30 April 2012

April Chronicle


A look back at the first month of the second quarter.  It was another busy month.
  • I installed my clothesline.
  • Officially booked my trip to Alaska with Grams.
  • My two favorite girls had a birthday and we went fishing.
  • We wrapped up the February challenge fundraiser and raised over $9,000.
  • I purchased some awesome Swedish clogs.
  • I worked at nursery for a day to help a friend and loved it.
  • I had to PAY money to the IRS this year.  Grrr.
  • I bought a Ford Edge and I love it.
  • Checked out the Old Red Lumberyard flea market and brought home a very cool green bench for the front porch.
  • Guest posted over at Punk Projects with a DIY stamp tutorial.
  • I went to happy hour with a friend and we happened to see Newt Gingrich. 
  • Went to Arts & letters Live to hear Anne Enright and Colum McCann
  • We went to a Sugarland concert in Oklahoma.
  • I finally, after much deliberation, purchased a vitamix.  Why didn't I do this sooner?
  • After a long hiatus, I finally picked up a book.  I'm reading Making Babies: Stumbling Into Motherhood by Anne Enright and it is cracking me up.
  • After six years, cc and I are as legal as we can be in Texas.  Time to celebrate!
  • My nephew will be starting school this fall.  I can't wait to buy him new school supplies.
  • I knocked off another item on my 12 in 12 list.  I just finished a 3 day homesteading class at the Ploughshare Institute.  I'm blown away and can't wait to share the information with you.
  • The 30 days 30 ways challenge was a little intense this month, but it was a great way to jumpstart your 4(for) green acres life.
  • I dug out my great grandmothers' recipe books for this month's collection column.  I had so much fun looking through them.
  • In and around the garden, April was busy. 
    • found cabbage loopers on my brassicas
    • cleaned and put up the hummingbird feeders
    • asparagus shot up
    • butterflies were everywhere
    • assembled my new rain barrels
    • blessed with lots of rain, but the tornados missed us
    • fertilized the tomatoes with sea salt
    • after the release of the ladybugs, I watched them hard at work 
  • And finally, the Baylor Lady Bears won the national basketball championship.   

30th Day, 30th Way

30. Read Food Rules
We've made it to the last day. This month was filled with daily challenges that will help you lead a well rounded 4(for)green acres life.  One of the most important aspects of this project is your health and that all starts with what food you eat.  If you don't do anything else this month, read Food Rules by Michael Pollan and follow them.  They encompass a lot of what we tried to accomplish this month. 
 29.  Make a list of all the items you can donate
28.  Make all your meals at home
27.  Get a library card
26.  Save an item from the trash
25.  Plant something
24.  Defrost your freezer
23.  Bring your own coffee cup
22.  Go on a nature hike
21.  Stake out a farmers market
20.  Switch a chemical cleaner with vinegar
19.  Send snail mail
18.  Use baking soda for skincare
17.  Use ladybugs for natural pesticide
16.  Avoid the car
15.  Meet a local
14.  Put a brick in your toilet
13.  Don't use paper towels 
12.  Capture household waste water
11.  Air dry your laundry
10.  Avoid plastic-ware
9.  Don't throw anything away
8.  Get off the grid for a day
7.  Put out a bucket or barrel to capture the rain
6.  Limit Energy Consumption
5.  Take reusable sacks to the store - Every store
4.  Use natural dyes for Easter eggs
3.  Buy from a local business
2.  Make a commitment to the challenge.
1.  Clean the air in your home by purchasing house plants to filter the air.


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29 April 2012

29th Day, 29th Way

29.  Make a list of all the items you can donate
It's time to purge.  Humans are good at collecting stuff.  Marketers are even better at getting you to believe you need more stuff.  Make a list of things you really do need, and a list of things that you wouldn't miss if they were gone.  Then take the wouldn't miss list and donate the items.  This includes clothes, kitchen appliances, furniture, office supplies, etc.  28.  Make all your meals at home
27.  Get a library card
26.  Save an item from the trash
25.  Plant something
24.  Defrost your freezer
23.  Bring your own coffee cup
22.  Go on a nature hike
21.  Stake out a farmers market
20.  Switch a chemical cleaner with vinegar
19.  Send snail mail
18.  Use baking soda for skincare
17.  Use ladybugs for natural pesticide
16.  Avoid the car
15.  Meet a local
14.  Put a brick in your toilet
13.  Don't use paper towels 
12.  Capture household waste water
11.  Air dry your laundry
10.  Avoid plastic-ware
9.  Don't throw anything away
8.  Get off the grid for a day
7.  Put out a bucket or barrel to capture the rain
6.  Limit Energy Consumption
5.  Take reusable sacks to the store - Every store
4.  Use natural dyes for Easter eggs
3.  Buy from a local business
2.  Make a commitment to the challenge.
1.  Clean the air in your home by purchasing house plants to filter the air.


