Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sick and Kitchen

If you dont' give a hoot about kitchens you can read the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs and end there, you won't miss much. I hate long blog posts unless I'm really interested in what I'm reading about.

Leigh at 5 Acres And A Dream wrote today asking questions about her new kitchen design and for advice. By the time I got to to the bottom to leave a comment there were 27 already. Well, humph, she doesn't really need my advice anyway. After all she's probably older than me and everyone already gave their wonderful input. But it's funny because she's asking the same questions I was asking myself and friends 12 years ago when we were building our house. She asked GREAT questions in fact. So I decided to just write a blog post on that since it sounded fun, and a kitchen is a very important part of a country girl's life.

Oh, and the sick thing...I've been sick for FOUR DAYS! as in "in bed" kinda sick. Really nasty crud, fever, headache, and I could go on. My husband has been amazing and at the moment he's in town after cooking dinner the last 3 nights letting the kids each pick out something in the frozen section to bring fun for them! 6 little kids at the store? Not sure as much fun for him. But there he is. He's also getting a baby monitor because apparently I have either locked ours up in a cute little suitcase I got at the thrift store and we can't figure out the combo now to get it open, or they are just plain lost. We need one NOW because our goat is getting ready to kid and we need to be able to hear her. Today he built a huge dog kennel in our garage for her to kid in. Oh and he also put 150 eggs into the incubator (next to the kidding pen) so we'll have a ton of chicks come Palm Sunday, and maybe some baby goats too!

While he was at church tonight I made the kids do their best work possible on the kitchen that has been neglected by "mama" for the last 4 days. Kitchens get very sad when used but abused that long. I do love my kitchen. In fact I quickly came to realize that when ever my kitchen was bugging me or I would lust after other nice kitchens in magazines that I should do one thing, DECLUTTER MINE! Guess what, it always works. Back to the kids. I gave my daughter the phone and told her to take a picture so I could "inspect" from my bed. Not too shabby. The clutter is there, but that's my fault, it's been a while since I DECLUTTERED!

kind of a lame picture and I have no idea what that is on the floor

I think instead of answering Leigh's questions I'll just go on explaining what I did where and why. I put a ton of thought into the kitchen, the most out of any other room when designing the house.

Most obvious, cabinets. This was not planned but I'm very grateful for. Our friend who built custom cabinets wanted to give us a bid and I laughed. He said, "No really, can I?" I said, "OK, but you're wasting your time because we can't afford you." Turns out he wanted a website and he and my husband swapped $1000 right there. Then he was able to not make them all wood. I don't think I would repeat this, though, at least not on drawers that are used 20x per day...the junk drawer, the silverware drawer, the kids plate bowl and cup drawer, and the utensil drawer have all either broken or are breaking and they are very hard to repair the melamine/particle board. But I imagine this is what would happen on most ordered cabinets also. Other than that I love them, he made them custom to what I wanted, I knew what I wanted where for the most part and that helped me figure it all. Much was based on my mother's custom cabinets she saved and saved for and that helped me too.

I don't have an appliance garage. I don't like them generally, they are impractical. You can't move them and what if you get new or not fitting appliances? You have more than one anyway so why bother. My mom has one and the only kind I would get...Her pantry is at the very end of her counter across from the oven the garage is actually in the side of her pantry. The garage opens like a > shape and pushes out of the way to the back of the counter. In there are her Kitchen Aid and her electric can opener (which I refuse to buy). I opted for a hall way closet pantry, MUCH CHEAPER!!!

At the time of building we only had 2 kids, but knew we were far from done. We're now up to 6 and still probably not done. I wanted to plan for a big enough kitchen with out having to remodel after 10 years. So far, so good.

