posts tagged with 'blogs'

something I'm watching

In my advanced age, I tend not to like watching things on screens. I never liked movies much, and I gave up on tv shows a decade ago. I stuck with sports a little longer, but not that much. There are exceptions: I'd watch the heck out of some competitive Pokemon, but of course it's all cancelled. So mostly when I want to stare mindlessly at a screen I have to find some words to stare at. But while I was staring at words sometime last week I was alerted to a series of videos—a "vlog", if you will—made by a pair of homesteaders in Sweden: Off Grid Life, the Talasbuan Vlog. And I like it!

a screenshot of the vlog

they've got some photography at their homestead

The appeal to me is two-fold. Two and a half-fold actually. The content speaks to me, obviously. I totally feel wanting to do as much as you can yourself, and I enjoy watching other people learning—one episode they make pickles for the first time—and demonstrating mastery of tasks that I aspire to—like woodworking with traditional tools and techniques. And the pacing is just my speed, no pun intended. There's plenty of long shots of animals and scenery and people preparing food, and very little drama. The creators seem to be both very calm and understated people, so even real drama gets downplayed. I like that. And then, I appreciate the photography too! It's beautifully shot and edited, not just to tell the story but also—even more!—to share the beauty and delight of their homestead. As I'm learning my way around video I'm especially interested in seeing how they do it. You can expect some farm film from me soon.

As I watch, I can't help but think about the last internet family we were interested in following; their story didn't turn out so well (it actually got worse after Leah wrote that post; very sad). But so far in my viewing there are no signs of mental breakdown and tragedy, so I'm going to keep watching and enjoying!


a pokemon blog

I've been meaning for some time now to create a place just for my writing about Pokemon. Because I know it's not central to our story here! I've now done that. Follow that link if you want to read many words about the card game that occupies so much of Harvey's and my mind some days. Or don't, and wait for me to write here about the other things we do, like explore the woods and streams of Chelmsford. That was today. Both are good!

That other blog is just getting going; it doesn't look as nice as it should. I just wanted to get it good enough for me to start writing, and worry about aesthetic improvements later. Harvey is already wondering how many readers we'll get—how people will find our about it, and if they'll be interested in the content. Good thing I'm married to somebody who talks about SEO for work!

missing: blog subscription

When I messed up updating my computer I lost, as well as two years of email, two years of RSS data. (I'm one of the fifteen people who still use RSS; I don't know how the rest of you survive without it.) Luckily I haven't had time in the past two years to discover many new blogs; and the content of any post is of course recoverable. But there's one blog I subscribed to in the lost years that I can't, for the life of me, remember in any detail. It's a left-wing Christian site (or "Jesus-following", to be fair and accurate) that posts pieces from a variety of authors—sometimes full articles, often poems or snippets—every day. Sound familiar to anyone? Um... the site has a dark background? If you come across it, please let me know. I didn't always read the post every day, but I appreciated knowing I could if I wanted to.

school's out, but there's no escaping home-schooling!

Whenever I hear about anyone else's homeschooling I get the sense that I really need to up my game. Other people sound so focused and organized and intentional! That isn't me. But we do like doing school when we have a moment, and now that "real school" is done for the summer I have lots more time to hang with the boys, and we took advantage of it this morning. We started off with some soccer in the yard, while it was still cool out, then we came in to talk about what happens when you cut a half in half—something that was a topic of discussion yesterday at a moment when we didn't have any writing materials to hand. The blackboard is just the thing!

Harvey writing a fraction on the blackboard

writing fractions

We also learned the order of the days of the week, which seemed necessary after our study yesterday; as I wrote this morning on the facebook, "Only at Archibald homeschool: learning the etymological origins of the names for the days of the week before the order the days go in". But I think he's got both now.

Then we went to the beach for four hours.

Friends of ours who have been homeschooling for a few years just started a blog, which maybe will be just the thin end of a bigger project to come. If you're interested in reading more about open-ended learning at home, do check out Family Learning Adventure—they're motivated now, so you'll hear a lot more about it than you will from the lazy educators at this site here!


friday assortment

Things have been pretty crazy around here lately, to the extent that I don't have a picture for a "this moment" post. I also didn't know that it was bike week this week, and Bike-to-Work day today, so I was pleasantly surprised when, on my way to work by bicycle, I found myself being offered to partake of some free breakfast in Lexington Center. I'll take it! That's really all I have to say, but in order to make this post worth reading here are some highlights of my recent blog reading.

