Friday, May 7, 2010

Changes... Looking for Wisdom

I have been slacking lately with my One Small Change posts, mostly because I haven't been changing much at our house. I have been in a rut of sorts unable to pull myself out. Thankfully, I am being re-inspired by some wonderful blogging friends and feel up to the challenge again.

Our plastic-free change is still going strong and I am loving every minute of it. I would love to get a bunch of vintage glass jars (like this) to hold more of our bulk items but can't seem to find them (except at antique shops where the sell for $5 each), any thoughts on where else I should look?
A rather big change we made awhile ago (that I never got around to mentioning here)
was becoming a one vehicle family. I love the idea of it and I love that it gives us a smaller carbon footprint but I do have to say it has been a bit of a struggle, too. My husband's job has him working from sun up to sun down so we barely get to see him and since he has the vehicle we have no way to run errands or just get out. The girls and I are homebodies for the most part anyways but it still would be nice to be able to go places during the week. So this is a sacrifice for us but we are making it work. The real challenge will come in September when my husband's office moves an hour away and K starts school (I will have to drive her there and pick her up), but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Current 'clothes line' - if you can call it that

Right now I am feeling a pull towards things that we had in our old home but we haven't implemented here yet (just do to lack of time or resources). A good example is a simple clothes line. Nicole at Gardenmama recently posted some beautiful images of her aprons hanging out on her line and it made me so sad that I haven't figured out where to hang a line here yet. The climate is so different from VA here (believe me, I am very thankful for that!) so we are still adjusting. It rains at least once a day which makes it difficult for hanging clothes out to dry plus this is our backyard:

I just can't seem to wrap my head around how to hang clothes in a forest. The sun doesn't touch the ground back there and there are always things falling from the trees so would it even be productive hanging our clothes? Anyone have any experience with that?

Something else I really miss is our garden. The only thing we currently have growing is one sad little basil plant in a pot. The poor plant was attacked by Chubby Kong (aka C) yesterday so it is in need of some TLC. Again because of the climate change I am not sure where to begin here. The only place we get any sunlight at our house is in the front yard so I assume the garden would have to go there. The thing is that since we are on a mountain, we barely have a front yard and it's a big hill. Also, it's usually at least five degrees colder up here than it is in town ( we are still living in long johns and sweaters), so it seems like the plants wouldn't survive, then again I am used to weather that is so hot it kills my plants in a day. Help!

Although we love our Old father Sliffslaff-Slibberslack visits we don't want him and his friends to eat anything we plant so I am trying to research ways to keep them safe but far away from the garden area. I was told coffee grounds sprinkled in the garden soil were good for this. Has anyone tried this?

I am hoping (again - I believe I mentioned this before) to get a rain barrel going. I was actually thinking of attaching it to the gutter down spout that caused our downstairs flooding last week in hope to prevent future flooding and harvest water at the same time. I have reservations though since it does seem to rain so much here I wouldn't want the rain barrel to overflow before I could use the water. I love the set up pictured below:

It was in my latest issue of Living the Country Life. I love this simple magazine. If you get the chance check out their website, the magazine subscription is free and it's a great resource.

Ok, I think I said quite enough for this post! Sorry for rambling on. I have just had so many things on my mind but can't seem to figure out how to start any of them so I just had to get them all out there hoping for some of your wonderful help!

Wishing you all a beautiful weekend full of change and a happy Mother's Day!



Jamie Carin and Claudio Romano said...

Dear Nicole,

We started using rain barrels at one of our downspouts a few years ago. My husband attached, by a small pipe, two barrels because they do fill rather quickly. Here is his post about it:

So maybe you can do three or four connected since you get so much rain there??

Also as for the garden. We have a tiny tiny tiny yard and very little full sun due to trees and something we have done is use containers to garden. Then we can move them as needed to where the sun is. We found a place that sells heirloom seeds for container sized veggies. I do not remember what company but can ask my husband.

As for the clothesline again we have the same problem. We did have a line hanging across our basement ceiling for a while, but since that is now a playroom for the kids I have nowhere to hang one and I hate that. So please share any ideas you get!!


Anonymous said...

I hope you have a great weekend! I have no advice on all those things you are working on as we've not lived anywhere with weather like that. good luck!

boatbaby said...

Here are my ideas... for the clothes line, do you have a sunny, south facing window inside you could hang clothes? I know our windows give us so much thermal gain that it gets quite hot. Or build a clothes lines green house (hahaha).

