Thursday, September 30, 2010
This week, we have finally been able to get back into a normal groove. Caitlin did have her 18 month check up and shots making her a little crabby. And today when I finally got to the gym for the first time this month, she had a difficult time adjusting to going into the child care area while I did a workout. But, I suppose that's to be expected. She'll do better next time.
Routine is so important for babies and toddlers. Without a normal routine, an expectation of how the day is going to go, they get cranky and irritable. At least, mine does. And it's great for me too. I know when Caitlin can handle playing by herself, when she needs interactive play, when she needs a snack, when she is ready for a nap, etc. So I can plan my day around her needs. I know some parents say you shouldn't plan around your child, and I agree to some degree. But I know that if I try to go to the grocery store when my daughter needs a nap, I won't get my grocery shopping done the way it needs to be done and she will be miserable.
Mind you, I don't keep a rigid schedule. Caitlin takes her nap at 1, usually. Today she was tired and ready a little after 12, so I put her down for her nap. But it is nice to know what to expect. Anyway, I am thankful that we are finally getting back on some sort of schedule.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I'm not sure yet what I plan to get. Maybe the awesome KitchenAid Vegetable Strainer attachment pictured below? It would really be helpful in making my own BBQ sauce, creating smooth jams and jellies, and other home canning things.
Maybe a this Thorpe Home Size Rolling Pin because I don't really like the one I've got?
Maybe something else entirely? There are just so many awesome things on the CSN websites, it's hard to choose.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Last Thursday evening we decided to go get some ice cream from a local ice cream shop. (For anyone local, I'm sure you know about Sunny Sky's and just how good it is.) They only accept cash or check there, so we stopped to get some money from the ATM before getting ice cream. We got some really good ice cream. Then when we got home, my husband took his wallet out of his pocket and put it on the dresser like usual, when what do we see but a shiny $20 bill. We didn't pay!! We did try to pay one of the girls working there, but she just got another customer and told us to pay the other girl working. It was an honest mistake. I guess we had gotten so caught up talking with the people there, we didn't realize it.
So, Saturday after visiting my sister, we stopped by again, fessed up, and paid. It would have been an easy thing to not go back and pay. It's not some place we pass on a daily basis. The workers there obviously didn't realize the mistake. No one would have ever known.
Ok, so that's the tooting my own horn part. I did good -- this time. Now here's the vent part. So many people today wouldn't have gone back and paid because we are so caught up in trying to get a deal regardless of the means. We want to know someone who works at our favorite restaurant because we want to get a discount or even free food. We sneak a few grapes while grocery shopping knowing that we are charged by the pound. There are so many little things that we do daily that compromises our honesty and integrity and many times don't even realize it. In fact, we relish in the fact that we got the deal.
Remember in high school, how someone might give you free food or a discount on something because you were cute or flirty. (I actually never did have anything like that happen to me, but it did happen quite often to my friends.) It was awesome! It was validating! It was free!! It would have only cost you $5 anyway.
Don't get me wrong. I love finding a great deal and saving money. But I want it to be on honest and fair terms. I don't want to sell my honesty and integrity for the price of a happy meal. How about you?
Monday, September 27, 2010
So the next day, I tried making pear jam for the first time. I wasn't really sure how I wanted to preserve them, but I didn't want to just freeze the pears. That's when I decided on jam.
It was different from making strawberry jam because it was more soupy in the pot and set later. With strawberry jam we could almost see it gelling in the pot. Anyway, the pear jam did set. Yeah! And it tastes pretty good. Now I just need to make some bread to toast and spread the jam on.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Have you ever tired Boudreaux's Butt Paste? Being a cloth diapering mamma, I don't use diaper cream that often. But the six months before converting to cloth was full of diaper creams. I think I tried just about every brand out there. Boudreaux's Butt Paste was a really great product. It surprised me when I first opened it up because it wasn't the same color or consistency as other diaper creams. What I liked most about it was that it really was a paste and not a cream. It's thicker consistency made me feel like it would last much longer on my daughter's skin than some other thinner products. And it still wiped off easily, not leaving any yucky residue.
Even though this product wasn't the bright white color as other creams, it still has 16% zinc oxide in it which is great for helping those rashy bums. It also contains Peruvian Basalm, which, I'm guessing, is where the light brown color of the paste comes from. Not knowing what this Peruvian Basalm is, I did a little research. It's the resign from a basalm tree and is know for being an antiseptic.
