Monday, August 1, 2011

And on that note...

I've lost that blogging feeling.

If you really need something to read right now, I'd suggest some Rowdy Kittens.
Castles in the Air.

A book.

Or get up out of your chair and go do something.
You're on your own with that one, but I'm pretty confident there's something else you should be doing right now.
Something better.
Detaching your butt from that chair would be a good start.
And don't go turn on the television.
Really do something.

This is your life, after all.
Do you really want to see yourself staring blankly at a computer when the whole thing flashes in front of your eyes one day?

...and go!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011


I'm still here. 
I'm just outside.

 Much to our surprise, our rhody is actual starting to bloom. The poor thing has had a rough life (planted, swamped, transplanted, hacked way back--all in less than a year) and my heart leapt when I saw bright pink starting to bust out of the buds. 

 I was pretty sure it was a goner. 
Resilient little sucker.

 Garlic is starting to put off scapes. 
Must. Be. Patient.


 Two little rows of them!
And we're adding another row this weekend. 

 Strawberries! We planted three different varieties this year and they're all taking off. 

 It's a tiny flower now, but it will be a tasty berry soon enough. 

We're going to need another row or two, at least. 

 Bordeaux spinach--again, we'll be planting another round this weekend. 

 Itsy bitsy Chamomile


Are you getting that we're growing our own tea here?

One of the onions we planted last fall. I couldn't resist. I had to see how big they've grown. It was the runt, anyway. And it was delicious. 

 Gave up the goldfish because we can't recycle the mylar packaging and totally rocked some homemade cheddar crackers. No surprise--they're far more delicious and extremely easy to make. Now I just need a tiny cookie cutter...

When I am inside, I've been reading a lot of this: click
And this: click
And this: click

And that's about it for now.

Monday, April 18, 2011


My desire to frolic about on the intraweb has waned drastically over the last couple months. It started with No TV Tuesday and the very appealing concept of a digital sabbatical. More and more, I find I'm less and less entertained by the shiny baubles of technology. It's not a bad thing. It's a fabulous thing, really.  Stepping away from the computer means, for me, stepping back into my day. My house. My garden. My projects. My daughter. My husband. My life.

My life.

What would it be like if we didn't have (gasp!) an internet connection? Can you imagine?! I try. I've definitely cut waaaaay back on the amount of time I spend in front of a screen of any sort. Checking my email one afternoon, I realized very little of it was from actual people--the majority was advertising and sales. Sales for things I don't need with links to more things I really don't have any interest in perusing. In a fit of tears (seriously), I systematically unsubscribed from nearly everything that was cluttering up my inbox and I can't begin to tell you how liberating it was to cut those cords.

This is my life. These are the days that make up my life. Why on Earth have I been spending so much time clicking it all away when I could be doing something? And I'm being pretty hard on myself here, because I don't (didn't) spend all that much time online. I still managed to accomplish a lot with my days. What I noticed, though, was a deeply engrained habit of "just checking". Email. News. Blogs. Weekly grocery ads. Any random thought that needed further clarification. And it wasn't making me feel good. So I stopped. Well, I'm stopping. It's a process. I am beating the jeepers out of my to-do list. The collection of sites I actually pay attention to has dwindled until they can be counted on one hand. I'm reading so much more--in fact, I find I crave time to read a book more than I yearn to watch a movie lately. I'm imagining, in full color, what it would be like to completely disconnect and live outside of town. To raise a child with books and gardens and seasons, rather than Elmo, iPads, and days full of often fruitless tasks that do nothing but lead us further and further from feeling genuinely satisfied.

So, what's left is for me to find a balance. I do get some satisfaction from writing, but I'm not super thrilled that it sometimes feels like an obligation. We can't run away and build a life in the hills just yet, so I'll just have to bring the hills down to the Valley floor for now. And we haven't won the lottery, so the epic cross-country tour and the EuroVan will just have to wait. In the meantime, there are plenty of amazing things for us to do right here at home. And I will write when I feel like it.

 And I will cook.

 And step outside... take a very good look... all the extraordinary things...

...that are happening in my life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I have, as it were, lost my voice as of late. Sitting down to write, I find I struggle to keep my thoughts focused and I believe my time would be better spent on the things I always feel I don't have the time to accomplish. They are mundane things--laundry and the like--but they are the things that will keep me on my feet at the end of the day when I could be (should be) sitting, relaxing, taking a breath.

