RamblyRandomness

– I still love coffee. Just incase anybody was afraid that since my last mention of coffee in a blog post my love had waned or faded away. It hasn’t. Which reminds me. I’m so grateful I get to drink coffee in the house now. I remember the early days of marriage when DaMan disliked the smell of it so much the garage was the assigned brewing place. French Pressing it on the kitchen counter top in style these days. Oh yeah.

– Speaking of DaMan. He’s been on a home improvement kick lately. He fixed the washing machine. Twice. He put a ceiling fan up in the living room so we could stop running box fans in there in order for it not to be so miserably hot in there. He replaced the flickering-pathetic light in the kitchen with this glorious bright as sunlight huge super-light thingie. He’s steadily working on getting that bargain of an above ground pool he scored off of craigslist up and running before the end of summer. All in all he rocks. Did I mention he has done all of this within the past month? And in between all of the above he also organized the disaster of a garage from top to bottom. I now have a disaster of a bonus room to organize since all of the garage surplus was graduated to the house to be sorted, culled, properly boxed up with appropriate labels and returned to garage. I get a big silly grin on my face when I admire the garage from the house. He’s just amazing.

– Despite the fact that the garage is organized and looking fantastic I am still avoiding it. And the compost pile. And the garden. All the gardens. And I pick my way through the yard these days intently scanning the ground ahead as though I were attempting to make my way through a minefield. Yes, this is me in snake mode. Snake mode necessitated by the sighting of two snakes (quite possibly one and the same, but for the sake of me attempting to justify my paranoia we’ll call it two) The first sighting was just a few feet outside our main doors in the veggie garden. Well, what should have been a veggie garden but that is now a thriving bed of weeds. The second sighting was within a few feet of the garage. My thoroughly and freely admitted irrational fear of snakes is in hyper mode knowing they are so very near our abode.

Not that I would ever admit to waking up a dozen times per night to make sure no snake has made it’s way into my kids beds. Or that I randomly gasp and freeze multiple times per day upon sighting black electric cords or Doodlebugs green rope laid out in strategic snake like positions throughout the house. Heaven help me if I actually ever sight a real live snake. Something about having a baby has rendered whatever stoicism I might have had once upon a time on the subject of snakes to be null and void. Sheer hysteria quickly followed by a heart attack is likely to be the side effect of me encountering a live slither thing. I need a mongoose. NEED. yes. it’s a NEED. Wonder what government agency would have to be appealed in order to legally obtain a mongoose? Hmm. <writing note to self: research mongoose ownership>

– Babies are wonderful inventions. I’ve recently heard it randomly enquired of the universe by various people upon sighting different babies “Oh my goodness why are you SO CUTE???” My pragmatic reply “to ensure their survival” was received with mildly disturbed looks. It’s true though. I’m convinced that if the needy packages that are babies were housed in anything less than the adorable bundles of chubby, toothless grinning drool bundles that they are the human race would become extinct. God knew what He was doing when he made baby everything so stinkin’ cute.

One of my besties and her precious youngest girlie LB

One of my besties and her precious youngest girlie LB

– DaMan got me a sewing machine for our Anniversary. I am beside myself excited over this. I’ve admired it for over a month and yet have not brought myself to try it. You see the bonus room is to be organized into a play room/reading room/music room/craft and sewing room (it’s pretty huge). Me being me I can’t bear to even try to sew with the wondrous machine until it’s space is all organized and carefully prepared and perfect. Please see random above to know why bonus room is such a wreck. This week it MUST be conquered and organized so I can attempt my first sewing project. I’m totally bribing myself with this. It’s like a big fat reward of a carrot dangling in front of a mountain of work. Sad that such blatant bribery of myself is so effective.

– Hope you have a cheery sun-shiny summery week. Sans snake sightings. Unless you love snakes. If that is the case hope you get to rub a leathery-live-snake or two. I want to move to Maui. Or New Zealand. Seriously. Life without snakes would be amAZing. (sigh) Yes, I’m such a snake-a-phobe I actually dream about making drastic moves in order to avoid them for the rest of my life. Maybe my Mongoose plan will work out though.

