Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wattle time! A few weekends ago our neighbors B & M were trimming the leader sprouts from their apple trees and I jumped at the chance to get my wattle fence started.  From the two trees there was just enough to start building one panel of the fence. It isn't perfect, but it is fun to put together and I think really adds to the overall appearance of the garden.  A bit less of an eye sore for the neighbors, and a welcome hand built addition to the garden.  Especially as I look into a few cottage flowers that can be grown along the fence that are not of preference to the deer. (since nothing is truly deer proof, they will eat anything, I just need it to be non-preferential for them to avoid it if they have good food elsewhere)

The weather has been difficult over the last few weekends, and in conjunction with my injury, work, and other commitments, it has been too difficult to get the garden beds built.  grrr. This does not bode well for the next few months.  Driving by others garden I am starting to notice the overturned soil, the building up of the internal structures, and a few other critical winter projects.  I am not 'behind' on my ultimate timeline, but, with each passing weekend it means that more needs to be crammed into the few weeks before planting. 

I am excited thinking about the garden. It livens my spirit and gives me a positive surge of emotion.  A much needed jolt to my psyche when there are other stresses from outside that are pushing me down.  That.... is for another post however. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

A win is a win

This weekend was an interesting set of milestones.  Or in my case 1/4 mile stones.  Saturday morning I woke up and stepped on the scale, like I usually do, to find that my weight was somewhere around 160.  It is hard to tell since it is one of the standard scales with the dial, not a digital read out.  If this is really the case then it means I have made some progress since a month ago.  Structurally I have lost about 8 pounds.  YAY!  The working out is paying off, if only a little bit.  Still, if I want to see any real change in my physique, I need to not only continue what I am doing, but up the ante. 

Another positive side effect of the working out, in the roller derby bout that I had Saturday night I played in nearly half of the game, and didn't notice any tiredness, any fatigue, or any other issues. In general I was under control (mental stuff aside), and my body did well. This is in part because of the team we were playing -they are clean/safe players- but it is also in part because of my own fitness.  I took a few BIG hits that sent me flying through the air spread eagle, but it was just a bounce and roll and I was back on my feet no problem.

Last nights dinner was simple and easy, and I am kind of proud of it.  One of the local grocery stores has started a bulk buy section.  A perfect place for me to find whole grains, beans, and other things that are silly to buy in one cup increments.  There, in a new plexi-glass bin was Forbidden Rice, which is something that I used to eat when I was in California.  A dark purple almost black rice that is very nutty, and said to be a super food packed with more of the good stuff per grain than any other rice.  This rice has so much nutty flavor and texture, that a pad of butter is all that is needed in rounding out the taste.  I cooked up a batch of forbidden rice, some simple vegetables, and had the guy do a pork tenderloin.  Round it all out with a Spire Dark and Dry Hard Cider, and it was a perfect meal.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Frakenthumb, Festivities, Failure, and uhm... F

Today I am pondering those things which begin with F.  First off there is my Frankenthumb.  The slice and stitches above the thumb from my wound make it look like I have been pieced together.  The pain is still somewhat there, but the throbbing has gone away.  A thankful change in circumstance, especially with a rather busy week ahead.  (Saturday is yet another roller derby bout, against a more difficult opponent than last time).

Last night I showed up to the track to skate, only to come off my skates during warm up due to an equipment malfunction. I tried to make the best of it and do squats and sit ups to stay active and warm. The workout tho, was a failure, and I found myself heading home early.  Stopping at the frozen yogurt place to try their new 32cal half a cup toasted coconut blend.  Ohm nom nom. Yesterday was somewhat of a 'gorging day'.  I had lots of carbs in the form of 7 grain bread and the yogurt.  The thought process being that I am going to need a good storage tank come Saturday, and don't really want to eat heavy before practice Thursday, or on Saturday morning.  Friday will also be a complicated day due to some plans.

I truncated my work-out on Wednesday also; due to a surprising number of people in the gym.  So, as of this moment I am in a deficit when it comes to my workout. Not a good place to be when I need to be upping the ante even more than I have been.  Tonight, I hope to make up for that.  Starting out the day right by eliminating bread from my breakfast.  Followed by lunch of cut carrots, grapes, and tea, and a mid day snack of an orange.  Dinner tonight, I am not sure yet, but it will be simple. Perhaps a spinach salad?

Finally, I am being frank with myself and focusing on the fact that if I fail to workout... I fail myself.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Axes and Accidents, and maybe a bit of temptation.

What a feverish weekend.  Mom and J were over this weekend, and Saturday while the boys were out playing in the sunshine, I decided to split some kindling.  As I am stacking another log on the splitter, I ran my hand up into the axe blade.  A few hours later, some stitches, and I have all of my fingers and thumb, and thankfully no nerve or tendon damage.
Yay!!!  Of course it placed a small kink in the dinner plans, and the evening skating with my mom and my best friends, but overall it is what it is.

On an up note I did notice while out to eat at a restaurant, that I was full before I ate half of my burger, and had even removed the bun and most of the starchy sides.  Additionally, I found myself very content with smaller portions and eating simply.  Didn't want dessert or other sweet goods, (except for when at the hospital, I need hard candies to help stay focused).  I also felt really good after my small workout on Friday.  30 minutes of cardio, followed by a 5 crazy exercise circuit with minimal breaks, repeated 3 times.  I was dripping sweat and having a hard time completing them all. YAY!  Now, I am somewhat glad that I did a LOT of pushups on Friday, because it might be some time before I can do them again.

I took some photos of myself, some very honest photos, of me in my skivies.  Using them as a comparison along with my weight and measurements to see where I am, how far I have come, and generally.... to keep me motivated to keep going.

Today's measurements:
weight: 166
waist: 30
hips: 41

Friday, January 31, 2014

Simple foods and Simple Thoughts to calm the complex mind

This week I have tried even more to use what is in the cupboards and pantry for meals.  Monday while cooking a simple dinner of veggies, chicken, and wild rice, I also took the time to make a pearl barley soup. Super simple, and made for the next day - a big workout day for the both of us. It was actually fairly delicious in its simplicity.

Take 6 cups of beef broth or one container, bring to a boil and add 3/4 cup of pearled barley.  Bring this down to a simmer, cover, and let it go for about 45 minutes.  Add in half of a diced onion, some carrot rounds, and a few spices. We are partial to cumin and paprika in all that we do, so that was gladly added to the pot.  Boil for another fifteen minutes or so till everything is tender.  Voila! done.  Serve with a piece of toast.

