Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Beautiful Tuesday Borscht!

On this weeks menu of new things to try is Borscht. Follow that link to the recipe I used. Borscht is a Ukranian soup made mostly from root vegetables, mainly beets, onions and carrots. Add veggie broth and cabbage and voila! The soup is red and warm and amazing!

Even if you hate beets, you should try this. I am not sure when my own taste buds evolved to enjoy the flavor of beets, but I am grateful! The soup is garnished with parsley, chives and sour cream. I am also serving hot sour dough bread with my soup.

Root veggies are the staple of cold regions. After the harvest, root veggies keep the longest at the coldest temperature. So if you live in a cold region, consider root vegetable soups as your staple too. The tasty veggies are seasonal, which means less petrol usage and maybe a bike ride to the market, if you don't have snow yet. Also, cabbage, bot a root veggie, grows and stores very well this time of year. (Cabbage can be wrapped in foil, with butter (or sub) and minced garlic and thrown on the bbq for a delicious treat!)

In other news, Christmas music is 24/7 on the radio here. Warm sourdough, hot Borscht and Bing Crosby, I am in heaven, I think!! Hopefully I will post a pic or two from our Tofurkey Day celebration.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Something New Every Week

For dinner the boys and I have been trying something new once per week. They grumble, but I enjoy cooking new things. The first thing new we tried was potato leek soup. It was a hit! That was a while ago and I can't really remember what has been in between, but this week we put a new spin on the shepherd pie. I think we did, at least. I have never had one, so I really don't know. Tris and I saw this at the Pine Country Restaurant in Williams last weekend. (They should call that place Pie Country because last time we were there, I counted 41 pies on the menu!)

So the shepherds pie goes as follows, layered in this order: a veggie burger patty, mashed potatoes, peas (or veggie of your choice), topped with gravy. The whole thing was vegan and wheat free and mighty delicious! I googled a recipe for vegan gravy and I hit the jackpot! Check out the recipe if you are so inclined.

The picture doesn't do the flavor any justice, but it was devoured by all. The brussle sprouts in the picture were on the stalk still when I bought them at Trader Joes. I sauteed a half of an onion in olive oil, then set the sprouts in to slow cook. They were still crunchy at dinner, so I would say they came out nearly perfect. Number 3 ate three servings! Have you ever heard of such a thing? Crazy kid! Number 2 gagged his way to swallowing just one, but it stayed down.

I wonder what surprise I will cook up next week. I will try and make this a regular thing, but with Tris being gone all week and finals just around the corner, I may not be able to follow through.

UPDATE: A post or two ago I was talking about how I should be in the boys room reducing the stuff. Well I did it today. I have one whole box of just tiny underwear! Not a small box either. I also have three more boxes filled with clothes that don't fit anymore. Still working on it, but I hope to be done by Friday!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Me and My Lady

Sometimes you just need something pretty to look at...

Someone Call the Plumber!

Oh wait, we are the plumbers! Not because we want to be though! The douche bag who sold us our trailer lied to us. When we asked about the plumbing he said it was great! the first time we went to see it, yes we went more than once, we had the kiddos with us. We explained that we were moving in the winter and that we would need something with working appliances and hot water. He and his lady assured us that all was working. After we thought on it for two weeks, we decided to another look at what we might be buying. Again, we asked about the plumbing and again we were told all was well. We inspected, paid, got the title and were on our way. Later that evening while we were testing things, we called to ask about the hot water heater. We weren't sure where the pilot was lit. No return call. We knew then that there was a problem.

Fast forward to this past weekend. We did some research and figured out the hot water heater, which does work, by the way, but when we plugged the water in and turned it on we found six obscured burst holes in the pipes! Three of them were hidden but easy to get to, one was a slight pain, but the other two are under the shower! Tiny space, no light, big holes! We did an epoxy fix job on the four easier pipes and tried a clamp job on the shower pipes, but we are just going to have to replumb. I'm up for it but Tris is pissed! Well, she's getting over it, but what a weekend! I'm excited because I get to plumb! I'm looking forward to doing the whole trailer, but I am not so sure Tris is feeling to zealous!

In other trailer news, we bought bails of straw to go around the bottom of the trailer to keep some warmth in, plus we have to have a small light bulb on under the trailer at night. These are things about living in the cold I did not know. Alls well that ends well and this story will have a happy ending! (In two weeks...)


Is anyone else wondering what the fuck the Queer Hippies are up to? I am and I am one of them! The weekends have been full of deep cleaning and deep contemplation. Do you know how much shit you can accumulate in 6.5 years? That's how long I have been in this house and this crap has just piled! Furniture, toys, clothes, books, photos, music, stuff, stuff and more stuff. So that's what we have been doing. De-stuffing.

This weekend we are having a yard sale. You know you want our stuff, right? Wrong! Get rid of your own stuff! It's so freeing! When we move, December 18, just so you know, we will have fewer than 20 boxes of only the most necessary items. There are a few things we are putting into storage. I cannot part with my art collection. It is by no means up the standards of Bette Porter's art collection, but it's mine and I enjoy it! The treadle sewing machine comes too. When I go electricity free, I will still need to sew pee pee swipes, napkins and wrap-n-mats!

