Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Composting...

I want to do it...apparently it is so easy to do...we eat a mainly vegetarian diet so I wouldn't have to worry about composting meat.  But, I haven't done it.  I don't know where to start!  I understand the concept well enough, but I don't know how to start the damn thing, and then maintain it...especially during our long winters here in Maine.  Wouldn't it just freeze into a big pile?  And then what do I do with the food scraps I have during the winter?  I certainly cannot store them in a bucket until the pile un-freezes!

These are the thoughts that hold me back a lot of time.  The thoughts of how *this* just won't work, no matter what I do.  When I was in high school we did vermicomposting in my biology class.  It was very cool...started a business, sold worm sh...ahhh casings....made some money.  All very fun stuff.  My husband totally put the kibosh on that in a matter of seconds, no matter how much I explained that their was no odor, no flies.  Then we watched the No Impact Man documentary...in which they start vermicomposting...and get huge amounts of flies...of course they do!  So needless to say, no worms.  Not until I sneak them in anyways...

My plan for the fall is to build a compost bin outside.  Not sure how I am going to do that yet, and fall probably isn't the best time, but maybe it is.  We will have all the dead stuff from the garden, tons of leaves, that sounds like a good start, right?  What do you do for composting?  Are you as consumed as I am with failure, so you haven't started one?  And for those in colder climates, what do you do during the winter?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

CSA week 13

Wow! I can't believe I only have a few weeks left of the summer CSA! It has been an extremely fast summer this year. I think that as I get older, they only get faster. Our local schools start up tomorrow, so today is kind of the last hurrah as far as summer activities go. Then things will quiet down quite a bit when Emma Jack and I venture out to do things :-)

We weren't entirely sure we would have our CSA share pickup on Monday due to the hurricane, but even though Long Meadow Farm currently is without power, they were able to get our share baskets ready. There was a huge tree that fell right next to their house, literally about a foot from the greenhouse attached to it. Luckily everyone is fine, and they will have extra fire wood for the winter :-)

Without further ado! CSA Week 13!

Tomatoes
Anaheim Peppers
Onions
Cucumbers
Zuchinni
Summer Squash
Delicata Squash
Kale
Swiss Chard
2 bags of Green Beans

Unfortunately, no jalapenos, so I am going to have to figure out how to make my salsa without them...I guess I can use a little more of the anaheim peppers...it won't really be spicy though. Maybe some chipotle seasoning? Any ideas?

I have placed an order for 100 pounds of tomatoes from the local fish and seafood guy (his dad has a farm and brings the produce in to sell at the store). And I think I am going to just can them as crushed tomatoes. Easiest option.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene

I guess you can still call it a Hurricane at this point, although it doesn't seem to be nearly as fierce as predicted. I think more than likely it will be downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hits us. However, it has already "hit" us. We have no power right now. I am actually writing this blog post on a legal pad...with a pencil. My hand is already cramping and feeling the strain since I rarely write on paper anymore. Yes, I could use my laptop to type, but if the power stays out for a while...which I expect...we may want to watch a movie later on :-)

So we have no power. The fridge is off, no charging electronic gadgets, no light, and no electric stove. At first it was a bit eerie, the silence, it always is when you lose power (although it doesn't happen that often here). I had about 5 minutes of quiet before the neighbors generator kicked on. I'm not faulting the neighbors for having a generator, not in the slightest, but I wonder if the need for the generator really is after only 5 minutes. I mean, food in a fridge (in these temps anyways - low 70's) should keep for a couple hours at least. Deep freezers should hold for a few days. So what is the rush to turn on something using fuel? It is still light outside. It isn't as though we NEED lights on. We have public water, and that will run for at least 5 days (supposedly) uninterrupted...so what is the rush to turn the electric back on?

