Lamplight

The electricity hasn’t gone out. There is something absolutely magical about reading by the light of an oil lamp. 

When days grow dark at five o’clock, artificial light given off by electric bulbs seems harsh to my eyes. It’s too bright; too unnatural, perhaps. 

Tonight I’m enjoying the illumination and warmth given off by my Mamaw’s green glass lamp. 

I wonder how our sleep cycles would be affected if our homes weren’t kept as bright as daytime when night begins to fall?

Now, back to my reading. Goodnight, friends. 

Down at Ye Olde Noodle Hole

Buying a home is an interesting experience. You are certain to come across some surprises from time to time. For example, one year our washing machine was draining slowly. We ended up digging up the PVC drainage pipes and rather than use a joint fitting to get the water to go where they wanted (down the hill), they simply…bent the pipe.

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Yes, friends, who needs a 22 degree joint when one can use their brute force to just BEND THE PIPE almost in two? Well, now THAT certainly won’t cause issues. So after the pipe was fixed, it did lead to the discovery that our greywater from the house drains into our hillside. This is all the water you use in the house except the potty. Now this was actually a pleasant surprise! Greywater can be used to irrigate plants for your gardens as long as you are careful about the soaps and cleaners you use, assuming you do your greywater recovery correctly.

After the greywater drainage discovery, it wasn’t long that we also found that our dogs had come to the same conclusion. Yes, all of the kitchen waste that accidentally makes it down my sink does flow out by the hillside. And yes, dogs find this delectable, especially when we have a dish like spaghetti. Thus: The Noodle Hole got its name.

The screams of “The dogs are in the Noodle Hole again!!!” were pretty frequent in the first year we lived here. After running dogs out of the Noodle Hole, away from donkey dung, and out of the chicken manure, I decided that dogs are just gross. I pray to God that they don’t have taste buds.

But back to the Noodle Hole! For some reason, this year we have tons of tomato plants that have decided to set up camp by the Noodle Hole outlet as well as the washing machine drainage. I guess I had some tomato seeds in my pockets? Who knows. But there are about seven giant tomato plants, covered in green tomatoes out there now. Unfortunately, our first hard freeze is coming later this week and so I am going to pick the green fruit, take some cuttings, and cover them just to see how long the vines will make it. I have had tomato vines through January before!

Since the ‘maters enjoyed their laundry/kitchen water so much, we are planning a tiered box which will utilize the greywater and keep our tomatoes watered through the hot summer.

When life hands you a Noodle Hole, make a greywater recovery system!

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Tomatoes Love Noodles

 

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The biggest tomatoes at the Hole
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Dichondra apparently loves laundry water!

 

The Grey Days

During the fall and winter a couple of years ago, we had two or three sunny days in four months. It was terrible. Every day started off with a grey hazy morning and ended just as gloomily. I actually love cloudy days, but after a month of seeing no sun, my attitude became just as ‘blah’ as the forecast.

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Starting around Thanksgiving, I felt bone-dead tired all of the time, then eventually my attitude worsened to where I didn’t care to do anything. I didn’t want to clean, cook, do crafts, or work on my garden plan, which are all typically things that I enjoy. I also drank too much sugary coffee and stuffed myself with whatever carb was handy. Subsequently, I put on extra weight. I clearly remember one day in January where the sun was barely peeking out from the oppressive cloud cover. Since it was in the 20s that day, I sprawled out on the floor of our sunroom just like an old cat, basking in the warmth. I was desperate for some sunshine!  The ‘meh’ feeling went on for several months until February, when Mr. Sun decided to show his face again. Days were warm enough to get outside, and my mental fog dissipated.

While I believe hormones totally rule our female world and could account for at least part of my ‘blah-ness’, I also thought that there was a deeper explanation for the lethargy and overall depression I had experienced. That’s when I began to research Seasonal Affective Disorder.

As it turns out, SAD (how appropriate!) is a cyclical depression that affects people most often during the autumn and winter months, although it can happen other times as well. SAD is caused by the lack of sunlight, so the number of people who are afflicted will increase the further you move from the equator. It can also occur if you live in a cloudy area with little sun or even by working in a dark office.

So what to you do to lift your mood? Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, who first wrote about SAD in 1984, gives several tips on his site. One suggestion is to increase the light in your life! Get outside in the sun when possible. Open up those heavy drapes, or even invest in a light box. This is one reason that I pick weeds for at least an hour a day when weather permits throughout fall and winter. Other tips: Reduce stress! Don’t overeat sugary and starchy foods. Get some exercise!  Take a vacation to a sunny place and bask. And of course, if these ideas do not work, definitely talk to a professional.

After the Grey Days of 2013-14, I was talking with a friend, and she went through the exact same thing! Remember that you are NEVER alone!!!

Have you ever had the grey days of winter? I often wonder how many women go through this and don’t speak up!

May your days be sunny and bright, friends!

 

The Farmhouse Reading Room

Since I’ve taken an official break from Facebook, I have actually had time to read! Oh, how I missed my books!

While I have several on my shelves that I need to read, I always order a big bunch through Thriftbooks.com when winter comes rolling in. Yes, I know going to the library is more frugal, but I’ll be honest, I always run up a fine. I never, ever return them on time and I feel like a book-hoarding criminal. Also, I can’t stand going “into town”. I love to be at home. At Thriftbooks, I can usually get the books I want for about $3 or less and free shipping, plus, there are always coupons I earn that save more money. So with that being said, I’ll share some of my most recent reads with you.