Boudreaux's Butt Paste's website tells me that it was specifically formulated by a pharmacist with direction from a respected pediatrician to provide effective diaper rash care. That's great that a pediatrician would take the time to find a more effective diaper rash solution.
If you haven't tried this product yet, or maybe you have, but would just like an awesome freebie, go to www.buttpaste.com to get a free sample.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I bought into the Swiffer hype a while back. And truthfully, I LOVE IT! I hated dunking a mop into a bucket of water and slopping it all over my floor. The water would gradually, sometimes not so gradually, become murky and gross. Dirt would cling to my mop. Swiffer's Wet Jet is brilliant. No mop buckets, easy to get rid of mop pads. The problem is, those mop pads are expensive and not at all kind to mother nature. So, when I saw this crochet project for a reusable, reversible swiffer sock, I had to make it. (The pattern comes from Craftzine.com)
You can use the side with the ridges for scrubbing up stuck-on yuckiness,
Or the smooth side for a simple dust mop or light mopping on hard woods.
The only problem I encountered with it, is that the sock covers the squirters on my Wet Jet. So, I simply folded the front under and the velcro on the Wet Jet held it in place. Problem solved.
I still get to use my beloved Wet Jet, but no longer have to buy disposable pads for it! I think I'm in love!
Oh, and for instructions on how to refill that swiffer cleaning solution bottle, check out Big Green Head. I didn't know how to do it either until I read this posts.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Some of you may think, hey, when you've seen one farm, you've seen them all. Not so. We visited a goat farm, a farm that raised a rare heirloom chicken breed with a home from the 1860s, a community garden, and the only certified organic farm in our county. We did see a lot of the same animals, but seeing each of the farmers and learning about their farming techniques was really interesting.
Our first stop was Humbug Farms. Humbug Farm is a 12-acre farm dedicated to sustainable farming and emphasizing grass-based livestock production. The farm features Border Leicester sheep (the breed used in the movie “Babe”), Nubian dairy goats, horses, and guinea hens for pest control. Goat milk soap, wool, yarn, blankets, and other handcrafted items were for sale.
Next we went to High Ground Farm a beautiful 17-acre farm where chickens roam free on pasture in a secluded forest setting. They had rare Java chickens and 100 laying hens. The chickens are Animal Welfare Approved, have a new chicken house, and produce beautiful eggs. The picture below is their new chicken house. It's so cute! Their home, the Harrington-Dewar House circa 1860, is on the National Historic Registry.
On our way home, we stopped at a community garden in Fuquay. We've known about the Covenant Community Garden for several years now, but had never stopped by to see it. This 7500 sq ft garden is a real community effort and provides food for the local food pantry. They had raised beds of organically grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, and even a couple of bee boxes.
Sunday, we stopped by another local farm we've know about for some time, Hill Top Farms. They are a 300-year-old family farm being brought into the 21st century with certified organic produce and horse boarding. They supply our local CSA and have 100-year-old pecan trees, sweet potatoes, okra, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, fall crop transplants, and some early Asian greens. I couldn't believe it when they told me they were the only certified organic farm in our county! He said there are tons of farms in neighboring counties, but the only one in ours. Maybe it's a population thing? Wake County is certainly way more populated that surrounding ones. Maybe there are less farms?
Monday, September 20, 2010
Today we buy Miracle Grow or whatever other brand product without much thought as to what we are putting in our soil and on our food. I tried to find the ingredients in your standard Miracle Grow for vegetable gardens online but was so far unsuccessful. I will definitely let you know if I find out more. But I don't think I will be using that product anymore simply because of something I found while cleaning out my garage. On one of the shelves there was this greenish-blue stuff piled up and it was spilling out of an old opened up bag of Miracle Grow powder. Well, as I was wiping it off the shelf, I notice that I was wiping off something else too. The shelf. The Miracle Grow ate a hole into my shelf! Hubby says it's from the nitrogen. Even if what ate a hole in my shelf was all natural from the nitrogen (and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt until I see a label) this still goes back to what I was talking about with grass fertilizers and our water supply - way too much nitrogen. It's just not good.
Now, I don't want to bash Miracle Grow. They do carry an organic line of fertilizer and plant foods. They did list some of the ingredients for these products online which included chicken litter, feather meal, and fermented sugar beet molasses. So, please don't misconstrue this post to be attacking their company. I don't know enough about them yet to say anything substantial.
I want to just bring attention to what we are putting on our food regardless of the company who produced it, or even if it's a homegrown solution to your fertilizing needs. I've even read about a family who would gather seaweed at the beach to bring home for fertilizer. (I can't remember which blog, so please forgive me for not linking back.)
