Showing posts from April, 2012

Music makes me happy

A couple weeks ago, I was so fed up with the playlist I'd been using in my car that I switched to a different one. And promptly skipped through every single track until iTunes told me I didn't have anything else in that playlist. I almost threw my phone out the window.

Then I went to switch out my music to something else and I couldn't find anything that wasn't so overplayed in my head that I could even listen to it. Sounds like it's time for some new music.

So I posted to Facebook, asking for some non-American artists to try out. I enjoy listening to super-poppy music in the car and while I'm cleaning because it gives me energy, so I was looking for something similar from other countries. Unsurprisingly, I got a lot of British artists in the responses. I also spent some time looking for Australian top 40 hits to find some of their artists.

I love Pandora for this reason. I may have only gotten a few responses, some of them even similar artists, but I could …

Menu Planning: A weekly endeavor

Sure, maybe you've read elsewhere about how menu planning works, how helpful it is, how it can save you so much money because you're sticking to a list... But I can't tell you how many blog entries I've read where people basically say "This is how you do it! Just do it." Or where they skip steps in the process because they assume you know already. This is crap I had to learn myself, the hard way, and I figure if it helps one person figure out how to put together a meal plan then it's worth the time I spent telling you all about it.

In our house, we've started a habit of menu planning on Sunday afternoons/evenings. I'd like to say it takes 10 minutes, but let's be real here: It takes longer than that once you add in all the extra steps.

First I clean out the fridge. I try to make a habit of touching everything in the fridge except the stuff in the door, because the stuff in the door is either condiments that rarely go bad or beverages that get …

Allergies are NOT the bee's knees

Do you have allergies? I've been blessed with not just obscure food allergies (asparagus? grapes? really?) but seasonal ones. Pine trees and cottonwoods seem to be my arch nemeses, but there are some other villains in there too.

An important thing to know, that I only discovered within the last year: The technical definition of an allergy is an immune response to the protein strands. When it comes to food, a reaction anything else is an intolerance.

It totally explains why I don't have problems with aged balsamic vinegar that has had time to denature the proteins, but wine gives me hives (and trouble breathing). It also explains why some people have reactions to raw foods that are fine once cooked. Honestly though, this post wasn't supposed to be about food allergies.

I don't know if there just weren't enough of the offensive plants in Seattle to trigger my allergies, or if they didn't even grow there at all. I know there were pine trees, but I'm not sur…

Homesteading: Life organization

All my life, I have struggled with planners, calendars, hand-held organization devices, computers, smartphones... All in the name of Getting Organized. It usually lasts about 3 months.

Part of the struggle of course is that I will start a system and then circumstances will change. When I was scheduled so tightly that I needed to remind myself when to eat and sleep, a planner with multiple lines for every 15 minutes of the day was essential, but sharing it in that kind of detail with others wasn't as critical. When organizing a household of computer-users who had smartphone access, Google Calendar worked wonders.

The hardest thing for me to learn is that no system will ever do everything I want it to. I have to pick what's most important to me. Is it having everyone on the same page instantly? Is it having information synced to multiple locations without me re-writing things? Does it need to be color-coded? How far out do I need to be able to see? How much do I care about scrib…

Manly Man is Manly: Mr. Moon's treacherous war with nature

Mum planted butterfly bushes along one side of the house, but they haven't been properly maintained and pruned for about 4 years. Having joint surgery will do that to you. Well, these bushes got a little... out of control. One was so weighed down that it's pointing completely away from the house, and needs to be removed. All of them were overhanging the fence and at least 2-3 feet into the neighbors' yard. As kind and understanding as they have been, I know the president of the housing association would have liked for her neighbors to be taking care of their yard a bit better. They've very politely expressed how excited they are that we have moved in to help out, and how they don't envy us this job of cutting back the bushes. Hint received.

As you can imagine, with a gate that won't even open due to tree roots pushing up the path stones, we have some work cut out for us.

Well, after much stalling and tending to more urgent matters, it became evident how urgent t…

Garden Report: Edibles finally got planted!

For before pictures, click Here (beds) and Here (pots).

