Thursday, February 28, 2008
After raising her own eleven children, Grandma Gatewood, who then was a great grandmother, set out on her journey. Hikers today wouldn't dream of setting out on a trail w/o the best and lightest of gear. Grandma Gatewood always hiked in her hightop Keds with a canvas duffel holding all her supplies slung over one shoulder. She was the first female to ever hike the entire trail and at 67! She proved once and for all that you do not have to be a young male to be an excellent athelete.
The book "Walking the Appalachian Trail" by Larry Luxenberg has this funny excerpt about her:
Walking the Appalachian Trail
"Grandma Gatewood's formal education in a one-room school ended at eighth grade, but she had the practical knowledge and self-sufficient attitude useful in farm life. Her store of medical lore made her prized among her neighbors. She had, as well a better-than-common knowledge of plants and often arose at 4:00 or 4:30 am to tend her treasured flower beds by kerosene lantern light before getting tied down with the day's chores. She was an accomplished quilt and rugmaker, poet, and prolific correspondent. Lucy (her grand daughter) said that a typical day's entry in Grandma's diary would say that she mowed the grass, worked in the garden, fixed the underpinings of some trailers, dug up potatoes, and on and on. At the end she'd write, "I'm tired""
What an inspiring woman- I want to be like Grandma!!
Another book I like about the A.T. is "A Walk In the Woods" By Bill Bryson. It is crack you up funny. Now if anyone thinks I am getting any more harebrained ideas....I AM!!!!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Eliminating paper clutter- ughh- The worst of all clutter. The hardest as well! How do you know what to get rid of and what to keep? I'm writing about this to maybe inspire me to do it today :).
It's a process of: eliminating the unnecessary, taking care of the important and organizing, filing and storing what's necessary
I have read that you should have a spot to sit down that is specially designated for taking care of bills and paperwork. In a small house this is not possible. Some rooms have to do double duty. All of my paperwork is done at the computer or kitchen table. Everything is stored in either my holding basket or my small closet where I keep my files.First Step: Eliminate paper clutter at it's source. Call companies that send out catalogs and brochures and ask them to take you off of their mailing list. You'll eliminate clutter and you'll help curb the destruction of trees to produce these catalogs. Remove yourself from all the mailing lists that you are aware of. Instead opt for e-mail notification of new products or sales you might be interested in.
If you have decided to live debt free and rid yourself of credit cards, freeze your credit report. It can be unfrozen if you need to have your credit checked. This helps eliminate credit card offers.
Next: Have shredder handy (small ones are inexpensive). Sort and open mail daily. Immediately if possible. Throw away all junk mail and envelopes and offers. Shred any sensitive material such as credit card offers and anything with personal info on it. Plain non-waxy paper may be shredded and used in compost and bedding for small animals such as chickens.
Then: Put all papers in a holding area. I put papers I am not handling immediately in a holding basket. Every week to two weeks I go through the basket.
Types of Paper:
Business: Contracts, Receipts, back-up disc, license
All business contracts are filed in a folder marked as such and all dates are marked in my daily calender, Receipts are filed in a simple folder marked receipts, my business disc is backed up each time I record in quickbooks and is filed with my other important discs. License renewals are taken care of at the begining of the year then filed as such.
Personal: bills, investment and bank statements,
A binder with pockets is perfect for holding monthly bills. Pay as many bills as you can on-line and write down the confirmation number in your checkbook record. If it is a bill you claim on your taxes, print a paid receipt.
All investment statements can be hole punched an stored in the binder until a new one comes in. Then store them in a file folder.
You can balance your checkbook weekly on-line. When my statements come in compare them if you have a question. Remove any checks used for tax receipts and file them with the appropriate information. Then file the statements together.
Important Documents: birth certificate, marriage license, immunization records for children, titles, insurance-car and house, bonds, wills
Keep all together in a folder. That way in case of a hurricane or emergency, simply grab the folder and run.