Triangle? Yes, I have to admit, I fell for the triangle. But I think it's important. I have a feeling that people with out one are the ones who are complaining about their kitchen more and the people with one just take it for granted or don' notice. You don't ever realize what you take for granted in your home or apartment until you move into one with out one, that can mean anything including a triangle, so I didn't dare waiver from that. I ended up with a square if you count in my "baking counter" where my Kitchen Aid sits and under that I have my 3 baking drawers. Top being some spices and measuring spoons, baking cups, mortar/pestle, whisks, electric mixer beaters, toothpicks, etc. Second down being the "flour" drawer, 2 tubs of different flours, sifters, kitchen towels, aprons, various grains, any dried fruits happen to go there as well as nuts. Third down is all the baking goods: baking powder, Crisco, brown sugar, powdered sugar, pectin, Jello, cocoa powder, electric mixer, turkey baster, etc, etc. Above this counter I have the spice cupboard full of spices, salt, pepper, baking soda, spice seeds, Pyrex glass measuring set, and on top some cook books and recipe box. The spices are used so much in cooking that I really like having them right there so I can grab, turn around, dump into pot. Much of my food now needs to be fetched from the garage but that's what kids are for, or you just go gather your things before you cook.

Blue counter top? Well, no. I would not do this over. That's a good place to stay neutral, you can change anything else pretty easily but not that.

Butcher block? YES! It's not a traditional butcher block, but it is a whole island covered with wood. My builder wanted to know if I actually planned to cut on it? YES, of course! A kitchen should be used and abused. He said that my favorite place to cut would eventually wear a small divot into it (kind of as a warning) I don't think he was used to building for people who actually wanted to cut on their butcher block. All the better! I said, I loved that idea of the wood being worn down over time. When we had people over the first time our friend said, "Wow! You could butcher a whole moose up here!" and he was right, we could, but have not. We have done plenty of salmon, caribou and chickens! The mainly used area by me is that small part right next to the stove in the island. The kids can get on their stool and watch or help while I stand next to the stove. If we're doing a large project like working on salmon, my husband will clear the whole 5 feet of that side and cut there (I get to clean up). The wood needs more TLC than our Formica, meaning some oil every now and then, but doing that makes it look just beautiful!

Bar stools? YES! I waited a while to get the perfect bar stools, had 3 matching ones (where they swivel but the bars come around the child so they don't fall out) but eventually 2 broke and my mom gave us her 2 good ones, so we're at hodge-podge mode on them. Oh well. I have been surprised at how much MEN LOVE BAR STOOLS!!! All of our man friends head straight for them. They can see people in the kitchen, in the dining room, and in the living room. They are great. They are great over-flow for when we have company and the kids are put there.

Sink: I went with a white cast iron different size on either side. I still like it. The left side is extra big and deep and I still love that. I grew up with a garbage disposal so felt that it was needed, but after having chickens and a dog and see what they do to sewers I have changed my tune, we never got one. The Delta faucet was snapped off by a child last year. I really liked that it pulled out and I could easily grab and spray, etc. I left for Lowe's that night and called my hubby with the question, "should I get the one to replace ours that's only $100 or should I spend double and get the really pretty one that I really love?" As usual his answer, "get what you want!" He pretty much hates me to complain and I hate me complaining. **Tangent: Something we discovered again when building was a compromise. We had an opportunity to get CHEAP windows 'cause they ordered ours wrong. And I'm normally a penny pincher so I was having a very hard time with this. Get the plain windows or go back to the company and say, "we want what we ordered and are willing to pay full price". So he surely didn't care and he knows he has to live with me for a long time...he says, "hon, you have to choose, but what ever it is that you choose, you can't ever complain about it, ok?" I had to agree and decide. I opted to spend the money and get what I wanted and I have never regretted it. Tangent Over** Same goes for the faucet, even thought it cost double (or more, shh) It makes my kitchen sparkle and gives of that "new" feel and that "hey look at how beautiful I am" feel which is fun to have in a 12-yr-old kitchen.

Window? Yes, nice big south facing one that frames in one of our beautiful mountains perfectly! I only have a valance on the top and have often wished for a curtain for really bright sunny days or when I don't want the neighbors peering in at night, but we're far-ish away from them so it's fine.

Well, Leigh, I believe I gave my opinion on many of your questions and had fun boasting about my kitchen in the meantime. I certianlly love that room and still get complimented on it (as long as the island is not covered in papers, or moose.)

