Saturday, April 28, 2012

What's Next?

Last year
The next big project is to get our tiny little garden space in order.  Right now it is over run by dandelions.  If only we liked dandelion creations, we have plenty of them.  Perhaps we could learn to love them, but no time to mess with it right now, so we will go ahead with our raised beds.

These are no ordinary raised beds, by the way.  They're recycled kid's toys.  We have a recycled sandbox and recycled kiddie pool.  I also have two garden box type containers that I have had for the last 17 years!  All have had to have holes drilled into the bottoms, thanks to The Mr. for doing that job.

One we left behind.

Because we rent our home, we do not want to go to the expense of building nice raised beds.  We did that once and then we had to move.  Leaving them was painful.  These recycled ones do a great job and they are portable.  

Waiting for strawberries. 

I am going to put herbs into pots along the side of the garden space, too.  We love mint, catnip, basil, cilantro, and garlic.

In the big "pool", we want to grow green beans.  We will have tomatoes in the two white boxes.  The "sandbox" will house whatever it is that my daughter wants to grow this year.

A diamond in the rough?

We grow sunflowers along the side of the area, too.  I have high hopes, but must remain realistic. There is only so much I can do with the resources I have.  But, we will give it another try.  Maybe this will be the year that I get it together. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Folks, This Ain't Normal

I recently read a really great book called, Folks, This Ain't Normal, by Joe Salatin.  I am sure there are some great reviews out there.  I don't feel qualified to write a review of such a fine book.  All I can say is that it is a thought provoking, life changing book.  I hope that lots of people read it and have a similar response, one of action. 

The most profound part of the book for me was, that the way we are living is just not sustainable.  Cheap oil is over.  The old way is broken.  I think we are going to see big changes in the near future.  Either we are going to change the way we think about resources or we, ordinary Americans, are going to be unable to afford the life style Americans have become accustomed too.  The rich will continue to have their lifestyles.  We regular people will keep feeling the pinch and drastic changes will have to occur in order to survive. 

For me, I can already see how economics will play out.  Right now, we are eating less meat than in the past, a change based on money.  Chicken is cheap, so we eat a lot of it.  I tried tofu, but could not get it right.  It's bean curd, not meat!  I'd rather just eat less meat than eat curd. 

I'd love to get chickens, as suggested in the book, but then I'd have to move.  Chickens are not allowed in my city unless you have 2 acres. That's probably something else we need to change in our society.  Why not have chickens?  

We do have a compost heap, so we aren't sending scraps to the dump, which really irritates Mr. Salatin.  I love going out there to check on the heap.  There are lots of worms doing their thing in there. 

We're also planning a small raised bed garden for this year.  We don't have a lot of sun in our yard of giant trees.  We'll grow a few favorites though. 

The main thing that I think we need to do in response to Folks, This Ain't Normal, is to go out and meet a farmer and buy his or her food.  Not just at the famers market, but make the effort.  I remember doing this as a child with my father.  Every Saturday we'd go to a small farm at get our milk.  I loved that trip.  I also learned not to touch an electric fence during one of those visits! 

Bottom line, we all can do something to bring back normal.  All it will take is enough people willing to make these changes.  Small steps can make a difference.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

I *heart* Old Barns

Prophetstown State Park, IN 
On top of a barn at Conner Prairie, Fishers, IN 

Conner Prairie, Fishers, IN 

Conner Prairie, Fishers, IN 

Old barns and I go way back.  There is something about a well constructed building that lasts even longer than its purpose.  If I could, I'd restore an old barn and live in a very small part of it.  The other part would be for my RV, of course.  The hayloft would be for my grandkids to explore.  Kind of like an upstairs basement. Although, I'd draw the line at letting them swing out the upstairs door/window.  *wink* 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Downsizing Journey Begins, Anew!

This is all I really need! 

I realized that in order to achieve some of my dreams, I am going to have to do a few things.  I don't like talking about dreams unless I am actively doing something towards the dream.

Since I do not want to get a job and stop homeschooling, as it is my first priority, the next reasonable thing to do is to make an effort to downsize the stuff we have so that one day when we move into our smaller home it won't be an all of a sudden downsize. 

I've tried many times to downsize stuff.  When we moved 3 times in 4 years, I got rid of a lot of things.  But, we've been in our current home for 2 years and things have started to collect again. (People just love to give me things!) 

And then there are the three pack rats I gave birth to.  I have no hopes of getting rid of my kids' things.  They will have to do that on their own one day or else cart a boat load off to their homes when they leave the nest.  Perhaps my purging will inspire the same?    

