Archive for the ‘Growing Challenge’ Category

On Saturday we had a guy come in to fix the wall around our a/c where the plaster/paint had gotten all screwed up by a clogged weephole.  He took one look at my pitiful seedling collection and commented that we should’ve started earlier.  I was a bit defensive at first, but even I had to admit that it was true.  I started late and they just haven’t grown like they should have.  Sigh.  I’m torn on what to do.  I guess I’ll keep them going because it certainly won’t hurt anything, but I have to face up to the fact that we aren’t going to be eating from the balcony this year.  So much for the growing challenge.

The basil, however, is looking pretty good and getting big.  So that’s something.  I have one little peppermint guy who is trying desperately to stay alive, and my peppers are still growing, albeit slowly and in no way close to fruit.  The strawberries are damn near microscopic, and I have no idea why their growth is so stunted but they are cute anyway.  The parsley and cilantro died out a month ago; I think I’m going to cheat and buy a couple of herb plants next week.

I’m bummed, but at least now I know to start earlier next year.

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It’s challenge time!  For the month of June, I am giving up soda and screwing around on the computer.  You know, the obsessive checking of email, flipping to my feed reader to see if anyone’s updated, generally roaming from site to site to site while the baby is sleeping.  No more, no more, no more.


On to the growing challenge–things are still growing.  I’m not sure we’re ever going to have anything to harvest, but the plants aren’t dead yet.  At least there’s that.


I don’t know if my foot is going to be ok enough to do CSA pick-up this week.  Or, I think I’ll probably not be able to.  It’s the first week, and I’m pretty bummed.  I’ll be happy when this whole mess is over.  I soaked it this morning and the salt stung like a bitch.  And I cried like a baby because honestly?  I don’t want to have to deal with this.  But by the end of the soak it didn’t sting as much, and Tylenol is helping the pain so it could be far worse.

And with that I’m off to put on a pot of tea and scare up some food.  Oh, wait!  Good news!  My Babyhawk got here and I tried it on yesterday, and it is awesome.  Chico fell asleep within ten minutes of being put in and my back felt great.  I love it.

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I am totally grossed out by worms.  I mean, I’m glad I have them (over there, in the dining room, where we eat) but I’ll tell ya, I’ve been ‘harvesting’ compost from the first bin and it feels like everything is crawling.  They’re remarkable little critters, but they shore are wriggly.

Oh, and I got my first proofreading acknowledgment!   I am really, really happy.

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First, happy belated to all of the fine mamas that habituate my comment section.  Y’all have some lucky kids!

I had a long conversation at the in-laws yesterday about blogging and I walked away a little peeved.  It was compared to standing on a soapbox in the park, which rankled me.  See, you can play your guitar on the subway and be a musician, or sell your paintings outside of the Met and be an artist.  For there to be no equivalent for writing goes to show how little people value it as a means of creative expression.


I got Lucy a sewing book that came on Saturday and I am so very excited about getting a sewing basket set up and trying out some of the projects.  I used to love handsewing as a little kid.  I think I still will, actually.  I don’t know where this whole artsy-fartsy kick is coming from but it’s been a lot of fun.  I made Lucy a  beaded necklace on Friday, and then yesterday we transplanted half of our peppermint seedlings to give to Grandma for Mother’s Day which I really enjoyed (in spite of the big pile of soil on my living room floor.)


Speaking of potting, our second worm bin should be here today or tomorrow.  Then we can get to work planting the seedlings that are staying inside.  I’m waiting on the outside plants until Memorial Day.  My MIL gave me a pot of mini-roses that I need to find a place for as well.  They are really lovely.  I hope I don’t do them in like I usually do with flowering plants.  Although my oxalis has managed to bloom for the 3rd year (no thanks to anything I have done.)  Bean thinks the roses are fabulous.  I wish I could get a photo of him delicately sniffing the blooms; he looks most refined.


