winter

winter

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve (at ground zero)

I suppose patient zero may be more accurate but it feels like things have gone explody over the course of the last few days. My efforts to try to make my Grandfather's wish to see the whole family together for the holidays went down the crapper. All it took was one tiny little virus to do it.

Laughibly (and predictably) Beloved has the sniffles and I've been dragging myself around like some sort of zombie. My youngest, who was home from school last Wednesday with this bug, has been just this side of climbing the ceiling. Snuggle Bug, where do you get your energy from? Cuddle Bear has caught this thing too and he's just a ball of energy. Congested and coughing, but just on the run from the word go.

It seems, however, the divine providence may have been at play on this one. Apparently there are members of the extended family on my side who would have taken offense at my presence and the presence of my sister-in-law. So, it may just be that the gods decided to protect us all from an enormous cluster fuck of a holiday disaster. Because she had stuff come up too.

My holiday baking has been greatly reduced because of a double whammy of this stupid virus and a mild depressive episode. This evening, for the first time all day, I felt up to doing some housework. So I cleaned the kitchen, because it really needed it. I'm going to try to rope the boys into picking up the living room 'for Santa.' I'm thinking if I put it that way, they may actually do it.

I've been busy over the last few weeks working on Yule/Christmas gifts. I have a box full of stuff to give to people and I'm not going to be seeing them until after the holidays. I am not pleased. I was really looking forward to the kids' reactions to the hats I made them. I made slippers for my boys. I have a feeling this is going to be turning into something of a tradition for me. I made them slippers last year. Those slippers, however, went missing. Thus I made them new slippers.

I've something special for Beloved. I'm pretty sure that he's going to get a big laugh out of it. If I felt better, I'd probably make something else for the kids. They're getting books, a couple games, and a toy car each. I feel kinda bad that I'm not giving them more substantial toys. At the same time, we've purged unused toys (made them part of a care package for an impoverished family down the road) and life has continued with out even a slight hiccough. This tells me that there is just too much 'stuff' in the house.

My other big project this season was the surprise care package for the family up the road. Shortly after they moved in the wife said to me that she was concerned about Christmas. She told me about how they were looking at having to choose between groceries and gifts. Now, the school and their church did give them care packages. I had decided before I had even heard about this to put together one for her.

In the care package went a pair of stroller blankies for the baby (which she'd found out she was pregnant with shortly before their move), a handmade rattle for the baby, household goods, a handmade washcloth for each person in the house, and some holiday hats for her girls (who are the same ages as Snuggle Bug and Cuddle Bear). We had extra winter coats, so I gave those to her as well because they had only light jackets for the girls. I also took out the nifty felt bag that my Grandmother down in FL had sent presents up for Cuddle Bear in one year. I filled it up with toys that the boys just don't even touch. Thus, we sent over a very nice train set and a teddy bear for each child (including a Winnie the Pooh for the coming baby).

The woman was expecting the first bag. I figured she had enough chaos going on that springing this as a complete surprise was going to be bad. When I handed it to her, she teared up and gave me a hug. Then I pulled the bag full of toys out from behind my back and she just stared in wonder. She said that she couldn't repay me. I told her that it was a gift from my kids to hers. And that sometime down the road, when she meets someone in need, help them out.

I'm pleased with the results of this. I am also pleased that there is one more surprise waiting for the girls. E. and her girls went out and got them My Little Pony ponies. I'm planning on dropping them off with a 'Santa made a mistake, this comes here.' line. I'm really looking forward to seeing the delight and excitement on the girls' faces.

My boys have been getting excited about Yule/Christmas. For Yule, we put out some sugar and oats for Silepnir. Into their stockings, which we hung at the foot of their beds with some solemnity, they each got a little toy from Odin. Cuddle Bear still is talking about the magic horsie. He could care less about the All Father but he's really fond of Silepnir.

They've been making noises about Santa Claus. School has been getting them riled up on that front. It started with talk of Christmas Trees and went from there. So, tonight before the boys go to bed, we're going to put out a plate with a special cookie for Santa and a glass of milk. I'm going to try to hunt down one of my electric candles to put on the altar so Santa can find our house. ;)

I'd add more but I have miles to go before I sleep tonight.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Novel Excerpt

Armand fixed Johnathan with a penetrating gaze. “You are in pain. We must get Penelope to bring you your medication,” he said. Armand pushed away from the table and walked down the hall. Johnathan stared woodenly at the table attempting to take in the magnitude of the last month's worth of events. It boggled his mind how he could have gone from overjoyed at his plot with Margaret to reunite with Vivian to how he found him sitting in Louis Abril's house with Armand Pariseau as master of the household and Louis buried somewhere on the property.

Still caught in contemplation, Johnathan absentmindedly noted Armand's return with Penny by his side. Penny took out of her pocket an amber colored bottle. She shook a few pills into the palm of her hand and offered them to Johnathan. He picked up one of them and held it up in front of himself. He muttered quietly, “To sleep, perchance to dream. Aye, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.”

“If you must quote Shakespeare at your medication, must it be so maudlin?” Armand said lightly, “The world's mine oyster. A far superior quote,” Armand chided. Johnathan gave him an annoyed look.

“The words of a buffoon...” Johnathan stared when Armand cut him off.

“Are more welcome during a time of trial then those of a prophet of doom,” he retorted, “Take your medication. Then we are bundling you off to bed with your lovely maiden. And this sweet creature shall ensure bold Andrew's rest.” Armand looked over at the rifle in his hand. Johnathan was half expecting him to make some sort of comment about it being an uncivilized weapon. Instead, he looked at it with a critical eye. “It was good that this was not needed today. It needs cleaned,” Armand said.

He thrust the rifle into Penny's hands as Johnathan took the pills. As he was swallowing down another mouthful of coffee, Armand returned with a cloth and a gun cleaning kit. With all the care of a surgeon preparing for his trade, Armand laid the cloth out and readied his supplies. Gingerly, as though taking a newborn, Armand took the weapon from Penny. As he began the task of disassembling the firearm, he looked closely at the various parts.

“Louis, Louis, Louis,” he muttered in disappointment. Armand was half way through cleaning the weapon when Andrew and Granville returned. He absorbed in his work, he ignored the arrival of the two men. Granville set the keys down on the table and walked back into the kitchen. There he sat down with his wife.
Andrew looked at Armand as he was cleaning the gun. “Penny said that the scope was off,” Andrew said. Armand nodded. Andrew looked over at Johnathan, who was glaring bleary eyed into his almost empty coffee cup. The medication had taken the edge off of his wits and left his thoughts just disjointed enough that he could not adequately express the utter disgust and disappointment he felt with the situation. Johnathan wanted to rage but he found he simply had no energy left for it. “You look exhausted,” Andrew said quietly.
Johnathan looked up at him. “I suppose I am,” he said, “If anything, we must check on Vivian.” Johnathan stood and started towards the front stairwell. He paused and looked over at Armand. “What is the plan if some one decides to come looking for us here?” he asked.

“They will simply have to discuss the matter with Louis,” Armand said, not looking up from his work. Andrew frowned but said nothing. The two men walked to the foot of the stairs. Andrew started to go up the steps behind Johnathan when he waved him off. Andrew watched as his master made his way up the stairs. Once satisfied that the man wasn't going to tumble to the ground, Andrew went off in search of something to eat. He hated to admit it, but stress had a terrible habit of making him hungry.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

NaBloPoMo # 8

I'm so proud of myself. Today I broke the 4k writing mark in total words written for the day. I'm sitting over here doing a happy dance. I also learned something important today, burning 4 sticks of incense, no matter how nice it smells, does not agree with my lungs. It also fails to cover up the wretched smell that is in the entryway. Seriously, it smells like something died out there but neither I or Beloved can figure out what the source of the stench is. I am displeased.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

NaBloPoMo # 6

Well, it's my birthday. My gift to myself was meeting my writing goal for today. I added two thousand words to my manuscript. I've a fair amount of housework that has been languishing but that can be dealt with easily. If I can manage it, I'm going to squeeze in more writing time tonight. I am two days ahead of schedule. I am going to see if I can make it three by the time I head to bed tonight.

