Friday, November 30, 2007

recycled bottle greenhouse & basil and string beans for breakfast

a sweet mild day today in texas. the air holds a bit of moisture in it's morning self though the sun is up, shining and showering soft goldish rays.

i have not been able to check on the garden for several days due to busy schedule. today brings a bevvy of goody goods. the green beans are going strong, the basil still kicking and flowering up for bees and flying creatures, the lettuce, chards and spinach babies have really taken off - ain't no babies anymore! as i thought and wandered i plucked a few green beans from the vines, plucked several sprigs of basil and popped them in my mouth for a tasty treat. who says one should not enjoy basil and string beans for breakfast? the carrots seeds have finally decided to sprout and send up their stemmy leaves through the dirt. they've joined the party and i'm so glad. the beet shoots are a beautiful ruby red, the dill sprouts are feathery light and soft to the touch. the garlic and onions are now quite tall, the leek greens already drooping over and the tomatoes just keep greening up and flowering.

now i don't know if or how much the tomatoes will produce at this point. i'm happily shocked by their staying power. so shocked that i think i might take a shot at building a small greenhouse this weekend. nothing fancy just something that would allow for transfer of the current tomatoes stock. i'm ready to try my hand at keeping tomatoes fresh all winter or to see if i could coax them into a bitty bit of winter production.

and to keep it all fun. I might start collecting materials to eventually build a super cool greenhouse based upon these photos i found while searching recycled greenhouse on the web. You can check out the origins of this clear bottled greenhouse here.


i love this idea and it keeps plastic bottles out of the landfills. if you live out my way, you just might spot me at the local recycling center this weekend. this one was built by school kiddos. check it out here.


i don't think any store bought greenhouse could top these.
this folks is my next mission. dah dah dahhhhhhhh!


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

soft salmon pink sunrise



how lovely it is to rise to a sunrise of such beauty. this morning, the color surprised me.

i searched out the early morning window for the source not connecting the color immediately to the sun but soon discovered is was she who glowed so soft and sweet.ahh there she is, a soft salmon pink sun in a cool grey sky; a combination i have not often seen.

i stepped into the morning air cool and crisp at 37˚f, the grass deep and vibrant yellow green and the brick walkway, a damp deep red. the dew holds tight to the edges of leaves, to the grass blade and rests upon the stretch of a branch, little glistening bits shivering with the slight bit of breeze in the air.

the grass did not crunch beneath my feet but did stand with a thick turgent aire against my foot fall. the smell of the morning is fresh and the garden appears to be charged.

beautiful way to begin a day.


Monday, November 26, 2007

days gone short - feeling the grey creep in

shorter days creeping in
creeping in
creeping in
sunshine lazy heading south
seek her rays while she's out
cause' she won't rise as high as us
as high as us
as high as us
shorter days are creeping in
sunny girl is sleeping in


so how many of you are feeling the change in day length? i am in a big way. i could feel it coming, i've counted each morning's minute differences as i woke and i've noticed mr. supercatbugremoverator ready himself for the night's sleep a bit earlier than usual. we're both feeling it. he wants to sleep in. i want to sleep in. it just seems what we should be doing - sleeping until the sun rises, at least rises a little bit.

i must admit, today i am missing the summer waking near to 5am and feeling the joy of sunlight right on wake's tail. the fall and winter waking take a bit more self initiative. the sun's post 7am rising is a bit late to wait for, i regularly need to be started a bit before that if i'm going to get my morning run, shower, walk about the garden, snuggle w/mr. cattypoo and coffee in. the sun sleeps in but we must rise - work, life, tasks all needing our attentions. some days it's harder than others.

on the other hand...
the weekend rests i must say do benefit from the conditions. sleeping in then is no problem at all, sitting in with the paper or a long read and several cups of coffee, no problem at all, an early tucking in, no problem at all. so there's good too. it all depends on how you view the change toward shorter days.

i'll just have to wait a bit for the morning garden walk-about and the morning run requires i wear my reflective clothing bits. in truth running in half light is quite relaxing. there is something serene about it and often i find the experience more tranquil and insightful.

i find a way to get outside part way through the afternoon when at work. either a walk for a coffee or a stroll during lunch, anything to catch my bit of vitamin k for the day.

the evening coaxes me to rest more than i normally might which is always good for me, a work too hard kind of chica. if it's not to sleep right away, it's to a book for a read toward insight or a story to bite into. sometimes though i'll just sit and think, reflect upon any multitude of things and if i'm lucky will find myself doze.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

40 degree temp drop folks!

86 degrees wednesday 46 degrees thursday, even lower into the 30's tonight.
now that's something.
and currently heavy rains with thunder and lightening.
the weather is weird my friends, weird.
when are they coming to get us? that's what i want to know.

hope you found much to give thanks for.
i have.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

riffin' off of toots and the maytals

i said, temperature drop,
oh temperature, oh yeah
temperature's gonna drop on you
i said, temperature drop,
oh temperature, oh yeah
temperature's gonna drop on you

wild thing going to happen between today and tomorrow. a full 30 degree (f) temperature drop and a pick up of 30 mile and hour winds. that's a big change and all signs were there to back it up. today was 86˚ (too fricken' hot in my opinion) near to no wind and uber humid. eikkgh! way hei! (a.k.a. - bad). it always gets like that before a big drop.

don't know myself the science behind all that but am happy for the shift to lower temps. in fact, my coolest neighbor lady and i simultaneously got giddy and started giggling over the possibility when talking about the falling temps (unprompted - mind you) which is made even cooler when you find out that she's over 80 years young and i just under 40 years (by a hair). it lead to some good laughs which are always enjoyable. i love this lady - she's just going to keep on going, at least my selfish self hopes so.

so today 86˚f
tomorrow in the mid to low 50's w/evenings down in the 40's
not bad not bad
not bad if i say so myself
*as i look at the thermometer now it reads 58˚f so most of the drop has already occurred.