There has also been a little bit of forward movement in my fitness.  My weight seems to be somewhere around 165.  Hard to tell, but at least it is not around 170.  I am also enjoying the mini high I have after working out at the gym three times a week.  It helps alleviate some of my stresses from work, and clear my thoughts.  Work has been a source of stress and complication for sometime.  It is painfully obvious that this place is detrimental to my overall well being and forward progression. I never planned on staying here, but have found myself stuck because there is little to nothing that pays on the same scale. It is not great pay, in fact it is hardly good pay, but this region has a profound lack of jobs that pay between 12-20 an hour. I have kept a weathered eye on the horizon, so to speak, for new job opportunities.  In the last year and a half I have applied at nearly 100 different places.  Nothing has come of it. Until recently. 

I have  applied for a position that would not only double my pay, but would give me full benefits and actually challenge me. Open applications ended last Friday, and of last night they have eliminated 6 of the 30 applicants.  I am still in the running, and it is nerve wracking to say the least.  I tried to speak about myself in a positive light. Touch on the good and wonderful, and unique parts of myself.  Only time will tell if I can at least get the interview.  Right now that is my goal, get an interview. Till then I am trying to believe in Karma, and only send out positive things into the universe, act positively towards others, and simply keep an upbeat attitude. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

inspiration from where?

Kid President has this to say.....

and I agree.

20. Thank You - And not just on Thanksgiving. Yes, I should say it more, for random things, for little things, and big things too, to the people that are closest to me, and those that are strangers.
19. Excuse me - and I am working on not saying it sarcastically. No more 'excuse me' with the wrong inflection and head wobble that really means "I can't believe you just f'ing said that".
18. Here is a surprise corn dog I bought you because you are my friend - okay... insert anything where it says corn dog.  Point is, I need to be even more giving.
17. I'm sorry - I have been working on this one.  Saying it more, but not saying it without feeling.
16. I forgive you - meh, I am a pretty forgiving person, so yay! One full point for me!
15. You can do it! - Work on this everyday at practice.  Working on saying it to myself too.
14. I've got bbq sauce on my shirt too - humility, humble, compassionate, whatever you want to call it, I am working on being more understanding of others situations.
13. Please - simple word with so much power, need to say it in a good manner.
12. Everything is going to be okay - yep, again, need to remember that sometimes people are having a bad time, sometimes they don't show it.
11. Ah you got me a corn dog too!? - Be appreciative of the little things people do for you. 
10. I don't know - this is hard for me, I am ready to admit when I don't know, but people fail to see it for what it is. Instead of seeing it as me being open to learn, and actively showing that I am not bs'ing you to your face, they see it as a weakness and dismiss me.
9. You're so awesome I named my dog/boat after you - meh, my dog is pretty cool.  But, take away from it that I should think about how little moments can inspire others. How you never know who will name their kid after you, because of one moment over a decade ago. (happened to me)
 8. Hello person I never met before, here is a high five - YES!
7. My sports team is not always the best sports team - yah..... but we are some of the funnest and classiest out there!
6. Nothing - ____________________
5. Fart sounds - hahahahha remember to laugh....
4. I disagree with you but I respect you [shortened version] - I try to keep this in mind all of the time, about how to compromise and become better as a whole, not just myself.
2. Life is tough, but so are you. - YES YES
1. something nice - yes, yes yes yes. Thank you kid president! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Wins, Wine and Wattles

What a fantastic weekend. Friday evening was the first bout of the season, and it was a resounding success. We played our nearest rivals in their 'grand opening season starting' game at their new facility. All of the negative emotions I had that were building up to this point, I thankfully shoved aside, and focused on my goals for the bout. While I don't believe I accomplished it to the fullest, I do feel that I did well with my goal of being a good leader on the track.  Perhaps best summed up by this chance photo of me talking to my line up during a timeout.  We had about thirty seconds to go over our strategy, and make sure that we knew where each other would be.

It was a good match, and our girls did admirably.  Not only did we win, but we stayed together, played well, and had a great time. I may be officially jealous of our opponents practice space.  Being a smaller and less established team then us, it simply baffles me how they are able to support such a large overhead. But, as a good friend points out, being envious is not a suitable use of time.  They will either be unable to sustain themselves at the facility, or they will and we can learn something from them.  Sometimes I do not want to be the bigger person, I don't want to be the person that bites my tongue and offers only encouragement.  Sometimes I want to be the petulant immature gal that feels envy and says nasty things.  It seems like it would be so much easier. 

After the bout I went with a few friends to Seattle and spent the evening drinking wine and dancing at one of our usual hangouts. It is funny to call it our usual hangout when it is so far away, but we make a point of going once a month and just being us and doing our own thing.  While it was a lot of fun, it did mean that I didn't get home till about 3:30 Saturday morning, and my body was exhausted.  The boy and I did some shopping, and some minor chores.... ok... actually he did most of the work, I just napped in the glorious afternoon sunshine.  That evening it was off to the neighbors for a little friendly get together, replete with more wine.

Over dinner they told us they were going to be trimming up the apple trees in the orchard. I quickly jumped in and said I would love to have the long thin sticks they would be removing. It would be perfect for the wattle fence I want to install along the bottom of the garden to keep the bunnies out.  YAY!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Frustrations and First Bout Preperations

Last night right before practice there was a nice little convergence of emotions that resulted in a little personal downward spiral. Yes, I have been working out and doing my best to stay motivated, but I have not seen any tangible improvement.  So the negative-nelly side of me is saying that it is a pointless endeavor, and that no matter what I do it wont work so just give up.  The positive-polly side is quiet, but the rational.... uhm ralph side of me says: "Ok, Break it down bitch!" I am not seeing improvement, so there is only one of a handful of possible explanations. (or a combination of them)
1. I am simply not doing enough and need to work harder
2. I am lying to myself about how hard I am working, and in fact am sabotaging myself
3. There is an unknown chemical/biological factor

Sound like deja-vu? No? Well it should, I talked about it a few posts ago.  It isn't far from my brain, and I keep trying to think only constructively.  Last night tho, the negative side was winning the internal battle, and I was just feeling down and frustrated.  Add on to it noticing that a few of my peers were seeing drastic improvements. I realize that I should not compare myself to others and their progress, and also realize that people lie to themselves as much as to everyone else.  For example one of them was a person who is grossly overweight (I am going to assume in the 270 range at my height) and has just recently come off of a major knee injury.  She is proudly boasting that she ran a mile and a half in 15 minutes.  Or the overweight binge eater that is at least athletic, but thinks Cheetos are a meal, and boasts how she lost 5 pounds in the last two weeks.  I know .... I know it isn't rationale for me to even think about comparing myself to these obvious lies, but it is hard when I feel as if I am actually working for it and not seeing any result. Add in to this little convergence, the same feeling of 'no reward' across a few other aspects of my life and I just felt like throwing in the towel.
I am ever so thankful that my guy has shown nothing but support for me, he makes a point of telling me how beautiful I am, and that he sees both my struggle and my progression.  I can only imagine how difficult it is for people in the same position with a person in their life that is not as supportive.

