Saturday, November 5, 2011

No Time - Not Even for Blogging

Some may have noticed that my posts have become few and far between recently. I used to take time to write a little something and catch up on the blogs I enjoy reading while Isabelle was taking her naps. Well in the past few weeks, she has really quit taking her naps. (sniff sniff). Occasionally if we've been having a really busy day or she got up really early (like this morning) than she will fall asleep and I jump on the computer for a few, but other than that, blogging has been bumped to the bottom of my priority list. Fall is finally in full swing and every second possible we are outside enjoying the wonderful weather. We've been getting the garden prepared for winter, and doing a few other minor projects around the house. We've cleaned out one section of the basement and hopefully by this time next year it will be our root cellar. Our neighbor with the chickens got himself a couple of turkeys and one interesting evening was spent chasing the thing around our yard. It had gotten out of their coop and over the fence to our side. Our dog was going crazy trying to escape out the back door to help us chase it. I think the whole scene would have made a good cartoon. But I expect things will start winding down a bit soon, as it starts getting colder, and then hopefully I will have more time to blog.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Duhhh! I had a Moment.

So this time of year sometimes presents a conundrum at our house. First off let me explain that in my not too distant past before I knew better, I was the type of person who always either ran the heat or air. I loathe being hot. That is when I am my crankiest, and so I often set the thermostat really low. Now over the years I have really worked at acclimating myself to being comfortable in warmer temperatures. Each year we are able to put off turning the air on longer and longer. Other than being environmental conscious, with the rising cost of electricity, I haven't really had a choice. But I have to admit that this is hardest for me at night. Ever since I had my daughter two years ago, I have found that I sweat horrible at night. Maybe from hormonal changes? I don't know, but I do know it makes me miserable! This time of year is usually great because It's really cool at night and I can leave the windows open and I sleep great. Last night, however, we had torrential rains, strong winds, and thunder and lighting. (So of course Andrew slept like a rock). On nights like this I can't leave the window open and it gets really really stuffy in our house if the windows are closed and the air is off. And I was laying there in be, staring up at the ceiling fan, thinking about how it stays so much cooler in my daughters room, and seriously considering going to sleep on her floor when it happened. Duh! In the entire time we have lived in our house we have never switched the direction of the ceiling fans. If they turn clockwise, they push warm air down (so this is the direction they should go in the winter) and when they turn counterclockwise, they keep the warm air up at the ceiling ( for summer). I've know all this for a while, but for some reason never actually put my knowledge into practice. So I climbed on top of the bed and when I still couldn't reach, woke up Andrew and had him switch the fan. Let me tell you the cool down was immediate. I finally fell asleep and didn't wake up hot once.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Regina...You Talked Me into It

Okay, so someone named Regina left a comment on my post Radishes Again. I don't get very many comments, and so anytime someone leaves one I go check out their blog if they have one. Well, upon visiting Regina at her blog, Regina's Cottage, I saw she was the proud owner of a new dehydrator. And she had dehydrated some carrots and they looked lovely. And I really really wanted one. Andrew and I have been discussing this purchase for about a year now, but we always decide to wait. I especially wish for one when I am drying something in my oven like apple rings that takes several hours. I know that it is a big part of my energy usage. Well, after seeing Regina's post I went out (not immediately, but a few days later) and purchased one of my own. I don't have too many kitchen gadgets, but this is one that I really have enjoyed. My dehydrator uses 500 watts, which in comparison most electric ovens use between 2000 and 4000. Also, it doesn't heat up the house like drying with the oven does. It came with this tray to make fruit rolls with. I am really excited about this, because that is a great way to preserve fruits and you can use overripe and damaged fruits you usually wouldn't can with. As I type I have my first batch going. I mixed up some organic raspberries, overripe organic strawberries, and one soft pear. I will report back on how it turned out.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Radishes Again