on another note:
mom and dad helped me finish hooping the last two garden beds. good thing too, it was just about 3:30pm and suddenly the clouds turned slate grey, the winds picked up quite a bit and the temperatures began to fall all in a span of less than 5 minutes. it was nearly immediate. we stopped to watch it all like something out of some sci-fi movie, VERY COOL! it was a great thing to observe and experience.

yet despite the windy wind wind - we not only hooped the out big back garden and the last east side raised bed but we got the tufbell rowcover sized, cut and secured for both sites as well. so now everybody is ready for the cooler days ahead. at least i hope so.

for lunch, i fixed up a big batch of buffalo and bean chili with fresh made tomato sauce and home grown peppers (hot and sweet peppers). tre' yumme folks. i made it spicy enough to get our eyes watering and our noses running. not hot enough until your eyes are watering. that little bit of steam helps to fight off a cold and it's a low fat, high fiber, excellent tasting, filling meal. i served it with some fresh made salsa and chips. can't complain, can't complain.

the seed potatoes arrived in the mail yesterday - they were not chitted yet so i've placed them in a paper bag with some onions hoping to speed up the process. apparently the gases emitted from onions help the potatoes send out shoots. (which is what the chitting process is, getting the potatoes to grow shoots from the eyes) from what i've read, it's not necessary to chit your potatoes before planting but it helps with yield and success of growth. i'm going to give it a few days, see where this weather turns and then make a decision where to plant.

yup the where to plant is a question in that all garden space is currently occupied. i had not planned on planting in dirt to start with. rather i was thinking about sitting them above ground someplace sunny and working them with crunched leaf bits rather than soil. this gives them plenty of air and the possibility of less soil born disease issues. i'm still floating on this idea. i've got 3 unused tires i could line and use those as well. the black rubber will hold the heat keeping the tubers warm on cools days. regardless, wherever i place them i'll need to hoop and cover as well. good news - i've still got plenty of rowcover available to do so - they will probably want a double layer for warmth.

still thinking, still thinking. gotta think pretty fast or the days i could plant will run out - unless i try to keep the seed potatoes until spring. a lot of folks would not even think of planting them now - i think covered properly in their own mini greenhouse that they will do just fine. never know until you try right?

oh yeah oh yeah - shared a whole lot of goods with the neighbors today - it was good.
  • basil - lots of it
  • rosemary
  • green and red sweet peppers
  • home grown/made
    • tomato sauce
    • pickles
    • pesto
    • peach jam
and: mom made a pecan pie (with pecans from the yard) and a pumpkin pie -oohie! going to taste good!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

family arriving today - happy home, happy life

well it's just a few bits before i head out to pick up the folks.

everything is cleaned up, beds are newly sheeted and covered with fresh blankets and super fluffy comforters, bathrooms are loaded with fresh soft towels and the two peeps who live here, me and mr. t are happy for the company. we love our home. we love it more when it's filled with family and this will be the first time we'll all be together in this home. it's special to me.

here she is the homestead - not a whole lot of land but enough to keep me busy and enough to grow the food, fruits and flowers we need, still leaving some good sitting areas. the garden is on the other side of the house. i did not include a shot of that since there are so many others on the site already.

there are three beautiful live oaks on the property. all doing very well, all lovely. i've also got two pecan trees that produce quite well, two apple trees, two peach trees, a pomegranate tree, two small southern blueberry bushes, a lemon tree, a thai lime tree, a baby american elderberry tree and herb bushes out and about the place. i'm doing my best to create an fully edible landscape. the only non-edibles are often flowers that attract all the good buddies we want for pollination and pest control.

you can see the live oak that needs a bit of trimming in the upper left corner of the below photo. the tree man comes today. good thing because a cold spell and some windy days are also on their way.


right at the moment we're getting just a bit of rain. i was out raking up some leaves when it stared real soft but in the span of about a minute, it really started coming down. me the stubborn person that i am, kept on raking. it's only water. got that raking done.

time is ticking - gotta go!
travel safe - folks get crazy this time of year - don't be one of them
keep your head

Monday, November 19, 2007

ethical consumerism starts at home

the last few days i've been thinking about my place in this world, how i contribute to those around me, how i impact my environment (what i take and what i give back) and the scope of the american idea of lifestyle and consumerism, where i fit into this idea, what i'm still feeling brainwashed by and what i have effectively stepped away from. and the result of the thinking thus far has left me with a number of bittersweet feelings.

i question the idea of the billion dollar booming business of organic sustainable goods. i question the true "organic-ness" of a number of foods now carrying the certified organic label. i question weather or not all of the goods now marketed as sustainable and organic are actually that, "sustainable" and "organic". it seems to me the machine of capitalism has skewed the truth and regulation of it all.

the reality is that it's up to us as individuals to rake through the muck of it all, make smarter choices, put our money where our politics are (yes, this is very political) and walk our own talk. it does not mean becoming some kind of fanatic, it simply means that we must make our best efforts to live by our beliefs and be courageous enough to stand by those beliefs when hard times cross the way.

i do believe that nothing worth while is ever easy. there is, most of the time, an easier way out, but i question too. does the easier way out mean one is giving in, giving up and ultimately compromising beliefs or are there times when the easier way might at that moment be the better way? yes and no. circumstances will vary. this is something that i need yet to ponder hard and long.

so where i'm at -

i'm feeling that i'm not doing enough towards my own cause of sustainable happiness, still frequently making poor consumer decisions and have not yet fully committed to my own personal beliefs towards the living of a sustainably driven life.

why? how?
it's not fun to admit but i feel i'm not doing enough because i am still a person who at times makes active decisions to choose goods that are not sustainable, local or good for the earth, either because i might want to save a buck, or because of immediate convenience or possibly because i'm too lazy to investigate a better route or even worse to "have something i want" because i want it rather than because i need it. even upon the admittal of all this, knowing that i am as flawed as i am, i know deeply that i have the potential to do better and to change my current action toward my goal - sustainable happiness.

