Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How To Eat An Elephant

When it's time to clean my son's room, he gets overwhelmed. I try to give him one small step at a time, instead of just saying, "Clean your room!" and leaving him to anxiety attacks. One day he asked me to tell him all the steps at the beginning, which I did, and he looked tired just hearing about what he had to do. So I asked him, "How do you eat an elephant?" (My son has Asperger's Syndrome and has a tendency to take things literally, so the look on his face was priceless). When I answered my own question with, "One bite at a time!" he understood the metaphor and now he uses it whenever we have a big project at hand (or several pages of homework).

I bring this up because I have been trying to change my life, a bite at a time. It started with wanting to live more in line with my Earth -based spirituality. I read Starhawk's The Earth Path and realized just how disconnected from nature I really was. On an average day I couldn't tell you what phase the moon was in, and that's supposed to be a big part of this path.  So I bought a worm farm, and tried my hand at gardening, failing miserably at my first attempt. Fast forward a year, and I've successfully grown and eaten  2 cucumbers, some leaf lettuce, and about 60 green beans! Not a lot of food, but hey, a bite at a time, right?

I've also learned how to bake bread, make pasta, make tomato sauce and soft cheeses and raise hogs from 1 day old (bottle-fed, a story for another post). One thing I've learned about learning new things, it's empowering! You go through your whole life thinking you can't do something, and then you do it, and it's like, wow…that was easy! Why have I been paying for this again? (Ok, so the pigs weren't exactly easy…but they were fun!)

As I said in my bio, I am a hippie who married a punk. Lately, it seems I'm rubbing off on him. He's suddenly concerned with all of the chemicals that seem to be everywhere. I'm sure that my reading articles to him about the carcinogens in dryer exhaust and the demetia-causing aluminum in deodorant doesn't help, or the fact that we now have the Documentary Channel, and he's been watching films like Food, Inc and Gasland.  So he is completely on board with my homemade laundry soap, homemade vinegar and orange peel cleaner, and bentonite-clay based homemade deodorant. Plus the whole punk-don't-be-a-good-consumer-thing fits in nicely.
So now I find myself cringing at the smell of Fabreze as it wafts from my neighbor's a/c unit. I want to cut out all of the nasty chemicals, right now! I want to make my own toothpaste and shampoo bar and facial cleanser and figure out how to dye my hair without chemicals and use natural make-up and get rid of all the plastic in my house and eat local, real food and…and…remember, a bite at a time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Hate Shopping!

So, if you read my first post, you've realized I'm a bit weird. Let me expand on that.
I am a girl who hates to shop. I've always hated to shop (The only exception is a good thrift store, I can spend hours shopping if there's enough interesting stuff there). I hate clothes shopping, grocery shopping, freakin Christmas shopping (I boycott Black Friday every year)…so a lot of my motivation to make things and grow things comes from that hatred of shopping.

I recently made my own cream cheese. It was empowering! It was really good, like so good I licked the last bit out of the bowl after preparing my bagel Friday morning (I'm not generally a bowl licker :)).  I made the cream cheese from store bought yogurt (It was so freakin easy-just wrap a quart of yogurt in a clean fuzzless kitchen towel, set it in a colander in a bowl, and let it drain for about 5 hours in the fridge. You can put a saucer on top and weigh it down with cans or something to speed up the process). I got the recipe from Mother Earth News. http://www.motherearthnews.com/Relish/How-To-Make-Sour-Cream-And-Cream-Cheese-Recipes.aspx

 Today I found a recipe for some amazing cupcakes with cream cheese icing. Of course, I have all the ingredients except for…cream cheese. I could have run to the store and picked some up, but, as the blog title reads, I hate shopping. This led to a decision to start making my own yogurt at home so that I never run out! The things I do to avoid shopping :)

Now I just need to go shopping to buy some milk and yogurt to start the first batch with. Maybe I should get a goat?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Will Shovel Horse Manure For Food

A decade ago, had I been informed that today I would be voluntarily shoveling horse manure, I would have laughed. However, today I actually asked someone permission to come and steal some horse manure from her property. 
I also probably would have laughed at the thought of becoming a worm farmer, but here I am, with a thriving worm farm and a pretty good garden because of it.

These guys are about to become the happiest worms, ever.

Worm Heaven!

I bought the worm farm almost 2 years ago. At first my son thought the worms were gross, but now that he has eaten a home grown cucumber, he won't eat a waxed one from the grocery store and he appreciates the work the worms do for us. I don't know if I'm willing to classify them as livestock as some worm farmers do, but they certainly help in the garden!
This year I finally grew a semi-successful, if small, garden. After harvesting about 20 green beans at one time, I figured next year, I'd better expand the garden to accommodate way more plants. This is where the manure comes in-my worms only produce about 1 cubic yard of vermicompost every 4-6 months. I need WAY more than that to grow enough food to feed my family the fresh, organic produce that we want to eat. When I harvested the vermicompost the other day,  I noticed a population explosion in the worm condo and realized I needed to move some worms out, so I decided to start another worm bin. 

This is a baby red wiggler.
You may think "Eeeeewwww!" but I think "Oojiboojiboo!"

Ok, so now you either think a) I'm weird and you will never read my blog again,  or b) I'm weird and you are anxiously awaiting my next post. Welcome all those in the b camp!