Friday, February 26, 2010

A Note About Survival Seeds

There've been some recent generous giveaways or related promotional offers related to "survival seeds," or seeds to be saved in case of disaster scenarios. It's tiresome to me, though, that our hards times have made seeds a marketing gimmick.  I'm not talking about seed banks that preserve a diversity of seeds for posterity, to insure their continuation.  I'm talking about these all-in-one seed offers packaged up to save for harder times (TEOTWAWKI and so on) sold as survival "kits" for preppers.  It's always good to save things for the unknown, but there are too many unknowns with some of these so-called survival seed offers.

Since I'm an opinionated old battleaxe, here are my fleeting thoughts on some of that.

1.  Folks have to have a working knowledge of how to grow things way before a disaster scenario, or any seeds will be largely experimental, and probably wasted.   Grow things now, and save the seeds.  It takes time to learn what will grow where you are and what your family will eat, and how to save and best utilize the harvests.

2.  Just because you open a package of reliable cabbage seeds, it doesn't mean it's a variety that will grow best in my zone or microclimate.  It also doesn't mean it will be a good performer, be resistant to the adversities specific to my own garden, and that I will have the knowhow to time the planting at the optimum time of year (see #1 above).   IF you grow enough plants long enough, the weak ones go by the wayside and the superstars are the ones whose seeds get saved, and this goes for varieties, too.  And if you save them from your own garden long enough, you're saving them from the plants specifically adapted to your own backyard...and all its particulars, not someone else's.  Your plants will, in a way, become "yours" uniquely suitable for YOUR garden after enough years of saving the best of the best.  It would sure be better to depend on these instead of a random packet of "survival seeds" that has never been tried, eaten, and re-saved by you.

3.  Yes, someone needs to save the heirloom seeds before we monoculture ourselves to death.  But if you've ever noticed, backyard and small farm gardeners are usually so intoxicated by the siren song of those wonderful seed catalog offerings, there's less chance in the home garden that the monoculture will ever rule.  Eveyone I know overbuys, and loves trying lots of new plants and varieties...that's half the fun of the addiction.  :)  I love heirlooms, but I have not grown enough years' worth of particular crops to yet know what will be our most reliable producers for times in which our garden must be our supermarket with no other options available.  Learning how to store those seeds safely, for times in which they might be crucial, is important.  I just don't think there's a real viable use for so-called Survival Seeds, though, unless you put your particular proven favorites in your Bug-Out bag to take with you no matter where you a normal part of your life...during good times or bad.  That's how family favorites made the trip over the pond and ended up here, anyway, with different migrations of peoples.  People survived off their gardens normally, and that WAS survival.

I don't condemn companies who promote so-called survival seeds, but I wonder if these people actually grow things themselves.  That's what I think we all need to be doing.  Or else we'll be rank amateurs and eating some kind of cabbage that doesn't grow well, and wishing we had tinkered with this a lot more ahead of time.

Any seed from a plant loved and proven...and perpetuated... is a "survival seed."


Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Though I'm not at all crazy about the ol' Empty Nest situation, I'm glad my daughter is making her way as a young adult and going through all those "firsts." I love that we talk on the phone and get together often.

She's been right there as I've been trying different things to make significant health changes in the past few months (and past few years, even), and when faced with needing to address medical concerns that come up as a part of normal life, I'm really happy she's opting for prevention.

I'd passed along the name of a naturopath in her area, in the event she wanted to go that route, and I'm happy to say that she did make an appointment and go in. Wow, am I delighted at her report of how things individually she was evaluated, the scope and depth of the medical history interview, the mindset of prevention and mentality of using whole foods and lifestyle to support solutions to medical concerns.

I've always wanted to go the naturopath route for my own healthcare needs, but never had the money to get started initially. I'm paying careful attention to how this goes for my girl, and I'm so proud she's caring enough to get on the right track at a young age. I only wish I'd had the wisdom to incorporate the things I know now back when she was a many things I thought were fine as far as eating and lifestyle habits back then I'd do so differently today.

