About Me

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Lapsed anthropologist-turned-burlesque performer and post-modern punk housewife/homesteader living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a hunky husband, gorgeous daughter, adorable corgi, fluffy rabbit, and three clucking fabulous chickens.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pinterest Challenge: Bottle Vases

So...there have been lots of tutorials on Pinterest on how to turn wine bottles into vases or tumblers. Some of our dear friends are getting married, and wanted to try it, so we volunteered our space. Turns out it works pretty well!

What you need:

Kitchen twine
Acetone(nail polish remover)
Bucket of ice water

What we did:
Cut a length of kitchen twine long enough to wrap around the bottle four or five times. Then soak it in acetone(nail polish remover). Wrap the twine around the bottle, tie it in place, and light. Make sure your fingers are a safe distance away from the flaming twine.

Rotate the bottle quickly and evenly, so the flames run around the length of twine. This may take a few minutes, and you should be able to turn the bottle a good half-dozen times before the flames die down. Once the flames go out, immediately immerse the bottle in the bucket of ice water, with the neck pointing down.

The bottle should separate into two pieces with a loud "crack!"
Our first couple of attempts yielded somewhat uneven and rough edges, but after a bit of practice, the bottles started separating cleanly.

Obviously the edges will need to be sanded and smoothed, but overall we were all very impressed by how well this method worked.

In between adventures with flaming bottles, a couple of my friends managed to catch Ruth and say "hello". Ruth wasn't terribly interested in making friends, though.

Mr. Bear was worried Ruth might scramble and claw at Jessie, as we have both been on the receiving end of Ruth's social anxiety.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

All In a Golden Afternoon

Spring is attempting to show it's lovely face this week, and I took full advantage of it! After a lovely afternoon of window shopping with a dear friend, Mr. Bear and I took Ponyo to the park. It's been a while since either one of us has been out and about, and it was just so nice to feel the sun and watch the ducks.

Ponyo is, of course, the belle of the ball wherever she goes, and this walk was no different. Everyone wants to pet the corgi. I understand. It's her stubby legs and giant ears and little nubbin tail.

I promised new hair, and new hair there is! My awesomely talented friend Raven does the most beautiful color, and I felt like I've been stagnating all winter. I had her clean up my layers, shorten my bangs(or "fringe", if you prefer), and then throw some gorgeous pink/purple/teal ombre tips in for funsies.

I'm kind of in love with it. I feel like a magical unicorn mermaid.

(Also, Target has some ridiculously adorable pregnancy-friendly dresses right now. I bought the above dress in every print they offer.)

I've been making very slow progress on my Beekeeper's Quilt. Laying it all out lets me see how the colors are working together. I definitely need more green...

I love hexipuffs! They're soooo squishy, it's fantastic. I can't wait to have a whole blanket to snuggle with. In the meantime, they're super fun to throw at house guests.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"In The Spring, She Married A Bear"

If you're not familiar with the work of Emily Winfield Martin, aka "The Black Apple", you really really should be. Here is one of her recent pieces, and I'm head over heels in love with it(for obvious reasons, I'm sure).

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Year, New Design!

Yesterday was my birthday, and as I enter the final year of my twenties, I felt like shaking things up a bit, so I redesigned the blog. I hope you all like it! It is very girly, but hopefully that won't put anyone off.

Coming soon: updates on the animal life here at Ft. McAwesome, baby projects, a gathering apron, new hair, orange pies.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Do not try this at home, we're what you'd call 'experts'!"

 Mr. Bear and I took an impromptu road trip to Seattle to catch the Mythbusters' "Behind The Myths" tour this weekend. It was really fun. Adam and Jamie tell hilarious stories, and they did some fun little experiments on stage and generally messed with the audience.

We drove over yesterday morning, went to the afternoon show, had dinner with a friend, and turned right around and drove home. It made for a long day, and it was the baby's first road trip, but it was fun. There's no one else I'd rather go on a last-minute road trip with than my husband. Today is the three-year anniversary of our first date.

If you're looking for something to listen to on your next road trip, may I suggest the audiobook of "Ready Player One", as read by one Wil Wheaton? It definitely helped pass the time and keep us awake, and is just a really fun book in general, what with all its pop-culture and geek-culture references.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The First Dozen

 The first egg. All speckled and a lovely blue-green(though it doesn't read as such in the photographs).

