Saturday, October 31, 2009
"I don't want my money to support that economy of make it in one country and ship it thousands of miles to me, while my friends and neighbors struggle and lose their jobs here at home."
What would happen if we all stopped, just stopped, buying anything that was manufactured overseas? This, to me, is the one thing that would solve our economic woes more than any stimulus monies. So many of us are already reusing and repurposing goods in our lives, so why not just stop buying those things made overseas? I know there are things that we feel we cannot do without that come from overseas, but really, couldn't we do without many of these items?
Michelle has relit the fire in me. I'd love a national movement to begin with just you and me. I'd love to see each of us encourage others to stop the madness of buying things we really don't need or will have to replace in a year because the quality is so poor. We used to teach our children to say "NO to drugs." What if we said "NO to imports"?
What do you think? Is it possible to make the change? Can it start with one person??
Friday, October 30, 2009
While I was putting out hay tonight, Copper, the six-month-old Dexter calf, slammed his stall door open which flung it around to the hay stall, catching two of my fingers between the his door and the metal strip on the hay stall door. The resulting scream could be heard to town. Long story short, while I initially thought I may have lost the tips of two fingers, when my leather glove was finally removed, the very deep black lines on my third and fourth fingers suggested possible break(s).
Since I was getting ready to milk, there was ice in the large bucket where I put my milk pail to keep the milk cold. John grabbed some, wrapped it in my jeans shirt, Don ran for keys, and off he and I went to the ER.... where we sat for four hours.
On the way to the hospital, we met a truck which flung a large rock at my windshield. It has a crack the size of a nickel. Fortunately, it didn't break. Sigh.
However, a very interesting thing happened in the ER. Five young people, most likely all between 18-20, were there. As we sat in the waiting room, their story unfolded.
Two of the young men had rolled their car down the mountainside after meeting a schoolbus that was more in the wrong lane than the right. The bus left the accident, but the young men, both apparently injured, managed to crawl from the car and get someone to stop and take them to the hospital. The people in the lobby were family and wives.
While neither young man appeared seriously hurt, the police were also apparently giving them, as we say here, down the road about the accident. The men declared they were not speeding and the officer agreed. However, he seemed determined to find some charge for them. Nothing was working. Now, here is the interesting and very encouraging thing. None of the young people swore, yelled, or behaved in anything other than a Christian manner. They were polite and courteous; they were concerned; they were supportive. However, no one raised their voice or behaved in any manner that would call attention to them. They were concerned about their family member /friends, but were not intrusive to the hospital staff or others waiting. In short, they were not the usual young people I often see. Refreshing!
On the way home, Don and I were discussing how they behaved in the waiting room and we have decided that maybe we do have hope in the up and coming generation. It was almost worth having my windshield broken and very sore fingers to make this discovery. Almost.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The first shot fired was the purchase of the kitchen cabinets. Combining a store sale, manufacturer's credit, and a weekend double bonus, the purchase was parlayed into more than $850 savings, dropping the price from more than $4000 to almost $3000!
The return fire was a major clothing shopping purchase for two growing boys which netted more than $175 in savings from a major clothing chain. The purchase included six pairs of pants, twelve shirts, socks and underwear.
Not to be outdown, the battle moved to a new venue -- the grocery store. Here the battle became a matter of stategy and good planning. E-coupons were discovered as well Crystal and Lisa's websites. Both are huge resources for coupons as well as scenerios for savings. While many of the stores are not in my region, the scenerios for the stores mentioned can work for other stores.
While I do not have the largest grocery budget, since my son is home until February, it has doubled. (The kid can eat!) Plus, I am building one heck of a pantry filled with staples. I really dislike carrying in heavy groceries in the winter, so this has been a way for me to stockpile those things I don't care to shop for in rain or snow (bags of flour or toilet paper, for example). Every week, Sissie and I call each other to tout our latest coup at the grocer's. This week mine was six Pillsbury biscuits for 20-cents a can. Last week it was Suave shampoo, 38-cents each, with a limit of 4.
To be completely successful, we have both returned to menu planning rather than the dreaded, "What will we have for supper?" approach. We are both finding less leftovers as well as better use of our resources. Frankly, I am finding this exciting! For menu ideas we are taking inspiration from Laura or Melissa. Another inspirational post came from Jane yesterday! There is no end to the wonderful sources!
