Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nutrition, Nutritionist and Well Balanced

I have never had the opportunity to talk with a nutritionist or to hear their opinions on food, until this morning.  Joining in on a conference call I heard one nutritionists opinion of good nutrition on the go, sadly my thoughts were extremely different from theirs.  I listened as simple meal planning was discussed things such as know what's in your pantry before you go to the store, getting ideas for meals from grocery store flyers and even getting meal ideas from looking at the meals on prepackaged food.  What I did not hear was the nutritional value of todays veggies and fruits versus those of fifty years ago, nor was anything mentioned about organic, locally grown, growing your own or gmo's, or what makes a balanced meal.  Yes, I know that we all supposedly know what makes a balanced meal, but sometimes reminders are helpful. 

I agree with knowing what is in your pantry before you go shopping, I have an inventory spreadsheet for the pantry, refrigerator and each of the deep freezes.  As an item gets used, it gets marked off.  By doing this I learn quite a few things, first what I am needing to buy, second what my family likes to eat the most of and third, if not the most important, what items I need to grow more of and preserve.  For example, canned tomatoes, last year we grew or supplemented our supply from the farmer's market enough to can 12 cases of tomatoes in quarts and 6 cases of pints.  Two cases of quarts and pints went to my parents and the rest were for Farmer Joe and myself.  I am now down to a half a case of quarts and no pints.  By keeping up with this on my inventory sheet it tells me that for the next year I need to do more tomatoes.  I am thinking a total of 18 cases of quarts and 10 cases of pints this year may get us through. 

Now I disagree with getting meal ideas from grocery store flyers and I vehemently disagree with getting ideas from prepackaged foods.  If you can look at a flyer get an idea for a meal and use ingredients that are organic or non gmo or as close as you can get then go for it.  When I shop now I read all labels.  This is not something that I used to do, but things have changed.  I look now for any item that can be gmo, amounts of sugar and what preservatives if any are used.  The fewer sugars and preservatives I find great.  Any item that could be gmo and it goes back on the shelf.  But getting ideas from prepackaged food, no way!!  First if I look at that package and think yum, then I am more inclined to buy it and it probably cost more than what I am willing to pay.  And who knows what has gone into that package.  From the processing to the preserving, I don't want any part of it.  Yes, it may be delicious.  Yes, it has vegetables which are good for you.  But look at the ingredients, read the fine print, read the nutritional label.  And then as for me, put it back on the shelf. 

If I want foods that are healthy and full of nutrition I am either going to run out to the garden and pick it, purchase it at my local farmer's market, or raise and slaughter it.  Then I can process and preserve on my own, store it at my house and shop in my freezer.  There are so many benefits to this, that to me it is astounding.  First that nutrition value thing again, fresh picked is definitely the best, but I feel that the processing I would do is a lot less than a commercial company so I retain more of that value.  Second, a sense of accomplishment and well being.  Looking out over the garden's or at a nice meaty hog I have feeling of fulfillment in knowing that something I have nurtured has grown, matured and become productive.  Third, the time and money I save on grocery shopping.  That was an hour or two a week I was spending in a store that can now be spent at home, with Farmer Joe, visiting friends or just doing anything.  Now I spend on average one hour about every three weeks in a grocery store.  And between the gas money to get there and back and the money I save on overpriced foods, our family budget is taking a turn for the better.  We have a fun fund and by saving money each week on not shopping we are able to stick some back for something either Farmer Joe or I want, love the little indulgences.  Fourth, having on hand what I need when I need it.  Feel like pork chops tonight?  Ok, let me lay out a pack to thaw while we are at work.  No more...uh pork chops, let me see do we have any....no....well I can pick some up on the way home.  Wrong.  Wasted gas, wasted time.  Not anymore!!  Fifth, community.  In years when we have an over abundance of something and I just can't bear to can one more jar, we share it with family and neighbors.  People appreciate that gesture, plus it gives you time to visit, get to know each other, renew a sense of community.  When you know your neighbors, you have a natural tendency to look after them and they look after you.  If I don't see our elderly neighbor for two days, we call or go by to make sure everything is ok.  On the other hand if they see a strange car at our place when we aren't home they make sure to mention it to us.  And let me tell you, in my four house community, nothing goes unnoticed.

