Friday, August 29, 2008

Back into the work force.

I started working yesterday...I'm doing childcare in the nursery at the continuation high school for the teen moms' babies. It's actually fun! I get my baby fix then send them home with their mommies! The only down side is that I am TIRED when the day is done. T.I.R.E.D. The hours are from I can drop my son off at school and I'm done in plenty of time to pick him up after school. It's ideal. I also have time to continue doing the books for our cabinetry business. I think I'll take Thursday afternoons to do the books...I'll come here right after work and my husband will leave a bit early to pick our son up from school. I'll stay here at the office doing my work until around 6 or so then head out to grab a coffee and go straight to bible study. Hubby agreed it would be good to have a Boys Night...he and the kids on their own for dinner. They can handle it! I think it will work...we'll make it work!
In gardening's still hanging in there, aside from being a bit neglected. Since school started and since starting my job I haven't been going out each morning to fawn all over my beautiful plants...and they're getting watered whenever I have time...but they're still producing. My cucumbers aren't looking so healthy...I wish I knew what their problem was...yellowish leaves, crispy's not that mildew stuff I don't think. I'm not sure what it is! I took this picture of the Sweet 100's last week...aren't they so pretty? The color variation is amazing...
TGIF...but the weekend is busy. Seth has travel baseball Saturday, Sunday AND Monday, I have a women's ministry meeting tomorrow at 8:30am, Ian has baseball practice at 9am...not to mention the house is a disaster, the dog needs a bath, we need a new toilet seat and it's 107 stinkin' degrees outside! I think I need to do a brush up over at! Maybe while they're all at baseball I can do an overhaul. Sounds like a good way to spend a 3-day weekend eh?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What I'm reading now.

I just started it last night so I don't have much of an opinion as of yet. I do know that it's kept my interest so far...which says more about it than the other 5 books I've got sitting around from the library. I'm such a picky reader...if it doesn't grab my attention's outta here. Either way...this one grabbed me. So far!

Not even close to a "peck"!

My one, lonely little bell pepper...I was so excited to have it, even if it WAS only ONE. The day before we left for Donner I went out back to give everything a good watering and to my poor, lonely little bell pepper had a HOLE in it! Something got to it before I did. And obviously enjoyed it! I was so sad. I think I was so attached to that dang bell pepper because the plant wasn't doing all that well. Actually, the plant was fine, I just had it near the zucchini (need I say more?)...and well, you can guess the rest. SO...I moved it...into a pot, actually...and it really responded well. And started growing and flowering. And then produced a bell pepper! But...then...the bug ate it. And now the pepper itself is compost...
The plant has a few more flowers on it...and some look promising. We'll see...I may just have to wait until next year to see what a REAL homegrown bell pepper looks...and tastes!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A good read.

