Friday, March 20, 2009

Sq. Ft. Gardening Sustainability

We're doing a square foot garden as I've said before. I was concerned about the sustainability of the method and while listening to the Survival Podcast, was pleased to run across one that covers this very topic. A very informative post that also covers HR875.

Growing your own food is indeed bloodless revolution. Check it out: Cuba Got Those Greens. Even a small window box . . . survival mindedness so that we can thrive.



Photo Credit: "Square Foot Garden Box"on Flickr by amber in norfolk

This week's preparation project. . .

Was supposed to be acquiring canning supplies and learning to shut off the electricity, gas, and water to the house. However, another blackout on Wednesday lit some fire underneath my behind to get our emergency lighting situation together. On Tuesday, I was able to get some candles from a fellow freecycler. We have two small, surprisingly bright LED flashlights that are battery powered. One of those sat upright can illuminate the whole bathroom. I purchased a set of three lanterns that are battery operated but have a hand-crank for back up power and one lantern that is mainly hand-crank powered but has a electrical port to charge it. Since the hubby is a buyer's club member and had a coupon, I also went ahead and bought a hand-crank weather radio. Glad to cross all that off my list. I hope these three blackouts we've had this winter are not foreshadowing of many more blackouts this summer. We have a lot of blackouts already during the summer but we've never had so many during the winter. We'll see. I keep thinking about how easily my grandmother would get out the kerosene lamps when we were visiting in Nigeria. She'd light them and life would continue on as usual. Nobody batted an eye when the electricity went out. I'm trying to make sure blackouts don't interfere with our living and we might even do voluntary blackouts from time to time just to get used to it. I heard a while back that for some children with autism, turning out all the electrical lights at night really helps them. I always found that interesting. Anyway, I think I might complete my original preparedness project via Amazon.com what with their free shipping and one-stop shopping and all. I do not really want to be hopping from shop to shop trying to find eveything with two kids in tow.

Photo Credit: "This Red Kerosene Lamp" by finishing-school on Flickr.com

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Another Great Workout!

Today I did Women's Health Ultimate Fat Burn and it was excellent. I felt like I really burned calories. The routine was never boring and I got to do work on every part of my body. It was long enough without being too long and I feel like my heart rate was elevated for a good clip of time. The cueing was perhaps the *best* cuing I have ever seen on any DVD to date. No fumbling. No false steps. Amy Dixon was right on point, always remembering that I was seeing a mirror image of what she was doing. Ms. Dixon was also not patronizing, not annoying and just encouraging enough that when I wanted to stop a rep, I just kept going. I really sweated with this workout and I enjoyed it a lot. I'm definitely adding this to the list of workout DVDs I'm going to purchase (One-on-One Training with Jackie is also on that list and I'm on the lookout for one more really good yoga DVD). I'm really having fun trying out all these DVDs and even when I've built a good home workout DVD collection, I'll still be trying different ones. It's so nice to switch it up every once in a while.
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On another note, it just occurred to me that since there are plentiful berries at farmer's markets, I should try my hand at making enough jam to last through the winter. If I bought enough berries every time I go to the farmer's market (I'm going to try to go weekly) to make 2 pints of jam, that would definitely last us through the winter. I'd love to grow strawberries myself but I don't want to be overwhelmed. Definitely, though, once we get the hang of the gardening, I will be growing flowers (both for beauty and medicinal purposes like roses for rosewater and calendula for calendula infused olive oil which I used to make for my children's diaper cream), herbs (both for cooking and medicine) and some kinds of berries.

Anyway, I'm feeling good today. I have a busy day ahead but I'm hoping for some things to come together. I'm just feeling light and easy. I wish the same for you.


Photo Credit: "summer preserves 1" by chotda on Flickr.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Frugality & Luxury . . .

Are generally not two words that go together . . .

Recently, on a newly discovered blog (Nature Mom's Blog: A Guide to Natural Family Life), I read an excellent book review of Tracey McBride's book Frugal Luxuries: Simple Pleasure to Enhance Your Life and Comfort Your Soul.

I borrowed the book from the library and while I've only read a little bit, I really love the message of this book. A lot of what the book says is how I already live my life but McBride has laid out the philosophy behind frugality in plain and direct terms that I have never really intensely thought about. So while I was just browsing, I realized that even if I have triple the amount of money I have now, I would still enjoy being frugal. I've always thought to myself, "I don't need to be rich . . . I'm not trying to be rich" not in a defeatist way as if I don't deserve to be rich or have a poor person's mentality. But, as India Arie mentions in her song "There's Hope" the more money you have, the more complicated things get. And honestly, I love simplicity and a simple life. What I want is to have enough to be able to take care of myself and my family well and a little extra. From the book . . . Being frugal is not being miserly. It's appreciating the time it took to make something, using money wisely and diligently, finding beauty and satisfaction in the simplest things like a freshly made bed, newly set table, or just vacuumed rug or a field of dandelions on a bright sunny day when your allergies are under control.

