Six years ago, for reasons I cannot recall, I began writing a monthly newsletter. As of the time of this posting I have 264 subscribers (I had to go look as it isn’t something I keep up with), including some of you who read this blog. If you are a subscriber, you can just skip the rest of this because you already have it in your inbox. For the rest of you? Well, here is the March issue. The subscription info is at the end if you are so inclined. And if you know of anyone else who might enjoy it, feel free to share.
Volume 7, Issue 3
March 1, 2011
I know February is a short month but am I the only one who feels like it absolutely zipped by? Well, except for the almost two weeks of snow/ice we had. But here it is – March – and I can see Spring rearing her lovely head. Sunshine and warmer days just naturally lift my spirits and usually give me more energy. I’m cheerful enough but that energy thing? Not so much. I saw my doctor recently and it seems I’m extremely anemic. Well, that would help explain the exhaustion and shortness of breath. Plus, my blood pressure was way, way too high. I’m hopeful that iron supplements and a new blood pressure medication will have me feeling better soon because there is so much I want to do. I’ve got all sorts of projects in mind, as well as a desire to do some serious decluttering while tackling the Spring cleaning.
Around My House Lately:
Many years ago I discovered Flylady (flylady.net ). I bought her book and received the email reminders for a long time. Periodically I’ll turn them back on for awhile. Just the other day I saw that FlyLady has partnered with Cozi to offer “a web based calendar and organizer program that will allow you to schedule, plan, have time zone specific reminders, shopping lists, to do lists, a family journal section that you can even opt in to post to Facebook and more!” And there are even apps for iPhone and Droid. I’ve added the app but haven’t figured it all out yet. If this sounds interesting to you, here is the link:
If, like me, you are starting to think about Spring cleaning, here are some links you might find useful:
Do you Spring clean? If so, what is your method? I’d love to hear how you tackle this task.
In the Kitchen:
Yesterday I made a HUGE pot of vegetable soup. David was out of town for a couple of days, I had lots of veggies on hand, and I figured I might kick-start some weight loss if I ate mostly soup for a few days. I got the basic recipe for the soup from Weight Watchers. I don’t know if the recipe is on their site but I had saved it in an email file from several years ago. Here is the original recipe:
2/3 c. sliced carrots
1/2 c. diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 c. fat-free broth (any kind)
1-1/2 c. diced green cabbage
1/2 c. green beans
1 T tomato paste
1/2 t. dried basil
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. diced zucchini
Saute onion, carrot and garlic around 5 minutes until soft over low heat. Add the rest of ingredients except zucchini. Simmer 15 minutes over low heat or until green beans are tender. Stir in zucchini and heat 3-4 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings at 0 pt.
I didn’t have any zucchini so I just skipped that. I have two bags of organic potatoes right now so I peeled and diced 4 small ones and added those. I also had several stalks of celery that were just a tiny bit past their prime which I chopped and added, as well as some frozen mixed bell peppers. In addition to the recommended seasonings I also added some Worchestershire sauce and Tamari (like soy sauce), as well as Creole seasoning. I served it (to myself!) with a little grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream. It’s quite tasty and I find that a big bowl of soup fills me up with relatively few calories.
Do you have any favorite low calorie recipes to share? Also, if you’d like to share a recipe as a guest post on Dee’s Kitchen, please let me know. I try to do a guest post each Friday. All I ask is that the recipe not contain packaged/processed foods (cake mixes, margarine, cream of — soups, etc.). But if you have a recipe using real food ingredients that you’d like to share, I’d love to see it. If you have an accompanying photo, all the better but it’s not required. If I use your recipe and you have a blog, I’ll share the link.
Life on Apple Tree Farm:
Our daffodils are in full bloom, there are buds on the dogwood trees, the wild plum trees are blooming, the chickens are laying very well and we’ve been having some gorgeous weather. Hurray! I know it’s only March and we will likely still have a few more cold snaps but Spring is in sight and I couldn’t be happier. I have big plans for a vegetable garden and maybe even a new herb garden this year. I have one lavender and one rosemary plant in barrels out front that have each made it through the past two winters but I’d love to turn a corner of the fenced area of our yard into a beautiful herb garden. If this pans out, I might actually invest in a dehydrator so I can put up a supply of dried herbs to cook with.
With the nicer weather David has finally been able to get back to working on the house. He started replacing the siding on the top story of our house with log siding. The first story is made of rock so the logs look really good with that. He completed one of the sides over the course of a couple of weekends so I’m hopeful he can do the other before the month is out. That *just* leaves the balcony. That’s the part that is going to be a lot of work. Originally we had hoped to enclose it with windows all around which would have made a lovely office/sitting room off our bedroom. Unfortunately, the estimate for an air conditioning unit was so outlandish that we nixed that idea, at least for now. We are considering screening it in, though. Along with the addition of a couple of ceiling fans, the screens would give us more usable time to sit out there without being bothered by mosquitos.
Instead of stocking up on cleaning supplies with questionable or downright dangerous ingredients for Spring cleaning, why not make your own? Or at least check out some of the safer commercial products. My daughter wrote a short article on this topic:
If you like the article you can vote for it. If she gets enough votes to move it to the front page of the site, she earns $20.
Have you ever tried soap nuts? They aren’t really nuts but are actually a berry and you can use them as laundry detergent. This is what my daughter has been using and last week she gave me some to try. You can make a liquid soap out of them or just toss the nuts into the wash in the little bag that comes with them. Lisa gave me some of both. If I understand correctly, the liquid is better for cold water washes while the plain nuts are fine for warm or hot water.