Monday, November 05, 2012

NaBloPoMo # 5

I don't think I wrote anything in here yesterday. It's been a wacky day here. I fell about sixty words short of my writing goal for NaNoWriMo today. I am not upset, however, because I finally moved through the land of 'how the hell does this fit my plot?' It is my hope that despite the running around I need to do tomorrow, that I will get a good amount written. As the characters reveal themselves to me, I am finding myself unexpectedly charmed by some of them. The character of Andrew is proving to be delightful. What was going to just be a bit of proverbial eye candy has proven to have greater depth then I expected. It makes me hope to see more interesting bits develop as I work on this.

(Edited to Add: Apparently I did write in here, I just forgot about it. LOL)

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Excerpt from this year's NaNoWriMo novel

“I saw god,” he said, “There was no heavenly choir or pearly gates, like my mother said there'd be. There was an old man dressed in BDUs holding a rifle with a bayonet fixed. Looked almost like our old gunnery Sargent, actually. He had one eye, the other was a bloody mess. He had no insignia of rank or anything. He pointed at me with his freehand and said 'report to Midgard, maggot.' Next thing I know, I'm laying on the ground coughing up blood.”

NaBloPoMo #3

I'm highly annoyed that the candle plate I have sitting on my altar cracked. I will need to safely clean up the broken glass after the incense burner is done. In the meantime, I'm just going to sit here and be irritated. A part of me says that I should have realized that the glass wasn't going to handle the temperature of the incense burner. Another part of me says that I couldn't have know for certain that it would have handled it. All I know is that the next time I decide that I'm going to burn incense in this fashion, I am putting the clay trivet under it. I know that can handle higher temperatures.

Friday, November 02, 2012

NaBloPoMo #2

I slept a good chunk of the day away this morning. I didn't sleep well last night. For some reason, I was having nightmares of the boys freaking out over us having a pet cow. I think it's just some addled nonsense that my brain came up with. Aside from having that nightmare a few times, I dreamed that I was writing. As I was writing, my words turned to utter gibberish. The then began deleting themselves when I paused to drink my cup of coffee. I think this is a manifestation of my fear that this year's manuscript is going to be utter garbage. I am pretty sure that fear was part of the reason why I was having a hard time writing this afternoon.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

NaNoWriMo & NaBloPoMo

I'm participating in both. This is my first entry for NaBloPoMo. I'm pleased with the fact that thus far today, I've got almost 3 k words in on the manuscript. I'm hoping to add to it this evening after the kids go to bed. My goal is to try to average three to four thousand words a day. I will be milking my days free of children for as much writing time as I can swing. I am also going to be making an effort to get my three journaling pages done before I sit down to type here at the computer.

In other news, I have gotten more yule gifts for people. I am absolutely certian that one of my neices is going to go SQUEEEE over what I'm giving her. :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's that time of year!

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow. I am picking up a project from a little bit back (the fetish novel) and working on it this year. I have decided that it doesn't matter if I'm technically 'cheating' at NaNoWriMo this year. I am just going to work until the manuscript is finished. I am also going to attempt to do NaBloPoMo this year as well. The blog entries are going to be short but I am going to make a concentrated effort to get more disciplined in my blog posting.

This is in addition to the journaling that has been a bit hit or miss over the last two weeks. I want to try to get myself back into the swing of doing serious writing. Over the last several weeks/months, I have been struggling to get things down on paper. My bouts of depression have been robbing me of my voice. I am going to do my best to push through this and get serious about this again. I have four different manuscripts languishing. This really needs to be corrected.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A stable mood...

I'd really like to have one for a little while. Today's mixed episode SUCKS. I've been swinging back and forth between depressed, cranky, and 'normal' all day. As the day has worn on, I've been trending more towards the depressed and cranky end of things. This is bullshit. I just came out of a depressive episode. I don't want to go into another fucking one. Seriously, what the hell?

Took the plunge...

I just mailed out a submission package for my children's manuscript. We'll see what comes of this. In the meantime, I've got other stuff to type up and edit before publication. I hope I remember where I put my notebooks of poetry.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Stumbling forward.

I've been having a rough week or so. It started with Snuggle Bug getting sick the weekend before last. He recovered and Beloved and I thought that everything was fine. Two days later, Cuddle Bear gets sick. We keep him home from school and then I come down with the bloody thing. That was a long and miserable day. I am beyond thankful that Beloved took the day off from work to mind us. Snuggle Bug, was, of course, feeling perfectly fine and a ball of energy.

Cuddle Bear seemed to have improved and gotten over the bug by the time the next morning rolled around. Later in the afternoon, we get a call from the school nurse. He apparently has been crying, complaining of an upset tummy, and had a fever. So, with some help from Beloved's parents, I went and picked him up. Then came the four day weekend.

That started with a great deal of fanfare and excitement. Beloved's parents brought the boys a bunkbed set. I tried to help my FiL in assembling the bed but he refused all help. (If I had any questions where Beloved got his stubborn streak, they've been clearly answered now.) The boys were thrilled beyond belief that they had new beds. They are still very excited about them and it has been almost a week now that they have had them.

As a thank you to Beloved's parents, I made homemade pizza. The kids, both fully recovered from their illness, were again excited to be having homemade pizza. When their aunt showed up for dinner too, they were bouncing around the room like pinballs in a machine. Somehow we managed to get them settled down and off to bed. Then, after the guests left, Beloved took off to the airport to meet his girlfriend.

She managed to get lucky and find some time to fly out to visit. I kinda wish that I had the opportunity to visit with her some as well, but I recognize that her time was at something of a premium. She may be coming out again in a few months. I hope that I get to have the opportunity to sit and have a cup of tea with her. She's a really sweet lady and I'd like to get to know her better. I recognize, however, that part of what I need to do is get past my shyness and actually initiate a conversation or two as well.

So, that was the weekend. While Beloved was out entertaining his gal, the boys were off the wall crazy. Monday they were such a handful that I was ready to scream. The crochet snood that I had been working on for one of my online sisters got destroyed by the kids while I was in the bathroom. They ripped out 85% of my work. This was something I had been working on over the last few months.

Now the crochet hooks are missing. I have no idea how I'm going to get this thing done. I confess, I've been in a bit of a panic to find everything. Because I have yule gifts that I am going to be making by way of crochet. It has not been easy to keep my cool. I look at the snarled remains of that snood and I get so down right sad. That's ok, I have thread and if I have to, I will go buy another hook. Now that I have figured out the pattern, I can get to work on it and get it done.

I have slid down into a depressive episode and that's been making things difficult. I am writing this with some sense of trepidation. I feel very anxious that this blog entry is just going to bring nothing but criticism. My home is a mess because I haven't had the energy to stay on top of the cleaning. I have been feeling physically unwell. I think part of the problem is the depressive episode and part of the problem is that I started my menses. The cramping has been horrible. Thank goodness I've got raspberry tea and tylenol. I am just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I'll get through this one day at a time.

I keep telling myself "Baby steps. FlyLady's right, this didn't happen all at once, I don't need to fix it all right now."

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Yule list.

I've gotten the hat that I promised Beloved's brother done. It is, I fear, a size too small. So, I am going to make it again, a size larger. I figure I can give the smaller hat to someone else.

I have started work on a hat for Rocker Chick. It isn't coming out quite as I anticipated but I think it is because the variegation in the pink yarn is of a shorter length then I expected. It still looks quite nice and I am sure that the hat will be well liked. The nit-picky part of my brain says that it doesn't look right. I am actively telling it to hush.

I have a pair of books for Energizer Girl. I am going to make her a filet crochet bookmark as well.

I am at a bit of a loss for what to make for Energizer Girl's sisters. I need to talk with their mother about that.

Trouble 1 and 2, I think, are going to get a joint gift. I want to do something nice that they can both enjoy. But I don't think hats would go over very well.

Danger Duo have me stumped. I need to talk to their mother for ideas. Fortunately, I've got a few months until Yule.

I am at an utter loss for what to make for Beloved. The hat I made him last year has been sitting in a safe place where the kids don't run around the house with it. I suspect if I make him another hat, it'll have the same reception.

Cuddle Bear and Snuggle Bug are going to be getting amigurumi cars or trains, I haven't decided yet. But I think they'll love the idea of a plushy toy they can take to bed with them.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Publication? Me?

I'm getting exhorted to publish from several different directions. I'm currently freaking out a little bit over this. I have been having people I don't even know now telling me to get my work published. Apparently my Anam Cara has set into motion a chain of events that seems to be conspiring to having me write adult fiction. This is what happens when you decided to randomly write something for someone in the hopes of helping make life a little less boring. It WILL take on a life of it's own.

A part of me is screaming that the genie needs to go back into the bottle.