The photos have been taken out of albums and put in one photo box. One box for a whole shelf of memories! Why didn't I do that forever ago? We bought 5 new locally made ceramic bowls from an Empty Bowls event a few weeks ago. Along with some plates from another local potter, we will have the 5 dishes we are bringing to eat from. We each also have only one ceramic mug to drink from. I have found and thrifted solid silver silverware to take with us. The dish load will be drastically reduced, which is great because water will be a scarcity up there. There is no well, only a refillable tank.

The next big project is the boys room. I should be working on it right now. They have so many clothes. I would like to reduce that to 7 shirts, 7 boxers and 2 long sleeves and 1 jacket each. Pants numbers are still up in the air because I think 7 is too many, but I am not sure what number will be just right. They don't have many toys here because they play outside most of the time. We will be investing in a new bike for Number 3 and puncture proof tires for Numbers 1 and 2.

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with what still has to be completed for this weekends big sale, but I know it will all be pulled together in typical last minute Queer Hippie fashion!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The First Night in Our New Home

Last Friday, Tris and I purchased our new home, moved it to the land we will be living on and spent the night in it! It was so great! We went to Williams for a little date. Our land is about 12 miles north of Williams. We walked around the downtown area for a bit. The air was chilly, alright, it was cold! We settled on eating a veggie calzone and some salad. Then we walked to the coffee shop for some hot chocolate. 

With steaming cups in hand, we walked backed to the car for a slow drive home. Well, the new home. When we got out of the car, my nose was filled with the smells of Christmas, fresh pine and the distinct scent of cold. Tris and I settled into the four layered sleeping bag bed we made on the floor of the front room/dining room/kids room. (That's the big empty room on above.) 

We were asleep by 20:30. Aside from briefly waking to adjust sore hips or shoulders from the ground being a little hard, we both slept all night long. When we awoke at 5:15 the next morning, we were refreshed. The air was crisp; there was frost crunching under our feet when we stepped out to pee. (The water is not hooked up yet.) The frost was really thick on truck bed cover. 

The town of Williams is beautifully set in a valley of pine and juniper, with a quaint downtown. We ate at the Pine Country Restaurant. The food tasted real. There wasn't too much. They serve 43 different kinds of pie there! It was so nice to be there. People stared a little as the Queer Hippies were seated, but we never felt threatened or uncomfortable. We felt at home. It's down to 68 days until the little move. That's a little over two months. I can't believe how close it is! Tris has decided to commute every day to Yucca for work. Neither of us is doing well with her working away from home.

On October 1st, she was riding home from Yucca. She was about twenty miles west on the I17 on the I74 when she was hit in the face by a bird. After riding 14 more miles, she felt dizzy and tried to pull over. She blacked out before she could stop and laid her bike down. She laid unconscious until the dust settled. We got her to a hospital and she checked out with only a concussion and some whiplash. It was scary enough for us to stop taking life for granted. There are a lot of could've's that ran through our heads and every Sunday I remember to tell her how much she means to me because that Sunday before the accident could have been the last.

Love just may be the most simple thing I can do in my life and I intend to love her forever.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm Making Another Big Announcement

Yes. We are still moving. Sorry friends.

I have decided that it is the right time to follow a ten or so year old dream. I have been making preparations for the last 2 months and I finally feel like I can say something.

After that introduction, this better be big news, right?

I am studying to be a midwife. I have two preceptors (midwives with whom I apprentice with). One is here in Phoenix and one is in Flagstaff. Once I get to Flag, I will still be working with the one down here, as well as volunteering with a clinic up there and working with my second preceptor.

Those of you who know me, know that this dream coming into volition is as vital to my well-being as moving out of the city. I am constantly searching for my calling. I am constantly making myself believe that my calling is whatever my passion is at the moment. Today, I feel settled. Today, I feel right. Today, I feel happy. Today, I got to see and feel and worship a placenta that housed twins. What made this better is that I know the mama who carried the twins and the heartache she was feeling just two years ago when her two year old died. These babies were conceived on their big sisters birthday.

Much love. And in two and a half years, when I am licensed, start making some babies that I can catch for you!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

From Neighborhood to Trailerhood

First, sorry things have been slow around Two Queer Hippies, we have been crazy busy in real life. Tris started her new job, four weeks ago, in Kingman, AZ. That's about three and a half hours from here. Needless to say, she stays away five nights a week. It's not easy on either of us. By mid week there are tears and wishes to be together. We live for Fridays when we get to see each other and don't let go until Sundays when she has to go back. (Gay, I know.) I won't be moving to  Kingman anytime soon, so this will be the arrangement until we move to the Flagstaff area. When we get up to Flag, most nights she will still be away, but we will be close enough for her to commute from her work to our brand spankin' new (to us) 1978 travel trailer.