Radishes are such a quick crop, and we really like them, so we grow them twice a year. In the early spring and late summer/early fall. This weekend we harvested them along with some other garden goodies. The weather was so so beautiful. Also good for attacking some weeds and mowing the yard (obviously done after the pics were taken.) The best part was seeing what fun Isabelle had helping. Each Radish I pulled was handed to her and gently placed in the basket. Then she carried the basket to the back porch. She also halped me gather a bunch of collard greens to have with dinner that night. I was also really surprised to see how many peppers we had still growing. They quit for a while, probably because it was so hot, but have recently started cranking them out again. Isabelle had fun carrying them one at at time and placing them in a chair we have sitting on the back porch. It is such a pleasure having her help, even if it is a little slow going. I can't wait to let her help me in the spring!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Equinox

Fall is finally here. I'm not alone in naming this season as my favorite. There is something about a cool breezy fall day, with the leaves swirling and the smell of pumpkin and spice that just puts a smile on your face. I am so fortunate to live in a part of the country that has very pronounced seasons. When the summer conditions haven't been too dry (which they haven't for us thankfully) the leaves all around turn brilliant shades of reds, oranges, and yellows. It makes me feel like I am living in a painting.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bamboo Needles

Aren't they a dream to knit with? I only have two pair because they are really expensive, and I already have every size needle in metal, but when I do allow myself to splurge on luxuries, these are the types of things I buy for myself. For my birthday I bought myself this set and they were just under nine dollars after tax. I know nine dollars is not a lot of money, but compared to the couple of bucks metal needles cost, I think it is. My husband asked me to knit him a scarf for this winter. As long as we've been together, I've never known him to wear a scarf, but I was more than thrilled to make one for him. I used two different chunky yarns, mohair and wool. It's really soft and warm, and hopefully manly enough for him.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fall Garden

So for the fall I didn't plant as much as I would have liked to. I never got around to digging out another bed. But I did get some collards planted. Andrew is a picky eater when it comes to leafy greens. He doesn't eat salad. His problem is he doesn't like condiments of any kind. he doesn't eat mustard or salad dressing. No BBQ or even homemade ketchup. He has a really strong aversion to vinegar. When I clean with it I have to do it when he's not around, because the smell of vinegar really bothers him. I love vinegar, but that's another topic. But he does really like collard greens. They are very easy to prepare. I tear them up and saute them just briefly with some olive oil and garlic. I also put it another round of radishes. I grew them quite successfully in early spring. They are a quick crop - about four days to germinate and about twenty two to harvest. I actually planted them almost two weeks ago, and they didn't germinate right away. I had a few seeds left so I was going to try again, but then we had days of rain from Lee, so I had to wait. Then, when I went out yesterday, low and behold, little baby radishes! Maybe it was all the rain, or the drop in temperatures? I'm not sure, but I don't think radishes do well in really hot weather. I'm still getting peppers, though they are much smaller than the ones I was getting. I've frozen about thirty green peppers, not to mention the fresh ones we've been eating weekly. The rest I will let turn red before I pick them. I harvest the onions and garlic, both having turned out great, although some of the garlic was small. Also, it got so hot my beans died, but I was able to dry a bunch of the pods for next year. We got a grand total of five apples from the apple tree, which truth be told is five more than I thought we would get. And oh the cucumbers! I finally just quit watering them. I have never eaten so many cucumbers in my life! I was not sad when they died. I've been canning and freezing like crazy, and this will be our first winter eating  mostly our own preserved foods. I'm already dreaming about next spring, making grandiose plans that are probably way to big to handle. I look forward to having even more next year.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Extra Padding

Okay, so I have to admit that my jeans are fitting a bit more snug these days. In fact, I fear that if I don't manage to loose a few pounds I might not fit into my winter clothes! And I guess with the temperatures flirting with fifty (thanks to TS Lee!) I better get a move on. I'm not a person who generally worries about weight. I probably weigh more than I should, but I feel healthy and have no trouble enjoying my life, so I don't really pay it much mind. You see I have a weakness, and it's name is bread. And ever since I starting making sourdough, I can't stop. I also am a non-believer in artificial things (butter, sweetener, etc.) so I guess some of the things I eat are probably higher in calories. When I had a full time job outside the house I was always moving and on my feet. Not that I sit around all day by any means, I just have more opportunities for a sneak of bread here, or some homemade cookies there. I love to bake. Ugh..getting hungry just writing this post! And I guess since Isabelle is two now, I can't really use the "just had a baby" thing anymore. Last fall I was walking routinely at the park. Isabelle has since decided she doesn't like to ride in her stroller, but maybe I can convince her. We'll see.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

