Wednesday, December 29, 2010

simple cures

here is a picture of a simple home remedy to a problem that has plagued me for over a month.
My foot has an extra long second toe- with a short first toe- but it is the metatarsals that cause the real problem (the long bones in the foot leading down to the toes). It is called Morton's toe and is nothing unusual- was a favorite look for toes of Greek statues and even the statue of liberty has the second long toe.

My problem comes in when I walk- all the weight that the big toe normally takes gets thrust upon the 2nd toe because it is longer, and the second toe isn't really built for this and can cause direct pain the ball joint of that foot. It can also cause the way you walk and balance to change- thus affecting the knees, hips, back, neck and head.

So because of that direct pain that makes me not want to walk on that toe- I went to see a podiatrist- he took an x-ray and gave me the name of it, and told me to buy some new balance shoes (which is the only brand of tennis shoes I wear, when you can talk me into wearing any shoes at all).

But because it is December, I had already over spent my budget (even included a new pair of boots for me), and because the kids are home all day, I decided not to buy the shoes yet and did some research online. The highest recommended cure for this was to pad the big toe as pictured- making it behave has if the big toe is long enough to take the weight it is supposed to and creating a much more balanced foot.

so I have been walking around all day with some gauze taped to my foot with medical tape- these are both items I had left over from several years ago.... and I love it. Not only can I walk with out pain, but my hips that have been killing me all of pregnancy have stopped hurting. I think I will repeat that again. My hips, which have been killing me for all of this pregnancy, have stopped hurting. I can move again!!!! I can walk again and wiggle and even nap now without my hips causing major pain.

I am so thankful for the internet and all the information it provides.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Adapting abilities of kids

Kids are amazingly adaptable. It is Christmas and because of behavioral challenges this year my kid got almost nothing for Christmas except socks- and they are thrilled. Socks are now the coolest thing to be wearing on your feet and sliding across our living room floor in. Socks make good bombs, and are a perfect place to hide your sister's candy cane. Even our puppy has decided he likes socks, usually though he prefers the worn and unwashed varieties.

What this shows to me is the adaptability and resilience children naturally possess. I am thrilled. This means that when reality hits home and all the cheep stuff from China is no longer lining our store shelves (for any of many numerous reasons) that the kids will still be happy with Christmas or birthdays.

The toys my kids did get were all second hand, but that makes no difference to them other then there is no store packing to slow down their play.

It is a good thing fun times and families do not depend on cheep oil. Kids and puppies are willing to have fun almost anywhere and under almost any condition (assuming they are healthy). They dance, march and make toys out of what ever is available.

How can we be as adaptable as our children?

Maybe we need to give up our preconceived notions of what a holiday or gift should be. Give up the notions that Christmas decorations come from a store, or that potato soup is not an acceptable holiday dinner. It is as acceptable as you make it. And we made it so last night with the addition of cheese and crackers, veggies and dips. Or it would do with the simple addition of fresh Christmas cookies.

There are so many ways in which a switch in our mindset is all that is needed to make things right. Maybe we should focus on doing and being rather then having. After all Christmas doesn't come from a store.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Going Green in baby steps

So, you have decided to "go green" for new year's. What does that mean? How do you do it?

The biggest component of going green is changing your mindset. You start to think about the impact of your actions upon future generations and their ability to live safely upon this earth.

Obvious things are to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as we can. Then we take time to get informed on the best actions and purchases to make that have the smallest ecological impact on our earth over the next 7 generations.

But to make things simple for those just starting out here is my list of simple but important changes.

1. Recycle- get yourself a box/tote/bag and lable it recycling. If your community offers curb side recycling use it, if not learn your drop off points. (also it helps to know what they accept for recycling...there are often fliers available with this)

2. use less energy for house heating/cooling. Start by caring enough to turn off excess lights, close windows and doors all the way, insulating, using window coverings, and just plain turning down the thermostat and wearing a sweater (winter only), in the summer put in shorts and turn it up, although I'd recommend open windows and lots of well placed fans for the best amount of airflow.

3. drive less by simply planning your errands and routes before time. If you reduce your trips to town by half that cuts your car emissions by 50% (and your gas bill). Also use opportunities to walk and take your bikes out to run errands.