I am, however, only going to focus on my writing. I'll let the rest of it settle out as it will.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Saga of the Landlord & the Apartment

So, almost two months ago, our landlord died. We expressed our condolences to the family and figured that the estate getting settled would be the extent of the drama we'd have to deal with. We were sorely mistaken. Two days after the landlord died, the building inspector and the health department showed up to look over the downstairs apartments.

That was when things went sideways. The building inspector looked over conditions down there and condemned the apartments. Between black mold, rotted floors, and a burst sewage line, it was something of a no brainer, I suppose. The neighbors downstairs were given 48 hours to get out. Thus, they went through a marathon of packing and moving as the health department found them a place to stay for a week. I had heard something about the possiblity of the whole building being condemned and I became concerned.

A few phone calls later, I am assured that it was only the two apartments. At about this time, the rent check for August was due. So, I was talking with the handyman who has been doing work for the landlord (and is still doing so for the widow) and I asked if he had spoken to the widow. He answers that he had and explained that we were to write our rent check out to the real estate business that the landlord had run. Previously, we had been writing the check out to the landloard personally. So, we do so and continue on as though it is no big deal.

After some discussion between Beloved and I, we decided that we should start looking into a new place to move to if they weren't going to start work on repairing the downstairs apartments in the immediate future. As I did my bit of investigation as to what was going on with the apartments below, it became clear that while the claim is that they will be repairing it in the immediate future, there appears to be no intention to do so. Thus, I have begun searching for our next place to live.

And then last week a new layer of bullshit was piled on. The widow sent the handyman over with the check we had written for the rent in an envelope, uncancelled. Mind you, this check is made out to the real estate business, like the previous month's check, which was accepted and deposited no problem. The widow was looking for us to reissue the check in her name. Now, we currently have a lease that was signed by the landlord personally. We currently have no lease. I was concerned and suspicious when I was asked to reissue the check.

I asked why the check we had written wasn't good enough. I was then told that everything with this property and the business was tied up in the estate, which is currently being settled. I contacted Beloved once this was brought to my attention, entirely unsure what the correct thing to do would be. Beloved told me to hold on to the check and that he'd handle the matter. Then the handyman returned and asked if I was going to hand him a check or mail it.

I told him that we were going to handle matters by mail. This happened last Thursday. Then, Friday night, I smelled hot electrics coming up from the vent. After a quick bit of investigation, the possibility that it was originating in our apartment was ruled out. Thus, I called the widow (as I did not have the correct number for the handyman) and informed her of the situation after I spoke briefly with Beloved. She asked me to mail the check. I told her that Beloved was going to be contacting her regarding the matter by mail.

I then was most insistent that someone come and investigate what was the cause of the scent of hot electrics. The widow calls the handyman and then calls me back, telling me that he will arrive in a 1/2 hour. (The location he was driving from is 15 min away, when the weather is bad and road conditions are awful. Beloved was not pleased when informed of this. He had me turn off the main breakers for the apartments downstairs as we waited for the handyman to show up.) When the handyman arrives, he speaks with Beloved and the matter of the check is brought up again.

Then yesterday, the handyman is here doing something and he pokes his head in, asking about the check yet again. He tells me that the widow is willing to accept a check written out to her deceased husband and that she is willing to write up a new lease for us with her name on it (something which he said when he spoke to my husband that she couldn't do). I am doing my best not to get anxious over this matter. Beloved tells me that we needn't worry about them trying to boot us out. I am working very hard not to get upset over this but this repeated badgering is grating on me.

Meanwhile, I am discovering that it is quite challenging to find a two bedroom apartment in our price range in the school district. I have started going to view apartments and I am striving not to get to caught up in anxiety over that as well. Beloved and I have decided that if we can't find someplace to move into by the end of next month that we're going to wait until spring to move. My gut tells me that we need to find somewhere to move to by the end of October. I don't know how much of this is intuition and how much is anxiety.

But, that is the saga of the landlord and the apartment, as it stands now. I think this counts as venting. Or at least, I sincerely hope so.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hey, look at that, I have a blog!

It's been a wild week. Last Tuesday, the boys started school. Things have been going full bore ever since 7:30 am last Tuesday morning. There was the excitement of starting school (which the boys have decided is awesome); the fun of spending the weekend with their aunt and cousins (and the new kittens!), and the thrill of another week at school. I'm really hoping that we can keep at least a smidgen of this excitement when a few months have gone by. It'd really suck if the boys decided that once the novelty has worn off that school sucks.

In other news, I have finally heard the full song and I have decided that this is awesome.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Relish and pickles? Yes, please!

I have been enjoying the process of making lacto-fermented pickles. I really am getting a kick out of how easy it is. I'm still fidgeting with the recipe to get them just right. My last batch of dill cucumber pickles came out well but I realized the boys and Beloved won't eat them. Snuggle Bug's bus driver, however, LOVES pickles and has decided that my homemade ones are the best she's ever had. So I gave the jar to her with instructions to give it back to me when they're gone.

I am trying out making zucchini pickles. I put them in the brine with several cloves of garlic. I expect this to be very tasty because Beloved and I both really enjoy garlic. (I got a STEAL on garlic the other day. I bought a sandwich baggie FULL of peeled garlic cloves for just $1.30!) I am going to get a few more cucumbers, another small zucchini, and a few other things to make some relish.

I am really interested in this recipe. I also want to try my hand at making salsa. I have been looking up directions on how to do small batch canning and I am seriously looking at just what it is that we will eat around here. I think it would be really awesome if I possibly got a few batches of soup put up, some other items that we would use in the winter, and some tasty condiments that I could possibly give away at Yule. It is going to take a little bit of planning to make that happen, I suspect.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

First day of school!

The boys were excited this morning. Snuggle Bug practically ran to his bus when it arrived. Cuddle Bear was impatient for his bus and we watched, watched, and watched for it. It was running almost an hour late. When it did show up, we ran for it but the bus stopped long enough to honk before driving off. Beloved's mother, the glorious woman she is, came over and loaned me her car. (A short conversation with transportation for the school got the bus situation figured out for tomorrow, thank goodness.)

Thus, we arrived at the school just in time for the other kindergarten kids and their parents to be making their way to their classrooms. It was a delightful surprise to find that Cuddle Bear's teacher is the same woman who happened to have taught Beloved and I in 4th grade. He was quite charmed with her and quite excited to be there. I must confess, it surprised me to no end to learn that Mrs. Smith was still teaching and at this different school district no less. (She confided in me when we were chatting on the side after Cuddle Bear's testing a little while back that she is beginning to think about retirement, but absolutely loves teaching so much she's reluctant to do it.)

The boys both had half days. They're napping right now. I think the excitement just wore them right out. Now I'm tempted to start doing cleaning, though another part of me says I should take this break while I have it.

Rocker Chick started school yesterday. She says that it went well and it was good to see her friends. I'm really hoping that things continue on a good note for her. I'm thinking that I may want to surprise her with something in a few weeks to help keep her spirits up. Who says that you have to wait until a kid's in college to send them care packages! She's expressed some interest in a few subjects that I happen to have books about kicking around here. So I'll be sending them to her soon. It may help make the more boring classes tolerable to have those books to look forward to later in the day.

It looks like my other nieces are starting school later this week. Again, I hope that they all get off to a good start. I think I am going to do something special for them in a few weeks too. I am thinking about crocheting them bookmarks or something else nifty. I am fast with a hook and I don't have EVERYTHING packed right now. I can't believe that it'll be time to start working on Yule stuff in earnest. Where did the time go?

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Chutney Chili

1 8 oz jar of Major Grey's Chutney (I like the Patak's brand.)
3 16 oz cans of red kidney beans
1 lb beef, browned and drained
1 rib of celery, diced
1 sm onion, diced (opt)
5 cloves of garlic, diced
1 sm bell pepper, diced
1/2 pt of stewed tomatoes, chopped

When you brown the beef, that's a good time to cook the onion if you want to make it less potent and it's also a good option to saute the garlic then too. It helps mellow the flavor.

In your crockpot, combine all of the above and mix. Cook on low for 24 hours, stirring at the 8 hr mark and adding water as necessary.

Your chili will be thick enough to stand a spoon up in it. This is what you want. :)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Preserving foods the 'old' way?

I am starting to get tomatoes off my plants. I am looking at a decent sized batch. As such, I have started planning what I will be doing with them. I don't have what I need to do much in the way of canning, though I must confess, I am more then a little bit in love with the process of making lacto-fermented foods. It is incredibly easy!

