Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Suck,crochet,Mars retrograde

I haven't blogged in a while cuz... well things around the suburban farm have kinda sucked and I'm not much for whining in public. More of a problem solver.... But I'm back.
I fried not one but two computers from September to November and Jimmy was nervous about me using his Mega-fine-tuned-video-editing-bring-you-coffee-in-the-morning computer cuz even he noticed that everything I touched blew up for the last 4 months. Seriously? ever have a time period when EVERYTHING you touch disintegrates before your eyes?....... Sheesh!
Anyway to minimise the damage I took up crochet. ( I figured it was something to do that wasn't too dangerous and if I screwed it up no one would die or lose a leg and the cats ear healed nicely) The result was 22 scarves in 6 weeks ( guess what everyone got for Xmas?) and one ear flap hat that Jimmy will only wear to check the chickens cuz its well... damned ugly! I had to make him an alpaca scarf to make up for it which sounds like no great hardship except that I am horribly allergic to all things animal hair. For love of Jimmy, I itched and sneezed for three days.
When he opened it on xmas morning he said it was nice. NICE?..... NICE? all the suffering I went through and he says NICE?
On to a different topic. My last art opening bombed (part of the suck) No one showed. I found out later that zero marketing was done for it.... but still... what do I have to do to get some attention in this town? slice off my ear?shove a whip up my butt? Gah!
So the whole thing inspired me to get a real job. Shouldn't be too hard right? 56 resume submissions later and I've only had one interview which I screwed up. I mean I really screwed it up. I said something so stupid I didn't even know it until an hour and a half after I got home and was running through the interview in my head. I'm actually embarrassed. Good grief I have an excellent education from an excellent school...... how could I have been such a retard?
All this and more happened before Mars and Mercury went retrograde, so I'm hiding under the bed until its all over in March. Which brings me to the next topic....
Mars went retrograde Dec 20Th, shortly after so did Mercury. The suck factor should be ramping up for a bunch of you out there right now. I'm not much in a mood to give advice right now. Lets face it my own advice hasn't been working for me so how can I tell anyone else what to do. I will say this. hold your temper, drive carefully and think long and hard before you open your mouth. The peak point will occur 2 days either side of January 27th. I suggest marking the dates cuz this one should be a doozy. Look for a royal type person to make major headlines about that time or possibly an actor (American royalty). Look for violence and just plain stupidity. Oh and expect some very stormy/snowy weather. It will all be over the first week in March and we can look forward to some rigorous spring cleaning.
That's about all I have the energy for right now. Most of you know the retrograde drill anyway.
As for myself, I'm crawling back under the bed with my crochet and I'm gonna try NOT to poke myself in the eye. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Suburban Farming, pickle test, Where to put the chicken coop, 100 year old biscuits, barter sub culture.,

Where to put the chicken coop when suburban farming? We put it in the the space next to the house, on the side that never gets used. I think every yard has one. Take a look at our high tech fencing. The house and the the back yard fence make up three sides of the pen . We needed only put up some chicken wire and a gate. I made the gate in about 15 minutes. And I am no carpenter! In the photos you will see hay on the ground. A lot of folks say NOT to put hay or straw in the pen because of mites and such. But in suburban farming we don't have the luxury of being able to move the coop around. And with the amount of rain we get here, If I don't put it in the girls wind up with sickly feet from standing in the mud. So, its a lesser of two evils thing. I just dust more often. The two new pullets are still not laying and the older hens are molting so for almost a month our egg production has been nearly nothing.
Fortunately I have a few neighbors who are living the lifestyle as well. All underground and well hidden of course. (no one driving through this little north Seattle community would ever know how much food production and self sufficiency is really going on here.) So, A gift of a small jar of jam brings in a dozen blue eggs! Yep, there is a lot of barter going on in this neighborhood. A typical conversation goes like this, "I've got too many tomatoes".... "really? my collards are about to achieve sentience.. wanna trade?" Each person seems to have a special 'recipe' that only they do, so lots of trading goes on in the canning department. And the freebies are great too. Every so often there is a knock at the door and a neighbor (or husband or wife or kid of one ) will be standing there with zucchini bread or dried,candied apples, or a bag of plums or a bottle of homemade wine. Once a community goes 'suburban farm' everything gubment programs like 'neighborhood watch' and 'know your neighbors' and 'community gardens' struggle to create.... just simply happens on its own. I don't know why. My degree is in liberal arts.... Maybe if I had a degree in sociology I would know. Just because I don't know why it works doesn't mean I can't observe for myself that it DOES work.
Off that topic and on to pickles. You may recall a few blog entries back the recipe I posted for my pickles? Well yesterday was the date to open the 'test' jar. We have success folks, spicy, not mushy, very tasty pickles. Jimmy thinks they need to be crisper but I explained to him that unless we chemical up like the commercial guys, We will never have the Vlasic crunch going on. I also explained that as they cure they will will get even tighter.
We have made the transition to the winter garden. Our salads are now spinach,onion and grated carrot. Our cooked greens are now collards,broccoli,brussels sprouts, cabbage and spinach. While I miss fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and green beans and snow peas, I'm enjoying the flavors of fall.
Ida Bailey Allen has helped make this all happen. Jimmy has never been a biscuit fan. A few weeks ago I decided to try Ida's 100 year old biscuit recipe. I can truly say they are the best biscuits EVER. After downing a few even jimmy is a convert. Over the next few blogs I will be passing on some of Ida's recipes that we have tried and had great success with. So, check back often for yummy ideas for dinner that are classic and easy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Artisan Lifestyle, Prophet Frankie, Astrology Update, Virgo, Pisces, Aries, Libra

We have some noteworthy changes going on in the sky! Saturn, is about to move out of Virgo in a couple of weeks and into Libra. Big ole sigh of relief for Virgos and Pisces. Its been a tough couple of years for these folks. Resources have been limited in the house that Saturn is traveling in. Hard work just seems to lead to more hard work with little recognition or appreciation. Saturn is the planet of authority and limitation. Saturn sets parameters and will not allow those parameters to be breached. You must stay inside the set rules and learn hard lessons.. Saturn is Karma and Dharma boot camp, if you will. The house Saturn is transiting is the camp and Saturn is the drill sergeant on your ass. Saturn is the internal parent..... the learned voice in your head. Classically Saturn is the father figure ... in our modern times with gender roles constantly in flux... Saturn is now the quintessential archetypal parent. In Myth Saturn feared for the destiny of his children.... in an effort to control them he swallowed them as they were born, until one day one child was born and hidden by its mother. The child (Jupiter) grew up and challenged the father, split him open and released all the children who were then able to take their rightful places in the world.
Most of us have experienced what we perceive (or what may be) unreasonable controls in our early developing lives at some time or another by authority figures. Impressions were made and patterns were set. Virgo and Pisces have been living those limitations and controls for the last 2 or so years. Virgos especially have felt as though they were slogging through knee deep mud. Saturn Transits especially over the Sun can make one feel invisible at best, picked on at worse. But ultimately Saturn is heavy. When Saturn Leaves Virgo there will be a sensation of the burden being lifted and movement outside the parameters can occur. The feeling of being invisible or overburdened will slowly dissipate over the holiday season. New choices can be made with a more mature and responsible outlook. As an added bonus Jupiter, the reward planet will enter Pisces in January and will help to move things along nicely, creating a sense that 'it was all worth it'. Congrats Virgo and Pisces ... you made it. Now take those lessons learned and the banked energy and move forward with it. Compared with the last couple of years, 2010 will seem like a cakewalk with you landing on the winning number.
Libra and Aries ... Your lessons will begin just about Halloween. Saturn is going to ask you to get grounded, become responsible and put others before yourself. Its going to ask you to take personal responsibility for your relationship decisions and get nothing back for a couple of years. If you have been the center of attention it will either take that away or ask what you have been doing with the attention. Have you used it for good or evil? New relationships entering your lives will be heavy with responsibility. Older established relationships will challenge you in new ways. Its up to you to examine your own culpability here. Group dynamics will change significantly. Saturn will not stop you from getting what you want... it will delay it until you are ready for it. While our modern society is determined to make every aspect of our lives "family friendly" Saturn knows that some things are for grown-ups only and kids are not allowed. So, if you want it.... You have to grow up to get it!
Saturn will retrograde back into Virgo in January for one last reminder of the lessons of the last few years for Virgos and Pisces. For Aries and Libra the next three months will give you a preview of the next 2 years or so and then back off to give you a chance to prepare. Its all part of the life cycle, So while V&P's rejoice and Libras and Aries groan with distaste.... remember that none of planets make anything happen.... They are a timing device , a clock, that tell us when class starts and ends. You can stubbornly refuse to do the work in which case the challenges will be a waste of time and you will suffer the griefs for no reason or you can do the work and take the tests and be rewarded at the end of it all. Its up to you.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chicken Gods,frankenchickens,wellingtons,no time for ennui