4. buy used whenever possible/logical. Used clothes are often barely worn and at a much lower price, used toys are still new to your kids. Used furniture and small appliances are often good ideas too. some stores even often used house building/remodaling good. Look in your phone book and get your needs known, people are happy to share what they know is available.

5. think about every bit of trash you throw away. Ask yourself is there something I could do differently to avoid this throwing? I find that premade and fast food packaging often clog my garbage can, so I focus on cooking from scratch. I also changed out paper towels for rags, kleenexes for hankies and we now cloth diaper (although that choice was initially made more for allergies then environmental concerns).

6. Use natural cleaning products. I use vinegar and baking soda on most floors, bathrooms and other places that need scrubbed (I add essential oils for nice smells and germ killing). I also use 7th generation dish and laundry soap. For personal use, it is all natural soaps, shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste. Almost any product is available in a natural counter-part at a co-op or other natural foods store.

7. forget about perfect green lawns. You have my permission to focus your efforts instead of something that can be grown and then eaten. homegrown tomatoes and radishes are very satisfying to munch. If you need a lawn, let it grow as long as possible between mowing (about 4-5 inches is good) and then let nature fertilize your lawn with the falling leaves, just mow these right up. Or landscape in a way where no one will miss your lawn. Lots of food grow on pretty plants.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekened Wake

After a long hard weekend. I am ready for a funeral dirge to be played. Maybe amazing grace on the bagpipes, as I march in slow procession in the dim morning light to lay to rest all that remains of our weekend. It was a party weekend- that means that all the kids had to be dressed up and fancy food had to be made and brought to a party, where some poor, ignorant fool filled the kids up on all the candy they could eat- and then even sent some more home with them. I am not talking about a few pieces of organic lollipops either. I am talking about copious amounts of obviously dyed and corn syrup-ed, artificially flavored stuff that tastes so bad that parents don't even bother to snitch it.

This is what get swept up from my main floor. I had already removed the most of the clothing and toys. To make all you greenies feel better- the blue basket is a recycling basket for paper, and why my darling husband put the net flix papers in the trash instead I'll never know.This is what my laundry room looks like after a non-relaxing weekend with the kids. The nice thing is that after sorting through what is and isn't clean the machine was loaded and only 1 basket of special washables remained.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Why I am thinking of having a cow.

Well, I am a mom- therefore I have a biologically given right to have a cow.... but in reality a cow would provide a lot of things we do not currently have.

A cow would provide daily chores that need to get done- not chores that you can skip or put off until later- but chores that effect the comfort of an animal and give you food.

As chores go the only major chore that would qualify as being as important as taking care of a cow 2/day is that of cathing Ian- you just got to get out there and do it, and sometimes even pause what you are doing to get it done. If you go somewhere or are too sick you still have to find a way to get it done.

Sharron Astky at Casaubon's book had this to say about chores

"Chores are a dirty word in most houses - those things no one wants to do. The funny thing is that while the amount of time spent on chores expands when you have animals, so does the pleasure of doing them. It probably seems strange to people that I wrote:

On a farm, chores are something else - they are bookends to each day, a formal structure like the forms of a sonnet or musical scales that shape the day. They can be speeded up, slowed down, slightly elided and occasionally contracted out, but for the most part, they are there, implacable, eternal and oddly pleasurable."

In short chores remind you that live and breathe in a world not powered by the internet.

Besides the value of daily, routine chores the cow will provide milk in exchange for grazing grass and eating hay. The milk will be natural, organic, and grass fed. There will probably be so much milk that we will end up making cheeses and yogurt. (more chores)

Then there is the value of cow manure for those wishing natural fertility upon their gardens. yeah- I know another set of chores of mucking out the barn, composting it and then mixing it into the gardens.

Thirdly is the value of bonding with an animal- in a relationship where you both depend on the other for food.

I hope the once the chores are learned that they can be taught to boys, so the boys can learn the value of the daily chores and hard work and gentleness and firmness when managing animals. I would like them to participate in the circle of life and husbandry, maybe if they can learn to handle a cow, they can handle a wife :)

Houses are a double edged sword

They are a hole in the weather that you throw money into. But as far as holes in the weather go, some are better then others.

