Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hansel and Gretel and Mixed Emotions

I saw the trailer for the new Hansel and Gretel movie last night, and I am not sure how I feel about it. Being a witch myself, I am a bit offended by the whole witch hunters thing. However, being a descendant of the brothers Grimm, who wrote Hansel and Gretel, I guess I have mixed emotions. I am not easily offended, but since there were actual witch hunts in which approximately 9 million people were executed for being suspected of witchcraft, and since these types of things still go on today in some countries, I'd say yeah, this offends me.
Witches do not proselytize (try to convert people). We do not claim to have the only answer. We do not advertise our faith. This puts us at a distinct disadvantage to those who do. If the only image of a witch in the general public's eye is that of an old warty wicked hag who eats children, people will continue to be afraid of us. And yes, I have encountered people being afraid of me solely because I am a witch. (I was at work, at a fast food restaurant, and I packed an order before it popped up on the screen-because I was listening to the customer order it-and my boss said, "What are you, a witch?" and I said yes without thinking about it. Suddenly she and a few others were acting like they were afraid of me, some even said they were. I snapped back with, "Don't be silly-I have more reason to be afraid of you-I've never heard of a group of witches hunting down Christians to burn at the stake." It got really quiet.)
So, here's what I do, as opposed to eating children. I grow a garden. I pet caterpillars. I rescue bugs that get trapped on my porch. I observe the moon's cycles, and the seasons, solstices, equinoxes, etc. I occasionally read Tarot. I wear a small pentacle. I meditate. I burn incense. I cast the occasional spell (but I have learned to be specific and to be careful what I wish for). I cook and bake with love. I play with energy. I dance. I walk in the woods. I stare at the night sky. I hug the occasional tree. I feed the hungry. I donate clothing to the poor. I love the Earth and all of her creatures. I do not sacrifice animals, cast spells on other people without their permission, or judge people because of their faith or lack thereof.
See? We are not so scary after all!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A New Year!

2013. I hope it is better than 2012 was. I did not really make any resolutions this year, but I did set some goals. I want a bigger garden this year and I'd like to add some perennials so that I don't have to plant everything every year. I'm thinking strawberries, jerusalem artichokes, and maybe a few nut trees. 2012's garden was a bust, I just never got around to planting much because my spring  was occupied by the passing of my dad. At the moment, I have some lettuce and radishes going on the porch under 2 liter bottle tops as mini greenhouses, and that is all I have growing. I weeded the old potato bed in preparation for a spring planting-my last frost date here is around mid-February, so I am waiting patiently. I will probably start some bean seedlings inside to transplant. I know I've been saying this for years now, but I am really getting chickens this year, possibly as soon as next week! I am going to get 25 Rhode Island Red chicks, raise them for a few months until I can tell the sex, and butcher the roosters for the freezer as soon as they are big enough. Goats will have to wait until next year. 
I'm working full time now, so I've started making meals ahead on the weekends. Lasagna, chili, pancakes/waffles and mashed potatoes freeze well, and I chop onions and bell peppers and keep them in the freezer for quick prep. I try to stay away from prepared foods, but we do occasionally have things like macaroni and cheese or hamburger helper, especially when my husband offers to cook. I got a new crock pot for Christmas, so I will be using that a lot. I also got a pressure canner for my birthday, and I hope to grow enough this year to can some home-grown veggies. The strawberries are coming into season here now, and I need to get a bunch to make strawberry jam. Last year's ran out in November, so I definitely need to make more this year. I thought I overdid it, but it's just so darned good, everyone wanted a jar! I'm going to use half-pints this time instead of pints.

Friday, November 2, 2012

What's in a name?

