Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu Logic Illogical

As we prepare for the Swine Flu Pandemic, and wash our hands every five (5) minutes, we are being told to prepare for our children's schools to be shut down. We should find a daycare solution.
Okay... So we close the schools... The kids have already been exposed... So have their entire households... (DUH!)... So we send them to various daycare centers... The other children are now exposed... And we go off to work... And we expose all our co-workers and clients...
So closing the schools and not keeping the kids separated is spreading the Swine Flu faster!
Who, exactly, thinks up these plans? Did they even finish High School? Could someone with a brain step in and mentor them?
Is there anyone who would like to volunteer?

Asparagus in Edible Parkway

Hi! Welcome! Sit a spell and have a cup of coffee with me.
How is your edible parkway coming along? I can't wait for you to send photos with your comments!
When I redid the asparagus bed, I decided to put two (2) plants in the parkway to share. Asparagus is so expensive, but now we can share it.
If you come by to get some, be sure to cut the stalks carefully (do not pull or rip it) so it will continue to produce.
Can't you just taste the fresh cream of asparagus soup?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cooking for the Needy

When was the last time you stood in your own kitchen and cooked for someone less fortunate?
Last thanksgiving Matthew baked two (2) deserts for a dinner served to the needy. He put all the love and caring he had into these dishes!
My question is this: how is it that a child with such severe disabilities can bake for the needy, but 'normal' people don't bother?

Our Rain Garden 2007

Good morning! So nice of you to stop by! Grab a cup of coffee and let's sit back and relax.
This is how our rain garden looked last year. Matthew and I dug it out by hand and planted until we were bone weary. Candace and Maggi built the little bridge.
It was so peaceful to sit out in such a tranquil setting! The garden was filled with blue kale, violets, tulips, carrots, tomatoes, tomatilloes, onions, garlic, basil and dill. A 'veritable smorgasbord' at our feet. It created a woodsy comfortable feeling to boot!
What have you found to beautify your front 'lawn' and feed your family? Share some ideas!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Starting Over w/ Bug-Out Bag

Yes, we've all heard the term 'bug-out', but are you prepared to do that? If you had to jump in your car and leave town in the next hour what would you take?
Yesterday I began the process of cleaning out and totally rethinking what I should have packed. My first consideration is for items which can be left in the trunk through all seasons.
So, I have three emergency blankets. I think I'll put these is a freezer bag to keep out dust and trunk odors.
Then there are the face masks, in case of airborn bioterrorism, debris, ect. These also will go in a freezer bag (and the missing one will have to be replaced).
Finally, I found one of our wind-up radios. In the event we bug-out and find ourselves with a dead car battery, or need to conserve the car battery, we will still be able to get AM, FM and Weatherband stations providing crucial information. This must be stored in a freezer bag to keep out moisture.
While I look for a water-tight container, double check what you have packed!

Turnip Greens in Edible Parkway

Hi! Welcome back to our edible parkway!
Would you look at how well the turnip greens are growing! No one has come by to snip some for dinner yet. I think I'm going to cook some for dinner tonight. There's just something about home grown veggies.
How is your edible parkway coming along?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Currant Bushes in Edible Parkway

Good Morning!
Remember going to your Grandma's as a child? Both of my Grandma's had currant bushes. I remember munching at those bushes as a child.
Good memories must be perpetuated, so I decided to plant two (2)! Now my children and grandchildren will be able to munch truly fresh currants.
And so will my neighbors!

Currant Bushes in Edible Parkway

Good Morning!
Remember going to your Grandma's as a child? Both of my Grandma's had currant bushes. I remember munching at those bushes as a child.
Good memories must be perpetuated, so I decided to plant two (2)! Now my children and grandchildren will be able to munch truly fresh currants.
And so will my neighbors!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cyrus and Plethynai After Rehab

October Snows Are Coming Soon!

Well, I sat down and looked at my Farmer's Almanac... then I twitched for a while! Snow will be back in October 2009!??!


Welcome to our mini asparagus patch! These were the first peeks of brand new plants in the front of the house last year. They grew like weeds even though it was their first year reaching about four feet tall!
This year we are relandscaping their bed, so they being relocated to areas that should provide a comfy space to flourish.
Where do your asparagus like to hang out?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

More Oakwood Rehab

Welcome back to Oakwood Cemetery!
This is the main Brunson headstone after rehab.

What if Your Child was Sick?