But that is all behind me, because today I am in my bout preparation mode.  It is time for me to think of my motto "calm, humble, compassionate", and our team motto "strong, focused, together", and about goals.  It is also where I need to step up and be a leader on the track.  I hope to do that tonight, I hope to be the strong person that people need to be around, I hope to inspire people, and I hope that I live up to my own expectations.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

First test of the season - Leadership

Tomorrow is the first bout of the season for my roller derby team.  Last year we grew so much that we have been able to split the team into a rough version of 'varsity' and 'junior varsity'.  Since there is not truly a full amount to field full rosters for both teams, there are a few of us that are floating between the two.  While I am officially an 'A' team skater (varsity), I will be stepping in to help some of the B team bouts here and there, and this first bout of the season is actually a B team bout against our nearest neighbors. Those of us veteran skaters that will be rounding out the roster are not supposed to be superstars of the B team, we are supposed to be the support for our up and coming skaters.  It's a mindset that will benefit everyone, both A and B.

The division of the teams and my personal position has caused me to think about my personal motivations and goals a little bit more keenly.  Thus explaining part of the last ten posts all from this year about motivation and fitness.  I am an incidental leader.  Rarely am I the first to offer up myself to lead a group or take charge in a certain direction.  I do not sit idly by, but I realize that there is a position for me as second in command, or slightly behind the scenes.  When no one steps up tho, I willingly offer my services and try to help in a leadership position. In the past it has come relatively easily, but I recognize that it is in part because I am stepping up into a vaccum, and the bar is set moderately low.

In the last few months, I have had a 'slump' in my leadership capabilities.  Part of it stems from a series of events last spring and summer that really shook my confidence and emotional stability.  Dealing with a narcissist that nearly destroyed the team (or at least it felt like it at the time), followed by a devastating injury that made me question if I would be able to continue playing derby, left me shattered and sustaining the position instead of progressing it.

Tuesday night on my drive home from practice I was listening to my local NPR's TED talks Radio hour.  The focus for that evening was 'Leadership'.  A quote really stood out for me:

"It is so scary to think of ourselves as that powerful, it can be frightening to think that we can matter that much to other people. Because as long as we think leadership is something bigger than us, as long as we keep leadership as something beyond us, as long as we make it about changing the world, we give ourselves an excuse not to expect it everyday from ourselves and from each other. "

I am not sure why this triggered some things in my brain.  It is not that I have not been aware that my leadership skills are lacking, and that I need to up my ante.  I just have been living in a stasis up to this point.  Still thinking, but hopefully actually acting. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Status Update

In my check off grid at work (a 7x12 grid) I have 20 boxes filled in since 12/13/13.  Ten of those are since the new year. Since today is the 21st, that means that I have been working out nearly every other day.  Starting weight at the beginning of the year 168-170.  Current weight 166-168.  It is difficult with the fluctuations in my female body to tell if this is true weight loss or if this is 'water weight'.  Lets assume that things are positive.... and lets assume that it is a structural loss of 3 lbs.  That means that I have lost about a pound a week, and overall that is keeping on par, but slightly below what I want.  Right now I am aiming for 1.5 lbs a week.

(Taking a break to look at my 1/2 gallon jug of water, and drink a full glass worth in one shot, about 8oz and do ten explosive squats)

I would like to say that I am celebrating this as a success.  That I notice a difference, but I don't.  It is really difficult to not attribute the weight loss to my normal fluctuation associated with my menstrual cycle.  During the summer I can fluctuate about 4lbs, and during the winter I have seen that go as high as a ten pound difference.  It has also only been 20 days, so it is hard to say that I would feel or see any significant improvement without drastic measures.  What I have been doing is hardly drastic, it is sustaining.

Next step, cut down heavy grains even more, and up the work out intensity by 10%.

Today's meals: Breakfast - 1/4 cup of Butternut squash, less than a 1/4 cup of rice, 1/2 serving of ham sauteed and salted with a tortilla. Coffee
Lunch: 1 serving of vanilla yogurt (120 cal) with a drizzle of agave nectar (20 cal) and some home made granola (250 cal), two cups of tea.
Snack: 1.5 servings of chips, 4 small pieces of toast with spinach & artichoke spread
Dinner: 1 serving of crab Ravioli, 1 cup of steamed veggies.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Nearly forgot it was January

The past two weeks it has been hovering around 50 degrees.  Not warm, but not cold. This morning I awoke to a brisk 34 degrees and a heavy fog hanging around the lake. With the warmer weather I found myself getting into that dangerous precedent already, 'can I plant early this year?'.  Yes, I know, it is way to early this year. Especially with this year on average being colder than last year.  The most likely first day that I will be able to plant in the garden is near the end of April. Sometime around the beginning of April I will start some seeds in the house, or on the windowsill at work in an attempt to get a head start on the better and hardier varieties.

This little rash of cold weather reminds me that we have roughly a cord of wood at the house left to burn to keep us heated through the winter.  Since sadly the home we live in, while beautiful and overlooking an amazing landscape, was built as really only a summer home, it means that the heating bill can be upwards of $300 a month during the coldest months.  As you can imagine this is a horrible strain on the pocket book, when the summer months only cost us $30.  (and that is WITH a green energy purchase) There is nothing we can realistically do about it, other than burn wood instead of burn electricity via the base boards. As a house warming gift when we moved in over a year ago, mom and J gave us a set of finely sharpened axes.  A welcome addition to when you need to do a bit of splitting for kindling.  Tonight I will be working up a sweat when I get home by splitting a weeks worth of kindling, before heading out for Roller Derby practice.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Weekends are f'ree?

This weekend we were out of town, which usually means that eating habits get thrown out the window.  Add in to some personal issues and I was perhaps at my most grumpiest when it came to food.  All I wanted was a steak, and some deep fried goodies, and if both were smeared in dark chocolate, I would be all the better. In the previous post I mentioned how there was some forethought to preparing and taking food along with us, and generally we did good. (I fought those cravings! and maybe splurged a little).  Food issues aside, I was happy to find that there was a gym in the hotel we were staying at.  5 min warmup on the elliptical followed by a shortened version of Zuzka's HIIT workout.  I felt the squats later during our pairs kite performance.

Anyways, lets bring this blog back to the gardening side of the house; as I am sure by this point you are simply annoyed with my fitness and weight posts.  It is winter, what can I tell you.

Friday evening before we left there was a nice package on the doorstep from Territorial Seed Company.  Since we were in a rush I didn't get a chance to open them, but they were waiting for me when we returned. I am not sure how to describe how it feels to open up the package and neatly arrange each little seed packet.  Each with it's own beautiful hand drawn picture of the vegetable on the cover.  Yes this is about $55 of seeds, which seems like an awful lot for so little, but this represents potentially 2 years of vegetable garden growing.  Or put in a different light, nearly 300-400 lbs of food.

