Sophomore Slump?

There’s beginner’s luck, and third time’s the charm.  But for second attempts there’s the sophomore slump.   This has been on my mind a lot lately when I look at my garden.

Last year, my backyard was a bounty.  This year, it’s more of a struggle to get my plants going — seeds, seedlings, a lot of non-starters so far.  I’m praying to the tomato gods that this harvest doesn’t disappoint because I have 7 plants that look like they have a shot. Cukes are a disaster.  Melons wouldn’t pop up.  Beans are showing their first little pods, but the plants are tiny.  Peppers are touch and go.  Arugula bolted almost as soon as it went in the ground.  Beets never really got going.  You get the picture.  [notice the lack of actual pictures… nothing to brag about]

I think before next year, I need to amend the soil in a serious way because it’s probably too depleted.  I don’t relish the thought of this, but I need to figure out a way to get a bulk amount of manure out here.   This means hiring someone to deliver it because we don’t have the kind of vehicles that can accomodate that kind of cargo. [This is one reason to have chickens, home based manure production!]   But I don’t think I can move on any of that till this fall because putting manure on my beds now will likely kill whatever little stuff I’ve got going.

The second ‘sophomore slump’ I’m concerned about is baby #2.  Friday was my last day of work, and now I have no more excuses… I have to start getting the house ready for the baby.  The things to do list is really long and I have to rely on help from other people to get a lot of them done, so having the days to myself is not necessarily the full solution.  That, and I have no stamina whatsoever — which means a lot of projects are likely to get started and then get the half ass treatment while I go lie down.  It makes me feel guilty because I know that with Max, I had all this crap figured out well in advance — but with all second babies, this one will suffer from less attention.  I’ll make it up to her somehow. (Maybe a pony as a manure source?)

Don’t laugh, but I’ve even considered bringing back the cleaning service to help me with my ‘nesting cleaning’ needs.  But I don’t think I can bring myself to do it.  It’s one thing when you’re away at the office, but standing around and pointing at what should get cleaned is just too… you know … for me.


I Do By Myself!

That’s a phrase heard around our house a lot.  Usually uttered by our two year old.  He is fiercely independent.  Wonder where he gets this from?

Today I planted our next batch of lettuce and arugula seedlings.  We got a ton of use out of the last crop from the Fall.  Yesterday I transplanted a few pole bean plants and pickling cucumbers into one of our new raised beds in the front yard.  (pictures coming soon).

I’m exhausted, but can’t seem to nap.  Figured I shouldn’t waste Max’s epic nap, so I’ve been cleaning.  I had to research how to approach mopping our engineered hard wood floor.  Wouldn’t you know, the first few hits that I found recommended to use whatever cleaning product the manufacturer recommends.  Well, I didn’t install these floors myself, so who the hell knows what the manufacturer recommends.  And, I’d bet you $4 that the manufacturer stands to make some money off of whatever they recommend.

In the end, I settled on a solution that was 1 to 4 ratio of vinegar to hot water & a little essential oil with orange sent.  I don’t think the orange came through, because I smell mostly vinegar.  So, next time I’ll use more.  I’m thinking that I’ll try more vinegar next time because I do see a little bit of streaking — so maybe it didn’t cut grease well enough with this diluted recipe.

Then, I finished off our Meyer’s all purpose cleaner and took the opportunity to make a fresh batch of all-purpose cleaner myself.  I used a 1 to 1 ratio of water to vinegar with more orange oil.  This actually smelled like orange.  And it worked amazingly well.

While I’m even more tired now, it feels good to know that I don’t have to worry about Max making contact with toxic products that don’t even work all that well …  (the spray I made cleaned up things that Meyer’s didn’t).  Also, from a cost perspective, I am pretty sure we paid something like $6.99 for the Meyer’s spray.  The batch I made up was pennies because we get our vinegar in bulk at costco for like $5-6 (if memory serves).

One thing that is kind of a bummer about no longer using the cleaning service is that I don’t feel like there’s ever a time when the whole house is clean.  We triage different areas based on our tolerance level, but there’s no coming home to a totally clean house.  Oh well. Trade offs.

Who fired the maid?

When a friend of mine used to walk into her messy apartment, she used to say, “who fired the maid?” This was in jest, of course, because she didn’t have a maid.

We, on the other hand, had been having a cleaning service come in twice a month for the last couple of years. It seemed like quite the luxury, but not without its annoyances.

For one, they weren’t terribly consistent on when they arrived. Two, you feel like you have to leave your house when they are there so that you aren’t in their way. Three, you have to rush to clean up before they come so they can actually find your floors and such to clean. Four, it freaked out the cat … and a few times we thought she ran away. Five, I asked them to use green cleaners, and I think they nodded and smiled but didn’t really do it because the place always smelled way too chemically when we got home. Six, they would always put stuff away in random places (likely because we weren’t too great at cleaning up the clutter in the first place).

Well, one of the new years resolution was to cut back on expenses. So, I fired the maids. 😦 I figured this was an opportunity to turn a new leaf and A) actually clean things myself and B) venture into the green cleaning products.

