Thursday, October 30, 2008

A useful web resource – and it’s nutritious, too!

Every couple of weeks or so I get something in my e-mail box from the National Gardening Association. I don’t remember when or why I signed up for the “Edible Landscaping” newsletter, and admittedly I usually delete it before I even open it. But not today! Looking for a mental break from my hum-drum administrative duties, I decided to check out the latest installment and guess what – it’s actually kind of interesting! And helpful! And accessible to the wanna-be proficient home gardener!

The only problem is now I really want to grow purple potatoes and start composting, but don’t think the contractor would appreciate it if I converted the dumpster into a compost bin, and I’m pretty sure the crew would trample my cold frame. So, maybe next year.

Anywho, check out if you’re interested. I know I’ll be visiting them from time to time while I whittle away the weeks until the seed catalogues arrive!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A stitch in time (saves nine, at least -- if you're into that sort of thing)

Some more sites I’ve stumbled across (don’t ask me how) that I think I kinda like:

Also, while I’m all about growing and storing my own food (with exceptions as noted previously), I’m pretty sure that I’m not cut out for this or this* (though this, in it's exclusivity, really makes me wish I was). As much as I want to be the kind of person who can very contentedly pass the hours by whipping out new hand-made goods for her family… I just. Don’t. Think so.

Any experts out there willing to change my mind? Cause I’m open to it!

* Seriously? That first link scares me. And the second one... well, I could do without the hat. But that's just me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

IPromise, UPromise

So, I just signed up for UPromise today. I know, I know -- don't bring me down with your "drop in the bucket" mentality.

Catch enough drops and eventually you can put out a fire, right?

Anyway, I'll be able to put percentages of my purchases (online or in-store) directly toward my student loan. It's all set up so they talk to each other. My grocery store cards are hooked up, too. AND, I can ask my family to join so their purchases can help me, too. (Did you hear that, family?) :)

I mean seriously -- no matter how crunchy I become I'm going to need to shop at Target or eBay or CVS or Kroger. Because vegetables are one thing, but until my hamburger & chicken breasts start popping up out of the ground in nicely wrapped packages I'll leave the dirty work to someone else.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Go figure

So color me surprised, but it's five days later now and I'm still smitten with the idea of living a crunchier life.  I love stumbling across new resources that offer no-nonsense, easy, relatively painless ways to save.  Save what?  Time, money, stress, materials, myself -- whatever.

Also to my surprise I am not really missing being a chronic consumer.  Right now, the three of us are sharing a room of about 144 square feet.  Chewing up most of that space is one twin bed and one king size bed; our clothes, shoes, and bare essentials fill in the rest.  Yes, we have other things scattered here & there in my sister's house but we haven't even approached taking it over.  So what this means is that I can't really buy a lot of things - where on Earth would I put them?

This is amazingly freeing.

And, it's buying me time (hee hee) to make some considered decisions about what we will need to purchase when we move back home versus what we can just do without.  Or do differently.  On my list?
Putting up a clothes line.  
Garden planning.
Boning up on freezing & canning.
Learning to use my sewing machine.
  Repurposing a small dresser for Sara's night stand.
Planting another tree in the front yard for afternoon shade.
Mastering the art of bread-making.  

OK that last one has very little to do with being crunchy;  I'm just tired of making a lousy loaf of bread.

The point is that none of this is original and none of it is rocket science.  But it does take a little more effort on my part while requiring a little less convenience.  And that's OK.  I'm enjoying these little epiphanies and find that it's making ever-so-slight changes in my thinking.  Like instead of begrudging what I can't do because it's too expensive, I find myself thinking about what I can do instead that will be just as enjoyable and, probably, a lot more creative.

A year ago?  No, no.  Not so much.  The wallowing would have commenced immediately, followed closely by a fairly obnoxious period of martyr sydrome.  It ain't pretty, I know.

Anyway, there's no real point to my rambling here.  Just happy to report that, so far, this seems to be more than just a passing fancy.  I am pleasantly, hopefully surprised.

Go me!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oddly enough, green was my mother's least-favorite color...

I don’t consider myself crunchy. In fact the word itself conjures up images of long, fly-away hair, Birkenstocks, jars of sprouts, and the distinct smell of doobie floating through the air. (Yes, yes, I know – I just described one of my aunts circa 1985. I’m happy to report that she now eats meat, refined sugar, and shaves. Don’t know about the doobie, so I’m opting to go Clinton on that one: don’t ask, don’t tell.)

But I’m beginning to realize that crunchy has come a long way, and while it still seems to be planted squarely in the realm of politically liberal ideology (Ed Begley Jr, anyone?), it’s becoming apparent to me that this Republican from the middle of the Bible belt is enchanted by it as well.

Evidently I’m late to the party on this, as Rod Dreher has written a whole book about crunchy conservatives entitled, appropriately enough, Crunchy Cons.* I haven’t read it so I can’t claim to be a true Crunchy Con myself, but the little bit that I did read here does seem to line up more or less with my own beliefs.

Anyway, this is not a political post.

