I thought flu season was over…

I made it through the whole winter without getting sick. Then the minute spring pops its head around the corner, my throat felt a bit sore… then a cough… achy joints… and loss of will to live came tumbling down on me yesterday. Laying in bed moaning and being sad over loss of vacation time for THIS was the order of the day. Shockingly, it wasn’t until today that I remembered that I am, at heart, a hippie. A hippie with dozens of essential oils and natural concoctions to battle flu and cold.

So today, the groggy indifference having worn off a touch, I have my diffuser running next to the bed with frankincense, peppermint, clove and eucalyptus in strong doses. It smells AMAZING. Along with it, I’ve made a quart of something weird to drink. It’s kind of a combination of fire water and a Singing Canary, if you happen to be familiar with THM terminology. We shall see how these things improve me.

Advertisements

Downsizing and Decluttering

A while ago, I met a guy, fell in love and got married. We moved into our first home, and my desire to keep it beautiful was in overdrive.

Believe it or not, as a single woman living in her parent’s home, I owned more stuff than would fit in a two bedroom apartment. Still do, actually, but it’s getting better. When we got engaged, it looked like we’d be moving to a different state and probably to a one bedroom or studio apartment. I looked around me at my collection of 2,000 books, shelves of art supplies, dresser, closet, and six totes full of seasonal/various size clothing and heaps of boxes of my ‘”hope-chest” that had been stashed in the garage attic since I was 16. I knew it wasn’t okay. If I was moving next door into a big ol’ farmhouse and could stay home and be a housewife… mayyyyyyybe it would have been okay. And you know what? The irony is that I hate clutter. I love open spaces and clean surfaces. I was constantly cleaning and weeding out stuff I didn’t want, re-organizing so all of my stuff was more efficient, and always frustrated.

                                                                    Moving in

I set to work right away. I had to downsize, and knew that being sentimental about stuff was not going to work for me. I donated bags and bags of clothes that didn’t fit, boxes of books went to the library sale, years of gardening magazines went (sadly) to be recycled. I had a lawn sale, and the twenty remaining boxes of stuff (I kid you not) were donated to a local share shop.

A HUGE thing that really helped was the actual act of packing and moving. I’d lived in the same house my whole life, and my material life piled up around me, as it does after nearly 30 years in one spot. I pictured unpacking in my new home… would I be happy to see this item? Would it be worth the space it would take up in a small apartment, when I already knew that clutter frustrates me? Do I NEED it? The idea that we should ask ourselves if an item is either useful or beautiful stuck in my head years ago, but I had to change that around for my own situation. Some things I had were very useful… but would have no place to go, and would be more useful for someone else. Some items were beautiful… but a huge collection of beautiful things is called clutter.

BOOKS, for goodness sake, were the hardest thing to figure out what to do with! I love my books, and there are some I’ll hang onto forever, but possessing thousands things that sit on a shelf collecting dust 360 days out of the year, and keeping me from having a place to put what I actually NEED to have, well… that doesn’t make sense when there’s a public library right down the road. I could walk there in 5 minutes. I didn’t want to just throw them in the trash, and recycling them is a huge laborious task. Selling them online was tempting, but in my experience, they sit around for months and years waiting to sell, which is just… clutter.Finally, one local library welcomed about 200 of them. I have two book cases in my apartment now, but the rest… they are still boxed up at my parents’ house. I even asked social media for suggestions on what to do with so many books, but I got very few suggestions… most people felt it was more helpful to tell me that books are friends, and I shouldn’t get rid of them. Thaaaaanks for that.

                                                     Nice and tidy… never lasts.

Moving in, I brought with me just the stuff I wanted. I knew the remnants of things left at my parents’ would be a challenge. A lot of the things that got left behind I really did want… we just didn’t have the space. Lately, every time we visit my parents, more and more of that stuff ends up in a box or bag thrust into my hands to take with me, haha! I can’t really blame them. Now it’s time to make more decisions. Clutter is piling up in my spare rooms/office. At first it was my favorite room in the apartment. It’s just so pretty and the lighting in there is perfect. But yeah, it’s now the “What do I so with this thing?” room. Also the “We don’t have a shed or garage so let’s store motor oil and air conditioners in here.’ room.

But just so you know, it’s not all dismal despair… I’m not just another first world problem child. (Or am I?) I have found that with the help of videos by ClutterBug on Youtube (I found the 30 day decluttering series to be life changing. And yes I did binge watch them all in two days.) and listening to A Slob Comes Clean podcasts, there is still hope for me. A few more emotional attachments to overcome, yes. But I’ll get there. I’ll never be a minimalist, and I don’t think you have to be in order to be happy. But clutter is like a material manifestation of brain fog to me, and that’s something to battle against!