I guess I shouldn't complain. To each his own, right? However, I have to say that I like the peace and quiet. The thoughts I have *must* be written in long hand. My husband can't login to work if there is no power. It's nice to have the peace. The peace and quiet of a non-electrical world...except for that damn generator next door ;-)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for Irene

There has been a lot of talk in the past few days about Irene. Even all the way up here in Maine. I'm not entirely concerned, typically hurricanes fizzle out before they make it all the way up here. We do tend to get a lot of rain though, which isn't the greatest for my basement. The water just seems to pour in from the foundation walls forming a nice little stream downstairs. Luckily it all drains right outside again, we have a hole in the basement that all the water is directed to.

I have been thinking a lot about being prepared though. Especially after the earthquake that was also this week on the east coast. We have small earthquakes quite a bit, nothing at all major, just enough to shake the pictures on the walls. Mainly I have been thinking about water. We don't have a well, we have public water, and it comes from a spring, but if we had an extended power outage, I would be concerned about not having water. Apparently you should have 2 gallons per person per day. One for drinking and one for cooking/cleaning.

I think that FEMA recommends storing a 3 day supply...so that would be 24 gallons of water for my family of 4. However, I wonder if a 3 day supply is adequate. I mean, if there is an actual disruption to the public water system, will it only take 3 days to fix? And what about all the other people in my town who haven't saved up any water at all...what are they going to do? I think it might be smarter to have at least a week's worth of water...but then again I don't want my walls lined with water jugs. Any ideas on where to put it? Basement is out because it is too gross...so it would have to be in the house somewhere...

It's funny that I am thinking about storing water now, because shortly after Matt and I were married, we moved in with my Nana. Nana was born in 1919, and she had jugs and jugs of water stored in a room in her basement. I couldn't understand why she needed all that water. But, now I understand. She is a child of the Great Depression, and she knows that she needs to have supplies on hand *just in case*...perhaps I should give her a call and find out what else she knows :-)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

what I am loving right now...

I saw this post at Unplugged Sunday and I think everyone should read it. It is funny how addictive those little iphones are!

Sharon wrote a great post about preparing for Irene (which the east coast seems to be doing right now).

And this one from Simple Organic...because we all are at this stage at one point or another :-)

And Steady Mom had a great reminder for me...the juggling is always difficult.

What are you enjoying these days?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Preserving food

When you first started preserving food for winter, what did you choose to put up? How do you know what you will eat come winter? I have been asking myself this a lot lately. Sometimes it is difficult to get in the mindset of what we eat in winter around here. But, I tend to go back to previous meal plans and hope for the best.

Right now it is tomato season. We are getting several pounds of tomatoes in our CSA share each week, and the tomatoes in the garden are ripening quite well. Not an overwhelming amount, but just enough. I am straddling the fine line between gorging myself on fresh tomatoes (probably my most favorite food on the planet) and taking those fresh tomatoes and turning them into something for the dead of winter. We eat salsa pretty much every week, so obviously I am trying to can as much salsa as possible, but I also like to have crushed tomatoes on hand for soup, pasta sauce, and chili. Now the question is, should I put up anything else that has tomatoes as a base?

I don't eat ketchup, but my husband does, so should I make a batch of ketchup? I only use BBQ sauce in the summer, should I make homemade BBQ sauce? Looking through the canning book, there are so many amazing recipes! Chutneys, and relishes, and jams, the possibilities are endless. I fully expect that come March I would eat just about anything that I canned, even if it is ketchup straight from the jar, but I really want to put up what we will eat, and most importantly, what we will miss when it runs out. Do you have a go to tomato product? I am considering making pasta sauce because we use that quite a bit as well, but I don't know if I want to be bothered with the whole process of making the pasta sauce and letting it simmer all day to thicken up etc. etc. You may have noticed that I am not a patient person :-) Surprising considering all the extra hoops I go through to eat whole foods...

Apple season will be here soon enough, and I am looking forward to putting up apple jelly and apple butter (which is a regular condiment for the muffins I seem to make most of the winter). And canning isn't the only option, I am trying my hand at drying (in the oven) and also freezing veggies, which I always try to do anyways. It is hard though, to get all of those fresh veggies from the garden, CSA, or Farmers' Market and then can the majority of them for winter...when all I want is to eat them raw and fresh. Fine line, fine line :-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to School

It seems like all the blogs I read are talking about kids going back to school. I figured that I would jump on the bandwagon! I will let you in on something...my kids are not going back to school...they are too little :-) Technically, Emma could enroll in pre-school this year, but that definitely is not going to happen. I almost had a heart attack sending her to VBS at church for a week, not sure I could handle sending her to an actual school...for an entire year.