A quick update to the ennui. The chicken god Apollo.. pronounced a-poy-yo. told me to get off my lazy ass and deal with my birds. I went out to feed them this morning and noticed that one of them had dark circles under eyes and the tips of her comb were dark. This could be any number of chicken problems. Too cold,molting,pox,mites,worms or even something called coccidiosisorsomething. It wasn't there yesterday! So I just spent my morning breaking up a bale of hay in the pen for warmth, sterilizing their water containers and dosing them with chicken antibiotics (the old fashioned sulphur variety... no bio-engineered monsanto crap in my girls... I mean.... who needs or wants frankenchickens). I dusted the coop and them for mites. I added vitamins to their food supply and to soften the blow I gave them some fish and dry cat food (recommended for molting because of the high protein), which normally they love. They are pretty mad at me right now for changing their environment and chasing them around sprinkling crap on them. They all ran to the backside of the pen and sat there huddled and glaring at me. I told them 'god' talked to me and told me to do it. But they have about as much tolerance for god talkin' nutbags as I do. Fortunately they are chickens and there is not a lot of storage room in their little chicken heads so .... I'm certain time will heal their ruffled feathers(pun intended). I have done all I can to insure their safety and good health. If I wake up in the morning and they are all dead ... its not my fault.... or maybe it will be. It wouldn't be the first time in history that a doctor killed someone with good intentions.
ON a side note, When GI Joe's went out of business this summer I picked up a pair of all condition wellingtons for $20. Best $20 I've spent in a long time. I haven't had a reason to use them before now... But today's chores were made so much easier without wet feet and legs. I slipped them off at the back door and sighed happily that I didn't have to scrape chicken droppings off my red wings. Yep for urban farming I highly recommend a pair. Even If they do make you look like something from a british sit com.

Artisan Lifestyle, Ennui,zombie apocalypse,changing seasons,natural cycles, weaving looms,sad artist

I've got myself a fine classic case of ennui. I dont see any reason to do anything. The garden is in and the weather is changing. I should be winterizing the yard so the chickens can free range. I should be enthusiastically building the pieces for our one night halloween show. I should be doing fall cleaning in preparation for being stuck indoors for nine months. I should be painting in the studio and trying to line up shows for the winter and spring ( although this seems really pointless because noone is buying art right now.... the first casualty of an economic downturn is always the arts). I should be working on my web site. But I honestly just dont care. I'm not depressed.... for all you big pharma junkies out there who will send me emails with the latest drone drugs you are on... dont bother.... I'm not taking any of them. During the coming zombie apocolypse,(yes jimmy has convinced me that there will be one) I plan on being one of the real people still alive and fighting for survival of the human race. If I can get over the ennui. Seriously, all I want to do right now is play tiger woods golf and watch dvd's of SG1. I have a theory about this. I have been thinking hard about getting a loom an honest to goodness loom. I've also been thinking about sewing. So maybe my cycles are getting more in tune with the old ways of doing things. There was a lot of work to do this summer and fall with the urban farming around here. But its all done. The garage is overflowing with jars of yummy goodness and drying things hanging from the ceiling. The coop has been cleaned and a nice layer of litter put down. Firewood is stacked high and ready to burn. The winter box.... growing beautifully and needs no assist from me. So, maybe I am just switching gears. Moving slowly into dark winter days mode. I wish it would hurry though.... I'm starting to feel guilty about two weeks of doing nothing. I need me some inspiration.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

ARTISAN LIFESTYLE, ETSY, handmade clothing, Corporate clothing sellers.... bite me!

Ok, Since corporate America cant provide me with quality clothing I am going to try the small cottage handmade industry. We are going to try Etsy for some handmade items. Here are a few Items I intend to buy over the next few months.
This retro apron Rocks!

This is a dream dress![]=tags&includes[]=title

Very cool retro shirt[]=tags&includes[]=title

And this little number? OH Yeah!

So...... Macys,Sears,Khols,JC Penny, and all the rest of you mall space clothing sellers? A big ole raspberry to ya as I take my money and go somewhere else! Cuz, thanks to Etsy, there is somewhere else!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Poor quality, embarrassed, ripped clothes, khols joins the axis of evil, I'm sick of this crap, Help!

So, more ranting on the poor quality of clothing and products being sold to American consumers. My 30 year high school reunion was last night... and of course I wanted something cute to wear. So I went shopping..... again...... This time I went over to khol's ( a few other places too but found something cute that fit at khols) Found a cute satin, black fitted top (with whimsical polka dots). plopped down $44 for it and took it home. No, not American made.. but I was desperate and running out of time. I put it on at 6 pm and at 8:30 Jimmy whispered in my ear your shirt is unbuttoned and sneakily tried to button it with no one noticing only to discover it wasnt unbuttoned..... it had ripped six inches down the front. WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? I dont wear my clothes tight, I'm only 130 pounds. Its not me. Its POOR,POOR quality! I'm really angry that khols put me in the position of being exposed and embarrassed in a social situation. But there is not a damn thing I can do about it. Does any one have any solutions to this dilemma?

