Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a simple and cozy Merry Christmas. We will be taking time to enjoy friends and family, and just relaxing at or near home.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New Honeyville Grain Blog Button!

From time to time I will add buttons for businesses that I use. Today's addition is on the upper left of this blog. I've added it for two reasons.

First, on their blog, they are having a great give-away for three different assortments of their long-term food storage items (#10 cans of freeze dried fruit, vegies, potatoes). Not that I want the competition, but you may want to check it out. I'm a great believer in their products -- I use their grain to make bread (see my previous blogs about grinding grain to make bread). I've used some of their other products as well and find them to be a really good value. I expect their blog to continue to offer the same quality as their products -- and they give good stuff away!

The second reason I've added their blog button is related to the Honeyville Grain PRODUCTS. They are always high quality. There is NO weight minimum on bulk grain. Their shipping is always $4.49 per order. For those who regularly buy grain that must be shipped to you, you may say "Website X has lower prices for their grain" and you'd be right. I ran the numbers on websites X AND Y and found Honeyville to be the best for my needs. Website X sold grain for half the cost, but by the time you included their SHIPPING cost the grain was TWICE the Honeyville cost pound for pound. Website Y was a little less expensive and their shipping was almost as reasonable as Honeyville -- BUT they had a 250 pound minimum for grain that is packed for long term storage. Not sure about you, but I just don't have the extra money and space to buy 250 lbs when I only need 50 pounds for current use.

I suggest you check them out, bookmark their site and, when thinking about your daily and long term food strage needs, order from them. They ship fed-ex to me, so the goods arrive within a few days (less than a week)and even the 50 lb boxes (with a big bag of wheat inside) arrive in perfect condition. As you can tell, I'm a fan!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Morning with a Mission

Both literally and figuratively!

A friend and I drove up to the San Xavier mission, south of Tucson. The weather was stunning and topped off at around 70 degrees. There were few people there when we arrived.

The mission was founded in the early 1600's, burned down in the early 1700's and was rebuilt. The second mission still stands. The restorations have been ongoing for years, both inside and out. Here is one of my favorite views inside -- bright vibrant colors to brighten your prayers!

The dome above the nave is partially restored, and reflects the roses of Our Lady of Guadelupe.

From there, we bid farewell to the Mission and headed toward the Mission School.

We had some business there. Our service organization, which has purpose that includes education and historic preservation, donated reading books, dictionaries and a small amount of cash to the school.

It is a beautiful little school, with probably 150 students. In giving out the dictionaries, we encouraged students to learn the right words to learn and pass along their tribal culture and legends, as well as prepare themselves for their future.

I detoured for a moment to take care of personal business, and found a wonderful place to learn.

We ended our visit with a stop at the brush arbor for a fried bread sandwich. My friend had cheese, I had bean and cheese. Wish I'd skipped the beans, but it was a delicious ending to a lovely morning with a mission.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Art of the Porch

We are blessed to live in a place with three comfortable seasons and very few nuisance insects, in part due to the low humidity. Our garden, which incorporates integrated pest management practices also helps on the bad-bug reduction. We are in a part of the country where porches never really went out of style. I remember my mother referring to the 'sleeping porch' in her childhood home. On hot evenings, they would break out the cots and enjoy the cool night air while the adobe walls gave back the day's heat. By 3 am the house would have cooled down, but they were fast asleep on the porch by then.

Our porch is about 10 feet wide and 30 feet long. It provides three seasons of entertaining and resting space. It offers a small 'summer kitchen' for making preserves without heating up the entire, unairconditioned house. We have no dining room inside, so winter meals are on a collapsable table if it is too cold to use the porch.

The porch is a window on our world. We see when the crowd at the cafe has let up, so we can grab a salad or talk to the neighbors. We can see my sister's house and whether the lights are on, signifying that she made it back from town. We can break bread with neighbors or rest in its shade between chores. Most of the houses in our town have porches, and we tend to sit a spell on each a few time each year.

I have come to believe that porches are the ultimate sign of a civil community. They tell people that you are part of the community, that you value the concept of community as more than a geographic space on a map, but as the communion of neighbors with common purpose. They invite the borrowing of a cup of sugar or a conversation about how little Jimmy is doing in school. They may not be the glue that holds a community together, but they sure provide the opportunity to start making the glue. Or at least that's my opinion.

Lazy Woman's Garden

For years I have watched people who buy and plant annuals (plants that germinate, bloom, set seed and die in one growing season) and scratched my head. I'm not talking about the annuals like larkspur, where you cast the seed on the ground and they become self-seeding for many years after. This is the act of buying, preparing soil, digging with trowel and planting petunias, marigolds, heck -- I don't even know the names of most because they don't interest me. Why go to all that trouble, just to do it again next year? Some do it each season, for multiple iterations per 3-season cycle. Maybe I'm stupid, but I don't get it. Do they not have other things to do, like bake bread or make beds?

Here's my idea of gardening: select the perennials you want, plant them, put them on the drip system, prune them occasionally and let them fend for themselves. We have a polinator garden 'room' full of native blooming plants to attract beneficial bugs , a medicinal and herb garden of only perennial herbs, a cutting area with peonies and daiseys, fruit and nut trees, currants and berries, asparagus, rhubarb and soon jerusalem artichokes. It's survival of the fittest.

It has paid off fairly well in the last few years, although this year my dear husband convinced me to put bone meal on some of the fruit to get better yeild, which we did. We have had apples all but one year (late frost), a bumper crop of currants and raspberries (enough to can a few quarts of preserves) and will probably harvest enough asparagus next spring to have a meal (it's only been in the ground for 2 years).

More and more my thoughts go to not spending the time or water on something that doesn't 'contribute' to the system. I have a few of those, but most of my plants have a specific purpose in addition to just bringing a smile, though that's not a bad purpose for any living thing!