I’ll summon a recipe post within the next couple of days. I have a really cool teething biscuit grain free recipe I wanna write up and get posted soon. But only after that disaster of a room is dealt with. Work and then play. 😀

 

It was WARM!

For just a single day. But boy were we glad for it! Although it is only February and it’s likely we’ll experience a few more frosts between now and the official advent of Spring the arrival of our Heirloom seed packets + the first warm day in quite some time was just exciting enough to get us out in the garden doing some prep work.

Sample Seedling Packets

Sample Seedling Packets

The Garden plans around our house this year are truly the result of a community effort. My friend Liz helped map out every garden area in the yard and together we designed a tomato growing structure that we hope will double as a Winter Greenhouse of sorts.

The start of our Tomatoe Project +Greenhouse

The start of our Tomatoe Project +Greenhouse

My brother tweaked and massaged the ancient tiller into growling through the soil twice now. So incredibly satisfying to see the change in soil color since we first moved here! Used to be an anemic, malnourished gray clay and now actually has sections where rich blackness are showing through. The soil was so poor before it was rare to find an earth-worm and now it seems that the Veggie garden area is an earth-worm Kingdom!

Garden Soil Feb. 2011

Garden Soil Feb. 2011

The Doodlebug was thrilled to be out gardening and is proving to be a big help already. The one thing our main garden area produces better than earthworms is rocks. So Doodles primary job was to run back and forth picking up rocks. She also helped to form a bit of a row or two with her child sized shovel. Her favorite time though was the seed planting!

The Three Girls Working on Seedlings

The Three Girls Working on Seedlings

Doodlebug made her own label for *her* Seeds. Yes, that is an N for her first name!It looks like a Z but it’s really an N held sideways.

Doodlebugs N for her Seedlings

Doodlebugs N for her Seedlings

Liz came up with the brilliant idea of adding probiotics to our seedlings soil. We used Ultimate Defense because it has good soiled based organisms in it. Although we are using organic dirt to start our seedlings in we thought it would be a good idea to give it an extra boost of the “good” stuff.

Ultimate Defense

Ultimate Defense

Doodles Sprinkling Ultimate Defense on Seedling Soil

Doodles Sprinkling Ultimate Defense on Seedling Soil

The Sweet Peas are Planted and are officially the first veggies to go in the ground for this season. The first round of Seedlings are started and “the watch” to see which ones pop their little green heads through first has begun.

A highlight of our past week was visiting with dear friends of ours. I had the honor and privilege of being her Doula at the birth of her 4th child, a baby girl born the day after Christmas! This weekend we got to see them for the first time since she was born. All I can say is that she was blessed with a little Angel Baby both in looks and temperment! I’m not entirely sure she knows how to fuss in a proper way and I found it almost comical when she “tried” to fuss.

LotteBeth attempting to fuss

LotteBeth attempting to fuss

We all held and cuddled and held and cuddled her some more. It was baby-heaven!

Liz holding LotteBeth

Liz holding LotteBeth

She also has the most beautiful Gray eyes I’ve ever seen on a baby.

LotteBeths Beautiful Eyes

LotteBeths Beautiful Eyes

Now that we’ve all had our baby-fix for the day I’ll say good-bye. A busy day beckons and I’ve been ignoring it long enough. Anybody else started any garden things yet?

 

Home again Home again Jiggity Jog

We are back in TN after a whirlwind trip to CA. It was my first time to visit CA and a highlight was Yosemite National Park! We were only able to spend a single afternoon driving around trying to avoid the New Yorkesque Traffic Jams in front of such breath taking displays  as El Capitan.

Despite the crowded driving conditions, limited time, a temporarily broken auto focus on my camera and a super cranky toddler I still managed to shoot what I consider to be pretty cool photo’s under the circumstances. Of course, a blind man with a camera phone could shoot spectacular pictures with such staggering beauty everywhere one turned.