In the next month we will be building the raised garden beds, and starting some of the hardier starts indoors. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Caloric intake and couscous

So, by best guess using various BMR calculators I use between 1400-1700 calories a day just living.  To get to my target weight of 154, that means I have to consume about 1500-1700 calories a day.  There is a lot of actual research behind this, but for simplicity sake we will say that I need to eat a sustaining diet, but work out to deplete the reserves.  Then my little muscles get bigger and eat the fat. Fairly simple right? 

1500 calories as all the intake!? Good lord, has my world just ended? I am a person that is susceptible to that horrible disease that manifests itself as me being 'hangry'.  Not familiar with this term? Well, it is what happens when someone is so hungry, they are angry.  Symptoms can range from an inability to focus on tasks and be productive, to downright mean and ready to stab people for a bagel.  (I am known for being horribly hangry when I tried to go gluten free for 2 weeks)  Still don't know what I am talking about? Replace the word 'hangry' with PMS, and perhaps it will make more sense.  WOO!

Wednesday I made couscous for dinner, then used some for lunch on Thursday. It left about 2-3 cups left over in the pot.  Healthy? Yes. Good base? Yes.  Too much? yes. Crap.

So recipes to use all of the left overs before the end of the week.

1/2 cup of Couscous - 1 cup of steamed vegetables - tab of butter - spices
1 cup of Couscous - 1 egg, and 1 egg yolk, spices, some parmesan, sprinkle with flour - mold and fry in cakes
1/2 cup of Couscous - scrambled eggs, sauteed onions/mushrooms, spices,

Today after work we leave on a road trip for the weekend, and that means that eating usually goes out the window.  Frustrating, but, as always I am preparing and trying to do my best. I packed some road snacks, mindful that for simplicity sake they are carbohydrate heavy.   The pack list for two:
Baggie of home made jerky, and spiced nuts
Baggie of tortilla chips
Baggie of carrots
some cheese and crackers
Blueberry juice for me, v8 fruit juices for him.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Motivational Woes

It has been a month since I started the new workouts at the gym, and there are about 17 checks in my daily check off grid.  A simple way to remind myself of how far I have to go, and how I am getting there.  That equates to roughly a workout every other day, of some sort or fashion.  I wish I could say I have seen improvement, but I haven't.  I feel some improvement, like having cut down some of my run time on the treadmill. There is doubt that it is true improvement.  It would be nice to chalk that up to my working out and getting faster and stronger.  The more likely truth is that my body was just figuring itself out and tuning in accordingly.  So it isn't that I got faster, I just got a little better.

When I was at my top physical condition and taking run clinics to improve my form, the best I had on a track was around a 11 minute mile.  I run like a duck, my joints do not align, and it takes a heap of concentration to keep proper form.  (waddle waddle waddle QUACK! shit... I fell)  People talk about a 12 minute mile being exceptionally slow, and shocked that people can't meet that standard.  I keep silent, and die a little inside. Sub 12 minutes and I am sprinting for nearly that whole time; ending the run not in a triumphant blaze of glory, but a sweating mess attempting to hold back some projectile vomit.

There has also not been any weight loss or reduction in my 'size'.  It is disheartening.  If I work out this much, and relatively watch what I eat ( no fast/junk food, moderate portion control, and basic ingredients) then my first response is WHAT THE HELL DO I NEED TO DO?  So overwhelming and frustrating, but after a sip of coffee and a look at the fog rolling across the field outside and I find myself a bit of clarity.   There are two options I face. 
1. I either need to up my game and push myself harder
2. I am lying to myself about the level of work I am doing.
3. Both 1 and 2

I loathe to admit that chances are it is 3.  The thought of placing more energy into this endeavor makes my head hurt and the proverbial towel begging to be thrown towards the 'in' bin. At the same time, I think of the food I am eating, and the amount of working out I am doing and wonder if I say I am doing more than I physically am doing.

Writing this, helps a little with my motivational slump.  Not a lot, but enough.  Here is to the next 15 days, lets hope by the end of the month I see a 5 pound loss, a two inch drop, and a speed increase. 

Meals for today: breakfast was tortilla, two strips of bacon, 4 asparagus, and an egg with a cup of coffee. 
Lunch: 1/2 a serving of red meat, 1/3 cup of couscous with a pad of butter, 1/3 cup mixed veggies.
Afternoon treat - 1 piece of fudge 2 cups of tea
Dinner: 1 cup of coucous mixed with onion, carrots, peas and zucchini. Dash of curry ketchup.  and  1 vanilla yogurt, coconut milk, blueberry smoothie.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Time..... keeps on ticking

It has been a busy week.  With the start of my roller derby teams season, we are in full swing for recruiting, strategizing, and getting back up to speed for our first bout at the end of the month. It also means that if I didn't give myself some leeway, my schedule would look like this: (these include travel times)

Sun - 10-11 meet with derby girl, 7-9pm indoor practice
Mon - work 7:30-4, 4-5 gym,5:30-8:30 meeting
Tue - work 7:30-4:30, derby 6:30-10
Wed - work 7:30-4, 4-5 gym, 6:30-9:30 meeting (not going so I can spend quality time with the boy)
Thur -work 7:30-4:30, derby 6:30-10
fri - work 7:30-4, drive to Long Beach, WA for the weekend.
sat-sun Performance

EEP!  It isn't technically a ton of things, but it is a lot of time.  Especially when you consider my sleep schedule has me in bed from about 10-10:30pm to 6:50am.  This means that I have to use most of my time for multiple things. If my body is doing something, my brain can do another.... right? Yes and no.  If I am doing derby, I better be focused on my skating or I get hurt.  Yet, I can use my work out time at the gym to decompress from work and think about things for the immediate future.  A double edged sword since working out makes me naturally happier and more positive, and being positive helps solve some problems creatively.   While I am at work, I tend to spend most of my down time doing research for the garden, flipping through images, and working out some of the details of running the business side of the derby team. (Being president has it's advantages and disadvantages, mainly it takes a LOT of my time)

Work takes up the majority of my day, and there are various issues I have with it.  The pay isn't great, there are virtually no benefits, and I am stuck staring at a computer all day.  It is very easy for me to get trapped into a negative cycle and feel down about it.  Down right hate it at times, yet, I keep trying to stay positive.  I hate sitting all day, so I took away my chair and instead stand at my desk. Next to the computer screen sits a jar of mini exercises that I can do at my desk in a minute; that keeps me active.  The other upsides? Big picture window that looks across the pavement to a field that during the spring and summer is full of sheep, my dog is sleeping on a pillow next to me, and.... I have free internet to do all of my research. 

