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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Trades Gone Bad

I am all about the trade.
I live for a good trade.
I have things just for the trade.
I stick by my trade.

Okay, only once in the last year and four months have I not followed through. But, the deal is still pending and I admit I am in the wrong. AND, I will make amends!

Where to begin? This new friend mentioned last fall that she had some sort of case of drinks she did not want. Let's say it was chocolate Ensure or something like that. I will put one of those in the freezer and drink it frosty cold and call it a milkshake. (I am a sucker for chocolate even if I have to consume chemicals.) She offered it to me. When I said, how about a trade?, she concurred that would be great. We figured out what I had that she wanted. In fact, she loved whatever it was I had....oh, lots of fat-free cheese because she is diabetic.

Note: If you buy the wrong food and take it back to the grocery store, by law they cannot put it back on the shelf. I hate fat-free cheese.

So, I handed 8 lbs of cheese through her passenger window and looked in the back seat for the drinks. ??? Oh, I told the other women about our trade and that sweet little old lady said she sure would love the drinks, so I could not resist giving them to her. My smile did not just fade. It immediately disappeared and I presented a cold and stormy face, I am quite sure. I did not ask for the eight packages of grated Kraft fat-free cheese back because I was so stunned.  I wished I had.

So, yesterday, I mentioned if she ever had cartridges from her printer that she was throwing  away, I would trade something for them. I am not sure what happened next, but she mentioned she had two small tubes of Colgate toothpaste that she did not want. She wanted something minty. How about Aquafresh, a huge tube?  She was so happy because that was exactly what she wanted and what she used.

Tonight, I waited by my car in the parking lot as she drove past me. She stopped and I presented her with the Aquafresh. She said, Oh! And then handed me a plastic bag with a newspaper and something else. After five minutes, I looked at the side of the bag and saw a white box. What is this? She laughed and said it was my toothpaste. Okay, now I take it out and it is CREST, not what we discussed. She acted all innocent--Oh well...nervous laughter. Plus, the box AND tube were dirty like Coke had been spilled on them.

I was flabbergasted--It's use by date is over two years ago! She shrugged her shoulders--Use it anyway. It won't rot your teeth...shrugs again. I handed her back the toothpaste--This was not the deal. You can keep it. Besides, I won't give old toothpaste to my children and grandchildren.

I looked hard at her and then presented a lip know, sort of a smirk, not genuine, not with the eyes. You know, this is the second trade we have made where I got nothing. 

As she smiled at me, I could take it no longer. She made no promise to bring me the two tubes of Colgate. Just give me back the Aquafresh and I will trade someone else for the Colgate unless you find yours that you were looking at when we made the deal. She handed it back with a bit of disgust on her face. I smiled genuinely and said my goodbyes.

Then, I was shaking and boiling as I drove home. How dare she? Some days you have to teach people how to treat you. I am usually not so upset about a slight. But, it seemed she did both these slights on purpose. Moreover, she made no noise like she would make it up to me. Either time. She acted like it was no big deal to her.

Exbf thought I should have done what I did. (I called him to complain.) Believe me, he does not always agree with me on matters like this.  He tells me if he thinks my actions are wrong. Of course, he is wrong when he says I am wrong.

This is a minor trade, I know. But, it just irked me that the only two times we have traded, I got stiffed.'s a good thing I do not have high blood pressure because I could feel the top of my head coming off as it was. Of course, that could be the Diet Coke with caffeine that I had just consumed...two whole large glasses.

(By the way, I give things away all the time with no talk or expectation of anything coming my way and no favor being returned to me.)

Your turn
Tell me, have you had trades gone bad? Did you ever have anyone who just seemed to stiff you on purpose and show no remorse?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sprouts: my first time

June 29, 2011

I have eaten sprouts for years in sandwiches and salads purchase elsewhere or at friends' homes.  I just was not confident I could grow them or that they would be right or that I could use a different bean. You know, I was in the stupid space, "You mean I could actually make my own clothing?" space. You have known people like that about different activities.

Since I have chosen something others declare as simple, I don't know why I have hesitated. Maybe it was the lack of explicit instructions, like how much beans, what kind of beans, how much water, how much light, exactly when do I rinse, what if I leave too much water...and on and on....

Saturday morning, I decided today is the day...tada...I start sprouts!  I used the beans I had and hate--pinto beans. I have dried black eyed peas, pinto beans, kidney beans, Lima beans, Great Northern, and navy beans--pounds and pounds. I really detest kidney beans along with pinto beans. By the way, the sprouts from kidney beans are poisonous.

June 25, 2011
  Besides, I decided to grow chicken food. In the winter it is more difficult to get green food into them because the grass is dormant and some of the weeds. Some of the green things I pull for them are undesirable to hens, obviously. Maybe they are pouting because they cannot get out of their pen into the freedom of the yard. I have seen sprouts with little green leaves, so this is my goal for the hens.

Since sprouts have proven deadly, I hesitate to eat my own. Silly? I know!

I put beans in a glass peanut butter jar to experiment, not many, as I have heard they really expand. I added water to fill three quarters of the jar. After twelve hours, I gave them their first rinse. On Sunday and Monday and Tuesday, they were rinsed 3 or 4 times. Today, I let them sit until evening without rinsing. I just rinsed and drained them. They fill the peanut butter jar.
Lid to drain

The lid to drain is a plastic thing to put over cans of food to drain away the liquid without spilling the contents. It's handy.

It is 6 p.m. now. Maybe around 7:00 I will feed my first sprouts to the hens. I want them to have time before beddy-bye (8p.m.) to eat them. Sprouts will be really easy, free chicken food.

I kept the beans on the counter but not in direct sunlight. Directions said not to put in direct sunlight and I need to know why. It seems I may need to keep at least two "sproutings" at all times, starting one two days after the other. That will keep my hens in two cups of sprouts each day if I use quart jars.

Beans hanging onto sprouts I eat? Nope, never seen those. But, I only assume they are not poisonous or contaminated. At any rate, they are chicken food.

Great Northern beans will be what I sprout for me. I wonder if all the nutrition is the  same or greater in the sprouts as in the bean. I have plenty of dried beans here, so I want to eat these, sprouted, instead of buying a different kind to sprout.

 This is a success! Next time I will use quart jars. And lay them down. Now, to see what the chickens have to say~~~
Mad rush to get sprouts

No Way! Nasty!
They just left quickly and then came back to stand between my knees, looking into my face and begging for something else to eat!  I did fail at feeding them for free. I will try to add the sprouts to other foods. Sometimes, when they are confined to their pen, they do eat food they have turned down. After the initial shunning of the sprouts, I rewarded them for their pickiness by giving them crushed eggshells, dry oats, and a banana peel with some bruised places I cut off the banana. Bad chickie mama!

Your turn
Have you ever sprouted beans? Do you ever use common dried beans that we usually cook, like the ones I have? Do you get green sprouts?

My Sunflower: cheap thrill

sunflower My sunflower is not even looking at me. I have never seen its face. Somehow, I thought it would face the sun, but, no.  It is a volunteer in the junky, weedy, overgrown part of my yard. I have packs of sunflower seeds from several seasons that I never planted because I never had the perfect spot.

I was overjoyed when my friend showed it to me. Yes, the sight of that sunflower kept me happy for hours. I am almost embarrassed to admit how happy it made me.

Your turn
Has the appearance of a flower or bud brought such joy into your life?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Christmas Challenge on behalf of the Homeless


You can give more for less. At first, this does not seem to be sound advice. It is a good idea. No, it is a great idea. Maybe you would rather give less for more. Hmmm...this is how I do it...

First of all, I would never advocate giving to the homeless only at Christmas. This idea is for collecting warm items for the winter, items you can find in summer yard sales. I have started giving these items earlier in the Fall.

