Monday, April 30, 2012

{four}

Juice! Vivi's favorite birthday party treat.

Genevieve is four years old today! I have a spread of food waiting in the kitchen for her to wake up. Hot cross buns (I froze some of the dough at Easter), pancakes, bacon, fried eggs, special candied fruits (pineapple and kiwi, yum!), and a coconut. I thought it would be a fun breakfast project to break it open and drink the juice in our morning smoothie.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

building birdhouses in our souls

TV face, circa spring 2011
Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is running Screen-Free Week from April 30th to May 6th. I love this idea! When we got rid of cable, it became much easier not to turn on the television. While we still do look forward to watching a movie some weekend nights, we consider it a special treat and not the order of the day.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

{this moment}: Daddy!

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.




This post is late to join the SouleMama party, but I couldn't resist. Daddy's home!

Friday, April 27, 2012

go see Vivi's cardboard town!

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Hey y'all, I have some fun news. I have a guest post up at hands on : as we grow today! I am super excited to share it with you and not at all ashamed to boast about it. I've mentioned previously that I'm not the crafty sort, but I am proud of how this craft project turned out. I've you've got a minute, go check it out and leave a comment letting me know what you think.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

weekend work: make-ahead menu + the pantry plan


Oh lawdy bee, I need Nate to come home STAT. I've been holding up my end of the bargain for so long (must be all that tiger blood), and I am nearing the end of my proverbial rope. I have such sweet friends though, y'all. They seem to understand how hard it is to single-parent two kids for two months even better than I do--and yet--they don't give me the pity eyes. You know the look moms give, with the chinless, puckered mouth thing. Dislike! I have gotten this look a ton in the past month. My two Beantown besties do not do this, which is why we can be friends.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

the seven year itch



This just in: I have officially been blogging for seven years! Sometimes putting my thoughts out into the world makes me feel like that guy up there (minus the man junk), but mostly blogging is a wonderful part of my life. I am so thankful--and frankly surprised!--to have all of you lovely readers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

happiness feels like this

Hello Readers! Did you miss me? Is that the most narcissistic thing I could ask? Perhaps I should start with: How are you? I hope you are enjoying the spring. I enjoyed my week off of blogging, but I actually missed talking to you more than I thought I would. But I also loved reading the guests posts along with y'all, just like one of the gang. Tell me, had you ever pondered raising rabbits for food previously? And are you thinking about it now? I also already feel more organized after Barb's great tips on creating a routine. Just as soon as I can pry myself from Pinterest, I plan to enact some of them.

What else can I tell you about us? Let's see, Charlie would probably like me to report that I am failing in the "Remember which pasta shape my kids loves most this week" department. You see, pasta with tomato sauce and meatballs is her favorite lunch, one that she would like at every meal and nothing else (except maybe a few peas), thank you very much. And she made what was--in her mind--a very clear move away from the mini bow ties (not the big ones, mind you. What are you thinking?) and toward the direction of the wagon wheels. Yesterday I made a big batch of mini bow ties, and when I put a bowl of them in front of her, she gave me a look which can only be saying "Excuse me, but I'm pretty sure I ordered a bowl of wagon wheels." We have opinions around here, people.

Lucky for her she's cute. Minus the dried snot.

Monday, April 23, 2012

love the place you live: Minute Man National Park & Orchard House



Have I told you lately how much I love Concord? Oh yeah, only in both of the {Love the Place You Live} posts that I've written so far. But still! I love it enough to write a third post. There are so many wonderful gems in this area that I might even devote a fourth post; maybe I'll head a bit southeast and write about Lincoln, the spot of an aunt's idyllic wedding years ago and also home of our favorite Audubon sanctuary/farm.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

fostering a love of the Earth


*******
Welcome to the Earth Day Blog Carnival
This post is part of the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival hosted by Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction.  Each participant has shared their practices and insights of earth friendly, environmentally conscious, eco-living. This carnival is our way to share positive information and inspiration that can create healing for our planet. Please read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Happy Earth Day!

