Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The 2017 Grocery Budget

As part of my goals for 2017, my handsome husband and I decided to try a "No Spend" exercise for 4 months. The main goal was just to not buy anything unnecessary. I really wanted to try it because I wanted to pay down some of our debt and I, if I am being completely honest, I have been feeling very out of control in regards to my spending. Sure, we are paying the bills every month but I know that I have been spending money without too much thought on things from groceries to books. So the No Spend time was really about getting back in control.

Now, I happen to have a brilliant friend who continues to inspire me in pretty much every way possible. We have always been able to chat about money and goals and all those other possibly uncomfortable topics, something which I am eternally gratefully for. So as we talked about my hopes for No Spend, I just kept rambling and rambling and rambling (thankfully she is also an amazing listener with the patience of a saint). As I babbled I began to realize that there was more to it than simply debt. I began to realize it was about feeling overwhelmed and incompetent. I mean, the solution to not having debt is pretty simple, right? Don't spend more than you have. So why was I feeling so out of control?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!

Oh my goodness it is a new year already. I have spent the last couple of months thinking, oh I need to post this amazing (insert whatever I just made, pie, cookie, etc.) recipe! Only to look down and there is nothing left to take a picture of. Optimistically I then think, oh I will make it again this weekend and write down my changes and take pictures... can you guess what happens? No? Seriously? Okay, I know you know. Anyway, the holidays flew by and now it's the start of the new year, again. So many little changes and big goals are racing around in my mind. It can be rather overwhelming to think about all the things I want to get done. A year is a long time and yet, it is only a year.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Spending the Day in the Kitchen?

Despite one of my more recent posts, I have been hesitant to post. First off, there has been a big change in how we spend our days: we have officially started homeschooling. It is a deeply personal choice, and while it might not be for everyone, it is definitely what is best for our family right now. Needless to say, we have been spending more of our time learning/teaching reading and cursive writing as well as enjoying tons of living books; today it was Seeker of Knowledge, last week it was Over in the Wetlands, this week we will continue to explore monarchs with Hurry and the Monarch and Monarch and Milkweed as we watch for them as the days grow colder and shorter. I digress. This is not a homeschooling blog and I am planning on keeping it separate (leave me a comment below if you can think of a good title for our homeschool!). This space has been for me. A place to write about cooking and gardening and other fun aspects of our organic lifestyle.

Monday, August 1, 2016

No Stir Simple Granola

Happy August! I have always heard about granola. "It's amazing! What do you mean you don't eat it?" The things is, I never really cared for the really hard bits of not very sweet oats and nuts. I used to like Honey Bunches of Oats (way back when I bought processed food) and those had little tiny bunches of granola type clusters but they weren't the same. But I guess they were. When I got pregnant with L2, I tried a sample of locally made granola and was absolutely blown away. It was definitely not the granola I remember from high school. It was crunchy but not hard. Sweet but not sickly sweet and tasted like sweetened nuts. What had I been missing? To make a long story short, I realized I would have to learn to make it. I found lots of recipes but most seemed relatively time consuming. Then one of my best friends came to my rescue with a recipe that didn't require any stirring. It takes maybe 5-10 minutes to throw together and then you don't need to do anything until it is ready to eat, an hour and 40 minutes later. Seriously, unless you buy it already made, there is no easier way to make it that I have found.

Monday, July 18, 2016

One Good Deed

Recently I took L1 to the library in the evening after my husband got  home from work. We went partly to pick up our books that came in, partly to sign out a local museum pass but mainly to return a book, The Importance of Being Little, that was not only long overdue  but also now billed to me. I had been working my way through it for the last two months. Because, as you may have guessed in my absence, things have been really busy. I would love to explain that spring is the busiest time of the year and all these things happened, because they did but the real reason for my absence has been lack of motivation. Sleep and energy too but mostly motivation. When you get out of the habit of something, it can be so easy to just let it go for a few days but then days turn into weeks and weeks into months and suddenly it is a whole different season. So today, as I looked over the couple of books that came for me, I saw that One Good Deed: 365 Days of Trying to Be Just a Little Bit Better. I figured that I could check out the introduction while I made lunch. Can you guess what it was about? Yep, doing good but on a larger scale, it was about doing what you are passionate about. One of the things I have been behind on and really missing, is writing. I miss your comments and being part of a community.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Old Log Inn Bar Soap

