Sunday, October 19, 2008

Food Storage

I took my first step toward an emergency food/water storage yesterday. I had been wanting to for a while but felt like I needed to buy buckets, and bulk quantities of stuff. After readying Sharon's ANYWAY post on food storage, I stored my first bit of water, in a 2 liter pop container. I know, it's only 2 liters, but our family drinks 3-5 2 liters a week, so if I fill each of those with water, that 6 liters a week, and 180 liters a month. My goal is a 30 day supply(using the ANYWAY list) for 5 of us I need.

Water: 30 gal/person x 5 people = 150 gallons = 600 liters = 300 2 liter bottles
Oats: 15 lbs/person x 5 people = 75 lbs
Beans: 30 16 oz cans/person x 5 people = 150 cans
Tomatoes: 30 16oz cans/person x 5 people = 150 cans
Fruit: 30 cans/person x 5 people = 150 cans
Mulit-vitamin: 30/person x 5 people = 150 vitamins


Monday, September 1, 2008

Stressed Out!

So the last 2 days I've been making a conscious effort to try and de-stress. Taking lots of breaks between doing things, doing things that are relaxing to me. So yesterday mid-afternoon I was feeling pretty good. I felt relaxed and content. I thought my stressed out reactions to stimuli had left. I was wrong.
Cooking, just that one simple thing that every person does thousands of times. I don't like to cook much, but I hadn't in 3 days, the kids made their own or we had take-out. So last night we had bacon cheeseburgers and boiled new potatoes, green beans were also on the menu but never got made since I was stressed and I'm the only one who would have ate them anyways. I got so stressed out cooking. I think it was the trying to time everything to get done at the same time(they didn't). Anyways half way through cooking it all, I just wanted to scream!!! At someone, at myself, at the stove. I did snap at TJ and he apologized even though he hadn't done anything wrong...I said no apology, I'm the one who's stressed you are fine. Once the bacon was finished he took over and finished up the burgers and I sat down and de-stressed a bit.
How can a half-hour of cooking totally undo 2 days worth of relaxation?

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I heard a speaker about a year ago give a speech about self-motivation and how self-analysis of the success failure has a huge impact on continued self-motivation. The example she used was exercise. The national whatever group recommendations are for say 30 minutes 3 times a week (made up these numbers). If you have been doing no exercise and you start and hold yourself to that recommendation anything less is a failure. Whereas 30 minutes 3 times a week should be your long term goal, not your week 1 goal. If you take 1 walk for any length of time that first week, that a success for you. So if you've been getting no exercise and you walk 10 minutes twice the first week and then 10 minutes 3 times the 2nd, you've had a 50% increase in your exercise from week 1 to week 2. You have to use where you start to base your success/failure, not some arbitrary value that someone has created.

I found this post in my drafts. I don't remember starting to type it, but it is something that was good for me to find today as a reminder that small steps are important. Anytime you do something better than you used to, is a success for yourself, regardless of if it meets some arbitrary standard set by someone else.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Current status of me

This last week has been really hard emotionally for me. I think what triggered it was dad being sick and me worrying for him and mom. But reality is that this has been lurking at the edge of me for a while now and I've been fighting tooth and nail to keep it at bay and I just can't anymore.

I think every time one of the kids leaves the house that something horrible is going to happen to them. Every phone call that I don't recognize the phone number , I am terrified that it is someone calling to tell me that something happened to one of the kids, or someone else I love. I have a constant feeling of impending doom. I think that somehow any person I love is in jeopardy just because of me. However, I don't know what to do to stop all this. I don't know what I have done to deserve all this. I know life is not fair, but it just doesn't seem like anyone else has thing after thing after thing happen to the ones they love. And it's all stuff I have mostly no control over.

So this week I don't know, I've done some crying, over some pretty stupid stuff I know, but I can't help it. Yet even when I'm crying I don't feel like I'm feeling anything, I'm just crying. Part of me thinks that truly not feeling anything would be good, maybe I wouldn't be so terrified and anxious and stressed and depressed. Feeling nothing sounds a lot better than all of that. But this week of not feeling anything has just been worse. It's like I'm walking through water, everything is slowed down, I can't think as quickly.

Work is awful too, I dread going to work, the thought of having to interact with people all day long and seem happy and ok and all that jazz seems an insurmountable task. I drove around for half an hour on Friday before I could make myself turn into work. And even though my job can be stressful, I love it, I know I do, but not this week.

Friday afternoon at work, I didn't get much work done, I just couldn't make my brain actually work. What I did is look up therapists for myself and called a couple and left messages to call me back. I know that I need to get back into therapy, I can't fix this myself I don't think. So I think starting therapy will help.