I'm smiling at the fun it is to have the common ground of discovery these days, though, with her. To have conversations like "hey, what do you think of candida cleanses?" or to go to the health food store and peruse some of the less familiar products together (and pick some to try), and to experiment with exactly what to pop into the next smoothie....SO cool when we both like to share and compare these things :) And I can always count on her straightforward delivery of opinion...ha! in "Ugh, now mom, THAT one (name new thing tried) was totally gross!"

This house is way too quiet without kids in it. I do get so lonely for little handprints on windows, story books that are worn out with rereads, filled laps and the mini-dramas and victories witnessed at close range...all the ordinary messes of daily life and being at the hub of growing childrens' orbits. But I have to say I'd never wish to halt my girl's onward progress into full adulthood. So glad she's pulling in good resources, like this naturopath, to ease her way. Being a mom seems to always be a series of transitions, separations, and connections...and always surprises. I wonder what the naturopath would prescribe for the lump in my throat and the tear in my eye when thinking about these things, and the fact I feel both happy and sad and immensely grateful all at the same time? Ack, these woman hormones...sure hope this isn't my biological clock going on the fritz :)

Oh dear, now I'm laughing remembering the line from Fried Green Tomatoes where Mrs. Threadgood is advising Evelyn Crouch "Honey, you need you some of them hormones"

LOVE Kathy Bates in that movie...remember this scene that follows?
Glad I wasn't in this mode yesterday with the rude guy (Franz) and the fender bender ....hey Franz...Towanda! ;-)

Indian Head Nickel

I found this in the loose coins I save in a jar...pretty neat! It dates from the early 20th century, no later than the thirties. I've found wheat pennies aplenty before, but never one of these.
Here's a pic of the other side. Easy to see why they're also called Buffalo nickels (though it's really a bison) When these were coined, the dates were on part of the raised surface and easily rubbed smooth, as have most of the smaller details of the bison and the head profile. I found a statistic somewhere that said that finding one of these still in active circulation is a probability of about one in 25,000.

Maybe I should now break my record of never having bought a lottery ticket and see what happens?? ha


My vehicle was rear-ended while stopped at a stoplight today. So there is a guy named Franz who refused to share his insurance info who I suppose really NEEDED to meet our local law enforcement gentlemen in order to convince glad to have helped them with the introductions. (Grrrrr...) I'm sore. Kaleb probably is too (our fur companion), but we're still walking fine. Let's see how the world looks after the megamilligram ibuprofen wears off, ha :)

It shook me up a little. My usual Makin'-Green N Blue-Smoothies routine would have gone off without a hitch around dinnertime were it not for the fact that my nerves were still a tad jangled and at a crucial point of the final blend, I sort of...left the top off. And pushed Blend High. The blender is ever reliable, top or no top. Maybe this is how Picasso got his start. The aftereffects looked like the crime scene of a Barney-the-purple-dinosaur mob hit. Blueberry puree makes fascinating Rorschach designs on while floor tile, in case anyone was wondering. And T-shirts and maple cabinets and countertops and walls and toaster ovens.

I'm going to go put the coin back in a drawer. I don't think I need to get any more "lucky" today ;-)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spring Stay-Cation

Ah, and so ends our wonderful few days of vacation!  OK, so maybe it's not officially spring yet, but it feels like it.  I'm glad Jack insisted we take them off work and have some fun, because all The Usual and No Play might make Jack the proverbial dull boy (well, not to me), but makes Robbyn most certainly an uninspired lump of monotony.

In planning the timing of a few days off, I'm glad we timed it after having our 2010 taxes done.  This was one year we just weren't sure of where we stood at tax time, which had us a bit on edge until the preparer told us that we don't owe anything...and together we heaved a WHOOSH of relief.

Now, how to play?

Well, we did the quarterly tallying of our remaining debts (yeah, everyone's ultimate start to vacation, haha!)...actually, we haven't tallied them since early fall of last year.  It was not nice finding out that we had more remaining than we thought due to doc bills of mine from late summer and early fall...ugh.  But the numbers were crunched, a revised plan was made, and Jack-who-is-my-debt-barometer was encouraged, and believes we can be totally done with it by the end of the year.   This is a year longer than our original payoff projection, and it seems we've been doing this FOR-EV-ER. 

