Tuesday, April 15, 2014

No Cable - Reflections On One Month In (AKA - Why You Should Kick Cable)

In early March I got so pissed off at Comcast that I cancelled our cable.

It's something that the H and I  talked about doing for a long time. But then it was football season and our Beloved Seahawks put together a killer team and an equally amazing QB (Love you, Russell!) so the cable stayed. Then we, uh, WON, the Super Bowl in a truly flamboyant style (and yeah, I would say that the other team was completely bumfuzzled by the whole thing) and there was no other reason to hold on to our enormous bill and lackluster (AT BEST) customer service.

Then they pissed me off.

So off it went.

We still stream Netflix, so it's not like we are without entertainment.

Here is what I've noticed in our house since the boob tube went tits up.

1) Our house is quieter. Calmer. The general level of thrum in the house is at a lower tempo.

2) I have learned more things. Most noticeably how to knit, how to make some advanced soaps, and how to cook new things.

3) The Tot is happier and plays more. She draws, and paints, and screws around in her play area. This morning, instead of watching tv, she drew an entire tableau of our family, replete with gangly arms and enormous heads. Very fetching.

4) I read more. The Tot reads more. My H joined a fantasy baseball team **cough, cough, NERD, cough, cough** and we just generally expanding out.

Those are the immediate positives. Here are some of the negatives that I've experienced:

1) I have a very emotionally demanding job. When I get home, I want to rest my brain against something frivolous like a funny movie or show. Now that is harder. If I start reading after my 10 hour therapy days, I fall asleep. Usually sitting up or canted over to one side. NOT very fetching.

2) Sometimes? To be honest? It feels a little lonely without the TV on. When I realized "lonely" was the word I was looking for, I kind of rolled my eyes. How dumb is that? But that's what it feels like. The TV was somewhat of a link to the world at large in a way that the internet and movies aren't. And why do I need that link anyways? Hmmmm. More rumination on this topic is warranted. I didn't even grow up with TV! I have no idea where that comes from...

3) The Tot is a lot more all up in my bizz-ness. Since she is an only child (well, her brother is 23 and stationed in Egypt, so...), occupying herself only goes so far. When I'm wrapping soap, or doing online training for something or reading books, she will literally crawl into my lap with her stuffies and crank up the conversation.  I'm still working on that. Some strategically placed movies have helped with this to a degree.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I've learned out of this adventure is the one I speak a lot about in session.


Which means just that. In my case, as a parent, I have to set the tone for what kind of home I want my child to grow up in. It's my call (And the H's, of course. We are the allied forces around here.) And I can't wait for someone else to do it for me. If I want the TV off, I gotta turn it off. If I want her to read more, I gotta read more. If I want her to be respectful, nice and empathetic, I have to model those things myself. And on and on...

It can be hard, sometimes. Especially when I'm getting ready before work, or have a big soap order due and have to run interference around a 4 year old whose sole worry in life is that her doll is stuck in my boot. (And thank the STARS that is her sole worry in life.) The distraction of the TV would make it easier initially for me to get ready or be productive, but the long term affects to my daughter's developing mind just don't seem worth it. 

I read somewhere that every time we turn on the TV we are giving permission to a bunch of strangers to educate our children in all the ways of the world. And some of those messages are rude, harsh, belligerent, aggressive, or snotty. (Not to mention conniving, manipulative and rash). When I really thought about that, my anxiety centers geared up and when I checked in with myself I knew that would stand with me. 

I never thought in a million years that we would be cable free. 

But I saw this:

And knew immediately that we were on the right track. 

Now. If I can only convince my H to come live in a yurt with me, we'd be all set. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Step By Step Rabbit Butchering Guide - Pictures and Tutorials

Don't worry - it's a link! I won't force pics on ya' without properly preparing you!

I wanted to call attention to the illustrated Rabbit Butchering Guide that I put together to help people process their own rabbits.

It's been located on the Videos and Guides page but since I'm a complete lunk-head, I didn't label it very well.

Download the guide HERE:
Step By Step Rabbit Butchering Guide

Here is what I've done recently.

My last batch of Beer soap before I had to stop making soap because I was out of supplies!

With the advice of fellow bloggers and some great interwebs tutorials, I "brewed" my first batch of Kombucha. I'm waiting for it to ferment right now. I gotta tell you - that SCOBY freaks me out a bit. It moves around in the jar completely on it's own. I know it's a alive, but, sheesh.  Talk about creepy!

I taught myself how to knit. No. I'm in the process of teaching myself how to knit. The tiny baby infant stages of learning how to knit. Once again - YouTube barfed awesome all over me.

I continue to expand my learning about being a parent. Even though I'm a licensed Mental Health Therapist, I still need to keep learning as a professional and a mother. This book seems to be resonating with me right now and seems to check all the Lindsey boxes - Insightful, Readable, Funny, Too the Point.

