Archive for June, 2010

A new Perspective

Last week I shared my frustration at being unable to ‘do it all’ .

This week I have a new perspective partially because of your kind comments, partially because sometimes life makes you stop and take inventory of your life.

I have had hours and hours this last week while sitting alongside my mother-in-law to really ponder what it is in my life that I have found to be important and those things that are just not that big of a deal. It is interesting when you watch someone at the very end of their lives, as you watch them die, you turn to your life and take inventory.

When my husband’s family has recounted their childhoods, while remembering their mother, it was not the things they had, how clean their house was, or even what a great cook their mother was.  No, what they remember and cherish is how she was there for them, how she loved them, her quick smile, and quirky sense of humor.

Sometimes I, because I’m an all or nothing personality, tend to get fixated on things like an organic homegrown diet that I don’t remember to sit down and just enjoy a meal.

I truly believe that growing my own food is a worthy goal but if I find myself sitting down to dinner with my family and instead of being in the moment always thinking of all the things I need to do after dinner then my perspective needs to change.

I need to remember that when I am dying someday my kids won’t remember that they only ate organically grown broccoli from our own garden as much as they will remember that their mom sat with them at meals and interacted with them…really listened to what they had to say.

So I am hoping this summer to get a little change in my perspective…I’m not giving up on some of my goals and plans especially those that involve simplifying my life…but I’m going to put them in the ‘big picture’.  I’m going to focus more on those things that are as simple as spending time with my family.

For at the end of our lives are we really going to remember anything else?

So stay tuned throughout this summer as I’m going to be starting a series on how I am going to go about simplifying my life.  How I am going to re-prioritize and learn to focus more on those things that are important  and less on the other stuff!

First step for me…getting rid of the clutter.  It is driving me crazy and distracting me from things more important. See you next week when I will share my plan for getting rid of all the ‘stuff’ that I don’t want or need!

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What are Daddies good for?

Saving (and handling) creepy critters.

creepy collage



Being completely goofy (and reserving gross jokes for the fire pit)




And being good teachers.

rolling collage

And for being another big kid!

We gals love you fellas!

Happy Father’s Day to all of you Daddies!!


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When it comes to making jams and jellies I make a LOT!  We have a big family, I bake all of our own bread and that is a combination for eating a lot of jam…

Each year I do wild blackberry, white grape, apricot, and when I can get organic nectarines or plums I make no-pectin jam with them!


6 Cups chopped nectarines or Plums(I have found that this works best with fruit chopped by hand…in a food processor makes for a softer set)

3 Cups sugar

4 TBSP Lemon Juice

Combine ingredients and bring to a slow boil for 30 minutes stirring very frequently (I just stand and stir while reading a book)

Remove from heat…at this point you can add any spices you want, cinnamon, ginger, etc.  I like ours plain.

Ladle into sterilized Jelly Jars.

Put on hot lids and rings

Tighten (but no overly tight)

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes

This is super easy, very delicious, and a great way to preserve your soft fruit bounty for the winter.

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Compared to the start of our Real Food Challenge, getting local food is a breeze this time of year. How much more local can you get than your own backyard? Spring is good for items like ramps and morels. Summer in our region has quite a few beauties to look out for. If you don’t have immediate access to wild foods ask around. Sometimes people are happy to share their sources. If you find a source of wild food be sure that it’s not on private property before harvesting. If in doubt, ask the owner for permission.

Disclosure: Please note that I am not an herbalist or a doctor and trying any new and/or wild foods should be done with caution. I highly suggest having an experienced someone help you forage until you are comfortable with your own knowledge. Just like other foods, wild foods can cause allergic reactions and even death in some instances. Please proceed with caution.



wild blackberries

Wild berries are a must! Blackberries and raspberries are starting to come in here. I picked my first ripe blackberries yesterday. I’ll be hitting the hillside every few days throughout June and deep into July to get bucketfuls. For what? Oh, let’s see – there’s cobbler, buckles, sorbet, syrups, jams, and my favorite, wine. Whatever’s left gets frozen for fruity toppings for pancakes and smoothies later in the year.




Sassafras grows like mad on our property. The roots can be used to make tea, root beer, candy, and jelly. It can even be used to make mead and wine! (See a connection here?)  Sassafras was at one point completely banned because it was linked to cancer in lab rats. If you ask my opinion anything can cause cancer when given in such large doses. Even if you don’t feel like consuming sassafras I recommend at least picking off a leaf or two just to smell the amazing fragrance!


chickasaw plums

Chickasaw plums

Fruit trees are a glorious source of nommy goodness. Down here we’ve got Chickasaw Plums which are a very small fruit in comparison to the cultivated or imported types. What are they good for? Jam and … can you guess? Yep! Wine!




