Friday, August 24, 2007

In Awe

I am inspired at the moment, and completely full of awe. This week has been wild, as most weeks are ~ maybe I just see life's ride as wild. Anyway, I feel like this week has just been so full of things, of directions and new beginnings, of things falling into place. It is overwhelming, but in a good way.
I began a new website this week: ~ it is to compliment my column that will appear in WR Magazine ( Its quite a big step for me, and although I am very eager and excited about it, I also am anxious. For some reason whenever I solidly declare a new path in my life it takes me quite a while to not feel like a fraud of some sorts. I don't know why, it just does. ~ Anyway, Shannon and I made homemade pizza for dinner the other night: we made the dough for the crust, we used homemade pizza sauce, and we picked fresh toppings from our gardens. I've put all that up there on a page I've started called "Cooking with Kids."
Also, I've been introduced to a wonderful adventure a couple has taken in their lives: I am so impressed with what they are doing ~ they've bought an RV, had it made to run on veggie oil, re-did the inside with eco-friendly alternatives, and are now traveling across the country, touring about & helping educate the public as they go. I'm just so amazed by this, so inspired. Here in this part of the country (and state) life is often too full of pressure to conform and fit in. You can forget that you don't have to. It is wonderful to see people who are just living their lives, on their terms! I've been talking to Sara, trying to see if I can get them to stop by through town here. We need any and all (positive of course) oppurtunities for eco-awareness here and I think they would be perfect for it! Either way though, I am so eager to continue to watch their adventure ~ they truly are an inspiration!!
Another thing I've decided it is time to try and commit ourselves to as much as we can is eating locally. We're going with the 100-mile diet for as much as we can ( Also, we're now trying to eat only meat that was free-range raised & pasture fed. It is kinda to the animals and healthier for our bodies and Earth. I say things like "we're trying to" and "as much as we can" because I realize the realities of things around here. 1) We're on quite a limited budget ~ that really is the biggest one there. 2) Sadly, there are only so many things around here that are within our budget, and even those mostly aren't. I know things work out being cheaper in the long run and in the end, but the reality is that they cost more in the beginning, and if you don't have enough to get over that "in the beginning"-hump, well then ... you're still where you were. So, we're trying our best. Baby steps are better than no steps at all. An effort made, no matter how small, is an effort made. We're building the foundation here and that is the truly important part. I realized with chicken though that if I can just get a couple free-range birds a month (really just 1 or 2 will do) that we will be quite fine there. I get so much more usage out of getting the whole bird as opposed to buying a tray of breasts or thighs anyway, so I'm really eager about this. To his credit, and I'll admit my amazement, Justin is being quite supportive about this. I'm really impressed by and proud of him for this. I did get chicken mcnuggets from McDonald's yesterday: I hadn't eaten all day & was on my way to do a massage. I ate them in the car and made sure to notice how disgusting they really were. I know that probably sounds silly, but I wanted my brain to connect with my tongue; I know they are horrible for you, but I'll admit my love of them. So, I wanted to notice how the meat didn't have the proper meat texture and how greasy they were. Thankfully, it took over an hour for me to get the greasy taste out of my mouth ~ which, hopefully, means I won't have any longing for those disgusting little things anytime soon!

Shannon being proud of himself as he puts the fresh green bell peppers on our pizza!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Life is Spinning