One year at Christmas I listened to a friend who said that she had found watches on sale for $5 and had bought several dozen to give to young men who were trying to get a job. They were mostly homeless. She surmised that they could not get to appointments on time unless they had a watch. I felt sad that I could not be so generous to that many people. Without money, I thought, this was impossible.

Later that year, at a garage sale I saw a pair of gloves for a quarter.  Hmmm, these are nice gloves and warm, something a person in need might find very helpful. Then, the light bulb. I could get all the gloves I found that were only a quarter and in good shape and give them to the homeless shelter!

As I made the rounds of yard sales, I did find about a dozen pair for a quarter. Warm scarves and hats caught my eye. Now, I was collecting hats, gloves, and scarves. At the final yard sale of the year, the people were touting the merits of the gloves that they marked $2, telling me how much they cost to begin with. Finally, I revealed to them what I was doing and that I only bought quarter gloves. The two couples and others in the yard sale, had a conversation. As I walked away, they stopped me.

"Here, we will give you all the gloves, hats, scarves AND all the coats if you are giving them away." I assured them I was. Three minutes later, I could barely see out of the car because of all the coats filling the front and back seats of the passenger area.

The reason I stick to gloves, scarves, and hats is storage room. So, I made room for the three or four trash bags that held my loot + coats when I delivered it to my friend. It took two men to carry it all onto my friend's front porch. I am still collecting only the smaller items.

Panties and briefs and boxers were often reduced to a quarter at Walmart. I bought those as I could afford them. Some days, I was stretching to be able to afford an extra quarter. Other days, I spent my last 50 cents. The days of quarter panties ended...sigh. But, in the meantime, I bought all my grandchildren's underwear for about two years and some to put away for another year beyond. These bought to give to the homeless were with the warm yard sale items to give.

That Christmas, I probably spent only $10 giving to those without means. At least a dozen people stayed warm. Nothing was shabby, just not new. I left shabby things for others to buy. One of the coats was leather and was insulated, also. Giving $10 means nothing to the masses who need. Giving all I had worked for more people.

All the hats and the little pair of gloves in the picture were at a neighbor's yard sale. She lives on the next block and just moved in. The hats were $1. When I started to put them down, she told me her husband wore them when he was in the Army and how warm they were. I told her I only bought things for a quarter and told her what I was doing with them. She handed them all to me and added the little pair of gloves. I tried to pay for them (quarter each), but she was generous. She had coats but I did not beg for them by telling me other people gave me coats one year. I get what I can get for a quarter and maintain low expectations so others will not be resentful and feel like I am begging or pressuring them.

The first year, I gave all I collected to my friend on Christmas Day. So, homeless people who had nothing warm still were cold on Christmas. The next year, I took it all on Thanksgiving Day.

Although I am in the South and Birmingham is even further south, it still gets cold, especially if people are out for very long in the weather. I can run to the car gloveless day in and day out until January if I want to. But, I imagine not having a warm house or car or a warm destination. No, gloves are needed.

Another way to give more for less is to get free items or really, really cheap items using coupons and sales. Give those items to the homeless or those who have no means of obtaining the things we take for granted. However, collecting good, warm, yard sale items is my way of giving.

Your turn
Can you find one thing or several warm things that homeless or destitute people need, buy it for a quarter and stretch your giving dollars at Christmas (winter)?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Clothes Drying Rack

This handy drying rack is from Country Living. It is a custom-made piece, but we could probably adapt something we in Blogland already have for the same purpose, just not so cute. Then again, those with handy husbands might get something just this professional and cute.

In my yard is a rack of some sort that I use in the yard for drying. I only have one short clothesline. I have no idea what it originally was. Recently, the sight of it has annoyed me. It's too good and handy to move to the curb. That's where I found  Maybe I can do something with it inside.
The rack in the yard is about 6' tall and very, very light. It is in the way now, because the guy who mows my yard for $10 just tosses it aside and never puts it back. NO COMPLAINTS!

Ex bf would move it or give me a chance to do so. I usually put chairs and other items on walkways, in the swing or on a table to help him. This guy does not call, just shows up. So, for a deal on mowing, I am certainly not complaining to him!

I think if I take the front of the rack off, I can attach the bottom to the back part of the house so that it will never have to be moved. It will barely show. This is still not a project I can complete on my own, but at least it will be easy to do. If you notice the front part is the best piece for the rack. It is already bent just right.  Hooking the front to the wall will give me a piece that is attached to the wall and then permanently leans outward.

As it stands, it always blows over in a stiff breeze, especially if there are clothes on it! See the bare spot in my lawn? That is one of the many bare spots left after the daffodils die and are mowed down. Unsightly spots are the price I willingly pay to have large swaths of daffodils in the spring. Besides, moving the bulbs to a bed would just make too much sense.

It suddenly occurred to me that this project could be completed using a broken wooden drying rack, the kind that sits on the floor. I see those all the time...light bulbs going off all over my brain

Your turn
Does anyone have a similar swing-out or drop-down rack like Country Living shows? Does my project to obtain more hanging space outdoors look feasible?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Yard sale finds

Sweet dress!
dresskaylalavenderThis dress was only $2 at a yard sale. I was ready to pay the price asked when I discovered a dirty, black spot on the white sash. Then, I found huge yellow arm pit stains.

I asked the guy if he would take $1. You never can tell if stains will be okay after a wash. Here it is, hanging on the line at dusk after I machine washed it in a load of light, good items of mine. Perfect! K will love this. The tiers are so fluttery and sheer. Plus, she loves lavender.

Toys R Us Totally Me Sewing Machine and Knitting Machine
Then, there was this gem. The little girl got it out once and put it away, showing no interest whatsoever. The grandmother sewed and tried to get the little girl interested. Only the thread is missing, although it is threaded for the first time, threaded from the factory.

Hmmm, the knitter looks interesting, like something I might like. If K, the g-daughter does not want me to send the sewing machine and knitter, I may sell it. I have lots of regular machines, but this one with the chain stitch might be interesting for some items. It is certainly portable, weighing less than a pound.

The sewing machine and knitting machine cost me $5 in the box, along with the yarn for the knitter and a little sewing box. I will sell it for $15. It is $29 on the internet.

Today, I spent $6, will make $15, a $9 profit plus a free dress. I was not out to make anything, but why not? Well, if daughter wants K to have machine and knitter, I will be out the whole $6! Oh well....

Your turn
Did you find anything at yard sales today? How fabulous was it?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Trembling Enchantment of Green

"He who loves a garden still his Eden keep" A. Bronson Alcott

Don't get me wrong. I never wear green. Nothing in my house is green--no walls or furnishings. Green of nature enthralls me every year as though I had never seen it before. As I grow older (almost 63 now), it seems I appreciate it more....not sure why. The life I see in green is something Thoreau would appreciate. Nothing else seems to hold the peace and promise of green trees, foliage of yard plants, and the grass. Maybe it's just me. My St. Augustine grass has a depth to its green that is lacking in other grasses that I have observed. By no means have I experienced all the greens and grasses of the earth.

As I drove the back way from Huntsville, south to my home, avoiding the interstate, about 6:30 pm last Saturday, I was struck by the majesty of the land around me. There were few houses, a little mountain foothills  range, and absolute quiet. People must be at home eating, tending the last bit of their garden, or getting ready to go out on Saturday night, I thought. This road normally has many cars. Not so when I drove the 30+ miles home this evening.

Since I had the radio off, the drive seemed especially serene. From now on the radio will be off so the noise won't interfere with the green experience. I could not see green for the cacophony of my favorite music (60s and easy listening).

