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Compost Happens is a personal blog: part family, part garden, part crunchy green eco-writer. I'm Daisy, and I'm the groundskeeper here. I take care of family, garden, and coffee, when I'm not teaching and doing laundry.

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  • Thursday, June 30, 2011

    Complicated? That's Wisconsin.

    A Twitter friend made this. Enjoy - if you can figure out who is really running!


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    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    The best seats in the house - er, ballpark

    We had the best seats in the house in many ways. We had a good parking place with a direct walking lane to the stadium. Miller Park is creative with its safety barricades. This baseball is solid concrete. That's Amigo checking it out.

    We had special club passes and indoor seats next to the window for lunch. See Bernie Brewer's slide? We were on level three, second table over from the end of Bernie's slide. When his fireworks went off - wow. Good food, too.

    The club wasn't crowded, so the staff offered us the opportunity to stay there for the entire game. We opted out, however, because seats in the section behind home plate awaited us. We were in row 17. How close is that? Take a look at this; we were this close to the sausage races. The Italian, by the way, came from behind to win it.

    The Brewers also came from behind (0-1 in the first inning) to win over the Twins 6-2. Go True Blue Brew Crew!!

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    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Strawberry Season!

    Part of pursuing the locavore philosophy means serving the same fresh ingredients for a period of time. Nature is convenient this way. When we start getting tired of a certain food, it'll be out of season and something else will start ripening and taking over the Farmers' Market stalls. Last night's supper was salmon (frozen), asparagus, rice, and for dessert, strawberry ice cream and strawberry dump cake. The ice cream was a basic vanilla with strawberry "juices" added. I made the juicy flavor additive by mashing ripe strawberries through a strainer. The juice went into the ice cream; the leftover mush went into this basic dump cake. I posted this last summer, but it's so simple that it's worth posting again.

    Strawberry Dump Cake

    Fill the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole pan with 4-6 cups clean, sliced strawberries. Leftover mush from the ice cream process works here, too.
    Top with ½ cup butter, cut into slices. Sure, you could use margarine. But butter tastes so much better.
    Dump one plain yellow cake mix on top. I keep a boxed mix in the pantry as a staple for times like this.
    Top THAT with another ½ cup of butter cut into slices. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

    Serve with ice cream (homemade, if you can) or whipped cream. Coffee on the side, of course.

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    Monday, June 27, 2011

    The Gated Community - er, garden

    Last summer we tried. We had good intentions. But I was sick, Chuck had craziness at work, and we never got around to fencing in the newest garden plot. As a result, the neighborhood wild bunnies ate my broccoli.

    Yesterday I came home from a baseball game with Amigo and found the wire fence had been tightened up, a gate installed, and my garden safe from bunnies! And when I say gate, I'm not kidding. I don't know where Chuck found this one, but it's very sturdy. Cute, too.

    He was a little concerned about one of the tomato plants that had been squashed during the building process and the stem broken. I trimmed it, cut it back, and I think it'll be okay. If not, I have at least one other plant of the same kind.

    The back view, behind the new gate, looks pretty good. It's no-till, so it's not gorgeous, but everything is growing nicely. If we don't get rain today, I'll use the rain barrel supply to water everything tonight.

    By the way, I harvested spinach today, too. Anyone want some?

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    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Summertime, and the Farmers' Market is back!

    It's too easy to spend money at the Downtown Farmers' Market. Here you see the bounty of week one. Strawberries, lettuce, cheese curds (freshly made that morning!), asparagus, etc. etc. etc. Most of it fit in my big bag on wheels, but the two boxes of strawberries required two of us to carry.

    The strawberries became jam, cereal toppers, and desserts. The bread from the Amish bakery became toast and PBJs. Lettuce was salads and bunny food. Asparagus is one of the rare vegetables that the entire family will eat. I'm buying it every week as long as it's in season!

    I didn't buy as much the second week. Lettuce as usual, breads, and whatever is in season. It seemed like almost every vendor had strawberries this time. I didn't buy a whole flat, but I bought a lot! Some of these will be frozen for future jams and future desserts, and some will top cereal and ice cream this week.

    It felt right, though. I didn't need a lot. The spinach in my garden is still growing like crazy, and my lettuces are coming up, too. We'll need very little lettuce next week.

    Shopping a farmers' market isn't just about buying food. To me, it's also about getting fresh food in season, spending my money locally, and getting food that's grown in a local range, too. One little red pickup truck had Georgia peaches. As delicious as they might have been, I took a pass and bought local strawberries instead. We'll eat peaches in the fall when they're ripe around here.