We haven't truely braved any weather yet in this house that pregnant women has felt cold in. Our lowest so far is about 8 degrees F. But as soon as winter winds started to blow my last house was a shiver fest. No matter how much I tried to cover windows and unused doors the rest of the house was always leaky enough that cold air lurked around every corner and blew across your legs. The propane fed flames that kept our house reasonably warn worried me, but not as much as the leaky gas line to the hot water heater that made it possible to take a warm shower. We used to turn on the space heater in our bathrooms just so we wouldn't shiver after our short showers (never enough hot water).

Now, any space in which there are people or cooking or sunlight, there is warmth in our house. Often times enough where I will open the window for cooler air. And the ground water in floor heating runs through a heat exchange to preheat the hot water.... even when the power was turned off to the water heaters - we didn't notice for 3 days.

So why is there such a difference between the last house and this one? There are lots of reasons.

#1 The last house has no southern exposure and only 1 small south window- so we had no passive heat. This house was planned to face south with a greenhouse to gather passive heat. Passive heat is also gained through the windows on the upstairs that face south. Our roof is angled so that in the summer we do not get the direct sun rays through our windows reducing heat gain.

#2 This is house has few northern and western windows and a nice pine windbreaks on the north and west. This reduces the windchill on the house from those cold north winds. The last house was in the middle of a field and had lots of doors and windows facing west and north.

#3 This house has it's north end built into the ground about 4 feet. That is 4 feet of earth insulation. The last house was 4 feet above the ground. So we could even get cold winds underneath it.

#4 Insulation- this house has 6 feet under it and it's walls are a massive 12" of Styrofoam. Each window actually is 2 windows, one on the outside of the wall and one on the inside. The last house had "Standard" insulation, that left many heating vents and other places on the outside wall uninsulated. Our current house has nothing to break the insulation on the outside walls, even the power outlets are inside the insulation.

#5 surrounded- this house is surrounded by empty- insulating space. On the north we have 4 feet of ground. On the south we have a green house, on the west we have our garage. That leaves the east side available for windows that open directly to the fresh, cool air. This is really nice when I am cooking.

Well that is all I can think of for now as the major comparative differences int he warmth of these 2 houses. So - location, planning, southren exposure, lack of northren exposure and insulation. Keep those in mind if you ever build in a cold climate.

Monday, November 15, 2010

dream of your future

Dream of your future, oh little seed
huddled safe beneath the snow.

Dream of your future, oh little seed
the sprouts that you will grow.

Dream of your future, oh little seed
tucked in safe for the night.

Dream and sleep, sleep and dream
wait until the morning light

Corner of future possibilities

When ever one builds to the rectangular squares of modern architecture, you always end up with corners. and corners, when not properly thought out and planned tends to be a place where stuff gathers.

This is a picture of one such corner in my house. It is my kitchen gather corner. It has my baby pumpkins and squashes waiting for use in a dinner or desert. It also has pumpkin seeds in a small container that I am hoping to plant in the coming spring, and some empty containers.

Why empty containers? because I have deemed them of too much worth to throw away or recycle. The glass jars will be used again for canning, the #10 can will be filled again with food, and the vinegar bottles are a future wash station for a camping trip or other times with water is in short supply.

I guess this is the corner of future possibilities, all waiting for their time to get busy.

Winter wonderland

Taken from my green house window.

It is nice to see the snow come on time this year. It was amazing warm and beautiful right up until the snow. The bikes didn't get put away until Saturday morning, as the first snow started falling, but the hoses did manage to get put away in advance.

In the winter it is time for my garden and grounds to sleep, while I watch the wonderland and began pondering how best to make our sand lot turn into an Eden. How best to create a rich soil teaming with life, how best to keep the deer and other garden pests away in a safe and humane manner, how best to lay out the garden plots, the orchards, the solar clothes dryer.

Winter, when you can stare out at the scene your hands will be transforming can be trans-formative. My roots are aching to get back to the earth and be grounded, grounded while stretching forth towards the sunshine of heaven.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I ran across a new term today: neo-feudalism.

neo-feudalism is the state in which we run our butts off on our hamster wheels everyday to the ends of being "another day older and deeper in debt", while the banks reap the benefits of our hard work through tax sponsored bail outs.