Our CSA is going to have meat/egg/honey deliveries this year!  I am so excited!  We may actually make 70% local 25% bulk over the summer!  I have sorely been neglecting my poor Riot numbers.  It’s the tracking of the trash and the saving of the food receipts.  As far as I can tell, we’ve completely stagnated numbers-wise and I’m not sure if I want to take up tracking again.  I may do a few extra months to make up for the ones I didn’t track, or I may just write a huge wrap-up of the first year at the end of this month and start fresh on June 1.  As I see it, I’m not ready to be finished with the project despite my horrible tracking.  Or, maybe more accurately, I think we have more work to do.


I should have done my proofreading over the weekend and now I’m stuck with rushing through this morning.  I should know better…

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Every once in a while I’ll wake up and just feel a particular color.  I don’t know how to explain it in easy terms…it’s sort of like having a song stuck in my head only it’s a color instead.  Most often it has been a blue tone.  This morning I woke up feeling orange.

Orange is the color of creativity and expression.  And as much as I am skeptical about chakras and color vibrations and all that rot, reading the description of not having enough orange is pretty close to what I’ve been going through.  I’m not about to run out for crystals yet (ok, I am probably going to dig through the bag of stones I have though) nor am I going to douse myself in Jasmine or Ylang Ylang (although I actually own both oils…coincidence?) but I am going to do some more thinking on this whole orange deal.

/crazy hippie talk

The interesting part about orange is that I have slowly been adding more orange to the house.  I started out with lots of green and yellow and white and wood in the living room, but it never felt warm enough.  Since swapping the white for brown and adding in orange and gray, it’s felt much more homey.  Part is moving from a twill to a corduroy, and part is definitely the rounded shapes of the chairs and couch, but the orange just makes me happy when I look at it.

But Jen, why are you telling me this?

Fuck if I know.  But I am thinking about doing a collage today.  Maybe on a journal cover.   And I might make it orange on one side and green on the other because I need to be creative and I need to staunch this anxiety.


I awoke this morning from a dream that I had been arguing with C about household chores.  I stomped around for twenty minutes before I had myself convinced that it was actually a dream and not a real argument we had.  I hate those dreams that seem so real the emotion carries over into the waking world.  Still, I’m going to make him take some trash and recycling down to the basement just on principle.


All of my seedlings need planted.  Tomorrow!  My mesclun sprouts died save one, which is sort of upsetting but not so much because the seeds were years old and we’ll be getting a jillion tons of greens from the CSA.  The lavender never germinated, or the onions.  Everything else is going strong.  In fact, we have more tomatoes than we planned and are going to have to wangle tomato cages once they get bigger.  There’s only one lonely little chive plant though.  I’ll get pictures once everything is in its proper place.

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Buy Nothing: Ordinarily on a day like this–rainy Sunday where I was up before the sun with calamity and chaos, that is–I would do my damnedest to justify buying something.  And the temptation is here, trust me.  I have gotten thisclose to ordering some used books for Lucy.  The thing is, as soon as the house emerges from the pall of sick, I’m getting us signed up for a library card (I signed up online last year but managed to not activate the card within the, what, 90 day window I had) and it is totally ludicrous to buy books when it will be quicker to check them out of the library.

I don’t even need to analyze why I have such a strong desire to shop–it’s a gray day, I was up early with poop and nosebleeds and coughing children, the apartment is trashed from focusing on the kids yesterday and sitting on my butt with C watching The Departed last night and I’d rather feel like I’m doing something nice for my family by buying something for us than by getting back on track with the clutter, I kept Chico home from the museum on Friday and I feel like I missed out on my weekly treat.  If I don’t get myself into a project and off of the computer, my wonderful brain will come up with some justification for making a purchase.