I decided I also need to start doing some things to help myself as well. So this labor day weekend, I'm going to give myself 9-10 hours of sleeping time but no more. When I'm anxious/stressed/depressed/etc all I want to do is sleep, it is my escape, but in the long run I don't think it really helps me. So far I've done ok. I slept 9 hours last night. Which may seem like a lot, but I've always required more sleep to function fully. Generally 8 to 8.5 and I'll wake up on my own, this morning I woke up after 8 and then dozed on and off for another hour before I got out of bed. Then I made my bed. It was a visual reminder when I looked in there that I was not going to sleep today.

I'm also going to slowly work up to working around the house. All I want to do it sit and veg and sleep and when I'm feeling this way it's really easy for me to look at everything I need to do and never get to any of it, since normally I feel like I need to finish the whole task at once. Today (and this weekend), I'm just going to do a bit then take a break/play a computer game/chill for bit, then just keeping doing that back and forth.

So it's 5pm now, I've been up since 8:30 this morning, I've done 7 loads of laundry, a bit in the kitchen (it needs attention the most so it the most daunting to try and work in there), a bit in the 2 bathrooms, picked up a bit in the living room/dining room. I'm hanging out all the clothes to dry, which I really like, it's soothing somehow, maybe clothesline meditation?

I do feel better today than I have this last week. Less guilty (though guilt is still there about the kitchen). I spend a lot of my life feeling guilty. Maybe that has contributed to the funk I've been in.

On the off chance that someone someday reads this I feel the need to validate why I am where I am right now. The hard part is where to start, how much of my life history has contributed to where I'm at now. The last 5 yrs, 10 yrs, 39 yrs...I'm not sure. I know that there are lots of people out there that have it just as bad and even worse than I do. I'm not living in a war zone or battling starvation, and for those things I am grateful. But the reality is that I live in the Midwest US and I'm middle-income. This is where I'm at and although I know it could be worse, I'm still terrified of what might happen to someone I love.

All 3 of my children have totaled cars. My son had his in Aug. 2005, he rolled a single time and had no injuries. The most recent accident, Katydid's was in May 2008. She wasn't hurt, just sore, nor were the people in the other car, for which I'm very grateful. Nor was it her fault, it was an older couple and they didn't see her and pulled out in front of her.

My youngest totaled her car on Oct. 2, 2007. The car rolled 6 times and she was ejected out of the sunroof on the 3rd. She was life-flighted to the hospital. Many of my fears, flashbacks, nausea causing events/triggers are from that first hour, the phone call, hearing the helicopter come, hearing and seeing her trauma team being assembled (it is one of the weirdest, there were 10-12 people, which made me feel good that they were going to take care of her, but then I realized my daughter was so injured that she needed a 10-12 person trauma team).

Now every call that is an unknown number makes me fearful to answer, every time I see or hear a helicopter or drive by an accident I get nauseous. And I never ever want to let any of my kids or family drive again. But I know that isn't realistic, so instead I say "Drive safe" every time and live with my fear of what may happen.

The thing is she was incredibly lucky, she had only a mild concussion but no permanent head injury, a chipped vertebrae but no damage to her spinal cord, 4 pelvic fractures (that did not require surgery), a tibia plateau fracture, a left clavicle fracture, an internally lacerated kidney(no surgery), bruised spleen, both lungs bruised, and multiple cuts/scapes/road rash (but none on her face). It was a rough intensive recovery but I had time built up at work so I was able to take 2.5 months off at the beginning and continued to work only part time for the next month or so to help her to and from school and to appts.

I should be counting my lucky stars and I am extremely grateful that she had no permanent injuries, but instead I just feel like the boot is going to drop at any time and she won't be lucky again. Or Katydid won't, or TJ won't, or ... the list includes all my family.

I think this probably 3 or 4 posts worth of data, so going to publish now and just write each day on how I'm feeling.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Update and Challenge info

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted anything. I've kinda been in a holding pattern, and just not done much lately. I noticed I also need to update my challenge text box. Haven't been doing great on it, but haven't been horrible most days. Meat is the hardest. Which really surprised me. I have never been much of a meat eater, so I figured that one would be a breeze.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Eating Local

I am quite proud of tonight's supper. I am not a very good cook, but I decided to try a veggie saute on pasta. I used a zucchini from my garden, garlic, onion, tomatoes and eggplant from the farmer's market, olive oil and a bit of oregano. Sauted until tender then served over whole wheat pasta with some grated parmesan cheese.

