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Well, crap. I can't find any of my cute springy skirts, even in all the boxes I have packed in the basement. I can't imagine what could have happened to them. Surely I didn't get rid of them, did I? I can only find one, that I've never worn before, so I'm going to wear it tonight, and look retarded with the only top I have that remotely goes with it. I need some new clothes. I'm going to feel like a cow tonight.

But maybe my dessert will be a hit. I'm not going to add the liqueur, so it will probably be a little plain, and I didn't have the two spices for the pound cake, and I used orange zest instead of lemon, and pastry flour instead of cake flour. Yes, I know, totally inauthentic and might totally suck, but still. Even if it amounts to orangey pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream, how bad can it really be? It is not something to panic over.

But I'm realizing I need to always have certain things on hand. Some spices, and all the things I should have in a liquor cabinet. Truth is, I lost my taste for hard liquor a long time ago, so I don't even buy it. But lately I've been wanting margaritas, and so many of the more interesting French recipes call for kirsch and Cointreau and bizarre liqueurs that I am so curious about. I think I'll start adding to the larder. Also, we really should always have a case of wine on hand, always. Especially when it's hot, all I want is chilled whites, riesling usually, and there are so many ice wines I have yet to try. And champagne! I feel like why should champagne be only for special occasions? Why not just to sip while cooking dinner, or talking on the phone, or doing watercolors with your kid? I can't help it, this time of year makes me want to be French, and I feel silly but it's fun and feels like a hobby. New recipes, new drinks, new attitude...totally what I need. If I could just get the new wardrobe! And the trip to France. More than anything, I want to go to a real French market, peruse the goodies, watch the people, and maybe embarrass myself just enough to buy something wonderful and change my life with a meal. Oh yes, this is what I will do when my kids are older. I figure I have plenty of time to learn French.
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This has been a work in progress for ages. I've tried to observe the natural patterns and habits in our family and work around them to a large extent. Hopefully the only real changes will be more set waking/going to bed/meal times, and taking the guesswork out of all the free time in the day where we COULD do a lot of things, and giving them a designated activity. Too much freedom can be a bad thing. Anyway, we'll see how it goes. Screwed up on the first day by going to have lunch with Jake today, but oh well.

Read more... )
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green beans
apple jelly
apple butter
strawberry jam--LOTS
raspberry jelly
garlic dill pickles--LOTS
red pear jelly
pasta sauce
canned tomatoes

from Preserving For All Seasons
Pickled Beets with Star Anise, p 57
Dill Pickles, p 58
valancystirling: (Default)
New Year celebration

Valentine's Day or some reason to do heart craft projects
Anniversary/Groundhog Day
Plan garden, go through seed catalogs

Celebrate spring

maple festival
Plant seeds

Prepare garden
Planting Day
Memorial Day, ice cream, barbecue

strawberry festival
celebrate solstice

Fourth of July w/fireworks and barbecue


Apple picking
harvest dinners
End of summer barbecue

Halloween or some equivalent
Costume party
Apple picking
trip to pumpkin farm
Hay rides

Birthdays--Topie and Jake
harvest dinners

Cookie Baking Week
Adopt a Family
Go choose a tree at a tree farm
celebrate solstice, days getting longer
valancystirling: (Default)
I am blog stupid, apparently. And design stupid, graphics stupid, everything stupid. This wasn't always the case. I guess I just lack the focus and free time I used to have. Need to rework my new blog and make it look better. Not thrilled with how it looks.

Anyway. Dinner is ready. Topaz mashed the potatoes, and the meatloaf is done. Now we're just waiting for Jake, who isn't even leaving work for an hour and a half. I'll get us all fed, then he can eat later. Right now they're watching a movie, which is stupid, because it's pretty much dinnertime.

Seeing Ali's post got me thinking. I did NOT come from a tradition-oriented family. And really, I wasn't even exposed to most of the traditions other people follow, so realizing now all the possibilities is a little overwhelming. I feel like starting anything this late in the game would make me a poser at best.

