Saturday, January 30, 2010

New House: The front and basement

From the main floor to the basement

Yes, I keep my mop in the foyer. That is the front entry door to the left of the mop.

The front yard which you can't totally see but I was cold and barefoot so this is what you get. I head a wreath on the door but the wind blew it away in the freak storm we had last week.

What you see when you walk in the front door.

The view from the foyer into the basement. The desk set-up is where Andrew does his school work. There is still a lot of organizing to be done, but we don't have enough shelves to put it all.

The food storage shelves get priority. We don't have much but we are working on it. My system so far is to have sugar/fruit on the right, beans/protein in the middle and canning/personal care items on the left. Our rice, oatmeal and powdered milk is in the boxes under the TP.

My future craft area! There isn't much to see really aside from a ton of clutter. We need shelves badly but until then, everything sits in boxes. There you have it!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New House: The Bedrooms

The stairs up to the third floor! Oooooo!

When you reach the top of the stairs and look to your left you will see our laundry room and beyond, Ravenna's suite.

A view of our lovely laundry room. The builder made it too small which has caused considerable concern for our neighbors. Luckily, we have a stackable machines.

Ravenna's ginormous room

The other side of the room with the closet on the right and the bathroom on the left.

Ravenna's bathroom has a window to the left of the sink. Fancy! It also has a bathtub to the right.

The huge and rather empty closet that is the only reason I would rather have this room than my own. You will see later why.

The view from Ravenna's bathroom.

From Ravenna's room to our master suite. Notice the lovely light?

The view from the door. It seems rather small in the picture, but it really isn't. Our bathroom is just to the left.

Our smaller and much fuller closet.

This one is from the closet. There are actually three windows in this room but the middle window doesn't appear in any of the pictures. To the left you can see my future reading nook.

Last but not least, our bathroom. Taa daa!

P.S. Please do not judge me for the lack of decor; I am working on it...slowly.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Planning my Garden

This is my amazing garden plan that I have to submit to my HOA before I can start because I need to relocate three rhododendron shrubs and that requires HOA approval. Boo. You might also notice that Ravenna had a part in the planning process with the squiggly pencil drawings. Unfortunately her additions did not make it into the final plan being submitted for approval.

I have a 14X12 space to work with in front of my house so I am doing raised beds, made of wood (hopefully salvaged/re-purposed from the Habit for Humanity Re-Store), painted white to match the siding. I am planning on following Mel Bartholomew's method of Square Foot Gardening to get the most out of my small space. The area surrounding the beds will be filled with black mulch, just in case you were curious, and there is an existing boxwood shrub that I will leave in place.

Now, to the good part: What am I am planting? So far I have ordered...
FOUR different kinds of lettuce?! You read that right. I made sure that all of the varieties that I ordered will do well in our area and many of the seeds are organic, though not all. All are sustainably grown heirloom seeds, and none are GMO (take THAT Monsanto!). I still have to order my tomato seeds and will probably get them from Happy Cat Organics, which is local. Does anyone know of a great paste tomato, by the way? I am really wanting to can my tomatoes and make lots of sauce. For a great cherry tomato, I recommend Sungolds. We got them at our CSA last year and they were SO SO GOOD! I will probably do 4-6 tomato plants: 2 paste, 1 cherry, and 1 slicing. Is there anything else I should grow? I can't do corn or vine plants unfortunately.

I purchased most of my seeds from I could never figure out exactly where she was located, which kills the whole "buying local" idea but many of her heirlooms were developed right here in Lancaster county. I mainly bought from her because of time: I need to get my broccoli and tomatoes started ASAP. I couldn't depend on the Landis Valley Museum to get my seeds soon enough through mail order, even though they are pretty darn local. Maybe I will get some seeds from them next year? At least I am working on one part of my resolution!

Oh, and here is a fun tool for designing your garden:,default,pg.html?SC=RMPG2128

Friday, January 15, 2010


I apologize for the lack of pictures of the rest of the house. For over a week now, the Whitlock family has been battling the common Cold which has made itself quite at home here. It has put all of us out of commission and still seems to be going strong with no end in sight. Don't you just love unwelcome visitors? I will be sure to get those pictures up as soon as I get out of survival mode.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ravenna and the Cave of Wonders

The Whitlock Family Resolves

While pondering on the economic situation of this country, after attending a home-party of all things, I wondered what on earth I could do to help strengthen my local, state and national economies and put my dollar to the best use. I recalled an article in our local borough gazette which stated reasons why we should buy locally instead of shopping at Big Box stores. One of the most compelling reason the article stated was that as much as .60 of every dollar spent at locally owned businesses goes back into the community compared to just .06 for Big Box stores and .20 for chain stores (this information is according to the Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network). With that in mind, Andrew and I discussed and we came to a resolution:

For 2010 it is resolved that the Whitlock Family will:
  1. No longer shop at Big Box retailers unless absolutely necessary, excepting Costco for food storage purposes.
  2. Strive to buy only US made goods and if we cannot, buy fair-trade items.
  3. Buy as many used/handmade items as possible sourcing Etsy and local consignment/thrift shops.
  4. Eat at locally owned restaurants instead of restaurant chains.
  5. Grow a small garden and purchase a seasonal share in a CSA farm.
  6. Support our borough by attending borough events and fundraisers.
  7. (Dare I share this one since past experience Become involved in a community group.
We have not shopped at Walmart since September so cutting out all big box stores seemed like a logical next step. Can we do this and maintain our budget and build our food storage? I really hope so and I will keep you updated on our progress. All the resolutions may not be about money necessarily but we are all about building our community. After all, Andrew's paycheck comes mainly from local tax revenue; the very least we can do is to do our best to keep that money in our community and give back a little service. Wish us luck!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas at the Whitlock Manor

While a little late, please enjoy this post with pictures of our delightful Christmas celebrations. In the above picture Ravenna is ecstatic to have received two "Baby Signing Time" DVD's and is signing "heck yeah!" Actually, she is signing "baby" but that isn't as cool.

This is my make-shift Advent wreath. For weeks Andrew kept saying the kitchen smelled funny, like "feces" (by the way, anything that "smells weird" to Andrew gets equated with feces). It turns out that the smell was the coming from the candles. I did not think that they smelled anything like feces, more like petrochemical, but next year I think we will find some beeswax candles and keep these ones for emergencies.

The Lean Tree again! Rachel asked about how my cloth gift bag adventure turned out and you can see for yourself if you click on the picture. Notice all the gifts under the tree are wrapped using reusable/reused wrapping. Even the gift tags were made from last years Christmas cards. Hurray for frugal and Eco-friendly, plus, they look crafty fabulous.

Here Jeff-Dad is modeling the latest in reusable gift bag fashion. Doesn't he look stunning?