Maybe my next post will be about my emotional body armor to The Ship May Come In expectations, my own personal survival mindset that renders me riveted ONLY to the REAL and probable so that I don't get disappointed in overreaching goals and such.  But it helps me zero in on the most important goals and not get disappointed if the secondary ones don't all get done at the same time...or from losing focus and not getting any of them done.  It's very nice to see the progress we've made so far, I must say, even despite the setbacks.

So Goal One is still (STILL) to get out of debt, and no other goal, not even getting on some land, shall be equal to it, of necessity...because (and thankfully we both agree on this) without being free of bills Jack and I simply will never be able to be free to accomplish the other goals (and there are a lot)

SO...we got that in focus again, came up with the actual number and did all the updates to the bookwork. And then called it a week for anything else but fun.

About $200 had been set aside for vacation...yeah, compared to some vacations, that's a pretty spare amount.  But we're sticking to our debt goal!  So we nixed any prospect of hotel or dog boarding costs by making it a Day Trip scenario and getting out of the house and the postal code, but not out of a day's easy driving range.  And, happily, there was no "vacation fatigue" wherein we felt like we needed to recover from vacation :)   It's simply nice to come home to your own comfortable bed and bathroom.

In short, we were able to be together, and that was such fun...relaxing to our own schedule, actually getting to sleep nights and be awake days, and getting to play!

I'm so glad we chose weekdays to travel...the snowbirds are down here from the blizzard states and traffic was really thick comparatively.  Mid-week was the best time for sight-seeing, window-shopping, and getting to enjoy local businesses without crowded parking or waits. 

First day, we "did" Sarasota.  We're not your usual tourists, and we've already taken in a lot of the local attractions a bit at a time of the past few years.  Between driving and popping into places to window-shop, we hit the Indian buffet for lunch (a real treat, we love Indian), caught the $1.50 movie, did some stints at the County Extension office, bookstores, army surplus, tool shops, cruised through the RV center, stopped and lingered over coffee and snuggled and talked, and generally lazed.  Wandered about wherever we wanted, then went to a different Indian restaurant, where Jack had the most delicious lamb korma I think we've tasted yet (it's made with a ground cashew sauce) and where I finally was served a curry hot enough for my enough to bring tears to my eyes but still taste the food.  Or as Jack likes to say "hot enough to melt the stomach lining and peel paint."  He likes mild and I like it hot.  The waitress raised an eyebrow when I described how hot I wanted mine and I assured her I really did mean it.  Three of the staff came to stand at the table a minute after I'd been served, making sure I was "ok"...  ha :)  Anyway, it was great. (And no, no later stomach upset)

We got home mid-evening, and the next day did a few house chores and then headed out to Ft. Myers.  Again, it was pretty cold for down here...which means I LOVE IT.  I love being able to wear a jacket and the sun shining and it not being hot out, but not freezing.  We had thought about going to the ECHO farm, but we'll make the time to revisit it soon, when we can spend time without other things on the agenda.  And when it's not cold.  We tooled around Ft. Myers a bit, and basically we decide ahead of time where we want to's not our preference as far as scenic and atmosphere compared to Sarasota, but we went for a different reason.  First, around noon we holed up for a while (warming up!) at a big splashy local Mexican restaurant that didn't disappoint and didn't break the bank.  And then the highlight of the day (and for me, the week) was spending all afternoon at Fowler Firearms and Gun RangeI've been wanting to find out about some gun safety and handling classes as well and have been looking into getting a CCW handgun permit.  Though I don't own any sort of weapon yet.  And know that if I do, I'd better find a place to practice, practice, practice.  So this trip was my initiation, as I've never handled or fired a handgun, and up till only recently was downright afraid of touching them in a way I'm not with rifles.

