Thursday, October 20, 2011


the smell of death

hangs in my nose

They say,
This is how farm life goes.
Hard work from dawn to dusk.

I am

now a husk


those things which once filled me
that made me who i thought i was
dancing, art, photography, design, writing

they are cast off

in a box on a shelf

waiting for someday

and i am instead
doing things
i can not talk about
in polite society

elbow deep in birth

and death

a farm
a full-time takes-my-breath no-time-to-stop
hobby farm

no one around

except to say
We knew.
You should have done.

too late

as stacks

of to dos and to reads

tumble into heaps
and bounty turns to compost
and clothes chewed by critters
and flies multiply
unlike our bunnies

and goats.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Rosemary No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread

I multiplied the original recipe to make 4 loaves.

4 c whole wheat flour *1 c if you want only one loaf or none if you want an all white bread
8 c unbleached white flour *2 c if you want only one loaf or 3 c if you are making all white
about 4t dried rosemary (it was all I had left - should have used 8t) *2t for one loaf
(original recipe calls for lemon zest. I didn't use it. for 4 loaves = 8t for or 2t for a single)
1 t yeast *1/4t for one loaf

mix these ingredients together in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid or other container depending on how many loaves you are making - enough to rise to double or more.

Add 6 1/2 c apx 120 degree water (this multiplication hurt my brain last night: 1 5/8 c x 4 = 4 20/8 = 4+2 4/8)

stir until blended, no dry flour left - around 1 minute

cover and leave on counter for 24 hours (at least 12 hours)

I was very skeptical today when I poured the dough onto the counter for the next step. It was about the thickness of pizza dough. My instinct was to add more flour. But I resisted.

I floured my surface with about 1/4c of whole wheat flour, folded it over on itself a few times. Then cut it into 4 chunks. Formed the chunks into balls then preheated my oven.

The original recipe calls for 2 hours to rise at this point. I didn't have time for it. Instead I thought I would try my first loaf right away.

I preheated my oven to 450 degrees with my empty dutch oven inside.

Once the oven reached temperature I set a timer for 10 minutes. Just to be sure my pan was hot enough.

I poured around 1T olive oil and 1/4t salt in the hot pan, gathered up my soggy dough (cold water on your hands helps prevent sticking.) Dropped it in. Put the cover on.

Bake 30 minutes with cover on. 15-30 minutes with cover off. I baked one loaf at a time. Between the first and second loaves I did not let the pan heat up enough, I did not get as much of the nice cracking on the top. The rest of the time, I allowed 10 minutes in the oven empty before putting the next loaf in.

Once the bread is done, let it cool on a rack. If you listen, the crust will crackle and pop as it cools if done properly.

Not nearly enough rosemary flavor with the amount of herb I had available. Two of my loaves ended up burnt on the bottom.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recipe: Sweet Honey Morning Muffin/Bread

I came across this recipe while looking for a cake made with honey on the internet. Google came up with quite a few entries, but only one did not have sugar. Reading the recipe I thought it would be more like a quick bread - and we were right. Still, it is a perfect addition to my Farmer's Market Menu - and super yummy!

Click here for Original Recipe

When I made it, I made it two ways, one with the almonds, one without. I love nuts in things, but hubby does not, so I thought I should see if it was worth making again if I did not add nuts.

1 C sliced almonds
1 1/4 C Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 C Unbleached White Flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 C butter (it called for unsalted, but I used salted)
1 C honey (my store honey was almost gone - i used 3/4 C store honey, the last T of local honey, and the last t of buckwheat honey my sister gave me) it was not quite a full cup
4 large eggs - these were fresh from my chickens!
1/4 C yogurt or sour cream: I used a plain greek yogurt that was milk & active cultures.

  • Preheat oven to 325˚
  • Grease a 9" round cake pan (I used 2 loaf pans - one with almonds, one without)
  • Sprinkle bottom with 3/4 C of the almonds
  • In one bowl - mix dry ingredients (Flours, Soda, Salt)
  • In another bowl: mix butter, honey, and eggs. My batter was lumpy at this point. I mixed by hand, I wonder if I had used my electric mixer if the cake would have been fluffier? I also am thinking I might try to lighten it up further by separating the egg whites, and mixing till fluffy, then mixing in creamed butter, egg yolks, and honey.
  • Stir in flour
  • Stir in yogurt
  • Stir in almonds - this was the point where I poured 1/2 the batter into the almond free pan. Then added almonds to the rest of the batter.
  • Make sure everything is evenly moistened
  • Mix 1 minute more
  • Pour the batter over the almonds in the pan
  • Bake for 50 - 55 minutes (this was plenty of time for my two loaf pans to finish as well)
  • Cool for 15 minutes
  • Remove from pans and cool before serving

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Full Sized Goats!

