Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Barefoot and loving it

There's something wonderful about bare feet in the dewy morning grass. I've never liked being barefooted in the grass before. It tickles and itches my ankles and it always irritated me. But ever since my hubby put up the clothesline earlier this summer, I've been loving being barefooted in the grass. Maybe it's because it's still wet with dew and the droplets are still shimmering in the early morning sun. Or because the birds are still chirping. Since I normally didn't get up until the last possible moment before I had to get ready for work, I never got the chance to enjoy that early morning sound.
Now my morning ritual includes barefeet in the dewy grass and when I miss it, I certainly miss it. Through tough leathery soles, I am connected to the earth in a way that my ancestors were. It surprises me, but it's a gentle surprise. Almost as if I'd known it all along, but didn't yet recognize.
It's taken about two weeks, but I'm officially no longer stressed out. This time of rest has been so good for every part of me. The body, mind, soul...all rested. I have been able to establish structure and routine, discipline to keep to the day's plan, and contentment, even eagerness to do housework, cooking, baking, cleaning. I know it's time to go back to work, but I will miss this time of being home, taking care of my family, preparing for the winter. Putting food up for the winter makes me feel so connected to womankind. To my ancestors. To my family and to time.
I find purpose and contentment in taking care of the house, all of the details of managing life here in our little house. It's no wonder I get overwhelmed when I'm working and shopping and cooking and cleaning and crashing because I can't do it ALL damnit!
My heart yearns to find a nice little part time job close to home. To contribute to the community around me daily, but more importantly: to contribute to our home daily too. There are so many times when I simply drag myself home to crash in a heap and hope there's something in the freezer. Instead, these days I work all day to put something in the freezer!
My hubby simply years for me to return to full time employment and I can't really blame him. It's a lot of pressure on his shoulders...his one freshly injured shoulder and the other one that was injured a few years ago! Yeah. It might be time to sell those ATV's. (Shhh!)
I've broached the subject with him before...and I know where he stands, but I wonder if I should approach the subject again. I can see the benefits being a smoother running household and a more mentally healthy wife, but I may simply be looking for the good and ignoring the faults in the idea.
Now I'm just rambling, so I'll sign off, but I can't wait for morning.
And barefeet in the dew-drenched grass.

Perspective Shift

As I embark on my first Eat Local Challenge, I have already begun to think of my food differently, and it surprises me. Being out of work, I've decided to spend my days putting up food to avoid the high cost of produce in January. I pretty much decide every morning what I want to make, go to the store or a farm stand, and proceed to make whatever it is I've decided on.

This has given me a great excuse to seek out different farms and markets than I normally visit since I'm not as pressed for time as I usually am. I actually found myself dissapointed the other day to figure out that the Twist of Fate Farm isn't within ten miles of my home. Ten miles. Doesn't sound like much, especially since most of the food I've eaten my whole life probably comes from hundreds, even thousands of miles away! But I had this idea in my head that I wanted to see if I could get everything I needed within ten miles.

This isn't just a food-related thought, it's a whole lifestyle coming together. While I'm looking for a new job, I'm focusing on staying local. I've gotten a lot of greif about this from people that say - it's no big deal to commute 20 miles north or south to Nashua or Concord. Heck, a lot of people commute to Boston from Manchester. But this is my choice and my life.

I've also noticed that the food I'm purchasing lately is much more personal. I've met the guy who works the land and harvests the produce. I've met his teenage boy, and waved to his wife. I've walked by the chicken coops and the pig pens on the farm where I got my eggs and bacon, I heard them clucking and snorting. I've gushed over the freshness of the eggs. They are more precious than "regular" eggs. They are infinitely more precious than the single dollar extra I paid for them. They are somehow more real and I plan how I'm going to use them much more carefully. This morning I set about to make chicken nuggets using an egg batter. I debated if I really wanted to use four of my precious eggs as an egg batter! Really. They're going to be eaten SOMEHOW, why not this way...