While springtime is fabulous for dandelion green salads, in late spring and summer I like to pick the flowers to reserve for tea, jelly, and you got it: wine.


sumac berries

sumac berries

Last but not least is the Sumac family. Not to be confused with Poison Sumac, these trees can grow upwards around 30 feet and have brilliant red berry cones that ripen in early to mid summer. You know they’re ripe when you can touch the outside of the berries and get a tart flavor. Note that if you are allergic to cashews or mangoes to avoid the sumac tree. Native Americans use the sumac to make a type of lemonade. The fruit contains high levels of citric acid giving it a tart flavor. Native Americans also used a brew to treat blisters and sunburns. I have yet to try either of these recipes. I wonder if it can be used for wine?

What kind of wild edibles do you look for this time of year?


Jennifer can be found at Unearthing this Life where she snarfs and blargs about her life in the country with a Kid and Hubby.

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A female cat can start having litters as early as 6 months of age and she can have up to 3 litters of 2-9 kittens each year. You can imagine how quickly things can grow out of control if spaying/neutering isn’t done. It really irks me when other people don’t spay/neuter their pets because soon this starts causing problems for neighboring houses and communities. Last winter we started noticing a little cat around, pretty soon there were three cats roaming around. Last week she moved 4 kittens into our garage and I have male cats spraying everything outside and this is starting to freak out one of our indoor cats. Because of someone’s irresponsibility, I now have a cat problem that I’m going to have to deal with.

I’ll be trapping, spaying/neutering and releasing these cats trying to limit the population growth of the feral cat colony. Now I’ll be spending money trying to make up for someone else’s cheapness. Our local humane society has a coupon for a few dollars off each spay/neuter, but I’ll still be covering most of the costs of fixing and vaccinating all these cats. I’m really annoyed at the moment that someone wouldn’t spay/neuter their pet and because of that I’m having to deal with this problem. If I do not do it I know these cats will start to suffer overpopulation, disease, starvation and other problems. So I’ll pick up the slack for someone else and start a Trap/Neuter/Release program here in my neighborhood.

Have you ever had to deal with someone else’s responsibility with spaying/neutering?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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Ever feel like this?

It seems like that at least once or twice a year I sit back and look at my life and am completely overwhelmed.

There are so many good and constructive and meaningful things that I wish to accomplish that there seems to be no way to get it all done.

I am committed to cooking from scratch from as much homegrown produce as possible.  But as noble as that is it also entails a large garden with all that involves.  Not to mention the time it takes to cook from scratch for a large family every day…all day long.

Homeschooling is something that for our family is a lifestyle choice that we made long ago.  Yet there are days that planning lessons and hanging out ALL day with my kids seems a bit…well crazy!

Then there are the animals that are as much a part of the family as anyone that need care and cleaning and feeding.

The dishes don’t do themselves…

Nor does the mountain of laundry.

There are bills and doctor’s appointments.  Dentists visits and playgroups….

I try to make sure we flex our creative muscle so crafts are a must.

And then there is the blogging…and the photography that is involved.

My mother-in-law is still lingering in hospice, visiting numerous times a week is a must.

I know it is all about prioritizingbut everything seems important and/or necessary.

So here is my question for you today.

How do you do it all? Or have you given up on doing it all and just do what you love?   Or do you delegate and sit back and eat bon bons while you order everyone around?

Seriously…there must be a system or something for getting it all done.  I would pay big bucks if someone could let me in on the secret!

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Purple is a definite sign of life here in Tennessee.

teeny tinygrape


spiderwort 'Sweet Kate'

It’s also a sign of good eats!

sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter sage sauce


I’m not a fan of the red, yellow and orange flowers. I find something very cool & soothing about purple flowers though. My gardens are predominately filled with purple, pink or white flowering plants. Like many of the other color days, I have a Flickr collection featuring all my purple photos.

I’d have to say my favorite purple would have to be the wild black raspberries that we pick every summer. There’s something so wonderful about their deep purple color and their wonderful flavor. I freeze them on a cookie sheet and we enjoy them in cobblers all winter long.


Happy Sunday all…Kim here sharing a little purple!

What’s your favorite purple thing?

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