Dear readers,

I am inconsistent in my writing. I know to have a successful blog I must plan. I have grand ideas and failure to follow through. I am going to do some planning this summer, and try to come up with an idea or two and a plan to pursue.

Here is the blog I started 2 weeks ago:

Have you ever had one of those days where you get through 3 things on your list, but still feel as though you have gotten nothing done? And not small things either. Wednesday night I wanted to finish folding the laundry, and put it away. I also wanted to bake a few more baguettes, and make another batch of goat cheese. I did all these things. I still felt that annoying, pent-up, frustration as though I had gotten nothing done. Le sigh.

I own a hobby farm or at least that is what we call it. We have chickens and goats and children and gardens. We have had pygmy goats for 2 years now, and chickens since before we moved. We had a pygmy goat in milk through last winter (January - March). She was ornery (read more about Betsy here). The goats were free range at that time, and she was difficult to catch. She did not enjoy being milked and would stomp about. She did calm a little through the process, but was never an easy milker.

This winter we got a two new nannies with babies. We tried milking Suzi, but she was so new to us, we gave up quite quickly. Then we tried Aggie, and had a similar result. Neither had been handled much, nor were they prepared for milking.

Then last weekend, my hubby found someone selling full sized milking goats for only $50 each. That is an amazing deal for anyone who knows about milking goats. When we arrived to get the new girls, she offered us two more who were in milk. Friendly, loving, easy, trained full size milking goats!

What a difference milking a trained goat can be! It was amazing that first time we brought them to the milking stand, and they jumped up onto it. I did have to readjust their heads to fit in the holder, although I do not think they really need it. They stand still once they are in place and happily munch their grain. I can milk with my entire hand instead of just 2 or 3 fingers. We get more than a quart per day. Simply amazing! My husband, who could not milk our pygmy, has taken over the milking! We are even back to milking one of the pygmy's now that we have a routine down. We have started separating her from her baby overnight (very common practice in milk goats). We came away with 9 cups on a Sunday from all 3 goats!

Sorry - I stopped keeping track. My 40 days were sketchy toward the end. I kept dropping off things as I got busier. Easter weekend, we had a fun, free for all of sugary goodness - with some healthy stuff thrown in. I have discovered some new honey instead of sugar recipes I am excited to share in the coming weeks.

Friday: Didn't have time for buffet - hit mcdee's instead. Over-budget by $8 :(
Saturday: brought home 4 new goats instead of 2. 2 of them are in milk. They are standard sized breeds.
B: Cereal w/milk
L: sandwiches? don't remember.
D: Take out chinese (friend's treat) to make up for mcdees - shrimp fried rice & egg rolls - yum!
B: oatmeal w/granola
dessert at church: apple pie & a lemon bar
L: leftovers - chili
Visit to sister's: New recipe: honey "cake" - more like quick bread. still very yummy! Sampled lots of new sugar free things... check out my sister's sugar free blog.
D: roll, oatmeal cream pie
B: oatmeal w/granola
L: Almond bread - coworker went to greatharvest again. Chowder.
D: Leftovers fried rice!
Started a batch of ww bread the 5 minute way. also tried making cheese with 1/2 gallon of goat milk - major fail. Wasn't curdling with the recipe i found, added more vinegar, still nothing. finally reheated and it curdled, but now it is overpowering in it's vinegarness - ggrrrrr.
B: oatmeal w/granola - I know it sounds so boring to eat oatmeal every day - but I really do enjoy it! Especially with the added crunchy of granola on top!
L: Baked potato w/butter & spike, apple sauce, carrot
D: Leftover turkey sauteed in butter with celery, onions, on top of reheated multi-grain rice. Forgot salt - but then it was perfect! I love turkey & celery together.
coffee w/creamer from commuter
B:Oatmeal & granola
L: Chowder - all gone now, applesauce
D: French toast bake: Store "wheat" buns, home eggs, home goat milk, cinamon, vanilla, home canned apple pie apples (cin/sugar). Kids did not like the apples, but loved the toast - they didn't notice the goat milk. I didn't notice either until I remembered I had added it, and noticed a slight difference in flavour.
B: quaker cin apple oatmeal w/granola too - sooo yummy. I am noticing I am eating too fast again. Need to slow down & savor!
L: Leftovers from Son's lunch - carrot/celery with dressing, cottage cheese, cinamon apples with granola (ooo apple crisp - I should make some!). end of french bread. Oh, and 2 spoons of pb. menses hunger/tension has me feeling bleh!
D: on the go - carrot, watered down koolaid, 2 cold pancakes (boy's book was in the "power night" he received some cute comments."
Fri: finally!!
B: quaker cin apple oatmeal w/granola
L: "wheat" buns w/cheese, carrot, 2 chips (boss brought in new variety), couple slices of her cheese, spoon pb. My lunches are really getting carried away. Must be more disciplined next week!)
D: Fish, rice, green beans (appears all the corn I canned last year has gone bad - luck for my chickens!)
Sat: B: L: D:
Sun: B: L: D:
Mon: B: honey muffins w/almonds (altered my posted recipe by using only ww flour.
L: Bread w/cheese, yogurt, carrot
D: Spaghetti - ground beef, home made tomato sauce, pasta, cheese, goats milk
Tues: B: honey muffin, bran muffin, oatmeal... goodness I feel alot of hunger lately. And feel very drained by the end of the day... Desperately in need of a good shopping trip to fill up on fresh foods!
L: leftover french toast bake with apples - added cheese on top - yum!, cottage cheese, yogurt, coffee - I really don't understand why I am so tired.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Purposeful Adventures