this is where i'm walking the talk - not bad
  • growing at least 50% of my own food
  • purchasing local eggs and meat as often as possible
  • supporting local farmers with my outside food purchases
  • collecting rainwater
  • composting
  • recycle most everything
  • contribute very little to the trash scene
    • i pay close attention to packaging
  • mulching yard and planting areas with natural materials (leaves and cut grass)
  • canning and putting up food
  • keeping the heat and ac OFF most of the time
  • lighting the house with compact fluorescent lamps
  • sewing and knitting of home goods
  • purchase of biodegradable soaps and cleaning materials
  • hanging laundry on the line to dry
  • strong creative thinker when it comes to re-using recycled goods
  • cooking most of my meals at home (rather than eating out)
  • educating myself on the current studies and politics of sustainable living
  • i keep myself healthy by
    • eating whole foods
    • gardening and yard work
    • running (my chosen form of exercise)
  • support privately own businesses in my small town and surrounding small towns
  • create living spaces for wild creatures on my property
    • all the little creatures of the neighborhood
where i fail is mainly with travel
  • i live 40 minutes away from my workplace
    • there is no public transport that works with my schedule that i could take advantage of
  • i often have to fly for my freelance gigs
other bits that need improvement
  • place my sustainable consciousness in the forefront of my living
  • be a better consumer over all
    • choices, choices, politics, choices
    • accept that my choices are political
    • accept that a single choice can make a difference
      • turning away an unsustainable good as private protest
    • live my choices and allow others to live theirs
  • search out additional local resources
  • learn to sew mo' betta
    • begin fixing and altering my clothing and home goods
    • get creative with clothing - funk it up a bit!
    • continue to make (knit) scrubby wash clothes and kitchen bits
  • continue educating myself toward sustainable living
  • consider every action consciously before following through
this is just where i'm at folks. you are where you are and any little thing you do towards sustainability is a small miracle in and of itself.

keep at it - don't give up and feel good about your efforts.
everyday is a good day. it is we who make it so.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

happy campers in the november garden

looks like i won't be viewing the leonids meteor shower this year. sky is cloudy, rain is falling; a slow steady patter on the tin roof. there's nothing more relaxing than the rhythmic rain on a roof. i'll call it a fair exchange. besides, we haven't seen rain for quite a while. keep it comin' baby, rain rain rain.

there is still much to celebrate this day for. i took the camera out and captured a great deal of happy campers on the hippy chick homestead. so i share a little photo essay of hippy chick's happy sustainable garden. click on any image for the up close and personal treatment.

in the upper left is a small clump of happy leeks standing tall - proud and green with happiness.

the love mater queen - here are the two most adorable princesses i think i've ever seen. almost shy is the little sister on the left. this is the one tomatoe plant that i have still full open to the elements. i think i'll have to get her covered before the end of next week if i hope to nurse these young ladies to harvest.


here are the maters under cover. i've let the vines run along the floor of the raised bed. they seem to be doing more than fine. many have sprouted new shoots that are growing pretty darn vertical



down in the front here you can see a very happy nasturtium, pepper plants and some onions popping through the mulch. here's a close up of some of the great peppers in full swing.



above is what's called a banana pepper. these babies are sweet and rarely make it into the house. truth be told; not a single one has made it into the house yet. and down below you can see a trio of hottypants peppers (that's my name for them anyway). two (red) are ready to go and one (green - at the top of the photo) still needs a few days to ripen up. don't want to be taking a bite of one of these, they'll rip your heart out. they are great in chili though and that's where these honey's will go next week.



pepper booty! oh my!



can you believe this? big big basil in november! i love it. i don't think this was the case last year. the great part, i've got the odd bee and a whole slew of butterflies visiting regularly.



pesto anyone?



and i'm sorry, but this chard is beautiful!
proud mama.



sticking with greens, here's my little baby deer's tongue lettuce. not much right now but pretty just the same. can't wait till it's ready for some picking - don't get greens like this everyday.



welcome welcome little sprouts!
this little village includes the family artichoke, bountiful borage, balmy lemon balm, sweetly spiced oregano and the wee little radish sprouts and chard greens.


and how about these kiddos - remember when they were wee one's just weeks ago. slow and steady grow the cabbage bittys.



here's the back lot bed just one week later. if you look close, you can see a whole lot of wee baby seedlings courageous enough to explore the universe.
click on the image for the close up - they're ready.
(for their close up that is!)



now a bit from the climbing kentucky wonders. i surely thought that these might not flower before the cool weather hit. my mistake. and not only are they flowering but they are flowering in white and yellow. so sweet. i don't think i've seen the yellow before. if you look close you'll see a few baby beans already stretching to length.



last but not least the almighty garlic patch surrounding a single asparagus plant.
garlic
if the mater is queen then garlic is king



all those acorns are from the protective live oak far above


and the future of the gardens to come - compost pile 1 and 2 -
could not do a thing without you or you.



that's all for now.
i hope you enjoyed a walk through a bit of the hippy chick's garden.


leonids tonight - balls goin' up in the air

special night tonight it is - it's the evening of the leonids meteor shower. it's an amazing site right before your very eyes. like a million shooting stars. it's nature's fireworks .

so get yourself a good reason to stay up late and see the show. the peak of the event is this evening so don't miss it or you'll have to wait another 365 for your next chance.

the above is a spectacular photo from the windows to the universe site. (photo courtesy of lorenzo lovato of imola, italy)

and here are a couple of sites that will give you a bit of history and insight to the wonder of the leonids.
  • earth and sky - 2007 leonid meteor peak Saturday November 17
    • the best viewing is predicted to be during the wee hours before dawn on sunday, when you might see as many as 10 to 15 meteors per hour. but meteor showers are notorious for defying predictions, so don’t discount saturday and monday mornings. and don’t be too surprised if the leonids surpass or fall shy of the predictions.
  • earth and sky for kiddos! - how to watch the leonids
    • it’s like in a baseball game when fly balls go every which way through the air, but all come from the vicinity of home plate.
make it a family night.
ok now, go take your naps. naps are good!