If you have read my blog at all, or know me, you probably know that I *plan* to homeschool. I like the idea of having my babes home with me, and for us getting to learn together. I also like the opportunity that homeschooling allows as far as what we are studying and that I can help her excel in areas that she loves, and let her work through areas she may not love at a slower pace.

One thing I do know for certain, is that we will be schooling all year round, which is why I thought about writing this back to school post. I don't really foresee us taking a break from learning. Of course we will have little breaks throughout the year, but I hope to consistently keep going through the year so we don't forget what we are learning and are able to have a more relaxed schedule. Will my kids hate me for it? Perhaps. But, I think that in the long run it will be good. It will give us more opportunity to study something for longer if we love it, and it will allow them to really flesh out their interests. At least that is my hope!

Is there anyone else out there that does do the schooling year round bit? Or am I setting myself up for a disaster once my kids are older? And parents of kids in school, do you continue to work with your kids throughout the summer months to try and help them not forget what they have learned over the previous year? I'm always interested to hear other's thoughts on the education front :-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

weekend

We had a great weekend! We were able to go down and visit my brother and sister-in-law and attend the wedding of a very close family friend. Overall, we had an excellent time. Emma and Jack were both really really good, and we didn't have any meltdowns. I would say it was a successful weekend!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Riot for Austerity Base Numbers

The Riot has begun! We have a facebook group and everything! Technically it started on August 1st, however we were still on vacation and I had not (until today) had a chance to pull all the numbers together. You can read more about the Riot here, but the general idea is to bring your usage down to 10% of the national average. Here are the categories, where we are at, and what we hope to accomplish.

Transportation:

The average American uses 500 gallons per person per year. We have four people in our family and currently use 18.3% of the national average. My husband works from home, and I am a stay at home mama. We also live in town, so getting to the grocery store/farmers' market is not far away at all. Our family, for the most part, live at least an hour away, so we tend to use a lot more gas when we are visiting them. I don't foresee us making fewer trips to see our family, so my hope is that we can make fewer trips to the next closest city where we tend to drive if we are bored :-) I would love to see us walking everywhere, not going anywhere besides downtown to buy what we need, and I think that is possible, the question is whether or not we are willing to do it. Right now, with two small children, it is not very easy to walk to the grocery store and get groceries and then walk home...heck...it isn't even easy to drive to the grocery store to get groceries with two small children :-) And in the winter it would be next to impossible with the amount of snow we get, and the fact that our town doesn't clear sidewalks. But, we are so close to that 10% goal, I think we could definitely cut back a little bit more on frivolous drives around and hit the goal.

Electricity:

The average American household (2.6 people) uses just about 11000 kWh each year, and 908 kWh per month. We use about 350 kWh per month or ~38.5% of the average, and our family is a family of 4, plus my husband works from home. I'm not entirely sure we will be able to go much lower than this once winter comes. We can't dry our clothes outside in the winter as it is a little too cold for them to dry and we prefer non-frozen clothing :-) And I expect it will go up a bit as we do use a space heater from time to time to reduce our oil consumption. I do try to unplug things when we are not using them, and have most of our electronics on surge protectors which I switch off when we aren't using them as well. I do use the drier still, when I am in a pinch for diapers. And I don't foresee my husband letting me unplug the fridge...I might have to watch this one closely.