My beet kvass isn't quite perfect but it has had a noticeable effect my my gut. I am far less prone to terrible bouts of gas and I am finding that my cravings for sugar have dropped markedly. I am trying to include more healthful foods into my diet (and possibly sneak it into the kids diet as well). As I eat (and drink) more probiotic foods, I am finding that my appetite is not as unpredictable.

It is actually working to make it more regular. I figure if I keep this up and continue to do more 'real' foods, I may actually be able to get a good start on losing this extra weight. I'm finding that I have more energy, even on my depressed days, since I made this small diet change. So, I have been busy reading and researching more recipes and ways to preserve what I am harvesting (and splurging on at the store).

I finally found a recipe that makes a small batch of lacto-fermented salsa. I am going to run out to the store tomorrow some time and in the course of picking up more pull ups (which I completely forgot about), I am going to get the missing ingredients for this salsa. I may even pick up more small pickling cucumbers and make up another batch of them. Pretty much everyone who has tried the cucumbers has liked them (with the exception of Cuddle Bear and Snuggle Bug, who are suspicious of anything not PB&J).

If I manage to get some more peaches, I'll probably be making this to keep by as well. Because I love to use a little bit of chutney in my chili recipe. I am considering promising to make my Mother in Law some of this chutney and a batch of pickles in exchange for helping me get the produce to use. The funny thing is, I feel like I'm finally doing what I should have been doing for years, putting up food for use later.

I'm still perfecting my technique but I'm really happy how things are coming out so far. The idea that I could use heritage recipes and heritage varieties of produce to make the same kind of condiments that my great-grandmothers did... it thrills me.

Grocery shopping day!

So, I took my WIC checks and I got my groceries for the next two weeks. I have two dozen eggs (+4 from the last dozen) that I have no idea what to do with them. I also have a dozen hard boiled eggs that I really need to do something with. I can only make so much egg salad and deviled eggs.

One thing I am going to do next week is bake a cake. I found this recipe that looks very promising. I'm thinking it could make for some wonderful cupcakes to send in to school with Cuddle Bear in his lunch box and to send in to work with Beloved's lunch. I know that some people argue that sending in regular sweets with lunch may not be a great idea. Cuddle Bear is such a picky eater at times, I think that sending sweets is going to be the only way I can get him to eat at times.

I have another bag of whole wheat flour, so the cake won't look like your box 'perfect' white cake. But I don't think that will be a problem. Wheat flour has a nice texture to it and I am sure that it will give the cake a nice bit of depth to the flavor. I am debating if I should throw some raisins into the cake when I make it. A part of me says this would be great for using up the raisins. Another part of me says I should make raisin cinnamon bread.

Yet another idea that is rattling around in my mind is that I should make some custard. I have never made custard before, so I feel a little bit nervous about trying this out. My friend Bean told me about how I can do a lot of things with eggs. He even explained to me how to safely make my own mayo. To say the least, this has given me a bit more encouragement to be braver in how I approach cooking with them. I think that the next time I head out to Buffalo and I see Bean, I'll be bringing him something wonderful that I made as a thank you for being so awesome.

Speaking of something wonderful, I have been making freezer jam! I sent a jar of strawberry jam off with my anam cara when he headed back down to school last week. He said it probably wasn't even going to last long enough to get to the airport. As I have been reading about different ways to make freezer jam, I learned that it is possible to do so with frozen fruit. As a result, I made two 8oz containers of bumble berry jam (black berry, raspberry, and blueberry together).

I have what I need to make peach jam. I am *really* looking forward to doing this. It's probably going to be another small batch, but that's ok. I don't have a lot of space in my freezer right now. And I think that one jar of each kind of jam is more then enough to get us through the next several months. If they're not, I can always buy a package of Sure-Jell and frozen fruit to make some more. :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fermented failure?

My attempt to make fermented beets looks to have gone sideways on me. Both containers have mold on the top. While the websites I read say that I can scrape the mold off and it will still be palatable, I'm a bit concerned about it. I am undecided on what to do about it. I was really excited about the idea of beet kvass. And the thought of having my own beet pickles struck me as really nifty. Now, I'm worried that I may have botched the whole process by forgetting to check them for a few days.

Update:

After doing a little research, I learned that beet kvass can still be made from this stuff. So, I did my best to get the film off the top of the contents of the jar. I then poured it out into a bowl (colinder with cheese cloth to catch the beets and moldy bits on top). This I then decanted into a sterilized glass bottle (with a coffee filter in the funnel to catch whatever the cheese cloth missed). I tried a little bit. It is salty and a touch sour with a subtle beet flavor.

I think it will be better after it sits for a while in the fridge. My plan is to include beet kvass in my diet to help resolve some of the stomach issues I have been having recently. I figure if I introduce more healthy flora into my gut, maybe I will have less problems with stomach upset over stuff I eat.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In the garden

Today, after watering my plants, I took in a bunch of them. I started with my herbs.


I have a LOT of oregano. On the curtain rod over the closet in the hall, (left to right) I have, carrot tops (which taste a lot like parsley), oregano, sage, basil, more oregano, mint, and lemon balm. And then another bundle of oregano next to Cuddle Bear's first self portrait.

I also took in some of my vegetables. I didn't get much for radishes but this was my first attempt. My carrots only had green leafy tops. I think they didn't get enough light. My rainbow chard wasn't half as big as what I saw at the farmer's market last week but I have a plentiful amount of it. I have tiny green tomatoes on my plants, but not very many. I haven't taken them in yet, I am hoping that they will get a little bigger.





I am now going to look up how to preserve the chard. It really does taste like spinach. But it has some lovely color to it, so the boys may find it more interesting to eat. I have a bunch of lettuce that I didn't get to because the boys were causing mischief but I am optimistic that I will have a wonderful salad later this week to go with dinner when I take all of that in.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

The politics of gender.

From Facebook: "The Clan Mothers ran everything and had the last word. I think that's the answer." - Floyd Red Crow Westerman;  A matriarchy is a society in which females, especially mothers, have the central roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control of property. The male equivalent is a patriarchy.  -- The comment that accompanied this shared statement was "This country [USA] could do with a bit more matriarchy."  (Italics mine.)
My response on Facebook: Matriarchy is just a swing in the polar opposite direction and will result in misandry, which is just the same as the current mysogyny except it would be focused on males. I'd prefer to see gender taken out of the issue of politics, in much the same way one's race, ethnicity, and religious affiliation should be.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The United States of America is a republic. There is supposed to be a firm separation of church and state. With the 19th Amendment and the acknowledgement of the right to suffrage for women and the 14th Amendment acknowledging the right of African-American citizens to vote (along with other civil rights), the issues of gender and race should have been removed from the sphere of the governing of the republic. 

The people who argue that the United States is a Christian country are ignorant of the fact that the USA is explicitly NOT one. Similar arguments can be made by the laws regarding who governs the nation. Socially, we see certain trends and those trends are sometimes argued to be supported by the laws of the land. As a result of such, things such as racism become deemed as acceptable in policy. We must adamantly resist this lazy logic.

When we permit the rights of one man be oppressed, we open the floodgates for the oppression of the rights of all. It seems to be a comfortable fallacy for people to say 'It doesn't affect me. I'm not one of those XYZ people." This forgets that much of the daily operation of our government is done on the basis of precedents. It is not the prevailing winds of public opinion that determines the shape of law, it is established precedents and logical developments upon the basis of them.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Organic food!

So, I've gotten stuff to do another batch of pickles. It was my hope to have them done by the time the party rolls around tomorrow but I didn't get the cucumbers until yesterday. And just one day of ferment time is not going to be enough to really get these puppies going. It's raining outside right now, but I need to go pluck a grape leaf to throw into my cucumber pickles.

I am trying something different with my strawberries. Upon looking through the container that I bought and discovering that a solid third of the package was questionable, I decided to take the good ones and throw them into a jar with a stick of cinnamon. I made some brine and poured that in. I'm going to start a second batch with a bit of sugar in the brine with the salt and cinnamon. If I had some ginger, I'd add that too but I only have powdered ginger.

I plan on starting stuff to make homemade soda. On my next trip to the store (later today), I will be getting what is needed for the birthday party tomorrow. I am also going to make a point of picking up more strawberries, containers to put freezer jam in, and some ginger. I am going to be making a ginger bug starter for homemade soda. Actually, now that I think about it, I should probably let that and the freezer jam project sit until the boys are in school.

