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romance and seeds catalogs

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You might think those two don’t really go together but for me they oh so do.  I have said it for many years but during winter I can be caught romancing a seed catalog or two.  This year it really is true.  I can’t do a darned thing outside, unlike in Florida where winter is the best time to garden.  Actually last week, I decided my farm would be in my kitchen, that counts right?  Say. yes.

I drove to 5 different stores and could not find one store that had a bag of compost or soil for sale.  Dorothy, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore…  I finally went to a big box home improvement store and almost got frostbite in the 10 minutes I was outside in the gardening section.  It was silly of me not to wear gloves when the temps outside were in the negative but I honestly didn’t think being outside for a few minutes would cause me so much pain.  The pain in my fingers was so bad I could barely think straight.  Anyhoo, I’m getting off the subject here.  So I bought 3 large terracotta pots and 2 big bags of compost.  Took them home and was so happy to set up something living in dirt where I could play with it but the second I put those bags down in the kitchen, I knew this was not going to be an instant gratification sort of deal.  The soil was frozen solid.  I tried banging them on the ground, massaging to loosen and the only thing that happened was frozen fingers again.  So they sat there in my kitchen next to the warm air vent for the next two days.  Having that little area to grow something in is really helping me get through this winter.  I never knew how important being connected to soil is to me before.  It is as important as eating real food or feeding my crafting soul.  Yes, very important in deed.

I have spent the past week in full planning mode.  Needing to start a new farm is somewhat of a daunting task but oh so fun at the same time.  It is like decorating a new house except with the beauty of nature.  I am pouring through more than just seed catalogs though these two are my favorites for the past few years, this one and this one which is full of rare orientals that I just love.  I have been reading a slew of gardening books.  This one is really good, Paradise Lot.  Two plant geeks (hey I’m one too :), who start an urban farm and with their vast knowledge of perennials truly create a paradise in the city on just one tenth of an acre.  It is most important to me because they live in the north, so I know many of the plants they are growing might live here, especially the semi-tropicals and edibles that they have experimented with.  Really a great read.

This is going to be some learning curve for me in the garden.  This year I will be getting started when I am usually almost finished with most crops.  I am psyched about growing garlic, onions and shallots, oh shallots how I love thee so.  These things do not grow in Florida.  There are a few many fruits and veggies I have never had the opportunity to try either but slow and steady will be the plan.

I forgot to share my finished embroidery project with you all and it has now been on the wall for over a week but I guess it fits in with today’s post.  Grow Life and Love.  That says it all.

I am really excited (and a bit nervous) to share my Real food on a real budget with you tomorrow!!  I have been putting together all my techniques whenever they come to mind.  The other day I was driving to the bank and a few thoughts came into my mind.  Not wanting to forget them but not being able to write them down, I grabbed my phone and started recording a memo.  That memo turned into quite a long conversation, I have had to break it up into two 8 minute recordings on how we eat on a budget.  I got so into it that I missed the bank by a few miles.  Once home, I told the kids about it and after hearing it and laughing quite a bit, they thought you might want to hear it too.  No idea why anyone would want to hear what I sound like but the kids thought it would be a good idea.  I have Erica working on trying to figure out how to add that recording to tomorrow’s post.  I hope she can get it done because I am no good with those types of things.  I guess we shall see but either way, I will see you all tomorrow!

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the dilemna over bananas and real food budgets

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The time has come.  Time to own up to a reality that is now part of our life.  I don’t mean to sound mysterious but perhaps I should start somewhere else before I go any further.

Yesterday I heard a quarrel in the kitchen over the last banana.  The voices in the kitchen were trying to determine who was more worthy of this snack, the baby or the 9 year old.  I quickly stepped in to find the kids trying to make this decision and scanning the mostly bare pantry (it usually is on the day before I go shopping), pulled out my usual saving grace and offered to pop some popcorn for my hungry children in order to hold them off until dinner. (BTW, all that excessive banana protecting makes for no one eating the bananas the next time you buy them, time to make banana bread.)

I have also found myself of late asking children, “didn’t you already have an apple or is that your second bowl of cereal?”  This is our new reality. I was chugging along just perfectly ignoring this situation until it was time to pay the bills last week.  I should stop and be  thankful that we are able to pay all of our bills but with two houses on the payroll, there is not much left.    Add to that the loss of our farm income, leaving our garden and edible plants behind and the fact that food is much more expensive here than in Florida and eating real, nutritious food is becoming a challenge.

Unfortunately, besides turning lights off and limiting my driving, food is becoming the only place I can find to save some money.   The farmers markets will not open until Spring and I have the sneaky suspicion that the prices will be somewhat less affordable than Florida.  All the small stores I have found that I usually like to give my money to are so much higher in their prices and so I have to limit myself to shopping Whole Foods (mostly the bulk section) and Trader Joes.  We have gotten a membership to Costco as I have heard that they have lots of organics now but in the quantities they sell, I will have to start a special budget for it.  Of course, we have found eggs from a local farmer and I am continuing my search for local food but for now, I am dealing with what I have.

Why am I sharing this with you?  Well, because I know I am not the only one.  I know there are so many mommas out there trying to keep bellies full while still feeding them real and nutritious food.  I am going back and going through my simplest, belly filling recipes and coming up with a new plan.  We don’t eat much out of a box but gone will be the occassional pizza night out or the box of Newman O’s (oh say it isn’t so!).  We have gotten a bit comfortable and it sure is easy to open that box of organic cereal early in the morning but that is where my money is being wasted so I need to scale things back, way back.

We have been unable to find raw milk here so far and the low temp is uber expensive but its a place where I can’t find a way to cut out.  I am serving less meat and smaller portions of it, lots of soups and homemade bread and or course lots and lots of popcorn.  Are you with me here?  Is this happening in your kitchen, your pantry, your home too?

I decided the best way to tackle this was not on my own.  I am blessed to know so many smart mommas out here in our blogging community and with their help, we will all perhaps find some solutions, new recipes, a new plan on how to do this job of feeding our children and husbands bodies, better and for less money.

In the next coming weeks and months, on Fridays, I will either post a recipe and my progress, budget etc. or I will be sharing a blog post by some pretty amazing guests all of whom are also blogging mommas.  You do not want to miss these Friday posts!  I am so excited to see what we all come up with.  Until then, I wish you are warm bowl of happiness.

*Edit* 2/17/14  This series is now in it’s 3rd week and here is the list of the bloggers that will be guests in the next few weeks.  This last week we had Emily of Front Forty Farm and you can see her post and the other 2 weeks postings here.

In no specific order,

Emily – Front Forty Farm

Melanie – Our Ash Grove

Nicole – Frontier Dreams

Tonya – Natural Earth Farm

Taryn – Wooly Moss Roots

Nissa – At Home with the Gadbois Family

Lisa – Hullabaloo Homestead

Adrie – Fields and Fire

Stephanie – Gypsy Forest

 

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