Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day of experimenting

Some days emagene and i can get really bored sitting around waiting for it to cool down enough to go outside. Recently, we passed the time playing I the kitchen. Here's some of what we did:

Popcorn flavors


We tried roasting fennel and celery seeds, then added some Garlic salt. Yummy! Another great one: equal amounts of chili powder and brown sugar. You must add butter to get the flavorings to stick.
Note to self: Must find a place to get nutritional yeast.

She loves Earths Best cheddar crunching crackers, which I hadn't been able to find in denton yet. Saw this linked to another blog and thought we'd try making our own crackers.


Totally awesome! They lasted about ten minutes! We made some extra to take camping. The flavor was good but they got chewy pretty quick. I blame the humidity and the non-airtight container in which they traveled.

We usually end days in the kitchen by making a half batch of chocolate chip cookies. We only make half because we eat them all in two days no matter how many we make.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Chicken ladies

E and I were spreading straw in the garden and were visited by observing chickens. Not uncommon. They usually sneak in the gate since we leave it ajar so the girl can come and go. We're used to chasing them around the herbs and shooing them out before any damage is done. And it's usually the same lady, Minerva. Black chicken with yellow feet and feather tips and a white racing stripe on her outstretched wings. Minerva, the original head lady, who got a little shook up when the brooder lamp ruptured, the girl who starts the "chicken game" everytime we're in the yard, the first girl into the house at night. So it's only fitting that she was the first one to join us by jumping onto the fence. I gently pushed her off before she decided to join us in the dirt. She ran along the top of the uneven fence, faltered and bailed back into the yard.

The next day, Fluffy, my almost rooster, the one who lets us hold her the most often, the most daring and eager to try any new foods we bring out, the girl who has discovered if she jumps and flaps she can fly farther, joined us as we finished with the straw. She hopped up on the opposite fence, curiously cocked her head to the side, looked at me as if to ask "what are you doing with my snack?" I shooed her off and she came running in the gate almost immediately, went straight for the hay bale that usually lives on the porch and started rummaging for seeds.

The next day, in muggy 100 degree weather, we went outside and found Fergy sitting on the fence. She's the one I've gotta watch. I really hope she was just chasing a butterfly or grasshopper because she's the antagonist. She is usually the bird who steals someone's grub, the girl who will peak at my toes if I'm not dolling out the treats fast enough. She's nipped at my clothes and poked my back for the same reason. She's usually the first to come running when she sees us, let's us pet her, and is the only one who sleeps in the nesting box all night long.

As long as the rest of the bale lives on the porch, and I don't see Ella, the mild-mannered singer on the fence, and the grasshoppers keep them busy, I don't worry about their new found entrance to my secret garden. I do have to watch for landmines every time I open my back door though.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Broom for dolls

Today we did some general housework and I saw how dusty the inside of the dollhouse gets. Instead of simply wiping it out, we decided the dolls should clean their house too. So we headed outside looking for the right stick and some loose straw. Gathering some materials we found a pipe cleaner and ended up with this:

Naturally the first thing everyone needs to sweep is the roof ;)

Next up, a dustpan... Any ideas??

Friday, June 22, 2012

Right now I'm

• Resting from a trek involving library storytime, a mile and a half walk, a bus ride and a 2year old.
• remembering the hot part of summer is yet to come
• deciding a bus pass is what this family needs
• wondering if my "since moving to Texas" skin issues are food related
• making mental lists of all the changes in the last 3 months (food source, milk source, laundry detergent brand, insect habit disruption, sleep patterns, coffee roasters, financial situation, etc)
• wondering if any one has read my Starbucks application yet
• hoping that something will fix our financial crisis
• wondering how to get all the chores done in the cooler hours without getting eaten alive by Mosquitos
• drinking lemonade with fresh strawberries
• watching my dog listen to strange noises outside
• listening to the rambling 'dialogue' of 3 horses named bullseye, 2 fairies, and a cloth doll named Blue
• thinking its time to put down my phone and join them

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hearts and Minds

  A lot of people dear to me have been through and are continuing through some really tough life stuff. The kind of stuff that makes me stop and think, what would I do if that was my story right now? Mostly I just cry; for them, over them and because it's the only thing I could possibly do if these stories were mine. Naturally the full range of emotions runs through me and I do my best to ground myself and let those precious people live their own stories while making myself available, with tissues, if needed. It's doubly hard when I'm 2000 miles away from these dear ones and cannot physically take them for drinks, make them dinner or clean their bathrooms while they try to heal, make tough decisions or just simply nap.