Stargate Universe, FAIL,

I'm a big ole Science fiction fan! Loved the Stargate SG1 and SGA... When I first heard about Stargate Universe (3 years ago) I was thrilled we were getting a new sci-fi show. As the descriptions of the new show trickled out from the producers I became more and more wary of what they were doing. Words like younger, edgier, darker, character driven, etc, began to emerge. Hard core SG mythos fans were panning it before it ever aired. I decided to make up my own mind and watched it last night... minus the commercials which many said were a detriment to the flow of the pilot. I also decided this thing has to stand on its own as a piece of work. The cameos from the old guard were token gestures at best.... They didn't do anything but remind us that the 'old' Stargate is gone. The new characters are unlikable with the possible exception of the young lieutenant who finds himself in charge. The flashbacks to the characters 'previous' lives was just plain boring and unneeded at this stage of development in the storyline. I haven't seen enough of them to care who they were sleeping with or what kind of angst they personally deal with. All I can figure is that the producers thought they needed to explain all the whining and crying going on. They were so busy explaining the whining and crying.... they forgot to explain some of the basics... Like why 'that' gate. Who attacked and why. Who were the other people that came through the gate with the crybabies and why they didn't immediately all go to work to resolve the crisis instead of finding a room to take a nap. With the exception of the computer geek and the senator and his daughter (a summer glau knock off) everyone else there should have been some of the greatest minds the government could find to work on this project. And they were all sent to their rooms? I mean they couldn't have all been cafeteria workers .... could they? The Science Fiction part of it?... Well, they were on a different planet and then they all went to a broken down space ship. That's pretty much it. The can-do confident techno-babble of "I can do this with my eyes closed" or 'oh crap... give me a minute to figure this out", I have come to love in modern sci-fi, Just wasn't there. I mean ... come on.... they only had one guy on the whole planet that was thoroughly schooled in the ancient language? Not working for me.
I could spend some time making comparisons with other sci-fi shows of the past ... but I'm not going to bother.
the gist is , The new SGU is Tedious, angst ridden,badly paced,unlikable and un-smart (yes I do mean UN smart because they divested this show of all the cleverness, self deprecation and humor of its predecessors) Yes,yes.... I know its supposed to be darker... but does darker have to mean duller and dumber?
So, to the die hard Stargate fans... I say... Nope, this isn't Stargate and its not worthy of the name.
To those who like shallow mindless who-is-schtooping-who and who-wants-revenge and who-is-mad-at-who and how-mean-can-someone-be-without-be-without-being-strangled-in-their-sleep-turning-the-show-into-a-whodunit........ you will probably, like it.
For the rest of us who just want some smart, engaging sci fi programming. This isn't it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

ARTISAN LIFESTYLE , NOT American made, poor quality, something is horribly wrong here!

Its a sad day in America when a woman with a pocket full of credit cards can go to a mall spend four hours desperately shopping and come home empty handed. I WANT to shop.I WANT to give them my money But they must not want it. The clothing in my size is all made for muffin topped tank shirt wearing teenagers or little old ladies who love stretch wastebands. And the quality is so poor at every single store I was amazed. I found a suit at Macys that was cute.... I put it on and it fit... I buckled the belt and the belt loop fell off? Then on to JC penney where I found a pair of pants I liked...... The zipper popped as I was taking them off.... and no they were not too tight. Then I found a pair of suede boots, put them on and stood up and the heel broke. What is this when the quality of merchandise available to american shoppers is so poor that the stuff cant even make to the cash register before it breaks? Oh and did I mention.... Not one single item did I find in the whole mall made in the USA. Even grand patriotic names like American Eagle Outfitters.... It was all made in china. There is something horribly wrong here! Am I the only one who is noticing?.... And what am I supposed to wear?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Artisan Lifestyle,harvest,canning,teotwawki,sewing, herbs,winter garden,satan spawn, killing chickens, art,video games

12 more jars of spiced pluot jam went on the shelf yesterday. All made with a 1924 recipe by Ida Bailey Allen. Its end of the season so I have found myself prowling around the garden looking for just one more item too can or preserve in some fashion. I have some green tomatoes left out there and two potato plants that are still vining. After all the moaning and groaning about too much work .. now that it is slowing down, I miss it.
Gotta have a chat with Jimmy about this one.... He whacked poor harelip before the 2 new hens started laying and now for the first time in 2 years I dont have enough eggs to do what I need to do. So.. next time... he has to wait until the new girls are trained up and working steady on their own before he can put heads on the chopping block. The two new girls? They are doing better. The satan spawn has calmed down and is actually looking out for the shy one. The oldsters are still cranky but at least they are letting the little one eat now. Satans spawn is showing signs of laying in about two weeks. They should be able to free range in the back yard by the end of next week. We need to get a fence around the winter garden first.
I think we may be ready for winter. We stacked a cord of split wood last week and got it covered. Jimmy bought me a dutch oven for the odd occasion when the electricity goes out. The Good Typist brought me sourdough starter from her trip to San Francisco. We have a winter garden with spinach,collards, red sails lettuce, broccolli and brussels sprouts and carrots. Yep lots o brassicas. Which means we will not be vitamin deficient... but probably pretty gassy .... Oh and the house will smell like ass every time I cook. I'll have to make bread everyday just to cover the stinky cabbage-y smell! I'll miss the aroma of drying herbs in the house and fresh chopped basil and cilantro but hey its winter and we are trying to live pre wwII. We are going to have to buy potatoes this winter cuz we ate 'em as soon as they were big enough to dig out of the ground. Fresh potatoes, for those of you who have never had them are a sweet and creamy delight that need no flavor enhancers. Next year we are planting twice as many. (We had 6 plants this year).
To wrap this up .... Here is the inventory of everything we have produced ourselves so far. Red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, wine and cordials. (Should the end of the world suddenly be upon us....... We have enough booze to have a teotwawki party for all our friends and family and a few strangers. Yes, it IS our intent to meet the 'end' slobbering drunk and singing show tunes.) Next, we have all the herbs we will need for a year. Parsely,sage,rosemary,tyme,oregano,tarragon,majorum,garlic,dill,hot red peppers,basil and coriander.
Home canned foods ... Jams,Jellies, pickles (hot, dill and bread and butter) Chow-chow (southerners will get that one). Pickled beets, spinach, tomatoes, tomatoe sauce, green beens,red cabbage.
Things hanging in the garage to cure or dry, Beans,onions, squash, peppers,garlic,potatoes.
In another month we will have all the eggs we need.
Things we will need to buy in bulk next week:sugar,salt,flour, black pepper, cooking oil.
Things we will need to buy a couple of times a month.. cuz we dont have the means to make it ourselves (yet): Milk,cream,butter, cheese (notice the missing cow theme?) meat products.
Of course there are things we will buy throughout the year that are on the want ..not need... list: Jimmys peanut butter, my chocolate, icecream, bananas and other fruits.
Thats about it on the gardening,harvesting,preserving end.... Next on our list is the indoors for the winter stuff.
This year I am dragging out the sewing machine and I am going to make some simple household items... like pot holders... a very needful item when cooking with cast iron, a couple of aprons cuz all this cooking from scratch really is messy. Jimmy wants me to make him a couple of shirts. So, I'm gonna do it.... But since I'm doing the work I get to do it my way. I'm gonna make him a couple of piratey,romantic, puffy sleeve, lace-up the front shirts just like the guys on the front covers of historical romances have on. He is after all MY romantic hero! And I think he will look much sexier on the couch, playing video games, in a romantic shirt!
I have lots o paintings to work on... Too bad NOBODY is buying art right now. So, I have to do some marketing to do.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Artisan Lifestyle, Astrology, MRX, Buy American Made, Bruce Springsteen , sears sucks, BOYCOTT

