Friday, March 30, 2012

I need to blame somebody.

I bet I have spent literally hundreds of hours searching for the perfect cup of coffee.  Just a simple, good, rich, non-bitter cuppa joe.  The first cup of coffee I ever had was percolated.  It put me off for quite some time.  But, being the romanticized artist that I assumed I was, I stuck with it.  In my 20s, I was quite the sight to behold -- small cups of Turkish coffee in one had, lit Gitanes in the other, world-weary expression on my puss.  Luckily, I got over-out-of the Gitanes habit.  But I was hooked on dark, slightly bitter coffee.  Black and lots of it.  As I morphed out of artist-girl into advertising-person, my coffee got slightly more 'refined'.  That would have been my French Roast/Espresso period.  Remember, this was waaay before Starbucks and designer-y coffees.

As I have gotten older, I tend to take myself a lot less seriously.  But, not my coffee.  If I can find a really good cup of coffee, I will drink it black and savor every drop.  Most of the time, however, it's only drinkable if I can add a dollop of cream.  I have gone through most of the coffee-making methods in my quest - perc/drip/cold filter/boiled in a pan.  The only method I have not tried is pressed.

Now comes the blaming bit -'s your fault!!!! (Kidding.)  I had, just that morning, been having a talk with my Melitta.  "Lita," I said, "I sure wish you could keep coffee hot so I wouldn't have to inhale three cups in a row without any hope of savoring."  But we all know how I am trying not to add things to my life, but shed them...

Meet Nissan (or "Nissie"):

I can tell you that this - so far - has met all my requirements. 

* It is NOT made in China (Malaysia - is that as bad?  Pleeze tell me it's not)

* It's not plastic (at least not ALL of it; it's mostly stainless steel),  which means even I will have a hard time breaking this baby

* It keeps coffee hot for at least 2+ hours

* It takes no additional filter (less expense)

* It's non-electric. 

But here is the best part -- I can drink my coffee black again!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

You can call me "Crazy"...

but just don't forget to call me home for dinner.  That was one of the favorite sayings by our next door neighbor when we were growing up.  As kids, we would fall on the ground in hysterics at all his corny jokes.  He was the same neighbor who dubbed me, "Sweeze".

Any-hoo, crazy as I am, I've decided to host another giveaway for no good reason.  Gasp.  If forced to be 150% honest, I would have to say that I am hosting this giveaway because I have decided to part with a three-DVD collection that needs a good, loving home.  And who else would I turn to, I ask you, but y'all?

Here's the poop:

Three DVDs of the Homestead Blessings Series - presented by those eternally buoyant, happy, talented, lovely West Ladies.  If you are not familiar with them - good golly, get thee to Google and do some research!

The Art of Canning
The Art of Herbs
The Art of Gardening

Since they are Homesteading, Homeschooling, Home keeping women, I figured I was talking to the right crowd....

No gimmicks, no rules to this giveaway.  Just let me know you're in by leaving a comment.  Cut-off is Friday midnight and I will pick a winner on Saturday.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A life themed in song.

(Fancy-schmancy talk for 'theme song of your life'.)  As I was rooting around in my CD collection, I came across a CD that I hadn't played in a long time.  It's probably one of my all-time favorites:  Eliza Gilkyson's "Land of Milk and Honey".  I played it in the car on the way to work - full blast - and sang along at the top of my lungs.  Luckily for me (and everyone else out on the road this morning), there is little or no traffic on this mountain-top road, so I am at ease belting out a song or talking to myself (animatedly).

One of her songs on this album is what I could easily call the Theme Song of Susan E-I-E-I-OMG's life.  It's called:  Not Lonely.  Of course, on Side B of Theme Song of Susan (etc.)'s life would be the Scarecrow's theme song.

So, what would be the perfect theme song for your life?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Musings (and Giveaway Winner).

Napping habits are very interesting.  (How many of you have I put to sleep immediately?)  There are power-nappers, mega-nappers, cat-nappers, and non-nappers.  I fall into the latter category.  My father is a cat-napper.  Actually, he would be a power-cat-napper.  He can close his eyes for 15 minutes and awake all recharged.  I will - if I can close my eyes during the day which is practically impossible - fall into a deep, deep sleep and wake up groggy and dysfunctional.  I am the nap-challenged.  I wish I could take a nap.  But I have had my fun with nappers - call it petty revenge.  Unfortunately, I cannot recount my napper-revenge peccadilloes and still have you as friends.  Not really - but one particular incident involved tying shoelaces together.  Luckily, no one was badly injured.  Including me.  Boy, was he mad!  Never have a boyfriend with no sense of humor.

