Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reading

I'm a reader.  Books, magazines, blogs, forums, email, billboards...you name it, my eyes are scanning and reading it.  Since I find so many things interesting, I'm subscribed to a number of blogs and email newsletters.  I have them sorted into folders as they arrive-homeschool ideas into the Homeschool folder, and general ideas to help me be a better wife, mom, homemaker go into the Mom Stuff folder.  The homeschool one I can usually keep up with, but the mom one gets way more messages and I get behind.  If I delete w/o reading, I feel guilty, or like I've missed something.  This is, of course on top of email that doesn't fit either of those categories!

Lately, I've been taking advantage of Tony's night time music jobs by sitting on the couch with my laptop while TJ watches a movie.  He feels more like I'm spending time with him, and I get to catch up.  I made a big dent in the total number of messages weekend before last, as Tony played out of town both nights.  I was almost able to keep current after that, but today/tonight I managed to clear ALL of my folders of unread messages!  Trust me, that's a big accomplishment!

I didn't do any meal planning or homeschool prep, but I do feel good about this being done!  I even learned several things and have stuff I want to research too.

So now it's off to bed, where I'll read a few pages from Dumbing Us Down: the Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto.

Locavore

It's an interesting idea, but not one I'm eager to embrace.  I don't think chocolate grows around here!  Regardless, I do prefer to buy locally when possible and growing our own is the bigger goal.  Last night while eating dinner I realized everything had come from within 50 miles of home.

Pastured chicken from the farmer's market (been in freezer), green beans from a friend's garden, squash from the U-pick farm, and a pomegranate from the farmer's market.  Milk from our goats rounded out the meal.  I didn't take pictures.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Paradigms

No, not that kind of paradigms, but I couldn't resist.  Sorry.  Lame, slapstick humor.  The kind that I often choose to not even grant the obligatory eye roll/moan process when my husband does it to me.

I'm talking about the belief system that we all have regarding just about everything in life.  The way we think about a topic or view the world around us.  In the last year and a half or so, many of my personal paradigms have been knocked on their duff.  It's sent me on a journey that is changing my life and the way I process new information now.  My eyes have been opened to so many new ways to see things, but it does get hard and confusing. 

For instance, most of us were told (popular media influence, school texts, etc) that to be healthy we needed to restrict our saturated fat intake and consume more carbohydrates.  Many obediently pursued the low fat approach, trusting that this would lead to a healthier life, reducing risk of heart disease and obesity.  I for one, never asked to see the research, nor looked at the daily evidence that there's now actually more heart disease and obesity than at any time in modern history.  Why?  Why is the advice of many research studies and government programs not working?  Perhaps because those studies are funded by businesses that have a vested interest in the outcome, and reports are skewed?  Do I sound paranoid yet?

I've come across a lot of new information during this journey and it can be so overwhelming that I just want to shrug and say, "oh well, I'll just keep doing what I've been doing".  However, that might not be what's best.  Instead, I've learned to run the new info through this filter test. 
  • Who stands to gain from this line of thinking?
  • How was it done before the Industrial Revolution?
  • How did God design the process?
Is it foolproof?  Not as long as this fool is involved.  I do think it's a better way of digesting all the conflicting, and sometimes misleading, information that's out there though.  After answering these questions, I can determine the route I think is best for me and my family.  That won't necessarily be the route that's best for you and your family, but I do want to encourage you to at least consider when something new comes along that it might be valuable.

I'm noticing, however, that many people simply to choose to keep on believing what they've always been taught, not questioning it at all, and I think that's a sad statement on our society.  We've grown complacent and we just accept the way things are done in this country as normal, a standard to be reached.  I say we because I know I'm just as guilty as anyone.  I'm trying to change that though, and want to encourage you to do the same.  The next time someone comes to you with info that sounds corny, conflicts with what you've always believed, or any of a multitude of reasons for why you'd tune it out, try listening and running it through your own filter.  Listen with an attitude of "this person must believe this, or think it's worthwhile, maybe I should examine it too."  Maybe the person presenting it to you cares about you so much that they want you to know what they've discovered.  I'm not suggesting that the new info will always be better, just that it's worth it to consider why it was brought to you in the first place. 

For myself, I feel betrayed by the very institutions I once trusted and wonder why someone didn't show me what I've been discovering with my own research.  It's with that attitude that I bring new info to those around me.  I may sound nuts, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.  If I think it can help you live a better life, I'm going to say something.  If you don't like what I say, that's certainly your prerogative, and I won't spend time trying to persuade you.  I will continue to present new ideas as they come to me though, because I care.  Not because I think everyone must do it my way, but because the info was so profound to me, that it changed the way I live, and I want to share this new discovery to give you the opportunity to perhaps improve your life!

