Sustainable – Minimalism – Compatible?

Sustainable – Minimalism – Compatible?

Does Minimalism leave room for Sustainable?

Welcome to our Sunday Snacks with Sam and Ellie! Today, Sam is wondering if sustainability, which includes her efforts to store a minimum of 30-day supply of food for her family of 4, works with Minimalism. If you follow our conversation, you’ll realize that these two concepts are NOT mutually exclusive. Sam in her 3 bedroom house and Ellie in her 400 sq ft apartment share their ideas. Sam’s ‘hot disaster’ description of her trying to minimalize is given some ‘breathing space.’

illustration of before and after - messy to organized kids room - by sabelskaya

At the same time, we also share that maybe the ‘beautiful photos’ of minimalist rooms and as Sam says, “Marie Kondo’s vision of organize and keep only what ‘brings you joy’!” are just that – images. Join us as we tackle these concepts and help Sam see her ‘hot disaster’ as a lot ‘cooler’ than she realizes!

Enjoy this video and let us know if, and how, you make it work. CLICK HERE to read the transcript while you listen.

Sam mentions our friend, Mary Ratzesberger, and her business – organization! Do visit your website and FB page.

Mary’s “WHY”

The practice of helping others eliminate clutter and create streamlined and calm physical surroundings brings me joy! I am committed to reaching my client’s organizing and simplifying goals.

If she’s not close enough to work with, her website gives some great steps to working on it yourself.

NOTE: If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common-sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word. Visit and like our youtube channel and our Facebook page. Sign up for our newsletter  – the form’s on the HOME page. Share your thoughts with us on youtube or FB. And share us with your friends. Here’s to your peace of mind because you’re prepared!

Between us, we have over 100-years of experience, and Sam’s only 40!
If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common-sense approaches to
sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word.

Food Prep Tips to Make Life Easier

Food Prep Tips to Make Life Easier

Planning Ahead Doesn’t Need to be Hard

Food preparation - food in containers

Join us for Sunday Snacks with Sam and Ellie. We’re discussing our approach to preparing meals ahead of time whether it’s for the whole family or a single person. The key is your attitude and approach. It’s all about what works for you and your family!

If you would like to read along, you can CLICK HERE for the transcript.

Sam has a number of tips for feeding your family (she has a family of 4).

  • A key point is that the family picks out a meal for the week ahead. By everyone choosing something, it encourages each family member to enjoy something they choose as well as appreciate what others choose.
  • She also uses Knock Knock Pads to keep track of items for the next grocery order as well as the week’s menus. They’re a real timesaver.
  • Another approach that is incredibly helpful is that when we cook we make enough of a base ingredient for the week at one time. If we are making hamburgers one night, we will plan for chili or pasta with Bolognese sauce. In this way, you’re not really eating ‘leftovers,’ since you’re planning several different meals.

Ellie, who most often cooks for one, has some tips:

  • She takes full advantage of internet searches. For example, if she has sweet potatoes and hamburger, she just searches for an ‘easy recipe with sweet potatoes and hamburger.’ If she doesn’t have an item, she’ll search for a substitute.
  • She also prepares ahead. For instance, when she buys saladings, she’ll prep it all at one time. Lining a 9×13 baking pan with paper towels, she place the clean lettuce leaves in it. Place another towel on top and cover with the lid. Keeping her refrigerator cold allows the saladings to easily last 1-1/2 to 2 weeks. She preps mushrooms, peppers, and onions in their own containers as well.
  • She also cooks a large, family-size amount of soup or stews, then freezes them in appropriate-sized containers. Yogurt containers, etc make great smaller servings. You can write what they are and date them with permanent markers.

Both Sam and Ellie take advantage of crockpots, oven-roasted and single pan meals. The key is:

the valuable point is that food prep is what it needs to be for your family.

veggies, meat, and broth for meal planning and preparation

Pay attention to what you do a lot of … and prepare accordingly. Ellie often bakes a family-sized pack of chicken breast, cutting them in half, wrapping them individually in plastic wrap. Then she places them in a plastic bag in the freezer. This allows her many single meals, or she can pull out more for guests or add to a soup or stew.