View from the road through the trees to yon far mountains

View from the road through the trees to yon far mountains

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

Spectacular View, burned ridge on the left

Spectacular View, burned ridge on the left

Cloud Puffs looked like Indian Signals from the mountain top

Cloud Puffs looked like Indian Signals from the mountain top

As my previous post explained the purpose of our trip to CA was the potential adoption of a baby girl. We went, we met the Grandmother and subsequently the Birth Mom. I was able to be with the Birth Mom (per her invitation) before and after the C section. She had a beautiful baby girl. Minutes after she was born I was allowed to hold her along with her Grandmother before she was whisked back to the nursery. I spent a precious few hours with the Birth Mom and BabyGirl during recovery. Changed baby girl’s diaper and held her close while her Mom slept. The Birth Mom confirmed her final decision to keep her baby girl and I said my good-bye’s. It was hard to leave CA without her. There are many things in the situation that in my limited perspective cause me worry and concern for the future of that sweet baby girl. We are keeping her covered in prayer and trust that God will be her protection and safety.  All in all it was an amazing experience and one that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Walking through something like that with perfect strangers and coming out on the other side as friends is an incredible thing. Please pray with me for this little one and her Mom over the next few weeks. There are many circumstances in their lives that they will need God’s grace to weather.

Newborn BabyGirl with her long fingered hands clasped by her face

Newborn BabyGirl with her long fingered hands clasped by her face

The Doodlebug asked when we got back to TN where her baby sister was. We explained again that she was with her Birth Mom and that we would ask God to bring us a baby. The next night the Doodlebug prayed so sweetly and so sincerely for a baby sister. It was one of the first times I have heard her pray and tears filled my eyes. We are going to continue on our Home Study path and trust that God will bring a baby into our lives to love in person for the long run. BabyGirl in CA will always be loved and hold a special place in our hearts even if she never shared our home.

We hit the ground running upon our return with many things needing attention immediately. The garden is overgrown by weeds. My tomatoes planned a coup and overtook the measly bamboo supports I had rigged before I left. The cucumbers plants are loving the experimental cages I had them climb this year and are growing gigantic mutant large cukes seemingly overnight, completely by passing the intermediate perfectly sized harvest stage and leaping right from babyhood into overgrown chubby adulthood within hours. I never got the rest of the garden planted so no corn or okra. The lettuce has all gone to seed and it’s time to plant another batch of it in the shady parts of the garden. One thing I love about TN is the ability to grow lettuce 3 out of the 4 seasons. With the addition of the wooden frame and plastic I might be able to stretch it all the way through all four seasons this year which would be VERY neat. Fresh lettuce from the garden in January? Yes, please!

I plan on blogging about some of the cool food we experienced in CA. Absolutely love the emphasis on fruits, veggies and overall freshness! It is now 2 AM and time for me to stop rambling. Just a quick thank you in closing for those of us who faithfully prayed for us through the journey to CA and the experience with BabyGirl. God was so faithful down to the last details in a situation that by all rights should have been more difficult than we could have stood to go through in our own strength. Instead we were sustained by that miraculous peace and confidence.

Since it’s technically Sunday already may you have a wonderful day of rest and restoration in preparation for the week to come. =)

Thinking in Shades of Green: The Never Ending Monologue

In a past life I was very active in the Republican Party and would be classified as a classic conservative, right winger, fundamentalist and whatever other title seems appropriate. Needless to say, earth friendly anything hasn’t traditionally been a leading issue for that political side of the house. However a verbal emphasis given to fiscal responsibility and dare I say it tightwadism has been. Interestingly enough as my lifestyle has become more and more “green” over the past few years I have realized that taking responsibility for the earth’s resources as a consumer doesn’t mean that you are anti business, anti budget, anti american economy at all as some of the right wing rhetoric would have you believe. To the contrary when done wisely and prudently going green can be very compatible with tight budgets. A core principle of the natural/alternative grassroots movement that is happening right now is to support local, small businesses. As a small business owner at  www.beeyoutiful.com I am particularly appreciative of the effort that it can sometimes take for an individual to go out of their way to support the quality of small business vs. the convenience and or price point of big business. But this blog isn’t about politics or political views. It’s supposed to be about food. Bear with me, I’ll get to food eventually.