Friday, November 16, 2007

a true bit of chill in the air- farmer's market day

ahh this is what i've been waiting for. a late fall morning that feels like one. there is a definitive bit of chill in the air. me, i welcome it.

more later - heading out to walk the garden. still feeling queezy but really need some fresh air. wish the head aches would pass, they will. chin up.
well the fresh air felt so good that i decided to clean up a few things around the yard. gave it a good raking and have piled the leaves up and around each of the larger trees in the yard. if nature gives you free mulch, then use it! anything that needs raking from here on out will go into the compost reserve. in turn, i swept the leaves from the driveway and the front postal stop area. everything is looking nice and tidy now. i can rest.

i stopped by the farmers market to see what there was. it was a good day. i bought the last of one farmer's garden tomatoes, a dozen of fresh eggs from a second farmer and a third farmer's bag of mixed salad greens.

my own greens are still in the growing stage.
i'd like to save the little that are ready for the family thanksgiving dinner. so for now, i don't mind supporting a local farmer. the trade is always worth the while.

i had already decided how to transform the individual finds to something special before i even left the market. i had salad on my mind. it would certainly be a nice lift now that i have begun to feel a little better. the result, tre' yummy - really hit the spot. all i added was a little ground pepper and a bit of olive oil. with everything so fresh, it requires little to taste great. and if i feel hungry later, i'll just take a dig into my pesto quiche. for the time being i'm happy and feeling just fine.

the fresh greens have inspired me. i may head back to the market tomorrow and pick up some collards. they looked pretty good today but i passed. don't think i'll be able to let them pass tomorrow. the good news - the farmers market in this small town meets two days a week - something i truly enjoy about living here.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

that's what i'm talkin' about! nature for all!

love this article. nature for all! gotta check it out. this warms my heart. there is hope in the universe. looking out for our worthy wheelchair folk. enough said. don't miss this.

greener gifting


thinking about holiday gifting? got a friend or family member who's got a birthday or celebration in the near future? take a gander at tree hugger's gift guide and gift guide part two.

lot's of cool stuffs here.

just keep in mind that something you make yourself might mean a whole lot more.
cheers!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

no day wasted part du


here they've been sitting for weeks now waiting for my attentions. the current picking of dried on the vine christmas lima beans.

a bean for me that just would not give up. i was gifted with a pretty heavy spring harvest that has all but been consumed. the summer heat, i thought had knocked the plants out completely - not so though. as soon as the temperatures cooled down to 90˚f and below, they decided to come back. now the vines are very much alive, have joined the grape vine trellis and are in full production once again.



the bees love the flowers, butterflies seems to be attracted to the bean as well so i decided to just let it grow. figure it's certainly not doing any harm to the soil and the product - super tasty.

so i sat on the porch and shucked.


here they are - the beauties.

no day wasted

yup i'm home yet another day feeling more than a bit under the weather but i refuse to allow a day to go to waste so i set myself a chair in the kitchen and got to work. idle hands, idle mind. not in this house!

this morning i fixed a few good eatables for the coming holiday. i'm the type that does not really bother with recipes. i just add a bit of this a bit of that and see what happens. it's just kind of always been that way for me. most likely born from the same bit of rebel in me that cannot stand an organized exercise class. why on earth would we all want to be doing the same exact thing at the same time?!*@% it just does not make any sense to me. vive' la freedom of expression. if you're going to jump around, then for darn sake be open for inspiration and change it up when the moment hits you! movement helps us to get in touch with ourselves - don't let uniformity stop that contact.

when the spirit hits you...

enough on that - you can feel, yes? my passion regarding this subject matter.

so i hit it up with a trio of good eats
- all things being equal, there is something magical about things occurring a la moda thrice.
  1. first was the pear and raisin pie. it's looking quite outstanding.
  2. secondly, i mixed up a batch of batter for banana walnut muffins, pancakes, cake - whatever folks decide they want it to be.
    • for now it will store in the freezer to await it's big day.
  3. thirdly a quiche for the week's meals with pesto and okra
    • figured if i'm going to work on pie crust then i better make it worth while
as soon as the pie came out of the oven i noticed a small group of house flies conspicuously gathering outside of the kitchen window screen. ah ah ahhhhh - sorry folks no entrance today.

i will upon observation take their gathering as a compliment - something must be smelling right as to alert their senses. you can always count on the honest folk to give you their opinion.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

check this out! Consumed by American Public Media


this is a new program that i'll be interested to follow for sure! this site is quite fantastic. consider taking the trash challenge, discover your carbon impact, read about the morality of money and the environment, find out ways in which sustainability touches faith. thanks to all the folks working to keep this together.

by the way... you could be one of the folks keeping the project together. they have an open forum for ideas! go there, participate, take a chance and assert your own responsibility toward this much important development in the social consciousness.

consumed - is our consumer society sustainable?
here is their blurb on the program taken directly from their site.

What does "sustainability" mean?

Simply put, it's about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

We here at American Public Media want to tell the unfolding story of sustainability as it becomes an ever larger issue in the national and global dialogue over how we use the Earth's resources.

To that end, we will use this website to showcase sustainability stories produced by our family of radio programs, including Marketplace,® Weekend America,®® American RadioWorks® and others. Speaking of Faith,

We will also highlight Web-exclusive material, including blogs and multimedia stories, and offer interactive features like our game, Consumer Consequences, where visitors can calculate the impact their lifestyles have upon the planet.

We will also use a discerning editorial lens to gather cutting-edge news, views, and content from other sites and sources on sustainability issues, and present them in an engaging, easy-to-use format.

We also want to use this site to spark a conversation among APM listeners and Web visitors. We aim to become a forum for the whole range of perspectives on sustainability, especially hot-button issues like climate change, the future of the carbon economy, what it means to be "green," and others.

