Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Goings On

So, we bought a minivan last week.  Some of you just passed judgement, but that's okay.  Some of us don't need our vehicles to define us as human beings.  We just need to get our family around.
I don't have any pictures still, but my brother was getting on my case for not telling him, so now I'm posting it.  (There, M!  Happy? ;) )  I LOVE having it!  We were feeling so cramped with 5 people in our sedan and we really wanted to go on more vacations.  We could barely fit our stuff for one overnight before.  Plus I haven't heard, "She's touching me!  Make her stop!" once in the last week.  At least, not in the car.

I'm going to the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow.  And feeling kind of stupid about it.  After putting in the impossible to install next to each other car seats, I fell out of the sedan last Monday and landed on my knee pretty hard.  I scraped it up pretty well and didn't pay much attention to the pain since I could walk and bend my knee just fine.  Just a bruise, except there's no bruising.  Details.
I don't like going to the doctor.  Scratch that.  I don't like the 15% co pay for MRI and xrays I have to pay in addition to my regular copay.  So I didn't go in since it just seemed like a bruise and skinned knee.  I've been icing it, but I have no idea what rest and elevation mean so I didn't do those.  On Friday I started painting Jack's room and noticed a numb spot next to the sharp shooting pain.  So I made an appointment and it's been getting worse since.  And because I love my body so much, I'm still painting.  As far as I'm concerned it's not seriously injured until the doctor says so.
There's no swelling or bruising so I don't know what to think it is.  But I can't even wrap my leg since even a feather touch on my upper shin feels like a knife.  Hairline fracture maybe?  Any readers ever had one of those?

Also, homeschooling in February sucks.  Oh my gosh.  Maybe it's because spring has been teasing us (except this week when it finally snowed) and we'd all rather be outside.  Or I've been stressed out of my mind this month (Cub Scouts is kicking my butt).  Or possibly the alignment of the planets.  I honestly don't know.  But Igloo is just about ready to call off this whole homeschooling business.  Sometimes I feel like I have to be Super Awesome Homeschool Mom, so I don't hear anything negative.  Like we can't have hard times or something.  My kids can't be normal kids with normal kid problems or it automatically gets blamed on homeschooling.  Some people are really antagonistic about home schooling and I feel defensive even though I know this is the right thing for us right now.
I'm praying hard and trying to find some solutions to Jack's new attitude problem.  This kid is 7 going on 13!  Since this is indeed the world-wide web I don't want to go into details, just pick out your average 13 year old and you have my son right now.  Honestly, even though my own inclination is to tell him to suck it up and get over himself, I think right now he just needs more love.  I resist that-not wanting to reinforce his behavior, but when I pray, it's what I feel is right.  I suppose that's how all of us are, really.  The harder we are to be around, the more love and understanding we need.  I just hope it doesn't come back to bite me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Just in case you were keeping track, I planted broccoli, leeks, and swiss chard.


You can't tell from the picture, but I planted "Bright Lights" and even the sprouts are multicolored!

These sprouted about 5 days after planting and no heat mat!!  I wish the leek seed packet said anything, but one of my books says onions can take 2 weeks to germinate so I will continue to wait for them.  

So far it's been sunny enough I've been putting them outside every day.  I should have thought better of that today though because it was a stressful night and I left them out there in very windy 35 degree weather.  Some of the broccoli are wilting now.  oops. Guess I'll see how they look in the morning.  

Future plans: I'm about 10 weeks from my last frost date.  On Monday I plan to start some sage and parsley.  In 2 weeks I'll start my tomato and pepper seeds.  I haven't even thought about what varieties I want to do.  Historically I've been at the whim of the garden center, but this year I declare my emancipation!!
What's your favorite breed of tomato?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Start Seeds Inside NOW

It's time folks.
Every time I buy a pony pack from the garden center for $4 it just grates at me that I could have bought 2 packets of 50+ seeds for the same price.
This year I am determined to end that!  Part of being a member of Utah Seed Savers means I need to start sprouting my own seeds more.  This is the time to start cruciferous veggies like cabbage and broccoli.  (I find, as a mother of young children, that I feel smarter when I use fancy words.  Anyone else?)
So I planted Marathon broccoli, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, and nondescript leeks.  The seed packet simply said leeks.  Good enough for me.