Meanwhile, these same banks then turn around and foreclose on any average joe who looses his job and can't find another one quick enough. Now, we can argue about the average joes being over leveraged and not planning well enough ahead and therefore deserving their ends, however that misses the point that the system is set up, by those at the top, to pump the value of our daily sweat up hill.

The income gap in america is at an all time high- the top 10% of us takes home something like 49.7% on the national income. (and this is from data garnished in 2007). We know that it has only gotten worse from there.

The truly sad part about this is that the other 90% of us has made ourselves dependent upon this hamster wheel running system, in hopes that someday we may work hard enough and prove lucky enough, to join the top 10%.

Maybe we should have stayed on our family homestead, milked our family cow, grew our veggies to sell at the farmer's market. But somewhere the American dream was marketed to us- and we thought that if we just took out 5 years of student loans, then a mortgage and a car payment or 2, that we would be all ready to get that high paying career and hamster wheel our way to the top, while having fun on the way.

10, 20, or 30 years later, coughing from the smog while sitting in the traffic jam... we had an epiphany that this wan not fun, and that there was no way in h*ll that you are clawing your way to the executive positions, because the executive has a son who just got married and joined the company. So why should you sit in a traffic jam, just to kiss their butts?

Maybe it is too late go back to our family homestead, having sold it generations ago for the chance at fortune, but it is not to late to have a garden. Maybe it is too late to not take on that massive mortgage, student debt, or car loan, but it is not too late to cut your expenses, downsizing your homes and cars.

The only way to avoid serfdom is refuse to be a pawn in the neo-feudalist society. Have your own land, owned by you (and not a bank), grow things, make things, use it well. reduce your needs for cash. Build friendships and neighbors

In descriptions of a perfect society there are 2 things that stand out to me.
1. that there was no poor among them
2. that every man shall eat the fruit of his field

I think those 2 items are interrelated. I think the idea of a jubilee year every 50 years is another way of maintaining a non-feudal society. In the jubilee year, not only was debt forgiven (any that lenders still allowed out at that time) but also their land was restored back to them. Everyone again had land they could grow on all they had to do was show up and claim it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Carrot Cake

Every carrot cake should start with fresh organic carrots. I scrubbed these in the sink and then chopped off anything I didn't want to eat.
Then I am grateful- for our food processor and the nice little carrot chops I get.
Now we start the batter. I start it with apple juice concentrate, pineapple juice drained from the pineapple can, 4 eggs and a stick of melted butter.
and because sugars and fats carry the flavors- we add the spices next. Here is come cinnamon, vanilla, ground ginger and nutmeg.

Carrot cake- cont

These are my ingredients/ add ins. Here is a stick of butter, and a raspberry apple juice concentrate, a can of crushed pineapple, walnuts, and raisins and coconut in the container.
I add the coconut, lightly chopped nuts, and raisins to the carrots.
Time to grab the organic whole wheat berries from the storage bucket.
then we grind them. I use a whisper mill. I love whisper mills. I have had and used mine for 11 years. I use it several times a week and all the flour get trapped in the handy storage container.

carrot cake cont 1

so we mix in the spices- I also added some cloves- that didn't make the picture.
then we add in the baking soda. I used 2 tsp
the baking soda reacts with the acids in the juices and foams up quite nicely- wait for it to foam.
after it has foamed, add in the flours- about 3 cups.

carrot cake cont

now we taste the batter to determine if it needs more spicing- just abit more cinnamon
then we add the pineapple in
and mix that batter with the add ins- carrots, lightly chopped nuts, raisins, and coconut

then we pour them into greased pans and smooth out the top- all ready for the oven 350 degrees for about 1 hour

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Busy boys are less work

The kids were home for a long weekend. I had to keep them busy so they wouldn't pick on each other and drive me insane. So I did.

Thursday I had them building a compost bin (about time, I hate throwing away things that my garden could use in a few years). We did this with some fence destined for the garbage at my parent's. Then I had the boys make wrapping paper for baby gifts we were giving that night.

On Friday I had the boys pulling dried remains of my garden to add carbon to my compost bin, I also had them organize our entry and closets and re-pot some herbs for our greenhouse this winter.