I’m a would-be home maker.

Since getting married, I’ve LOVED having my own home. I love cleaning it and organizing. And being half hippie, I like doing that without chemicals cleaners. I signed on with Norwex two years ago, and proved to everyone that I don’t make a good salesman. My consultant status has been hanging by a thread for the past year because I can’t get myself to chase people down and beg them to have a party. But I do love using my Norwex products at home! Behold! A small, terrible video of how I very lazily clean toothpaste-spattered mirrors with nothing but a Norwex window cloth. Streak free. It still thrills me after two years!

Allow me to reintroduce myself.

Hello again. Nice to see you. It has indeed been nearly three years since I’ve blogged about anything. Catching you up on everything that’s happened in three years is not really a great idea for one post, so I’ll just briefly (hahahaha, we can only hope) introduce who I am right now.

My last initial changed from an M to an N a year ago.

17265026_10155143751082495_1124390092948515884_n

I live with my sweetie in a two bedroom, second floor apartment, with lots of windows for glorious sunlight (Hubby seems exasperated with the number of house plants, but he still bought me another one for Valentine’s day!). We have no laundry room, so Sunday nights are laundry night at my parent’s house. And for company, we have a sweet little grey kitty named Kitty, who loves attention on her own terms and is more crazy than not.

26869155_173126550129437_8660511581961977856_n(1)

I’m no longer a greenhouse girl/ florist, since paying rent etc. kind of forces one to look for full time work. For now I’m a front-end worker in a deli at a natural foods store, meaning I make sandwiches and smoothies for college students and rich people, package in-house made foods for the sales floor and receive/stock items from a dozen or so local bakeries… plus a bunch of other stuff. I like that it’s busy work, decent pay and benefits, even though it’s not exactly my dream job. The best part though, is that it’s the same store where hubby works! We get to see each other every day, even if we don’t always have the same shift.

I’m hoping to come back to blogging every so often mostly as a creative outlet. This whole sleep-eat-work-repeat thing can get to me, and manifest in frustration which… isn’t a pretty sight. So… here I am. Thank you for reading.

 

Drink Weird Things.

About two weeks ago I got myself some kefir grains, after being intimidated by the idea of ‘rotten milk drink’ for the past couple of years. I’d never tried kefir before, never had any fancy flavored store-bought kefir, just dove right in to the craziness of ‘home brew’ as my dad calls it. And let me tell you, so far I’m much happier with it than the sad results of trying to make kombucha a year and a half ago. It never ever got fizzy no matter how many tricks I tried, and un-fizzy kombucha just seemed wrong to me. I ended up dumping it and watching my scoby die a long drawn-out death. Kefir on the other hand, I can handle. Every night after dinner I simply strain it into a jar and set it out for an over-night second ferment which I pop in the fridge in the morning, and pour fresh raw milk over the grains for the next batch… so I basically have two jars going at the same time to keep myself and my family supplied. Right now I just use kefir in green/fruit smoothies which are DELICIOUS, and I honestly like it better than I ever liked yogurt in smothies. Someday I’ll be brave and try kefir straight, but for now I’m happy with what I’m doing.

 

THEN, we had a couple of really hot days, and while I was at work my kefir over-fermented and separated into basically a floating island of what looks like ricotta cheese, and perfectly pure whey.

IMG_2959

Another hot day, the separation begins. I have yet to find an area in our house with even temperatures.

 

I have the book ‘Cultured Food For Life‘ and I knew there were recipes for home-made sodas started with whey, and there are some great-looking recipes, but I didn’t have the right ingredients for any of them just now. (It’s still a great book, and she’s also got pretty much all of the information on her website, go look!) Then I remembered seeing ‘Lacto-Fermented lemonade’ on The Healthy Home Economist’s facebook – and when I first saw it, it sounded bizarre and actually slightly gross, as I associate lacto with milk, and milk and lemon anything means curdled lumpy mess. But here I was with a bunch of lemons and limes and a jar of whey, so what was I to do? So I did.

IMG_2961

And the results? YUM. So much yum. There’s nutmeg in there, I never would have thought to add nutmeg with lemon/lime, but it’s seriously delicious. Tangy. Zippy. I added just a couple of drops of stevia to replace the sugar that was eaten up in the fermentation process. I almost can’t wait for another scorching hot day just to see how refreshing this fermented lemonade will be then.