No, none of them are heirloom varieties, but none of those kind of seeds are easy to save either.  I have no intention of trying to save anything biennial or difficult to pollinate this year.
Just peas and beans.
Maybe a zucchini if I'm feeling good about myself.

If you're new to this and want to start seeds as well, just go to your local garden center for supplies.  That does not mean Home Depot!!  I used to work at Home Depot in the garden center, and trust me, no one there knows anything.  Especially the cashiers.  I had so many people asking me what I recommended for this or that and luckily has some experience and had parents who gardened.  But unless you get them manager (who tends to hide in the back all day), you will not get real help.

Sooooo, go to a local greenhouse and tell them what you want to do and most of the time they are awesome!  Gardeners love other gardeners.
Here's a general idea of what you need to start your own seeds.  :
soil less potting mix or seed starting mix
You don't technically have to have this.  It's not like your seeds wont sprout if you plant them in regular old dirt; most will.  It's mostly peat moss which is nice and light and wont make your seeds rot.  It's also free of diseases.  I like it because I have more control over the environment and some seeds need that.  Plus, it's just plain easier!
a container

I have never grown broccoli, chard or leeks from seed before, so I got one of these and a reservoir and lid to keep the water in.  I have grown squash from a recycled yogurt container before!  Save the ones you get from nurseries and spray with a 10% bleach solution to reuse over and over.  So again, not necessary, but you will want something to provide some sort of greenhouse effect.
Grow Light
Unless you have an awesome south facing window (and lucky you!), you will need something to put over your plants.  I have this one and it worked great when I grew lettuce inside year round in my condo.
Eventually I want to get one of those big ol' fluorescent office light fixtures, but I'm taking baby steps.
heating mat
I do not have one of these.  Some seeds, like tomatoes, just will not sprout under s a certain temperature.  Actually, broccoli might be one of those too.  S I'm planning on using my good old fashioned heating mat.  If that doesn't work I will probably drop the $20.
You will, of course need seeds.  Again, this is where your local greenhouse will come in handy as they generally try to stock things that will work in your area.
If you're new and nervous and scared, just get some lettuce or radishes.  regular old lettuce is really easy to grow, but I have had fool proof radishes fail on me.  Take that to mean what you will.

I got my supplies from my local greenhouse, which is awesome and I love them!!  There's still time if you want to try some of these cool season crops!!  Let me know if you do.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Book is Found!!

I drove all the way up to Salt Lake City on the off chance that it was there.  Because when you're stuck rehashing all your life's misdeeds that's the kind of stuff you do so you can sleep better.
It was at my mom's!  The last name was scribbled out and mom can't read under scribble.  But I can (I'm gifted!) and indeed it was the correct name.

So I'm relieved because I can right a wrong after so many years.
A sister gets to have a surprise wedding present she thought was lost forever.  That makes me happy.

But then I'm annoyed.

Because remember, underneath it all I'm selfish and thoughtless.

#1, there's no super-special writing in this book.  In fact, there's none at all.  That doesn't take away the sentimental value necessarily.  But still, that was the clue my mom was told to find.  You'd think people would know that about their siblings' belongings from over a decade ago.  Sheesh!

#2 I'm annoyed at my mom for not being able to read under scribble.

#3 I'm annoyed that my anxiety kicks my butt so hard and brings back all those things I thought I had forgiven myself for years ago.  Evidently I haven't.  Does this mean I have to go to therapy again?  Because if I'm going to pay that kind of money, I want some kind of warranty to go with it this time.

Crawl Under a Rock and Turn Into Lichen

WARNING: This is a pretty whiny, self-indulgent post.  I don't blame you if those nauseate you.  So feel free to move along; this is not the post you were looking for.  
Did you know I'm an awful person?  I did, but I generally try to hide that fact from people and charm them with my wit and knowledge of obscure meaningless trivia.  For some reason it works as I seem to be generally well-liked by people who don't know me that well.
The problem with being ourselves is we know all our strengths and weaknesses.  And we try to hide those weaknesses.  Unless we're Oprah  Then we turn them into money.  We'll go for years hiding something so well that we even fool ourselves into thinking it's gone.
We came so close.
This morning though, I had the unpleasant reminder of just how rotten I have been.  For those who weren't around during the late teens/early twenties years of my life, I was pretty rotten.  