Welcome to my world of over-whelm-ed-ness. I have made some changes to my original plan to my fast, study, and clean everything Lenten Season.

I have given up on the Simplify Challenge's weekly goal. It was getting to be too much, and I just do not feel like I have time for it
. I am trying to be ok with not completing it all.

First week's challenge:
I started my wardrobe ready to go full force, but still have not finished. It is hard to get something done in one room, while trying to also care for children and husband; cook dinner, pack school lunch, check homework, and do farm chores. There is still a pile in my closet to sort, as well as drawers unpacked, and unfinished laundry. Does not help a girl feel good to see that every day. Hoping to make sense of it all by Easter. I would say sooner than that, but my primary goal is to get the paper under control. This weekend's goal, all the laundry done and put away!

Week 2:
Paper. It has my love, it has my hate. It is the first thing I see when I walk in the door from work. It is the main thing I am aware of when I try to let the kids be crafty in the afternoon. It stresses me out during bill times (2nd & 17th). I worry I have forgotten something for Boy's school. I started off well but because I did not finish, I did not follow my filing rules, then I had people over and felt I really needed to straighten up, which left the paper in a huge disorganized pile which laughs at me all the time. I need an easier, simple, plain system that makes daily sense. Something I can stick to no matter what comes. Something, that if I leave it for a few days, can still just take a few moments to sort out. Goal this weekend, to at least set up a system to organize.

Week 3: The kid's room. This was by far the easiest room for me. It is finished for now. When we have a yard sale this summer, we will make a few more changes.

Week 4: The pantry.
I went through 1 cupboard and cleared and organized it. It is my least used cupboard, but is very pretty now. My basement canned storage is almost empty, but it stays organized. The rest will have to wait.

Week 5:
Is anything we want. I guess it is back to what I have been trying to do the whole time. Figure out the sunshine room organization and get the paper under control.

This quote was in my daily reading on Common Prayer - 3/24:
"We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very, very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity..." Oscar Romero (1917–1980)

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by a continued challenge on my time and my life, I need to refocus on our family purpose statement.
We wish to live well on God's land, being good stewards of his creatures, plants, and soil. We wish to raise our children healthy and strong - physically, mentally, and emotionally. We wish to be independent of the economic tide. Work well, play hard, create beauty.
I think the objectives of this are:
  • We want to be self sufficient in feeding ourselves - this means I need to be sure I can care for my animals, have appropriate space for them, and space to store their yields. I find under this a freedom to continue my passion for new recipes, and baking and cooking from scratch. I need to be sure I can find time for these things, and that the space is available for that purpose.
  • Raising our children well includes space for them to learn and play and create. The sunshine room is where I focus their energy for that purpose. We also need a regular dinner time at the table together, family devotions. I need to be sure I keep our family spaces neat, organized, and useful!
  • Independence from the economic tide! This is a lovely goal - however, it requires not only a capability of caring for my family, but also a freedom from the slavery of debt. Hubby and I often quarrel about the inability to move forward with our farm plans because there is not space in the budget - all of the money is eaten alive by the debt payment. It is hard to move forward with hobby farm goals when the debt free goal is standing like a giant shadow across the landscape.
I am trying to be comfortable with not completing everything I want to complete. I am trying to be patient with myself, and only do what I can. I know there are areas I need to change. I know there are things I really do not need, that reside in my home. I pray daily for the strength to actually let go of some of these things.

And so I end, because it has been two weeks, and I feel I must post. Please forgive my rambling.

