Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

And why not...

For Today...

Outside my window... It's gray and drizzly and cold for out here. Too cold, after a warm spell, the trees are already budding out and a hard freeze will ruin all the crops in the valley. Oh, I hope it doesn't get too cold.

I am thinking... That we desperately need more snow, but those clouds simply will not let go. Which doesn't add with the idea of a freeze, but snow lands on the mountains and gives us water for spring, while a freezing fog will settle into the valley.

From the learning rooms... Time to figure out how many pages I want to read in my texts. I may not be able to afford to go back to college but if I can homeschool a child (eventually) I can certainly homeschool myself.

I am thankful for... Having a working heater. We almost didn't start it back up before we went to Denver, but now I'm glad we did. It's chilly!

From the kitchen... I made homemade granola last night, and the house still smells so good. Tonight it's a simple bean skillet dish.

I am wearing... denim skirt, lavender long sleeve t-shirt, a lavender calico apron, lavender headband, and my usual around the house shoes

I am reading... Wishcraft by Barbara Sher, and trying to decide what books I want to cover in the 52 book challenge on Ravelry

I am hoping... We finish cleaning out the garage next week. Once that's done we can start on my sewing room, and then the rest of the house.

I am creating... Long fingerless mitts for friends. I'll finish the last mitt in the next day or two, but then the project will have to go on hold until I can head south and pick up one more ball of yarn to finish the last mitten.

I am hearing... The TV in the apartment upstairs, as my neighbor catches the game. He's a sportscaster and tends to get rather loud while he's watching.

Around the house... Lots of laundry to fold, and a batch of dishes to wash too. Really, all the kitchen chores, I am running shamefully behind today.

One of my favorite things... is settling in with a cup of tea on a cold afternoon. Which I will do as soon as I go finish those kitchen chores.

A few plans for the rest of the week... The dentist on Monday for me....then taking the books from the garage to the used book store and trading them in for new ones....and some waymarking with my husband.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Homemade granola

Yep, made granola today. I make my own because that way you can control the amount of sugar, no HFCS, and it just makes the house smell soooo goood.

I started with the recipe here, which I have found very simple and reliable, and tripled it. So as I go I'll give you my amounts and what I added.

I started by chopping two big handfuls of pecans. They're listed as optional in the recipe, but my brother Sian is such a sweet tooth that I can't skip any chance of getting something nutritious into him. Chop them coarsely, you want fairly big chunks.

Next I mixed the dry ingredients. That's 3 cups of old-fashioned oats, 3 cups of rolled oats, 1/4 cup of flaxseed and 1/3 cup wheat germ (again, more nutrition in my brother), 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon each of allspice, ginger and garam masala. The extra spices give you granola that tastes a little like a gingersnap. It's good to mix this with your hands, to try to get the spices to mix evenly, then tend to sift to the bottom.

The liquids are mixed seperately, then poured over the oats. 3/4 of a cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, 3/4 cup honey, 1 tablespoon of vanilla.

Here's an odd thing I leanred recently, since sugar has such a low melting point, in a baking recipe it counts as a liquid. Weird.

So, the liquid, sugar and all, is poured into the oats. They I placed them in two baking sheets, well lined with parchment.

If you've never used parchment paper to bake with you simply MUST try it. It makes cleaning up the easiest thing, and nothing ever sticks. I wouldn't be able to keep up with the baking at my brother's place without it.

Make sure you get a really flat, even layer so the oats toast evenly.

Into the oven at 325 for 10 minutes. Then out, mix it up so that it will toast on the other side, flatten it back out, and sprinkle sliced almonds over everytihing.

Make sure you switch the pans around on the racks every time you add nuts, so it will all toast evenly.

Repeat it five minutes later, only this time with the chopped pecans.

Ten more minutes and out of the oven. Your house will smell amazing, simply wonderful.

I suggest you serve it with milk, of course, or with some of your favorite yoghurt.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A blog restart

Since Candy has decided to go by the wayside, at least temporarily, I'm once again pushing the reset button. This blog is going back to showing how a secular, atheistic homemaker runs her day. It's also going to be the primary blog for my Ravelry account, so it will be where I share pictures of my projects, and where I review books for the 52 books in 52 weeks group.

So, there we are. This should mean I'll be around more.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why I don't plan to take my children to church.

Today Candy put up a long screed about why she wants to keep her children with her in church. Well, I plan to keep my children with me out of church much of the time. I will take them to the Catholic masses, through their First Communion, because that is our family tradition, and the rites and rituals of the Roman Catholic Church are part of our lives. But past that I will not make them go, and I do plan to teach them both where the church is right, and where it is wrong, so they do not need to live their lives in shame or fear.