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28 April 2012

28th Day, 28th Way

28.  Make all your meals at home
Eating out is not cheap, especially if you want real food.  There is a local place I like that offers really great salads with homemade dressing.  If I bought a salad from them every day at lunch for the month of April I would spend $300!  That's really expensive lettuce.  This challenge has two purposes.  The first being to keep some money in your pocket but the second and most important being the control of your ingredients.  When you make food at home, you know what goes into it.  This doesn't mean heating up a frozen pizza, it means making your own pizza including the crust!  Search through a few recipes and for breakfast, lunch and dinner, make your own today.27.  Get a library card
26.  Save an item from the trash
25.  Plant something
24.  Defrost your freezer
23.  Bring your own coffee cup
22.  Go on a nature hike
21.  Stake out a farmers market
20.  Switch a chemical cleaner with vinegar
19.  Send snail mail
18.  Use baking soda for skincare
17.  Use ladybugs for natural pesticide
16.  Avoid the car
15.  Meet a local
14.  Put a brick in your toilet
13.  Don't use paper towels 
12.  Capture household waste water
11.  Air dry your laundry
10.  Avoid plastic-ware
9.  Don't throw anything away
8.  Get off the grid for a day
7.  Put out a bucket or barrel to capture the rain
6.  Limit Energy Consumption
5.  Take reusable sacks to the store - Every store
4.  Use natural dyes for Easter eggs
3.  Buy from a local business
2.  Make a commitment to the challenge.
1.  Clean the air in your home by purchasing house plants to filter the air.


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27 April 2012

Flora Friday


27th Day, 27th Way

27.  Get a library card
A library card is a valuable resource that is often overlooked.  Not only can you check out books, they have movies, audio books, electronic books and magazines as well.  And it's all free!  I like to think of it as a free education.  You can learn anything with the material they have available.  Even if your library is small, they can borrow from the library system to get you something they don't have one hand.  26.  Save an item from the trash
25.  Plant something
24.  Defrost your freezer
23.  Bring your own coffee cup
22.  Go on a nature hike
21.  Stake out a farmers market
20.  Switch a chemical cleaner with vinegar
19.  Send snail mail
18.  Use baking soda for skincare
17.  Use ladybugs for natural pesticide
16.  Avoid the car
15.  Meet a local
14.  Put a brick in your toilet
13.  Don't use paper towels 
12.  Capture household waste water
11.  Air dry your laundry
10.  Avoid plastic-ware
9.  Don't throw anything away
8.  Get off the grid for a day
7.  Put out a bucket or barrel to capture the rain
6.  Limit Energy Consumption
5.  Take reusable sacks to the store - Every store
4.  Use natural dyes for Easter eggs
3.  Buy from a local business
2.  Make a commitment to the challenge.
1.  Clean the air in your home by purchasing house plants to filter the air.


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26 April 2012

Collections | Family Recipes

I always say some of the best things in life are old.  My collection of family recipes are no exception.  I am now the holder of a recipe box and cook books from both of my maternal great grandmothers.  They were given to me by my mother.  I think she understands and appreciates my love for family history.  

They give me such a clear picture of my family.  What times were like back then, what foods were favored by my grandparents, and a little about who they were as the matriarch of their family. 
This box belonged to my Greatgrandma Lattin, my grandpa's mother.  There are probably 15 different doughnut recipes in this box, each one offering something a little different.  She fed her men that worked on the farm all day.  I suppose doughnuts are a good way to start the day.

This recipe is one of my favorites from the box.  We don't live in an age where delousing a chicken is necessary, so reading this gives me a little chuckle.  It's almost feels like she wrote this recipe down for someone to read in the future.  How much is .10 cents worth of potassium permanganate today?