I attended a Zentangle class yesterday with Sylvia which, to the uninformed (which I was until yesterday), is like structured doodling - a combination of patterns and Zen.  It was a great class, with a little bit of everything- a couple of men, a teen aged boy and his mom, young women, older women.  We were given a series of instructions and, after completing our 'tangles', we were invited to place our little Zentangle cards together on the floor.  It was astounding - basically, we all had the same instructions, but the variety and creativity that ensued was wonderful!  I started my day doing one and found that I need to give myself more than 15 minutes.  This type of concentrated line drawing is right up my alley.  As an art major in high school and college, I could focus (oh, those were the days!) for hours on a piece.  I created a line drawing of a dragon on a 5x8 foot sheet of rice paper, using a very fine pen and India ink.  It took hours.  Of course, those were the early 70s, and my focus was hallucinogenic-fueled at times.  Nuff said.

Okay.  Moving quickly along, ahem, I will now announce the winner of the More/Less Book Duo!  How many of you skipped ahead to see if you won?  Hmmm?  Fess up!

Since there were quite a few entrants, I decided to go high-tech and use the True Random Number Generator widget (which, of course, I can't figure out how to transfer here.)  It's a fun widget; if you're bored out of your mind, you can just click away and randomly generate numbers.  Don't ask how I know.

The number that was picked from 1-18 was.......17!  Congratulations, Carol!  Please send your mailing info to me via swomersley @ gmail dot com.  And thank you to everyone for all of those great examples of how to simply our lives.  There is such a trove of good information out there.  Someone should mine us!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Giveaway.

Thanks to all of you to ponied up and joined!  As promised, up for grabs are two wonderful homestead resources:

Living more with less by Doris Janzen Longacre


More-with-Less Cookbook (by the same author)

I know that many of you have the cookbook in your personal libraries and the companion book is very thought-provoking.   From the book jacket:
"a pattern for living with less
and a wealth of practical suggestions
from the worldwide experiences
of Mennonites"
It puts our lives here, in this amazing country with all its riches (and excesses) into perspective and makes you realize how better life can be with less.
To enter into this giveaway, just leave a thought on how we can live with less in the comment section below.  I know that I am preaching to the choir here, but there is always more that we can learn from each other.  I will choose the winner Sunday night, March 25, and announce them on Monday's Musings.  Bon chance!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I am not above stealing....

a good idea, that is!  I have been itchin' to have a reason for a giveaway and thought I would just rip a page out of Carolyn Renee's book at Krazo Acres.  Since I am close to having 100 members - once I do, I will be giving away (drum roll)

A Dynamic Homestead-y Book Duo:

Living more with less by Doris Janzen Longacre


More-with-Less Cookbook (by the same author)

(Okay, it's not chocolate, but I'm not as well-connected as CR.)

These two books have been the source of so much good information (and great recipes) for me!  For those of you who are not familiar with them, Doris Longacre was a Mennonite woman who took on the formidable task of responding to the inequities of world resource distribution by putting it in a compelling, organized book and showing all of us how to find a better way to live.  The cookbook brings the same common sense, world view to the kitchen.

So, there it is -- only five more brave people have to sign up to belong to this blog and we're off!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Moving right along through Farch and Mapril.

Since I didn't get anything done the prior weekend, I made up for it this weekend.  However, I am trying something new -- I've signed up for a Tai Chi class on Saturday mornings.  It is, let me say, an hour of delight.  I've always wanted to learn it, and I am sure it will take me the next 15 years to get close to understanding it (do they allow the use of walkers in Tai Chi?  I'll have to ask...) but it actually helps me focus.  Me!  And I was able to barter part of the class fee, which just thrills me down to the soles of my frugal little feet.  A dozen eggs a week comes to almost half of the class cost.  And I am up to my elbows in eggs right now - a win-win!

After all my usual runnings-around after class - yes, the lovely tai chi calm wore off in about 15 minutes - I was home to hack down the dreaded barberry bushes that gird the front of the house.  This year, I cut them down to stumps.  And I am sure they will come back bigger and pricklier.  I'm not sure what the previous owner was thinking - putting briary bushes right in front of your windows - the same windows that need their screens taken off or put on.  I then hunted down my window screens, washed them thoroughly and proceeded to scrub the front of the house, top to bottom, side to side.  My house faces north and gets no direct sun.  Last year (and the two prior years) were so incredibly wet that I had a nice green and black crop of mold growing on the siding.  Lots of elbow grease, six buckets of a water/bleach solution and two hours later, it's all clean!  I also discovered what appears to be a bullet hole under the bedroom window, and also discovered that I am going to have to get it re-sided in the not-too-distant future.  A new roof gets first dibs on my emergency fund.  There's no end to the projects, is there?