Thankfully, the staff didn't have a "little woman" mentality, and there was a good mix of men and women throughout the store all day coming to use the range.  We went on Ladies' Day, where a woman and partner get pistol rental and range fee free.  Ammo has to be bought there.  There were over 50 handguns to choose from.  Even though they were quite busy, the staff was really helpful, especially getting me started.  I started with a .22 and learned how to load the magazine and get familiar with safe operation.  I'm glad Jack was there with me.  We took turns, and he made me feel a lot more confident.  That pistol jammed several times.  I was a pretty good shot with it and it was easy to handle.

The next ones we tried were all 9mms, and it may be a while before I fire anything in a higher caliber than that.  That was about the best I could handle for now.  We alternated between the S&W MP and the Glock 17, which were the two the employee recommended from their selection.  The S&W was a better fit for my hand in some respects and a bit less recoil, but both were exilirating to learn on, and the sound of their being fired, even with the ear protection on, was ominous.  We practiced for about three hours.  It seems I tend to hit the target lower than where I site it, so I'll have to see what I'm doing wrong in between siting and the trigger pull.   But Jack said I did really well.  He did better than I did, and he enjoyed trying different ones.

What the trip there helped me with was to overcome the unfamiliar, (especially the initial intimidating things)...which is what guns are till I get the swing of some of the terminology, abbreviations, knowledge of types and parts and actual hands-on time.  The hardest part for me was the initial learning how to safely load, hold, and unload.  We fired semi-automatics this trip.  Some had safeties, some did not.  It took a while to train my non-firing hand to grip correctly (without leaving my thumb back).  Where I surprised myself was in not being phased by the recoil, the brass from the fired rounds doinking my face and arms occasionally, and handling the noise inside the gun range well.  It was just fun, and especially because Jack was there and I could watch as he took his turns, and learn.  It was also nice seeing other women there.  In the store area, there were monitors where you could watch the range lanes.!!

After 3 hours in the actual range, I was kind of at my saturation point, and it was a great first experience.  We live in an area that is part-rural, part-city, and has everything from quiet families with children to criminals who dump dead bodies in the woods nearby or make rental houses into marijuana grow-houses till the authorities conduct raids.  In our idyllic location we still are hit with roaming gangs of thieves who target homes at any hour of the day, using "joggers" with pagers or cellphones as the scouts who jog the streets or wander the swales at the back of properties, and break in forcefully.  It's not uncommon for Amber alerts to happen several times a year.

THAT is why I'm even considering arming.  It's my right.. I've just never had to use it before.  We don't actually have anything in the way of desirable loot to take, unless you count a pre-digital box TV and older model PC and a jar of pennies :)  But if this becomes somebody's gang turf, or if drugs are involved I guess that doesn't matter.  But I digress...we took the rambling route back along Tamiami Trail/HWY 41, which is slow but meanders the length of the SW Florida coast from top to bottom, so when you get on it you know you'll never get lost.  We thought about stopping after dark in an Irish pub midway in our journey, but not finding it easily, we just ambled back to our own neck of the woods, stopped for a milkshake, and headed home where Jack indulged in a non-girlie blow-em-up movie and I warmed up in a hot shower and I drowsed under the bedcovers with Pamel Jekel novel about the Suwannee...first time I've discovered her writings.  And of course getting to have the same bedtime schedule as Jack...well, it's simply wonderful!

Friday.  A day In Town.  We did our weekly grocery shopping, again ate Mexican, this time at the local mom & pop place that's a favorite watering hole, got all "libraried up" with books from the library, and I cooked for the upcoming week.  Finished it up with a good homecooked meal here at the house just in time for sundown, when our shabbat starts, and snuggled in for the night, which was again chilly.

No, it wasn't a trip to Paris, ocean cruise, cross-country road trip, historic Williamsburg trip, etc.  And there were a lot of things we nixed, such as making purchases, which eliminated some favorites...antique shops (woo!), art supply stores, architectural salvage warehouses, old book stores, historic district shops, and the State Fair this year.  But I never felt disappointed in any of those things, because I know we kept to our budget and totally relaxed, and had time to talk and reconnect.  I was with my best friend.  We weren't going backwards into debt.  And there may come a day when we can go antiquing or camp and rent canoes and so on to our hearts' content, or maybe even dink around at a theme park, but we didn't miss out on anything...and we already have what we need.  If we ever do have the money, a possibility would be going to some sort of workshop that interests us, like learning traditional craft or living skills, or even an out of town writing workshop, or such.  But I don't feel like I'm missing anything in the meantime.