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    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Friday, Friday updates

    Let's see:

    • The rain barrels are full.
    • Lake Okaybyme has reappeared in the backyard.
    • I squished across a grassy swamp to get to the compost bin last night. My shoes are still damp.
    • Sun mixed with clouds today - I hope the scattered showers scatter far away from here.
    • I'm on my third cup of coffee.
    • A chipmunk is running across the deck again and again, almost like doing laps.
    • Amigo and I might go to Cars 2 this afternoon.
    • Birds are hopping in and out of my garden enjoying the worm feast. The old CDs as scarecrows turned out to be a failed experiment. Darn.
    • Hey - how did that chipmunk get in by the tomatoes? Did it float? Build a small ark?
    • Young wild bunny definitely lives under or near our deck. That's fine with me, but I wish the small furry creature would stop eating my mums.
    • Someone in the neighborhood is mowing their lawn. I can't imagine the grass is dry enough. Ours certainly isn't. By the time it's dry, the grass may be a foot tall!

    All in all, it's a typical day in the neighborhood. I'll take it. Life is wet, but life is good.

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    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Beside Still Waters book review

    It started with tragedy and ended with a question: will she or won't she?

    Marianna Sommers is nineteen years old and facing the usual challenges of being an Amish teen. Should she experiment with the outside world, the Englisch? Or should she stay within her boundaries, follow the guidelines of Amish life, and formally join her church? It's no spoiler to say that Marianna is very devout and has no desire to stray from the Amish way. She has other constraints, though. Born on the day of a terrible accident, she feels pressured to be all things to all people, to make up for the losses her family suffered the day she entered the world.
    Marianna, wrapped up in the courting rituals of a young man in the community, doesn't realize that her parents are also suffering. Their solution is a major change: a move from Indiana to a smaller, more intimate Amish group in Montana. Marianna breaks out of her usual quiet to beg to be left in Indiana, finally agreeing to stay in Montana for at least six months to give the move a fair chance. After six months, she may return to Indiana and the man she's loved for most of her life.

    The family finds many differences not limited to the landscape. Montana Amish are less bound by the traditions and rules of the church, often by necessity. They befriend outside of their faith, working and socializing with Englisch people. It takes Marianna a while to adjust to interacting with people who do not follow the Amish way, but she finds her skills as baker and quilt-maker to be useful in both cultures. She also finds peace in Montana in the mountains, in the woods, and beside the still waters of a beaver-made pond.

    Author Tricia Goyer did her homework before writing Beside Still Waters. The Sommers family is true to the faith and culture. Bits of Pennsylvania Dutch language are sprinkled in, as are Amish methods of farming and cooking and completing basic household chores. The family isn't perfect; each member, from parents to the youngest child, has faults and doubts to confront. Goyer takes readers inside the thoughts and emotions of Marianna, especially, as she reaches adulthood and faces difficult decisions.

    Beside Still Waters is only the first. Goyer plans more novels to follow Marianna, her friends, and her family. To follow Tricia Goyer on Twitter, look for @triciagoyer.

    I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of the Beside Still Waters Campaign and received a copy of the book and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Spinach Pasta Toss

    It's that time again - time to look for seasonal recipes. Right now I've got spinach coming up like a weed. It matures so quickly I almost can't keep up with the harvest. I served this as a side dish. With a source of protein like broccoli, it could be a vegetarian main dish. Anything canned or commercially packaged can, of course, be replaced with ingredients from the garden or the home-canned pantry.

    Spinach Pasta Toss

    1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced or stewed tomatoes, undrained
    2 cups pasta, uncooked - penne pasta or rotini or similar
    1 cup water
    1 package (9 oz.) baby spinach leaves (7 cups)
    1/2 cup shredded cheese (Italian blends are good, and so is feta)

    Bring tomatoes, pasta, and water to a boil in a large saucepan; stir. Cover; simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or just until pasta is tender.
    add 1/2 of spinach; simmer, covered, for 2 minutes or just until spinach is wilted. Stir. Repeat with remaining spinach.
    Serve topped with shredded cheese.

    I wonder what this would be like with a little jalapeno pepper? It would change the whole flavor. Jalapeno pepper and Mexican style cheese, perhaps. Yum.

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    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Mom's playing in the dirt again! Weeding, reprise

    Finally, the plants are maturing enough that I can see what belongs and what doesn't. That means it's time to start weeding!