Food journal
Tuesday: Breakfast - oatmeal. Lunch - 2 slices bread Great Harvest ( is so yummy! also applesauce (homemade with just apples). Dinner - ground beef taco meat, ww tortillas, cheese, lettuce, rice, tomatoes. Juice with cider vinegar. When I am home, I try to have either water or juice with vinegar in it - unless I have pulled out the pickles. We eat a lot of pickles lately because I realized they are actually a vegetable (silly I know, but I have always thought of them as a condiment - something to eat occasionally with specific meals, but they are cucumbers with vinegar and spice), plus they help keep back indigestion. I tried to make granola - taste test will be on Wed.

Wed: Breakfast - oatmeal with a little granola on top! Lunch - buttered bread, carrot. Dinner:

Has fallen off the get up early and read bible wagon! Must get back on track. I am still reading common prayer in the am, and ps119 at some point in the day - but I really yearn to hold myself to some consistency in schedule!

Thursday: so i wasn't keeping track, and don't recall alot of this week's food, or weekend.

Friday: breakfast - oatmeal. lunch: um... Dinner: tuna cakes, chowder, bread

Saturday: breakfast - raison bran with milk. Lunch: pbj. Dinner: pizza - papa murphy's.

Sunday: Breakfast - oatmeal with granola on top. prelunch: banana cream pie, and cream cheese danish. Lunch: bacon, spam, and eggs, and bread. Dinner: turkey, potato. Dessert: ice cream, oatmeal cream pie! yum.

Monday: breakfast oatmeal. Lunch bread, yogurt. dinner: leftovers - chowder & chili & fried rice
Tuesday: bread, yogurt, granola, Dinner: scrambled, poached, and boiled eggs on toast - homemade bread baked in cast iron, with a tablespoon of bacon grease on the bottom - made a lovely crispy flavor after toasting.
wednesday: blueberry bagel with butter, coffee - I think I need to cut back on the bread - love it muchly, but probably not so good to just eat bread. I have realized that I crave things on the snack table less now! had the bagel at 9am, and now at 1 i still am not hungry. hmmm. perhaps fasting through lunch. headed out for a walk to the co-op, scoping out flour & honey. Dinner: curry ground lamb, broccoli, pasta.

Thursday: My sister is doing the 30 day no sugar challenge (honey, maple syrup, and such are ok sweetners). I thought about joining, but as it is, we are not doing too much sugar, and I cannot imagine adding one more thing. Plus, I really want to use up the stuff we have in the house. My monthly grocery budget is 200 which doesn't leave much room for really good real food. So I get by with non-organic, make at home ingredients.
B: large oatmeal w/ benefiber, and handful granola on top. No more brown sugar for me.
L: Potato baked in micro butter on top and spike, applesauce homemade apples only no sugar.
D: Curried chicken a la king with mixed grain rice (white rice, wheat berries, cracked oats, wild rice - white rice cooked to fast so it was mushed - but the other stuff had nice hearty chewy flavour! Definitely do again with adding white rice later).

Just came across this post today - awesome ideas:

Friday: yippee!
B: oatmeal with benefiber and granola. coffee
L: tangerine, bread w/pb - doing my part to make sure the breakfast bread doesn't go bad! Also a slice of tomato basil bread.
D: Date tonight - so no lenten fish for me - we're doing chinese buffet & movie! Planning to keep cost below $30 gift.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Finally met a challenge...

But forgot the photos, and then did not post the blog until the following week - sigh.

When we first moved into our house (8/2008) we had the kids in separate rooms. In those rooms, it looked like they did not have many toys. Then we rearranged the house and now we have them in one room. It showed instantly how many toys they really have. Add a few birthdays and Christmases and suddenly we are bursting at the seams.

A few months ago I had the kids start minimizing their toys. Boy child was very reluctant to part with anything - kinda like his Mama. Girl child was quite willing to part with quite a bit, and some items I thought she should keep, but I tried to allow anything. After several different tactics I convinced boy child by telling him it would just be temporary; we would just put it all in a closet and look at it again before we decided what to sell or give away. However, I still looked in their room and felt they had too much.

Then the 3/21-25 Simplicity Challenge project - the kid's clothes and toys.

I started on Monday evening with a quick look at two of my son's drawers. Although for future reference, asking a very tired boy what he wants to give up is not a good idea. He has the fewest clothing items of anyone in the house. I had him start by picking out his favorite 5, and then 5 more. I then allowed him to say which others he liked. He gave up 3 or 4 items! I was very proud. I often avoid laundry or do not get through it all for two weeks at a time, so I need to be sure he has enough during those weeks. I am aiming for a good two week supply for all clothes in the home!