Amazingly, even though we ate out a lot, we didn't really junk it up much.  The whole week, the only blips were a chocolate milkshake and on another day a cake donut with coffee, and if you count the entrees then the rice and the tortillas.  One of the nicest things for me was being able to go a whole week without having to stay up all night any night.  It made a huge difference in how I felt the next day.  My energy is SO much better with that rest schedule.  Makes me want to hasten the getting out of debt so that we have more wiggle room with job flexibility.

Just two or three days of playing gave me needed perspective at what I'd like to tackle in the short term towards longer-term goals.  It cleared my head.  And it refreshed Jack physically a lot, too...he got to get full sleep and no stress.  Which is a good thing, because his boss called last night and requested he work 16 hours starting this afternoon.  Ugh.             

Anyway, we'll be doing this again!

What're your own favorite things to do locally?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tanka Poetry and Haibun

I'm a book junkie and a reading glutton.  Someone convinced me long ago we are our own teachers, and being a student is a mindset of continually asking and seeking rather than an actual diploma (thanks, Mrs. Devenen! your history class figured largely into my world view now that the memory of your wonderful Asides mortar so many of my perspectives together)

We're considering nixing our internet and our phone and going just to the library for emails/blogging and just to our cell phone rather than a land line.  How shall I get by without my beloved internet searches when the questions hit??  Ack!

I suppose like everyone else in the world did only a few decades ago before Google reigned supreme :)

Anyway, I'm having fun schlepping my college-ruled notebook around with me and scratching out some lines as they come to mind.  Back a few years ago when I was single, on those too-long weekends when my daughter was away at her father's, I'd indulge in nurturing times with a quiet setting, pen and paper, and pots of hot tea.  It was then I began writing Tanka poetry...another thing I'd likely never have discovered without the internet.  Tanka poetry is similar to haiku, but with a pattern of 5/7/5/7/7...and somehow that seems to work for me.  It allows some relection on a subject or emotion (anything, really) but distills it down to a form that is easy to record and then revisit (i.e. polish up a bit), resulting in some nice verbal snapshots easily tucked away.  I love poetry, but am sometimes awkward writing it.  Tanka, though, comes more easily and incorporates a lot of images from nature into its language.  It's an old traditional form of poetry from Japan, and tankas were written after special occasions or other life landmarks.  I like the modern twist that records everyday events as snapshots to be returned to.

Today I happened on another writing form called the Haibun, which incorporates segments of prose interspersed with haiku.  After reading several different ones, its flexibility really excites me...any subject, incorporating any sort of writing style, very are a few.

I'm going to jump in and mix it up a bit as the growing year here begins to thaw a bit...time to stretch those ol' writing kinks out :)

Language and the ordinary things.  It's the everday that continues to sustain me with the extraordinary.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Loyal Companion, Staunch Defender...

...Fearless Bearer of Squeaky Toys

Here's Kaleb with his thicker winter coat. I'm pleased with the improved condition of his fur so far. We've not been outside nearly as much as in the warmer weather...he's added some weight since being inside more, so I've recently cut back some on his food till he's back to rocketing around the property. At the moment, he loves to chase the ball/toy and then worry it to death as he careens a few circuits in full gallop. And then go back inside to stretch out on the tile. It's such a rough life :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Heavy Hearts

Our hearts are heavy for our friend Susanna, in the loss of her son last week in a car accident. Susanna, whom many of us here in the blogosphere know and love, writes and is a professional storyteller under the name Granny Sue and is the author one of the first blogs I discovered when I myself first started blogging. She has often had a kind and timely word to spare in the past few years, and often a word of comfort during life's ups and downs. She is a woman of strength, wisdom, and humor, and someone I admire.