Country Jane, still sick in bed

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mama, do people come into heat?

This morning the inevitable happened. My almost 13-yr-old daughter asked the dreaded question.

Mama, do people come into heat?

I was jotting down on the calendar at that moment that our goat, Lady, might be in heat because my daughter pointed out how the little boy goat (castrated) was trying to mount her and she was standing perfectly still. A big sign of girl goat heat.

I grinned big at the calendar thinking what a perfect way for her to ask about this subject. I knew it was only a matter of time, she has the animals life cycle figured out. But I didn't really know what to say, I am not one of those moms who know how to talk to their kids about this in a nonchalant way, she asked again.

Mama, do people come into heat?

Chuckling softly I turned around and casually said, "Hon, lets talk about this later." I have avoided this subject before by putting it off until another time when the kids were younger and just didn't need to know, but I know the time is near, perhaps today.

She was pouring the goat's milk through the strainer into the jar musing to herself and said, "I want to know how people mate. I know so much about animals but I don't know about people, I really want to know."

Lord, may she always be this innocent!

I had to mouth over her little, very acute of hearing, brother's head, "LATER!"

Her, "OK."

Lord have mercy on me.

Country Jane, reality check complete

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Food storing rambles

I’m not quite sure what to do with myself this week. Last week was so insanely busy and this week is very calm.

Friday my husband went to Costco and picked up many food items. My goal is to have a year worth of food in our house at all times. This will vary and it will still take me some time to figure out what all we really need of each thing for a year. But I love the idea of having that much food on hand. There are a few things I know we do have a years worth of now. I wanted to start with items that there’s no way we can ever grow in Alaska, like coffee and sugar. These would also make good barter items if the poopy hits the fan or we simply get cut off from the world for what ever reason.

Saturday he went to the local Mormon canning place to get more canned items. These will be things we won’t rotate, but simply keep for a rainy day. 6 #10 cans fit into a nice sized box, so I’ve begun to get 6 cans of each item I buy. 6 cans of pintos, 6 cans of rice, sugar, wheat berries, and so on. We have only gone there 2x so far but my husband is not heading up our little group of church friends and some other friends and family for those interested.

I have not done a full inventory of what we have, and I realize that if we really can’t go to the store to buy bread, I’ll go through wheat berries a lot faster. If we get cut off from power I won’t have a mill, so it’s on my “to get” list. My sister and I share our current electric Nutra Mill and love it, but would like to have a hand mill too.

I started saving my coffee cans this year too and decided to use them to hold my sugar, as sugar in paper bags can easily get moist and then harden. I have about 12 coffee cans full of sugar and another few 10# bags full. This won’t cover any we will need for the bees this spring and for any wine my husband might like to make, so sugar is definitely something we need more of.

I have 12 extra cans of coffee now too, I marked when we opened them and it takes just about one month to go through a can, making one pot per day and on occasion 2 pots.

I have 4 25lb bags of wheat berries which I know would be plenty for one year at my regular baking rate, but would go much faster if we made it more.

I have a few varieties of beans that we’ve started getting 25lbs at a time. This saves on money, but you then have to have a place to store all of them. I still don’t have a good storage solution. I have been saving icecream buckets and they are handy sizes, but when our last 50lb bag of rice broke many are being used to hold that.

I have various kinds of grain to mill for bread or to cook, etc. Hard wheat, soft wheat, spelt, kamut, millet, corn and then rolled oats, quick oats, and about 75lbs of white flour.

I was doing a sort of haphazard collection up until now, but now that I know I actually have a years worth of some of the items I’ve begun working on an Excel spreadsheet to try to keep track of what, how much, how often we use things and then how much we have and how much we need to get.

One of the big ticket items we need for a year is goat grain. Those girls eat a lot and need a lot to produce a decent amount of milk and then babies to sell or eat. We don’t have nearly a years worth of grain for them or the chickens or hay which will have to be a summer purchase normally for best pricing.