Wednesday we were fortunate to have a snow day (trying to look at the bright side of 10" of snow after a week of most of it melting away!). This allowed for a full fledged toy/clothes day. We dumped out all the toys, had the kids list their most favorite thing to play - these items went in the under bed bins. I limited their stuffed toys to one shelf each. I took out the block bucket and the Lincoln logs. I left a bin of cars and a bin of baby doll items and a bin of dinosaurs. I parked a few trucks under shelves, and used a shelf as a baby bunk bed. I pulled a lot from their room, although the doll house items are still a little overwhelming. Took out a basket of girl clothes, and probably another bin worth of other things. All items are currently being housed in the linen cupboard to be further sorted pre-yard sale day. It feels better in their room, but still needs work.

This snow day made me think that a lot of the people who follow the simplicity challenges must be stay at home moms because it was not quite so overwhelming being able to go through their room over the course of one day, versus trying to fit it into occasional evenings, and usual weekend cleaning days.

Girl child is blessed to have several older girl cousins and friends. She has several bins of clothes given to her for every size and season. This was a very refreshing experience to limit her clothes even further - her dresser drawers now close easily! I will admit though that the laundry was not done at the time of sorting. I will have to finish this project sometime this week after the laundry is complete. Plus I did not even approach the minimizing of her dresses!

Side note from the paper challenge. I am trying to do a little each day to reduce what we have. In going through the desk and rediscovering the letter writing supplies I decided I was going to start doing what I really desire to do: write real letters, and thank you notes. So I had the kids start one to my parents. We included the valentines we never sent, and the school picture from spring. It is a larger package than anticipated, but I think if we can set aside one per week, we will reach everyone this year we meant to reach. Plus, I will start using up the oversupply of envelopes and cards!

Because I am late posting last week, I will sign off for now. Food logs below.
Monday - stupid day. up at 5:10. discovered something got at least 9 of my chickens - dog of some sort. Just when they are laying well! I counted 13 remaining. GRUMPY! I am the only one it the office today. Breakfast - usual. Decided to not milk this goat anymore - hubby wants to get me a nubbian - good full sized milking goats. Lunch yogurt, cranberries, 2 hb eggs, soda bread, apple sauce. I said to hubby I want dinner to make itself - and the result was: frz pizza & popcorn & milk. And later, he helped do 50% of dishes - which is almost like them doing themselves. up late - tv night. on 3/21: I am feeling downtrodden. Worn down, and ready to quit. How shall I ever get my life in order when I cannot finish even the simple weekly challenge. sigh. Starting out my week with a dog getting 50% of my chickens really puts a damper on the yearning I have to be a farm wife. The paper clutter really has me down, and my inability to do everything really makes me depressed right now.

Tuesday - still trying to get up eariler - but tuesdays are so hard with monday being tv night. up at 5:15. Didn't go chores or read until i got to work. am coffee. breakfast oatmeal w/brown sugar. lunch potato with butter & spike, applesauce. no walk raining. Dinner: Lamb chops with balsamic reduction, brown rice, frz broc/cauli.

Wednesday - SNOW DAY!!! 10" where I live, and huge drifts. Breakfast - oatmeal, lunch - tomato soup & grilled cheese on rosemary bread. Dinner - baked beans, corn bread, squash, salad.

Thursday - breakfast - tried new BetterOats - abundance apple & cinnamon - very yummy & hearty tasting. Lunch - peaches & yogurt, potato, broccoli, celery, pickles. Dinner - just the kids & I again, so we had pancakes, and salad - odd, but still yummy.

Friday - breakfast apple & cinnamon oatmeal, lunch - coworker brought in great harvest cranberry & orange bread, hunger or munchies cannot decide, cin/raison bagel... very bread heavy today. Dinner - should be fish, but since we haven't had meat for a few days - made a ground lamb "spaghetti", it was listed as spaghetti, but no tomato sauce. Ground lamb in white wine & garlic, parsley, curry, paprika, and cayanne - it was awesome. Everyone loved it - so excited for new recipes!

Saturday - Monday - Daughter & I joined MIL, and 3 neices, drove to iowa, stayed two overnights, saw awesome sites, and had fun - because we were out & about we abandoned the rules - or remembered them sporadically. Was fun though. Stepped on MIL's scale to check my numbers - they appear to be back to usual - now if I could just actually lose more than just the winter flub!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Adventures in Paperwork

I like paper. (sorry cannot figure out how to rotate before photo)

I sometimes go to paper stores and buy up samples of several different papers and envelopes, and they sit in drawers at home waiting for me to use them. I keep paper sample books, I keep interesting printed pieces. I keep ideas and plans. I used to collect post cards. I keep doodles. I keep articles I want to read. I keep recipes I might make. I keep financial files since I started working in the 90s. I keep the drawings my kids do. I keep holiday cards, birthday cards, business cards. I keep printed ads that I like the look of. I keep tickets from events, I keep bulletins from church. I buy notebooks and journals. I keep a stash of scratch paper and color books for the kids. I have a whole bread box full of note paper, and assorted blank paper items.