Overall I felt it was quite a successful in keeping the boys busy and getting a lot of little things done.

I learned the concept from the Book of Mormon in a story in which the army had to keep guard on hundreds of prisoners of war. They found out that if they kept them busy building fortifications (manual labor) then they were much easier to guard. The lesson seems to apply to children too.

Maybe I should grow a farm here. Then I could work on keeping the boys consistently busy :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sometimes it is the little victories that count

The little victories that make a long term difference, The little things that when gotten to in time - you know will save you a headache latter on.

Yesterday we fixed some of the shelving supports in our bathroom and bedroom, 1/2 hour with a hammer and screwdriver, was enough to provide sufficient support for trusting the shelves with their heavy burdens.

Another minor victory this week was finally getting around to scrubbing the toilets and sinks and bathtubs. I got all the hard water build up off. It is amazing what you can do with a rag, baking soda and a little vinegar.

To do list this week:
See about building wall and ceiling in downstairs bathroom.
Pick up yard, (prep for winter- hoses in)
Transfer herbs into containers- move into green house.
Keep working on Shanny's room and master bed room

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Laundry room looks like a Monday

It is Monday again, and the whirlwinds that are my children are back in school, leaving behind them a disaster zone usually rated high on the scales.

I've just spent 2 hours sweeping, picking up and wiping. Then I was finally able to enter the laundry room. The only time we ever have piles of laundry is Monday. I have 4 sets of wet bedding to wash, plus Saturday night's towels in addition to the usual clothing abuse the boys call wearing. With the sunshine, clothlines and dryer all going at once, I am sure we can get through it all today. Then I got the kitchen to rearrange, the fridge to wipe out and a few bathrooms to scrub before the orange residue becomes iron stains on my beautiful white porcelains. There is also the entry that I have ignored since Friday and it too needs my attention to even be walked through again. But we did find 6 out of 7 people winter boots to wear in there. Then we get to size coats, hats, mitts and snow pants!

Outside has been in status since the summer weather is keeping us from closing things up for the winter. I've got plans on what needs to be done. We'll see if the universe cooperates. :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

why I nap

When I am tired and ornery, I end up getting sarcastic and sometimes almost funny. Some mothers almost always blog from this state and their blogs are big hits. I find it takes too much out of me to maintain that state long enough to produce anything funny from it, but plain and simple sarcasm comes much easier. However funny it may be it is not a state of mind that invites the calming spirit that I, as a tired mother, so desperately need. And as I learned with Galen whatever emotions I show will be amplified 100 times and returned to me.

So to return to calm and peaceful is the goal, and then there might even be a slight chance that the kids may actually sleep tonight, so I can too.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

quick update

We did accomplish something....we sealed the wood in the master bathroom, and started building the wall to separate the arctic entry from the green house. We are also slowly getting more and more things put away and organized.

Everything takes longer then you expect. Some "miracle workers" multiplied all his expectations by 3. I can see why.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

kissing energy assistance good bye

It felt nice to throw away the application for energy assistance today.

For 2 years that program saved our butts but helping us pay our whopping heating bills. Last year I got the application in early and received almost $2000 in aid. This of course did nothing to help us long term but just was a "bandaid" help. But bandaids are useful.

However, this year I happily threw it away. My house should no longer require high heating bills.
That is because we have the new house with 12" of insulation on each wall and every window is doubled windowed. We also have ground water in floor heating instead of propane forced air.

So we haven't even tried to heat this place. It has been on the 40s at night and we just close a few windows a little farther (most are still opened a crack). And by morning the house is toasty enough that you don't mind crawling out of bed. Body heat of 8 of us really does a sufficient job so far. If we start to get chilled I can bake something. That would heat us up too. (which is why I avoid baking in the summer).

Thank you energy assistance for all your help, but I am now free of fossil fuels in my house (if I pay for all wind electricity). Go help the cold heart-ed oil companies further by helping other cold people stay warm in under insulated houses.

Everyone should have an ARC.
ps- Paul, you need to use links about arcs on your site.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

excuses, excuses

I am attempting to get the energy to move and do useful things each day besides that laundry. I have the laundry down to a science that it will run day and night with out stop even with out much energy input from me. This is useful because even on the days when all we eat around here are PB sandwhiches, at least we have clean clothes to eat them in.

