A Multi-Fold Harvest

This year has brought some serious changes to our lives. It’s taken so many turns, it’s almost unreal. In my life, it’s been a multi-fold harvest in many ways and, despite the challenges that come with it, I’m thankful for every bit we’re blessed with.

A Literal Harvest

This year has kicked in my inner prepper. I’m trying harder than usual to prevent waste and keep stocked up, especially with food. My garden didn’t get as far as we intended it to. Still have the beds to build; the budget’s just too tight for all the materials we need (especially the soil and 1/2″ hardware cloth!). But, earlier in the year, I signed on with a local pantry that delivers.

We’ve received so much produce! In fact, we’ve gotten more than we can eat before it goes bad and we’ve even given quite a bit away to loved ones. That said, there’s still plenty and I’ve been trying to put it to good use…for later. The cherry tomatoes are great to dry and store. Onions and peppers can be sliced/diced and frozen. Many fruits can be dried or frozen also. For a load of citrus fruits we got (lemons and limes), we zested the skin and juiced ’em.

Dried maters…SOOOO tasty!!

Personally, I’ve focused on freezing and drying for preserving. I’ve never canned before and have that bit of apprehension many get. I do think I’ll try to can the apples though, as a sauce or butter, if I don’t dry them all. I’ll use some organic lemon juice as the acid and waterbath ’em. I don’t own a pressure canner (yet), which is why my green beans and corn got prepped for freezing too.

Meats and dry goods are being stocked too, as much as my budget can manage. Some comes from the pantry, some from the grocery, and some from the farmer’s market. If I wind up with a bulk package (say, of meat), I separate it into meal-sized portions, season/marinade and prep to freeze like that. I sort of winged it on the seasonings. If they turn out good, I’ll post the recipes I made up. All in all, I expect they’ll make for some tasty, quick meals on busy days.

I’m hoping to make time to put out some kind of fall garden, to ensure cool weather crops for fresh eats as Autumn sets in. Carrots, lettuces, kale, beets, turnips, and radishes are top on the list. Fingers crossed we can make this happen in time!

A Spiritual Harvest

This year has been trying for most of us and led us into new directions to cope. In my case, it’s shaken me out of my years long “out-of-practice” mode, spiritually speaking. I have a re-newed vigor for my Pagan faith and am looking to get back into old practices (like tarot/divination and herbalwork), as well as explore new ones (like journeywork and crossing the hedge). It feels like doors that have been closed are all opening back up at once. My empathic abilities are hitting new levels very quickly.

Puma illuminates the path, helps overcome
anxiety, and sees beyond what’s “normal”.

In prayer one morning, I asked for a sign of guidance, so I can be sure of my direction. You see, I’ve felt myself lost/stuck at yet another of life’s crossroads. To my right, just ahead of me, I received an immediate answer – my totem. It’s curious how I lean European in my Craft but my totem is decidedly Native American. I do have Native ancestors and felt this may have been sent by one of them. It was exactly what I needed and the answer came to me much quicker than normal. So, now I’m exploring Puma and the medicine she brings to one’s life. My Minister recently told me “step into your power”…it’s advice that matches up with my totem perfectly!

Another area that’s opened up is my innate desire to help others. I hate to admit it but, growing up, I encountered a lot of “takers” in my life. Sick of always being drained and taken advantage of by bad actors, I shut down. I think it was a protective mechanism, so I can heal the damage it caused (mentally and energetically).

Lately, it’s re-opening and I can’t help but feel it’s because the world needs so much healing right now. All the healers are likely being called at this moment. I’m still on an intensive healing mode, but I finally feel ready to begin helping others as well. I only hope I’m not jumping in too soon, or over-exposing myself to harm again, and serving only to further deplete myself. That won’t be helpful to anyone. Fingers crossed here as well that I can meet the call in full capability.

A Creative Harvest

This is another area I’ve felt has been shut down the last few years. The designing, the concocting, the sewing, the poetry and short stories…all of it seemed to have left me. It was like The Muses abandoned me or something and I couldn’t figure out why. Maybe because I was so depleted in so many areas of my life. It felt like a slow, painful death of everything that makes me Me.

Slowly, it’s coming back to me. Basic designs and words/phrases come out, asking to be brought to light. New skills are begging to be explored, like canning and embroidery. I have a renewed interest in things like making salves and tinctures. I suddenly can find the energy to at least start the processes of moving these things back into the forefront of my life. It feels like waking up from a terrible nightmare and realizing you’re safe in the warm sun of morning.

