Monday, April 28, 2014

One Year Down

Where we you a year ago? Apparently I was just taking on this idea of simple living. It looks like I also decided to document my experiences and share it with anyone who happened upon this little ole' space of mine. Since it has been a year I figure now is a good time to look at where I started and where I am now. That was the whole reason for starting this blog after all: to measure my success (not my failures there were none of those wink, wink). I was going to put this post in a list about the things I have tried this year but it ended up looking to much like my end of the year post, you can read that here.



Learning has been one of the main focuses of the last year. I have learned to live with less stuff while filling my home with the love of my family and the times that we share. I have reconnected with the lifestyle of my older family members and have therefore strengthened those relationships. Trying my hand at new skills has been very fun and a wonderful way to share time with the kids. I loved learning how to bake bread even if I still have not found a recipe that love yet.



With all of the great things that have happened of course there are some not so great things. Thanks to my love of reading and the ease of access to information via the internet I have been able to learn a lot about food and health. For a brief period there it all became to much and I would find my self standing in the store convinced that there was nothing that we could eat and still survive and be healthy. I know others have been there and it is absolutely no fun. After a while I began to relax and things have been so much better and the rare purchases of prepackaged crackers and occasional pizza nights have not resulted in any permanent damage.

For a while there I was convinced that if I and the family were going to live this lifestyle we would eventually need land and animals. We were going to go country. Since then I have come to my senses. It would be really neat to have a couple chickens and even ducks look pretty neat to have around. There is no way that this family is going all in on a farm. We love to move around too much going from here to there. We love camping for weekends during the summer and heading to the beach at least a couple times. We like the freedom of leaving our home and visiting friends and family for a day or weekend. While farm life looks so wonderful and at times down right romantic the whole point of our lifestyle change was to be happy, the farm lifestyle would wind up being like a ball and chain for us. However, I have a new respect for our local farmers and would rather support them by purchasing their goods.



After a year I am still learning and my family is fully on board and thriving among the changes. I have experimented with how others have set up their simple lives and we are just now starting to take the basic framework and really individualize it to fit our family. There is no right or wrong way. Everyone will have a different way to simplify life. I am starting to see that the most important part is to find what works in my situation for my family and go with it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Saving a Library Book

One of the ways we stretch a dollar around here is by borrowing books from the library. I can get just about any book from them by requesting and we can also rent just released movies for the awesome price of $1.

This week I was bit by the spring cleaning bug. I woke up one morning and decided that the blinds, curtains, and windows in the whole house had to be cleaned or I would go crazy. I was in the middle of this frenzy when I accidentally knocked by most recent library book into the bucket of soapy water that I was using to clean the window trim. Boo! The whole book was completely soaking wet from cover to cover. For some reason I jut picked up the closest heavy object I could find and set the book on a flat surface with a piece of fabric underneath so it would not get stuck to the surface. I left it alone for a couple hours and went back to peak at it, expecting it to be a shriveled mess. However the pages were all still straight, they were wet, but they were straight. I left the whole set up in place for a couple days and when I checked this morning the book looks to be in pretty good condition. It will take several more days to completely dry out before I can be sure that the book is saved. I really hope it is. If it is not okay I will hang my head as I hand the book over to the librarian and beg for forgiveness and a reasonable replacement price. 



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Planting Decisions

In our rush to skip out of town we had to make some quick decisions regarding the yard and garden because our vacation was right smack dab in the middle of planting season. Given the wonky weather over the winter our cold weather seedlings were still enjoying the warmth of the sun porch weeks after their plant date came and went. Per the almanac our last frost date this year was to be between April 1 and April 10. We were scheduled to leave April 12. The temperatures were just starting to break into the 50-60 degree range during the day and were dropping into the high 30's to low 40's at night.

The seedlings if left on the porch would certainly dry out during our week away and die for sure. So, we decided to put all the seedlings we could into the ground on the April 6th, the only day we had a full day to do so. Upon waking the next morning and doing a walk around the garden the rabbits had already started feasting on all of the wonderful leaves. We decided that we needed to have our fencing installed before our vacation if we had any hope of keeping some of the plants for ourselves. That decision left the man and I outside at 10 o'clock at night installing chicken wire to the freshly built frame by flashlight. It was kind of romantic, the two of us outside under the moon light, giggling as we went out our work while the neighbors each took a turn peeking out to see what us weirdos were up to now. We completed the job and felt completely satisfied with our work as we headed out of town. My mom would be water the garden every couple of days which was great because the highs were expected to be in the 80's and the plants would be thirsty.