There are a great many more benefits I could ramble on about, but enough of my opinion for one day. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Soul Cravings

Everyone craves something at sometime.  Most common are food cravings, you know when you get that sweet tooth and just have to have that extra piece of cake.  Well, I get soul cravings.  Things that I just really feel the need to do or a place that I just feel I need to be.  The warmer the weather gets, the more I feel the need to be outdoors, whether it is in the garden, walking in the woods or just sitting by a creek.  These things relax me and rejuvenate my sense of well being.  This week I am craving knitting.  I just have the overwhelming urge to finish a project and start a new one.  By doing this it feeds my sense of accomplishment.  When there are things in life that are beyond my control, finishing a project lets me sit back and know that even though it may be something small in the overall scheme of things I can complete it.  My other soul cravings seem to take the form of reading or cooking.  Reading a good book, especially one with a happy ending, restores my sense that sometimes things really will work out.  With all the depressing news reports today, every now and then you just need a happily ever after.  Cooking a large or extra special meal gives me the sense that I am taking care of my family.  We sit down together and enjoy each other, and getting a full tummy is just a side benefit.  In addition it lets us slow down from a hectic day and just take a moment to breathe.  I am a firm believer that if you listen, your body will tell you what you need whether it be physically or spiritually.  Just take a second and listen to it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Baby Superhero Blanket

A friend of mine and her husband are expecting their first baby in a few weeks and I wanted to make them a baby blanket.  I had visions in my head of what it should look like, but my reality never lives up to those visions.  The theme for their nursery is comic book superheroes.  After ditching my first two attempts, I came upon a pattern I thought would work.  I had chosen the colors of cobalt blue, red and yellow all in cotton.  This is what I came up with.

Sorry the first picture is so dark, and the second one is blurry, but I am hoping you can get the jist of the pattern.  The hat turned out ok, but I did love the blanket. 

I used the Optimistic Stripe Throw pattern from Redheart for the body of the blanket.   I did not like the border though for a baby boy so I opted for the border on the Sweet Potato Baby Blanket

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Morning Singers

This is what I was listening to this morning as I sat on the porch swing with my coffee.

The following pictures are individual shots of the "choir"

I think this is an Indigo Bunting, but not sure yet.  Need to get a clearer picture. 

A Rose Breasted Grosbeak has stopped by for a while on his migration route.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

40 is not the new 29

It started out innocent and simple, I wanted to clean out from around the peonies and put down some mulch.  So on Saturday while running our errands we picked up five bags of mulch, just enough I figured to do the job.  With all the running we did not get to start on this project till Sunday morning.  Farmer Joe tackled one group of peonies and I went at the other.  Briars were trimmed and dug up, weeds and leaf litter gotten rid of and then the mulch went down.  I actually had enough to do a third group of peonies that I did not realize were there.  Farmer Joe and I stepped back to admire our landscaping, then we looked at each other.  Wouldn't it look better if those two dogwoods and the azalaes and the boxwoods had mulch around them too????  Back to the store we went with trailer in tow for more mulch.  And since we were there let's just look to see if we can find something to prop up the rose bush with, oh, and aren't those purple azaleas pretty??  Back home we head with 54 bags of mulch, 2 trellises, 2 azalea plants, 2 (more) finch feeders and and extra bag of bird see, just in case. 

First we completed mulching around the azaleas that got us started thinking.

Then around the other dogwoods and azalea bush.

The two new azalea's that were planted in between the dogwoods trees on the left in the above picture.

And finally the rose bush arbor came together.  The picture is a little crooked, not the actual trellis.  To me this is the most dramatic transformation.  You see this is my grandmother's house that we live in now and she planted this rose about fifty years ago.  Then when she got older she was afraid that someone might hide behind it and come after her so she kept it trimmed severely and bound up.  As in there were wire ties going half way up and the top half just sort of drooped back down to the ground.  I lost Nana on March 2nd of this year and seeing her flowers blooming and how beautiful the rose looks untied I am hoping that she is smiling and likes the changes we have made.  Ok, enough or I am going to start bawling.  Back to work.

After completing almost all the landscaping, we still had 18 bags of mulch left, we needed to feed.  And that meant we had to pour into barrels the pig feed that we picked up on Saturday.  All 975 pounds of it.  Now I can pick up a bag of mulch, but by no means can I lift those feed bags.  However, I can manhandle them into an upright position and get them opened so Farmer Joe can do the heavy lifting and dump them into barrels. 

About 7:00 that night I am laying on the couch moaning in pain and praying for the ibuprofen to kick in.  Parts of me that had not gotten a lot of use over the winter were protesting about how much work we did today.  I looked at Farmer Joe and said "Next time I get the idea to do lot's of yard work in one day, remind me that I am 40 and not 29!"