This summer we will try bees and rabbits as well. I’m hopeful that rabbits will be our new favorite meat as they re-produce so quickly, and (brace yourself, this is gross) but chickens like to eat rabbit droppings as they don’t fully digest their food. So hopefully if we feed rabbits their droppings will help feed the chickens. We plan to put their cage in the chicken run.

Well, there are some of my mind rambling thought on food storage. Not very organized, but a few thoughts. I know we have a ways to go, bit in only about 8 months of trying to stick to a cash grocery budget AND stock up on food I think we’ve done pretty well. (We have spent extra on different occasions.)

buckets of spelt and kamut

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cat fights

I'm having such a hard time with two specific women right now. It's been one of them for a while now but today it's the other one more. I'm trying so hard to bite my tongue. But my head is spinning with angst over these two. I want to call the one up right now and tell her what I think about bailing on something I think she should be doing. But my husband (wisely) told me not to and that I would only cause a rift between us and it won't help a thing. ARGH! So I sit and spit and fester and boil.

Just lemme at her! I know it won't solve anything, I know I won't feel better...well maybe a little smug, that feels better. Grr, his, spit.

Country Jane, hackles up

Friday, March 11, 2011

Men and shopping

I am a brave woman.

I sent my husband to Costco today.

We hardly get into Anchorage anymore because of the time mostly. Yes, gas is getting pricey, but I just don't have time to give up a whole day which is what I end up doing if I go in.

When I had my 4th child my husband still worked in Anchorage and he began to start going to Costco for us once per week. This was about 9 years ago now and so he's had lots of practice, I've learned what he needs from me and not to be upset if he comes home with the wrong item. After all he spent all day shopping for ME I can handle using, giving away or returning something I don't want. It was a real struggle at first, but we have found our groove. Here are the requirements he has for me:

-I must provide a DETAILED list...what brand, how many, which size, etc. He used to have me email the list to his phone so that he'd have it right there no paper needed. Today I wrote out a list and sent coupons.
-I must be next to the phone. If he is going to shop for me he expects me to be there available for him to ask questions. I would/will get between 3 and 10 calls. He hates bringing home the wrong thing as much as I do. He likes to please me and does not like to see my "annoyed" face.
-The kids must be ready when he comes home. He HATES coming home after a day of work and then shopping to a home where he is ignored. I don't blame him, I don't either. Kids go and unload the car, I try to remember to say hello and thank him, I tell them where to put things.

Tomorrow he is taking his mother and my brother-in-law over to the Mormon canning place to get about $100 worth of canned goods (rice & sugar) and a couple of 25lb bags of rice. We have a community group that my neighbor created for us there and so my husband agreed to be the point man on that along side our neighbor so that our friends and family that are interested, can go and purchase food and/or can food in their facility. It's a great opportunity and I would encourage anyone who can get their foot in the door at one to do so. He'll be in charge of setting the date for us all to go, collecting the orders from our friends and submitting them to the cannery about 3 weeks ahead of time in order to get the food up here in time. Men are asked to come and can since there is a lot of heavy pour the goods into the cans and bags and the women can seal them up. This will be his second time going and I still have not gone. I would like to at some point, but my kids can't go so I'll take the day off. He and B.I.L. will go there and then onto the gun show that's in town and have a good man day.

Note on man days: They are very important! Let them go have fun, don't make them feel guilty for spending some time away from you and the house. They need a breather from the women folk and kids sometimes...especially if you're a nag.

Country Jane, happy wife

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pretty things

Yes, I love pretty things and bright colors, who doesn't.

I went to Chinamart (Wal-Mart) the other day in search of our special Alaskan brand of seeds that are produced in Anchorage. I was antsy to get them at least even if I can't plant them out 'till June.

I saw these $2.50 pots that were so cute and decided to get myself 3 for my kitchen so I could grow Basil and Oregano inside this year. Basil hates Alaska as do tomatoes.

I realized I could get some for my mom and MIL for mother's day too and plant some herbs for them as well. (reason this is in my private blog and not regular) $7.50 and some dirt and time sounds like a good price to me for those gifts.