But it takes me back to a few years ago. We were doing a Bible Study about the tabernacle and the temple. One part explained how sacrifices were made and how the person seeking forgiveness had to bring the live sacrifice to the altar and kill it there. The person had to physically kill the animal right then and there. Ever since, I haven't looked at a single piece of meat the same again. I used to get chicken or something and put it in the fridge intending to cook it right away or within a few days...but something would come up and we'd eat something else and before you know it, the meat would go bad. Since visuallizing the sacrifice at the altar, I have rarely had to throw away bad meat. It just doesn't happen. I am so much more aware of the waste, the meaningless waste.

I think it's very smart to be thinking about eating locally in the fall, specifically. It's a natural time to be putting food up for the winter, and concentrating on eating locally at this time thereby ensures that you'll be eating locally through the winter as well.

My goal for the October Eat Local Challenge is to find a new source of locally grown or raised food each week and to make at least one completely local meal each week. I am still on the hunt for locally milled flour, and I have found a couple sources listed online. Not within my 10-mile radius, but still well within the region. Now it's just a matter of getting my butt over there!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Twist of Fate Farm

I made my first trip to Twist of Fate Farm in Dunbarton, NH today. It is so easy to get to, a little out of the way, but straightforward directions make it simple. The farm is only 6.5 miles from exit 6 on 293 in Manchester, and it took me only 13 minutes from the highway.
I got eggs freshly washed and still warm! (At $3/dozen) I also picked up some bulk breakfast sausage, bacon and some baking apples. Everything was well organized and clean. They have local ice cream and other local food products like pickles and relishes, bread mixes and jellies, soaps and lotions.
I'll definitely be making regular trips to Twist of Fate Farm. I'm thinking bacon-wrapped sirloin tips...
My hubby asked about prices when I was gushing over the freshness of the eggs. Apples to apples, I'd pay $5 a dozen for organic eggs at the big grocery store. Apples to oranges, I'd pay $2 a dozen for non-organic eggs.

Fly, baby, fly!

I was meeting with a ministry coordinator at church this morning and after we were through our business, we got to chatting. I shared with her the news I received last night. And now I share with you...
Friends of ours, a couple we've known for years, may be in need of temporary housing for a few months. We have room. They may be staying with us.
I am so gratified to be able to help out in their time of need, as we've done for others in the past, but house...disaster...yeah.
Well Katrina, who I met with this morning pointed me to and I am SO incredibly grateful! I have a few weeks before our friends move in and I also have no employment in sight so guess what I'm going to be doing in the next couple of weeks?

Flylady is a free online resource designed to help you declutter, clean, organize, be encouraged, etc. and it's going to save my sanity!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Redeeming the Time

Although I am not working right now, I'm trying to be carefull to use my time well. Instead of lounging on the couch in front of the tv wasting away. So I've been putting up lots of food, mostly freezing. I also spent the weekend with a very frazzled, very stressed out little sister. Poor teenager! Every morning I make a batch of muffins, eat two, and freeze the rest. Then when I go back to work, I can take them out in small batches, have a quick breakfast or snack, and not have to stop at Dunkin Donuts for a muffin that costs four times as much!
Maybe I should think about freezing coffee. Can you do that? I mean, I keep the grounds in the freezer, but can you freeze prepared coffee?
I'm going to give it a try!
So far, I've frozen 8 cups of salsa, 5 cups of tomato sauce, a bunch of corn, two cups rice, and some cherry tomatoes form the farm down the road. has great suggestions on how to freeze ANYTHING. My favorite suggestion so far was freezing juicy things, or sauces, using a vacuum sealer. The juice will be sucked up by the vacuum sealer, so what do you do? Freeze it in the bag without vacuum sealing it first, then when it's frozen, vacuum it closed and the juice won't be sucked out! Problem solved.

I've also been checking the job boards every day. Many times a day. It's not healthy.