Last Day in Retail

Tomorrow is my last day working at "my" store -- hooray! A buyer materialized this week to buy my half of the store for a small amount of money (very small, ,but oh-so-worth it) and at the end of the work day we are signing the papers transferring ownership of my shares. I am so excited. I am really looking forward to having the extra time to spend with my family and work on finishing my latest book, which has been languishing on my laptop for the last six months. I am also looking forward to growing my other home businesses more, especially Earth Lodge. And, of course, I promise to return soon with lots more interesting posts once I've decompressed a bit. I plan to spend most of June teaching my son to dogpaddle and laying about as much as possible.

Summer is just about here, and I am so ready!



It seems like every blog I read, every person I talk to to lately, everywhere there is lots of change going on. People moving, people changing jobs, pregnancies, new schools, you name it. And, of course, our household is no exception! I'm in the middle of extricating myself from my retail health center (need more time, more peace, less crazed dramatic co-workers). It's been a long-time coming, I've been talking about this for a couple years, but this month things really clicked into place and I said "I'm done."

Changing jobs and homes are supposed to be the most stressful times in a person's life, but I feel totally calm and full of joy. I can't wait to have a real summer with my son. And I am looking forward to focusing more on my other home-based businesses, especially wrapping up my book on natural animal health.


The Catch

My husband and I have a new hobby -- fishing. It's so much fun, so relaxing, and my son adores casting with his own little rod (hookless, of course). Last Saturday I caught 6 fish, we ate three rock bass and freed the rest (pumpkinseeds and a small-mouth bass). The only "catch" is that in CT the mercury levels in fish are high, and there are weekly and monthly consumption limits on everything except trout, which are stocked regularly by the DEP.

The mercury comes primarily from outside our state via air pollution, which falls into the water and concentrates over time in fish to dangerously high levels. I find this sad, really, really sad. There are certain realities of our modern level that puzzle me, and this is one of them: how can we have allowed this to continue? Why aren't there more restrictions? How is it that our industries and governments and CITIZENS consider the source of the pollution "worth more" than the costs of prevention?

The EPA has tried to put regulations in place, but our government has stopped them at every turn. What a disappointment.

For more information, visit the EPA website, or read a bit of recent history below:

"EPA has decided to develop emissions standards for power plants under the Clean Air Act (Section 112), consistent with the D.C. Circuit’s opinion (PDF) (18pp, 51k, about PDF) on the Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR).
Accordingly, on February 6, 2009, the Department of Justice, on behalf of EPA, asked the Supreme Court to dismiss EPA’s request (petition for certiorari) that the Court review the D.C. Circuit Court’s vacatur of the Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR).

On February 23, 2009, the Court also denied the Utility Air Regulatory Group’s request to review the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision.

The Clean Air Mercury Rule was part of the suite of inter-related rules collectively known as the Clean Air Rules of 2004. These rules address ozone and fine particle pollution, nonroad diesel emissions, and power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury.
On March 10, 2005, in a separate but related action, EPA issued the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which the D.C. Circuit remanded without vacatur on December 23, 2008.
On March 15, 2005, EPA issued the Clean Air Mercury Rule to permanently cap and reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants for the first time ever.
On February 8, 2008, the D.C. Circuit vacated EPA's rule removing power plants from the Clean Air Act list of sources of hazardous air pollutants. At the same time, the Court vacated the Clean Air Mercury Rule."


Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam

Now's the perfect time to use your bumper crop of backyard rhubarb -- or buy it at the store since it is in season now, as are a lot of strawberries. Today I made about $40.00 of jam for under $8.00. Not bad :) The real bonus, though, is that this jam tastes superb.

You will need:

3 cups of rhubarb stalks, chopped into 1 inch pieces.
3 cups of strawberries, cut in half.
4 TBS fresh lemon juice
7 cups of sugar
1 Lemon's zest (optional)
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 packet of pectin powder
Bring everything to a boil in a pot EXCEPT the pectin, and boil 10 minutes over medium heat stirring every minute or so. Add Pectin. Bring to a hard boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Put into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Put on hot 2-piece lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

(To learn more about canning processes and basics, visit the Ball website.)


First Pickle of the Season -- Giardiniera

This fresh tasting Italian pickle is a staple a a salad garnish at our local Italian restaurant. I have become totally addicted to it, and thus inspired to pickle my own. I plan to pickle many things this summer, but this is the first of the season.

For this recipe you'll need about 3 quarts of clean, chopped vegetables, to make 6 canned pints. You can vary the ingredients to suit your taste (and what you have on hand.) Other common ingreidents are pepperoncinis, sweet red peppers, shallots, cucumbers, and small onions.

Last night I used:

1 cauliflower head, broken into florets
3 Celery stalks, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch lengths
2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
12 garlic cloves
6 bay leaves
Coriander seeds or Peppercorns
6 oregano sprigs
2 hot peppers, cut into 1/4 inch rings
4 teaspoons pickling salt
2 3/4 cups Apple Cider Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar
2 1/2 cups H2O
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1. Into each of the 6 pint jars, put 1 bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves, 1 sprig of oregano, and several coriander seeds or peppercorns.
2. Combine the prepared vegetables in a bowl and pack them into the jars, shaking the jar to help settle the vegetables.
3. Put the 2-piece lids in a bowl of very hot water to help soften the sealing compound and let sit.
4. In a nonreactive saucepan (aluminum or copper can change the taste of your pickle) bring to a boil the vinegar, water, and salt, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour the hot liquid over the vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top. Top each jar with a tablespoon of olive oil. Close the jars with hot two piece caps, and process them for 20 min in a boiling-water bath.
5. Store the pickles in a cool, dark place for at least 3 weeks before eating.

This recipe is adapted from "The Joy of Pickling", a fantastic book.


New Chickens

This weekend we went to a local "Chickenstock" chicken swap. It was so much fun -- and we came home with three new girls.

Ladyhawk, Hedwig, and Kiah are "Easter Eggers" that will start laying blue and green eggs in about two months. They are 13 weeks old. Ladyhawk is the buff with black markings, Hedwig is the white one (obvious to any Harry Potter fan) and Kiah is the buff with white, named by Lucas this morning.

Our other chicken, Phoenix, and Petunia the Poodle are fascinated by the new additions to the mountainside. Phoenix has been very lonely without her sister, but she is not entirely sure she wants new ones. Even our usually aloof cat Milo has been spotted perched on top of the coop watching them.

Cleo, our ever-elusive outdoor mini-panther is shown here in a rare photo-op. Can you find her?