Since I am obviously going to be less than entertaining, here are some people who actually have something to say...

Rowdy Kittens This site has been a tremendous inspiration as Mr. Mallard and I have spent the last six months methodically sorting through every single little thing in our household, determining what we really need. And when I say need, I mean need. It has been a ridiculously liberating process, full of purging and revisiting and purging some more. I can't recommend it enough.

Re-Nest & The Kitchn As part of the Apartment Therapy family, Re-Nest  and The Kitchn have provided me with altogether too many hours of pretty pictures and useful information. Ohdeedoh and Unplggd are equally enlightening, as are the house tours and decorating ideas at Apartment Therapy. Really, I live in a tiny town and these sites give me access to the ideas and inspiration I won't find by walking down Main Street. I can find a gas station and a cigarette shop, but I won't find this: click.

Crunchy Chicken This site makes me realize our pursuit of a low/no-impact way of life isn't crazy and the comments are evidence there are others like us out there. We are not alone! viva la revolucion!

...and that's all you get for now. The laundry needs to be hung, the living room straightened, granola needs to come out of the oven and I need to go enjoy the momentary hush that has fallen over Casa de Mallard before we launch into the noisy, possibly rainy evening ahead.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

DIY Chalkboard Table

I could have sworn I had a Before picture of this little table, but I don't, so I'll just tell you a little story, instead. Once upon a time, we went to a garage sale and paid seven dollars for a slightly battered/obviously loved pint-sized table and chair set. The table and chair set then experienced a long period of neglect as it sat in the cold, messy garage, waiting patiently for us to do something (anything!). 

Unable to watch the little table suffer another moment, Mr. Mallard scuffed up the surface with some sandpaper and put three coats of chalkboard paint on the top, followed by a couple coats of some baby blue paint on the legs. You have to let the chalkboard paint dry for at least three days before you use the surface and you also need to prime it with some chalk. Just make sure you read all the directions and be patient. Very patient. And while it comes in about a dozen different colors, we went with the classic Schoolhouse Green. 

Chalky good times!

Evidence of a successful project: I can't get her to step away long enough for me to take a picture of just the table.

There are still some touch-ups to be done along the edge of the chalkboard part, but the Biggest Girl was going to lose her little marbles if she didn't get to use her table, so we handed it over. And don't think the chairs will be forsaken--no, we've got plans for those, too. Mod Podge-based plans, even. Using the time frame for the table as a basis, we should get to the chairs sometime before, oh, Halloween.  

The leftover chalkboard paint will be put to good use, as well. In an effort to reduce our post-it consumption, we will eventually make a chalkboard to hang in the kitchen. We've also got a wall in the garage that's just aching to be painted and I can see a chalkboard being very useful in a garage. 

So, there you have it. Twelve bucks for a quart of awesome paint and the Biggest Girl has a chalkboard table. Now we just have to resist the urge to chalkboard paint the entire interior of the house. This stuff is just too fun.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Homemade Applesauce

Gather your bruised, battered, not as great as they once were apples, along with one lemon.
Or grab about three pounds of organic apples next time you're at the market--nearly any variety will do, so just get whatever's on sale.

Peel those apples.

Core them by slicing off the two big sides and then the two little sides that remain. 

Rough chop the apples.

Fill a stock pot with your peeled, roughly chopped apples...

...and about a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and about 1/4 cup water. 

Note: If you will not be feeding toddlers, try using bourbon instead of water. 
Oooh...saucy applesauce!

Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the apples are soft enough to pierce with a fork. This will take about 20-30 minutes, depending on the type of apple and the size of the chunk.

When they are soft... 
..blend 'em up with a hand mixer to your desired consistency. Leave some chunks, if you like. If you plan to use the applesauce for baking, puree until smooth. Now's the time to season it, as well. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves...just add a little at a time until you're satisfied with the flavor.


Pour it into freezer containers, leaving a little room for expansion. Stick it in the fridge and then move it to the freezer once it's completely (and I mean completely) cooled. 

No added sugar and no grody preservatives.
It freezes well and it's simple to make.
This will be the reason we finally get a giant chest freezer next fall. 


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