Have you ever thought about how lucky you are to have a healthy child?
What if your child had cancer, severe birth defects or mental illnesses? Would you be able to afford to miss all that work and stay in a hotel so you can be close to your child?
Probably you would stay at Ronald McDonald House; free temporary housing for parents of seriously ill children.
But, how is Ronald McDonald house funded? One important source of funding is all the pop tabs. When Ronald McDonald House receives the pop tabs, these are taken into a local scrap yard and exchanged for cash!
So, if your school wants to collect pop tabs but wasn't sure what to do with these once collected, the school could take these to the scrap yard themselves and issue a check to Ronald McDonald House for that amount.
The children would learn about being responsive to the needs of others and recycling. Ronald McDonald House would receive much needed donations.
How many pop tabs can you save in one week?

Our Freshly Planted Peanut Field

Good morning! Nice to see you today. Can you stay a minute and take a look at our mini peanut field?
We took a long hard look at all the nut recalls and decided to plant our own peanuts. This fall we should be able to make our own fresh organic peanut butter. It is such a nice feeling to know oir food supply is under our control!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cauliflower & Garlic

Well, welcome to our shade garden! Shall we sit and relax out here with our coffee?
This is the rehabbed area where our rain garden had been. We hand tilled last year's compost and a 40 pound bag of manure into it.
We planted the garlic around the cauliflower in hopes of disuading furry invaders from munching here. Hopefully it will work better than it did with the feral cats!
Do you have any organic ides to keep your vegetables safe?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Making Laundry Soap, stage 1

Well, hi there! Tonight we are making laundry soap. I got the idea from a group I belong to and thought I'd try it.
I shaved a bar of green Dove soap into an old pan. Then I covered it with water and boiled until it melted.
After that I stirred in 3/4 cup Borax and 2 cups baking soda. Wow, did it foam!
Finally, I boiled 2 1/2 gallons water, poured it over the mixture (in an old cat litter tub) and stirred.
As soon as it cools, I can get back to doing laundry.

Tonight's Dinner

Well, I'm finally getting back in cooking mode. About time... LOL!
Tonight's dinner is baked chicken.
I unwrapped the frozen chicken, rinsed it and popped it in the baking pan.
I added blue kale and zuccini I had dehydrated last August.
I topped it with a can of tomato sauce and 8 oz of water.
Set to bake at 325 degrees, it will be delicious very soon!

Plethynai and Rose After Rehab

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Free Firewood!

Well, hello! Welcome back to our homestead!
This picture was actually from last summer. We had a tree cut down on our property and kept the wood to cut up for firewwod.
We got to talking to the guy who cut down our tree and he said he has a lot of extra wood that he jas to dispose of.
We were SO excited!!!
We asked him to drop a load of wood in our parkway when he had a chance.
We were so happy to come home to an unsightly pile. It took us forever to cut and haul all of it, but it was such a blessing!
This year we will see if he will drop off more wood. Also, we cruise through Oakwood Cemetery regularly looking for fallen branches and kindling.
What is your family doing to accumulate free firewwod?

Gay and Rose After Rehab

Wow! What an improvement this was!
And it was so nice to see their graves well-groomed.
We still haven't figured out their complete relationship to our family tree, but we do know they are related somehow and that they were prominent residents of Joliet in their day.
Could you drop by and adopt a grave?

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Country Patio Expanded

Good Morning!
Isn't the spring weather beautiful?!
This is a photo of the additional stones we added to our country patio. We recycled stones from our old retaining wall and what we dug up as we prepped vegetable beds.
A little more surface area to step on when it's muddy.
What fun things are you doing to green your lot?

Our Grey-Water Garden

Hi, there! Welcome to our sunny homestead! Grab a fresh iced coffee and lets talk about water conservation.
This little grey water garden was the product of happenstance.
First, we found that the washing machine was supposed to drain into the scrub sink as a drain pipe dedicated to the washer had never been installed.
Then, we found that the scrub sink drain was rotted.
So we put the drain hose out through the hole for the dryer vent. This worked out beautifully.
And there we sat with all that water just being wasted in the grass, so we decided to try a grey water garden!

What if We had a 'Fair Tax'?

Hey, out there! Well, we had the big Tea Party all across America!
Did you show up at your local rally (look up 'tea party' on Google)?
Hang tea bags from your rear-view mirror?
Empty a box of tea bags on your congressman/ representatives desk?
Show up and make a statement?
Ther is still an opportunity to get our country changed over to the Fair Tax so we have an equitable tax system for everyone.
Please, go to and see what you can do to help!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Living in the Woods

As we hiked through the woods last evening, we came upon these two tents. They were barely visible from the trail.
We walked closer very gently, not sure if visitors would be welcomed. Calling out, "Hi! Is anybody home?", we were greeted by Dave, a resident in one of the tents. He was a really nice, clean-cut guy who is looking for a roofing job (or any job to help him move out of the tent).
To see a man of above average intelligence with no obvious signs of addiction or untreated mental illness with no choice but to live in a tent village hidden back in the woods is so sad! He says he does not want to spend another winter out there~ he's got job applications out all over.
What could you do to help him?