I also restacked my scrap wood, laid out another raised bed, mounted a feeder for the sheep to try and force some order to feed-time, raked spoiled hay - although I didn't cart it out because I ran out of steam - and did four loads of laundry, which I, gloriously, hung on the line.  From reading everyone's blog posts, it seems like the whole country is dealing with this wonderful - yet, strange - weather.  I keep putting my rain gear away, only to have to haul it out every other week.  I'm afraid to put the winter gear away because it is, after all, still Farch -- or is it Mapril?  Whatever odd season it is, I've managed to get three things ticked off my to-do list (made a nice big batch of laundry detergent, too.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Musings.

"Have a good one."  A good what?  What the heck is the "one"?  A good life?  A good dental implant?  A good day, week, hour?  It always gives me pause.  And, if I am foolish enough to ask, I either get a blank stare, rolled eyes, or that "oh, you poor geezer" look.  There is one young woman - so bored with her job that I am often tempted to urge her to quit so that someone who would LOVE her job could take it - who always mumbles "have a good one" as I check out.  So, now, because I am a crotchety geezer, I always say, "Why, thank you!  And you have a good one-whatever-it-is, too!  With her, it's the blank stare.  Something more would require focus.

When I was a kid, I really thought that someday - within my adulthood - there would be flying cars.  I was obsessed for a while with the idea of it.  Zinging through the air, from point A to point B in a matter of nanoseconds.  I often muse about this as I am creeping along the mountain road behind someone going about 25 mph.  Not that this should surprise anyone, but I am a Type A driver.  My nephew thinks I am hilarious.  Others refuse to get in the car with me.  Which is just as well, as my passenger door does not open from the outside.  And I'd have to clean my car.  Which is difficult, since something seems to have died in it somewhere.  A little Eau d' Country Living.

I was musing about this this morning - trying to exercise my new regimen of breathing, stress management, looking for the calm.  It was fairly successful, given that I had begun my day in true Monday fashion - with the breakout of Chickie, who had discovered the one weak link in the fence and had worked his little brain into fever pitch getting through it, the little dickens.  I had to do some quick fence triage, which put me way behind schedule.  Which led to a race to end up behind Mr. Pokey.  Which led to some serious breathing exercises.  Once I lost Mr. Pokey, I found myself behind Mr. Trailer-with-no-lights.  Sigh.  The New Improved Me made it into the parking garage with only a couple of short outbursts.  Maybe I should look into investing in a Jet Pack.  Bet that would be fun, coming over the mountains on clear day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Massaging the Kale and Other G-Rated Kitchen Fun.

I could hardly resist that title now, could I? 

This was a salad I had at Sylvia's Sunday evening.  It was so good, I had three helpings.  And it was so good for me, that I didn't feel guilty about having three helpings.  The recipe is from Taproot Magazine, a new quarterly magazine that is on the "precious" side.  But the recipe is awesome.

The recipe called for:

A large bunch of kale (I had most of a large bag of chopped kale)
A teaspoon of sea salt (which, amazingly, I did have)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted (did not have - used toasted, chopped pecans)
1/4 cup diced red onion (did not have - used minced shallot)
1/3 cup currants (did not have - used dried cranberries)
3/4 cup diced apple, about a half-apple (surprise! I did have an apple - and used the whole thing)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (did not have, used feta)

As you can see from the above, just because I want to make a recipe, doesn't necessarily mean I have any of the ingredients called for.  This, however, never stops me.

Since I did not have a 'bunch' of kale, but a bag of chopped kale, I was not able to chiffonade them (roll the leaves and cut into ribbons).  I imagine that, using fresh-from-the-garden kale would lend itself to a more juicy, tender end product.  But the process is very interesting:

One pound bag of chopped kale and LARGE bowl.

Sprinkle teaspoon of salt into bowl of kale.

Halfway through the massage.

