Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spring is almost here

Well, not exactly. We still have over a foot of snow. However, here in O-HI-O it's time to start thinking spring. For me this means garden. Today I checked out the winter farmer's market in Peninsula. I love Peninsula, but I couldn't live there. It's lovely, seems idyllic, but it's too far away from everything else I do. Anyway, there were several farms there offering CSA membership for this coming season. Now, in a perfect world, I'd grow all my own produce. In the real world, I have very little space so it just isn't possible. This year, I'm seriously considering supplementing my usual garden with the CSA.

Why would I do this when it costs more and it's a bit inconvenient. Well, for starters, it supports the local food system of which I'm a big fan. It encourages sustainable farming practices which will save our soil and us!! It encourages me(and my family) to eat veggies that I wouldn't normally consider. Things like kale, mustard greens and chard that we aren't huge fans of, but are very healthy. AND I'm hoping it will allow me to grow enough to store for the winter. I'd like to buy as little out of season produce as possible in the coming year.

I'm also going to work on season extenders this year. Produce like lettuce, kale, cabbages, and sprouts can grow covered well past the frosts here.

I'm working on eating "real" food. Trying to eliminate processed, white and sugars from our diet. I have to be sneaky though otherwise "they" will catch on. I really didn't think I had many fake foods in my pantry, but upon closer inspection discovered cans of frosting(purchased super cheap with coupons), ditto for the cake mixes, pasta sauce, BBQ with HFCS!!just to name a few. I love to bake so eliminating sugar and white flour is going to be H-A-R-D, HARD!!! I'm dreading it. I know that there is a fresh ground whole wheat flour guy at one of the farmers markets, but I'd really love a grain mill!! Not currently in the budget though. Anyway, by the end of the year, I'd love to only have real food basics in the pantry, with the exception of yucky, GMO filled boxed cereal for darling husband, because he won't let it go.

I think I finally found someone I can buy raw milk from though!! This is huge because here in OH, it's illegal to purchase and sell raw milk. The only way to obtain it is through "Herd Sharing". Basically, because you own a "share" of a cow, you can drink the milk if you like. Yeah!! This is also good for cheese making, if I were so inclined, which I'm not...yet.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I lost my job last month. It wasn't a complete surprise, but I wasn't ready for it either. My "position was eliminated" along with a few others to save the company some money. Good for them, bad for us. So, I've spent today trying to make our budget work without my income. It's not going very well so far.
We have a nice tax return coming, not huge, like some I know, but nice. I've decided to put more away in savings than I usually would and the rest is paying off some credit cards. My Darling's bonus also comes this month and will be handled the same as the return. Normally, Dave Ramsey would recommend that we take the amount we were paying on the paid off credit cards and apply it to the next smallest balance. This is the "snowball" method of paying off debt. We currently have a negative $371/ month balance. Sooooo, I'm applying that money to, maybe eating every day. Once our budget is in the black, we will take Dave's advice. The extra savings that I'm putting aside will be used to help cover the deficit in our monthly budget. There, nuf said.
On to more fun things...PLANNING THE GARDEN!!
The seed catalogs came last month. I poured over each one, reading the descriptions carefully. It's garden porn, really. I made check marks and circles on the items I wanted. I had images in my head of a gorgeous garden, brimming with food all year. Then I remembered that I a. suck at seed starting b. live in Ohio c. lose interest in the garden around July and want it to care for itself. and d. I just lost my job and can't afford to spend a billion dollars on seeds and plants shipped from who knows where. Luckily, before I started crying, I remembered that there is a guy on a road I travel frequently that sells plants every year 4/$1!! Granted, these are not the awesome sounding, heirloom varieties that I circled in my catalog. These are standard Big Boys and Bells. Still, in the current economic condition in which I live, they will provide fresh food for my family and save me a fortune. I will purchase my seeds from Walmart and they will be fine. I will not attempt to start plants myself, because...I suck.
I am determined this year to do a better job of rotating my crops, planting early and planting frequently. In the past, I do not take advantage of "odd" crops that would do well early in the season or late. Mostly, I ignore these veggies because they aren't my first choice in nutrition. This year I'm determined to broaden our veggie eating options. There it's out there, now I have to do it.
On to things I HAVE to do. I must lose weight. Really, I'm getting humongous. I decided this year to lose 2 pounds a month for the next 3 years to reach my goal weight before I turn 40. Sounds easy, 2 pounds. Well, I've gained 2 so far. The complete lack of attention to my eating and lack of self control have led to this heinous number on the scale. In order to prevent Diet meltdown and the binge that follows, I'm trying the "baby step" method. This week I'm going to add a salad to my lunch(or dinner) everyday. I know I should add some exercise, but I'm not ready. The weather here is grey, cold and yucky. It's weather that makes me want to knit, not run.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Frugaling it!