Bike Snob NYC wrote recently about robot cars (among many other things) and expressed, more succinctly and with more profanity, some of the feelings on the subject that had been working their way through my own mind:

In the meantime, I try to console myself with the fact that people who are smarter, got higher SAT scores, and went to better colleges than me are hard at work averting the destruction of the Earth and building a better future, and indeed the key to our survival can be summed up in two words:


Sure, car-dependence is highly impractical, uses a shitload of resources, and contributes to the totally ass-tarded city planning you find in 99% of the United States, but maybe if the computers are driving the cars it will all work out, right? Yeah, that's the ticket!

Today Eric at Root Simple writes, Gluten Intolerance... Is It All In Your Head?—and also expresses feelings I agree with entirely:

I think, many people are having a spiritual crisis as a reaction to their unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the modern world and the industrial food system. This system is making us sick both physically and spiritually. This crisis is manifesting as non-celiac gluten intolerance and other real health problems.

And finally, more positively, the Cornell Horticulture blog offers some resources about Vegetable varieties worth growing. Too late for this year for me, but some interesting stuff for 2015!


cooking omnibus post

All kinds of things lately, including some good food. For example, we celebrated spring a couple days ago with the first asparagus, which I cooked in a little butter and served up with bulgur, lentils, and poached eggs (also because spring). Life can't be too terrible when you can get asparagus and eggs from the backyard and cook them within five minutes of bringing them inside. Not that it's all spring all the time around here; yesterday was cold and raw and Leah's roasted root vegetables were just what we wanted.

A couple weeks ago I wanted something to bring along on our first trip to the Stevenses new house where we were going to help paint, and I made up another muffin recipe. It came out tasty enough that I wanted to write it down here so as not to forget.

Applesauce Muffins

In a large bowl, whisk together:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

In another bowl, combine:

1 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used some very sour sauce made from Cortland apples)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten well
1/4 cup canola oil or melted butter
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake for around 20 minutes at 375°F. Makes 12 regular sized muffins (or 30 little ones, as I did it the first batch).

Also on the baking front, I've been enjoying eating oatcakes made with this recipe from Orangette, which I was pointed to by this post on Soulemama. Oatcakes are a thing that, once I'd heard of their existence, I wanted to try, but in my research last year or thereabouts I didn't find a satisfactory recipe. This one is perfectly satisfactory and very tasty with jam (or Leah's chocolate-chip cookie dough dip).

A while ago Jo linked to a tortilla recipe that uses oil instead of shortening (and cooks in a skillet instead of the oven, as in the Joy of Cooking version), which I find delightfully easy and delicious. Homemade tortillas are wonderful and make rice and beans seem like something special. We're also putting immense quantities of cilantro on many things, when we have it around, which is also special.

The cilantro may be a side effect of reading Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace a couple months ago. Other signs we've internalized some of her messages in that inspiring book are our increased consumption of home-made croutons and breadcrumbs and the fact that when I cooked the lentils the other night I saved the water they cooked in—which is now a remarkable broth, how could I have ever thrown it away?!—in a jar in the fridge. A jar that is even labeled. (The poached eggs of the first paragraph are also Adler-related.)

This evening while the boys were being wonderful playing with playdough (Leah makes that—most recently a double batch of blue and yellow) I pulled out a recipe I hadn't made in a while: banana bread made entirely in the food processor (well, except for the part when it's in a pan in the oven). It's good stuff, but I come to doubt the efficiency of using the machine. Yes there are fewer things to clean up then there would have been if I'd used the two bowl "muffin method" (as Alton Brown calls it), but cleaning the Cuisinart is so aggravating that it carries as much mental weight as three or four bowls. Also I'm not sure I trust that spinning blade to mix things up properly. Oh well, every once and a while in the name of variety—and of using up those two brown bananas.

So, we have some food here. Come by if you're feeling hungry!


our writing elsewhere

Our church has a newish writers' group to which, by virtue of being "bloggers", we are tenuously connected. But tenuous or not, when we heard there was a plan to put together a collection of writing pieces on Advent we jumped at the chance to be part of it—you might have noticed that we enjoy sharing our thoughts over the internet. The first post went up yesterday: "A mixed up animal house", by Leah.

