Favorite meal of the week made with local foods-clafouis. Today I made one with apples from my tree, eggs from my parent’s chickens, and local milk and flour. Okay, I did sneak just a touch of vanilla in too. I did wonder if hard apple cider would work as a vanilla substitute? I’m afraid I started eating before I took a picture, but here’s a picture of a cherry clafouis I made a couple of weeks ago. So yummy!
I also made some hazelnut butter. Very easy and very tasty! I've been thinking a lot about a post at Casaubon's Book. The idea discussed was about creating a local diet that is distinct to the area you live in. So for my location some of those products would include fish and shellfish, berries, most vegetables, apples, dairy products and hazelnuts-really a pretty bountiful area. Sadly, it would not include avocados, oranges or olives…. And in all honesty, it would not include chocolate or coffee. That could really cause a riot! Still, it's intriguing to think about not just eating local, but what is local that makes our area unique.
On another front, I've got my electricity usage down another 50 KWH. It's now at 250. Still have work to do there though.
I'm getting pretty close to the end of my Wardrobe Refashion pledge. I've gone 5 months now without buying any new clothes. I did get a new pair of walking shoes (shoes are allowed in the pledge). I'm pretty sure I'm going to pledge for another 6 months. A whole year without any new store-bought clothes! I do have lots of projects I need to finish up-going to try to do one a week for the next little bit. First one to finish is my current sock. Maybe it will be ready for show and tell next week....
The prompt this week-watercolors. I do like to play with my watercolor pencils. For this I used a digital picture, applied a filter, printed the image out, used a transfer process to transfer the image to a piece of watercolor paper, and then highlighted with my watercolor pencils. I did try applying another photo filter over the image after I scanned it into the computer, but everything made the image muddy.
For the sake of experimentation I did two. For one I peeled the paper off about 5 minutes after I did the transfer process. For the second (the water lily) I let it dry overnight before I peeled off the paper. It's easier to peel off the paper after 5 minutes or so.
Watercolor paper works very well for transfers-it's sturdy enough to be rinsed off with a little water....
On the rose, I did use a knitting needle to scratch up the paper a little. It's kind of hard to see in the scan, but I like the texture it added.
There are a few spots on the water lily I wished I'd rubbed a little more. But overall I like it. I'm definitely going to play with this some more.
Something that’s been on my mind a lot is the place and responsibilities of creating art, of embellishing our homes and lives and my environmental concerns. I got more motivated to address this after reading a post at Simple Living this morning.
I can satisfy a lot of my creative urges by doing useful crafts, for example knitting and sewing, to make useful things. I can feel good about this in an environmental sense because I can use organic products, I’m avoiding sweatshop labor (well-I’m providing that part!), and I’m buying local materials or buying from local stores. The other day I smiled to realize I had made everything I was wearing but my shoes and my underwear (working on that too). But this doesn’t quite meet all my needs emotionally.
I can satisfy my need to garden and grow things with fruits, vegetables, herbs, and with flowers that attract bees and other beneficial insects and birds. I’ve preserved a huge crop of raspberries from my garden this year, I’m making hard cider at the moment, and I’m going to make green tomato jam (green tomatoes are all I’m getting this year in any quantity, but that’s another story). I just made a wonderful batch of herbal shampoo by adding an herbal infusion I made to some water and some Dr. Bonners. I’ll be making some salve with some herbs soon too. But I’m not quite happy unless I can some primroses in the garden. Not just any primroses either, but some arriculuas.
What it amounts to for me is that life isn’t complete if it’s just about feeling good about how I get around town, about the fact that I’m working on being responsible about my usage or resources, or that I grow as much of my food as I can and eat organic and local foods. Life can’t be just about living life in a sustainable manner. I think we also need to feed our souls. I think it is part of our humanness to want to embellish our lives. I think there is something inside most of us that craves having beauty in our lives. The trick is how we do this.
I think the answer is to create art in responsible ways and to find better sources for our embellishments. Reuse materials for example. I’ve been working through my “Stash of trash” for materials. This is a collection of stuff that I look at and think, “Hmm, this tin that tea came in could be reused for a diorama.”