Can I tell you what an asset the internet is? I know you know, but let me just say WOW. Anything I want to learn or do is available at a moment's notice. It's stunning. Want to do Zumba? Click. Want to learn TaiChi? Click click. Hey, wanna knit? Click, click, DONE. I am continually flabbergasted at our embarrassment of riches - the unfettered access to all things internet good. Yeah, the NSA (HI, GUYS!) watches all our traffic, but unless they want to learn how to purl knit (purl WISE), it's not a problem. I can still learn how to make pie crust at a moment's notice.

Here's hoping you all are learning and doing new things - forever and forever, amen. Because life would get so stinkin' BORING without new stuff to learn.

What new things have you learned how to do? Spill it!

Until we meet again, you superior people. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Here's How To Build A Little Greenhouse....

....And get some mad shit done in one very productive sunny NW day.

Among some logistical problems on the 1/4 acre, I am constantly faced with rearranging things to make the best use of my space. I'm not what you would call spacially advanced. I have a hard time seeing numbers and shapes in space and on paper. I've accepted this about myself. I hate puzzles. I struggle with basic math sometimes. I am embarrassingly bad at furniture placement and don't EVER ask me to put artwork on a wall. It will look like a monkey on acid threw picture frames at a weedwhacker.

Okay, it's not that bad.

But I really do have to move things around in actuality to see how they will work in the space they are in. I just can't visualize it. I'm notoriously bad at estimating distance, time spent on a task, or space between objects.

This weekend, I wanted to stop relying so much on my grow lights. They can sometimes throw me leggy seedlings and have a hard time keeping ambient temperature up b/c they are situated in a very cold, very dark garage....

With some funds directly in my hands via selling some things on Craiglist and selling some soap and chickens, I was able to afford the basic materials for a cold frame.

(FYI - one of my mantras of living with a small nut is that I only buy things when I can afford them and if I can't, then I have to get creative to raise the money. If I can't raise the money then I just go without. The universe has a way of providing me with things when I just sit back and chill out about it anyways, so it's not worth stressing over.)

I have a very sunny and lovely south facing side yard. I grew the most luxurious tomatoes there last year in tires (really quite resplendent. It was like tomato pornography out there). The heat coupled with a huge blank side of a house that reflects said heat onto the produce is really an asset. But it's not a tremendous amount of space. Enough for a single row of lustrous plants and a walkway. The awesome part is that the sun is absolutely unblocked by anything, so it gets hot like a mother out there come August.

Which makes it perfect for a long and narrow cold frame. The space is too narrow for a long hoop house and it would be a monster hassle to manage that. What I needed (and now have) is a long, plastic coffin with a hinged lid.

Bring it.


Full of tomatoes, peppers, clary sage and cucumbers!
This cold frame is made with polymer hard wavy plastic panels - 4 of them at 25 inches across and 80 inches long. Simple lath boards (next time I would use 2X2  wood planks), some screws and a pair of hinges. It's janky but it's sturdy and is actually meant to be taken down for the winter. I wanted it a bit on the temporary side b/c anything plastic left out over the winter around here will shard and break come summer time. I'm learning that with the plastic covers on my rabbit hutches.

In other news - I finally got around to installing all the rain barrels I scored from the City of Kent. I already had one installed from last year, wrongly, as it turns out, so I wanted to get the other two up and running. I have to admit that I was so tired of the rain that I installed the rain barrels simply to woo the Universe into supplying me some Murphy's Law driven sunny days. Did it work? Oh, yeah. As you can see from the sun splashed photos above we were treated to several weekend days of heavenly, sunshiny 68 degrees!

Still not perfect, but it will work.
There are now 3 of these bad boys installed around the house. My only complaint to an otherwise stellar City of Kent is that I wish all the barrels matched. But there are new ones every year so I have two twins and one outlier. But I can't complain - I bought them through the city for a song and some lovely workers gave up their Saturday morning to come hang out in a park to sell  hippies conscientious home owners worm bins, rain barrels and yard composters.

Such a win-win.

AND my overly awesome landlord didn't care about me installing them. Probably because installing them doesn't do anything to the house that is bad and that actually IN THE PROCESS of installing said bins, I found out that two set of gutters didn't meet the downspouts in the yard, so water was just emptying out around the foundation of the house. Which is a BIG no-no. So now that is fixed, I get free water, and my plants get happy!

Other weekend chores included doing a happy dance that I was accepted to the Maple Valley Farmer's Market to sell soap this summer and watching my daughter advance in her development another leap.

You were wondering if The Tot was a child genius, weren't you? Well. Here's proof:

Mommy, Daddy, The Tot and The Sun. Check out those rays. What an optimist!

I am going to charge into another weekend which promises to be less frenetic. I'm making soap like a madwoman and have decided on a packaging style so that's what will be taking center stage this weekend.

No plants need to go in the ground and all I need to do is turn my compost, clean out hutches, coops and the like and do some earthing* in the backyard.

What kinds of things do you want to do this weekend - dynamic or otherwise? Got any good ways you relax?

*earthing is where I go sit on the ground outside for 5-10 minutes and use all my senses to experience that time. It's great. You should try it. You should try it in the rain. It's even more fun in the rain!