Taxes: Any receipts or papers to be used for taxes
Most people keep all receipts because they do not know which receipts they should keep. Throw away: groceries, fast food, small purchases. Keep: large purchases and any receipts needed for taxes-medical, business expenses, charitible giving etc.. You can also scan receipts and store them on a disc. This is nice since heat sensitive receipts fade.
Children: Artwork, report cards, awards
Keep exceptional drawings, writings, or artwork, end of year report cards, exceptional certificates. (I don't keep perfect attendance, I did keep Tera's certificate for the highest science score on the leap test - who says girls arn't good in science?) Then keep each child's work in a box marked with their name.
Warranties: File warranties and owners manuals along with purchase receipts in a large binder. Slip them in clear pockets and put them in the binder. Once a year remove any that you do not have anymore.
Do not create too many files. It gets too tedious. For example: Do not create, electric bills, gas bills, insurance bills, - Just create, Paid Bills. They can be separated easily at the end of the year for any you might need for taxes.
At the end of the year, put everything (except your children's artwork and warranties) in a box, mark it "2008", put your tax return info on top and put them in a closet or attic. Yer dun!!!
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
When I first got married. I had room for everything. Collecting consisted of getting the things I needed! As you know, After being married for a while it's a matter of, "How did all of this get in my house?"
It just seems as if clutter sneaks up on you. With a small house it's very important for everything to have a place. This makes it much easier to quickly clean. Having everything neatly in place also makes finding something a breeze.
I know clutter is a problem for most everyone. So, I thought you might enjoy reading about my stratagies for defeating clutter. I must say it is a daily thought process. The things that I find get out of control quickly are: Paper, clothing, and collections. I'll start with collections.
There are so many things I like. I love china, tea cups, tea pots, milk ware, pyrex, trays, books, shoes... hmm old hats, flower pots, plants, nature items (nests, feathers, dead locusts, shells, turtle shell), magazines...and other things. Anyway, when After being married for a while, I found that I had a mix match of a lot of things and no where to put them. My collection needed to be pared down.
So how was I to accomplish this? I picked my most favorite things, and gave away everything else to people who admired them. Do I miss them. No, I don't. I thought I would, but I don't!
I now only actively collect nature items, old pyrex bowls and books. I kept my teapots and milkware, but I do not actively collect them. I do not buy anything new except books. I buy used books and pyrex bowls (from thrift stores). The nature items? They're free. I just go outside!! When I am finished with a magazine, I pass it on. If there is an article I really love, I tear it out and keep them in a separate file.
I chose old pyrex bowls because I love their color and they are so useful (see pic). When I have extra company or parties, hey I just use my decor, the pyrex bowls! I collect books because I love them. They are useful and beautiful. The nature items? I just love to look at and touch them.
Things you can do to eliminate collection clutter:
Decide what you really love
Do not keep anything because "It might be valuble one day."
Do not keep items only because someone gave it to you (Unless it is important. I kept a candy dish owned by my grandmother, but I did give away a crystal candy dish given to me by a past co-worker)
If you're not sure about something. Put it in the attic or away for awhile and see if you can live without it. If in three months you don't miss it. Get rid of it.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
This morning after seeing the girls off on the bus, I put on my hiking boots and headed for the levee path. (I'm breaking in my boots for a future trip.) When I reached my back yard I saw that one of my pecan trees was full of small birds. I'm not sure what kind they were because they were so high up. They looked greyish brown and had a sort of point like a hood on the back of their heads. I have seen the most amazing birds in my back yard and along the levee.
The other day while walking, I saw two crows driving a horned owl from tree to tree. I assume they were not happy about him being in their territory. There is a hawk that surveys the neighboring fields from the top of my pecan trees. I also saw two bald eagles not too long ago. That was a thrilling experience.
Walking allows me to think. Sometimes more than I want to! I think of good things. I think of bad things. But by the end of the walk, I have all these things neatly reasoned, solved, and filed away in the circuits of my mind.
