the simple life
- ~~~ Keeping it Simple ~~~
Down a Back Road
Here in God's country most of us live down a back road. If we don't live down a back road, it doesn't take long to get to one. One of the roads near our house is a hilly path through the woods shaded by a canopy of old trees. I could never trade the peace and quiet of my country road for the traffic and congestion of the big city. Not for anything. And, it's so nice and peaceful down our back roads, we can tell it's the weekend, just by the noise of the city slickers who bring all their toys to enjoy all the great outdoors, because they forgot that the way to really enjoy a back road, is to take a walk!
Enjoying a cup of lemonade on the deck, I asked my neighbor, "What are some tips you would have for someone who has never lived down a back road before?" We came up with quite a list we can all relate to in some shape or fashion.
Neighbors: Get to know `em. Out here on the back roads we all stick together. They will plow you out if your 4x4 is broke down, you'll give each other a hand with all kinds of projects, they are only a quick phone call away, and on warm summer evenings you will grill burgers together listening to the fire pop as the sun sinks below the horizon and the fireflies begin to twinkle.
Budget: We don't spend the money `big city' people do. We have fire pits instead of grills, clothes lines instead of dryers, venison instead of $9.00 a pound steaks, and pesticide free produce in home-canned jars instead of cans. We knew "organic" before organic was cool. We eat homemade pies from what ever fruit is in season at our place or the neighbors. Most of our flowers that come up year after year were free from someone's back yard and they told us not to even say `thanks' or they might not grow! How's that for an ol' wives tale?
Cars: We drive older cars because they will always be either dusty or muddy. That's one small price to pay for living on a back road but we save so much money we don't give it a thought. We also are too smart to drive a new car off the lot and lose one quarter of it's value. If we did have a new car, it would just look dirty anyway.
Shopping Malls: When we visit a mall we laugh at all the things we happily do without. We go for the exercise and I don't mean exercising our wallets.
Garden: We never have to actually plant zucchini because it magically appears on our back porch summer through fall.
Laundry: We don't need a dryer because we love hanging the clothes out on the line and every country home has one. We don't need one in the winter because with a fire in the woodstove our clothes dry overnight anyway and help humidify the house naturally. Luckily, we learned not to place our birdhouses near our clotheslines!
Friends: Everyone needs `em. If you don't have enough, the place to find `em is in one of our many local churches. Country folk go to church. And, they will be your best friends for life. They will be there through thick and through thin and always have a coffee pot brewing if you need someone to talk to. They will throw you a baby shower when you're expecting and help your kids throw your 50th anniversary party and stay to help clean up. You'll do the same for them.
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"That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood." ~~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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1 t honey, 1/2 c frozen strawberries, 1/2 c 1/2 c fat-free plain yogurt, 1/2 frozen banana, peeled and chopped, 2 T powdered protein supplement, 1 1/2 T flax seed. Add any fruit desired. Experiement with flavors and ingredients.
Keepin' it simple down a back road,
- ~~~ Keeping it Simple ~~~
A REAL VACATION
I've never noticed it before, but the moment I woke up on my first day of vacation, the walls started closing in. I started thinking of all the thises and that's that needed doing. Know what I mean? Like I was on vacation, and my vacation was threatening to hold me hostage. Whoa! Wait just a minute! I decided not to go there. First, I took a shower, to symbolize a fresh start. I dressed in my favorite comfortable (old) clothes and put away the notebook I'd laid on the table to make my list of "needs to do". "This is the beginning of vacation," I told myself. Now what? There are no "need to be dones" this week, only "want to dos". And that was how I proceeded through the week. Slowly. Relaxedly. If I wanted to water the garden. I could. If not, it wouldn't die without me.
Now, don't get me wrong, I do NOT want to waste my vacation. I just wanted to come to the end of my week without the feeling that I'd just taken care of a bunch of obligations. I was going to go about my week off if a different way. Without all the have to's and should do's that every normal day seems to hold. You know, the responsibilities. You just have to do this to stay sane. It was just going to be all the want-tos and none of the other stuff. (If at all possible).
I was going to approach the week in a very relaxed way. First, I didn't really have to make a list, I know what needs to be done. Second, how can I make this week easier? Because meals still need to be made, and laundry still has to be done. But it doesn't have to be a "have to"!
I mean how hard is it to throw in a load of laundry? Now the hanging it on the line part, is fun. I watch the birds, listen to nature's song. The dog keeps me company, or often my husband. But at the moment, he was off working, so it was just me and the dog and the cat. Now, if you are not careful, the "shoulds" will try to invade. But don't let them. The living room maybe wants to be dusted, but maybe you just are not going to dust right this minute. The house will not fall down. Some random hour later on you and whomever you live with might, or might not want to pick up the house and do up the dishes, run the vacuum, and get it all out of the way for the rest of the day, or week. But right now, what do you really want to do?
Head to the beach? Grab the book and swing in the hammock? Bake a batch of your favorite cookies for the week and eat some cookie dough? (I actually know someone who would not let herself eat even a tiny bit of cookie dough!) What??? This is vacation! What would make you the most supremely happy and relaxed. These are your priority!!! All week!!! Any questions??? This is not "get caught up with life week". Call your friends and plan a pot-luck at the park. This way no one has to get ready, or clean up. Do something you really want to do for a friend, that, hopefully, you will enjoy, as well. Do a craft? Remember how fun it feels to be creative? Do a small project you've wanted to work on.
Be thankful all week. If you have a roof over your head, a healthy car, and you are still breathing, you have reason to be thankful. Sure, we all have problems, but that's just life trying to distract us from being thankful for all we really do have!
So, no, you don't want to waste the week, but you do want to be thoughtful. You do want to make it the best week of vacation you've ever had. Why not? You are the only thing standing in your way. Relax. You can dust next week when you are not on vacation anymore. It will still be there. Take the kids to the beach, don't forget the sunscreen, and have a great, simple week. Plan easy meals and shop accordingly. If you have healthy snacks, all the better. I have some sweet cherries that are heaven in my mouth!
Now, it's also you job on vacation, as well as relaxing, to have at least one adventure.
Have you taken your bike to the Rails to Trails, yet? Have you visited the parks in your county, let alone the state? Take a hike, go for a swim or canoe trip. Just have a great week!
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Pulled Pork for a great vacation picnic!
Buy a butt roast that will fit in your slow cooker. Thaw a pork butt roast. Rub the entire pork down with cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, or your very own favorite rub. Put the butt into the slow cooker. Water is not necessary. If the lid doesn't fit, wrap tightly with foil. Turn the slow cooker on high for about an hour and then set to low and let cook overnight. In the morning, the pork will be done and there will be a lot of juice/fat.
Take the pork out and let it cool. Leave about one cup of juice in the slow cooker and add two tablespoons of white or cider vinegar. Reserve the remaining juice in case you need more. Shred or pull the pork and put it into the vinegar juice. Toss and heat back up in the slow cooker. Add chopped onion and as much of your favorite catsup/BBQ sauce to be juicy. Also at a T brown sugar. If it seems a little dry or not tart enough, experiment with the leftover juices and more vinegar. Make coleslaw, lemonade, potato salad, and you've got a great picnic!
Keepin' it simple down a back road,