I passed the old barn right beside the road with the little stand for selling produce. No one has sold produce there for the last 25 years. The old man died. His widow insisted on raising and selling gourds. Maybe that is produce. Her son raised gourds just for her and filled a 6' x 6' x 4' high lattice bin, made just for her and her gourds. The bin has a nice roof and overhang for shoppers and gourds to stay dry and shaded.

One summer day, I saw her, bent and walking slowly. She wore a faded, printed cotton house dress, topped by a faded apron. She had a bonnet on her head and old knee socks scrunched around her legs. For years there was never anyone at the stand. The one sighting of her and a later conversation with a very young, respectful relative were the only means of communication except for the locked money box in which to deposit money to pay for gourds. Laughing gently, the relative said the old woman had the only key and checked it regularly.

Now, there are only very old gourds in the bin. It does not look like they raise gourds any longer. The young relative had pointed them out to me, up on the hill near the woods. Did she die? I wonder. Everything was too quiet and green to stop and inquire.

Even the dogs seemed to honor the peace of the green afternoon, soon to be dusk. All their masters must have mowed the lawns because every lawn was freshly cut. The scene was not marred by a jarring note. Mowers were gone. No cars were in sight in the yards and few were on the road. Nature, even subdued by a lawnmower, seemed to be in charge. For one moment, I wondered if it were this quiet a hundred years ago. Home awaits me.

Late Spring has given us over a week of rain which seems to have added another dimension to the green world. As I stood in the backyard today, hanging clothes on the line, I was struck by the fact that I could see only green as I gazed round me. Only the clothes, the chicks and part of the back of my house broke the green spell. The sky was blue with clouds. The 6 foot back fence was obscured by scuppernong vines and wisteria. Even the trunks of the trees were gone, hidden by privets that reached up toward the branches of the hickory nut trees and bowed to the ground, touching the grass. The low-growing limbs of the tree hid my car and the house next door.

The diffuse, trembling green of Nature seemed at her best. Green must be female, tantalizing us each day to play with her, to interact. Green has many agendas and roles--nurturing, playing, birthing, tending, feeding, burying, cleaning, listening, hiding. Green is there to discover as I increasingly have the last few days.

It all seemed too perfect, punctuated by two bright petunia plants, rescued from brown doom at Lowe's. I nurtured them back to their green and pink state. The old-fashioned roses on the back fence have faded, and I won't cut the vines until I see hips. Maybe I will have hips.

For a moment, I felt as if I were in a secret garden, seeing nothing and hearing only the birds and chicks. Sometimes, it is hard to tell them apart just by listening.

I had no horizon, only walls of green on four sides and a blue ceiling. The house is there, but from where I stood, I could not really see it. The blaze of the sun, though blinding, kept me focused on the green. Weeds grown up over my rock garden hid even the heat of the rocks so nothing emanated. It was all green, just green.

This feeling comes over me every year. Today pulled all the green I feel from the depths of me. I never told anyone before.

"He who loves a garden still his Eden keeps."  (sign in my yard)
A. Bronson Alcott

(Written on June 22, 2009, ten days after I had no TV)

(Note: June 22, 2011: I still have no TV. I can tell the chicks (now hens) from the birds chirping in the trees. Neighbors cut lots of green privets and put up a fence which the wisteria is starting to cover again. I will be 65 in two months. Today is the same green month and day as when I wrote this. )

Your turn
Does the green of nature touch you deeply? Does green, lush foilage renew you as it does me?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reasons I love the scary preppers

First of all, I am in no way a prepper. Preppers scare me. Okay, some preppers scare me. Others just puzzle me. However, they have compiled information that is useful, amazing, and makes me think beyond what I believe. Some preppers are piling up their stash for religious reasons; some groups are militant; some groups are preparing for TSHTF type scenarios; some see their stash as a hedge against inflation; others think food might be unavailable during natural crises. Of course, any one group or person may prepare for  several of these reason.

If you feel I have mischaracterized you by including you in a post on preppers, please forgive me.

Most of the prepper sites involve instructions on how to do things to make yourself less dependent on stores or others. This is all well and good because total dependence on the outside world makes one vulnerable and dependent. Very few people will ever be self-sufficient. Yeah, you're gonna need gasoline or something to run that generator. Some preppers are just down-right inspiring.

All the guns and commando stuff seems beyond what we need. BUT, some days, I think they might all be right. The more laws I see enacted that take away rights, the more cautious I become. Or, is that just my age?

If I have characterized you as a prepper, please don't take offense. AND, you don't all scare me. The doomsday scenarios that some people publish do frighten me. Sometimes I need a little fright to make me think.

Take this guy Tactical Prepper. His latest post is on how to make chlorine bleach. Fascinating. Would it save money in the here and now of my life? I don't know, but will check it out. Oh, he also has a post about making cheese. Just look at his site and search. I am definitely going to be trying that one.

I love all his instructions for making things of paracord. I don't even know what paracord is, but it seems strong and useful.

Angela, at Food Storage and Survival preps for religious reasons. She impresses me with every post. She put her newborn down for a nap and goes out and plants the garden. Wow! She can shoot, too.

LindaM at Hello, It's Me has moved her family to a farm. They are planting and planning, planning and completing all sorts of projects to be able to feed the family and live more independently of the outside. She is not a hermit or disgruntle in any way, I don't think, just wants a different life.

MMPaints at Self Sustained Living struggles daily to be more self-sufficient. I admire her! Her animal photos are just the best!

Wendy lives in northern Canada and has the neatest title to her blog, Little House in the Big Wood. She talks about when she lived in the south and cracks me up because she was still in Canada. Her blog is filled with animals, fence building, births and deaths and adoptions of her farm animals.

Barb from Australia writes Barb's Back Yard. I have to google lots to see what chokos and dugites and other items on her acreage are, since we don't have the things she refers to in the US or call them a different name. She fascinates me with the drums she plants in. You gotta see these.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Onion Orgy Over

Yes, I cried. Then, I abhorred the stench of onions for the 36 hours it took to dry the onions. After the dehydration in the dehydrator, I spread all the onions on a plate in the oven with the light on. The oven light finished the drying process. And, the odor renewed itself. Lastly, I put the onions in a pint jar and set that in the oven with the light still on. After the pieces of onion seemed properly crunchy, I lay the lid on the jar, slightly crooked to allow the last of moisture and heat to escape.

I know you have seen this first picture, but I wanted the saga pictures all in one post. Here is how it all began. Yes, the details are

5 pounds of free onions

chopped--8 cups and a piece to use now

Onions took four dehydrator shelves
Yield--one pint dried onions
Further advice:
*Don't do this when the humidity is 100%
*Chopping onions finer would speed the process.
*Don't cry; it goes faster if you can see.
*Re jar this into four half-cups for easier handling during cooking.
  DONE, but without pictures of the four 4-ounce jars.

I am thoroughly pleased with the dehydrator except for one thing. I cannot see the controls. This is a tall dehydrator, placed on a counter and is under the upper cabinets. I have to use the book to work the controls and a flashlight to see the control marks for temperature and time.

But, I have dehydrated onions...all free to me except for a bit of electricity.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Humanure: it's all poop to me

Over at Root Simple, Mr. Homegrown has a very interesting post, Emergency Toilet Sanitation. In other words, where ya gonna poop when TSHTF? We cannot just throw the contents of our  chamber pots into the street like people in England did.

to spare you,
no pictures of

The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 had its genesis in The Jungle  by Upton Sinclair. Theodore Roosevelt read the book and pushed through the legislation to protect the public from the meat-packing industry practices that Sinclair described. 

In The Jungle Sinclair describes how sewage flowed in open trenches in the street, down to a lake that held human waste. Rain carried it along to the lake and also caused it to overflow into streets, yards, and houses.  In the winter chunks of ice from the sewage-laden lake were cut and stored for the following summer. The ice with human waste bacteria sold from ice trucks, was served in hotels, and was common in the homes of the wealthy. We know that untreated sewage, sewage left to pollute our neighborhoods, our mountain streams, and the playgrounds of our children is not what we desire, based on our knowledge of pathogens.