To the Market
Sunday around here is market day. Over the years the Chattanooga market has gotten bigger and bigger. This year it celebrates it's tenth anniversary! We love to go and buy fresh local produce usually picked just that morning or the day before. Our market also has an array of local crafts people selling everything from homemade clothes and hand spun wool to hand crafted pottery and jewelry. Also, there is usually some live entertainment. It has become the highlight of our weekend. On this morning trips we bought three large candy onions, a whole bag of spring mix lettuce, and another bag of cayenne and jalapeno peppers. We spent a grand total of six dollars. It really excites me to see the crowds getting larger and larger too. It shows that people really are interested in fresh local goods. I saw some peaches that looked very tempting. I think if they still have them next Sunday I'm going to load up.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fun at the Park

picture taken by CGM member Lisa

A few months ago I joined a meet up grow called Chattanooga Green Moms. I really felt it was important to let Isabelle play with other kids her age, and for us day care is not an option. It's been a lot of fun and I re-connected with an old acquaintance who was also a member. Every other Wednesday we meet at a local park and let the kids play. Today we had lots of fun. Outside time is so so important for kids. It's so easy to just stick them in front of the TV, but the TV is not a good babysitter. Isabelle so loves to play outside, and if she doesn't get to I've noticed that is when she's her crankiest. In fact, I believe outside time is important for adults too!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Favorite Pan

My sister called me recently because she had bought a cast iron skillet, and she knew it couldn't go in the dishwasher, but she wasn't sure exactly how to take care of it. She called me because I am always cooking with cast iron. My skillet is the most used thing in my kitchen. Cast iron pans are so great! They are versatile - you can use them on stove top, in the oven, or even over open flame - and just require a good wipe down when you are finished with them!. (If you must scrub it, NEVER use soap! Only use hot water and dry immediately with a towel!) Back in the day, people had to season their pans to make them non-stick, but these days I believe you buy them already seasoned. In fact the only remaining producer of cast iron cookwares (Lodgestone) in the US is right here in Tennessee. Mine, like so many things I have that I cherish, came from my Grandma. With her arthritis she can't lift them anymore, so I got her collection. This included two large skillets, one of which I gave to my dad, a small skillet, a big dutch oven, and one of those molds shaped like corn cobs for corn bread. I use the large skillets so much that it lives on my stove top. I have a glass top stove (I often lust after the gas stove at my parents house). I have heard that it is not recommended you use cast iron on those, but I have and haven't had a problem. I just have to be careful when I am moving it around not to slam it on the stove top. A good cast iron skillet, if cared for properly, can last for generations.  I wonder does anyone else prefer cast iron too?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Letting in the Fresh Air

This is a picture of the window above the kitchen sink. It looks out to part of the back yard. When I woke up this morning is was a wonderful 66 degrees outside. I switched off the AC which wasn't running anyway and opened all the windows. That is one of the things I'm most excited for this fall. Last fall we hadn't had then new windows put in yet and could only open the one in the bathroom and the one in the kitchen. When I went out to check the mail, the neighbor was checking his and he asked if our air was broken because he noticed all our windows were open (I'm sure he actually heard Isabelle screaming at the top of her lung. She thinks it's funny to scream as loud as she can. She giggles like crazy after each scream.) I thought that was funny. I told him no, I just really enjoyed letting the fresh air in. It's 84 degrees outside right now, but the humidity is very low and there is a breeze. I think it feels wonderful! And one of my favorite things in the world is to be working in the kitchen with the windows open, listing to all the outside noises and feeling the breeze blowing through the house. You just can't bottle that kind of fresh air.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