Well, I finished Plenty. It got better toward the end...and more light hearted...and happier. All was well. I came to the conclusion that Alisa, the female voice, is a really good writer. She got me to feel her discomfort...and her uneasiness. While I didn't like the feeling..I've got enough discomfort of my own thankyouverymuch!...I was impressed with her ability to take me "there".
I promptly returned the book to the library this afternoon. I didn't want to tempt myself to toss it in the back of the car, only to forget about it and return it late and then get a silly fee. So...I took it back, along with another book I borrowed that I didn't read and borrowed four more! I have never really been a big user of the library...but that's going to change. I stopped at the thrift store today and almost bought a Kingsolver book for $3. But then I thought, "Why spend the money when I could borrow it for free?" Especially on fiction. I rarely read a book twice. Unless it's a how-to book...or a those are worth the money to B UY them. But from now on, I'll be borrowing anything fiction. I will also borrow how-to books...then if I love them and feel I need them in my personal library, I'll buy them used from Amazon.
Saving $3 has made me very happy today. It made up for the splurge on lunch with a friend!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I borrowed this book from the library a couple of weeks ago. We were going on a family trip to Donner Lake and I thought it would be nice to have some reading material. Well, we were so busy that I never had time to start a I started it when we got home last Tuesday. I've hardly been able to put it down. It's a bit wordy for me...and sometimes I find myself skimming over certain parts. I think that's just my ADD kicking in.
Even with skimming I'm enjoying reading about their efforts in sticking to a 100-mile diet. It sounds a lot easier than it actually is...and makes me realize even more that I am more of a chartreuse color in my effort to be "green". And really, I'm fine with that. I am not trying to be completely green. I'm trying to be more self-sustained. And with that comes a certain level of green living...but I've decided that I'm not going to be fanatical. I'm going to do what I'm comfortable with...what I can afford...what works for my family...what makes me feel like I've done something worthwhile that day. I will continue to use toilet paper and feminine products...I will continue to drive my SUV (until I can afford my beloved Kharman Ghia...and I WILL, someday!)...but even then I'll probably still have my SUV. On the other hand, I will continue to grow my own food and to learn all that I can about growing it, preserving it and doing it again in the years to follow. I will buy local whenever possible. Because unlike the author's of Plenty, I'm not ready to give up flour and sugar. Actually, they weren't necessarily ready for it either! I don't think they realized the magnitude of eating local, either. It's been interesing to read their go on their journey with them...even if, at this point in the story, it is a bit depressing. I keep finding myself comparing this book to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle...which is, quite possibly, my favorite book ever. It really focused on the food and life and how it all related to each other..and it did it in a more positive light.
I have to say, I never thought I'd be interested in reading books about sustainable living...or local eating...or homesteading. Never. This is a total surprise to me. And it all started last year at our annual women's retreat. I was given the scripture on my main page...1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. Me? Lead a quiet life? I am hardly a quiet person! And I thought God would know that the best! But...I tucked it away in my bible and let it sit a while.
Months later I'm researching sustainable living, homesteading, canning, gardening...I'm reading blogs and web sites and books about people taking a more simple approach to life. And I'm loving it...I just didn't really know why. Until one day I'm thumbing through my bible and I happen across that little slip of paper, "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life will win the respect of outsiders...and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

Friday, August 22, 2008


Gardening is quite possibly one of the best things I've ever done. It never ceases to amaze me how much joy and contentment and sense of accomplishment it provides me. Even as small as it is. And as small as my "harvests" STILL makes me feel like I've done something worth while.

The Romas are doing well. I've picked three so husband ate one of them like an apple!
I'll be able to pick a few more tomorrow or Sunday...they're just about red enough. The photo on the right is from over a week can see they're getting nice and big!

What are YOU harvesting this weekend?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nothing like it.

Armenian cucumber and Roma tomato fresh from my garden, sliced and chilling on a plate in the fridge. These were a delicious accompaniment to our dinner last week.

I'll call this one, "Satisfaction on a plate".

Funny how something so simple can make me so happy.

Satisfaction in a jar.

You know how people say, "If I could just bottle such-and-such.."? Well, I've decided that satisfaction can be bottled...or jarred in this case. There is such an amazing sense of satisfaction in canning food...or "putting food by". This is the gorgeous box of peaches I wrote about a couple of weeks ago (and for whatever reason couldn't get photos to upload at that time...). We ate some...I froze some...and I canned some.
This was my first attempt at canning, other than making jam, which I don't count as "canning" per se. I'm not sure why? Maybe because it's not whole food? Or it wouldn't be something that we could actually survive on should the need arise? Either way, I felt like the true test of my abilities to store food and provide for my family rested on putting by actual food. And so far, this is the closest I've gotten! The peaches are floating a bit...I'm assuming (after some reading) that it happened for a couple of reasons: (1) I didn't pack them in tight enough and (2) I processed them at too rapid of a boil. I'm not sure, really. But the next time I do some canning I will pack the jars tighter and process at more of a slow rolling boil. It's all about technique...right? Or luck!
Either way, I think they're beautiful. My family can't wait to give them a try but they're determined to wait until winter. Slowly but surely they're getting the idea of this whole sustainable living thing. I love it! I hoped it would rub off on them eventually.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Up for a challenge?

Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response? “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” He is believed to have called it his greatest literary work ever. Can you write a story in six words?

This was posted on and I thought it was interesting. I don't usually read all of the little Home Page blurbs but for whatever reason, this one got my attention. Maybe the word "Hemingway" caught my eye...? Isn't it amazing, though? Six words. That's it. And what a sad story they tell.

