I never intended to take such a long break from my blog, but I’m ready to come back now. I wasn’t in a writing mood for a long time, after some financial setbacks, but even though we aren’t completely out of the woods, we have at least found the path, and I’m ready to pick back up where I left off!

Well, not exactly where I left off. First off all, we’ve moved to a new house! Our new house truly is on the prairie. This is the view from my front yard:

The view from my front door.

Not only are we in a new house out in the country, but we’ve left the Little Town on the Prairie behind. We’re near a much MUCH smaller town now. The new little town boasts a library, post office, lumber yard, and gas station/convenience store. And that’s it.

Not only are we near a much smaller town, but we’re in a much smaller house! Our old house was roughly 1200 square feet. If I had to guess, I’d say this is about 600 square feet. And I love it. We’ve put a lot of work into it, and it’s getting cuter and cuter every day. Some day soon I plan to give you all a tour of it.

And of course, the Little Kids on the Prairie are getting bigger and smarter every day. Wesley just had his fifth birthday and is playing t-ball this year, and Alice is almost three and obsessed with pretty dresses.

Although I’m still passionate about green issues, that’s not going to be my main focus of the blog. (Not that it has been for a while now!) I’m going to keep talking about green issues, but I’ll probably focus more on frugal living and life in the country. I’ll probably blab on and on about our huge garden, because I’m so very proud of it. We ate green beans out of it last night! It was our first garden produce of the year, so it was really exciting.

So I’m very glad to be back, and I’d love to hear from any of you!

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Yesterday while prowling through a big antique mall (one of my all-time favorite things to do) I came across an entire booth dedicated to vintage linens and other textiles.

I practically dove into the booth, much to Ryan’s dismay, and finally came back out holding several different sets of cloth napkins to ask his opinion. When I asked him if he liked the gold napkins or the white ones with the little flower embroidered on the corner, he rolled his eyes and answered neither. I took that to mean that he liked the flower embroidered set better and tossed them into our cart.

Then I spotted the cutest half-apron EVER. I have never worn an apron before, but I think that it would be a good idea. I’m constantly ruining my clothes while cooking, and my primary argument for staying in my pajamas all day is that I’m not going anywhere, so why ruin my clothes if no one is going to see them?

But then, dummy that I am, put the apron back down and backed slowly out of the booth, with just my napkins and a really awesome silhouette picture. (I added the orange felt behind her, she looked really plain before.)

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Once at home, I really began regretting not getting the apron. The fabric was so cute, and it really would be handy to have.

So I hopped on Etsy and began searching. The new aprons were so adorable, but they were a bit out of my price range. So in the vintage section, I found these:

Aren’t they cute? The one in the middle has owls on it. That’s what sold me. I got all three for $15.

Yup. I’m officially June Cleaver.

I’ve been dreaming of getting a new mattress for years now. Ryan and I have been sleeping on what is basically a rock for the last five years. It was given to us for free, so we certainly weren’t complaining, but I’m pretty sure that the mattress was manufactured roughly around the Civil War. I’m surprised it’s not stuffed with straw.  

Did you know that all mattresses off-gas, and the longer you have them, the worse they are? Mixing toxic chemicals with your dead skin cells and sweat simply makes it worse over the years. First of all…gross. Like, really, really gross. Second of all, that really can’t be good for you.

Some common chemicals in standard mattresses include formaldehyde, styrene, butadiene and other petroleum derivatives. Mmm…comfy and cozy. Nothing like cuddling up with the same chemical used to preserve dead people.

So, of course, I’ve been looking into organic mattresses. And, of course, they are totally and completely out of my price range. Sigh.

A standard king-sized mattress can be bought for around $800. An organic king-sized mattress runs from about $3 to 4,000. And of course, since I do live in BFE, I’d have to include shipping costs in with that mattress.

Darn. It looks like I have very few options here. I really hate to shell out the money for a standard, chemical-stuffed mattress, but on the other hand, I really CAN’T shell out the dough for the lovely chemical-free version. Most of my vehicles have cost less than that. And then on the OTHER hand (how many hands do I have, anyway?) I really cannot stand sleeping on my current mattress anymore. Although I did say that I like vintage things, I didn’t quite mean it when it comes to the mattress I’m sleeping on.