My friends, I am at war. The evil enemy? Weeds. They have staged a coup and are attempting to take over the world! Or at the very least my garden. And I have to say, they are damn close. Is it just me or does it seem that the hotter it gets, and the more other things - things you want like my pole beans for example - wither the more aggressive weeds get. It's like they know it's so hot outside you won't be out there as often as you should, so they use the opportunity to multiply like bunnies. Is oppressive, humid heat the ideal mating conditions for weeds? Today it's only in the upper 80's, and overcast, so I took the opportunity to give my garden some much needed TLC. I need to prepare beds and get going on my late summer planting. I hope to add collard greens and another round of radishes to the resident list. But oh the weeds! I just spent the last two hours yanking and cursing my way through the garden, getting stung by a wasp and attacked by ants, who I believe are in cahoots with the weeds. And what's more frustrating? When you sit back panting, thinking you've finally got one clear patch, and you look away, assessing your next target, when you look back, more weeds magically appear, laughing at you. And then there's the neighbors. All around shaking their heads at the "hippie" lady yelling at her plants while they spray another dose of roundup over every nook and cranny of their yards. If I were a weed I'd want to live in my yard too.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chemical Pregnancy

Chemical Pregnancy? I'd never even heard of such a thing until I went to the doctor for my first prenatal exam. A chemical pregnancy starts out just like a normal one, sperm and egg meet, hook up, and make their way together up to the uterus to implant and make baby. In a normal pregnancy the now fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, and divides into two. Half will be a placenta and half will be a baby. In a chemical pregnancy after implantation for some reason the process just stops. There is no divide, and ultimately, no baby. A woman who is experiencing a chemical pregnancy will show positive results on a home pregnancy test, as well as possibly even experience some early pregnancy symptoms, because of the presence of pregnancy hormones. This is what happened to me. I'm told it's not the same thing as a miscarriage because there was never any baby, but let me tell you if you've gone around thinking you had a baby growing inside, it sure feels the same. I have to say I was crushed. I've had a few days now to come to terms, and really I am okay. We weren't trying to get pregnant or anything, and I'm only 26 so I still have time. I have learned, though, that this is one of those reasons people wait to break the news. I wish I had gone to the doctor before I told folks the news. Fortunately I didn't tell too many people, just my immediate family.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Laundry Liquid

I can't believe it is August already! July just flew by! This time of year is so so busy! Yesterday, I made a batch of laundry liquid using Rhonda's recipe from Down to Earth . This is the first time I've done this, but I think the savings will be well worth the time spent making the liquid (which wasn't very long at all - like half an hour). I had a hard time finding all of the ingredients locally, so I ordered them all from I spent a total of 27 dollars and the shipping was free. I received enough supplies to make about 60 litres of laundry liquid! Of course I won't make that much all at once. But comparing pricing, at the store where I shop, the cheapest brand (which I can't use because it aggravates my skin) goes for about five dollars for a litre and a half. If you want to purchase "environmentally friendly" liquid, which I do, it's about seven dollars for a litre and a half. For about four and a half dollars, I made 10 litres of laundry liquid. Like I said, totally worth it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I went outside yesterday evening to check on the garden. I hadn't really been out there in about a week, and I knew after the rain I would have some serious weed control to do. Weeds weren't the only thing I found! My pole beans were loaded! I kept picking and picking and when I thought I'd gotten them all I would spot another that would lead to another and then another! I ended up with a good basket full. I will go back out tonight and see how many more I can pick.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


 This past week I really haven't felt like doing much of anything. I read that during the the first trimester your body expends growing the baby as much energy as if you were to run a 5K every day. I don't know if that's true or not, but it certainly feels that way. I did manage to muster up the energy yesterday to make my very first loaf of sourdough bread. About two weeks ago I made a starter that I have been keeping in the fridge. I found a recipe for sourdough french bread and I have to say that it was the best bread I have ever made. It's even in the top five of best bread I have ever eaten. Andrew and Isabelle gobbled it up too. Over half the loaf is gone already! Last night for dinner I made a big pot of chili and the soft chewy bread went perfect with it. This morning I had some of it with some homemade raspberry jam for breakfast. The only thing was that it wasn't too strongly sourdough flavored. I'm told, though, that the longer I keep the started the more sour the bread will be. I am in love with this bread!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Oh Boy! (Or Girl!)

