Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wardrobe Redo

I've been living in this *frozen north* for several years now but I haven't gotten the hang of dressing appropriately for the winter. Either I look like the Michelin man or I'm freezing. I have plenty of long-sleeved T-shirts and a variety of coats; it's the in between layers that I lack. My mother gifted the whole family with down vests a few years ago but I rarely wear mine - it just doesn't look chic. They're fine for doing my *chicken stuff* but not for around the house or running into town. In addition, I have a hard time finding clothing in the local stores. Not to sound ugly, but I just don't consider Carhartt a designer label. So this morning I've been on the internet searching store sales for cardigans. I've found a few items and even got the free shipping codes but have hard time hitting the purchase button. I do need to do something, though, and will probably end up with a few purchases today. This experience has taught me that fashion is very time consuming - I've spend most of the morning on this quest. Oh, for summer days of linen dressess and flip flops!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Food Experiment

Hubby is home today so I'm making a new dish for him using the venison I mentioned yesterday. I found a slow cooker recipe for venison stew. I'm going to serve it over rice with green beans, corn, and Pillsbury freezer biscuits. I don't eat meat so he will be the guinea pig. Last night I baked some Old Fashioned Molasses cookies that we can have for dessert.

I managed to make it to yoga this morning and then I ran a couple of errands. I am a fanatic about recycling as much of our trash as possible so had to take some paper to our recycling center in town. I also ran by the grocery store and picked up a few items - far fewer than I usually pick up - yay! Once again, I averted my eyes from the magazine rack when I checked out.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Beautiful Day

This morning I woke to beautiful blue skies - so nice after a week of grey skies. I would like to complain about the cold, but I'm counting my blessings. It sure made doing my *chicken stuff* a lot easier. Pugsley continues to live in the house. He is getting stronger by the day and I look forward to when he can climb out of his cage at night. Then I can put him in the barn and reintroduce him to the herd. I'll still be bottle feeding until he's 3 months old but his (and my) life will be more natural.

I didn't do any shopping yesterday and continued using what I had on hand to make meals. Last night I discovered I had the ingredients to make a nice vegetarian stroganoff for myself and French toast for my daughter - hubby was out of town - I'll have leftovers to eat tonight. My son shot a deer last month so I have some venison in the freezer. I'm thinking about thawing out some of the ground meat and making something with it. I've never cooked venison before and am open to recommendations.

On a political note, I called my senators this morning regarding the economic stimulus package they'll be voting on. Being a Ron Paul-ite, I told the senators that if they were truly interested in getting extra money into taxpayer's pockets and into the economy, I recommended a moratorium on income tax. That would cut out all the red tape and pork barrel spending. But maybe that's what they want.

Have a peaceful day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In Praise of the iPod

For Christmas, I bought myself an iPod Nano. I have put off buying any new gadgets for quite some time but I started to feel that I was behind the times and missing out on something. My son and husband both have iPods. My daughter used her Christmas and birthdCheck Spellingay money to purchase an iPod Touch. Then during a yoga session a friend said she had gotten an iPod Nano as a gift and was telling me all about it. So I HAD to have one. It has turned out to be a wonderful tool for me. In addition to putting my music collection in one place, I get audio books from the library and load them onto my computer - a very simple procedure - then upload to the Nano. I've discovered that iTunes has tons of free podcasts that you can download - both audio and video. I was skeptical of the tiny screen on the Nano but it's actually quite viewable. I've found several sources for yoga routines which will come in handy when out of town.

One of the great things about using the iPod is that I cannot just sit still and listen; I have to be doing something. It's been a great motivator for both housework and farm chores. Since we live so far from civilization, I do a lot of driving. And now I bring my handy dandy Nano with me. It really helps pass the time; in fact, I look forward to long trips where I can really get into one of the books I've loaded onto the Nano.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Challenge Continues

Just in case anyone is curious, this is a photo of the little goat - Pugsley - who is causing so much havoc around the house. Cute, isn't he?

This morning I made a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up a few items. I had planned on waiting until tomorrow but it looks like bad weather is heading this way so we might have ice tomorrow. Pugsley depends on cow's milk right now so I didn't want to run out and not be able to drive to the store, plus he was getting low on diapers. I haven't been keeping track of how much money I'm spending but I've become more aware of necessities versus wants. I picked up a few more staples - flour and cooking oil - and some dairy products, but I scratched off some things on my list that I didn't really need. I've also learned to not even look at the merchandise, i.e. magazines, at the checkout stands. It's a weakness of mine. Those cover stories look so good that I automatically pick them up and toss them in my cart, only to get home and be disappointed by the articles. I'm starting to keep a running list of "wants," something I did long ago with bigger ticket items. Many times I would find that I really didn't want the item after it had been on the list for a while or I found a better product. I think the same thing will happen with many of my smaller items.