    Readers, did you notice I didn't complain? Weeding is productive and therapeutic and even enjoyable. I searched through old posts and found out that I've discussed the positives of weeding in the past.

    Here's one from June, 2007.

    I enjoy weeding because I can see progress. My garden is divided into small sections, set apart by my stepping "stones" made from old deck and fence pieces. I set a goal of weeding one section at a time. When that's done, I can quit weeding or choose to finish another section. This is a managable goal; I feel productive when I can see the results in one part of the plot. It spares me the frustration of not "finishing" the whole thing, which is of course an impossible goal. Today I chose one triangular section of the garden and weeded out the many mini maples that flew in from the lot behind ours. If I ever abandon this small plot of ground behind my garage, I predict the mini maples will take over, leaving room for a blanket of clover underneath. But for now, look out maples! I have garden gloves and I know how to use them.
    Here's an older post from July, 2006.

    Weeding feels good because:
    • I can't hear the telephone.
    • Digging in the dirt is fun.
    • It doesn't matter if I'm all sweaty and grimy.
    • I can appreciate the growth of my vegetables by comparing them to the weeds I'm pulling out.
    • I see the little flowers that mean the plants will bear fruit -- some time.
    • I can laugh at the tiny "stray" tomato plants that grew where the rotten fruit dropped last fall.
    • The science teacher in me looks at all the clover and thinks, "Wow! There's a lot of nitrogen in this soil! Who needs fertilizer?"
    • I notice the little grubs and worms that aerate the rich soil; and they're not, I said NOT, yucky.
    • I notice how dark and rich the soil is, thanks to our home-grown compost.
    • The weeds (well, most of them) will become part of the cycle of life by decomposing in the compost bin.
    • Progress is noticeable. Every little bit of weeding shows results.

    I heard a garden expert on the radio recommend that serious gardeners spend about 30 minutes a day weeding and maintaining. I don't come near that, so I guess I'm not "serious" by his standards. I do keep it up, though, and get my hands dirty and produce good things to eat. My garden makes me happy. Isn't that enough?

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    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Peanut Butter Cookies

    I'm a little off the beaten path today. Recipe Lion's Blog Hop asked for Father's Day recipes. Instead of re-posting Great Grandma's German Potato Salad or sharing standard grill fare, I'm sharing a simple summer dessert - slash - snack. The best part about these cookies: the texture is perfect. They're not too soft, not too crispy. Take them out of the oven when they're still slightly soft and let them cool for a moment. Trust me: yum.

    Peanut Butter Cookies

    3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
    1 cup white sugar
    1 cup packed brown sugar
    1 cup peanut butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 large eggs

    Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
    Beat together butter, sugars, peanut butter, and vanilla extract. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir the flour mixture into the bowl and blend thoroughly.
    Shape the dough into 2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Use a fork dipped in sugar to make a crisscross pattern.
    Bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 350, until golden brown. Do not over bake!
    Let stand for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack for the final cooling process.

    Serve - well, let family and friends dive in.

    • I really like my small scoop. It's the perfect size for cookies like this.
    • Teens love these. If your home is the hangout for your teen and his/her friends, keep these in stock.
    • Peanut butter is a good source of iron (says the no-longer anemic Daisy).

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    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Open letters to the so-called Leaders of Wisconsin

    Dear Governor Walker;
    You claim that Wisconsin is Open for Business. Businesses require an educated workforce. Think it over, please.


    Dear Senator Ellis;
    The title President of the Senate looks good on your letterhead. Your abuses of power, however, look lousy. Stating, "We'll just pass all the bills without you if you're not here" was a snotty and rude manner of addressing your colleagues. I'm embarrassed to admit that you represent my district. Didn't your parents teach you that "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"?

    With grave concern,

    Dear Representative Bernard-Schaber;
    Thank goodness you're in the Wisconsin Assembly! I noticed that the new, re-introduced version of the union-busting bill exempts public transit. I'm sure the Gov won't give you credit for the original amendment, but I will. I know you brought it up in the beginning.

    Thank you for maintaining your sanity in an insane atmosphere.

    Your loyal constituent,

    Dear Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices;
    I'm thoroughly disappointed in your decision that Wisconsin Act 10, a.k.a. the Union Busting Law, was passed constitutionally rather than in violation of the open meetings law. This decision tells our narrow-minded majority that as lawmakers, they are above the law. Is this really what you wanted to say?


    Dear Benjamin Franklin,
    What kind of government do we have? "A republic, if you can keep it." Sigh. We're trying. It's not easy.