It was wonderful. Katydid ate some as well and enjoyed it. And there is enough for my lunch tomorrow.

Making it all from scratch gave me quite a sense of accomplishment.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Warning - gross bodily functions discussed in this post.

I had lap band surgery a year ago, it's a type of weight loss surgery. I did really well for the first 3 months. Then my youngest, Bitbe, had a very serious car accident. She's fine now, but I have really struggled with getting back on the program. I haven't gained any weight, which at least is good. Anyways, with Chili's Discretionary Eating I was way excited to get back to eating well again.

So lunch today was carrots, cheese and cottage cheese. Somewhat odd I know, but I really like all those things. So I'm munching on carrots and reading blogs....and then....the feeling. I didn't chew well enough. One of the things after WLS, you have to chew, chew, chew your food. Also smaller bites, and smaller portions (my stomach can only hold about 1 cup of food if it's dense food). Things like ice cream, chips, cookies, etc, can flow right through, so you can eat more than you should plus they have a lot of calories.

So, I'm hopeful that a few burps and I'll be fine. Then my boss walks in, so now I'm trying to be discreet, and not really burping. Next thing I know, I'm sliming.

For those of you that don't know what sliming is, it's your mouth producing copious amount of saliva. And you can't swallow it, because stuff is already stuck down there and swallowing it will only make it worse. Then the foaming started. Foaming is your stomach's response to being in distress. And since there isn't room for it to stay there, it starts coming up in the burps.

Long story short, or maybe short story long depending on your feelings about bodily function descriptions, I dealt with it for an hour at work, if you can call shutting my office door and spitting slime and foam into my empty coffee cup. Then decided to go home sick. Actually vomited twice while driving home, and then spent another hour at home miserable.

Carrots, for god's sake, carrots!

My 1st Official Challenge

I'm participating in my first official challenge. I was going to try and do Independence Days on my own, and have failed miserably. So when Chile Chews announced her new challenge I decided I would do it. The challenge is Discretionary Eating. There are 6 categories. I decided that I really need to change my diet and it's something I've been thinking about, so I'm doing the challenge at 75% for all categories.

Chile defined the percentages as reducing that % amount from your current level. Trying to figure out what that meant for what I could eat each day was daunting. So instead I am measuring mine in days. For each category, 3 of every 4 days I will follow the rules. I get to indulge in each category 1 of every 4 days (or less), and in any one day I can only indulge in up to 2 categories.

It's 10am on day 1 and so far so good....except I can't stop thinking about food. I bought fruit and veggies, yogurt, cottage cheese and cheese to eat for breakfast and lunch at work. I need to make up oatmeal with my own add-ins at home to bring to work. I really missed my packet of maple and brown sugar oatmeal this morning. But I deemed the pre-made packets as violating cafe and lite, so none of those this month. A task for the weekend.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tomatoe disease

Checking on the garden this afternoon, I found brown/black spots on the lower leaves of my tomatoe plants. I think it's either bacteria spot or bacteria speck. Either way both can be treated the least that's what I found on the web. From the Kansas Status University Extension site:

"Copper-based fungicides, including basic copper sulfate, copper hydroxide, and copper resinate, may be effective in suppressing bacterial speck and bacterial spot. Make applications at the first sign of leaf spotting or at the time of first blossom. Continue applications at 7 to 10 day intervals."

Now to figure out if any of that is organic, and if not then what is that can help control it.


Friday, July 25, 2008


Yep, you guessed it. I picked my very first grown myself carrots and they were amazing. Sweet, tender, and flavorful. Carrots will definitely get a bigger space in next years garden.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What are my goals and where am I at right now.

I want to document where I'm at currently, so I can look back on it later and hopefully see how far I've went.

Being green - My desire to be more green comes from several sources.

I've always felt a certain connection with nature, but I'm not exactly the nature type. It's more that when I'm outside, even just mowing, I feel a certain calm and well being. I'm happy to be alive type of thing. So preserving that nature is important to me. Over time I've waxed and waned in my green-ness, but have decided now to make a concerted, sustained effort.

The second reason is it's scary what our Earth could become if a larger number of people don't start caring about and doing something about what impact they have on the Earth.

A desire to remove as many chemicals from my life for health reasons are another part. I am very sensitive to a number of chemicals, artificial ingredients, perservatives, etc. I also have quite a list of environmental allergies. Between the 2 I can be pretty miserable. Environmental allergies can be easily managed with allergy medication and can be reduced by exposure over time to the allergens. Not so with chemical sensitivity, the more you are exposed the worse the reaction (for me at least). Choosing green products reduces the number of chemicals exposed to myself and family. Plus it's good for the environment.

