Wednesday, April 29, 2009

oh, my mama

I had a couple different things I wanted to post about.

But I was recently in a conversation about mothers.

So I want to post this song instead. It's been one of my favorites for several months now.

Whenever I hear it come on, I stop what I'm doing and just listen.

Monday, April 27, 2009

One Pretty Thing

No, not the site (though if you haven't checked it out - do! One Pretty Thing)

That's a promise I'm making to myself for the month of May.

Every week, I will find the time to create at least one pretty thing.

That is all.

Ok, that and a spring picture from last week

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunshiney Weekend

This weekend flew by. And I did a whole lot of nothing.

No pictures.

No hiking.

I spent the weekend having a garage sale. It so wasn't worth it. A lot of sitting around for only 100 dollars. I mean, I got some stuff cleaned out of my house. But it was soooo gorgeous this weekend. I should have spent the days hiking, playing, planting.

It's gorgeous today too, but I'm at work 12 hours.

At least I had an excuse to do nothing but sit in the sunshine all weekend though, right?

It's been a month, no - over a month, since we planted our seeds and just this weekend we finally got a couple little itty bitty sprouts. I might replant some and see what happens. It's another 3 weeks here before I would feel good about putting anything in the ground, so I have some time before I go and buy seedlings. Though after this weekend, I want nothing more than to dig in the dirt.

We did make it to the market yesterday morning. Kev even came with me. We didn't get much. Some buffalo ribs, eggs, potatoes and asparagus. But then we hit the homebrew supply store and Kev got stuff to try beer again - and I got a few things to start our next batch of wine. We'll be moving what's in the carboy now over to another glass carboy on Thursday. So this week we can start a new batch. We're not doing a from-scratch recipe this time. We're doing a concentrate wine, only because it's quick - 6 weeks from start to bottling. We're out of the last of our bottled wine. So this will give us a fast 30 bottles, plus the 30 of strawberry wine that we can bottle at the end of June.

I'm in need of a vacation. I still have some time to use up before July, and I think I might take a few days soon. Sometimes I just need a little extra time to recenter myself, you know? Right now I'm just feeling a little out of sorts, and an extra day or two off would be soooo good.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I've been crafting for as long as I can remember. I've always liked creating things. Over the years I've found and used different mediums and as a result I have quite a few 'hobbies' and supplies.

Until we moved last year, I didn't really have a designated crafting space. I used the living room floor. Or the kitchen table. And often spent more time pulling things out and putting them away then actually crafting.

I've scrapbooked. Repainted and re-crafted items and furniture. About 4 years ago I taught myself how to sew.

But I haven't really done any of that in months. I mean, almost a year. Not since we got married.

And I miss it, I do.

I finally have a space. We moved, and I have a wall in our small bedroom set up with a table and my supplies. But I haven't organized it. Not since we moved here. Almost a year ago.

So I haven't crafted. And I haven't done any sewing. The last thing I had made was my wedding dress (with the assistance of a friend 2 weeks before the wedding, but that's another story).

Photograph by Andrea Casey

And there has always been a reason excuse. There isn't time. The crafting area still hasn't been cleaned/organized. I have to do laundry/clean/dinner/anything else.

About a month ago I started embroidering. It's peaceful, enjoyable and best of all portable. I tried knitting, again. It makes me angry. It should be fun but I just.don'

But, I'm done with excuses. Yesterday, I stayed home sick (I really was sick) and I was tempted to start cleaning (does anyone else get like that when they should be resting? It doesn't make sense. If my husband was home sick he would not be doing laundry) Anyway, I got up in the afternoon and decided I was going to sew.

Normally, I would get to my sewing stuff and decide it had to all be cleaned and organized before I could possibly do anything. Then 5 hours later I would find myself painting my bedroom walls or something equally ridiculous (because cleaning the crafting area would mean I had to clean my room then while I was doing that I would realize how I don't like the wall colors and then . . . ) So I cleared my table, without cleaning (luckily I had cleaned my machines a couple weeks ago) found some fabric and decided to do a quick project. And ignore the mess around me.

