Today marks a turning point. It was the first time I've been able to get up and stay up long enough to prepare, cook, and serve dinner. Yay! I used what we had in an ad-libbed meal. One package of chicken, 14 potatoes (quartered), one onion, some rosemary, a head of garlic, a half a handful of dried sage from our garden, a can of mushrooms, a can of green beans, some "better than bouillon" with salt and pepper and enough water to cover it all. Cooked it in the crockpot for 6 hours on low. It would have been better with a little more salt and some carrot slices I think, but over-all it was pretty good and the kids didn't seem to pick at it as much as I expected.
Today marks two weeks off of all pain meds. No acetaminophen or ibuprofen, not even for that three day migraine I had last week. I've got some tight muscles in my shoulders, but I suspect that's because I've been a lot more active lately and my muscles aren't used to it. I'm considering taking up yoga to help with my muscles... but I'm not sure I really have the time or space for it right now.
Today I did something I don't do very often. I unsubscribed from two of my homesteading email lists. Two in one day! I originally signed up for both as part of a video thing last year (you had to sign up to see the videos). Unfortunately, since about Thanksgiving, the one I really liked has been sending constant email blasts asking for money. First it was to sell something, then to donate to their next big project. I don't mind fundraising. I try to do it myself (with no success as I don't have thousands of followers to back me - yet). But when it's mentioned in every single email and every single communication... for months on end... it gets terribly annoying. Especially when we struggle for our own independence and are facing the harsh reality that despite the fact that our home is simply too small for seven people, we may not be able to move this spring as originally planned. It's frustrating. The second group got the ax when they started asking for money for the other person as well. Moral of the story - I don't care of you ask for fundraising money or to sell something here and there. That's fine. But when it's every day, every week, all you talk about, the main topic of your conversation, and then you start getting your friends to beg people too, it gets old fast. So if I ever start sounding like that - and begging for funds for this or that to the point that it's becoming redundant and making you not want to come back... please let me know so I can correct the situation!
On an up note, I went on a quick shopping trip with my mom today and she bought us some onions and potatoes, some chicken, and some canned green beans. We're set for soups, stews, and chicken dinners for the rest of the week! We also took home dinner leftovers (taco lasagna), and dinner-making leftovers (cheese and hamburger). My uncle stopped by my parents' house earlier today (before we got there) and asked my parents if they wanted any venison burger, so they got a few containers of that for us as well. Our fridge and freezer are now well stocked for a while! I'm looking forward to cooking this week.
Someone asked me today if I realized that apples do not grow true to seed. Yes, I did know that actually. Apples often require a second tree to properly pollinate. Because the apple trees we get eating-apples from can also pollinate with crab apple trees, there is a possibility that when you grow an apple from seed you could potentially get a crab apple cross that produces inedible fruits. I did take that into consideration when deciding to winter sow apples from seed this year.
Someone else asked me today why I would grow an apple from seed when it's much faster and sure to get better results if I were to just buy a tree or get some rootstock and graft, or try to root a cutting. While that may be true, I can't afford to buy an apple tree right now, nor rootstock. I don't know enough about grafting to risk messing it up. I have not had luck in the past with trying to root a cutting - nor do I want a clone of a tree I already eat from (which would be where the cutting would come from).
So why am I growing apples from seed you might ask? It could be 10+ years until these seeds produce their first apples. That's a long time to wait! Think of it as a long-term experiment. I have decent odds that apples grown at a commercial facility (those you buy at a grocery store, or are served at school lunch in my case) are grown with enough other apple varieties that they will not be rogue inedible crosses. In fact, chances are pretty good that whatever grows will not only be edible, but possibly delicious! And since I grew from seed and not a clone/graft/cutting, that means that my trees are very likely unique genetically, making them the only kind to produce whatever apple variety they make. If they're absolutely mind-blowingly tasty, I could share cuttings with other people who can then grow my variety of apple as well. And if they turn out absolutely inedible, I can always use the now-grown trees as rootstock and learn to graft at a later time. I lose nothing by trying, but I gain experience, knowledge, and possibly many years of tasty apples if I give it a try. So why not?
This morning school was delayed two hours due to the extreme cold. I guess I have to agree, -27 plus a wind chill isn't really appropriate for kids to be waiting at the bus stop. Unfortunately, I didn't get that notice until I had already gotten the girls up and moving. Oh well. It gave us some fun time together before school.