For now, I think Hubby and I are sticking to having good compost; some we bought, and some we created ourselves.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
By the end of the week, someone finally asked the concierge at our resort about it. We were told that there is a lawsuit against the power company because the windmills distract from the natural beauty of the mountains. The windmills have been shut down until a decision is made in this suit. Except for the one on Jiminy Peak. That one is on private property and can thus continue to run.
I guess I can see where some might feel this way, but personally, I think the windmills are kind of pretty in their own way. Yes, they are perched right on top of the mountain, but it didn't distract me from any of the natural beauty around me. I thought they were really neat and glad to see progress being made toward clean energy. And, like I said earlier, it sparked some great conversation. As a visitor to the area, I liked seeing the windmills there and they certainly wouldn't detour me from visiting again.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I was expecting to be completely grossed out by startling images of abused animals and butcher shops for the full movie. Yes, they did show some very disturbing things, but it was interspersed with interviews, they showed what a healthy farm looks like, and the images of abuse could have been so much worse. For me, the worse scene was of a cow trying to walk with what appeared to be two broken back legs.
I knew before watching this film that our food industry is in an awful state. We have the obesity problems, diabetes problems, and many other health issues because we eat so many processed, genetically modified foods. This movie, however, was still an eye opener. It's tragic in every capacity. The treatment of animals, under the table politics, treatment of farmers and plant workers.
After watching this film, Eric and I have decided that we want to make every effort to eat locally fresh foods from neighboring farms and stay out of the grocery store as much as possible. It's not that grocery stores are bad, but it would be easier to resist the junk in the grocery store if I just don't go in it at all. Obviously, I won't be able to avoid grocery stores completely. If I need household products or certain items I can't find locally (for example, maybe I can't find a wheat farmer to get my flour from), I will go. But my new goal is to only get those needed items.
This will take some time because we will need to expand our own garden, find local farmers for meats and dairy, etc. But I think it is a worthy goal for the well being of our family and to help local growers prosper.
Anyway, if you haven't seen Food Inc yet, and are interested in where your food comes from, how it's treated and processed, rent this movie. You'll be glad you did.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Nothing feels so good as to come home to a clean house. Of course, you then drop all your luggage as you come in and it's not so clean anymore.
Last week I didn't have many posts because my hubby, Caitlin, and I went to the Berkshires in Massachusetts with my parents for the week. I think that is the first week long vacation I have taken with my parents in my adult life. It was really nice to spend that kind of time with them and they with Caitlin.
We stayed busy visiting different places in the area and even taking a side trip to Boston. It was an exhausting tour, but lots of fun. The first place we visited was the Hancock Shaker Village. What a fascinating place and people! The Shakers were a sect of Quakers known as the "Shaking Quakers" who lived a celibate life in a communal society. You can read more about the Shakers here on Wikipedia.
What I found so interesting about them, was the way they lived off the land. I'm sure many people did during that time, but at the Hancock Shaker Village, they showed us how they did it. Windows were south facing and installed with a slant making the most use of the sun to heat the communal home during winter. They had a large medicinal garden full of herbs and other plants known for their healing properties. Sheep were kept for their wool along with other farm animals for meat, milk, and eggs. They pretty much had or made everything they needed right there in their own village.
Caitlin really enjoyed the barn with baby animals and chasing the sheep in the pasture outside.
Beartown State Park.
We took a side trip to Boston and looked at half of the Freedom Trail sites including the USS Constitution, Paul Revere's house, the Old State House, and site of the Boston Massacre. I wish we had more time in Boston, there was so much to see.
And of course, Caitlin had lots of fun with her 'ganny pappy' and 'ganny mammy'.
Later in the week, Eric and I took Caitlin to a dairy farm to see the cows and watch a milking. It wasn't as hands-on as I was hoping it to be, but it was free so I'm not complaining. Cricket Creek Farm is a small family owned dairy farm and one that inspires me for a simpler life. They had a cute little farm store with organic, grass-fed meats, dairy products, fresh breads, and other locally produced products.
One of the things, Eric and I would eventually like to have is a dairy cow. So, this experience was one that showed me how much I have to learn. Before taking the plunge and getting a cow one day, I hope to find some family owned business like this one to volunteer at and learn from. But that visit also taught me how worth it a dairy cow would be. Depending on the breed, you could get 5 - 8 gallons of milk per milking per cow. That's 10 - 16 gallons of milk a day from one cow! Depending on the breed of course.