The next day onions went on sale to .50 per lb so I got a 50 lb bag as I just ran out of my last bag. It seemed the right way to display both the pots and some of the onions.

Country Jane, onion hoarder

would Martha Stewart be impressed? who cares

Chief among sinners? nah...

Growing up I remember saying these words that I was the chief among sinners...and I never believed it.

I remember thinking that I should believe it, that someday I might believe it, maybe if I did something really bad...then I'd believe it. But I just didn't really believe it.

I realized tonight I still don't but I'm starting to understand why.

I see the world and myself through my own twisted viewpoint. I don't see all of my sins. When my husband tells me what they are I think of a reason to justify them. We go round and round and I refuse to see. My mind is made up, I can do no wrong. Then, when/if I see it I won't acknowledge it, I won't give him the satisfaction of saying, "your right, I'm sorry." Boy oh boy, I would not want to be married to me.

My head has been in a bad place today. Clean week will do that to a person...ha! to ME. No, let me try again. I act like a bitch in my head and to my family because I want to be miserable and them with me. That's better, well you know what I mean. It's not better, but more truthful.

There are many things going on right now in life that are getting me down, that's normal (especially in Lent). The way I respond to it all, however, is a test. How will I do? I guess that part is up to me.

Country Jane, Chief among sinners

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sticks and things

I didn't feel well today. I drank too much last night. I know, I should not have and I do know better, but it still happens from time-to-time.

The wind is mean here, like hurricane mean every other month during the winter. It blew over 2 tractor trailer trucks in December and we loose shingles every winter.

We are out of kindling.

Granny Miller encouraged me to go pick up sticks, as she does even in the winter for kindling. She didn't really tell me to but her blog post inspired me to. I knew it would make me feel better, accomplish something needed, and I bet I could find my lost tarp.

girls sun bathing, it was actually quite warm today
the more you have the more you have to fix
compost drifts
little girl's snow gun
my neighbor's house...I like it so much because they built from scratch and added as they could bank loan for them
other daughter enjoying helping me pick up sticks, we had fun
and there's my tarp! along with my garbage in my neighbor's field
our wonderful Jet Sled that was empty when we left, we found lost treasures, garbage and lots of sticks

this didn't look drifted until I was falling through, I love how it cracks
 Country Jane, feeling better

Saturday, March 5, 2011

3 simple steps to being a good wife

I was not going to write about this, but I realize that it's something I've been thinking about a lot as my husband and I have had some in-depth conversations and some fights in the past are my thoughts on the matter...

I'm writing this post for me as much as for anyone. In order to be more self-sufficient I have realized that I need to become a better wife. I have already taken one of these steps, but I still have more to go.

1. Get married to a MAN. Not a guy you can boss around, but a man who knows what he wants and is not lazy. As I said in my last post mine had a list of requirements for his future wife: I had to stay home with the children, I had to homeschool the children, and I had to be willing to be married to a pastor (this may never happen, but I was willing). We also agreed that we did not care how many children we had, God would be in charge of that and also we were the same religion which is HUGE. We're both Orthodox, he converted later in life and was much more zealous than me, another good thing. If you're already married to who you married, follow the next steps regardless. You'll be amazed how manyly someone can be just by treating him the right way.

2. Respect your man. This is still a difficult thing for me. I realized early in our marriage that I was the "go getter" when it came to projects in the yard, or building things in the house. I scorned him for not doing his share, yet I never gave him the chance. I acted like I liked doing it by myself and usually I did, but I didn't respect him because he did none of it. I chose to forget that he has a very good job, is a very good father and does not watch sports every night and weekends, but I resented the time he would relax and I never felt that I could sit down without feeling guilty. In the last year we have come to an agreement. I was not allowed to just "go off" and do what ever projects I wanted to on our house or property with out his knowledge or help, etc. I had to discuss these things with him ahead of time, I could not "surprise" him with homemade milking stands that won't hold up over 5 months. This is still hard for me, but at the moment he's outside in the freezing wind putting a new latch on our shed door that we have needed for a while. Me stepping back and letting him lead is a huge deal and puts us both back in our proper places.