What have I done so far for being green:
  • Started curbside recycling again.
  • Using less AC that previously.
    • I'd have it around 80-82 for me, as I tend to like warmth more than cold. However, the rest of the family doesn't feel that way, so we're working on having it at 74/76 consistently. Which is better than the 68/70 we did last year.
  • Line drying the laundry.
    • When I started this a month or so ago, everyone complained greatly about how stiff everything was. My response was if I wash it, then it is lined dried, if you wash it then you get to decide how to dry it. There is much less complaining now, but still a few "why me" looks when a towel resembles a piece of cardboard. However, Katydid, hung out laundry the other day when she did towels, a first.

Working toward simplicity
I didn't know that simple would make me happy. When I started reading blogs a few months ago, I found myself being drawn to blogs that were about living a simpler life. At the time I didn't know why. But the more I read, I found myself looking at my life differently. I even started looking at housework and cooking differently. I hate housework and cooking, so it was quite a surprise.

What I have done toward simplicity:
  • Joined the pinkeep/needlecase swap at down-to-earth, to work on my sewing skills
  • Using simpler/greener methods for cleaning
  • Started gardening again
  • Working on getting debts paid off

Coming out of the closet

So I left my blog up on Thaxiss' computer the other day. Not that I had been hiding it, but this is just in the baby stage, and it just hadn't come up. He mentioned it yesterday that he liked it, and especially me using Thaxiss for his name, as well as the name of the blog.

So it started a conversation about the changes I'm working on. The conversation really helped me think about my goals and the path I'm walking down at the moment. I think the biggest thing about my changes is the speed at which I'm moving....very, very slowly. This works for me. In the past (for lots of different things) I always tried to do big changes. Big changes are much harder to maintain.

I've gardened years ago, but when re-starting this spring, I stuck to one 4 ft by 4 ft square foot garden. It was hard, especially when thinking about all the stuff I wanted to grow. It's been successful for me, and when I think about whether a large garden would have been one, I think answer might be only partially. I have the feeling that the weeds would have been more successful.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Red Tomatoes!!!

Wednesday, July 16, I had my first red tomatoes, 2 cherry tomatoes, ugh I forget the type I planted, I'll have to look at the stake in the garden. If I would have thought about it, I could have taken a pic, but alas they went too quickly into my mouth. Should I have, I grew them and there will be plenty more the plant is bursting with green ones and still more flowers.

Why is that veggies from your own garden taste so much better? Lack of chemicals? The emotional attachment to what grew from your efforts, so fresh it's still sun warm? Probably a bit of it all.

I had quite an argument with Katydid last night. She takes looooonnnnnngggggg showers, and trying to reduce as I am I just couldn't take it any longer. Mind you I've made comments before, but never actually been upset with her. Even with a low flow shower head she is probably using close to 40-50 gallons of water per shower. YIKES! And she seemed so unconcerned about it. I suppose typical teenager response. She says that since she doesn't turn the water on all the way, she's using less, but I don't think it's going to be that much less. We decided that I would check our water meter before and after her next shower and see exactly how much she uses.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July

Not doing anything special today. Slept in late, really late. Thax had to work, as did Bitbee, tho Bitbee was excited to work, Thax not so much. Bitbee works for the Iowa Democratic Party, they had first asked for people to volunteer to be in parades which her and a couple others did. Then to try and get more they decided to pay them to be in the parades. For her the money is just bonus. She got to talk with Senator Harkin at last night's parade and the picture she got taken with him is now the computer background pic. As she put it, Senator Harkin is to her as celebrities are to most people.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Independent Days Challenge

I'm not going to officially join the challenge, it's been going for 9 weeks already. But I'm going to try to do each one of these each week.

The challenge is:
1. Plant something. Obviously, those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere and having spring are doing this anyway. But the idea that you should plant all week and all year is a good reminder to those of us who sometimes don’t get our fall gardens or our succession plantings done regularly. Remember, that beet you harvested left a space - maybe for the next one to get bigger, but maybe for a bit of arugula or a fall crop of peas, or a cover crop to enrich the soil. Independence is the bounty of a single seed that creates an abundance of zucchini, and enough seeds to plant your own garden and your neighbor’s.

2. Harvest something. From the very first nettles and dandelions to the last leeks and parsnips I drag out of the frozen ground, harvest something from the garden or the wild every day you can. I can’t think of a better way to be aware of the bounty around you to realize that there’s something - even if it is dandelions for tea or wild garlic for a salad - to be had every single day. Independence is really appreciating and using the bounty that we have.