The two Betty Crocker cookbooks offer a very telling story about my greatgrandmothers.  Each one completely different from the other. 

Greatgrandma Clark's seems like it wasn't used much.  There are a few loose recipes stuffed in the back, but otherwise it appears to be untouched.  I know she cooked because grandma told me stories about her mother cooking all day for her and her five brothers and sisters.  Perhaps because the depression made them so poor, she cooked what she had available and that didn't require a recipe.  Maybe as an older woman, she no longer cooked much.   


Greatgrandma Lattin's Betty Crocker tells a different story.  Oddly, I see a lot of myself in this book.  It's a lot like a journal with the pages marked up and things glued here and there.  She covered the outside with plaid paper.  Maybe because it was falling apart or maybe to look pretty on the shelf.


I always glue an envelope in the back of my journal for extras and she has done the same.  It's filled with folded papers bearing more recipes.


She wrote on whatever was available.  I wonder if she was in a hurry and needed paper quick, or was she resourceful and didn't waste good paper?  I like to think she was resourceful.  She also took the time to add her own extra pages to the book.  She cut the paper to size, marked the five binder holes and punched them out.  Some of the additional recipes are placed in the correct category and some, perhaps her favorites, are found in the front of the book.  Almost everything is written in pencil. 


When you open her book, the 303 valuable household tips pamphlet is glued to the first page.  Free information from the bank for housewives.  It has been used, and additional tips added throughout the pages, including one for tight shoes.


There is a note talking about using alcohol to help with tight shoes, but then a word of caution is glued in a few pages later. 


The ladies column says not to soak your shoes in alcohol but rather, use your husbands socks.  Wear the socks around the house with your shoes on.  That should do the trick.

The pamphlet is like today's pinterest.  A hard copy of someone's household tips board.  Several of them are still applicable.

This collection is one of my most valuable.  I spend more time looking at them than cooking anything from them.  Not only are they hard to read, but understanding what .10 cents worth of this or that in today's terms is a bit tricky.  I'm constantly asking my mom and grandma questions about these women.  I wish I had the opportunity to sit around a table with them to hear about their lives, but seeing the joy on my mom's face when she talks about her grandma's is pretty special as well. 

What family collection do you have that you treasure?

26th Day, 26th Way

26.  Save an item from the trash
I don't mean hoard something.  This challege is to either avoid using or purchasing a product with excessive trash or find an alternate use for something you would otherwise throw away.  Plastic containers, cans, or egg cartons are great organizers.  Magazines and fabric scraps are great for upcycled craft projects.  Get creative with it. 
 25.  Plant something
24.  Defrost your freezer
23.  Bring your own coffee cup
22.  Go on a nature hike
21.  Stake out a farmers market
20.  Switch a chemical cleaner with vinegar
19.  Send snail mail
18.  Use baking soda for skincare
17.  Use ladybugs for natural pesticide
16.  Avoid the car
15.  Meet a local
14.  Put a brick in your toilet
13.  Don't use paper towels 
12.  Capture household waste water
11.  Air dry your laundry
10.  Avoid plastic-ware
9.  Don't throw anything away
8.  Get off the grid for a day
7.  Put out a bucket or barrel to capture the rain
6.  Limit Energy Consumption
5.  Take reusable sacks to the store - Every store
4.  Use natural dyes for Easter eggs
3.  Buy from a local business
2.  Make a commitment to the challenge.
1.  Clean the air in your home by purchasing house plants to filter the air.


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25 April 2012

Down In Sugarland

Sugarland
I am completely moved by music.  A note, a lyric, a melody can imprint a memory so deep that hearing it again will take me back to that moment.  I will almost go as far to say that it heals me much like nature.  So when I get the opportunity to go to a concert I jump on it.

I was lucky enough to go to the Sugarland concert last week.  I was already smitten with Jennifer Nettles, but now I can say I love them both.  Her vocals, his musical skill, and songs that speak to you are the perfect combination. 