Yup, the stick turned blue. Or rather had the appropriate number of blue lines to indicate a positive result, but it means the same thing. Today is my birthday too! What a present! So much for getting a goat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yea for Energy Savings!

We received our first power bill since I stopped using the clothes dryer and I must say I am pleased. I really wasn't sure what kind of effect it would have on our bill, but I was hopeful. Our bill was actually $7.36 more than last month, but there was a five percent rate increase starting with this current bill. What numbers I am really interested in (other than the actual dollar amount we have to pay) are the kWh used compared to last year, and the dollar amount compared to last year. As compared to this same month last year we used 362 kWh less and our bill is $8.92 less than our bill last year. This is with a rate increase and the added energy usage of the freezer (which we didn't have last year). I know $8.92 is small potatoes for most folks, but if I save a least that much every month that's over one hundred dollars a year. I know one hundred dollars is not much to a lot of people either. Some people spend that much on one meal out to eat, but it is a lot for us. It seems like an uphill battle sometimes. Our entire house is completely electric. No gas or fireplaces, so second to our mortgage it is the most expensive bill we have and I am still looking for more ways to reduce it to be frugal and to be green. If you happen to live in an area serviced by TVA, check out their home energy evaluations. If you take a free and simple evaluation, they will send you a kit in the mail and it is absolutely free.  The energy conservation kit includes:, two compact fluorescent light bulbs,outlet and light switch gaskets, filter whistle, two faucet aerators, hot water temperature gauge, home thermometer, and a “How to Save” brochure. If you are not sure if TVA is your power provider, ask your power company. If you know for sure it is not, still check with your power company to see if your local provider offers anything similar. It only takes a couple of minutes and at the very least you get some free light bulbs!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy Exaustion

This weekend was such a busy one. These days they usually are. Last night when Isabelle was finally asleep and the toys put away and the dishes were done, I plopped down on the sofa completely pooped, but very contented. We got a nice break from the heat with temps only in the low 90's and a break from the afternoon rains. I did extra loads of laundry so they could dry outside in the sunshine. Also had to pull up the now completely dead tomato plants and burn them. I'm thinking late blight maybe? I've not had too much experience with badly diseased plats before, (guess that tells you I haven't really been doing this that long) but from everything I've read that's my diagnosis. Well whatever it was I do know that you shouldn't compost diseased plants, so we built a little fire pit in the back yard and burned them. It took a while because we had a hard time finding enough dried wood to burn. The cucumbers look like they are dying too, but I have to admit I'm not sad to see them go. I'm sick of cucumbers. I pickled another batch this weekend. Totaled including what I gave away I ended up with 23 jars of pickles. Not to mention the bags of raw cucumbers I forced on people and the amount devoured by us. I also used the break from the heat to mow the yard. I hate doing this, so it usually gets put off until the grass is above our ankles and all the neighbors have done their yard at least twice. Afterwards I mentioned to Andrew how wouldn't it be nice if we had a goat? I was only half kidding when I said it, thinking really about having one to eat our grass, but then we began seriously discussing it. We have room for a miniature or two (probably two because they are social creatures) and it would be great to get one for milking like a pygmy or dwarf. Turns out Andrew really loves the idea, so we are beginning to research what  it takes to care for goats. (Any suggestions or resource info would me much appreciated!) Also we had to clean our air filter this weekend. This is something, like most people, we let go on too long, but if you don't clean them (supposed to do it once a month) or replace them if you have disposable ones, regularly, your ac unit gets over worked, doesn't run as efficiently, and can eventually break. The up side of having a cleanable one as opposed to the more commonly used (at least here) disposable ones is the obvious. Don't have to keep buying new ones, and avoid unnecessary waste. The downside is you have to leave the ac off while it dries. I suppose the solution to this would be to buy a second one and rotate them out, but that seems to be something we never think of until we are sitting there with the ac off waiting for it to dry. I also mixed up a sourdough starter. This is something I've never done before an am really excited about trying. It seems to be frothing nicely and doing everything it's supposed to do, so hopefully I will have a nice loaf of sourdough soon to post about. I'm not going to list every other thing I did this weekend, but the point I wanted to make was this. Not too many years ago I had a job where I worked near eighty hours a week, and was always on call. I would come home, completely pooped, prop my feet up, and think about how absolutely miserable I was. I didn't have time for my husband, or my home, or even myself. When I had Isabelle I knew there was no way I could work that much and still be the kind of mother I wanted to be (I am not judging working mom's here). I quit my job. It was really the most liberationg thing I ever did and it took me near a year to get over that feeling that tomorrow I would have to go to work. Our home became my work, and it has been so much more satisfying. I feel proud of what I do. Since my salary was more than half our household income we took a drastic paycut, but I do not regret it for a second. I'm getting to live the life that is right for me, and my family, and we have never been happier.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thanks Grandma