I always have plans of what I want to do next. I want to seal the wood work in the master bathroom and organize the playground sandbox construction and organize all the clothes in Shannon's room (and Mike's too), but so far all I have been able to accomplish this week is to get the kids on the bus in the morning and organize my personal clothes. That is a start, half of my bedroom looks a lot better now.

I guess as far as excuses go, I have several. First of all I am pregnant, and growing babies take lots of work. Have you ever grown a human being? This baby is taking a little more energy then I remember the other ones doing, because ether my memory is getting faulty or I am getting older and should leave the baby having to the 20 something year olds.

And secondly, I have allergies this fall. Which is utterly bizarre, being that the only allergies I have ever had were in Utah, and when you are breathing for two and can't use your nose, it gets a lot tougher.

And thirdly my beautiful toddler has taken on allergies or a cold of her own and hasn't slept for nights. She is finally now asleep (thanks to a Tylenol and a benadryl)- so I should take this opportunity and try to catch up on mine.

On the positive side my husband finishes his semester this week and will have 3 weeks off of school before the next semster starts. I think I can talk him into building me a wall for my arctic entry and even a few shelves or two. I think the arctic entry is a very good priority for September. Because the next time he will have time to build something major it will be Christmas vacation. (and it could be cold by then)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mission near impossible

In otherwords: we finished putting our playset together today.

Like any good job it took a trip to a hardware store and twice as long as we had origionally planned.

The sand box isn't made yet. That will take some more big truck work to move logs and bring in play sand.

Eventhough we have our playset and more then a dozen new shrubbery, the most important thing I did this week to add value to our house was to get the kids off to school this week.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

need for pics

Pictures really help me tell a story, but I have yet to play with my computer enough to get picture capabilities on here... it is coming, as I may actually have a chance to deal with my computer now that the kids finally went back to school.

Anyways, to tell a story without pictures, last night we had the young men and young women (youth group) from our church come out and join us for an evening of work. The young men helped Mike put together the swing set. (not quite done yet, but much closer) and the young women planted a retaining wall full of shrubbery, lilacs and roses.

It is a amazing how much a swing set helps get kids outside. They begin to almost believe that there is something besides computer games that were designed to keep them entertained.

The swing set went in the front yard where all of our attempts to grow grass has failed this summer. It could be a very natural place for a sandbox. I am debated weather or not it is useful to put down a weed barrier where there has been no chance of growing anything yet.

The pictures are on facebook.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Austerity Measures

Many world goverments have now seen the need for austerity measures for their financial sakes, but I see a need for austerity measures for the earth's sake. If we all cut back, we can not just live better, but we will be able to breathe better, eat better, and work with the earth better.

The folks at Riot 4 Austerity know this and set up a pretty awesome website that can help you calculate your resource usage and help you set goals for your austerity measures. The main goal is to cut our usage down to 10% of the average American's.

For my family that means:

Using about 60 gallons of gas per month. This is about 1/3rd of what we are currently using.
How to do this? Well, biking and walking locally will be a big part of this goal, which is why we moved to town. On average we already save ourselves 20 miles per day of driving just by being in town. (that is about 40 gallons per month already cut).

Electricity usage goal is 500 kwts per month of solar/wind. Since we moved this spring, I haven't had a good look at our electic bill, but if I remember right we run about 1250 per month at our old house, and that is about a 25% cut of what we were doing. How can we do that? Well, I work hard on watching the lights and TV (we have it on a power strip to turn off and save lots of money on the prewarmed screen issues), I hang out clothes to dry when ever it is not raining and have considered living without a fridge, but not seriously yet.

Heating and cooking fuels: we currently use none. It is hard to reduce this number any further, but by the shear act of moving into a house that uses groundwater heat and is well insulated we save 300 gallons a month (on average) of heating fuel. I love that! Those heating costs now come in the form of electricity, but we have yet to test a winter here.

The garbage goal is less then 3 pounds per day for the house. That will be much easier when we get our compost bins running. The rest of the garbage is mostly packaging for stuff and Ian's pull ups (he has medical issues, and I bet those pull ups can weight 3 pounds each. I wonder what ecological alternative I can use instead? Any ideas?)