It was really weird hearing my name (Sandy) so much this past week. Now I know what the Katrinas of the world felt a few years ago. As a resident of Florida, I am well aware of the devastation that can be caused by a hurricane, no matter what "category" it falls under. As a beginning homesteader/prepper, I have lots of facebook friends with similar interests. I have been seeing different reactions to the storm from different people, some affected, some not. Many preppers are saying things like, "We don't seem so crazy now, do we?" I'd just like to point out that it is not the preps that make you look crazy, it's the conspiracy theories. For example, I've seen people claiming that President Obama caused the hurricane using HAARP. There are so many reasons why that would be a stupid and heartless thing to do (if it were even possible), and President Obama is neither. I have also seen prepper types posting not very nice things about people who were not prepared. This storm has me seriously considering revising my facebook friends list.
On the other hand, there are prepared people who are capable of empathy and who are not crazy conspiracy theorists. I have seen friends in New York, who were prepared but not affected, donating things like formula and diapers to those in need. I'd like to point out that these people do not have infants of their own, but they stockpile these things for just this type of situation-to help others in need in a time of disaster. This is the type of prepper I aspire to be.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bad Blogger!

I've been quite busy and have neglected my blog :( I've been working more and preparing for the holidays, which means homemade gifts! I love to make and give jams, candies, cookies, spice mixes, hot cocoa and homemade  marshmallows, vanilla extract, flavored vodkas and cat and dog toys. Some have to be started months in advance, like the vodkas and vanilla, some have to be made last minute, like the candies and cookies, and some can be staggered in between. What do you make for holiday gifts? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Here's my 14 things!

  1. Laundry Soap-I make my own using Zote soap, Borax and Washing soda
  2. Fabric Softener-a small ball of crumpled foil cuts static cling, and some essential oil on a washcloth adds a bit of fragrance to the dryer...but I want to put up a line to dry
  3. Toilet bowl cleaner-as FlyLady says, soap is soap!
  4. Paper towels-I use microfiber cloths for most cleaning jobs
  5. Deodorant-
  6. Toothpaste-I use a Rotadent, which does not require toothpaste, but I do use baking soda once in a while and rinse with peroxide.
  7. Haircuts-hubby cuts his own (shaves it with clippers, no guard), I cut our son's and my own (with guards). I don't use hair dye anymore, either.
  8. Broccoli-I planted some last fall and we won't eat store bought anymore!
  9. Strawberry Jam-again, I made some and we won't go back!
  10. Peanut butter-see #9
  11. Hot Cocoa Mix &  Marshmallows-see #9
  12. Chocolate Syrup-see #9
  13. Pancake & Waffle Mix-see # 9 
  14. Yellow Rice -see #9

Apparently there are a lot of frugal bloggers blogging about things that they no longer buy.
I figured I'd add mine to the mix!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Of Mice and Men

My husband came home for lunch the other day and heard a noise coming from under the stove. It turns out that the trap that the Orkin man put under there months ago finally caught a rat. We live out in the country, and although I have never seen rodent droppings in my house, the cat has brought dead ones and left them on the porch as offerings (gee, thanks, kitty). It was a big spring trap, which is supposed to break the rat's neck and kill him, but that is not what happened. My husband pulled the trap from under the stove to find the poor rat caught by the testicles. He took him out to a ditch down the road and set him free (after snapping pics of it with his phone and sharing them with the entire family). The poor little guy slid out of the trap and rolled over on his back and just sat there for a few minutes before scurrying off. I don't think he will come back into my house, and hopefully he will spread the word!
No such luck at work (also out in the country). We have a Havahart trap here to catch mice. We have caught 2 in it so far, and there's at least one more that uses the trap as a buffet. The food is gone, but no mouse. Perhaps we should switch to the spring traps :(

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Update: Long Time no Blog!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I lost my dad to cancer in March, and I have been busy with the garden lately. I will try to start posting regularly again :)

The garden is coming along nicely. I have several potato plants in one end of the sheet-mulched bed I prepared last fall (remember the horse manure?) I started with a few store-bought potatoes that had grown 'eyes.' I also have 2 kinds of pumpkins. The small pumpkins were kind of an accident. You see, last October, my son went to the pumpkin patch with his class and brought home a small pumpkin. It sat on my porch as a decoration until about mid-December, when I finally put the whole thing in the worm farm. In February, I uncovered the worm farm to harvest a few of the bottom trays, and lo and behold, I had a bunch of pumpkin seedlings! The roots were entangled and growing right through the bottom of the tray, so I decided to just put the whole tray on top of the garden bed and see what would happen. I was afraid they would be too crowded to produce anything, but there are about 20 little pumpkins growing! I also planted 8 pumpkin seeds from the larger Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins we bought last October. So far there are 9 green pumpkins growing from those, and they are trying to take over the yard!