Finally, the site will be a vehicle to help us find not only experts to inform our journalism, but people with practical knowledge of sustainability issues from their own lives, jobs, and families.

low and a bit run down - working on a slow train

i knew last night that i was coming down with something. i had no idea that it would hit so hard so quickly. fact: i've been crazy busy for the last few months, near to no time off. fact: this past weekend was the first weekend off. suspicion: my body figured it out and decided to give me the ole' slow down as soon as it saw it's opportunity.

ever wonder this yourself? wonder if the cold or the bout of illness has been hiding out just waiting to get you as soon as you showed any slight meager sign of slowing down? this is usually how it occurs with me. i go and i go and i go and go and go and go and go. i am a bit of a machine when it comes to endurance in the workplace. i'm not saying that being that way is a good thing, it just seems to be how i am. i also really dislike being ill. why? haven't you figured that out yet.

it's really quite simple. think on the self description above...

right! i don't have time for being ill. i've got too much to do, things to learn, persons to mentor and tasks needing my attention.

but it hit me hard enough today that i thought it better to stay home. granted i love my home and spending time at home and if i were a different person, i'd probably find a way to be at home more than i do now. i just don't like being ill and feeling run down. it's a tease.

my eyes, and my head are throbbing slowly but surely and my body is quite achy all over. so i get up when i can and do little bits around the house but i've been tiring quickly so truly there's not much going on here.

i finished the book kindred by octavia e. butler. i would recommend the book for a read. it's been around for a good 25 years and it's importance and pertinence have yet to wane.

i've
just begun the omnivore's dilemma; the natural history of four meals by michael pollan. this book tackles a topic i've been pondering for some time; the anxiety associated with the simple question of "what's for dinner".

and while sitting about, i think that i've landed on the thanksgiving menu.

breakfast:
simple cheddar quiche and melon

snack:
whole grain crackers and bread
assortment of artisan cheeses
assortment of chilled home made pickles
assortment of locally made summer sausage and hard cured salami
fresh vegetable crudite's
assortment of herb and veggie inspired dips
fresh pesto

formal dinner:
herb roasted organic turkey
wild rice and sausage dressing with water chestnuts and apricot
white wine infused fennel, rutabaga and shitake mushroom gravy
home made cranberry - orange sauce
creamy mashed potatoes with horseradish
slow roasted butternut squash
garden roasted carrots
buttermilk biscuits
fresh garden picked salad greens w/mustard balsamic dressing
(another vegetable here, i'm leaving this open to inspiration and local availability)

to finish:
home made pear raisin pie
home made pumpkin pie
home made (home grown) pecan pie
hot chili chocolate brownies
a fresh pot of coffee
hot brewed tea

that should do us all just fine, more than fine.
long walks in the future.

Monday, November 12, 2007

thinkin' on thanksgiving

today i began to seriously think on thanksgiving and what i would prepare for the family's visit. i'm not the type to crank out the old standards each year. rather i'm the type to experiment with new flavors and new combinations of vegetables, herbs, fruits, nuts, local meats and sausages and my favorite, fresh and/or dried mushrooms. i search for the freshest of each. the herbs usually come directly from the garden, salad greens and nuts too. this year the lemons will be direct from the garden and some small but sweet sweet potatoes.

my brother insists on mashed potatoes so i picked up some locally grown organic russets for that dish. i often wonder if thanksgiving for he is more about the potatoes than anything else. although he did mention that i should purchase an extra large turkey so that there are plenty of left overs for sandwiches. I hope also to make a turkey pot pie; that would be quite good.

i've ordered the thanksgiving organic turkey from a local farm along with 2 whole chickens which i'll save for a later date. the sausage is from the elgin sausage folks just up the road. i'm purchasing two kinds: a chorizo that i'll use in the turkey's cornbread stuffing and a sweet hot sausage and locally raised ground buffalo that i'll make a chili with when the family tires of the turkey left overs

the gravy is the masterpiece. i take great pains to really do my gravies right. this is where the fresh and dried mushrooms come into play along with a nice dry white wine and fresh herbs.

point in fact folks, i take the whole meal quite seriously. and this is the first time the family will be together in the texas home so i'd really like for it to be nice for them. just as anyone else would.

other items; i'm not sure yet. i know there will be home made bisquits, corn bread, a fresh salad of various greens straight from the garden, roasted butternut squash, home made cranberry sauce and who knows what. i'm still thinking on the rest of it.

i have yet to think about the pies. i could easily whip up a pumpkin pie. i've still got fresh pumpkins around from halloween, no need to let those go to waste. and i guess with all the pecans that i've got i should make a pecan pie as well. seems that it would be criminal not to.

for snacking i've picked up some local summer sausage and hard dried peppered salami. the cheeses i'm planning to serve are not all local but are all from privately owned farms. i've made my own salsa and i'll mix up some dips from homemade yogurt cheese and/or light sour creme. i've got a good number of green and red peppers in the garden ready for picking, they'll be great for dipping or snacking on solo.

boy oh boy, one thing for sure; i better be running and/or walking in more than a few miles to counteract all this yummyness.

and this is just the lunch and dinner bits. i've got quiche and banana nut muffins on the list for breakfast. no one will go hungry around here.

hey family, YOU BETTER COME HUNGRY!
stay tuned for the developing menu! hope you're as excited as i am.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

good things do come to those who brew long

ahhhh, how sweet it is to be patient with a long brewed ginger tea.
this round i must say is most excellent. could it be the home grown lemons, ginger and local honey? maybe, maybe.

1 lb. home grown ginger
5 home grown lemons
3 star anise
1 large stick of cinnamon
1 tbl spoon of dried lemon peel
1 tbl spoon of dried whole clove
1/2 tbl spoon dried whole mace
1/2 cup local honey
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
mucho aqua fresca

slow brewed for 3+ hours over medium low heat
mmm ahhh

one of us is cleaning, the other re-arranging

up to now, i thought the afternoon cleaning duties were going well in an efficient sort of direction until i returned downstairs to find mr t. ( the supercatbugremoverator) working in a different direction. mr. t today - mr. trouble had the paper bag of plastic shopping bags (ready for recycling) all out and about, scattered just everywhere and he basking in his creation, rolling about happy as could be. he took one glance at me, not scared, not proud but full of joy then leaned back and got back to work, there were still bags in the bag that had yet to be removed.

