Monthly Archives: May 2012

Library Loot 5/29/12

This is actually our loot from last week, but I got so busy I forgot to write them down.

1.  Get Dressed! by Seymour Chwast

2.  Superhero Joe by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman

3.  Scrambled Eggs Super! by Dr. Seuss (not one of his best)

4.  The Ant Bully by John Nickle

5.  Cowboy & Octopus by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith

6. The Boy Who Wouldn’t Swimby Deb Lucke

7.  Magic Matt and the Jack-o-Lantern by Grace Maccarone

8.  Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett

9.  Wild About Books by Judy Sierra

10. Pinduli by Janell Cannon

11. Old Mo by Stacey W. Hsu

12. Fancy Nancy and the Dazzling Book Report

13. My Dog, Buddy by David Milgrim

14. Jack and the Toddler by Sindy McKay

15. The Ant and the Grasshopper by Aesop (retold by Graham Percy)

16. Lots of Stops by Joanne Meier and Cecilia Minden (I really hate the Herbie books)

We missed our usual library Tuesday.  We’ll hit it tomorrow afternoon for a fresh stack.

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Categories: Library Loot, Unschooling | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

New YouTube Channel

Learning new skills.  It’s a big day.

I finally figured out how to make myself a YouTube channel.  I’ve been wanting to do videos for the blog, cooking, DIY, gardening, chickens, etc, etc.  But I’m a middle aged woman who didn’t even know how to turn on a computer until college.  Gen Y I am not.

And because I am technologically impaired, I still don’t know how to upload playable videos from my camera.  My computer can’t read them for some reason, and I can’t figure out what software to download to make it happen.  I have a computer geek friend visiting next weekend, perhaps if I ply her with homemade bread and garden vegetables she’ll drop the tech on me.  In the meantime, I used Little Boy’s camera.  That’s right.  Don’t look at me like that, it was easier okay?

The video and audio are fuzzier than a broody chicken’s butt, but I consider these videos successes.  In that I was actually able to figure out how this shit worked.

Here’s the chicken video….

 

 

And here are the garden videos.  Part 1……

 

 

And Part 2…..

 

 

Now all I can think about are what videos I want to make.

 

Categories: Cowgirl's Livestock, Green Goddess Garden, Just For Fun, Possum Living, The Homestead | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Library Loot 5/17/12

1.  In and Out by Leda Schubert

2.  Happy As A Tapir by Terry Carbone.  I doubt this book will be as exciting as that time at the Nashville Zoo that we saw the tapirs mating.  Longest penis (in proportion to body size) of any mammal.  The female still seemed less than impressed.

3.  Too Tall Tina by Donna Marie Pitino

4.  Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea by Tony Johnston.  Recommended by our unschooling friends.

5.  Isabella, Girl on the Go by Jennifer Fosberry

6.  Jeremy Jones, Clumsy Guy by Charnan Simon

7.  The 3 Little Dassies by Jan Brett.  The 3 pigs story with a Namibian flavor.

8. I Love My Daddyby Giles Andreae

9.  Wombat Walkabout by Carol Diggory Shields

10.Bumble-ardyby Maurice Sendak

11. All Kinds of Kisses by Nancy Tafuri

12. A Bear and His Boy by Sean Bryan

13. The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems

14. Puss in Boots by Lisa Findlay

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Mulberry Jelly

Late one summer at my grandparents’ house, one of their neighbors dropped by with a giant brown grocery bag full of scuppernongs (those are wild, tough-skinned, sweet white grapes, for any Yankees reading this — haha).  My MaMa looked at the heavy bag on her kitchen table and said, “Well.  Let’s make some jelly!”  We gathered supplies, boiled grapes, squeezed the pulp through cheesecloth to strain out the skins and seeds, added pectin and sugar, and poured it off into little jars.  It was the best grape jelly ever.

My MaMa always seemed to have homemade jelly or preserves on the table.  Apple or plum were the usual jelly choices, and fig or peach were the fabulously chunky preserves.

Ever since I began foraging for wild food (several years ago), I’ve wanted to make jelly.  I keep telling myself “This is the year I’m gonna DO it!”  And then I don’t gather enough, or I’m missing a crucial ingredient or piece of equipment, or I totally miss gathering what’s in season until it’s over.

Well folks, (*trumpet flourish*) this is the year I finally did it.  Yay me!