Although the story took place in Chicago, IL, the horror of untreated sewage still looms in Third World countries. In the event of a catastrophe or a minor problem, do you want your children exposed to untreated sewage--human excrement? Do you want to step in your neighbors poop? Do you want the neighborhood poop in your garden? No, I didn't think so.

Root Simple is the first link on this post. Really, all you need is a five gallon bucket and a toilet seat and leaves. You now have a composting toilet. The Humanure Handbook has a drawing for a toilet, but I could never make that. Download the pdf and share it. After all, you want your friends and neighbors to know all about this. It might be your neighbor's poop into which you step. Lovely!

I am a confirmed, committed non-camper. But, I will do what needs to be done if the worst comes. A composting toilet saves a valuable resource, water, but it saves money for the consumer. Yes, I can be that parsimonious.

Your turn
Have you ever used any other toileting method than a flush commode? Are you a camper? Do you have a composting toilet?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Needing a surrogate patch for pumpkins/Food Not Bombs

I finally got around to germinating seeds. I really wanted sweet basil, so that was all I was going to do. Okay, I sorted through seeds a year or more old and wondered how a sugar pumpkin would grow. Figuring it would not germinate, I planted the seven little pellets left from the basil with pumpkin seeds.

NOW, the pumpkin seeds have germinated! And, I have no place to put them. What to do? What to do? Exbf said NO.  I need a surrogate pumpkin patch.

It appears the volunteer tomato that I staked and lovingly watered, the one growing in my compost pile, is not a tomato after all. I have been caring for a weed!  Aaack! I do have four tomato plants to put in there, but the box is only 4'x4.'  I think maybe I will put one of the pumpkins in there.

I offered a friend eggs. He said he only eats organic. HA! When I told him I had hens, he agreed that he would take eggs.

This friend is a guy I met in Birmingham at a party last year. We talked about my forming a food buying club. But, he was hard to pin down. We have talked a lot, just not about the fact I have hens.

Old Rocker
Today, he drove to another town, picked up a rocker for me, delivered it after 75 mile drive. I gave him 100 lbs of dried beans, 10 lbs of rice, $10 to help on gas, and a dozen eggs just because.

Satanic statue
He prepares food for homeless people and hands it out in Five Points in Birmingham, AL, near the satanic It is a ram-headed man reading to the animals. I really don't see it as satanic. I got the rocker; he got food for homeless and eggs for himself and his dog; homeless get food.

Food Not Bombs
He works under the guidelines of Food Not Bombs. All food is vegetarian, donated to the groups, and handed out with no strings attached. I think he buys bowls. Next time we talk, I will discuss this and see if he can get some cheap bowls and spoons he can wash. Maybe that is against the guidelines. I am just really sure that he is going to want to wash, store, and transport bowls each week!

The rocker is over 100 years old and belongs to the mother of a former friend. I was going to cane it for her. No one has paid me the $50 for the cane, now $50 + $10= $60 for money I have spent. Caning will be free, my gift. I took a class from a guy who was my friend. I just did not know he taught classes. We have been friends since and he promised to help me get started on this. I remember everything except how to get started. Actually, it came back when he started to cane a chair. My bent butter knife, the only tool a caner needs other than a knife is still in my tool box.

Dehydrating onions
The onions no longer smell to me. Bad sign. I decided to dehydrate them when humidity was 100%....not a good plan. They have been dehydrating for 14 hours. Not good. There is still moisture in the onions, but they are now so light that the dehydrator air blows them out onto the floor...sigh. I don't like losing any food. But, they are all picked up and tossed. Now, who will I get to sniff me next time I leave the house and tell me if I smell like onions?

Your turn
I do not want to discuss the fact the statue is satanic or not on the blog. You may write me at the address in the upper left hand corner if you wish to express an opinion on that. But, has anyone seen the statue? Have you participated in Food not Bombs? Got a surrogate patch?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vidalia Onions-Free

5 lbs of free Vidalia onions
Vidalia onions are only grown in an area defined by law in and around Vidalia, GA. Vidalias are a sweet onion. I will cook with any onion, but getting five pounds on Vidalia Onions is a real boon. At $1.99/lb, this is a  free $10 bargain. Since this is onion season, the price may be lower right now. Okay, May is Vidalia onion season, but I got these on June 11th, so these were probably harvested shortly before that. At any rate, these get rarer and more expensive as time goes by.

Today, my Excalibur dehydrator will make its maiden voyage. Okay, so it is pretty stationary--losing its virginity, perhaps? I will not be surprised if the odor of onion pervades my home, clean clothing, and my hair. People may avoid me!

It will be interesting to see how small the jar to hold all these will be. My guess would be a half pint jar will be sufficient--1 cup. We will see how close my prediction is to reality. I also predict these will last me until Vidalia season next year.  In my cooking of most meats and meat dishes, I add just a bit of onion to add flavor. In my efforts to make things last longer, I have frozen onion that otherwise would have just spoiled in the refrigerator if I did not use or put it up some way.

Look at the size of this onion. It weighs more than 1 pound, is almost 6 inches across, and is 15 inches in circumference and 3.5 inches thick. In the first picture, this onion is in the back. I put the two quarters on top of it to give you a frame of reference, then I found my tape that I had been search for! This is not just an overgrown onion or an anomaly. Many Vidalias are this size.

huge Vidalia onion

Yes, I am being frugal by adding only a bit for flavor. Rarely, do I get the urge to cook a hamburger with onions. Even then, I feel I am being frugal by eating not what I want but what I need. I look at it as being practical instead of trying to deny myself because of parsimony. I know I will get another onion.

I quit buying bags long ago because the "savings" to me is just a false economy. One bad onion discovered immediately raises the price per pound. Several onions gone bad later keep raising the price. I buy an onion, use a bit, dice and freeze the rest--until today.

Probably, the garlic on the counter should be dried, too. If I am going to smell onion-y, I might as well add a little garlic to the mix! Okay, here goes! Maybe some celery will accompany the onion and garlic.

While I am chopping, you can check out this article about the origin of the Vidalia.  Here is more information, including exactly where the Vidalia onion can be grown and be called Vidalia.

Hmmm, less sulfur in the soil means a sweeter onion?  I wonder if soil can be amended to make it have less sulfur? There is a project for research another day.

Your turn
Have you ever eaten Vidalias? If anyone has dried onions, how did they turn out?  Does the odor permeate your home while they are drying? The smell of bananas did when I dehydrated them in the winter. It was a lovely upon arising each day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

In your pet's food: roadkill, flea collars, poison

Insert your
pet's picture

There are days when I see eyes start to roll as I explain why I don't feed chicken feed to my hens. NOW, after reading the article in the link further down on the page, if had a dog or cat, it would never touch commercial food. An article caught my eye and I must share it a bit later. Read it to find out what really goes into your pet's food that is in a can or dry.

It would be soooo much easier to buy feed for my three hens. Really, it is not too much trouble, but it is more trouble than buying a bag of feed. It is so much healthier to give them fresh food and people food, like scrambled eggs. It is much cheaper and more natural to feed an animal like I do.

I don't worry about hens eating eggs or a bit of my chicken I prepare for myself. They get meat along with bones to pick clean and gristle and fat. Chickens don't have a moral center, so I don't worry about making them into cannibals. They will kill and eat each other and kill chicks and eat them. They even kill mice when they can get their beaks on one.

However, your cat may be eating dead cats, cats that died of disease, cats that lay on the roadside and rotten, cats that were euthanized and still have the poison in them. If an animal is poisoned by the neighbor, that cat may  be in your cat's food. I truly believe that clean, freshly killed cat in your cat's food will hurt not  your cat. But, if it bothers you, your sensibilities, maybe you need to reconsider what you feed your cat. The same goes for dogs or any other pet or farm animal.