My main areas of collecting paper are:
1. Desk - this is where I put things I really should deal with sooner, rather than later. I have file spaces, but usually I "run out of time" and just pile it on top. Inside the desk is where I keep my envelopes and letter head, and cards, and paper samples...
2. My bag I bring to work - this is where I put things that were on my desk that I really should do today, or soon anyway. I always hope to have a few spare moments during my day to get a few home things done. This always accumulates unheeded.
3. Newspaper/Ads box - this one is new - it helps - I think. Whenever I get the papers (we have two local papers that come every week) they go in this box. I am getting better at cycling through these so that when the new ones come, the old ones get tossed in the burn bin.
4. The bathroom cupboard - my things to read when I have a few minutes alone. Whenever I come across something I want to read, but do not feel like I have time now - into the cupboard it goes.
5. The school paper drawer - Kindergarten produces a lot of paper. I try to just put finished things in so I do not lose track of items needing attention.
6. The remembories bag/box. I get a bit carried away with what I keep. I always hope I will get around to sorting through things. Has not happened.
7. The kitchen counter. Things I need to deal with, or want to discuss with hubby, or that the hubby needs to deal with. Gets moved to desk for me to deal with later, and piled on the counter for hubby.
8. In the sunshine room I keep the craft paper, the breadbox of paper, the color books, the paper sample books, my gardening mags and planning supplies. In the upstairs corner cupboard I keep my old financial files, my remembories from years past - oh and all the photo albums - have I mentioned I love photos. In the mud room I keep my filing cabinet for this years finances, my land records, and hubby's medical files. I think that is all of it.

I have been working on clearing out the paper. I recently emptied a drawer of "Things I want to read" and threw away about 1/2 - however the other 1/2 joined the stack of things to read I keep in the bathroom. At the end of 2010 I moved the bin of remembories upstairs to my deal with it when I am retired cupboard. This weekend I finished clearing and organizing my desk so I have at least one before and after photo. My things to deal with are now in a bin. I really have not cleared out any paper clutter though. I have just moved it. Repeatedly.

I have tons of paper. I have always liked the idea of scrapbooks. Keeping track of a year in a book by scanning or photographing items rather than keeping originals. However, time does not allow, and so into bags it goes, until the year is forgotten, and I no longer know who did which drawing and how to get all the memories back in order. So being overwhelmed, I do not do anything except leave it in a box.

If there was a fire, I do not know how I would retrieve even the most important items. Somehow I have to start consolidating and reorganizing, and make sense of it all.

I have a paper problem. It appears I hoard not just paper, but paper memories. Sigh. Time to start purging. Pray for me! I will start one drawer at a time.

Below food journal:
Monday - up at 4:50am - still not early enough. Feed chickens & goats, milk goat, bring down trash, wake hubby, get out the door. Forgot to read Ps. Tea. Oatmeal with brown sugar. Lunch 2 baking powder biscuits, string cheese, pears, and peas. 15 minute walk during work. Dinner - pot pie! It is pi day after all. Also baked potato & OJ.

Tuesday - up at 4:40am - almost there! Feed chickens, milk goat, wake hubby. Read an extra Ps to catch up. Sleepy the whole way to work - we were up late last night. Monday nights are the tv shows we love. Coffee at the office. Starting to wake up finally. Late breakfast because coffee filled void - oatmeal/brown sugar. Lunch baked potato & apple sauce. Still longing for snacks from the table - especially on a day like today when I'm sleepy.

Wed - up at 4:30 yippee! Feed chickens, feed goats, milk goat, wake hubby. Tired again - but coffee from commuter. Didn't read PS until I reached the office, Lunch baked potato & apple sauce. Dinner, leftovers - I had a casserole with extra cheese on top and some baked beans. Didn't get through paperwork at all., scrambled looking for coupons so I could run to grocery. Didn't use any coupons, but took advantage of Walmart's price match option. For part of my alms giving - purchased coffee for church.

Thur - up at 4:40 grrr. Feed chickens, milk goat, wake hubby. Tired - I have to get to sleep earlier. Coffee at the office. Breakfast - usual. Lunch - 2 hard boiled eggs, 1 string cheese, some grapes, and an orange - perfect. Loved the protein rich salty, and sweet fresh fruit - perfect for cycle inducing cravings. Sweet and salty, love them both - not together though. 12 eggs from chickens today! wow! Dinner - leftover pot pie and a bread. Irish soda bread wasn't done before I had to bring kids to dental appointment. Late night for the kids - didn't get back until 8:30. Poor boy is going to be very sleepy at school friday.