I almost hesitate to write this blog cuz Mercury is retrograde and everything I do is like slogging through mud up to my knees. But it was requested that I do so... so here I am. I expect typos and I will read and reread this before posting to check my facts. Mercury is all about communication and all that entails... travel,computers,phones,feet,neighbors, friends, tv's, conveyances etc. this one happened in Libra (relationships) and moved backwards in Virgo (mudane and health, especially the stomach and when retro.. the throat,mouth and so forth.) If you are having a rough time the last couple of weeks its probably been related to one of these issues. (personally... my computer keeps crashing and I seem to have a permanent belly ache). That all said, Saturday night/Sunday morning was the Mercury RX conjunct Sun. The peak point if you will. I'm getting lots of reports of high weirdness, general dysfunction, small accidental injuries, stomach flu symptoms and miscommunication. All I can really say here is just.... clean up the mess,take a nap and be patient until the 29th when it is over. Around the 30th or so things will start to look brighter.... or at least less murky. I expect the 29th or 30th will bring evidence that the summer is gone and fall is truly upon us.
On a very personal note this retrograde has brought to the forefront what I believe is going to be a new obsession. "Buying American Made" I realised that with 50% of the people I know out of work right now I cant, in all good conscience, buy crap made in china. To that end I need new boots, a couple of sweaters, some new jeans and socks. So I went to sears yesterday to search for the above mentioned items. Sears is an American tradition right? Well not anymore. I checked every single tag on every sweater,pair of jeans,shoes, socks and even wife beaters for Jimmy. I was prepared to put 2 or 3 hundred dollars on my Sears card! I was even ok with the idea that when I was done I would look like something off a 1980's Bruce Springsteen album cover. Not so.... I found some Hanes socks for men that were made in the US. So a big 'ole thank you to Hanes for keeping my neighbors working.!
The Ladies and Misses department was NOTHING but poorly made acrylic sweaters and stretch jeans all made in china and Indochina. Even the Levis were made in Bangladesh. So, no joy there. So... I thought to myself I'll just go butch and headed to the mens department... Lee jeans- oversees, and of all horrors... even the carharts I looked at were produced overseas. The flannels.... oversees, work shirts, oversees. I tried to commit each garment and its 'country of origin' to memory and realised after about an hour that I couldnt keep up. I gave up and went to the shoe department where every single ladies boot in stock was made in china or the Philippines and ALL of them were made of some kind of plastic/petroleum product.
By the time I reached the shoe department the sears employees were starting to follow me around watching me suspiciously. So, I took my American Made Hanes socks to the register where a smiling Clerk asked "Did you find everything OK?". I almost strangled on my purposely unintelligible answer.
As I walked to my car clutching my socks.... I understood fundamentally what I had to do next. I already make it a point to do my grocery shopping from local farmers and dairies.. Now I will begin the search for American Made clothing and products. I will do without rather than buy one more item made in a foreign country. I'm only one tiny insignificant woman in an ocean of shoppers who dont give a damn. ........ But I say to myself ... a lone voice in the cacophony of the city.... LET THE BOYCOTT BEGIN!!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Suicide Birthday, wine, tapas, texting ,email, phone calls, presents

So... Yesterday was my birthday. It was a big one ending in zero. I am too vain to announce to world what the first number was. Anyway... at the wise old age of 19 I decided that I was going to kill myself on this date because if I EVER reached this milestone it would all be over anyway. So , my grand plan for this milestone day was to stay in bed, feel sorry for myself and swig a bottle of patron until my very very old kidneys just stopped working... or my liver exploded...... or I choked to death on my own bile. Ahhhhh, the best laid plans of mice and........ What I had totally forgotten in my pity-fest was that I have spent all these years building a circle of love and fun. The first text arrived at 5:55 am , then a flood of emails and phone calls ensued followed by Jimmy coming home early huffing and puffing and turning red in the face with the weight of a delightful birthday gift. Then It was a phone call from a casting company offering me an extra position for a commercial, another email inquiring about a painting and then Jimmy grabbed the keys and we went to our favorite wine shop and bistro where we proceeded to annoy the obviously busy owners with wine tasting, extra orders for more tapas plates, loud drunken converstion about buying 15 acres and getting a goat and 40 chickens and insisting on getting a taste of 6 different bottles of wine before decided to bring home a half a case +1. Then back home again where we built a roaring fire in the backyard and opened two more bottles of wine with the assist of neighbors who wandered over bearing a bottle and flowers. These were brave souls considering I had warned everyone to stay away on this darkest of days...... lest they interfere with my pity-fest. They took off their shoes and walked across the hot coals of my (seriously diminished) despair to drink and loudly discuss religious history while their ears were pounded by the sound track of 'Wicked'. Being workin' folk with jobs they stayed for a couple of hours and then took themselves off to their beds and Jimmy and I stripped and crawled into the hot tub under the obliging stars. When more relaxed,well fed and buzzed than any humans in history have a right to be, we staggered into the house pausing long enough to put the empty wine bottles in the recycle bin and bring the flowers into the house before falling in to bed and snuggling under 500 thread count sheets and an airy warm down comforter. Curled around each other I realized.... "OOps... I forgot to kill myself"...... Oh well I'll do it tommorrow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

SELF SUFFICIENT, butchering hens, great dinner, canning, wine making

Well boys and girls ....a major goal was accomplished this past holiday weekend. Our holiday meal came completely, totally, absolutely from our yard! Jimmy butchered one of our hens and we dug up some yummy potoes from the back garden. We made a cucumber, tomatoe salad with onions and spinach and marinated it with homemade apple cider vinegar. All the herbs used on the chicken also came from our garden. We opened a jar of homegrown and canned pickled beets and for desert we had scones (from scratch) with three different homemade jams. Then relaxed with Jimmys recipe and a little homemade wine. Altogether a MOST gratifying experience!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

ARTISAN LIFESTYLE: Mean chickens,beet haters,dirty jam ,evil corporate food producers