Heating and Cooking Fuel:

Well this category is a doozy for us. We live in Maine, and most people in Maine use oil to heat their homes. We are no exception to that. We also have oil for hot water. We have an on-demand water heater, so that is less of an issue than the heat of the house. Our house is old, and not entirely well insulated. We did buy a wood stove to install, however we need to install a chimney before we can install the wood stove, and unfortunately that has not yet happened! Currently we use...wait for it...160% of the national average for heating oil. I think this is mainly because the majority of America either uses gas or electric, and they don't need as much heat as we do in Maine :-) That being said, we keep the heat around 62 during the day in the winter and 58 at night...it gets mighty chilly...but we layer. I don't think we will be able to go much lower than the 1200 gallons/year that we currently use. My only hope is that we will be able to get a chimney and wood stove installed. And even if we install the wood stove, we will still use oil for hot water...which I think ends up being 25 gallons of oil/month between dishes/washing diapers/showers/baths.

Garbage:

According to the EPA the average American produces 1600 pounds of trash/year, or around 30lbs/week. Currently we produce about half of that. I am confident that I could learn to compost and find out about recycling with our trash pickup. Hopefully we can really get our amount down to the 10%. Composting would provide fertilizer for my garden in the summer. The problem is that composting isn't quite possible where we are located...instead it just seems to freeze...so I don't know how the winter months would work with composting.

Water:

Apparently the average American uses 80-100 gallons of water EACH DAY. I was a little surprised it was so high. We use 31.25 gallons per person per day, or about 31.2% of the national average. As long as we are using cloth diapers and watering a garden, I don't think we will get this down much lower.

Consumer Goods:

Here is a place where we are doing quite well. We have no money to spend, so we don't buy anything extra. :-) The Average American spends $11000/year on non-essentials, ie not food, housing, insurance, energy. I don't really know how much we spend on non-essentials each year...because we just don't buy anything except for Christmas and birthdays. Apparently we are about 14.4% of the average. Luckily used goods count for only 10% of what you spend, score! I definitely think we can get down to 10%, and possibly even further if we buy more from the thrift store :-)

Food:

The last category is pretty good as well. It is separated into three sub-categories local-sustainably grown, dry bulk goods, and wet goods/conventional. We currently do about 75% of our diet as local, 5% as dry bulk, and 20% conventional. We need to get our conventional down to 10%, and I think that can easily be done if I plan my meals a little better, and center them more around what I buy at the farmers' market. And we may actually use even less than 20% conventional currently, but I haven't had a chance to really go through our meals and figure it out. I am spending a lot of time preserving now, so hopefully between that, the farmers' market and our summer/winter CSA shares, we will be in good shape.

Overall, I am really happy with our starting numbers - besides oil which can't really be helped. How do you feel about your consumption and the ability to do with less? Do you think it is crazy to try and live in such a way? Any tips for reducing? If you would like to join the Riot, you can go here and request to join the group.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The problem with painting one room...

Is that it makes whatever is outside that room look like it needs a new coat of paint as well. I am not delusional in thinking that the hallway that goes upstairs, and the subsequent hallway upstairs looked good to begin with. We have not done anything to those hallways since we moved in. There are pits in the plaster - not a smooth wall in sight! The previous tenant *attempted* to paint the trim...a strange green color. And I pulled the disgusting carpet up as soon as we opened up the house a few years back...and now there is carpet from my childhood bedroom covering an interesting tile work. But now, walking out of the newly painted kids bedroom, I see that I have so. much. more. work to do.

I considered putting up wallpaper in the hallway since it would cover a lot of the more unpleasant areas on the walls, but wallpaper is expensive! My next option is to paint over everything with some nice white paint, and hope that it brightens up the area. Problem is? I hate painting...I never thought I minded it that much, but when we bought this house I painted every room, and I realized that I hated "fixing up" a house. Why we thought of a fixer upper to begin with I will never know ;-)

My new plan? Try and get some bright white paint and hope that makes it look better until we can afford to redo all the walls upstairs - we hung all new drywall downstairs when we first moved in. Any tips on brightening up a not so nice area in the house? My other idea was to hang huge amounts of artwork on the walls...lord knows we have enough between the works of art that Emma creates hourly and the amount of pictures I have in boxes...ideas welcome!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Productive Day!

