Living Large In Our Little House Blog

Feeling Blue Over the Green

The two tomato plants hit hardest by worms and our sad cucumber plant


I’m not feeling blue over the green in our bank account, although that could always use some improvement, especially now that our boat broke down and we’re confined to land until we can save up enough to have it fixed.

No, I’m really talking about the green on our deck; our container garden is looking pretty bad.

At the first of the season, I read an article about whether growing your own vegetables was really worth it, as compared to the yield one gets.

It took into account all of the money spent to get the garden up and running, as well as the stuff you spend money on throughout the season to keep it producing.

Although we don’t use chemicals and do it organically, we still spent a little over $100 to get the container vegetable garden going this year.


A Big Butt Problem

If you’re of a certain age, you will most likely remember the television ads of the 1970s that showed the Native American crying over the trash left in what was a pristine setting.

A child of the 60s and 70s, I was taught young to try to conserve energy by turning off all of the lights in the house when I wasn’t in a room and not to litter.

That’s why it is so maddening to walk down our road with the dogs taking in as much unspoiled nature as possible and see trash.

On a half mile stretch of our road yesterday, I picked up no less than a half dozen newly tossed cigarette butts and the remnants of a blown out balloon on a string.


A Tale of Two Turtles on World Turtle Day

Today is World Turtle Day, so I think it’s fitting that we were able to save a box turtle yesterday.

Dale called me yesterday morning and said, “I have a box turtle in a box.”

Ok, I’ll bite. “Why would you have a box turtle in a box?”

“He was in our bathroom, and I’m going to bring him home and let him go.”

“In your bathroom at work? That’s weird,” I said.

“Better than the skunk they found in there a few years ago,” he replied.

It was a fine idea to bring the turtle here, considering that there are busy roads all around his job and not only that, he works with some really immature and evidently cruel people.

Some of the other men at his work tossed a huge snapping turtle around a couple of years ago until it died.

When I told a friend about this, she said, “Grown men?” Yes. Sadly.


Working for the Weekend, Not Through the Weekend

Our cove as looking from the lake's main channel


You know the old song, “Working for the Weekend”? Operative word is for, not through.

I have never been the one to answer the call of housework when there is something else I could be doing, and this past weekend was no exception.

On Saturday, we did have to go and do grocery and bank errands early in the morning, but we got sidetracked as well visiting a couple of antique stores and pawn shops. We rarely buy anything, as we didn’t on Saturday, but I still like to go “junking.”

On Sunday, we had a zillion things we could have been doing around the house – spring cleaning, finishing the clothes rotation, laundry, yard work, installing the window air unit…the list goes on.


Snake Bit

Sade with Dale and Kerri /Photograph by Kevin Pieper for Mother Earth News


I have a new theory: All I have to do to ensure one of our Six Pack gets hurt is start a big project.

Tuesday, I was rotating the closet from winter to summer clothes. It was unbearably hot that day; we hit record highs in the 90s, just two days after hitting record lows.

I heard Dale pull into the drive and Sade run off of the deck to greet him. She loves lying in the sun on the deck. About 5 minutes later, he called for me to come outside.

I climbed over the mountain of clothes ready to be packed away and found him standing with a shovel over a snake.


Avoiding the Dirty Dozen


Container Garden 2013

I finally got my container garden in this past week! It did get down into the high 30s on Sunday morning, but I’m hoping we’re done with the threat of frost.

This will be the biggest garden I’ve ever tried with 4 different types of tomatoes, 4 varieties of peppers, cucumbers and cilantro (which was a huge fail last year).

I container garden due to the very rocky terrain and the difficulty in keeping gardens out of the paws of critters.

We might just have to rename The Party Deck to The Plant Deck.

I’ll be glad to not have to buy some of these things when my plants start producing. I’m growing everything organic, which can get expensive at the store.