Spring is coming. It is time for planning, planting, and cleaning. One of the things I need to clean out are all the drafts of articles I started to write but never got to finish. Today, I want to tell you about some amazing local soap I have been using for almost a year: Old Log Inn Naturals.

I discovered them at the farmer's market last year and have been hooked. At first I enjoyed the Peppermint and some other scents. Then I found her Honeysuckle and Plumeria. After that, I only use this soap and Dr. Bronner's Organic Unscented Baby Soap.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Loco Moco: A Hawaiian Pork Recipe

Some days I am at a total loss for what to do for dinner. I realize that most people seem to be pretty good at this with their weekly meal plans and shopping lists. I have tried it before and it never seems to work out for me. Seriously, never. I will make a weekly plan and pull out meat and then all it takes is one late night or busy day and the whole schedule goes crazy. Now I just don't bother. I pull a couple of packages of meat out of the fridge and then decide the day before, or the afternoon of, what I am going to cook.

You know what I don't know what to do with? Ground pork. I have some great recipes but you can only have pork burgers and pork and pasta so often. And with two pigs a year, we get quite a bit of ground pork. Needless to say, I needed something new. Thankfully, Just One Cookbook had just what I needed: Loco Moco. I had never heard of Loco Moco but it sounded interesting and different so I figured, why not?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Bootstrapper

I have no idea what I expected when I read the cover of Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm but it sounded intriguing. I ordered it from the library and then forgot about it.

Total side note: I don't know how it works for you but I swear there are a handful of people out there who read exactly the same books as me. They take out a bunch from the library and return them all at once. I, in turn, then get them all at once. I can go a week or two with no new books, then BAM! Ten books show up at the library in 24 hours. Crazy but true.

The new books to arrive for me were BootstrapperThe Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus, and The Soil Will Save Us. Now I had been waiting for The Soil Will Save Us and fully expected to start reading it once the kids went to bed. I was having a quiet evening and thought, well I should check out Bootstrapper in case I don't want it; I am going right by the library tomorrow.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chicken in Milk

We drink a lot of milk. I mean a lot. We love it and between the five of us, we consume about a gallon a day. We drink it raw and organic, just the way the cow intended. Okay, not really. We drink it chilled but otherwise it is just as the cow made it. As Joan Dye Gussow once said "As for butter over verses margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." In general, this is a guiding principle.

The week after Christmas we were fortunate enough to find a new farm that follows organic practices selling raw milk: Jersey Meadows Farm in Ghent, NY. (Check out this cute picture of their cows.) Now I don't have to drive far to get our milk.

Anyway, after having amazing success braising our pork chops and pork steaks (one of the owners of Jersey Meadows gave me the pork chop recipe!), I decided that braising is something I need to do more often. My recipe research turned up an odd recipe for chicken in milk. After checking out the ingredients I decided to live dangerously and give it a whirl.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sweet Black Bean Dessert

I know you have all ready about using black beans in brownies and hidden inside other dishes. Let me assure you, this is not one of those posts. In fact, I too have been skeptical and have not yet tried the black bean brownies. Call me a crazy purest but let's not mess with my brownies, ok?

That said, one of our goals is to eat more beans this year. Not only to the kids love them, they are great for us and relatively easy to grow. Plus due to all the fiber, they keep you (and kids) full a long time. This past year we experimented with growing four different kinds and I purchased a 25 lbs bag of organic black beans from our distributor at the very start of last year i.e about a year ago. We didn't grow a lot but we grow enough for us to sample the different kinds. This year, beans will take up a lot more real estate in the gardens.