Its my birthday in two weeks! I got an early birthday present yesterday... two new hens and 10 pounds of beets! I am delighted. My new chickens are rock hens. They are pullets and wont lay for 30 more days. The two we picked out of the crowd seemed nice enough until we got them home and the sweet gentle bard rock.... turned out to be hell with feathers. She picked one fight after another until I had to sit outside with a spray bottle and squirt her down every time she attacked. I had a long talk with the two new ones before they ever went in with the other three. I explained to them how nice and comfortable their lives were about to be. I guess Hell-feather didnt believe me. Jimmy said she will calm down when she realizes that there will be an abundance of food and water and general snacks and no need to fight for 'enough'..... and space. The lady we got them from had over a hundred chickens in the same amount of space that I have for five. Jimmy says hell-feather decided ahead of time she wasnt going to be anybodys prison bitch. I'm willing to give her time to adjust unless she hurts one of the others. If that happens.... it'll be hell-feather and dumplings! Cuz I wont tolerate violence in my house by anyone! In the mean time... the bitching goes on 'cause the old girls dont understand why I disrupted their egg making, idylic life by dropping satan's spawn in ther midst. And they are letting me know!(Good Lord its loud out there) Fortunately I have very groovy neighbors. All of whom gathered in my backyard last night to meet the two new girls.
Poor humble beets! When I tell folks I am pickling beets, the response is universal ... 'I hate beets!'... 'they taste like dirt'. So, lets discuss beets. When I investigate I usually discover that beet haters have only been exposed to commercially canned beets. So, I cant really fault their attitude. Commercially prepared beets are universally GROSS! The difference between home canned beets and commercial canned beets is the difference between spam and a nicley grilled steak. Fortunately my first exposure to beets was my great grandmothers recipe which I spent two hours on the phone with my grandmother to get (thats about the average amount of time to get any of the classic 'recipes' from my grandmother. Cuz there really isnt a 'recipe' for most of her cooking and canning. There is a process... but no cookbook recipe) So , the beets 'Libby' and 'Green Giant' calls pickled are cooked beets with a little vinegar and salt added. blecchh! The process I use which has been handed down for several generations gets rid of the dirt taste and enhances the natural flavor of the vegetable. Over the last year I have spent time at parties and potlucks saying 'here, just try a little bite' and then watching the surprised look on the faces of the tasters. Even Jimmy... the ultimate beet hater is now a convert. So, YAY for the 'grandmothers to the infinite' process and BOO to third rate commercial processing!
I have had many 'helpers' for my canning process. Friends who think its cool and want to learn how. They show up pencils and notebooks ready to get a degre in basic canning and sit down at the table three hours later (usually with a glass of homemade wine) and say..... "really? Thats it? I thought it would be much more difficult!" Thanks to 60 years of commercial food companies brainwashing, the classic home arts are seen as some lost mystery of the ancients. The companies that got their start processing and storing foods for marching soldiers oversees in WWII needed a new market when the war was over. We the People, were and are that new market. We were told commercially processed foods were safer, tastier and more nutritious. Uhmmmmmm.... they lied. The preservatives and color enhancers alone are enough to make me shun commercial foods. And the processing? I inspect,snap and string every single green been I can.... No way can the commercial canners make that statement. Have ya seen the state of the strawberries that are used for commercial jams? Most of what goes into a jar of jam on a grocery store shelf... I wouldnt deem fit for my chickens! But with dyes and added synthetic flavoring they make it look good. Next time you buy a jar of jam .... take the jam challenge! Read the label and try to find one whose ingrediants say fruit,sugar, pectin. Personally, I just cant bring myself to eat the commercial crap, not when it takes all of an hour to make up enough jam to feed my family for a year. Not when I know that not one single rotten berry goes into a jar of my jam!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Artisan lifestyle, herbs, pressure cooker, squash, pickles and harvest

SUBURBAN FARMING: I intended to blog everyday about what we are doing. Then I forgot how much work it is to get everything harvested and canned and dried and prepared for the winter. So, apologies for being to busy to blog. Here's an update....... I learned to use the pressure cooker my grandmother gave me and was delighted to discover that it was handed down to her by my great grandmother. I was also delighted that I did not blow up the house while using it. Yes I admit... I was afraid that would happen. So afraid it took me two years to pull it out of the box and use it. When I did pull it out, I discovered that my grandmother had written lots of little notes all the way through the instructions to make the process easier. God! I love that woman! My first foray into pressure cooker canning wielded four jars of green beans. So Yay for GRANNY.
PICKLES:We are getting tons of cucumbers from the four plants we put it. Last year the pickles I made were very tasty but a little too soft for my liking. So I did a lot of research and came up with many ways to make crisp pickles. We dont want to add any chemicals or commercial products to our food so everything we did had to be natural and organic. The gist of what I read was that its the sugars in the cukes that make pickles mushy and those sugars need to be nutralized. Several things will nuetralize the sugars.... Here's the list: Brining in a 5% solution (whatever you do... do NOT use table is iodized and will rot every cucumber in the bucket, in a matter of hours). Grape leaves, small red,hot peppers, garlic and dill all nuetralize the sugars. So we used them all! Each jar was packed with a sprig of dill, one grape leaf,2 cloves of garlic and at least one pepper. We also added 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seed for flavoring. Our vinegar solution was a ratio of 2/3 cups white vinegar to 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 tablespoon salt. We boiled 6 cups of the solution with 2 little bags (coffee filters tied with plastic bag wire) pickleing spices to throw in and let boil. Jimmy was out in the garden dealing with herbs and came in at the last minute with some coriander and threw it in the pot. He was so excited about his coriander that I couldnt tell him no... So, we will see what his mad scientist experimenting does to our pickles.
HERBS:The dill we used came from our garden this year. I learned a lesson about dill. You dont need to grow six plants to have enough for one year. You do need 6 parsley plants. So, next year we plant 6 parsley and 2 dill. The oregano we planted last year tried to take over the garden this year. We have a big enough rosemary bush to give us a photographic memory! We need four more tarragon plants, 4 more thyme plants and a lot more garlic! We need a whole bed of chamomile to get enough to get us through the winter. One sage plant is enough if you dont kill it! Herb day is my favorite all through the summer! We do it every two weeks. Stripping the dried herbs and putting them in the 1920's canning jars with glass lids is a joy! Cutting the fresh herbs, washing them and then hanging them in the kitchen.... makes the whole house smell wonderful! For aromatherapy.... its great. Everyone is easier to get along with on herb day.
MORE PRESERVING TO COME: this week its pickling beets and drying beans,carrots and onions. We will also be curing our winter squash. and a note on squash... not that many this year. We expected to be under siege by now but our squash... unlike years in the past where they were many but small... are huge but few!
So that's my update. I'll try to keep up better but with harvest upon us it will depend on time!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Freecycle Denied? pop portrait, trade, dehydrator

So this post is a big ole "????????" I applied to join the local freecycle group bothellsbest. Thinking of course to enhance our already reuse,repurpose and recycle lifestyle only to be denied. So, I guess my question is "whats that all about"? Anybody else been denied? Why would they do that? I even sent them a link to this blog so they could see what Jimmy and I are doing. Oh well looks like I'll have to find another place to trade fine art,homegrown produce, and other odds and ends of an artisan lifestyle. So we will try here. I need a dehydrator asap... a good one. Anyone in Seattle want to trade for a pop portrait of themselves or a loved one like the one I use for my avatar?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Brining pickles,mistakes,triffid spinach,molting hens

Learning is important! I just wish I didnt have to lose a half a bucket of homegrown cucumbers to learn that you cant use iodized salt when brining pickles.... blecccch, what a slimey mess! Oh well...onward and forward, The chickens have stopped molting (thankyou heatwave) and have begun laying again. They are still unhappy about being penned up for the summer(cant have 'em trashing the garden) but they understand the new routine... They now head straight for the second pen in the evenings without too much dawdling. We had to figure out a way to let them forage in the grass because the three of them decimated the ground in their 10x14 pen within a few weeks. Destructive little darlings ,they be! I dont care what 'The Chicken Tractor" says, When we let them out, they head straight for the garden and begin ripping it up.. If we had allowed them free reign in the backyard we wouldnt have the abundance of green beans that I now have to preserve for the winter. This is going to be a tough one cuz Jimmy hates frozen and canned green beans. But loves 'em fresh. I havent had to be a sald nazi since early june because part of his daily routine in the summer is foraging in the garden and eating the beans straight off the vines. He's almost as bad as the chickens, but at least he leaves the vines intact! I'll be foraging today for cheap pint canning jars. I'm going to try and pickle some of our beans, maybe he'll eat them that way. Thanks to our recent heatwave, we have red tomatoes in Jimmy's tomatoe forest (I told him he planted them too close together). We practice a combination of traditional and square foot gardening. Sometimes our spring enthusiasm for getting itty bitty plants in the ground comes back to bite us in August when all those itty bitty's turn into giants and the backyard becomes a jungle. My new zealand spinach is turning into a triffid bed and I'm sure one of these nights it will slither through the bedromm window and eat us in our sleep! Once again... onward and forward..... Harvesting,canning,preserving and drying time is here. I want to get aheasd of it this year so I dont get overwhelmed and have to do everything at once like last year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Seattle heat wave recipe, wrong number, laughing texans

We are expected to crack a 100 in Seattle today. For folks in the south ...this is the norm. And they are set up for it. Central air in homes,cars,offices,nursing homes,daycares,etc...... So when you southerners are making fun of us yankees for dropping in heaps in this heat (cousin in Texas). Remember... the only air conditioning to be found in western WA tends to be in malls, hospitals and high rises. The rest of us have to rely on air flow, cold showers and nudity. So while you Texans are laughing at us and calling us wimps.... Keep in mind WE have some choice phrases for you folks when you panic and drive off the road or run screaming for shelter when you get a little rain!

