Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hello to my fans - a change has begun

Hello, all you people who have been missing my blog posts. Yes, both of you! My mom was so busy with her own website, she didn't even miss mine. Thanks for mentioning you missed me. I have been busy this spring doing something I never thought I could do. Not buying stuff. The list of things I have learned to make at home from scratch is astounding to me. Several things happened that started me on this journey of baby steps and risks. First was Target brand soy sauce. The second was my cousin-in-laws blog, and third, a revisiting of a local family's website, and finally just putting it all together and realizing I could make some changes in my life. My husband is a soy sauce snob. At least that's what I called him when I brought home some Target brand soy sauce one day and he complained that he didn't like it. To prove to him that he was fooled by labels and it was just the same, I checked the ingredient lable. Corn. Honey, I am so sorry I ever doubted you. I was miffed. I thought I was buying soy sauce and they sold me corn! I started reading every label of every food product I purchased. I am now determined to only buy the things I actually want to eat. If I want to eat corn, I will buy corn; canned, frozen, ground into meal, on the cob, chips, maybe even in flakes. I will not buy corn and be told it is really soy sauce. Or tomato soup, or maple syrup, etc. I know that corn is in nearly everything from batteries to wallpaper, but that doesn't mean I have to eat it when I don't want to. The same goes for soy. So number one, know what I am actually putting in my mouth. Even seemingly simple things like heavy cream isn't just from a cow any more. Then reading Chanelle's blog I realized that she was several steps ahead of me. She was cooking real, healthy foods that I had no idea normal people could make. Like yogurt, cheese, and beef broth. I started taking notes and asking questions. Lastly, reading about the Dervaes family gave me another shove. My yard is only half as big as their tiny lot, but I can grow fruits and veggies too. I actually took an aberrant action and planted some squash in my front yard. Granted, it's hidden behind a pretty avocado tree, but still. I already had the chickens, I just needed to expand the garden and protect it from the chickens. Then, like a miracle, we received a community garden plot! I know we were way down on the waiting list, but somehow we made the cut. Suddenly, I had a 20x20 foot opportunity. I don't want to mirror all things Dervaes, I like my electricity thank you very much, but I relished the challenge of maximizing my space. With our year-round growing season, I can grow probably 3 times as much as the same sized lot in any place that gets snow. So there you go. I started cooking, learning, trying new things. It has been one year since I have purchased eggs. It has been 4 months since I have purchased crackers. I bought only one box of cereal in that time. I can make yogurt, crackers, broth, even laundry detergent. I don't buy those things any more, I buy the ingredients to make them. I rarely buy anything that has more than 3 ingredients. We ate quinoa and we liked it. My amazing husband even jumped on the bandwagon and made homemade cat food. Liver flavored. What a man. There are still so many things I want to try. Like the sourdough starter that has been taunting me from the fridge, pasta, and more basic cleaners. We are upping our canning, freezing, and drying efforts. Our garden is a source of excitement for all of us. I have found joy in relying on myself to get and make the things our family uses. I decided to track the output of my yard. It is a little slim this month (June) because many of our big crops (like the infamous corn) aren't ripe yet. We planted 4 trees and 5 berry bushes that won't bear anything for another year or so. So I expect a very large increase over the next few years, but here are my totals for June: Pounds of produce grown: 12.5 Included: oranges, peaches, apricots, cucumbers, artichokes and summer squash Number of eggs: 61 Herbs I didn't bother to weigh: cilantro, basil, chives, rosemary, thyme, nasturtiums, salad greens. This is all stuff that came from my yard! I still get very excited about it. I hope I can continue to make progress in making my lifestyle more healthy, less dependent and more skilled. What would you like to learn how to do? Or what have you done lately to improve your eating and living? Please share.

9 comments:

Lauri said...

Your family is awesome Tamlynn and I am impressed with all that you are accomplishing! I'm not there yet, but I am refashioning clothes to get some extra wear out of them and we have reduced our eating out drastically by cooking at home more. We have also canceled our cable TV and only enjoy Netflix now, which has reduced our television time. Our situation is such that it hasn't all been by choice, but it is satisfying to know that living on less can be so rewarding and let you focus on family and other important things more.

mindyluwho said...

I am very impressed! I have myself talked into the idea that unless I'm living in the country, then I can't grow a garden. However, last year I did grow one and it was fun! Just two boxes, but still I got some good food from it. This year I was lazy and didn't plant anything.

I'm jealous about the eggs. I wonder if we can have chickens here...

mindyluwho said...

This morning as I was making another batch of laundry detergent I thought of you. I remember the idea of making my own detergent sounded so time consuming, but in reality it takes me 10 minutes! Six months ago I spent $12 on the ingredients and have used less than half in making it.

Years ago I got a wheat grinder and started making my own bread, pancakes and muffins. People think that a box makes things go faster, but if you really think about it, there are only three small steps extra in making from scratch as opposed to a box, so it might take one more minute! And the results have so much more nutritional value and are much more satisfying.

I'd love your recipe for crackers and yogurt. I haven't tried anything like that yet.

Tamlynn said...

Mindy, that's what I'm finding. Once I learn how to make something, it doesn't take long at all. I just have to plan ahead a little more. I'll get to some posts about crackers and yogurt- again, pretty easy once you've know how. Check and see if you can have chickens -it's so much fun!

Tamlynn said...

Lauri- sounds like some great changes. Especially not eating out as much. We've cut back on that drastically too. It saves so much money. Plus, the kids can help cook and do more in the kitchen.

chanelle said...

hey, thanks for the shout out! You are awesome! I agree that most of this stuff is just not that hard, and I'll be darned if corn isn't in half the things that you buy that you thought was something else...

Michal said...

This is wonderful! We grow as much of our food as we can in the suburbs, lots of lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, squashes, fruit . . . I am jealous of your chickens. Do they make a big mess in your yard? I make much of our food from scratch, partly because it tastes better, is less expensive, and I know it doesn't have all of those poisonous additives. I will have to try your laundry detergent. Does it really get out kids' stains? Or should I just use shout or some other stain treatment in addition?

Thanks for the inspiration. It's time for me to step it up:)

Tamlynn said...

Hi Michal,

I'm not too sure about stains, honestly my kids are pretty neat. I'm sure you could find a recipe for a stain remover if the regular soap isn't strong enough. I'd say the chickens make an average mess. They do poop, just like any pet. The biggest problem I have with them is keeping them out of my garden. If I didn't let them free range this wouldn't be a problem.

Malisa said...

It really is the title of your blog! This post is quite remarkable you know. I would like to be in this place at some point.