After my last cold, I got tired of using my husband’s ugly blue and red handkerchiefs. I mean, yeah, they got the job done, and were better than a wad of tissues.

But I still wanted something prettier. I bought these pretty vintage embroidered hankies on Etsy from this wonderful seller.

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Aren’t they sweet? Unfortunately, they are a little too sweet. I am afraid to blow my nose on them! How silly.

They are a bit on the delicate side, so I was thinking about saving these to tuck into my pocket for occasions like weddings and Joan of Arcadia reruns, and getting myself some sturdier vintage hankies that I’m not afraid to actually use.

Maybe something more like this, from the same Etsy seller.

hankie

drawersasshelves

 

I spotted this idea on the ‘net today and I am positively in love. I have got to find myself a crappy old dresser so that I can do this! I know just the spot for it, too. Of course, it will have to be in my bedroom so that the kids don’t pull it down, but that’s okay.

Craftynest posted all about how to turn these old drawers from a kitchen remodel into a modular bookcase. How great is this? I’m constantly spying ratty old dresser drawers on the curb waiting for someone to rescue them. And now that I have this idea in mind, I’m going to be that rescue person!

There’s nothing like getting a new piece of furniture for pennies, not to mention keeping something out of the landfill, to put a smile on your face.

The Little Green House has been seriously lacking in something, and it’s been bugging me lately. It took me awhile to figure out what it was, and it took a mention from some of my friends to help me realize what was missing: plants!

I had asked some on-line friends what I should do with my big bay window. All agreed that I needed curtains (which I’ve made and will show off soon!). Other than that, two suggestions were made, and I loved both.

Our living room

Our living room

The first suggestion was to fill the bay window with pillows and make it a window seat, an idea which I love love loved. Unfortunately though, the window is so high that idea was out, unless I planned to pole vault into it every time I wanted to have a seat.

The next suggestion was to fill the window with plants and greenery. Although I seriously loved this idea, the plant serial killer in me cringed at the thought of subjecting them to my care. I imagine ferns and daisies eyeing me with fear, as I walk towards them with my watering can. To them I probably look like Kathy Bates in Misery. Will I over water them? Under water? Or will I ignore them altogether as they wilt away to a dull brown?

But I’m going to give it a try. I probably won’t go all out, with a window full of plants, but surely I can handle two or three, right?

Although I am decorating my house and trying to make myself “love the one I got,” I still dream of one day owning my very own little house. I’ve been drooling over various pictures of cob houses that I’ve spotted all over the Internet and thought I’d share them with you here.

Cob is a mixture of clay, sand, water, earth, and straw, mashed up together to make a little loaf for building, which are then put together and used sort of like bricks. It’s also generally covered with plaster. It was a very common building material in England in the 1800s, and is somewhat similar to adobe.

And of course…talk about eco friendly! Seriously, what could be better than building with plain ol’ dirt?  

Note: If you spot your own picture here and would like credit for it, please leave a comment for me and I’ll be sure to give you credit. I’ve been swiping these from the ‘net for almost a year now and have lost track!

Cottage with traditional thatched roof.

Cottage with traditional thatched roof.

 

Look at these fabulous shelves and nooks, built in to the cob.

Look at these fabulous shelves and nooks, built in to the cob.

 

Can't you just imagine sleeping in this beautiful room? I love the barn-style door.

Can't you just imagine sleeping in this beautiful room? I love the barn-style door.

 

These stairs are sooo cool! And check out all the nooks and built in shelves everywhere.

These stairs are sooo cool! And check out all the nooks and built in shelves everywhere.

 

Could this door BE any cooler?

Could this door BE any cooler?

 

Yup. Still awesome.

Yup. Still awesome.

Ugh. <— That is the sound I made yesterday when trying to button my jeans. I did get them buttoned, but it really wasn’t pretty.

It’s really no mystery as to why I’ve gained a few pounds: I don’t exercise and I eat like crap. Plus, I think I’ve hit the age of diminished returns.