We are for sure moving, so we are downsizing from our 1800 square foot home on a quarter acre to a 260 square foot trailer on five acres. I would have liked one just a little bigger, but the budget the budget the budget! So I have been going to classes, being a weekday single mom (although when I need her to play good mom or bad mom, she's available via phone), and trying to sort through 1800 square feet of shit. I have also been making other life altering decisions, but I'm not gonna tell you yet, you'll just have to wait for that announcement.

I have gone through half the books, given away some, set aside a box for  Goodwill and one for Changing Hands and had to recycle two. I am also almost finished tearing pictures from the photo albums and frames all around the house and putting them all into one photo box. That little project took me three hours. I have many hours of work ahead of me. It will be nice to watch it all go. We are having yard sales every weekend in November and only adding a few things to our haul. I really want a Vita Mix blender and a few homesteading books, the rest will be cash in hand.

The trailer is 25 or 26 feet long. It has one bedroom in the back that right now is set up for two twin beds. We are laying a piece of plywood atop the beds and making room for our queen mattress. The front room, which is also the living room has nothing in it...just the old owners futon, which will not stay. We will be building a dinette set that converts to a big bed for the boys. I will be painting and making new curtains, but other than those few changes, this place will be home as it is now. Small, cozy and minimal. Simplicity is crashing upon us and it's not too bad. if you are looking for furniture, let me know before November. Some things I am keeping, but most are going.

Next weekend, we are moving the trailer from it's old home to the new home so I will post pictures then. I don't have any idea why I didn't take any today. Again, sorry for the delays between posts. I am off to get some homework done now, so there will probably be a fatty delay again, but I will try to post at least once a week. Much love.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This is Supposed to Be It

So why does it hurt so bad? This is supposed to be when our dreams turn into reality. We are moving to Williams, AZ, 40 miles west of Flagstaff. We will be living on a lovely 5 acre parcel dotted with Juniper trees and wildflowers, surrounded by fresh, clean mountain air. Low temperatures in the summer, snow in the winter. The kids get to continue their Waldorf education. The house will be downsized to a 21' travel trailer. The chickens can even move with us. Perfection.

Except I will be alone at this for five days a week because Tris has been offered and has accepted a job two hours from Williams. I would go, but there is no college that I could attend up there. I have finished all I can at community college. She has tried to be reassuring that all is well, that this is the right move. I am trying to be brave for her, but I am not doing a very good job of it.

On top of her being gone, I have to sell the house. I couldn't afford it anymore anyway, so the sale is an inevitability, but I am still crushed. We started our dream here. We planted trees that will bare fruit and nuts next spring. We have two thriving gardens and happy chickens. I have a kitchen that I can cook, bake and can in. A bathtub to wash the clothes. I will not get to see the trees produce. I won't even know if all the love I have put into the house will be appreciated by the next owner.

I am leaving friends and family dinners behind. I am leaving serious porch swing nights and lazy trampoline days behind. Pretty much everything is to be sold. It is very scary. She is leaving me behind to part with all this by myself.

And what do I gain? Stars. Air that Number 2 can breathe. Pure beauty surrounding me. Much time to think. A healthy place for the kids to grow up with huge imaginations. Snow, but not too much. A better degree. A chance to really know if I can make it on next to nothing. Growth in myself. Maybe spirituality.

My dream started here. Now it has to restart somewhere new. Being the impatient type, this is a hard pill for me to swallow. Starting over. Starting over the way I want. And doing it with a girlfriend who will hopefully be happier, even if it means I don't have her around. I'm not going to lie and say I am happy about this part, but I am 100% happy for her to have this opportunity.

Instead of family dinners, we will have weekend family camp-outs, so dust off your tents and Richanne, I need my other sleeping bag back some time soon. <3. Life in Phoenix will move on without us, but life in Flagstaff will just be getting started in December. I hope I can set all my fears aside long enough to get everything done here in order to move.

To the Moon, Alice....

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Queer Hippies Are Movin'!

Lookout Flagstaff, we are on our way! It has been officially decided that Tris, the boys, their bio-dad and stepmom and I are moving to Flagstaff! This is a bitter sweet announcement. We love our home and I am having a hard time really letting it go, even though I keep telling myself it is just a material possession. Still, it makes me sad to think I won't hear the creak of the hardwood floors, or the rattle of door hardware when the ac kicks on, or the burned smell in the living room when it is humid outside. This is the home our kids have grown up in. So many memories will have to be packed up from the porch swing alone.

Even with all the sadness looming, I am hopeful and excited. We will be downsizing, but at least half. I have a personal goal to only move 20 boxes, if not less. (I'm a little afraid my books will take up a quarter of those...time to sell, I guess.) The rest, except some furniture will be sold or donated. I am having little problem letting go of the stuff. There is not much that I am holding onto for sentimental value.

We are looking a large piece of land with a small shed to rent. We would probably be living in a motor home or camper for a bit. That may be tricky with five of us, but definitely cheaper and MUCH less waste of resources. And less clean-up! We will be able to keep the chickens and have room for more, work the land and grow much more food and play in the snow. We will be limited in the winter months for a growing season, but unlimited in the summer months. There is nothing stopping us from building a greenhouse.