After they caught the bus, Tony realized he had accidentally scheduled two bills to come out of this paycheck, which meant we were going to be a little short. I gave him my last $20 which was just enough to make sure the car payment got in on time. Phew! Nothing like being broke on payday. It's all good though. We have food in the cupboards, and the gas tank is mostly full. We've been invited to dinner at my parents' house on Sunday, so we can bring home some leftovers to help fill meal gaps. I'm sure they'll have some spare onions, potatoes, and carrots so we can make a stew that will last a day or two too. As strange as it may seem, I'm actually completely OK with this situation. We've struggled a lot harder and for a lot longer than a week in the not-so-distant past. It feels good to know we were able to pay all of our bills without asking anyone for help, even if that means no money for extra expenses for a week.
Winter sowing is off to a fantastic start. Today I was able to get 11 containers out to the backyard! Joining the Bosc Pear seeds already out there, tonight we also have:
This isn't my first try with perennials and winter sowing. In fact the sage has done wonderfully two years in a row, and the strawberries I started from seed two years ago came back despite me never having gotten to pulling them out of their original winter sowing container! I promise to transplant them in the spring this time.
That said, this is my first attempt to grow a tree from seed, so I'm on the fast track to learning about permaculture. I tried really hard to select varieties that would survive and thrive in our extreme cold and short growing season. I'm hoping that I get good germination and that I don't end up with my own orchard and no place to plant them if too many come up and we can't move for one reason or another. I'm in the process of collecting buckets now to transplant \tree seedlings for additional time before having to put them in the ground. Hopefully that will be enough. I have no idea how fast apple and pear and plum trees grow from seed. I will be sure to be posting updates in the blog along the way, so if you're wondering too - please check back!
And in other news, as we cleaned the living room recently after getting rid of the couches, we found the missing cat collars. All five of the cats are now sporting collars again (two kept their collars on and three managed to lose them). Perhaps they'll keep them on this time. If not, that's alright too. It's not like they go outside or anything. It's purely decorative at this point. I did notice that Henry has managed to keep his collar but lose his ID tag. And I never replaced Zombie's tag after the dog ate it. Again, not like they go outside. That does remind me though that a few of them need to be microchipped. I'll add that to the ever-growing list of stuff I need to get done this year.
Today I discovered the joy of making mandala art. I've already listed a few of my pieces in my RedBubble shop, but I especially wanted to share this one.
Click on the design above to go to the RedBubble shop and see it on apparel, tote bags, coffee mugs, and more! It turned out really nice. I love how it's bright and colorful, but meaningful too. When you feel like you're being pulled in different directions, or you decide you need to take a new direction - this image pretty much sums that feeling up for me.
Today has been pretty productive. This morning I mostly got to sleep in while Tony got the girls up and ready for the bus. I woke up with the same migraine, but figured I'd try to be productive anyway so I finished my hat that I was crocheting. Yay! Since I can't read patterns and nobody taught me how to make a hat, I made it up as I went and it turned out pretty nice! In fact, I have only taken it off once for the girls to check it out after school.
Tony did manage to get most of the living room picked up, despite also trying to get #2 to do his school work and keeping #5 entertained. I got really sleepy all of the sudden around noon, and my wonderful husband told me to go ahead and take a nap. I slept for several hours but when I woke up my migraine was gone! Yay!
And to bring the day to a good end, Tony drilled holes in all but three of my containers (he didn't see the last three hiding behind the laundry basket). That means tomorrow I can start winter sowing!
Mail today brought my much awaited sweet cherry seeds. That means I'm just waiting for the blackberry and two blueberry seed packets I ordered from eBay and all of my winter sowing seeds will be here and ready to plant!
The weather is weird in Minnesota. We have a weather phenomenon we locals like to call the "Brainerd Bubble" where big storms will split and go around us, or other weird weather things happen frequently. This week we've been cold. Tonight we're supposed to get down to -23, plus a windchill advisory on top of that. The forecast for next week includes five days at or above freezing. This is why we don't wintersow tender annuals in December and January. Five days of warm weather (remember it's even warmer in the containers than it is outside) is enough to trick some seeds into germinating. Fortunately right now I'm only working on my seeds that require cold for an extended time before they'll germinate.