Our seats weren't too bad.  The venue was fairly small, but the advantage was the concert being on a Thursday night no where near a metropolitan area.  A lot of seats up front were left empty.  We made our way up to the front and ended up about 10 rows back from center stage.  Beyond awesome. 
We would have made it into the VIP area but we didn't have the look.  There were a group of women right behind us that were, let's just say, dolled up.  A security guy came by and asked if we, the cluster of women, wanted to go to the VIP area.  Uhm, yah.  Well cc and I were at the back of the line and when it came time for us to pass through, the man cut us off and said no.  I was mad, maybe more annoyed, and as I sat there scowling at him, I realized it was a waste of my time.  We did have pretty good seats.  After watching who he let through I realized you had to be hot and showing a little skin to be considered VIP.  Maybe next time.


The concert was so good that I'm still thinking about it this week.  I have their CD's on repeat today.  This is the lineup of what they played.



Does music move you in the same way?

25th Day, 25th Way

25.  Plant something
Growing something doesn't have to be daunting.  If you have never tried gardening before or you don't have the space, simply start with one pot.  Plant a few herbs or a bean plant in your window.  See my list of 10 easy vegetables to grow and try one on your own.

24.  Defrost your freezer
23.  Bring your own coffee cup
22.  Go on a nature hike
21.  Stake out a farmers market
20.  Switch a chemical cleaner with vinegar
19.  Send snail mail
18.  Use baking soda for skincare
17.  Use ladybugs for natural pesticide
16.  Avoid the car
15.  Meet a local
14.  Put a brick in your toilet
13.  Don't use paper towels 
12.  Capture household waste water
11.  Air dry your laundry
10.  Avoid plastic-ware
9.  Don't throw anything away
8.  Get off the grid for a day
7.  Put out a bucket or barrel to capture the rain
6.  Limit Energy Consumption
5.  Take reusable sacks to the store - Every store
4.  Use natural dyes for Easter eggs
3.  Buy from a local business
2.  Make a commitment to the challenge.
1.  Clean the air in your home by purchasing house plants to filter the air.



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24 April 2012

24th Day, 24th Way

24.  Defrost your freezer
This should be part of your spring cleaning routine every year.  Frost build up requires the motor of your freezer to work harder which decreases the efficiency.  While it isn't a fun or easy task, it will be beneficial to your energy consumption.
23.  Bring your own coffee cup
22.  Go on a nature hike
21.  Stake out a farmers market
20.  Switch a chemical cleaner with vinegar
19.  Send snail mail
18.  Use baking soda for skincare
17.  Use ladybugs for natural pesticide
16.  Avoid the car
15.  Meet a local
14.  Put a brick in your toilet
13.  Don't use paper towels 
12.  Capture household waste water
11.  Air dry your laundry
10.  Avoid plastic-ware
9.  Don't throw anything away
8.  Get off the grid for a day
7.  Put out a bucket or barrel to capture the rain
6.  Limit Energy Consumption
5.  Take reusable sacks to the store - Every store
4.  Use natural dyes for Easter eggs
3.  Buy from a local business
2.  Make a commitment to the challenge.
1.  Clean the air in your home by purchasing house plants to filter the air.

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23 April 2012

7 Tips for Farmers Market Visitors



If you have not been to a farmers market before it's easy to feel a little lost on your first visit.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you go.  
  1. Take reusable bags with you.  Some farmers may give you a plastic bag if you don't have something or they may give you nothing at all leaving you to juggle your veggies all the way to the car.
  2. Bring cash in small bills.  Ones, fives and tens are best.
  3. Ask questions.  The farmers like to talk about their products.  Get to know where their farm is located, and what they will be offering that season.  Ask about the growing process and what, if any, chemicals were used. 
  4. The produce is usually displayed in baskets.  If you don't want the full amount, just ask.  You can typically get less.  
  5. Stroll through the entire market first.  Some vendors offer samples for you to try.  Ask questions, see what is available and then go back through and decide.
  6. Don't go in with an agenda.  Remember these farmers are offering seasonal produce that can be grown in your area.  Don't expect to find bananas.  As the season progresses you'll see produce come and go.  
  7. If you see something new, don't be afraid to try it.  If you're unsure how to cook it, ask the farmer!  Many of them have recipes they will share with you.  It's a great opportunity to try something new.  
Find the nearest farmers market through Local Harvest.