However loosely connected all of us in this unique internet community are daily, this is still a community in reality, and we need each other. Please feel free to stop and offer your real support to one of our own in a time of her family's great loss. There has also been a fund set up for the benefit of the immediate family, which includes Jon's wife and four children.

Thank you in advance for your kind words...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pretty Much A Vegetative State

We thought we ate healthfully, and we've sinced learned that we didn't...we just ate less badly than we did compared with a decade ago.

I've been experimenting with raw foods, and one of my realizations is that we never ate enough real foods to begin with...cooked, raw, or otherwise. We had a processed mentality. I raised my daughter on chicken nuggets and homemade entrees, but the "homemade" was loaded with processed things like cream of mushroom soup, packet dry onion soup for seasoning, and so on.

I'm not religious about any of these things per se, if they are the exception and not the rule...not a die-hard purist.

Anyway, being aware of better choices and actually making them are two different things. Loving the occasional vegetable and fruit and eating them daily as the bulk of preferred meals are also two different things. I realized last year we not only weren't eating enough greens, we weren't eating a variety of them or even liking them. Most of our vegetables were the starchy ones, with some roots thrown in.

Anyway, we've graduated from foods heavy in cooking oils (and the worst of the worst ones at that) to better oils and less frying. From margarine to real butter. From soup from cans to soups homemade beginning with the chicken slow cooked and turned to broth, and etc.

We have not, however, changed our reliance from supermarket to garden. There are reasons, but we're expediting elements so we can have that garden for the long-term, and the waiting chafes, but other goals speed by so at least there is movement. Oh for closure! But if buying and exploring our local resources could be considered necessary "research," we're much more educated as to what grows here and what's available during different seasons.

We did grow some things last year and likely some of them will grow "on their own" again this year without too much input from us, despite our garden nixing. Okra will grow here even in the thickest fact, will grow astoundingly tall and prolifically though the bermuda doesn't make it the most sightly of patches. The other thing that will grow here smack in the bermuda, if started in a clear spot to begin with are the calabazas/tropical pumpkins. And the purple hulls peas will grow like gangbusters if given a good soil, and can be mowed right back to the ground when done, or pulled up. So even though we won't have my Fantasy Tomato Patch, we'll have something coming in.

We can sure eat those pumpkins. Sweet potatoes grow well here, too. And beans.

So, realizing this, our eating has changed a lot. Now we crave the pumpkin, the sweet potatoes..roasted, baked, or in soups.

We'll have to learn to grow the greens...those and the berries are the bulk of what we buy most at the store right now. But at least we're eating the greens...finally. We're eating a higher percentage of raw veggies, and a higher percentage of veggies at all, and we'll never go without the best of the cooked. Many of our local types of veggies have to be cooked...but the point is we're training ourselves to eat them.

I know this sounds like we're spoiled. But...we're spoiled, and not to good things, but to fast "easy" things. The more familiar we make ourselves with real food, the more we discover we haven't been eating mostly real food.

The adjustment to limit our breads and, for me, to eliminate most-to-all of my processed sugar is for health reasons, and has had benefits...mostly the education to buy things that don't require labels, and when we do buy labeled things, to read the labels. That in itself is an education. Most of the items at the store are not as "fast" as the veggies and good meat prepared at home, if we get a sense of what we really like.

The greens/fruit/berry smoothies will stay with us, hopefully daily, because of their sweetness and delicious taste...and flexibility of ingredients...and ease of preparation. Less than 5 minutes and everything's made and cleaned...hard to beat...and wonderful to eat. And raw.

Black beans/pintos/etc along with pumpkin/winter squash, flash-braised spinach or shredded cabbage or kale or chard...has become very satisfying to us.

We're also beginning to love nuts and seeds. I'm glad I've had the chance to look into some of the raw options such as dehydrating pureed onion mixed with some ground or whole seeds, to make dehydrated crackers...I don't have the tools (dehydrator) to do it myself, but like the ones I've tried elsewhere. I never knew seeds were as delicious as nuts are. We've recently tried chia seed, which can be prepared with water hot or cold, no cooking necessary if we wish. Shredded apple, some fresh fruit chunks, dried cranberries, finely chopped almonds...and so on in any combination or none at all is great with a drizzle of honey...who knew? Three teaspoons literally is a serving swells with the water, and is chock full of so many nutritional benefits. We love oatmeal, too.