***


Robbins Farm Garden


Happy Earth Day! I've been looking forward to Earth Day this year because it's the first time Vivi--at almost four years old--understands the word Earth and what it means to protect it. I'm certain my children's understanding will grow and change with age, and I'm looking forward to sharing my knowledge and passion for environmental stewardship with the girls over the coming years.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

where did the day go?: work flow and routines for the rest of us

I invited some fabulous bloggers--and fellow home rangers--to write guest posts on The Lone Home Ranger for this entire week during Vivi's Spring Break (called "April Vacation" in Beantown). These lovely ladies will be bringing you features focused on healthy, natural, and simple living. Enjoy!


Today's post comes from Barb over at A Life in Balance. Be sure to read through to the bottom of the post to see her bio and link to her blog. I included Barb's post on Saturday because it's when I do my breakdown of how the week went and what I need to do the following week to keep the household running smoothly.

***

daily_routine_1


Here's a little secret about me: I don't follow a schedule.

Friday, April 20, 2012

rabbits: the ideal home-scale meat

I invited some fabulous bloggers--and fellow home rangers--to write guest posts on The Lone Home Ranger for this entire week during Vivi's Spring Break (called "April Vacation" in Beantown). These lovely ladies will be bringing you features focused on healthy, natural, and simple living. Enjoy!


Today's post comes from Chandelle over at Chicken Tender. Be sure to read through to the bottom of the post to see her bio and link to her blog. I've also written a few of my own thoughts about her post. 



(N.B.: This is a post about raising rabbits for food, so there is some minor discussion of animal slaughter).

***





RABBITS: THE IDEAL HOME-SCALE MEAT

Several years ago, while living in a dumpy apartment in Salt Lake City and dreaming of greener pastures, I read the book Farm City, by Novella Carpenter. Pored over it, more like. Here was a lady without much money (like me), without land (like me), without a family history of farming (like me), who somehow got it into her head to be a farmer (also like me), and carried it out despite the obstacles, with a severe wit and a willingness to Dumpster-dive to feed her animals. (This last part was not like me, not yet.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

fun with pop can tabs!

I invited some fabulous bloggers--and fellow home rangers--to write guest posts on The Lone Home Ranger for this entire week during Vivi's Spring Break (called "April Vacation" in Beantown). These lovely ladies will be bringing you features focused on healthy, natural, and simple living. Enjoy!


Today's post comes from Jamie over at hands on : as we grow. Be sure to read through to the bottom of the post to see her bio and link to her blog. She makes me miss Wisconsin the way she calls them "pop cans;" where I'm from--Atlanta--they are "coke cans," no matter what beverage they contain.

***


Fun with Pop Can Tabs



Simple toys. Gotta love them. I've been collecting pop cans tabs ever since I collected ideas for the Upcycle Your Recyclables roundup. I couldn't for the life of me find any way to use pop cans or the pop can tabs. I know the pop cans have the sharp edges at the mouth, so I've put that idea aside for awhile. But we did have some fun with the pop can tabs. So, if you have a collection of pop can tabs. Add some pipe cleaners to the mix and you've created a threaded activity for the kids to keep busy with. (Plus the dumping out and picking up of the pop can tabs can definitely keep them busy in itself.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

recession-era gardening

I invited some fabulous bloggers--and fellow home rangers--to write guest posts on The Lone Home Ranger for this entire week during Vivi's Spring Break (called "April Vacation" in Beantown). These lovely ladies will be bringing you features focused on healthy, natural, and simple living. Enjoy!


Today's post comes from Sheri over at Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt. Be sure to read through to the bottom of the post to see her bio and link to her blog. I've also written a few of my own thoughts about her post.

***


Coconut lime echinacea
 As a professional landscaper and a homeowner, I understand the challenge in figuring out where and how best to invest in your home and property. It may be tempting to let those overgrown shrubs go for another year.