Garlic Peeks at the Sun

Happy Spring! Don't you love to see the new plants peeking up through the warming Spring soil? It gives me such a renewed sense of hope.
This is our garlic we just planted this Spring. Although it's supposed to be planted in the fall, we were unable to get it in last fall amd just went ahead and planted when the stores put it out to be planted this Spring.
So far it is growing beautifully; even weathering our out of season snow with out missing a beat.
We planted five bulbs around the perimiter of our front 'yard' in order to disuade the neighbor's stray cats from using our vegetable beds for a litter box and smoking lounge. We thought this had worked out wonderfully and we had not seen any cats out there until yesterday.
This year we will have enoigh garlic for our family with plenty to sell.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What If You Lived Here?

Tonight we went for a walk, looking for people living in tent villages to give them flyers about available apartments..
Although this was the largest tent we saw, it was in bad disrepair.
With rain scheduled for the next three days, this guy will be soaked!
Do you have an unused tent in your garage you could spare?

Edible Parkway

Good Morning! Welcome to our edible parkway!
I've been reevaluating the layout and what was planted. Last year I was unable to convince anyone that the edible parkway was food to share. This year I am hoping the parkway will be beautiful, but will also help to feed many.
Besides the many flowers, I have added many green onions and a strawberry plant.
What have you planted in your edible parkway?

Oakwood Cemetery Clean-up

Please, stop by today, 4-18-2009, and help with the clean-up!
Chris has four riding mowers or you van bring your own landscape tools.
See you this morning after 8:00am to join in the fun and make our historic cemetery beautiful!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Oakwood Cemetery Clean-up

Please, stop by tomorrow, 4-18-2009, and help with the clean-up!
Chris has four riding mowers or you van bring your own landscape tools.
See you in the morning after 8:00am to join in the fun and make our historic cemetery beautiful!

Brunsons After Rehab

This is the whole Brunson grave site after rehab. It felt so good to know the graves are tended~ neat, tidy and well-groomed to go into summer.
It was also very nice to see Candace and Matthew voluntarily tending the graves. They worked together choosing plants. Candace planned the lay-out of the plants, did the planting and some mulching. Matthew raked leaves into a huge pile. And I spread the mulch and dug up plants to be relocated.
It was very to spend our afternoon at Oakwood Cemetery taking care of our ancestor's graves and fulfilling to see my children take an active interest.

The Obligatory Tire Swing

Hey there! How are you? Glad you're here for a visit. Would you rather have hot coffee or iced today? Shall we wander into the back yard and take a look at Matt's tire swing?
If you grew up in the country, you know that a tire swing is an important part of childhood. Because I have fond memories of the tire swing at my grandparent's farm, I wanted to make sure my son had one as soon as possible. Candace and Drew hung it for me. It was so gratifying to see the joy on his face as he first climbed onto it.
What childhood memories have inspired special gifts for your children?

Swiss Chard in the Edible Parkway

Hi! Isn't it a beautiful day?
Welcome to our edible parkway! This is the patch of swiss chard we had last summer.
It was so nice to wander out in the morning and pick a fresh salad for my lunch!
Somehow a salad tastes so much better when you grow it yourself.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Arthur and Martha After Rehab

Good Morning! Here we are in Oakwood Cemetery again.

Arthur and Martha Brunson's graves have been rehabbed.

I had planted iris there a few years ago, but most have disappeared. Really, the iris were too tall for the headstones they were behind and had become sparser every year, so we replaced them with a butterfly bush and creeping phlox. Then we spread fresh red cedar mulch around the headstones and plants to decrease weeds and give the spot a crisper look.

What have you done this week to freshen up your local cemetery?

The Floods Attacked!

Hi! Grab a cup of coffee and an umbrella and let's look at this situation.
This was the really hard rain we had last summer. As you can see the water ran into the neighbor's yard from the street and proceeded to flood both yards!
This was a toxic deluge of motor oil and antifreeze! Imagine watching this flow through your rain garden filled with all your vegetable plants! It was devastating!
This is why we began to dig drainage trenches. Now we are digging out all the contaminated soil. Then we have to put in fresh soil combined with fresh manure and last year's compost.
It's a lot of work to decontaminate the lot, but it will be worth it to have safe fresh vegetables!
How clean is the soil on your land?