I took my inspiration from this post over at soule mama I figured it would take a half hour or so, right?

Right, except I haven't sewn in a year. And while it felt (so) good to be sewing again, I was a little rusty. I made some mistakes. For the most part, I ignored the mistakes. This was for ME. I wasn't selling this. It didn't need to be perfect. It's going on my floor. Just do it. Push through it. Let the mistakes happen, eventually I'll fall into the rhythm. And I did.

So, it has it's imperfections. But I love it. And it matches the orange countertops (that I can't believe I ever hated) and it was quick (about an hour) and I will so be making more of these (mostly because soon those imperfections will drive me craaaaazy!):

Please pretend my floor is clean

So I made a promise to myself, to make time. Even if it's 15 minutes here, a half hour there. Because I love this. I love creating. No more excuses. I deserve the time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Weekend Scenes

We had a beautiful weekend. And a busy one!

Some weekend scenes:

We did some more hiking. Again at Clarks (the "rock place")

This time we also explored the caves. Just a little bit though, cause mama is a tiny bit of a wuss.

We also did Beaver Lake another day, which is not so much a hike and more of a nice stroll. We did the 3 mile lake loop.

A little campfire in the backyard.

Kev's band Boots N Shorts played at Kellish Farms. I wasn't feeling great and the kids were getting picked up by grandpa, so we didn't make it, but here's a photo anyway :)

We also celebrated a friends 30th birthday. Most of the guys are hitting the big 30 this year, Kevin is next on the list in just 2 weeks!

Somehow the weekend managed to be both busy and lazy. It was wonderful. I hit up the market on Saturday morning and a rummage sale and estate sale. Nothing really wonderful at either place, but I did find a 3rd Holly Hobbie plate for my little collection.

There are a couple more rummage sales next weekend that I want to go to, but won't - since I need to have my own garage sale! Our house is getting full, but my tastes are refining (can you call thrift store finds a refined taste?!) So it's out with the old and in with the new - uh - old?! Speaking of thrifting, I'm planning on sharing some of my favorite finds later this week.

We did a bit of grilling - one of my favorite summer standbys - grilled veggie quesadillas and a new favorite - bison burgers. yuuuum. We topped them with some cheddar slices, caramelized onions on mine - bacon on his - and a horseradish bbq sauce. They were simply delicious. Both nights we did grilled asparagus and roasted onion potatoes. Yes, I like asparagus and potatoes that much!

For the past couple of weekends, I've been hoping to squeeze in some sewing time, and so far haven't. The weather has just been too nice. I need to finish getting my craft/sewing table cleared off so I can steal a couple minutes here and there.

So, that's it. I'm still working Sundays for the next month, so my weekend is already over. The kids spring break also ends this week, which means back to normal tomorrow.

Oh - and, I'm having a ridiculous time trying to get pictures on here, even through the uploader, I still have to go in and resize them all, otherwise half the picture is missing. There has to be an easier way, yes?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hiking in the Spring

:How can you explain that you need to know that the trees are still there, and the hills and the sky?
Anyone knows they are.
How can you say it is time your pulse responded to another rhythm, the rhythm of the day and the season instead of the hour and the minute?
No, you cannot explain. So you walk.:

~Author unknown, from New York Times editorial, "The Walk," 25 October 1967

The snow is almost gone.

The days are warming up. Which means doing a lot more 'hiking'. Last week we took our littlest one and some friends.

This trail is one of our boys favorites. It's his 'rock place'. This was the first time the other two boys came with us, and they all did great! We walked for well over an hour and at a really steady pace.

They all carried hiking sticks with them for the second half of the walk and I love how perfectly little boy they look

This was near the end and one by far their favorite part. They spent a long time playing in the top of the water fall. They created leaf boats and sailed them under the bridge and over the edge. One by one they all put their hands in and commented on the feel and temperature of the water.

And just before we left they found a volleyball court and sandbox. They built sand castles in the damp sand.