End result.
Since I needed both hands for the camera, I couldn't show you the massaging process.  You basically squeeze handfuls and knead and press together.  You can feel the leaves begin to soften and it turns bright green.  It is an amazing process.  After the two-minute massage, put the kale in a fresh bowl.  Stir in the onion, currants, apple and toasted seeds.  Dress with olive oil and vinegar.  The author of the recipe urges you to "get messy and dirty"; use your hands.  However, other than the massage therapy, I am not a messy, dirty hands user.  It's a quirk.  You can either get one-to-one with your salad or use a large wooden spoon to make sure the dressing evenly coats the kale.  Add the cheese at the end.  It is even better the next day. 

I was going to demonstrate bathing and diapering baby carrots, but I ran out of time.  Heeheehee.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Musings.

Why is it that ALL the elastics in ALL your undies let go at - relatively - the same time?  Does this fall under the Laws of Mr. Murphy?  Not that this is a question that regularly preys on my mind, but it has come up recently.  Or down, as the case may be.  And why were undies referred to as "unmentionables"?  As soon as you say, "unmentionables", everyone knows what you're talking about.  Well, everyone over the age of 30.  40?  Besides the fact that you have just mentioned them.    The term "unmentionable" conjures up lacy things.  I'm afraid that, at this stage in my life, the only ruffles I sport is on my favorite ratty old terry top.  I'm all about serviceable now.  If I want wild and racy, I get the Hanes with polka dots.  My, my, how things have changed.

Even the way I deal with my food has changed.  This morning found me massaging my kale.  Not that that should surprise me, now that we've gotten all chummy with our 'veggies'.  What's next?  Bathing our baby veggies in warm broth with an invigorating post-bath rubdown of room temperature olive oil?  I tell you, anything is possible. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Sweet/Tart Lemon Tree

I think I have been putting off featuring my amazing, beautiful, proficient Meyer Lemon tree on the off chance I jinx myself.  I was going to say that I'm not superstitious, but I iz.  So, with fingers, toes and eyes crossed, white pins in the Voodoo doll, and whistling in the dark, I present....


Lots of new leaves, buds, flowers, and little lemons!
There is nothing like the fragrance of lemon blossoms.
Notice the high-tech support system - baling twine.
When I first hefted her into the house at the end of summer, she lost a lot of leaves.  This always happens and always sends me into complete panic.  Then there is a dormant period which I refer to as the "semi-bald" period.  Then, all of a sudden (it seems), buds start to form, and lots of new green leaves shoot up.  I used to go around like a bumble bee and pollinate the flowers with my little bee brush.  But I didn't do it this year and there are lots of lemons forming.  If it is as good a crop as last year, there will be close to 30 full-size lemons on this one small tree. 

Since I have, up to this point, pretty much killed every potted plant I owned, I have lavished an amazing amount of attention, love, care, and mystical incantations over this plant.  It has it's own light.  I fertilize it with a special (read: $$$) organic fertilizer and use a moisture meter to be sure I don't over-water.  I have sufficiently threatened the cats so that they don't get any ideas, vis-a-vis the potting soil.  So far, so good.

Excuse me while I go find the salt shaker and toss about a pound over my shoulder.  Just in case.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Whoa, Nelly! Was that just Spring?

Yesterday it was downright balmy.  I wandered around in the muck feeling very, oh, let's call it 'fluffy'.  I heard my first red-winged blackbird, my personal heralder of Spring.  All the birds are in Spring mode and the trees are filled with little trills and burbles.  I caught Apria stretching and yawning in the sunshine.  The chipmunks are rampant.

Looking off the deck towards the sheep paddock.
Then, today, the wind started.  I tell you, it could blow the curl right out of your hair!  A cold front approacheth.  It seems that, this year, the changes are all sudden and violent.  Balmy day, followed by fierce winds and dropping temperatures, followed by fierce winds and rising temperatures.  Geezloueez.  I took my 'spring/summer' footwear out of the closet (ankle high Muck boots, as opposed to the mid-calf winter style) but, before I could slip them on, the melting snow was flash frozen into ice.  Again.  I donned my down vest, relishing the freedom of (at least) my arms, slipped on light work gloves, and was driven back into the house less than an hour later with ice cubes on my elbows and frozen fingers.  I appear to be a little over-anxious for Spring.

My Meyer Lemon tree is busting out all over with an abundance of new leaves, fragrant blossoms and little green lemons.  It is my symbol of hope.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tick. Tock.

In my recent closet purge, I emptied everything out of my grandmother's old jewelry box that I had inherited.  Why I should have inherited it is beyond me.  I am not a jewelry wearer.  I am about as "un" frou-frou as you can get.  My daily adornment consists of earrings (the same ones - I never take them out) because I have pierced ears (one each side, thank you) and a watch, Monday-Friday.  This is where it gets interesting.  Okay, maybe interesting to ME.  Suffer along with me if you will....