I’ve been using Amway laundry detergent for 30 years and it really is one of the very best commercial products on the market. It’s safe for HE front loaders and the ingredients are marginally better than the average detergent on the grocery store shelves. However, it’s also fairly expensive. Not only am I interested in a more eco-friendly choice but the cost savings of soap nuts is quite attractive as well.
I used the liquid version Lisa had made for me, along with vinegar in the rinse compartment (I confess that I’m a Downy junkie so this took courage on my part) and washed a load of David’s dress shirts. The first thing I did when the load was finished was to pull out a shirt and smell it. Quite frankly, the soap nut liquid doesn’t smell all that great and we all know what vinegar smells like. Imagine my surprise to discover that the laundry smelled incredibly clean with no lingering odor of either the soap nuts or the vinegar. The shirts also came out of the dryer without any static, although it’s relatively humid here right now so static isn’t as much of an issue as it is when the air is dry. Monday is my sheet washing day and since I wash my sheets in hot water I used the plain soap nuts and again, eschewed the Downy in favor of vinegar. They turned out just fine, although I must admit I do like a little lingering scent of Downy on my pillowcases. However, even better than Downy is the scent of line-dried laundry and I’m hoping to get a clothesline put up soon.
I’m new to the soap nut thing but so far I’m very pleased. I love the fact that I can purchase them through Amazon.com and have them delivered right to my door. I’m placing an order now…
Radical Homemakers – Reclaiming Domesticity From a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes: This may well be the most important book I’ve read in a long time. It contains the personal stories of men and women across the United States who have shed societal expectations and embraced a holistic, home-based lifestyle. But these aren’t folks who are hiding from the world. On the contrary, they are utilizing the time their choice allows to make the world a better place.
“If you’ve ever considered quitting a job to plant tomatoes, read to a child, pursue creative work, can green beans and heal the planet, this is your book.” (from the back cover)
We haven’t been anywhere in quite awhile but we are eagerly looking ahead to our April trip to New Orleans.
For the Curious:
What I’m wearing – black yoga pants, black fitted t-shirt, tennis shoes
What I’m drinking – organic Earl Grey tea with organic dehydrated cane juice and a little half and half
What I’m listening to – The Sim Redmond Band (new to me and I’m loving them)
What I’m having for dinner – Homemade vegetable soup
What I’m reading – “The Education of an Urban Farmer” by Novella Carpenter
The efficiency expert concluded his lecture with a note of caution.
“You don’t want to try these techniques at home.”
“Why not?” asked someone from the back of the audience.
“I watched my wife’s routine at breakfast for years,” the expert explained. “She made lots of trips to the refrigerator, stove, table and cabinets, often carrying just a single item at a time. ‘Hon,’ I suggested, ‘Why don’t you try carrying several things at once?'”
The voice from the back asked, “Did it save time?”
The expert replied, “Actually, yes. It used to take her 20 minutes to get breakfast ready. Now I do it in seven.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“For national and social disasters, for moral and financial evils, the cure begins in the Household.” ~Julia M. Wright, The Complete Home, 1879
I always enjoy reading your monthly newsletter. I’m looking forward to hearing about any garden plans you have for the upcoming spring and summer. Thinking about planting and harvesting makes it seem a little bit warmer this time of year.
*Thanks, Cherie. I agree that planning a garden helps make winter a little easier to bear. I’ve received one seed catalog thus far but I think I’ll send for a couple of others. Any recommendations from anyone?
My Say Over Earl Grey:
“Radical Homemakers” really has inspired me to reconsider my role in the home and the importance of what I’m doing. Even though David and I both agree that our lives are more relaxed and peaceful with me at home, there are times I’ve felt, well, not exactly worthless but perhaps not quite as important as those with a career. I know this is foolish but our society doesn’t exactly demonstrate a lot of respect for the stay-at-home wife. We get away with it when we have children in the home but there’s very little understanding for it once those children grow up and leave home.
But I now have a whole new perspective on what I, and others like me, are doing. We aren’t just doing laundry and planting gardens; we actually have the opportunity to change society for the better. Because I don’t work outside the home I have time to volunteer in my church and community. In fact, I just accepted a board position for a local homeless services organization. Tomorrow, my daughter and I are going to the state capitol to attend a rally about an issue we think is important. Next week we will attend the monthly meeting of the local recycling coalition. For the month of March, I am in charge of recruiting volunteers for church liturgists, ushers and greeters, and people to give the children’s sermons each week. I chair the board for United Campus Ministry and drive for Meals On Wheels. If I had a full-time job it would be very difficult for me to find time for these activities in addition to my responsibilities at home without feeling very stressed. In my own small way, I’m serving others and hopefully making this world just a little better.
Additionally, by living a home-based lifestyle I can feed my family healthy meals made from scratch, bake our bread (although I haven’t done it in weeks – must do that!), grow some of our own food, raise chickens, research ways to live in a greener, more frugal manner and learn various skills that allow us to experience a higher degree of self-sufficiency that the average American.
Many need to work and others work because they enjoy it. And that’s fine. But I’m really beginning to internalize the belief that what I do is just as important in the overall scheme of things. Now if I could just think up a snappy answer when asked, “What do you do?”.
Be good. But if you can’t be good, be interesting!
See you next time!
(C) 2011 Tea With Dee is solely created, owned, and written by Deanna Piercy. No portion of the newsletter may be reproduced without the permission of the author.
Read archived issues at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/teawithdee