Yesterday I had an extremely productive day. Well at least I thought so. I was able to can 4 pints of dilly beans and 5 pints of salsa. I also froze a gallon of green beans. And to top it off I painted one wall in the kids' bedroom. Granted...there are a lot of pro canners out there who, I am sure, are able to can a lot more than 9 pints in a day. However, I am still a newbie, and snapping all those damn beans took FOREVER! And I also dried a tray of cherry tomatoes in the oven...although those were gone by last night...I love snacking on them :-)

I'm in the *slow* process of finishing the kids room, so that they have someplace to sleep other than in my room. Not that I care that much about them being with us. And even after we have the room done, I am sure it will be a while before they are alone in that room. We co-sleep with Jack since I am nursing him, and Emma has a little bed in a corner of our room all her own. Not getting it all done in a day is not that big of a deal. While I would have liked to paint the whole room yesterday, it just isn't a possibility with the two kids. With one it is manageable. During Emma's nap yesterday afternoon, I strapped Jack on my back and went to town sanding, taping, edging, and finally painting one. entire. wall. I was pretty impressed ;-)

Here are some pictures of my food endeavors:






I'm hoping to can a lot more salsa. We shall see. All the recipes I use come from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. The salsa recipe is "fresh vegetable salsa" which I LOVE. I don't use the tomato paste because I never have any, maybe I will make some this year and put it away for next summer :-) I also don't seed my jalapenos because I like HOT salsa. And the dilly beans recipe is "dilled beans" in the book. I love this book because it has such a variety of recipes. So thank you Cara and Greg for gifting it to me one Christmas. One of the best presents I have ever gotten...next to the make your own cheese kit from last year :-)

No pictures of my sub par painting skills though! Maybe over the coming weeks I will start posting some before and after pictures of this house. It has been a seriously long remodel seeing as how we bought the house in December of 2006, although it wasn't ready to move into until May of 2007, and even then we only had our bedroom the kitchen and bathroom done. I foresee another few years before everything is completely done, you know, just in time for me to have to re-paint everything!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I am definitely in for it...



Some may be saying, "why did you run and get the camera when your child is clearly on the arm of a couch?!" Well...it is moments like these that I have to remember when I can't figure out why my house isn't clean :-) I have no idea how he got up there, last thing I knew he wasn't able to climb up on the couches...and although Emma is in the picture, she most definitely wasn't in there when he climbed up. Oh, and please ignore the dust on my side tables :-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Rhythm of Family

I finally received my copy of The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder through the Seasons. I was so excited to get this book from the wonderful author of SouleMama, with her husband. The book is divided into 12 chapters, one for each month of the year. Each chapter has a little essay from Mama and one from Papa, and then is followed by activities, recipes, and crafts you can do with the whole family.

Honestly, I loved the book. I have been trying to get some type of rhythm down for my family, which is not an easy task when you have two babes. But, I think that I am finally realizing that it can't be so stringent, it has to be relaxed and needs to go with the flow. It is easy to go with the flow in July or August, but come January when we are inside all the time, well that is when I seem to struggle a little more.

The Rhythm of Family has some AMAZING craft ideas that I am hoping to get started on in the next couple of weeks. Definitely some Christmas ideas in this beautiful book. There is also a bread recipe that I want to try. I have my standby bread recipe that I make weekly, but this one looks a bit heartier. If you are looking for a really heart felt book with some great ideas on how to have your life centered more around nature as a family, I definitely recommend it! In fact, even if you only like being inside the house all day long, I still recommend it. The words that Amanda Blake Soule, and Stephen Soule have written are beautiful reminders of how enjoyable life really is, once you look beyond all the pressing matters that seem to take up a large percentage of your attention...or maybe that is my attention. A good reminder to be in the moment!

Friday, August 12, 2011

My week in pictures







I had a couple others, but for some reason am not able to transfer them from my sd card onto my computer. It was definitely a good week of food!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

i think my husband has turned...

