Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Living Simply :: A Lesson By Roaches

Before you judge me, I can honestly say I've only ever seen one small roach in our house. It was summer time and we live in the South, so it was no cause for concern. Additionally in my defense, neighbors have told us that the previous owner of our home was a much worse housekeeper than even I am.  He moved to Conneticut, so let's blame him.

Anyway.  This story is about our dishwasher. Some of the buttons only worked some of the time until one day, when some of of the buttons were broken all of the time. Abe took apart the control panel to see what he could see.

If you think about it, a dishwasher is like paradise for roaches. The disgusting old food delivered to a dishwasher free and several times a day is just right for their disgusting appetites.  I believe that our dishwasher was in fact Roach Heaven, which is why all of the roaches we found in the space behind the control panel were dead.  Although this begs the question of the worthiness of roaches to enjoy eternal paradise (which is a matter that we leave to philosophers who hate cockroaches as much we do), it allows me to point out that I did not, do not, and will not have a colony of live roaches for housemates.

Being a sissy, I can hardly even tell this story, so luckily for me, Abe is much braver and he cleaned them out.  But they left dead roach scum, so we're not sure if we'll be able to repair the dishwasher.
At this juncture, feel free to squirm, gag, admit that you have no idea what might be living in your dishwasher control panel, and go to get a bottle of water,* since you probably no longer want to touch any of the glassware that was cleaned in your infested dishwasher.  We're moving along to the moral!

Washing dishes by hand is not my favorite housework.  But the other day I was doing it anyway and I was thinking.  Looking at parts to repair our old dishwasher had prompted a look at new dishwashers.  Like everything, they cost more than I expected.  (And no roach-inspection certificates are included, which you should probably address with your senator or congressman if they aren't too busy ruining the internet.) It would take me about a week of work to pay for a new dishwasher, and unfortunately, all of my weeks are already busy working.  Technically we have the savings to go to Lowes if we have to, but do we have to?

I love the time I get to spend at home, and I would like to have more of it.  I'd rather spend my time doing housework than at work earning money for a stupid kitchen appliance that will end up as free roach housing (hopefully not before washing all of our dirty pots and spoons for a good 10-12 years).

Abe and I have been talking about living simply.  I've realized that the more we have, the more we want is not just true, it's true in my lifeI have a cupboard full of dishes.  So now I want an appliance to help me wash them.  Then I want all new appliances to match my new dishwasher.  Then I want to renovate my kitchen.  If I didn't have so much, I wouldn't be worried about matching appliances or earning more money to afford a kitchen update.  I'm not saying that Abe and I won't ever repair or replace our dishwasher - just that living without one has taught me that a satisfied, simple life means realizing the difference between what we want and what we need.

*not that I condone drinking bottled water.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Planning a garden

Last week I bought my 2012 planner.  I love me some papergoods, and planners are my favorite.  I love the blankness of a whole year of  pages, and the potential of that year to finally be the one when I got organized! had a social life! remembered the dog's heartworm medication!  I love writing in the birthdays of the people I love, and looking forward to those celebrations.  I love pencilling in visits and vacations and coffee dates.  I like to plan, and to know what's coming.

As a financial counselor, I preach about planning.  I teach budgeting, saving for retirement, planning major purchases.  I love planners, and I am a planner.

But I have never planned a garden. The closest I've come is sitting down with Abe and a seed catalog, making a list of things we wanted to grow.  If memory serves correctly, we forgot the list when we actually went to buy the seeds, and we ended up with five kinds of tomatoes and several herbs that we never even used (the shame).

Here are at least four
 benefits of planning your garden:
  1. Saving money.  It may be easier to pick up young plants from a nearby nursery or home improvement store, but it's sure cheaper to grow your own from seed.  Planning ahead allows you to get seeds sprouting in time to avoid paying retail prices for plants.
  2. Saving time.  Every year by July, it seems we've come up with a new plan for a lower-maintenance garden.  Of course, if we'd started planning before we planted, we could have saved ourselves the effort this year, too.
  3. Saving effort.  We're lucky that just about every yard in our neighborhood has a kitchen garden. Last year, we traded cherry tomatoes for romas and squash for peppers.  If you know what your neighbors grow best, you can save yourself the trouble of duplicating their efforts and swap produce. 
  4. Saving seeds.  If you pay attention to what grows well, and keep a basic record of your garden from year to year, you may be able to save seeds.  This is important to our farm because we're pinching pennies  increasingly, large agriculture dictates what home gardeners grow, and heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables are lost. For that reason, we don't mind paying more for seeds from Seed Savers - it's an investment in our right to continue to grow whatever varieties we want.  If home gardeners don't invest in that right today, we won't have the same options in the future.
With Superbowl Sunday fast approaching, it's almost time to start some indoor seeds.  That means it's time to get planning!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How to cook rabbit better

My rabbit's been put to shame, y'all.  Also shameful: these awful pictures.  Abe and I splurged to install french doors in our dining room as our mutual Christmas gift, and Santa forgot to bring me the digital camera of my dreams this year.  I also forgot to know anything about photography.  So close your eyes if you have to, Ben Depp.

This rabbit was slow-braised with onion, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, fresh thyme, and of course lots of red wine by my friend Aubrey.  And when I say "slow-braised," I mean put it in the oven, wait til you're starved, wait til the hunger passes, and wait some more. (Or serve hors d'oeuvres. Thanks, Aubrey!) It will be very, very worth the wait.  Justin (my coworker at HMG & Aubrey's boyfriend) was responsible for the amazing roasted garlic of which I ate an entire glove like a greedy and starving person.

We feasted, and then had grown-up hot chocolate for dessert.  Meals like this are why we raise our own food.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

welcome to my broken New Year's resolution

It took all of seven days for me to default on my New Year's resolution to blog once a week.  How are you doing?  You can be honest.  I don't judge, unless your resolution was to "be less stressed."  That's a ridiculous, immeasurable goal if I ever heard one, and doesn't it directly contradict all your other goals, like  spending time with family, quitting smoking, getting out of debt, and drinking less?

It's been a long winter already, though not a very cold one.  We've been gobbling up our bunnies, and we're getting ready to "refresh" our flock of hens, since some of the older birds are no longer laying.  A contact in Cherryville is expecting to hatch blue wyandottes toward the end of the month, so I'll soon be ordering chicks.  I can't wait, because there's nothing we like more around here than some baby animals.

blue wyandotte, not a chick.  source

And if you haven't, check out backyardchickens.com.  They have more than a thousand user-submitted coop designs, forums for your fowl inquiries, breed information and reviews (seriously, I've never wanted to review anything so much as chickens), a store where you can purchase this or this - basically, all your poultry problems solved on one wonderful website.  (p.s., I was not paid for that endorsement, but I would very much like to be.)

winter gardening

I Got Kin
So that your own heart
Will grow.

So God will think,

I got kin in that body!
I should start inviting that soul over
For coffee and

Because this is a food
Our starving world

Because that is the purest