The plan is to finish cleaning the living room and get at least some of the tree seeds planted tomorrow.
I'm on day 2 of a migraine. I almost never get migraines since I cut out artificial sugars from my diet (turns out I'm allergic to them and they give me terrible migraines even if I only have a sip of something they're in). I'm not sure what I got into or why I've got a headache, but I'm still refusing to take any pain meds. Today I was actually completely pain free all day (aside from my head of course). That said I've also been unexplainably cold. It took me several hours under a blanket and curled up with a space heater to feel warm this morning, and all evening I've been curled up in #3's blanket that she's been letting me borrow as a background for my eBay listings. I wonder if I'm coming down with something, but everyone I've asked has assured me that I'm not feverish.
I got a few more shirts listed on eBay and one sold (yay!) so I'll have to package it up and mail it off tomorrow.
Tomorrow Tony has the day off. With any luck he will get up with the girls to get them up and out on the bus so I can sleep in. He said he will clean the living room for me and drill holes in my containers, but alas, there are only so many hours in a day. We also have to make another Costco run (seriously, do we live there?) as we are once again out of apple juice. And of course a trip to the post office to drop off that shirt I sold.
And now I'm being pulled to bed by little #5. He can't sleep unless he snuggles up with someone and some days nobody but Mom will do. I love my cuddle time with him though. It's wonderful that he still wants to curl up with me, read a book and fall asleep in my arms.
I'm officially on the schedule for surgery, with a pre-surgical check up the week before. I only have about four weeks left to get my winter sowing done. I have no idea how much I'll be able to do after surgery. I'm told it's six weeks of down time, so that would put me in a pinch trying to get anything done afterwards (last week of March into April). I defintiely have to get my tree seeds in before surgery so they can have enough cold hours to germinate in the spring!
I'm still slowly plodding away at getting things listed on eBay. Admittedly clothing is not my strong suit with listing. I'm not a fashion person, so terminology, cuts, measurements, and styles are outside my normal realm, but I have a lot of clothing to get rid of, so I'm giving it a good effort. I'm about halfway through this box now, and I'm finding that I'm getting bored with it. After this box I'm going to focus on wintersowing until surgery. I should be able to snap some photos and get some small stuff listed here and there during my recovery after surgery.
On the plus side, today I'm feeling much better! The last two days have been rough with my pain level increasing. Today I am back down to a 0-to-1 (out of 10) pain level which is great! Still no pain meds - I'm so proud of myself.
Recently Netflix took Jake and the Neverland Pirates off. My son (#5) didn't take it very well. He loves watching Jake, and kept asking "who took Jake away?" until Tony finally added the Disney Jr channel to the Roku. Now he's also re-discovered Doc McStuffins. Not that he watches a lot of it anyway. He's more interested in playing with toys, going outside, petting the kitties, or visiting Grandma.
I've got my final list of what needs to be wintersown prior to surgery. It's longer than originally anticipated, but there's a saying - "the best time to plant a tree is ten years ago, but the next best is today" Now I just need to chug through this eBay box so I can start playing in dirt again!
I got two more items up on eBay today. I had hoped to get more listed, but the pain level has been at the top level of my threshold since yesterday evening. I've still managed to hold off on taking any pain pills but I'm not sure how much longer I can balance like this. Ouch!
Today one of #2's gerbils passed away. Her name was Toast and she was the cutest reddish tan color. That leaves his other gerbil all alone. She's an older gerbil, so I'm not sure she would do well if we introduced a new gerbil at this point. I know gerbils are social by nature, so now I'm worried she will soon follow Toast due to being all alone. No point in getting a baby gerbil companion that will outlive her and set us up for this situation again. :(. RIP Toast.
I found a nice Vikings jersey in the box of clothes I'm going through and listing on eBay. It has a few marks on it, but it's brand new with tags. I'm going to have to set it aside and see if my mom has any good tricks to get the marks out without having to wash the jersey. They sell for $35-$40 on eBay and I was told it was $80 new. I hope the marks come out, but if not, I guess that's alright too. No big loss to me, as the box of clothing was given to me for free.
Today is day seven without pain meds. Some days are much easier with minimal pain, and some days are harder. Today was a bad day, but I still held out and refused to give in and take any ibuprofen or acetominophen. Now with one week free of pain medicine, I'm more motivated to keep up my "winning streak" and stay off of them as long as possible.