Walking certainly contributes to the deliberate lifestyle. Flying in an airplane you see clouds. Riding in a car you see trees. Riding on a bike you see flowers. Walking you see everything.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Strawberries! North of Lake Ponchatrain strawberries are a major cash crop. I'm hoping to get a little patch of them established in my potager. (Pardon the cypress mulch, I'm using the leftovers from my ignorant days.)
I think my first cabbage is ready to pick. Cabbages are beautiful. This one's leaf edges are tinged pinkish purple.
This is the loose leaf lettuce patch. I love the different colors. Slugs have left my lettuce alone, but they're chowing down on my turnips and beets.
Look how big the garlic is getting. This is my first time growing garlic. From what I understand it is a long season crop. It should be ready next october. Wow that's a long wait.
Monday, February 18, 2008
1 : characterized by or resulting from careful and thorough consideration 2 : characterized by awareness of the consequences
I have decided to do everything, even mundane chores with thought and deliberateness.
There are some I know who live their life in a dizzing pace of busyness. When ever I see them there is just a quick insincere peck on the cheek with a, "I'm so crazy busy...just on my way out...catch up with you later...(peck peck) goodbye!!"
They are not happy. Nope. They give no signs of happiness. I just see tired hamsters on hamster wheels. Fancy expensive hamster wheels. Busy busy and no time to enjoy. I have lived that type of life before and I am much happier now.
I looked and thought about what I can change in order to live my life in a more deliberate manner:
- drive the speed limit.
- write in a journal daily
- make a daily to do list that is prioritized
- stay out of shopping centers that are designed to make you want to buy
- do not have a television-(which makes you feel as if your normal life is inadequate)
- take time to look and appreciate the things that my family and I have accomplished
- think about my chores when I do them
- go outside everyday - Even when it rains
- give thanks to God everyday for the air I breathe
Friday, February 15, 2008
I've run all over the house identifying ghost loads and unplugging things. Drying clothes in the sun. Nagging everyone to, "Go back and cut that light off!" I say "cut" the light off. People from Maryland ask, "How do you cut a light off?" We mean "turn" off the light. My kids now run out of their room, look startled and say, "oops", then run back in and turn off the light. They love it if a light is on when we return home at night. They look accusingly at one another and say, "oooo who left a light on?" As they each in return yell, "Not me, Tera did, Talia did, Seleste did etc."
I'm looking forward to the day when we can install a solar system and get off the grid. It makes so much sense to me to be self sufficient. Here are some sites I really like.
This really convinced me.
Mountain Top Removal
Path to Freedom
Kansas Wind Power
Living Foods Dehydrator
Earth 911 - Energy
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Companies are clear cutting cypress swamps. Entire trees are fed into shredders to supply our nation's cypress mulch desire. I can't even imagine shredding these beautiful trees that withstand flooding and hurricanes. They are one of the main stabalizers of soil in the swamp. NO wonder our land is being swept out to sea.
If you use cypress mulch, PLEASE PLEASE STOP RIGHT NOW!! Choose a friendlier mulch. Such as pine straw, leaves, grass. Last year I raked up all of the needles that my cypress tree dropped and it made the most beautiful red mulch for my garden. I also raked all of the pecan leaves and am now mulching them for my veggie garden. If any of my pics show bits of cypress mulch, it is left over from my previous ignorance.
Save Our Cypress
Here is another site about keeping the Gulf of Mexico Healthy
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Here is a web site with some great information on the disapearing wetlands. There are comparison maps to show how much land has been lost since the institution of the levee system. There is a video that also explains how the taxes are distributed from the oil proceeds. It also explains why the wetlands is the entire United States responsibility, for the well being of our country and the local ecology.
Garland Robinette, a local personality, has also painted a painting that can be bid on. You can also purchase a print of it. All of the proceeds go towards preserving the wetlands.
