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Archive for January, 2014

The past few weeks have brought some winter-like weather to our area, as it has to so many other areas around the US.

Ice Cabbage - Jan 2014

Ice Cabbage – Jan 2014

This is the first year that I haven’t set up the hoops on the garden to cover the vegetable. So far, so good.

We have had more freezing rain and ice than normal, but the veggies seem to be doing alright. I try to water them 36 hours before the big even, whether it is freezing temperatures or freezing rain. That give the plant enough time to use the water to protect itself.

Ice Kale Jan - 2014

Ice Kale Jan – 2014

These photos show some pretty chilly veggies, but they have come through it all relatively unscathed.

How is your winter garden (or summer) garden doing?

Sincerely, Emily

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No-buy February

We all have a lot of stuff. George Carlin has a famous monologue on the subject. Americans love stuff. Our entire culture, if you can call it one, and economy is based on our acquisition of it. Recently we’ve been getting blamed for the slow recovery, because apparently we aren’t buying enough of it. Well, we knew that eventually the power brokers would find a way to deflect from their own criminal mismanagement and rapacious self-interest.

I don’t know about you, but I have enough stuff. There’s no more room to put it. I’m tired of seeing big box stores getting built and schools getting torn down. I’m tired of spending my taxes on all the stuff the military needs, and I’m tired of my stuff being taxed to pay for Big Oil transporting stuff and Big Ag stuffing it down our throats.

Fine. Let’s slow down the recovery even more, and turn this behemoth that’s been bearing us towards disaster away from the consumptive, extractive economy. Let’s stop buying stuff.

Take the pledge with me for a NoBuyFebruary. If you don’t need it to live, don’t buy it. Taken to extremes, this means only buy groceries, because I’m guessing you have plenty of clothes, and you certainly don’t need any more dust catchers. If you can make it at home, you can’t buy it. Coffee. Meals. I’m including electronic expenditures, too, so that means no Kindle books or online subscriptions. Just go for a month without spending any money that you don’t have to spend. No fair using the last 5 days of January to go on a buying binge either.

February is a short month. Take the pledge. Just 28 days to Just Say No to consumerism. Live with and on what you’ve already got.

No_buy_february_badgeoriginally published in Mahlzeit, January 2011.

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I have been a member in a Culinary group for the past 2+ years and it has been a lot of fun. We get together once a month and have herb-themed culinary meetings. Our group has been full and there have been many members of the Herb Society that would like to join our group, but we limit it to 15 members since we have sit-down dinners and rotate house. So, a friend and I have mentored a new Culinary group. We officially started the meetings in November. the first meeting was a general meeting, bring a dish to share (no theme) and talk about the guidelines and ideas of getting the new group off the ground and in the right direction. For the December meeting the original Culinary group invited the new Culinary group to our annual cookie exchange. That was a big hit with over 20 people attending (appetizers, not sit-down meal!)

Note: for those of you that know me, you might want to be sitting down to see some of the photos in this post! Seriously!

Goat Cheese - Thyme - Caramelized Onion Crostini Canape - EmilyTonight, I hosted the first themed meeting. Our theme was thyme and everyone brought a dish using thyme. I enjoy having people to house, but I am guilty of never having a clear surface to place anything and that involves time and planning on my part to get the house in order. I have had since the end of November! I did it!

clean house 1This all fits right in to the January Cure that Xan has been posting about. I can’t seem to find time to post on a regular basis on my personal blag, I can’t seem to find the time to read up on all the blogs I enjoy reading, and I can’t seem to find the time to even read the January Cure posts. I’m and very frugal with our money and don’t buy luxury-type items, so I am with Xan and don’t agree with buying fresh cut flowers each weekend. I do not need fresh flowers to feel good. My mom did send me flowers over 2 weeks ago, and I am still enjoying them. Last week I also bought flowers for my neighbor/friends as a thank you for picking up groceries, but also, I know they are sad with the passing of their son and the flowers sure perked them up. That makes me feel good!

Clean table 1Over the past few weeks, I have methodically focused on clearing some of my clutter. In the end, I only shoved a few things in drawers that I couldn’t quite get through. I was expecting 14 people and the house looks really good! I dealt with a lot of paper work. Recycled a lot of paper. Put a lot of things away (where I hope that I will find them again!)

As the day went on, 14 dropped to 4. How they heck do you go from expecting 14 people down to 4! Freezing rain! Yes, we get there here in San Antonio from time to time…. this was one of those times. We had a good time talking about thyme and visiting.

Here is my creation for the thyme-themed meeting tonight. I went with an appetizer – because I was spending all my time and energy cleaning the house, I wanted to keep it simple and easy to make. It was a success!

Goat Cheese – Thyme – Caramelized Onion Crostini Canape

  • 8 oz Goat Cheese – room temperature (you can use cream cheese if you prefer)
  • 3-4 T Sour Cream or Yogurt
  • 2 T Dried Thyme
  • Crostini or Crackers
  • Onions – caramelized

Bring your goat cheese up to room temperature so it is easier to work with.

Slice or dice onion and caramelize it in a fry pan. If you want to sweeten your onions a bit more, add a bit of sugar are you caramelize them.

While onions are caramelizing, mix goat cheese, sour cream/yogurt and thyme together. Use as much sour cream/yogurt as you need to create the consistency you like.

Cut your bread in sizes/shapes that you want and toast it. Set aside to cool.

Spread crostini with goat cheese mixture.

Top with caramelized onions.

Serve at room temperature.

All elements of this appetizer can be made ahead of time. Just pull them out of the refrigerator and allow them to come up to room temperature, and assemble them right before you guest arrive.