Start with a meal or two. Then gradually plan for an entire week. You’ll save a lot of stress and time as well as money. Let us know what works for you. Have a question? Just let us know. We’ll try to help.

If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word. Visit and like our youtube channel and our Facebook page. And sign up for our newsletter  – the form’s on the HOME page. Share your thoughts with us on youtube or FB. Here’s to your peace of mind because you’re prepared!


Are We Learning Anything from the Chaos?

Are We Learning Anything from the Chaos?

from Ellie…

Preparedness = Less Stress

We’ve spent over two years dealing with the Covid Virus. Today we struggle with the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Over the last decade, we’ve seen ever-rising numbers of natural disasters! It’s all frightening. Add the continuous updates from the media and social media, and we’re feeling overwhelmed. Gas prices are rising. Inflation is affecting everything from our budgets to our shopping, which in turn affects businesses and the economy. Too many are feeling helpless.

backpacks, water bottle, preparedness

What can we do? Is there an action we can take? Most certainly we can pray, donate, and maybe even be better neighbors. But are we learning anything? No, I’m not talking about running out to buy toilet paper and milk before the storm, or even worse, just after the storm! That’s been the point for Sam and me to work on this blog. It’s about thinking ahead a wee bit. And no, I’m not talking about doomsday preppers though I appreciate their efforts and philosophy as well.

With the virus, we watched in tears as families were unable to communicate with one another. We saw fear in the eyes of the sick and worry in those who love them. With the war in Ukraine, we’re watching millions of families running to safer locations while bombing and shooting occur around them.

What would you do if you had to run on a moment’s notice? Are you ready?

little one with his/her own backpackWhy do we watch these scenarios play out in real life and do nothing? Do we really believe “it can’t happen here?” If we do, then our worry is for naught. Even when we know that natural disasters such as fires and hurricanes are headed our way, we somehow believe the worst can’t happen to us. Oh, yes, we worry ourselves sick. But then, we wait.

Seriously, if someone knocked on your door and said, “You have 60 seconds to leave,” would you be ready? The majority of us would not be ready and would immediately be panicked and helpless. Why is that? We’ve been forewarned just by seeing what’s happening in our country and around the world. What do we need to think beyond the rush to buy toilet paper and milk? Seriously?

Is there an action we can take? Is there any way to be prepared?

Consider a day of prepping for your own welfare and security. As an older woman, I’ve pondered this a number of times. I don’t have a car so I would either need to head out on foot or hitch a ride. Of course, I have family and friends nearby so I’m sure I’d get a ride. But what’s my responsibility? What can I do to be prepared? What do I have prepared that I can grab in 60 seconds?

Bugout or Go-Bag Suggestions

Everyone – from infants to seniors – should have a bugout bag. Simply put, it’s a backpack or duffle bag that you grab that has the very basic items you’ll need if you have to leave your home and don’t know how soon you’ll be back. And you can prepare it over a weekend. It may just save your life. At the very least, it will make the threat of an emergency that might require a bugout bag less stressful.

  1. Copies of important papers in a waterproof container for all family members (Soc. Sec. card, driver’s license or ID, Passport if you have one, medical information, insurance info, bank info, possibly passwords to accounts, contacts)
  2. Medicines for at least a week, ideally 30 days.
  3. Body wipes to keep clean until you can have a bath/shower.
  4. Cash – you’ll need this to buy things when you get to safety.
  5. Change of clothes or two
  6. Personal needs: toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary items, etc. Travel sizes would work in this scenario.
  7. Phone and Charger
  8. Possibly a few family photos in a waterproof container
  9. If you have children, you might consider a small item for comfort and maybe a game that can easily be put in a backpack and played quietly. A kindle filled with stories for kids and adults may also help. Of course, you’ll want to be sure to take the charger.
  10. Water – in a moment’s notice you can’t carry a lot, but add a few bottles
  11. Munchies – granola bars, etc that will keep everyone going until you find help
  12. Flashlight and batteries
  13. An emergency radio is something we don’t often think about. But if you’re in a situation where you can’t get information, a radio that has the NOAA channel for weather will help keep you aware of what’s happening. Ideally, along with battery backup, it can also be hand-cranked or solar-powered. Quite often the radio has the ability to charge a phone, etc.
  14. Any items specific to a family member’s needs.
  15. Let’s not forget our furry friends. Dog/Cat dish, food, water, leash or carrier, etc.