In this above situation it is difficult to eat healthy, downright a pain in the ass sometimes. Breakfast is easy enough, and I have taken to really enjoying making it every morning.  While it is cooking away I try to make lunch for both the Dutch Boy and myself. Usually it is a mix of leftovers, or nuts and jerky, or cheese and crackers.  ( I try to make salads for myself)  Dinner, is a crap shoot.  We have gotten a lot better, and generally we make dinner 3 nights a week if not four. Considering we are both gone two nights a week, that really isn't all that bad for our lifestyle. Sadly tho, bread, pasta, and other wheat products are the backbone of most of those meals.  While I love a bagel, and nearly killed people the two weeks that I tried to be gluten free, the amount of heavy carbs in our diet is troubling and we are trying to cut down.  It is so difficult tho!  All of the 'other meals' require either lots of time, or degrees in chemistry with a dash of alchemy.  Sigh.  Planning ahead a month in advance helps a little bit, and I am trying to chip away here and there.  Like with this homemade jerky.  The market had this meat on sale for $2 a pound, for a total of $9.  Plus the roughly $7 in seasoning and marinade, and we have enough jerky (finished product on the right) to last for a few months. Lets for simplicity sake say that it cost $20 to make.  Supposedly a 'serving size' is 1.5 pieces.  Most bags of jerky purchased at the store have about 10-15 pieces.  Each bag can cost anywhere from $5-$10. 

So homemade jerky: Cost $20,   Store bout equivalent: $40  *super rough estimate.

 Next up, I am going to try and make a few one pot meals and freeze them ahead of time for the month.  Research to do: Once A Month Meals.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Moan-day, Rainy-day, blues-day

Was a rather active weekend.  Thinking more about the garden, finally sending the check in for my seed order ($60), and pricing out options at the local hardware store.  Sometime last week I had posted on the local craigslist that I was in search of 5 gallon buckets. Today I checked my email, and there were a few responses as to where I could find free ones, both 5 and 8 gallon size!  My thought process is that they can be used for safe container gardening of highly reproductive and invasive plants like Jerusalem Artichoke. (a nutty tuber that is actually related to a sunflower, and has nothing to do with it's pokey namesake) It will also expand the garden growing space outside of the actual garden, without requiring any buildup.

As the garden now stands -excluding the containers on the deck and the potential 5 gallon buckets- I will have, at best, 190 sq feet of growing space.  This really is not a lot.  In fact, this hardly is enough for a simple cottage summer kitchen garden.  While it alleviates some of my issues about complexity and multi-season gardening, it wont meet the needs that I have set out for myself.  At best guess for our household, we need about 1,000 sq ft of garden space to provide enough vegetables for the majority of the year. We do not own the property and in combination with the HOA rules bootstrapping us, this simply is not a realistic size for me to achieve. (albeit we would no longer have a yard that needs mowing, and instead a garden that needs eating!) 

So I am breaking down my basic issue here: SPACE, and we are not talking about the final frontier. How do I create more growing space, without taking up more ground space and potentially pissing off the neighbors?  Well, let me be honest, we have GREAT neighbors.  In fact they were over for a little potluck at the house on Saturday, and we just chatted, hung out, and I told them about the bees that will be coming soon.  It was so nice to have a relaxed friendly time with those that physically live so close to us.  I also know a secret weapon in the good-neighbor-relations that my grandmother taught me - sharing your bounty and not your workload will bring you closer together.  This is not to say to not share the workload, but when your neighbor says "eat as much as you want from my garden that I worked so hard on", they think nothing of coming over and giving you a hand when you need to split a cord of wood. 

This means that my neighbors mean a lot to me when it comes to the planning of the garden. B and M's bedroom is about ten feet from it, and B and A look down on it from their home.  So a sloppy haphazard garden is out of the question.  At no point do I want them to look out their windows and see 50 buckets and a bunch of blue tarps holding things together.  I would care less if we owned the land and were up in the middle of the woods. 

My plan is to line the south side of the garden with the buckets of Jerusalem Artichokes, and to build up vertically along some of the fence posts.  While I will reserve a fence post spot for the bee house, I am looking into building simple rails between the posts to support some flowers and herbs.  Please excuse this horrible drawing of what I am talking about.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Workouts and workins?

This isn't a new years resolution, this is something that has been in the works. The fact that the season for my roller derby team happens to be coinciding with the new year.... means that I can ride the tide of other peoples motivations.  It does mean that the gym is full of people that are striving to be stronger and better, and being around that is intoxicating and uplifting in a way.

I also know I am not a crazy workout person, although I have been in the past.  There was a point when I was in the Navy that I weighed nearly 200 pounds.  My weight was a symptom of a bad mash up of a horrible sleep schedule, moods and emotions were fluctuating across the board, and eating all of the foods of the deep south. After being bored on a deployment to the middle east, I started working out, and I did it all the dang time. Fast forward to the my return to the states and I worked out at the gym like crazy.  BAM, the pounds melted away and I was hovering around 154.  Happy, and eating a ton.  Fast forward again nearly a decade and while I do derby twice a week, my fitness is not where it should be.

The input is being worked on, and that is being kept in separate posts, but the working out is focused around simple stuff I can do.  At least three times a week I go to the gym, hit up the cardio warm up for 10-20 minutes, and do some crazy HIIT exercises.  Examples of those workouts can be found here, with my inspiration: ZuzkaLight.  I do not hold any preconceived notions that I will be as fit as this chick, she is freaking crazy. Perhaps, I should take it as a warning that for as fit as she is, she is exhausted in the middle of these workouts.  Lets just say that I fully know, I will die doing these.  YAY!!!

I will post updates as I go.

Currents stats:

weight: 164-167 - depends on if I use the dial scale at home or the freight scale at work.
waist: 30 inches (am i sucking in?)
hips: 43 inches
Belly: 36 inches

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Dump dump sprinkle cooking

So, if you saw the previous post you know that food is a big driver for most of our decisions. Last night I tried something new, and reinforced something else that we have been trying.  The boy is a good meat and potatoes kind of man.  Don't get me wrong, he loves other food, strange foods even, and is willing to try anything once. (including fermented shark when we were in Iceland) The key thing that makes a meal for him tho, is a bit of meat.  So guess how that was for me when we first started dating and living together and I am coming from a nearly vegetarian lifestyle. (meaning I had red meat twice a month, and maybe a bit of chicken once a month) There was a part of him that was hoping that I would help expand the more vegetarian side of his palate, and I was.... well... I was in meat heaven.

In no way am I faulting my previous life  -or speaking badly about it- it just was what it was. Out of respect for my partner, and simply because it was easier, I generally did not have meat products in the house. So when I moved into the new place, it was a cornucopia of meat; stuff that I had not been eating on a regular basis for a long time.  GRRRRR that little ravenous predator inside of me took over and I slapped bacon on everything. :)

 It has taken some adjusting, and in the interim I found out that some of my favorite foods to make that are super simple happen to also be of pleasure to my guy.  Potato hash for breakfast, one pot noodles with veggies and meat, egg salad sandwiches etc... Generally it isn't a problem; it is food that makes us happy, and is easy to make.  Like so many of my generation, I am not a fussy cooker. The thought of spending an hour in the kitchen for a meal that will be devoured in ten minutes bothers me, but I love when other people do it.  Ok, I lie, I will gladly spend an hour in the kitchen if we are spending it together, cause lets be honest ladies and gentleman, the quickest way into my pants, is via food.  Making it together is sensual and fun, and some of the greatest foreplay out there.