And no, I'm not putting up any references to any books to support my position. I believe mankind has moved past ancient myths, both intellectually and morally. I don't believe any one book can sum up the breadth of human experience, nor can it be the Ultimate Instruction Book For Life. My goal will be to teach my children to be ever learning, and not to snuff out their natural morality. I don't need a book to tell me this is the right thing to do.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another shelf of books

Well, I have to apologize. Yesterday when Candy was talking about the books on the top of her bookshelf she meant the very top of the bookshelf. I mistakenly posted the list of the top shelf of one of my bookshelves. On the very top I have some baskets. One woven by my Grandfather, but otherwise unexceptional.

So since I posted my top shelf yesterday, today I'll fill in by posting the list from the shelf closest to my desk here. That way I'll be on-track for tomorrow.
  • My pricebook*
  • Campaigns of the Civil War by Walter Geer
  • The Well Trained Mind by Jesse Wise & Susan Bauer
  • Literature Pickering & Hopper, Ed.
  • The American Tradition in Literature, 6th ed
  • Albion's Seed by David Hackett Fisher
  • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  • Passionate Hearts & Intimate Kisses 2 poetry collection, Wendy Maltz, Ed.
  • The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea
  • Oh look, another KJV.
  • Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandria Stoddard
  • A Room With a View by E. M. Forrester
  • One Skein Wonders, Judith Durrant, Ed.
  • The Book of the City of Ladies, by Christine de Pizan
  • The Tightwad Gazette, volume 1, Amy Daczyczyn, Ed.
As you can see, this is a collection of books for future homeschooling, and some of my favorites.

Why am I doing this? To prove that to be considered well-read, at least in any kind of limited fashion, you have to read something other than 1) children's books, 2) only theology that supports your worldview, 3) homekeeping books that are no longer relevant, 4) comic books, and 5) the bible, over and over and over again. A truly well-read home has a large selection of books on a wide variety of topics. I have barely scratched the surface so far.

My biggest concern is that so far all her books of advice on homekeeping and family management are 100 years old. Which means they would not address mover surfaces, cleaners or fabrics. They wouldn't cover current practices in food safety or nutrition. The very concept of child psychology and development wouldn't have been included. And they wouldn't have anything from the vast modern body of knowledge concerning health. Reccomending these as a serious referrence is rather disturbing.

So, more tomorrow. Wait until you see what I have on the next shelf.

* I'll adress the pricebook idea in a future post.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The top of my bookshelf

So I'm re-booting this blog a bit. Making it more of a direct response to Candy over at KTH, and to all the fine ladies out there who insist that their way is the only way to be a great homemaker.

Today Candy put out a post bragging about how she is such a great reader, savoring the classics and taking part in the Great Conversation. And then she informed us that the top shelf of her bookshelf (She may have two shelves, but no more. She's published enough photos of her home to prove that.) contained three boxed sets of children's books,
The Chronicles of Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, and one of the American Girl collections.


In reply, here is the list of what is on the top shelf of one of our book shelves:

  • A collection of the writings of Plutarch
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • The Journal of John Woolman
  • Fruits of Solitude by William Penn
  • Don Quixote by Cervantes
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante
  • A collection of Aseop's fables
  • A collection of Grimm's fables
  • A collection of the works of Hans Christian Anderson
  • Jonathon Swift by Thackery
  • A collection of essays by various authors, including Ruskin, Stevenson and Thoreau
  • A collection of poetry by various poets, including Tennyson, Emerson and Longfellow
  • A collection of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • A collection of the works of Homer
  • A collection of American documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
  • 1,001 Nights
  • 1,001 Nights in the original Arabic
  • A collection of the works of Christopher Marlowe.
  • A complete Shakespeare
  • Howard's End by E. M. Forester
  • The Great Gadsby, by Fitzgerald
  • A collection of Emily Dickenson
  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  • The Romance of the Rose by Guillaume de Lorris andJean de Meun
  • The Glimpse of the Moon by Edith Wharton
  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  • Nature's end by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka
  • A collection of writings by Edith Wharton
  • QV VII by Leon Uris
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
  • And yes, a KJV

Now, I admit, I haven't read all of them. But I have read 2/3 -3/4 of them, including the KJV, and would like to read the rest in the near future.

And I have ten more bookshelves in the house just this big. Each one holding 3-5 shelves full of books. And I have read most of those.

So yes, I'm sorry. Reading the KJV over and over and over again, while not even reading a children's book is not my idea of a great reader.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Once again, simple and straight

Saturday, February 07, 2009

On a video run

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

H/t to The Daily Kos

I was just waiting for someone to spoof these

I apologize for the annoying sound effects in this one, but it really makes the point. (Worcestershire sauce? Salsa verde?)

Personally, as someone who's already dealing with insulin resistance, I'm trying to avoid this stuff like the plague.

h/t to the Cheeseslave and to Cathy at A Life Less Sweet.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Better than I can say...

You, Mr. Cheney, you terrified more Americans than did any terrorist in the last seven years, and now it is time for you to desist, or to be made to desist. With damnable words like these, Sir, you help no American, you protect no American, you serve no American — you only aid and abet those who would destroy this nation from within or without.
He's right. And may I point out...
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

- The Constitution of the United States of America
Article III, Section 3

In the New York Times

An op-ed piece in today's New York Times...