Why am I so hung up on this bizarre idea of authenticity? I am what I am, and should not make excuses or apologies all over the place, but I do. I feel like if I'd had access to the right books, or the right people with other ideas, I would be a completely different person. But really, to a large extent, I feel like as a person I didn't even start till I moved to Boston. And Jake was responsible for a lot of my education. Not that he went into any one thing at great length, but the sheer number of new ideas he presented has been staggering. I suppose I'm not giving myself any credit. I did try so very hard to branch out growing up. I did do a huge, huge amount of independent reading and thinking, and it is actually true that I did come by a lot of things that I still consider very valuable. LM Montgomery, the Little House books, all the wonderful literature I added to my Christian homeschool curriculum. I guess I'm still a bit angry at my parents for neglecting my education so severely. It literally was a case of ordering school materials and books, throwing them at us, and being done with us. I remember once writing a report about light bulbs, and there was no one to make sure I did it, or check any of my references, or even read the damned thing. But I did it all, following all the specifications of the assignment, and decided to give myself an A on it. Later I realized there should be no guilt about giving myself good grades, because in public school I got A's on everything, and then when I went back, I got A's in my advanced classes. The required reading in that curriculum were things I had never heard of, obscure inspirational-type Christian stories. I read them, and I did the work associated with them, but I was sure I was going to screw myself if I didn't flood myself with other reading, so I took it upon myself to go to the library constantly and read tons of literature, Shakespeare, everything Bronte, tons of Austen, just tons of stuff. I read a lot of herbal books, and botany and survival books. Read cookbooks and books on old skills like making soap. I didn't have the materials or parental interest enough to do much of that stuff, but I had a wonderful wild environment to explore, and I made the most of it. I learned all the native plants, even their Latin names. I kept journals, studied everything, made gardens, grew food and herbs. And looking back, I see my dad involved a lot more than my mom. In fact, I don't remember my mom at all. My dad was the one who would take me to the garden or hardware store when I wanted to do a project. My mom did allow me to do some of my own shopping when I went through m vegetarian phase. I cooked veg meals for everyone but they were generally rejected.

It was just not that big a leap for me when my mom left and I became the lady of the house. I did everything anyway. But then I convinced my dad to get me a car because we were so far from everything, and I had to get myself and my sister to school and back, and do the grocery shopping, and all the errands my mom normally did. In the midst of the insane step-parents, but that's just not even part of this.

I have no idea why I'd think so seriously about all this now, but I feel like it's been stewing in the back of my mind for a couple days and Ali's post just brought it to the forefront. So weird how that works.

I guess I'll do what I generally do now, and try really hard not to think about it in terms of myself and what I might have lost, but in terms of how I can use this to do better for my own kids. I want to make the tools and resources, and MYSELF, available to them every step of the way so they can pursue their independent interests. I want to be sure not to project my own desires on them, but to just be there and observe, help when needed, and let their ideas run their course. In hindsight, that seems SO incredibly important. Just being there, being supportive, providing the basics of what they need to let their minds roam free. I don't want them to have all the regrets I have.

And the homeschooling part worries me, but I am so focused on it (or some parts of my mind are, anyway) that I feel a little confident it won't be a problem. For us, it was parents who didn't seem to want to be bothered, or like my mom truly believed she couldn't do it, so she didn't try. We lived far from everything, in the midst of a very tight-knit community which we seemed to blatantly reject (I had very little to do with this) and which resented the hell out of us for it. So we were isolated, shunned, and had no idea what to do. I was very fortunate to have been so self-motivated and determined to succeed. My sister was not so fortunate. I tried to help her with her school work, but she was never interested and didn't take it seriously. In the end, I knew that going back to school was the only way to save myself, and I think it was. Conversely, when my sister followed me a year later, she immersed herself in the wrong crowd and it led her to the life she has now. So amazing how the same action, the same environment, produced such completely opposite outcomes. I feel like I took my life into my own hands and made it work out well enough, and I feel such a sense of loss and tragedy over my sister's outcome.