Going green for me has been a huge learning curve. The concepts of the green shades that have crept into my life here and there are not new at all they are old and most of them based in centuries of common sense traditions. Concepts I’ve been exposed to in my lifetime by my Grandparents and even my parents. Their importance however has been lost in the face of an increasingly overwhelming world where an easy button for everything is all we wish for and convenience is the watch word of society.

By some standards I haven’t even begun to arrive at green but one baby step at a time I think I’ll get there. Check back in with me in a few years when I have the solar powered hobby farm of my dreams.  Thought I would share some of my least painful and basic lifestyle changes. Some would disagree that these are purely green and they would be correct. The pursuit of a health restoring and maintaining lifestyle from a nutritional standpoint has been far more compelling than either caring for earth’s resources or a budget. That is the overwhelming motivation that will come through in many of these points. But, I think you will discover as I have, that many healthy choices, are green choices and are also budget friendly choices. Given enough time and sufficient little things changed from what the normal frenzied consumer based American lifestyle is there are dozens of symbiotic relationships and crossover benefits that begin to emerge. This is a fairly recent and altogether delightful discovery for me personally.

Cloth diapers have been a HUUUUGE learning curve for me. I have to say in spite of the lure of the fluffy cuteness in all sorts of patterns all created to highlight the utter adorableness of the infant they adorn I was not a fan. Being the avid…Ok ok…Compulsive reader that I am some references that some fair skinned babies more frequently beginning to have troubles with disposable diapers passed before my eyes.  Assessing the gene pool that our poor kid was being created from I concluded that something inbetween glow in the dark and marshmallow would probably be the dominant pigmentation so figured that taking some precautions might not be a bad idea. Not knowing the first thing about cloth diapers and finding the terminology baffling I bought a lot of what I thought sounded like a great deal on newborn sized diapers off of craigslist.  As it turns out I was really grateful to have that particular little bit of obsessive preparation in place. We ran through every brand of disposable diaper out there and ended up with cloth like it or not because it was the only thing her skin would tolerate without breaking out into a horribly painful and red rash. As time went by I became more and more of a fan and learned through trial and error what prefolds vs. AIO’s vs. Pockets were and the various merits of aplex vs. snaps.

Don’t ever get a seasoned cloth diapering Mom started on hemp vs. cotton vs. bamboo vs. microfiber vs. any combination of any of the above unless you wish to be sucked into the black hole that is the cloth diapering world. Unlike the plastic pants and pins of my parents generations cloth diapering options are genuinely limitless now and are generating enough interest that if you are smart about it you can get a decent collection of high end and user friendly stuff while keeping the budget not only intact but actually freeing up some extra cash. This is one of those win win win things to do. It’s great for the environment (think about all the landfills being spared the bags full of your kids plastic wrapped waste) It’s great for the budget even with one kid but the savings sky rocket if you use them with a second. Last but certainly not least I am personally convinced it is the optimal health choice for the baby as well. Disposable diapers are increasingly toxic and it explains why more babies are unable to tolerate them than in times past. Well, that combined with increased environmental senstivities due to being born to parents with chemical overload.  Sorry, rabbit trails are a must this late a night.  Back to Diapers… Use an high efficiency washing machine and line dry the diapers and the impact on the environment will be even less for those of you that care.  I leave you with my last and final point on the whole diaper subject. Nothing is cuter on a baby than cloth. Nothing. See photos below for evidence.