Fatback and Lost Photo Upload

First let me say a huge thanks to Hermit Jim over at  Coffee With The Hermit for helping me figure out how to load photos once again.  It seems that blogger changed things around on me and for the life I could not figure out how to get photos that I had taken uploaded.   So now I can publish all my posts that are sitting out in my drafting file.  Yay!!!

Hog Jowl's and fatback waiting to be sliced

  So a couple of weeks back, we took the Hog Jowl's and Fatback out of the smokehouse where they had been curing covered in salt.  First we sliced the skin off and then ran them thru the slicer on a slightly thick setting.  Just to be sure it tasted ok, Farmer Joe quickly fried some up.  Oh my!!  Sweet and salty deliciousness.  After the quality check we proceeded to weigh out and package.  We left most of the fatback in chunks, but did slice some and we sliced all of the jowl meat.  We opted for 3/4 pound packages as 1/2 seemed to little and a whole pound just seemed a little much for Farmer Joe and myself at one time.  Vacuum sealed all those babies up and plopped them in the freezer.  Final count 13 packages of jowl's and 27 packages of fatback.  It is supposed to be cold and rainy this weekend and I think a pot of beans with some fatback on the woodstove will be just perfect.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gluestick not Chapstick

Some people should use a gluestick instead of chapstick.  You know the ones I am talking about, people that talk incessantly without having anything to really say.  Now don't get me wrong I always enjoy a good conversation, a lively debate and even random observations.  But people who comment on everything or tell me things and think that I should have some interest in them get on my last nerve.  You don't have to tell me the sky is blue, I can look and see that for myself.  No, I don't know your Great Aunt Myrtle on your father's side and I am sorry but I could care less about her gall bladder.  Yes, you can lay your jacket there, no it is not in my way.  Yes, the garbage truck just went by ( I am sitting in front of the window it passed).  Yes the chair speaks, I can plainly hear it.   Some may laugh and say this sounds like a child's conversation but this is coming from adults.  And inane chatter when I am busy at a task is like a mosquito buzzing near your ear in a dark room as you are trying to fall asleep, ANNOYING!  I know everyone has pet peeves and I want to thank you for letting me vent about one of mine.  Sometimes you just need to rant a little to calm your nerves.  What are the annoying things that get to you?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Fever

How can one be bored, restless, and depressed with their mind going a mile a minute.  The only thing I can think of is spring fever.  My brain keeps going over lists that I need to get started on or completed.  My body says overload, let's just sit here awhile.  Then I start tapping my fingers because sitting here I get bored.      So I get up to start something, then in the middle, something else catches my attention so I move on to it.  Then realize I need to finish the first thing, so I sit back down to rethink my gameplan and have trouble getting back up and started on anything.  It is cold and dreary here this weekend, last weekend it was springlike and the energy I had was wonderful.  I have not checked the weather for the coming week, but I am sure hoping it resembles the season we are supposed to be in.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cigarettes, Lingerie and Buckshot

There have been some strange goings on in the neighborhood lately. First off let me classify what I think of as my neighborhood, it consists of the houses on each side of me and the two across the road. It is roughly a mile of road and approximately 40 acres. Now within a month and a half in three of these houses there has been five deaths, which is strange and sad in it's own right, but not what has me worried. Two weeks ago Farmer Joe and I found a cigarette pack about three quarters up our drive (the drive is 1000 foot long.) Now both he and I smoke, but it was not either of our brands nor was it a brand of any of our friends that smoke. Then a week later as Farmer Joe was walking home from work, he cut across the field and came across a piece of lingerie. Due to the size and the fact that none of mine had been hung on a clothesline to blow off recently we determined we had had a visitor sometime in the night. I think someone is using our driveway as a make out spot. Because of the curve in the drive you would be well hidden from the road. Then last week, someone was beating on the door of one of the houses across the road at a late hour. Lights were turned on, but no one was ever seen. So I have come up with a plan, that is if Farmer Joe will let me carry it out. Phase I: Stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights and creep thru the woods and stake out the driveway. If I see someone pull in and stop give them a good few minutes and then BLAM! A warning shot fired across the top of the car. Or Phase II: use the lingerie for target practice attach it to a sign that reads “If this was yours, don't bother coming back.” Farmer Joe looks at me when I mention either idea and just sort of shakes his head. I understand teenage hormones, I was one once upon a time. But for pete's sake find a road that leads to the river or a forest road in the mountains and leave my drive alone.