Ever since we went on vacation, my husband seems to be a little bit more like me. Yesterday, he called me up and asked me to look for land in remote areas because he is slightly concerned about TEOTWAWKI. I'm not going to lie, I am very happy that he is finally coming to some of the same conclusions as I am, but it is slightly strange. My hubs had been the typical American who believed he deserved whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, whatever the hidden cost of said item was. That may be a slight exaggeration. And I'm not sure he still doesn't feel that way...maybe he will comment and let us all know :-)

What I am talking of, though, is a shift in his mindset. Now he is more concerned about preparedness, and trying to be self-sufficient. Things that, until recently, I know he just totally blew off and ignored when I was talking about them, hence writing on the blog and sending e-mails to my sister-in-law which sufficiently scared the bejeezus out of her :-) But, now he is thinking about having a large parcel of land, away from people, where he can hunt and build and do whatever he wants without restrictions on his land. And I am excited about being able to move forward with two people coming to these conclusions instead of just one :-)

But now who knows what we will do. I mean, I am enough crazy for the both of us...but two crazies? Hmmm...And it is funny because 10 years ago I was the same person as he was, that's why we got along so well and ended up married in the first place. Who would have thought we would change so much in a few short years! What about you? Is your significant other like you in most ways? Or are you crazy like me and trying to turn anyone that will listen to you onto your crazy ways?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

child proofing

Have you done it? I bet even if you have, you haven't really gotten every. single. thing. put away or blocked. I thought I had done it. I already have one child who has been scooting/walking/getting into things for a couple of years now. Then I had my son.

It seems everyday he is able to find some new thing that I have not blocked off. Or the things that I thought I had child proofed, like the outlets, are literally child's play to him. I bought these when Emma was a baby, and they worked out nicely. I was even able to take them out of the outlet when I needed to use the outlet...unlike these ones where you have to pry your fingernail under and hope you don't get electrocuted. Not with Jack though. Nope, I have to put the outlet protector in, and then block it off with a chair, or a box so he doesn't try to remove them.

Or the side tables next to my living room furniture. Emma never tried to pull them over...but Jack...Jack thinks they should be laying down. Totally fine if he wants to pull them over, they aren't fancy, just side tables. But, when 3 full Klean Kanteens are sitting on said side table...and he pulls the table down...well...it isn't such a pretty sight!

My final problem? The stairs. When Emma was a baby we hadn't moved into the upstairs of our house. It was still blocked off as a duplex. We did eventually move up there, but we only used one bedroom, and it wasn't suitable for her to be upstairs. I always blocked off the hallway where the two parts of our house were split. Unfortunately, this doorway needs to be replaced, and in the mean time it is an exposed door frame. Emma just ignored it. Jack tries to rip it to shreds with his bare hands. Now we block off the entire room connected to the doorway, our dining room/library. The only problem? Sometimes I have to run upstairs to get something, and forget to shut the gate. Man...for a little guy that doesn't walk yet, he sure moves fast. In fact, I am looking forward to him walking, because at least it will slow him down a little bit :-)

So if you ever visit me, just ignore the many baby gates, boxes of random books crazy outlet covers and strategically placed furniture. It is all for the safety of my second child...any tips? My mom says she just stuck me in the pack and play, whether or not I liked it...I was safer there :-)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

CSA week ????

I have seriously slacked on my CSA pictures and updates! Yesterday was a banner day though. I was able to pick up some extra things as well, so it made my trip well worth it.


So what is on the agenda this week? Processing/cooking all of this food!

-shredding up my too large zukes for zucchini bread
-making kale chips and kale avocado salad
-eggs and swiss chard for several meals
-fresh tomato sauce over angel hair - (chop tomatoes/basil/mozzarella/garlic, add generous amount of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste)
-would like to try my hand at sauerkraut and fermented salsa
-processing the huge bag of dilly beans I have into dilly beans (picked dill at the farm yesterday), and then freezing the rest for soups this winter

Hmmm...it looks like I better get cooking! How about you? What are you making?


Monday, August 8, 2011

Amazing Vacation!

