September 11, 2011

Independence Days Update, the last month

DSC_6077 It has been an entire month since I posted an update from the home and garden.  With school starting and adjusting to a different schedule, life has been busy.  Busy good, but still busy. 

The weather went from scorching hot and dry to days and days of rain.  The weather has cooled some and today it was just about as nice of a day weather wise as possible.  The garden continues to taper off on production now, and soon it will be time to put it to rest. 

Though I might regret it later, I’ve decided to not plant a fall garden this year.  I think this is the first year I haven’t since before our daughter was born.  We have two walnut trees that we need to fall, and with the recent rainstorms one has more and more limbs falling from it.  Since the main garden is sited where one will fall, I think it futile to plant a lot of greens and tender plants only to have them smashed later.  I’ll still plant some garlic, bulbs, and perennials, and I might still plant a few seeds at my dad’s, but other than that I’ll give the garden a break. 

The update below is from this last month, including this week.

What did I plant?—Not a thing. I am waiting for another week or so to plant a few perennials that a friend gave me for my birthday.

Planted to date in 2011--

Super Sugar Snap Peas, 7 tomatoes (brandywine, grape, Early Girl, Better Boy), Choko Baby bok choy, One Kilo Chinese cabbage, 4 eggplant, Blue Lake Pole Beans, Christmas Lima Beans, Kestral Baby Beets, Touchstone Gold Beets, Chioggia Beets, Bull’s Blood Beets, Waltham 29 Broccoli, Rouge d’Hiver Romaine Lettuce, Matina Sweet Butterhead Lettuce, Galia Melon, Gooligan White Baby Pumpkin, Gourmet Rainbow Radish Mix, Gigante Inverno Spinach, Cavili Zucchini Squash, Milano Black Zucchini Squash, Supersett Yellow Crookneck squash, Sweet Beauty Watermelon, Marketmore cucumber, Genovese Basil, dill, flat leaf parsley, Jenny Lind melons, Butternut Squash, Garlic (planted in the fall), yellow and red onions, 8 bell peppers, 6 jalapeno peppers, 4 cabbage plants, 4 broccoli plants, daylilies, surprise lilies, sedum, 4 o’clocks, hollyhocks, red cockscomb, moonflower, zinnias, sunflower mix, marigold, butterfly flower garden seed mix, thyme, chives, carrots, coriander, horseradish, garlic chives, Peace Vine tomato, another type of basil (friend gave it to me), Sweet Million Tomatoes.

What did I harvest?— Bell peppers, the first of the lima beans, jalapenos, green tomatoes, cherry and grape tomatoes, red slicing tomatoes, green beans, herbs, flowers for arranging, and a few yellow crookneck squash.  At my dad’s we picked the last of the zucchini, some bell peppers, and about a quart’s worth of cayennes. 

What did I preserve?—5 quarts and 1 pint of jalapeno rings, 7 pints of pickled green tomatoes.  I also froze some tomatoes, lima beans, bell peppers, chicken stock, and leftover muffins. 

How did I work to reduce waste and live more simply?— Our utility bill continues to show improvements as compared to previous years.  In spite of the heat it was still about $20 less than this time last year.  We keep track of our energy, water/wastewater, and gas usage, making note of those units on a graph along with the dollar amount per month.  We received our new recycling bin from the city of Knoxville and are excited about earning Recycle Bank points for doing what we are already doing.  Friends passed on some clothes for our daughter, and my aunt sent me some hand-me-down clothes.  Daughter and I went through her baby things and pulled out some uni-sex clothes for a friend who is about to have a baby.  We also pulled out some of her old ballet shoes and tights for another friend who is now taking lessons.  I cleaned out the office and a few other closets and brought most to the church for the fall rummage sale (first week in November—mark your calendars!).  I brought some of the books to McKay’s, a local book reseller, and made a little cash.  With the money, daughter and I enjoyed a little after school snack. 

As I’ve told you, our daughter is now in school.  The first full week, she had good marks on her conduct and was able to choose a prize from the “treasure chest”.  She was so thrilled to bring home a small Hello Kitty doll.  She explained that she could have chosen a gumball, but she chose the doll because “it will last longer”.  I can’t tell you how proud I was that she is starting to recognize what is fleeting and what will last.  The doll was already a hand-me-down and after she uses it we’ll pass it on to someone else, meaning that more than one person received joy from the doll.  It is nice to see glimpses here and there that say that she’s picking up what we are trying to model and teach her. 

Probably the biggest break we’ve made in a very long time from living simply is that we recently purchased new phones.  These are what I affectionately call “fancy phones” because they do more than just call people.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having the phones, but sometimes I worry that it is a slippery slope.  We strive to have balance, and I want to keep that.  We’re not living like pioneers or anything extreme, and we aren’t highly consumer driven people. (Side note here—I guess God must have known I was concerned about this issue because as I was typing I overheard our daughter playing a very elaborate pretend game of pirates all stemmed from a paper tubing from a plastic wrap box that I was going to recycle.  It, of course, is really a pirate telescope.  Guess we are having some balance after all.  Simple play and simple toys are the best!)

How did I work at building and strengthening community food systems?—  I found a new source for locally produced eggs and bought a couple of dozen to try.  While the yolks weren’t quite as deep orange as some others I’ve had, they were much better than grocery store eggs. I worked in the food pantry and made some boxes for easy distribution.  I dropped off some donations of toiletries around town and shared some coupons with a couple of people I know.   We resumed the children’s program at church now that the school year has started, and I help make the meals for the kids each week.  I also helped with the men’s breakfast at church.

Did I try any new recipes or were there any special meals at our table?—  I tried making breakfast casserole with bacon instead of sausage.  It was good, but it wasn’t quite the same as with sausage.  I can’t think of any new recipes or trials in the kitchen. 

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