I went to the farmer's market yesterday and brought home a sizeable amount of produce. I didn't realize that there were going to be apples in season already. I thought we had a month to go on that, but I was delighted to find out I was wrong. I purchased some apples, some peaches, heirloom beets, a pepper, green beans, and a big heirloom tomato. I also got a pint of cherry tomatoes and a cucumber.

I chowed down on the cherry tomatoes and the cucumber for my dinner last night. A part of me felt a little silly for it, but I just couldn't help myself. And with my boys being picky eaters, I knew the only way I possibly could convince them to eat either was if they saw me eating it. I am pleased to say that all of the things that I purchased (with the exception of the bananas and the bag of apples from the grocery store) are organic.

I am beginning to get more produce out of my containers. My very leggy tomato plants are beginning to get fruit on them. My strawberry plant isn't producing fruit but it is just growing prolifically. I'm hoping that it will winter over well and I'll have LOTS of strawberry plants in that pot come next spring. My radishes are tiny but they're steadily growing. My herbs are just reaching the point of plain silly abundance.

The thing that has surprised me, however, is the pumpkin plant. It is a small cultivar. I thought it wouldn't put out a huge vine. I was totally wrong. It is rambling it's way across the deck and getting ready to bloom. I'm kinda excited about this. The other stuff growing in the pot with it is just about ready to harvest. I am looking forward to having swiss chard in a salad. I hear that it tastes really good. And I know the boys will be excited about the itty bitty carrots that we've got.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Unintentionally brilliant?

I've been reading about other women who have decided to go with a low shampoo / no shampoo lifestyle. I have times where I get self conscious about how when my depression hits I will go almost 2 weeks with out a shower. It just becomes excruciating to extend the effort. Out of sheer curiosity, I started reading about this 'no-poo' lifestyle. Imagine my shock when I realized that what I had been doing was actually good for my hair's health.

Tsh at simplemom.net talked about it on her blog. She even mentioned how they shampoo their little ones' hair only once a week (though they get regular baths to get stuff like ketchup out). noshampoo.org describes how and why other women (and some men) are kicking the shampoo habit. As I read testimonials from other people on various sites, I have become convinced that I am doing something healthy for myself (as gross or shocking it may sound to other people).

Now, this no shampoo lifestyle information lead me to investigate just how frequently we should be bathing to promote optimal skin health. It was another eye opening experience. This hub page was really informational. It isn't daily, like my Mom had told me. It's more like every other day, possibly even up to once a week depending on how much activity your lifestyle has and how exposed you are to germs and dirt. All of a sudden, I don't feel so bad about how depression can effect my personal hygiene.

Sure, I may be acting like a hippie, but I think I have more in common with hippies then I do with the people who are the target audience of Vogue magazine.


NaBloPoMo # 9

Prompt: Are there any candies that you just can't stomach?

I loathe liquorice. It literally makes me gag. I have always detested it. When I was small, I never ate the black jelly beans and I despised the black liquorice candy vines. The red liquorice candy vines didn't taste like the black ones, they tasted more like some super sugary version of strawberry. So, I did willingly eat those, but not very many.

NaBloPoMo # 8

Prompt: Talk about a memory tied to a certain candy, especially if it involves another person or a place.

I would have to say my clearest memory of cotton candy is tied to the time I went to the Allegany County Fair with my Grandparents. My Grandmother and I (along with a distant cousin of mine) had volunteered to help out at the booth for our chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I had taken a moment to wander around in the crowd. I was uneasy due to my social phobia but I had decided that I wanted some cotton candy. So, in my stubbornness, I braved the crowds and an unexpected rain shower, to get myself some. I think that first bite was probably the sweetest because I felt that I had earned it. And now, when ever I think of cotton candy, I think back to that precise moment.

Garden Pics!

Here's a few pics from my 'garden'. These pics are about a month old.

 Above and on the first tier is a tomato plant that I gave to my Brother-in-law, a zinnia from the seeds that Cuddle Bear gave me for Mother's day, and a petunia that I rescued from Walmart. The poor thing was so dehydrated that I honestly wasn't sure if it would come back. On the second tier, I have a strawberry plant that really hasn't been doing much and a minature rosebush that I was trying to save. The thing has some kind of fungus attacking it and I highly doubt I am going to be able to keep it alive. I am, however, quite valiantly attempting to do so.


 Here I have from right to left, lemon balm in the green pot, another zinnia in the clay pot, and carrot (well, a carrot top) in the yellow pot. In the planter behind them, I have (again R-L) sage, rosemary, ivy, and a red geranium.


A different angle shot of the western side of the back deck, you can see my peas growing up the lattice. They got really leggy and didn't put out much for peas despite the significant amount of flowers. I am not sure if it was because they were planted too shallow or if they were not getting enough sunlight. Above them on the deck railing, You see another shot of my carrot top, the lettuces, three mini pots of lemon balm, chives, and basil sitting in a larger cache pot, my begonia (which refuses to bloom), and my pot of nasturtium.


 On the south rail of the deck beside the boys' play house, I have a pot of mother-in-law's tongue and a trio of tomato seedlings. This spot gets a fair amount of shade, thus they haven't really grown much here. I did move them and now they are doing quite well.


On the eastern rail of the deck, I have another planter of nasturtiums (which haven't bloomed much because of insufficent light). A planter with multiple stalks of wheat (I didn't plant any wheat, it just sprang up from nowhere) and violas (again, not much for blooms due to low light conditions). And a third planter with some more wheat and a few more violas. I wound up transplanting a zinnia seedling into there as well. The fourth planter holds three little pots with lavender in them. Not ever happened with the lavender. I think I had a bad batch of seeds on that one. The fifth pot on the railing is also full of violas. I've got a lot of lush growth but essentially no blooms. On the deck itself, you see the big pot with the geranium cutting I planted. Sad to say, that cutting died on me.

From left to right we have a tomato plant (that is currently as tall as I am); spearmint; a planter with radishes, swiss chard, miniature carrots, and pumpkin planted in it (the pumpkin vine is now trying to take over the deck); another pea plant (that had marginally better yeild); and a pot with more petunias and some Japanese Indigo that my Mother-in-law gave me.


Under the west side of the deck, we have several hanging baskets. In the topsy-turvey planter, I have tomato, oregano, basil, and sage planted. The middle planter has some kind of flower that I can't identify. It was something that had belonged to my former neighbor downstairs. And the final pot has my strawberry plants in it. I didn't get any strawberries from it until just recently. It was previously in full sun. I think being in partial shade has done it a fair amount of good and I may get a few more strawberries before the end of the season. Alas, I know it will not be enough to make freezer jam, as I was hoping to do this year.


Here on the patio we have from left to right, more tomato plants (two pots of 'em); a pot with oregano, basil, and rosemary (the rosemary died); a pot with bell pepper seedlings and some radish seedlings in it (which were eaten by bugs); a second pot with bell pepper seedlings (which look almost healthy); a pot of zinnias; a pot of sorrel; and another random plant that was left from the previous downstairs tenant. I still haven't been able to figure out what it is yet.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

NaBloPoMo #7

Prompt: What candy did you eat once that you wish you could have again?

Ah, the candy that I wish I could find again is totally not politically correct. I must confess, I LOVED the candy Lucky Stripe cigarettes. Part of it was because I got to imitate my parents, more of it was the fact that they were pure sticks of sugar. My brothers and I sometimes got into fights over who got the last package.

NaBloPoMo # 6

Prompt: What is the first candy you ever tried?

To be honest, I don't remember. My parents could probably tell me but we're not exactly on speaking terms. I can, however, tell you the first candy that my children tried. Cuddle Bear tried chocolate first. His eyes lit right up and he dove into his second bite. Snuggle Bug tried candy canes first. He gnawed on that for a bit, making happy smacking noises as he did so.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

NaBloPoMo # 5

Ten things I am grateful for:
  1. My health.
  2. My husband and children.
  3. My friends and family.
  4. My therapist's support and encouragement.
  5. My faith.
  6. Having a wide array of scarves to cover with in my favorite colors.
  7. Having new friends with common interests. 
  8. That my nieces are happy and healthy.
  9. Having friends who are willing to help me with my writing.
  10. That I am half done with my major manuscript.

NaBloPoMo #4

I've got a new song that I just can't get enough of. It's Wide Awake from Katy Perry. I really enjoy her work. It is so full of life and she has a really good sense of lyricism.


