The Humble Housewife

My mother was a housewife.  It was easier and more affordable for her to stay home with all of us kids.  We started caring for foster babies when I was young so there were no less than five of us at any given time.  The home was her domain and everything was tidy and clean and healthy supper was on the table nearly every night.  In the evenings she and my dad would often escape together to go get a Coke and take a drive with the portable cassette player singing tunes sans children.  I always assumed she would get a job when we all moved out.  But she didn’t.  It took awhile for me to realize, she has a job.  And even though my dad is retired, she still has the job. She is a full-time homemaker.

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Women are brilliant nurturers, mothers, and just asking one’s husband to get something that is clearly right in front of him in the cupboard but he can’t find it is proof that the home is our domain.  Men are our warriors, our providers, our heavy lifters.  There are exceptions, of course, but homesteading on a prairie practically off-grid taught me that our roles are not to “put us in our place” or “keep us in the kitchen,” they were (are) practical ways for survival.  Yes, we can all switch roles, but it took Doug a quarter of the time to chop wood, move hay, or fix something.  And if he goes to clean something, put something away, or heaven forbid, sew something, odds are I am going to have to do it again so we just stuck to our roles!  Men innately take pride in providing for the family.  Women in the past always took care of the children, took care of the home, took pride in their work, and would often make a little extra money for the household by selling hand crafted items.

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We have noticed over the years of raising children, and even as empty nesters, that when I have a job we spend more money.  At that point, I don’t have time to clean the house so we hire a house cleaner.  I don’t have the energy to cook so we go out.  I need a break so we go do something.  We spend a lot of money and eat terribly.

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I always stayed home or had my own business that I could take my kids to when they were growing up, but what about now?  I think about the judgment I passed on my mother in my late teens for staying home and making dad “do all the work.”  Is that how society will view me?  Now that my businesses have closed we have been talking about me being a homemaker.  We are modern homesteaders in the city.  We preserve as much food as possible.  We have chickens.  I crochet and quilt and sew.  We use a wood stove in the evenings.  I write books and this blog and I do get some small royalties.  I teach a few classes in my home and I am an herbalist.  Can I give myself permission to be a homemaker too?

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We purposely chose a city where our mortgage payment can easily be covered by one person.  We don’t have fancy cell phone plans or cable.  We have designed a life where I can be a housewife, which is where I am happiest.  I love nurturing, folding warm clothes, having a hot meal ready when my husband gets home from work, having the errands done so we can relax together on the weekends, hand making Christmas presents, caring for my animals, and being there when my grown children and grandbabies need me.  It is the hardest job I can think of but it suits my busy, independent nature just fine.  Yes, I think I will thrive here.

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If we give ourselves the option to be anything and to do anything, let us also give ourselves the right to be homemakers.  May we all give more respect and honor to the housewives, the homemakers, the stay-at-home Mamas, and the stay-at-home Grammies in our society for they keep the heart of the family and home beating strong.

 

 

Mama’s Makeover; Unfrumped (part 2)

Twenty pieces.  But, as is most cases in homesteading, we can make do.  I bought ten new pieces on the cheap at the mall because there are some great sales going on because everyone is still broke after Christmas.  I had  four more of the pieces.  And I will for sure be picking up some wrap around espadrilles for spring.

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My husband said that if he hadn’t seen me working on this page he would have thought it was a stock photo!  Sweet man…

Lesson 1: Don’t be afraid of color.  A pair of maroon jeans may seem like it won’t match anything but you will be surprised.

These two looks are comprised of the jean jacket, blouse, jeans, and ballet flats.  Then a comfy, silky v-neck, and long cardigan.

Lesson #2: Don’t be afraid of florals.  Florals are really versatile because of how many colors they contain to match.

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Lesson #3: Think outside the jean box.  Jeans are miserably uncomfortable on me.  I am 5’10” and they just don’t make comfy ones for tall girls.  These are super stretchy and soft and feel great against my skin.

These two looks have the blue jeans, the off shoulder sweater (we noticed that tag on the sweater later.  This is real life, folks.), and flip flops (that the dog ate after the shoot) and then the other floral blouse with jeans and heels.

Lesson #4- Get you a “hot damn” dress.  There is a flattering style out there for everyone.  This one is stretchy and super comfortable.  It could be dressed up with a faux fur jacket and heels or perfect with ballet flats and a jean jacket.

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I love that feminine florals are making their way back from the time of Laura Ashley and original Waverly.

Lesson #5- The jean jacket is still king….I mean, queen!  It goes with everything, goes everywhere, lasts forever, keeps the chill off, keeps the cool on.