What if We All Respected Our Parks?

Well, hello.
This is one of the brand new plaques at Ridgewood Park by the overlook platform.
I find it so sad that the gang activity has gotten this bad in Joliet. I've realized for a long time that there are many active gangs here, but this is uncalled for. The plaques were put up to educate families.
Maybe local teachers could teach them how to draw on paper if the police are going to let them run loose!
What does your town do about gang activity?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mary L Walker

This was Mary Walker's grave before we started the rehab.
It was probably okay the way it was, after all, isn't that how all gravesites are left to sit?
But, how would you want your grave cared for?
I, personally, want a lilac bush, daffodills and violets around my grave.
In order for my kids to be taught to care for my grave, they need to see me care for our ancestor's graves.
What are you doing with your children to teach respect for your ancestors?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mary L. Walker After Rehab

Welcome back to Oakwood Cemetery!
On Sunday we went to Lowes and bought some flowers to dress up the graves.
Mary Walker's grave is looking so much better now.
As a prominent Joliet citizen who was active in local government, even running for mayor, she should not be forgotten.
Have you ever thought of adopting an abandoned grave at your local cemetery? Find one that appeals to you and look up their obituary so you know who they are. Then make that grave the highlight of the cemetery.
Be an example of pride in your city's founding families!

My Original Breakfast Bar

Well, hello there. I was just thinking about our first breakfast bar. This was back in December 2007 when we first moved in. It was so handy to have all the breakfast items we could think of in one place. Mornings went so much smoother!
Wow, have things changed!
Isn't it amazing to look back at where you were and note how much you've grown? Our kitchen table is no longer used for a breakfast bar as that was interfering with operation of the dehydrator. And the perpetual heat from the dehydrator was not good for all the breakfast supplies either.
What have you organized to make your mornings easier?

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Antique Mower

Hi! Good to see you on this rainy day.
Here's a picture of our original rotary mower. It was an antique of undetermined age. We bought it for a mere $20.00 and definitely got our money's worth!
It felt so good to mow our land with ZERO CARBON EMISIONS. And the exercise was great!
How is your rotary mower working out for you?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Storage While We Did Repairs

Good morning! Let's look at a photo from last year while we sip our coffee.
This photo is of our family room when we first moved in. Although the space was designated as a family room in the house listing, it flooded slightly when it rained hard.
We knew we would not be able to do the necessary repairs as it was winter, so we used the room for storage. Then we sat down and began to draft plans for what the space would be like when it was finished. It is so much fun to take a house in disrepair and turn it into a home! Soon we will begin the process of waterproofing. Then we can put in a Pergo floating floor and really use our family room!
What are you doing to make your house more your home?

Quietly Preparing

Well, I stocked up on bar soap. A little over a one year supply!
I went to a Mormon website about preparedness. It said to buy 15 bars of soap per person in your household to have enough for a year.
Kmart had a sale on my Dove soap~ Yea! So I bought nine 6-packs Of three varieties:
Original Scent
Cool Moisture
When I went to store all this soap, I remembered we had back-up soap in a box somewhere. Between the extra nine bars I just bought (beyond what our family needs) and the soap we already had, we have enough for one extra person. That covers company coming to visit or a wayward, unprepared family member coming to live with us.
It is so nice to know we are prepared!

Take a minute, look at how stocked up you are and how our country is going under. Are you prepared to survive without stores? Stock up slowly while there is time... Please.

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Russet Potato Patch vs. Ground Hogss

Why, hello! I'm out back planting again.
You're just in time to see my new potato patch. In the middle I planted about 7 Russet potatoes. On top of these I piled a thin layer of last year's compost, followed by good black dirt.
The border around the potatoes is gourmet garlic. As the garlic is keeping the cats out of my front gardens, I thought I'd try it to keep the ground hogs out of my back gardens.
Stop by again soon to relax in the hammock chair with a cup of coffee and see how well the garlic is doing on guard duty!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Starting Out Along the Retaining Wall

Hi! Nice of you to stop by and enjoy the weather. Let's look at a photo from last summer while we sip some cinnamon coffee.
When we first started homesteading here, we had a neglected bare slate to beautify. One of the first things I planted was peas along the old retaining wall.
I went out and dug my row in the fresh spring soil and began to pop in the peas, when my neighbor came out. It seems there were bulbs planted there which hadn't come up yet. Well, not being fond of that particular flower, I offered to give her all the bulbs I found. Although this was meant as a kind gesture, it infuriated her! It seems she NEEDED for the bulbs to stay planted in that spot in my yard.
Needless to say, she lost that battle. And, to make the point that she was in charge, she later sprayed my pea plants down with ant poison causing me to have to throw the plants and all surrounding dirt in the garbage toter!
Although we must love and pray for our neighbors, that does not mean they are always a blessing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Beginnings of a Country Patio

Oh, there you are! Come and sit on our bench.
What do you think of the start to our patio? This was the beginning to our country patio we started last summer.
In an effort to have a 'green' homestead, we used the rubble left from the crumbled retaining wall to make our patio. The natural aged limestone gives such a woodsy feel to our sitting area!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What if We All Loved Wildlife?