Unless something drastic is done, the wetlands will continue to disapear at an alarming rate. Our communities will continue to lose protection from large storms such as Katrina. There are things that can be done.
I took my girls to see "Hurricane on the Bayou" at the Audubon Aquarium. Tears rolled down my checks the entire time. I know all the tourists watching might have thought I was crazy, but it just brought everything back. It's really very positive and shows what can be done to reverse the present damage.
Hurricane on the Bayou
Monday, February 11, 2008
Saturday, February 9, 2008
New Orleans gets a bad rap. It's only known for it's wanton reputation. But there is a wealth of beauty for nature lovers to consume, if only they know where to go and are not afraid of the swamp!
Yesterday Byron and I went to the Jean Lafitte National Preserve to break in our new hiking boots and heft around some weight in our new backpacks. That trip to the Grand Canyon is sneaking up fast and we have to snag some training time.
A long time ago there was a notorious pirate named Jean Lafitte. He and his ragtag band of "Baratarians" crisscrossed the swamp and bayous with their booty of ill gotten gain, selling to the wealthy planters and citizens of New Orleans. Not much is known about Jean Lafitte, because that is how he desired it. It is known that he sent goods and men to help Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812.
Well, Jean Lafitte park is right in the same area where this band of pirates made their home base. What a great place they picked. Mushy, swampy, spooky, mysterious, foggy, and full of all kinds of frightful delightful creatures, Alligators, cottonmouth snakes, copperhead snakes, mosquitos! Enough to scare off all but the most courageous or fool hardy!
Not really. The park has done a great job of installing board walks throughout so that you don't have to get your designer boots in the least bit dirty. There are trails for those who like to get their designer boots dirty. But remember this isn't Disney World. There are real alligators and snakes there and you are not viewing over a guard bar. It is a very real, up close, fun experience. You must be quick to catch the flitting of a butterfly, snake or bird and serenely still to pick out the snout of an alligator peeking up from the midst of submerged logs and duck weed. In April the swamp puts on its spring glory in the form of irises, yellowtops, and water hycinths. Fall brings out the firey reds, yellows and maroons of swamp foliage, and the winter berries stand out stark against the grey sky and water.
Sometimes people miss all that Louisiana has to offer because it isn't turned up on end like some other really beautiful places-Wyoming, Colorado, Kentucky etc.. You have to immerse yourself to experience the beauty of nature in Louisiana. It doesn't present itself on a wide screen mountain for comfortable viewing from the car. These pictures are from our little romp in Jean Lafitte National Preserve yesterday.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
With all the hearts that accompany Valentine's Day, I've been thinking about how key the heart is to contentment. Physical pain is connected specifically to the part of your body that has been injured, but the injured spirit or emotions is felt in the heart. A sinking heart. A broken heart. A light heart. We just seem to feel all of our emotions right in the center of our chest.
With physical pain rest is needed and some medications to speed healing. With the heart thankfulness is a great healer. I have a friend who has never known who her father is and probably never will. Instead of focusing on her loss, she is focusing on what she does have: The ability to insure that her daughter knows and has her father.
It's very easy to let the past or present pain we have experienced in our lives overwhelm the joy we should be enjoying from what we do have. I'm not saying that we should look at the pain of others and say, "we'll at least I'm not..... or I don't have...." Doing that doesn't heal the pain that you are really experiencing. But looking at your life honestly and saying, "Yes, this is happening and this is wrong, but I can do.......about it."