I haven't changed the name of this blog yet, but I've decided to record some of my ideas and lots of tips on becoming more frugal, especially as it relates to living in OH!
Here are some things I'm working on to stretch the bucks
1. I joined Swagbucks and am using my free Amazon certificates to buy Christmas gifts.
2. Become obsessed with gas mileage and kind of hyper-miling. We drive A LOT so this is a big expense. I'm not talking about driving on the butt of a semi to decrease drag. I'm shifting to neutral going downhill, trying to keep my RPMs under 2500(my mom always did this), turning off the car if I sitting for any length of time, driving slower than the 72 mph I usually do, planning ahead so that I ease to a stop, and planning trips to I don't back track. The last is easy for me because I'm totally OCD when it comes to back tracking. It makes me crazy. Ironic, isn't it.
3. Making as much of our food from scratch. This means running the bread machine I bought on Craigslist at least 3 times a week to make bread.
4. Making an effort to improve my use of coupons. There are a ton of sites out there that explain this better than I can. I'll try and list some soon.
5. Eating in season and buying enough to preserve for the rest of the year. This means picking blueberries in July and freezing, strawberries in June, etc. I'm currently taking advantage of the cheap cheap cheap apples!! I've already purchased a bushel($24, U-pick @ Hillside Orchard in Brunswick). Made a batch of applesauce for the freezer. I'm going to need more to freeze for recipes.
6. I just ordered 25 pounds of rolled oats from Shaffers Market. Not only will this save money buy getting it bulk, I won't have to make a special trip just for oats. DD14 loves her oatmeal! Oats can be frozen indefinitely, so storage isn't a problem. The only problem is that I'm starting to run out of freezer space. I currently have about 75 pounds of ground local beef, 8 local whole chickens, applesauce and some other stuff I can't remember in the upright freezer.

I welcome any money saving comments or ideas. Tips for local places to get some good deals would be awesome!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pics to be added shortly

I'm thinking of changing the name of this blog. Something a little wider in scope. As you may have noticed, our growing season here in OH isn't the longest. For example, currently at the local farmer's markets are greens, peas, garlic and strawberries. I'm sure there are a few other things, but not much. In my garden I've gotten...lettuce. That's it. I didn't plant radishes this year, because they rarely get eaten. My peas aren't ready yet. In fact, my garden as a whole is much less diverse than in recent years. Here's why... I was lazy and didn't want to spend money or more rare, space, on plants that don't do that well in my yard or could easily and cheaply be purchased locally. This is why you'll see(when I post the pics) that I have a lot of tomatoes,peppers, brussel sprouts, broccoli, some peas and beans and squash. This year I planted the squash outside of the raised beds. I'm hoping this will give them more room and not crowd the other plants.
Once again I tried starting my seeds. Once again I bought plants. I'm done with the starting. I don't know why, but I suck at it. I'm officially giving up.
I have added another compost bin. This is a garbage can with holes cut in it. We are using this one for food scraps. I add in newspaper to increase my "browns". When I say "I", what I mean is the child that I brought into the world for just this kind of task. Ya know, the task I feel is vitally important to our home and environment, but don't want to do. This is the same child that does the daily dusting for the same reason.
I recently found out about a new restaurant I'll be trying soon. It's called the Treehugger's Cafe. I believe it's in Berea, but don't quote me on that. I will let you know what I think. If you've already been there, please pass along your comments. This site has a half price deal on a gift card. I'll be purchasing one soon.
I got my strawberries picked and processed last week. I picked less than I have in previous years. I still have some "no sugar added jam" left from last year. This is because no one in the house will eat it. I will use it on ice cream and in smoothies. Other than that, the texture is weird. It gets really runny. Not a good thing for jam. This year I only made regular and "less sugar" freezer jam. This was much faster, easier and didn't involve heat, which was especially important since I made it on the 90 degree day last week.
I have been begging i.e. harassing my DH for about a year now for chickens. Live ones, that is. He's not opposed to them for eatin'. I've read article after article on "urban chickens". I've found blogs that I read and grow green with envy. I've discovered cool "runs" for the chickens and of course, the chicks themselves. Still my husband, because he's mean, is standing firm against them. He really has no good reasons either. Well, except for our 2 dogs, our terribly tiny yard, close quarters with elderly neighbors and my penchant for losing interest in things. Poor me. I really don't think he'd even notice them. Hhhmmm
Alrighty, I think that's enough yammering for one day.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Roses and berries