This is my grandmother's sewing machine. It's what she taught me to sew on, and hopefully what I will be able to teach Isabelle to sew on. My grandmother raised seven children. My grandpa was in the air force, so they didn't have much money. A lot of toys were made and clothes sewn with this machine.She bought it in 1976 and talks about it the way some people talk about major appliance purchases. I guess for her it was. It still works really well and amazingly she has managed to keep up with all of the plates and needles and other parts that go along with it. She even has the owners manual.  The table it sits on was made for her by my grandpa and sits low. It's the perfect height for sewing. My birthday is next week and as an early present, while her and my grandpa were visiting, they gave it and practically the rest of her sewing room to me. She will be 80 soon and she has severe arthritis in her hands so she is unable to do much anymore. I always used to wonder why out of all of my sisters (I have three) I was the only one interested in learning all the things my grandma wanted to teach us. She tried so hard with all of us to teach us baking and sewing and knitted, but I am the only one that took to it. Well, now I have a great new - old sewing machine that works better than the brand new one I bought a few years ago. Thanks Grandma!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wishful Thinking

Yesterday I finished knitting a scarf and matching hat for Isabelle. (Actually the hat was crotched) Of Course, yesterday with the heat index included it reached 108 degrees F here. A Bit of wishful thinking? For sure. It is going to be even worse out there today. We are forcasted a heat index of 110 with humidity reaching 77%. That kind of weather just sucks the life out of you when you go outside. Sweating doesn't cool you down because the air is so saturated the sweat can't really evaporate, so you sit there and soak in your own juices. It makes it harder because there are things outside I really need to get done (weeds are taking over!) and Isabelle is going stir crazy. I usually get in an hour or two in the evening before the sun goes down. It least by this point, though it's still really hot, the sun is behind the trees so you don't quite feel like you are frying. Now I know that while I complain about the heat, exactly six months from now I will be sitting at my computer writing a post about how cold it is and how I wish it would hurry up and get warm. What I really wish is that we could just have spring and fall. Spring is warm and pretty (though I could do without tornadoes) filled with flowers and baby animals, and fall is cool and crisp and filled with pumpkins and crunchy leaves and windy days. But I know, that in the greater scheme of things winter and summer are as necessary as spring and fall and we probably wouldn't have the latter without the former. So for the next few weeks I will stay mostly indoors and knit scarves while dreaming about cooler days.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Saving Seeds

So I love the idea of growing all my food from seeds saved from the previous year, but in truth I admit to not being very good at it. It's a part of the whole desire to be self sufficient.  This year I grew my peppers from saved seeds. The cucumbers, radishes and beans from bought seeds and tomatoes from bought seedlings (I actually bought tomato seeds that grew quite nicely, but then were trampled by our dog when I had them setting out on the back porch to harden off.) While I was preparing the peppers to freeze the other day, I scraped out the seeds of the best looking ones to be saved for next year. I hope to add to my list of things grown from saved seeds next year. For everything else I like to order from Seed Saver Exchange. All of their seeds are heirloom variety. I could spend hours lost in their catalogue, daydream of all the things I'd love to grow and the possibilities of my garden space.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Freezing Peppers