I'd really, REALLY like to go back and just erase 5 of those years.

One of my smaller indiscretions was that 10 years ago I borrowed something and then never returned it.  SHOCKING.  It belonged my cousin's girlfriend.  There was a breakup, it was awkward, and I didn't really know the person that well, and didn't want to deal with returning it.  Because of the awkwardness.  So I didn't.  Lame, but that's why.  And then I got married and moved 1,000 times.  It was just a book.  Something I figured this person replaced for $20.  I felt a twinge of guilt and mostly moved on.  Couldn't fix it anyway now.  $20 sucks, but it's not the end of the world.  Right?
Is she really this upset about losing a book?, you're wondering.
YES.  I wasn't before.  Just twinges of guilt and regret.
Except that I just got an email asking if this book was still around because apparently there were personal notes in it from her mom with priceless meaning.
I don't even know what to say to that.  There's a small (very small) chance it's at my moms.  But most likely I lost something important to someone and it make me feel ashamed.
And I don't know about you, but shame if just about worst of the human emotions.  Guilt, fear, anguish-they have nothing on the sickening, feeling of shame right in your stomach.  You feel naked and exposed, which is not a good thing because we both know you look nothing like (insert hot childless model).  Only people aren't laughing at you "ha ha, she's got a mole on her butt!", instead they're grossed out because the mole is hairy, scabby, selfishness!  "Didn't I get that removed?"  No, you didn't.
So now the closet's open and the skeletons that are still in there are mocking me.  And I sit here and figuratively stare at them in wretched anticipation.  Because now I wonder not if, but when they'll be brought up again and some of them are pretty ugly.  And my kids wont be able to run for president because their mom had some major screw ups in her youth.

Which just goes to prove, dear internet, that I should never, ever, ever interact with people.  Because things go horribly wrong when I do.

update: and yes, I roll my eyes at my own self-loathing.  You know you've felt it over something small too; unless you were raised in a free love hippie commune where guilt was the ultimate sin.  I can't really relate to that.  But kudos!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Munchkin!!

4 years ago today.  It was my worst pregnancy.  So much throwing up and then a heart condition.  And then I got to meet the perfect baby who would sleep through the night at six week and hardly cry and then turn into the most challenging toddler with multiple daily tantrums.  Now the tantrums are occasional and the rest has morphed into an imagination JM Barrie would be jealous of.  This child makes my heart laugh and scream; sometimes at the same time.  Today is my little munchkin's birthday.  I. Love. This. Kid.
 So. Much.
This past year has been crazy with doctor visits.  But it's also been awesome!  This kid cracks me up so much.  She has the mind of a lawyer and comes up with lots of good arguments for getting her way.  And if she doesn't, she lifts her chin, gets huffy, and looks away from you.
She always talks about being a mother.  Sometimes she'll mention being a scientist or something having to do with dinosaurs, but this girl's favorite thing is being a mother to her toys.  And 90% of the time she wants to be a mother when she grows up.
Munchkin LOVES to sing.  Recently we signed her up for Sunshine Singers and she really enjoys it.  She learns music very quickly and still makes up little songs that she'll only sing if she thinks she's alone.
She is overflowing with self confidence, but gets upset if you ever compliment her.  She doesn't like to be told she's smart or beautiful or anything like that, but she does like when we notice something she does well, like, "you cleaned your room so well today!"
"Yes I did.  Thank you."  Will be the calm reply.
It's an interesting dichotomy.  She comes across as very self assured, but is evidently easily embarrassed.  I just love seeing all her different layers coming together as she grows up.
Today for her birthday she got to have gluten free waffles!  She loves waffles and was so excited to have special ones just for her.
She got a new (to her) bike(!), a stroller for her babies, and some plastic jewelry from her brother.
I've been sewing late at night to make her new clothes for her dolls.  Obviously I'm feeling like mom of the year since she loves those clothes.
We went to Pizza Pie Cafe with grandma for dinner.  Since grandma is munchkins favorite person in the whole, it kind of made her day.  Thanks again, mom!!  We've missed going there, but recently learned they have gluten free pizza.  I had a gluten free cake mix, but really didn't feel like baking (been feeling under the weather), so again we took her to Sweet Tooth Fairy for a cupcake.  You guessed it, gluten free.  Thank you!!!  to all those businesses that are giving those with wheat issues options.  It means so much to us.