My daughter, Emily, is a great photographer.  I am thankful that she trekked all the way out here (an hour and a half from her home) to make her mama look fabulous.  This particular shot made me realize that yoga and veganism look pretty damn good on me and I am not sure why I cover myself with fifteen layers of clothes.

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You know, it didn’t take me but two minutes to throw some gel into my wet hair or to put on some cruelty-free makeup.  I don’t use foundation or powder, just some eye makeup and a slick of “lips” as Maryjane refers to lipstick.

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My work isn’t glamorous, I teach herbalism and make tinctures.  I feed chickens and write my blog in my pajamas.  I don’t want to get new clothes dirty.  I have a big, muddy dog.  But these clothes wash up just the same as my others.  I felt myself standing a little taller in soft jeans then I would in sweats.  A little lipstick makes all the difference in how old my smile looks.  I got lots of sweet messages about how I am beautiful on the inside.  It is amazing how we approach the world and our day when we look and mirror and see how beautiful we are on the outside too.

We were looking for frumpy pictures of me on my husband’s phone.  When he sent them to me he titled them, “Beautiful”.  He is a keeper for sure.  But for me, I think I can take on the world and achieve my goals a little better with some cute soft jeans and pink lipstick.

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Dealing with a Broken Refrigerator Farmgirl Style

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Fifty-five degrees.  Well, that’s not good.  The refrigerator should probably be colder than that.

We do not presently have the money for a new one.  I slurp my lukewarm milk from my bowl of cereal.  I panic.

I go outside, sit down, face to the sun, feet on the ground and quiet down.  Then I laughed.  Do I not speak for entire weekends about this type of thing?  Am I not nicknamed the Farmgirl?  At the last show we were at, more people recognized me as the Farmgirl then White Wolf.  Have I not read every homesteading and pioneering history book I can get my hands on?  Are my ancestors laughing right now?  If anyone can handle this, it ought to me. Don’t I pride myself on knowing how live simply and without much electricity?  I have been in the city for a year…I’m rusty.

Okay, first things first.  Calm down and get another cup of coffee!  We are alright!

Two.  Defrost the meats in the freezer (before the refrigerator dies completely) and can them.  I found some good blog sites on canning hamburger.

I can preserve most things in the fridge and freezer.  Cheese doesn’t mind 55 degrees, that is the temperature I aged mine at when we had our little dairy.  The milk…not so much.

Invest in a cooler!  I wish there were ice trucks still.  I wish I had added Ice House to my house hunting criteria!  Get ice from the store.  Switch to non-dairy milks that do not go off so quickly.

Now from there, perhaps it is an easy fix and it might be worth it to call a repair man?  In the meantime, stop panicking and bring out my inner pioneer!  We can do this.  But, let’s do it before food poisoning tries to take over, shall we?

 

The Amazing Pressure Cooker (and a nice Nordic dish)

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My goodness, I have been missing this all of my adult life.  A pressure cooker!  How come y’all didn’t tell me about this lovely contraption?  It literally takes half the time to make supper!  And for a homesteading mama, this is important.

I love whole grains.  I am a huge advocate of the healing power, antioxidant content, anti-cancer ability of whole grains.  Natural fiber and mineral foods that take forever to cook.  The same reason I do not make beans as often as I’d like; I forget to put them in the slow cooker or I don’t have three hours to wait for them to be done!

The quick release on the pressure cookers is the coolest thing I have seen in awhile (I don’t get out much.) and I do wish that our pressure canners had this feature!  This supper took no time at all to prepare.  I’m still experimenting, but the cooker makes it easy for me.

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Here I soaked 1/2 cup of navy beans for the day in doubled the water.  Came home to a full measuring cup of them.  I sautéed red onion and garlic in olive oil in the pressure cooker first then added a few chopped carrots, a chopped parsnip, and one sliced stalk of celery.  I added the drained beans and 1/2 cup of rye.  Sprinkle all well with smoked salt (or regular) and pepper, dill, paprika, and a pinch of thyme.  I poured over 4 cups of my homemade rosemary broth (though you could use any broth), put the lid on and pressure cooked it for 30 minutes.  I quick released it (so cool) and added two big handfuls of chopped cabbage and two pieces of lovely coral colored salmon topped with spices.  Another 3 minutes in the pressure cooker and wallah, supper was served.

This fabulous contraption will serve me well this year with my expansive, and God willing prolific, gardens.  Whatever veggies, spices, grains, and proteins I have on hand will make delicious, healthy, and unique one pot meals.

Do you have a great pressure cooker recipe?

This One’s For the Girls

No really, this one’s for the girls…

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Homesteading women have many things in common.

One, we care about economics.  There is no way we could live this lifestyle if we weren’t frugal.  We rather like being creative in our endeavors to recycle and reuse.