The love in a child's heart can easily be seen in how he cares for the world around him.
This photo was taken last summer at Bicentennial Park. The bird was injured and unable to fly, but was able to walk.
Matthew approached it slowly, talking gently and was able to pick it up. Not once did it try to escape as he petted and talked to it! It seemed to know he only wanted to protect and love it.
Don't you wish we could all communicate with wildlife this way?

The Hammock Chair

Well, hello there! So nice to see you today. I was hoping you'd drop by.
I wanted to show you the hammock chair we bought last summer. This thing is great!
Candace hung it up in a snap and we hanging out and relaxing, watching our vegetables grow.
The only place, I know of, to pick one up locally is at Lowe's. Check their web site or call to make sure they are carrying this this year or can order it.
You might want to get enough for everyone to avoid squabbles!

What did Edna Wells Rowley Read?

"Black Rock, A Tale of the Selkirks" by Ralph Connor was owned by Edna Wells Rowley.
"And when the west winds blow, to the open ear the sounds of battle come, telling the fortunes of the fight."
For a wholesome read and a peek into the likes of an ancestor, grab a cup of coffee and settle into a comfy knook to read this book.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Restarting the Parkway

Hi! Welcome back to our humble homestead! How are you today? Aren't you glad planting season has started?
Let's take our coffee out to the parkway. I've been working on an ornamental drainage ditch for that toxic street run-off. What do you think?
This is just a start. The little gully will have to be wider and deeper to hold up under big storms. I'm going to plant more ornamentals along the gully to help process out the toxins and act as a barrier to the edibles. Between the ornamentals and the fence will be more and more edibles.
Watch for more updates and loads of photos of the food growing in our edible parkway!
Would you plant an edible parkway? Could you do it as a neighborhood project?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What if we all cared?

What if everyone tried to help one person every day?
What if each of us gave a warm hat to a homeless person?
What if every property owner planted an edible parkway?
What if each of us invited a needy person over for Thanksgiving or Christmas?
What if we each gave of ourselves to someone in a lesser position?
Although God views us each equally, many of us are blessed in ways that do not involve money and all it's trappings.
What if we looked at each other as though we were all equal?
What if we gave the same smile to the dirty homeless guy that we gave to our kids this morning?
How much better would our children's world be if we would teach them to treat each other this way?
What if we each started to model this behavior to our children starting tomorrow?
What if?

Friday, April 3, 2009

What if We all Planted Edible Parkways?

What if each property owner planted an edible parkway?
Imagine your parkway (the area between your property line and the street~ roughly four feet here) planted with marigolds, tulips, strawberries, fruit trees, turnip greens, tomatoes, asparagus and peppers!
Imagine the beautiful colors... vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and edible flowers bordering the streets!
Imagine, also, that these parkways would provide food that was shared by everyone in the community.
Imagine wandering down the block to gather your dinner and stopping to chat with various neighbors whom are also out 'shopping'!
What better way for Americans to say we care than to plant an edible parkway?! Could you commit to try this? What would you like to plant?
My edible parkway that I barely started last year is just sprouting up! I am loving to see the turnip greens waving at me as I leave for work every morning! The blue berry and raspberry bushes that peek through the picket fence will bloom soon. And we planted peas and strawberries out there this week, too!
Plant an edible parkway, become a cooperative community and help end hunger in your town!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Gourmet Coffee on a Budget

In today's economy, it's difficult to afford the gourmet coffees, so I thought I'd share ideas for making cheap coffee taste more like gourmet.
The first thing I do is buy whatever coffee is on sale. Sometimes I buy flavored, Mexican, Maxwell House, Turkish or whatever is cheapest. Then I mix them in a big American made canister. Voila! Custom made gourmet coffee!
Then, when I brew, I have a few tricks, too. For a special little touch, sprinkle a little nutmeg, allspice or cinnamon in the grounds before brewing. Or, drop a couple pieces of peppermint in the pot before brewing.
Serve and watch your guests delight!

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