From Darkness, Light Is Inevitable

I can’t shake the feeling that things are likely to get worse before they get better, especially here in America. I encourage everyone I know to prep what they can and to encourage others to do so as well. I hope I’m over-reacting; this feeling is so strong. But, if I’m not, we’ll all need a stocked supply of necessities and each other’s help to maintain and pull through.

That said, I believe these dark times can be overcome. There will eventually be a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s inevitable because you can’t have one without the other. In the push-pull of it all, we will get to the other side of it and prove stronger than before.

Has the year shown you who you are? Are you prepared/ing? Have you received a call (of any kind)? What do you make of the lessons of 2020, personal or societal?

Back-to-School in the Age of Covid

While I hadn’t intended to make a series of Covid-related posts, this is indeed related.

It’s time for us to be thinking about the whole back-to-school thing. What’s the plan this year?

Everyone will surely be making decisions they feel are best for their families. In my household, that will mean getting back into homeschooling. Not that I don’t feel our school district has our kids’ best interests at heart. It’s more the nature of the virus (how it spreads, its danger level, the potential added risk of my son’s heart condition, etc), my worry that precaution measures won’t do enough to prevent the spread in such closed-in environments, and the fact that our gov’t is fixing to force schools to re-open, ready or not, under the threat of losing their funding entirely.

Maybe it’s just me, but that feels a bit like extortion…

Add to that the fact that the woman in charge of our Dept. of Education has been itching to de-fund/dismantle our public school system since before she took on that role. It’s the reason she was put into that role, if you want my personal opinion.

Furthermore, it feels like they’re using a forced back to school mandate as free childcare so homebound parents with younger kids can more easily be forced to “get back to work”. Unfortunately, many don’t have jobs to go back to (businesses got their PPP money and still laid-off/fired workers). Others simply aren’t wiling to put their families at risk and are awaiting a viable vaccine to get back into the job market (with the hopes they can find one then). The whole thing’s a hot mess.

But I digress…

books on desk with apple, ABC blocks and colored pencils
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Way back in 2016, I homeschooled my youngest through the end of 1st grade and the beginning of 2nd. It was an experience, lemme tell you! He was much more hyper back then.  It was the reason he was kicked off the bus that year, necessitating homeschool, but it was as fun as it was aggravating. We discovered he’s at least partially a kinesthetic learner…he’d do his spelling tests verbally, as he spun in circles on the living room floor.  Liberty’s Kids and Horrible Histories were on our Social Studies/History curriculum, which was fun.  Homeschooling also forced me to become more organized (to manage meal plans, create lesson plans, and keep up with my freelance work).  In short, we made it work.

This time around, it’ll be both boys and we’re yeeting the lesson plans right out the window (did you see them? they just caught serious air!).

They will, instead, be…un-schooled.

If you’re not familiar with unschooling, it basically means the kids guide their own education, rather than having a structured plan forced on them. I think we’re finally done with compulsory education. It counters my kids’ learning styles and takes the fun out of the discovery/learning process. Plus…I trust them to decide for themselves. They’ve proven to me many times that, given the opportunity, they learn quite well on their own and enjoy the process much more.

Looking back on my adolescence, I would say I was unofficially un-schooled. Dad worked, a single parent, and couldn’t always keep track of where I was during the day. So, I skipped school all the time and went to the library. Yes, the library (it surprised my caseworker too, LOL).

I also hung out with friends when they skipped too, but I’m a huge bookworm, so the library was like a second home. My school was one where the administrators would openly admit to students: “we don’t care if you learn anything or not, you just have to show up every day”. Real incentive to learn, that (it was truly a horrendous school and still is).

Even after being sent off for it a few times, and Dad walking me to the principal’s office each day before he went to work, I kept skipping. Until my probation officer decided I wasn’t enough of a problem child to keep sending off. Our governor at the time started a teen GED program and I qualified, so I got my GED sophmore year and started my first round of college that fall.

But, again, I digress…

Love To Learn sign on concrete wall
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Un-schooling is something I considered the first time around, but was worried it would leave me without a way to assess them for approval the next year. I’m no longer worried about that. There are un-school friendly assessors now, and things like journals, photos, projects, etc. count. Also, there are now groups that parents/kids can join. If they aren’t specifically for un-schoolers, many are un-schooler friendly. That’s refreshing!