I found out yesterday that the new Lowes in Olympia is one digit off my phone #. How did I discover this? By the 22 wrong number calls I got from desperate people looking for fans and window air conditioners. Some of them were really nasty about it too. I do a lot of bitching about poor customer service. But IF I worked at lowes... I'd hang up on some of these people. At least 2 of the people who called me accidentally yesterday DESERVE to be slow roasted in their own homes. I mean whatever happened to good manners? SHEESH

But onward. Heres a great recipe for the grill if you are tired of burgers and ribs but still need to cook outside... because one more degree hotter in your house will cause a critical-mass spontaneous combustion.

You will need some sort of grilling pan or cast iron skillet for this.

Boil a pan of pasta of your choice (I prefer fettucini) drain and coat with two tablespoons of olive oil.

This recipe is for 2... so adjust as needed. Also all the vegetables in this recipe are coming straight out of my garden so adjust what veggies you use accordingly.

2 medium carrots sliced longways 1/8 inch
1 yellow crookneck squash sliced
1 onion quartered
1/2 (or so) cup broccolli

Coat with this marinade (recommend mixing the marinade in a separate bowl first)
3 tablespoons (or so) olive oil
1/2 tablespoon vinegar (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 tablespoon each lighly ground (for powdered herbs use teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon each
red pepper (careful with this one)
bay leaf
sprinkle ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Put carrots on heated grill first and let cook for about 3 minutes on each side, then add rest of vegetables. Cook till vegetables are lighlty browned on both sides.
Remove from grill and add to pasta.

For a fesh cool salad to compliment this dish
do this

1 sliced tomatoe, 1 sliced cucumber, 1/2 onion diced, 1 finely chopped clove garlic.
Put in bowl
add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (with the mother if you have it), sprinkle with a little sea salt, refrigerate for 10 or 15 minutes before serving.

I highly recommend a nice Chianti with this dinner!

The whole thing takes about 30 minutes from the first chop to sitting in the shade with a plate on your lap. Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Heat Wave in Seattle

Sorry I havent posted in a few days... I've been in dental delerium. But its ok cuz my new dentist is hot! Almost as hot as Seattle right now. Mini - break massge sent along a note this morning with some simple and easy advice to beat the heat.. To survive the heat wave in more comfort and get a quick cool-down.... when just sitting around, put your feet in a bucket of water. For sleeping, wrap frozen gel packs in a towel and put one in your pillow, the other at your feet. Ice packs on the wrists or back of the neck keep the body temp down. Thanks Mini Break Massage!
Then theres the pan of ice in front of a fan.
The house was still in the high 90's at 10 pm last night so Jimmy and I took a bottle of wine, a blanket and set the laptop up outside to watch classic movies under the stars. It was sweet and romantic. We had a bit of a mosquito problem at first and no citronella, so we improvised and lit incens sticks and placed them in a circle around the blanket. It worked very well and smelled better than citronella. The experience reminded me a bit of drive-in movies. We chose a Humphrey Bogart movie, Sahara. Appropriate.... dont you agree? I think tonight will be Casablanca. In fact I think as long as this heat wave continues, we will drag out every Bogart-in-a-hot-climate movie we own. Just an FYI for you big screen junkies.... It was totally dark last night and the laptop is high res, so the screen seemed huge. So,for a fun and unusual experiene (for seattle) dont hesitate to drag your honey or the kids (if ya got 'em) outside to watch a movie tonight.
Really , this heat thing isnt so bad if you are willing to adjust your routine a little.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

'Gardening By The Moon Calendar' and living with a Cancer

Because of the eclipse in the new moon in Cancer yesterday, I opted not to replant the garden areas that were harvested a few days ago. Friday the waxing moon will be in Virgo (an earth sign). I'll do it then.. I have learned not to plant when the moon is in a fire or air sign. It just doesnt work. When I first started gardening I couldnt figure out why some things grew effortlessly and some things never made it out of the ground. Then a talk with my 90 year old grandmother, who spent her entire life farming, brought to light the need to plant and cultivate by the moon. She sent me my first farmers almanac with planting dates and I ran with it. This year my local nursury carried a grand addition to any household living the artisan life. 'Gardening By The Moon Calendar'. This thing is great. It gives you the phase and sign of the moon daily and times for ingress (start times). It also makes suggestions for what to plant and when to fertilize and prune and so forth. Extra perks include knowing what days Double Cancer Jimmy is going to be moody,difficult or delightful. Of all the signs Cancer is most influenced by the phases of the moon. So even if you dont garden... if you are a cancer or if you live with one I recommend this calendar for your sanity. Since Cancers wax and wane with the moon.... This gives you a tool to stay on top of what is coming for the day.From the new moon til the full moon Cancers tend to be a little more upbeat,positive and productive. From the Full moon to dark phase they gradually loose energy. Most cancers spend the last three days before the new moon doing nothing. If they are forced to do somthing like say... go to work, they can get awfully cranky about it. This info applies to most Cancers... unless there are mitigating signatures in their personal chart. I'm going to try to put this great lunar calendar under recommended reading for those who might need it. Its a great help for non-Cancers who need to get things done. Basic Rule: Start new projects on the new moon. From the Full moon to the dark, finish up old projects and get rid of things that don't work. I discovered this little trick on my own about ten years ago and it sure helps alleviate a lot of frustrations when you time your life to natural rythyms.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Haunted Garden photos

I took some photos of the garden yesterday... before I pulled up the beets. take a look at the tomatoe bed photos. Even ghosts like fresh vegetables! I zoomed in on the creepy face so you can get a better look at him.

Tis the season for making wine! Here's the family recipe!

Wine making .......I come from a long line of bootleggers,ridgerunners and blockade runners. One of my great uncles was killed by gubment 'revenuers' in the 1930's while tending/defending his still. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I was born with the booze-making gene. Been doing it since Dad deemed me ready for initiation into the wonders of alcohol production at the tender age of 16. Just a little back history here....... When I was a teenager, my father and I couldnt be in a room together for more than 10 minutes without all hell breaking loose. (some say its because we are too much alike). Until the night he needed my assist with the family tradition.... something clicked between us that night and we found a common ground. Dont get me wrong. The fighting still raged on until I left home, but now there were these productive breaks of mutually agreed cease-fire,where we almost liked each other. Years later Dad and I are great friends and we still work together to produce some truly amazing beverages! (and it looks like my son got the gene).
Onward and forward... there is a reason for this post. Its THE SEASON, In a couple of more weeks the first fruit of the year will begin showing up. The eternal question "what do we do with all these plums/apples/cherries/blackberries etc" will arise. After all you can only make so many pies and so much jam before you have too much. But in my experience you can never have too much wine. With that in mind I have opted to share the family recipe with you. Its a basic,simple,organic starting point. The original is written in fading ink on a piece of torn brown paper grocery bag that I have laminated to preserve. The steps are not in order on the original so I took the time to put them in coherent step by step form for you. Keep in mind, some of you will read this and know exactly what to do. You will immediatley understand the alchemical process involved. Others will read this and re-read it and never really get it. If you are one of those who gets it .... you have the gene. If you are one of those who don't get it.... Its ok, someone has to be a jam maker!
So without further ado here is a gift from me to you!