Learning to recognize what you do have control over and letting go that which you do not have control over is a great liberator. Honesty is the key in the ability to do that. Some blame others for what has happened to them. In many cases this is true (in some cases the pain we are experiencing is a direct result of bad decisions we have made), but what you choose to do with it is all up to you. When we say, "This has happened to me, I am a victim.", you are powerless. When we say, "This has happend to me or I created this mess, but I can/will do this...." you have just created fertile ground for a thankful heart to grow and progress to be made. Even if you can only make a tiny step forward, it is still a step forward.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Today is just too beautiful to be inside all day, so I took a walk on the levee. There are still ships lining the banks waiting to get into port. You just never know what your going to see along the levee. I have spotted: alligators (I even had an alligator visit my back yard once), otters, bald eagles, hawks, cardinals, killdeers, coyotes, snakes, turtles, owls, and numerous types of other birds. I love this time of year though. The clover is turning the fields green and the citrus orchards have just been pruned. Soon the air will be scented with the sweet heavy scent of citrus blossoms. Wonderful!!!!
After looking at my garden and my cold frames, I noticed that the cheerokee purple tomatoes, the egg yolk and the mini tomato variety have begun to germinate. I also picked my first snow pea and ate it right there. Yummy. I harvested two large heads of brocolli as well. The arugula, tom thumb lettuce and pak choy have also sprouted. Soon I might gamble and go ahead and plant corn. It's just that spring is so tricky here. Sometimes it is 40 degrees outside and the next day it is 79 or 80 degrees (like yesterday).
After tomorrow I won't have to think about taxes for at least a year :-)
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Monday, February 4, 2008
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Finally! A sunny day. This whole week has been rainy, windy and cold. Today is magnificent. So, since the sun will be out today, I decided to cook something in my solar oven I got for Christmas and hang the clothes outside to dry. Zero emmissions, just the power of the sun! I really believe that the sun is the way to go with renewable energy. No turbines to kill birds (maybe they can improve this), no blowing up mountains to extract coal, no nasty smoke and if the sun goes out we won't need energy anyway :)
I decided to cook winter squash. I'm going to simply bake it until it is tender. Some items that are very easy to cook in the oven is: Chicken (stewed or baked), Roast, potatos, carrots, really you can cook most things. You can even bake in it (pizza, biscuits, bread). I have not done this yet, but I will this summer. 350 degrees is the highest temperature I have recorded in it so far. This summer I am expecting it to get to it's max temp of 450 degrees.
The solar oven will help me keep the house cool during the summer time by moving the cooking outside. Our biggest energy drain in this area is air conditioning.
Garden: Today I planted strawberries and gave the whole garden a dose of organic fertilizer. I also fertilized all of the citrus trees.
Byron started our chicken coop today! It's looking really great. I will post pictures soon.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Some have told me that being debt free in our society is impossible. I know that this is not true. Yes, you do have to lower your sense of self worth and pride must go out the window. For example, in the past a friend of mine was having serious money problems and it was putting her marriage in jeaprody. The home they were renting was in a very pricey neighborhood. When I told her maybe they ought to move. She informed me that, "I deserve a nice place to live!" She was barely twenty and had done nothing to benifit her husband, community, church or herself. I was wondering exactly why she "deserved" this home.
Because we breathe doesn't mean we deserve: a nice house, a nice car, money, etc... We deserve nothing except-life and liberty. Maybe you will have to drive a "junker" for a while to avoid a car note. Ironically, now that we have worked hard, very hard, to get rid of our debt we can afford to pay cash for those things that we want. Maybe we "deserve" it now???
One of the best things that Byron and I have ever done is to get out of debt and step out of the consumer mentality. I now only work when I feel like it and around my family's schedule. My husband and children are my responsibility. NOT anyone elses (I mean that.) That is why I chose to marry a good man first and have children after. My children do "deserve" a Mother and a Father if at all possible. They are the innocents. This is the best for children, and I did my best to make this possible by marrying an honest man of my same faith. Our entire budget is based upon Byron's salery and mine is the have fun money!
I Timothy 6:6-8 says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." Throughout our "getting out of debt" period, I posted this scripture on my refridgerator to remind me of what brings contentment. I have tried the other way and was not happy. I have tried this way, and I have more peace and contentment in my life than I dreamed possible.