Look for healthier materials to use. Digital photography is a better environmental choice than traditional methods for example. Buy local art rather than mass produced prints from stores that will remain unnamed. Or buy used art from a yard sale. Buy a wood or glass hair clip from a local artist rather than a plastic one from the drug store chain.
And know when you have enough. I have 5 or 6 pairs of earrings that I wear. Various local artists made them and I’ve had most of them for over 10 years. I have a lot of pottery mugs. One of my recent pledges is that I can’t buy any more unless I break one. I have enough.
Maybe some of these things aren’t strictly necessary and there are better ways to spend money. I certainly don’t want to promote mindless consuming. But I do think that the reality of being human includes artistic expression and appreciation. And that there is a place for it in a sustainable lifestyle.
Well, I might darn well have the whole book read before the book club discussion starts at Crunchy Chicken, but I’ve started reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. She is such a eloquent writer.
I’ve read the first 5 or 6 pages and was really struck by the passage about the impact of food and petroleum. All stuff I knew, but the actual statistics and the way she framed the information was very impacting. She wrote, “ If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.” Wow!
So glad I’m managing to buy 90% of my food locally and organically. Dinner tonight was local cheese, locally made bread (with local ingredients) and blueberries from my parent’s garden. Yum! In general, this week I managed to buy almost all my food at the farmer’s market. The only non-local from the grocery store items I got were chocolate chips and sugar (both organic). Darn sweet tooth!
The chocolate chips are for making mochas. I melt 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips in about a half-cup of milk (use the microwave for the least amount of electricity usage) and then pour in espresso. I make espresso on my stove top with a little Italian perk type pot. Better than just about any mocha you can buy at a much lower cost. All organic, all fair-trade. I know, I should give it up and just drink water but I’m not ready for that yet….
Other food experiments have been going well. The cider is fizzing away and it’s all I can do to leave it alone. I’m dehydrating corn at the moment. I think it’s going to be a great way to store corn so I’m going to get serious about growing corn next year (the slugs ate what I planted this year). I bought a teeny-tiny sample of dried blueberries to see if it would be worth dehydrating blue berries and decided that I might as well buy raisins if I want a dried fruit to store. I’ll figure out something else to do with any blueberries that come my way.
Which brings me to another thought. I’ve been thinking about how one school of thought is to only eat what’s in season. If I were able to follow that closely, there really wouldn’t be a need for stored foods. Yet I do think preserving foods is an important thing to do. For one thing, it makes sense to do something with surplus crops that are home grown. It’s one of the things that make gardening economical I think. Another good reason is just plain old emergency preparedness. I want something to eat if something happens in the middle of January! Local foods that are in season are pretty slim at that time.
Inspire Me Thursday's prompt this week-DNA. DNA? Well that took some thinking.
And what it made me think about was what it means to be creative, to create art. To ask those oh so controversial questions about what is art? Who is an artist? What is art created with.
Huge questions I know.
The answer for me is that being artistic is in the vision, in the idea, how a person sees something, how you get there is just the medium. A tool of communicating an idea, a thought, an emotion....
So what's the DNA sample here? A foam ball (from the stash-I will buy these no more!) that I covered with sequins and beads. They are attached with sewing pins. I took a picture and then altered it with a filter. When I went to glue it down, I decided I actually liked the back side of the picture better.
1. Read something good for my heart and soul: Okay, I admit I keep looking at this-Artful Blogging, published by Somerset Studio. Lots of wonderful things in it. I'm particularly fond of the feature on Inspire Me Thursday however!
2. Walk or do Yoga: Lots of walking today. Walked all the way down town this morning. Went to the furthest bus stop I could. That would be the one that the bus was detouring around. Yep, I watched them turn the corner right in front of me. I guess there was a sign that I didn't see. Sigh. So I walked to where I could catch the next bus. And then walked my usual 10 minute route from where I get off the bus to where I work. Did it in 6 minutes. Arriving with 2 minutes to spare! Total walking time: 65 minutes.
