About Me

I am a wife and mother. I have a son (W) who is ten and a daughter (E) who is 8. I have two bonus children: a stepson (N) who is 18 and a stepdaughter (A) who is 14. My bio children are educated at home while the bonuses go to regular school.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Today's Work

I made cat food from ground turkey, beef pastrami, and beef hotdogs.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Reclaimed Wood Projects

Here are a few things things J made me, all from reclaimed wood.

This is just a shelf he made with no purpose in mind. I filled it quickly.

These are some spice racks. I am very short so reaching and seeing things on the second shelf is difficult. The things I use most are in the holders and easily accessible.

A simple way to organize measuring spoon by size.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Spice Blends

This will be just be a quick explanation of premixing spices.

Get all the spices you want in a mix. Find the right size spoon for each one.

Mix one or two batches in a bowl at a time.

Then pour it in a container. Label it.

Then label the back with the ratios you used. For Pumpkin Spice I use 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon allspice. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

To Crock or Not to Crock

For anyone who knows me, this is a common sight in my kitchen.

I am always running a crockpot. If we eat meat with bones in it, the bones get put in a crockpot with water and cooked on low or keep warm  for a day or two.  When it's done,  I can it  up and put it away.

I also render fat and make spaghetti sauce in a crockpot.  I use them to make the house smell nice with water and citrus fruit peels or essential oils.

But lately, I have to wonder how much energy are all these crockpots using.  Last year, I actually measured one. I forgot the numbers. It wasn't overly important because most of my crockpots are different sizes and brands.

Then I heard people discussing the Instapot. I had no idea what it was so I looked it up.  I like the idea behind it. I have my dad's old pressure cooker, but I am scared to use it due to its lack of a manual and age. (My dad passed on 9 years ago so I can't ask him.) Then it hit me: I could use the pressure canner to make the stock right in the jars.

The first time I tried this, I put a ham bone with fat in a half gallon jar and processed it for 25 minutes, the length I would process stock.  When it was done, it looked pale and didn't seal.  I tried it again, this time I processed it for an  hour; its color looked good.

Next I did pork stock made from pork chop bones.  In each jar I added some of the juice in the pan.  I did the same with chicken bones. All the stock has turned out with a nice color.

It does look less pretty due to the bones floating around in it, but I am enjoying having less ( some times no) crockpots plugged in and taking up a whole counter.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Waste bothers me. Period. I gets under my skin. It just sits in land fills possibly polluting.

I like to dumpster dive. I can't tell you where because it's highly frowned upon. At this one particular non-profit's dumpster, I find a lot of blankets. Some smell; some are ripped. It's disgusting to see all the waste because I know they are not ready to be garbage.

I take the blankets and other goods and give them new life. Blankets are washed and line dried; it make take a few days of airing out to get them fresh. I fix them up, usually a few new stitches and seems. I give them to a woman who works with low income people. She hands them out to those in need.

Other goods are washed as well. I usually keep them until I meet someone who needs what I have.  Here are some things I have rescued from dumpsters:

blankets (obviously)
double stroller
cat house
animal dishes
infant life jacket
dog jackets for the winter
Barbie clothes
a step stool
Dutch shoes
pictures in nice frames
clothes that have never been worn
baby swings that work
random toys

Many nonprofits have so much that they just toss what they have. Or they sell clothes to factories by the pound to use as rags. While I don't want to discourage people from giving to nonprofits, I hate seeing waste. Maybe your old things can put be on Craigslist or set in the front yard with a free sign. Try getting in touch with social services; they might know people who can't afford to shop at second hand stores.  If you exhaust all other options, maybe it is time to donate to a nonprofit.  Just think twice before you toss things out because not everyone can live upriver.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Random Ranting from a Lunatic Mind (Much of Which is Parenthetical)

It's that time of year that stores fill with packs of pencils, pens, and paper. Whole isles are dedicated to school supples instead of the usual  half the right side of one isle. It's easy to get caught up in all the sales.  It's not just school supplies, it's new clothes too. And new back packs even though there is nothing wrong with the ones we already have. And new shoes too. It's fun to shop. (Developmental psychologist have made it that way.)