I so love to freeze bell peppers. It's so easy, you don't even have to blanch them like you do a lot of other veggies, and they really hold their flavor. You can freeze them whole (but that can take up loads of space) or prepare tham in advance for how you are going to cook them later on. I spent some time today chopping up and dividing a bunch of peppers to go in the freezer. I like to bag them up individually (I know that's a lot of bags, but I DO reuse them!) since most of the things I cook only call for one pepper. Later in the year these will go in chili and spaghetti and whatever else I feel like putting chopped peppers in. Love it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Good Book

Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-Care for Optimum Health
Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-Care for Optimum HealthThis book, by Dr Andrew Weil, is an awesome resource for anyone who leans towards a more holistic or homeopathic approach when it comes to health and medicine. I have the first printing and I reference it all the time, especially when my husband Andrew gets sick. He's been suffering from the beginning of a cold this holiday weekend, and since he doesn't like tea (don't ask, I don't know what is wrong with him!) I use the advice in this book to help treat him. It always works and Andrew seems to have survived with nothing more than a scratchy throat. Before we changed our approach to healing ourselves, if one of us got a cold, we would swallow OTC pills and lay around with fevers and coughs miserable for days. These days we each approach our health much differently and it makes getting over things a million times easier.

Friday, July 1, 2011


 Yesterday evening was another evening spent picking produce from our garden. Production has really cranked up out there! I'm beginning to think that I may have planted too many cucumber plants. I have six and I cannot keep up. If any of my neighbors are out while I am out there they get cucumbers, and I brought some to my dad this morning. I figure I'm picking about fifteen pounds or so every three days. The pepper plants are also really producing a lot. I picked a basket full of green ones and left a few on the plants to fully ripen and turn red. The extra peppers I will be freezing. Organic peppers during the winter cost upwards of four dollars each, so I want to make sure I have plenty stocked up. Bell peppers are something we use alot of around here and are my absolute favorite veggie. My tomato plants are suffering from powdery mildew (sniff sniff) so I think the tomato production will start to dwindle soon as the plants are dying. I've been picking the tomatoes when they just start to ripen an letting them ripen in the window sill or other sunny spot in the kitchen. I know it's better to let them ripen on the vine, but every one I've let go has been rotted by the time I get to it, so this seems to work better for me. I hope I can get enough that are ripe at the same time so I can can them. Tomato sauce is something else we eat alot. It's easy and quick. I'm actually really disappointed because I had dreams of shelves lined with homemade salsa and canned tomatoes by the end of the summer. Oh well. I least I will have pickles!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

First time Pickles

  With the overwhelming abundance of cucumbers this year, it is only natural that I should try my hand a pickles. I love to eat pickles, as does Isabelle. Andrew can't stand them, and he won't come near me when I am eating them because of the smell. I am still pretty new at the whole canning process, but I think I am doing pretty well with it. My goal is to have lots of preserved food to sustain us through the winter. Usually we spend more on groceries during the winter, but I hope to keep our bill down this year. The recipe I followed was really simple, and the pickles came out wonderful. I got eight pints with this batch, though two of them didn't seal properly. The only thing I can figure is that I didn't get all of the trapped air bubbles out of those and so their wasn't the proper head space. No matter. Pickles can keep for a while in the fridge, so I will use those up of the next couple of weeks. I plan on making a few more batches of pickles and will probably be giving some away, as well as giving away cucumbers. We already traded a bag of them for some homemade raspberry jam from someone Andrew works with, and I've promised pickles to another person in exchange for a gallon of blueberries that I intend to make into jam myself. It's really nice being able to trade the excess of what you have for something you don't have. Much better than just buying everything from the grocery store.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Energy Saving Step