Make your own wine.
To do this you will need:
1 five gallon plastic bucket with lid
1 five gallon glass water jug (called a carboy)
1 plastic airlock
1 cork for carboy with whole bored for airlock to fit
Large stew pot
Potato masher
Sterile siphon hose
Cheese clothe or old Pillow case
2 oz ‘s of pectic enzyme
1 lemon
10 pounds of sugar
1 small packet of wine yeast
10 pounds of fruit (plum is the easiest to start with)
1 packet campden tablets
All items on this list can be purchased either online or at your local brew store
Step 1. Sterilize all equipment
2. Pit ( no need to peal) and cut up fruit and put in plastic bucket.
3. In a large stew pot put 2 ½ gallons of water, juice of half a lemon, 5 pounds of sugar and 2 oz of pectic enzyme. Heat to just under boiling, making sure all the sugar is dissolved.
4. Pour sugar solution over fruit in five gallon bucket.
5. Wait one hour or until solution and fruit have cooled to room temperature and then add the packet of yeast and stir lightly.
6. Put lid on bucket and let sit over night
7. Each day for 7 days , remove lid and mash fruit with a potato masher.
8 .Day Seven , strain juice from fruit through cheese cloth
9. Put juice into Five gallon carboy
10 Put 2 gallons of water in stew pot and heat to just under boiling
11. Put remaining 5 pounds of sugar in hot water and dissolve thoroughly
12. Wait until sugar water cools to room temperature and add to juice in carboy
13. Slide airlock into bored cork and place in opening of carboy
14. Add 1 campden tablet to airlock and 2 tablespoons of water
15. It is wise at this point to seal cork with wax from a candle
16. Put carboy in a warm place and walk away for 1 month
17. At the end of one month you will notice a heavy sediment on the bottom of the carboy….siphon the now ‘working ‘wine back into the sterilized plastic bucket leaving the sediment behind.
18. Pour sediment down drain and clean carboy well
19. Put wine back into carboy and re-seal as before
20. Repeat siphoning process (called racking) every couple of months or so until no sediment forms on bottom
21. When sediment ceases to form, your wine is done and ready to bottle
22. The fermenting process could take from 6 months to a year but it is well worth the wait!
Don’t forget to treat yourself to a glass every time you rack the wine…….. You will be able to taste the changes as nature makes its bounty.

Just a few notes. Wine made with this recipe will be higher in alcohol content than commercially produced. There are no sulphites in this wine. You should get 2 1/2 cases of wine per carboy (give or take). Bottles fished out of recycleing, de-labeled and sterilized will keep costs down. Try to use real cork when it is available and never never never use a screw cap for homemade wine. Once you have made a batch of this wine you can add specific herbs to make it medicinal. When winter weather arrives I will post a mulling recipe that will make the holidays oh-so-much easier to tolerate!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Todays Plan

Gardening is at the top of the list. The first of the beets are ready to come up and be pickled. Actually pickled with the yummy spices grandma recommends which are clove,cinnamon,mustard seed and bay leaf. Just a tiny pinch per jar. An apple cider vinegar/water/suger/salt mix with turbinado instead of refined white sugar. I use a ratio of 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water... sugar and salt to taste. Last year we tried to do 30 lbs of beets in one day. Never again.... It took all day and the whole kitchen was fuschia when we were done. So from now on we are only doing 10 lbs at a time. While Ida Baily Allen says they need to cure for 6 weeks... We have found that they rech maximum flavor in about 14 weeks.
Also going to cut herbs for drying today. I love herb day!.. It makes the whole house smell delicious. By this evening we should have sage,oregano, rosemary, tarragon and parsely hanging from the drying shelf.
Special Thanks goes out to my friend with the magic hands. She gave me 2 cases of canning jars from the 20's and 30's ... with glass lids. They are beautiful jars that have turned green, blue and purple over the last 80 some years. They are perfect for storing our dried herbs!
Speaking of herbs. From our own herbs I made a mixture of sage, tarragon, garlic , Olive oil, apple cider vinegar (with the mother) and a bit of sea salt, Put it all in the morter bowl and pestled it to mush then slathered it all over a small pork roast, then threw the pork roast on the grill. I dont think pig has ever tasted better!. To complete our meal, we dug up a couple of fist sized potatoes from the garden and grilled those as well next to Jimmys snow peas. Yep, there is something satisfying on a primal level when eating food grown and prepped with your own hands. Thank God for the garden..... with the economy tanking and work slowing down ...Its the one thing that seems to calm Jimmy down. Not sure what I'm going to do with him after the fall harvest. I'm trying to talk him into doing some hydroponic gardening in the garage this winter. I cant let him just play Halo all winter... cuz first- person shooter games make him too cranky to live with!
From the skinny well- fed people in my house to the plump, not quite full , people in your house,
Best diet ever…. For free…… no consultation fees, no hardback , overpriced book. No self discipline needed. Eat till your full. This diet will make you look and feel great. Follow these rules and with a little bit of exercise the weight will come off without even trying.

GOLDEN RULE: If its not real, don’t eat it.