So back to the original point. We had no traditions. We baked cookies at Christmas and took them to the neighbors. We picked pecans in the fall. Barbecue and ice cream and watermelon and fireworks on the 4th of July. Beyond that...can't think of any day standing out at all. So I'm bringing very little to my family's table in terms of tradition. And I always craved it so much, and made pathetic attempts to create rituals and rhythms in our family's life. My grandparents exposed me to far more of the world than my parents did. I pored over their set of encyclopedias, and when I was younger, the set of children's encyclopedias. Nothing ever stuck, as it was either dismissed as not Christian enough, or just pointless. We never identified with any ethnicity either, so that made everything seem a bit absurd. And the same is true now. I feel like, maybe if I try to get some traditions started in our family, it will be normal to our kids because they'll grow up with it. It shouldn't matter if I feel like a fake. And why should I anyway? I am what I am, etc etc. People change religions as adults, and it works out. They change cultures, and it works out. Why shouldn't I be free to adopt elements from other cultures or belief systems and make them work for us? Maybe it really is my time to find something to identify with. I have never felt part of anything. Maybe I really need to. Maybe I want my family to be part of something greater. No, we're not any particular thing, but certainly there are things out there we appreciate and would like to share.

I suppose it's time to get serious about deciding what those things are. Jake is a hard sell on anything to do with "making a fuss" and would probably let Christmas go by unnoticed if I didn't make such a big deal of it. So we'll see. But it's really time.
valancystirling: (Default)
A trial of a few weeks, just to see if I feel better overall. My own personally chosen guidelines:

move closer to the anti-inflammation diet

no processed sugar or grains

only whole grains

unlimited fresh fruits and vegetables

more water

daily walk at least 30 minutes

try to ride bike twice a week at least

taking it easy on my back for a while, to the extent I can with two small kids

Joint Soother supplements for cartilage

Zylamend supplements for inflammation

raspberry leaf/nettle/alfalfa/oatstraw tea every day

no coffee


daily stretching/yoga/abdominal exercise

start taking multivitamins every day

omega 3 supplements

cal/mag supplements

probiotics and fiber supplement

cut back on dairy a bit

This will start as of now, even though I've had coffee this morning. It all seems like a lot of supplements, but really it's not that much. I can mix a lot of them together, and I really like that smoothie idea. I've been on regimens of far more than this at a time.

ALSO, my next door neighbor is a yoga instructor and she has this svaroopa embodyment program, and I'm thinking it's time to get some private sessions with her very soon.

SO. I have a plan.


reduce inflammation and pain
lose weight
build muscle in my core and elsewhere
learn how to relax deeply
achieve overall health
build my immune system up
become stronger and healthier in general, possibly in preparation for a future pregnancy
valancystirling: (Default)
The great make-bedrooms-seem-bigger project
*sell sleeper sofa?
*buy small wood desk for playroom
*find twin or full size bed for former computer room
*move kid dresser to green room
*move one huge bookcase from computer room to basement, and one to playroom
*move barrister bookcase from playroom to computer room
**Turn playroom into office/studio and computer room into bedroom

Sell Jake's car
*call Geico re: how to handle insurance and selling car
*learn about selling car by owner
*clean out Jake's car
*photograph Jake's car
*list car on Craigslist, with Jake's help to write info

*move seed trays to basement desk, water regularly!
*pull grass roots out of garden
*make four-square layout with pavers/bricks/whatever
*plant garlic
*plant potatoes
*plant root crops in tubs
*bean teepee
*set up trellises
*find place for watermelon and pumpkin patches

*get new flowering plants for front yard
*weed flower bed under playroom window
*mulch flower beds

*finish Philip's shorts--just sew crotch
*finish Philip's cotton sweater
*measure Topaz
*finish French press cozy
*finish my aqua silk sweater
*make Philip a couple extra diaper covers

*start learning about sheep breeds to determine best wool for Jake's coat
*spin Jacob fleece
*make something with my drop spindled yarn--diaper cover?

Father's Day
*what to get?

*schedule field trips--zoo, park, farms, etc.
*outside art
*outside play every single day
*teach Topie how to dial the phone for emergencies

*ride bike twice a week
*morning family walks
*yoga when possible--free class coupons for Wednesday nights

*figure out how to get rid of home phone--still need cell phones and wireless at home
*small mirror for entryway
*keep watching for daybed, desk, gas stove, landscaping stuff on craigslist


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December 2010

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