See, when I was sixteen, I could eat whatever I wanted and never gain an ounce. If I took a thirty minute walk, I’d lose two pounds. Okay, not literally, but it seemed that way. I had the metabolism of a hummingbird.

At twenty, and pre-children, I was pretty much the same way. After Wesley was born, it took me almost a year to lose all the baby weight, after which I promptly became pregnant with Alice.  Oh, and I should mention here that both times I was pregnant, I did not gain the recommended 25-30 pounds. Oh, no, no, no.  I gained significantly more. So much more, that I’m embarrassed to put the number down in writing.

But after Alice was born, I lost the weight pretty quickly, thanks mostly to breastfeeding, I think.

Now here I am, two months since I last nursed Alice, and I hadn’t adjusted my pig-out eating habits. I’m in my mid twenties and I’ve had two kids. Diminished returns. And that’s how we come to…

Ugh.

I really, really, really hate shopping for jeans. I’m apparently not built in a size that jean-makers recognize, so I get that horrible gaping at the back so that everyone can see what color underwear I’m wearing. I’ve finally found jeans that don’t do that, and I really don’t want to give them up. But like I said…not pretty.

Plus, it’s not exactly eco-friendly to have to buy new pants every time you gain a few pounds.

So instead, I’m exercising. Yes, that’s right. I find it easier to work out than to shop for pants.

Today I spent a little time with Gilad. My kids found it extremely entertaining to watch me bop around the living room, throwing my hands and kicking my feet in ways that looked nothing like the leotarded ladies on my screen. (Yes, I know that leotarded isn’t a real word. Just go with me, here.)

I never could get my step-kick-hop-up to look like Gilad’s. Even his mother, who was a guest on the show for the day, was kicking my butt.

My trip to the grocery store this afternoon was especially difficult. Why is it, that after less than twenty-four hours of attempted healthy eating, I wanted to cry when I walked down the cookie aisle? Would one little bowl of ice cream really be that bad?

Of course not. One bowl of ice cream never hurt anyone. Unless you have the willpower of, well…me, then you wouldn’t just stop at one bowl. You wouldn’t be satisfied until you had decimated the entire carton. So I had to do the extremely difficult thing and just walk right on by all the chocolaty, sugary goodness in aisle five and head for the produce section.

Stupid apple. I wish you were a cookie.

Ryan and I have been working on redecorating our house, mostly with things we already own, a few flea market purchases, fabric and paint. We are on a looooooooow budget, so that has largely affected how we spend our money. The other thing that affects our purchases is the fact that we realized that we don’t like new stuff.

 

New things I hate

 

Exhibit A:

Our living room

Our living room

This is my couch. Now, it isn’t new anymore, but I purchased it new after I moved into my first apartment in 2002. Almost immediately I hated it. The cushions slide out constantly, exposing tan fabric on the back of the cushion, and every little fuzzy shows up terribly on the black fabric. You can imagine how my hatred has multiplied over the last seven years with the couch. Pushing the cushions in fifty times a day and doing my best to ignore every cracker crumb, baby booger, and speck of dust on the fabric has filled me with…well, I was going to say rage but it has really become more of a dull hatred over the years.

 

Exhibit B:

wesleysroom-1030-wince

This is our kitchen table. Pretty isn’t it? Look closer.

wesleysroom-1652

 

Yes, that’s right. The finish on the wood is peeling off like a mo-fo. Haaaaaaate. We bought this on a (stupid) whim less than a year ago. I don’t even want to know what it’s going to look like in five years. Probably like a pile of ashes when I torch it in a fury in the backyard.

 

Exhibit C:

Okay, so we didn’t actually pick this item out. The stove was new when we bought this house, and it has one of those smooth glass tops. At first my eyes were glazed over by the shiny pretty of it. That lasted all of about one hour.

Now, while it’s super easy to wipe crumbs and grease off with a wet rag, it doesn’t get that nice shiny finish on it again until you polish it with special cleaner and (gasp!) a paper towel. You can imagine, especially since I told you yesterday that we haven’t bought paper towels in a year, that it doesn’t look shiny pretty very often. Oh, and I can’t use my favorite copper bottom cookware (because they have a slightly rounded bottom), cast iron (because it will scratch) or can my garden produce (because the canner is too heavy and could break the burner under the glass). Now, if you can’t can, what can you do? Lame joke aside, seriously. Come on, Stove Making People. Can you imagine going back in time and telling a housewife fifty years ago that she couldn’t can on her stove? My, how things have changed.