Decluttering:  It looks like the Cut the Crap challenge is ending this week.  Which means I have fallen quite short of my personal goals, mostly because my efforts totally petered out last week.  I’ve gotten a lot done, though, and in the areas I used to dread the most.  I have sent out 2 boxes of books, 4-5 of toys, 2 bags of clothes, a huge box of cloth diapering stuff and baby stuff, 2 boxes of gifts that sat in my foyer from before Christmas, the baby swing.  Going later in May will be the co-sleeper and bouncy chair, infant car seat and car seat carrier plus likely another bag of kids clothes, a bag of curtains that are barely used, and all of my size 5 shoes since I my feet grew while pregnant.  There is a box (half full, I’m still working on it) of random picture frames and throw pillows and other ‘decorative objects.’  I have sorted through all of our spice racks and moved them off of the counter.  Lucy’s desk is sorted into inboxes–drawings to finish, blank paper, notebooks, and drawings to give away.  Markers are with markers, crayons with crayons, and pencils with pencils.  There is a workspace.  I went through my file drawer and took everything out of envelopes, unfolded it so it takes up less space, and got rid of all unnecessary paperwork, including sorting through the warranty/manual folder and removing anything we don’t need or no longer own.  And most remarkably, I cleared an entire shelf in Lucy’s closet, unpacking toys Chico will use in the next 6 months and putting them in a basket where we can reach them.  Lucy bagged up some of her stuffed animals to donate.  And I threw in some of my old ones as well.  I ate through some of our less practical and older stored food–a little can of mixed veggies, another of peaches and the boil-in-bag rice we got when Lucy was Chico’s age.  We mixed 2 half-empty boxes of pasta together for dinner one night and discovered 2 opened bags of dried lentils which we fit into the lentil canister.  Now I need to make a pot of soup to use up some of the tomato paste and  the little carton of veggie stock.  Then we’ll have room to store some more practical foods.

There is a lot still to do, most notably my closet, C’s and the hall closet.  I’m hoping to get to my closet tomorrow, though.  It’s a big PITA to empty everything out when so much is going back in, but I need to get it back to keepsies on one side, givesies on the other 🙂

I’m about half of the way through the box of crap from the final junk drawer and would like to have it finished today so that I can get Lucy’s living room toys separated from Chico’s.  Blah blah blah laundry, dishes, trash, recycling, water seedlings, water more seedlings, there are more seedlings  to water.

Growing Challenge: Sometimes I look at the table and wonder why the hell I thought it would be a good idea to grow so many things.  Mostly I’m excited, but it’s a lot of stuff.  Only the chives, parsley, onions and lavender haven’t germinated.  I remember last year being somewhere between freaked out and excited at the prospect of growing food on the balcony; this is a similar feeling but not nearly as dire.  I think it helped that we grew marigolds from seed last year so I knew I could do it.  I have this total fear of getting the seedlings planted and having them all die.  I try to tell myself it’s all about learning how to be more self-sufficient and I can always buy plants if these fail, but I hate when things don’t work out.  Honestly, the goal really is to grow some of our own food, not to become a master gardener person.  Still I have this fantasy of a balcony full of pots overflowing with veggies.  And seed saving.  I’m really into the idea of seed saving.

Riot For Austerity: I have been bad and haven’t tracked anything but spending and I can estimate food.  I’m going to use March’s numbers for everything else, and then May will be the big push to have a 90% reduction month in as many areas as possible.  I’ll even guesstimate water usage and we’ll use our old natural gas bills from the old apartment to estimate that just for accuracy’s sake.  I’m still hoping to get to the greenmarket in May.  If nothing else, I’d love to get us switched from plastic milk bottles to refillable glass.  It’s just tough carrying a full bag while wearing Chico, but I think I can do it once a week.  We’ve also finally cut out almost all packaged frozen foods, and since finding Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, I can honestly say I can live without dairy.  I’m not ready to give up poultry or fish yet, though.  Also, I still need Fresh Direct for laundry detergent for now, but this week’s order is the last for a while.  That’s several fewer cardboard boxes a week, which translates to 3-4 lbs if they aren’t reused.  After the big changes of last year, we’re back to baby steps.  I’d like to cut out paper towels even though most end up in the worm bin.  I’m toying with the idea of a second worm bin because we’ve so many worms and so many food scraps–we could have one fallow while the other was in use.  I air dried sheets last week for the first time, proving it can be done pretty easily.  Mostly I want to get our food to mostly local and bulk, because it’s getting more important than ever.  The other ‘mostly’ is consumer spending, but I’m working on that.  The thing I’ve enjoyed most about Rioting is how much it has made me think, whether it’s as simple as doing dishes and hanging laundry making me take time to slow down or as complex as isolating the ways in which I convince myself to buy things I could do without or get used.