Fri: up at 5:23 ooooopppps! Didn't have time for any of my chores - sigh. Breakfast usual + slice of soda bread. coffee. Lunch 2 HB eggs, yogurt + cranberry sauce (yummy!), soda bread. No walk because I was helping get a grant proposal out of the office. Hopefully a busy and blissful weekend! Dinner tuna salad sandwiches - mmmm.

Sat: up at 8am - when the kids got up. So much for my consistency desire. Breakfast pancakes with bananas, lunch fried egg sandwiches, dinner - friends over, 9 at the table - ham with brown sugar & honey, squash, fresh baked rosemary olive oil bread, fresh fruit, a little wine. yum!

Sun: up at 8:30am - breakfast oatmeal with raisons & brown sugar, cake at church with coffee, lunch parmesian focacia, ham, cake & candy, dinner homemade burgers & french fries. Kinda got a little over indulgent with desserts today.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Adventures in Stick-to-it-ivness

I did not meet the 1st challenge of Project Simplify. I have managed to reduce a few things from my closet, but I still have not gone through everything, and it still looks horrible in my room with piles of clothes everywhere. The photo to the right is the before photo. I am starting to wonder how many items I should have. I tend to keep clothing forever. I am trying to operate under the idea that the fewer items I have, the easier it will be. Less laundry, less to choose from when getting ready in the morning. However, the last time I got rid of quite a bit of clothing, I found myself regretful for the missing pieces.

I used to watch "What Not To Wear" back when we had cable in Minneapolis. I loved the show. I think it taught me how to dress better for my body type. I was shocked though to read an article that said the people were often left with maybe a weeks worth of clothing. I suppose a weeks worth is enough. You really only need something each work day, and then you do laundry on the weekend. I know there are those who wear "uniforms" where their closet is filled with only one color of shirt and one color of pants, and that is what they always wear. This is not me. I love variety. I carefully cycle my clothes through my closet moving the things I wear to the back of the line and picking something new from near the front of the line. I still wonder though if I could do well with 2 weeks worth of work wear? I guess once I finish going through my clothes I will find out.

As part of my lent project, I have been reading Psalm 119 in the morning - reading one section per day. At night before dinner, I read from "Very Veggie Devos for Kids".Veggies has been amazingly on target with topics. Reminding me to forgive my husband the day we had a fight. Reminding me to speak kindly, and keep close our friends on the day I was feeling distant. The kids have been good sports with the no desert or candy until Easter (except Sundays) idea. I also read a prayer once or twice per workday. I am feeling a little more on track in getting to know God better. I gave 3 hours to a church sewing project, and put a little in the offering this weekend. Not bad for the first 5 days.

I am realizing that part of my goal is very self-serving. Trying to lose winter weight. I hope that the benefit to me does not over-shadow the giving part of my lent. I am trying to be a better me, and that includes seeking God more. When I am hungry, I say a little prayer and remind myself that Jesus' sacrifice was huge in comparison.

The main focus of my weekend was the Sunshine Room. Which is my craft, computer, game, sewing, and guest room. Because I was planning on sewing on Saturday, I had to be able to get at my machine and fabrics. It meant I had to clear up the boxes that I had placed there after last weekend's basement clean up project. I know my focus was supposed to be the wardrobe to stay with the group - but I am content that another key, make me happy room is closer to being what I want it to be.

If you would like, I have journaled my daily food & other stuff below.
Wednesday - up at 7am - I stayed home to get boy child off to his first day of extra school and to appointments in the middle of the day. Breakfast was oatmeal with a little brown sugar, lunch was rye bread with rhubarb-strawberry jam. I spent most of the day preparing Magarista - a traditional Easter Soup. The lamb came from one we just butchered. The soup was great, and the meat very tender. We also tried out a new flat bread recipe I found. It turned out more like a cracker. I emptied my closet, but only got through 3 items before I was called away again. No walk.

Thursday - up at 5am - breakfast was oatmeal by BetterOats - mmm. If you have not tried their products and you like oatmeal, you are missing out. Lunch baked potato with butter and seasoning, plus home made apple sauce. I did have coffee today, and tea. My co-commuter occasionally brings me a mugful with creamer. Extra wakefulness for the morning commute is good. I wore the first outfit that I confirmed works from my wardrobe. I was the only one in the office, so I really did not feel right about taking a walk. Dinner was fried egg sandwiches, broccoli, and wild rice, and pickles. The kids & I took a sledding run - 2 times down the hill. Of course that meant 2 times up - I pulled both kids the first time, and one the 2nd. It was fun and a little exercise. Before work - read Alpha in Psalm 119. During work read the Common Prayer.

