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Archive for the ‘Slowing Down’ Category

For a long time I’ve been reading about people deciding to chuck it all and go back to living a self-sustainable life on their own land. Supposedly this is a trend, but I didn’t believe it until it hit the Wall Street Journal. You know the biggest, baddest, pro-huge business regardless of the real costs newspaper.

Peggy Noonan’s column last Friday, Goodbye Bland Affluence, was all about moving back to the farm and being sustainable. Giving up the finer (read more expensive) things in life, to live in a more holistic, less driven manner.

Now, I am obviously a big proponent of living within your means, and I love the idea of us all giving up most conspicuous consumption. I think that when we focus on our stuff, we loose sight of the things that are actually important to us.  Getting sometimes becomes more important than time with family and friends, and we forget that we can have fun without spending money.

The problem is that it is hard not to focus on our stuff.  This is how we judge others in our society.  It is also how we have been trained to use our free time. We go shopping more than we need to, and we almost always find things at the store that we never knew we always needed.

All this goes back to my initial surprise at reading this post in the Wall Street Journal.  For the record, I actually like this paper, but arguably they have a vested interest in furthering conspicuous consumption based just on their name alone.  Not the ones that you would imagine to be advocating for a simpler life.

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For more on conspicuous consumption, or the lack of it:

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Isn’t it wonderful to read something and realize you are not the only one?  I love my all-natural stone ground flour from Wade’s Mill.  It tastes amazing, is relatively local, and I get all the wonderful nutrients of flour that are usually processed out and then chemically added back in.  I just finished an article that goes into other people’s quest for real flour, and I must say that I love that these issues are getting more and more national attention.

The article was in the New York Times, and it is called Flour That Has the Flavor of Home.  In it, the author looks at a couple of people that are trying to re-start the local wheat market in places that aren’t quite as conducive to growing the normal variety.  It is about re-learning what locals knew before they gave up growing wheat and grinding flour because everything became more standardized and homogenized.   I loved this article, because I love it when people realize that we’ve thrown out the baby with the bathwater, and we sure did when our country switched over to a far inferior way of growing and processing flour, all for the sake of shelf life and maximized profits at the expense of nutrition, sustainability, and flavor.

The Beautiful Wade Mill

The Beautiful Wade Mill

Flour Adventures:

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Sigh, Vacation’s Over

Hubby and I had a wonderful time in Vermont. The weather was delightful, we got to eat s’mores every night, and the scenery was stunning.

Many people have been awed by the fact that a pregnant woman would choose to go camping on her vacation, but I must say that it actually felt quite luxurious. We stayed in a well constructed lean-to that overlooked the woods, slept on lovely camping air mattresses, and had mosquito netting that made the whole thing feel quite cozy and romantic. We got to wake up to the birds chirping and lovely panoramic views of the trees and animals, and the mosquito netting enabled us to enjoy this all completely unobstructed, yet without any insects.

As much as I love backpacking, this definitely could not qualify as anywhere close to as difficult. We were able to take warm showers and had access to clean bathrooms. There was no worry about rain or dirt getting into a tent. Most importantly, sleeping on an air mattress on a wooden floor two feet off the ground means that there are no rocks sticking in your back.

Hubby serenading me at our campsite

Hubby serenading me at our campsite

Lovely Vermont:

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As we were driving the other day, I made hubby stop and turn around. We had just past a roadside stand for fresh organic blueberries, which sounded too delicious to pass up. The stand was just a little hut with a fridge and a money box, the owners relying on the honor system for their sales. The blueberries were just as tasty as they sounded, and we had enough to have some scrumptious blueberry oatmeal the next morning as well.

The food in Vermont in general is very good, and focuses on natural locally-grown produce and meat. I love reading the menus, which often list which farms the ingredients come from. It is nice to see such a great state pride, which is obvious nearly everywhere you go.