My post is coming up sometime later; I don't know exactly when, so you should subscribe to the RSS over there to be sure not to miss it. Because, you know, there's at least a three percent chance that I won't mention it again when it does come out.


no longer so sparkling

Last month we introduced you to the uber hippy blog Sparkling Adventures and their evolving belief in monogamy. It behooves me to report back that things aren't going so well over there. Lauren walked out on David two days ago, taking the baby boy and leaving him with the four older girls.

It's hard to know what's going on inside anyone else's marriage. These things are so far from the realm of my imagining. I told Dan about the development and he said, "You're not going to walk out on me are you?" I said, "Why, are you sleeping with other ladies?" Then I quickly caught myself. "No, I wouldn't leave even then. Where would I go? All my stuff is here."
"You could go to your parent's house."
"No way, you'd have to sleep with like a hundred girls first."

In all seriousness. I do hope these crazy kids can work it out. No, that doesn't sound very serious. In all seriousness: Devil, get off this family, in Jesus' name. Stop attacking the hippies.

coffee theory

A week from today our friend Luke is leaving for Ethiopia on a top-secret mission. All I can tell you is that involves coffee. Oh wait, it's not actually top-secret: you can hear all about it at I still can't tell you any more than that it involves coffee, though (well, coffee and international travel) because the endeavor is still very much a work in progress. Here's what Luke has to say about it:

I believe that we’ll be able to find a way to bring a sustainable, profitable, coffee business into Addis Ababa, which will provide employment and empowerment to some families there.

There's more to it than that, of course—Luke hadn't written anything for the internet in a while so he saved up a lot of words. But the key point is that he's going to do something with coffee and maybe bicycles that'll help poor people in Africa. What could be finer?

If you want to help out or just keep up with the goings-on, you can get hooked up with the RSS feed, or subscribe by email, or follow Coffee Theory on Twitter. Check it out!


Free to love

We recently got into reading a blog called Sparkling Adventures. The family seems really cool and similar to us in many respects. They're alternative seeking Christians. They parent free range. They hate wearing shoes.

Of course, they live in a traveling bus and let their children call them by their first names, so it's not exactly like we're twinsies.

Still, I was feeling inspired by the biblical hippiness. Find community wherever you go! Screw money! Rock on! Then the other day Lauren who writes the blog dropped a bit of a bomb. Because of the freedom afforded them through their walk with God, her husband is gonna start sleeping with other people. Well, it's kind of unclear... Maybe just one person. Or maybe she's just okayed him to start looking for a person to sleep with. There are really an unfair amount of details left out of her blog post.

Now. These are not the first Christians to conclude that their liberation from sin plus their love in Christ for every man equal open hunting season for hippy booty. (Has anyone used the phrase "patchouli booty" before? They should.) We talked about this in bible study last night in fact... Why should we stand agape at an open marriage and not, say premarital sex or driving on the sabbath or wearing garments made of mixed fibers. I mean, Jesus invalidated lots of laws. Isn't where we draw the line only based on our moral relativism?

By the way, if your bible study doesn't discuss free love when you read Revelation then I feel bad for you. I'd be happy to sign on as a consultant...

But back to the topic at hand. I have often found myself defending polygamy. Polygamy solves a lot of problems... the need for extra help and companionship in chores and childbearing, the need for someone else to have sex with your husband when you're recovering from giving birth.... for 13 months. Of corse societal polygamy causes problems too, notably the need to purge a large number of boys from the fold every generation, but I then there are drawbacks to everything.

I confess, however, that sometimes I fantasize TOO MUCH about polygamy. I would just love it if someone else could jump in and solve all the challenges that being married presents. I can even concoct very loving looking orgy fantasies. But they're not really biblical. "An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife..." (Titus 1:6) I have a tough time arguing that Jesus's death invalidated laws written in the New Testament.

Dan's conclusion last night in BStudy is that whether or not free love works for the Sparkling family, blogging about it risks putting a stumbling block in front of those who are struggling with promiscuity and its negative effects. I think that's a nice counterpoint to a theology of complete freedom.

And hey, there's another lesson to be learned from this: If you want to increase loyalty in your readership base, announce something sexy on your blog. I just can't wait to hear what happens next.