23rd Day, 23rd Way

23.  Bring your own coffee cup
We hear a lot about bringing our own water bottle, but the coffee cup is just as important.  Avoid Styrofoam cups at work or catered meetings by bringing your own travel mug.  Also, most gas stations and coffee shops will allow you to use your own cup and sometimes at a discounted price.  If you are a daily coffee drinker like I am, by switching to your own reusable cup you'll avoid a lot of unnecessary trash. 


22.  Go on a nature hike
21.  Stake out a farmers market
20.  Switch a chemical cleaner with vinegar
19.  Send snail mail
18.  Use baking soda for skincare
17.  Use ladybugs for natural pesticide
16.  Avoid the car
15.  Meet a local
14.  Put a brick in your toilet
13.  Don't use paper towels 
12.  Capture household waste water
11.  Air dry your laundry
10.  Avoid plastic-ware
9.  Don't throw anything away
8.  Get off the grid for a day
7.  Put out a bucket or barrel to capture the rain
6.  Limit Energy Consumption
5.  Take reusable sacks to the store - Every store
4.  Use natural dyes for Easter eggs
3.  Buy from a local business
2.  Make a commitment to the challenge.
1.  Clean the air in your home by purchasing house plants to filter the air.



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22 April 2012

22nd Day, 22nd Way

22.  Go on a nature hike
Today is officially Earth day even though we are celebrating all month long.  There are many activities scheduled this weekend to celebrate, but today's challenge is simple.  Regardless if you live in the city or country, go on a nature hike.  Whether it is a city park or rural road, consider it nature. 

Today's challenge is about finding your connection with the great outdoors.  As humans, if we find a connection a relationship develops.  Once a relationship is established we understand and appreciate the choices we make.  If you don't have a connection with nature it makes it harder to practice these challenges.  You need an emotional reason.  We are an integral part of the natural ecosystem whether we know it or not.  Step outside today and ponder these questions as you "hike."
  1. What impact do I have on this place?  (trails, wildlife, danger)
  2. How do I feel when surrounded by trees, grass, and fresh air?
  3. What would I do if places like this didn't exist?
  4. How can I take care of places like this?

21.  Stake out a farmers market
20.  Switch a chemical cleaner with vinegar
19.  Send snail mail
18.  Use baking soda for skincare

17.  Use ladybugs for natural pesticide
16.  Avoid the car
15.  Meet a local
14.  Put a brick in your toilet
13.  Don't use paper towels 
12.  Capture household waste water
11.  Air dry your laundry
10.  Avoid plastic-ware
9.  Don't throw anything away
8.  Get off the grid for a day
7.  Put out a bucket or barrel to capture the rain
6.  Limit Energy Consumption
5.  Take reusable sacks to the store - Every store
4.  Use natural dyes for Easter eggs
3.  Buy from a local business
2.  Make a commitment to the challenge.
1.  Clean the air in your home by purchasing house plants to filter the air.

21 April 2012

21st Day, 21st Way

21.  Stake out a farmers market
It's the time of year that farmers markets are starting to pop up.  They are a great way to source local food and talk to the growers themselves.  While it would be ideal to plan your spring and summer only buying produce from the market, it's not always convenient, but the goal is to go as much as possible.  This challenge is to find a local farmers market and determine what they sell.  In a lot of markets you can find more than produce.  Local Harvest seems to be one of the most comprehensive lists of markets.  It also provides information on CSA's and locally grown meat.  Plug in your zip code and see what resources are available in your area.  Today is a good to start.  Most markets are only open on Saturday.   

 20.  Switch a chemical cleaner with vinegar
19.  Send snail mail
18.  Use baking soda for skincare
17.  Use ladybugs for natural pesticide
16.  Avoid the car
15.  Meet a local
14.  Put a brick in your toilet
13.  Don't use paper towels 
12.  Capture household waste water
11.  Air dry your laundry
10.  Avoid plastic-ware
9.  Don't throw anything away
8.  Get off the grid for a day
7.  Put out a bucket or barrel to capture the rain
6.  Limit Energy Consumption
5.  Take reusable sacks to the store - Every store
4.  Use natural dyes for Easter eggs
3.  Buy from a local business
2.  Make a commitment to the challenge.
1.  Clean the air in your home by purchasing house plants to filter the air.





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