Archive for August, 2011

Dear T&M

Posted on August 11th, 2011 by Tonia 7 Comments

Awesome cardboard mailboxes found on this stellar blog.

As self-proclaimed environmentally conscious people, there is a lot of pressure to perform, isn’t there? And when we fall short, there is a lot of guilt, is there not?

Living simply and greenly {spell-check says greenly is a word, so it must be} is a process. None of us arrive at perfect-harmony-with-nature-and-God-and-humanity-and-rainbows-and-ice-cream {huh?} overnight. Or ever. And that’s ok.

I want to remind us all of something: We do what we can. We strive forward. We find a balance that works for us. That works our unique family. We’re all different. Different comfort zones, different dreams and ambitions, different outlooks.

It’s great to draw inspiration from others {friends, blogs, etc.} and to learn from others, but at the end of the day you need to settle into a rhythm of life that works for you.

Don’t mistake what I’m saying as a get-out-of-jail-free card on all things eco-friendly. I think that it’s really important to hold each other accountable, especially when it comes to the easy things that we should all be doing like recycling. But please, please don’t get hung up on a small challenge and let your frustration spoil your goal.

I struggled for almost a year to get rid of my need for paper towel around the house. It bothered me so much that here I was writing a blog about green living, and I still washed my whole kitchen with paper towel every day. I kind of wanted to quit on the whole deal and just “live like a normal person” who doesn’t worry about this stuff. Finally, one day, it just happened for me. I haven’t bought the stuff since.

Grant yourself some patience and understanding when you come to a road block like that, and don’t give up.

And if you’re really struggling with something, please write to us. Chances are that we have, or we are, struggling with the same thing. We’ll talk it through here on the blog {write in as “anonymous” if it makes you feel more comfortable}, allow commentators to weigh in, and offer encouragement. We’ll point you towards helpful resources like books, blogs, and tools.

For example, cheese-cloths helped me kick my paper-towel habit because they are super absorbent like PT, they come in packs of like 40 and are cheap. If you’re a chronic paper-towel user, get yourself a pack of cheese-cloth. Wash them a couple times and they will soak up any mess better than PT. You’ll never look back. I keep my clean ones in a bag in my pantry for easy access.

Dear T&M could potentially be a new category on the blog, and I’m really excited about it. I would love to work through things together. From your comments I can tell I’m dealing with an insightful bunch of folks, and I think that taking our conversations on Itty Bitty Impact a little deeper than homemaking and gardening once in a while could result in something pretty brilliant.

I’m imagining some cool follow-up letters, too, like “I confronted my family about our ATVing, and we all decided to sell them and get a few canoes instead!”

Let’s do this. Write your questions, challenges, and dirty secrets with “dear t&m” in the subject line: toniasimeone {at} gmail {dot} com

The First Garlic Harvest

Posted on August 10th, 2011 by Tonia 3 Comments

When we moved to our little homestead last October, one of the very first things we did was stick garlic in the ground. Mike tilled up a patch of earth near the house, which ended up being the future site of our “kitchen garden” {but we were hardly thinking about that then- we just needed a sunny spot for the garlic to grow}, and we planted the bulbs and covered them thickly with straw for their long winter sleep.

We spent the winter unpacking all our belongings and finding spots for them in our new home, unwrapping and cherishing our wedding gifts, visiting with old friends and making new friends in our new town, and sitting cozily around the woodstove day-dreaming about all the projects we wanted to tackle come spring.

In spring, we were delighted to see little green garlic shoots sticking up through the straw and snow. All summer long we have watched those shoots get longer and longer, and finally this week it was time to pull them up.

We husked them to get the dirty outer layers of paper off, hung them to dry in the shady screened-in porch, and stepped back to admire our very first garlic harvest.

For garlic-lovers like us, there are few things prettier than a garland of fresh garlic hanging in your house.

We have enough to last us the year. And considering that we spent a small fortune staying stocked with organic garlic from the food co-op this year, it’s extremely nice to know that our favorite flavor-adder for almost every meal is so easy to grow.

It’s a little mind-boggling to us that we have been here long enough to see the fruits of our labor from almost a year ago. This place still feels so new to us, and everything that happens is happening for the first time.

I can’t imagine what a garlic harvest will feel like in 20 years, when it’s old news. My guess is that it’ll be no less amazing than it is this time. Gifts from the earth never cease to inspire gratitude and wonder in their recipients {and I have that on authority from some very veteran gardeners.}

Look What the Garden Gave Us

Posted on August 9th, 2011 by Tonia 4 Comments

The first eggplant was ready for pickin’ yesterday evening, as well as a bunch of chard and some Italian flat-leaf parsley. What to do with these goodies?

I decided to make this soup with the chard and parsley, and these eggplant chips. It was all very tasty, hearty, filling, and flavorful. I love recipes that use staples from the pantry paired with fresh treats from the garden; No trip to the grocery store necessary.

The Whole Famn Damily Goes Camping

Posted on August 8th, 2011 by Tonia 9 Comments

I married into a pretty swell bunch of folks. We had a great time together this weekend out in the woods. This here is what summer is all about!

Our niece is basically the cutest thing on the planet and a major source of entertainment for us all. The poor thing promptly received three mosquito bites on her forehead within about eight seconds of being outside, but she didn’t let that shake her delightful attitude one bit!

Ohhh. We ate well. Real well.

We played Mafia around the fire for hours. I learned this game from our friend Jared. Next time you’re in a big group, give it a try, it’s a real hoot.

Last but not least, the traditional group picture. Clearly, we are all made for each other…

And so we plunge into the last month of summer. In the next few weeks there will be time spent at the cabin with my side of the family, a friend’s wedding, backyard parties with friends, and lots and lots of garden-harvesting. Yay August!