What lead to all this thriftiness? Well, it is several things. One, the Commonwealth is experiencing yet another budget shortfall and voluntary retirements are being offered. While Don qualifies in spades, I don't. Realizing that this is an option, we are trying to cut our expenses and pay off the two remaining debts we have. Every penny saved is being thrown onto these two bills to get the balances down as quickly as possible. Two, we want to farm full-time. There are so many things we both like to do here, but we need capital to start a few of these ventures. This is a way to accomplish that. And, three, who can let their sister beat them at anything!?? *grin*
What money saving ideas do you have?
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I am far past where I was when the unfortunate fire incident, er, happened. Why was this so tough? I can't imagine now; it has just flown off the needles this time. Maybe my head is more into it or perhaps I am now familiar enough with the pattern that it works easily. Either way, I am into the third pattern repeat and clicking right along.
This is rather emblematic of life, isn't it? We attempt something, say learning a new skill, and we fail miserably. Now we have two choices. Try again or quit. Many times we choose to quit just because "it's hard." Yet, isn't there a wonderful satisfaction when we accomplish that difficult task?
Math was always a trial for me. It started in fifth grade when the boy next to me whispered to me when I earned an "A" on a test, "That's okay; girls can't do hard Math." That was it. I couldn't after that. I bought the lie and ran with it. So, now I am enrolled in a developmental Math class and am determined to overcome my Math phobia. It is hard, make no mistake. But, I am learning it and I am very proud of myself.
Knitting was the same way. I first wanted to learn when I was expecting John. A very lovely lady whose sister was at our nursing home tried for three months to teach me. Mrs. Sheel would have me to her house, come to the home, and meet me for lunch, all to encourage me. After three months I had twelve rows of a baby sweater that had six very decorative holes in it from dropped stitches. I put it down and didn't pick it up again until I was in graduate school and had four teenagers in my care. It was knit or drink. I couldn't drink and drive, so I learned to knit. My friend Jill came over on a Sunday afternoon and we sat on a quilt under the pear tree in the back yard. After ten minutes of watching her, I had it and off I went. That was more than 15 years ago and I have never been without a project on my needles.
This is all to say that maybe we give up too soon. Or, maybe we have to be ready to learn before we can. I guess, for me, the lesson is to never give up even when I really want to find the matches and remove the challenge in a more creative way. But, as I knit along on the shawl, I realize that the anxiety and frustration is worth it. I only hope that my life will be as lovely as the shawl I hold.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
It is the Prayer Shawl pattern from Debbie Macomber's latest "Yarn Shop on Blossom Street" novel. Valerie wanted to knit one for her m0ther-in-law and I agreed to a knit along for moral support. Yes, she manages to get me into a lot of scrapes...
I have reknit the same row for an hour now and the pattern is NOT working out. Now, I am a fine knitter, quite frankly. Very little challenges me to the point of crying. This has.
So I have decided to set fire to it in the front yard.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Viola! This is the soap after it has been frozen for an hour and is ready to cut and put on drying racks. The soap cures for another few weeks and is then packaged and ready to either sell or for the tub.
I just love making the soap! It is such an interesting process and makes the house smell heavenly! We have made clove (good for skin circulation), sage (excellent for rashes and skin disorders), cinnamon (soothes the skin), lavendar (can you say, ahhhhh?) and honey (plumps the skin). These will be for sale in my etsy shop starting this weekend. Drop in and have a peek!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Charlie and Connor enjoy their new space!
Hollie demands a "little more hay, please!"
It is working. Our gals are fatter and happier than ever. We are not dealing with parasite overrun which means that we are not using chemicals or herbs too frequently. All in all, we are quite pleased. And the gals are, too.
Added later: Yeppers. The barn is purple. All the out buildings are. The does wanted purple and they got it!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I'm all for reciept sharing, so here we go!
Creamy, Dreamy, Potato Soup
6 medium potatoes (we use Yukon Gold -- such a pretty colour!)