But keeping your property in good shape is critical to maintaining (and even increasing) its value. Landscaping is an investment that actually improves over time as plants and trees grow and mature. And if you are in the process of selling your home, creating “curb appeal” is essential to attracting interested buyers and reducing the amount of time your home is on the market.

Proper landscaping has other benefits too:

It lowers your energy costs – strategically placed trees can shade your home and reduce the need for air conditioning – lowering your electric bill in the process.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

strawberry pecan studded brie

I invited some fabulous bloggers--and fellow home rangers--to write guest posts on The Lone Home Ranger for this entire week during Vivi's Spring Break (called "April Vacation" in Beantown). These lovely ladies will be bringing you features focused on healthy, natural, and simple living. Enjoy!


Today's post comes from Jane over at The Healthy Beehive
. Be sure to read through to the bottom of the post to see her bio and link to her blog.
***

Hello, Lone Home Ranger readers! Thank you, Justine, for this opportunity to share a post on your blog, and I hope you are having a great week off!

I love my crockpot. It seems so many people have crockpots that just sit in the cabinet, never used. I find the crockpot such a source of help in the kitchen, and I use it at least once every week, all year round! I work 12 hours days at my real job, and the last thing I want to do is come home and stress over dinner!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Earth Day resist painting

I invited some fabulous bloggers--and fellow home rangers--to write guest posts on The Lone Home Ranger for this entire week during Vivi's Spring Break (called "April Vacation" in Beantown). These lovely ladies will be bringing you features focused on healthy, natural, and simple living. Enjoy!


Today's post comes from Marnie Craycroft. Be sure to read through to the bottom of the post to see her bio and link to her blog, Carrots are Orange.
***

We fell in love with resist painting this past fall working on Letters then again for Valentine's Day. The best part about resist painting is that your kids get a great sensory experience and get to be messy! In the end, the result always seems to be beautiful.

 Here is how we created an Earth resist painting.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

spring break!


Yes, okey dokey is the day
when all you Rolie did was play.
-from Rolie Polie Olie by William Joyce


We spent our entire day outdoors with great weather. What a wonderful way to start spring break with a bang. We made it to church but didn't actually step foot inside the building. Vivi asked me if she could just play on the playground instead (her absolute favorite jungle gym), and I couldn't say no. We spent two glorious hours playing and chatting with the first service folks as they came out and with the second service folks before they went in. Then we had a picnic at home, went to Vivi's favorite park in the afternoon, and stopped in Winchester for ice cream on our way to dinner with friends. The perfect day! (minus Daddy still being gone)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

guest post at CityKids Homeschooling + my series this week


I am honored that Kerry of City Kids Homeschooling--a fellow Bostonian!--asked me to be a part of her DIY homesteading and natural family living series. My guest post is up today, and in it I discuss my 'Made from Scratch' Life. Among other things I never thought I'd do, I've been making crackers, y'all! I hope you'll go check it out, and while you're there, you can read the other fantastic posts in the series.

Speaking of guest posts, I am hosting my own {Simple and Healthy Living} series starting on Monday and running the whole week. Seven brilliant bloggers will be coming here to share their tips and tricks with you. I hope you'll join me in reading their stories. I'm excited about all that I'll learn from them!

Friday, April 13, 2012

hello new peeps

Hello! This is my first time joining up with the Ultimate Blog Party. I'm a little late to the party, as I just discovered many people sign up at midnight with their posts. These must be the twentysomething bloggers. If you are a veteran reader, you can probably skip this post, unless you'd like to meet moi all over again.

So hi there! Allow myself to introduce...myself. I am an urban homesteader who writes about natural family living. I strive to do more with less. My posts vary from recipes to daily life to parenting, but they all generally originate from my simplicity-focused philosophy on life, aka. my {minimalist manifesto}. You can learn more about me on my {first time here?} page and {about} page. There's even more to learn on my list of {32 things} and my post about {the fam}.

