WordPress didn’t save my post!!! ACK!

So I just took an hour to type up what I considered a cute and clever post about two awesome blogs I recently found. The post was going to be called “A couple great projects, from a couple great blogs.” Of course, I saved my drafts as I went along, so when I saved the final draft, and went to preview…POOF!!!…gone. Nothing, nada, zilch. Talk about irritating.

So instead of blowing another hour trying to re-create my clever stories. I’ll just let you know, I found two really cool blogs that you should check out.

The first is Little House in the Suburbs. –This is the blog I want to have when I grow up. Check out the coldframe post. I’m totally making this in the next few weeks.

The next is an awesome farming blog called The Field and Table. Mostly, I wanted to share this post about canning. Maybe someday, when I’m not so irritated, I’ll tell you why. 🙂

Check ’em out. They’re both full of awesome information, pictures and stories.

Happy… save your draft-ing …. Grrrr.

I gave up Facebook!

I did! It’s true. It’s my new year’s resolution. I deleted my account. With fair warning to my “friends,” I encouraged a phone call and good old letter writing in lieu of facebook messages. And, I hit the deactivate button. *GASP*

11 days in, and I don’t miss it a titch. Actually, I haven’t even thought about it until today. I was driving home from the grocery store and thought, “I haven’t looked at facebook in 11 days. Wow, that went fast!”

I don’t know exactly why I felt compelled to get rid of it. But I’m fairly certain it has to do with the over abundance of information I was exposed to multiple times a day that, to be honest, I couldn’t care less about.

It’s kind of like when you’re REALLY hungry for something. Grapes, for example. And you go, and buy forty pounds of grapes and eat 8 pounds a day for the next 5 days, then, all of the sudden the idea of eating another grape makes you want to barf. That’s how facebook is for me. I really just don’t have a taste for it anymore. The constantly updating local news stories, and blogs I “liked,” the friend requests from people I went to junior high school with that I never really got along with, and haven’t thought of in 20 years, but feel compelled to “add,” and the incessant ramblings of people you thought were normal in real life, but you are now beginning to question….
It has all become too much! So, in an effort to simplify life, as my header states, I gave up facebook.

But I’m sure my headaches going away, and all this restful sleep I’ve been getting in 2012 has nothing to do with that….

Happy Social Media-ing.

Food for thought, and a thought on food…

Boy, do I love food. Always have. I’m one of those soft-around-the-edges-rather-bake-cookies-than-go-for-a-jog-live-to-eat kinds of people. And I’m ok with that. I’ve always enjoyed passive gardening as a hobby. (You know, throw a couple seeds in some dirt and see what happens?) But within the past year or so, I can honestly say I’ve become passionate about food, especially growing my own food. I think the catalyst to this change in thinking was the film “The Real Dirt on Farmer John” I ran across on Netflix one lazy afternoon. This led me to the film “Food, Inc.”, as well as some others. That was definitely the start for me. I had no idea that our food system was so complicated, corrupt and unhealthy!!! I kind of miss the naivety, but knowing this now may save my life! (Or at least help me live longer.)

I don’t know if there are more articles coming out now, or I’m just paying more attention, but I saw this generic article today “7 Foods You Should Never Eat” and I wanted to share. Now, by no means am I an expert at this. There is a huge learning curve going from McDonald’s and Velveeta Shells and Cheese to fresh caught fish with organic greens and potatoes. But I definitely put more thought and time into preparing our meals than I ever have before. Now, I’m only a fraction organic, and there is still a lot of junk food in my house. I’m working on it. It’s a tough habit to shake when that’s all you’ve know for, well, your whole life.

 So, based on the list in the article above, here are the things I’ve changed that might work for you too.

1. Canned tomatoes (and really anything canned. See “It’s December, and I’m Stewed” for a link about canned soups): This one was easy. I grow my own tomatoes and can and freeze them each year, along with a lot of other vegetables. Easy to do anywhere, even if you only live on a patch of pavement! Google “Growing in containers” and you’ll find all the info you’ll ever need!

 2. Corn-Fed Beef: This was probably the most shocking thing for me to learn about, and one of the things I feel most strongly AGAINST eating. So I contacted a local farmer, and buy my beef from him a couple times a year. It’s a higher cost up front, but because we have such a nice selection right in our freezer, we eat at home more, so it evens out. And it tastes and smells so much better. We also get our pork and chicken from local farms.  (I plan on doing a more in-depth post about grass-fed vs. conventional beef soon.)

3. Microwave popcorn: This article says you shouldn’t eat microwave popcorn because of the chemicals in the bag. I did not know this. But we did change the way we make popcorn after reading the labels on the most common brands and finding that they are made, mostly, from genetically modified corn (GMO). —Don’t even get me started– Thankfully, I found this tip from Frugalgirls.com about making popcorn in a brown paper bag. Now I get organic popcorn kernels for a couple bucks and go to town!!