We had the most amazing vacation ever! We haven't been on a real vacation since we took Emma to Disney when she was one (highly recommend that by the way!) We had the opportunity to rent a friend's camp on Madawaska Lake in Stockholm Maine...yes...that far up in Maine. I had actually expected to be completely cut off from the rest of the world. Surprisingly, that wasn't the case. The city of Caribou was just a short 15 minute drive south, and then the much larger city of Presque Isle was an additional 15 minutes from Caribou. Caribou had a Tim Horton's with free wi-fi, which I utilized on a couple of occasions...just to make sure the sky wasn't falling with all the debt ceiling stuff you know!

So here is our week in pictures!

Getting ready to go...we packed little yaris as much as humanly possible :-)


The camp!


Where we spent most of our time - the porch...


and the lake...


Our view at sunset:


Scenery while driving around New Sweden:


One of the favorite places to sit and watch the lake:


First s'mores attempt...it got messy...


Emma decided to feed the ducks one day...they decided to come at the exact. same. time. every day following...


My little dare devil would scoot right out up to his neck in the lake if we turned our head for one second...perhaps life jackets would have been appropriate at this point...


Can I also include escape artist? We didn't have enough room for baby gates, so we took all the chairs and tried to block things off...it wasn't as successful as I had hoped...


Overall, it was an amazing, relaxing week and we can't wait to go back!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Date Night

What do you do for date night? Do you even have a date night? Is it necessary? These are all questions that have been going through my head lately. We have two young babes. 3 and 1 (on Saturday). We don't get a lot of alone time. I still nurse both of my babes, mostly my youngest, but my oldest on occasion, and they don't do bottles, so am I destined to not have alone time with my husband except late in the night or until the kids are older?

I realize that my choices are a lot different than those around me. Most mamas, even if nursing on demand, try to incorporate a bottle at some point so they can get out of the house or have some alone time with their hubby. I tried a bottle with my oldest, but it ended up being a complete nightmare of screaming and not actually drinking the bottle. After several tries I stopped, feeling like these moments wouldn't last forever and I shouldn't make my child miserable just because I wanted to go out for a couple hours. With my baby, I didn't even bother trying a bottle. It wasn't worth the trouble to me.

Now of course I have an older who can go to sleep just fine as long as her dada reads a story, and my younger, well he usually falls asleep after a couple rounds of "Yankee Doodle" and "This Little Light of Mine." And don't get me wrong, I am able to go out with my BFF for a drink at the pub, but some alone time with my hub? Not so much. Perhaps part of the problem is that we don't have a babysitter that we can use. My mom travels during the week for work, and we don't have any other person who I am comfortable enough leaving my babes with.

What do you do? Do you ignore "date night?" Do you just go and not worry about the kids at all? I don't think I could do that. I wouldn't be able to enjoy myself, and instead would be miserable while out and rather be at home snuggling. Maybe I am weird or in the minority...maybe there are others out there like me...or maybe there is some trick I don't yet know about. Please share your own experience/choices! I would love to hear them!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

boys and dolls

Last year for Christmas I made my Emma a knit doll. She named her Ellie. We ended up buying her a lot of toys as well, mostly educational, but she received a lot of toys last year. The funniest part? What she seemed to love the most? Her Ellie doll.

Now, last Christmas Jack was only 4 months old. He had no real need for toys, and ended up receiving clothes and other "needed" things. This year, however, I feel like he should be getting a toy for his birthday and Christmas. I was unable to make something for his birthday this year, and we bought him a truck that has batteries and plays music, he doesn't seem to care about it too much. Instead, he wants to play with Emma's Ellie doll.

I decided that I would make an "Eli" doll for him for Christmas this year. Matt is not really bothered about such things, which I am thankful for, but I am curious what others think. There seems to be a lot of opinion in the mainstream (mainly the babycenter e-mails I receive) that believe a doll is not for a boy. I think that he is too young for it really to make any difference. And I am inclined to think that him having a doll is not a big deal.