Last weekend’s mulberry picking excursion didn’t yield enough berries for jelly.  So I froze those, and Saturday we went to shake the trees again.  We gathered all we could reach, and headed back home.

Little Boy shows off his treasure.

Yesterday I gathered all my equipment and ingredients.  I watched a buttload of YouTube videos to help get the process straight in my head.   This one most succinctly explained the water bath canning process and the equipment needed:

I found a few mulberry jelly videos, but this black raspberry one was the one I ended up lifting the most from:

The one piece of equipment I lack is a jar rack for the water bath.  I’d read that you don’t really need one, so I looked up a few ways to improvise.  This video was helpful, and I adore redberrychick’s DIY style, as well as that redneck accent.  Adorable!  I want to hang out on the porch and drink wine with her:

I tried the ring thing, but I don’t have twisty ties and the jars kept falling over.  I ended up going with the folded up towel, but that ended up being wobbly and weird.  I’m getting a jar rack for next time.

Some observations of note from my jelly making process:

1.  I didn’t have cheesecloth, so instead of sending my Herban Cowboy out for some, I used a clean white cloth diaper (that had never been used for doodie duty) to strain it.  It worked pretty well, but I think the cheesecloth would be better for straining fruit pulp.  Next time.

2.  Eleven cups of mulberries only yielded 2 cups of juice.  This totally bummed my jelly high.  I had to make a half batch.

3.  I boiled my jelly too long and ended up reducing it, resulting in a VERY sticky and thick syrup.  We’ll see how this affects the final product.

4.  Cleanup sucks.  The bad news is that mulberry pulp gets everywhere and stains everything.  The good news is that it’s a beautiful shade of purple.

All those years of planning and procrastinating, the money spent on equipment, all the time spent, the cleanup work and a learning curve that encompasses stains and burns  — and I made three jars of jelly.

Three.

I should be crying in frustration, but instead I am SO excited.  The money’s already spent, now I know what to do, the jars are reusable, foraged fruit is free, I’ll be faster next time, what can I make next, somebody stop me!

Maybe I should wait until I taste the jelly before I get TOO excited.  I gave one jar to D, who had driven us all around Chatham County searching for fruiting trees.  The other two sit, with their tightly sealed lids, on my counter.  I’m supposed to wait at least 24 hours before I open one.  We’ll see if I can wait that long………

Mmmmm.

 

Categories: Fabulous Foraging, Kitchen Witchery, Possum Living, The Homestead, To DIY For | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Breakfast Math

I always estimate the cost of meals in my head.  This morning I’m actually doing the math.

Zucchini in a raised bed made from an old tire.

The Herban Cowboy made a vegetable and cheese omelet with strawberry slices on the side.  I had mine with hot sauce and plain yogurt on top.

Ingredients:

The food for this meal came from our backyard garden and chickens, as well as the local organic grocery store the Herban Cowboy works for.  He gets a discount on food, and often brings home free items such as outdated dairy and slightly blemished produce (what we don’t want, we feed to the chickens).

Olive Oil (from Brighter Day, $7.50 for 24 oz — 15 cents per tablespoon)

Eggs (from our backyard flock, factoring in cost of chicken feed — 15 cents per egg)

Red Bell Pepper (free because of black spot, which we cut off)

Zucchini (from garden seed — 2 cents per squash)

Cheddar Cheese (on sale at Piggly Wiggly — $2.99 per lb — 18 cents per oz)

Milk (from Brighter Day $3.00 per half gallon — 2 cents per tablespoon)

Parsley, Basil, Thyme (from garden seed — Cost is negligible)

Salt and pepper (from Brighter Day, cost negligible)

 

At least 20 eggs per week! Go girls!

Coat the iron skillet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil ($0.45).  Saute diced bell pepper ($0.00) and zucchini ($0.02) until soft.  Whisk together 5 eggs ($0.75), 3 tablespoons of milk ($0.06), 2 oz shredded cheddar cheese ($0.30), salt, pepper, and herbs ($0.02).  Pour into pan with sauteed veggies and cook it up!

What does that come to?  $1.60 cents.  Add in a few cents worth of hot sauce, plain yogurt, and sliced strawberries, you’ve got a meal that fed 3 hungry people for about 2 dollars.  And it was SOOOOOOO good.

Of course, I haven’t factored in labor costs involved in preparing the food and washing the dishes.  Fortunately, when we’re all helping gather ingredients and cooking and cleaning up, it’s all fun anyway, so who cares?