That's a lot about me! But I'd also like to learn about you. I welcome comments, and I hope this blog will become a place that you come to share ideas and learn from each other. I have also begun welcoming guest posts, so if you would like to contribute to the blog, please email me at lonehomeranger [at] gmail [dot]com. I welcome ideas related to real food, do-it-yourself homesteading, and any other topic related to simple and healthy living. I hope to have a page up soon with some guidelines to help you get the most out of contributing a guest post.

Today has become a twosome post kind of day, and depending on when my contributions to other blogs air, it could become a threesome or foursome kind of day. Which is not a bad thing at all!

I'm so glad you're here, and I hope you'll be back soon.
xoxo
~Justine



Ultimate Blog Party 2012

the library: an urban homesteader's most trusted companion

As a budding urban homesteader, I often felt disconnected from my rural counterparts, who I imagined were spending their days picking up tips and tricks from each other in knitting circles and at community pot-lucks. Whether they actually ever attend these events is unknown to me, but these scenarios have been firmly entrenched in my fantasy of rural life. I felt left out of their knowledge loop, like a shy schoolgirl who sits on the periphery of the cafeteria.

I'm happy to report I have managed to join the homesteading reindeer games, and the instructions weren't as difficult to come by as I once imagined. My take-home point is an old lesson but a good one: Ask, and you shall receive. Today I'm sharing a prodigious source of information for the urban homesteader that connects me to the past, present, and future of natural family living and DIY homesteading: My library!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chuck Norris believes it's not butter

The closet of doom, aka. the office closet.

I know I really should be paying attention to areas in my home like the closet above, but how can I begin tackling these kinds of projects when my Google Reader tells me I have 1000+ unread articles?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

and the band played on

Progress.

Yesterday I had a day of mixed emotions. Mostly, I was super psyched because I shared my first post with the Carnival of Natural Parenting, a huge step for me in my quest to allow myself to be vulnerable with you in this bloggy space. I got some great feedback (yay!) and was feeling the love. Additionally, I was invited to write guest posts on two of my favorite blogs! And, I'm having my own set of guest posts next week by some lovely writers! But, I also encountered my first snark attack.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

redefining beauty for my daughter

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal Care
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles relating to their children's personal care choices.
***


Monday, April 09, 2012

avocado "milk"shake: healthy junk-food alternative


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Now that I've broken the ice with avocado nutella, I'm sold on the idea of sweetness and avocado together. I started pondering other ways to incorporate avocado into desserts in which a creamy element is desired but where you could also cut calories and not compromise on flavor. What about a milk shake? Because every idea has already been attempted somewhere on the internet, I was sure I'd find something when I googled "avocado shake." I did, and it's a good one! A Cozy Kitchen made a simple shake with avocado, coconut milk, and sweetened condensed milk. A natural shamrock green shake! Take that, McDonald's.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

an Easter full of peekaboo and buns

N.B.: This title is no doubt going to attract some p0rn searches, but whattaya gonna do? 

I know I've already posted once today, but I couldn't resist sharing the game of peekaboo we played while eating our special Easter snack, hot cross buns. As you're about to see, Charlotte kinda liked it.

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Hope you had a splendid weekend! I'm off to make eggs and sausage for dinner, cuz that's the kind of day we're having.

xoxo,
~J

p.s. I didn't video Vivi because she's gotten a hair cut, and I'm talking more about it (and showing a picture!) on Tuesday.

celebrating new life and new opportunities

I enjoyed telling Vivi the story of Easter...or rather, reading a book to her on the subject I got from the library, Easter by Gail Gibbons. It's a sweet book that wraps up all of the elements of Easter nicely. If you struggle as I do about how to incorporate Jesus, hunting for eggs, candy, and the Easter bunny together, you might also enjoy the book. Er, well, it's a bit late for me to be telling you. Next year you'll enjoy it. File that one away somewhere.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

cod with apples and onions {kid-friendly meal}

I was raised Catholic, and although we are no longer of the Catholic faith* and don't participate in Lent, I still tend to abstain from meat on Good Friday out of a fondness for my childhood memories (ditto hot cross buns; I tried Pioneer Woman's recipe this year). When we lived in Wisconsin, we adored the Friday fish fry tradition, which is held year-round as opposed to just during Lent. I miss Fried Fish Fridays! (or as they would say up there..."Do ya' miss Fish Fridays at all?" "Yah, I miss 'em").