 4. Nonorganic potatoes: We grow our own potatoes. They are the easiest, best return veggie you can grown, I swear. They are so fun to dig, because you just never know what they’re going to look like! My grandmother says: “Ohhh, I just love digging potatoes; it’s like opening presents at Christmas.” It really is.

5. Farmed Salmon: Fish is a new food for me in the past few years. As I kid I HATED fish. But my husband eased me into it with some Lake Erie Perch (Probably the most toxic fish ever) covered in 3 inches of fried batter. Now, I like to cook tilapia and other white fish in a little olive oil on the stove. But, I do try the get “freshly caught” or whatever the lingo is, because they are doing some CRAZY stuff with fish these days. (Cloning, genetically modifying, etc.) Maybe I should start buying organic…

6. Milk with artificial hormones: I look for labels that say “Without rBST.” They sell it at Trader Joe’s and Wal-mart now, too. It’s a little more expensive, but I’d say it’s worth it to keep my ovaries functioning.

7. Conventional Apples: Ok, this is admittedly the hardest for me. I try to buy local, which is seasonal, so then I try to buy organic, and they are all grown in Chile or somewhere they’ve been stored and shipped across continents for 3 months before making it to my kitchen. So, sometimes I just get disgusted and buy the regular ones. Which, now I’m re-thinking. I did can applesauce and apple butter from my grandfather’s tree this summer, so it’s a start.

And as always, I encourage buying all your food locally! Personally, I think buying locally is more important than buying organic. But organic is a close second.

Do you have any helpful tips to improve your food quality? What do you do to decrease preservatives and chemicals in your diet? I’d love to hear, because I’m still learning!!

Cleaning up the details…

We don’t get many visitors here on the homestead. And I kind of like it that way. I don’t have to worry about mopping up the muddy dog prints in the mud room every day, or scrubbing the grout in the shower. But, this year, we offered to have a family New Year’s Eve party. And being that New Year’s eve is only a titch over 4 weeks away, I thought maybe I’d better start cleaning up the details. And our thousand year old stove, on our million year old whitish, gold-flecked, stain-loving laminate counter is at the top of my list. And I HATE IT! It works beautifully, but it’s old and groddy, and IMPOSSIBLE to keep clean. Are you ready for this?

 

 

This stuff would NOT come off with regular cleaner and a rag…I promise, I do try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know, I know…all together now… “EW, GROSS, VOM, BELCH, PUKE…” I get it. I’m a terrible housekeeper. I never claimed to be Martha Stewart, and besides, I like to do more fun things, like COOK ON IT!

 

 

 

 

ANYWAY…

Let me introduce to you the ultimate in life-saving, holiday-cleaning, yucky-stove repairing cleaner.

Bar Keeper’s Friend is now my friend!

Let me reassure you, I have no association with this product, and no money exchanged hands for this post. (Except Wal-Mart got like $1.25 when I bought it.) I actually only know about it because a 70+ year old family friend advised me to use it when cleaning the baked on gunk from my Pyrex. So I did, and it’s AWESOME!! Then, I just started cleaning everything with it. And it works so well, I wanted to share it with you.

I personally think it works better than any mangic erasers or other cleaning powders. I haven’t had a problem with it scratching laminate, metal or any of my dishes. The only thing it does it dry the heck out of my fingers, so I’d recommend using rubber gloves or something. But, I’m too much of a woman for that…(aka stubborn.)

To use it, you just follow the directions, which is essentially dampen the surface you want to clean, put some BKF powder on it, and use a little elbow grease. The worse the stain, the more powder you use. And honestly, you need less elbow grease than you would expect.  Wanna know how well it works?

   

AWESOME, RIGHT?!

Phew, one detail to cross off the list, now onto the other…..400?!?

Happy Cleaning!!

Lots of ways to give all year! Here’s one…

I’m a gardener. (I can’t wait for the day when I can say, “I’m a farmer.”) We had a successful crop this year of pretty much everything. We gave lots of fresh produce away to friends, family and co-workers, because sometimes, you just can’t eat, freeze and can it all. Our long term plans are to start growing enough to make it profitable (or at least break even) with a CSA (community supported agriculture–then I’ll be a farmer!) In the meantime, there is a learning curve of how much of what, and when to plant. So, I’m sure we’ll have excess of somethings and shortages of others. But that’s ok, because thankfully, we can afford to buy things to supplement our own produce.  Today, I came acrossed Ample Harvest, and had an epiphany. (Not the most BRILLIANT epiphany ever, but hey…)

…Some people don’t know what fresh, homegrown (or even corporate grown) produce tastes like, because they can’t afford it…

Wow. That sucks.

You know how you KNOW things, but you just kind of push it to the back of your mind, because you don’t think you can do anything about it?? yeah, this was one of those things for me. But Ample Harvest makes it super easy for me to help! And I love that!!  I’ve already found a local food pantry a few miles away from my home, thanks to Ample Harvest, and  I have an email out to the coordinator. Because come Spring, I know we’ll have excess produce, and I can’t wait to give it to people who really need it….

Thanks, AmpleHarvest, for making giving so easy!!!