Thursday, October 27, 2011

When the Poor Get Hungry

When the poor get hungry, what do they do?  They go hunt squirrels.  Well, that's what we did last week.  After Governor Walker's budget cuts went through, we lost 40% of our grocery budget each month.  We're now trying to stretch every dollar, every meal, every THING we can.

We are not a vegetarian family, even though we do eat plenty of vegetarian food.  Choosing to be ominvores, we must accept the burden meat can place on our food budget.  Let's face it, meat is expensive. Even good old ground beef, the least gormet meat available, is over $3.50 a pound unless you either find it on sale or buy it in such large quantities that you're afraid to open the freezer, lest a block of ground beef falls out and lands on your foot.  I'll be honest.  I'm not great at remembering to thaw meat enough ahead of time to get it into the recipe I plan on cooking that night anyhow, so stuffing my freezer is not the best answer.

My husband's family hunts.  They hunt regularly, but not fanatically.  He grew up hunting for small game and deer.  Hunting hadn't been an activity he'd participated in for several years, but last year, when we moved closer to his family, he decided to get back into it.  He brought in a doe and after the family effort to butcher and pack the meat, we had a freezer full of venison.  We've steadily worked our way through the meat and are almost out, just in time for fall hunting to begin.

Now, I know that many of you are not meat eaters, nor fans of hunting, specifically, but in defense of our actions, I have to say the following.  If I'm going to eat meat, I want the animal to live a natural, content life and I want its death to be quick.  In my mind, no hunter whose main aim is to provide food for his family, is going to do anything to prolong the death of his prey.  The point is to go out there, shoot dinner, and get home early enough to put it on the table before it spoils.  Wild game, be it large or small, is a fine way to obtain meat in a way that allows the animal a clean life and a clean death.  You may have a different opinion. I encourage you to have your own opinion, but this happens to be mine.

A few weeks ago, when the tightening of the budget became a reality, my husband approached me about getting his small game liscense.  Yes, it would cost us money.  No, he wouldn't invest in it unless I approved.  Could we afford the fees if it meant meat on the table?  Would it be cheaper than buying meat?  Could I convince my family to eat small game?  We had a lot of questions, but in the end, we decided that we would try it this year.

On Sunday, the hunter went out and returned home victorious.  We had 3 squirrels to process!  Mind you, I had agreed to this little experiment and would go about doing the work to support my half of the adventure, but I still had some trepidation.  Squirrel?  For dinner?  I knew my great-grandmother loved squirrel, so it probably wouldn't hurt me, but would I like it?  Could I get the kids to eat it?

We did let the children see the squirrels.  We try to make a gentle point to them that meat comes from animals and if you are going to eat it, you have to understand and accept the sacrifice of the animal's life.  All food costs something its life and we want them to accept this and make good choices regarding how they eat.  We have no intention of making our children eat the squirrels, the deer, the rabbit, if they object to it.  So far, they have accepted what meat is and where it comes from, even after seeing it and petting it's fur.  I think they would have issues if the animal were to arrive alive, though, but I have no intention of having them face that situation quite yet.

I managed to clean the meat, cut it up, and prepare it.  I was still feeling very awkward about it, though. It wasn't until I had slow-cooked it long enough to remove all bones, and thus all identifying characteristics, that I thought I might be able to go through with it.  Once cooked, it really resembled pulled pork, stewed dark-meat chicken, and all of the other more generic meats that go into the stew pot.  Okay, I could do this.

Dinner came and out came the bowls and spoons.  Four hungry faces peered into their bowls.  Four noses twiched at the smell of bacon and cabbage, potatoes and carrots.  Yes, bacon was my secret weapon.  Who can resist bacon?  The stew smelled like bacon and bean soup.  After adding salt, worchestershire, and tabasco, we all took our first bites.  Amazingly, no one objected to the taste.  There was no gaminess.  There was no flavor to tell us that this was not, in fact, pork stew.   Our eldest liked it enough that she tipped the bowl back and drank the broth.  I liked it enough to actually fill up on it, rather than just eat enough to feel like I'd had a meal.

Next time, though, I plan on choosing a more adventurous recipe.  The one I had chosen was mild and bland and really not that exciting.  Is anyone up for barbequed squirrel sandwiches?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Doing the Potty Thing

A week ago, I came across a potty chart on Pinterest.  It was cute and I'd been kind of contemplating working one up, so I printed it off and took it home for M.  I didn't figure it would do a whole lot for her, but I figured it might help her move from 2-3 potties a week to maybe 5 or 6. 