    Historically yours,

    Dear John Adams,
    You once wrote to Thomas Jefferson "I cannot contemplate human affairs without laughing or crying. I choose to laugh." I wish I could laugh, but current political climate is so negative it scares me.


    Dear Governor Walker,
    I'm a mediator by nature and by training. The way I see it, consensus beats conflict any day of the week. In fact, I taught fifth and sixth graders to mediate conflicts. Would you like assistance in learning peer mediation? I noticed you don't have these skills - yet.

    Cooperatively yours,

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    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Shrimp and Mushrooms over Spaghetti

    I usually plan and pre-post Tuesday's recipe. I'm running a little behind; I blame the nice weather. Yesterday I finally got around to testing this dish (it was a hit), and then after supper I was weeding and mulching and enjoying the evening birdsong. Oops, no post. Better late than never, though, and this is an easy dish for busy cooks.

    Shrimp & Mushrooms over Spaghetti

    4 oz. spaghetti
    2 cloves garlic, mashed
    1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
    1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
    3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
    1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
    1/4 cup white wine
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice

    Cook spaghetti and drain.
    Combine garlic, shrimp, and mushrooms and cook slowly for 5 minutes in a saute pan, tossing lightly. Add the spaghetti to the shrimp mixture. Add cheese, salt, white wine, and lemon juice. Stir until done. Serve immediately.

    Ah, readers, you know me well. You know for certain that I made changes when I served this for supper last night. I did follow the basic recipe, but I added/ changed a little here and there. Here's my list of modifications.
    small amount of diced red bell pepper
    1/4 diced onion
    1/2 pound scallops (add with shrimp)
    1 cup spinach (don't laugh; in August it'll be grated zucchini)
    Replace spaghetti with egg noodles

    I did not use the white wine. Instead, I boiled up the shrimp peelings and used 1/4 cup shrimp stock.

    Next time, I'll add herbs. I wonder how basil will work in this combination of flavors? Maybe in August I can serve it with a side of disappearing zucchini orzo instead of over pasta.

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    Monday, June 13, 2011

    My yard - it rocks.

    First it looked like this. Mint, mint, everywhere, as far as one could see.

    Then the mint was gone (Hah! Take that, invasive weed) and covered by a handy home made biodegradable barrier.

    Next step: gather supplies. On the right, gravel. Basic, commercial gravel, previously located under a lilac tree. On the left, random rocks, most of which were scraps of concrete salvaged when we replaced our driveway.

    Then I brought it the family member with the best sense of aesthetics: La Petite. She helped me put it all together. It looks much better now. The concrete planter needs a plant, and the pine trees really need a new unbroken home, but that will come later. For now, we have a rock garden where the mint used to be, and that's exactly what we wanted.

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    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Home gardening - how do you rate?

    Mother Nature Network continues to be one of my favorite sites. Today their newsletter led me to this graphic describing home gardeners in the U.S. According to their statistics, I fit the mold pretty darn well.

    • College Graduate
    • Age 45 or (ahem) older
    • Average amount spent per household: $70 (seeds, seedlings, supports, etc.)
    • Average return on investment: $530 ($600 dollar return - $70 investment = $530)
    • Most common foods grown: tomatoes, beans, summer squash, lettuce, peas, peppers.
    If I'm honest, my cost is a bit closer to $100. I invested in starter soil for seeds, a mini-greenhouse, and organic heirloom seedlings, all of which cost a bit more than the average. I believe it will pay off in quality, if not quantity. It's not the $64 tomato, but it's a sizable investment.

    Time spent: their average is 5 hours a week. I'll say it varies. Between watering, weeding, and making compost and chasing away the critters, I spent at least that. The time spent is an investment in the garden and its food output. This time is also an investment in my own peace of mind. While I'm weeding and watering, my mind is wandering. I'm thinking and processing all kinds of random thoughts, sometimes working through problems or writing whole blog posts in my head. There's no dollar amount to attach to the mental health benefits of caring for a garden. I call it priceless.

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    Wednesday, June 08, 2011

    Get out of my compost, critter!

    Never before, in more than ten years of letting compost happen in the backyard, never before has the big black made-of-recycled-plastics compost bin been raided. This year I've found evidence several times - evidence in the form of the side access panel removed and compost in various stages scattered around. I reached for a quick solution: a rock. A big rock. A heavy rock, right in front of the access panel. That should keep the furry creatures out of the bin, right? Right?

    Wrong. This big, heavy rock wasn't enough. The critters, obviously with significant dexterity, just reached over the top of the rock and pulled the panel open again. Again!! This critter (or critters) was nocturnal, so I never actually saw it in action. I just saw the results, and the results frustrated me no end.

