May 30, 2010

Independence Day Challenge Update

Totally devoid of energy today. I think my front yard project and five loads of laundry almost killed me yesterday. Not much accomplished today so I thought it would be a good time to catch up on The Independence Day Challenge. Here's what is going on at our house:

1. Plant Something:
Planted oregano, Kentucky Colonial mint, rain Lily's, more heirloom tomato seedlings, a banana shrub, rescued impatiences from my neighbor, rescued pentas and string beans
2. Harvest Something: lettuce, rosemary, basil, oregano
3. Preserve Something:
Here's where I am stumped but am working on it. I have always desperately wanted to learn canning but have a glass top stove which I now hear is a no no as the process may crack the glass. I am mildly interested in dehydrating food but not with an electric dehydrator so am researching using my solar oven that i just brought out of storage. My 90 year old dad walked past this morning mumbling something about how we are in for it this hurricane season because of the "wind patterns" he does not like. Having gone 10 plus days in the neighborhood without electricity after one that didn't even hit us I am trying to steer away from anything requiring electricity as a means of "survival." I truly am Amish at heart.
4. Waste Not: Am composting all kitchen scraps and really reducing water usage. Since I've been doing this I've been amazed at how much water is wasted on a daily basis. Half consumed glasses or bottles of water are now used in the garden to water plants instead of pouring them down the drain. Been trying to collect rain water as well for garden use. This will pick up come hurricane season! Did an Excel spread sheet and am tracking every penny spent in an attempt to adhere to a strict budget. Frightening. It's a wonder anyone survives in this economy.
5. Want Not: Picked up two wonderful books. One is a solar cooking manual and the other is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes. Baked an orange cake in my solar oven yesterday. Delicious! When I shared this accomplishment with a friend she asked me if I had completely lost my mind. I can only smile. Sweetie when you are without electricity and out of propane I'll be eating cake, casseroles and freshly baked artisan bread compliments of el sol. Even my 90 year old dad went from, "what the hell is that?" (while watching me set up the solar panels) to confessing that he couldn't believe when he checked the temperatures (obviously when I wasn't looking) that the oven was up a high as 250 degrees. He couldn't wait this morning to ask how the cake was and was tickled pink when I showed it to him. My dad is rarely tickled pink.
6. Build Community Food Systems: I called a local organic farmer today and we are hoping to go to his farm and pick blueberries and tomatoes next week. He said he also had some black eyed peas. Not a fan of black eyed peas but will check them out.

So now it's time to kick back and eat cake. Feeling good that I'm making a dent in the IDC!

May 29, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I've been making homemade laundry detergent for several months now, experimenting with different recipes. Tried a new one today and think I'm gong to like it. It goes without saying making your own is much more cost effective and better for the environment. I'm tired of the overly perfumed stuff in this society polluting our planet! Recently, someone told me they hated the smell of clothes hanging on a clothes line. What? You hate the smell of fresh air? I guess in a country where we have a deodorant for every orifice this should not have surprised me. Here's the recipe:

Home Made Laundry Soap

1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated) (I use Ivory or Fels Naptha. After researching different recipes these two seem to pop up over and over. Purest beware! Fels Naptha is pink so contains some kind of dye)
2 cups Borax (local grocery stores have it. I see it at Wal-Mart in the laundry soap section)
2 cups Washing Soda (NO! Not baking soda. YES! Everyone makes this mistake. Harder to find. Ace hardware will order it for you or you can order on line.)

  • Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat while stirring.
  • Pour the soapy water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir. Stir. Keep stirring. I use a 5 gallon, clean bucket. Be sure you get one with a lid so you can leave it and come back to it later if you get distracted. Around here distractions are plentiful. 5 gallon buckets can be found at Home Depot, Lowe's or any similar stores. Stir well until all soap is dissolved.
  • Add 2 gallons of warm tap water, stir until well mixed.
  • Pour well stirred mixture using funnel, into old laundry detergent bottles. These make great recycled containers and are easy to shake before each load (yes, this laundry soap does glop and gel when sitting on the shelf and MUST be shaken each time you use it).The lid/measuring cup is equal to 3/4 of a cup. This recipe calls for 1/4 cup but I am one of those people who likes suds so I use a whole cap full.
I quit using fabric softener and dryer sheets about a year ago. When I can remember if I put 1/2 cup white vinegar in the rinse cycle the clothes are noticeably softer. No, they do not smell like vinegar.