It's been a little bit since I've written, at least for me anyway. Normally it seems I am quite inspired to write around 1am, when I am lying in bed trying to fall asleep. Murphy's Law there I suppose.
Things have been spinning around me though, going on no matter what and I am just trying to keep up and keep my footing.
Justin has become quite inspired with homebrewing, which makes me very happy. I've been wanting him to have something to inspire him, a new hobby, since he hasn't been able to play guitar and jam like he used to since the kids have been born and we became "official" grown-ups. He's even reading books now, which is quite amazing to see! We're planning on starting a new batch of beer this coming weekend, and I am really looking forward to it. I plan on using some of it in my cooking, so that has me especially eager about this batch: our first IPA.
The garden is beginning to really produce now, which is wonderful. The freezer is becoming quite full of food waiting to be canned .. another project on my to-do list! I've also been reading a wonderful book 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' about one family's decision to only eat locally for 1 year. It is really inspiring and impressive. We're trying to work to wear we're eating locally & seasonally, but we're still a very young family on a very limited budget. I just refuse to believe though that money (or the lack thereof) should limit you so much. We've decided to take it all in small steps, making changes when and where we can, as we can. I think this will set us up the best down the road. We did decide on a couple things though: 1st ~ no more beer other than our own homebrew. This goes into full effect when the IPA batch is ready, till then only small microwbrew beer allowed. 2nd ~ From now on, we're not buying any more meat that wasn't free-range when it was alive. The conditions animals are raised in is appalling, and it has a tremendous effect on the quality of the meat (this applies to nutritional content as well as taste). This is probably the biggest one, though since we are buying beef and pork in bulk from local farmers, hopefully it won't be too much of a financial burdern.
Well, I would write more, but I have a killer headache right now (thankfully I have my appointment with my new doctor on Friday .. I've had headaches daily now for probably a month) and I need to finish getting dinner in the oven since Justin will be home soon with Shannon. That and I probably ought to get Mr. Tristan up from his afternoon nap, the lucky little bugger!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Meteors, Carrot Cake, & Preschool

Tomorrow is Tristan's 1st birthday and we had his party over the weekend. I still really can't believe he is almost a year old, this year has blown by so fast. Of course, I can't believe Shannon is 3 1/2 years old ... I guess you have to be a parent to really understand the meaning of tempus fugit ~ "time flies." We had his birthday party this weekend, a simple affair at home. We don't believe in these monstrosities of birthday celebrations. I was going to buy his cake but instead made it myself using a recipe I found online. It was a carrot cake and came out utterly wonderful. We also had some zucchini muffins, though those didn't come out as well as they usually do. Oh well, can't win 'em all! Here is the carrot cake recipe and a picture of the finished cake (and also a picture of Tristan & what he thought of the cake!):

Rockin' Carrot Cake

4 Eggs
1 Cup White Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
3 Cups Grated Raw Carrots
1/2 Cup Raisins
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Nuts (optional - and omit if serving to small kids)

Beat eggs well in a large bowl, and add sugars in gradually, beating until light. Beat in oil. In a seperate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir into egg mixture. Stir in carrots, raisins and nuts(if using). Pour into a greased and floured 13X9 pan, and bake in a 350 degrees oven for 35-40 minutes. Enjoy! (*from Cat Can Cook blog*)

Also last night was the Perseid Meteor Shower. Justin and I went out on the back deck and watched it, or at least did our best to, last night. It was really wonderful, simply amazing to see these meteors go flying across the sky. Actually, it was wonderful just getting to sit out on the deck and listen to the world, watching the sky, having a drink, and talking to my husband. That in and of itself was heaven.

A really sad realization came over us though as we were watching the sky: one, we realized how little of the sky we saw and that was truly sad. In all of our technological brilliance we have not yet mastered the ability to use technology (in a mass sense) without destroying the world around us. Secondly, we realized that we most likely knew of no-one else who would be out for a couple hours (heck, if out at all) watching the sky. We're members of the Science Museum here and if they did anything for this we aren't aware of it. It was so beautiful, it IS so beautiful ~ it happens EVERY year ... we wondered how it was that this was the first year we were really aware of it. It makes us wonder what else we are missing out on.

Something we aren't missing out on is Shannon's education. We've started him with preschool activities now. We're, of course, homeschooling him and so this is being done at home. I was inspired to, after meeting another homeschool mom and seeing hers, buy a 3 ring binder and some clear sheet protectors so that I could put any little projects or workbook pages that Shannon completes in and keep a record of his growth and accomplishments this way. It has been so neat to see him work at something, to see him not understand something quite fully but try his best anyway. And then it truly floors us to see what he suddenly is able to comprehend and understand. He is so smart and so aware, we are so proud of him!

Between Shannon starting his preschool work, Tristan getting ready to turn one, us sitting down talking about and making decisions about our future and then the meteor shower ~ this has been one spectacular weekend. Here are some pictures of us up the street at the park after the party:

Tristan doesn't like crawling on his knees on the grass, so he has figured out how to kinda "walk on all fours" instead. It was really cute watching this, pretty impressive!