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!