Here's to growth and improving one's life and the world around us!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Look & Feel of a Blog

I liked the old Blogger design tools better than the new system.  What I'd like even better than that is the knowledge to make and create blog backgrounds and layouts.  Some of the blogs I follow are so nicely layed out. 

Amy, at Homestead Revival has a very homey and welcoming blog.
At A Wise Woman Builds Her House, the site is beautiful and the music complements the blog substance.
At Keeper of the Home, Stephanie has a clean, crisp look.  Here's another at Small Notebook.

I like my blog to be welcoming, pleasing to the eye, and easy to navigate.  It's also a source of reminders for me, like the side bar constants that I just cleaned up.  I used to have a home business teaching and training home users and small business owners how to use their computers.  In all that time I never learned even basic HTML.  I've tried a few times, but it just doesn't make sense to me.  I'd love to create a look for my blog that truly represents me and my goals.  Got any suggestions?

Cod Liver Oil

Yes, cod liver oil, or CLO for short.  I've been reading about its health benefits, and even tried to consume it daily, but just couldn't get past the ick factor, regardless of the health that might come from it.  I'm encouraged to try again after reading this review at Kitchen Stewardship, but the giveaway would be helpful.  The good stuff is expensive, so it makes it harder to part with the cash and then not be able to "stomach" it.  Her review is funny and uplifting, so take the time to read it.

In my defense, I am taking a high Vitamin A capsule daily, and that's one of the nutrients in CLO.  What about you?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

One Deal, One Giveaway, and Then She Found More

I love winning free stuff, don't you?  Since there's usually just one winner at a giveaway though, discounts are a nice consolation prize, right?

The first giveaway is the book, "In the Kitchen-Real Food Basics eBook".  I read the six page preview and ordered it!  It's only $5.21 with the current promotion.  If I win, she'll refund my purchase price.  Now that's good business sense! 

How about a wholesome family skincare goodie basket?

At another blog I follow there's a discount for Family Fun magazine.  It's 30 Minute Martha and the price is just $3.75!

I just found this while exploring this evening.  For the Love of Pie free eBook download.  Or Fun, Fabulous and (mostly) Free Preschool Projects.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Adventures in House Hunting

Some of you might remember my post on the pros and cons of a house we found a few months ago.  We decided not to buy the one in the post, but have been searching continuously-mostly online until we find something interesting.  A month ago we did find something interesting and made an offer several days later.  The listing agent still hasn't responded, and all kinds of twists and turns have arisen since then.  It's still in the works, but we're looking for other options too.

Thursday our son was with my parents, and Tony just had a bug to get out on the road.  Me, I was looking forward to a day at home without my son, getting stuff done.  By the title of the blog, you've probably figured out who won. 

Our agent had sent us a list of homes that had been served with a trustee's sale notice and I went thru it to see if anything on it met our needs.  There's a 10 acre parcel listed, but with a trustee sale, opening bids aren't released until the day before the sale.  The county lists parcels with previous and current years valuations, so I use that as a guide.  This 10 acre parcel was valued at $93,000 last year, and $1,000 this year!  OK, now my curiosity is aroused enough to consider leaving home.  It was a little hard to locate on the map because it's in an undeveloped area.  We found the names of a couple of dirt roads and knew we could get to it.  What we didn't know was the condition of the roads...


This is what we were faced with after driving over a couple of hills with washouts as deep as the one on the left of this photo.  Did I tell you it was a narrow road?  With a steep enough drop-off to make me quite nervous?  Or that the ruts were situated such that we had to drive as close to that drop-off as we could without falling off?  What about the fact that the road is rocky granite?

You might be asking why we stopped and got out. 

The road we were on ended and there was a three foot deep, five foot wide ravine before the next one started.  That's Tony making a rock bridge for the tires to drive across.  I would have helped, but I was busy taking pictures and limping around.  Yeah, as soon as I stepped out of the car I slid into that rut on the left side of the picture.  Tony couldn't see me and didn't know I had fallen.  I wasn't sure I could stand up with sliding more.  It was kinda funny!  Here's my injury:


This is from the day after.  The one I took at the scene doesn't really show anything.  I got familiar with the contents of the first aid kit kept in the van.  Glad I bought one when we bought the van!  Did you know neosporin stings??

That was just the beginning of the adventure though.  Once we got onto the other road and wound our way around a couple more hills, we took two month's worth of rubber off the tires trying to climb back out.  We could smell the burning rubber.  I prayed.  God answered!  The granite on this road wasn't ground up and rocky.  It was large rocks and small boulders.  Driving from one to the next, hoping we wouldn't start slipping back down.  We got over that hill, came back to where the other road joined this one and kept on going.  Turns out this road has been taken care of, and it's the route I suggested we take in.  I agreed with his route because it was shorter.  Yikes!