 

Categories: Cowgirl's Livestock, Fabulous Foraging, Green Goddess Garden, Possum Living, The Homestead, To DIY For | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Busy Week Is Busy

This whole past week has been much crazier and busier than I am willing to be on a regular basis.  I won’t go into detail on all the stories, but here’s the blog version….

Last Saturday, the day after our beach fun with friends, the whole family went down to River Street to see the Tall Ships.  The Herban Cowboy was performing two puppet shows with the Puppet People, and Little Boy and I tagged along for the pirates and the face painting.  It was a HOT day (sunburn for Mommy!), but SO much fun.  My mom came down and Herban Cowboy treated us all to lunch at the Boar’s Head (grilled fresh tilapia with cheese grits — I almost licked the plate).

Giant puppets!

Real pirates!

 

Halfway through the day, as Little Boy was getting his face painted, I noticed my wedding ring was gone.

Gone.

I stared off into space and very quietly had a three minute panic attack while Morgann painted a shark on my kid’s face.  I didn’t tell the guys until later.  Why spoil their day, too?

Land shark!

Sunday, I shook off the blues and we took a family trip to Home Depot to order a new stove.  My old one was down to one working burner, and we desperately needed a new one.  We looked around at a few second hand options, but my mom really wanted me to have a new one, and offered to pay half.  Which came out to about the amount of the second hand ones we’d looked at.  So despite our Possum Living inclinations, we gave a fat wad of cash to a big box corporation for a new appliance.  To be delivered Wednesday.  So no, I don’t get to feel superior that I saved the planet by buying local and used, but I will get a shiny new stove.  So it’s still a win.

Later that afternoon, we all went mulberry picking.  Our friend D came over with a big sheet for catching fallen berries, we grabbed a bucket, and headed off to search for fruiting trees.  Most of them we found were either full of green berries, or past fruiting, with empty branches and purple stains on the ground below.  We finally hit pay dirt behind a grocery store in our neighborhood.  D put the sheet down, she and the Herban Cowboy shook the tree and gathered the fallen, I pulled them by hand from the branches, and Little Boy grazed happily on the low hanging fruit.

Little Boy and D, working hard and filling their bellies.

Purple jazz hands!

 

I love picking mulberries.  Reaching through the branches, sunlight filtering through the canopy, seeing the gleaming jewels of red and purple, feeling the scratching of the leaves on my arms and face, the earth and berry juice under my feet (yes, I was barefoot).  There’s something primally joyful about picking berries from tree branches.  All the pleasure centers of my brain were LIT.  High on berry picking.  I’m such a nature nerd.

Pictured: Nature Nerd Feet

I’m going to make mulberry jam, but 1) My new stove doesn’t arrive until Wednesday, 2) I need a 10 quart saucepan and 3) I need more mulberries.  So I froze what we collected on Sunday, and there in my freezer they await their jammy, jammy fate.

Shining purple jewels of treasure!

Monday morning, Little Boy and I lazed around the house, playing games, watching DVDs and reading books.  I was tired from the weekend, and still down about my lost wedding ring.  I kept NOT hearing and feeling the metallic “clink” when my finger taps against a hard surface.  I noticed its absence.  The weather seemed to mirror my mood, with thunderstorms forecast, and dark clouds and intermittent pattery showers.

We needed to go to the bank before the afternoon thunderstorms hit, so we hitched up the bike trailer and started off the half mile to the bank.  I figured we could make our deposit and still have time to hit someplace up for an easy lunch.  Once a week or so Little Boy and I like to have a “lunch date” somewhere.  Maybe we’ll beat the rain.

On the way to the bank, I spot one of the homeless men who lives in my neighborhood.  He and his mother? sister? — they’re definitely related, but sun and wind have made it difficult to determine their ages — anyway, they live in a tent in a little wooded patch behind a gas station.  We see them when we’re walking to the Dollar Store or riding the bus and we’ve spoken with them several times.  On different occasions I’ve offered them blankets, hand-knitted hats and scarves, and lunch.  They always refuse (though the Herban Cowboy has reported that the man has asked him for money).

The woman always has nice words to say to my boy, and he likes the two of them.  Because of his affection for them, we’ve had to have the conversation about friends vs. acquaintances vs. strangers and what the safety protocols are with each category.  I don’t think they’d hurt me or Little Boy, but I do have a feeling that the man is a petty criminal and con man.  Nothing to base that on but instinct, but nevertheless, I am friendly but cautious with them.