Oatmeal can be made so quickly, I marvel that anyone bothered to prepackage it for microwaving. We don't use a microwave, and in the time it takes to heat a very small pan of water for cooking, it's not a huge time investment to see it through cooking with a pinch of salt and then jazz it up with whatever good things are at hand when it's done.

I've digressed. Anyway, I like the track we're on.

I've struggled to rid myself of some of my worse eating habits, namely fast food, which seems to be both a habit and a strange mental connection where my head registers "Yum!" but the reality is a gut that the product of too many years past of advertising voodoo? :) And certain things, such as real Mexican food and Indian...well, howdy...I'm feels like a real treat to have a date out to eat if they're on the menu.

I had no idea how many grams of processed sugar I consumed daily in this and that till I started keeping count. Big wakeup call. Totally different than having an occasional piece of pie or marmalade on my toast. If I'm not eating something from the produce section, just about anything in a box or a can has some form of processed HFcorn syrup or white sugar in it in big amounts.

We've also gotten off preservatives and stuff like food coloring. I know a lot of people out here did that long ago, and I've cooked at home for a long time now...but have realized more and more there's a difference between Home-cooked and Homemade-with-real-foods.

Interestingly, the monetary shift has been slight rather than gigantic...we're actually affording a good many organic veggies but only because just about nothing packaged is going into the grocery cart. It's cut down on our garbage considerably, too. It's my goal to eventually have very little packaged stuff in my pantry except my own home canned, home dehydrated, and bulk items.

The biggest and most lasting monetary shift will be the eventual, and hopefully lasting, shift from store produce aisle to back forty growing area. Learning now what we most want to eat will determine largely how that garden will be plotted. I can't say I ever had much desire to grow greens, but now our plan will include a way to grow them here year-round when possible. THAT will impact our budget in a BIG way. The garden will BE our grocery store. That's the goal we hold always before us. Even while it's not the present reality.

Let's see...

The Beating Diabetes effort is still afoot. We're buying a few supplements for the initial stages of that transition, and they are helping a lot. I am not yet reducing the meds...but I am charting all my sugars and trying for the right combination of low-GI real foods ...produce and a few good meats.

I'm already Garden Jealous. I don't know how I'll make it through this summer without an "official" garden...there are sooooooo many things we want and need to grow. But there are reasons we have to concentrate our efforts elsewhere for the short term. That short term sure seems long, though.

I'm still working on liking salads, which I know won't be a problem once we're growing our own fixins. Here is the salad of my dreams...

...and in the meantime my seed catalogs continue haunting me with refrains of "if you plant them, it (the endless beautiful veggies and magnificent salad) will come" (nods to Field of Dreams...guess that would be Field of Greens?? ha)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Welcome, Homesteading Today Visitors

...and anyone else stopping in for the first time. :) I'm curious about the Homesteading Today visits...does anyone have a link to the specific page folks are coming in from?


Kombucha "Rawhides" ?

It was time. Our continual brew Kombucha had not been continually refreshed nor drunk for a very long time, so it's time for emptying out and a full cleaning of all the utensils.
The SCOBYs (thick mushroom-ish "mother") were thick and layered and though we weren't going to re-use them, I'd heard they could be dried and used for dog chews. Obviously, these are freshly rinsed layers, pulled apart, rolled, and not yet dried. I wonder how long it will take to get them fully dry. They're supposed to harden up sort of like leather.
Let's see...I'm not quite sure how to go about it. I'll try air drying them, since we don't have gnats in the wintertime (I think)...I wonder if they'll dry well enough to retain the roll shape... Let's see if the insides dry well enough that way. If not, I'll try letting them dry flat and then cut them into strips.
Anyone out here tried this for dog chews? I thought it might be something fun for Kaleb, since rawhide chews are not something we use any more.