Delicious Roadside Organic Blueberries

Delicious Roadside Organic Blueberries

Beautiful Vermont:

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After all the thought I put into whether or not to continue to be a vegetarian, I had my mind made up for me by someone else. Specifically, the little baby growing inside me. About three weeks before I found out I was pregnant, I decided to try some meat just to see how I liked it. Having been a vegetarian since I was 10, I really didn’t remember what it tasted like.

My friend Lindsey was kind enough to share some lamb chops that she had from a lamb that her cousin raised for her. They were delicious, so I branched out and tried some other varieties of meat from the local farmers market. I even went so far as to render my own lard, which whipped up the best pie crust I have ever made.

All these experiments came to an abrupt end about a week after I found out that I was pregnant, when morning sickness started. I couldn’t even eat the fake variety of meat (except veggie corn dogs, which I have had an odd addiction to). I thought that I may start back up with my experiments after morning sickness passed, but it has been three weeks since it did, and meat still sounds very unappealing. Fortunately, I am also not eating the fake variety (aside from the aforementioned veggie corn dogs, which are completely unnatural whether using fake or real meat), which was my biggest reason for questioning continuing as a vegetarian.

The most ironic thing of all is that one of my cousins is also pregnant, and is only due four days before me. We were talking a couple weeks ago, and she mentioned that she had decided to try to be a vegetarian a little before she got pregnant, but for her, once the pregnancy symptoms hit, she found that she craved meat too much to continue.

I am guessing that our bodies get used to how we eat, and are trying to keep us from becoming too adventurous during pregnancy. This would make a lot of sense if we lived off the land, because it would probably be bad to start trying all sort of new berries or mushrooms during pregnancy. So I suppose that I am going to have about six more months, at least, of being a vegetarian.

My First Lamb Chops

My First Lamb Chops

For more on my thoughts on being a vegetarian:

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I just finished booking our summer trip to Vermont.  It is so fun to beat the Virginia heat for nice cool nights filled with campfires and smores.  Last year, due to some extreme procrastination on my part, we didn’t get our trip fully booked until we were in the car on the way up.  This led to a wonderful, but piecemeal, trip where we stayed at a number of places.

One of those places was Grand Isle State Park.  They have wonderful lean-to’s, clean bathrooms, few mosquitoes, and it is on an island in Lake Champlain, so therefore it has some of the most beautiful scenery around.  It is only about a 30 minute drive to Burlington, which is one of my favorite small cities, so we will be able to go to wonderful restaurants and such as well.  We enjoyed it so much, that we’ve decided to skip the B&B’s this year, and spend our time between this an another state park.

We’re also going to stay at DAR State Park, which we have not stayed at before.  It too is on Lake Champlain, but is about an hour south of Burlington.  It looks lovely, and it is near Middlebury, another very fun town to visit.

For those of you that have never been to Vermont, you are missing a wonderful place.  It is northern enough that even in August the average high is about 80 degrees and the average low is 60.  It has beautiful scenery, thanks to all the mountains and lakes.  Not to mention that they do a great job preserving the ambiance by keeping strip malls and such to a minimum.  Last year, I forgot my camera, so unfortunately I don’t have any photos to show you how stunning Vermont can be.  I am fully intending on rectifying that on this trip though.

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Past camping adventures:

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Yesterday, Lindsey and I gathered to make all sorts of wonderful yet time consuming foods.  It was a lot of fun and a lot of work.  I made two batches of herbs de Provence pasta and coco granola, while Lindsey made two batches of mozzarella and some cookies.  All told, we did about 4 hours worth of cooking and gabbing.

This made me wish that I had a bunch of friends and family a bit closer (Lindsey lives 40 minutes away and gas is getting crazy).  It was so nice to have company while making things that require a bit more time and muscle.  Women used to regularly gather to get the bigger chores done, and I think that it is sad that we so rarely do that anymore because everything is so much nicer with friends.

Everything’s better with friends:

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