Have fun! Now that the boy and I have made several gallons of this we are off to make brownies in the solar oven. We'll let you know how they turn out!

May 27, 2010

Been Busy

Swinging! (thanks IRS)

The boy, Popi (my 90 year old dad), and the artist enjoy a swing. Yes, even before their morning coffee!

(Thanks PARC Thrift Store!)

These mission style chairs and hand crafted needle point covers were $2.99 a piece. When I got to the cash register they had me stick my hand in a bag (eeeewwwww!) and pull out a coin. Mine said "30" So I got an additional 30% off! I'm re-selling these for $50.00.

(Thanks Popi for the grill!)

Happy Mother's Day to me!
(my own coffee)
No time to chat!

May 22, 2010

Where's Waldo?

What a great celebration yesterday. I was overwhelmed with gifts from friends and family. One friend came by and surprised me with a huge balloon bouquet! The genius gave me a fabulous jacket from Patagonia because she witnessed how cold I was this winter. As God is my witness...I'll never be cold again...She brought cupcakes from the local Cupcake Factory. A place I never frequent since one cupcake costs more than baking a cake. Delicious! The artist cooked, washed dishes, and babysat while I NAPPED. She picked out some fantastic organic soaps from a lady she has met in her local farmers market. The defoliating agent is sand from Crystal Beach. How cool is that? I got gifts from a far....praise music cd's, Starbucks gift cards, Kohl's gift card, Nacho Libre (yes, i can hear the artist and the genius groaning but the boy and i LOVE this movie), a beautiful tea cup and money from my 90 year old dad. Talk about a cup running over! 59 here I come....after 58 you're not looking too bad...

May 21, 2010

Today I'm 58!

and I celebrated it exactly as I wanted to. Pedicure? No. Manicure. No. Mall shopping? No. restaurant? No. Massage? No. DUMP MULCH! Yes.

Followed by a trip to weigh and pay where the treasures were plentiful! From the ridiculous:

To the sublime:

Cookout with the family, fabulous gifts,and a NAP! Who could ask for a better birthday!

May 20, 2010

One Is Wheezing. One Is Seizing. One "Just Wants To Be Free."