After much consideration over how to handle this without have the law called or seriously scaring the crap out of someone we have either decided to put up an electronic gate or get one of the drive way alarms. Personally I am voting for the alarm. Trespassers won't know it's there and if it goes off in the middle of the night, I can still sneak down and scare them. Wish me luck.

Monday, March 18, 2013

In Celebration of St. Patrick's Day

we planted potatoes.  It was a gorgeous weekend so Farmer Joe and I got a few things checked off the to do list.  Saturday was spent running errands, building two new raised beds and a visit to a local greenhouse to see what was sprouting.  Sunday we planted potatoes.  This may seem an odd St. Patty's day tribute, but in my weird logic it fit.  St. Patty's day is an Irish celebration, Ireland is famous for the potato famine which brought some of my ancestors to this country, so we planted Irish potatoes in remembrance.  I know my brain is strange.  Cooler weather has set in again this week, so we will be working indoors again.  Hopefully by the weekend we will be ready to move yet another load from the rental house.  My goal is to be out of it by April 15th.  All prayers for some good luck on that front would be much appreciated. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Searching For A Nursing Home......

in Canada.  Or somewhere where the people who will be taking care of me have some intelligence and common sense.  No, I won't be needing a room for quite a few years, but I figure I might had better start my search now.  After two encounters this weekend I was driven to this conclusion.

Encounter 1:  Our modem went on the fritz Saturday morning and after speaking to the phone company and finding out that we need a new one and they would send it to us for free (yay!) we decided to check out Barnes & Noble.  I was searching for a homesteading book that would reference rendering lard in a crock pot.  Several of the blogs I follow have instructions for this method, but without a modem the internet was not an option.  I wandered around for several minutes trying to find a section that would hold what I was looking for, nothing.  So I went to the customer service desk and asked the sweet young girl there.  This is how the conversation went:

"Excuse me, do you have a section on homesteading books?"

"Yes, we do.  It's this way." (she bounces out from behind the desk and heads towards the front of the store.

(Stops all of a sudden and looks at me quizzically) "That's like home interior, right?"

(Mentally slapping of my hand to my forehead) "No, it is like gardening, farming, raising livestock, being self sufficient."

"Oh."  (turns and leads me to another section)

She dropped me off at the nature and field guide section!!!

I go and find Farmer Joe and we search in vain on our own.  I did manage to find the Foxfire Series and we purchased the first two.  Along with two cookbooks.  Can't ever have too many cookbooks, I never know when the urge to try something new will strike.  So Farmer Joe and I left without what we needed and slightly dumbfounded by the employee.  I kept imagining Suzanne Sugerbaker invading Little House On The Prairie and trying to talk Caroline into chintz drapes.

Encounter 2:

Sunday night I was still feeling the effects of a migraine I had woken up with and did not feel like cooking, so I talked Farmer Joe into ordering takeout.  I called our local Italian place and placed our order, that part of the conversation went fine.  Here is the payment part of the conversation:

"Thank you, your order should be there in 30 minutes."

"Wait, I would like to go ahead and pay you."

"Oh, hold on just a minute.  I can't work the register."

(same girl) (I could hear someone giving her instructions in the back ground) "Um, what is the card number?"

I gave her that information.

"Um, what is the expiration date?'


"Oh, that's my birthday.  What year?"

I just sat there for a second.  "March of 2014"

"Oh, um, ok"

I wondered at this point when we would actually get delivery and would it be baked spaghetti or who knows what. 

I am happy to say that it was what we ordered and somewhat in the time frame it was promised.  The driver missed our driveway twice, while we stood on the porch watching him and trying to tell him "Turn left now" on the phone. 

So far this week, I have had no more of these encounters.  And I for one am thankful.  But just to be on the safe side I am still looking towards the future and a comfortable nursing home with intelligent life.  Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I Can See Clearly Now.....

The headaches are gone.  Went to the eye dr. yesterday and found out what was causing my sick headaches.  It was the anesthesia from my surgery.  According to the dr. the anesthesia effects the muscles that contract the lens in our eyes when we shift focus from something near to something far away.  Had never heard of this before.  He said the effects last between one and two months, and sure enough in the last couple of weeks, I have noticed that my headaches have been fewer and farther between.  So, Yay!!!  Hopefully in the next week I can catch everyone up on what has been happening on and around the farm.  Thanks for sticking with me guys, I really do appreciate it!!