2 medium onions
5 c. whole milk or
4 c. milk and 1 c. cream
1/2 stick butter
salt and pepper to taste
Peel and thinly slice the onions. Melt 1 T. butter in a sauce pan and cook onions until clear. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes. Add them to the onions and put in just enough water to cover them. Cook slowly until the potatoes are fork tender. Pour off the water to use for making sourdough bread or Moravin Sugar Cake.
Mash the potatoes to your desired consistency. We like chunks of potatoes, so we just mash them until we have a half and half of chunks and mashed potatoes. Add the rest of the butter and all of the milk. Heat through and serve with cheese croutons.
Miss Kathryn will add a small can of chopped tomatoes to the soup as well as about 1/2 c. cheddar cheese. Sometimes, she will fry up some bacon, use the grease to cook her onions and leave it in the pot to flavor the soup. I love the tomatoes and cheese addition! Yummers!
Won't you join our party? Just click on Jane's link above or on the sidebar or post your receipt in the comments section.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
This roving is a lovely Rambouillet/Merino/Alpaca from Nancy at Foxfire Hollar Farm. It is a natural coloured fiber and will be lovingly spun for use as either a shawl or scarf and hat combo. It has a wonderful hand and, when washed, will bloom into an even softer and fuller fiber. There are eight ounces here, but when I got home this morning from the shop's third anniversary party, I realized I wanted the full pound. I got the last of this particular roving and I am so excited!
Nancy's shop features such delicous goodies as yarn, weaving, baskets, toys, as well as Nancy's own beef, pork, and lamb. She is an amazing woman! I could sit and watch her talk to people all day! She has the gift of hospitality and makes everyone feel as though they are the most important person in the world. Her shop is like a lively bee hive and she is the queen; we all adore her and appreciate her!
This came from Pat at Kid Hollow Farm. Evelyn brought it to me when she went to the Montpelier Fiber Festival a few weeks ago. It is the "Crayola" colourway and a 50/50 blend of mohair and border leicester; there are eight ounces here and it will be a scarve or a small shoulder shawl. It will depend on if I ply it or not. Single ply will give a finer weight and would make the more lovely shawl, don't you agree? It is currently on my wheel and now I am eager to finish spinning it so that I can move to the next roving. I can't help but think that this may be from the little goats I fed animal cookies to last summer when we (Evelyn, Deneice, and I) went to visit Pat at her farm.
If you take a quick look at her web page, you can see the darling faces of her little ones. Pat and her husband Steve manage their farm as well as work full-time jobs! And, what is more amazing is that Pat does ALL the dyeing herself! Such a lovely farm! (I won't discuss the near fatal encounter I had with a black snake looped around a rope in her stable. I have a near deadly fear of anything snakish -- on TV or in person! It caused quite a howl when I scaled the knee walls and tore a door off the hinge escaping the very very very large black snake... I do not exaggerate...)
All this is in an effort to deny the fact that there have been snow flurries this morning and tonight. And, it is my effort to find something toasty and warm to do. Why is it that 35-degrees doesn't seem nearly so cold in January as it does in October?
Here is where I will be, should you need to find me:
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Falls from the sky.
And yet our weather forecaster declares that we shall have flurries this weekend. I am not ready. Not even close to it! I still have One More Row Of Potatoes to dig. There are hostas to divide, bulbs to plant, shrubs to move. How did this happen?
Alright, who made the weather gods angry?
We will return to our regularly scheduled blog post after a short pout.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
This is Moose. He is part St. Bernard and part Golden Retriever. We took him as a rescue and, while he looks terrible here (we live on a farm, it is fall and raining -- a lot; what can we expect??), he is normally a very clean and pleasant pup. When we first rescued him, the poor chap was 50 pounds underweight and very afraid of everything. No car rides from him! He was terrified we would abandon him. No loud noises! He knew he was going to be struck. Sweeping? He'd fly from the broom faster than dust bunnies in a nesting mother's home. In short, he was nervous, scared, and very humble. So, we took every chance to keep him with us and give him lots and lots of love.
During one of the first weeks he was here, I was knitting on a pair of socks for my Sissie for Christmas. I had one sock done and was on the home run on the second sock. Moosie was snuggled at my feet. The phone rang and I got up to answer it. When I returned, my sock and needles were no longer on the sofa. I looked on the floor. Nothing. I checked to see if I had carried them to the kitchen. Nopers. All this time, Moose has stayed Very Quiet On The Floor. Innocent.
