Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why We Try

I came across a speech given by Sally Fallon (author of my favorite cookbook, Nourishing Traditions), and it was a great reminder of why I try to keep certain foods close, and others far.  Sometimes the 'weirdness' gets to me, and I forget why I go to all the extra trouble to *be* weird, when so many are happily being 'normal.'  I think the weirdness gets to others too, when they realize it's no accident that I don't cook with teflon or aluminum or crisco or canola or soy or msg or low-fat dairy or aspartame or splenda.  And that's just some of what we don't do.  Toss in the things we *do* do, like raw milk or fermented vegetables or kombucha or kefir*** or grass-fed beef, and we make no sense at all!

So... Why?  My brother likes to give me a hard time about such things, and I usually answer, "because it'll KILL you!"  And he laughs and tells me how fine he feels as he munches his Cheetos and chugs his RockStar.

And then I tell him I'm not changing his diaper in 40 years.  hehe.

Because while some people measure health in a day-to-day basis, I try to look at the longer trend.  I really don't think Processed Whatever is going to put me in the hospital tomorrow.  Obviously.  While that *does* happen to some people, the possibilities are slim.  Truly, I'm far more concerned about the progressive effects down the road.  [Note in particular the rat experiments and the dry milk information.] And as the speech points out, sometimes the effects only noticeably show up generations from now.

This paragraph sums up "why try" for me:

We know from animal studies that if you continue a deficient diet for three generations, reproduction ceases and that's what we're seeing now. About 25% of our couples are infertile, and if we don't go back to a diet that produces good facial structure and good health, the human race will simply die out.

Now, I'm not quite that dire.  I serve a living God, you know!  And yet, I also know that He is not mocked; we WILL reap what we sow.  And like so many other areas of life, when convenience, comfort, immediate satisfaction and sloth trump the important things, we sow tares, or weeds.  Things that choke out the Life, the fruit, the increase.

Lord, help me to remember that I don't eat (or abstain) as an end unto itself.  You have numbered my days, and careful choices will not make this life last forever!  Rather, I want to steward my resources to be best equipped to accomplish what you have called me to, and all the better if my sacrifice helps my children and grandchildren do the same.


Below are some blogs and sites that I've found helpful and encouraging in my efforts.  Some are "farther along" the journey than we are, some have different ideas, even things I *disagree* with, but I've found good elements in each!  Recipes, ideas, organizing a 'weird' kitchen, natural/safe cleaning...  You'll find that and more!  If you know of other sites, please list them in the comments!

Passionate Homemaking
Keeper of the Home
Health, Home & Happiness
Nourishing Gourmet
Naturally Knocked Up
Sue Gregg
Keeping the Home

Real Food Media
Kitchen Stewardship
(Thanks Donielle!)

***I don't usually manage all of these all at the same time yet, I'm just giving examples. :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Zombie Fridge

You know, the one in the kitchen, as opposed to the one in the garage.  And quite opposed to either freezer in the garage or basement.  Finding specific food around here requires a treasure map, sometimes...

We have now figured out the problem:  It is a zombie fridge.  Once mostly dead, now alive, but kinda not really.  Like a real life zombie (photo at link, parental discretion advised), it can be coerced into simple tasks.  Mainly: we peer in, notice it's not the right temperature, and give a whack to the panel where the little dials are.  Then the compressor starts up again.


My cousin says that's hard on a compressor, but agrees with us that it's the thermostat switch thingy up behind that panel.  Sears wants a mere $67 for the part.  Oh, but they don't carry it locally, they can ship it.  For $15.95.  *choke*  Yes, it's cheaper than another refrigerator, but sheesh.  I asked the gal on the phone if they were planning to deliver it by limousine.  She wasn't amused.  I did get the part number from her, and went to work searching for other options.  HVAC Cousin told me I needed to get the exact part, so I started googling.  I found the part at several sites cheaper than the Sears servicepeople, and the shipping was reasonable too.  For $50, plus $7 shipping, I ordered it.

Of course, had I remembered a couple hours earlier, I wouldn't have had to wait until Monday for it to ship.  I guess I'll be whacking my zombie fridge all week while Hubby is gone.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How Things Are

Things are good, for the most part.  The blog has been neglected, but at least the kids haven't been. :)  It's still relatively warm around here, and I wonder if it has confused the local wildlife.  Seems to me there has been an inordinate number of skunks dead on the road.  Don't they hibernate?  Did they wake up early with the groundhog?