    So I did what so many people do: I turned to duct tape.

    I taped the other side shut, too, even though the nocturnal critters with maximum dexterity (and probably opposable thumbs) hadn't attacked that side yet. I wasn't taking any chances.

    So far, the tape is working. Let that be a message: get out of my compost, punk!


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    Tuesday, June 07, 2011

    Blueberry Muffins

    I looked through my archives and was surprised to see I hadn't posted this standard recipe in my repertoire. I made these yet again on Sunday morning using frozen blueberries. Something about pulling last summer's bounty out of the freezer makes it a little easier to wait for the first downtown Farmers' Market. It's a standard muffin recipe from the Good Home Cookbook. I made one change: I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour.

    Blueberry Muffins

    2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
    1 cup sugar
    2 large eggs
    1/2 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

    1. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
    2. Beat the butter and sugar in a medium bowl until creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the milk and eggs until well combined.
    3. Add the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Fold in the berries.
    4. Preheat oven to 350. Divide muffin batter evenly among twelve muffin cups.
    5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

    Serve! These are delicious. I'm sure I don't need to mention that they go well with coffee.

    The Good Home Cookbook, edited by Richard Perry, has been on the market for several years. I got my copy to review when I was a fairly new blogger. Since then it has become my go-to cookbook for many recipes, most notably muffins. I enjoy reading the little bits of baking and cooking lore included with the recipes themselves. The blueberry muffin recipe notes that wild blueberries are popular with bakers because they're slightly smaller than the commercially cultivated fruit. Interesting, isn't it?


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    Monday, June 06, 2011

    Walkerville vs. Hooverville

    Walkerville is a symbolic movement currently going on in (of course! You guessed it) Madison, WI. Protesters have set up tents and small shelters around the Capitol grounds and scheduled events to call attention to the risks of the proposed state budget and the governor's extreme agenda. Walkerville, they say, represents the equivalent of a Depression-era Hooverville.

    One argument of the makeshift community's: Gov. Walker's union busting is unconstitutional, unwise, and wrong. The law, if it makes its way through the State Supreme Court, will cause more economic harm than good. More than 100 days after its introduction, Wisconsin's citizens and legislators remain polarized and conflicted around Walker's philosophies in general and the so-called Budget Repair Law in particular. No disagreement there; the union busting attempt has a direct effect on me and on my colleagues in education.

    In addition: access to the Capitol has been severely limited. Any groups potentially in opposition to Walker have been forced off the floor and onto the grounds.

    But is Walkerville equivalent to a Hooverville? No, it's not. Organizers chose the name Walkerville to invoke the memories of Hoovervilles, the shanty towns of the depression. Major economic crisis: check. Job scarcity: check. Shanty towns: let's talk it over.

    The best description of a Hooverville I've ever read was in Christopher Paul Curtis' Newbery winner Bud, Not Buddy. Bud, a 10-year-old orphan, is on his own and looking for shelter when a local man tells him to head toward the outskirts of town and find "Hooperville." Bud finds his way to the shanty town and finds out it's not Hooperville, but Hooverville, named after the president, who thought they were so special that every town ought to have one.

    Bud asks, "How do I know I'm at the right Hooverville?"
    "Answer these three questions. Are you hungry? Are you tired? Are you scared?"
    "Yes. Yes. Yes."
    "Then you're in the right Hooverville."

    Hoovervilles were home to people who had no home. Many were riding the rails, sneaking into open boxcars to travel far away from home in search of work. These people were homeless, but not entirely hopeless. They banded together to feed each other (Bud eats muskrat stew cooked over an open fire and served in a square tin can), keep warm, and stay safe.

    Walkerville isn't made up of shanties; people brought tents and sleeping bags. The comfort level is much, much different. Residents of Walkerville are temporary; one was quoted as saying he couldn't stay because he had final exams most of the week. They'll go back to their dorms or their homes when the time for protest is done. Residents of the real Hoovervilles had no place to go but another Hooverville.

    Walkerville is a planned protest, complete with scheduled speakers and music and even documentary movies in support of the cause. Hoovervilles sprang up according to extreme need. The name works in a way, as this site describes it, reminding skeptics that "(n)aming a forced settlement after the person who made it necessary has historical significance in the labor movement."

    The tent city in Madison is an attempt to direct attention to policies that will hurt the middle class. Walkerville and the movement as a whole have historical significance in the labor movement nationwide. This is a creative way to make a point and gain publicity.