Friday - up at 5am Read Beth in Ps119. Breakfast was oatmeal with brown sugar. Read the common prayer again. Feeling very tempted by the office snack table so I ate my pear a little before lunch time. Lunch leftover wild rice & broccoli, plus a canned pear in juice. No coffee today, just tea. Got in a walk. Major munchies today - so I drank a 2nd cup of tea. Dinner fish & green beans & rosemary breadsticks.

Saturday - 5:15am - yippee - tried milking the goat. Not much, and the cat got to it before I remembered to up it up. Made an awesome breakfast of "Eggs in a Puff" from the Better Homes & Gardens red & white checker cookbook. Texted husband and teenager to tell them breakfast in 5 minutes. Was a lovely way to start the day. Daughter & I contributed 3 hours to the churches sewing day - sewed about 6 bags for Ukraine kids. Lunch fruit, crackers, meat & cheese, coffee - Just realized that I broke the no meat during the day. Dinner - sloppy joes made from ground lamb, and home made baking powder biscuits, and corn.

Sunday - forgot my phone alarm is not set for Sundays, turned of my main alarm and overslept - woke up at 8:30am. Still managed to make pancakes for the family, milk the goat, feed the chickens, and get everyone to church on time. The kids enjoyed their desert freedom. Lunch at church - pot luck - yum! I enjoyed my desert freedom too! I'm starting to notice a drop in my appetite! Dinner - leftover hotdish with noodles. Started as soup, but there wasn't enough liquid.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Adventures in Spring Cleaning

I always wonder why we make resolutions on January 1st. Who really wants to start a diet or exercise more while it is still cold outside and not going to be warm for months? It is the time to curl up and read, and munch loads of goodies. Getting up earlier? Not going to happen, it is dark and my bed is warm. It is no wonder we fail to uphold these resolutions. The timing is all wrong.

Now compare March to January. The temperatures are warming a little. I am starting to feel the hint of spring. I am desiring to improve my home, my body, my life. Now really is the natural time to make changes.

Lent fits in perfectly. 40 days of self-sacrifice just at the time when you really feel the need to spruce up your home and life, plus the promise of feasting on the other end. 40 days to change your outlook, body, and mind.
"The purpose of Lent is to be a season of fasting, self-denial, Christian growth, penitence, conversion, and simplicity. Lent, which comes from the Teutonic (Germanic) word for springtime, can be viewed as a spiritual spring cleaning: a time for taking spiritual inventory and then cleaning out those things which hinder our corporate and personal relationships with Jesus Christ and our service to him. However, we must remember that our Lenten disciplines are supposed to ultimately transform our entire person: body, soul, and spirit. There are a few basic tasks that traditionally have been associated with Lent. Many of these have a long history. These are fasting, almsgiving, and prayer." - online sorry lost the reference
At the same time, SimpleMom is taking the next 5 weeks to simplify several hotspots in the home. So I started thinking and reading. Reading about lent, reading about spring cleaning, reading about detox.

One of the things Tsh at SimpleMom talks about before spring cleaning is having a family purpose statement - a way to frame what you are trying to do. I spent some time with my hubby and kids talking about:
makes our family special?" and "What do you want our family to be?"

My 4-year-old said, "We should be red barn people."
My 6-year-old said, "Being together." and "To be nice people."
My 14-year-old said, "Our family is crazy, and we always have fun."
My husband said, "I want to be a farmer."
Being prone to words, I wrote 3 pages of ideas of things I want for us. Rather than write it all out again, I will give you the final product my husband took from all we had written.

We wish to live well on God's land, being good stewards of his creatures, plants, and soil. We wish to raise our children healthy and strong - physically, mentally, and emotionally. We wish to be independent of the economic tide. Work well, play hard, create beauty.
When I first read the last phrase, I was excited. It is the perfect by line for Blue House Gardens: work well, play hard, create beauty!

How then do I apply this purpose to my revamping of myself, my home, and my life while taking advantage of this longing for renewal. I want to ready myself to pursue those things listed above. They all require me to be more organized and simplified.

Here is my plan for the next 40 days. I hope to follow a Lenten style fast from the 50s - 2 small meals per day, 1 regular meal. I also hope to integrate a bible story for my kids during dinner. I plan to abstain from snacks, treats, and desserts. I also plan on cleaning up the house and getting rid of a lot of unnecessary stuff. In order to have more time, I need to have less stuff. I am hoping to incorporate a consistency to my waking and sleeping schedule and find time each day for a walk.

More to come.