Monday, January 30, 2012

10 List

We've been spending a fair amount of time at home lately between sicknesses and minor injuries, which is both a blessing and...not so much. I do like being home for the most part, but I also enjoy getting out a few times a week, even if it's just to the park or grocery store!
I few things have come to mind recently that really can make my day a bit brighter. These are usually very small things, easily overlooked in our daily lives, but these tiny insignificant things make me smile for a moment:

1. Watching the cat sleep.She is a mini contortionist-it's like watching yoga in freeze-frame!
2.The view from my kitchen window at sunset, all purply,pink and musky. In my mind, it's gloaming, not sunset,though.
3. The soft swoosh of a gas stove igniting. For some reason this never fails to conjure a sense of warmth and peaceful domesticality.
4.Wood stacked by the fireplace, waiting for a fire. Or an actual fire in the fireplace for that matter. The smell of woodsmoke is always a welcome scent to me.
5. The sight of new things growing. Whether it's a baby, a kitten or a tiny plant just poking above the ground, the promise is there, making me feel a bit of hope every time.
6. The kids wrestling with Dad. They may be loud,violent and more often than not it ends with someone bleeding, the pure savage enthusiasm of all parties involved is a sort of joy to watch. As long as no one bleeds on the couch.
7.Seed catalogs. This one is self explanatory. I look through the latest editions like a junkie eying his next fix and pretend I'm living on a farm with time, land and energy enough to plant everything I see.
8.Cooking. There is something usually relaxing about creating food,plus the smells of baking are little memory capsules to me,reminding me of other times,other places, other lives.
9.Sweat. Yes, you read that right. Sweat. Sweat gives me a feeling of accomplishment, tells me I've worked hard at something I usually enjoy, be it working outside, barn work, hiking, or something a bit more,primal shall we say? As long as it's clean sweat,it's good to me! Of course, my opinion changes come July when breathing breaks a sweat,mind.
10.An approaching storm. The feel of anticipation heavy in the air, the chaotic clouds, the sounds of thunder, and the cleansing feeling after one are like a spiritual shower, leaving me feeling clean and refreshed.

So, what are you're little joys you find in daily life?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Ramble

With the weather reaching near spring time temperatures this weekend, I spent a portion yesterday transferring my ready(and some not quite ready) compost to our raised beds,mulching,raking and generally getting ready to get ready for spring!
I am sooo ready for the higher temps of spring,to open windows and air out my home, to enjoy the birds,flowers and all the new growth of spring! Now, if we could just have all that good stuff without the reemerging bugs and skyrocketing pollen counts. Well, one must take the good with the not so good I suppose.
I did plant some of the really early stuff-peas,lettuces,green onions,and parsley. Next week-plant the potatoes in the potato box,and maybe even the second raised bed as well. That's a lot of potatoes if I do! Not that we won't eat every one,mind. In my mind, there is no such thing as a bad potato recipe.
Speaking of food, our Real Food Challenge,here, is going surprisingly well. I actually think I am having the hardest time adjusting to less processed foods, if my ransacking the kitchen in hopes of chips last night was any indication. I have learned a couple things in the last few weeks,though. Such as:

1. Processed is REALLY convenient. Rice-A-Roni, for example is as simple as your can get and takes almost no time. Making it from scratch takes only 15-20 minutes longer, but if you're like me and it suddenly occurs to you at 5:34 p.m. that you need to get dinner, timing can be an issue,not to mention actually having the ingredients to make from scratch. I'm learning to take a minute or two during breakfast to think about what to have for dinner. Imagine that-me, thinking ahead! Wonders of wonders!LOL

2. It amazes me how much longer the kids(and adults) stay full when we eat things made with whole wheat,etc. The kids normally eat 2 full bowls of cereal for breakfast and are hungry in about 3 hours. This week we had whole wheat blueberry buckle, and both kids had two pieces and were full until lunch, 4 hours later. Of course, I had 4 pieces and couldn't move for the next hour.

3. If deprived of chips and snack foods, my kids will eat fruits and veggies as snacks-voluntarily! They keep doing this and it's freaking me out just a little bit. Salsa is this weeks dip of choice. Equally good with tortillas and apples, I've been told.

4. This last one has surprised me. I find the kids have not asked for chips,candy,cookies,etc. I thought they would be begging me for snack foods, but much to my surprise, they have not asked for anything. They have been asking for me to make various homemade goodies, which I gladly do most of the time. Both the kids and Husband have stated they prefer homemade to commercial made almost every time. I do take this as a great compliment, but I also keep in mind they will pretty much eat anything that can't run fast enough. Remember these are the kids that have eaten earthworms,pill bugs, and an occasional spider in their toddler years. So there is that.

5. We have started getting deliveries from Nature's Garden Delivered, a company that will deliver fresh organic, and when possible local foods right to your doorstep. It's amazing how much more interested the kids are when they can pick the fruits and veggies we get! Now if I can only get them enthused about hauling compost for me....