Then, he turned around. Sticking out of his mouth in all manner of pokiness, were four sock needles and what was left of my sock.
"Moose! You, you, you have my socks!" I cried.
He looked up at me as if to say, "Socks? What socks??"
Then I nearly fell out laughing. He wagged his tail and seemed to smile; the needles and sock remnants dropped to the floor with a sorrowful plunk. One needle was left, but who cared? Moose loped over to me, gently putting his head on my knee as if to apologize.
I petted his head, picked up my needle and the soggy mess of what had been a nearly finished sock. He lay back down and I knew we had passed a milestone. And, I learned, too, never leave a sock alone with a Moose!
My Sissie's Christmas present? One sock and a great story of a dog learning to knit!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I've lived at Lazy Bee Farm for 15 years; the house was a shell when I purchased it. There was no electricity, no water, two windows, one floor missing, the porch was gone, three chimneys were in the floor, and more than a dozen black snakes (ewwwwww, black snakes) in the house. And a bat. My brother and I repaired the house to the point that I could move in and I did --10 weeks after purchase. It was Thanksgiving and we had one small heater. We were thankful for that! It snowed. And snowed. And snowed.... But, I digress.
Since that time, I have worked on the house and, to some degree, the farm. Every year there is a project -- new roof, replace windows, add heat, paint, paint, paint, build barns, chicken coops, plant berries, raise bees, feed and milk goats, and, finally, complete the kitchen. The first remodel was ten years ago. It was my graduate school present to myself! The first stage was done in 1998, the year I finished grad school. The plan to was to finish the cabinets (I could only afford half of them), the next year, but too many things came along in the meantime, so now is the time.
So, cabinets were ordered to finish the second phase. But then I realized that since I was adding cabinets, I would have to order a new countertop, so why not replace ALL of it? I did. Then, the sink was damaged. A new one was ordered (it was installed on Friday and I am still kissing it every time I walk through the kitchen).
Then, I realized that the wall was so damaged from removing the tile for the new countertop, it would have to be either replaced or retiled. Retiling it was. A trip to Winston-Salem, three days on the Internet, and I know what I want and will order it on Tuesday. But, with the new tile, I will need to paint. The samples are on the wall and, after two weeks of living with the samples, I know which red and which cream I want. It'll be done next weekend.
The curtains are still in the bag from the massive Sturbridge shopping trip in July and, I hope, will go up before January, at this point.
It is a dark, dark path when one innocently tries to complete a long overdue project. I should have learned this with the bathroom this winter, but I guess it is rather like labor. We forget.
Did I mention that I have to find new cabinet pulls?
Friday, October 9, 2009
Things are so tough in the world today, I thought it would be fun to have a "Day of Blessings." The rules are simple:
1. List five things you consider blessings.
2. Bless at least one person today. It can be anything: holding a door, sending a card, making a call, smiling, waving at another driver, or anything that might help someone have a better day.
I'll go first.
I am blessed that:
1. The lights came on when I flipped the switch this morning.
2. Food was in my refrigerator when I opened it this morning.
3. My parents are still living and I can still talk with them for advice, encouragement, or a recipe.
4. I am extraordinarily healthy.
5. There are many wonderful, kind, loving, and funny people in my life.
There. That wasn't so difficult was it?
How blessed are you?
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
And, so, when she asked me to participate in the college's "health challenge," I eagerly agreed. Okay, not eagerly. But I did answer her email. In short, it is a six month commitment to work toward better health. Along the way, we are to lose weight, lower our cholesterol, and improve our general well-being. Great. Fine. I am all up for that. Val's a buddy. Right?
Little did I know what a set-up it was.
Valerie is not quite 4'6" and weighs a very slight 105 pounds. She is nearly 60 years old and bikes weekly. She walks and exercises more than an hour a day. Heck, she is halfway through her black belt. Maybe I don't like her as much as I thought.
Also on our team in Rita. She is a tiny 5'1" and around 120 pounds. She rides bikes, runs, canoes, and cave dives at nearly 60. She auditioned for "Survivor." Come to think of it, I don't know if I really like her either.
But I digress.