When I started this website, it was my intent to include homeschool information for the parents doing it (even though I wasn’t anymore). I never got around to compiling my info and resources. Seeing as I’m about to be ass-deep in it again, I’ll just about have to, right? Not to mention, the info and resources will be updated, so more’s the benefit.

If you’re concerned about physically sending your kids back to school this fall, with everything going on, definitely look into your options. There are online public schools available, if you and your child/ren prefer a structured environment or curricula. Many do! And, of course, there’s the homeschool/un-school options as well. If choosing one of these, be sure to find out your state’s requirements, deadlines, forms, etc. so you can get set up and started off on the right foot!

Whatever you decide for your family, trust yourself to choose wisely. These are dicey times and we’re all just navigating the best we can. Stay safe & healthy…be well!

*Cover Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

Crunchy Bayou Baked Chicken

A tasty chicken recipe that’s crunchy enough to be fried…but isn’t.

My family still protests my posting the recipe to my famous meatloaf (they’ve put it in the “too-good-to-share-so-keep-it-a-secret-till-we-open-a-restaurant” category), but I think I can get by with posting my baked chicken without incurring their wrath. 🙂

I got the inspiration for this from a cozy mystery I was reading a few months ago, Murder with Fried Chicken & Waffles.  It included some good soul food recipes, with a fried chicken one I adapted to my taste and for baking.  I’ve only actually made it a handful of times but it always seems to come out amazing – well-seasoned without being too spicy (great for picky kids), crunchy on the outside and super tender on the inside!

Pick Your Protein:

I typically use about 2lb. of chicken thighs for this.  Bone-in or boneless work equally well.  You could sub breasts, drumsticks or whatever you want.  Heck, I thought about maybe trying it with de-shelled crawfish, if it’d hold up to the dredges without being overwhelmed by them.  Probably need to adjust the cooking temp and timing, but why not?  The other day, I used 3-4lb. of drumsticks and just added a bit more flour, panko and 1 more egg on my dredges.

Flour Dredge:

  • 1/2 – 1c. flour (any kind you wanna use, I used organic white flour)
  • 1t. each pepper and Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2t. salt
  • 1/2t. garlic and onion powders, if desired

Egg Dredge:

  • 2 eggs, beaten (I used an extra egg for the 4lb. batch and it worked well)

Crunch Coating:

  • 1 1/2 – 2c. Panko breading
  • 1 – 2t. Cajun seasoning (or as much as you wanna use!)
  • 1/2t. each garlic and onion powders

The Process:

Prep your dredges and chicken (de-bone, dry, etc), then preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Dredge chicken in flour, coating thoroughly, then run it through the egg wash real good before coating with your Panko crunch mix.  Place on a baking dish big enough to hold it all without crowding together and cover loosely with foil (slit in top to vent).

Bake for about 45-60 minutes, depending on type and quantity of chicken.  If desired, you could remove foil hat for the last 10-15 minutes.  I’ve found it doesn’t affect the crunch much but it does seem to help it brown.  Corn, taters and cornbread are natural accompaniments (I bet buttermilk waffles and collard greens sauteed in bacon grease would be heavenly) but you could serve it with anything you want.

Now, I don’t know the nutrition info but baking is healthier than frying and, personally, I tend toward organic and/or farm-fresh ingredients anywhere I can, which tends to be healthier than conventional.  Use what you got and what works best for you.  And, if you try it for yourself, lemme know how it turned out, what you served it with and all that.

Enjoy!

Chips Off The Ol’ Block!

Ever look at your kids and wonder…where do they get THAT from?  LOL, me too!  But it’s even more interesting when you see what they took from you and adapted for themselves.

Lately I noticed both my Spartan and my Athenian have been jamming on Kill Count.  If you’re not familiar, it’s a YouTube channel that takes a death count of various movies and runs a little fun commentary to go with.  Not quite Elvira, but entertaining enough if you’re into that kind of thing.

Well, my Athenian asks me the other day “Mom, you ever heard of an 80s horror film called ‘Chopping Mall’?”  “Of course I have! It was one of my video store picks as a kid…so cheesy!  It’s up there was ‘Blood Diner’ and ‘Sleepaway Camp’, but they aren’t as good as ‘Blood Salvage’, which I still have on VHS by the way……”.   As I droned on in nostalgia, I saw he was watching it on Kill Count.