So on the way to the bank I see the man.  He’s alone, and I realize I haven’t seen HER in over a week.  My curiosity overcomes me and I stop and ask, “I’m sorry if this is personal, but where is K?  I haven’t seen her in a while.”

He tells me she has pneumonia, and is lying down in their tent in the woods.  He was trying to find something for her to eat.  I told him I’d see what I could find.

Little Boy and I continued to the bank, all the while talking about what was happening.  I explained to him that Miss K was very sick, and she only had R to take care of her.  I told him that she was hungry and needed food before the thunderstorms came, so I thought we could give her our lunch, since there’s still food at home for us to eat.  He didn’t like that idea at first.

“Mommy, I don’t WANT to go to Kroger I want to go to lunch with you.”

“Listen,” I said as I locked up the bike outside the grocery store, “I want to go to lunch with you, too, but we do that all the time.  I don’t want to go into Kroger either, but there’s a sick, old, hungry lady who’s all alone and needs our help.  And I just couldn’t live with myself if she got even sicker or even died just because we didn’t feel like going into the grocery store.”

He considered this as he took off his helmet and followed me into Kroger.  We got chicken, black eyed peas and turnip greens from the deli, some fresh fruit, and a jug of purified water.  Then we loaded up and headed back.  Rain drops fell here and there, threatening to open up at any moment, though no thunder yet.

We gave the food to R, and continued home, making it back just before the sky opened up and sent a big, fat shower.  The whole thing shook me up all day.  I’m all for living in the woods, but I’d like to have food and good shelter and help when I’m sick.  The piles of trash bothered me, too.  What if that was my mother?  What if that was me?

It put my lost wedding ring into perspective, that’s for sure.

And then to drive home the fact that all my problems really are First World Problems, my shiny new stove arrived yesterday.

So shiny. So pretty.

 

Categories: Fabulous Foraging, Kitchen Witchery, Telling Stories, The Homestead, Unschooling | Leave a comment

Library Loot 5/9/12

1.  One Love (based on the song by Bob Marley) adapted by Cedella Marley

2.  Splat the Cat Sings Flat based on the creation of Rob Scotton

3.  The Art Collector by Jan Wahl

4.  Me Want Pet by Tammi Sauer

5.  Piglet and Mama by Margaret Wild

6.  Just Me and My Mom by Mercer Mayer

7.  Funny Lunch by David Catrow

8.  Duck & Company by Kathy Caple

9.  Sir Talkalot and the Dragon by Sherryl Clark and Neil Chapman

10. Sea Horses by Nicole Corse.  Non-fiction easy reader.

11. Cool Leaf Lettuce by Katherine Hengel.  Ideas for the garden.

12. Talk, Talk, Squawk! by Nicola Davies.  Non-fiction about animal communication.

13. Stick by Steve Breem

14. Hippo and Rabbit:  Brave Like Me by Jeff Mack

15. What is Science? by Rebecca Kai Dotlich.  School book.

16. I Don’t Want a Posh Dog by Emma Dodd.  We had the cat one, now we’re trying the dog one.

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Taking Dictation

I’ve been meaning to blog about the last several days:  going to River Street to see the Tall Ships, losing my wedding ring, buying lunch for a sick homeless lady, and all the food coming out of my garden.

But right now I’m feverishly cleaning the kitchen in preparation for the delivery of our new stove (yay!), so all I have time to post is the story that Little Boy dictated to me this morning.

He told me he wanted to write a book, and he needed my help.  So I opened up another window and told him to let me have the story.  Here it is:

******************

THE WOLF AND THE BUNNY as told to Daisy by Little Boy (age 4)

Once upon a time in a great jungle there was a wolf and a bunny.  And they lived forever and ever until they died.  And then the wolf wanted the bunny to do tricks like a dog.  And THEN the bunny did not do it.

And the wolf was like, “Hey do the tricks!  Do the tricks!  Hunch it!  Hunch it!  DO the tricks!  (Hunch it means Do it)”

Well, the bunny said, “Well, only if you say please.”

The wolf said “Please.”

And the bunny said “Yay!”, and then he did a somersault and a cartwheel.

And then the wolf sent a bear.  The bear said, “Why did you send me here?”

The wolf said, “’Cause I wanted you to see my bunny’s tricks.”

The bear said, “Oh I would love to see your bunny’s tricks.”