Over the past year we've been taking as many steps as possible to really cut our energy usage, and since we've received notice from our power company that our rates will go up beginning in July, it's even more important that ever. Some of the things we've done were expensive (new windows) but worth it in the long run, but the most recent was so easy I don't know why it took us so long. We've installed an insulation jacket on our hot water heater. Our water heater is electric and old as dirt. Really I don't know how old it is, but it looked well used when we bought our house in 2006. It still works really well though, and truth be told a new energy efficient one is just not in the budget right now. We keep the temp set on 120 degrees F, which is the lowest setting. That has worked fine for us; we've never run out of hot water mid shower or anything. Well, the other day we went to the hardware store because Andrew had to buy a new tool for work and while we were there we saw the jackets. It's something we've talked about, but never remember to get while we were out. Old tank water heaters waste a lot of energy when the heated water sits in the tank unused. The heater is continually reheating it. This is especially bad at our house during the winter because our tank is in the basement which stays very cold during the winter time. An insulation jacket is a cheap easy fix. We went ahead on bought one for about twenty-one bucks after tax, and Andrew put it on as soon as we got home.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chicken Envy

We have new neighbors! The house behind ours had been empty for some time, and finally a family has moved in. Our properties share a chain link fence along the back, so I have a nice view of their yard and they of ours. One day I noticed the new neighbor working hard at building something in the back corner right near our property, so I introduced myself and asked what he was building. A chicken coop! It's all completed now, and his chickens settled in. I must say he did a very nice job. I would take a picture, but I've just met them and they might not be okay with me taking pictures of their property and posting them on the Internet. I have to admit that I am suffering from a bit of chicken envy. I've wanted chickens for some time now, but we live in a subdivision. Even though all the lots are decent sized and all the yards fenced, the neighbor to our right has five or six cats that all stay outside and I think one just had kittens. None of them are fixed. I always worried that the cats, who frequently hang out in our yard, would kill the chickens. I am really interested to see how this works out for them. Maybe we can have chickens after all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nothing Soothes LIke a Cup of Tea

I don't get sick that often, but it seems like four times a year, right on cue with weather changes, I feel a bit under the weather. Well just in time for summer - Happy belated Solstice by the way - I've been feeling a bit blah. Really it's just sinus stuff. Weeks of dry weather do a number on my sinuses and my water bill. Fortunately last night we had a good rain, and we are expecting more. I'm not a fan of modern medicines except as a last resort (like when my daughter developed a bulls eye rash following a tick bite, I opted for the antibiotic cream prescribed by her doctor). For me, all I really need to get me through a couple of days of a summer cold is a nice blend of herbal tea. The tea I was drinking this time was a blend of elder flower, yarrow, peppermint and hyssop with a dab of honey to sweeten it up and sooth my throat. It tastes much better than regular medicines too!

Monday, June 20, 2011

How my Garden Grows

It's been awhile since I took any pictures of our garden. A few things have changed since the last time. The radishes have been harvested and eaten. They were yummy. And then potatoes were killed off by pests, but we were able to get about thirty total potatoes. That sucks since we had twelve plants, but you don't win them all when it comes to gardening. I've added cucumbers, which I've never grown until this year. They are doing amazing. I started them from seed, and they are growing so well. In fact while I was out taking pictures, I saw a few large cucumbers, so I picked them and am currently munching on one as I type. It's really good.  The tomatoes are full of blooms and several large tomatoes which are just starting to ripen. The plants looks like they are wilting some, though , so I will have to keep an eye on that. I didn't think we were going to have any apples this year, but to my surprise there are a few on the tree. I'm really excited about that. My bell peppers, which I also started from seed are doing really well . Bell peppers are about my favorite vegetable. Since they freeze well, I grow tons and store them for making things like chili in the winter. Bell peppers are so expensive to buy, so it makes it really worthwhile to grow them. The garlic and onions are both doing well also. They are pretty labor free crops. Just plants them and let them do their thing until they are ready. So that's what I have going on in the garden right now. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Helping Daddy in the Garden

One of the most exciting and fun things for me about my garden this year is Isabelle being old enough to participate. Friday evening we dumped the other two potato containers and she had a great time helping us. We dumped them onto a big tarp, and then Andrew gently sifted through the dirt to find the potatoes. When he found one, he would point it out and Isabelle would run and grab it, squealing with delight. It was her job then to put them into the baskets. My job was to man the camera! Her curiosity and excitement is so contagious. Each potato found was a little treasure for her. I've always loved gardening, and now I have one more reason to love it even more!