The song that got me hooked on her was Firework. The uplifting message from that song really helped lift me up out of some depressive episodes over the last year. It makes me smile that the boys really like it too.


NaPloPoMo # 3

This entry is late, but I've been busy for the last few days. The sweetest thing that was done for me on Thursday was when Beloved brought home ice cream for me. I'd been having a very frustrating day. And that darling man brought me home chocolate ice cream. Not just chocolate ice cream but Brownie Fudge ice cream from Ben and Jerry's. It's almost as addictive as their Chocolate Therapy ice cream. (To return the favor, I got him a pint of that one when I was getting groceries yesterday.)

Spinning my wheels.

I want to write something wonderful for my husband. At the same time, I am utterly stumped. There he is, sitting there across the room. He's watching one of his favorite TV shows on the computer and minding the children so that I can get a little bit of time in here on the computer. It's just one of those ordinary Sunday afternoon kind of moments. And all I can think is "how did I get here?"

I look back on the past. I look at the fears that I was infertile. I look back at the fears that my relationship was going to just suddenly vanish on me. I look at all the other little things that made me question if moments like this were ever going to happen.

I sit here and I wonder, how on earth did I go from being so fearful to now peacefully content, living the life that I dreamed I would have? How did I get so lucky as to  have my best friend as my spouse? How did we get so lucky as to have these two beautiful little boys? We're sitting here in our home, not in a panic and packing because we're going to be booted out due to the nonsense with the downstairs apartments.

I am profoundly grateful. I am also at a loss for anything romantic. That makes my love letter project a bit harder to do.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #2

Prompt: What is the sweetest thing someone said to you today?

It is still morning here. So far today, I haven't had much for conversation. Even so, I have to say that the normal morning routine of 'I love you.' when Beloved goes out the door for work and Cuddle Bear gets on the bus to preschool qualifies. I try to make sure that I tell them that before they go off into the world for the day every day. I feel it is important to get that in, even if it is quickly said as the door is closing.

I want them to know that where ever they go, my love goes with them. Just as I know their love is always with me.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

NaBloPoMo Post #1

Prompt: Name something sweet that you ate today.

Today, I had a chocolate covered frozen banana. I bought the things originally for the kids. The boys, however, haven't shown much interest in them. As a result, when I get hit with a craving for sugar, that has been what I've been grabbing for. I hope that it's not doing too much damage to my diet. My goal is to revamp my diet into something more focused upon non-processed foods, vegetables, fruit, and healthy homemade stuff. I'm really struggling with the urges for stuff like soda and ice cream. I am having some difficulty replacing them with something healthier.

I'm not a big fan of drinking as many calories as are in the sandwich I am eating (if not more) in one sitting. Ah well. First post for the month done, I am now going to go work on some other projects. Have a lovely day, everyone.

Thoughts of the future.

Someday, I hope that we have a small plot of land. Something big enough where I can have my garden and maybe a few chickens. With the thought of chickens in mind, I am slapping these links up here as a reminder for myself.

Respectful Chicken Harvest #1
Respectful Chicken Harvest #2

I was impressed with the calm and efficiency of her actions. I also couldn't help but feel deep appreciation for her working to soothe the dying chicken and to make the process as calm as possible for the bird. I wish that this was the rule for how meat has been harvested. I would be more comfortable buying meat products that were raised in an ethically conscious fashion and in an ecologically responsible one. Alas, that is something of a luxury.

Someday, it may happen that we get our little plot of land. I may be able to raise a few chickens and ensure that their lives from hatching to hatchet are as peaceable as I can manage. In the meantime, however, I am going to focus my efforts of making sure that my home is as peaceable as it can be and as ecologically sound as I can manage. I can at least control that.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Doll making - Round 2

A little while back I made some dolls for TechGuy (Beloved's brother)'s girls. They're crochet and I am still using crochet to make two more dolls. This time they are for SecretWitch (his girlfriend)'s girls. Instead of using the same pattern for both dolls, I used it for one and then a different one for the other.

The one for WiseGal is in this pattern and in pink yarn. The one for Moo (and the other girls) is in this pattern. Moo's doll is in purple. Eriu's doll is in green. Bride's doll is in blue. In the case of both patterns, there seems to be something not quite right about them. The dolls are coming out a bit misshapen.

I'm not going to get upset over it, but rather say that this is just another indication that they are home made. Now, my hope is that I stop looking at the pink yarn and thinking that I should be making one of these.

Friday, July 27, 2012

August NaBloPoMo?

The website BlogHer is doing NaBloPoMo in August. I'm going to give it a shot. Who knows, maybe I'll manage to get my writing in other areas back on track too.

For today, I did an hour and a half of writing on my novel manuscript. The word count is now at : 29647 NaNoWriMo puts their goal word count at 50 k. This means that I have approximately 10.5 k left. I think I can do this.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pickle experiment - take 3!

I bought several packages of cucumbers. At three dollars a pop, it is my hope that I have enough to make a good batch of pickles in my pickle crock. I fear, however, that I may not have bought enough to fill the crock. I'm trying not to be anxious about this.

I have some pickling spices that I bought at the grocery store on my last trip (last week). I am going to be throwing them into a little cheesecloth bag and tossing them into the brine solution with the pickles. I learned with the last batch that I don't care for dill pickles. Here's hoping that this will come out with a sweeter pickle. I've read a few different tricks about how to keep the pickles crunchy. I believe I am going to give the addition of a grape leaf a try. According to theory the tannic acid in the grape leaf works to keep the pickles crunchy.

I'll report back on how this grand experiment works out.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Continuing on a theme...

I had this pop up on my Facebook page and I thought to myself 'Wow, these are really clever." I especially loved the idea of taking a shelving unit and turning it into seating with storage underneath handled by way of labeled baskets. I need to do a few measurements to see if I can make some unused shelf space work in such a fashion. I know the modestly sized plastic boxes work relatively well but I wish to have things more accessible for the children.

I'm going to teach them to put their toys away before bed. I want to make it easy for them to put things away. Clearly labeled boxes and a set location for them will help things considerably. I've moved many of the toys out of the room in an effort to cut down on the destruction. It's done little. The room still gets completely destroyed on a regular basis. A part of me says that I should removed all but the toys they play the most with.

I am not sure if this is something that will work to reduce some of their misbehavior that has become a recent issue. Some experts and quite a few other parents say that this helps things considerably. I am reaching a point where I would love to see my sweet boys playing happily on the floor rather then flinging things around and just dumping toys before moving on to something else.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A room of one's own or a cottage?

I am enchanted with the idea of a tiny house that has just enough room for Beloved and I. The thought of it taking an afternoon to clean the whole house from top to bottom is just pleasant. As is the idea that it could say that way with minimal fuss. So, when I see things where people have taken small spaces and creatively made them livable, I find myself filled with a powerful yearning to do the same in my own home.

Articles like this one and videos like this one or this one here inspire me. Some people do this because they need to make things work due to the fact they have no other choice, like this guy did. Some people do it because they enjoy the challenge and feel it is important to make a statement about how they live, like this person did. I see these people doing something really amazing.

It is something that I want to emulate. I want to incorporate some of their concepts into my home. In doing so, I want to bring a greater sense of order to the chaos in my life. I want to give my children more space to play and make it easier for them to put their toys away because it is easy to see where they go. I want to make the bedroom into a place of rest and luxury with as minimal effort as possible.

I'll admit, I catch myself fantisizing about a little cottage in a garden for me to putter about in. Space where I can play with plants, yarn, or write with out distractions. I find myself daydreaming about making a space for Beloved to have as his office and project room. Somewhere that he can have as his 'mancave' and be free of the worries or cares of the day.

I'm very lucky that I have my project room. It has become a state of utter chaos right now. I some times feel a great wave of dismay when I look in there and see the disaster it has become over the last several months. It has served as the catch all and place to hide things from small hands. I haven't much room to turn around in, let alone sit in my chair or set up my loom and weave. Some weekend, I keep promising myself, some weekend I will get it all sorted out.

Until I do, however, I'll keep looking for inspiration and dreaming.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Spaghetti Squash & ramblings

Last night, I took that spaghetti squash I bought when I got groceries on Saturday and cooked it up. I found it quite delightful. The kids wouldn't even look at it. Beloved wasn't interested, but that's ok. It meant that I was able to have some for lunch today. Unlike pasta, it didn't lose it's pleasant al dente texture in the fridge over night. Reheated, it was still delightful. I am curious now, if I can do the same 'shredding' technique on other winter squash. It really was a fluke that I found spaghetti squash so cheap last weekend.