I didn't make any progress with winter sowing today as I had hoped, but I did get three items (re-posted) up on eBay. The plan for tomorrow is to make more headway with this box of clothes while the girls are at school. My motivational phrase I keep reminding myself - "It can't sell if nobody knows it's for sale!" Here's to listing more for sale, and hopefully making some sales!
Another shameless plug - check out the things we have listed on eBay right now HERE. More to come!
Yesterday and today I've been spending some time getting some clothing listed up on eBay. They're having another free listing promotion this week. If anyone is interested in seeing what we have available, please Click Here.
Today the mail brought more new seeds. I've already updated the seed stash page, but now we have:
American Highbush Cranberry
Wild Black Cherry
Five Spot (Nemophila maculata)
Rainbow Mixed Coleus
Cape Gooseberry / Ground Cherry
Purple Crystal Pepper
I'm hoping I can talk Tony into drilling some holes in some containers tomorrow. He has the day off and I'm not impressed with the new drill. If he can drill the holes in several containers I can work on winter sowing over the next week. It would be nice to get some more containers out of the house. They're starting to pile up a bit.
I heard back from the doctor's office yesterday. The insurance could take anywhere from 14 up to 30 business days to decide if they want to cover the surgery, and they don't have my doctor's schedule for next month yet. They'll call me when they have both a timeline from the insurance, and the February schedule from my doctor. Looks like a February hysterectomy for me!
Perhaps I'm strange, but the looming surgery and all the possible complications don't scare me at all. The 24-48 hour clear liquid diet prior to surgery is a bit of a challenge and I'm not looking forward to it, but it is do-able. But the part that really has me losing sleep at night and stressing out is the fact that she wants me to do this with a spinal block, not general anesthesia. She assured me that they'd give me good medicine that will make me so loopy I won't feel the spinal, and I'll be "groggy" or "drowsy" through the entire procedure. I'm terrified of that spinal injection. If anyone else out there reading this has had this surgery (hysterectomy) with a spinal instead of general anesthesia, please let me know how it was. I'm really nervous about the needle part of this.
Today my husband informed me that Menards got their seeds in! They also happen to be having a sale - everything you can fit into a paper bag is an additional 15% off. Well, you can guess where we went when he got off work.
The seed stash page will be updated soon to include all the new goodies I found...
Oven Roaster Brussels Sprouts
Cherokee Wax Beans
Rosa Bianca Eggplant
Cascadia PeaTea Time Mix Four O'Clocks
Kaleidoscope Mix Four O'Clocks
Blue Star Morning Glory
Carnivale di Venezia Morning Glory
Fantasia Mix Delphinium
I also picked up a few packets of wilflower mix and cut flower mix, and some seed bombs with shade-friendly flowers - all of which will be spread over the dogs' graves in the spring. The creeping Charlie took over Mowgli's space, and is quickly taking over Nadia's as well, but Bently was still all dirt last fall, except for two mounded plants with no flowers. This after I sprinkled 2-pounds of shade garden mix there in the spring last year. Alas, the five packets I bought were 35-cents each (minus the 15% discount) and the seed bombs were $3.99 for six. I'm hoping for better results. And you never know... maybe some of the seeds I put out last year (being wildflower seeds) just needed time to stratify. Perhaps they will grow better this year. I will keep trying until I get results - even if I have to transfer in flowers from somewhere else. The memorial garden will be a bird and butterfly friendly space one day.
Yes, I know. I can hardly believe it too. I rarely purchase flower seeds. I've been pining for Four O'Clocks for a few years now, and my parent's are going to be building a deck this summer - so these morning glories would look great climbing their fence while they build the deck, and at the end of the year we can save seeds and plant again next year so they can climb the new deck! The delphiniums are just pretty and I don't recall having any in our stash yet.
I finished my crochet potholder project just before Christmas. I decided to try my hand at making a hat next. I used up all the remaining rainbow yarn, and have now continued the project with the plain blue yarn. I have no idea if this will work out as a hat yet or not, but if it doesn't, I will just turn it upside down and call it a bag. For right now it just looks like an awkwardly thick headband. I will try to remember to post a photo of it (for better or worse) when I complete the project.