Friday, April 06, 2012

{this moment}: sisters

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.




via SouleMama

Thursday, April 05, 2012

pasta primavera with beet greens...and a cocktail



n.b.: I'd love to use a more hokey title like "My dish beets yours" or something similarly cutesy, but I am trying my best to follow sage techie advice and stick with SEO basics. Boorrring. Moving on...

Recently I stumbled upon another cleanse regimen, this time a {food lover's cleanse} via Bon Appetit. I like their concept in principle because they assembled two weeks worth of menu (ideal length, I think) and provided snazzy photos with easily printed recipes (week one and week two) and a shopping list. For free! In practice, however, purchasing the entire list of ingredients would be going kamikaze on our grocery budget.  Manila clams, three kinds of specialty flours, pine nuts, and white miso? Sure, I'll get right on that!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

{in the ranger kitchen}

I'm changing up the title for this series, formerly called {What's for Dinner?}, because I realized it's a misnomer. I love coming up with new snacks and breakfast ideas, not just lunches and dinners, so this series will really be a collection of the comings and goings in our kitchen.

The girls' diet ebbs and flows, but I am continuing to take a relaxed approach to their meals. Charlie sometimes only eats one of the three offerings, but then she almost always ups the calorie load on the next meal. If Vivi doesn't eat her dinner, she is offered the same list of "anytime foods" if she says she's hungry later, with the hope that they will be boring enough to tempt her only when she is really hungry. Our list of anytime snack foods currently includes nut butter on toast (when I'm feeling up to toasting a piece of bread after cleaning up from dinner), a piece of fruit, or a "popcorn cookie" (i.e. Vivi's term for a rice cake). So far, it has worked well. She asks for a snack less than half the time, and I can typically predict the evenings based on serving new strange food  (i.e. Brussels sprouts, garlicky greens, lentil soup).

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

why we don't take our kids to eat fast food

One of my all-time favorites from Hyperbole and a Half. Okay, they're all favorites.

Yesterday Genevieve caught a glimpse of the golden arches when we were out shopping--a rare sighting in our area, a.k.a. the land of no fast food joints (this Mickey D's is in a shopping center as part of a much-larger building, rather than a stand-alone operation. I'm explaining this 411 so you understand why she doesn't usually notice it. Thank goodness).

Monday, April 02, 2012

at least my kids are cute

I am having one of those days where I am feeling overwhelmed by everything, which usually accompanies big changes in my life. Not only is Nate still on his work trip, but I am also making some general alterations on the homefront--stuff I want to write about soon, but not tonight. Tonight is for singing....and for banging lollipops on the table. Two of life's greatest pleasures.

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p.s. I got these ginormous (local, organic, homemade) lollipops from the liquor lollipop store up the street. I think they will last for the rest of these girls' childhood. Is it a problem to keep them forever? Let's just pretend it's not.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

canning round-up [squared] & my first of many mistakes

Making yogurt is easy.

I'm beginning with the above affirmation, both because it's the message I want you to walk away from this post with and because I am adopting it as a new mantra after my less-than-easy first experience. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As part of my Urban Farm Handbook challenge, I made it a goal to make yogurt (in keeping with the dairy theme of March) by the end of the month. It was a modest goal considering all I technically needed to take on the task was...leftover yogurt with active cultures and milk. Seriously, that's all. I say 'technically' because I knew there a few other items that would make the experience more user-friendly, so I opted to grab some canning jars and a jar-extractor-thingy from my favorite local hardware store.

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