And then, there is me. Thank you, but my weight isn't really the issue here, but my newfound disappointment that I didn't inherit any slim genes is growing daily. I should have realized when I signed up that I would have to face certain disappointments. We had to weigh. And measure our waists (I know it is here somewhere). Then figure our BMI. Thankfully, I am not morbidly obese. Sigh.
My idea of a work out is walking to the kitchen twice for a snack. The snack? Sourdough bread with butter and honey. My idea of endurance is driving past Wendy's for McDonald's. My idea of a good weight? One that is less than my sissie's.
So, it should come as no surprise my agony when learning that I had to account, report, to Valerie how many fruits and veggies I eat daily as well as what kind of vigorous activity I complete daily. For the record, cocoa beans in chocolate form do not count as a fruit... or veggie. Valerie insists she is right. I am still researching this one.
I have been very good this week. I have walked every day. I have eaten five servings of veggies (in spite of her insistence that chocolate doesn't count! According to Google, she's right. ). I have done my BMI (we shall not speak of it again).
Yes, I know it is just Wednesday. Thanks for the reminder.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask; But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."
John Milton, "When I Consider How My Light Is Spent"
I am in a reflective state of mind today; it has been a tedious week and it is difficult, sometimes, to find joy in such a week. And, while I can't put my finger exactly on what is troubling me, I think it has to do with those things that we can't fix; the world is too much with us.
And, yet, there is such joy around us. Brenda's post or Clarice's post this morning reminds me of that. Each of us, regardless of how powerless or depressed or rich or poor, can make the world a more loving place. While Milton wrote this when his eyesight was failing (how did he write Paradise Lost when completely, utterly blind??), it is actually a fine reminder of how we choose to live our life.
Shall we love and help each other?
Shall we be bitter?
Shall we speak softly and with kindness?
Shall we yell, cry, and spew meanness?
Today, I am considering just how my light is spent. Are you?
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
This is one of my favorite poems and this morning even more so. It is remarkable that yesterday Iron Mountain was green and lush; today it sparkles with golds, burgandies, and oranges that would make Monet weep. I am in love.
Autumn has always been my favorite time of year, so much so that my last Lab was named Autumn. Yes, I love the lushness of spring and the promise of May. I am, after all, a Mother's Day baby. However, it is the richness of fall, the crispness of the air, that breathes life into me. I long for it in July. I dream of it in January.
What is there not to love? The astors dance in the fading sunlight like violet pinwheels held tight by the center; the sky is a blue that reminds me of my Grandmother's eyes; the air is crisp, like a Virginia Beauty apple, sweet and tart at the same time.
In the Autumn, I can indulge my love of all things knit. I love wearing wool and have a shawl for every day, it seems. I have Tasha shawls, short shawls, long ones, and round ones. Every kind a different fiber and pattern. Fancy, plain, simple, sweet, and elegant. It is, without a doubt, my favorite garment. I have tried knitting summer shawls, but they pale in comparison with the texture and richness of the Autumn shawls. Wearing one connects me spiritually with those of earlier times when such a thing was necessary. Now, it is a luxury.
The most delicious part of Autumn is the twilight. We moved to Florida when I was a teenager and I learned the most sorrowful lesson about twilight. There is none in the deep South. It is day; it is night. I relish most of all the delectable feeling of walking the dogs across the pastures above the goats' paddocks as the sun wistfully hugs the mountain ridges one more time before slipping into night. The air is a certain kind of stillness that one can only experience at this time of year. The light is magical. It is almost as if one is between two worlds -- a la Brigadoon -- and can feel the magic as well as the reality. Perhaps it is the Scot-Irish in me; I expect a fairy at any moment to brush my face.
As the dogs dredge the ground for the scent of a foe worthy of chasing, I pause on the small ridge and look down at Lazy Bee Farm. The candle shining in the front bay window welcomes the unexpected, but hoped for, return of those I love. The goats baaaa softly; the cats leap on hidden mice; the chickens sing their soft song as they roost for the evening. A slight breeze tousles my hair and my shawl, wrapped tightly across my shoulders, lifts gently. No other sound. Silence. And in that moment I know that I am home. I can see the years ahead of me -- berries, bees, weaving, goats -- living and dying where I belong.
Welcome home. Welcome Autumn.