Monday, May 14, 2018

homesteading things I've learned today

Bananas and banana peels are a natural fertilizer for roses.  Add them to the hole when you plant a bush, or add them to the top layer of soil around an already existing plant.  They will add potassium that the plant needs.

Used coffee grounds are good fertilizer, particularly for plants that prefer acidic soil: blueberries, evergreens, azaleas, roses, camellias, avocados, and many fruit trees.  Scatter dried used coffee grounds as mulch.

Hair is a good source of nitrogen and repels deer.  Human or pet hair works.


Sunday, September 09, 2012

A cold front!

It's true, a cold front arrived this weekend.  That meant it cooled off enough to go outside to have snoballs!  (If you're unfamiliar with that Southern term, snoballs are similar to snow cones, but the ice is shaved much finer.)

Incidentally, our snoballs came from Bob's Taco Station, which you may have seen on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

The impressive part is that everyone finished their snoballs, even after having had their fill of chips, queso, salsa and bean & cheese tacos.

It took a while, but they powered through.
Strawberry, Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum, Root Beer
For the record, if you have a strawberry snoball and subsequently suck your thumb, your thumb will turn red.  The more you know.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

a soapbox of sorts

If you've been my friend for very long, you've heard me say that I'm not going to make my kids go to college.

Now, before you skip on by, chalking another weirdo idea up to the homeschooling freaks, check out this open letter to Mitt Romney from Mike Rowe.

(I promise, this isn't a political post.  But if you're interested in political posts, check out Boston Chai Party, where a couple of my sibs and I post political articles when we have something to say.) 

Mike Rowe expresses a perspective that I've also been thinking about for a while.  Politics of college education aside, I don't believe that forcing everyone into the same mold of "graduate high school, go to college," is productive for each individual or society as a whole.  We bemoan the death of American craftsmanship and the laziness of American society.  We mock the soul-sucking nature of cube farms.  We bring work stresses home and damage family relationships.  We fume over the insanity of the daily commute.  We spend money we don't have for an "education" that we may or may not actually use.


And we belittle the jobs that don't require a college education.  Yet, these jobs do require a specific, valuable skill set.  I guarantee there is none more valuable in Houston, Texas, in the dead of summer than the air conditioner repairman.

I already blogged about this, so I'm not going to repeat myself.  I just don't think that we have to continue to accept the way the game is played. 
You know you're entering a new stage in parenting when the behavior that needs addressed is that one child knocked out another child's tooth. 

It was a baby tooth.  Speculation remains about whether or not it was loose already.

Friday, July 13, 2012

chance chance

Do you believe in coincidence? 

I don't.

I think I used to, once upon a time. 

At the risk of sounding like a religious freak, I don't see coincidences anymore.  I see God at work.

For example:

I have an online friend that I met through the message boards for "Lois & Clark" fanfic.  (What a bizarre way to start, right?  Just wait!)

This friend has written fanfic in the past, but she is also a Christian fiction writer.

(Now, my feelings about Christian fiction are pretty much the same as my feelings about most "Christian" things.  If something is labeled "Christian," more often than not, I'm steering away from it.  My whole philosophy on this is better suited to a separate post.  Suffice it to say, I can't handle most Christian fiction.)

As a Christian fiction writer, this friend is naturally plugged into the Christian fiction world, which means she very helpfully posts links on Facebook to free Christian fiction books for Kindle whenever she comes across them.  This happens about once a week.  I always check out the links and read the reviews to see if the book is potentially interesting/well-written/could stand on its own outside the label "Christian fiction."  I have come across some good books this way.  I have also come across enough books (that I feel are worth downloading) to last me for quite some time because, you know, I have loads of free time to spend reading.

Incidentally, as we've been hanging out this summer, waiting for our house to sell, I've found myself with more free time than I've had since BC (before children).  What do you do in the dead of summer in a house where a significant percentage of your stuff is packed up and in which you're trying to avoid anything that makes a mess?  Why, you read, of course!