Most certainly there are many more items that come to mind. But we’re talking survival when you must run! NOW!

You’ll need to look at your own lifestyle and special needs and determine what absolutely MUST be in that backpack or bug-out bag. But do it now. Don’t wait until you have to run! There’s a wonderful post for those with elderly or disabled members of the family. READ IT HERE

3 youth with backpacks

We’ve seen enough in the last decade to know that yes, it can happen to us. Stop watching the screen as if you are removed from such tragedy. Stop worrying about “what if?”

Start preparing. You can even have a bag ready in your car or where you work. Silly? Possibly. But will it be silly the moment you need it? Absolutely not!

Stop passively watching and worrying. Take action today. Make those copies of important papers should you have to leave your home at a moment’s notice. Know where you can immediately grab those medicines to toss in the bag on your way out the door. Have a list on your refrigerator or cupboard to remind you of the last-minute items to throw in each Bugout Bag.

There’s a ton of solid information, just do your research. You’ll find sites that will review items to give you best choices and why. There are sites that will highlight specific needs. There’s no need to be crazy about it. Just go through a day and see what you use. EX: I brush my teeth – need toothpaste and a toothbrush. I take my meds. Pack some or put it on your list to grab when you run. I use a specific cream for my baby. PUt one in his/her go-bag. An afternoon of preparation may be the difference between being totally lost and having enough to get to a safe location with the information and needs that will help you survive.

Preparedness = Less Stress

One last thought. When you leave, think ahead. Don’t drink up all the water and eat on the munchies as if you’ll find the nearest convenience store in the next hour or two! Be smart. Stay alert and realize that the safe zone may take a while to get there. What’s in your Bugout Bag may need to last a bit longer than you planned. Be smart! Be prepared! Be calm.

And go “Beyond TP and Milk” – you’ll feel much calmer in the midst of the chaos! Here’s to your safety!

Changing for Good – a Positive 2022

Changing for Good – a Positive 2022

Sunday Snacks with Ellie and Sam

Good morning and welcome to Sunday Snacks with Ellie and Sam, where we’re definitely awake this morning. We had a good brunch.
Today we’re going to be talking to you about changes in 2022, because we’re ready. Oh, my word. It’s been a mess for two years of crazy!

SAM: I’m Going to go cuckoo.-kachoo like, it’s not going to be okay. I’m already going to a therapist to deal with some of the stuff, you know?

ELLIE: Yup. Yeah. Well, you know, we’re supposed to be getting like what four hugs a day or something to be healthy. Think of all the people who haven’t had hugs in years, I’m going to give you a hug. (Sam gives Ellie a hug). I’m trying to get a little more energy back by taking a little part-time job I have in an antique store. And just, you know, hopefully with spring getting outdoors a little bit more.
But we’ve developed habits over time. I mean, if we can change a habit in 30 days, what have we changed in two years?

SAM: You know, I’m currently moving three cubic – no four cubic yards of mushroom soil around my yard. That’s a lot of work and so I’m physically active. I’m doing all those things now. For me for 2022, it’s all about that mental cut the fat, because that’s just how it has to be because it’s not sustainable for me to just keep living in this heightened state of panic and fear and just God-awful pandemonium.

Ellie: In that grip of, of being hypervigilant about everything, we also, I think, discovered parts of ourselves and they don’t have to be positive parts, but if we can acknowledge those parts, then we know we, we now have clues as to what to use to improve in 2022. The things we learned about ourselves, and even though they may be negative, are still things to bring into a positive 2022, because we can look at those and say, okay, that didn’t work well. I don’t need to keep doing that.