The pot with garlic, oregano and leeks that got dismantled and everything transplanted. See also, Mr. Moon's hand! He's been so kind in reminding me to get "before" pictures when we get started on projects.

Look at those roots! That's the root system for the SMALLER of the two huge oregano bushes that we pulled out after I harvested as much as I could off them.

It took 6 hours of work for each of us including lunch and clean-up, but we got the veggie garden about 80% done in one day. Two raised beds and 8 pots later, let's see what we've got:

Bed 1, back to front: Leeks, Garlic*, cauliflower.
Bed 2, Sugar snap peas in the back corners, with a row of Nasturtium seeds between; mustard green seeds down the middle; broccoli along the front with a lonely soy bean plant in the corner.
Pots, left to right: 1) three kinds of oregano; golden, italian, and greek; 2) cilantro and dill; 3) rosemary; 4) Sage seeds in …

Fairy Door!

In our neighborhood, there is a little fairy door I drive past every day (usually a few times). It's right at the base of someone's driveway, and the flowers have filled in and bloomed over the last few days so I finally got down there to take a picture of it. My Dad built my mom a fairy door, and he is just tickled by them, so every time I see this one it makes me think of him.

We got down there and realized that beyond just a fairy door and a few flowers, there are also these two ADORABLE tree gnomes! You can only see one here, but it looks like he is supposed to be climbing down a rope held by the top gnome, so they can abscond with a few fairy mushrooms. Problem is, the rope itself has frayed and broken in the wind, so now it looks like the rope broke in the middle of his buddy rescuing him from the fairies and he's falling back down! Too funny.

Little things like this make me smile. Oh, did I tell you we named our garden gnome? His name is Mr. Mustard. Because he&#…

To-Do list

On Facebook, someone asked me what we're working on, since I was saying my to-do list has gotten so big but we've made a huge dent in it. I'll try to go back and include/scratch off what we've finished so far.
I recommend enlarging the font on this page, otherwise the strike-through makes it impossible to read what's been done. To do this, hold CTRL or CMD and tap the + sign until it's readable.

This is what's been done since the beginning of June! I also moved all the pending projects to the bottoms of their sections, for easier visibility.

* Dig out veggie beds/containers and prep for planting.
* Plant veggies and herbs in beds and containers, including hanging planters.
* Install lattice for nasturtiums.
* Plant fuchsias.* Dig out/replant geraniums from front container bed.
* Replant front container bed.
* Buy/Plant Heather & some sort of bush (we picked azaleas) for garage yard.
* Plant lilac bush. * Prune butterfly bushes.
* Prune r…

Dude, Get On That Already! Bathroom Edition

One of my favorite blogs is Young House Love. Recently, Sherri & John from YHL instituted a project they call, "Dude, Get On That Already!" It's a feature of those projects that you keep meaning to get to, but just never quite do...

For us, since moving in, it was the bathroom. I got it started, and little pieces were coming together here or there but... let's just say, Musical Boxes was a regular game in that room for the last month or so. I wasn't partial to the Americana decor Mum had in there, but I would have been alright if it had stayed. However, in order to help us feel more at home and welcomed, Mum insisted I make it my own. So I did!

Once upon a time I had a Celestial themed bathroom and loved it, but I never really completed it. Still, when I needed a new shower curtain last year and found a Celestial one at Value Village, I couldn't pass it up! Same with this Sun basket. I had no idea how we would use it, but I knew it would look great. And he…

Flower gardening

I am not a flower person. I used to have a flower bed as a kid that I shared with my brother, and then we split that as well as the long bed that spanned the front of our house. My brother had a tendency to just pick things and put them in sort of haphazardly, but I would very carefully check to see how far apart each flower needed to be planted, how far it would spread, how much sunlight it needed and how tall it would grow. When I had two squares diagonal from each other to do, each of my squares would be completely covered in plant-life that was colorful with contrast, balance, symmetry, and cascaded down from the tallest plant in the middle to shortest in the corners. Why no one realized with this project that I had OCD, I'm not sure. But not knowing anything was wrong with it, the resulting order brought me peace. Even if I did occasionally throw dirt at my brother because his half of our shared garden was messy.