This week I'd rather be blueberry picking in Alabama!
It has been a rough week but then most are in this household. I was reading one of my favorite bloggers, Big Mama Hollers who is an adoptive mom of 39 children. Today she laments, "Does everything I touch have to be so difficult? Is it me?" I understand her completely. This week is a perfect example. Since Christmas the teenager has developed a seizure disorder heralded in by a terrible tonic-clonic seizure on December 28th that left her unconscious with a concussion she sustained when she fell backwards at the onset of the seizure hitting her head on an antique steamer trunk. Since she had no known seizure disorder, the seizure lasted well over 5 minutes, and she was totally unresponsive the paramedics took her to the local children's hospital. We were informed that the possibility of her having another seizure was about 50/50 based on her test results but that pediatric neurology had changed somewhat over the years and they generally did not treat with medication for one seizure and/or one abnormal EEG. To say our lives changed a bit after the 28th is an understatement. I am not paranoid, especially about seizures, and am able to maintain my cool as a parent when confronted with one but hyper-vigilant after the 28th? Duh! Safety suddenly become an all consuming pastime. The teenager, for instance, loves to swim and we have a small above ground pool. What if....I now put the telephone in a zip lock baggie at pool side with a flotation device at arms length. If she began seizuring while swimming there would be no way to lift her out so I have to have the ability to hold her above water and access to phone 911 if the seizure did not subside. In our family, stopping an activity like swimming because of "what if's" is not an option. Normalcy is pursued at every crossroad even if it is inconvenient or sometimes scary. I guess it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened though. On Tuesday night, while everyone was sleeping I heard a strange noise from the teenagers room upstairs and went to check on her. In times past I would have ignored it thinking she was dreaming but since the 28th many things have changed. I found her in the midst of another grand mal seizure. Pupils fixed and constricted. Completely unresponsive. Pulse and respiration were normal so I sat with her and waited it out. I hovered over her throughout the night and in the morning i was siting on her bed when she woke up. "WHAT'S THE MATTER?" she asks suspiciously. Oh, nothing I respond nonchalantly. Feeling ok are you? A trip back to neurology that afternoon and this time started on seizure medication that makes her giddy and loopy. Or I should say giddier and loopier. Mercifully, she doesn't remember any of the incident on Tuesday. She simply thinks she went to bed and woke up like every other morning. The good news is her MRI of the brain only showed the damage that I was already aware of and nothing more sinister that would cause the new onset seizures. Only another parent of a special needs child would truly understand when I say thank God it's only epilepsy. In the meantime the baby is still wheezing on 5 nebulizer treatments a day and the boy is not wanting to do homework. He tells me this morning "but mom I just want to be free." Free to roam. Free to explore. Free to play. None of which, in that dyslexic brain of his includes academics of any kind. I gave it my best effort with a nice "but freedom isn't ever free" speech knowing I was undoubtedly tuned out after the first two spoken words. All the while I'm yacking I'm thinking to my self, don't we all just want to be free? Don't we all?

May 17, 2010

"When I was writing pretty poor poetry, this girl with midnight black hair told me to go on." Carl Sandburg

When it's hair time this girl with midnight black hair tells me where to go also. We began at 7:00 PM tonight washing with the organic "lavish conditioning shampoo." Conditioned with the organic" olive oil replenishing conditioner." Style with the organic "olive oil incredibly rich moisturizing hair lotion." We comb, part and braid while flipping, flopping, flailing, kicking, screaming, shrieking, eating hair product ("Mom! Will that kill her eating that stuff? "No, but it might help her constipation.") slithering down my lap and combat crawling away like Rambo, hanging upside down like Stellaluna, and slapping combs across the floor like ping-pong balls. Our black babysitter, Mama G, informed me last time she attempted to do the baby's hair that she would never touch her head again. If that little tidbit of info doesn't perfectly illustrate my dilemma then nothing will. This baby is pure evil when she spots an afro pick. Her head spins when you break out the hair product. She has been Sybil-ish since the first day she spotted a comb in the NICU. I've had all types of well meaning comments. "Maybe she's tender headed. Poor thing!" Unless you are having direct radiation treatment to your hair follicles on a daily basis, no one, i repeat no one, is this tender headed. "Why don't you do her hair when she is sleeping?" Hello! Who sleeps in this family? "Why don't you do her hair in front of a DVD." Which DVD would you suggest because I have tried everything from Dora to Yo Gabba Gabba to old re-runs of Mr. Rogers and she is not about to focus on anything except the hair fight. Maybe I should try The Exorcist or War Of The Worlds next time? I've discussed the subject of the baby's hair before (Black Power!) and will undoubtedly discuss it again since it is such an ongoing major event in our lives. Tonight after 2 1/2 hours i finally gave up at 9:30 PM and put the back of her unbraided head in a giant afro puff. I simply couldn't take it anymore. Surprisingly, the end result is kinda cute and when we looked in the mirror...because we ALWAYS have to look in the mirror...she was crazy for this hairstyle and admired herself for a long time literally oooooing and ahhhhhhing out loud. I may not have mentioned it before but she does love to look at herself in the mirror after the hair fights and any other time she happens to spot one. She also loves clothes and loves to shop. When we were in a shoe store recently she spotted a pair of pink and purple Nike's and began maniacally signing, "SHOES ON! SHOES ON! SHOES ON!" We left the store that day with a new pair of Nike's we did not need. What we did need after the hair fight tonight, however...both of us...was a nebulizer treatment. Bet they don't teach that in cosmetology school.