Flash forward a couple of days and while we are in the middle of paradise our hometown area was in the national news due to the sudden shift in weather. That's right we are a thousand miles away from home and the 80 degree weather turns and the low is now expected to be below freezing! My poor baby plants. I looked around and saw that on the refrigerator near me there was a magnet that said, It is what it is. How completely appropriate it became my mantra over the next couple days.

We came home and assessed the damage. My mom thankfully did what she could to protect things and most of the plants look okay. We lost several tomato plants but we had some seedlings that didn't make it into the ground that my mom placed back inside before the freeze that survived. Things could have been much worse. I did read that one of our local orchards had ice form on all of their fruit tree blossoms. I truly hope that they are able to comeback and have a successful season. I am now able to understand how such a quick change in weather can be disaterous for farmers.

A tomato plant that has seen better days. 

I warned the man that from now on we need to pick our vacation dates around planting season. He just shook his head and smirked.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Week Off

We ran away for a week and left it all behind. We returned rejuvenated and excited for the coming months.

We went until we could go no more.


We reconnected with nature



We learned why a chicken crosses the road


We took a long walk on a short bridge


We marveled at how beautiful the world can be.


We reflected on how lucky we are to be together as a family experiencing so many things together.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Break

Sometimes it is a good idea to step away from life and evaluate yourself and the things around you. Right now is that time for me. I have taken sometime to spend reconnecting with the family and escaping the routine. Things here are going pretty well. I am sure over the next couple of weeks I will have a lot of things to write and share regarding my family time, planning issues that have come up and the unexpected shift in the weather. In closing please excuse my silence over the past several days, I promise it won't last much longer.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2014 Soil Preparation


Before

Sand, Compost and Soil added

The supervisors watching the tiller.

After and ready for planting

This past weekend was time for us to prepare our garden for planting. Every year we follow pretty much the same plan because we subscribe to the thought, "if it isn't broke don't fix it". My husband was kind enough to extend the garden by another ten feet one day while I was at work so we now have an even larger area to work with. Have I ever told you have much I love him? Well, I do, especially when he makes awesome garden stuff happen.

So, back to the weekend soil preparations. We have a lot of clay in our soil here so one of the first things we add each year is sand. It helps to break up the clay and gives the soil a less compact texture. We added some more garden soil this year, about 5 bags. Due to rain and wind we lose a little soil from the garden so each year we add just a little extra. The one thing we did this year that we have not done before is add our own compost. We had a 20 gallon container that was filled will completely broken down compost so we spread that through the garden. Once all the additions were made the tiller was used to mix it all together and break up the large clumps of dirt. 

Little Guy loved watching the tiller and made his toy lawn mower his new tiller. My Girl just wanted to know when the plants would be able to be planted. She was itching to dig in the dirt. 

How do you prepare your garden soil in your area?


Monday, April 7, 2014

Primavera


The oldest child came down with a stomach virus at the end of last week. Thankfully she felt better after about 12 hours of being sick but come dinner time her stomach still was not completely settled and at the same time she was hungry. For dinner she requested noodles with butter. It was a good idea for her to stick with something bland but I also have three other people in the house who were feeling great  that I had to feed so I wanted to maximize my time and effort in the kitchen. So I decided in the spirit of spring, dinner would be Pasta Primavera.

Pasta Primavera in basically any kind of pasta served with sautéed spring vegetables. Here is how I did it:

Steamed Asparagus.


Roasted red pepper.

 Sautéed carrots, onions, and snow peas with a splash of white wine for the extra, extra.


All the vegetables added to ravioli with a little butter and parmesan cheese.

The sick child had her bland meal while the rest of us dined in style. Win-Win. 


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Stormy Dog Antics

Wow it is Thursday already! The weather cleared up just long enough for me to get a few things done in the garden. The days have been extremely ordinary around here. Everyday feels like the same: clean, eat, sleep, play, go outside and putz around not really much worth sharing. I am in mood to just enjoy watching everything slowly wake up as the season shifts. So today's post will showcase some of the adventures of one of the more comical characters in the home. These were taken over a period of months and it has become a game to see which strange position or place we will find her in next.

Now I know what she would do with a chicken. Note to self: NO CHICKENS!

Sunbathing on a table.

"Look mom I found a really big water bowl."

"I am trying to work here mom."

"This log needs to go a little to the right. "


"I got it, I got it!"

"Best day ever!"

"What do you mean it's to big? It's perfect!"

"Mom, seriously?"

Sittin pretty on a stool. 

Watching beagle puppies on youtube.

Her favorite spot of all. 
Do you ever walk into a room or area to find your pet in a strange position or doing something rather silly? I think the dog gets into more trouble than the kids.