And the bunny started.  And then the bunny did the cartwheel and the somersault.

The bear said, “Yay!  That was great.”  And he clapped.

And then the bear dived into a pond for a cool bath after a nice, long day.  Then the next morning the bear found that the bunny stayed still.  And the bear thought “The other day the bunny said he would do the tricks every morning, but now it’s just standing there.”

And the bunny said, “Wow!”

Then the bunny found the pond where the bear jumped in.  He found the bear’s hairs that had come off.  And then the bunny had an idea.  He would make a straw house out of the hairs for him.  And the wolf, too.  Of course.

And then the wolf came over and said, “What did you make?”

And the bunny said, “I made a straw house for us.  Isn’t that nice?  And you can live next door to me and I’ll live next door to you.  And the bear can live across the street.”

And then he saw that the bunny made a sculpture, too.  The wolf was proud.  He said, “Oh holey moley golly geesh that is so amazing!”

And then the wolf sent the bunny to his house and then the wolf went into his house and then the bear went into his house and they lived happily ever after in the jungle where the griffins live.  And then they died while they were sleeping.  They didn’t know, they just did it.

The End.

***********************

I removed a few superfluous ands at the beginnings of sentences, but otherwise, this is the story as told to me.  He’s already done character sketches for the bear, the bunny, the wolf, and a griffin.  He’s also sketched a mouse and a fire-tailed dragon crocodile, but I’m not sure how they figure in to the story.

If I can get the scanner working today, pictures will be forthcoming…….

Categories: Telling Stories, Unschooling | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nothing to Beach About

We were all set to be lazy bums yesterday.  All.  Set.  Stack of DVDs to watch, books to read, yarn and knitting needles, snacks ready, jammies on.

Then my phone rang.

It was my friend A (whose daughter O is Little Boy’s bestest friend ever).  Her plans for the day fell through, and she was DYING to go to the beach with us.

Uh….  YES.  Yes PLEASE.

Okay everybody no time to nap get your suit on where’s my backpack put your shoes on do we have 2 clean towels make sure you pee before they get here put your shoes on I’ll get your car seat where’s my flip flops I said put your shoes on please……….

And so it came to pass that our crappy, grouchy, tired morning was magically transformed into an amazing afternoon full of sun and wind, running on the sand, swimming in the ocean pounded by the incoming tide, flying the robot kite, sipping frozen cocktails (virgin drinks for the little ones!), chasing the downed beach umbrella and flying the kite at the same time (that was me), and gossiping and joking and laughing and laughing and laughing.

We’re at the beach!

She never took her Little Mermaid wig off.  He never took the Spiderman goggles from the top of his head.

Dig a sand castle? Or play in the water?

Play in the water!

Um…. Ok… Now what?

I think I saw a sea monster! RUN!

I’ll save you!

Oh nevermind. You totally got this.

Categories: Just For Fun, Telling Stories | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Mommy All Night

Little Boy fell out of bed last night.  First time it’s happened in his big boy bed.  A mid-night thud and a cry from the child worked faster than any alarm clock ever.  In literally 2 seconds [citation needed] I was holding my confused and frightened kid.  Poor dude.  He was doing the hyperventilating hiccuping thing.  We had to calm down and take some deep breaths before we could go pee and get back to bed (but this time with Mommy).

Dramatic re-enactment

As for the rest of the night, we both slept fitfully.  He kept doing these sweet, sad little whimpers, as though he were having nightmares.  And he tossed and turned, which is SO unlike him.  And to top it all off, neither of us was able to sleep in.  Up at dawn with the chickens, sore and grumbling.

The sore part isn’t just from falling out of bed.  Little Boy nearly fell off the potty yesterday and now his arm is sore where he fell against the toilet seat.  And I have done SOMETHING to my left wrist that involves pain.  So our minor injuries combined with the lack of sleep have made both of us zombies.  Neither of us wants to do anything.

So we’re not.

I’ll go water the garden, but that takes like 10 minutes.  No big deal.  Cold cereal for breakfast.  Watch movies, read books, nap and lounge all afternoon.

We had a rough night.  So we’re taking the day off.

Tozi. Relaxation specialist and motivational napper. She shall be our inspiration today.

PS  Even though it sucks losing a night’s sleep, I love being able to be close to my Little Guy like that.  I love being able to put my hand on him when he’s whimpering in his sleep and whisper, “It’s okay Sweetie, Mommy’s right here.”

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