Not like it matters that much though since she only ate the frosting.  That was some pretty expensive frosting!
Grandma got major points today by giving munchkin a stuffed pteranodon.  She LOVES dinosaurs.  oops, I'm sorry pteranodons are pterosaurs, not dinosaurs.  Thank you Dinosaur Train.

Incidentally, I'm still not convinced she has to avoid gluten forever or anything.  I'm researching things like kefir and live yeast to see if they might work for her.  But for now, wheat free has been worth it.

I'm so grateful to have this little girl in my life.  She's such a great sister and truly a joy to have around.  Can't wait to see what's she's like in another 4 years.  I'm one lucky mama!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Last summer I started studying permaculture (sustainable gardening).  I watched all the John Jeavons Youtube videos

read his book: Which was awesome and makes you feel like you really can grow enough food in your own backyard!

And double dug my beds.
Which. Sucked.
I did pick out lots of morning glory, but not enough to matter when my neighbors yards are also filled with it.
I also removed LOTS of rocks.
When I got tired of that (after 4 beds) I looked into what's called lasagna gardening, or layered gardening.  I first read about it Urban Farm magazine (which, by the way, if you are interested in any part of urban homesteading/gardening, I strongly recommend!) Essentially, you don't disturb the soil structure and instead just add organic matter (wood chips are recommended) to the top and let the worms do their work.

Ever moved a compost pile and seen the dirt underneath?  It's fantastic!  I used up all my pile last year, the pile I started on lifeless solid clay, and when it was all moved, the clay had turned into a beautiful black humus.  So I've seen first hand that this idea can work.  I'm spending this next year testing it on my own gardening.  I used a leaf mulch instead of wood chips for one very good reason: it's free.  We'll see what happens.  The best time to do this in the fall (sorry!) so it can break down over winter.  I don't think I have enough though, so we'll see how things go this year and then compare to next year.
The more I learn about soil biology and how nitrogen becomes fixed in the soil, the more I am convinced that tilling and the soil amending that goes with it, is not the best way to grow plants.

I know, I know.  But what about the rocks??  I'll have to let you know in the fall.  Raised beds are supposed to be the solution to that.  Most plant roots will not go down much farther than 4-6 inches so raised beds are great for them.  I have places I layered mulch right on the grass, so I'll let you know if any root veggies work there or not.  For now, I've found that the very act of growing will help loosen soil very well and make it easier to pull out rocks by hand when clearing out your garden bed.

The best way to explain what I'm trying this year is with this movie I've become obsessed with.  My friend sent it to me in December and I have never been more grateful for a mild winter.  I've been able to go out and work in the yard to scratch that gardening itch! The movie is almost 2 hours long, but well worth the watch.
I watch pieces of it every few weeks because I love seeing this man's garden!  It's so motivating!  And I love hearing him talk about God and nature.  If you aren't religious, it may be unappealing, but get over that.  Because,  it's still full of great info.

There are as many gardening theories out there as there are gardens.  I'm, finding the ones that appeal to me and testing them out.  If I can marry the ideas I'm learning and find they work for me, especially from the seed savers group that was recently started (more on that later this week!), I think I'm going to have one pretty awesome mini farm!  C'mon spring!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pirates in Bethlehem

(some of you may have already seen this on Facebook.  But since I use my blog for our family journal, I wanted to add it here)
I picked Munchkin up from Primary (kids sunday school) last week and she was the last kid there.  She was sitting on the floor playing with her toy dinosaur.  How'd she sneak that past me!!?
She said, "Mommy!  We learned about Baby Jesus; and I'm a pirate!"
"A pirate, huh?", I replied give a wondering look to her teacher.
Her teacher, a substitute, then went on to tell me that the lesson was about the nativity story.  A little bit into the lesson my offspring asked where the pirates were.

You know, the pirates in the story of Jesus's birth.  Aren't there pirates in your Bible?

This child is going to grow up to be a lawyer because somehow she manged to convince her teacher to let some of them be pirates as they acted out the story.