Why I Blog

Had I remained in Tampa, I would have never thought about blogging. In fact, before we moved, I didn't even know what a blog was. I was familiar with the internet and found it a wonderful tool to keep in touch with family, take online classes, research issues, find recipes, get homeschooling ideas, and reserve books and other media at the local library. I really didn't want to leave Tampa. The one thing that really bugged me about living there was the materialistic, consumeristic mentality. I had a friend who bought her 9 year old a cell phone, "for emergencies," as if this child would ever be in a place where she didn't have a phone or adult to turn to in a difficult situation. Then there was the time I was at a baby shower for one of my husband's colleagues. I heard her telling someone that she had just had a silk window treatment made for one window in her home and that "it was very reasonable, only three thousand dollars." My mouth fell open as I thought, "why not spend one thousand and donate the rest to charity?" It seemed that everyone was into keeping up with the Joneses and then upping them one. I had had enough and agreed to the move to Virginia.

However, I was not prepared for some of the culture shock I experienced, mainly as it pertained to religion. Yes, I had lived in the bible belt for over 20 years; yes, I'm a Christian, had been a longtime member of our local Methodist church and even taught Sunday school. Our pastor was a well-educated man with the title "Dr." in front of his name. He allowed Harry Potter in our church library because it is a delightful fantasy; he did not allow the Left Behind series in it as these books are poorly written fiction masquerading as theology, bad theology. In Tampa I had friends of all faiths and no faith. Even though we didn't agree on everything, we got along just find. My first month here told me that was not necessarily the case here.

Some of the things I encountered after our move (in no particular order):

The homeschooling mom who was upset at the Christian home school skate day because she was not quite sure that the music was Christian music - she couldn't understand the lyrics. I wanted to shout, "if you can't understand the lyrics, what difference does it make?" Other mothers at that same skating rink had a problem with some of the Christian music - it was too "hard core" - whatever that meant. As a music minister once told me, the only thing that makes music Christian is the lyrics.

I met a woman who did not believe in dinosaurs. Why? Because they weren't mentioned in the bible! Penguins, kangaroos, viruses, and bacteria aren't mentioned either. Does that mean they don't exist?

Then I got into a debate with the man installing telephone lines at my house. I have a Quaker bumper sticker that says "War is Not the Answer." He thought he would take the opportunity to witness to me, believing me to be a nonbeliever, and proceeded to tell me about all the wars that God called for in the Old Testament. I pointed out that 1) the bumper sticker was a Christian one and 2) Jesus was the Prince of Peace and never advocated war. He left me alone after that.

Then when I asked one of the local homeschooling mothers about the dual-enrollment program that the community college, she told me it was a very simple procedure: "Just have the home school principal - that would be your husband - write a letter to the college." My husband? The principal??!! Now, I love my husband very much - he's an awesome spouse and parent, and has even helped with homeschooling. But he is definitely not the principal.

So, I began to feel very, very isolated in this small community. I found myself on the internet (dial up, unfortunately), googling a variety of topics, including "liberal Christianity," starting to doubt that there were other people like me. I even had a faith crisis, believing that unless I was a card-carrying, Bush-supporting Republican, then I wasn't really a Christian. But then I discovered Jim Wallis and Sojourners magazine. I also found the world of blogs and found women like me. Women who were stay-at-home, homeschooling mothers; women who lived in the country and believed in living green; women who loved farm animals and yet considered themselves "girly girls:' women who shared their thoughts and struggles and dreams. I was hooked on their blogs. And now I feel that I should stop taking and give back, in the hopes that my blog might, in some small way, help a woman who is struggling with some of the same issues. My message to them: You are not alone. God Bless.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A New Week

Today began with my usual house chores - feeding the dogs and cats, and of course the house goat. I was able to get my yoga session in before heading to town to pick up a few farm supplies. Most mornings I do my yoga with a program I discovered on satellite TV's FitTV a few months ago - Namaste Yoga. It's a 30 minute program so it's just right for hectic mornings. The program starts with a quick warm up, goes to commercial break (which gives me time to start a load of laundry), takes you through a flowing series of poses, goes to another commercial break, then ends with the same quick cool down. Perfect for me and my schedule. I almost never have an excuse for not doing yoga. In addition, at least one day a week I go into town to meet friends at a church where we do about an hour of yoga to a DVD. Since I began doing yoga again on a regular schedule (over a year now), I rarely have any aches and pains that I used to associate with getting older. I highly recommend yoga to everyone, regardless of age or ability. Yoga can be adapted to a variety of physical needs and even improves on health.

I continue to feed my little house goat, Pugsley, and look for every sign of progress. He seems to be getting a little more strength every day so I'm hopeful that I can return him to the barn in a week or so.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Sad Day

We lost one of our little goats this morning. Bill went out to do his morning farm chores and found one of the little ones down in a stall. We don't know what happened as all the outside babies seemed to be doing fine.