This move leaves only one thing to be desired. Friends. I know I will make more, but I love the ones I have now. I want you all to move with us. Commune maybe? Or how about you all just come every weekend and camp on our land? Sound good?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Snow

After having left Alaska, I almost feel homesick. I want so badly to be back. To experience the rest of the summer there. To be out of this heat. So I have been contemplating snow. I am reading a book called The Snow Tourist: A search for the world's purest, deepest snowfall, by Charlie English.

I just thought I would share some of the first pictures of snow ever taken, with you. Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley, the man that took the pictures, developed an intense curiosity for snow when he was child in Jericho City, Vermont. He saw his first magnified snowflake at the age of 15 and began photographing them at 17. He was the first person to ever photograph a snowflake.

Mr. Bentley was thought of as eccentric and sometimes crazy. He tried not to let the towns people's disinterest, nor their comments of his mental state, bother him. To me, his magnificent passion has brought beauty beyond measure. There have been many that have come after, including Masaru Emoto, who wrote The Hidden Messages in Water. Emoto experimented on the effects of positive and negative energy on water as it formed into ice crystals then photographed the results.

Above a water crystal formed with the words "Love and Gratitude" adhered to the dish it was frozen in. Below and ice crystal formed with the words "You make me sick" adhered to it. 
Both books are a fascinating read. The Snow Tourist gives a, perhaps unintended, perspective on global warming and capitalism, while The Hidden Messages in Water shows what effect positive energy has on increasing beauty. Hopefully you get a moment to check them out.

The Calm Before The Storm

Everything is dead calm. There's no breeze. The air is so still and thick with moisture that it's stifling. I can't remember ever observing this in my own front yard before. She's sitting next to me, looking east. She tells me that the reason the light is coming from the east, even though the sun is setting in the west, is because sun is reflecting on the rain from this magnificent storm heading our way. She tells me that back in Minnesota when the air would cease to move it meant a tornado was coming. I think maybe all the butterflies in China are sleeping. She tells me that a lazy breeze will start, getting stronger in the passing minutes. She tells me that the wind will start coming from all directions, north, south, east and west. She tells me that I will smell the storm soon after the wind picks up. I know these things. Still, I haven't been present in a weather moment like I am now; my heart at peace and my love sitting next to me. I have taken it for granted. Then the lazy breeze blows, a mystery I surely will never be able to totally wrap my brain around. The mystery is not that she said it would happen, but that a gentle wind just started. Something from nothing.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Showering (Written from the Road)

I thought about many things when I was driving to and from Alaska. Some of those thoughts were funny, maybe only to me though. Some of those thoughts were private and if I let them be, life changing. Some of those thoughts were about what I would write about for this blog. And for the last six days, I have been thinking about a shower. It’s been 8 days since water has touched the whole of my body. Why wouldn’t I want a shower, right? Except why do I? 
As Americans, we are so used to having a shower every day and I wonder why that is. As a child, Tris had a bath only once a week, on Sundays. When she got into high school, she bathed only one extra time a week. I remember taking hose showers after swimming at my grandmas or three of us at a time in the shower or bath at my mom’s sisters. There were 7 of us girls all together and only when we hit puberty did we get to shower alone, and only then just to wash our hair and body, no lolly gagging. 
Tris and I can smell each other, but it’s not offensive. I have watched people as she passes them to see if there is a wrinkle nose reaction, or worse, the inconspicuous nose cover or plug, but nothing. We ate at a sit down restaurant yesterday, after we crossed the border, and the waitress didn’t mouth breath or give any other indication that we were offensive. I am not arguing that we don’t smell, but I am arguing that the human body odor is not as gross as we have been taught to believe it is. 
So how often is often enough to shower? In the AZ winter, probably once a week is good enough. In the summer, once a day seems like it’s not enough. What’s a girl to do? 
UPDATE: Since we have been back, we have taken at least one shower a day, not to de-smell, but to cool off. It’s a huge waste of water, but it’s also a trade off. Run the A/C constantly or quickly cool down in a lukewarm shower. (Lukewarm because it doesn’t get any cooler in 115°F heat.) 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Quick Update (with more later)

I am in Homer, Alaska. I am awaiting the arrival of my love, T. She is on day seven of the Hoka Hey! Last I heard she was in Wyoming and I hear that they are going through Montana, so Rosie, be on the lookout! I had no plan as to accommodations when I got here, so I am essentially homeless, but have found two places to camp. I can shower at the laundry mat for a few dollars and I brought all my own food. I did eat out this morning at Two Sisters Bakery, a gay owned local shop. Was super great! Now I am sitting in a yurt, a knitting shop yurt! The name of the shop is CommunKnitty Stash. Life is so good right now!!!

The shop owner is Sarah. She invited me to knit as long as I want, til the shop closes. I stopped in for some needles and boy did I find some. And for inexpensive! $6! Can you believe that? Bamboo and circular for that price. Phoenix yarn shops, eat your heart out! I bought 4 pairs because they were such a great price! More later. I need to write about my journey anyway!