Okay, I am talking hens and cats, but this horrifying article about animal feed talks about all sorts of food fed to animals, large and small, pets and domesticated animals we eat, show cats to hound dogs that only run coon.

(There is a mad chicken disease just like the mad cow disease, so my hens eat nothing but cooked chicken or cooked any other kind of meat.)

If your animal suffers ill health from its food, how cruel and not parsimonious is that? Don't let your animal suffer because you are too lazy to prepare food that is fresh, chemical and poison and medication free. Sure, you can buy cheap dog food and then be prepared to have an animal become ill and die or become ill and cost a fortune in medical bills to get you pet sort of back to optimal health.

Your turn
Do you suspect your animal may have gotten ill from pet food? Does anyone feed their animal food cooked at home for the pet instead of commercial pet food? How horrified are you?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ooops!...I Did It Again

"It may seem like a crush
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I got lost in the game..."

Or something like that.

Today, I did it a little differently, "lost in the game."  . . . I came in from chicken and garden duty, exhausted and hot, piddled around (Brits, not what you think). I had gotten an egg and put it in my left pocket as always. But, for some reason my cell was there instead of my keys. The keys were in the right pocket where the cell goes. Unaware of all the confusion in my pockets, I came in and sat down in my chair. That is when I heard the crackity-crush noise in my pocket. As I sat down in my chair, I knew immediately it was an egg, breaking, being crushed against the side of the upholstered chair and my upholstered thigh and the cell phone!
As I tried to get to the kitchen sink, pulling my pants down as I went, trying to hurry and walking as if on egg shells (pun intended), I could not do both. I don't know why I thought tippy-toe would help anything. I finally got the pants off and held them over the sink. Ugggh, how disgusting. I had to turn my pocket inside out with one hand, pushing the egg as I used a paper towel with the other to drag it out. Imagine my surprise when I dragged out the cell phone covered in slimy egg white.
Oh, yuck. I wiped the cell phone clean in a hurry and ripped the back off. The egg goo, the white did not go inside the battery compartment. SAVE! In 20 months of getting eggs and putting them in my pockets, I have only broken an egg twice. What is it, twice in the last month?

Does anyone know how hard it is to clean egg white from a cell phone?

Wendy related her story here of three crushed eggs in her hoodie front pocket. She understands.

Your turn
Who else has crushed eggs in the pocket? Or, just in the wrong place and on your person? Oh, Wendy, you can relate your story again since I am too lazy and hot hot hot to look for it. I think putting my hands in raw eggs is just about the most disgusting thing ever.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Touch-A-Truck Day

recycling or garbage truck
Touch-A-Truck Day
The local library has free summer programs all summer long. I can imagine how children loved this. There appeared to be about two dozen people there when I drove by. I caught this driver as he was leaving later in the day. The truck has the recycling bins underneath, so I guess it is the recycling truck. If not, it is the garbage truck. Hmmm, the back looks like the garbage truck.

(Blogger is having its own way about formatting today. No, this is not supposed to be centered.)

Isn't it shiny and clean? This must be a new truck or they washed it specially for today. I also saw the largest tow truck ever and a fire truck leaving, all appeared to be newly washed. However, fire trucks and tow trucks always look new and clean. The other trucks had left when I drove by last.

When my son was four, if anyone asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he answered, "A garbage man." After all, it was the most exciting thing that happened in our little quiet neighborhood. Men jumped on and off the moving truck. What more can a little boy aspire to than jumping off moving, large, noisy vehicles?

So, I can imagine how happy the children, especially the little boys, were today.
This library also has many other free programs beyond just summer reading.  Well, not "just reading" since reading is so important. This program may have gotten parents or children into the library, parents and children who normally don't go to the library.

I wanted to go see the trucks and hear what the drivers had to say, but I thought that might be dorky or weird. Besides, it was in the 90s and on pavement. It just seemed less interesting when I thought of it that way. I have done my mommy duty and stood and sat in the sun long ago. I just smiled as I passed by. It was always very good to find free and educational events for my children.

Your turn 
If you have children, do you watch for the free programs at the library? If you don't have children on grandchildren, do you ever notice that there are interesting happenings at your local library? What is the best or most interesting program the library has held on their premises?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Evil-eye Louise

See how mean she looks up at me. I had a piece of whole wheat bread to break up for them and one for me to eat. They ate theirs. THEN, she jumped up to my chest and just snatched part of my piece of bread with her beak. So, I lost my appetite. I did eat the higher part where she could not have gotten and gave the rest to them. They are clever some days.

Can you see her determination better here? I cropped the picture. She wants my bread.
Louise is determined

Here they are, all three of them, wanting my bread. They came at me like a Roman phalanx! Sort of.
Louise, Fancy, Thelma

Thelma and Louise look at each other as they plan their strategy.

Your turn
Do your hens ever gang up on you?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lard and eggs are good for you

She will never be eaten, but she would be a healthy meal.
Her eggs are healthy for me to eat.
And, she loves me.
She loves food.
Me Too!
Yes, lard and eggs are good for you. So is milk, eggs, beef, or any meat/byproduct from an animal who eats grass. In other words, grass-fed beef is not just a weird, expensive health food. Products from animals that are grass-fed are high in Omega 3, a supplement that physicians use to prevent and treat heart disease.

Remember: moderation is the key to eating anything.

As for lard and its healthy merits, it depends. Crisco is hydrogenated and therefore, not healthy. The trans fat that is formed by hydrogenation raises our ldl (bad) cholesterol level. So, one day I set out to buy lard. Nope, lard is hydrogenated, also!
Only lard that is not hydrogenated is healthy for us to eat. I found unhydrogenated lard in a Mexican store. Regular lard and leaf lard (from around the kidneys) was available, but since it was just put in fruit jars and came from Mexico, I was not able to force myself to buy it. Further investigation with information from my Honduran friend will be necessary. I know I am being too cautious and too silly.

For your entertainment and edification
Read Lard: the new health food. You just might try lard. The calorie count is high, but not higher than Crisco or other substitutes. Eat real butter, too. Remember, you still need to count calories! This is not permission to overindulge in fats. Moderation, remember?

Long ago, oh, about back to the 1940s/1950s, most all cattle were grass-fed. The feedlot with corn-fed beef/animals is a recent occurrence in the history of food. The CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) produced in animals that eat grass won't give us the problems that fat in corn-fed beef will. 

I eat all the eggs I want from my hens that are allowed to eat grass everyday. If it is too cold or wet for them to forage or me to take care of them, I give them bags of salad that are too old to sell. Free food=grass or green produce=eggs that give health benefits.  Yes, I do go pull grass/weeds, anything green for them to eat. Some days, they do not appreciate my efforts.

You may think the claims of prevention of disease by consuming products of grass fed animals are too good to be true, but check here and here. These are commercial sites, trying to sell you something. But, I have read sites that are not commercial sites that back up these claims. I could not find an .edu or .gov site. That was my limited search. Eggs and milk and meats from poultry and other animals was included in the sites I read from earlier.

Rat experiment
"In this study, the effects of maternal ingestion of hydrogenated vegetable fat rich in TFA, during gestation and lactation, followed by continued exposure of the offspring to this diet after weaning until the 90th day of life were investigated. We have also analyzed the effects of exposure to this diet just after weaning." Read about the government study here. Maybe pregnant and lactating women should stick to grass fed animal products for the future health of their unborn and suckling babies.