I would like to hear what everyone else thinks though. Is it strange for me to make a "doll" for my baby boy? Should he only be given trucks and things that look masculine? And what do you do if your boy is given a truck, but only seems to care about his big sister's doll? Perhaps it is the soft wool material that attracts him, or the ability to cuddle something besides his mama...just curious what others think. Obviously this is my first baby boy, and the only boy baby in the family, so I am kind of flying solo on this. We don't have any problems with it, but will others think we are causing a future problem? Granted, I am not too concerned with what others think, but I am definitely aware of others ideas :-)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Canning tomatoes

Is it strange that I am looking forward to canning this year? Last year I was able to buy 100lbs of tomatoes for pretty cheap...and I actually got closer to 130lbs. I made quite a bit of salsa and canned the rest as crushed tomatoes. I didn't have nearly enough. If anything, I hoarded the stuff that I canned, and instead bought replacement salsa and did without canned tomatoes.

A couple years ago I became aware of the dangers of BPA. I'm assuming that it was right around the time that everyone became aware of the problems with BPA in canned goods. I vowed to not buy canned tomatoes anymore. That was a definite challenge. We go through a lot of tomato products in a year. In the winter I can easily use two quarts of salsa a week. And crushed tomatoes? Well I seem to go through a lot of those as well...soups and chili...those are my winter staples.

This year I had planned to grow as many tomatoes as possible so that I could produce all of our canned tomato needs this year. I was also planning on trying my hand at ketchup and BBQ sauce, two things I don't use a lot of, but both are hard to find without the dreaded high fructose corn syrup. Unfortunately, I don't know if I will ever produce enough tomatoes to satisfy my desire for tomato products. So I am hoping that my local farmers' market, and also the local fish monger (who sells a large amount of produce his father farms), will be able to supply me.

Am I alone in my desire for copious amounts of tomato products? It seems like I have a need for them above most others. I have a very good friend who doesn't like tomato products outside of ketchup. Maybe it is my need for spice. Perhaps instead of tomatoes, I should really be concentrating on hot peppers, and then pickling them for winter use...that's a thought.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

delicious!

This week we received cabbage and green onions in our CSA basket. I love cabbage. I had thought about trying to make sauerkraut, but instead was inspired by a recipe I had seen on Barefoot by the Sea for a spicy cole slaw. It was absolutely delicious! I love anything with spice, and this was an easy dish that hit the spot. Of course you are supposed to serve it with pulled pork or some yumminess like that, however, this ended up being our main dish on a warm summer eve.


Maybe it doesn't look as good as it tastes, but the recipe is definitely worth repeating. And just an FYI, I definitely used more than one chipotle in adobo. I can't get enough spice...even when it is hot outside :-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

thinking vs. doing

I am a thinker. I can think about pretty much anything, and think and think and think, until I have come up with at least 50 different solutions to whatever it is I am thinking about. I am constantly having a mind dump, essentially putting everything I am thinking either on paper or on this blog (sorry dear readers!). But the problem? I never get past the thinking.

It seems like I have all of these ideas that will help us, either in food security or with debt or with raising kids or organizing, but I never put them into practice! Why is this? Well, I of course say that I have no time to be doing half the stuff that I think about. But, the reality is that I feel paralyzed because I have so. many. changes. that I want to make.

Have you ever wanted to completely makeover your entire life? I don't mean that I want to switch out my kids and husband for new ones, but I feel like I want to have a drastic change. I want to sell everything and move into a little log cabin totally off the grid. I want to take an extended trip to Ireland. I want to move into an RV and travel around the US. But, I don't. Instead I just think about these things, never doing them.

Why is that? Is it fear? I think partially, or maybe mainly it is. Fear of what our family would think if we sold everything. Fear of how the world would view us if we were to live our lives different than the mainstream. And of course the fear of failing. Then where would we be? If we changed our lives so drastically, would we have any community? Would we be able to find like minded folks so that our daily lives wouldn't end up depressing and causing us to want a new change? Yup, fear.

Have you ever wanted to make a drastic life change, but have been concerned what those around you would think? Or that once you make a drastic life change, it won't be what you want? The grass is always greener and all that...