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Be Safe?"-me "Always"-her

This is our daily send off. Most days she leaves before I do. Today is no exception to that, but it is an extraordinary day. Today T begins the journey she, we, have been preparing for, the Hoka Hey 2010 Endurance Challenge. This unseasonably cool June morning (only 70°F), at 5am, she rode off into the sunrise. My beautiful partner following her heart.

The is a huge race. The race begins on Sunday June 20th in Key West, FL. Contestants are given only a map of one 1000 mile leg of the race at a time. The whole race is 7000 miles and goes until she hits Homer, AK, where I am bound starting Friday, the 18th. T plans to ride 1000 miles a day, which she has been training for for the last several months. She must sleep by her bike at all times, never go more than 5 over the speed limit and cannot carry extra fuel. (There are tons more rules but I don't remember. I have been up since 4:30 this morning.) She will be outfitted with a GPS tracking device, so they can monitor her speed and progress.

When T wins, no later than June 27th, she will be subjected to a lie detector and drug test, to make sure she followed all of the rules. I will be there in a camp chair waiting for her arrival. Some of my mapped out days are 17 hours long driving. I opened the drive up to company, but nobody could go, so this is a solo trip for me. My biggest fear was sleeping in random places n the states, but my mom decided that she would cover all hotel rooms for me until Alaska. I am only taking her up on half of the trip. After Chetwynd, BC, I am sleeping outside in the two person tent I am picking up today.

When I get to Alaska, I will be camping for a few days at an organic farm, called Seaside Farms. I hope to fill me days with helping around the farm, knitting, reading and waiting by the finish line for T to cross. I cannot wait to see her, already. Lame, I know!

The house is silent for the time being. The kids will be here soon. Their dad took them because I wasn't sure if I would be a basket case or not this morning. Not yet, but there's still time. This next week will be a busy one. Oil changes, tire rotations, last minute shopping for pb&j fixin's, my road trip staple, and saying goodbye to the kids. I really wanted them to go, but heir dad said no. God I am going to miss them! But no time to think about that now. Lots of kisses and snuggles this week for my sweet boys!! 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Musings of the Sad Sort

Years ago I saw a car two houses down from me when I was pulling out of my driveway. I felt my spidey sense tingle, but I ignored it. My house was broken into, nothing was stolen, thanks to a neighbor calling 911 from the bushes, but some of the beautiful old wavy glass windows were shattered. Funny, that was the only thing I was mad about, since the front door was unlocked anyway and he could have just walked in instead of destroying such beauty.

Yesterday, a man walked by, I said hello and he returned the greeting. My spidey sense tingled again and I remembered the last time that I ignored it. The man just kept on looking back at the kids and I and the house. I did what I didn't do last time. I stuck around for a minute then I made the decision to go get all the valuable stuff in the house. What I came out with fit in my school backpack, with tons of room.

T was at work and the kids were already in the car, so my valuables consisted of SS cards and birth certificates, a little cash, two passports and my computer. That's it. I feel confident to say that if it weren't for comfortable seating, I would be happy to live in a bare house. Which means my attachments to "stuff" and "things" are diminishing.

I am very uncomfortable with the fact that most people couldn't say this. Go ahead and ask, without prior warning, what someone would take from their house in an emergency. Most would say kids and pets, then after a few seconds...and my grandmothers heirlooms and the photographs and my mothers china....and so on. I am not judging. I am feeling sad that there is such an importance put on stuff and things.

I read a medical journal article about how the autistic brain may actually be the evolution of humans brains. The scientist/researcher/author who wrote the article argued that because of modern modes of communication, like telephone, to some extent, email, text and IM, it is becoming unnecessary for people to be able to read and interpret un-communicated emotional expressions. Also that the part of the brain concerned with spacial reasoning is much stronger in someone on the autism spectrum. Due to the fast paced, technology driven path our lives have taken, spacial reasoning is more important for development of new products and smarter fixes for old problems.

Part of this theory makes me happy, makes me think that the kids that I work with will not be relegated to the McDonald's drive-in and the Harkins ticket counter. That "curing" them of their behaviors will not be the sought after goal, but developing their strong and smart brains will be. The other part of me is really sad to have to acknowledge that this scientist is right. There is becoming less and less of a reason to actually be face to face with fellow humankind.

After my last post about the crazy zucchs, I hit next blog, which randomly pulls up a Blogger blog. I do this once a week, at least, just to see what is out there. Today I read again and again "I am a mother/wife/single dad/what-have-you that is trying to find time to relax in my harried life." Does it really have to be this way? Is anyone willing to exchange the big house, the huge toys, the video games, the a/c, the stupid SUV's, the bonus checks and the crappy dine-out food for their life back? Why not? Has it been so ingrained that these things constitute living? Where did living not include family and friends, easy evenings on a porch swing, lemonade? When did driving faster take over pick-up front yard soccer games and homemade ice cream?