ok tell me how a person is suppose to get upset over this. it's just too darn typical considering the personality of mr t and the work he had accomplished was quite great. i've decided, now that he's got himself a task, got himself an artistic creation, got himself a tool for happiness that i'll just let him be and get back to my own tasks. the bags were ready for recycling. he, mr. t. has simply swapped re-use for re-cycle. they both work. and the moment will come when he tires of the thrill. i'll clean up and maybe then, the tasks will be complete. at least until he finds something else to get himself into.

alfalfa and dried molasses for everyone!

got out this morning and thought about the remaining alfalfa pellets in the garage. thought... that's a full out invitation to all mice, rats and other such creatures in the neighborhood. decided, i'd leave that invitation for another day. so i spent the morning distributing and watering in the remaining alfalfa pellets and dried molasses into the various veggie beds. it worked out great. seems 50lbs of each is just enough for the area i need to cover. mouse party will just have to wait for another day.

swept the pathways in the east garden, swept the walkways out back and planted in:
  • beets - could not find my seed packets yesterday
    • red detroit
    • golden
    • early wonder
  • lettuce
    • black seeded simpson
    • sweet mesclun mix
all the plant creatures should be pretty happy now and the soil microbes might just be doing a little dance of their own. there's a beautiful breeze out today and believe it or not we are in the low 80's. kind of crazy, kind of perfect. wonder if the veggies are as confused as i am with this warmer weather as of late. don't know, babes are still sprouting, maybe they like it. cool weather crops seem to be doing just fine. i guess the evening temps give them enough of a cool sense that they just keep going as they should. then again, forgetting that i'm here in texas, this is the type of weather most folk wish for when gardening. lost my head there for a moment.

well, i need to think about some lunch then a trip to the hardware store. i am determined to get the back lot garden hooped and covered before today's end.

back in while.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

jerusalem artichokes for din din

forgot to mention that while digging up the sweet potatoes, i also dug up a number of jerusalem artichokes. cooked them up for dinner tonight with a little olive oil, the juice of one lemon and a bit of salt and pepper. quite good! sweet too.

i popped a few raw bits of the vegetable before throwing the rest in the pan. the vegetable flavor reminded me of jicama. crunchy sweet and tender.

give them a try.

freshening up the back lot


well i've been out most of the morning working on two tasks.
  1. digging up the back lot garden and moving it about 2' south
  2. collecting bags of leaves out and about town

up to now, the back lot garden has been serving as the sweet potatoe patch.
i dug up the lot today and decided in the digging that the garden was located too tight to the fence. i have had trouble getting around the thing and have on more than one occasion fell into the garden while trying to maneuver around it. so i decided i had to widen the path between fence and garden. i knew it would be a big job but figured, fine day today to do the job, so why not?

why not? hmm well that's a whole lot of soil to be moving about 2'-0" south. well gotta do it sometime. i was tired enough of falling into the garden so i got my garden fork and got started. i harvested a decent number of smaller sweet potatoes. they were not very large due to the fact that i planted late. but just the same, i'm happy with what i got.

once i got started on the dig, i got to thinking, well now that i'm doing this i may as well increase the size of it. this is something else i've been thinking about so yup i went forward and kept digging. my back is already feeling it and i'm sure the next few days i'll be paying for all the digging. but folks, the job got done. i've got a good number of blisters, some of them in pretty bad shape but a little bit of hard work and few blisters never killed anyone so i'm sure i'll be fine.

once i got the garden the size i wanted and the path between it and the fence wide enough, i set some logs out around the perimeter to keep the soil in place. it's a raised bed so the soil is mounded fairly high. i then cut into the several bails of hay i've had around and began to lay out thick chunks of it around the perimeter to serve as a weed free path. looks pretty darn good.

then i took a trip to the local feed store; purchased one 50lb bag of dried molasses and one 50lb bag of alfalfa pellets. got those home and threw out a bit of both over the freshly dug soil. i also threw a good bit of dried leaves into the mix and turned it all in an inch two or three deep with my garden fork and watered it for about an hour with a sprinkler while i headed out on my saturday leaf hunt.

the alfalfa pellets with serve as a slow release fertilizer and the dried molasses will feed the super duper soil microbes helping to create an uberfab ecological soil system. the dried leaves will break down over time providing not only food to worms and such but will also improve the soil's ability to hold in moisture which is a big deal down here in texas.

scored big with the leaves today. a good 14 bags, and the big big garden bags too. i used 2 bags for the back compost bins (one in each 3' x 3' bin) and 2 bags in the 3'x 3' front bin. i then took 4 bags and mulched the gardens located around the perimeter of the house. that leaves 6 bags out back for future composting. it's a good thing to have extra leaves around. i'll use a hose to get some water in the 6 remaining bags. the water will start the compost action right in the bag and give the lot a head start.

i have to admit, i'm a bit bushed. it's been a hectic week. gotta get out and turn the soil one more time.

later...
i've turned the alfalfa and molasses into the garden a second time now and am watering it in a bit further. the soil was real dry when i initially dug it up so i'm hoping a good soak will do it some good.

next up is a trip to the hardware store for hoop building supplies for the back lot garden. it is the last garden needing to be hooped and covered. not bad! once hooped and seeded, we'll be planted and ready for winter.

i'll get some photos up soon. for now, i'm going to hit the shower, see if i can scrub some of the soil from my skin.

3:30pm
shower felt good - clean girl - happy girl

took a bike ride over to lost pines bbq and picked up a sliced pork sandwich with extra pickles, onions and bit of sauce for lunch. enjoyed that during a sit in the yard. the lost pines sandwich on saturday afternoon is a habit that i broke for a while involuntarily - just been too busy to make it happen. i really enjoy it. the deal is that i have to do a heavy work out or some serious labor in the yard to deserve it. with me, neither is too difficult to achieve and the reward is enough to drive me out and about.

after the sandwich
got out and seeded the back garden lot with red chard, dwarf blue kale, lettuce (mesclun and sweet leaf mix), fennel (bulbing), dukat dill, bouquet dill, nantes carrot, rutebega and sparkler radish. wow, that sounds great just on the page. you can enjoy each and every one of these items together. killer salad in the near future folks.

i think that's it for the day, done enough digging for two. good to know the back lot is in good order, seeded and ready for it's hoop house which is on the top of tomorrow's list.

why no photos yet? gotta charge the camera batt-ree. good things come...

for now i'm going to kick back with my latest read - kindred by octavia e. butler. i'm a short 28 pages in and loving it. check it out!

til' tomorraw
cheers!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

pleasantries

pleased just to be talking with you
how many are you able to say that to

me to thee and thee and thee
lovely day when me transforms to we

looking out for a friend - ginger lemon tea

ginger lemon tea

Ginger lemon tea is great to help you cool down in hot weather, it calms an upset stomach and it aids digestion. I use this as an occasional iced coffee replacement Yummy!