And for the glass jars, is there is aGoodWill or church thrift store near you? I have scored some great glass jars at more like $.50 each like the ones you linked at GoodWill. Think thrift shops rather than antique shops. And try asking on your local freecycle too, ya never know.

Linda said...

Dear Nicole,
I wish I could send you some preserve jars from South Africa, they are so well priced here:) I saw Gardenmama's lovely post on Wash Day Wednesday, we are going to take part in this:) For snails, you can crush egg shells and spread them around your plants, this will deter Old father Sliffslaff-Slibberslack:) Thank you for this lovely post Nicole, it has made me realise that I also need to get back to our One Small Change. Well, I'm off to go and drum card some wool for the first time, wish me luck!

Between Hitching Posts said...

I have had a lot of luck finding old vintage ball jars at garage sales. Where I live (Indiana), we have TONS of garage sales. I'm not sure people have them in your neck of the woods, but that might be something to check out.
As for your laundry line. I live among an Amish settlement, and I've noticed that many Amish homes have their clothes line up under the roof of their porch. Since a drying line is the only way these families have to dry their clothes they use their lines year around. (I still haven't figured out the purpose of hanging your clothes in the dead of winter when all they do is freeze.)Anyway, that might be a good way to catch the breeze, but not the falling sap. That is if you have a porch.
I found your post inspiring this morning. I think I'll go back and read more about the small changes you've made.

Unknown said...

I am sure it is different there in the USA but here in OZ I buy my olives in large glass 3 kg jars. They are perfect for storing legumes , flour , rice etc. I have been doing this for years and now have a good collection.
I also relate to moving to a new climate. All my pot plants died a year ago when we moved. I am now more intune with the area and some are living now.
We put rope under the balcony roof leading from pole to pole for a clothes line. It wraps around the house! No bird poo or dropped branches!
Good luck with all your massive changes! Remember to breathe!!

Lacey (schoolhousefarm) said...

thanks for the magazine! I'm on it...& to make our home more appealing (for selling) we had to take down our 'redneck' clothing line. sad, but i've got a rack like yours & it's just not the same.

Unknown said...

where you have sun, you can grow a garden in me..:) you just have to research the right plants for the state. check out my SIL's blog and gardening stuff at she is one of my true gardening inspirations. she turned her whole front yard into a beautiful combination of ornamentals and veggies..:) she also lives in portland so has more of a grasp on the plants that grow well in oregon. she's also a certified master gardener..:) and you will love her posts on canning...she's a big food preserver..:)

since you guys get so much rain, i'd do rain barrels with a storage tank connected. you just run a line downhill from your barrels into a tank of some sort that stores water. from there you can use it for your yard, cleaning, you guys want to use it for household water too? we are trying to work on getting a system going this year since we have periods of super dry spells.

i've been dealing with physical issues, so havne't been diligent about my one small change either. but i am more than ready to throw myself back in. after next week i think i'll have the energy again to actually get some things done...;)

love you girly...can't wait to make a trip to beaverton. it will day i will get out there..haha xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Oh IS a change to move from one extreme climate to another!

The clothesline thing...when I was a child we lived in the 'forest', too. Mom had clotheslines on the porch. It couldn't be left out all the time; She would string it up on laundry day. There were hooks on the posts at each end of the porch, and the line was strung on pulleys that connected to the hooks with harbingers.

Plants are hardier than you think, and will stand, no, thrive in the cooler temps! You may eventually need to do some trimming of the overhead trees to get a sunny spot.

Hang in there...

Lise said...

Jars: freecycle? You could post a "wanted" ad; also, I've noticed that often when people post offers of canning jars, they mean the older ones with wire.

Clothesline: porch? basement? Way up high from a second-story window to a tree with a pulley?

Plants: I have all shade, too. I've done very well finding shade-friendly berry bushes from Burnt Ridge nursery and Raintree nursery (online). Also greens from Richter's (my fav. so far is Good King Henry).

Good luck settling in to your new place!

Noelle Boosinger said...

I live in a rental quad-plex in Portland, OR. It rains most days except for a break during the summer months, and we don't have any yard to speak of. Hardly even a porch. So I hung my clothesline in my basement. Do you have a basement, large mudroom or even extra space in the bathroom to put up a line that can be discreet when retracted/wound-up? It's not the most ideal...but it may mean your clothes dry faster than if they were outside in the forest.

SongbirdSisters said...

We have been buying half gallon canning jars at the local Ace hardware store for bulk storage. I think they are $10 for 6 of them. They are the perfect size for us!