Hubby has been 'off' work since mid-January... that is, working 10 hours a week and counting on unemployment and our tax refund to make up the difference.  He's managed to sheet-rock the remaining areas along the basement stairway walls, and even framed off the creepy crawl-space at the bottom of said stairs.  First he had to drill and pound and demolish some of the basement wall so he could build a little door (you know, so if and when our pressure tank or something goes haywire, we won't have to tear half the house down to get to it), and of course he did most of this late at night. :)  He got the tractor running again, and somewhat scraped the driveway.  It's not great, but you don't need a four-wheel-drive to get in or out.

I haven't really thought about this year's garden yet.  I've thought about last year's, though, and asked Hubby to pull some tomato vines and whatnot to get it a step towards ready.  That hasn't happened yet, but hopefully soon.  We're nearly out of last year's frozen tomatoes, and I'm hoping for a little more productive garden year this time.  Shouldn't be too hard, considering the measly harvest last year!  Unless you count Baby, of course.  I did work hard to bring her forth!

We did our taxes (or, rather, Turbo Tax did), and got a larger-than-expected refund.  Which, of course, makes me think about the camera that I already think about too much.  The one that draws close, then recedes, as circumstances and finances dictate?  :)  It was drawing closer, and then this weekend our 9-year-old refrigerator started acting up.  Hubby thought it was dead, and gnashed his teeth much, then transferred everything to the garage fridge and freezers (thank you God, for garage fridge and freezers).  He toyed with it a bit, got it to start working again, it cooled off, I cleaned all the shelves, started putting food slowly back in, but today it seems to be warming up again.  Maybe it's a zombie fridge.  You know, it looked dead, then it wasn't, but it still kindof acted dead... Perhaps it's protesting my children acquiring the dry-erase markers and defacing it horribly.

Hubby gets to go away for a week, more training and touring the (a?) manufacturing site.  They fly this time, and while I'm glad he's getting to do this, I start thinking about bedtimes and bathtimes and other complicated moments in the course of our day.  I'll just remember that he's (hopefully) getting paid at least regular working hours...

The chickens are laying eggs regularly now.  Almost enough to sell and buy milk occasionally, as the black-market cow is also back in production.  Oh!  And she had a heifer this time, which, I believe, means my neighbor can sell her back to the dairy for the same price she originally paid for the mama (a registered jersey, but lost one teat in a tragic stomping incident)!  That's a great deal!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Girl

While that title would make a darling little blogname for our sweet Baby, it's probably not something that would stick forever.  Though if it did, it might become considerably less cute.

I just love her sweet chubbiness:
 "Do these pants make me look fat?"

She leaned out of the picture here, but you can't miss the roly-poly-ness:

I am hoping she hits that point soon where her development outpaces her weight gain.  I expect as she is able to do more physically that she'll stop gaining!  Maybe grow a little length to stretch out those rolls?  Our rear-facing carseat is good up to 22 lbs, and at last check she was 20.  She's 6 months from being able to sit front-facing, and it will be another round of musical-carseats if and when we need to change hers.  You'd think by now we wouldn't have to actually buy any more seats, but I'm not sure if that's the case...

Oh I just love this picture of her!  She'll be 6 months old in another week or more, and so far we haven't fed her any solid foods.  When we do, we'll basically follow the same plan we did with Organique.  We saw Gi-gi last weekend, and she had a few things of baby food in her pantry for some reason, which she gave us.  I looked at it perplexed for a moment, amazed that it's "about that time" - and happy that I didn't feel tied to Gerber's less healthy (in my opinion) expectations and recommendations for my wee one.

**Update:  Since drafting this post, she has indeed hit her first half-birthday, which was yesterday!  So, Hap Birt Baby Girl! She's also enjoyed one somewhat-cooked egg yolk, and might do so again today.  She did very well, and actually got most of it in her!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Generations Cycle

I was looking over my long-neglected blog accessories (yes, do ignore all those pantry, to-do, and other lists.  I can't keep up with the real-life pantry or to-do list, let alone the virtual versions of same.), and saw that I had promised to write some of Gi-gi's history.  Since all my other blogposts are as-of-yet unfinished (yes, there are a couple), why not start a new one?  Heh.

Thinking through it, however, I think there are earlier stories that bear telling, and remembering.  This blog is also my second brain, see, like an external hard drive.  And Gi-gi's mother deserves some kilobytes.

Grandma Great is what we called her, but for purposes of this story (and any others), I'll refer to her as Betty.