I will not be watching water usage- because we use local ground water and have no lack of water around here.... this year I see no value in that challenge for us. That being said, I still watch for drips and any water wastage. We still pay to pump it :)

Stuff purchasing: our goal is to spend less then $50/week on stuff for the family. This includes about $25 in new and $25 in used merchandise. For the month it is about $200 for stuff. Becasue of budget restraints this sounds almost generous... however in reality we probably spend about $400 per month on stuff. Most of this is clothes and toys, and a nice majority is second hand (I love garage sale season). That means we will try to reduce that by 50%

Food stuffs: the goals here is to source about 70% of our foods local and sustainable foods. To me this is anything grown local, or organic in my book. Currently we do about 30-40% of our food local and sustainable... in the summer this jumps to 50-60%. As I get our gardens and orchards going, this will increase.

As you can see, we have our goals cut out for us, but immagine the fun.

We have fun canning pickles as a family, and peaches, and tomatoes. We also have fun hanging out laundry in the sun, and talking walks and playing board games rather then watching TV.

Austerity doesn't have to be bad. It is probably hard on a consumer based economy, but generally very good on health and family life. Give it a try and see if you can be happier and healthier by reducing your usages.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

a good night

Well, I thought that if I waited until my kids were alseep, and my other chores were done then I might be able to sit down and write a thoughtful post. Perhaps one on what my husband is researching regarding food and depression, or on the value of physical labor in a computer potato society.

Sure enough, though, the kids didn't all sleep... they are watching the movie my hubby put in for us to watch, while he snores and I type.

and after picking up and sweeping the house, pottying Ian and changing laundry, making beds, then I had to feed the baby.... and when my belly was full my brain begun to fuzz out with thoughts of warm covers on cool nights.

Physical labor in a cool breeze is good for getting to sleep at night. The boys I had out there today with rakes and shovels are asleep- the rest are not. May you be blessed to sweat and sleep.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"There will always be plenty of work, most of it unpaid, but there may not be too many jobs left." Dimitry Orlov

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Minty Fresh

Today we transplanted many mint plants from my raised beds to around the base of our house on the east and north sides.

I planted many mint plants this spring with that in mind because mint keeps many types of bugs at bay. It doesnt help with misquitos but it works wonders on ants, especally carpenter ants who like to burrow into foam. And it is a tasty tea that is good for digestion.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hot and sweaty

I am hot and sweaty, and I deserve it. This morning I scrubbed bathrooms, sliced and froze 3 cases of peaches, seeded more lawn and driveway edge ( its supposed to rain tonight, so I didn't water it) made dinner and cookies, hung out to dry 4 loads of laundry. Then this afternoon we went school shopping. The only thing left that we need to get is Galen shoes.

School supplies for 4 kids is a cart full.

Ok- nap time

Ps- i have a computer now- so as soon as I get around to it, and get all the right software and hookups we will have pictures on our blog. Then you can see my 6 gallons of frozen peaches and tomatos and I can show off the bald spot in the middle of our lawn where a bobcat scraped away the the top soil and nothing wants to grow there :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

weekly update

Nice weather we are having, too bad I have no energy to be out in it. I did manage to straw the yard and am enjoying watching my grass come up. My garden is ready to be harvested. Monday I made homemade spaghetti sauce with mostly fresh from my garden foods.

We have hardly had to use our sprinkler, it has been raining most nights. The house (in the nooks that don't get enough fresh air) smells the same as the ground around here does after it rains. It makes me nauseous. Can't wait to get things growing!

On an interesting note, my poor rhubarb plants, that died and then got buried when we moved dirt around the back of the house sprang up.

I need to harvest my herbs this week, plan on how to use the young men to help me move the playground over, and generally just try to survive.

The playground's measurements and space allocation here don't seem to mesh as well as I was hoping, so we plan to move the playground first and then decide how to build the sandbox around it.

I have been using some of the giant zucchini plants, thrust into my arms, this week for zucchini bread/cake. It is really tasty. Meanwhile my family is having withdrawal symptoms from chocolate. My baby won't let me eat chocolate- or this zucchini would find homes in the world's best zucchini brownies and chocolate cake.