Cloth Diapered Toddler

Doodles in Haute Pockets One Size Fits All pocket diaper

Tin Tin baby sporting green Fuzzi Bunz

Tin Tin baby sporting green Fuzzi Bunz

Glass So this may seem basic and overly simplistic but one of the most green things I’ve done in the past year is to go plastic free. The Tupperware was given away, the plastic canisters disposed of. In their place I invested in several sets of (very much on sale) Pyrex glass with snap on lids, gallon wide mouthed jars with lids, and save every glass container with a lid that comes into our posession. The main driving force of this decision was in an attempt to remove the hormone disrupting properties that leach from plastic into our foods (particularly plastic anything that is heated) so that my body could begin to hopefully regulate itself without the negative extra components mixing things up. I can’t really claim that this one has been a boon to the budget. By biding my time and stalking some good deals at the ed of the day I’ve pretty much broken even with what decent quality plastic stuffage costs. I still use food grade five gallon buckets to store my bulk/dried items in. My primary concern is that anything that is enzymatically or bacterially alive in a liquid base like Kombucha, or food items that will be heated and cooled and or stored long term need to be in glass. All for health reasons. I think there is sufficient general knowledge out there regarding the manufacturing process of plastic that I don’t need to cover that ground yet again here in regards to the Environmental impact. So, I chalk Glass up as a win for two out of three. Health and Environment. Neutral on Budget.

Garden The foodies among us quiver with delight at the mental image of garden fresh produce. The budget minded beam benevolently at the savings a garden can afford and the environmentalists delightedly chortle about the positive impact of bio dynamic gardening. This really leaves just the black thumbs among us to still be convinced that a garden is a worth while waste of time, er, I mean, wise investment of resources. Being the shamed possessor of a black thumb myself and a badge carrying member of the Exclusive Excuse Clubs of “I don’t have enough space for a garden” and “My soil is poorer than Haiti” please believe me when I say you have my utmost sympathies and understanding. However even for me the effort of a garden outweighs the staggering frustrations and failures. Some success can be managed with some creative problem solving and at the very least it gets you outdoors and active which counts as a plus on the Health front even if the veggie garden never actually produces anything more than nutrient dense weeds.

Kitchen I am convinced that nothing is more healthy, beneficial to the budget or earth friendly than getting re acquainted with the kitchen. Kick the microwave out. Welcome the Toaster oven in. Seriously. Unproven and as of yet anecdotal and theoretical serious health ramifications aside a microwave just makes it too darn easy to cheat with food. The preparation of genuinely from scratch food (No, this does NOT include Duncan Hines. Seriously people. Mixes do not count as homemade, it’s cheating plain and simple. Got that?? Some exceptions allowed. It’s my blog. I can do that) is a lost art and along with the flavor, fellowship and textures that have been lost we’ve also lost the knowledge and ability to prepare our foods in ways that our bodies can actually access the health sustaining nutrients inside.

As oblivious as most of us are to this reality there are actually compelling and scientifically viable reasons for many traditional food methods of preparation as time consuming as they were. There are the right ways to prepare certain foods that unlock the full range of nutrients in such a way that our bodies can easily utilize them. Neutral methods that neither unlocks their full potential nor blocks it off and then the really bad terrible horrible awful way of treating food that basically blocks off our bodies ability to access anything there and actually utilize it in a helpful way. The worst effects of the poor methods is that it actually mutates the food on a basic cellular level so that it not only fails to support health it actually harms it. So that covers the Health front of things. For the Budget, cooking from scratch = less time eating out and less out to eats = less money spent. Unless you are eating off of the McDonald’s Dollar Menu in which case I have to wonder what on earth you are doing reading a blog like this in the first place.  As for the Green impact of kitchen re prioritization if done correctly it can be enormously beneficial. Mostly in regards to how it is supplied, stocked and how energy resources are managed and maximized. Details, tips, tricks on that is another mammoth post for another occasion.

There are many more areas of Green improvement in my life that have evolved over the past few years but my brain is weary and you my dear reader have successfully toughed through somewhere in the ballpark of 2000 words according to the handy dandy word counter that WordPress provides. That’s a lot. Way too much. I apparently like to see myself type. Probably almost as much as I like to hear myself talk. At least I’m easier to tune out in text than in cinematic full color glory with the audio cranked up.  Be glad it’s a text blog and not a video blog.

Until next time,

The Crunchy Sorta, Kinda Conservative

Steph Tallent

www.traditionalfoodadventure.com