  Then I struggle with feelings of selfishness. It's not my story, why am I hurting so bad? Do I want to help because my heart is breaking for them or is my heart breaking due to helplessness of the situation or due to my inability to help?? I feel confident that if the love wasn't mutual, their heart-wrenching situation wouldn't leave me offering to clean their toilets. I can find peace knowing that they are not alone, that I can send them healing and positive energy, and pray for someone physically closer to them to take the initiative. I can long distance hire a maid for a day. Or send chocolate bouquets. None of it will stop the cancer, heal the lungs or bring a baby back to life but it might offer a chance to smile and take a break from the overwhelming existence of the painful side of life. Frustrating little sayings spin through my head and I get upset at them: "where there's a will there's a way", "everything in it's time", "with extreme love comes extreme pain". They are truth, but right now truth is painful and unwanted. My heart also aches for the mothers of these, forced to hold their ailing babes, knowing this could be the last moment.

   I struggle with my religious convictions all at once. Where can we find the strength to go on? From god? From within themselves? From the support of others? From the earth and her never ending presence? From religion? From alcohol, food, cigarettes, etc.? There are so many stories like these playing out around us yet, as outsiders, we try to legalise some ways of coping and degrade people for choosing methods we wouldn't recommend. What if you held your 2- hour old son and watched him take his last breathe? Would you be able to still swear off a strong drink at the end of the day? I wouldn't. Would you not have doubts or anger toward the object of your faith tradition for even a moment? I would. So would the father battling tumours. It can get overwhelming quickly!

  In these moments I choose peace, i breathe and let my spirit guide the healing; for in living the questions, the answers become apparent. Maybe not tomorrow, but someday it will all make sense and we will all heal.
photo credit unknown. If you know, please message me and I will give credit where its due.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Story in Photos

I found this old post drafted and hidden amongst everything else. I think its a great segue into a Story In Photos of the latest 'chicken house upgrade.'

From early March 2012,

I recently attended an information class about keeping chickens in Tulsa city county. It was put together by the library and local chicken fanciers and egg farmers. I'm so glad I went! It was one of those moments where you heard an experienced, living human verbalised everything you've been reading for the last month and clarifying that you processed it all correctly. And throwing in a few shortcut tips in the process. Carissa, the woman speaking, keeps a small flock of 70 birds. She provided those in attendance with a long list of online and local resources for everything chicken. There was also a library-supplied reading list and book display available.

I grabbed and have started reading this book: Keeping Chickens with Ashley English. I'm so glad I trusted my gut and went with this one! She's witty, easy to read, organised like a magazine and has included plans and cut-lists for chicken housing! What more could you ask for? The book is 132 pages, full of pictures, charts, definitions, signs of disease breakdowns, and did I mention plans?? 

We're getting ready to move house, and my girls are getting ready to upgrade. I'm so excited to build the mobile chicken tracker she's got in here! It'll need a little modification since we have 4 birds instead of 3, but not that much! Did I mention I was excited? Cuz I am. Just a little ;)
 Two weeks ago, this happened:

After all that work and they still prefer this:

Gardening with a 2-year old

Waiting for seeds to germinate is difficult. Like watching her learn. No meddling, no 'helping', no shortcuts. Just watching and encouraging. But not too much encouraging, that can be counter productive with weak roots and lacking the ability to "weather the storm." Sometimes even "watching" can be distracting and counter productive, robbing growing/learning energy and transforming it into performance energy.

However, I have stumbled upon an amazing book designed to engage her in the garden! Check out Sharon Lovejoy's "Roots Shoots buckets and boots". (linked here) I am so excited to build an explorers kit and start encouraging Emagene to accompany me on my daily "discovery walks" in the garden.

On a slightly different note: remember my post about schooling? I think I've concluded that by stock piling the "right" tools and previewing books now, I may be able to sort out this education thing until we live in an area with a free school or a Montessori I love.

What tools do you find most helpful for young curious minds?

Most hesitation and fear comes from a lack of preparedness. Here goes getting prepared for learning!

(this has nothing to do with being prepared after the latest "zombie" attacks. *sigh*)

Friday, June 8, 2012

What is this?!

Saw 2 of these in my yard today after 3 days of heavy rain and/or watering. They're probably 2.5-3 inches long.