Being frugal, to me, is one of the best effects and manifestations of santosha (contentment) in my life. It is, simply put, maximizing my current circumstances.

At the thrift store the other day, I found a pale pink cashmere turtleneck sweater. The ticket said that the sweater should have already been 1/2 off. I found a small hole in it and I got the sweater for $0.49. A cashmere sweater for $0.49! Now, I plan to wear the sweater underneath a lightweight silk blouse or cotton shirt so you'd never see where I stitched up the hole. But I'll be wearing pretty pink soft, very warm cashmere against my skin. Even if I had $60 to spend on a cashmere sweater, I wouldn't. That's frugal luxury to me.

It's interesting when your own personal philosophy is described in written form and only then do you realize that it is your philosophy and it is important, no crucial, to who you are. In thinking about the coming changing times, I'm glad this philosophy is mine and I want to be an encouragement to those around me . . . we don't need to buy more to have more. If we assimilate that idea now, when we can't buy more, we'll be just fine.

Photo Credit: "field of dreams" by plousia on Flickr.com

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fitness Inspiration



Toni Braxton has at least two kids. Yes, her reality is very different than mine but still . . . she did it. I'm sure it took a lot of work and committment but for real, homegirl is indeed fire. She looks absolutely fabulous. I will always and forever <3 Toni Braxton.

Baked Falafel Balls & Trying Out Tae Bo Again

I really like falafel but attempts to make the dish at home have been frustrating to say the least. I don't have a deep fryer and frying in a pan is a royal pain--not to mention the mess it makes. It's so annoying that I rarely make falafel. So I was intrigued when my sistren spoke about baked falafel balls from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook. I borrowed the book from the library and the first recipe is the baked falafel balls (this is the exact recipe in the book). I followed the recipe word for word [except I didn't have cilantro (not too fond of the taste) and used dried parsley]. The balls came out really well and I think we'll be having lots more falafel around here. I have some tweaks for next time, though. First off, I would punch up the spices and add a tad bit more salt than I did. They were kind of dry too so I would sweat the onions and garlic in a bit more olive oil (about 3 tablespoons instead of 1). We always eat falafel with ketchup so I didn't attempt any tahini/yogurt sauce (there's a vegan recipe from Tofu Cookery that I sometimes make but we're cool with ketchup). To eat them, we put them in mini whole wheat pita bread from Trader Joe's, put ketchup on and then stuff the pita with mixed greens. Really delicious. They were gone in minutest. These falafel would actually make really good burgers. Those falafel in the picture are not my falafel although mine looked pretty similar. The photo is by Sharon123 on recipezaar.com . . . I really need to make a little more effort to take pictures. LoL.
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On to Tae Bo . . . I gave Billy Blanks' Tae Bo another shot this morning and did Billy Blanks' Tae Bo Cardio. Not bad. It wasn't as frenetic as the other one I tried but I didn't feel like my heart rate got high enough for long enough. I felt it was more of a strenghtening type workout than cardio. Even though some of the participants were sweating profusely, I was sweating as much as when I vacuum with Z2 on my back in the carrier, i.e. not much. So I would say this workout is pretty much for the beginner. Also, I wish Mr. Blanks would realize that I am seeing a mirror image of him doing what he's doing, in other words, he needs to do the opposite of what he's telling me to do. And that counting? It really is annoying. But it's a solid workout . . . a nice little change in the routine.

You know, I'm so proud to say I'm no longer a beginner. Denise Austin's Blast Away 10 Lbs. is really becoming a breeze these days--I can think about lots of other things while doing the workout. And since I'm getting up naturally at 4:30 these days . . . My sistren who recommended the falafel also uses Power90X and recommends it (isn't she such a resourceful and useful sistren!?!). I don't know if I actually have the time to do this and I still enjoy my other workout DVDS and doing my yoga. But it's something I'm thinking about.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Soul

Yesterday was a lovely day. It wasn't sunny but it wasn't windy and it wasn't too cold. The playground was full of children with all that exuberant, joyful energy. It was great. Z2 fell asleep on the swings and was asleep so soundly that I transferred him to the stroller and he hardly stirred. I had the chance to chat with Z1's friend's mom who I'm cool with and the conversation turned to something that I am always interested in: the soul. She mentioned that she has been able to communicate with her father who has passed on and that she had done a past life regression (which I so totally want to do one day). It was really a good conversation and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that on these things we hold similar ideas/theories.
I believe that the soul is immortal and essentially energy--never created and never destroyed or else only able to be created or destroyed by the Almighty Jah. Different cultures and different traditions offer up ideas about the soul particularly about when the soul enters the body. Is it at conception? Or is it at birth? I tend to think that while a baby is in the womb, the soul is free to go in and out of the body. Once birth happens though, it becomes married to the soul inseparably until death. Being newly married, babies have a strong memory for what it was like to be spirit and so for a long while, children have one foot in the physical world and the other in the spirit world. Growing up necessitates that most of us plant both feet firmly in the physical world or at least moreso.