What I’m discovering is that the ideas of reusing, repurposing, reinventing, growing, harvesting, storing, sharing, simplifying, saving – all of these are incredibly appealing to me. The choices I’ve made thus far in life might not tend to support this statement, but it’s true. And really, it’s not all that surprising. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve found in my parent’s house that have sparked an idea about how I could fix it, or change it, or display it, or whatever. I’ve done it before (those of you who helped move my grandmother’s painstakingly refinished ten-ton secretary in the middle of a monsoon can attest to this), and I am quite certain I’ll do it again.

Only this time, it seems to have a purpose.

Right now, on paper at least, we are worth more than ever before (in other words, we have a net value that is greater than zero -- a novel concept, no?). Whether it is the current economic situation, my ever-increasing understanding of responsibility for our daughter, or my overwhelming desire to chuck my day job & stay home to care for my family, I am feeling a tremendous need to preserve what we’ve got and make it last. Being in the throes of major – did I mention MAJOR? – renovations doesn’t do much to help the preservation effort.


That doesn’t mean that I can’t continue, in whatever small way possible, to put what might appear to be cast-offs to good work once the construction is completed:

An old, rusted table base without a top? How about a “new” table to use in our herb garden, with a top fabricated with stone scraps from the renovation?

A ridiculously heavy and oversized wooden locker, covered in 60-year-old stained & disintegrating fabric? How about a reupholstered storage bench for the guest room?

A toilet & pedestal sink, unused & tucked under a staircase for the better part of the last 15 years? How about using them to outfit our new powder room? Really – it’s already new. Why replace them?

A bent and warped cold frame, that long ago lost it’s membrane to the elements? Yeah – we’re fixing that too. Because, in case it’s not already perfectly clear, we plan to garden our brains out next summer.

Canning party anyone? (Amy H, I’m talking to you!)

I could go on & on. There are so many things that we’ve forgotten we even have that I can find a use for – and I fully intend to do just that. Sites like this one only stoke my fire. The best thing is that I like doing this. I enjoy finding creative uses for “trash,” cleaning things up and giving them new life & having people say “That is so neat – where did you get that?”

So if that makes me crunchy, then I guess I am.

Bring on the granola!

*Thanks, Amy for mentioning this to me. I'll have to add it to my never-ending list of things I'd like to read once I have a house to read them in.

Friday, October 10, 2008


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost--
For the grapes' sake along the wall.

--Robert Frost

(With sincere thanks to Amanda Soule, who reminded me that I love Robert Frost)
This story reminded me why I still love Indiana, even with all of it’s faults.

How many places can you go where, just 30 minutes outside the state capital, you can visit the FFA pumpkin patch? (What’s the FFA you ask? Future Farmers of America, of course.)

How many public school systems still have agriculture teachers?

How many high schoolers use their savings to buy rabbits, calves, pigs & goats? And then allow them to be part of a petting zoo for little ones?

How many times do you get to hear a grown man say “I’d like them to do it forever and ever?”

I know, I know. It’s all kind of hokey. But give me hokey any day if it means reminders about what really matters: working together, working hard, and enjoying what you do.

Hokey, but refreshing.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Welcome to the asylum

Seriously. The child ought to be dead tired, with all of the extra activities she's had the last couple of days. But oooohhhh noooooo, she was up and unstoppable at "six-oh-freakin-two" today (timekeeping courtesy of Rob). And then this was her for the better part of the morning:

Naked, save for the infant-sized fleecy jester hat which she insisted on wearing because she was "wiwwy COLD."

Well no kidding.

I was just happy that the cats weren't being terrorized and my laptop wasn't being used as a trampoline.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


I'm spending some time these days hashing things out. Mostly with myself, I think, but probably just as much with God. Or maybe, God is hashing things out with me.

I have some decisions to make and making them will commit me to living life one way or another. I have reservations about both of my choices and wish I could have it both ways -- but that is the one thing I cannot have. Both options scare me. But to be perfectly honest, there is only one right path, I'm just afraid to chose it. (I'm more afraid not to.)

This is the conversation I find myself wrapped up in during those brief, scattered moments when I'm not asked to be Mama or wife or sister or therapist or friend. When it's just me and God, over and over again I am led to the same questions and fears and regrets and hopes. I spend so much time asking "why," bargaining with "what ifs," and kicking myself with "if onlys" that I don't generally shut up and listen. This is hard for me on a good day, when I've got someone sitting in front of me -- trying to do it with God? For crying out loud. It's nearly impossible. And (of course!) it's the one thing I really need to do.

So shut up already and listen, goose. Sheesh.

I was reminded today of the story of Jacob wrestling with God and it really resonated with me. I actually wish it didn't; I'd rather get through this without all the wrestling, thank you very much. But the good news, if I'm in the mood to look for it (and I am), is that in the end God blesses Jacob and tells him that he has overcome. I can only hope for the same.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The demo is underway!

You should check out this link for the visual play-by-play, but if you just want a quick hit, here's the scene at 6249 these days!
(Isn't that the sexiest dumpster you've ever seen??)