Chickens that are "free-range" can be in chicken houses holding tens of thousands of chickens. The doors on one end can remain open for two hours with only a few chickens leaving the house to never touch grass outside the doors. But, the fact that chickens had a chance to go out gives the farmer the right to say that the eggs come from free-range hens. If you know anything about chickens, you know that chickens are cautious and not at all adventuresome. They are not going to rush an open door, promise. My hens get grass time each day for hours on end. Or, I give them bags of Romaine, Radicchio, and Endive.

Here is a link about the difference in some terminology about beef.

When you see green,  friendly-sounding terminology on your food, don't take it for granted that you are getting what you perceive you will. Look it up on several sites.

Too expensive
Many people do not buy food products mentioned in this post because of the expense. You can figure that you can spend the money now on healthy food or spend it later on health care. I understand the problem of not enough money for healthy foods. But, you could just eat less of the more healthy foods in order to not have astronomical grocery bills.

How is this about practical parsimony?
It is a practical matter to stay healthy. It is parsimonious to not spend money on high-priced grass-fed animal products OR on unnecessary health care for preventable problems. When not spending money now means medical bills later on, the reluctance to spend money for better food can be devastating financially and possibly cause an early death. I have neither been eating grass fed beef or poultry or drinking organic milk. Okay, I say I cannot afford it. I no longer use Crisco for anything but baking during Thanksgiving and Christmas. My eggs are organic from true free-range hens and from my yard. However, I eat little meat unless I just get a craving. I do eat my little bit of meat every day, almost.  I eat little margarine, but I prefer the taste margarine over butter. I keep both and try to abstain from both. Don't skimp on healthy food to save money.

Okay, Linda, listen to your own advice. I am getting there. It is hard for me to trust that antibiotics, corn, and pesticides are not in organic, higher-priced food.

Your turn
Do you eat grass-fed beef or drink milk from pasture-fed beef or goats, eggs from grass-pasteurized chicken? If not, why not? If so, has your health or weight improved? Do you drink unpasteurized milk or eat the cheese made from it? As long as you understand listeria and other hazards, okay.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Confession: I am a sample whore


I never pass up a sample, even if I cannot use it. Usually, I know someone who can. After all, there are my three children, dil, a grandteen, and three grandchildren in my immediate sight who probably can. Then, there are other people, friends and acquaintances with whom I share small favors.

Wait, I lied. I was offered a small sample of hot coffee last Saturday. Since it was meant to be drunk right there out of minuscule cup, and I will not, do not, drink coffee of any sort, there was no sense in taking it. Coffee spilled on me was the last thing I needed that day. Sample of free, edible food must be wrapped or capped (unless I am not going to eat it immediately) to lure me.

Oops, I was mistaken. All the Avon products are full-sized. Only the Colgate and White Rain soap are sample sizes. So, I am a freebie whore, too.

Since I try to do the right thing, I always wonder why I get tripped up by samples. They are using too much plastic and other wrappings, just more fodder for the landfills. Samples to me are like shiny, glittery things are to raccoons. I am easily lured and trapped. 

Okay, so Tuesday I went to the farmer's market, the one only local farmers and their locally grown  food can use. Since I was at the tail end of market day, tomatoes were the only things that I saw that I wanted. I would have bought rhubarb if I had come earlier. Strawberries were already waiting for me at home.

I had parked across the street from the market and noticed as I went to the market that behind me in a parking lot were several huge tents, all pretty, well-attended, and customers milling around. A guy who is a friend at the market told me to go there and get samples. I did. It was Avon. Now, I never buy Avon, but I might. SkinSoSoft is lovely, but I am afraid I might slip in the tub if I use it. Really, the scent is so heavenly, I could use it as cologne.

Most of the Avon items are not samples. Only Colgate and White Rain soap are samples. Remember? They all came in a really heavy plastic bag that I can reuse. Here is what I got, what ex bf (he gave me his bag) and I got:

2 men's roll-on deodorant--gave to him
2 bug spray...will use
1 black cherry and nutmeg shower gel in a candy cane---cute!
1 vanilla moisturizing shower gel in a candy cane...cute, too...for daughter
7 strawberry lip balms...nice on the lips. I recommend this.
3 sample sizes of Colgate toothpaste...wonder if this was in my other free bag?
2 hotel size, White Rain, French milled facial bar, not Avon, either?

Anyway, ex bf took the deodorant. The rest is mine. Daughter and granddaughter will get two of the lip balms. If they rave over it, later I will send more.  I got a little bag of samples as I hurried out of WM the other day, so maybe the Colgate and White Rain soap were in that bag. I wonder where that WM bag is. My recipients listed in the first paragraph will get the toothpaste. Maybe I will try my hand at making laundry soap with the French milled soap.

See, I can use all these samples/freebies  or pass them on.

Oooh, there is a Disney Princess on the lip balm. Will I turn young, and blond, and beautiful if I use this? Okay, young would work!

My willpower did not fail me. I never took a vow or spoke an oath or made a resolution to avoid samples. I should have. But, I did not and won't. Yes, this is another small economy, albeit one that is leading us down a strawberry lip balm highway to landfill doom.

I suppose I am a sample whore and a freebie whore. Burn me at the stake. Make me wear a purple "S." Or, "F." No, let's make it an "S." And, I bet you will take my freebies and samples as I singe.

Your turn 
Do you avoid small sizes and samples in order to keep packaging out of landfills? I applaud you. Now, go sit down. No lectures. Just a sanctimonious "yes" will do. I really do appreciate you. How about the rest of you? Does the siren call of samples or freebies speak to you in a way you cannot, will not avoid? Any sample/freebie whores out there?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Houseflies: safe, cheap extermination + more

NOTE: If you own any animal, you should read this post about pests around, on, or in your animal.
SECOND NOTE: There will be no pictures since a pile of chicken shit with 30 flies is just not nice.

The hens spend more time around the door this year than last. Actually, they spend lots more time out of their pen. So, flies are like a Biblical pestilence at my house. Six were sitting on dishes in the sink....eeeeek! I swatted with a dish cloth until I was in fear of breaking things. I get wild when I swat and miss. I won't use spray poison. I even put up a nasty fly trap because I was desperate. I won't even start cooking if there is a fly in the kitchen, buzzing around or lurking.

Today, I used a non-toxic means of killing flies. Last year, on Backyard Chickens, I learned all about feeding DE to hens, cats, dogs, all farm animals, and people. Click on the pretty colored letters and words to transform your life with information on DE from Backyard Chickens. 

My hens got worms this past winter. I won't show you the flatworm in the egg. I found evidence of roundworms too. Believe me, I was off eggs for a bit. So, they were fed DE for about a month. Worms went away after about a week. I need to do this more often now that it is summer and the flies are in abundance. By the way, this is good for fleas, too.

I would never put Frontline on an animal for the animal's sake and mine. The DE can be used to dust hens, feed hens, and sprinkle in their pen and nest boxes to eliminate parasites and flies. Don't breathe in the fine dust or sprinkle it in a way the animal can inhale it. A little won't hurt, but it is fine and cuts. And, the effect of poison is worse than this harmless diatomaceous earth. I hear you saying you are NOT going to use this dust because you prefer poison. Okey-dokey.

DE is made from crushed diatoms, one celled creatures, now fossilized. Only one person at Lowe's knew what I was talking about, a young kid. All the older men had never heard of it. No, you cannot get it at Lowe's.

DE is put in silos with your food. It keeps bugs from any grain. No, it is not washed away. Most of the DE probably just sifts off, but some remains. This is natural, not harmful in the least, except for breathing too much of it. It does not billow up when shaken out of my homemade sprinkler/application device. It always makes a cloud lower than I shake it.

My hens were served scrambled eggs with grits and powdered milk mixed in AND a spoonful of DE sprinkled on top. They rushed over, skidded to a stop, and eyed the eggs suspiciously. They turned their heads this way and that and looked at me as if to say, "Why did you put dirt on our food?"  They were so funny, pecking around the edge to avoid the dusty look of the DE. When I next looked, the food was all gone. They got over it and ate the DE.