My kids are well aware of my love for cheesy B-rated horror.  They share my love (obsession) for the amazing Evil Dead series and the equally amazing Bruce Campbell.  They were as into the “Ash vs. Evil Dead” series as I was and enjoy watching Mr. Campbell host the new “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”, but they don’t share my long-standing crush on him.  What can I say?  30+ years later, he’s still a handsome guy with an interesting personality!  See for yourselves.

Related image          

But I digress.

Every so often, the boys hit me with a throwback like that.  My Spartan, for example, has developed a love for 80s music.  He’s obsessed with such gems as “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, “Video Killed the Radio Star” (pop trivia – this was the very first song played on MTV in Nov. 1981!), “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night” and the kickass Twisted Sister hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.  For that matter, my oldest had discovered 90s music and 40s-50s music on his own…he’s down with Green Day as much as Dean Martin.  Like ol’ Mom, they don’t stick to just one genre and they tend toward songs with intelligent lyrics…happy to see that good taste in music runs in the family!

These are those parenting moments where you see the intersection between what your kids gravitate to as individuals and the influences they’re exposed to along the way (can I get a witness on some Dr. Demento up in here?!).  Between nerding out on horror and indie-style/off-color entertainment in general, these guys are definitely chips off the ol’ block!

What are some of the intersections you see with your own kids (or, if you don’t have kids, those you’re related to/watched grow up)?

Random Title For A Random Post

Once again, I’ve gone MIA.  Once again, I’ve come back.  Surely you knew I couldn’t stay away forever, right?  🙂

Those of you who know me personally know that I retreat into a shell when life gets intense.  It’s how I cope.  And it’s been a rough Fall.  Between family situations, mechanical malfunctions, and more pain than I’m used to managing (and the depression that comes from reduced functioning), getting through each day is a triumph.

I normally don’t go into my personal stuff here.  First of all, it’s my cross to bear and I’d rather post things that are interesting to read about.  Secondly, I’m pretty opinionated and sometimes very intense about things I feel strongly about.  I’m a typical Scorpio that way.  With wanting to use my blog somewhat for work purposes (at least until I build a separate site for that), I worry the intensity could affect the impression potential clients may get.

All that said, blogging therapy has its place.  Maybe I’ll throw more personal stuff here once in a while.  Maybe I’ll decide to “keep it Kroger”, as we used to say at the Ren Faire (Kroger was one of our sponsors and pushed to keep the show squeaky clean…we had to get more creative with our innuendo after that), and maybe I’ll let loose the Kraken.  We’ll see. 😉

In the meantime, the ever-growing list of potential blog content will eventually make its way here.  It may be a follow-up on the Granny Women tradition, sustainability efforts (here and elsewhere), new Misplaced Myths, a discussion on New Grammar, recipes, or more old houses to scope.  But, like Winter, they’re coming.

If I don’t make it back on before Yule…have a wonderful winter holiday and enjoy it with great company and great food!

Words of Wisdom

Some of my favorite quotes and expressions.

Even when the construction of words and ideas are your bread and butter, sometimes others just plain say it better:

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”    -Wendell Berry

“Social order at the expense of liberty is hardly a bargain.”    -Marquis de Sade

“Everything is energy and that is all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”    – Albert Einstein

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”    – Nikola Tesla

“One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end”    – Krishnamurti

A New Series on Ancient Medicine? Yes, Please!

I always find such good things in my email.  Homesteading tips, copywriting tips, updates on causes I follow, and so on.  Today, I got a heads up about a new documentary series from the creator of Sacred Science.

If you’re not familiar with Sacred Science, it was a documentary that came out several years ago.  It tracked 8 individuals with various ailments into the Amazon rainforest to see if Native medicine could do what modern medicine failed to do.

I enjoyed it very much and wound up buying the DVD and the cookbook (which features ancient and/or indigenous recipes from around the world).

Remedy, the new series, offers 9 episodes on various diseases and the herbs that can heal them.  A 10th bonus episode on reproductive, hormone and sex-related issues.  Each include interviews with experts on herbs, naturopathy, research, science, and integrative medicine to give you the real deal info.

The above link goes to a registration page, is not an affiliate link, and offers detailed info on each installment.  You would have to sign up to get the videos.  From Sept 5th to the 13th, a daily video will be sent via email and will only be available for 24 hours.  But if this series is as good as his first, it’ll be worth it.