Linda C. said...

Re: clotheslines. I have four lines outside but many times can't use them (birds, weird bugs, long story), so also have four of the racks you pictured in my basement. Things dry expeditiously in the winter (gas heat) and somewhat less so in warmer weather (high humidity) but with open windows in the laundry area it's pretty good all the time.

I like the racks because I can move them where I want them. I've gotten really good at putting the maximum amount of laundry on racks (not blankets and sheets but pretty much everything else).

Mist said...


Thanks for the reminder about the magazine! I'd meant to sign up for it before when someone else recommended it, but it slipped my mind.

As for the clothes line situation, I struggled with ours too because our yard is very, very tiny. What I finally ended up with is something similar to this:

It's helpful here in Ohio as well because our clothing would freeze half the year if it were outside. I'm not sure if you have a basement, but maybe there is some room in the house where you can set this up?

We use egg shells, diatomaceous earth, and fireplace ashes around our most delicate plants to deter the snails and slugs. The egg shells seem to work best. If the critters get really bad, we leave out shallow dishes of beer or lemonade (beer works best, but I don't like to have it around my littles) which attracts the snails and then kills them. Sounds indelicate, I know.

It looks like you've already received some good advice about the garden, but I would also urge you to look into native edibles for your area. They are plentiful and best adapted for your climate. It can be a really wonderful learning experience for you and the children as well as expanding your culinary repertoire.

Best of luck!

Michelle, Queen Behind the Lens! said...

Nicole-- We're basically in the same gardening boat, so feel free to ask me anything. We have a forest in the backyard AND soil that is so full of rocks that you have to garden in raised beds exclusively. It can still be don. First, find the spot on your property that receives sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. That's where your garden will be, no matter what-- even if that means gardening in containers on your roof! LOL.

Carol said...

Sometimes having a lull in making changes can offer a needed recharging... your post is certainly brimming with ideas now.

Liebe Lebenskunst said...

I see those big jars regulary at places like goodwill :o)

Thanks so much for providing the link to this magazine. It looks amazing!! I will definitely subscribe :o)

Have a wonderful weekend,

Angela from Simple Dreams

Homesteadgirl said...

Hello...the varied topics of this post remind me of how I'm feeling these many tasks, that it can feel overwhelming. I get entrenched in inertia because I just can't get at much.
I'm totally new in blogland and am curious about One Small Change...also, how can I "follow" your blog?

Sara said...

Wow! I can't imagine rain every day! Yes....hanging clothes out to dry must be quite a challenge. I'm imagining it's hard to get things to dry by hanging them indoors too. Our rainy days are few and far between. It's so arid here that I can hang clothes out and they're dry in a few hours.
I have found many of those old canning jars at the thrift. They're not there too often, but when they are I get really excited.

Tonya Gunn said...

Dear Nicole,
Oh as moms it is so easy for us to get overwhelmed. I do all the time.
Then I just stop and make a priorities list and start at the top.

As far as gardening, just start very small - maybe only plant lettuce and radish this year. If all goes well, add a bit more next year.

You do so many amazing things with your family and for the earth - think on those things.

Have a wonderful Mothers Day.

Tricia said...

We just moved and what I have set up now for my clothes line is 2 very large drying racks (much larger than the one that you showed, probably has 3 times the space) that I got at Canadian Tire but as you're in the states I've seen something similar at Walmart and Costco up here (but I think more people line dry here so it might be more common) and I move those around to wherever I can find sun!

gardenmama said...

I understand how difficult it is to adapt your garden when experiencing a new climate for the first time. It was a very different growing season for us at our last house. As you also mentioned we lived in the mountains and it was always pretty cold. (Very good for growing lettuce!) Ours lasted the entire summer where previously it was a spring or fall crop. I found asking lots of questions at our local agway type stores helped give me a bit of help. Container gardening can be an amazing thing and it looks really beautiful too. Lettuce certainly can be grown in containers very well, strawberries and even tomatoes. I appreciate raised beds as well, either wooden or big stones piled around. I can imagine it to be frustrating to have rain and pine needles/moss ect. falling from the trees on your clean laundry... I wonder if you could put a hook on the side of your house keeping it close and away from the trees, or with an old fashioned standing clothesline close to home. I have alot of luck finding most everything on Craigslist. I have seen antique canning jars on numerous occasions on there and have used new ones year and year again from the grocery store. I hope you will find some answers and feel peace in these changes at your new home. Lots of love, wishing you a beautiful weekend mama xoxo

Carrie said...