I visited a woman who had advertised on Freecycle that she had food to be gleaned. She took me down to the chickens since I was interested and mine were only about 5 months old. There were boxes of what looked like sand. She told me it was play sand with a cup of sevin dust in each of the boxes. I was horrified and commented that was poisonous. She said haughtily, "We have used sevin dust for chickens all my life." Okay, and she is telling me doctors don't know what is wrong with her. Maybe.....

I put the DE in the Kraft Grated Parmesan plastic jar with the sprinkler on top. I may tape up two of the holes since too much comes out at one time. I sprinkled their nest boxes that had something like fruit flies or gnats hanging around in there. I sprinkled their whole pen. The hens thought it was food but fled at the sight of the gray dust, fled squealing like it  was some huge monster about to get them. Hens are so amusing.  I sprinkled around the door and in the yard near my steps.

The guy on Backyard Chicken said he uses a flour sifter. That puts your face too close to the fine cloud of DE, in my opinion. Anything with a sprinkler top of holes punched in it would work. Maybe a sock or knee high or panty hole will suffice. You can also buy a duster. It is too hard to work since you have to keep pumping it. I bought one and took it back.

Tomorrow, early in the day I will go out and sprinkle the poop in the yard where they are hanging out today. Each poop place has something like 30 flies on it. I figure the people with dogs around here have flies that visit me! I am not kidding!

Yesterday, I opened the trash can and there must have been a swarm of a hundred flies. I clapped that lid on fast. After dark, armed with DE, I opened the can to find about fifty flies rising up as I sprinkled the DE. This morning, there were only about ten flies as I put in more DE. The problem is, there is something flat on top of the garbage, I sprinkle the DE hurriedly,  and nothing is going to the bottom. Tonight, I will just rock/shake the trash can to dislodge all the DE up high and get it to the bottom. I have never had over two flies in the trash can, so I am just horrified at the fly nursery that seems to be in my yard. People next door and near the trash can have two huge dogs. I think I harbor their flies in my can!

Do not get the Diatomacous Earth for pools. That is toxic.

The DE you want is food grade. I don't know if there is animal food grade and people food grade, but a guy implied there was. I may eat a teaspoonful and see if it hurts me. If it is from an animal supply and says food grade, that means people and animals.

I think today ex bf sealed the place the houseflies are coming in. I have one more place to seal--a window pane that was sucked out a bit by the tornado. I will just put packing tape over the 10x10 inch pane until I can get someone to putty from the outside. It is too high for me to be climbing on a ladder.

How to embarrass your child

Check out Wave at the bus for some ways to embarrass your child. Okay, so it is only one way. Just do it every day all year long. You can start your plans for next fall. Just don't forget to read my last post.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Toys: pass them on, not to a landfill

bought 1969-1978
A question
is on my mind, but first let me tell you a story.

Saving toys
I have been an inveterate saver of my children's toys. Over the years self-serving advice-givers have tried to "help" me:

"Why are you saving all those things? Your children are all in their 20s (or 30s). They won't want these!  They will want new things when they have children."

"Hmmm, maybe you are right. I could put them in a yard sale or give them away....sigh..."

"My grandchildren would love those! Since you are getting rid of them, I will take them."

LOLOLOL So it has gone for over thirty years. But, I never gave in to that kind of talk.

The toys in the picture were bought for my son (born in 1968) over the course of  about nine years. I am sure that many were lost and many were destroyed by the vacuum or the mower. There's no telling now many were lost in motels, at his grandmother's house, in stores, at school, or where ever. No, he was not supposed to take toys to school said the teacher. So, I had to frisk him before school....seriously! I did a pat down and search of books and bags, even the lunch I had just handed him.

Actually, I was not sure what had happened to these and a bucket of tiny cars, bought during the same period. Maybe some of these were bought for the girls, but none were bought later than 1978. Ex bf brought them to me when I asked what else was in the closet upstairs.  I washed and sent the cars to my son over two years ago. The same trip awaits the cowboys and animals.
Bucket for the animals
This bucket was bought in 1969 and played with almost continuously for nine years, maybe more. Notice, not torn up. It was not used to sit or stand on or to carry anything else. Once the animals were dumped (is there any other way to do it?), the bucket was put back on the low shelf.  At first, I put the bucket back, but I instructed him and the girls how to store the bucket. No, not a mean

Washing toys
Today, I put the animals in a lingerie bag and dunked them up and down and all around in a gallon bowl of Dawn and warm water. Then, I picked the animals and people from the lingerie bag and put them on a towel in my lap. That went outdoors to dry in the sun. Nope, not happening after I saw the first fly try to land on one. So, they will dry in the car on the dash for a bit, in the sun but not long enough to Never put these animals and people in a lingerie bag because tiny feet, horns, legs, guns and knives get caught! I have never sent him a toy that was not washed first, but this picking them one by one from the sides of the mesh bag was a trial!

Now, for the question:
Why are people so quick to toss old, still-serviceable toys? Most things go in the trash. Remember, that is landfill space. Some go in yard sales with unsold toys sent to street trash. Even if you donate a toy, likely it will be landfill filling if one little thing is wrong with it. Or, if it gets broken or pieces separated in transit.

I was going to donate a tiny, toy vacuum that was missing the front part where popping balls go. The woman at the the women's shelter said most women there wanted new toys for their children so they would just throw it away for me. So, I removed the little vacuum cleaner from the donations and set it in the gutter in front of my house, removing it on garbage day to save it. One day about two weeks later, a man in a nice truck stopped and got it. I don't know if he was going to resell it or let a grandchild play with it. Either way, I was happy with its destination.

Lack of space could be one good reason people do not keep children's toys. Lack of space has never been a problem for me. That has not led to hoarding because you will notice there are no broken toys. Okay, so hoarders save broken and unbroken things. Nothing had to be piled willy-nilly, stacked, or stored anywhere but in their proper place in the emptyish rooms. Eventually, I did consolidate toys into one room and used the other for fabric storage, but still there was room where toys resided.

Lack of interest is another valid reason. If you just don't care whether your grandchildren play with their parent's toys, okay.  But, I cared and have sent toys off to my children as they had children.

Do you remember reading about my dilemma here? (halfway down the post) I wanted to buy a pack of farm animals with a chicken. These little animals were upstairs all the time! No, they were not hidden under mounds of anything. They were on a shelf in a little bucket that was bought in 1970, specifically for the animals, fences, and people. I just had not been up there in about three years and ex bf said he did not see them....sigh. Well, he did see the bucket last week.

I won't try to show you the details on the animal. But, the goat has a little bell around its neck, a bell on a collar, both still visible. The collar is molded onto the animal shape and painted; the plastic, minuscule, molded bell is separate from the animal, hanging by some magic molded plastic for 40 years. The hippopotamus is wrinkled, deep wrinkles, not almost smooth like the newer versions. It is very easy to see the quality of the older animals is higher. These old plastic animals and people were only about $1 for a bag.

Still there is no chicken in the bunch. It was probably lost to the vacuum. Remember, a chicken was what I wanted so badly.

Last Christmas I could have saved $10 since I bought a set for each child! I just wanted the children to have this type toy. Now, there will definitely be enough for both children.

One of my friends who is actually between my two older children in age said his mother has saved ALL his toys in their attic that is climate controlled like the rest of the house. He is an antique dealer. Maybe these old toys will be worth a fortune by the time he is an old man. In the meantime, they are organized, and out of the way. He is an only child.

Yes, I am sentimental. However, if a child says he or she does not want something I have saved, I am practical and sell it. Never ask a teen. Ask the adult that teen will later become. I was a sentimental teen. Most aren't.