May 16, 2010

I Knew Diane Would Know...

5:00 AM Gardener

There simply are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all that i want/need to accomplish. Woke up early and could not get back to sleep. If this was a work day I'd be sleeping like a rock but it's Sunday. A day where i could at least sleep until 7:00 AM. Not a chance. Gave up, ground some Newman's Own organic french roast and headed out to the garden. Did some major watering which in our state is the perfect time to water. It's in the high 80's and low 90's during the day now. (I'm pretty sure we are in for it this coming hurricane season.) I faithfully read other gardening blogger's posts and am amazed that they are still concerned at this time about FROST while our primary concern is preventing HEAT STROKE If we water after 8:00 AM it evaporates into the atmosphere and no one in this family wastes water. If we water in the evening we run the risk of mold, and fungus. 5:00 AM may not be my perfect time but the plants feel it is their perfect time. Today I have a number of projects going for the Independence Day Challenge which has basically given a name to what I do on a daily basis anyway. Am re-finishing an $8.00 plant stand for the genius, re-covering dining room chairs with thrift store vintage draperies for $4.00 and hoping to get the last coat of paint on my thrift store coffee table. This will be accomplished between every four hour plus two nebulizer treatments, cooking, cleaning, hanging out laundry, running to Home Depot for KILZ and cow poop and...gulp...doing the baby's hair. Oh, I DREAD that last one. In the meantime here's what's popping up in our garden:
Stupice tomatoes. A great, heirloom, potato leaf variety that comes from Czechoslovakia. It grows well in northern climates so this will be interesting in our sauna-like weather. Already, however, I can say the bugs do NOT like this plant so if it survives the heat and tastes good this will be a yearly choice.
St. Pierre Tomatoes. A beautiful French heirloom large in size, great for canning or fresh eating. They are excellent producers, even in bad conditions. (hurricanes included?) Popular in Europe.
Contender (Buff) Valentine Bush Beans: A heirloom bush bean introduced in 1949. Promises huge yields despite it's small size. Time will tell...they seem AWFULLY tiny to yield much at all.Ashe County Pimiento Pepper: A sweet, deep red, pimiento-type heirloom found growing in Ashe county, North Carolina. And a more shocking revelation...I've just discovered that I've been spelling "pimiento" wrong for 50 years. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

May 15, 2010

How Sweet It Is!

Is it my imagination or does this cookie jar have a Jackie Gleason facial expression? I'll let my friend Diane, the Jackie Gleason expert, be the judge. Today we drove to the big city to pick out our NEW swing set. Blessed income tax return! The only time it pays to be poor is this time of year! The baby hates to swing so she stayed with our sitter of 2 years, Mama G, and slept all day but the boy and the teenager came because they needed to choose what elements they wanted in their NEW swing set. (Yes, I'm excited!) We found an awesome adult swing that resembles a one man/woman porch swing for the teen. She test rode it to see if it swung to the moon and it did. The boy wanted a rock climbing wall and a tire swing. Done! This set has it all. On the way back we stopped at our favorite big city thrift shops where I found this awesome material for $1.95 which will make great shopping bags. Lots and lots of shopping bags:

I love the borders:
The only down side of the day was that the big city was swarming with Love Bugs. I've included the link for those of you who have never experienced the joys of these chronically copulating creepy insects. I have an allergic asthmatic bronchitis this week which has left me slightly... shall we say... queasy? The boy was determined to save every stinkin' love bug that flew into the burger joint irregardless of how many times I told him to STOP man-handling the creepy copulating insects. After about the 5th rescued bug I yelled, a little too loud, "Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! I'm trying to eat and not throw up here!" It was one of those situations where the restaurant became quiet, crickets started to chirp (to the rhythm of the creepy copulating insects) and all eyes were on me. Sometimes it's pointless to attempt an explanation. FYI. I did not buy the Jackie Gleason cookie jar but Diane, if you love it we will go back and pick it up for you. Something tells me it may still be there.