Winter is over.

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. ~John Muir

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sustainable Challenge, Week 1

I mentioned in my previous post I haven't meal planned for this week yet. We ate at the in-laws on Saturday and the husband and kids ate at my parents Sunday (I was working 12 hours). Also, the kids are on vacation this week. And we got an upright freezer last weekend (for a killer deal on craigslist!) so we spent a little extra to start stocking that. And, lastly - I skipped a couple of my normal stores because of time constraints.

So what I mean by all that, is this isn't a true representation of a normal week. But that's ok, cause it's the actual week we're having.

So, here's the breakdown:

First, I went to the farmers market (all items are local AND organic unless marked otherwise)

- 1 lbs ground beef
- 1 flank steak
- 1 pkg breakfast sausage link
- 1 dozen large eggs
- 1 dozen non organic white eggs (for coloring)
- 1 pkg bacon
- 1 lb butter
- a medium basket of apples, about 12 apples
- 2 zucchini (may not be local and was not organic)
- tomatoes, about 6 or 7

Total: 37 dollars

Nichols Local Grocer

- 2 gallons Byrne Dairy milk. Local dairy, hormone and antibiotic free. Not organic.
- Arnold light breads. Not local. Not organic. No HFCS though and B1G1
- Day old Italian Bread. Sliced and prepared as garlic bread for freezer
- Corn Starch
- 2 cans tuna
- Local popcorn, 5lbs (kernels for stove top popping)

Total: 20.51

My husband normally doesn't come with me, but he did this week and so I spent more and bought some items that I normally wouldn't with him with me. Also, we bought what seems like (okay is) a ridiculous amount of processed food (hotdogs, bacon etc. . .) but they were having a B1G1 sale on a lot of things, plus I had coupons. So, since this isn't just a challenge, but my life I did take advantage of those sales and added these things to the freezer for a later date. And yes, I realize I now have tons of butter after the market and the butter here. But the market was butter for now - the others were on sale so those are for another time.

Price Chopper Regional Chain

- Coffee Creamer
- 4 pkgs Ballpark all beef franks B1G1 (for freezer)
- 4 pkgs Hebrew National franks B1G1 (for freezer)
- Land O Lakes butter, 1 lb
- 2 pkgs Oscar Myer naturals bacon B1G1 (no nitrates etc . . .)
- Frozen Ravioli - B1G1 (for freezer)
- 2lbs Mozzarella Cheese
- Yogurt Butter
- 2 lbs Skippy Natural Peanut Butter
- Hormel Chili (The husbands special request. He likes it better than homemade for on hotdogs)
- 2 boxes Life Cereal B1G1
- 2 pkgs Pasta. Processed locally. B1G1
- 2 pkgs Club Crackers (another husband request) B1G1
- 1 pkg in store made Marble Rye

Total: 54.42

We also signed up for a membership at BJ's on Saturday it was 45 dollars, and we got a 10 dollar off our purchase coupon. I'm not including the 45 in our weekly food total since it's used over 14 months. I supposed it could be included, but I'm not counting it.


- Big ol' box of Bisquik (another husband request)
- 60 ct box of Eggos (da hubbin' again, because our waffle maker broke and we have yet to replace it. I told him he could get these ONCE but we're replacing the maker and going back to making our own after this!)
- 2pk baking soda (rumford, alum free)
- 3lbs bananas. Not local, or organic but free with memebership
- New England Hot dog rolls (for all the hot dogs!)
- Organic whole wheat and flax tortillas
- Yeast, 2lbs

Total after coupon: 18.73

It's not really possible to include everything in my pantry and freezer, because I have a pretty good stock already and the cost is long ago spent.
I will estimate a few things I picked up a few days ago though, that we will be using this week


- local flour from co-op
- lettuce
- red and green peppers
- cucumbers
- green beans
- cantaloupe
- strawberries
- 2 jars jam from market

Estimated total: 15 dollars

Which brings this weeks total to: 145.66 - Wow!