She also manged to somehow add dinosaurs to the animals in stable.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Someone recently told me of a friend who made money blogging.  "Well what's her blog about?" I asked.  "Just her life."  Really?  And that makes money?
So I'm doing a what the heck experiment and added some monetization stuff to my blog.  Just to see.
I'm honestly feeling torn up inside.
Am I selling out?  Am I promoting consumption which is something I'm opposed to?  Is it okay if it's stuff I already bought?  I could think about it long enough and bring on a total panic attack.  But I'm letting it go.  Because I'm not creative.  I can't use Photoshop.  And I have a degree in history.  I have very little to offer the world in the way of marketable skills.
But I do have a blog.
And I like blogging.  I wish I blogged more.
For now my attempts at grand riches consists of google ads and my new Amazon store.  I'm actually excited about the Amazon store because I'm a big Amazon fan.  Amazon. Amazon.  Have you seen the word often enough yet?  They got enough money from me at Christmas time, I think it's time to give back!
I love my amazon prime.  If $80 sounds steep, get some other people to go in on it with you since you can add 2 others as guests.  I split mine 3 ways with family so it's only $27!
Everything in my store is stuff I would tell you to go out and buy anyway.  And I promise to keep all my opinions my own.  I really should do more reviews, but sometimes it seems like too much work to say, "hello internet, I blogged today."
Why am I even doing this?  Dave Ramsey.  I skimmed the book a couple of years ago and listen to him on the radio sometimes.  We haven't had any debt for a while, but we also haven't had any savings and I finally decided something needs to change.  So I'm reading his book The Total Money Makeover and getting fired up.   I want my 3-6 months savings!!!  I want to pay off my house!!

See what I did there?  If you click on that link to buy the book I get money.  Sweet huh?  Here's the thing though.  I really like the book.  I might buy it.  But I don't see it as one I'll be referencing all the time.  Just write down the baby steps and there you go.  It's a library book.  Check it over every year or so to keep fired up.
See, I'll still try to get you to save money, I promise.
So if you enjoy my blog and feel inclined to buy something you see in my store or a link, then please buy it through me!  Why not!  I'll let you know if the experiment works.  Maybe your blog can make money.  It'd probably make more than mine, ha!  Tell me if it does; it'll give me a warm fuzzy.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

3am, Puke, & Dinosaur Train

We haven't seen any PFAPA fevers for months.  I've been thinking we were done with it, but now I'm not sure.  Munchkin has the mouth sores and the fever that went from normal to 104.9 in 30 minutes.  But she was also sniffly, so I didn't give her the prednisone-I wanted to wait and see is anything else happened.  I gave her ibuprofen and it lowered to 103.5 and then went back up to 106 an hour later.  Now she's throwing up.  I tried giving her prednisone, but it came back up 30 minutes later.  She hasn't thrown up in a while and is hanging around a comfortable 104 (everything is relative, right?) so we're hanging out and watching dinosaur train on Netflix.  Dinosaurs are the new bugs around here.
She looks so pale.
Is it PFAPA or something else??  Really wish I knew.
I can hear Tumbleweed crying in her sleep from her room.  She has been waking up again.  Sometimes she'll go back to sleep, but I have a feeling she'll be out here within 20 minutes.

Jack asked me to get up with him at 5:30 today and I hate to let him down, but oh goodness I'm going to be tired!  I've heard Februarys are hard for homeschoolers and Jack is no exception.  I've decided it's not worth getting angry and threatening when he doesn't do his school work.  He knows the consequences and has lost privileges the last 2 days for not finishing.  There were a lot of tears today when he wasn't able to play his game (Terraria) again, but I think the lesson is starting to sink in.  You have to work to get paid.

Igloo suggested we treat school like a job.  Every day he finishes say, before noon, he earns vacation time.  Since I don't believe in summers off from school, I think this approach might really work for us.  And here comes tumbleweed, tumbling down the hallway.  Munchkin's poor eyes have grown heavy.  I hope she sleeps.  I hope I sleep!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How to Own Chickens

Someone at church started asking me about owning chickens and we never got around to actually talking about it.  Actually, I've had a few people ask me, so I decided to write a post about it.  So here is Mrs. Small House's Amateur Guide to Owning Chickens.