Meanwhile, I still have the one goat in the house. He seems to be gaining some strength and I'm really rooting for him. It's hard not to get attached to baby goats - they're so adorable and sweet, like puppies. This little guy likes to follow me around the house. I just left him lying by the stove.

I'm committed to cooking out of my pantry and came up with a recipe for spinach quiche. I'm making it for myself (the vegetarian) and making chicken and rice for Bill (the carnivore). We'll both have some green peas. I put my bread machine to work, baking some nice crusty bread. Should be a good meal.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yoga with a Goat

I think I can say that I am the only person in the US who did yoga with a goat this morning. Yes, I still have my little guy in the house with me. I've been bottle feeding him cow's milk and hand feeding him soft bread in an attempt to fatten him up and help him build some strength. I try to let him roam around the family room for short periods of time (with a diaper on, of course) and this morning that coincided with my regular yoga routine. He parked himself under the coffee table next to my yoga mat and watched me do my thing.

I'm trying to stick with my limited shopping pledge but I did go over a bit yesterday. I attended a cooking class at Earth Fare in Greensboro, a health food store that is part of a regional chain, and loved one of the dishes - braised kale. I had a couple of staples I needed to pick up so I picked up some kale as well because I wanted my husband to sample the dish. My expenses for the staples were a bit high, but that is because I try to buy organic, or at least as close to nature as possible, and I buy in bulk. I picked up a large bottle of organic olive oil and bought some China black tea leaves from the bulk bins. I can do without a lot of foods but I cannot live without my iced tea! I will drink iced tea in a blizzard! But I must brag that while in the checkout line I carefully avoided eye-contact with all the yummy magazines they carry at Earth Fare - most of which I cannot find around home. So, other than the kale, I only bought necessities. Today I plan to stay home and do chores, so my expenses will be zero.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Yesterday I drove to Greensboro, about an hour drive from our farm, via Highway 29, a four-lane divided highway. On the way, I passed the exits for Reidsville, a community with a population of about 15,000. At the first exit I noticed a new, rather large sign, announcing that Reidsville received the All-America City Award for 2008. At the next exit, I again saw the sign; same for the third and fourth exits. Returning home on the same highway, I saw identical signs at the northbound exit ramps for a total of eight signs. A number of years ago, my home of Tampa received the same award. I know this because somewhere in the city, probably on the first southbound exit of I-175, I saw a small discreet sign indicating the honor. Tampa is a large city with a population of almost 400,000. Now, I'm glad that Reidsville received the honor, but my first thought upon seeing the fourth sign was, "Who paid for this?" And my second thought was, "The local taxpayers." We are going through a world-wide deep depression; the state of California, the seventh largest economy in the world, is broke; and many other state and local governments are facing severe budget cuts. And this small community felt it necessary to waste taxpayer (probably) money for those signs. Wouldn't one small sign at the first exit in each direction have been sufficient? Did the government or civic leaders feel that erecting the signs would draw hoards of visitors to their community? What were they thinking? And if there is this kind of waste in small communities, I cannot begin to fathom what is occurring on the state and federal levels! Reminds me of a bumper sticker I once saw: Where am I going? And why am I in this hand basket?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Day of Doctoring

I spent a good deal of time today just *doctoring* - me and the animals. I drove to Greensboro, our nearest city of any size, for a checkup with my wonderful integrative/holistic M.D. She believes in using vitamins and supplements before using prescription drugs. And she keeps up-to-date on the latest alternative research. I had her look at my finger and got the all-clear to remove the splint from my broken finger - yay, I can stop hunting and pecking! Normally, I would linger in the *big city,* run a few errands and do some shopping. But between the no-shopping challenge and my house goat, I couldn't stay. I hurried home to make sure my baby goat got his lunchtime bottle. I also started feeding him a little bit of bread - he isn't able to chew his hay yet. Other animal care included tending my bagel's (beagle-bassethound mix) infected ears and feeding Pepto to one of our mature goats. It's always something...