Rats! These will not fit in one plastic, gallon bag. There goes two bags!

If you have a little chicken about 1/4 to 1/2 inch high that you are discarding, I will pay postage if you will send it. Or, I can pay for it and postage.

Your turn
Have you ever saved toys for over thirty years? Actually, the oldest toy from any child is forty-three years old. Would you see yourself as a hoarder? Would others?  Does it please you to see your children play with your toys? If you are a grandparent, do you have toys your children played with stashed away for grandchildren?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hardware Store Gift Registry

This is a great idea! This local chain of hardware stores is only in San Francisco, but maybe other hardware stores will follow suit. Just look here to see the details for yourself.

Just think, instead of getting something probably overpriced, yet nice, and impractical, you could get just what you need--hammer, wood glue, ladder, door lock, power tool, paint....oh, happy day. I have a teacher friend who married. Teachers went in together and got him several Lowe's cards, sort of the same thing as the gift registry, except the givers can choose what to give.  This is a win-win situation.

The registry is probably online, I forgot that detail. Even if a person had to call or visit the store, shopping would be so much faster.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tomatoes everywhere....uuuh, maybe?


On Thursday, 104 degrees and 65% humidity...a rain forest?

My friend from NY, who lives in Alabama, recounted the story of his tomato plants that failed. Or thrived, actually.

His Italian father told him to take cookie sheets and lay wet paper towel on the cookie sheets. Next, place one seed about every one inch in both directions, so you have a grid of seeds. Wet another paper towel and place over the seeds.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. When it reaches that temp, turn it off. Place the cookie sheets in the oven and leave overnight.

Cut the paper towel in tiny squares with one seed to each square. Place the little squares with seeds into the peat pots that go right into the ground. The pot should be filled halfway with soil before planting the square with the seed, then cover the seed and water. In two weeks there should be tomato seeds germinating. That is what his father said.

My friend did all this and waited and waited and waited. He called his father who told him to be patient. Finally, he threw pots, seeds, dirt and all into his garden area. My friend was annoyed that the plan failed.

He went back out to till a few weeks later.  When he looked in the garden a few weeks after tilling, he was shocked to find tomato seedlings all over the place. The tiller had spread them all over the garden, little tiny seedlings. He pulled them up and flung them out into the yard in all directions up and down the perimeter of the garden. Still later.....Yes, soon the tomatoes sprung up all over the yard.

Once again, he treated the seedlings shabbily, flinging all the tiny plants up against the fence line, trying to rid himself of the nuisances.

Eventually, these once again thrived. Tomato plants grew all along his fence. He had about 24 bushels of tomatoes. The neighbors finally refused to take more tomatoes for canning or eating. He lives in the city, so it is not like he lives where people plant an acre of tomatoes.

I laughed so hard at this tale of trying to kill tomato plants. How many of us are worried about tomatoes not germinating/growing/thriving under adverse conditions? Who gets angry when they germinate and grow?

He also told me his neighbor in NY planted his spring crop of tomatoes every fall by throwing tomatoes against the side of the garage as he watched them burst and slide down the side of the garage. In the spring, he had tomato plants.

Both stories are hilarious and bizarre to me. Really, he tells the story better than I, expressing surprise, dismay, and disgust.

Your turn
Have you been faced with tomatoes that thrived no matter what? Got a funny tomato planting story? Got a bizarre method of planting?

Friday, June 3, 2011

What is this? Give up?

Try again. Wendy can get this one?
I was bathed, dressed, and out of the house for specific chores. I remembered I had lots of produce for the hens when I got to the car and saw two huge bags of cabbage leaves. After I threw my purse and water into the cars, I lugged the bags to the hens and emptied them.

Since Louise was on the nest, I encouraged her to come down and eat. She did. Left behind was an egg. Doing what I always do to avoid climbing the stairs into the house, I put the egg into my pocket. I usually just give it away to someone while I am out.

As I sat in a dead electric cart in the store, I felt something wet. No, I did not spill my water on myself. Oh, NO! I broke the egg somehow. I had to wait for the clerk to bring me a live cart, got on it, found the motor oil and paid and left.

Really, I wanted to finish my chores before returning home. But, my pants were wet, not in a disgusting, ambivalent way: Did she pee or spill something in her lap? No, they were wet in a confusing way: How did she pee in her pocket? I cannot even think about it.

The egg was oozing worse now. Getting off the cart and getting into the car must have broken the yolk, too. This is not fun. I could feel the wet to my knees. Taking my pants off, I could feel wet at my ankle before I lowered my pants.

The picture is of my pocket with me trying to bend and twist enough to take the picture of the whole wet place, including the back of the pants which I did not get in the frame. See the egg yolk? I twisted my pants and me all that I could just for your sake. Niiiice!

Yikes, I just found out the yolk was on my panties, too. The shirt also came off since it is long enough to have egg on it, and maybe it felt wet. Either the shirt is wet or my imagination has taken over.

Your turn
How many of you have broken an egg in your pocket? Give us the details! Wendy at Little House in the Big Wood, please share your store again.  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

99 Degrees and Failures and Accomplishments


Remember my celery grown from the bottom of the celery? Well, with all the worry of the tornado, I just watered it too much. Soon, it died.

Remember the celery at its zenith?

Absolutely no potting happened on Wednesday. I accomplished much, but it was indoors:

*sorted and dated cans of food
*made up a box of food to give a new acquaintance who is struggling
*sorted a few books
*packed away blankets
*loaded and washed dishes in dishwasher
*washed iron skillets
*took cans to recycle=$4.68 (78 cents/pound)
*picked up produce for hens
*washed and hung out three gray pair pants (rinse cycle and vinegar only)
*hung another small load of clothes
*folded and put away clothing from the clothes line
*sorted and threw out eggs kept too long (tornado turmoil)
*scrambled eggs for my breakfast
*ate from $ menu at McD with $1 gifted coupons. (Exbf ate too)
*saved 1/4 of amount purchased on necessary items by using coupons at store
*made a frugal salad for dinner for exbf and myself and one for his lunch tomorrow
*got haircut
*returned item to store
*gathered a few items to take to the thrift store

Well, it is no wonder that I am exhausted now, Wednesday night.

Ex bf did lots. Tuesday, I found a guy who mowed my yard with a riding lawnmower and only charged me $10! However, it did still look ragged since he could not walk with a regular mower to finish it. I assured him I was satisfied. I had a plan. Ex was coming Wednesday to mow. So, he had time to do a few other things instead:

*used weed eater on the yard and made it look very nice
*fed hens (he likes to do this)
*filled 2.5 gal waterer
*watered plants in my pink 4x4 foot garden/planter
*watered all the stressed plants on the table waiting for me to repot them
*dug up the volunteer Wave Petunia that was outside the rocks (and put it in a pot!)
*carried the cans for recycling to the car for me
*took most of the trash to the road
*got a plastic box from gutter, emptied it and washed it for me
*dumped rotten food into a container to throw away (from tornado, what I lost in refrigerator)
*carried the chicken produce
*put things in compost by fence
*brought egg every time (3) the hens laid one...he likes to do that
*reports who is on the nest now.

He was tired, too. But, he said it was better than mowing. He declared he would never have chickens or a cat or dog.  But, he enjoys telling me of the hens' antics and who is doing what. Chickie Daddy is a good and valued friend. I made sure there was plenty of water taken out to him, and a snack in the afternoon. Then, he had a long drive--1.25 hours home.

Here I am on Thursday and nothing done about potting. The plants will all get watered.

High today--104 degrees

Your turn
Do you ever have a very busy day and think you have piddled until you sit down and recount the tasks, large and small, seasonal or everyday, and decide you just did accomplish something? How are your plants? Any failures on the road to food freedom?