We also went to the Brimfield Antique Show, drove into Conneticut just to say we did, drove up to Bennington Vermont and saw the covered bridges there, and finally stopped at the Washington Park in Albany, NY before heading to the airport.
Let me just say it one more time... it's good to be home!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Growing up my mom, who had to work, always cleaned the house on Saturday mornings. I would wake up to noises of pots and pans clanging about in the kitchen. And when I got up and had some breakfast, I was given cleaning tasks to do. This routine became ingrained into my psyche. After I got married and was working, this too, became my routine. It worked great for me because I'm a morning person for sure. I've always gotten my best work done in the mornings. When I came home from work I just didn't feel like cleaning and if the house was cleaned up on Saturday morning I could relax and enjoy myself on Saturday afternoon.
Now, staying at home with my daughter, I feel like I'm always cleaning up something, but the house never gets clean. In fact, I have been cleaning up a storm lately because I'm just so tired of the house looking dirty and tired. As I was cleaning the mirror in one of the bathrooms, I realized I couldn't remember the last time I did that. It's Shameful! I'm always busy cleaning up behind my precious, but oh so messy toddler, or cleaning up the kitchen because I prepare at least two meals a day now, but I rarely have time to CLEAN; you know, soap and water clean, not just picking up the mess clean. I don't want to take up my time on Saturdays cleaning any more. I mean, I'm home all week, I should be able to get it done. Besides, now, that time is devoted family time.
At one point, I had made myself a daily and weekly task list. That helped for a while, because I'm also a list person, but it just never developed into a routine and that is really what I need. I think I'm going to try breaking it down into rooms.
Monday: laundry and bathroomsI don't know. Maybe this will work? Something has to or else I'm going to go crazy. Does anyone else have this problem? Or is it just me?
Tuesday: finish laundry and bedrooms
Wednesday: office and floors
Thursday: kitchen (deep cleaning) - obviously the kitchen needs general cleaning everyday
Friday: living and dining rooms
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Do you ever catch yourself doing something dumb or realizing too late that what you were thinking or doing or saying just doesn't make sense. I had one of those moments last week. I'm changing my daughter's diaper and suddenly an awful stench permeates the air. What is that? It's not her diaper. So I start sniffing around and it's her wipes. What?
I've been using cloth wipes for the past couple of months now. I made some from a botched sewing project and it's been working out perfectly until now. The wipes are flannel, the solution is nothing but water with a little bit of baby wash and baby oil. So why the smell??
I guess I had been washing the piece of tupperware I kept the wipes in every time I washed the wipes, without even thinking about why I did it. This past time however I didn't. I guess I thought it wouldn't be a big deal because it was just water, soap, and oil. Well, I was wrong, very wrong. Washing that container EVERY time I need to wash the wipes obviously makes a difference.
I don't think I'll be making that mistake again.
Friday, September 3, 2010
1 pound sweet potatoes
1 pound russet potatoes
1 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Preheat over to 350. Grease a round dish.
Mix cheese and seasoning in small bowl and set aside.
Place a single layer of potato slices in dish, alternating sweet and russet, overlapping them slightly. Then top with half of the cheese mixture.
Finish layering potatoes and top with the other half of the cheese mixture. Pour cream over top to completely cover.
Bake until golden and bubbly, about 1 hour - 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. (Sorry, of all the pictures I took, I forgot the most important one - the finished dish.)
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I was out in the yard with Caitlin today and as she was happily playing in her sandbox, I was loosely measuring for more raised beds! We haven't even finished all three of the ones we want to add for the fall.
It seems a bit crazy. But it really isn't, at least not to me. I was thinking about our summer harvest this year and how my hubby and I had already decided we wanted to plant corn next year. I also want to put up more spaghetti sauce and learn how to make ketchup, BBQ sauce, and salsa for canning. All that means I need to plant more tomatoes next year. I'd love to have a few melons in the garden. And we didn't even get any hot peppers this year because of space. So, that means we need to expand next year, right!
I just can't help myself. I'm a planner. I've drawn up designs for shelving in our daughter's room, laundry room, landscaping plans, and all sorts of other things that haven't been done. Maybe one day they will get done? Maybe not. I guess I'm just a dreamer. But I'd rather dream big (i.e. our homestead) and try for those things, than sit around doing nothing. Planning and dreaming doesn't mean I'm dissatisfied with my life or the things around me, it just means I see room for growth or improvement. And personally, I don't see anything wrong with that as long as I know that the true source of happiness isn't in this world anyway, and I do.