I guess this evening fit in with the January Cure – Plan a get-together. We also have some friend coming over for dinner in a few weeks…. I sure hope the house looks this good when that rolls around!

Do you have any house cleaning/organizing projects that you are working on?

Sincerely, Emily

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The problem with full time employment, aside from the annoyance of having enough money to pay the bills, is that macro-projects like the January Cure are hard to keep up with.

I’ve been telling myself that I did a major home reorganization last spring, so I don’t really need to go through my closets.

I don’t approve of cut flowers from an ecological viewpoint, but the bigger problem is that I live in the ghetto (ish), where there are certainly no florists, and now there are also no large grocery store chains. We are not the sort of neighborhood that the yuppie chains like Mariano’s find attractive. Buying cut flowers is a chore, not a joy.

I did of course do the kitchen, but not at the level recommended by the Cure. Although frankly, my kitchen is pretty clean and well organized as that’s where I spend most of my time. I think if I lived in a one room apartment, that room would have to be a kitchen, with the bed stuck in a little alcove.

I did not create a landing strip, but mostly because I’m not an accumulater. I just get rid of stuff I don’t need- papers, old clothes, cracked dishes, husbands…. In fact the moving on of the husband is the reason I don’t need to reorganize things like the kitchen and the bedroom and the paperwork. Been there, done that.

I also have not planned a get together, which is actually something I’d like to do.

Partly this is procrastination, and partly it’s fear, because the last get together I planned, half the people who R.S.V.P’d didn’t show up. I’m still getting through the leftovers, more than a month later. Who needs the stress, or the cost.

I am determined to get to my¬†Goal Projects: boxing up my husband’s detritus from the basement (he is not someone who does not accumulate things), painting “blackboards” in key places, and organizing my necklaces (I have several dozen).

I figure I have 17 days before I have to admit defeat on that.

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L is for…

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L is for Lotion. Hope to post more about that this week.

Making Lotion

Making Lotion

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Since Christmas day, our house has been a mini-infirmity. All sick and not much fun to speak of. We did get one good laugh out of it. I took care of my husband with the flu for about five days before it got to me. At that point I couldn’t help him at all and he could barely help me. Yes, I found that funny and got a good laugh out of it (after I was in bed for 5 straight days!)

As we emerged from the haze, I was able to start to open up the house to air out the germy-germs and let the cedar (actually juniper) pollen in I am starting to see things a bit more clearly now.

We have wonderful neighbors that would call and get the grocery list and drop supplies off on the front porch. I do have a memory of that, but I have more evidence piled on the counter of fast mindless meals (plain pasta, rice) and piles of dishes that needed to be addressed. Also piles of laundry.

I went outside to hang out the blankets and quilts. As I was hanging them out I looked across the field and it looked foggy. It couldn’t be fog, the sun was shining and it was noon. It was a haze of pollen that made me stop in my tracks and wonder if I should even be hanging out the blankets at all. I decided it was better to exchange the flu-infested germs for pollen.

When I made up the bed later that evening I noticed something on the blanket. As I took a closer look this is what I found…044Something was busy out there that day… busy laying eggs. I went to get a rag to wipe the eggs off, wondering what type of eggs they were, and should I spend some time trying to figure out if they were from a “good” bug or a “bad” bug. I decided I was too exhausted and ready for bed that I just wiped them away. They were more resilient than I thought they would be. They had a hard shell and took a bit of effort to un-stick them from the fibers of the blanket. Amazing!

Nature is amazing.

I have no idea how I even noticed these eggs, they were so small. I still wonder what they were from. All the others were draped open over two lines. This was the only blanket that was hung on one line, which gave a nice dark, private spot for this critter.

Sincerely, Emily

 

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Kitchen deep cleaning is my favorite task of the January Cure. It’s one of those things that each of us knows should be done, but you never do it because, seriously, life’s too short.

Somehow the January Cure stands in for a scolding nanny who impels compliance.

As it happens, I had completely rearranged my kitchen in the spring when my husband moved out, taking half our stuff with him, so I didn’t really need to get that down and dirty with all the cabinets, so I tackled those projects that have been waiting literally years to be done. You know the kind– organize your bracelets. Clean off the tops of the hanging cabinets (haha, yah, I didn’t do that).

What I did do was finally caulk the counter behind the sink and the stove.

Now, I’ve never done this because I’m a little afraid of caulk. Instead, I’ve been letting moisture seep back there for more than 15 years; I’ve had nightmares about what it must look like behind that sink cabinet.

What I want to know is in what universe is caulk “ready to paint in four hours.” Because it’s going on 8, and it’s not just still tacky. It’s still wet. I guess I’ll paint tomorrow. Night. Because I have to work during the day. In the meantime, I haven’t been able to wash dishes all day.

I ran out to the local True Value for hooks and cleaner. This is one of those wonderful old neighborhood hardware stores with the little bins of screws, wooden floors, and an astonishingly huge inventory. The guy knows everything, remembers you, and will order what you can’t find. I asked for environmentally friendly cleaner, because he didn’t have anything obvious on the shelf. What he did have was something called SunBrite, which comes in a little tub that mixes up to the equivalent of several gallons of cleaning spray– I used an emply Mrs. Meyers spray bottle. I’m plugging it here, because it’s amazing stuff.

I also finally attached the Container Store roll-out cabinet bins (finally = we bought them when we first did the kitchen, in 1998. Mustn’t rush these things). You don’t really need to attach them. They work just brilliantly just sort of placed in the cabinet. But Nanny was in the corner telling me to get with the program and install them already.

Now, here’s the heroic part. And don’t lie, you have not done this. But I have. Yes, folks:

I cleaned the refrigerator.

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