And so we come full circle.  Don’t buy things you don’t need; get rid of the things you already bought that you don’t need; if you don’t buy things you don’t need, you won’t throw as much away.  Know where your things come from, be it food or goods, and know why they’ve come to you.  The key word for me when I started last year was ‘mindful.’  I think I have become more mindful in the past year, and I think I have also been able to let myself shut off my  mind a little bit more than before.  This is the best part.

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First and foremost, I did not buy anything last week!  Huzzah!

On the cleaning front–the balcony is almost finished.  It doesn’t look as fantastic as I’d like because there are still a ton of empty pots all over the place while we see how many seedlings we get.  Still, the rug is swept, the new oilcloth is on the table, and the trash is gone.  Lucy and I worked for several hours yesterday, and boy does it feel good to be thisclose to being done.  Tomorrow will be picture post day.

On the clutter clearing front–Lucy’s closet is sorted.  I have an entire empty shelf in there now, and the last big tasks are returning book jackets to their books and putting away the last few things (craft stuff, a blow-up baseball bat and the manual for the co-sleeper.)  I have a new box of baby stuff started.

Hey, speaking of baby stuff.  My MIL bought a bunch of Avent bottles while I was in the hospital despite my specific instructions that we were not using anything with BPA.  I finally cleared them out of the kitchen on Thursday, but I’m not sure what to do with them.  I don’t want to donate them and risk exposing another baby to BPA, but I don’t want to store them in hopes somebody someday organizes a recall.  Any suggestions?

As of today we have one strawberry sprout (teeny) and a bunch of basil sprouting.  This is ridiculously exciting.  I can’t wait for everything to be big enough to plant!  And, of course, to eat!  Exclamation Point!

And last, today we are tackling Lucy’s desk.  I’ll have to get a before picture because it is exactly what you’d expect the desk of a very creative preschooler to be–buried under 2 feet of drawings and workbooks and other sundry nonsense.  We sorted through her stuffed animals last week and she designated a handful to be donated, so afterwards I went to Bat Conservation International and let her pick out a bat to adopt.  When I told her we were going to sort through her desk and get it organized, she asked me if we could go back and give more money to help the bats.   I am so proud.  Instead, though, we’re going to donate to the shelter where we got Bean.  One of the best things about not shopping is that when I want to treat Lucy, I’m not even tempted to go pick something up that will I will likely end up tripping over every morning.  And donating just feels good.  I’m so thankful Lucy is learning that it feels as good to help others as it does to get something new.

Please send good clearing/organizing vibes–after Lucy’s desk and the last bits of the kitchen (pantry-not-used-for-food cleaning and cabinet-used-as-pantry eating through the less practical stored items so that we can fit in the practical ones (which should actually happen today) it’s on to my closet and the hall storage closet.  The upside is that I’ll be able to get to my sewing machine to take it for repair.  The downside is all of the other stuff in there–holiday decorations mostly, and some baskets and then wrapping and shipping materials like gift boxes, packing peanuts and bubble wrap, gift bags.  I’m going to have to pull everything out and sort, and I’m both dreading and totally excited at the prospect.  I do these closets twice a year but they always get loaded back up with crap.  I’m hoping this time they’ll stay clear.  It’s been much easier  to keep my other spaces clear and organized this time around so hopefully this track record extends to the closets.

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