1/2lb ginger root chopped up into slivers
2 lemons with peels removed and cut in 1/2
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup honey
Lots of H20
Take your biggest pasta cooking pot and fill it 3/4 with water. Toss in all of the above except the honey. Bring your tea to a simmer and simmer for 1 1/2 hours adding water as the brew boils down. Test for flavor. I like mine to be hot spicy ginger tea so I might brew it for even longer. When you reach the flavor you like. Strain the liquid into your next biggest pot. Add honey to taste or not at all depending on what you like.
Store in the fridge.
Enjoy!

Use the strained ginger and lemon for compost or grind some up in your kitchen disposal for a fresh smelling sink.
or
you can throw the bits into a hot bath and take a healing soak.

be well little budda, i'm thinking on you.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

allow the creatures to learn you a lesson

once again we reach the time of year where the holidays come one right after another and the prepping for such holidays keeps a whole host of folks quite busy. it's also the time of year when many a creature forage for the winter supplies; some by collection of goods, others by fattening themselves up either before a long sleep or a migration centuries old.

for us humans the busyness is not often directly tied to a purpose of basic life survival but rather to a time of gathering family and friends around our already seemingly crammed full lives. we are asked to place aside our usual distractions and focus upon the smaller communities that we ourselves are from. some of us work extra hours to make the sharing of time available and some of us ready themselves to serve as host. there is a gathering and foraging element to it but this element differs greatly from those of nature.

we humans sometimes get a bit crazy and out of control where as the creatures gain a great focus, are often driven by a single purpose and work with great efficiency. their planning, as i've observed can provide us humans a great lesson.

stop, think, observe your surroundings, identify that which is most useful, prep a proper place for the goods gathered, work systematically and get the job done. makes a whole lot of sense doesn't it. simple, direct and useful.

now this is not to say that there are not a whole lot of human-folk that don't already practice these ways. on the contrary, there are quite a many that do. and there are quite a many that would not survive if not for the natural instinct to do so. and it is from a number of these human-folk that i have observed ways in which to model some of my own creature trained habits. and it is from the creatures that i continually look to for additional lessons.

wake early
take a good stretch when you wake
give a good scratch all over
roll around a bit doing so
this is your first day's play
scruff your hair a bit then take a good look around
give a good hoot or hollar to let the other folk know you're about
observe the present goings on in the neighborhood
check the area for any changes
check the storage area for any changes
tidy up both areas before starting the day
get out and get a good run around
stopping here and there
noting places you might wish to investigate further during the day
stop and enjoy the sunlight - awe and wonder
scratch it up roll a bit and if you're lucky you'll have a pal to play with a bit
run and run and jump and jump and chatter chatter chatter
now rest
chatter
sit
plan
enjoy the sun
plan
now get to work
follow the plan
break out of the plan if only to investigate another option for today or for future
back to work
work
play play run run
sit
observe your surroundings
work - store today's findings
preen, clean yourself up a bit
make the bed
sit and observe
chat with the neighbors
eat
sit
turn in for the night
dream sweet knowing you had a good day and worked hard

sound simple? try it. we all are creatures after all.

Monday, November 5, 2007

ask and you shall receive - gifts on the side of the road

decided yesterday that i was going to put all work work aside and get my booty out the door for the day. i did just that and let me tell you, it could not have been a better day and i could not have made a better choice than to get out. all work no play makes hippy chick a dull girl.

well it could have - been an even better day/evening
it would have been nice to finish the evening off with some friends -
but considering... no complaints.


i finally got the tufbell rowcover onto the garden hoops. it looks great. we'll see how it goes when the temps cool down. rowcovers are not necessarily designed to be attractive. this rowcover is. it looks like a lacewing's wing, slightly iridescent and shimmery. and with my being a lighting designer, anything that attracts, reflects, or plays with light scores points. it's good to know the garden is safe now from a possible quick frost. that happens a lot around here; warm afternoon, super chilled morning followed by another warm afternoon. but it's also nice to have the garden still looking beautiful, now under it's lacewing sheet.

i managed to get the laundry washed around mid day. it was hard to leave the yard and the out of doors to do so but thankfully there will be fresh clean clothes for the wearing today. that will be nice. the new washer will arrive wednesday. i'm keeping the dryer i have, it works just fine, it's a good size. and currently, i'm drying most of my clothes on the line outside, anyway. one thing at a time.

i mowed the lawn and trimmed around the trees. the simple task of mowing always seems to snazz up the place. the grass is really looking deep green these days. it's quite stunning acutally and the clovers from the seed i planted a month back now sends up a sweetness when cut that is heavenly.

i spent a bit of my days time driving around the neighborhood collecting 15+ bags of leaves and pine needles that folks have put out for the trash. i do this fairly frequently this time of year. no way am i going to let good leaves, pine needles and grass clippings get wasted in a land fill in some far off place. each bag holds potential for future compost, healthy winter mulch or a new pathway around a garden area. i used the bags i found for each of the above.

this little habit of mine saves a lot of money too. with all that i found i don't think i'll have to purchase a single bit of mulch to get us through the winter. (that may be pushing it) i may not have to purchase mulch but i've got a few more leaf hunting days ahead of me to insure so.