Two, we care about the environment.  Half the reason we turned to a homesteading lifestyle is because we care about the earth and see her many finite resources being used and trash building up.

Three, we care about health.  We pride ourselves on knowing herbal remedies and leading a healthy, clean lifestyle.

Four, we are women.  Therefore we have moon cycles.

I first read about the detriments of conventionally made feminine products in the Newman’s Own Organic Guide to a Good Life book by Nell Newman.  I had never thought about the sheer cost of these items.  Nor did I consider that they decompose at the rate of diapers.  As in, our great, great, great, great, great…..grandchildren are going to be a really irritated with us!  And the bleach and other chemicals used to make feminine products could be a big reason for the many women’s issues we face today, from hormone disruptions, cysts, fibroids, and cancers.

Niki was reiterating all of these things to me when I met her at her booth at the Pueblo Holistic Fair.  I have read about reusable pads but was skeptical.  I told her without hesitation that I about bleed to death and I wasn’t sure these would work.  She smiled and said they will.  If my body is detoxing, the plastics, bleach, and chemicals from feminine products are going to make my body work harder to detox them too!  I bought a set of her Liddle Rags.  They are made of layers of soft flannel, cloth diaper material, and one side is waterproof fleece.  Snaps secure them.

Wow.  Is all I can say.  Two months of easier cycles.  Comfort.  My cervix was really hurting before.  It doesn’t anymore.  Cramping is less.  Period is lighter.  How is that possible?  Was I just poisoning myself each month?  They are easily washed and very affordable.

Her Facebook page is http://facebook.com/LiddleRags if you want to message her or see what she does.  Better health, save money, and lighter footprint on the earth?  That is a homesteading good thing!

The Homesteading Bug…or in the Blood?

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There are some that are content with flowers in a pot.  There are those who are perfectly happy turning on a switch to make the fire come to life (the gas flame is rather pretty).  A package of this food or that blended with another to make “homemade” food.  Our society has a different view of homemaking these days.  But I, well I used to think I had the homesteading bug.  A bug that I wondered would pass once we entered the city.  Would I miss canning?  It is tedious work.  Would I miss hand washing dishes and clothes lines, and the smell of firewood setting aflame while a pot of beans is set on the wood stove to percolate?

I guess you know the answer.

City life can be rather easy.  My friend cleans my apartment once a week.  I leave for work with everyone else and work very, very hard all week long.  So does Doug.  We come home and fix supper or head out to eat.  We switch on the fire.  And a movie.  We feed the cats.  I do laundry.  It is quick, even though our clothes are a bit shrunk from the dryer…or the lifestyle.

We long for chores and the cool breeze as we run to the chicken coop to let the ladies out.  We miss the sight of dozens of jewel colored jars cooling on the counters waiting for the larder (I did get several dozen things put up, but we’ll be out by next month).  I miss the sound of the dehydrator and the smell of drying tomatoes.  The sound of crackling from the first log that catches in the wood stove.  I miss the extensive gardens to water and the music blaring from my earphones as I dance and water at the same time, entertaining the neighbors.  I miss pointing out what we grew on the plate (sometimes all of it).  I miss falling into bed exhausted with a huge smile of completion on my face.  Planning the winter rests of learning to knit and weave and spin and the books I’ll catch up on.  Only to be planning the next year’s gardens and pouring over seed catalogues instead.

We wondered if we would get over the homesteading bug when set into a life of a bit more ease.  But, no, it turns out, it was homesteading blood.  Not a bug.  We are a few of those folks that could go back to 1890 with ease.  Playing the fiddle or working as we please.  To step out of normal society is a plus.  Yes, on a mini-farm and homestead you will find us.

I look forward to donning my apron again.  The one that swaddled new born goats and chicks.  The one my granddaughter can hide under.  To wipe my hands on after chopping a zillion vegetables or to wipe my brow after crawling on my hands and knees to plant tiny seeds that will become life and infuse our life with…life.

Some of us just have homesteading in our blood.

The New Notebook

The pink leather notebook, fresh and empty of ideas, lay open upon the wooden breakfast table near the wood stove. Ideas flourished and manifested across the pages. The intensely planted garden of organic produce, the small dairy, the ducks, the chickens, the sheep, the goats, the bees, the homesteading school, the farmgirl classes, the herbal classes, […]

via The New Notebook — Medicine Wolf

Freezing Produce (it’s not too late to preserve!)