I have been having a hard time deciding what I'm going to be carrying in my purse as my go to anxiety soothing project. I have a tiny spindle but it is a bit difficult to do spinning in some of the places where I have had to go. Knitting needles are a touch long (except for the sock needles but those have a sock on them) and most of my projects require large bags to contain them. I am getting bored with knooking, again. I've just been making a strip of fabric. Like I said, I am getting bored.

I saw a pretty patchwork style crochet blanket hanging out on somebody's laundry line as Snuggle Bug and I were walking home from the errand I had to run. I am tempted to start making squares and seam them together into some kind of creation. I suppose that is one way to use up the small balls of yarn I have kicking around.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Procrastination nation...

I can't think of anything else for the parody of Conjunction Junction. Ah well. I'm not as good at it as hubby is.

I've spent my last hour and a half watching random videos on youtube, doing some knooking, and generally sitting around and being lazy. I figured out how to do the purl stitch by way of a video. So now I have a section of stockinette stitch and a section of garter stitch on my little sampler that I am working on.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about knooking. On one hand it is proving to be a lot more portable then my knitting, which makes it ideal for keeping in my purse as an antidote to anxious fidgeting. At the same time, I am finding some of the stitches (specifically the purl stitch and switching between knit and purl for stockinette) to be awkward. I'm hoping that they will get easier as I progress. I also haven't the slightest idea what I'm going to do with this sampler.

I am trying to help a friend learn to do knooking. She has some difficulties with anxiety too. I figured that some sort of handcraft may be helpful to her too. We'll see, I guess.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

tour de fleece

I'm a day late. That's ok, I'm still going to get some time in. Wish me luck as I proceed forward through the month. Hopefully, by the end of this, I will have learned how to use my navajo spindle.

ETA:

First spindle full of yarn! It was extra, extra chunky. I have no clue what I'm going to do with it. It's off the spindle and in a skein. I just soaked and it's hanging out in the brilliant sunlight to dry. With all of this heat, it's probably going to dry a lot faster outside then it would in my bathroom. Pics will be up soon. :) In other news, I think I need to help my MiL clear out some more fleece, because I just went through most of that ball of fiber she dropped off. >.<

Saturday, June 23, 2012

reposted: my thoughts on karma


i adamantly resist and reject the idea that past life karma is the reason for suffering in my life. i refuse to believe that any person could have done anything to have deserved the brutality and psychological hell that i went through growing up. it is, in my opinion, a pat lie told to keep a person in their 'place' and under some measure of control by others. to imply that a child, for example, deserves to watch as their sibling is brutally beaten before their eyes by their mother on the basis of some poor behavior in another lifetime is to say that somehow the child has moral responsibility for the brutalization of their sibling and the psychologically abusive effects of witnessing said abuse. i cry 'bullshit' on that.

terrible things happen. sometimes they happen for no discernible reason. frequently, they happen because the person engaging in the traumatizing activity views this as somehow beneficial to their goals (possibly even believing that it is beneficial to their victims). your suffering does nothing to alleviate the suffering of others except in the case where you have actively put yourself into harms way for the sake of preventing the other person from being harmed. we suffer. it is part of the human condition and part of the experience of living.
that which has traumatized one person may not traumatize another. part of understanding this is context. part of understanding it is understanding the other person's psyche. and, there is going to be part of this that simply will remain a mystery because the human brain is a proverbial 'black box' that we have simply no way of fully understanding.

all we can do is strive to live our lives in a fashion that is conducive to accomplishing our life goals and psychological health.

if you want to make your dreams real, do it. make a plan and work each day to implement some part of it. men who built multimillion dollar businesses from the ground up did it based on a plan for what they wanted to achieve and then relentlessly pursued it. authors who have written amazing texts did so one page at a time. these things do not occur in a vacuum. they are the result of planning, hard work, and dedication.
you may have little lies that you tell yourself that serves to uphold the illusion that you can not accomplish your dreams. they are serving some sort of purpose for you. there is some kind of need that you are meeting by NOT pursuing your dreams. the first step in accomplishing things rests in determining what that need is and finding an alternate way to answer it. the second step is making your plan. the third is implementing it.
you can accomplish great things in your life. i know. i've lived through hell, clawed my way out of it, and made many of my life goals come true before i hit 30. it was a LOT of work. there were parts (and still are) that were excruciating. in the end, however, it is worth it because i decided it was worth it.

don't let some other mealymouthed moron with an agenda stop you. they claim past life karma is why you suffer in this life. fuck that. no one knows for sure how past life karma manifests. there's a higher likelihood that you suffered misfortune because the person inflicting it was an asshole then that you're reaping some kind of karmic punishment for being an asshole in a past life. focus on today. focus on what you can do today to move you closer to accomplishing your dreams.

and fuck whoever tells you that you can't do it with a rusty crowbar.

Being a tolerant person isn't easy...

I try very hard not to let myself get annoyed with people around me. I work to be as gracious and pleasant as I can be. I usually manage to be the sort of person that leaves one with a smile on their face after meeting them. It's something of a point of pride, to be honest. I kinda feel like I have a mission of sorts to make this world a better place, even if it is in a small way.

My annoyance with some neighbors flies in the face of that effort. They're not intrinsicly bad people. On the whole, they seem to be decent folks. A tad bit thoughtless and a bit loud, but decent. Some how, they manage to irritate me regularly. To the point where I hide in the house rather then be outside when they are because they grate on my nerves.

I'm not proud of that. I strive to put that aside every time I go to interact with them. I work to be respectful and ladylike. I put in the effort to be charming and delightful for their child. And when my boys want to play with their little one, I don't stop them. I do what I can to encourage the children to play well together because I feel that it can only benefit them.

Despite all of this, these people rankle my nerves. When they are being loud, I restrain the urge to demand that they quiet down. When they decide to take up the front stoop and block the sidewalk with their afternoon impromptu gatherings, I actively work not to let myself get worked up over it. It is, however, becoming difficult. This, however, will pass. (I hope.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Inspiration & Ideas about Food

Mavis really has something awesome going on with her blog. I find her writing to be really uplifting and inspiring. I'm also seriously considering her 'Reclaimed Food' concept. The idea of getting veggies and fruit for free intrigues me. While I don't have chickens to feed scraps to, I've got the beginnings of a compost bucket. And woods out back where I could possibly feed the deer.

I am really interested in this idea of getting food and putting stuff by for later in the season or in the off season. I don't think I'm going to get much for strawberries out of my plants. I feel rather disappointed by that. If I could get a bunch of them for pennies, I would have not only enough for my kids to snack on (and Snuggle Bug has decided that strawberries are the best fruit ever, after bananas) but I could make some jam. I want to make stuff like fruit leather for the boys as well.

I've been wracking my brain as to how to make this happen. Part of my question is how to obtain the produce for preservation in a manner that makes it financially more efficient then purchasing it the 'usual' manner. The other part of my question is how to make the investment work even in the face of the fact that I am a novice in food preservation and my space that is available for doing such work is limited.

One of the things that I am seriously considering is bartering babysitting time in exchange for some of what I grow/preserve/produce. I don't like the fact that Beloved's parents have done so very much babysitting for us and we haven't been able to do much in return. The idea of giving them a few quarts of homemade soup, canned tomatoes, and a couple loaves of fresh bread sits better with me then much of anything else that comes to mind. With that, I know that it will be appreciated and useful, and not take up extra space in their busy home.

I'm sure that I could work out some other similar arrangements with a few brave souls. It's just all about getting this to work despite the days of depression that descend on me.

Day 5 with out soda.

I have the biggest craving for Coca Cola right now. I've been doing my best to ignore it but it is really distracting me. Drinking tea doesn't do much for that sugar fix and having a popsicle isn't the same as drinking a glass of ice cold soda. I am telling myself that after a few weeks I won't even want it anymore. I feel like that is a rather horrid lie right now.

In other news, tonight makes just about a solid week of my cooking dinner at home with out the use of prepackaged items. I almost caved in and made the boxed macaroni and cheese. Then I remembered that the boys wouldn't do more then poke at it with a fork. At which point I made them PB&J and made up the stir fry that I had planned for tonight.