To begin:

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One of my favorite new books is Living More With Less, by Doris Janzen Longacre. The truth is, I haven’t completed this book because I don’t want to say I’m finished with it, as nutty as that sounds! Truthfully, I only have a few pages to go.

This book will broaden your worldview mindset as you hear stories from missionaries who have traveled the globe. I often forget how fortunate we are to live in the United States, and LMWL will certainly remind you. As an example, we can turn on a tap and get clean water, whereas others must walk miles to find a reliable source. These are not just stories from missionaries, however. It is also packed with money-saving ideas from those living here in the States. While it was written by Mennonites, I assure you that everyone can benefit from some of these suggestions. It has reminded me to be a conscious consumer; what I purchase or consume today really does have an effect on people half a world away!

Also, Mrs. Longacre was already known for her other book, the More-With-Less Cookbook. I bought this as well and while most don’t fit our current diet (low-carb), I can see that there are some nice recipes and ideas there that would greatly benefit those trying to cut down on food expenditures.

Next:

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Yet another new favorite, Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, was one I finished just a couple of days ago. For crying out loud, if you are struggling with money, want to stay home with your kids, hate your job, or maybe you “have it all” but you still feel empty inside, read this book! Actually, it’s a great book for anyone and I wish I’d read it much sooner. There are nine steps to Financial Independence, or “FI” as they call it. Just nine steps to never worrying about money again.

If you feel like a hamster on a wheel waiting for retirement, READ IT. I really can’t brag about it enough. I have to recommend buying it because I know that I’ll be using it as a reference for years to come, and I bet you will, too!

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Another winner I read was Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. If you don’t garden because you hate weeding or maybe your plants didn’t turn out well, this is the book for YOU!  While most garden plots are traditionally done in rows, the Square Foot method uses 4′ x 4′ squares, which are further subdivided into sixteen 1′ squares. It is so easy to merge intensive gardening, succession planting,  and companion gardening by using Mel’s ideas. I have already dug up ten squares, and each person is allotted two of their very own. Jason, being the left-brained member of our family, wants them to have sides, so he will be making us some metal boxes in a couple of weeks.

Mel tells us that in a four person family, eight 4′ squares are all you need. Granted, this would not be enough if you planned on canning or preserving foods, so we will have a few extras. I am also going to plant a few squares just for chicken food! Why not?

I bought the original 1981 book, which uses a compost-based top soil in addition to your own soil underneath. I have read that the newer book suggests using a fully enclosed box filled with a soil mix. I did this last year before ever hearing of Square Foot Gardening, and for the most part, it did work well. Still, for deep-rooted plants like tomatoes, I wouldn’t think that a box would give adequate depth for water retention, especially during those famous Texas summers!

Now for the bomb of the bunch:

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The Womp-Womp-Wooooomp Book of the Month. I hate to give it such a bad rating, because I WANTED to love this book. I loved the idea of doing without technology! I loved the idea of living amongst a community of people who did things the old-fashioned way! The reviews were largely positive ones!

Unfortunately, I could have bought three loaves of sandwich bread for the $3 I spent on this paperweight, so I’m bummed over it.

Due to a random meeting on a bus with a community member, Mr. Brende and his new wife, the SHIMMERY-Oh-So-Shimmery and elfin-like Mary (who describes their wife as “shimmery”, anyway?), are able to move into a mish-mash group of ex-Amish, Mennonite, and other Luddite-like folks who have shunned most of technology. Eric nicknames them the Minimites. They live in a home built by said community member for when his son marries. I suppose what particularly annoys me about the story is the lack of writing skills. Brende fails to keep a story line straight and I feel as though his words are zig-zagging all over the place. Heck, I even went back to check a quote just now and realized that he had been hit by a car. I completely missed this!

Add to that frustration the fact that Mr. Brende comes off as an annoying and often pretentious wet-behind-the-ears college grad, and it just didn’t keep up my interest. I also don’t care for his comments about the people around him, as they usually come off as condescending and rude. The neighbor boy is “chubby”; the other neighbors “don’t like to be told what’s good for them”. Well, perhaps they don’t like your attitude! I suppose that the part that shocked me the most was after the birth of their first son. They went to K-Mart to get baby supplies. The total added up to a bit over $127, including a car seat, mattress, and baby blankets. They are, strangely, surprised by the amount, thinking it very expensive. Eric says, “Mary looked at me. I looked at Mary. Didn’t she know that baby items were the mother’s responsibility? “Can’t you use your credit card?” I asked.”

Ouch. I was so done. As it ends up, they leave the community and make their home in another Midwestern town, where he has a rickshaw business. He apparently doesn’t care for the German inhabitants of the town, which he makes quite clear. Pretty dumb to publish a book and let your neighbors know you don’t like them, right?

I hope that you will check out the first three books, though! They would be perfect for a rainy and cold day by the fireplace.

If you’d like to check out Thriftbooks, I have a coupon for 15% off for you! It is only good for two weeks after you sign up for it, though! It will also send ME a coupon for 20% off and you’ll be my new friend! 😉  Free shipping starts when you place an order for $10.