Since I read this my mind has been doing its best to string together six words that mean something. Six words that tell a story...that make sense...that take you somewhere. I think that will be my challenge today...a story in six words. Wanna join me?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Don't be a chicken.

I really really want chickens in my backyard. There is a whole movement for backyard chickens. My city doesn't allow chickens in backyards. But...well...what they don't know won't hurt them? Or me? The worst that could happen is that they'd make me get rid of my chickens...but I know two people off the top of my head that would, more than likely, take them should I get busted for smuggling chickens into my backyard. They are so beneficial...fresh eggs, manure for your garden, pest control...oh yeah, I need me some chickens.

I don't know why simple living is such a radical concept. Why am I not ALLOWED to have some dang chickens in my OWN backyard? Why is it weird to grow vegetables in your FRONT yard? Why are you so different if you want to make your own cheese or can your own food? If you think about it...and talk to your grandparents about it! wasn't that long ago that having chickens and gardens and knowing how to preserve food was a way of life, a necessity. My grandparents talk about making their own cheeses and salami and sausages...growing gardens...milking grandfather made shoes for himself and all of his siblings...all 11 of them! All of this was the norm less than a hundred years ago. In the scheme of things, that's a relatively short time. Yes, I get that life was harder...the work was hard...but if you think about it, it was also much more simple. And that's what I'm looking for...simplicity. Purity. Truth. I want these things in day to day everything.

I think my grandmother thinks I'm crazy for wanting to do things the way she did them. She always complains about how hard life hard she worked...she blames her ill-health on all of her hard labor as a child. And she did work hard. Her story is an interesting one...maybe I'll share a bit another time. I admire her a lot...and respect all that she endured to make it to where she is today. I only wish that she and my grandfather had the desire to pass on everything they know...or knew, now...about gardening and preserving and digging root cellars and making cheeses and baking breads...I wish they had valued that way of life enough to pass it along to me. Unfortunately, they were sold on the idea of convenience and ease. I can't blame them. But...they sold out to it...and taught my mom to forage for her food in a grocery store...and she taught me the same...and now all of that old country knowledge is gone. All of the recipes and techniques for making your own food is nothing but a blurry memory in the minds of my 90 year old grandparents. I feel robbed. Oh, the irony...

Friday, August 8, 2008

The only thing better than growing it yourself?

Getting it local! I have been wanting to go to a local peach farm since I heard about it last summer. Well, today was the day. I was out running errands and decided to take back roads home and took a detour down one of my favorite country roads. Along the way was the big "Peaches" sign I'd been seeing since last summer! I turned left and there it was. The little old lady had two customers ahead of me and two behind. This place was hopping! I got the 2nd to the last box...thank goodness! Can you guess what I'M doing tomorrow? You got it...canning me some delicious peaches!

The latest.

It's been way too long since I posted last...I can't seem to keep up with much of anything this summer. I am ready for school to start...I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming once the boys are back in school. Summer just always throws me off. I think the only thing keeping me somewhat sane is my's a good distraction from the heat and jumbledness of life.
Rather than writing IN a blog, I've been reading OTHER blogs for inspiration. I have been researching urban homesteading, chicken raising, gardening, canning and preserving...all things self-sustaining. There is so much good information out there...not to mention cool people who are striving toward the same things that I am...simplicity, purity, self-reliance. I'm only just beginning...but you've got to start somewhere, right?
My garden is doing quite well...the only complaint is that it's too small. We aren't growing nearly enough of our own food. But since this is the first year I've planted food it was a good start...and a good learning experience. I've definitely got some good ideas for next year...not to mention a long wishlist for the heirloom seed catalogs! My 13 year-old son, the one who refers to me "the health freak" because I make them read labels, said to me last night as we were sitting in the back yard, "Mom, next year we should try and grow ALL of our own produce so we don't have to buy ANY from anywhere else." Hmm...I do think I just might be rubbing off on him! My husband even got in on it last night as we planned a larger area for the garden next year. He agreed to build me a few more raised beds, a picket fence to keep the dog out (and, hopefully, some chickens IN) and a cute gated arbor as the entrance. I can't wait. It's going to be a long winter!