    But is it a Hooverville? No. Walkerville is named for a leader known for divisiveness and conflict, but he hasn't forced masses of citizens into homelessness yet.

    Yet. If he continues along the same political road, Walkervilles may no longer be camp-outs. I hope this month's Walkerville tactics help make the point and change direction enough that we don't need the real thing.

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    Saturday, June 04, 2011

    From mint to a rock garden

    This is the "before" picture. Mint, mint, and more mint. A few tulip and daffodil bulbs, but other than that, the area is almost entirely occupied by mint. Sure, it smells good. I could use it to make mint syrup or garnish a refreshing beverage. But this plant is aggressive. A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E. It takes over. I've tried pulling it; it comes back. I've tried moving it; it spread. I placed layers over the mint last fall, hoping I could start a new raised garden over the top. Nope; mint was determined to find the sun.

    I started again by removing the mint. I moved the bulbs (see the daffodil remains on the right?) to a better place. I set the mint on a drying table in the backyard. I might compost it. Maybe. Does mint seed get destroyed in compost or does it flourish? I'll find out.

    Next step: cover the soil, again. This time I'm going one more step. The area will become a rock garden. This concept worked around my rose bushes, intimidating the clover and other weeds into submission so the roses could thrive by themselves.

    For now, it's just a batch of packaging held down by large stones and heavy planters. I have extra gravel; but do I have enough? Maybe, just maybe, I can build this rock garden without spending money on the materials. I'll find out, and I'll let you know on the next episode, when I hope to have a picture of all rock, no visible packaging, and certainly no more mint.

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    Friday, June 03, 2011

    Rain! Spinach! And more!

    Rain! We finally had a little rain! My rain barrels were empty, and I actually watered the garden with the hose two nights in a row. It felt so wasteful, yet was so necessary. My poor plants were drying up in the cracked soil.

    Spinach! We have spinach! I harvested a big batch of spinach to cook up with chicken in my slow cooker. The produce drawer looked like Mother Hubbard's Cupboard (with the exception of bunny food), so I stopped at our neighborhood market and picked up 1 green pepper, 1 red pepper, and one small onion. I found out that the best cheese is located at the meat counter. Feta will be perfect on this dish!

    I've also discovered two relatively new thrift stores. I picked up a pot and two tiny cute buckets, sized perfectly for giving away two jars of jam each. Total purchase: $1.97.

    Next door was Starbucks. I don't get out much, so I used a gift card and got myself a treat. After that, I mailed a few books and picked up prescriptions.

    Now back to the neighborhood market. I used my own bag at the thrift store and for the prescriptions, so when I got to the market, I had to take their plastic bag. Famous last words: "Oh, I don't need to keep all three bags in my purse. Two will be plenty." Uh-huh. The clerk even teased a little because I never, ever need a bag at this little store.

    Now the crock pot is simmering, the medicines hiding in their designated cupboard, the new buckets and I'm debating what to grow now that I have another pot. Meanwhile, time to make lunch and relax with the mid-day news.

    So, readers, I'm curious. Do you bring your own bags? How many do you carry with you on a regular basis?

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    Wednesday, June 01, 2011

    Cheese! Glorious cheese! Sargento Fridge Packs

    Being part of Mom Central Consulting is a lot of fun. The current fun is cheese. Yes, cheese. This cheese is good quality (it's from Sargento), and the product itself is all about the packaging. Speaking of packaging, I was very excited to open up the box when it came. Look at all this cheese!

    Below is the cheese as it fits in the refrigerator. Sargento Fridge Packs are made for convenience. As much as I prefer bulk packaging for most of my foods, I have to admit I liked these. Each cheese stick is vacuum wrapped to keep it fresh.

    I opened the box of Colby Jack first. It didn't take long before all three boxes were open. La Petite and Chuck dipped in immediately. This is a good sign for Sargento; we're cheese snobs. We like our cheese real and we like it fresh. This cheese, thanks to its packaging, was very fresh and very delicious. Chuck packs a stick or two in his lunch. La Petite eats it any time of day, including breakfast. My favorite time to dip into the Fridge Packs is mid-afternoon to keep me from nibbling later while making supper.

    Did I say it went quickly? It was a blur, honestly. Who needs junk food? When something healthier is this convenient, the family will eat it.

    I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Sargento and received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate. No, it wasn't a cheesehead. I already have one of those. This product review was tasty and fun; thanks for including me, MomCentral and Sargento. The family thanks you, too.

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