I guess I was wrong.  We were sitting in the dining area eating dinner while talking about the chart and planning out how we might organize the payouts when M say, "Mimi pee pee, yeah!"  So, I got up and took her to the loo.  Who knew what we were starting?  Not us!

Now, a week later, she has earned over 80 stickers!  Granted, she gets one for recognizing that it was time to go potty, one for peeing, and two for pooping, but that's still a LOT of trips to the potty.  And for all of that, only 3 times has she been wrong about needing to go.  Plus, she's only been using 2-3 diapers/trainers per day, one of which is for naptime.  Go, M!  I finally have a sense that we're on the road towards big girl undies.  It's a relief!

For those of you interested in where I found my chart, here is the link.  I finally started printing them 4 to a page because we were going through them quickly. 

A Yarny Update

Things have been busy in my knitting life lately. I've had a very full schedule and it's been a lot of fun.  Well, for the most part.  See below.

This month, I worked on finishing up the yarn-testing for Shady Blue Acres.  I really enjoyed that project and look forward to working with more of their yarn when I take my payout.  It was really great to find a local yarn that I think might work really well for bullet-proof longies for my little Princess Linebacker.

Also, I am working my way through a custom order that is so far out from what I normally do that the change of pace has been a real eye-opener.  For this project, I'm knitting solid color longies with accent stripes at the cuffs and a duplicate stitch on the bum.  I'm knitting with a wool-blend yarn, as the recipient is potty-training and doesn't need full soaker protection.  While the wool-blend yarn split a little and caused me to have to drop back and redo stitches from time to time, I really do like the way it looks and feels once knit up.  It's silky and soft and the stitches are really even in a way you can't get with yarns like Blackberry Ridge or Cestari Fine.  Overall, other than the typical complaint of knitting with black yarn at night, it was a good project for me.  Please overlook the lovely flash photography...

Also on the needles this month were M's "hoohoo pants."  Last year I had knit her a pair of pants with owls on the pockets.  She loved them and wore them a LOT.   Sadly, this year, she no longer fit them, so away they went.  We were all sad they were going, but agreed that the proceeds would fund a new pair of hoohoo pants that would fit her this winter.  So I dyed up some yarn and picked up my needles and came up with this set.

My husband and I did a lot of online research while designing these.  we wanted something cute, but different from the standard owl cable.  I was fairly pleased with the results and ecstatic when I found the matching shirt in a box of hand-me-downs from  her sister.  Upon presenting the set to M, I discovered that while I loved it, she did not.  After a bit of convincing, we got her to try on the pants only to discover that the child had grown during the three weeks I was working on the longies and they no longer fit her hips and waist.  Good grief!  So, they've been traded for $70 worth of yarn.  

The last project that I worked on this month was a set of footed longies for a knitting friend.  She was gracious enough to send to me as working yarn a Purewool colorway that has long been on my "lust list" but never in my shopping cart since it is a fairly boyish color.  This is what I knit up for her:

It was great working with the colorway, Doni.  I loved it and realize now, that with the right embellishment, it can totally be done for a girl.  Yay!
Next on the needles will be a new set of longies for M, since I discovered that she only has two pairs, neither of which were knit by me!  It's her last year in longies and I want her to have something that Mama made for her with lots of love.  I recently traded her scrappy longies (the ones that Daddy didn't like) for a much sought-after set of colorway and trim to make her a new pair of longies.  They're Mosaic Moon's "Ellyll" colorway and I think they'll be just right... if I can convince her to wear them!!!!!

This is probably not the best picture of the colorway.  It seems a bit more orange than it is in real life. It's really a deep, dark purple with greens, brown, aqua, and lighter purple mixed in.  Here is the picture from the dyer's gallery.  Even that picture doesn't do it justice.

I also have Mosaic Moon's "Irish Meadow" sitting on my shelves that could become a pair of "hoohoo pants."  I'm also leaning towards decorating the pockets on them with dandelion flowers. I think M would really like that a lot.  If I can pull it off, that would give M 2 pairs of longies that I knit for her myself and I think I could rest happily then. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Listen Up!

We had another follow-up hearing test for M this week.  She finally passed with normal hearing in at least one ear!  Hooray!!!!!

Now, to figure out what she needs to progress in speech therapy...