I am all about honesty, but even I have my limits.

I have good excuses for not posting here in a while. It’s summer, for one thing. We all get a little lazy in the summer, especially those of us whose jobs do actually stop. Where am I supposed to find time to do nifty things around my house? I am too busy lounging by the pool. My real actual excuse has to do with things like vacations and family time, and, oh yeah, I’m having a baby! In January. So there has been planning and curtain-sewing and things like that going on. I like to use the baby as an excuse for everything.

With a baby on the way, I have become more mindful of chemical cleaners, not just for the baby’s safety now, but also for the future. I never wrote up the cleaning with vinegar and baking soda task, in part because I was already a fairly regular user of vinegar and baking soda and that seemed like a kind of boring thing to say. But what Erin said in her book got me thinking about natural cleaners, and Michaela passed on this helpful (if slightly overwhelming) list of how to make your own cleaning supplies. So that’s something I have been experimenting with this summer. Read the rest of this entry »

Shopping from the farm.

Several years ago, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and it changed the way that I approach purchasing my food. We do still buy produce at the grocery store, but we try very hard to purchase seasonal North Carolina produce as much as possible. That includes shopping at our local farmer’s market. (We were even featured in an article about our local farmer’s market once.) There are two good farmer’s markets where I live – a large one off the interstate and a smaller one downtown. We are fans of the downtown curb market, and when we went yesterday, I took my camera. But before we went, we made smoothies to take with us.

Read the rest of this entry »

The best strawberry jam in the world.

Okay, so, I am sure that Erin’s recipe for strawberry jam is, you know, fine. Or whatever. But this is my family’s extra special recipe for strawberry jam. This is the one that my aunt always uses. This is the one that we get jars of every year at Christmas. This is the one that my dad loved more than all other versions. Also, I don’t have canning supplies myself, so if I was going to make jam, I had to do it at her house. So I didn’t use Erin’s recipe. But I did make jam!

I have been present for a lot of jam-making in my life. When I was younger, my grandma and grandpa were able to have a much bigger garden, one that included strawberries. My mom and my aunt would take me, my brother, and my cousin, and we would all spend a day at grandma’s house picking (read: EATING) strawberries, freezing them, and making jam. Those are the days that I remember when people talk about how long summer afternoons used to stretch when you were a kid. Nothing says childhood like bowls of freshly picked strawberries at grandma’s house.

However, my cousin and I were too busy tormenting my brother to be bothered to learn how to make jam. So I have to learn now. Read the rest of this entry »

I hate pancakes.

It’s true. I don’t like pancakes. Or waffles. Or donuts. Or cinnamon buns. I don’t like breakfast all that much, because it often centers around these sweet pastry sorts of things that give me the heebie jeebies because when I eat them, I feel shaky and gross two hours later. Also, I don’t like scrambled eggs. Breakfast foods I like include bacon and sausage. And cold pizza. Lately I have been eating peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast.

(We won’t even get into the drama that used to take place when I would stay at people’s houses and their moms would feed me things like pancakes or scrambled eggs. And I, having been raised right by my mother, would have to eat them. I wish they had just offered me a peanut butter sandwich. Or some cold pizza.)

However. I will be the first to tell you that my aversion to these sorts of foods means that I don’t know how to make them. At all. I had made pancakes one time in my life before Sunday morning. And that was using Bisquick. So it was kind of cheating and not exactly from scratch. Read the rest of this entry »

Tips: Kitchen and canning supplies

I made strawberry jam with my aunt today. I will be talking about the process in a few weeks, but meanwhile, I thought I’d pass on a website that my aunt mentioned. She said that if we are going to be doing these sorts of domestic things, we should be aware of Kitchen Krafts. We did, in fact, use something today that she purchased from there (this handy funnel). They have tips at the top, too, that might be helpful (some seem more useful than others). Also, I will be exploring this category before this year’s annual Great Pumpkin Party. Too bad the “patriotism” category doesn’t seem to have anything about Abraham Lincoln.

Learning from the master.

When it comes to folding fitted sheets, I learned from the master. My mom is the master of fitted-sheet folding. And any kind of folding, really. That’s my linen closet that she arranged for me. The truth is that I’m afraid to touch any of it. No, seriously. I am just going to leave the linens there so that nothing bad happens to them. (It does help to have such a wonderfully spacious linen closet, I will admit.) I am sure my mom will make an appearance here soon enough. Because the kinds of things we’re talking about are the kinds of things she is good at. Somehow, I haven’t absorbed them quite as well as both of us would wish. Read the rest of this entry »

Being part of the chain.

When I was growing up, my mom made a lot of our clothes. Every summer, we would go to my grandma’s house and help with her garden, picking strawberries, snapping beans, and shucking corn. My mom and her sister would make jam, can tomatoes, and freeze beans for the winter. I was lucky to experience all of that, but, let me reassure you:  it doesn’t mean that I am any good at any of those things. I do have a sewing machine, but when I want to make window treatments for my house, I call my mom to help. (Actually, I have some fun fabric I am wanting to use to make a valance for my laundry room right now. Mom, if you’re reading this, when are you free?)

In recent years, the idea of living a more simple life has been a big topic of discussion in our house. Read the rest of this entry »