When I paid a visit to the doctor last week, we talked about our new healthier lifestyle and how it was going. We got on the subject of soda and diet soda and how bad they are for us. I told him we try to drink green tea, and he asked me if it was organic. I told him Dale had shopped for the tea and brought home conventional.

Tea, evidently, is one of the big no-nos to buy conventional (who knew?) as it has tested high in pesticide residue. Tea is not listed among the Dirty Dozen, but I trust my doctor, so we purchased organic green tea this week. It did get me to wondering again about the “Dirty Dozen,” so called by the Environmental Working Group for the foods that have tested the highest in pesticide residue.

Because of the cost of organic, if I can get away with not buying organic avocados and bananas, I will (they rank #48 and #35 respectively on the list of having lesser pesticide residue).

I read this list a while back, but had also read somewhere that if you can peel it, the food should be ok. Generally true, but not for potatoes, which I’ve been buying conventionally grown (#10 on the list, oops).

Here is the Dirty Dozen. For a list of all 48 tested foods, go to the link for EWG above:

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet Bell Peppers
  8. Nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Potatoes
  11. Cherry Tomatoes
  12. Hot Peppers

Keep in mind that this list tested for pesticide residue only and didn’t take into consideration genetically modified foods (GMOs). While corn is not on this list, we always buy organic to avoid buying a GMO, as up to 80 percent of all corn produced now is genetically modified.

Other foods they recommend you purchase organic are meat and dairy products. If meat and dairy are not marked organic, the animals could have been fed GMOs or been given hormones and antibiotics.

I bought 9 of the items on this list this past week and all but the potatoes were organic.

What’s your score?  


Two Things you Should Never Say to a Woman

Dale and Kerri /Photograph by Kevin Pieper for Mother Earth News

About 10 days ago, I posted about making an eating lifestyle change to an all plant based, whole foods diet.

Nearly two weeks in, we’re still doing pretty well with it with a few exceptions. We had some leftover eggs, cheese and butter we didn’t want to waste so Dale ate those and I had some yummy Coffeemate creamer I finished this week.

Dale really never committed to the change completely, opting for a day a week to eat whatever he wanted. We haven’t had meat, though (well, I did have one stuffed mushroom with a teaspoon or less of crab meat stuffing in it), and he calls me when he is traveling for work to ask me what he should eat on the menu when he’s eating out.

I really don’t feel any different yet, but when I stepped on the scales last weekend, I was heartened to see I had lost 5 pounds. That may not sound like a lot, but that’s a total of 10 pounds since I started seeing the doctor trained in traditional Chinese medicine.

I figure every pound counts, especially since I’ve been feeling old, fat and frumpy as of late.

An experience at the health food store didn’t help last week.


A Winter Weekend in May


We had the wood burning stove going this past weekend


When we moved south, so did our expectations of having to wait for May 15 to plant without the fear of frost.

Traditionally, this past weekend, I would have been busy getting our pots ready for planting our tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. I then would have gone on Sunday and carefully selected our veggies for our container garden, as well as the flowers I have on our Party Deck.

Not this year.

This past weekend was spent holed up inside Our Little House, catching up on our sleep and the shows we had on our DVR, as if it were a weekend in February.

We even had a fire going in the woodburning stove. This was the first time in 194 years Arkansas saw snow in May (no accumulation, but it did fall) and we broke all kinds of records for low temperatures and the lowest highs.

In May. Crazy.

I was disappointed at first that I wouldn’t be getting my hands in the dirt, but it turned out ok.

Dale had a long week working until 10 p.m. two nights, which set us back on our sleep. I had a hard week with work too, as well as adjusting to a new cooking routine for our whole food, plant based diet.

We took the weekend to rest and recoup. One thing we didn’t do was snack, which is what we would have done had we not committed to our new diets, but stepping on the scales was enough to keep us going. We both lost some weight in the first week.

When the weather doesn’t cooperate, how do you readjust your plans? Are you tired of the cool and rainy weather too this spring?