I own no less than 9 watches.  I wear one.  The other eight do not have functioning batteries, are missing straps, or are in some other state of unworkability.  I have three dress watches (one with a diamond, oooooh la la), one that clips to your belt (although you'd have to be able to read upside down to tell the time - or stand on your head), an official Vespa watch, a couple of Swatch watches, and my favorite, a wind-up watch sans strap that I found in a box of buttons that I got at a garage sale.  The one I wear requires no battery, nor does it have a wind-up stem.  It gets its "juice" from movement*. 

I realized, yesterday, that I had put this watch on without even glancing at it.  I wore it all day, never looked at it.  As a matter of fact, I never look at my watch.  When I finally did glance at it, right before I took it off, I realized that it was at least 12 hours behind.  Fercryinoutloud.  So why do I wear one?  I think I am more interested in the idea of watches.  I tend to like great big ones (just in case I am going to look at it, I want to be able to read it).  It has more to do with my fascination with how things work - all the bits and bobs, pieces and parts.  When I was young, I took everything and anything that I could get my grubby little hands on apart.  This caused my father to hide his grandfather's pocket watch from me - apparently there was a glint in my eye every time I walked by it.  Everything else was fair game.  This went on fairly unchecked until the day I decided I HAD to find out how a golf ball was put together.  We were visiting my aunt and uncle's house at the time.  My uncle was quite the golfer.  When I casually asked if I could have an old golf ball, he obliged and off I went, secreted pocket knife and all.  (I wasn't allowed to own a pocket knife, but I had three - another obsession.)  After I had successfully sawed off the white covering, I was presented with a tight ball of rubber bands.  I started to peel them off and quickly lost patience.  So I took my trusty knife and carved through to the middle - which contained a pressurized liquid center.  Which exploded in my face and into my astonished open eyes!  I was temporarily blinded and had all the adults in an uproar.  But worst? My pocket knife was taken from me.

Once I had recovered, I was grounded.  I swear I spent most of my formative years grounded.  It also cured some of my drive for taking things apart.  A little bit of it.  A very little bit.  I am a slow learner.

*May I just say that after I saved up to get this watch (Orient), I was totally dismayed to receive a shoe-box sized package that contains all kinds of....packaging!  It comes with a manual, a tool kit, a fancy box.  I'm surprised it didn't come with an au pair to help it get through daily life!  Geez.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Musings.

I was getting ready to don my favorite shirt, when I took a good, long look at it.  I have had this particular white terry-cloth pullover for years.  I'm going to say at least 15.  I realized that it has changed quite a bit from the day I first bought it.  It has evolved from just a casual pullover that I could bleach when it got dirty, to, well, shabby-chic.  Then I thought, isn't that just like us growing older?  Honestly, I could not be called "chic".  I could, however, be called shabby on weekends.  But who in their right mind dons clean, ironed, stain-free clothes to muck out a barn?  (And don't say Martha Stewart, because she doesn't muck anything!  She has minions for that.)  And who wants to change their clothes three/four times a day?  That means more laundry, which means more water used, more electricity used, laundry detergent, time, etc.  And we are all too frugal for that, aren't we??

But back to my original thought.  I am very happy about how this shirt has turned out.  Those "ruffles" were not ruffles from the beginning.  It has evolved over years of wearing, washing and drying.  Those plain, boring trim pieces have softened and curled.  I like to think that we all soften and curl as we age - and that's a good thing.  Plain becomes artful.  Age brings beauty.  It's all very nice.

It's obvious I need another cup of coffee.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Snow Daze.

There is nothing like a snow day to inspire you to DO things.  Winter decided to arrive, finally, and it's been snowing, sleeting, raining for a day and a half.  The roads are lousy, so our office decided to close - Yay!

Do you remember that closet I was going to clean out, oh, months and months ago?  I finished it! 



It's not as "airy" as I'd like, but this closet holds my entire wardrobe and I'm not quite down to the Steve Jobs' look yet.  But I can now walk into it without breaking into hives.  It's a nice feeling.  So, while I was on a roll...I also cleaned out, rearranged and sorted through my gawd-awful linen closet.  I don't have a before, because I didn't want to frighten any small children that might be reading this blog.  Then I moved to the top of my dresser and organized and cleaned that.  I am about to refill my tea cup and head in for more.  Of course, I would love to have done the utility/laundry/tool/feed/gardening/dehydrating room, but I think I might need a permit for that.  And a Hazmat suit.