i particularly value the pine needles. they not only get the job done but they're quite pretty to look at. and the local kitty's dig the pine needles too. they seem to love afternoon naps in the needles around the garden. i can imagine they are quite soft. the squirrels love jumping through the leaves, i constantly find little snakes, frogs and lizard lizards in my collected piles awaiting their time in the compost bin. so not only are these collected bits good for the gardener but they are also good for the visiting garden creature folk too. just doing our part to keep the ecological cycle going.

do i feel awkward collecting leaves around town. no way! i'll keep looking too. i've got areas around the yard that still need the winter mulch. the best mulch is natural mulch, so i consider it a symbiotic relationship. people want to rid themselves of the leaf clutter and i want the leaf clutter for another purpose. nothing to feel bad about there. and the more we keep out of landfills the better.

while on the leaf hunt, i came upon a healthy sized pile of stones that another had put out for trash pick up. one saw trash, i saw a fire ring. i dropped off the bags of leaves i had collected, drove back and packed up the stones. once home, i got busy and built the ring. it's perfect. and it's something i'd been thinking about for a long time. there's nothing like a good sit outside by a fire in the fall. perfect. and you bet, last night i took a good sit and enjoyed a slow burner for a few hours.

i sat there with a bit of my butternut squash soup, a jar of pickled okra and a beer. it was a great way to finish off a long long week. it was then that i thought of friends and how nice it would have been had they been with me. in a way they were. and it will be even better when they truly do come around. i just love a sit by the fire. hmm.

oh my oh my, i'm still tired from last week. now this one begins
- keep on keepin' on

later folks...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

biting the bullet - front load washer

i've decided after a good bit of research to actually purchase a new washer. research shows it would be the better choice in the long run. the front loader will use less energy and a whole lot less water and the washer i have i've learned has quite a reputation for breaking down just in the way mine has and that it often requires multiple not so on the cheap repairs to keep it going. once i learned what i had, the match was quite simple. it's never convenient to replace big appliances but sometimes you gotta do what you've gotta do.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

saturday pm check in

long day - good day - looking forward to tomorrow. time to fall back - time change - i'll be looking forward to the extra bit of sun in the morning. and i'll probably be out and about pretty early. tomorrow i'll prep all gardens with the rowcover; cutting to size, testing the support system and attaching all ground steaks for size.

had a good morning today:
  • checked in on the compost piles i had prepped last weekend and they could not have been better, they were literally steaming. it does not get much better than that.
  • gave a good soaking to the sweet potatoe patch
    • gotta get some good mulchy fixin's for this area to turn in once i pull the potatoes out
    • need to replenish it for the next round of greens and such to go in
  • burned down the dried up okra stalks and limb bits that have fallen in the recent winds
    • i'll work the cooled down ashes into the compost pile tomorrow
  • gave a drink to some of the front yard areas
  • then it was off to technicals which also went well
  • now it's chillin' at home time, quiet and calm
    • at least i'm hoping the calm comes
    • i get all revved up a work, takes me a while to tone it down
i've got the one day off tomorrow, that will be nice, would really love two but you know, take what you can get and be thankful for that.

i've been thinking about friends a lot these days. several are going through some tough times. just know peeps you're on my mind. hang on, we're with you. the chick is sending positive vibes in your direction.

mush!

saturday mornin' pot of soup - butternut squash

today is the fix the washing machine day. yes?

well no.

the motor was throwing beautiful blue sparks - not good. so it's a bad motor and the part won't be around until tuesday and i work like a dog until friday - so the washer waits until then. looks like a visit to the neighborhood laundry tomorrow. which in and of itself is kind of fun. i like watching the front loaders. somehow it's relaxing. so i'll just bring a good book and chill for a bit while the washer there does it's thing.

there was another small bit of daily drama this morning. it was one of those days where the coffee maker decides to back up the grinds and then all of a sudden you've got a coffee volcano coming out of the machine. yeah, you know, that's fun! well it's all cleaned up, washed out and a fresh pot has been brewed. so there's the drama for the day, not bad, caught it early, so let's hope the remainder of the day is good.

the neighbors across the way are having a yard sale. i'd go over but i have to pay for a washing machine motor now, so no yard sales for me. truth is folks, i've really got everything i need anyway. i don't want for much these days with the garden out the door, a comfy bed and lovely house with a great supercat companion and all the friendly creatures who share the premises with us. we're doing alright.

so it's just about 10 am on the clock and i've a great pot of soup ready to go for the week. it's not only tasty but beautiful. it's a spicy curry butternut squash soup. this is an easy one to put together. you'll see just keep reading!

the texture is smooth. the taste is sweet with a hot bit in the after flavor.and the smell is pretty darn nice. this one will really warm you up on a cool day. cut this recipe in half if you wish, the following makes up a full pot.

ingredients
  • 2 butternut squash
  • 1 tsp clove
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp hot cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tblsp ground black pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth (veggie broth if you're a veggie head)
  • 3 cans skim evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (i often replace butter with olive oil - that's what's going on here)
directions
  • slice your butternut squash in half, place them in a oven pan, fill the pan with water 1/2 up the sides of the squash and roast for 2 hours @ 300˚f until soft and squishy
  • remove the squash from the pan and process until smooth
    • i don't peel my squash, there's too much goodness there!
  • place the processed squash in a soup pot
  • add 3 cans of skim evaporated milk and the 3 cups of chicken broth
    • stir this in slowly otherwise it could be messy
  • add all your spices and the 1/4 of olive oil
  • heat on medium/medium-low until the soup reaches your desired eating heat
  • enjoy!
  • increase or decrease the amount of hot you want with the cayenne. i actually used a full tablespoon myself but you make that choice on your own.
  • another great addition is a few tablespoons of honey.
    • i did not add honey this round because the squash was tasting so sweet on it's own.
there you have it yummy butternut squash soup for the weekend.
get yourself some good crusty bread and dig in. i need me some crusty bread - on the list for today's lunch! the ladies and i have a long day in the theatre today so good nosh is a must. and just now i cracked open one of my jars of pickled okra. damn! it's gooooooood! real good. it sure won't last long around here.