My doctor appointment went well today I think. We discussed options, complications, and recovery, the process and what to expect. We spoke to the lady who schedules operations and goes over requirements (liquid diet for 24 hours before surgery, etc.), and she advised us that our particular insurance requires a 30 day lead time. That means from the time my medical doctor submits the paperwork saying I need surgery, the insurance company has 30 business days to go over that paperwork and contest it or work with the doctor to get more information on if they will cover it or not. That means that we were not able to schedule surgery today while we were there, but the scheduling lady said she would call me back when they heard back from the insurance company to confirm if they would require the 30 day wait, or if we can schedule before those 30 days. Surgery will be on a Monday, but we won't know which one yet until the insurance calls the clinic and the clinic calls me. Either way, unless insurance decides they won't cover surgery (crossing my fingers they won't kick our request out), we are looking at major surgery probably sometime in February, with a six week recovery time (no lifting, minimal activity, etc.).
I guess I better get working on winter sowing! Unfortunately, when Tony went to set up the new drill, it's jammed and he can't seem to get the piece loosened to put in a drill bit. Looks like he's going to have to return it.
In the meantime, I'm chomping at the bit to get started. He brought home two bags of organic soil last night and I'm just giddy to get my hands dirty. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do in one sitting with my pain issues, but I'm going to try! If I wait until after surgery, I won't have enough time to plant the varieties that require cold stratification (apples, pears, plums, etc). However, six weeks out from February is perfect timing to get my other varieties out in winter sowing containers. Peppers and tomatoes and squash shouldn't be put out too early as a freak thaw in January or February could germinate seeds too soon, and the hard freezes in February and March would kill any germinated seeds.
I have decided to plant more than I originally planned (go figure). I still want to do all the perennials, but I also want a few different varieties that can be grown in buckets in case we have to move them mid-season. I'm thinking maybe a few smaller varieties of pepper and tomato, a bush variety of watermelon, a vine or two of spaghetti squash, and maybe some odds and ends... Since I've been gardening I now look forward to the fresh produce I get from my own yard. It's great to know where your food comess from and know that it's been grown chemical-free. Thinking about it makes me want to slice up a fresh-from-the-garden cucumber into a freshly harvested salad.... Yum! I don't like the idea of going without our garden for a year (when planting perennials, none will bear fruit the first year, some not for many years). So, planting in buckets will solve the problem. I have asked my Mom to see if she can snag some buckets from her work - they usually throw them out and they go through a lot, but that's not her section of the store. Hopefully 50-100 buckets will suffice, though chances are the real number will be closer to 20-30... I can aim big anyway, right?
I guess in a worst-case scenario, if I end up growing more plants than I have buckets for, I will have to put some in the ground in the back in-ground garden, or in the front raised beds, and they may have to be abandoned if we end up moving mid-season. But like Tony told me the other day... he can't pack and move the entire house without help, so we really can't look at moving until I'm back on my feet again. Hopefully this surgery will get me on track for packing and moving! Let's do this! I'm feeling motivated!
My husband bought me a new drill and said he'd get it all set up for me tonight. That means I will soon be drilling holes in the bottoms of containers... Winter sowing season is upon us!
I have placed some eBay seed orders, but I have plenty to start with already. I'm hoping to take photos as I go and update my Winter Sowing Guide. I'll still need to take spring and transplant photos, but it'll be good to get the ball rolling on that project.
Tomorrow is yet another doctor appointment. This one to discuss surgery. The doctors can't say with certainly that this surgery will solve the problem. It could help, it might not. Is it worth the financial strain, the possibility of complications, and the 6-week down time for recovery? That's something I will have to discuss with Tony and the doctor. I'm leaning toward the surgery. The chance at being able to function normally again is tempting, and honestly, we're already going to be paying for my medical bills for a long time. I'm hoping for a house, but with all this medical hooplah, I'm not entirely certain it's going to happen anymore. Here's hoping for the best, either way.
My plan is to get my first winter sowing containers out this week. The ones that need cold stratification need to be started sooner than those that only need warm conditions to germinate. In will go my plum, apple, pear, and hops seeds, or at least those are at the top of my list currently. I ordered some cherry seeds too that I'm hoping to get planted right away when they arrive.
Tony picked up a new grow light today too, so I can get started with a few indoor plants as well. It's always great to have a couple lettuce plants in the house to make salads over the cold months. And they grow so well with minimal care!
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.