Marie has been steadily laying, and with the exception of a couple eggs that ended up on the floor of the coop and got cracked, we've managed to accumulate an entire dozen! Our first dozen eggs from our backyard! I'm so excited! I'm planning on making the cutest, tiniest deviled eggs ever.

 In chronological order, top-left to lower-right. Once again, the colors don't read true; the eggs shift from a dark blue-green to the palest porcelain blue.

I put all twelve in a tiny bowl.

 I find them enchanting.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Yummy Lactose-Free Mac n Cheese

 Yesterday, I finally felt well enough to make food, which is good because there wasn't much left in the house. A quick trip to the grocery store remedied that, and last night we feasted on ooey-gooey mac n' cheese fit for Mr. Bear's digestive system. He developed lactose-intolerance in the past couple of years, which effectively put an end to his cheese-fiend ways.

I adapted this recipe from The New Vegan Table, and it's an awesome recipe.

Alterations I made to the recipe:

I boiled the macaroni in lactose-free milk to make it creamier.
I added half a bag of frozen peas.
I used one bag of Daiya Cheddar Shreds and one block of Daiya Jalapeno-Garlic Havarti.
I seasoned with vegetarian Bacon Salt.

Other than that, I followed the recipe as written. It's super easy and super satisfying.

 Don't be misled by the fact that this is lactose-free and easily vegan-able, this is not health food. It is sodium-laden indulgent so-bad-for-you-it's-good food.

I neglected to document the process, but let me tell you that Daiya cheese melts so very very beautifully. In fact, the mixture of cheddar shreds and jalapeno havarti alone would make a ridiculously awesome nacho cheese. I recommend it to anyone who has been looking for a good substitute.

Mr. Bear(who typically detests homemade mac n cheese) declared it the best mac n cheese he's ever had. High praise indeed, from a former cheese-fiend.

Monday, March 11, 2013

On Being a Housewife

Like a lot of educated women in this country, I have been socialized to devalue domestic unpaid labor(traditionally thought of as "women's work"). The term "housewife" brings with it images of browbeaten women with no agency and no options, and applying it to myself brings feelings of shame and failure. Even though I know this is all complete bullshit, it's been an extremely difficult transition for me to make. 

When I met my husband, I was a world-traveling anthropologist, fresh out of university. I had a nest egg and zero student loan debt. I worked for the first year we were together, at a shit bank job that sucked my soul dry and contributed greatly to my ill health. I talked this over with my husband(then-boyfriend), and we agreed that I would quit that job. It was difficult finding another job, as the unemployment situation in our city is dire. Eventually I decided to go back to school and get a degree as a radiology technician, which would allow me to find work at whatever city we found ourselves stationed in. Mr. Bear informed we likely only had a couple years left in our present location.

Unfortunately, I wasn't accepted into the rad tech program last year, and would have to wait a year to reapply. Since that would mean we would be moving before I finished the program, we decided to try for a baby in the time we had left, since we live around a lot of my family and I have a really strong support structure here. I will look for another program when we get settled in our new location.

The practical side of this decision is that, for the next 2-3 years at least, I am a stay-at-home wife and mother. We talked over the possibility of my working and putting the kiddo in childcare, but I would have to be making a considerable amount to cover the cost of childcare and have enough left over to justify someone else looking after the kiddo for the bulk of the day. We decided, and it was a mutual decision that I feel very good about, that I would stay home with the baby. It made more sense financially, and I want this time with my child.

Even though I know this is the best thing for me and my family, I struggle everyday with the identity of "stay-at-home wife and mother". It's not something I ever saw for myself. In my younger days, I even looked down on it(before sociology and life experience beat some sense into me).  Reading other women's blogs that deal with homemaking through a non-traditional viewpoint has been helpful. In particular, Calamity Jane's post on "Reclaiming Housewifery" has helped me articulate the feelings I've been having regarding my transition. 