Thursday, January 19, 2012


We are sick. Hence the sniffing,moaning and generalized whining you see. What I thought was a cold has become instead a full blown flu And, generous person that I am, I shared with Husband. Who, by the way, in typical male fashion, has become completely unable to care for himself beyond shuffling into the kitchen to inquire about soup.
On the up side, it appears the kids have been spared so far,thanks to semi-fanatical hand washing and some vitamin C doping. Plus, they act like we have the plague and refuse to come close to our sniffy, feverish, nasty selves. Wise choice, my children,wise choice.
Of course, with mom down, it means our school has become a little less structured the last few days, with quite a bit of video watching for history and reading for science, and maybe we even neglected to do math a day or two. OK, and maybe, just maybe my kids spent an entire afternoon watching Amine. Hey-world culture, right?
I've been doing my fair share of TV watching these last couple of days as well. One can only watch so much Fruits Basket, you know!
One of the movies on my to watch list was Forks Over Knives, which basically is a run down of why a Vegan, or plants based diet is best. While, I don't necessarily agree with a completely vegan diet, it was an interesting movie, and did get the old brain turning in some new directions. Plus, it sparked some pretty cool discussions with the kids on a wide variety of food and diet choices,and why we eat the way what we do, as well as what we're doing to change things for the better.
So I guess this whole sick thing isn't ALL bad-but it ain't all good either!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I woke up this morning to thunder. Big, rumbling, rolling thunder, with lightening lighting up the bedroom and the sound of rain sliding down the windows.
I've mentioned it before, but I do love thunder and storms-provided I'm safe and dry inside and not trying to say, navigate rush hour traffic or finish the grocery shopping!
A storm this early in the year, while not rare, isn't exactly common either, so I spent a few minutes just enjoying first storm of the year before getting up for the day.
It's been unusually warm this year-we've only had a couple of days below freezing in fact. Enough to kill my peace lily I imprudently left on the back porch over night, and to finish off the pepper plants,but not much else. I don't think the squirrels even slowed down this winter. The weird squirrel who sit on the front porch and looks in our window is still here, creeping the cat out on a daily basis.
Unfortunately one of the kids woke up this morning with a sore throat,congestion and an upset stomach. Since my kids think taking medicine may, in fact, kill them, we have been exploring other ways to help when someone is not 100%.  I've actually found a few simple home remedies that work as well-and in some cases-better than the over the counter meds we normally buy. One of the best and easiest things I've found for mild sore throats is a simple spoonful of raw honey. The kids take a spoonful every morning to help with allergies, and since it is honey, and very sweet, getting them to take an additional spoonful every few hours is pretty easy. So easy, that I'm beginning to suspect sometimes they don't have a sore throat at all, they just want  honey!
A spoonful of honey and a cup of warm water with a few drop of peppermint in it does wonders to ease mild sore throats and mild upset stomachs. The water and peppermint was something I remember my Grandmother giving me as a child many times! I think you could use any temperature water,we just use warm water because I like warm water to drink when I'm not feeling completely 100%
So, after a dose of peppermint and a sip of honey, the previously wimpy child is feeling much, much better!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January Pantry Challenge!

Just thought I would let everyone know what we'll be doing this month!
We are participating in the January Pantry challenge! What's a pantry challenge, you ask? Well it's simple-a pantry challenge is just a time to take a good look at what you have in your fridge,freezer and pantry and try to use what you have as much as you can for a month.
January is a great time to do this,since the new year usually brings with it thoughts of decluttering, organizing and reducing-especially spending once we get that credit card statement from December!
Plus the cold weather is perfect soup,stew and chili time-a great way to use up those odd bits and pieces that end stuffed in the back of pantry or freezer.
Now, this doesn't we won't be grocery shopping this month! I'll be buying fruits,veggies and dairy like we always do,but what I will try to do is instead of automatically filling my shopping cart every time I go grocery shopping, I'm going to try to limit my purchases to fresh produce and dairy and for the rest, try to use what we already have. Which turns out to be quite a lot.
Those bags of zucchini from this past summer? Zucchini bread! That left over Turkey in the freezer from Thanksgiving-turkey noodle soup!
That mystery meat hiding in the back of the fridge since 2010? OK, that gets tossed. The idea is to use what you have, not poison yourself and you family! ;)
We'll see how I did at the end of the month. It should be interesting to see how much food we already have in the pantry and freezer, and how creative I can be using it!

Taco Chicken

OK, this is the easiest recipe-and it makes the most tender,moist chicken! Perfect for cold winter nights, rushed days, heck it's pretty much perfect anytime! It goes like this:

You will need:
A crock pot
chicken broth
taco seasoning

Get out your handy-dandy crock pot and put chicken in it.
I use whole chicken,chicken breasts, or even thighs work well. You can put the breasts and thighs in still partially frozen, if you're like me and forget to thaw them out ahead of time.
Sprinkle a package of taco seasoning over the top of the chicken. If you buy taco seasoning in bulk, it would be about 2-4 tablespoons seasoning.
Then add a couple cups chicken stock, or a can of chicken broth.
Put the lid on, set it on low and cook 8-10 hours.
That's all you do!
When done,shred the chicken for tacos,or serve as a main meat dish.
We like it with Mexican rice, or red beans and rice.
How easy is that?