1.Eat no corporate food. This is a simple rule, simply refuse to eat anything produced by a corporation . I would give you a sample list but I don’t want to get sued, But it includes fast food, ’family’ restaurants, and processed foods in the grocery store. If you are reading this I’m guessing you are smart enough to figure it out on your own.
2. Do all your shopping on the outside of the aisles (This puts meat, produce , dairy and the bakery in your basket first.
3.No processed foods (I.e. easy cheese, hamburger helper, soup from a can, )
4. If it says low-fat, diet, low carb, sugar free, lite, light, or any version of a modified real product designed for fat people only….TREAT IT LIKE POISON……cuz it is.
5. 3 meals a day, Good breakfast, with eggs, bacon (yes you can have a slice or two of bacon on this diet and jam on your toast) If you are a cereal person (keep it to real oatmeal, malto meal or shredded wheat)….include fruit with your breakfast and some juice. Try to make your big meal of the day lunch and then have a light supper.
6. Cut your meat portions in half. Double or even triple your vegetable portions.
7. Substitute carrots, squash, turnips, etc 3 or 4 times a week for rice, potatoes and pasta . (you don’t have to give up R,P,P….just vary things a little)
8 Throw out the margarine and butter substitutes…….
9 Get yourself some real butter and Olive oil. SEE GOLDEN RULE ABOVE
10. Add some sort of pickled foods to your diet…beats, cucumbers, peppers etc (just a few bites of these help to process the fatty foods better)
11.Stay away from the chip and soda aisle …..except for parties and special events ( lets be reasonable here)
12 Add red wine to your evening meal…. It helps the digestion, kills any stray bugs that might have survived the preparation process and helps you get a good nights sleep.
13. If it wasn’t available to your great-great-great grandmother……don’t eat it.
14. Be reasonable and use your critical thinking skills….mayonnaise and mustard are ok…..Fat free ranch dressing is not . Dried pasta is ok….. Pasta in a can …is not. If it is microwaveable or ready to eat…..its not ok. Cheese is good……. Unless it says K#@*t. You are smart….You get the point….I don’t need to drive it home and beat you over the head with endless lists!
The above 13 are the basic rules and now here are some suggestions…. If you can reasonably fit them into your lifestyle……
1. If you can make it yourself….do….vinegar, bread, wine, jams, pickles, Anything you can make yourself is healthier than commercially produced….. Anytime. If you have a backyard you can throw a couple of chickens into …do . Your own chickens will produce a much more nutritious egg.
2. Don’t overcook your veggies.
3. Put in a small vegetable garden with lettuce, ‘other’ greens and onions. (you can put in other stuff as well but lettuce onions and ‘other’ greens will grow most of the year and they are easy…requiring nothing more than throwing some seeds in the dirt. You will always have a salad handy (no aging, wilting lettuce in the fridge) and gardening is good exercise and can be very Zen. Oh yeah and in the season when everyone else is paying extortionist prices for ‘fresh’ greens ……you are saving money and getting a better nutritional product..
4. Try to make at least one meal a day a relaxed , enjoyable experience…….(if once a day doesn’t work…… try at least once a week)
5. Try a French dinner once in a while ( wine bread, cheese, salami, sliced fruit and a raw vegetable with a small bowl of balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dipping)……..A great ‘supper’ and very romantic if eaten in front of the fire with your favorite squeeze. Its gastrointestinaley gentle should you choose a lustful conclusion to your evening .
6. Once you make the initial change over to this healthy and fulfilling diet (it will take about 30 days)……STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR DIET! Quit thinking of food as your enemy. If you eat real food….it will be your friend….
7. Bake, broil, grill, sauté’ roast, steam as much of your food as you can…Try to limit the fried foods. No need to eliminate them…..just control them. (My friends and family love chicken-fried-steak Sunday)
8. If a recipe calls for “add a can of cream of mushroom soup” Toss the recipe.
9. If you can find a cook book by Ida Bailey Allen……….This woman should have a statue erected in her honor. Her paragraph on how commercial preservatives are poison ( written in 1924)is a priceless read!
10.Get out of the house….Go for a walk, go bowling…Hang out on the corner and talk to friends but ……get out of the house!.
12. Turn off the TV and computer
13. Get involved in your community………..Local theater, jam night at the local pub, game night at the rec center or something ,maybe, noble like raising funds for a food bank or homeless shelter.
14. I realize this next one is a Herculean and possibly Sisyphean task…….But ….try to limit your exposure to advertising…….. Commercials bombard us with constant criticism….They tell you , you are fat, ugly, smelly, sick, have bad hair, bad skin, bad taste, bad breath, bad social habits, and the list goes on……. If we lived with a spouse, friend, parent or anyone else that made us feel this bad about ourselves or said so many nasty things about us in one day or tried to force us to do everything their way….. …..We would run away screaming or kill them or ourselves. So why passively allow this crap into our lives. If for some reason you can’t limit your exposure….at least make a point to become aware of when they are doing it. And then try to become defensive. Boycott any product that makes you feel in the tiniest bit lacking. ( you will find that when images of food aren’t in your face all day ….the urge to graze will just go away naturally)
15. Get a hobby……. doesn’t matter what it is…….just start doing something you enjoy………
16. Realize that you are the only one you can control…and leave everyone else to their own devices……Yes this includes your family. And don’t let them control you. (This rule should be heavily modified if you have teens in the house…..and if you have teens in the house……God…..I’m so sorry!)
17. Get angry about what has been done to you by corporate food producers and fight back by NOT giving them your money.
18. For the exercise part of this diet……It doesn’t mean joining a health club. A walk after dinner, parking at the back of the parking lot…..gardening, a hobby…..anything where you are moving around will do. (my great grandmother sat in a rocking chair every evening…..When she died at almost a hundred she had legs that a Hollywood starlet would kill for and an almost flat belly.) A bicycle ride or bowling or softball or archery or yoga or some other form of classic exercise will indeed take any excess weight off faster….. But if you are not the ‘sporty’ type….don’t worry about it. Especially if you have a labor intensive day job.

So….There ya go…..Basic rules…some added suggestions and a little psych advice and some common sense. No hype to sell a book or specialty foods……. just a really good diet that gets healthy results. Bon appetite!

Artisan Lifestyle

ar·ti·san (Websters definiton)
Pronunciation: \ˈär-tə-zən, -sən, chiefly British ˌär-tə-ˈzan\ Function: noun Etymology: Middle French, from northern Italian dialect form of Tuscan artigiano, from arte art, from Latin art-, ars Date: 1538
1 : a worker who practices a trade or handicraft : craftsperson 2 : one that produces something (as cheese or wine) in limited quantities often using traditional methods

— ar·ti·san·al \-zə-nəl, -sə-, -ˈza-\ adjective
— ar·ti·san·ship \-ˌship\ noun

We are Artisan. Typically artisans practice traditional artistic pursuits as well…..painters, sculptors, potters, dancers, musicians, actors …and the list goes on. We don’t really live by modern consumerist rules. Our homes are usually filled with the fruits of our own creativity. When friends drop by to chat they are entertained by the art on the walls while being served homemade wine and bread baked in our own ovens.. Our homes smell of linseed oil, sawdust and cinnamon.. We wear hand knitted sweaters and keep warm under quilts made of old blue jeans. We are determinist in our thinking, our awareness of cause and effect higher than that of the average person. We know that what we do makes a difference in the world. We reuse recycle and repurpose without being told. We are functional . We are patient. We know that what we produce with our own hands is far more valuable than that which is mass produced. We drive 8 year old cars because our self worth is tied to what we produce not what we drive. We understand technology and adapt it to suit our lifestyle, not the other way around. We are Artisan.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I'm Ba-a-a-a-ck!

The internet minor deamons finally let me back into this blog account! Sheesh... I hate it when 'they' make things better and new and improve them until they dont work anymore!
So you can look forward to more Prophet Frankie updates here as well as some articles on how to improve your lifestyle during this economic depression. Yes I said depression. No body else will say it so I will. Most of the articles will be just common sense. Some of the advice and recipes come from the Old people I know who lived through it the first time. They called it survival but for the sake of the tender sensibilities of the overly pampered and catered- too American population that is in their 20's, 30's, and 40's.... Were going to put it under ARTISAN LIFESTYLE. That way our coping methods can be 'cool' and 'trendy' instead of survival or subsistence. With any luck I may be able to get into this account everyday. If so I will try to keep a diary of what Jimmy (not his real name) and I are doing to mitigate the effects of the catastrophic cascade economic failure so many of us are experienceing. Jimmy and I are turning back the clock and relearning basic skills that were once mainstream. We dug up 150 square feet of the yard and put in a killer garden. We built a chicken coop and put it on the side of the house. We have the legal limit of chickens for Seattle.. but are considering breaking the law and adding two more. This will give us enough eggs for our own needs and we will be able to share with nieghbors...... We consider this step number one in rebuilding community and helping to put our fragmented society back together. Fresh eggs,pie,home made jam and a bumper crop of acorn squash will do a lot more to bring people together than city sanctioned block parties and neighborhood watch programs!