 

IMG_2344Lest one would think that our homesteading duties are through until spring, I must correct.  Now granted, if I had had the prolific garden I thought I would have had I would have long before now canned a year’s worth of peppers, but as life would have it, I did not.  And down to the last two jars is no laughing matter.  So when my dear friend, Lisa, handed over boxes of produce that Whole Foods did not deem sellable (Gee, they look like they’ll cook up just fine to me!), I practically ran from her kitchen laughing maniacally all the way to mine.  Homesteading personalities can be a bit peculiar and they do tend to show themselves in times of seeming triumph.  A box of peppers and mushroom and other goodies awaited the knife.

Save for the balmy outdoor temperature of precisely zero, my kitchen looked like summer.  Homesteaders must be thrifty.  It is the only way.  And if one should find items on sale that look great still, do grab them.

I chose to freeze these beauties.  Cut in half then finish pulling apart.  Remove the seed ball, seeds, pith, et cetera and chop into fine chunks.  When your hand gets tired and you find yourself rather bored just cut them in half, seed them and throw them in freezer bags.  Now, I have always taught you to freeze them on cookie sheets first, always.  They come apart easily and cleanly.  But should you find yourself with a  very small, very full freezer then just bag two chopped peppers in each sandwich bag and pile the halves into a gallon bag.  You will have to pry them apart but then they are quite easy to cut up frozen with kitchen shears.  Do what you can, you may have a ton of mushrooms to do next!

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A full freezer equals a happy new year.  I wish you all that and much, much more.

 

 

Three Chile Mole Chili (5 minute dinner!)

I needed to get to the shop.  We were loading things into the car.  We weren’t getting home until kind of late.  We don’t have the money to keep eating out.  What to do?  Throw everything into a large crockpot and run out the door, of course!  We came home to the smells of savory hot chili wafting through the house welcoming us in.  Doug opened us each a Vanilla Porter and I poured us a few bowls of flavorful chili.  The prep time was about five minutes.  Well worth it, I tell you.

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Three Chile Mole Chili

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Into a large crockpot, or half the recipe for a regular sized one, add the following:

1 cup of dried pinto beans

1 cup of dried kidney beans

1 package of meatless ground (we like Quorn brand…so good, non-GMO)

1 jar of 505 green chili

1 large can or jar of diced tomatoes

1 quart of broth

Then add more or less:

2 teaspoons of Mole seasoning (it’s cocoa and chile and amazing)

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of red chile powder (New Mexican preferably)

1/2 teaspoon of chipotle powder

(I get my spices from Savory)

Now put it on low and run out the door!  Eight hours later your are boss of dinner.

The Accidental Stocked Pantry (yea for over-canning!)

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We are getting settled in our new place.  Our eight cats (we had to have our sweet Ichabod put to sleep) joined our roommate David’s three and they are all getting along wonderfully despite all of my worrying.

Part of the deal there is that I am cooking the meals.  After being so long without free run of a kitchen I am loving taking over his mother’s warm abode.  The other night I put Andrea Bocelli on Pandora, poured a glass of Montepulciano, and made a delicious wild mushroom risotto with fresh salad and bread.

Another friend of mine lost everything this year.  She explained it as going into shock when needing to move suddenly and gave away or sold everything.  She later fell into hysteria over it but the shock is the only way she could have done it.  I know no one likes to hear, “I know just how you feel!” but at that moment I did.  Someone closely related to me made a comment that I don’t care about anything, I just throw things away and have no attachments.  Those words punched me, stole the air from me, I do care about things.  I cared about Doug’s grandmother’s dishes.  I cared about the poster of the Rat Pack that my son lovingly gave me one year that someone took before I could off my walls.  The cards my daughter made me.  I cared about my pie safe and my things.  They all held memories to me.  They all spelled home.  But that shock of being conned and having to leave so quickly certainly did aide in my getting out.

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Oddly enough, I kept all the canned goods I had put up the previous years.  This was no easy feat.  Margie’s walls were lined with boxes of dusty jars of apples, tomatoes, potatoes, jams, pickles, and peppers.  I kept thinking I should try to sell them, but I didn’t.  I could not imagine where I would be or where we would end up so I couldn’t figure out what to keep because I didn’t know if we would be in an RV, in a tiny house, or under a viaduct.  I couldn’t see what was next but the homesteader in me brought the canned goods.

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I always go a little overboard.  It is easy to do with canning.  The first year I preserved over 700 items.  Last year over 500 because we were moving and I fell short of my goals.  This year I canned a few jellies before we had to go.  But the lovely thing about home preserved canned goods is that they last for years.  If there is no mold, and the lid is secure, then save it!  I have one jar of apricot syrup that is five years old but the rest are newer and still very good.  So, yesterday I lined the laundry room shelves with my remaining canned goods from years past.  It was a calming and warming action to be placing jars of food along the wooden shelves ready for winter.  Even though I took the summer off, some of my work had been done the year before.  A stocked pantry always looks lovely.