3. Preserve something. Sometimes this will be a big project, but it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t take long to slice a couple of tomatoes and set them on a screen in the sun, or to hang up a bunch of sage for winter. And it adds up fast. The time you spend now is time you don’t have to spend hauling to the store and cooking later. Independence is eating our own, and cutting the ties we have to agribusiness.

4. Prep something. Hit a yard sale and pick up an extra blanket. Purchase some extra legumes and oatmeal. Sort out and inventory your pantry. Make a list of tools you need. Find a way to give what you don’t need to someone who does. Fix your bike. Fill that old soda bottle with water with a couple of drops of bleach in it. Plan for next year’s edible landscaping. Make back-road directions to your place and send it to family in case they ever need to come to you - or make ‘em for yourself for where you might have to go. Clean, mend, declutter, learn a new skill. Independence is being ready for whatever comes.

5. Cook something. Try and new recipe, or an old one with a new ingredient. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do with all that stuff you are growing or making. So experiment now. Can you make a whole meal in your solar oven? How are stir-fried pea shoots? Stuffed squash blossoms? Wild morels in pasta? Independence is being able to eat and enjoy what is given to us.

6. Manage your reserves. Check those apples and take out the ones starting to go bad and make sauce with it. Label those cans. Clean out the freezer. Ration the pickles, so you’ll have enough to last to next season. Use up those lentils before you take the next ones out of the bag. Find some use for that can of whatever it is that’s been in the pantry forever. Sort out what you can donate, and give it to the food pantry. Make sure the squash are holding out. Independence means not wasting the bounty we have.

7. Work on local food systems. This could be as simple as buying something you don’t grow or make from a local grower, or finding a new local source. It could be as complex as starting a coop or a farmer’s market, creating a CSA or a bulk store. You might give seeds or plants or divisions to a neighbor, or solicit donations for your food pantry. Maybe you’ll start a guerilla garden or help a homeschool coop incubate some chicks. Maybe you’ll invite people over to your garden, or your neighbors in for a homegrown meal, or sing the praises of your local CSA. Maybe you can get your town to plant fruit or nut producing street trees or get a manual water pump or a garden put in at your local school. Whatever it is, our Independence days come when our neighbors and the people we love are food secure too.

Farmer's Market

Stopped at a farmer's market tonight. I've been to all of them at this location this year. It's nice seeing the different veggies and fruit each vendor has had. You get to know the vendors, they get to know you.

The bread guy, who we've bought a different kind of bread each week, gave us a free loaf this week. Not sure if he remembered us, or he heard me say to Thaxiss, "Which bread do you want this week?" and figured that were going to buy a loaf from him every week, or he just picks x number of people to give a free item to each week. We were the only ones at the stand at the time, which usually isn't the case so maybe it was just situational. Whatever the reason, the result... all natural, local made garlic focacia and sourdough bread will be enjoyed this week.

I've been thinking about the veggies/foods we eat and it's pretty limited. Same things over and over, not much of a rotation. So I have decided that I will buy and prepare at least one never tried before food each week. For the rest of the farmer's markets season, it will be a new veggie or fruit each week.

This week is turnips. I've never eaten a turnip, nor had Thax. I also have absolutely no idea what to do with it. So I'll be searching the net a bit later for how to fix the turnips for tomorrow night's supper.

I have also found a place to purchase fresh eggs, and we stopped there and got eggs tonight as well. I very productful local eating endeavor today.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The First Post

So, I think that if blog my quest for a "simple" life, that it will help me. So here is this blog. I have been working on this simple thing for just a few months so far, and I find myself confused a lot of the time, yet small little things do help me remember that my small steps I'm taking do add up and will make a difference in my life.

Today I had a little success. Everything I wore to work today had been line dried. The last month I've been working on line drying more things. But working full time it requires more forethought. I have to either remember to put a load in before bed, to then hang out before work. Or get up early enough for a load to wash and for me to hang it out before leaving in the morning.

Now a wash load only takes 30 mins so how you say can I not have enough time in the morning. Well it's simple. 1) I hate mornings 99% of the time. My brain doesn't really wake up until 10-ish regardless of when I get up. 2) My morning routine has been simplified for many years. I can get up, shower, get ready and leave for work in 15 minutes if pushed and in 30 minutes easily.

Hanging out a load adds 10-15 mins to my morning routine. I'm hoping to get faster at hanging out laundry as I do it more, but for now, it's 10-15 mins.

But still it was a nice feeling when I realized that I was wearing all things I had line dried.

More later.