a pinch of salt, but I like it plain so I can use it in cooking, etc.  Pour it into a jar and refrigerate.

What you are left with is this little pile of almond pulp.  You can make cookies or crackers out of it, or put it in your smoothies or feed it to your chickens.  I used to procrastinate and let it accumulate, but I've been thinking about "gathering up the fragments" and so now I try to use it immediately.

And here's another area of overlap:  I have all this almond pulp on hand, but I was still buying boxes of crackers for snacks. (You know, in case I wasn't in the mood to make crackers.) So I carved out some more margin and quit buying the boxes.  

To make these crackers I added garlic powder, salt and pepper, ground flax seed, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and some nutritional yeast.  I don't measure.   There are lots of recipes online for this.  I just toss stuff in and mix it up.  

I spread it in my dehydrator and let it cook at about 130F for 8-10 hours, until they are crispy.  You can also do this in the oven at 200F for a couple of hours.  

These aren't the crispy, salty, chemical-ly crackers you get in boxes, but once you quit buying those you won't remember them anyway.  These taste great, especially because they are such a good use of your time and resources.  If you don't want to make crackers, you can also make almond meal (flour) by dehydrating the pulp and then running it through a blender (I use my VitaMix for this and I can get a really fine grind.)  

It's an addicting alchemy now that I'm getting the hang of it, this beautiful little rhythm of margin, need and just enough that force me to be attentive, creative and thoughtful with our resources.   I love that kind of overlap.

One last note:  I'm trying really hard to respond to comments.  If I get busy though and can't get time to sit down at the computer, please know that I am at least reading them and I often have nice little conversations with each of you in my head.  :)  Others appreciate your comments too and it's great to see the conversations and learning from each other that goes on.  Thanks for taking the time to write them.  

Have a great weekend!