If it’s the kind of thing you’re into, definitely check it out!

Hey Wayne, Save That Mighty Oak!

Those of you who know me, know that Oak is my favorite tree.  Those of you who don’t know me, know that now. 🙂

Sure, I love all trees but I have a strong affinity with Oak.  It’s long-living, deep-rooted, and said to be nearly impervious to lightning.  Personally, I also love it’s shape and its leaves.  And the way its broad expanse of leaves are the perfect shade to sit under on a hot day.  And the way it helps feed Nature’s little critters through the winter.

Sacred to the Druids, the Gaelic word for Oak (Duir) is where the word ‘Druid’ came from.  The Druids believed the Gods resided in the Oak and that catching a falling Oak leaf would bring good luck and prosperity.  It represents strength, wisdom, endurance, truth, and courage.

It’s also becoming a depleted resource, especially the White Oak.  Logged for its timber and highly valued as a strong wood to make ‘nigh anything with, it’s a victim of unsustainable logging practices.

squirrel in oak tree
I couldn’t imagine kicking this little guy out of his home.

Considering it’s a crucial part of any woodland habitat it’s found growing in, it’s so important that we make its preservation (and proliferation!) a priority.  Everything from birds to moths and butterflies to deer to turkey to the endangered Indiana Bat relies on the White Oak for its livelihood and even survival.

And Wayne National Forest is in a position to help the White Oak flourish.  While it’s being obliterated in areas less protected (a damn shame!), the Wayne can act as a safe haven for this mighty tree and the wildlife that depend on it.  The Wayne NEEDS to act to save this critical habitat facilitator.

For more information on this beautiful tree and ways to help, check out the Ohio Environmental Council.

As a side note, donating to this group is easy.  I do it through my local Kroger’s grocer.  They offer a way to donate a portion of your grocery purchases to a charity of your choice, and I chose OEC.  You just sign up on the Kroger website and choose your group (they have an extensive list).

Also, through Amazon Smile, I donate to Wilderness Awareness School, home of Kamana Naturalist Training and other awesome Nature-based initiatives.  Both are GREAT ways to donate to causes you believe in when you have no money to spare for it otherwise!

Back to the Back to School Grind

High school ain’t what it used to be, lemme tell you…

Getting the boys ready to go back to school sort of ran up and hit me in the face this year.  I knew it was approaching but didn’t expect that mack-truck-at-100-mph, out of nowhere feeling.

BTW, if you’re in Ohio, the Tax-Free weekend is THIS weekend!!  Friday thru Sunday.  I think the last few years they’ve done it, it was the 2nd weekend…but I could be wrong.  Either way, it leaves little time to shop, if you’re not prepared.

I managed to throw together a list (rather added to the school’s 4th grade list to include my oldest) and do some pre-shopping online last night.  Today, I went and got some of what they needed (shirts and supplies).  They still need jeans, shoes, haircuts and bookbags.  If the next payday or 2 don’t account for it, they can get by with what they have, but it’d be nice to have them totally squared away.

My oldest starts high school this year.  High school!!  And, high school ain’t what it used to be, lemme tell you.  Now, the list of classes reads like a college course catalog and Ohio offers different KINDS of diplomas – stuff like STEM Honors diploma, Arts/Theater Honors Diploma, Social Sciences Honors diplomas, etc.

They brought back Civics/Government, and Economics/Financial Literacy, which I’ve long said should be required learning before graduating.  You know how many kids the last 10-20 years were completely (!!) unprepared for the real world, couldn’t manage their money, and had no clue about how to be an active, aware citizen?  I’m glad these are back!

But they’re even offering things like Structural Engineering, Broadcasting, Publishing, and Ceramics.  They seem bound and determined to turn kids out who are college-ready, career-ready (some courses are designed specifically for vocational-prep), and well-studied.  Several of the classes on the list were ones I didn’t see till I was in college.

I only hope all this great learning is designed to be easy on a kid’s brain.  Too much homework has been shown to be counter-productive.  If they’re designed well, learning will be on-going, hands-on, and flow naturally.  If they’re not, kids will be overwhelmed with too much information and be stressed.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the papers sent home and how much homework the kids get.

Are you guys ready for the back to school grind?  What are you doing to prepare?