Betty was born in Scotland in December of 1896.  Their family had a dairy farm, which, to this day is still held by relatives.  I am not certain if the farm was an uncle's, or how many people lived and worked there, but there were more people than opportunities.  There were also more daughters than sons (hm, wonder where I've seen that before?), and some of the daughters were "outdoor girls" and some "indoor."  That is, certain sisters had certain jobs, whether household or farmyard.  One of the "outdoor girls" was sick during haying season, and one of the "indoor girls" had to take her place.  Betty was one of the younger children at this time.  A local fellow helping with the chores in the neighborhood caught sight of this "indoor girl" and determined he would marry her (maybe that's why they kept her indoors?).  This man was among those short on opportunities and decided to go to America where he could make something of himself.  His girl's family was fairly well-to-do and he had nothing.  So to America he went.  In fact, he came not far from where I live now.  He built himself a livestock business, and wrote glowing reports to his girl and her family; the wonderful land, the weather, the opportunities.  Streets paved in gold, you know?  He wooed not only Betty's sister, but her parents as well, and before long they set out to follow their daughter's beau.  They came by ship, of course, and were NOT steerage passengers.  This was in 1903, I think, and Betty was six.

Mr. Opportunity met them at the dock in New York.  He had a minister ready and waiting at a hotel, and before the sun set that day, Betty had a brother-in-law.  **I do wish I could know the thoughts of the parents, indeed the bride, at such circumstances.  They must have been tired after such a voyage, and certainly could've enjoyed some time to take in their new world, and say goodbye to their daughter.**  The trip west was almost immediately thereafter, and Betty and her family followed her sister and husband to their new home.

I don't know the details of their overland journey, or of their 'arrival.'  They acquired some land - proclaimed by their now-son-in-law as flowing with milk and honey - and began their new life... hacking it out of the sagebrush and lava rock in dry, dusty, miserable conditions.  All's fair in love and war, they say...  But yikes.

I have a biography of Mr. Opportunity, published in the '80s.  He's in our state history books, to be sure, though our branch of the family tree doesn't remember him with the same accolades.  His business thrived, and he was truly a self-made man.  I don't know if he meant to deceive his future in-laws, or if the opportunities he saw truly upped his opinion, but I think they were surprised, to say the least.  Betty's parents made the best of things, however.  In fact, the freeway exit sign for the barren area that held (holds?) their homestead bears the same name as the Scottish dairy did, albeit spelled differently.  Betty's grandparents (my great-great-greats) also came to make their home in the area, and several generations are buried in Gi-gi's city. 

Six years after their arrival, when Betty was 12, her mother was bitten by an infected tick, developed spotted-fever, and died.

At this point, Betty was sent back to Scotland to live with a brother and attend 'finishing' school.

(To be continued...)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Lately Reading

I've enjoyed several books lately, spending birthday and Christmas gift cards online, borrowing from people, going to the library.  When I sit down to nurse the baby, settle into bed at night, ride (not drive!) in the van, I enjoy learning and (hopefully) expanding my mind.  In keeping with my multi-tasking lifestyle, I also read a couple (few?) books concurrently, though I never did so in my former life. :)  Here's a sampling of my recent/current/upcoming reads:

In the Kitchen:

Fix, Freeze, Feast: Prepare in Bulk, Enjoy by the Serving.  Love this.  It's geared towards warehouse-shopping (Costco or Sam's), with recipes that use an entire 6-lb tray of ground beef, or chicken breasts, thighs, etc.  There are also handy bulk side-dishes (potato recipes that use 10 lbs of russets - great way to make those organic ones last now that they're going to be sprouting and not on the market), breakfast ideas (granola), desserts, as well as the main dishes.  I requested it from the library and they finally got a copy and let me borrow it.  Which saved me some money, because I was able to type up the 23 can't-live-without recipes.  It's higher-than-average on my Weird Nutrition Scale, and that is nice.  Of course, I don't buy much meat at the warehouse store, and I'm unlikely to pluck a dozen chickens just to get fresh breast meat, but I think I can work around this.

Once-A-Month-Cooking: Family Favorites.  I haven't had this one long, but I do like the idea.  It's one of those super-organized plans that give you the month (or 2-weeks) of meals, and walk you through everything from the shopping, the dicing, cooking, freezing, etc.  Because it's so regimented, it's a little harder to adjust for preferences, though there are quite a variety of meals presented.  There are 2 month menus, 2 2-week menus, and additional summer and gourmet 2-week menus, though the recipes can stand alone.

Family Feasts for $75 a Week.  Seeing a trend here?  This one is written by Mary of Owlhaven, and it's well done.  The thrust is towards frugal meals instead of make-ahead or bulk cooking, but it's not just beans and rice.  The first part is full of her frugal tips and tricks, including a survey to assess your own habits and find where you can make the biggest difference in your grocery budget.  I feel fairly experienced on pinching pennies, but there were still more ideas than I expected.  I especially love the "pantry" section, where she offers ways to 'make your own' staples, like taco or spaghetti seasoning, teriyaki sauce, ranch or onion soup mix.  I love the healthier "cream of soup" methods.

Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer.  This one is a cross between Family Feasts and Fix, Freeze, Feast.  It's not a set-out menu, but each recipe can be made individually, or they have done the math for 3X, 6X, or more recipes to do at once.  I made their freezer pizza-dough, and some EXCELLENT caramel cinnamon rolls, though of course there are many main-dish recipes.  This one is a little heavier on the 'already made' ingredients - ready made pie crust, cans or jars of stuff - than I prefer, but I have several recipes tagged to try.

In the Sewing Room:

Fit for Real People:  Sew Great Clothes Using Any Pattern.  This is another library request.  But I'm afraid I might have to buy it, if I can ever have time to sew again (maybe if I quit reading cookbooks?).  It walks you through every element of doing your own body map and tissue-fitting and altering for your own body.  One shoulder slopes more?  Have a flat backside, or a swayback?  Bigger or smaller in the bust?  Waist a little higher or lower than normal? Hips even or not?  I have no doubt that following their step-by-step instructions will lead to the best-fit clothes I've ever had. 

A is for Apron: 25 Fresh and Flirty Designs.  One I longed for from the library for so long.  Loved it enough to buy it, though it's more for fun than enlightenment.


Charlotte Mason Education, A How-To Manual.  A brief but clear look at the day-to-day implementation of different Charlotte Mason philosophies.  I have yet to read the original Charlotte Mason books, though they're available for free in pdf (I believe) from Barnes & Noble.

A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning.  A much bigger book about Charlotte Mason Education and ways it played out in the author's family.  Many ideas and encouragement are presented here.  I borrowed it from a friend, got it from the library, and then found my own used copy reasonably priced on Amazon.

Handbook of Nature Study.  Wow.  This is somewhat dated (1911, I think, or 1939), but much of science is relatively timeless.  Recommended in the CM Companion, above, I'm so glad I invested the $17 or so for it.  It's nearly 900 pages of natural science.  This paperback is like 3 inches thick!  Animals, birds, plants, bugs, weather, astronomy... I believe it's also available for free in e-book format, but for looking up something for the kids (without a computer), it can't be beat for that price.

Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls.  A BIG poetry anthology for children.  Includes so many classics!


How to Stop the Pain.  I'm about half through this, and have latched on to several good tidbits.  While I don't live in a place of "abiding torment" over anything in particular (I think, anyways...), it is still relevant.  Those frequent hurts we experience from others don't have to hurt!

Beautiful Girlhood.  This could also file under Homeschool, I think, as it's mostly intended for girls/young women.  I've read the first chapter, and skimmed other parts.  It's old-school, but lovely, and I'd certainly take the old-school over the new-school any day. :)  Addresses many growing-up issues like modesty and industry and honor.

Don't Make Me Count to Three.  I haven't actually read this, but the reviews at Amazon were interesting to say the least.  It's recommended (by some) as a good companion for Shepherding a Child's Heart, which I love.  Other reviews say it's more like a tortue/abuse manual and shows nothing from the heart of God.  I'll let you know what I think.

Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free.  I've heard and read good things about this, and found it for a great used price on Amazon.  The table of contents tells me it will be good for me.

Weekend Makeover: Go From Messy to Magnificent in 48 Hours.  Well, it's been more than 48 hours, and I haven't quite read through it yet.  I know this is an odd thing to have in the "spiritual" department, but I think it fits for me.  Keeping the house maintained is a constant effort for most people, but I think for me it's as much in my head/heart as it is in my doings.

The Clutter Cure.  Ditto for the above.  I REALLY like this one.  I've checked it out from the library twice now.  It deals with the emotional side of why we get (or hold on to) stuff, and gives some good advice on dealing with the guilt (or fear or whatever) and taking back control of our environment.

For Me:

Going Rogue: An American Life.  This is Sarah Palin's recent book.  I really enjoyed it, though of course it's her own account (and one would expect it to come across well).  Her life seems so very normal and reasonable, and her ideas seem to be the same.  I loved that she included her salvation testimony in her life's story, and I hope the Palin Family's future is good.  I was amazed and incredulous at "the machine" that was the VP campaign in 2008.  From my perspective it was enjoyable to see a normal, reasonable person not totally embrace the nonsense that is American politics today.


What have you been reading lately?  Do you read half-a-library at one time?