Way over what I estimated us at on average. BUT that did include quite a few things that will last us several weeks: flour, yeast, baking mix, popcorn, baking soda, hot dogs (ever again!!)

So I think that will even itself out over the next couple of weeks. We'll see!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Look What I Got!!


There was an ad on craigslist last week for an upright freezer for sale. 60 dollars. I contacted the seller, but someone else was already interested. I told him to keep me in mind in case it fell through. Got an e-mail a couple days later. If I could pick it up that day it was mine. Unfortunately, I was already at work and couldn't. Told him again to keep me in mind.
Two days later, another e-mail. Score! I could pick it up Thursday at 6pm. So I dragged the husband along (thanks babe! And sorry about your thumb!) with me since it was evening. I'm a girl and I was picking it up from a strange man at a lake camp. Safety and all ;)

Well, I'm assuming that because of the ridiculously low price that it's a small upright freezer.

We get there, and the guy hauls out this huge full size freezer! It's a GE and 21 cubic feet! It's a little older, a couple dents, but in great condition and runs fantastic! Thankfully, I had brought the husband cause there was no way at all I could have gotten that sucker in the van! I'm thinking that's why the other deals fell through, my baby was no picnic to move!

Now we just need to start stocking it!

I'm pretty much in heaven :D

Sustainable Food Budget Challenge

So a little while back I read about the Sustainable Food Budget Challenge over on Crunchy Chicken's blog.

I pretty much already practice this as I do use food stamps and I do try to eat as locally and sustainably as possible.

For several years I have planned menus, shopped at several locations, and followed a tight budget while trying to maximize our benefits and nutrition.

It started after I had my second child and my husband lost his job. Suddenly we were relying on my meager income, and it looked like we were going to for a while. We decided this was the perfect opportunity for him to go back to school for his teaching degree.

I was 23 then, and really - until that point hadn't cooked much. At all. Ever. My idea of a home-cooked meal was one of those frozen skillet meals that you added chicken to.

Now, it's pretty much common sense that home-cooked meals are cheaper. But, for me, cooking didn't come naturally. Even though I was an accounting major, I had no idea how to properly budget for food shopping. So I read everything I could about saving money on food costs. At the time I was spending on average 150 a week for me, my husband, my oldest son who was 5 and a newborn (who didn't eat solids).

In about a years time, I was able to get our weekly grocery bill down to 40-60 a week. But, my main goal then was saving money, not nutrition. We were on FS and receiving I think 90 a month at the time.

Shortly after, my interest turned to nutrition and local eating and the food industry and on and on. I don't remember how it began. I just know once that started, it all kind of snowballed from there - and led me to here, 6 years later.

Our average grocery bill, with an estimated 90% of foods being local and/or organic runs 60-120 a week depending on what I need to stock up on.

But I've stopped tracking the way I used to, and I admit I've gotten lazy with meal planning. I think that I could get our bill lower, and I would like to start recording what I'm buying and spending again anyway. So, I'm late - but in on the challenge. Only for me, it's not really a month long challenge - but my month to month life. We do receive foodstamp benefits.

My goal is to keep our food bill at 400 for the month. That is for a family of 4. We are: Me, 28 year old female; my husband, 29 year old male; two sons ages 10 and 6.

The goal of 400 does include out of pocket money. We don't get that much in food stamps, so that total is a combination of benefits and our money. I know some people following the challenge are using the number given as the max allotment for foodstamps. I'm going by what we live, and can afford.

We did our grocery shopping for the week on Saturday. I normally plan meals in advance, but like I said - I've been a little lazy on that. I can make dinners out of what we have in house though.

I'll get the information together, and post tomorrow on what our shopping list and food totals looked like for this week. If you want to join in, let me know! I'd love to follow what everyone else is doing too!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


It's spring, supposedly.


Apparently the snow didn't get the memo.