But, I digress.  So, over the last few months we have been thinking about not the act of cooking food, but what ingredients we are using. From that it all returned to the 'vegetarian meals' are lacking in our diet. Now, it is easy to cook a vegetarian meal for a vegetarian, it is difficult to do so for someone that expects meat to be in the meal. There are two approaches; 1.trick them into thinking there is meat, 2. make it so tasty and flavorful that they don't realize it is lacking meat.  Last nights meal was veggie lasagna and a new recipe for roasted carrots.  The lasagna had been made in batches a few weeks ago and frozen.  Lasagna has always been one of those things that has hardly worked for me, usually ends up either dry or is swimming in sauce, yuck! This time it worked. I made my own sauce (can of diced tomatoes, maybe two, a can of tomato paste, and seasonings galore. No measurements just dump dump sprinkle.  That is honestly the way I cook)

I didn't think that would be enough for our meal, so I wanted to do some roasted carrots.  Small problem, all of the recipes I found either had parsnips in them for extra punch, or were sweet. That just wouldn't do with hearty lasagna.  So... I made it up on the spot.  Here is roughly the recipe that formed on the go.

1. Handful of carrots, peeled and cut to bite size. I cut the carrot into inch or two inch rounds, then quartered them.
2. 3 or 4 onion wedges - take an onion, slice a wedge out of it, shove it in pan
3. head of garlic - well, maybe half a head after all of the trimming away of the bad parts.  Whole cloves and half cloves, just shoved amongst the carrots

Take all the ingredients, place in a pyrex dish, coat with spices. I was partial to paprika, a cocoa/citrus mix that I have for roasts, and a touch of garlic salt.  Then drizzle like mad with olive oil.  Bake that shit till the veggies are tender.

I did it alongside the lasagna, so I guess it takes 30 minutes in a 380 deg oven... maybe it takes less in hotter?  I don't know.

The real test came as I plated it up and placed it in front of the dutch boy.  As I bit into the first carrot, I literally jumped up, so happy that they worked out. (I already knew the lasagna had as it was the last of the frozen batch) After a bit of joking around and teasing me, even the carnivore agreed and thought they were rather tasty!  So hows that for a haphazard vegetarian meal! YAY! 

now back to my egg salad sandwich for lunch today.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Lets be honest

Lets be honest, I love food, and I REALLY love food. All that is food around me will most likely end up in my mouth.  It is as if I never grew up past that infantile stage of trying things with my mouth, and once I place it there and taste it... a ravenous predator takes over.  Ohm NOM NOM NOM.  Let it be said that you will never find the same person that is both ridiculously fit and in love with food. Yes they may say they are, but the truth is that they have a love-hate relationship with food.  They love it, but know that enjoying it makes them not fit, and thereby they hate it. 

I have struggled with my weight my whole life, which is a somewhat ironic statement for those that know me well. I have a great body image, I love my chunk and my curve, I love the way that my body is both taught and jiggly, I love when a bit is a bit and that is what it is. This is not to say tho, that I don't want to change some parts.  I want to be more fit and trimmer, simply cause I know it will help a lot of things. It will help with my life, my health, and my hobbies.  So how do I accomplish that?

Well lets start with some basics that I am not willing to compromise on.
1. I love food, and want to be able to eat what I want when I want, whether that is a chocolate cake or veggie lasagna.
2. I do not have the dedication to commit to working out in a gym two hours a day ad nauseum.
3. I like variation, I like to play, and I like that I don't have a six pack.

So this means that realistically if I want to make a change in my fitness, it isn't going to be by going on some fad diet, or doing some challenge.  (not knocking it for others, but I know myself)  Drinking protein shakes every day made from a concoction of chemicals in powder form and eliminating all dairy (or insert other food group) from my diet will last all of a week before I say "what the hell! Give me a chunk of cheese and some real food before I murder someone!"

So the way this is going to get done is by changing some of the inputs and outputs.  Inputs wise, I am trying to change the food we eat a bit. It just so happens that the best place to get the best input is from the garden. More Ohm nom noms. We are taking as many meals as we can back to the basics.  Lots of veggies, a small portion of meat on some, and some grain.  (that is a hard one for me and I am trying to work on cutting back my grain intake). 

Outputs are simple, I do derby twice a week (about 4-5 hours) and go to the gym for about 3 hours a week.  When the weather warms I will be swimming again twice a week. Nothing is set in stone, but things are getting tweaked here and there to hopefully make a difference.  I am also trying to remind myself to put as much energy into other things as I am into the garden. Love and luck!

Friday, January 03, 2014

New year and new garden

The new year is here, and I am excitedly flipping through the pages of my Territorial seed catalog hand picking the babies that will be growing in my garden come spring.  With each moment I add another to-do to the big list, research a bit more, and flush out a few random ideas.  Do I want to do french intensive gardening, or square foot, or classic rows, or maybe haphazardly sprinkle the seeds everywhere and see what the hell comes up?

This year I will be trying to fix some of the mistakes from last years garden.  Primarily the Tomatoes.  What an awkward disappointment.  They grew and grew, and got bushy and bolted even after I whacked off tons of growth, and gave me only a few handfuls of mushy fruit.  I had such high hopes for them, only to realize that I wasted about 25 bucks on set plants of various determinations and flavors, to get maybe ten tomatoes.  Thinking back on it over the past few months I have come to realize that the conditions were never hot enough to give a good crop.  So, this year, that is priority number one.  FIX IT! I am going to make the soil warmer by installing raised garden beds, and black plastic around the tomatoes. For a little bit I toyed with the idea of doing them in tires, but I couldn't get past the hobo looking factor.

This year, along with other new things, and changes, I have thrown my hat in and signed up to be a beekeeper.  Right now I have a small Mason Bee Box on reserve that will be delivered sometime in spring.  These natural little pollinators will be helping with all of the plants in the garden, and I am trying to plan accordingly.  I want them to be happy and have lots of little flowers and buds to enjoy while they flit and fly and pollinate all of the vegetables.  They also need mud -which I am not worried about since it will be a garden with a sprinkler- and sun.  So excited!  Will update weekly with my thoughts. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Homestead Delivery!! PBR slugs, and Tomatoes are taking over

It may not seem like much, but last Thursday I went out into the garden and picked a few things to deliver to Power Puppy and Chef. Each of them received a bag of freshly picked mesclun, lettuces, swiss chard, nasturtium flowers, peas, yellow neck squash, and a mix of herbs.