We got out of there and continued on into the next series of towns to look at houses that Tony had researched.  Keyed the addresses in to the GPS but "she" wanted us to go a different way than what Tony had written down.  We went miles out of our way, drove by 2 houses he thought we might like (we didn't) and then tried to find two more.  One was empty, so we got out to look around.  Not bad.  Not in the area I'd like to be, but it sat on a hill looking out over the valley.  I decided not to be so firm in where I want to live and told Tony we could investigate this one more.

Darkness had now come upon us, but we tried to find the 4th house anyway.  It didn't exist.  Or the address in the instructions didn't.  We gave up and decided to go eat.  He said there were photos of the one we looked at online so I was eager to get home and see them.  Know what the listing said?  2500 gallon water tank to store hauled water.  You don't know Tony so you don't know how ironic that is.  The reason we haven't left the area we're in is because water is a prime requirement of his for any property we buy.  The town we live in has irrigation ditches, and most of AZ does NOT.  I couldn't believe we were in the car for 6 hours to look at 4 houses and one parcel of land, with one of those houses not even having water!

I think I was a good sport about it though.  I didn't rub it in too much, but I did remind him that I'm supposed to be the navigator.  :-)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Least Among You

This movie is a based on a true story that I was not familiar with prior to ordering this for review purposes.  I prefer "based on a true story" movies over fiction more often than not, and this was no exception.  The storyline was a bit slow moving, but who says it has to be high speed to be good? 
Set in 1965 following the Watts race riots, Richard Kelly finds that he is unable to take the job with the big computer company that he was so proud to get.  Instead, he'll be spending "time" at an all white seminary as the only black student in their history.  In the process he learns about reverse racism, forgiveness, consequences, perseverance and loyalty.  To tell you anything else would give away too much, so let it be known that I enjoyed the movie and recommend it to all.  It's an important life lesson learned.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cause & Effect

I requested a copy of this 4 disc series of Adventures in Odyssey to review and find out if my son enjoys listening to the show.  I know the suggested audience is a little older age range than he is, but I figured it was worth a try.  To my surprise, he was really paying attention!  We listened while running errands one day and he wanted to wait in the car while I went into the grocery store, so he could keep listening!  I didn't let him stay but he reminded me as soon as we got back that we needed to turn the story back on.

I found myself even being curious as to what would happen next.  We've listened together and enjoyed everything we've heard!  I like the morals and values that are expressed throughout the stories and the way the shows wrap up with a recap of the lessons taught.  This set is something we will listen to over and over!  If you've got young children, I recommend this set for "edutational" purposes.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this CD to review in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lasagna

This morning I made my first successful batch of ricotta cheese from the whey left after making chevre.  I only got about 1/2 cup (little errors on my part) but was wondering what I'd do with it, so it wouldn't just sit in the fridge and spoil.  I decided we'd have lasagna for dinner, but 1/2 cup of ricotta wouldn't be enough.  So, I found out how to make ricotta straight from the milk rather than from whey.  We had Italian sausage from the 1/2 hog we bought a few months ago, but everything else would have to be store bought. 

This was the first time any of us assembled a lasagna and we were quite excited to take on this adventure together!  I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Ricotta curds draining in butter muslin.

Goober Gus and Dad frying the sausage and beef.

A huge bag of fresh basil from a neighbor.  What else can I do with this?

Layering the ingredients.

Goober mixing the egg and seasoning into the ricotta.

More layering.  My artistic husband made sure it was very eye appealing.

The ricotta goes on...

Ready to go into the oven.

The mess!

More of the mess.

I even did the dishes after dinner-I hardly EVER do that!  Just ask my mom...

video
Goober cracking the egg...

Follow Up to Previous Goat Posts

Fifty Minutes.  50.  I just don't see how one person can milk 4 goats in less time, unless I didn't care about measuring and recording each girls' daily contribution.  From the time I prepared the treats to putting the jarred milk in the fridge, it was 50 minutes.  However, if one considers the VALUE of the quantity of milk, it's a very worthwhile endeavor.  A quart of goat milk retails for $3.69 around here.  I get a minimum of 3 quarts just from the 2 Alpines, so that's $11.07, and they're done in 25 minutes.  That's over $26/hr I'm "earning" for milking those goats!  We won't even go into the cost/value of raw goat cheese at $24 per pound.

The other thing I wanted to mention is I've repeated the outcome of thick, creamy yogurt with Nubian milk.  Today we're going to reinforce the fence around the backyard and send the doelings there to wean them and HOPEFULLY get more than 12 oz of milk from 2 goats.