We still need to put up a compost bin. The house it self has had no particular challenges to it's self to overcome this week..... let's hope the weather is beautiful for a few more weeks :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Another hot week

It is August and in a last ditch attempt to get some green around here I seeded and watered and layed erosion mats. There are still more of those to lay.

The front lawn, of which we worked so hard to grow earlier this summer was destroyed when we brought the cat back to stabalize the driveway, take down the dirt piles and grade all the land to slope away from the house.

This week I am hoping to hay our grass seeds and lay some more erosion mats. Then i need to plant a tree or two to shade our yard. The planting will actually have to wAit until it is cooler outside, trees don't like to be planted when its so hot (not that I blame them).

I also need to move forward on our playset. Step 1: measure old sand box and match new location to size.
2. Prepare to and lay down weed barrier.
3. Build sand barrier
4. Have sand delivered and put in sand box
5. Move play set

Any idea on how fast we can get these done?

This house is cooler then yours

With this hot weather we have learned to keep our house cool simply by closing the windows in the morning. The house stays cool all day then at no cost- then at night we open the windows and blow the cooler air into the house.

Sometimes we even turn on the dehumidifier that we got at a garage sale for $5. Then its cooler and dryer then your house (assuming you are in MN)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rain rain ....

I hate feeling sick and nauseous, but it's a good test for this house: how sick and nauseous can I be and the house still function well?

How much personal energy is required?
So far there are no piles of laundry to fold. But our driveway is washing away- that is because it never got stabilized and the rains keep pouring- at least we got the retaining wall up. The rest of the yard is responding pretty well to the rain. We are getting lots of weeds with our grasses in our yard- and we are getting voluntary ground cover in my garden beds.

Stabalizing that driveway will be our next project - assuming that I am actually able to get out of bed this weekend- the compost bin will be put off another week- sigh

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In my mind this is what pretty tastes like


I am not much of a flower gardener. I really think gardens should do more then look pretty, so here is the one portion of my garden devoted to "pretty"

My rose

Every valentines day and anniversary my husbands wants to buy me flowers, I tell him to buy my a bush. So we finally have some roses.

A stroll through my garden

Every homestead needs a garden. Here are my garden's current highlights.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


We got our ARC. It is called the NARC (Newbold's Agricultural and Resilient Community) based home. ARC homes heat themselves (or nearly so) they have green houses, extensive gardens, are designed to be easy to live in small spaces, be sunlight all year long and able to withstand life without electricity.

Last September doors magically opened for us and we got the approval, got land with in walking distance of town (2.19 archers) and it has a beautiful southern exposure. To get it we had to give up our beautiful homestead 7 miles from town with it's 80 archers of forest. But we feel it brings us to a more secure future. Now we are just a 5 minute bike ride from family, friends and our local farmer's market.

Our new house got started in September and the foundations were laid before we even had a blue print to work from. The house design was done very carefully, incorporating everything I have had a desire to change in other houses I have lived in. The challenge was it all had to be in less space then my current 3 bedroom house. (did I tell you we have 6 kids?) But we managed to get a layout we were happy with, (even though, on rainy days, I really miss the gymnasium.)

My dear hubby even managed to wiggle himself into a paying job by building his own house. (Of course that means we will be paying it back via 30 year mortgage, but it was very useful to pay bills and buy groceries while building.)

The weather held for us and by January we spent every weekend painting and finishing floors and dealing with sealants and shelving and everything else you can imagine. Lots and lots of trips to the hardware store.

In February we were told we could move in in a few weeks. I started packing. In March we were told we could move in in just about another 2 weeks. I packed some more. In April we were told we could move in in just a few weeks. I made a to-do list of what had to be done on the NARC before we moved in. And in the middle of May we moved in.

We moved on a Saturday. We had babysitters for the kiddlets, but only 2 people came to help us haul our stuff. But we did it anyways. By 4pm we were eating pizzas in our new house. Then all the kids came back it was Saturday night bath time.

We had the glorious privilege of trying out our new 2 person soaker tub with the younger kids while the older ones took a shower. Then we found out the older ones couldn't take a shower. The hot water wasn't running to it. And after the younger kids bathed I walked into the entry way (under the bathroom) and found out the drain leaked like a sieve.

Ah- life in a brand new house is fun.