Linking my new-found domesticity with urban homesteading has definitely helped. Raising my children to take pride in homegrown food, looking after livestock, and providing for ourselves rather than relying on store-bought convenience is one way in which I can effect change on a societal scale. Change begins at home, and achieving the great shift in our society from a throw-away culture reliant on imports and convenience foods requires a revolution in the home. In it's beginning, that was what "Home Economics" was about. Running a household efficiently, being self-sufficient, being thrifty. It requires intelligence and creativity, and a lot of math. Sadly, horribly, home economics has been reduced in schools to how to sew a throw pillow, and how to bake cookies. Not how to provide a nutritious and varied diet for our families on a realistic budget, while saving for emergencies and planning a long-term future.

Domestic unpaid labor is important. Raising the next generation is important. Homemakers wield more power than they(we) realize. When I allow myself to feel like a child who gets an allowance, instead of a vital part of my household and society as a whole, I am doing a great disservice to all of us who, by choice or necessity, apply our talents and intelligence to running our homesteads(be they studio apartments or sprawling farms). It is not "unfeminist" to engage in domestic unpaid labor and child-rearing. We are not wasting our potential by working in the home sphere instead of offices. 

This is not a zero-sum game.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chicken Prolapse Success Story

 Rosie is officially reintegrated into the flock. We removed her prolapse sutures Saturday night and kept her inside for observation until Sunday. Her vent is looking very good, and the prolapse has not recurred, much to my relief. She hasn't started laying again, but I'm not worried.

Although she has lost her status as the alpha hen, she is still trying to assert her dominance against Ruth. Ruth is proving to be an excellent leader, protecting the other hens from Rosie and putting Rosie in her place without injuring her.

Ponyo is becoming quite hen-pecked by the girls. She'll come outside with us when we go check on the chickens, but she stays very close since the hens will chase her around the yard and peck at her. I feel bad for her, but she did mercilessly harass them the entire time they were growing up in their brooder. I'm hoping she'll be able to assert herself enough to reach something of a truce with the chickens. Otherwise we'll probably fence off the back half of the yard for the chickens, so Ponyo has some space to herself.

Marie has been laying somewhat steadily for us. Her egg size fluctuates, but her body seems to be dialing it in. Soon I'll have pictures of a lovely bowl full of blue eggs to share with you.

She is by far our most sociable chicken. Anytime we come outside, she immediately runs up to us and follows us around the entire time we're there. Today, I perched on the edge of the raised beds and she hopped right up. Ponyo helpfully inspected her vent to make sure she's not having any prolapse issues.

 "Nope, this one's butt is fine."

 She did figure out she can hop in to the raised bed, and began scratching around for bugs and scraps. I think it's the first time she's done that, she seemed quite surprised. Mr. Bear will be building a greenhouse around the beds, so I'm not so worried about them figuring out how to hop up there.

 At four months, Ada has become quite a flashy hen. I love her feathers! She seems to have given up her quest to be the alpha hen, and is content to run around the yard and stalk Ponyo when she's out. Neither she nor Ruth have shown any signs of laying yet. Mr. Bear and I regularly check the yard for wayward eggs, though I hope since Marie took to laying in the nest box immediately that the others will, too.

 Oh, the fluffy chicken butts...

 Marie showed Ruth how to get into the raised bed.

 After researching vent prolapses like Rosie's, I had become very very fearful, since so many of the stories ended in tragedy. I am so very happy that things have worked out well for Rosie, I would have been so sad to have lost her after only having her for a few short months.

Things I have learned from Rosie's prolapse:
  1. Have a chicken first-aid kit on hand. Ours is stocked with hemostats, small snipping scissors, Vetericyn, Preparation H, bandages, epsom salt, electrolytes and gloves.
  2. Chickens are both more delicate and tougher than we think. We could have removed that troubling tissue on our own, but having never done something like that before, we were too wary to do so. Should something like that happen again, we now know that it's okay to attempt to remove the tissue ourselves. The Chicken Chick has a great post on how to treat a prolapse. I followed her advice, but since Rosie's prolapse looked so different, I opted to take her to a vet just in case.
  3. Know where the nearest vet who will treat chickens is to you. I feel so much better knowing that we have a good vet who knows his chickens near enough that we can get the girls to him without too much hassle.
  4. Enjoy your chickens everyday! They won't be with you forever.

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