If it's true that the soul only becomes permanently connected to the body at birth, abortions and miscarriages do not hold as much gravity to me. I am sincerely pro-choice and wish that every woman who wants to have her baby can and every woman who doesn't want to can choose not to. Yes, abortions and miscarriages are not times of rejoicing and jubilation and it's not like we should be all excited about miscarriages and encouraging abortions. But, in my mind, once you believe that a soul in indestructible, at least not by human interference, it makes the weight . . . different if not easier to bear.

I wonder, though, if souls which did not make it through a woman the first time keep trying to come through her or do they choose someone else. Why would a soul, which I believe "knows" to a large extent, then try to come through a way that it knew wouldn't come to fruition? I think souls map out their course before they take on flesh (probably or maybe in conjunction with the Most High). I think a soul might like to try different things. Experience things just for the experience. Everything is in divine right order--just like the rest of the universe and since a soul is an inextricable part of the whole, I think divine order applies to your soul, my soul and every soul.

I wonder do our children who have come through us, have they been born to us before? Were we born to them? Were we connected in some other way in a different life? Sister? Brother? Spouse? Mistress? Cousin? Friend? Enemy? Victim? Healer? Teacher? When our soul dissociates from our flesh, will we recognize other souls we have been connected to before? Will we know our descendants? Will we know our ancestors?

Of course, these questions have no answers that we can really know but in trying to figure out these things, in thinking about how life present and eternal works, I think we can derive great joy, power and strength to make the most out of this gift of the here and now.

Photo Credit: "Window to my soulIExplored" by Joyful Reverie on Flickr.com

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sizing Up

So now that winter is drawing to a close is the perfect time for me to start getting the clothes Z1 will wear next fall and winter (he's pretty much set for summer when his wardrobe mainly consists of t-shirts and jeans/shorts). Right now, he's 3 1/2 and wears a 4T. I'm guessing by the time he's 4+ he'll be in a 5T/6 (small). So I'm scouring various thrift stores on half-off days and other sale days and getting some really good deals on quality shirts and pants for him. I have to take down some of his old clothes I have in storage to make sure that Z2 is good to go for this summer and next winter. Z2 was born in the winter while Z1 was a summer baby so sometimes I have to plug some holes in Z2's wardrobe. This winter, thankfully, that just meant a few more underclothes (long johns, undershirts and socks). Since I enjoy shopping the thrift stores, this is a great activity for me. This past Saturday I found a Land's End Turtle neck for him and before that on Wednesday, three pairs of cargo pants--I think I spent about $6. I hope to keep doing the thrift store thing and also to find some great things at the upcoming rummage sales at various churches in the county as well as yard sales (will be looking at Craig's List for announcements).

My preparation plan for this week is two-fold. First, I need to get the rest of the supplies I need for canning Although I have religiously avoided WalMart, I really can't seem to find any other local place where I can get all my supplies. I will keep looking though. What I'm hoping is that I score something big at a rummage or yard sale in terms of canning supplies but also yarn and needles and stuff. Secondly, I need to figure out how to shut off the gas, electric and water to the house. Okay, our basement is unfinished and it is basically dusty, dark, and otherwise spooky. I only go down there to do laundry. Occasionally, I have to go down there to fiddle with the boiler if it's cut off or the fuse box if one blows. I do this as quickly as I can and then run back upstairs. Anywho . . .found this: Utility Shut Off and Safety. Now I have to physically go down there with the hubby and locate these things.

I'm still plodding away at my first attempt at sock knitting. If I can put some time into it, I should be finished sock one in a day or two.

Yesterday we started our plants. The last frost date is around April 15 and so hopefully we'll be out there soon. I'm as excited as a little kid and I'm a bit surprised. We're starting this garden for very practical reasons but it is still fun. I'm reading lots of books and learning the ins and outs. I don't know if I'll ever be a master gardener but so far, it's good. I really want to do some flowers/herbs too but I don't want to get overly ambitious. One step at a time. I'll post a picture of how everything looks soon and give a detailed list of the plants we'll be trying for.

Just a small update on what I'm doing. :)
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