We have a hose from the overflow of our rainbarrel and can direct it away from the house. I'm hoping to replace the downspouts with rain-chains. They are so beautiful!

We are from VA and recently moved as far south in NC as you can go without being in SC. It is much different here, but I do have to say that I loved the climate of VA and I miss it so much! I grew up on a farm and my husband was a VA State Park ranger, so we lived in several state parks.

(He wants to move to Oregon, but the thought of the constant rain scares me! How do you deal with that?)

As for the plants, herbs are so tough that often they will be fine in mostly shady areas. In fact, here in NC I purposely plant them in more shaded areas, since it gets so hot.


alyssa spring said...

We only have one vehicle and I have the same situation - staying at home ALL week. I'm a homebody too but have noticed that I've begun to feel a little lonely or....bored?!!!!! If that's possible - but I do like the benefits of being a one car money....including all of the extra cash saved!

Beth said...

Hi, Nicole, Try to pamper yourself as much as possible to get out of the rut. Long hot baths, the treat of a new magazine or visit to the library for some juicy books, early bedtime, some time in the sunshine, these will all help you feel better. Take good care of yourself! love, Beth

Sidonie said...

You might be interested in my blog post about our home made laundry rack that takes up "zero" ground/floor can find it at this link

we love ours and use it no matter what the season...



Sidonie said...

Hi...Sidonie here again...I got to thinking about your jar search after I already posted my previous comment...there is an organization called is online, and all across the google to find it, sign up, then post when you are looking for something. You can find all sorts of free items on there. With the garden thing...we live in the Missouri Ozarks, and the weather here can be 3 seasons in a single day. We have a large garden, also do some food-foresting, and have a poly tunnel...You can find great ideas for the polytunnel in a book call Eliot Coleman's 4 Season Harvest. We made some changes to his design, and now have a 10x70 structure producing enough bounty, year-round to be able to sell to the local health food stores. I have lived in northern UK for a decade, in FL for about 30 years, and about 10 years in MO, so have had to adapt my gardening to many different climates and ecologies. Best of luck as you search what works for you...I am sure you will figure it out, and the journey can be as rewarding as the destination!


FrontierDreams said...

Thank you, thank you everyone for all of your help, suggestions and links. What would I do without your help? I am going to try and get my head more into all of this later this week... in the meantime I am trying to convince my husband into letting us get a chicken ;) Ha,ha. Thank you so much for your thoughts!! XO

Lisa @ Life with 4! said...

I'm so glad you are enjoying Oregon!
I also get that magazine and it's funny that you mentioned that article. I was just reading it last night and thinking that rain barrels would be great to have.

I'm not sure where you are in Oregon but we live about 1/2 hour inland from Newport. I don't even have my garden tilled yet. Although I do see that some of the neighbors have tilled already. We usually don't plant around here until closer to the end of May, depending on weather.

And making sure that you have plenty of sunlight around here is a must! Maybe watch your front yard and time how much actual sunlight stays on it during the day. Hopefully you will get enough hours of sun to have a great garden.

I love to hang out our laundry. Nothing can beat the smell of clean, sun-dried laundry. I've only had the chance to do it a couple of times this year so far because of all the rain lately. But come summer, our laundry will be out every day. I usually hang ours along our deck railing.
At the house we used to live in, we had alot of trees and forest-type landscape. I hung a line between trees and the clothes did fine drying there. Hope you can figure something out.

Good luck on all your endeavors here in Oregon.

Melanie said...

Hi Nicole,
Short on computer time and LOTS to tell you about this maybe another message later. Anyway, check out the book "Growing Vegetables East of the Cascades" (there's always a really long waiting list at the library, so I finally just bought a copy!) Very helpful...
We just got back from Depot Bay/Newport, so I'm off to clean up load of sand that came home with us!;)

Unknown said...

Your blog is lovely! So glad I found it today. I've also been changing my kitchen cabinets to a glass jar system. I purchased some new large mouth quart canning jars, a dozen for 10.59, less than $1 each and they came with lids.
Our raw honey comes in cool squarish jars, even thought it costs a bit more, I justify it b/c I love the jars!
Also, I noticed that my friends are getting large jars from restaurants or even our local bakery, so that's on my list to procure as well!

As for a rain barrel, we don't have one yet, but I noticed that a friend uses several five gallon buckets under the edge of her roof, and collects a lot of water for her garden!

Queen of the Nook said...

My grandmother strung a clothesline on the inside of her garage door. She would open the door and hang the clothes.

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