This.

whatashame

You probably need to click the image and enlarge it in order to read it, but it’s worth the couple of extra seconds. There are a number of young pre/early teen girls in my acquaintance, and every time I hear them talking and criticizing their bodies I want to do something, probably violent, so it wouldn’t be too effective, but just get them to STOP. It’s a generational cycle; Grandma did it, mom did it, so I do it. But it needs to end. I am one of those who wonders how different my life would be today if I had had more confidence, or not even necessarily confidence, just lack of consciousness about my body not being the social norm. Girls need to be allowed to be who they are without worrying that it’s wrong or undesirable or disgusting. (Guys, too, btw. It’s a much more prevalent problem in the female world, since most guys can toss on jeans and a t-shirt and eat whatever they want without thinking about it – but I know from my own family history that not all guys can do that. Young buys with weight problems etc. need to be taught their value is not in perceived attractiveness just as much as girls.)

Madness, mayhem and mayonnaise

So, that broccoli salad I was going to make last night? It took me an HOUR AND A HALF to make. There was a time when I considered myself to be efficient in the kitchen. I could whip up anything, no recipe could possibly intimidate me. But then this thing happened where I started reading a lot of nutritional discoveries, and decided it would be a Good Idea to avoid soy products as much as possible. So I make our mayonnaise now. No more Hellmann’s, which is sad because it’s delicious. But for some reason I can’t explain, I have had the WORST time getting my mayo to emulsify the last several times I’ve made it. It used to be a cinch; I had the recipe memorized and in a matter of two minutes I’d have a fresh batch whipped up. But last night was one of those nights where the mayo gods were against me and I was afraid for my hair (I might pull it out, you see,). Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally I figured out that the egg yolks left over from making angel food cake for Easter dinner were Not Happy Yolks, and started with a fresh yolk and that made all the difference. Fortunately with mayo, once you get it started properly, all the eggs and oil you’ve messed up earlier will incorporate, no problem, so the whole lot was saved. At 10 pm I staggered to bed in disbelief that I had JUST finished making the salad. And then I went and shared it with my co-workers today – what was I THINKING? I’m pretty sure I should have horded it all to myself after the trouble I went through.

I’m not going to put up a recipe for mayonnaise… there are oodles all over the internet, just google it. Besides, I’m apparently not an expert at making it. I do, however, stick to it until I get good results. And don’t let anyone tell you home-made mayo will end up runny, they are WRONG. See?The yellowish color is because I used farm-fresh eggs from a guy up the road, and the yolks are practically orange.

IMG_2704If you do decide to try homemade mayo (It really is easy… I don’t mean to scare you off. Just small things can make it go wrong, but once that’s ironed out it’s easy and worth it.) don’t expect the flavor to be the same as Hallmann’s. It’s made with soybean oil. I assume yours would not be. And what I’ve come to realize is that a great part of the flavor is soybean oil flavor. I don’t know why that came as a surprise to me, but it did. So if you make it with light olive oil, as I do, it will taste mostly like light olive oil. Or you can use grapeseed oil, or avocado oil… and it will, well, taste like those oils. Go figure.

Let’s see, where was I? Well, to catch up very briefly, since my last post, my younger sister got married, leaving me the last ‘child’ at home, my elder sister gave birth to my niece who is precious beyond words, I wrecked my old Civic and bought another very like it but the color is Tardis Blue, my brother and SIL found that they are expecting in September, I found out that my best friend is moving 1/2 hour closer to me so I can see her on a MUCH more regular basis, I’ve read a number of marvelous books and watched some good TV shows/movies, started exercising with kettlebells, which I love, crocheted a red-riding-hood cape for my niece which is TOTES ADORBS, and recently found that our favorite meat-market has closed permanently! Aaaaa!

And other things, but I won’t overwhelm you. I’m here again because I’ve found myself in the work/blank stare at the tv screen/sleep/repeat rut. I need to do something beside collapse in a brain-dead heap when I come home from work, so I’m going to try exercising it a bit here of an evening. It’s likely that a whopping 2 people will read it, but I don’t really care about numbers… if you do read it and enjoy it, I’m glad. If you don’t, I’ll be here typing anyway, adding to the vast abyss of unread internet content.

Right now, actually, I think I hear my mother returning from grocery shopping… which means I can go make broccoli salad for my lunch tomorrow! Yay for tasty vegetables! Five years ago I wouldn’t have eaten broccoli if you paid me…