This is the first rose off of my husband's new rose bush. It's had several since this one and they are all as gorgeous. Yellow roses were my mom's favorite so we can't see this bush without thinking of her. This is also very similar to the rose I had tatooed on my back last year.
The garden is doing awesome. It's getting huge and taking over the yard. I have lots of little tomatoes and peppers. We have enjoyed many salads and tons of peas. They are sooooo sweet. My herbs have done especially well this year. Yesterday I made a yummy bruschetta with tons of basil. Ssoooo good.
I still have no pics of the garden. I keep forgetting to take the camera out there. I'm a slacker and I'm ok with that.
The kids and I picked nearly 30 pounds of strawberries again the last 2 weeks. I put up 15 jars of jam and another 8 of freezer jam. I also froze 2 gallons of whole berries. I'm completely sick of strawberries. That's ok because it's almost time to pick blueberries!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Still on the planet

Lest you think I've fallen off the face of the earth, here I am. If you think I'm going to give a lovely post with pics of my ever growing beautiful garden, you're smokin' something.
It's not my fault! I dutifully and enthusiastically started many seeds in March. Leeks, grape tomatoes, all sorts of herbs, zinnias and morning glories. All of course, with the intention of planting them. However, I did not take into account that right about the time my seedlings would be growing strong, my puppy would be also. Ya see, my darling Toby is nearly 9 months old. This time of puppy hood, in case you didn't know, is hell. She's obnoxious and into everything. The least of which has been my seedlings. (the most of which is some brand new carpet. Need I say more)She destroyed them. First, while they were still in the house, she would reach up and grab a few pots and drag them all around my living room. Did I mention that I have cream carpet?? Then, in order to spare the ones that remained, I moved them to the fenced in raised beds. Foolishly, I thought they were safe only to come home one day to what I can only describe as a massacre. All I salvaged were a few leeks, that I doubt will make it, and a few unknown plants. No, I did not fail to label them, Toby took those out!! As if that were not enough, she also dug up the newly planted lettuce and broccoli on the same day.
So, I now have no choice but to purchase my plants yet again. If you recall from last year, this is especially dangerous for me. Well, to my pocketbook, really. Still, I'm compiling the list and planning my trips. Yes, trips. I have already purchased the above mentioned lettuce and broccoli, again. Today I got a few tomato plants. I bought three that I've never heard of before. I'll give the full rundown later. This weekend is the Crowne Point Plant Sale!!! Yeah!! I thought I'd missed it. I'll get my peppers, a few tomatoes and maybe some squash.
This sale tends to be a bit more expensive than the standard nursery. All the plants are organically grown. Which, of course, I do also. However, last year it seemed that the tomatoes I purchased elsewhere, and for less, did better. I think it's because the heirloom tomatoes that I love to get require more care than I like to do. Lesson learned, so I'm doing more variety this year and will not get all my tomatoes from one place.
I have not slacked entirely. Nor has Toby destroyed all my efforts. I have peas that are several inches tall,lettuce,radishes,spinach,rapini(grown for Cappuccino) and some more broccoli. Not a bad start.
Normally, around this time of year I'd be antsy to plant more. Not this year. Here in Ohio it's freakin' cold!! It's still going into the 40's at night and some of the recent highs have been in the 50's. My heat is still coming on, for Pete's sake!! Global warming my arse!! (I'm just kidding, I'm very environmentally concerned)
Speaking of the environment, I've actually become much more aware and active in doing my part to decrease my carbon footprint. Most of the produce I purchase is organic, as is all my dairy and eggs. (local and free range!!) We purchased a grass fed cow again this year. And I get naturally raised whole chickens instead of the 10 pounds of frozen breasts I used to get. I also switched to enviro-friendly laundry products and am making the switch to other cleaning alternatives as needed. Feeling a little "holier than thou" lately. I still have a long way to go, but we're getting there. Oh, and we're buying the family bikes so we use the car less. Two down, two more to go.Bikes, that is. Nothing earth shattering, but I really believe that every bit helps.
In our next installment...Plant purchses!! ooohhhh I can't wait.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St Patrick's Day!!

My morning started with green scrambled eggs and scones topped with green sugar! A fitting way to start the day, I think. I then prepared my corned beef brisket. I decided, after much deliberation, to make it in the Crock pot. In it went with a little water, 1/2 an onion, a few chopped carrots and topped with cabbage. I also added some freshly ground pepper. I alternated between low and high for about 8 hours. What emerged was absolutely scrumptious. My DH says it's delicious. I've never had corned beef before, so I don't know what it's supposed to taste like. However this was the perfect amount of salty and seasoning. Sooooo tender and just plain yummy. I served it with a traditional Colcannon(at least that's what I hear) and an Irish soda bread. All in all, a really good dinner. It needed a dessert, but I never found an Irish dessert recipe. Just green ones.