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.


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 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). 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.