Step 1: learn what the laws in your area are.  I'd hate to have you buy a dozen chickens only to get cited for going over the legal limit!  My city allows up to 6 chickens on a residential lot depending on square footage.  We have just enough space to legally own 6.  I have a lot of neighbors who own more and haven't been caught by the chicken police.  While I would never (publicly) promote that, you probably wont have a problem if all your neighbors like you.   Also, most cities don't allow roosters (dogs that bark incessantly at 3am, however, are usually permitted).

Step 2: decide how many chickens you want.  If you're getting them for eggs, you'll probably want a breed that lays close to daily.  Chickens are social, so you should plan on at least 2.  So now the question remains, do you want 2 dozen eggs a week, or more?

Step 3: build a coop to fit your number of hens.  Please, please, please don't put this off until the day before you get your birds!  It takes a while to build one (unless you want to pay gobs of money for one already built - and you may want to consider that).  There are a lot of styles to choose from.  Just google "chicken coop plans" and you'll see there are lots to choose from.  If you're handy, you can probably figure it out from pictures.  If not, just buy the plans and save yourself the headache.  I have 2 coops since I don't make decisions well.  I have a permanent structure that has been moved 3 times (it's hard to find a spot that gets sun in winter and shade in summer!) and a movable tractor called a chicken ark as well.

Isn't that great!?  It's not mine, but I copied it.
The permanent coop will hold 6 birds.  They say to plan on 2-4sqft/bird.  Mine is 20sqft inside + 2 nesting boxes.  The run is larger, 4-5 sqft/ bird.  The run is the open outside area next to the coop.
Once I finish the run remodel -when the weather warms a bit more) I'll post pictures of mine.

Step 4: look around for chickens!!  I use KSL, a local internet classifieds.  March/ April is a great time to buy chicks at your local farm supply store, but chicks require more time and equipment.  You need a breeder box (an old tote will work for this), heat lamp, special food, a special food tray and waterer, and a place inside to put them.  I have no garage and the laundry room is also the bath, so chicks are not an option for us right now.  When looking for birds you want to get pullets (teenage hens) or year or less old, generally.  Plan on them laying for about 2 years.
Some people have difficulty mixing breeds (chickens can be racist), but many are just fine, especially if you get them from the same place and they're younger.
Be sure to check their living conditions.  Mine were not provided a roost from their previous owner, which I didn't think would be a big deal.  But it's taken MONTHS to teach them to sleep on the roost so they aren't pooping/sleeping in the nesting boxes.

Step 5:  enjoy your chickens!!  Check on them throughout the days until you both feel established.  Then simply check their water and food daily and enjoy your delicious eggs!
Chickens can make great pets, you just might not want to let yours sun themselves in your asparagus bed!  Children love their antics and they're very easy to care for.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Pinterest is killing this blog.  All my small house ideas and finds end up there.  Sorry.
Here's my link though if you want to see all my awesome small house ideas:

My husband suggested giving this address out to family and updating it more so they can see what's going on.  I've thought of going back to my private blog for family stuff, but I have too hard of a time doing just THIS blog!  I still plan on sticking with the urban farming/small house living theme, but there will probably be more about the family.

I've been outside working in the yard in the afternoons.  In January.  It's only snowed a handful of times here in Utah (greatest snow on earth??), but I'm not complaining this year.  We have to buy new raingutters for our rental and if we can save on snow plowing that helps us a lot!  Plus, I get to be outside!!  Once it gets over 40 I just can't stay inside!!
I've joined a new local heirloom seed exchange group.  Yay!!  I'm excited to learn more about this so I can start saving my own seeds.  You know, for the zombie apocalypse.
If you're thinking of starting seeds indoors, this next week is a good time to start onions and broccoli (or other cruciferous veggies).  I have some 6 cell packs from previous plant buying, but I've been looking at other seed planting options as well.  I'm not a fan of peat pots, since they don't break down well in my experience, so I've been eyeing this newspaper pot maker

I've also seen some really fun ideas on pinterest that use milk carton tops and water bottles in the window.  Since I LOVE recycling (and free stuff!) I really want to try these.

Do you start seeds indoors?  What's your favorite thing to use?