My life beyond my loves fits in a backpack. I am moving in the direction I want to. Beyond that, I want my movement to create a wake that begins to envelope all. We can only change ourselves, but hopefully we can inspire change in the world in the process. Leading by example.

Monster Zucchini From Outer Space

The zucchs in the front yard garden have been our best growers. The plants themselves are healthy and thriving, to say the least, but when I was snooping to see if any fruit was emerging from the week-old flowers, I was stunned! There were already store sized zucchinis grown. Scout made a lovely dish, previously mentioned, of zucchini pancakes on Tuesday evening. When I went to grab a zucch for dinner last night, my jaw dropped. The thing, because it is a mutant, was huge and it was not alone.

Per a suggestion on Facebook from Kris K, I made stuffed zucchini for dinner last night. All of the stuffing came from our garden, except the cheese, which the making of our own may not be too far away. I stuffed the zucchini with zucchini that I shaved out of the middle of the fruit, carrots, tomatoes, onions and garlic, picked fresh from the back yard from the remnants of the winter garden, and mild cheddar. I baked it for 30 minutes at 350°F, wrapped in foil. It could have used more time; was a little crunchy, but totally delicious. 

There are several more like this. And when I am gone, I don't think Julia, who is house sitting, will be able to eat them all, so some of you should visit the garden and grab some dinner!! Just text Julia first so she doesn't call the cops on yo' ass!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Number 3 and I spent a good deal of time picking all the tomatoes that were ready. (And over ready! The hens were really excited about their gourmet pickins.)

The zucchini are ripe and amazing! We ate one last night. Scout made us zucchini pancakes! Delish!!! They are huge, the squash, I mean, not the pancakes. Pics to come.

Drum Roll Please........

Welcome to our family, please, four new delightful hens! They are each a different breed. Happy young ladies in their prime! This is it for us for right now, but we are so grateful to be in the presence of such beauty. Without further ado....





Welcome ladies and thank you Kate, the chicken lady for thinking of us when you needed to slim down your flock. We are thankful for the trust you instill in us to keep your babies safe and happy!!

When Life Gives You Lemons (And Raspberries)

Make raspberry lemonade, duh! 

12 lemons juiced
1 square plastic thing of raspberries juiced
and raw sugar and water to taste

When your wash machine breaks and there is no money to fix it right now, make the bath tub and the children into a machine.

The agitators:

It really works! After they agitated, then they rinsed twice. 

I wonder if this is airing my dirty laundry?

Then the four of us, in pairs, wrung the clothes out and dried them outside in the sun. 

Two loads=one hour of hard work. I estimated we saved about ten gallons of water...a bonus I guess! 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer Treats

Number 2 and a friend enjoy a spoonful of raw honey still on the comb. They ate the whole thing, comb and all.

Sweet Summer

It's been a while since I have written anything, again. Sorry guys. I worked most of last week with my client with autism. He makes me smile as much as my own children. He has begun to be very verbal, which is a huge change for him. Last week was also the last days of school for the boys and Number 3 graduated from Kindergarten in a ceremony called the Rainbow Bridge. The children walk over a bridge under a rainbow silk into the realm of first grade. The morning of graduation, Number 3 woke at 3:30 am, very apologetic that he had to wake us up because he couldn't breathe. Poor thing. He had croup. I had pack him up and get him to the ER at 4 in the morning. I'm not one of those moms, but he was just not breathing. So after 3 hours and rounds of steroids, chemical hormones and heart monitors, we came home and slept for an hour before we had to awaken for graduation. At the hospital, he cried, not because he was scared about not breathing, but because he thought if he didn't graduate, he would not get to move up to first grade. My poor love. Here is my beautiful, tired Rainbow Bridge graduate.

Tis also the season for little critters to visit. Last week, my friend Eli cam e over for dinner. While we sat and talked about love lost, feelings pending and amusements to be had, she very calmly let me know that there was a roach politely listening on the chair next to mine. I am not a person who is afraid of much, but roaches scare the shit out of me. I don't know if it is their mere seeming immortality or that they crunch, but I hate them. Elise, being a Buddhist, would not kill the roaches. Instead she wadded up toilet paper, caught the roaches, whom she named, chased me with them and threw them out the window. Courage, pure courage. T killed them the next night with some neuro-toxin I am not fond of using and will not replace once she uses it all. This is a picture of a visitor.

I have been able to read!! Real books, not texts, not readers, not journals, real non-fiction stories. Right now I am reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Dreams. So far so good. Reading is a luxury that I do not get to partake of very often. It's one of the reasons a simpler life is for me. I know if I don't continue to simplify, reading will continue to be an enjoyment like vacation, great to be doing it, but part of me feels guilty for not doing other things.