 

Old things I love

 

Exhibit A:

wesleysroom-1650

My copper bottom cookware. Now, it may get me in trouble to call these old. (Sorry Mom!) I’m going to play it safe and say that they are not old-old, but youngish. Sort of. My mom and dad got these when they got married…er, awhile back. Then Mom gave them to me when I got my first apartment. They are the best pots ever. Nothing sticks to these babies, and they clean up like a dream. Even though I can’t use the pots on my current stove, I’m saving them in case we ever have a good stove again. (Thankfully I can still use the big skillet, it’s my favorite!) I have no idea what brand they are, because the engraving on the bottom has been worn away by…uhh, what was surely some small amount of years of use. They need a good ketchup polishing to shine the copper back up, though.

 

Exhibit B:

wesleysroom-1651

 Ryan and I bought this dresser at a used furniture store here in town. I don’t know how old it is, but it’s pretty. And probably old. For sure older than the cookware. 😉

 

Exhibit C:

wesleysroom-1647

I rescued these octagonal tables from my uncle’s dusty old storage silo on his farm several years ago. They were pretty tired looking, and someone had apparently begun to sand off the finish but was daunted by all the detail work and gave up. Ryan and I gave them a new coat of paint recently and now they look spiffy and pretty. They have been some of my favorite pieces of furniture for years, even back when they were worn and dull looking. They are sturdy enough to sit on (Or stand on, launch yourself into the air, and scream something about flying. Just ask Wesley.) and they also have really great detail work that you just don’t see on modern furniture.

 

Of course, the best thing about old stuff is that you don’t have to stress about putting that first scratch, dent, or tear on it. Someone else has already done the honors. And of course, although it goes without saying, I’ll say it anyway. Buying used is always better for the environment than buying new.

 

And it really is true. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Tap, tap, tap…is this thing on?

Yeah, so it’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Don’t worry, I’m still here! I got out of the blogging habit over the summer while there was so much to do, and then every time I thought about coming back I was at a loss of how to start!

But I’m back now. And I think it’s time to give an update of my greener life! Since my last post:

-I have not purchased a single roll of paper towels. It’s completely habit to simply grab a cloth towel to wipe a spill or a cloth napkin to have a snack. I haven’t even missed paper towels at all.

– I’m still cloth diapering. And…drum roll please…I only have one in diapers now! Yes, Wesley finally decided to be merciful to me. That means that I only have to wash diapers twice a week, rather than three times a week. Yay! However, it’s fracking cold outside. That means that I haven’t put clothes outside on the line to dry in ages. If I were really hardcore I’d go out there and hang the clothes even when it is eight degrees. And if I were smart, I’d just get an indoor drying rack. But…alas, I am neither. So I use the dryer.

– I nursed Alice until she self-weaned at sixteen months. This means that I never purchased a single bottle or can of formula for her. I’m not bragging. Well, okay, maybe just a little. But I am extremely proud of myself for that, since I only nursed Wesley for two weeks. And just think of all the money I saved!

– The kids both got a lot of really great quality toys for Christmas this year. A lot of books, puzzles, and wooden toys. My mom even hunted down some books from my childhood, such classics as Grover’s Own Alphabet and The Bunny Book.

– Most of the greener habits I started nearly a year ago are just that: habits. I hardly even notice that I’m doing them now. And I’m happy to report that it’s catching! My mom has been faithfully using her cloth shopping bags. In fact, last time I was at her house I needed a plastic bag to wrap a toxic diaper in, and she didn’t have any because it had been so long since she took a shopping bag from the store! Go Mom! (I have to admit, she’s better at remembering the bags than I am. That’s one habit I really need to work on.)

I’ll be back to post more later! Ryan and I are finally trying to decorate our house so it looks more grown up and put together and less “crap other people didn’t want.” Of course, we are doing this almost entirely by using crap other people didn’t want, but that’s neither here nor there.