Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In on the Independence Days Challenge

I recently came across the blog Casaubon's Book and have been inspired, engaged, challenged (and even sometimes a little scared) by what I've read there and where it has lead me in a quest for a better handle on where we are in the world and what we can do to help ourselves and our communities. Sharon's approach has inspired me to think a little bit more about how to deal with the scary stuff instead of just trying to ignore it or shrug my shoulders.

She organizes an Independence Days Challenge that seemed like just what I wanted to keep me moving forward with our efforts to reduce waste, grow more of our food, reuse what we have instead of buying new, prepare ourselves better for the coming years and the economic distress that we're all in, etc.

So, I've joined her challenge and will be posting my little "report" of what we've accomplished every week in seven general categories. If you're at all curious or interested in getting involved, check out her site. That's also where you'll find the longer clarification of each of the categories that I'll be reporting on.

So, here's our first list:

Plant Something:
planted parsnips, turnips and radishes outside. Prepped some indoor seedling trays. Built, filled and planted a raised bed of cranberry bushes

Harvest Something:
Cut chives from the herb garden for egg dishes and salads
Harvesting asparagus as it shoots up

Preserve Something:
A little intimidated by this. One of our challenges for this year.

Reduce Waste:
On our last roll of paper towels with no plans to buy more. We're replacing with baskets of clean rags and cleaning cloths in strategic places.

Preparation and Storage:
Expanded our basement pantry and updated food storage inventory. Located an old storm door and some plans online for making our own food dehydrator

Build Community Food Systems:
Talked with a few friends about how to take the next step with organizing their pantries and expanding them. Helped a friend plan her first vegetable garden.

Eat the Food:
Ate all the asparagus that we've harvested so far. Loving the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies from Cynthia Lair's "Feeding the Whole Family" great food storage cookies. And a very tasty treat!

What could you do this week?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some lunch box crafting

I finally found some nice sets of cutlery at the thrift store (knife, fork, teaspoon and soupspoon) for $1. The stainless steel is nice and sturdy and has a good weight. I've been wanting to make some designated cutlery roles for our lunch bags so that we wouldn't risk losing our everyday to the office when and if one of us forgot to bring them home. We try to avoid using disposable plastic to save on landfill. So now that I had the cutlery it was time for something to contain them. I took a little piece of a landscape print from my stash (a reject sample for the kitchen curtains) and matched it with some heavy upholstery linen remnant that I picked up for .25¢ a while back. stitched a little forest green twill tape into one of the rows of stitching and we now have neat and tidy silver-ware rolls that live in our lunch bags. Next on the agenda may be some little scrap muslin bags to toss the dirty silver-ware in when bringing it back home. I'll have to check the stash.

All in all this was a very easy project to whip up with no pattern, and we've both gotten lots of good use and nice comments from using these. And it makes for a little bit greener world to boot!

Time in the studio (recording that is)

A belated post about a little project Michael and I recently completed. We put the finishing touches on our new Demo called "the Circle", which you can download for free from my music site. It's a song inspired by our visit to the Carter Family Fold, the home-place of a lot of good, old-timey music. It was originally the home-stead and little store that A.P. Carter ran after he left singing with the original Carter Family. And has become, with the care and management of his daughter Jeanette and then his grandson Dale Jett and granddaughter, Rita Forrester, a wonderful locale for old-time fiddlin' buck-dancing, clogging, flat-footin', good music! Here's the link.

We really enjoyed writing this song. From the original notes sketched out on the car ride home to the fine tuning of lyrics, melody and harmony over the span of time since then. When we finally came to record it, we were very pleased to have the help of our talented friends Gail and Allen Wiegner on vocals and bass and Jackie Damsky on fiddle. We're pleased with the recording and hope you'll enjoy it too!