It's that time of year when cashiers, librarians, and the odd person with whom you strike up a conversation at the grocery store while trying to select the best apples feel the need to ask, "So are ya ready fer school to start?"  They expect parents to answer with an enthusiastic "Yes!" and for children to answer with an exasperated  moan or sigh accompanied by an eye roll with the optional "No."  But not everyone sends their children to school. Some of us like our children and enjoy spending time with them. (And before someone gets on their high horse to say, "Well check your privilege. Not everyone can afford to homeschool. You are  clearly part of the white upper middle class,"  let me say that I am poor. We dance with poverty line.)

For those of us who chose home education or some other form of non-5-days-a-week-schooling, September has a different feeling. For me, it's harvest time. I spend a lot of time standing over a canner while listening to the hum of a dehydrator if the sound of Five Finger Death Punch and Wardruna doesn't overshadow it. My fingers develop calluses from handling hot jars. My feet ache from standing in the kitchen. My skin actually looks good because it's constantly being steamed. My nails are still stained from dirt. (The dirt stain usually lasts until October for me.)  For others, school never ends and lessons are completely year round.

For those who don't send their kids to school, it can seem odd that everyone is talking about school supply lists (Can you believe what they want us to spend on a calculator?), which teachers retired (It's about time Mr. Gordon is done; he was just riding the time clock), how long Mrs. Smith will be out of teaching while she recovers from her new baby, the new dress code the school implemented (no leggings or sweat pants, no spaghetti strap shirts even for elementary school kids,  nothing that can be seen as offensive, no scarves, no body jewelry, etc.).   The idea of compulsory school seems odd to many people. As parents, we protect our children in numerous ways: helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards for riding bikes, roller blading, and skating; 5 point car seats until they weigh 65 lbs.; scissors that can't even cut; bed rails for a 5 year old even though the bed is only 6 inches off the floor and the bed is a queen size. But for some reason, most people just send their beloved offspring to school without a thought. Do you know the person who is in charge of your child for 6 hours a day? If you do, do you like them? What about the bus driver? Do you know them? Do you like them? If the school district hadn't decided that these people are capable of taking care of your child/ren, would you want your child/ren around them?

My family is riddled with teachers, guidance councilors, and other school administration. To be honest, I wouldn't want my kids around some them if I wasn't there. My uncle had planned to be a gym teacher. While prepping for his student teaching, he found a job that would pay him more than teaching would. By then my cousin had been born so he took the better paying job. (I don't blame him.) Honestly, he is homophobic and a little racist. He doesn't understand that not everyone likes sports. (This concept boggles his mind.)  My aunt is a teacher. I find it hard to hold a conversation with her. The answers she gives are short and designed to end the conversation. I also find her very disrespectful to her parents. These aren't people with whom I want my children to spend time especially without me; if they are to spend time with them, I want to be there to explain what is and is not acceptable.

But for many people, these thoughts never occur. They simply get a letter saying who their teacher is for the year. The children may have heard rumors about their teacher and groan, or hopefully they get excited because they got the teacher that has a couch and radio in their room. (My mind: Where is that couch from? Is it their old couch? Did they have sex on it? Did their kids pee on it?)

My children, W and E, and have been in a charter school that only meets once a week since kindergarten. The school is small. The day is short (9-3). Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend a parents meeting where we discuss curriculum, food, teaching styles, food, outside of school activities, food, methods of discipline, and food.

W has a reading disability that is holding him back in other subjects.  I have done everything (and more) the school has told me to do to help him.  Nothing has worked.