I've a boxed mix for pizza that I am debating using for tomorrow night. A part of me says that if I scrounge and look under couch cushions, I can locate enough spare cash to spend on pizza as another part of me says that it would be breaking my home cooked streak to do so.

If it wasn't so atrociously hot in the apartment right now, I would totally be baking cookies and a pan of brownies right now. As it is just shy of 80 F in here, with the window open, I'm not doing any baking tonight. Perhaps while the boys are off at preschool tomorrow morning, if it's tolerably cool in here. I've got stuff to make banana bread (or muffins) that I may do. After all, I ran out of waffles and I'm terrible at making pancakes.

I'm still agog that I managed to do the grocery shopping and have the total come to half of what I planned to spend. This makes me optimistic that perhaps I can find more ways to save money and pare the costs down for the household. Cutting out soda and prepackaged food may just be a significant savings financially. We'll see.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pickle report #2

It has been a crazy week. I did try the dill pickles the day after my last post. The next time I make them, I am definitely using more dill. I am also going to throw some garlic in there too.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Pickle Report #1

The dill free pickles are crunchy and with a bit of a sour kick. Aside from that little hit of sour, they are rather bland. I've decided that next time I am definitely not doing them plain. The pickles with the dill are going to be tried tomorrow. I want to give them another day to 'steep'. Now, however, I have to figure out how to use up the 'bland' pickles. Hmm...

Saturday, June 02, 2012

SCIENCE! in the kitchen.

I am making pickles FOR SCIENCE!!

Using this method for lacto-fermented pickles, I am hoping to have something pleasant in a few days. My quart jars were sterilized before I added the cucumbers. One has a bit of dill in it and the other is just the salt water brine. For one jar (the dill), I put a few layers of cheese cloth over it and put it aside. The second jar (with out dill) has the top of the mason jar screwed down but nothing secured. According to theory, this will allow the gases to escape. I'm curious and excited all at the same time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gardening update!

My plants are doing fairly well. I had to repot a strawberry plant and a tomato plant, but I think they'll do just fine with the change. I staked the tomato because it looked very listless after the repotting. I made some room for some oregano seedlings in one of my windowbox planters. I also planted some pepper seeds this afternoon. I popped my little bottle top mini greenhouse over them. In a Lunchables box planter, I finally planted the green onions that I had in a little jar on a window sill. I think they'll do much better out in the sunshine.

I thinned out my lettuces - which look beautiful despite how crowded they were. I used up the last of my planting soil with the pepper seeds. I need to get some more and a few more planters because my seedlings are not going to last much longer in the seed pots. I have figured out that some of the mysterious seedlings just might be rosemary. If it is, I will be delighted. The rosemary plant that I had bought for myself mysteriously disappeared. I think an animal is to blame for that.

I'm really not happy that something has been eating the leaves of my strawberry plants. I think I will be taking some of Beloved's cigarette butts and making a 'tea' with them. According to theory, this is a good and health friendly insect deterrent. I will be quite disappointed if my strawberry plants don't recover. I was hoping to get enough berries to make freezer jam this summer.

I harvested a bunch of lemon balm. I'm not entirely sure what I can do with it. I need to do a bit more reading and research. In the meantime, however, I am going to just make my list of what I need to be more successful with this project. Part of that, I believe, is going to be getting rid of the cover I made for my greenhouse and actually buying a cover off the internet or something. Then I can start using that space for stuff  as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's not easy being Green...

(Apologies to Kermit the frog!)

I really feel very strongly that I should minimize my environmental impact as much as I possibly can. I feel badly that there is so much waste in my household. I recognize that it is significantly less waste then neighbors of mine, but I still feel that it is too much. I am doing my best to recycle as much as possible. I am striving to conserve water. I'm working to minimize how much food is just plain wasted on a weekly basis.

In the light of all this, I know that some people would say that I am doing a very good job of being ecologically responsible. Every time the garbage truck arrives, however, I wind up getting a good look at how much stuff is getting thrown away. (Our living room has two big windows right by the dumpster. I don't particularly like that fact.) It disturbs me that the thing is regularly full to the point of nearly overflowing.

I recognize that there are some changes that I just can't make right now. I can't just stop using disposable diapers. We simply don't have the means to wash the cloth diapers as they get soiled. I can't set up something to collect rainwater for watering my plants. And there's literally no way for me to get rid of using non-biodegradable garbage bags. I am certain that aside from paper bags, there has to be biodegradable garbage bags on the market. I just can't find them anywhere.

Some of the changes that I have been successful in making, however, are going to count in a big way as the year goes on. I have planted a bunch of containers of herbs, vegetables, and strawberries. I am recycling old plastic containers that products we've purchased have come in as planters. I am in the midst of researching what I need to do to start composting vegetable waste. My hope is to do so in a bucket underneath the deck where it is out of the way and yet still accessible. I am doing my best to water my plants when they won't get burned by the sun. I'm working to make sure that our electricity consumption is as low as possible. When I do laundry, I do my best to load the machines in such a manner that we don't have too small of a load for the machine size so that we conserve water.

I keep looking for other ways to be 'green'. I know there are more ways to be responsible with the resources we have. And I am sure that they don't require some type of insane level of effort.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Communal container gardening?

I have lots and lots of peas. I also have lots of herbs and quite a few tomato plants. I've given some of the herbs and some of the tomato plants to my neighbors downstairs. I think I'm going to talk to them about the possibility of sharing space on their patio for pepper plants. I don't think they're going to object. They were thrilled to get my extra plants.

I am looking at it all and realizing that I really do want to get more stuff growing out there. While I can't plant corn or squash, there's other things that I can get growing in pots. The idea of having a bunch of vegetables that are home grown makes me smile. The thought that our canned vegetables for the late autumn and winter would be coming from what I grew just ... well, for lack of a better phrase, is growing on me.

I think I'm going to talk to the neighbors and see what we can manage. I have LOTS of strawberry plants that haven't yet put out fruit. That should be soon, though, because they're starting to get blossoms. Some of my mature pea plants are blossoming. The rosemary some how vanished. I think a critter got into it. Since I don't use a lot of rosemary, I am not going to worry about it. I have so much basil that it is funny.

To say the least, I am planning on making pesto and maybe basil butter. I'm going to do a little digging around and try to find a few more ways I can use up this basil. I am tempted to bring some plants out to Buffalo with me to Jbirdie for her to have in her backyard. I think, however, I am not going to give in to temptation. She has a lot of stuff going on right now. Taking care of some plants would just be one more thing to stress her out. I don't want to do that.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wildcrafting herbs: Bedstraw

I have lots of bedstraw growing around the back deck. Galium aparine has a bad habit of taking over an area. I keep pulling it out and it just seems to keep proliferating in the same spots. Wikipedia says that this is edible. Some of the websites I have looked at give a bit of the history of the use of this herb. I know that the spot where it is growing is free of pesticides and similar toxins.

My only question is if the plant is too mature for me to use. I suspect it is. But it is something to consider for next year.

Canned beets stump me.

I'm going to try this recipe out and see if it changes my feelings on canned beets. So far, borscht was the only way I could see eating this vegetable.

From Chowhound.com forums:

Get some onions and garlic going in a skillet, usually with butter and/or olive oil. When they are ready, drain and quarter the canned beets and add them to the skillet, cook them until they are blackened to your liking. Add a handful of roasted pecans or walnuts near the end for crunch. Works best with whole beets.

From Allrecipies.com

  • 4 medium beets - scrubbed, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 (10 ounce) package mixed baby salad greens
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces goat cheese

Directions

  1. Place beets into a saucepan, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. Drain and cool, then cut in to cubes.
  2. While the beets are cooking, place the walnuts in a skillet over medium-low heat. Heat until warm and starting to toast, then stir in the maple syrup. Cook and stir until evenly coated, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice concentrate, balsamic vinegar and olive oil to make the dressing.
  4. Place a large helping of baby greens onto each of four salad plates, divide candied walnuts equally and sprinkle over the greens. Place equal amounts of beets over the greens, and top with dabs of goat cheese. Drizzle each plate with some of the dressing. 
 One of the commentators said you can replace the cooked beets with chilled, canned beets.

I'm still hunting through my cookbooks for something that helps to ease the ... intensity of the flavor of beets. Nobody really eats these things which makes them incredibly inexpensive. This makes me think that I need to find away to take advantage of this. I'm not a big fan of pickled beets but I know there has to be a way to make them that will agree with me and my palate. And on this one, I know that I am more discriminating on that taste then the boys are.