In keeping with my no-shopping (or very little shopping) challenge, I only purchased a couple of items today - the Pepto for the goat and a comb for my daughter's science experiment. I'm not sure what the comb was for. I was supposed to cook ratatouille last night but the vegetables had not thawed. Instead, I cooked some rice and garbanzo beans with a little salsa stirred in. All the ingredients came from our pantry and the salsa was homemade that I canned over the summer. I'll make the ratatouille tonight.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Frugal Living

Today I’m going to continue with my pledge to make do with what I have. Last night I pulled some tomatoes, squash, and eggplant from the freezer – all grown on our farm, I might add. I’ll use those items to make some ratatouille to serve over rice or pasta, both of which I already have on hand. Tomorrow I’ll use a chicken from our freezer to make dinner for hubby. It’s one of the roosters we had to cull from our flock so I’ll simmer it all day in my crock pot. A great resource I've discovered for using what you have is Allrecipes ( At the very top of the home page, click on the word *ingredients* and you’ll be taken to a chart that you can fill in with items you have on hand.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Buy Nothing Challenge

Deanna over at blogged about buying nothing, or at least as little as possible, in order to save money and use what we already have in our pantries and freezers. I've decided to try participating in this, in my own way, starting today. I had to make a trip to town this afternoon and already had a shopping list. In light of this challenge, I did a bit of editing. I decided not to buy the lipstick that I thought I *needed* - I do have a shade that I like and still has some life in it - and I skipped a few convenience items at the grocery store, focusing on a few fresh items from the produce section and a couple of baking staples. My plan is to continue this mindset for the rest of the month, *shopping* my freezer and pantry and cooking from scratch.

There's a Goat in My House

It snowed here in the wee hours of the morning so I hurried out to the barn to check on the animals as soon as I woke. All was well except for my little guy, mentioned in yesterday's post. He seemed to be having difficulty standing and his mother was ignoring him. I made an executive decision and brought him into the house to feed him myself. I'm giving him warmed cow's milk with a small needleless syringe. As soon as the roads are clear of snow, I need to run to the farm supply store for appropriate goat/sheep nipples and then to the grocery store for some newborn diapers. Pugsley, that's the goat's name, seems to be enjoying his stay in the house, sleeping in a blanket-lined basket. However, my housecat Dixie isn't so sure this is a good situation. She'll get over it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chicken Stuff

Today began early (for me anyway) with my usual farm chores - what my daughter's friend calls *chicken stuff.* I let out the chickens that were in the hen house - our Ft. Knox of chicken houses, complete with electric fence - that is, I let out those that choose to live in safety. We have a couple of hens who generally refuse to go in at night. One hen, Honey, is slightly crippled and thinks she's more comfortable living under the house; sometimes a friend will join her. The other hen, Lucy, has decided to be a renegade and rarely associates with the other chickens. She has chosen to sleep on our tractor under the equipment shed, lay her eggs on hay bales, and eat the cat food on our front porch. We've decided that she is channeling her inner cat, what with her solitary lifestyle and her craving for cat food. By the way, Lucy's eggs are twice the size of any others which might explain her desire to be alone.

Other *chicken stuff* includes checking on our herd of Boer goats. We've just been blessed with 5 new babies. However, one almost didn't make it. His brother was stillborn and his sister is twice his size. We're still trying to decide if his mother, Esmeralda, his taking proper care of the little guy. This morning I decided to start supplementing his diet with a little cow's milk, just in case. Esmeralda has already successfully raised two babies, but with her, you never know. More on *the bearded maniac*, as she is affectionately known, later.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Today I'm going to rant about something I've been suspicious of and found a site that confirmed it. I recently learned a new word, pinkwasher. On, the definition of a pinkwasher is: A company that purports to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon campaign, but manufactures products that are linked to the disease. For example, Yoplait uses the artificial growth hormone rBGH in its yogurt, a chemical linked to cancer. Estee Lauder's products include known carcenogens. But wait, that's not all. These companies appear to donate money to the cause whenever one of their *pink ribbon* products are purchased. However, if you investigate these donations, you'll see tha the company has a cap on donations. So, many well-intended individuals seek out and purchase these products, never realizing that NO money from the purchase actually goes to cancer research once the donation cap has been reached.

I have a bone to pick with companies that advertise that purchasing their product will result in a donation to a *cause.* I've noticed that many of these products come with a higher pricetag than if you purchased the plain vanilla product. Hmmmm, maybe we should just donate money to the cause or causes we support. Doesn't that make more sense? Just make sure to do your homework, whatever the cause.

So, please check out the site and be wary of corporate *generosity.*
And have a peaceful day.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Beginning

Ok, here I go...I'm a blogger now. Please bear with me as I am hunting and pecking - not my usual way to keyboard - because I broke my finger (a hairline fracture) just before Thanksgiving and ignored it until Christmas.

Background - I'm a born and raised So Cal girl who moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida as a young adult and never looked back. There I met the loves of my life - my husband and Florida. We have 2 children that we homeschooled for several years (I had to expell my son from homeschool for his high school years for a variety of reasons). My daughter will finish homeschooling this year. Six years ago, I gave in to my husband's homesickness and we relocated to rural Virginia. Needless to say, it has been an adjustment.

Today I woke up to face 3 degee weather. This is a record for me - I have NEVER experienced this kind of cold. I was ready to cry *uncle* but was informed that is also unacceptably cold in Florida too.

In later posts, I'll fill you in on life in the boonies.