So summer is in full swing from temperature to sprinkler wet children. I am really hoping to have more time to write, but my solo road trip to Alaska is coming up in 10 days. I have to get ready, but I fully intend to write from the road on all the amazing things I see. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Beauty and Peace or Academia

For the past five years, my children have been going to a Waldorf methods charter school. The campus is beautiful. There is a large pond with ducks, a barn with goats, a pig and a sheep. There is a chicken coop where Number 2 is raising his own hen to lay eggs for the eventual seed to table program. (Seed to table means that the children grow or raise, harvest, prepare and eat their own food.) The garden is more like a mini farm. Not only is it organic, but it is biodynamic. ("Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that treats farms as unified and individual organisms, emphasizing the holistic development and interrelationship of the soil, plants and animals as a self-nourishing without external inputs, insofar as this is possible given the loss of nutrients due to the export of food." ~ Wikipedia, Biodynamic agriculture) The classrooms are beautifully painted. The play yard does not have plastic equipment, but rather wooden balance beams, a new set of rings to swing across, mud and sand. The younger grades, 1-4 do not play with balls at recess, but rather jump ropes and imaginations.

The academics are laced with art, music and hand works, such as knitting, crocheting and woodworking. Free thinking and free speech, in a respectful manner are encouraged. Each grade has a specific theme that is set. First grade is uhhh....something, second grade was something else, third grade is The Old Testament, fourth grade is Norse Mythology, fifth is Greek mythology and I suck because even though I have a six grader, I can't remember what he is doing this year. Anyway, The Old Testament sounds scary, like bible study, but it's not. The kids learn the stories, the way things were bought, sold or traded. The teachers all have teaching degrees, plus they go to Steiner School for Waldorf methods training. (Rudolf Steiner was the philosopher that arrived at the ideas of anthroposophy, or Waldorf methods.)

Lately Number 1 has been bullied and Number 2 has been getting sent to the office. (Number 3 was kissing girls, but I fixed that...) The sitch with N1 is worse because he doesn't think there is anything wrong with the other kids stealing food from his lunch box and eating it, even giving it back half eaten. Also, he came home from school asking if I would wash his water bottle, which I do every night anyway, because someone spit in, or so his friend told him. Why would this happen? I have spoken to the teacher who says that each incident was isolated and the other parents have been talked to. N1 is a real sensitive kid who avoids peer conflict at any cost, even his own well being. The food thief has been a bully since Kindergarten, with ZERO intervention.

When N2 was sent out of the classroom for misbehaving, I found out because he told Tris. Not because the school called and said anything. How am I supposed to be a parent and teach my children how to right their wrongs if I have no clue they are screwing up in the first place. The point is that the school has so many wonderful attributes but NO discipline plan. The thing is that I have only voiced my problem with this to a substitute teacher and partially to N1's teacher, but not to the pedagogical director, Waldorf's version of a principle. I am not sure if I am being over sensitive and protective, which is definitely NOT my parenting style, or if I have a good argument.

In a fit, I went to another, more traditional school. There academics are high priority, but they still put a small emphasis on art, PE and other things. Because the school the kids are going to now is charter, they have been exposed to standardized tests, which I do not have the results back for yet. This other school is in a rich district, they have high scores, whereas the current school is passing, but I don't think by much. The new school has a small garden, a cramped campus, block classrooms, connected to each other  in rows. They also have combined classes. (K/1, 1/2, 3/4 and so on.) This would be good for the younger kids as children in Waldorf schools tend to be a bit academically behind in the elementary years. After I left the new school the first time, I had a major panic attack. Couldn't breathe, talk, all I did was cry. I had to pull the car over and Tris had to talk me back to life.

I know this school has a discipline plan. I know that my kids would get a great academic education, but I also know they would miss out on all the beauty that their other school offers on a minutely basis. Kids and parents wait years to get into the Waldorf school. What the fuck am I doing thinking about pulling my kids out? I even told my friend Elise that art, poetry and music historically is what brings about major world change. What the f should I care about education for? Will they grow up to be well rounded people? Yes. Will they take the initiative to learn all the things they want to know about on their own? I can only hope. I just need to either step up and help implement a discipline system and keep the kids there or I need to live with my previous apathy to the lack of system and move them to the other school. It just doesn't feel right.

What would you do?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Biggest Struggles

"Except in mathematics, the shortest distance between point A and point B is seldom a straight line." ~ Unknown

One of my biggest struggles in this life is with patience. When I want something and I think of a logical way to get it, I want it right now. When I envision something, I want it to go the same way that I envisioned it. I don't want bumps and hurdles. 

What I need to do is accept that these bumps and hurdles are part of the journey to reach where I need to be and that what I envisioned is part fantasy and part reality. Nothing is ever perfect, but my visions. I know I will eventually end up where I am supposed to be. The heartache, frustration and small disappointments are all part me and my experience. 

I need to find a way to be thankful for everything, even the bumps and especially the hurdles. Today I am grateful for a weekend of love, hope, understanding, tears, frustrations, smiles, wind, campfires, honesty, heartache, passion, beauty and togetherness. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Awesome Agave Sweetened Wheat Free Oatmeal Cookies

Number one is wheat free, which is a pain in the ass for stuff like camping. Everyday it's a small pain, but when space is limited and it's easier to make food that we all can eat, it's a real huge Pain In The Ass! Today, the day before our four day camping trip, I decided to make cookies, but wait, I can't make my regular stand by's because that would suck if Ash watched us eat delicious choco chip cookies, plus I am trying to eat healthier and tone up. So I decided on the titled oatmeal cookies, only that's not a recipe easily obtained, so with the help of a few other recipes and a brave heart, here is what I came up with.