What lessons are you carrying into a more positive 2022? Share with us on our FB page.


Between us, we have over 100-years of experience and Sam’s only 39! If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word.



Mulch on the Cheap

Mulch on the Cheap

Mulch for FREE!!!

The other day I noticed a tree company in our neighborhood. They were there to cut somebody’s tree down, some landscaping. It’s lovely. They’re taking care of something that’s necessary in our neighborhood.

Well, the irony is those tree companies have to pay to get rid of the wet mulch. This is not hot yet. It’s just wood chips that are fresh-cut trees. On an actual garden plot, it can be detrimental.

What I do is I use this wet mulch for around our gardens?

It’s great to use for the walkway between our garden beds and it’s lovely. It’s super easy. We put them around our chicken coop. It makes our yard smell lovely all year long and it’s beautiful. And the kicker, it was free. All I had to do was walk down the street and ask the guy, “Do you get rid of your wood chips at the end of the day? And if so, how much does it cost?”

And he’s like, “It’s free because I won’t have to pay for it.”

Check out this article for ways you can safely use this free mulch (wood chips) around your home and garden.

So the fabulousness is, if you’re looking for cheap effective mulch (that’s not necessarily mulch yet), ask a local person who is having a tree cut down if you can have the wood chips. I’m going to guarantee you that tree service is going to be much happier to get rid of the wood chips on your lawn than to have to go pay to have them turned into mulch, through a drying process and a variety of other methods.

So make sure you click that like, subscribe, whatever social media shenanigans you use. Then check your neighborhood to get your FREE wood chips/mulch!

Between us, we have over 100-years of experience and Sam’s only 39! If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word. 

Washing Dishes #Lifehack

Washing Dishes #Lifehack

Dishwashing Thoughts

Something that just occurred to me as I was hand washing my dishes –  simple kitchen lifehacks. I remembered my grandmother having a large single sink, my mom had a divided sink. When you have a large sink with no divider, how do you soap and rinse without continually running water? I use a large bowl filled with soapy water, I set the clean dishes in the sink next to the bowl and rinse a bunch of them at the same time. I know it may seem like a silly idea to share, but I realized another how-to-do-it I learned from my grandmother.

I also have a number of cast iron pots and pans. One of the tips I remember from my grandmother was having cream of tartar on hand. Used with a bit of water, it makes a paste and helps remove the hardened or baked-on food. Then I remembered that Ellie had a container of baking soda next to her sink.

Baking soda, cream of tartar, even vinegar are all excellent and non-toxic items to use in cleaning your dishes, pots, and pans.

Ellie’s Tips

Like Sam, I’ve learned a number of kitchen hacks from mom and grandmoms. Baking soda on a sponge with a bit of water will easily remove a lot of stuck-on food. Quite often, I’ll add hot water and a teaspoon or two of baking soda to a dirty pan, leaving it on a warm stove burner. (Be careful that your pan does dry out. That certainly defeats the effort!) When I’m ready to wash it following dinner, any food wipes off easily. If I have a pan that seems to have a residue over time, I will fill the bottom with water, add 1/4 cup of white vinegar, and let it sit on a warm stove. In 15 minutes or so, it will shine up nicely after being washed with hot soapy water.

I’ve also had glasses that over time seem to have a grayish edge. I’ve even seen this with glasses washed in dishwashers as well. Every now and then, I’ll add a bit of white vinegar to my soapy sponge and wash the rim of the glasses. VOILA! Gone!

I must mention that folks who use sponges are often criticized because they are dirty and hold germs. I’ve always used a bit of baking soda (or white vinegar) on my soapy sponge to wash dishes. Rinse well when done and squeeze it out. I lay the scrubby side of the sponge on the counter next to the sink and let it air dry. It doesn’t smell and is quite clean.

Between us, we have over 100-years of experience and Sam’s only 39! If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word.