May 13, 2010

Take The Independence Day Challenge!

Inspired by one of my favorite new bloggers, Necessities who was inspired by The Independence Day Challenge I've decided to take the Independence plunge which is (very briefly!):.

1. Plant something

2. Harvest something -

3. Preserve something

4. Waste Not

5. Want Not

6. Build Community Food Systems –

7. Eat the Food –

For detailed instructions go to The Independence Day Challenge site above. The baby is sick...again...I am sick...again. I may not make it through many steps today since I am feeling yucky but at 6:00 AM as the sun was coming up I did go out and "Harvest something." Since the vegies aren't ready yet with the exception of the heirloom lettuce which we've been eating for months, I picked flowers from the garden to cheer us all. When they are spent they will go straight into one of two compost piles that we have. Our latest compost bin is an old computer desk that the boy and I drug home from someone's front yard on trash day. He spent hours drilling holes in the wood for aeration which kept him busy. And we all know when the boy is busy there is peace in the valley. Or in our situation, peace on the peninsula.

Read about the challenge at the sites above and join me in the fun!

May 9, 2010

39 Years of Motherhood and Finally...

A child who loves blue jean over-all's and gets excited about Romantic Homes Magazine. Happy Mother's Day to me.

Happy Mothers Day

My mothers day gifts to you:

Addendum: The genius tells me she will not click on a link unless it's labeled. So... sigh...for those of you who are kin to the genius I have labeled the links:

1.) (Mr. T's tribute to yo mama)

2.) (Brotherly love)

3.) (d_b_561645.html#s87411 (Dear God are there really people like this in the world? What do you think, "half breed" aka genius)

(This is totally me...especially when she (?) sees the "crap" and the "oh come on people!")

May 8, 2010

Hot Sauce House Cleaning

Not enough hours in the day for what needs to be accomplished in this family. I am fully aware of the fact that I do more in one day than most do in one week and we wont' even get in to the age factor and the fact that I should be "retired." Spring came and went in one week. May 1st arrived and the temperatures soared to the high 80's and at times 90's. I still have spring fever, however, and am ripping apart the front yard making water-wise beds, planting heirlooms in the back and chasing those dadburn Luber grasshoppers who are eating everything in site. Trips to the dump for mulch have to be done in early morning or evening as I would hate to have my obituary contain that I was found lying prostrate on a big pile of dump mulch over come by heat stroke. Of course, while treating my spring fever by digging and planting I have sadly neglected the inside of the house. The teenager, who is becoming very self sufficient in activities of daily living woke up and made her own breakfast which consisted of turkey bacon, scrambled eggs,waffle with low fat syrup and orange juice. Yes, all by herself! Proud? Not much!!! So i figured she might be up for a little house cleaning as well? A look of horror and then, "Mom! You know cleaning makes my heart boil like hot sauce!" Maybe I'll just head outside now.

May 1, 2010

Early Mother's Day Present From The Genius

Sometimes a photo says it all. I LOVE signs and this one was an early gift from The Genius today. I've proudly hung it on my front door. Recently, I've been lamenting a lot about how I can never get my house clean like I used to when The Genius and The Artist were younger. The Teenager, The Boy and The Baby are like mini Hansel and Gretel's leaving three trails of " breadcrumbs" everywhere they venture. How perfect is this sign strategically hung on the front door for all to see as they enter our home. Oh, sorry about the clean laundry on the sofa. The kids are making memories. Sorry about the dirty underwear in the hallway. The kids are making memories. Sorry about the spaghetti stuck to the dining room table. The kids are making memories. Sorry about that snot rocket solidifying on the sliding glass door. The kids are making memories. Sorry about that toad in the bathtub. The kids are making memories. Ah, yes. This may go down in history as the most useful present I've ever received in 39 years of motherhood.