I have been harvesting broccoli a little at a time for a while now, I think we have had home-grown broccoli about 9 times. Some of it went to seed while I was out of town, and I plan to plant those seeds in the fall. My son, who has always loved broccoli, will not eat store bought anymore:) I have 4 heads of cabbage that are about ready to harvest, I'm thinking about making some sauerkraut. I also have a few green bean plants (need to start more), a few tomato plants that are just starting to flower, and some lettuce growing in the thyme (cat knocked the lettuce seedling tray into the herb pots lol). I planted cucumbers last week, and I hope to harvest enough to make pickles this year. It still feels like not much, since I read about all these other people who grow 80-90% of their family's produce, but I'm still in the learning phase.

The chickens have been put on hold, I'm trying to decide if I want to repair the fence and have just a few chickens in my own yard, or wait until the in-laws prepare a much larger coop with several dozen chickens. At this point it seems to make more sense to wait, since I plan on helping with the big coop, anyway. Same story with goats (and possibly a cow or two!). I have been thinking about rabbits-they produce a lot of healthy meat, as well as garden-ready fertilizer, but I have never tasted rabbit, and they are so cute and cuddly that I don't know if I could butcher them...

I picked up 3 half-flats of strawberries (local!) at the farmer's market Sunday, and I have since canned 15 pints of strawberry jam. I still have a half flat left. I'm thinking fruit leather and daquiris. My son helped me with the jam, and we did some math while waiting for the jam to boil. I asked him, if we eat a jar of jam a month on average, how many jars do we need to make it until next strawberry season (next March). He complained that the math was too easy, so I told him when we go to buy a cow, he can do the math for that lol. At any rate, since the first jar of jam was half gone within 2 days, I think we may need more than a jar a month! Plus, I've already given away 6 jars to friends and family.

I've been working on this food storage thing, a little at a time as I can afford it. I still don't have enough of everything to last 3 months, that will take a bit longer, but some of my stores are starting to look pretty good! Here is what I have so far (besides my normal pantry):

  • 60 liters of water
  • 15lbs of white rice
  • 10lbs of flour (white and multi-grain)
  • 10lbs of sugar
  • 5lbs dry milk powder
  • 2lbs of salt
  • 1 can pepper
  • 1lb of ground cinnamon
  • 24 cans of tomato sauce
  • 12 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 12 cans of diced tomatoes with garlic, basil, and oregano
  • 12 cans of green beans
  • 12 cans of tuna
  • 6 cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 12 packs of ramen
  • 2 quarts of mayo
  • 1 bottle of mustard
  • 1 jar of pickles
  • 300 tea bags
  • 8 jars of homemade strawberry jam
  • 2 quarts of homemade vanilla extract
Here are a few things I would like to stock up on next:

  • Rolled oats
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Dry beans, assorted
  • Canned beans, assorted
  • Coffee
  • Peanut butter
  • Yeast
  • Canned chicken
  • Canned salmon and mackerel
  • Clarified butter (aka ghee)
  • Olive oil & other cooking oil
  • Cocoa powder
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Canned fruit
  • Honey
  • Alcohol
  • Pet food
Of course, I want to increase the quantities of what I already have as well. I also want to store non-food items, such as first aid supplies, candles, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, soap, trash bags, and the ingredients for my homemade laundry soap (I have several bars of Zote, just need Borax and Washing Soda). This is by no means an exhaustive list :) More next week!