First, I made my own laundry detergent. Which I LOVE! Here’s the recipe:
– 3 cups of borax
– 2 cups of grated bar soap. (I did mine with lavender scented soap in the food process with the shredding attachment. I didn’t smell the lavendar after all was mixed up, so next time I’ll use cheaper, all natural soap)
– 2 cups of baking soda (arm & hammer)
– 2 cups of washing soda (arm & hammer)

Mix these together and you are D-O-N-E. Use 2 tablespoons per load. Clothes come out just as clean as with store bought fancy shmancy detergent. (I read online that if you use the basic bar soap like Kirk’s Castile soap, the cost of the detergent comes out to about a penny a load)

Then, I made floor cleaner! We have a swiffer, and we have a regular mop. But I couldn’t find the swiffer sheet — and I don’t think they work all that well anyway, so we went with the sponge mop approach.

The recipe:
– mix 1/3 cup of Borax, 1/3 cup of baking soda with one gallon of warm water. Add one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. I added a few drops of lavendar essential oils, but I think next time I’d like to try orange or lemon.

And then! I actually cleaned the floors!

I realized that what I always really looked forward to the maids for was having that clean the kitchen floor. It gets pretty grimy with all the foot traffic and cooking that goes on in there. So, if that was my big incentive for house cleaning service, that amounts to a monthly saving of roughly $230. Not too shabby.

And Then I Remembered

As I come up for air from all the household errands and catching up at work, I am continually reminding myself why we embarked on this adventure.  And this is why:


So Max could eat dirt from our own yard.

We went to the farmer’s market in the next town over.   We had been there years earlier, but this was like a new birth!  To say we got carried away would be an understatement.  (let’s just say that the “frugality” tag would not apply). Some notable purchases:  Bison, french salami, kabanosi-type dry aged sausages, two artisan cheeses, olive oil, crenshaw melon, 4 types of peppers, and much more.  One thing I wanted to buy but held off till I research how to properly use them — duck eggs!

Tonight we ate ahi tuna in homemade wasabi mayo, with a dill cucumber salad.   I also used tonight’s “free” time to pre-make meatballs with beef and bison. (my commute is now 30 minutes, so that’s time I don’t really have to cook anymore).


Stella the cat is still pretty freaked out by the move.

Max crawls around the house squeeling with delight in each new discovery. 

I exhale and remember why.

Home At Last

IMG_4530This picture was taken of Max as we introduced him to his new room.  He took it very well.  I’m trying to harness that joy for myself as I deal with incredible “what else could go wrong?” stresses of buying and maintaining  house.

Today’s drama is that the Internet installation (which was attempted but failed on Monday) that should have taken a few minutes, took 5 hours.  I couldn’t stay for the five hours, so I left my dad in charge as I headed out to a meeting at work.  So that means my work computer was not “installed” by the professional.  He said it would be straightforward and I would have no problem doing it myself.

Well. Here I am.  My installation on my work computer was unsuccessful.  I just can’t afford another night with no billing.  I am so stressed out.  Thankfully I got a hold of the technician before the end of his shift and he graciously agreed to stop by on his way home.  Am waiting for him now.  (That’s why I have the luxury of typing a post on my own computer, while my work computer sits there like a paperweight.)

What else have we dealt with this week?  Plumber guy. Furnace guy.  Shower door installation guy.  Discovering our shower has no place to hang a towel and no wall space to speak of.  Finding some half solutions at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Researching what TV to buy.  Finding the cheap one we wanted after 3 store visits.  Thinking we were buying it.  Getting home to discover that they actually sold us a more expensive TV and charged us for it!  Returning it tomorrow.  Finding a bunch of junk of the previous owner and having to figure out how to haul it out of here.  Who leaves a mattress??? asshole.

Did I mention we don’t yet have a laundry machine?  Heading home to do laundry like a frickin’ college student is so not in my schedule right now.

I know my stess level is through the roof right now.  And I know Max deserves better.  But the list of things to do at home and at work is growing exponentially and I have no concept how it all will get done.

Imagining the Possibilities

I suppose when most people buy a house, the first things they think about are where the furniture is going to go, or unpacking boxes, or meeting the neighbors. 

I, however, can’t stop thinking about all the exciting opportunities with the outside space.  Where will the ‘legit’ compost pile go? Will I finally get some worms for vermicomposting?  Will it be too late in the season to plant anything edible?  How do I make a raised bed?  Where will I find untreated lumber, mulch and the right soil?  Will we get a BBQ grill this season?

The excitement is also tempered by fear.  What if the garden I have wanted for so long fails because I don’t know what I’m doing?  Will I feel like this whole ‘workin’ the land’ vision was just a pipe dream?

I’m also thinking about having my first garage sale to get rid of bulky crap.  The new house is in a perfect location with nice amount of street traffic for a garage sale.  But then, I’m paying to move crap only to hope to sell it for pennies, and then if it doesn’t sell I have to get rid of it somehow again!