 I had to make a decision: he would go to school. Because the school is public and because of the rules, all students at the charter school are allowed to take 2 classes a semester at the regular middle and high school. I talked to the administration at both the charter school and the regular school.  The agreement was made he would attend school for the first three hours (classes/periods) of the day: language arts, homeroom (this one doesn't count as a class he takes), and Read 180 (a class for the lowest level readers). I picked his language arts teacher, Mrs. M, who would also be his teacher for Read 180. My bonus daughter, A, had her a few years earlier. I had her  20 years earlier.  I requested a math teacher for his homeroom teacher. (His math is hard, and some times I can't help him with it.) I bought him school supplies. We went to open house and met his teachers. I knew his homeroom teacher, Mrs. W; she had been his tumbling coach 7 years earlier. I explained he would only be there for the first 3 "hours."  Both teachers were understanding.

So I had accepted he needed more help than I could provide and because of this he would go to building with people I don't know and be subjected to whatever they tell him: carbs are good for you, Columbus discovered America, and Abraham Lincoln was opposed to slavery.  I had a health teacher in 9th grade who told us sex was only for procreation. Yes, at a public school. (Apparently, she didn't know about oxytocin releases and how good they are for you regardless of wanting a baby or not.)  That was bad enough, but then I read an article that was about Monsanto reps going to schools to talk about what a great company they work for and the dangers of sharing seeds.  Most people wouldn't think twice about these things.

I do. A lot.

I have met a few people who feel all homeschoolers are religious nuts who want to shelter their children from the evils of the world and to teach that the is a 6,000 year old disc covered by a dome. That's not me. I am more likely to correct someone when they say that neanderthals are our direct ancestors. (They are not; they are more like the cousins of our ancestors with whom we bred on occasion but preferred to kill off.)

I want my kids to know how to grow, cook, and prepare food for themselves, to use a saw, level, and screw driver/gun, and to change oil and a tire.  I want them to know there is nothing wrong with doing these things for themselves. You don't need to pay someone to do every minute chore for you. I want them to know it's ok to not follow the crowd because crowds are mobs, and mobs are dangerous and generally stupid.

How do I do this when they are surrounded by other people who are taught that hive mind is a good thing? How do I do this when he will be subject to adults who rely on peer pressure to get things done?  How do I teach them to value their goals and accomplishments when in order to get good grades they need to have the answers and goals the teachers want?  How the fuck do parents deal with this for 180 days a year for 13 years?

Monday, June 6, 2016

New Washing Machine

For a year, we had a washing machine that refused to spin.  I needed a quick fix and didn't have several hundred dollars on hand with which to purchase a new washer so I bought an antique, or maybe just vintage, wringer.  Because I didn't buy the wash board, since the washing machine still agitated, we had nothing to which to attached it. But our laundry would finally be wrung out! 

At first, it was a 3 person job.  One person, held it steady on top of a saw horse. Another person fed the laundry in. (This was an art form to be learned.) The last person caught the laundry.  This only lasted a week until J did his laundry and found it tedious.  He built a stand for the wringer.

The first 5 months of this, I honestly wasn't bothered it. But after that, it got old. Our basement is cold making it less than pleasant (and let's be honest: I live in the First World so when I say something is less than pleasant, there are many people in the world who would love to be in my place).  Wringers also doesn't get out as much water as the spin cycle on a modern washing machine which led to almost every thing had to go through the dryer in the late fall, winter, and early spring. I also broke many zippers, buttons, clasps, and hooks.  On the plus side, my sewing skills did improve.

On Mother's Day, I was waiting for the liquor store in the grocery store to open. I took a look "For Sale" section of the bulletin board.  There was an apartment sized washer for sale for $125. I called and went to look at it. I asked a friend to pick it up in her vehicle. (I could have picked it up, but I would have had to remove the car seats, some things I had no interest in doing.)  J hooked it up and now I no longer have to wring out my laundry. 

Next on the agenda is an oven that keeps constant temperature!