3. Make time for your man. Men don't need much but us women certainly don't just like to give them what they least I don't.
a. Men like to be thanked. They do something, you say "thank you!" and give them a kiss. I just read something this January in a popular women's magazine that I would NEVER be caught dead with...BUT it said that even if he runs to the store to get milk for the both of you and it benefits him as well as you, it benefits YOU and you should say thank you! Duh! But this opened my eyes further to the pain he can be in from my putting him down and not showing him any thanks especially on the things I think he should do anyway, still I can manage a thank you.
b. Feed him! My husband works at home and I have never been consistent about making lunch for him as I'm very busy with kids, facebook, blogs, etc. He sees what I'm doing during the day and he knows that I choose not to make the effort and it does pain him. When I do remember or make the effort he's very glad, why oh why am I so lame?!
c. Yes, you guessed it..."you know what" with him. I married a talker and someone who expresses his thoughts, usually when he's upset. They don't have many needs, but it's our job to provide them, they should not even think about looking elsewhere, but that's up to us. I chose to marry this man, it's my job to be sure he stays satisfied. I have noticed his libido has slowed since he's rounding the 40 bend, but he still needs time in the evening to be in our room with our time away from the kids weather we're talking about our next project or watching a dumb show online.

I realize that my husband is different from some other men and perhaps some are even simpler than mine. But I have seen a pattern. The men that don't seem to want to spend that time with their wife is usually when the wife is clearly a nag. Be nice to your man and he will love you. Be nice, be nice, be nice!!!!

Country Jane, lame wife

To new friends

I just wanted to say a quick thanks to my "followers". I feel like every day when I log in there's another person here that visibly wants to read what I have to write. Pretty weird and flattering. As you might know I started this separate blog so I could go more in-depth with the life we have chosen so that I don't have to weird out my friends and family in my other one as much. The other one is more personal about things the kids say and do and more of our day-to-day lives. This is more for the things I'd rather not share there.

Thanks so much, it's been more fun than I thought to start this. Thanks to Granny Miller, of course, since she's the one that probably referred everyone here. She's the kind of mother or neighbor we should all have to teach us. I hope I can encourage my kids to live the way I'm trying instead of discouraging them. Lord help me with that!

Country Jane, honored

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A blustery day in the country

Well I suppose since I’m claiming the title of being “country” (simply was taken) I should list the “country-ish” things I did today…

I found out that I messed up a customer’s order and had to hand deliver goods to them…
Took the youngest two with me ‘cause they were TERRIBLE this morning (had colds, but still just crying like crazy!) while hubby stayed home to teach the older kids history.
Hit a thrift shop and picked up 12 Atlas mason jars (from pasta sauce) I think they are just as good? And a turkey fryer pot, brand new, huge that I’ll keep for another large soup pot. Also a cute blue bucket with a lid I’ll probably use for compost.
Got the girls icecream cones.
Went to the “country” grocery store as they stock up on Costco goods and other great stuff, a little pricey on some things but they have the chicken food AND rice there and with two grumpy girls one stop can’t be beat. I got both and extra groceries. I wanted to take a picture of the rusty metal traps and snares they had on an end cap in the hunting dpt right across from the bread isle. Pretty cool.
I returned the movies to Blockbuster and called the older kids to get them back on track with chores and school ‘cause when mama’s gone it’s PLAYTIME!!!
I bought tobacco at the shop for hubby’s pipe.
Got our cash for these next 2 weeks out of the bank.
Took dinner to a friend who just had a baby.
Parked the car at home and since the girls were sleeping I took a nap too. Hubby tapped on the window to say that gas was expensive…but my thought in my head is “sleeping girls are priceless” and went back to sleep.

I guess that wasn’t all that country after all I spent a lot of the day in town. Oh well.

Country Jane, sleepy

awesome pic, this is what the snow looks like after the wind today