3.Eat good food: Dinner tonight was a heirloom variety cantaloupe, a piece of the cheese I made last weekend, and some hazelnuts. All local, all organic.
4. Find something beautiful in the day: One of my coworkers let 4 of the children in her class paint with their feet. The children were sliding on the paper. They were giggling and laughing and having so much fun. Pure joy....
6. Connect with someone: A very special call from my aunt this morning....
7. Spend time with the dogs: I really need to take this off the list, it's such an automatic part of the day!
8. Find a quiet space: desperately needed by this afternoon, found in the break room.
9. Take a picture, this Gerber Daisy really is making me smile.
10. Create something: I'm creating a new list and here it is:
10 ways to bee creative everyday:
1. Read something good for my heart and soul.
2. Write or create art in response to what I’ve read.
3. Do yoga.
4. Connect with someone.
5. Eat good food.
6. Take a picture.
7. Alter my journal in some way.
8. Give something away.
9. Find something beautiful in the day.
10. Find a quiet space.
Little Miss Muffet sat on her Tuffet, eating her curds and whey….” What fun it is to make cheese! I made farm cheese yesterday following the instructions in Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. Also saw similar instructions in Stocking Up by Carol Huppington. It is down right magical what can be done with milk, vinegar, and a little patience. Especially as you add the vinegar to the milk and the curds and whey start to separate. The cheese is very mild, but I like it. I can see that I will never need to buy cottage cheese or ricotta again (a must have for lasagna). That pretty much takes care of any food in a plastic container for me since I already make my own yogurt. Hooray! The tomato salad is a tomato from the farmer’s s market, small tomatoes and basil from my garden, a little vinegar and olive oil, and the cheese.
Another exciting thing-I had so little garbage this month that I was able to weigh it on my kitchen scale. One pound and two ounces of garbage! I think I can do better than that too; there were a few unnecessary plastic wrappers in that bag.
On the electricity front I’m in the habit now of unplugging my stereo, often for several days in a row, so that the light doesn’t draw energy. I’m looking for a used battery operated clock for my wall so I can do the same thing with the microwave. For now, my microwave is the only clock I have other than the cell phone-which doubles as my alarm clock. I decided several months ago that if I’m going to have the cell phone (my only phone), I might as well use the alarm on it rather than have a separate clock for an alarm. And yes, I do need an alarm. Not to get out of bed on time, but so that I won’t lay there is the morning being paranoid that at some point I’ll keep sleeping instead of waking up with the light.
On the possibly negative side, I’ve added a couple electrical appliances to my collection-borrowed though and hopefully worthwhile in the name of experimentation. I have a dehydrator and a juicer from my parents. Eventually I’d like to come up with a solar dehydrator. Drying is going to be a great way to preserve my Yellow Transparent Apples, which are a cooking apple. They are very tasty dried. I’m also going to try drying some corn as soon as I can find local corn. If it turns out well, I’ll grow corn next year. The juicer I borrowed to try making dry cider. I ground up a gallon of apple juice and am now fermenting away. If it turns out I’m going to do this again. But maybe I can find a hand juicer or someone to share a non-electric cider press with.
On the coming soon front, I should have a better idea of water usage soon. I now have metered water. I feel much more accountable knowing that I’ll have precise numbers for usage and that I’m paying for what I use. Also, I’m making fruit scrap vinegar. It will be interesting to see how that turns out.
I also want to send out a Big Public Thank you to Juliet, The Crafty Green Poet, who nominated me for the “Bloggers for Positive Global Change” award. This nomination makes me feel like I’m accomplishing my goals, that as one person I can make a difference in the choices I make.
I’m now supposed to nominate up to 5 people for the award…and I can’t choose! There are so many worthy blogs out there-all the 90% group trying to make a difference in their impact, as well as so many talented and wonderful artists and writers that are creating connections and forging a better understanding of who the inhabitants of this plant are. I firmly believe that the more connections that are created from individual to individual, the more that we as individuals think globally. There are so many wonderful people doing this! So I’m going to pass on choosing just 5 people, because I think we all deserve it!