Why is it so hard to let things go in the first place?  I've thought about this for so long.  When I go camping, I only bring the most needed items, even then I think it is too much, yet I feel so much joy being simple.  The contents of our small camper is plenty to keep us fed, warm, and entertained.  Of course, it is vacation and not reality, but truly makes me think I could learn to be content with a lot less stuff around me.

I am going to take a serious look at our possessions, again, and try to let go of things that are just taking up space.  I really want to let go of things.  I feel it is the next step.  (The first step was to get debt free, which we are.)

So, what are the real necessities of life?  We need a little more than the basics of food, clothing, shelter, and warmth in cooler climates.  I think again of camping, having just enough, not too much.  I think that should be my goal and what I determine is just enough, and not too much will look different from another person.  Being a homeschooling family will also make my "must haves" different than others who do not have kids at home 24/7. 

For starters, I know my kids have too many clothes.  I will be thinning out the kids' closets.  Jeff and I share an old style closet with sliding doors, not a walk-in, so I think we are OK there. 

Shelter is by far our most expensive monthly outgo.  The house is more than we need, for sure, but it's comfortable, close to our activities, and so it won't change for now.  Plus, it is a pain to uproot kids. They still talk about all the moves. 

Another thing I want to explore is stocking a larder of sorts.  I feel vulnerable in this area.  We need to have a bit of food stocked in case of emergencies. 

So much to do!  It all energizes me though.  I am excited to get started and share the journey with others! I'll probably make more progress after school is finished, too.  For now, I will spend a little time planning how to get this job done. 

Enjoy your day,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Is it OK to have dreams?

I am sometimes uncomfortable with the idea of sharing my dreams here.  I would not want my dear husband to think that I am ungrateful or pining for something more.  I want to honor him with my words.  I have so very much to be thankful for.

So, I wonder, is it OK to have dreams for the future?  Is it just causing unneeded wants to crop up?  I strive to be a content woman.  And, it does take effort to be content in this world of consumerism.  You have to nip discontent thoughts in the bud, so to speak.

So, this makes me ask myself, "What am I really doing to work towards some of these dreams?"  Nothing really, because they are not super important right now.  My most pressing thoughts are for today or the nearer future, like getting my kids through college.  If that happens, then I feel as if I will be more free to dream. 

Another component is being happy with what the Lord has seen fit to give me.  I really am a blessed person in that regard, as I said before.  Materially, I have all I need.  I've always thought that if I did not have something it is because He doesn't think I need it.

I'm still not sure if it is a productive use of my time to think too far off into the future.  Time will tell!

Enjoy your day,

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Let's Talk RV

The Christmas before last, my family was blessed beyond belief with the gift of a beautiful pop-up camper.  We wanted one for a couple years.  But because we are committed to being debt free, it was not in the budget.  We love our camper, don't get me wrong, but I see a day coming when the kids are off on their own, perhaps, that we will want something easier to set up.

For one thing, we aren't spring chickens.  A pretty funny thing happened to my husband when he was outside playing with our youngest son the other day.  A little neighbor boy asked if he was our son's grandfather!  Ouch!  He's only 46! OK, a lot of grandfathers are 46, now that I think of it.

Thankfully, my husband works out and is pretty strong for a guy with a desk job! (Thank you, Honey!)  But, cranking up a camper and getting it all settled is going to get old when we are 10 years older.  So, in the back of my mind, I think about RV's.

I think about the travel trailer kind, mostly.  I have ruled out the monster class A and the fifth wheel.  I want something that our Jeep could pull.  I want to be able to back it in and not worry about it.

We've been to a few RV stores.  I like the smaller travel trailers.  The Airstream is my dream travel trailer, but I don't have to have one to be happy.  We did see one at a RV dealer that needed a ton of work.  We're not handy people, so we would have to look for a restored one.

Last fall we were camping at our favorite park and there were a bunch of Airstream owners all camping together.  It was pretty neat.  I wanted to ask to tour them all!  I bet they would have let us, but I am too shy to ask!  (Silly me! )

I do have a ulterior motive for wanting a travel trailer.  I want to be able to visit my future grand kids often, if they are living far away.  I am not naive enough to think my kids will live close to us forever.  I want to be able to take my grand kids camping, too.  I want to pick them up and give their tired, worn out parents a break. 

And just once I'd like to drive all the way around Lake Michigan with my sweetie.  We'd need a little nicer camper to do that.  And if worse comes to worse, meaning I don't get my dream house, we can park our RV in one of our kids' yards and live there without being too much of a burden!  Call it my retirement plan!