Of course, I clipped a few sprigs of fresh Lavendar for their bedside stands, and some freshly picked Salal Berries.

It felt so good to be giving them this little bit of food fresh from the garden, even if it was hardly more than a salads worth per person.

The garden is growing along smoothly, and I am super happy to see the difference each day.  Right now I am battling two problems though; space, and slugs. I did the right thing at planting and planned out how much space each thing would take, and there are now crowding issues. My space issue however, is that I want more!  I want more space to grow more things!  Already in the works for next year is a plant to extend the garden another ten feet or so, add boxes to the raised garden portion, and soil improvements.  Ideally I wanted to do them this year, but, time and money got in the way.  Next year, during the winter I am going to build up the boxes around the beds, mix the soil, layer with compost and manure, and have it ready for next years planting in Spring.

But, that is only the first problem, and it hardly is a problem, it is more of an addiction.  As to the other problem, slugs, it is a never ending battle.  In an effort to stay simple and away from chemicals, I am using  an old trick my grandma used to use.  Filling small containers with beer.  The slugs are attracted to the beer, climb in, get all drunk, and drown.  Not a bad way to die all things considered.  It does mean though, that each day I need to chuck out the slug beer goo, and refill with more beer. Now.... I love beer, but I am not about to use anything of quality to drown slugs if I can help it.  Thus, for $6 I picked up a six pack of PBR, cut the bottoms off some coke bottles, and placed the slug traps around the problem plants.  It worked earlier... worked really well... perhaps this time I will need to put at least ten more traps out to keep them from eating everything.

And to round this post out, here are a few photos of the garden as it is, including the  tomato plants that are now standing nearly 4 feet tall!!! 


Monday, July 15, 2013

July Sunsets

Wanted to share a few photos.... it was so beautiful. Have been eating two salads a week from the container garden, fingerling yellow neck squash and zucchini, and handfuls of snow peas.  Nummy!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Summer Potlucks

I grew up with a family that loved to gather for various reasons and eat. Whether it was a holiday, a birthday, a wedding, an excuse to have a garage sale (which has now become a full event replete with a parade), or simply to have every one in one place for just a moment. Many fond memories of family members and community members gathering around, each coming with a dish of homemade goodness. These potlucks were a foundation of our family and our community, and when I was a child my grandmother collected the stories and recipes for my grandfather to compile into a book aptly named Olga Potlucks and Memories.  My grandfather enlisted my little youthful hands to help him piece together copy after copy of this book to sell at the Olga Artworks as a means of raising money for the Olga Community Club.

At each potluck, there would be pies of local berries, freshly harvested seafood, casseroles, grilled meats, and the requisite freshly harvested vegetables and fruit.  Family gardens yielded the colorful abundance that would end up on our table, and eventually our overflowing plates. There always was some sort of campfire, sometimes music (live or on the stereo) and enough cheap wine to keep the world happy.   It is with this mentality that I was excited to have the 'homestead' over for dinner on Saturday.  Each person, brought over a unique dish, and we gathered around the campfire outside to chat until way after the sun went down.

I was reminded that night that what makes a friendship, or a community, strong is those moments.  When we all gather around and break bread with one another, tell stories of fears and dead things, gawk about slug porn, and simply laugh about nothing and everything. I love our friends and neighbors.... they make the day fulfilled, and the soul uplifted.  These are the stories I hope to share in my own book, years down the line.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Come along... to Alexanders Rag time... what?

There has been great advances in the homestead! Delectable treats from Chef, and a new pallet garden for Super Mom! PP has moved into her new place with a sweet comfortable retreat in the backyard, best enjoyed with wine and sunsets. These days are sunny and hot, and they bring all sorts of wonder to the garden. Super Mom and family have acquired a large amount of buckets and pallets, perfect for fence and container gardening. My little part of the homestead is growing faster than I can keep track of! I messed up the watering one day and accidentally killed off small things pumpkin, and I feel horrible for it.... but everything else is growing so fast that I am rushing to make sure the peas climb the trellis and the tomatoes are properly supported. At the same time there is a push to get the slug traps out, since the last few days their slimey trails have been spotted along the garden paths and across the cucumber leaves. A few cut bottles filled with left over beer have attracted and drowned over 20 of them, but I can't seem to stay on top of it. There has been no sign of rabbits, deer, or even dogs, breaking through the fence, which I am thankful for. Will post photos tonight!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wanna shave my llama?

Now for something completely different.  Across from where I work there is a pasture that during the summer months is filled with a small sheep herd. Standing watch over them is 'thunder' the llama. Recently the owner sheared the sheep, and likewise the llama, and was going to discard his coat for lack of anything to do with it.  Thankfully, it was quickly snatched up and is now drying after its second wash.  This is the third or fourth fleece I have received for free and I am feeling a greater need to get a spinning wheel.  Spinning yarn by hand or on a drop spindle takes a lot of time, and prevents me from making thin yarn.

The offer has gone out to the homestead group that they can have skeins of their own!!! once I get around to picking, carding, and spinning it. :)

In other news Chef rescued some left over plants from some of her students that have been placed lovingly in the garden.  No sense letting good seeds go to waste, so now a 'bunch' of bunching onions and some specialized basil sit in the garden waiting for the thunderstorms this week.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Morning sex....

Woke up early this morning, as I do every morning in the summer.  The kitties following me from the bed to the door to let Rose out. They rub around my feet as I make breakfast, purring softly, begging me to sit down.  With my coffee cup in hand I walked out onto the 'bedroom' deck (home of the container garden), my bathrobe pockets stuffed with qtips, plant markers, a sharpie, some twine, and a pair of scissors.  It feels wonderful to dig in the garden early in the morning, feel the cool soil under my fingertips.  The first blooms of my yellow neck squash are showing and that means its time for some high quality plant sex action.  If you did not know, squash have both male flowers and female flowers.  Only the female flowers produce the fruit, but they can only do so with the pollen of the male flower.  While nature has developed this system to use birds, butterflies, and bees as the pollinators, my garden needs a little help. While I have planted bird and bug friendly flowers around the property, they simply do not come to the deck often enough to help my squash plants 'get it on'. So, there I am with a qtip in hand, jabbing the male flower, then delicately stroking the inside of the female flower. I repeat the process a few times on each flower (having some difficulty with the male ones releasing enough pollen) all the while the cats are overseeing the operation from their perch inside the door.  I feel silly, and repeat the process again.

In the main garden there is some growth from the lettuce bed.  Little sprouts stick up in cute little lines across the 'cut and come again' area, and the one of the cucumbers on the edge is beginning to flower.  The tomatoes have all grown at least two inches, their tops now lashed to the frame.  The marigolds I planted yesterday evening have brought a welcome splash of color in the middle of everything, along with the earlier planted dahlia.