PREHEAT to 350°F

2 1/2 cups quick oats
1 1/2 cups Pamela's Wheat Free/Gluten Free Baking Mix
1 cup almond meal, I ground fresh almonds in my coffee grinder (not too long or you will have nut butter)
3/4 tspn salt
1/2 tspn baking soda
(Mix that stuff together, then add this stuff)
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup raw dark agave (i don't think it matters if you use light or dark)
1/3 bag trader joes dried blueberries

Mix good. Will be slightly sticky, but you can add more flour if you like. I also wanted to add coconut, but I seem to have misplaced what I had. Hmmm..Maybe Bartley threw it away so I wouldn't poison her...

Bake for 12 minutes on a greased pan (Trader Joes spray olive oil rocks for this). Take off pan immediately and move to cooling rack. Then enjoy. They are soft and chewy and yummy. I am pretty dang happy with them. Now onto Gluten free brownies and my timer is going off!!!!

What Can Vinegar Do For You?

Apparently much more than I originally thought! I took these recipes from a website called Wise Bread: Living Large on a Small Budget. (I found the site when I was looking up how to live without an air conditioner this summer. We are going to experiment with that. Wish me luck!)

In Addition to this, I also  found a vinegar and baking soda shampoo. Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda to 3 cups water. Only use a small amount in your hair, make sure you get it every where, then rinse with 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar. The author said it takes about two weeks for hair to not feel too dry. Also, she said she missed the smell of her shampoo. I don't see why you can't add a few drops of your favorite E.O. to the original mixture. PS Your hair will not smell like vinegar after you rinse it out with water. I will try this when I wash my hair next time. Don't hold your breath, I only wash my hair every 10 days or so. 

All purpose cleaner:
2 parts vinegar, 1 part water
Extra dirty spots:
Scour dirty areas with baking soda, then spray the all purpose cleaner (recipe above) over the area and wipe clean.
Floor cleaner:
Brew a cup of peppermint tea (use 1 tea bag: one cup for you, one for the floor). Squeeze half a lemon in to the floor mix, and add 1 cup of vinegar. Mop away with your solution; the vinegar disinfects, the tea has antibacterial properties and removes marks, and the lemon freshens & disinfects.
Pee stains on carpet (presumably from pets):
Blot up the initial stain, flush it with water, then apply equal parts vinegar and cool water. Blot it all up, rinse, and let dry. This will eliminate odors and stains.
Hard water stains and mineral deposits:
Allow a cloth soaked in vinegar to sit on a hard water stain (for example behind your faucet) or mineral deposit for a few hours. Wipe clean.
Appliance cleaning:
Clean your coffee maker or laundry machine or dishwasher by running vinegar through it, followed by water. This reduces soap buildup and keeps everything in working order.

In The Kitchen

Remove labels from glass jars:
Saturate the labeled area in vinegar and scrape the stickiness right off.
Dirty pot bottoms and cooking utensils:
Fill the pot with enough water to cover the stain, add 1 cup of vinegar, and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Let cool, then scrub the stains off. While you’re at it, put your stainless steel cooking utensils in the pot to get them sparkly clean too.
Fruit stains on hands:
Had a little too much fun making that cherry pie or berry salad? Just rub your hands with vinegar to remove the stains.
Coffee stains on china:
Use a mixture of salt and vinegar to clean coffee stains from china.
Wooden cutting boards:
Wooden cutting boards are great, except they can be a hothouse for bacteria (especially if grooves have been cut into the board with use). Disinfect it regularly with vinegar to keep it (and your food) clean.
Veggie maintenance:
Clean and crisp up your veggies by soaking them in a mixture of water and a tablespoon or so of vinegar. Any bugs lingering on your produce will float away, and your soggy celery will come to life again (depending on how far gone it was to begin with).
Smelly onion hands:
Eliminate onion odor off your hands by rinsing them in vinegar. This also apparently works with other stinky parts of your body that soap isn’t cutting through, such as underarms.
Clean sticky scissors:
Sometimes those scissors get so gummy you can’t even make them work. Just wipe them down with vinegar, and they’ll be like new again.


Fabric softener
There are a few fabric softener strategies you can play with:
Add equal parts vinegar and baking soda, OR just ½ a cup of vinegar to your wash when you would add fabric softener (final rinse cycle). Line dried towels will come out softer with a vinegar-based softener.
You can also add 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar to your wash water, which does the following:
  • Reduces the amount of soap you need to use
  • Reduces lint
  • Brightens colors, and stops them from running
  • Acts as a rinse aid
  • Keeps the washing machine running clean and well
Stain removal:
Use vinegar on stains before washing to remove stubborn ones like perspiration, fruit, mustard, and coffee.