We're ready for Spring though, and a couple of weeks ago, we planted some seeds for the garden.


starting seeds

I usually start with seedlings, and this is our first try at starting seeds. I'm keeping my fingers crossed! After we got them going, the weather turned and the poor guys weren't getting much sun or warmth. They still aren't warm enough, I don't think. But we did move them and put them under a fluorescent light we installed. It's been about 3 weeks since we planted them and a week since we put them under the light. I hope I didn't kill them before they even sprouted!

We're hoping for some tomatoes - roma for canning and brandywine for eating. Being still semi-new to gardening, we'll get our heirlooms at the market. Um, peppers. Broccoli. Scallions. Lettuce. A whole mess of herbs.

We also have another batch of wine going! This is the first shot at a from scratch recipe.
The wine is slow moving too, and I think it's because it's a tad cold in the house. We should have been able to move it to the carboy between days 5 and 7 and we're on day 8 and it's still fermenting. I think we'll be good in a day or two though.

Day 1

Day 1

Day 2 - Yuck!

Day 2

Day 2

Day 5 - Looking better!

Day 5

If all goes well - the wine (did I mention it's strawberry?) should be ready for us to bottle by June.

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be better, 50 or so - so we're planning on a little bit of hiking before the snow hits again!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Living Intentionally

I made a sort of sideways, or backwards, or whispered promise to myself several weeks ago to start living intentionally.

I'm making that promise to myself real. Now.

It seems like the older I get, the quicker the time goes by. The years are racing past. My babies are no longer babies. My twenties are almost gone.

When did I become a real live adult? And what have I done?

I had a breakdown of sorts a few weeks ago. It came up out of nowhere and startled even me. Luckily, my very best friend was there and just listened as we walked. Let me cry. Let me get it out. All sorts of things came flying, tumbling out. Things I didn't even realize I had boxed in. They all let loose, with no warning.

I'm glad though, that they did. I've been maintaining for a long time. Keeping things just under the invisible line of control. Keeping the scribbles just barely in the lines. It's hard sometimes, you know? To be everything to everybody. A mother. A daughter. A sister. A wife. A friend, an employee, the bill payer, the laundry washer, the dinner cooker, the grocery shopper, the garden planter. There are so many people that need me in so many different ways. Including me! I have piles of books I haven't read. Sewing projects I haven't finished, and yet I take on new hobbies. Why? I don't know. I can't really help myself. I like to do, I like to create.

What happens is I do things half way. Including raising my beautiful children sometimes. I can't do it all, and something, somewhere always gives. Bends. Breaks.

No more letting the days slide by and not recalling how they were, or what I did. No more letting myself get caught up in the chaos of doing things halfway. I don't want to look back in another 10 years and wonder where these years all went.
I want to really live each moment. I want to be present and aware for each wonderful moment.
I want to allow myself to really feel even the horrible moments. The sad ones, the angry ones. I don't want them to get shoved aside and built up until I have no control over them anymore.

I will do this. All the way.

Monday, April 6, 2009

So, here it is.

I'm not entirely sure why I set up a blog. It's not that I have much to say, or share. At least not when I sit down in an organized way to do it.
I used to. When I was younger, in High School, before kids. I kept notebooks then. Filled them up with words and thoughts and poems and dreams.

Then I just kind of stopped.

I guess being just a kid - with a kid, and trying to make it through the day, balancing raising a child and school and work, I just didn't have as much time to write. Though that's when I probably needed it most.

And over the years, I've had moments - days, weeks, months filled with an intense need to write. To let it out. Jot it down. Record it. Stumble through it.

So I keep coming back to writing. Not the way I used to. Not in notebooks, carried and treasured and filled with daily thoughts. But scattered, here and there at different times in my life.

I don't actually know how I feel about online writing. About blogging. Just sending all those ideas and feelings and thoughts and dreams out into the craziness that is the internet.

But it seems I can't let it all out on paper anymore. For whatever reason. So here I am.

I don't even know what I want this to be about. Does it need a theme? Can it just be about - whatever? I suppose it can, right?

I guess what it is will shape up over time.

So. Here we go.