As an adult with chronic fatigue and anxiety (which is an exhaus…

"Where does this live?" ... For now

If there are two phrases I've heard most over the last month, it's these two. One of them is a disaster in the making, the other is the number one way to organization in our home.

"Where does this live?" -- If it's in your hand, or on the counter, or on the floor, ask yourself this question. But baby steps! Pick one! I started organizing The Bachelor Pad of Mr. Moon's when I moved in by simply asking this every time I had something in my hand. Eventually, I had to pick something up off the counter or the floor, and then it would be in my hand! And then I would ask, and it would go there. If I hadn't picked it up to move it yet, then it obviously wasn't a priority yet.
* Tip: If you have something that doesn't have a home, make one that's logical for it. Some blogs will tell you to designate a basket for these things, and then find homes for them when the basket is full. Problem is, I never found a home for that basket! I seemed to do much bette…


Nony over at "A Slob Comes Clean" posted about Traction, and it really struck a chord with me today.

A few months ago, I purchased her e-book, 28 days to Hope for Your Home. If you have ever looked around your home more than once and said "how did it get this way??" you need to read it, it's awesome.

With moving, we didn't have time to implement any new habits in our old place. But upon moving in, we started Day 1 right away. Here's a little hint for the contents of day 1: Do the dishes. That's it.

I didn't follow her advice to the letter, I didn't end up following it day by day, but I did reference back to the book a couple times. The biggest message I took away from her book is that to get control of a household that has imploded, you don't have to start with a clean slate and THEN make new habits. You can just "new habits" your way to a better home. LIGHTBULB!

The dishes get done every night before bed. We may have skipp…

Gardening prep day 2: Pots

We got the beds prepped yesterday. Today was Easter dinner, and one of our friends came over to eat Lamb with us, so since he was headed near where Mr. Moon works anyway he offered to drive. I was feeling a little cooped up and wanting to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, so I was going to take a book outside, but they're all still packed away! Then I decided I could go prep some of the dirt in the pots out there until I just didn't feel like it anymore.

This is what I had to start with! Weeds, moss, dead plants, and broken tools. Some of the pots are full of decent dirt, but a couple of them are about 50% those white rocks that get put into potting soil for drainage. It's no wonder nothing would grow in them besides moss!

I set those pots aside to mix into the dirt in Bed #2, mixed some of the pots together if they were very low on dirt, and just got all of the moss, root clumps, and old plants out. Nothing too backbreaking, just some digging around with a trowel and tappi…

Garden beds prepped!

Prepping the garden beds today took a lot less time and effort than I expected. We only had two hours to begin with. I was having an OCD attack and CRANKY!tired, so I supervised and was busy getting a Vitamin D supplement. Mr. Moon decided half an hour in that I needed to eat and he was cooking for me, so hewashed his hands and we both got some breakfast. Then back to it, digging out dead plants and weeds, aerating soil, and evaluating the dirt.

I didn't get any before pictures, and I'm sad for it because it's a very VISIBLE change! These pictures were all taken at about 11:30am, and the rear of the house faces west-ish. Here you can see the bed on the right, that used to have a couple tomato plants and some garlic, as well as a tiny bush of oregano. Everything got sacrificed to the compost pile, since there wasn't any good compost for using this year anyway. Not pictured, behind it is the shepherd's hooks with upside-down planters.

The left bed got to keep the gar…

Sub-Urban Gardening

Mum and I picked up the plants for the vegetable & herb garden in the backyard today. We got a few seeds, but mostly starter plants. This year with the moving and everything we got a late start, and don't have the space or time to be dealing with seeds right now.

For the basis of this entry, let's just assume that everything is neglected and overgrown, shall we?
As it stands, we have an old mint garden in the back corner (away from everything else) that may or may not crop back up. Possible volunteers will be spearmint, chocolate mint, peppermint, and pineapple mint. But Mum hasn't tended to it for years, really since it got planted 9 years ago, so we may need to go back out to pick up some mint plants, as we would like to keep that as a mint corner. The catnip we just picked up will be going back there.

We have two raised bed planters about 3x4 feet each which are currently housing a HUGE, delicious looking oregano bush (well, three of them actually). I mean, one of th…