Till Children Us Do Part
By Stephanie Coontz
Published: February 4, 2009

- snip -

Some couples plan the conception and discuss how they want to conduct their relationship after the baby is born. Others disagree about whether or when to conceive, with one partner giving in for the sake of the relationship. And sometimes, both partners are ambivalent.

The Cowans found that the average drop in marital satisfaction was almost entirely accounted for by the couples who slid into being parents, disagreed over it or were ambivalent about it. Couples who planned or equally welcomed the conception were likely to maintain or even increase their marital satisfaction after the child was born.

- snip -


Marital quality also tends to decline when parents backslide into more traditional gender roles. Once a child arrives, lack of paid parental leave often leads the wife to quit her job and the husband to work more. This produces discontent on both sides. The wife resents her husband’s lack of involvement in child care and housework. The husband resents his wife’s ingratitude for the long hours he works to support the family.

Now, imagine if you will that not only were one or both parents either ambivalent or giving in to the idea of conception after marriage, but that even entering into the marital relationship was based on the conception. That the whole relationship was based on that ambivalence. And while I know that some will consider using the term "backsliding" for choosing traditional gender roles to be derogatory, it is a good description for choosing those roles due to not making a choice in the matter.*

So there you are, a young man full of dreams and aspirations. Then the next day you have a stay at home wife and a baby to support. Now you're stuck with the first job you can get that pays the bills, no matter if you like it or not. You don't get to enjoy the fruits of your labor, it's all going to support the kid and that girl who's at home doing nothing to help. You may not even really like the woman you're married to, let alone love her or want to make a life with her. Your future is over, this is the rest of your life.

Or you're a young woman, also with dreams and goals. But now you're stuck at home 24/7 with a screaming baby, a man who resents every dime he gives you for the groceries, and no hope for escape. You may not even like him much, but now you're stuck sharing a bed and your body with him for the rest of your life.

In this situation it's human nature to take your anger and resentment out on someone, preferably someone more helpless than you, someone less likely to fight back. And there is the baby, screaming, smelly, sucking down every spare dime and then some. If it wasn't for that baby neither of you would be in this mess. And you can't even daydream your way out of it, it's there in the house with you, demanding constant attention.

This, this, is why I say that conservative Christians tend to make lousy parents. Every one I have talked to so far started their marriages out in exactly this way. And while they all say "spare the rod and spoil the child", "My child is strong-willed.", "A father must take dominion", "I'm training my child up in God's way", and so on, it all amounts to the same thing. It's always your child's fault that you're so miserable. If only your child wouldn't misbehave do things that demanded attention.

It's not your child's fault, it didn't ask to be born. Nor did it come into this world specifically to ruin your life. Your parents and your church did that. They didn't teach you the facts about human sexuality, including ways to deal with your hormones that don't result in pregnancies. They didn't insist on adoption as an option.** This has nothing to do with the child at all.

This is also why I believe that the two groups in this world who make excellent parents are infertile couples and homosexual couples. In both cases each and every child is well and truly planned for, and so any situation that can lead to resentment can be worked out in advance. I currently am lose to one couple who dealt with infertility and one homosexual family and I can only hope and pray that my husband and I turn out to be half as good parents as either of them.

Even the NY Times gets it.


* While I don't believe that "traditional gender roles" are necessarily necessary, I do believe that households function better if *someone* is managing things at home. This could be the female partner, male partner, one half of a homosexual couple, a grandparent or other relations, someone who manages a number of families in a cooperative situation, or someone hired for the job. I've seen all of the above work well. It just matters that *someone* do the job. Just because my particular family happens to fall into traditional roles does not mean I think it's the only way to go.

Yes, I know of many, many families where all the adults work full time. While it's clearly doable, and it does work, in my opinion it doesn't work quite as well as when someone is home. Managing a home with children is a full time job, period. When all the adults are already working one full time job and they each have to take on a second part-time, or more often one has to take on a second full-time, everything naturally suffers. Just as it would if they were taking on a second, paid job outside of the house. I can only admire the people who can work two jobs like that and make it all function, I couldn't do it.

** At one point I volunteered, for all of one afternoon, at a very Christian crisis pregnancy center. No, I don't remember why. I do, however, remember being told that counseling the girls about adoption as an option was strictly forbidden because "If God meant for them to have that baby, He meant for them to raise that baby." Which was why I left.

(As an aside, if God meant for that baby to be in the world, and born to that mother, wouldn't it be more appropriate to tell your Christian youth to follow every urge to procreate? Aren't those urges your omniscient, omnipotent God calling two people to a specific place and time to make that baby? Or is it just too politically damaging to admit that you are pro-irresponsible sex, since that allows you to populate your cult from within your God to make as many babies as he likes.

No, really, someone explain how pre-marital sex is bad, but every pregnancy is wanted by God, and yet you can't have one without the other? Wouldn't purity pledges and abstinence and just saying no directly contravene God's will? I mean, since He wants those babies so badly?)