Monday, June 17, 2013

As the Garden Grows

This weekend we were at my mothers for some much needed poolside BBQ time on the other side of the state.  I was a little worried that the weather would dry out the garden while we were gone, but made due with a thorough morning soak on Friday. The time away was a much needed mini vacation, as I have had a lot of negative emotions and stresses bouncing about my head.  Work has increasingly become a drain on my life, and my favorite hobby took a dive when I re injured my knee. To say the least, on Thursday I found myself a blubbering mess fully broken down and crying on the floor. Super mom was there, and was well aware of everything that had been going on in my life. She had kept reminding me to stay positive and proactive as the work world crumbled around me; my compassion and concern for my coworkers and the business having been thrown violently back in my face.  She was also there when I first injured my knee while skating, watched helplessly as I was wailed on in my first rather unprepared foray into a more complicated position.  She was there laughing with me and keeping up my spirits as I took a month off from the one physical activity I loved and did every week. (Coincidentally the activity that brought this whole homestead together) Lastly, she was there when I decided to come back to skating feeling like I had the strength and that my injury would no longer hold me back.  On the second day, near the end of warm ups, I fell, and fell hard.  A familiar pain came shooting through my body like lightning, nausea washed over me, and I couldn't stand.  I knew it, I had tore one of the ligaments in my already surgically repaired knee. 

Collapsing on the floor out of site, the fear and frustration overcame me and I fell apart.  As I sat there feeling utterly hopeless, broken, and frustrated that I had now lost the one activity I was looking forward to for relief from work (I kept blubbering something about "I just want to skate it out, I just need to skate").  Super mom sat there consoling me, and telling me that I am better than all of this.  She then said "Do you want me to call 'Power Puppy'?".  I nearly broke down laughing and crying, my first thought was a playful one "she is going to think this is a clever ploy to get her back to the track!" (as PP had moved away from the team a few months prior).

Needless to say, I found myself a few minutes later carried down the stairs to the car, and driven home by PP. The whole time I felt horrible since I knew that both Super Mom and PP had some crap going on in their lives that was just as pressing, and here I was a broken down bumbling idiot.  Yet, as we pulled up to the house, and I showed PP the garden for the first time, a new emotion started to fill me. We talked and hung out for a little bit, and after they had gone home, I signed online to find the previous post from SM. That feeling from earlier grew into an even greater overwhelming feeling.  While feeling so scared and weak, my friends and Dutch Boy had stepped up and reminded me not only to be strong, but that they could hold me up till I found my footing again.

After coming back from the weekend, I was so happy to see the growth in the garden.  The garden has now taken on -or maybe always was- a metaphor for my life. From the shit spread everywhere, new growth is happening, new possibilities and hope are sprouting up. If I can keep seeing this as the new opportunities that might be sprouting in my life (even if I can't see them at first) then maybe I can keep my head up. Perhaps the world will be clearer when the whole 'homestead' group is over for dinner on the deck after harvesting our food from the garden.  That is really what ALL of this is about, life, work, play, it all comes back to being happy and developing the relationships that help engage and enlighten our lives. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

From Super Mom

This came from Super Mom.... and I smile each time I read it. 

Gardening. Homesteading. For me, they’re awesome ideas and great concepts, which have a lot of valuable lessons all wrapped up in them. They’re also very academic concepts. At least, they were until about three weeks ago.

I admit, I’m basically a city girl. Not a big city girl by any stretch of the imagination, mind you, but very much a girl who grew up surrounded by paved roads, immediately accessible chain stores, and neighbors. Lots of close neighbors. Small yards and did I mention immediately accessible chain stores? Pavement spreads quickly and people grow lawns, not vegetables. Gardening wasn’t something my family really did all that often during my formative years, other than the occasional potted tomato or pepper plant, and when I moved out on my own, gardening tended towards experimentation with flowers, along with the random never-quite-finished windowsill herb garden.

Then The Great Visionary in my life seizes an opportunity…

The Great Visionary (TGV for future reference) is one of my best friends and an unabashed opportunist. She believes opportunity knocks, and you need to answer the door with a smile and ready hospitality. So recently, a bit of land became available and she saw the opportunity to create something beautiful. Opportunity provided a chance for growing food, friendships and our own special kind of fellowship. You can’t go wrong, baby!

As for true beauty, I mean, sure the garden LOOKS cool – I mean seriously? We have driftwood fenceposts and an arched entry way and it’s terraced with little cedar walkways! How cool is that? But really, the beauty is a lot of people coming together to haul dirt, laugh about having neon carrots and pondering how devious rabbits can be and how confused lost and stuck Labradors can become. Soon, we’ll have weeds to pull, food to share, and recipes to enjoy (along with wine. I mean seriously – mmm. Wine….).

This is definitely an opportunity that was unexpected for our family and 100% welcome. Granted, we tend to wander around looking a little bit lost – “You want the dirt… where? Um, on the ground, right?” – but we’re learning. And the Small Thing is excited about a pumpkin plant named Steve. Or perhaps the pumpkin it hopefully produces will be named Steve? Or, uhm, something like that? Pumpkins! Children! Steve!

It’s been a lot of smiles, a lot of little updates from TGV about what’s sprouting, who all has visited the garden, and how much love is going into it. I’m excited to have something else that brings our little “family” together and am looking forward to time spent in the sun weeding, harvesting, and enjoying the fruits of our labor. Spreading pavement? Crazy city life? Get outta here – we’re gonna watch our garden, and our family, grow!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 11th, 2013

A few days ago we filled up the remaining of the garden beds with soil and planted the seedlings that will grow to feed the homestead.In an effort to keep the bunnies out I picked up a bag of dog hair from Power Puppy. It is yet one more step that I plan on taking in an effort to keep the garden as organic as possible. While spreading the black and white well washed locks around the fence line I noticed the first seedlings of the Broccoli Raab, Lettuce, and Spinach poking through the soil.  It is rather encouraging to see everything growing so well, and hopefully I can keep everything moving along smoothly.  With each little green leaf that pokes through the soil I see how it will mature and fill the garden, and I am anxiously awaiting the moment that the garden is a veritable edible jungle.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

6 June, 2013

The growth continues!  Nearly the full 'homestead crew' was over today to finish up the last load of soil and plantings.  As a full yard and a half rounded out the lettuce bed and the three sisters bed, the seed packets sprang open and flung their contents into the precious dirt.  I was excited to show Small Thing that the onions she had planted were already rooted and standing tall, as were the peas and cucumbers we planted. In a quick inspection of the garden we noticed that her pumpkin had sprouted and was poking through the soil. 

It is encouraging to see her take to gardening like I did as a kid, it's fun and dirty.  Seeing something you planted grow and change each day makes it a brand new discovery every time you see it.

Right now I am at a loss for words as to what I really want to say and express.  There is simply too much going on that I can't seem to focus on this one task and complete a simple blog entry. Oh well, here are a few photos of the garden to hold me over till the next post.