So I busted out my Kindle, and started perusing the number of books I had downloaded for free.  I read one series.  I read a few more books here and there.  I read the one free book I had from my very favorite Christian author, who is leaps and bounds beyond any other I've read.  Then I decided to just start with the oldest books I had downloaded.  (I like systems so much that sometimes I'd rather impose a system upon myself that dictates behavior than have to make decisions.  Screwy, I know.)

The oldest book in my list was Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar.  I have no idea how long ago I downloaded this, but I know it has been several months.  (By my count, I'm up to about 4 "coincidences.")

Stop what you're doing and go read that book.  Seriously.  Go.  Don't even finish this blog post. 

Okay, I'll keep writing as long as you promise to go get that book as soon as you're done here.

Ms. Afshar has a blog.  Today, her post included this:

Most of us Christians know God reasonably well in our heads. We know the facts. We know the rules. We know the stories. We know the claims and assertions. But deep down inside, we haven’t quite caught up to that knowledge yet. We haven’t grasped in our core being that God is for us; He is on our side, and because of who He is, this is enough to make even a fallen world safe. We are unable to truly rest in the love of God. We struggle to live out of trust in the Father’s faithfulness. We slip, we strive, we wrestle with fear and control because at the level of the kherev we are not yet wholly God’s.

("Kherev" is a Hebrew word that means, in my paraphrase, the core of you, your very soul.)

Have you ever felt like this?  Struggling without understand why?  Without knowing how to make it better?  

How can we help each other to know God better, to know God like this?

What could happen in our worlds if we were so secure and so rooted in our knowledge of God?

Back to "coincidences:"

Pearl in the Sand is the story (largely fictionalized, though based in the Biblical account) of Rahab.  

Rahab was the mother of Boaz.

Boaz married Ruth.  Jesus comes from the line of Ruth and Rahab.

The women's Bible study at church (which I wasn't going to be part of because there's no point in getting involved in something if we're just going to be moving) is studying Ruth.

Ruth and Rahab have some interesting similarities.  Would Boaz have treated Ruth the way he did if not for the background of his mother and the way God worked in her life?  I'm guessing it wasn't a coincidence.

Feel free to blame me if you find yourself awake in the middle of the night to finish Pearl in the Sand.  But then tell me about so we can discuss it!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more from the first similitude.

-from Aurora Leigh, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I have to admit that I'm not entirely sure what this quote means.  I mean, I understand most of it; it's just the last two lines that are a little puzzling.  What is "the first similitude?"  Is that referring to Adam, thereby stating that the farther mankind is removed from Adam, the more unaware of God we become?  I'm open to suggested interpretations, please feel free to comment!  This is the larger passage from which this quote is lifted.

Today I spent several hours on a food crawl with friends.  (Yes, it's like a pub crawl, but replace "pub" with "unique restaurants/food trucks.")  Clearly, any outing which involves good food and people who appreciate that food as much as I do qualifies as a little bit of heaven on earth in my book! 

Seriously, though, I got to spend time with people with whom, on paper, I should have nothing in common.  In truth, they are people who likewise understand that "Earth's crammed with heaven," and I have been blessed enough to cross paths with them at this point in our lives. 

And the food, well, let's just say there's a reason these adventures occur only monthly at best!  I had The Wrangler at Torchy's Tacos, and we shared a Detention, Homeroom, and Truffled Fries at Bernie's Burger Bus.  I brought home cupcakes from Sugarbaby's for those in my house left behind. 

Everyday, I want to see some of that heaven crammed into earth, even if it's just a little. 

And now I'm off to see what I can find of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's for my Kindle.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's a good thing I don't live at the beach...

...because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't ever get anything done, other than sitting in a rocking chair on the porch!

Two weekends ago, we spent the weekend at a beach house with some friends.

We've all been friends for the better part of 10 years.  This is the third vacation we've taken together.  

Some might balk at the idea of 8 adults and 7 children in one beach house.  That's just because you haven't been on vacation with people as cool as us!

A.J. took a walk on the beach the first night we got there.  He refused to get that close to the water again for the rest of the weekend.

The beach is the best place for small boys who like nothing better than to dig in dirt.


Sunrise yoga on the beach.  Despite evidence to the contrary, I promise I'm not a hippie.

The beach house had portholes!

Who are those giant children?

I repeat, boys + sand = happy.